Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules Chapter 2: Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping

For those of us just joining me, I’ve been reading the (somewhat) controversial Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Amazon Affiliate link). The second chapter focuses on self-care, and provides some interesting insights and information, plus a lot of actionable advice. It’s also a bit of a doozy.

If you just want to hear what I have to say about the book in general, I’ll probably write a review of the book once I’m done. I’m actually as much interested in his Maps of Meaning, since I love anything about archetypes, but I’m a little stingy to spend $50 on a book.

The second chapter of Peterson’s work is engaging and captivating. I certainly enjoyed it more than the first, though I also am a fan of archetypes, and the Judeo-Christian imagery in the chapter resonated well with me (I know from looking at Amazon reviews that this is not universally the case).

Emphasizing the real-life cases of when things go wrong (TM) is something that Peterson is able to do quite well as a clinical psychologist, and he paints an interesting message of self-worth. In the first chapter he talked about guilt, and how people often cannot confront the potential of their own wrong-doing; they ignore it or fall to it, but they rarely strike a balance with it.

This chapter draws on similar themes. I don’t know that I cared for how obtuse this chapter got, and many of the notions that Peterson raises with regards to the formulation of creation myths may be giving too much credence to a sort of genetic memory (i.e. indicating that early humans had the knowledge of their ancestors who were not yet what we would consider homo sapiens and this then shaped the imagery of the Fall in Genesis).

However, I think there were some really good points here, and here are a few of them:

• Drawing from Carl Jung, he points out that to “love one’s neighbor as thyself” one must have some degree of self-love and self-care attached. This ties in nicely to the whole “dealing with one’s nature” element.
○ To build on the above, we don’t begrudge a dog or a cat their violence when they eat other creatures, because they are not conscious beings. We, however, hold ourselves to greater standards and turn ourselves into martyrs in service of others because we do not recognize our potential for goodness.
• Our own goodness is not necessarily in a particular character trait, but in the way that we contribute to each other, and to society. By building each other up, we accomplish what none of us can do alone, moving beyond the current world and to a greater future for ourselves and posterity.
• Another big point has to do with the notion of preparing others for the world: “This is the great Freudian Oedipal nightmare. It is far better to render Beings in your care competent than to protect them.” [Emphasis Peterson’s]

All-in-all, I’m enjoying the book quite a bit, though it’s something that I would naturally tend to enjoy. As far as applying it, I think some of that is easier said than done. Since I picked up the book out of academic interest, rather than any pressing concern about turning my life around, that’s probably to be expected to a degree, but I have noticed that many of the good things I’ve already been doing I am freeing myself to do more intentionally, and some of the worse habits I have are becoming more obvious to me.

Moving into the second chapter of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, I have noticed that he definitely draws very heavily from an archetypal approach to psychology. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having already started on Chapter 3, I can tell you that it doesn’t continue to dominate his work (quite as heavily, at least) and it gets more readable as the text continues, though Chapter 2 is by no means particularly difficult as a read.

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