The Theory of Holes is a fundamental idea used in the Diamond Approach. Under usual circumstances, people are full of what we call “holes,” which refer to any parts of you that have been lost, meaning any parts of you that you have lost consciousness of.
Ultimately what we have lost awareness of is our essence or pure Being—who we truly are. When we are not aware of our essence, it stops manifesting. Then we feel a sense of deficiency. So a hole is nothing but the absence of a certain part of our essence. It could be the loss of love, loss of value, loss of capacity for contact, loss of strength, any of the qualities of Essence. However, to say we have lost parts of Essence does not mean they are gone forever. You are simply cut off from consciousness of them.
Let’s take, for example, the quality of value or self-esteem. When you are cut off from your value, the actual experience is a sense that there is a hole inside that feels empty. You feel a sense of deficiency, a sense of inferiority, and you want to fill this hole with value from the outside. You may try to use approval, praise, whatever. You try to fill the hole with acquired value.
We walk around with lots of holes, but we usually aren’t aware of them. We’re usually aware of desires: “I want praise. I want to be successful. I want this person to love me. I want this or that experience.” The presence of desires and needs indicates the presence of holes.
These holes originated during childhood, partly as a result of traumatic experiences or conflicts with the environment. Perhaps your parents did not value you. They didn’t treat you as if your wishes or presence were important, or act in ways that let you know that you mattered. They ignored your essential value. Because your value was not seen or acknowledged, you got cut off from that part of you; what was left was a hole.
When you relate to someone in a deep way, you fill your holes with the other person. Some of your holes get filled with what you believe you’re getting from the other person. For example, you may feel valued because this person appreciates you. You don’t know consciously that you’re filling the hole with their appreciation. But when you are with that person, you feel valuable, and unconsciously you feel the other person is responsible for your value. Whatever this person is giving you feels like a part of you; it is part of the fullness that you experience. Except that the value you now feel is dependent on the presence of the other person.
Your unconscious does not see as separate that part of the person that makes you feel valuable; you see it as part of you. When the person dies or the relationship ends, you don’t feel that you’re losing that person; you feel you’re losing whatever is filling the hole. You experience the loss of a part of yourself. It feels like you’re being cut and something is being taken out of you. You may feel as if you lost your heart, your security, your strength, your will—whatever the person fulfilled for you. When you lose a person close to you, you feel whatever hole that person has filled.
It is rare that another person fills all your holes. You have many people and activities in your life, and still, they don’t fill all your holes. There will be some holes left, and this keeps the dissatisfaction going.
Our society is set up to teach us that we should get the outside to fill our holes; we should get value, love, strength, and so on from outside. We talk about how wonderful it is to do things for other people, or to fall in love, or have a meaningful profession, as if these activities are what give life meaning. We attribute the meaning to the person or thing we think is responsible for it rather than to Essence, which is really responsible.
People try to fill holes in different ways. A woman may think, “Oh, so that’s what I’m doing with my husband! I’m trying to use him to fill my holes. Okay, now I won’t talk to him for the next two weeks.” She is trying to fill her holes by blaming her husband for filling them in the past. It is very clever how we try to fill our holes.
It takes a long time for people to understand that trying to fill holes doesn’t work. It is Essence, and only Essence, that can eliminate holes—deficiencies—and it does so from the inside.
–adapted from Diamond Heart Book One by A. H. Almaas