Individual Psychotherapy: Quit Living Provisionally! 1
In individual case studies, a key issue for an individual can be finding a way to return to his or her own actual, immediate experience of life.
As Jung indicates in this quote, it is far too easy for us to live provisionally. That is to say, to live our lives as if they don’t really matter or count.
Still Not Taking This Life Seriously
For a very, very long time, Western culture has conditioned us to treat the real happenings in our lives as not real — as if they don’t count. Partly, this is due to a certain version of Christianity, which views this world as a veil of tears, and sees the sole purpose of this life as readying us for life after death in “a better place”. The power of this worldview has diminished — although many are still under its sway — but there is a variation of it, still very potent, that goes back to Plato. On this view, only thoughts, and particularly reason and logic, are truly important. And, as a result, western civilization is very much stuck in its head.
Virtually Alive (Sort Of)…
For many in our time, information technology has intensified the tendency to live in our heads, to live “virtually” or “in the cloud”. There are many in our culture whose most intense experiences have involved video games, or role playing in online chatrooms. From the perspective of individual case studies, that is quite concerning. Such “virtual worlds” are the latest, most technologically intense version of provisional life: spoon-fed generic experiences, rather than real, individual life.
As a culture, we are in continual avoidance of our own real lives. We are too ready to float above the real joy and pain in our life, and call it living, when it is really only participation in the collective fantasies of mass entertainment and consumerism.
The Unconscious In the Immediate
Jung tells us, “our unconscious often tries to convince us of the importance of living here and now.” I believe that this may be even more true in our time than his. Our dreams may well reflect when we get too divorced from the immediacy of life. Similarly, we may find that inexplicable slip-ups and errors in performing ordinary daily activities may be the way in which the unconscious draws our attention away from our ceaseless mental taskmaster, with his or her inflexible agendas and killer timelines.
Epidemics of events such as repeatedly losing our car keys as we are trying to get out of the door to go to work may reflect the attempts of the unconscious mind to bring us back to more natural rhythms, and a greater awareness of the immediate events in our lives.
This, Now, COUNTS
This present abiding, right here, right now in the awareness of our actual this-moment experience, is what makes human.
Often individual case studies, and particularly /a-midlife-transition, brings us much closer to our feeling, sensing and overall experiencing of our own actual lives.
Next post in the series: Why Living Now Matters