Stress, Power, Resilience and Myth, Part 3: In Myself
This is the third in my series of posts about resilience, and its role in the work of case studies. In my last post, I wrote about personal experiences through which I was changed, and, through which the issue of resilience really came home to roost in my life. In this post, I would like to try and say something about the places in which I believe I really found some sources of resilience. As I stressed before, this is not to say that what I will describe is exactly “the answer”, for anyone other than me. The “answers” that any of us find are of necessity very individual, and if what I describe points anyone to move any further on their own individual path to being grounded in their own being, then I think that is all that I can hope to do.
Fortunately, Things Became Sufficiently Painful
When I left off my story, in my late 20s and early 30s, I was in the midst of making a lot of rash decisions, and taking a lot of risks. My anger, pain and despair were very near the surface, and I was volatile in the extreme. I do not believe that I was very easy on the people who were nearest to me at that time, and I was certainly “acting out” in some nasty ways. Fortunately, in my late 20s, things became painful and difficult enough that I realized that I needed to reach out for some highly skilled help, and I got into therapy with someone who was very highly skilled, and who got what was at stake. This was the first of a group of very good therapists, all of whom had a psychodynamic orientation, to whom I owe a very great debt, perhaps even my life.
Down Into Me
Through my 30s, much of my therapeutic work was involved with getting me out of my head, and down into my body and my emotions. A lot of the work focussed on things that had occurred in my earlier life. They also helped me to understand what it is to feel your own life, in every sense of the word. To be in your body. To really feel your own emotions. The work evolved in a more and more symbolic direction, and I was fortunate to have therapists, in particular Jungian analysts, who were able to help me come to some deep insights into my own being from my own patterns of behaviour, and from my dreams. They helped me greatly with the process of uncovering my own symbols, and my own personal myth. They knew how to work with the symbols that emerged from my dreams, and could help me to see how they eloquently express the reality of my particular selfhood and life. This is something very hard to espress in an intellectual way, but when it happens, it’s something you know.
Above All, They Really Listened
However, if I had to point to one single characteristic of this small group of therapists that helped me more than any other, it was this: they really, really knew how to listen. And in addition, they really, really knew how to ask questions. As I moved through my therapy, this intent listening — this belief of theirs that they had never heard my story from anyone before, and would never hear it from anyone again — really helped me to grasp the real nature of my own story, and to come to an ever better understanding of who and what I really am.
My therapeutic journey has enabled me to find a kind of acceptance of my life. An ability to feel that this life, as outwardly ordinary and unheroic as it may be, is unique, and that it is truly mine. To feel that, even in my suffering, there is a kind of rightness to my life, a rightness to being here in this time and this way, and to being alive. That my life is my life, me… and that I can accept that, and welcome it. For me, this means feeling rooted in my life, much more solid in it, than I have ever felt. Insofar as I can make any meaningful sense of psychologists’ use of the word “resilience”, this is it.
How Does All This Seem to You?
Are these experiences to which you can relate? I would really welcome any comments that you might have. Are reslience and feeling at home in your life things which concern you? If so, I would really welcome hearing from you.
Wishing you all good things on your journey to wholeness, and to your self,
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst
© 2010 Brian Collinson