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  • That Vague Feeling That Something is Missing

    You might be surprised, but I hear versions of the phrase “something is missing” from a good number of people who come for therapy.

    PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets

    It seems that quite a few people have the sense that somehow, in some way, something is missing from their lives. In many cases, they might not be able to tell you exactly what it is—but nonetheless they have a very strong sense that it is missing.

    Often, people who feel this way may be individuals who seem to have quite a lot of positive things in their lives. They might tell you about a career that they find rewarding and valuable, about their family life which brings them many good things, and an overall feeling that their life is going in the right direction, or at least that they feel that they should feel like things are going in a good direction. Nonetheless, these individuals struggle with the feeling that something that should be present in their lives is not.

    The Search for Life and Meaning

    These people are often at or near the midpoint of life, or in its second half. They often are people who have challenged themselves and worked very hard in the first part of adulthood. Often, they are highly invested in career and may gain much of their identity from what they do for a living. They may carry a strong sense of social expectation and of the image that they feel they must project to the rest of the world. Yet they are haunted by a persistent sense of yearning, often for something that they find is hard to put into words.

    This sense that something is missing may gnaw at a person for a long time before she or he is even able to recognize that it’s there. Often these individuals have their attention focused on clear goals or objectives related to work, financial well-being or family concerns. Sometimes it is only when there is some kind of career setback, illness, loss of a loved one, or some similar life changing event that the individual stops and looks around at her or his life. Major life transitions often sensitize us to the question of what we really want from life.

    Easy to Ignore What We Need

    Even when we do feel the prompting that something is missing, we can easily push it away. We might be too busy to pay attention to our yearnings, it’s true. It can also be that we might feel that this sense of “something missing” is basically frivolous or a weakness or something that doesn’t deserve our attention. After all, part of us may say, we are adults with plenty of responsibilities! Yet if we just ignore this sense of prompting or yearning, we may start to find our lives tending to become duller and grayer, and may end up with the sense that we’re just going through the motions..

    How do we begin to uncover what we’re looking for? Well, it might seem easier said than done, but we may need to take time to uncover what it is that we really want at this point in our lives. One way in which we might do that is to exercise our capacity for play. As Dr. Stuart Brown of the National Institute for Play asserts, play is something that we do for its own sake, that opens us up to “improvisational possibility”. It’s a state in which we become less self-conscious, and where things can just emerge. It allows spontaneity, creativity and serendipity. In our culture, where we are highly programmed even in our leisure activities, this may be a key to something that we vitally need.

    Our Real Desires

    C.G. Jung reached a point in his life journey when he was seeking a way forward, when this became central. He reached a point of impasse, at which all he was able to do was play in a seemingly childish manner. Yet, out of that willingness to play came a great renewal in his life. As Jung puts it,

    Without this playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.

    Uncovering what we really want in life may lead us to explore creative avenues in our lives that we may never have been down before. Play and our dreams may open up new doors in our lives, if we can be open to these surprising, and sometimes seemingly “non-adult” channels to discovering that in our lives which we feel or intuit as “something is missing.”

    Jungian /a-midlife-transition in a trustworthy, secure relationship may assist us both in getting in touch with our spontaneous, playful and creative dimensions. As well, it gives us the opportunity to look at our lives as a whole, and to get a much clearer sense of who we are, and our own journey towards wholeness. It may well be worth exploring when an individual faces that poignant feeling that “something is missing”.

    Wishing you every good thing on your personal journey,


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