Therapy: Pain-Killer or Path To Myself? PART TWO
This is the second part in my series “Therapy: Pain-Killer or Path to Myself?” PART ONE appeared last week. In this second part, I discuss some things from my own experience of therapy throughout the years, and in particular,
5 THINGS THAT SUSTAIN ME ON THE JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS
These are five particular insights that have often kept me moving forward and that have sustained me at times when I got discouraged or perhaps even felt like leaving my therapy. Time and time again they have proven themselves true as I have sought to understand myself and to keep moving forward on my therapeutic journey.
1. The Psyche Fundamentally Wants to Heal Itself.
There is something within each of us that strives to unify all the parts of ourselves, and that seeks to bring all our wounded aspects back into healing and acceptance. At times we can experience a sense of despair at our own broken-ness, and it can feel like the parts of ourselves where we experience pain can never feel better. But if I can face my pain and grief, if I can really experience how I’ve been hurt, and if I can be open to the unconscious, not only as obstacle, but as the source of my own healing, I can begin to find, not any kind of “perfection”, but an acceptance of who I am in my totality. This experience of our totality is the experience of the Self.
2. Better to Relate to the Unconscious than to be its Victim
Whether you are aware of it or not, the unconscious is an active factor in your life. It is always acting in relationship to consciousness. Also, it is often trying to get the conscious mind to adopt attitudes or to come to different new kinds of awareness that align with what is in the unconscious. Sometimes being unaware of the unconscious and its intentions can lead to very negative consequences. I have certainly been aware of people who have been sabotaged by the unconscious in some dramatic ways, often through rage that they didn’t understand. For some very pragmatic reasons, struggling to make unconscious materials conscious can be a very prudent thing to do.
3. The Truth Will Set You Free — but First, Things May Get Demanding
It can be hard when what has been in the unconscious finally does come into consciousness. Even though things may have been painful in my life in important ways, when the awareness of that pain really comes to stand front and center in my awareness, the pain can seem far worse than I had ever experienced. But if we can tolerate, rather than run from the pain and the intensity of feeling, it will bring us to new kinds of awareness and new attitudes to our lives. And that means more wisdom and more freedom. The pain doesn’t mean that the therapy isn’t working — it means that it is.
4. What Am I Really Yearning For?
“And I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” goes the chorus of an old U2 song. But how can I find what it is that I’m looking for, if I don’t know what it is that I’m really yearning to find? Often, I can’t know what I’m yearning for, until I know more of who I am. More often than not, the only real way to greater self-knowledge of this kind is through therapy.
5. There is Someone in Me Who is Trying to Emerge
The reality of the Self is the emergence of my awareness of everything that I am. For the whole of my life, all the various elements of myself are striving to be brought together in one unified whole. That wholeness is human, and so has nothing to do with perfection, moral or otherwise. But the thing that draws me on through life is this pull toward the unified and unique me. That is the goal of individuation, the name Jung gave to the process that goes on continuously within me. Something is calling my name: it is my own being, my Self. Throughout my life, I’m either moving towards wholeness or away from it. Beyond the end of the road of therapy, the Self beckons.
My next and final post in this three-part series will on “Some Common Roadblocks on the Path to Myself.” I would welcome your comments on any of the parts of this series. How do these issues resonate with you? What’s your experience?
Brian Collinson, www.briancollinson.ca ;