Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Merry Stuff-mas: Depth Psychotherapy, Being & Having

December 2nd, 2013 · depth, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

Depth psychotherapy is deeply concerned with our real identity; one key dimension of  that identity is the distinction between being and having.

depth psychotherapy

The fascinating photo above was included in a flyer sent to my home just before Black Friday by a major wireless and internet services provider.

It shows a family moment of warm togetherness in some outdoor setting.  Four people and 3 electronic devices — 2 smartphones and a tablet — visible in the picture.  The people appear very connected, with laughter, smiles and lots of touch.  Apparently, wireless content is being shared between them, and, somehow, it’s the source of all this warmth, mirth and belonging.  The picture implies that if we get more wireless services, we’ll get more family connection.

Really?

 Fantasy Spells and Stuff

Actually, many experience wireless technology as alienating and isolating people, and as reducing conversation and interaction.  To go to a shopping mall or restaurant in 2013 is to see masses of people hunched over,  making love to their devices rather than interacting with others.

It’s striking how the above picture ties into our yearning for connection, belonging and participation in family in the fullest sense of the word.  It’s a wonderful fantasy of warmth and love, apparently associated with this technology — even though our real world experiences of it is often the exact opposite.

Our era bombards us with messages that more  — more stuff, the right kind of stuff — will solve the problems in our lives.  Particularly the problems of relationship, meaning and feeling secure in who we are.

Consumer goods get associated with fantasies, which advertising spreads through our whole society.  The promise is that, if only we own the product being sold, our lives will be more.

Archetypal Hijack

Advertising for “stuff” often taps archetypal themes.  Certainly, the above picture holds some of the most significant archetypes — Mother; Father; Family and Belonging, or attachment.

Archetypal themes exist in the human psyche and point us toward the things in human life that matter, and that are meaningful.  But the above advertisement implies that archetypally based needs can be met cheaply, and without really opening up or exploring our lives in any meaningful sense — by simply owning stuff.  To own the product is somehow to possess or live the fantasy associated with the product.

Depth psychotherapy

Being and Having

Our society is fundamentally confused about the distinction between being, or in other words having a life, and having possessions.  Advertising seduces us into fantasies associated with certain types of possessions.

As humanistic psychologist Erich Fromm put it:

 The difference between being and having is the difference between a society centered around persons and one centered around things.  Modern humanity cannot understand the spirit of a society that is not centered in property…

The being/having tension arises profoundly during the holidays.  Ostensibly, this season celebrates the transcendent values of several of the world’s great spiritual traditions.  Yet, in North American society, it often turns into a glorification of stuff, and of fantasies associated with owning the right stuff.  So, a season that should celebrate what is of deepest meaning in human life can often turn into a very degraded spectacle of the opposite.  Case in point: this now fairly famous video taken at a sale display of  televisions in a Wal-Mart on Black Friday:

Is this really what we’ve come to?  Apparently, the fantasy of “joy through stuff” isn’t quite working out for us.

Depth Psychotherapy and the Treasure of the Self

Depth psychotherapy focuses us on authentic connection with the archetypes, and on living them out for ourselves in our own real lives.  There’s nothing wrong with owning things, but ownership won’t make a meaningful human life.  Depth psychotherapy invites us on the journey to wholeness, and to the possession of the one thing that makes all the difference — our own authentic selves.

PHOTOS: © Rogers Communications   Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by  pr1001
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Crisis of Connection: Depth Psychotherapy & Eros, 1

September 13th, 2013 · depth, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

Often, depth psychotherapy reveals the need for real feeling and relationship in an individual’s life, and highlights the crisis of connection that characterizes our lives now.

depth psychotherapy

It’s not the only factor, but technology highlights the fact that, in this culture, at this time, we have a big disconnection issue.

Technology and Connection: A Thumbnail Sketch

Recently, I sat in our biggest local shopping centre early on a Friday evening, having a coffee. I noticed a man who stood in front of a store, texting.  He remained there motionless, typing, for a very long time.  He seemed to be completely oblivious to anything in the world, other than what was appearing on his cell phone screen. Eventually a woman I assumed to be his partner came and stood beside him, but he just kept on texting endlessly, obliviously. Finally his whole family came to stand beside him, but he seemed completely shut off from them.  He just kept texting.  Eventually, after quite a while, he finished, and seemed to leave his trance and be aware of others, in particular, his family

A number of possible interpretations that could be put on these events.  But, to me, it seemed that this was a situation of someone so caught up in texting, that he was completely disconnected from the world around him — including the people who care about him.

The Siren Song of Connection

It’s a fact of importance for individual therapy that we are now continuously confronted with the immediacy of technology: smartphones, tablets, laptops — you name it.  This omnipresence of information devices highlights a stunning reality: in the 21st century, many of us are more connected to our machines than to the people in our lives.

Machines seem to promise connection, to make it omnipresent.  And they do deliver, for we can use them to convey any amount of information.  But what they are far less good at is bringing people into actual relationship.

depth psychotherapy

What Is It To Genuinely Connect?

To genuinely connect with another human being, in an in-depth way involves risk, vulnerability and imagination.  To genuinely connect, as in love or deep friendship, or even just really listening, is to be open to continually changing and adapting our understanding of the person to which we are connected.

The information era is a time of steadily escalating pressure to check out from genuine connection.  In my opinion, this is at the cost of much of our true human-ness.

Here are the words of the Jungian analyst Aldo Carotenuto, on the real nature of Eros, or connectedness:

 

Break Through

Connection involves breaking through in the outer world.  Reaching out to the other in the midst of all the priorities and demands that scream at us, to break through with

Genuine connection with another involves a real break through in the inner world, as well.  It requires an open-ness to letting the other be who they genuinely are, and a preparedness on my part to accept everything that my encounter with the other person brings up in me — even if it’s very unfamiliar.

The focus on finding the genuine connection that we truly need is often a key element of depth psychotherapy.

PHOTOS: Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by Kevin Lawver  ;  Rhys A.
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

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Depth Psychotherapy and Nature, Outer & Inner

July 31st, 2013 · depth, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

Depth psychotherapy concerns itself with nature — inner human nature, which is fundamentally connected with outer nature, which we often experience so powerfully in the summer season.

depth psychotherapy

Nature, Inner & Outer

The McMichael Art Gallery is currently exhibiting a wonderful group of works by photographer Ansel Adams.  Just to declare my bias: Adams was one of the great artists of the 20th century.  In works like “Aspens, Northern New Mexico” above, he opens up a vision of outer nature that resonates profoundly our own inner life — our inner nature.

Jung on Nature

Jung’s depth psychotherapy was similarly concerned with the relationship between nature and the human mind.  He wrote a lot about his own experience of nature:

“At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go , in the procession of the seasons.  There is nothing with which I am not linked.”

C.G. Jung, MDR

depth psychotherapy

IMAGE, JUNG’S RED BOOK

But Jung cautioned western culture:

“Our intellect has  created a new world that dominates nature, and has populated it with monstrous machines….

‘We have conquered nature’ is a mere slogan.  In reality we are confronted with anxious questions, the answers to which seem nowhere in sight.  The so-called conquest of nature overwhelms us…

Western man has no need of more superiority over nature whether outside or inside.  He has both in almost devilish perfection.  What he lacks is conscious recognition of his inferiority to the nature around him and within him.  He must learn that he may not do exactly as he wills.  If he doesn’t learn this, his own nature will destroy him.  He does not know that his own soul is rebelling against him in a suicidal way.

The one thing we refuse to admit is that we are dependent on “powers” beyond our control…

The afternoon of humanity, in a distant future, may yet evolve a different ideal.  In time, even conquest will cease to be the dream.”

C.G. Jung, CW 11; CW 18

Jung anticipated the eco-psychology and environmental psychology of our era by 50-60 years.  I’m struck by the way that he brings it together with depth psychotherapy and the unconscious mind.

Peace with Outer and Inner Nature

Jung stressed connections between natural landscapes and the unconscious.  He spoke in very positive terms of consciousness of indigenous people, as when he stated

“The country [the indigenous person] inhabits is at the same time the topography of his unconscious”

[CW 10]

The unconscious and nature in its outer form are profoundly connected: there is a strong similarity in the ways in which consciousness relates to both.  Jung notes that modern culture has an attitude of exploitation towards nature, seeking the “conquest” of nature.  This manifests in dismissal and contempt of inner nature — the unconscious dimensions of the personality, and the rhythms of bodily existence.  Result: people fundamentally at odds with their own being.

Depth psychotherapy aims at staying real by re-establishing an intimate relationship with nature, inner and outer.

PHOTOS: “Aspens, Northern New Mexico”  © 1958 Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust ; C.G. jung, Red Book, © 1958
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Help for Anxiety Through Depth Psychotherapy 4: Concern

February 24th, 2013 · Anxiety, depth psychotherapy, help for anxiety, Psychotherapy

Concern sounds like such a benign word, yet disproportionate concern can be a sign of needing help for anxiety.

help for anxiety

Well, Isn’t It Good to be Concerned?

Yes, of course it is !

Life is full of all sorts of things that need our concern — that’s the source of the meaning in our lives.  However, concern can get distorted into anxiety so intense that it gets in the way of our genuine living.

We have concerns because we value certain key things in our lives.  But when the concern becomes so intense that it destroys much of the value in our lives… well, …that’s a concern.

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Concern for Others

Inevitably, we’re going to be concerned for people in our lives whom we love — children and lovers, for example.  But that concern can escalate to a level where we definitely need help for anxiety.

In such cases,  the line may get crossed between our genuine caring for the security of the other, and other factors such as:

  • unconscious desire for power or control,
  • out of control guilt feelings,
  • unconscious identification with the other, and desires to live our unlived lives through them; or,
  • radical insecurity, and fear of the future.

Any of these, and many other factors, can masquerade as caring, and can get blurred and mixed in with genuine feelings of love.  Concern can get so extreme that it colours everything in my life — and becomes obsession.

help for anxiety

Obsession Colours Everything

We can defend ourselves from our own mixed feelings by wearing the mask of obsessive care — “I just love and care for her/him/it so much!”  Such “love’ can actually push away unconscious feelings about ourselves and our lives that we’d rather not have.

Overwhelming Concern

Where our concern becomes overwhelming, or disproportionate, or it completely violates tour personal boundaries, we need to examine, not only the impact of this concern upon our lives, but also its deepest roots.  In this way, our search for help for anxiety may take us into issues of depth that might not have been at all apparent initially.

This clip from WGN-TV in Chicago masterfully opens up one form of such overwhelming concern: the “helicopter parent” phenomenon:


In this clip, Linda, the mother,  does have very genuine and deep love for her son, Anthony.  However, her feelings of guilt and regret have built up her concern for him to such an extent that she cannot say “No”.  This must surely be debilitating both in her own life, and in its impact on her son.

What’s the Real Concern?

When our concern gets in the way of our freedom, our autonomy and our capacity to fully live our lives, we may very well require help for anxiety.  To free our concern from underlying entanglement with unconscious issues and conflicts can be a key part of our process of individuation, and a key part of work in depth psychotherapy.

PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved by [ Roberto Bouza ] ; victoriapeckham   VIDEO: “Helicopter Parents” © 2010 WGN-TV Chicago
© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Help for Anxiety Through Depth Psychotherapy 3: Worry

February 12th, 2013 · Anxiety, depth psychotherapy, help for anxiety, Psychotherapy

Relentless worry may well be the reason an individual seeks help for anxiety, and depth psychotherapy may play a key role in the process.

help for anxiety

The Unknown and Uncontrollable

One of the things that we have to accept is that a certain amount of anxiety is a perfectly normal part of life.  We have to expect that we will have — and we need — some anxiety.

But not crippling anxiety.  The famous therapist Rollo May differentiated between normal and unhealthy anxiety.  The unhealthy type is disproportionate worry that  results from consistent unwillingness to face the normal anxiety of life.  Even if only unconsciously, we know that anxiety is there: there’s nothing in the outer world that we have that we could not lose.  When we refuse to accept and tolerate anxiety as an inevitable part of life, we  set ourselves up for pathological anxiety and out-of-control worrying.

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Worry and Denial of Anxiety

Healthy anxiety is the kind that we can accept and deal with.  We can do something about it, and the anxiety dissipates.

But if we cannot accept the presence of  healthy anxiety in our lives, and of our true feelings, it intensifies, and we set ourselves up for out-of-control worrying.  Toxic worry can bring chronic tension and fatigue, disturbed sleep, headaches, hyper-alertness, irritability, reduced ability to concentrate, bodily problems, panic attacks, or even psychiatric symptoms. It can make us quite sick and quite miserable.  When it gets this intense, we definitely need help for anxiety.

Worry and Persona

Our inability to accept our normal anxiety often relates to our desire to be perceived by others in a certain way.  We get heavily invested in being seen by the world in a particular way.  We frantically guard what Jung called the persona — our image — often driven by fear that others will see us in a negative light.  We worry, often unconsciously, that the world might show us up as other than our carefully constructed social mask.

Is it possible that we’re too invested in this outer image, for whatever reason, and too out of touch with our real identity?

Worry and the Unacknowledged Self

Worry takes us back to the question of our ability to be conscious of, and to accept ourselves and life.

When we divorce ourselves from the hypnotic image of the social self, the persona, can we really accept who’s there?  Can we accept our real situation in life?  Can we get free of the often crushing weight of internalized expectations and perfectionism?

Self awareness and self acceptance is central to therapeutic help for anxiety, and indeed for any approach to therapy that truly has transformative power for the individual’s life, as Rollo May tells us:

The capacity for self acceptance, and for accepting one’s life as it is, without illusion, is at the heart of reducing the level of anxiety in our lives.  The journey of self-discovery that enables such acceptance is a key element in the kind of help for anxiety and worry provided by depth psychotherapy.

What are the circumstances that create worry in your life?

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PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved by jonrawlinson ; VIDEO: © psychotherapy.net

 

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Restless: Help for Anxiety Through Depth Psychotherapy

February 3rd, 2013 · Anxiety, depth psychotherapy, help for anxiety, Psychotherapy

One kind of help for anxiety is to take the restless character of anxiety seriously, and to fully explore it, as depth psychotherapy does.

help for anxiety

Restlessness is a very frequently described symptom of anxiety.  There are many individual experiences of anxiety in which restlessness is prominent — even the most prominent symptom.

What if we were to really examine the restless aspect of anxiety, and approach it from the point of view of depth psychotherapy?  What might we learn about the nature of our restlessness?

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I Cannot be at Rest

In anxiety,  restlessness may be a continual companion.  It may be an inability to focus, or the sensation that I simply cannot be at peace, or relax.  In a restless state, we search for something that we never find.

From a depth psychotherapy perspective, such restless anxiety can often be rooted in what is going on the the unconscious, and the best help for anxiety may well be to help the individual to find what it is that is restless within the more fundamental parts of the self.

Denial of our Instinctual Grounding

Like all things in depth psychology, help for anxiety comes from understanding the uniqueness of the individual and his or her situation.  The roots of our restlessness may not be immediately obvious.  It may stem from living in a way that is fundamentally at odds with who we are in our individual nature.

As we examine ourselves in depth, we may well find that we subject ourselves to inhuman demands.  We may well be living in a manner where we are not listening to our deepest and most fundamental feelings, longings and yearnings — and may not even have the freedom to admit these things to ourselves.

What is it that I’m really feeling, or, really restless or longing for?  What part of me is it that believes that I must “suck it up”, and deny these feelings and realities in my life?

Truths of the Blood

Jung wrote about the the need to align our lives with the fundamental truths of our lives that lie at the basis of the human psyche, which he called the truths of the blood.  As he put it,

Deviation from the truths of the blood begets … restlessness, and we have had about enough of that these days.  Restlessness [in turn] begets meaninglessness… (Jung, CW 8)

I know of no better musical portrayal of the psychological reality of that restless meaninglessness than “The Good Life” by the avante-garde jazz musician Ornette Coleman:

 

So long as we are not listening to the reality of our own lives, our own feelings and our own instinctual reactions, we may experience our lives as restless and devoid of meaning.  The help for anxiety that we need may well be rooted in self-acceptance, and discovering the vitality in ourselves that lies out of sight in the depths — and that is the key work of depth psychotherapy.

PHOTO:  Attribution Some rights reserved bee wolf ray  VIDEO: “The Good Life” © Ornette Coleman © Verve Music Group, UMG Recordings Inc.
© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

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Uneasy: Help for Anxiety Through Depth Psychotherapy

January 20th, 2013 · Anxiety, depth psychotherapy, help for anxiety, Psychotherapy

When it comes to help for anxiety, depth psychotherapy can change our understanding and enable healing in depth.

help for anxiety

 Telling Someone to “Just Relax” Doesn’t Work

People with hypertension or other stress-related medical conditions often get told by medical personnel to “just relax”.  That’s much harder to do than it sounds.  While such advice is intended as help for anxiety, very often inf severely anxious or driven people it creates increased anxiety — “getting anxious about being anxious”.  Or else, people rage, either: 1) at themselves, because “I can’t even do a simple thing like relaxing”, or, 2) at external circumstances.

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Everyone Wants to Eliminate Anxiety; No One Wants to Understand It

As Dr. Cara Barker, the author of the “World Weary Woman” study reminds us, in medical literature on driven and/or perfectionist personalities,

“…the emphasis is on symptoms as negative, something to be eradicated.  Anger and anxiety are viewed as toxic, rather than in terms of what they might be trying to communicate.”

Here’s where depth psychotherapy provides unique help for anxiety.  It stays with the key question, “What might anxiety be trying to communicate about my life?”

Jungian Analyst Marion Woodman on “Healing as Making Whole”

Anxious Dreams

Anxiety will often manifest itself in dreams.  In fact, it’s often the anxious dreams that we remember, because they are the ones that wake us up, as Dr. Donald Broadribb reminds us.

Depth psychotherapy can often use dreams as important help for anxiety, because dreams often point to the root situation in the life of the individual that is creating the anxiety.   For instance, if an individual is dealing with a recurring dream that he or she has had since childhood, this may often indicate that the particular anxiety that the person is experiencing now is connected in some substantial way with anxieties or issues that have been present in a person’s life for an extremely long time, and that need to be explored.

The importance of dreams as a help for anxiety can be that they take us into the deeper meaning of the anxiety, and past the place of simply viewing it as a symptom.  Nonetheless, there are many other possible approaches to the meaning of anxiety.

The Meaning of Anxiety Symptom

In our culture, people are socialized to deal with difficulties by applying more and more effort to them.  Often latent, unexpressed perfectionism keeps us pushing harder and harder to solve the problems in our lives, and that keeps increasing anxiety levels.  Often, this is rooted in a deep-seated feeling that we are simply not good enough.  We are often not inclined to look inside ourselves until we encounter anxiety and pain so intense that we can’t use our ordinary strategies to defend against it.  Then we’re forced to realize that effort of will is not going to solve our problems; we really need to get in touch with what’s going on in our heart.  At that point, depth psychotherapy provides the most effective form of help for anxiety.

PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved by danisabella  Video: © Marion Woodman ; inspirationandspirit

 

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Depth Psychotherapy, Mass Man & Finding Meaning in Life

September 22nd, 2012 · depth psychotherapy, finding meaning in life, Meaning, Psychotherapy

Finding meaning in life is a key challenge for the individual in our era, and a key way that depth psychotherapy can help in this process is by enabling the individual to separate his or her thinking and feeling from that of the mass.

depth psychotherapy

In our highly wired, content saturated era, this entails helping the individual distinguish him- or herself from the messages conveyed by all the endless variety of contemporary media.

Menaced by Message

It is often no exaggeration, in our era, to say that the person on the path of individuation can easily find her- or himself drowning in a tsunami of message.  In Jung’s time, the power of media persuasion was already so pervasive that he could see in it an obstacle to the individuation process.  In our time the intrusiveness of media both isolates the person, and makes it that much harder to know what is really the inner voice on the personal journey to finding meaning in life.  An explosion of images can lead to a shrivelling of feeling and imagination.

Inner Crowding

In our era, many of us are subject to a kind of “inner crowding” stemming from the continual presence of social media.  Recently, a client told me about the experience of going to a bar that he has frequented for years, and finding that where the bar used to be full of conversation, now all the patrons were quietly sitting and typing into their smartphones.  The bar was “crowded” with the presence of a whole number of people who weren’t physically there.

I Tweet Therefore I Am

Depth Psychotherapy and the” Voice of the Self”

A connected world isn’t inherently bad!  On the contrary, there are many things about it that have the potential to serve and augment key human values and finding meaning in life.  However, it’s essential to distinguish my individual identity and authentic inner voice from the ever increasing din of background noise from relentlessly pressing and persuasive messages .

“Counsel for the Defence”

Depth psychotherapy has a vital role in fostering awareness of the authentic inner voice — the thoughts, feelings and images that emerge from my real identity.  In the quiet container of depth psychotherapy or Jungian analysis, the authentic essence of the individual is discerned, emerges and strengthens.  The therapist or analyst does play the role of “counsel for the defence”: often, the voice of the unique, individual self and its yearnings must be strengthened against the endless noise of social convention and the crowd.

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Counselling for Anxiety & Depth Psychotherapy 4: Freedom

June 25th, 2012 · Anxiety, counselling for anxiety, depth psychotherapy, freedom, Psychotherapy

counselling for anxiety
Freedom is a word often heard in counselling for anxiety; it’s also a key concept in depth psychotherapy.  People who are really gripped by anxiety want nothing more than to be free of it.  We all deeply yearn for freedom; but can we really tolerate having it?

What kind of freedom would really help us deal with anxiety?

Freedom to Acknowledge Who We Are

The inability to accept our own deepest reactions, feelings and thoughts, and to give ourselves the freedom to experience them can be a major source of anxiety.  Often it stems from a deep fear that who and what we are is fundamentally unacceptable.  In the face of such fear, it often takes real courage to face and accept who we are, and what we think and feel.

As Jungian analyst Marion Woodman puts it in  The Pregnant Virgin :

Healing depends on listening with the inner ear – stopping the incessant blather, and listening.  Fear keeps us chattering – fear that wells up from the past, fear of blurting out what we really fear, fear of future repercussions.  It is our very fear of the future that distorts the now, that could lead to a different future if we dared to be whole in the present.

False Self and Taboos

We may experience taboos against acknowledging our real feelings and thoughts, and even accepting who we are.  We may well find elements of ourselves (“complexes”) that deflect us powerfully from being fully honest with ourselves.  As we get closer to penetrating this layer, we may find that the very anxiety we are seeking to get rid of flares up, as a layer of defense against the truth of who and what we are.

The Freedom of Acceptance

If we can accept our deepest selves, this acceptance is often accompanied by an immense sense of freedom and relief.  As I described in my earlier post, when counselling for anxiety has brought us to the place where we feel that we are “enough’, in this way, it has largely accomplished its task.

Choice

To be free is to have real choice.  It entails awareness that I’m free to choose to be and to live in accordance with my real nature, rather than shackled by external expectations and my own inner rejection of who I really am. The heart of the work of depth psychotherapy is to get us to this place of acceptance and genuine free choice.

PHOTO:  Attribution Some rights reserved by mattwi1s0n

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Counselling for Anxiety & Depth Psychotherapy, 3: Enough

June 11th, 2012 · Anxiety, counselling for anxiety, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

counselling for anxiety

Depth psychotherapy concerns self-acceptance, and counselling for anxiety emphasizes that we are “enough” to deal with the situations of our lives.  So, what does it mean to to feel that we are “enough”?  How do we gain that level of self acceptance?

The Sense of Insufficiency

To answer that question, we must probe the roots of our self-doubt and self negation. This is a step that many approaches to counselling for anxiety unfortunately often neglect.  Nonetheless, the deepest sources of self negation and self-doubt are rooted in the unconscious. They are also rooted in the unique experience that the individual has had with life.

Tree of the Self

One of the most frequent symbols of the Self in the depth psychotherapy of Jung is the tree.  It’s a fascinating and powerful symbol: the roots of the tree extend so firmly into the earth (matter), while the trunk and branches of the tree extend upward into the sky (spirit).  A tree is wonderfully, totally “enough”: it is planted and grows according to the laws of its own being — as should we.

Too Much… and Too Little

Contrary to the emotional meaning of the symbol of the tree, many of us, in our early lives, experienced that, in some area or areas of our lives, we suffered from radical lack or insufficiency. We got the sense that we were too weak, too intense, too rowdy, too unusual or too something to meet the challenges that life was putting before us. The other part of the message was that, because we were too [fill in the blank] we would have to strive absolutely heroically just to measure up — at all.  It’s this poisonous burden, counselling for anxiety knows, that stokes the fires of anxiety.

Life in Myself and Being Enough

Within us, there is a part of us that feels sufficient, and has never forgotten who and what we really are.  In most lives, there have also been special people who were outward mirrors of this inward awareness.  In serving as these precious mirrors, these people also often hold for us the power of the archetypes that reside deep in the human soul: the positive father or mother archetype; the wise old man or wise old woman archetypes; the psychopomp, or guide to the true self.  Their names are unfamiliar, but we experience their reality.

The experience of depth psychotherapy is a journey into that archetypal reality, and into connection with the reality that we are enough.

PHOTO:  Attribution Some rights reserved by miggslives

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