December 21st, 2014 · overcoming perfectionism
In Part 1, we saw why overcoming perfectionism and learning to let go are so important; here, we look at what we can start to do about it. An important question is: How do I begin to let go?
Marion Woodman, in her marvelous Pregnant Virgin shared some deep insights about getting beyond the woundedness that fosters perfectionism. She explores the image of “the pregnant virgin”as an archetypal symbol for the return to the unadulterated, spontaneous, creative self, in women and men alike:
What does one do when everything rational inside says “Let it go,” and everything emotional says. “I cannot”?… How does one rechannel love into fresh creative outlets? How does one reopen oneself to the flow of each new day? How does one become a virgin again? Or perhaps a better question: How does one become a virgin at all?
…Again and again we have to say to ourselves: what was my feeling in that situation…. Feeling evaluates what something is worth to me. What am I willing to put energy into? What is no longer of value to me? [italics mine]
This dimension of feeling — which is not the same as raw emotion — is essential. To get to how we really feel about things — beyond the complexes and “trips” put upon us by others and circumstance, is a key part of getting in touch with the spontaneous, unadulterated “virgin” self.
Find a Creative Passion
Exploring your deep creative aspects can definitely be a powerful way of getting in touch with the authentic self. It could be using clay, painting, writing prose or poetry, dancing when you’re alone in your living room, cooking, doing improv — really any of a huge number of possible outlets that take us out of our ordinary, everyday kind of awareness, and let the shy yet luminous being within each of us show him or herself. This is a topic I’ll be writing a great deal more about in the near future.
Do Analysis —Really Do It
Whether you call it Jungian analysis or depth psychotherapy, depth work that gradually brings the unconscious self into dialogue with the conscious self over time, can certainly facilitate the process of “letting go”, by bringing individuals into awareness of the deepest parts of the self.
Such in-depth exploration is not going to occur in 5 or 6 sessions. Yet, over a period of time, good depth psychotherapy work can help us feel much more connected to our own individual, spontaneous reality. This is particularly true if the analyst/ therapist is continually bringing us back to both our bodily awareness (please see below) and the activity of the unconscious, in dreams and elsewhere.
Truly Listen to Your Body
This is about doing body work. Body work does not mean just “working out”. It’s possible to do all kinds of incredibly strenuous “working out” — and still be entirely alienated from your body. It’s all well and good to do an “Iron Man Marathon”; yet we need consciousness of the subtle awareness inherent in our flesh, rather than treating our flesh as if it were made out of iron.
As a general guideline, any approach that treats the body as a machine, or treats the physical world as fundamentally illusory is not going to help. We need the awareness that will keep us right in our flesh, knowing that consciousness is just as present in our left little toe as it is in our heads. Such awareness can often be a part of depth psychotherapy.
To let go into the flow of our lives, and the reality of our own being is fundamental to true depth psychotherapy.
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst