Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Stress, Power, Resilience and Myth, Part 3: In Myself

October 31st, 2010 · 6 Comments · depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, personal myth, psychological crisis, resilience, Self, soul, therapy, wholeness

This is the third in my series of posts about resilience, and its role in the work of psychotherapy.  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.

Acceptance

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

 

PHOTO CREDIT: © Socrates | Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Oakville / Mississauga border)

6 Comments so far ↓

  • jamenta

    “Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me,
    I wish none of this had never happened.”

    Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times but
    that is not for them to decide. All you have
    to decide is what to do with the time given to you.”

    -Fellowship of the Ring [The film versiion]

  • Brian C

    Thanks for your comment, John. I think that it’s very relevant, in that it deals with the question of what we are to do with the “given-ness” of life. There are simply some things that we cannot change: they are just the way that they are, and we have to deal with them. But we do have the capacity to “decide what to do with the time given to us”. We can respond in ways where we seek for meaning and depth in our particular experiences, even our most painful ones. And we can search for a resilient and lasting sense of ourselves, to sustain us.

  • jamenta

    It is one of the themes I really loved about Tolkien’s work, and it really is in the heart of it throughout the three books – if you’ve read them. He really did write about hope and believed in it. But he also wrote about accepting our destiny and suffering. I imagine the kind of suffering Tolkien had to accept – he actually participating in the trenches in France during World War I – was a type of suffering few of us can relate to now. I know I could hardly imagine what it might have been like – that kind of horror – the horror of trench warfare.

    Thanks for your insightful response Brian. And perhaps that is one of the advantages of approaching the unconscious – i.e. “searching for a resilient and lasting sense of ourselves” – and I suspect you would tell me if you look within long enough and diligently enough, you will find a self resilient enough to accept the fate meted out to you …

  • Brian Collinson

    Thank you for your comment, John. I do strongly believe that there is a lasting and resilient sense of ourself that underlies the whole of our being, and that has the wisdom to embrace what it is that life brings to us. This is not based on any kind of rational awareness, but on another, deeper kind of knowing.

  • jamenta

    “Jung gave them something else; he wanted to get them to
    integrate the necessary suffering into their lives, to accept
    and bear it as part of their wholeness – for without darkness
    and sorrow there is no life.”
    -Jung’s Last Years

  • Brian C

    Thank you very much for your comment, Christie. Thank you also for being so open about your loss of a loved one. Grief is definitely one of those life experiences that asks the deepest questions of us, that really take us to the roots of our own existence. As you say, pain and loss are a fundamental part of our existence. The overwhelmingly important questions are how we can find meaning, and also how we can live with the questions that we can’t answer. The “not having all the answers” part is particularly hard for many therapists: we so want to be in control and to make it all better. Sometimes, though, the best thing we can give is to sit with people, and to witness what they are going through, without judgment, and without expectation. Sometimes doing that is actually healing, and is the very thing people need.

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