More than we think, we as adults generate our psychic sufferings. We don’t think we do, but we do. We’re immensely biased to believe our problems come from outside of us. Often, they come from the inside. Of course, external childhood and adulthood traumas are real and take root in the psyche. They dig in and can cause an endless cycle of problems and illnesses. But one day, we realize that what came from the outside is now inside and needs attention. Otherwise, everything is projected outward and becomes traumatic, emotional drama after drama playing out in our life like an onstage play. Fortunately, psychic pain always carries the seed of its own cure.
We Have a Choice
Patients in depth psychotherapy are caught in a whirlwind of relational pain and hoped-for cure. Life hangs in the balance. Over time, individuals learn to turn within and reflect on themselves and their life. Insights often unearth dark energies that have stirred up life troubles and uncannily drawn bad situations and dysfunctional people their way. It seems like bad things just happen out of the blue. But, when we take time to learn from our feelings and dreams, we come to see that there’s a reason for them. Then, we’re ready to understand that we can do something about our predicament.
Humanistic and phenomenological depth psychology teaches about the reality of self-empowerment. Even in horrid predicaments, we have a choice. In an online professional listserv with other psychologists today, we talked about the ability to choose. I related a saying that we have a good dog and a bad dog in us. Which one lives depends on which one we feed. We keep feeding the emotional drama by blaming others rather than stopping and looking closely at ourselves and our life.
Begin Your Healing Process
Our ability to choose empowers us to begin our own healing and growth process. People look for a different locale or a partner to change things up for them—make them happier. It doesn’t work. Outer changes don’t automatically translate to inner changes. We have to start with coming to terms with the dark emotions and dreams on the inside, then we stand a good chance of changing the outside for the good.
Slowly and painfully, patients listen to vital feeling states and dreams. Emotions and dream symbols open up vistas of experience that lead to a greater understanding of self and others. Off in the distance, a light starts to faintly glow at the end of a dark emotional and spiritual tunnel. Along the way, step by step, we deal with buried feelings, set our attitudes on course, and let go of dead-end relationships. Dream images guide us along the way, inch by inch through the dark tunnel. Then, the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter. Light dawns only after sensitive and patient turning within, soul tending.
Pain is There—Cure is There
A person I knew socially complained about not sleeping. He asked me what I thought. I remarked that sometimes we don’t sleep because we fear our dreams. We run from going down deep into the unconscious mind, the realm of sleeping and dreaming. He resisted going to bed, nervous behaviors keeping him up till all hours. Headaches developed. Other physical symptoms followed. Some weeks later, he said that what I told him kept coming back to him. Our meeting again was a sign, he said, that he needed to take my words to heart. I encouraged him once again to allow extra time for sleep and rest.
The pain was there, so I knew the cure was also there. Resistance to inner truth generates physical and psychic pain. He finally succumbed to sleeping more regularly. Dreams followed. They detailed relationship conflicts he had refused to face, decisions needing to be made and followed through with.
I’m not sure how things went for this man since I haven’t seen him for some time. But I do know that once dark realities are brought to light, the potential to heal is set in motion. Once we see what’s wrong, we can find some clarity about what we can do to set things right. It’s never easy, but the tough going of following through with necessary life changes is a hundred times better than the misery of staying stuck. We initiate our cure by understanding that psychic pain always carries the seed of its own cure.