Why do people do what they do? What are the stories we tell ourselves? What happens in that mind of mine?
How does the boundary look between the external, and the internal? Is that area comparable to where, in geology, the one tectonic plate moves under the other and create havoc, later on?
One psychologist once gave someone I know the following advice: “Bury it. Bury it under thick layers of concrete. And never think about it again.”
Interesting. But not very helpful, I’m afraid.
Neither psychology nor it’s more ‘scientific’ brother psychiatry are, in my view, what you’d call part of the ‘hard sciences’. Since both essentially deal with our consciousness – our awareness of what ‘is’ – and no scientist on earth dares make a statement about what that consciousness actually entails, where it’s based inside our bodies and what happens to it when our bodies die; both can hardly make any long-lasting claim to having any kind of “hard” insight.
When it comes to psychology, I am a fan of the works of James Hillman and Thomas Moore (find my interview with Moore here, as a podcast). They are amongst a group of psychologists who play and work with archetypes, myths, imagery and storytelling. As Moore says in our conversation: “I’m only interested in the images.”
It is through images, dreams and active imagination that our souls come out to speak; it is through events of synchronicity that tales get to come out from the hidden worlds of our soul, into the light of day.
We tell stories. Every day.
About everything that ever happened to us.
Most often the “facts” in those stories are much more a matter of perception, than something that occurred as and how we remembered it. Distilling those stories is what gives us clues as to where it is our soul wants to journey, what it needs to experience, how it sees life.
In the words of James Hillman: ‘If you are still being hurt by an event that happened to you at twelve, it is the thought that is hurting you now.’
At present I’m reading an oldie: Finding your own North Star, by Martha Beck (2001). How to claim the life you were meant to live. It’s the typical title of a self help book that has been filling the shelves for the last couple of decades. We’re trying to find answers to who it is we are, so we can be who we were supposed to be.
I like Beck’s book. She has a way of cutting through bullshit. Because she’s aiming straight for the “emotional shrapnel” which we’re all supposed to have. Cleanse a person from his or her shrapnel and the way is cleared for the pursuit of happiness.
For most of it.
I think there is great truth in what another psychologist wrote: James Hollis. I quote him in my own book.
So, then, the double-edged sword of wounding. There are wounds that crush the soul, distort and misdirect the energy of life, and those that prompt us to grow up.
Finding ways of letting go of the shrapnel, allowing for wounds to heal means that all the stories connected to those wounds also disappear.
And that – allowing a story to evaporate – is a difficult thing to do. Because that story defines so much of how we have come to see ourselves, and who we pretend to be (in the eyes of others as well as our own). They’re engrained in our physical fiber. A massage can let them out; acupuncture; reiki; holotropic breathwork. Therapy loosens them up too.
My worry is, when I look back at all my experiments with all of these different approaches is this: Nothing really changes until the day comes on which I dare let go of the most precious stories of myself, my self, and my Self. As a victim of something that once happened to me. I can’t change what happened; I can change how it affects me.
We can talk about every wound from the past until we are all blue in the face, but at the core of healing lies one simple act.
To let go.
James Hillman: Just stop for a minute and you’ll realize you’re happy just being. I think it’s the pursuit that screws up happiness. If we drop the pursuit, it’s right here.