“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Carl Jung
How willing are you to be aware of your emotional pain? Do you use pleasant experiences or material things to make you feel better or deaden the pain? Do you have the courage to face and heal the deeper truth?
In the first blog of this series, I wrote about how our wounds often lead us to see what needs to be healed in our lives. Although we see them as part of our emotional darkness, they are gifts. In the second part of the series, I pointed out that we all need love in our lives and that it may come from many sources if we are open to seeing it. Today, I want to write about the importance of letting go of our attachment to the pain we experience.
Fear of Letting go of Pain
Years ago, after a painful divorce, I began seeing a therapist to help me deal with the deep betrayal of my husband. At the time, I was teaching modern dance and dancing with a company and choreographing. As the therapy progressed, I began to feel better about myself and spent less time overwhelmed by negative emotions, but one day I became very upset during a session.
“Sometimes I’m afraid that getting ‘well’ will destroy my creativity. It’s changing something in me, and I don’t feel I need to create so much. I feel like I’m losing my creative edge.”
“How is it doing that?” my therapist asked.
“Because it’s the inner turmoil that makes me want to create. If I get well, I’ll have no reason to create!”
“What if being healthy makes you more creative?”
I only shrugged, but as I thought about this, I was unable to imagine how that could be so.
(Excerpted from Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness)
Why We Won’t Let Go
We all have belief systems that keep us trapped in unhealthy places. That’s why many people refuse to get help for their problems. They’re afraid to discover what lies in their darkness or are so insecure that they cannot handle the idea that they have done something wrong or are not all right. My mother is a good example. She could not let go of the idea that she wasn’t a good Christian if she loved herself. Her entire sense of worth was based on what she did for others. She was a loving person in many ways, but very unhappy and took care of herself only so she wouldn’t burden others.
Sometimes, though, we take the risk, and in our process of changing, we begin to feel better and hit another layer of fear that limits our consciousness. We may cling to our negative feelings simply because they are so familiar, just as we cling to negative relationships because they are known and nothing scares us like the unknown. Letting go of these attachments is often a big step.
Becoming Conscious of Our Shadow
Fortunately, though, after my divorce, I liked feeling better more than being in pain and decided that my ideas for dances could come from many sources, even the past negative feelings, for I could remember them, even if I no longer felt them. I filed them away as I would any reference material and took responsibility for making myself happier.
Through therapy and through reading and attending workshops as a member of the Carl Jung Society in New Orleans for ten years, I learned to understand my difficulties and how to resolve them. I learned about the value of what Jung calls, “the Shadow.” It is that dark part of ourselves that we don’t want to see, but the less conscious we are of it, the more it harms us. Becoming enlightened or conscious requires that we examine and heal it, for when we become conscious of the thoughts or experiences that have caused our pain, we can heal them, then let go and move on.
All Spiritual Healing Requires the Journey Inward
This spiritual journey inward may seem eccentric to some people who have bought into our materialistic society. Eventually, the materialism fails to solve the problems. The drugs that seemed to make us feel better become a destructive addiction. All of the “cures” for our pain only create an illusion of temporary healing. The only true healing takes place when we go within, and that is often true of physical, as well as emotional pain. We have to bring it to the surface, heal it, and let it go.
We can free ourselves only when we become conscious. No one I’ve read has written more clearly about our pain than Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose in his discussion of the “pain body” and how to heal it. I highly recommend this book. (See Links I Like at the side bar)
What pain have you healed recently? Please comment.
© 2012 Georganne Spruce