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We are easily fixated by new insights into our discontent. And in this era of neo-capitalism, which commodifies all human experience, such insights are ever easier to find through an online cornucopia of information provided by self-help gurus or professionals, sufficient or dubious qualifications notwithstanding. Yet commonly, we find that insights gained into why we are not feeling fully vibrant do not relieve our suffering. Typically answers to “why” only accord our suffering a pathologizing pigeonhole and generate others opportunities for snake oil sales. Each why that is answered seems to generate more whys until we are caught in a spiralling plethora of insights that capture us in a neurotic obsession to end our suffering. Meanwhile the restorative and healing answer remains elusive. The situation is not hopeless however because insight can translate into well-being if we resist using insight as an intellectual defense against meaningful and conscious suffering.
The depth psychological tradition’s approach to healing what ails us is paradoxical. By not seeking to stop the suffering but rather consciously examine its symbolic nature, what ails us transforms by its own impetus into well-being. Why we suffer matters little. Understanding how we suffer and how we respond to suffering is essential to begin restoration. Encountering and addressing the meaningful purpose of our suffering is how we meet the psycho-spiritual imperatives of Individuation. What ails us need never be pathologized to effect healing. Due to the complexity of our psychophysiological well-being, the why or causation for our discontent is not logically determinable. This is especially so when psycho-spiritual or physical injury occurs before we have developed language or contextual frameworks for our experience. Our suffering requires of us to understand its symbolic gesture that calls for us to tend to the depth of our wound.
How then do we then do we meaningfully experience the depth of our distress, especially if the distress triggers uncomfortable memories? Especially if our angst is of the existential type – feeling like we might just die or fall into nothingness. Especially when our ego helps us deny the reality of our vulnerability by stacking up insights but never allows us to meaningfully embody them. So how do we begin?
We begin by throwing out Why? and compassionately witnessing our symbolic and feeling responses to Who? What? When? and Where? We can ask ourselves:
Who is here now?
Who did what?
What imagines or fantasies arise?
When did it occur in our lifetime?
Where is it occurring? Body part? Emotional field? Place? Time? Sociocultural milieu?
It is through pondering our response to who, what, when, and where that we embody insights and experience healing and the profundity of our wholeness.