Worry can plague you. It digs and jabs, disrupts and jumbles: your sense of serenity dislodged. According to Rick Hanson, PhD, anxiety—a form of worry—allowed our ancestors to survive. Being able to sense danger, to determine if it was safe to approach, to avoid or move on allowed our ancestors to see another day. But when we focus on the bad, the good gets left behind. Luckily our brain can be trained . . .
One of the top complaints I hear from people who come into my office is “I’m stuck.” What they are saying without realizing it is that they’re stuck in repeating scenes with repetitive themes in their lives, either with the same or different people, over and over again.
Where do you feel like a captive of your world? is it that you cannot quit your job? your relationship? your way of being with your parents? Your health? Where does it feel like you have no power? Where do you feel like you can change everything else about your life, but this one thing and you’re stuck with it?
Living in a world of uncertainty, a world filled with violence and struggle, natural and human-made disasters, it can be easy to feel a sense of overwhelm and anger or perhaps a sense of collapse and helplessness in the face of such adversity. While some may set their feelings aside, maybe runaway by numbing out with food, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc., others may feel an intensity, a rage that compels them to fight against whoever or whatever stands in their way. Others may simply put their head in the proverbial sand or hang limp as if playing possum and yield to the dangers around them.
Writing this post, I sense my heart is open, my soul calm, my spirit fulfilled, my being immersed in the gratitude for all that is here and now, in this moment, and for all who have given and continue to give their life, their liberty, their freedom to protect all of us, all over the world.
I find it simply amazing how much we can build tolerance to being with the discomfort of our emotions and challenging/confronting our belief systems. Sure, the beginning is the hardest. It can even feel like you will die if you go there. That’s the young terrified child in you that used their mind to separate from the pain in the first place. Now as an adult, or even a teenager, you have the capacity to take care of those parts. It’s like the first time you go to a gym. If you’ve never been before, the machines are daunting, and the weights don’t mean anything because you don’t know what you can do.
I have been with my partner for a few years and have grown to feel comfortable and welcome within the family. Until one morning that is, when I saw they had made plans for a family outing without including me in the decision-making process. No one asked for my opinion, my insights, my thoughts, nothing. I felt ignored, shut out, rejected. I felt like an outcast. These feelings, based on how I interpreted their actions, shocked my system. I doubted myself and how I experienced my relationships with these individuals. I tried to figure out why. I wondered, was I enough as a person to deserve feeling accepted by them in the past or was I wrong assuming they liked me and that I was accepted by them. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t have a chance to fully process my experience in the moment. I had to pause to deal with other interactions happening around me. I managed to push the feelings of rejection down to look at later. Still in a bit of shock, I directed my attention to other things. Then, as life happens, I got distracted. I went about my day wondering why I felt cranky. There was no cheering myself up nor figuring out why I felt out of sorts; the reasons escaped me though the feelings entrapped me. I had pushed that painful moment down so far, I forgot about my pain. Yet I was cranky enough that even though my mind had dismissed the precipitating event, my body clung to the results. I wanted to be cheerful but there was no way to free myself from this cranky fog.
What do you think of when you hear the word “dissociate”? Do you wonder what it means, or think “I never do that” or maybe, “that’s my go-to reaction”, or anything in between? What is dissociation? The dictionary tells us it is separation, disconnect of parts (dictionary.com). So how does it show up in our psyche? Dissociation can be any moment you might disconnect from the present moment. Generally, in psychology, it is discussed within the context of extreme trauma cases as a full separation from reality leading to disorders. Yet it is in our daily life as well.
Shamanism and Jungian analysis—the transpersonal realm and the unconscious. As George Hogenson, PhD, notes, Carl Greer offers “A remarkable melding of Jung’s analytical psychology and the ancient, and global, traditions of shamanic healing . . .” in his newest book, Change the Story of Your Health: Using Shamanic and Jungian Techniques for Healing.
Our life journeys are our stories—they offer fodder for conversation, for connection. They become staple for books waiting to be written. Some travelers share their tales as memoirs, others mirror a fictionalized character after their truth and create a picture of themselves through the lens of another. Others bring their experiences forward into a more professional sense, especially if that was part of their story to start. But, to impact others interested in our journey, the traveler turned writer must extend the experience beyond the places they went, the people they interacted with, the basic sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations they recall. The experiences recounted, be it—a spiritual trip to study with a master shaman in Peru, completing a doctoral degree in Transpersonal Psychology, witnessing the birth of a thought that extends into a spiritual interweave of psychology and shamanism— must form core moments of conception, create an understanding, an awareness that becomes life altering for author and reader. Irene Siegel does all that and more as she shares her journey into the jungles of Peru, the hallways of academic institutions and her own curiosity that culminated in not only dramatic changes in her clinical practice but also the creation of her newest book, entitled, The Sacred Path of the Therapist: Modern Healing, Ancient Wisdom, and Client Transformation.