We don’t know how much power we have as individuals. Most of us underrate ourselves. Remember that we are all unique which means that all of us know things others don’t know. If we are truthful we are sure we have all felt envious of others for one reason or another. We all do or say things we don’t really mean and then regret them afterwards. A great waste of time is taken up in many people’s lives beating themselves up for such silly reasons.
Many clients have begun a first session by telling me they have spent years trying to solve their own problems by thinking about them. They believe because they have built a business or have been to university that they should be able to solve such a ‘simple’ thing as knowing how to improve a close relationship. I pass on to them what a fellow therapist taught me many years ago: “You have not been thinking, what you have been doing is ruminating, in other words, worrying.” Many clever people confuse the two.
Their problems were not understanding themselves better. Our inner life, what Freud called the unconscious, is hidden from us. In our search for perfection, we don’t wish to acknowledge things about ourselves about which we are ashamed. We want other people to appreciate us. In order for this to happen, so they think, they create a false image of themselves as their idea of ‘a nice person’. It is impossible for us to keep it up continuously. People like this fall in and out of love with astonishing rapidity and then complain that no-one is good enough for them.
The only pathway to practise real, effective psychotherapy, is to help clients to have the courage to look at all the things they don’t like about themselves. Only then will they realise that every part of themselves can be useful.
It is paradoxical that the most cruel of dictators, for example Hitler and Stalin fooled themselves that they knew how to run a country successfully. Their mistrust and hatred was reflected in their private lives and extended to large groups of people.
The answer is obvious. The more we acknowledge all our feelings, positive and negative,
the more we can be kind to them and to everyone else.
I do not think organised religion is useful, but there are plenty of good ideas in most of them as well as plenty that are not. Remember everything has its opposite. Two of my favourites are:
“Love thy neighbour as thyself” and “The love of money is the cause of all evil.”
People who do not understand the meanings leave out the words in italics.
If we are brave enough to examine ourselves in depth, as have such outstanding men as Spinoza and Erasmus, we have unlimited power to control ourselves and all we do and think.