Discovering the Self
I think one of the really beautiful things about therapy is that the process can be a deeply spiritual journey of discovering the self and pondering questions such as “Who am I?” and “what does it mean to have life as a human?” Today I have really enjoyed an episode of This Jungian Life, a podcast about the Wounded Healer. From a Jungian perspective, suffering is not something you try to get rid of or avoid. It is a inevitable part of life, growth, and human existence; so let’s talk about the nature of suffering.
In the podcast, the analysts go into many aspects of analysis, woundedness, and healing. Such wounds can be emotional, mental, psychic, or personality wounds. A big piece of it though is that all people are wounded. The goal is to “know thyself” or create a map of the part of self so that we can coexist with ourselves and be more aware of our wounds, complexes, and foibles. The goal is not, to “fix the problem” or the person for that matter. There are not healthy people and ill people. All people suffer from limitations, flaws, brokeness, blindness, and grief. The root of pathology means “what causes you suffering or grief.”
The Benefits of Suffering
Likewise, the suffering that can be the catalyst for someone starting their therapy journey may be described as depression, anxiety, trauma, or grief. However, they are symptoms, descriptions. Symptoms are not an outside virus or infection in the way we conceptualize most medical illnesses. Symptoms may be calling us to change how we work in the world with regards to our pursuits, relationships, or energy management.
For me, the question I have for myself is often, “how deeply am I willing to trust?” This trust may be related to releasing control, trusting my emotions to be guiding me, or even trusting the universe to open doors and trusting myself to walk through them.
An Art Therapy Exercise
I am going to close this post with an activity. Leah Guzman, in her book, Essential Art Therapy Exercises, guides readers to make visual treasure map. This exercise loops back to the idea of knowing thyself. I remember when I was a kid, some of the secrets hidden in the Super Mario Brothers video game were off the map. I’m realizing this was true for Zelda too. Bear with me for this analogy. I only found these items by reading about them in a game magazine. The magazine showed you images of where to go on a level to get to a secret item, and then you had to use the controller to guide Mario to the hidden area. Sometimes you couldn’t even see your character. Similarly, sometimes, the most important treasure is in your blind spot. It can help to have your navigator, passenger, heaven-forbid backseat driver, check before you change lanes.
If you want to follow your compass and deepen your journey of self-discovery, I’d be honored to share the path with you. Sometimes you can hike further when you have someone else to divvy up the gear and the lighten the load. Let’s talk.
Maggi is a registered art therapist at Columbus Art Therapy who assists their clients to discover more of themselves through dream interpretation, art therapy, and depth psychotherapy. They specialize in working with grief and loss as well as gender exploration. Click the button below to get connected.