Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"What is right with you?" Part 13: Let's start looking at symptoms

Symptoms or dreams, or other confusing experiences often occur to us as something going wrong with us.  But let us take a closer look.  I once worked with a woman who complained of chronic emptiness, often with depression.  We explored the emptiness together.  It was interesting because as we explored the history of this feeling, she recalled a story of telling everyone about her experience of being visited by a beautiful butterfly, how it landed on her and she interacted with it for some time before it flew away.  She was amazed and gleefully told everyone, but the feeling  was not returned, in fact it was diminished.  Although this was later determined to not be an isolated event, but typical for her experience as a child, we explored how her experience was full of life, and anything but empty.  It was full of life, enchantment and wonder!  It was the response that was so empty and devoid of celebrating her amazing experience.  Apparently she had internalized this empty, callous, and devaluing response in the place of an appropriate one, of affirming her emerging identity and feeling good about sharing her experience.  This was the beginning of many explorations and discoveries around her "experience" of emptiness, something that was accurately reflecting in her mind (as the symptom of emptiness) of her experience. It clearly was not her own void, but representing the lack of response (and her inner experience of it) to her emerging sense of self.  Her experience was full of life, but the reaction lacking.  A rich inner life began to emerge where she once felt only a void, shut off from re-experiencing more pain that might emerge from having an experience of getting excited, only to be ignored and/or diminished.  Her symptom of emptiness was an amazing clue for us in our work.  Symptoms mean things.  More to come...  MY WEBSITE

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