What do you think would be a condition of “fundamental” happiness?
By “fundamental happiness” I mean a kind of happiness that remains solid and brings out a sense of hope whatever happens in our lives.
Since I came to Aotearoa New Zealand 15 years ago, I have had to ask myself this question many times.
My sense of being myself was greatly diminished because of cultural differences and language barriers.
Not being able to express myself freely nor to completely understand what people were saying led to an inferiority complex.
I despised my difference.
My limitations in this country made me feel alienated and incompetent.
My sense of being left out and unimportant was excruciating.
I couldn’t eliminate my painful feelings for a long time no matter how hard I worked to improve myself.
Deep down I never felt good enough regardless of my best efforts.
These painful experiences finally forced me to delve into what it really meant to be “me” in this country.
Through my both personal and clinical experiences, I have arrived at the conclusion to this question, “what is a condition of fundamental happiness?”
Living our “own” lives
In order for us to live our own lives, we need to know ourselves.
We need to know our honest feelings and thoughts and what matters to us.
What surprised me most during my psychotherapy training is that I had discovered so many feelings that had been suppressed and pushed away.
Grief for not being able to fully be myself in New Zealand
Anger at my father
A painful feeling of being not good enough
Shame of being different
Emotional hurt of being left out and unimportant…
Carl Jung says that unfelt and unseen parts of our psyche are the cause of our suffering.
While part of me wanted to resolve my emotional pains, there was a conflicting part of me saying “I don’t want to know deep part of myself.”
It’s normal to want to avoid facing our vulnerability.
Inner change can feel like a “threat” to the part of us who does not want to change.
I want to share what Barbara Ann Brennan* says about the cost of this avoidance:
“As we go through the painful experiences of our lives, we automatically try not to feel the pain. We have done this since childhood.
We cut off our physical pain by withdrawing our consciousness from the part of our body that is in pain.
We cut off our mental and emotional anguish by tensing our muscles and repressing it into our unconscious.
To keep it depressed [repressed] in the unconscious (or sometimes just below the level of our conscious awareness), we create all kinds of distractions in our lives that take our attention away from it.
We may keep ourselves very busy and become workaholics. Or we take the opposite route to couch-potato heaven. Lots of us become addicted to drugs, cigarettes, chocolate, or alcohol.
Many of us become addicted to being perfect, to being the best or the worst.
We project our problems onto someone else and worry about them rather than trying to solve our own problems.
We either misdirect or depress great amounts of energy in order to keep ourselves from feeling pain, including what we feel in the moment and being who we are in the moment.
We think it works.
We think that we can get away with not feeling or being who we are, but it doesn’t work.
The price is great, but we even deny that there is a price.
The price is our life.”
Our life will change dramatically when we summon up courage to be all of who we are.
One of the challenges to do inner work, however, is that we can get lost or stuck if we try to do it ourselves.
Because this inner work involves recognsing our feelings that we have previously suppressed, criticised or denied “unconsciously.”
The process of speaking the unspeakable goes against self-awareness.
One way of working through our unresolved issues is to do talking therapy.
I myself still continue psychotherapy for my own growth and happiness.
If you make time dedicated to yourself right now, what you will experience in half a year or one year will be so different.
I believe that your current struggle is there to help, not to suffer.
It can be a gateway towards living a life in a way that is most true and natural for you.
*Barbara Brennan. “Light Emerging” (1993) New York. Bantam Books
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