A post of Jason’s to the Facebook page for The Work That Reconnects (Joanna Macy). The writer feels a personal resonance with this, and it is also a theme that comes up in therapy sessions/other contexts.
As Rogers identified decades ago, the actualizing process involves not only a fuller personal experiencing of feeling – including grief, pain and anger – but also a more alive connection to others and to the natural world. Inevitably, developing the ability to connect with and empathize with our own experiencing is accompanied by the enhanced ability to empathize beyond ourselves…..And that can throw up all kinds of pain and discomfort, given the nature of the cultures we inhabit and the demands they make on us.
As Jiddu Krishnamurti puts it:-
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Those coming to this service often bring with them dissatisfaction and discomfort, and may express a wish to find ways to conform more comfortably/readily, to fit in, to function – together with the perception that there is ‘something wrong with’ them for finding this so hard. Part of the delicate balancing act of therapy is to work with the person in the other chair from their frame of reference, respectfully of their intentions in seeking therapy – whilst also making space for and attributing value and meaning to their full experiencing…. Our task is not to send back out into the world well-adjusted conformists, but rather to support people in moving into deeper resonances with their own being, including their own pain and the pain of the world (which may ultimately have a very non-conforming impact, at least for some, and generate radical life changes).
As Jason says, it is through empathic connection that our movement arises into more enhancing ways of being with ourselves and each other:-
‘It may be necessary to fully experience…difficult feelings in order to reclaim our full humanity and in order to remember our intimate connection with life……The more we consciously experience the depth of the world’s pain the more our capacity to love, hold and protect life increases. When our ability to honour and treasure life on earth increases, our resilience and capacity to feel and hold the world’s grief and pain also increases.’
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling Exeter since 1994