Richard Rohr on the dance between false & true self

“The only way that freedom and relationship grow is through a dance between the loneliness and desperation of the false self and the fullness of the True Self, which is ever re-discovered and experienced anew as an ultimate homecoming. The spiritual journey is a gradual path of deeper realization and transformation; it is never a straight line, but a back and forth journey that ever deepens the conscious choice and the conscious relationship. It is growing up, yes, but even more it is waking up.”

Richard Rohr

This feels important. We are encouraged culturally to value/expect progression, the linear and the binary. In her therapy room, the writer loses count of people expressing despair and a sense of failure that – having worked on their ‘stuff’ – they circle back around into some of the same feelings, energies, patterns and shapes.  In those circumstances, I tend to share that – in all of my experience in my decade plus as a therapist and in my personal process – I notice this circling is simply how things work, as natural and inevitable as breathing. The path into any kind of awakening (whether or not we think in terms of spirituality or awakening) is not a straight line, it is a deepening spiral – which at times can feel remarkably like a static circle, because it inherently involves our engaging in this dance between false self and true self. That deepening spiral is also what person-centred therapists mean by the actualising tendency, and the dance between self concept and organismic experiencing….

We most assist that spiral not by seeking change, or trying to get ourselves from one state into another, but by being present with ourselves – just as we are right now – in the spirit of the core conditions: empathy, authenticity, love and compassion.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

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