How do we as individuals, survive difficult times?
I know everyone is a little bit different in how they view the world that we all share, including how they see themselves in it, and even in how they strategize how to personally make it from one day to the next with their sanity intact.
And for certain there are no easy answers to many of life’s most difficult challenges that we may face. But there are strategies that we can adopt—modes of thinking, acting, and being—that can help us make it through the rougher hours to witness the next dawn rising.
I of course, have my own opinions on the subject (and I’m pretty sure I wrote in a similar vein about this long ago), but the title above came from James Hollis’s book, Living an Examined Life:
The overall subject matter was on recovering our personal authority—you know—on “Finding Your Truth”:
“…Finding personal authority requires two things: sorting through the traffic within and living what we find with courage and consistency. In a letter in the 1950’s Jung observed that the work of being an evolved human being consists of three parts. Psychology can bring insight, but then, he insisted, come the moral qualities of the individual: courage and endurance. So having potentially come to consciousness, to have embraced insight as to what a dilemma is really about, one then has to find the courage to live it in the real world, with all its punitive powers, and to do so over time in the face of opposition both external and internal.
“The failure to understand this triune task—insight, courage, endurance—leads many to misunderstand the dilemmas we face in life…. (p. 21)” …
“…Perhaps the biggest haunting of our lives is the over-learned fact of relative powerlessness in a world of giants and mysterious, inexplicable, and inexorable powers. What is lost in this appraisal is, of course, the contrary fact that there is a magnitude of possibility in each of us, a core strength, and abiding resilience that brings us to the summons of life with an ever-increasing capacity to take it on. …of how some people find the resilient capacity to survive abuse, the loss of cherished others, and wounds to their self-worth, while others are blown away by the same events. It appears that it is not ‘what happens to us,’ but how we internalize what happens to us, how we manage it. What breaks some souls seems to energize others with resolve and determination. …(p. 84-85)
“…While learned helplessness is one of the functional definitions of depression, we all learned helplessness in our childhood experience. For some, this learning was truly traumatic and invasive, but even those most injured by life often demonstrate a renewed capacity for growth and development, an overwhelming resilience. …Few things will outlast the truly resolved, persistent person. ..We cannot give this strength to another, but we can mirror it in ourselves and remind others, stimulate and reinforce the inherent powers granted us by the life force. We learn by going though these fears, not by running from them and thereby ratifying their preemptive powers….” (p. 85)
“…In the end, we are haunted by the past, the denied permission to live a free journey. …We are haunted by bad theology, bad psychology, and bad social models into thinking we are defined by our history, by our race, by cultural heritage. We are haunted by the unexamined lives of our ancestors and caregivers. We are haunted by the wide-spread impression that history is the future. We are haunted by the limited imaginations of our complexes. And even more, we are haunted by the small lives we live in the face of our immense possibilities. Haunting is individual, generic, cultural, and extremely hard to challenge because it so often seems bound by generations of practice, ancestral fears, and archaic defenses of privilege. “(p. 85) …
“…Virtually every client with whom I have worked over the last four decades has had to struggle mightily to find a personal path, a journey that is right for him or her….” (p. 88)…
“….Jung observed that the greatest burden the child must live is the unlived life of the parent. I suspect equally that the greatest burden our souls must bear is ‘the unlived life’. There is something in us, all of us, that knows what is right for us, which path is ours and not someone else’s, something that pushes us beyond our comfort zone into areas of growth, development, and presence in the world greater than we have lived up to this point. …a link to larger energies, that course not only through us but also through the universe. “(p. 92) …
“This theme of powerlessness shows up time and time again as the inordinate influence of early models of self and world, self and others, and it shapes our inner paradigms. …the issue of permission is critical…Many of us were raised to be nice, to fit in, not to promote ourselves, and this somehow got translated into self-abnegation, self-criticism, and self-avoidance. It is not narcissistic to become—it is a duty. But who has ever heard that in his or her childhood? Very few, if any.” (p. 110) …
“In the superficial world of most psychological practice in the Western world, we are defined by our behaviors, which we are; thought constructs, which we surely have; and biological processes, which are self-evident. But such a definition of the human being leaves out the most important thing of all: we are a meaning-seeking, meaning-creating animal, an animal that profoundly suffers the disconnect from meaning….. As Jung put it in a letter once, ‘we have fallen off the roof of the medieval cathedral into the abyss of the self.’ And he further noted that modern depth psychology; the discipline that seeks to engage the whole person, to dialog with the inner world, ‘had to be invented’ because of the mythic dissolution that threw so many unprepared millions back on their own resources. …” (p. 111-112)
“…In the face of this loss of tribal links to the mysteries, the question of permission persists with ever-increasing urgency. If we are to grow up, we have to take on the invitation to self-determination, dialogue with the inner voice, answer the summons to an authentic journey—all quite contrary to the instructions (from parents, religious institutions, and society in general) to fit in. Growing up means, among other things, that I am accountable for my life, my choices, my consequences. …”
“…Growing up requires we accept that NO ONE out there knows what is going on, that they are as much at the mercy of their complexes and unconscious mechanisms as the least of us; and so now we must figure it out for ourselves. …” (P. 112)
“…Sooner or later a person has to understand and revisit the basics: we are not here for long; we are accountable for the life we have lived or not lived; we are summoned to choice, courage, and perseverance in living this life….. the question is asked: ‘Is this YOUR life or someone else’s, and are you responsible for it?’ … Whose permission is needed to know what you already know?… And then the ‘possible life’ opens before us, waiting only for our courage and resolution, waiting only of us to suit up and show up at last.” (p. 113)