Not long ago, one of my clients softly told me: “I’m falling in love with myself.” We sat for a while together, gently holding this knowing as you would hold a baby bird in the palm of your hand.
In those few words, we find the goal of psychotherapy. We come to psychotherapy so that we can come to love ourselves.
It seems that at the root of virtually all of the issues brought to my office is some form of self-judgement, self-criticism or self-hatred. In Sanskrit, in an ancient Eastern tradition, it is called the Anava Mala. It is an impurity that is imprinted in our separation from our authentic self. As we heal this wound of separation through the journey inward, there truly is more love.
This quote from the Gospel of Thomas sums up the answer to my question: why psychotherapy?
If you bring forth what is within you,
what is within you will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what is within you will destroy you.
We are unconscious of the patterns that we’ve acquired to protect us from our sense of unworthiness. The very defenses that helped us to survive and adapt can become hindrances to what we are really longing for – to live from the freedom of our own authenticity.
In psychotherapy, we gently bring forward that vulnerable self that is within. At first it is scary because we’ve kept that part so protected. But little by little, as the defenses are let go, that very part we are afraid of comes to life as our authentic self.
When we “fall in love with ourselves” as my client said, it is not from a sense of ego or inflated self-esteem. It is a soft place, protected by the solidity of our experience and knowing. The sense of unworthiness drops away and we can be more kind to ourselves. And who doesn’t want to be more kind?
August 20, 2012