Much of psychological healing is devoted to healing the capacity to feel. Rilke, in his Elegy to Marina Tsvetayeva-Efron, writes of the “curious power that transforms us from living beings into survivors.” We do this by learning to feel and respecting feeling in others and ourselves.
We survive by feeling and continuing to feel. Dream images and symbols sharpen our capacity to touch vital emotions that may otherwise remain denied or repressed. To get through daily life, we often put instincts to the side, lay emotions off in a corner. We do this so we can move on through the course of the day without being troubled, often to our detriment.
“I end up going home and overeating,” one person told a friend. They were talking about how food numbs them to stress. They spoke while eating a big hot fudge Sunday. I tried not to listen in from a neighboring restaurant booth, but the inner therapist and writer couldn’t help picking up on valuable information. Even as they conversed, they were numbing, on some level aware of what they were doing, moving the reality to a dark corner, and proceeding with their sugar drug fest.
Of course, we all can do this in an assortment of ways. The call in life, the soul’s beckoning to us as seekers of wholeness and well-being, is to feel and not escape feeling. In his writing On the Nature of the Psyche (1947/1954, CW 8, 414), C.G. Jung cautions us against taking ourselves into “. . . . blank unconsciousness, or worse still, to some kind of intellectual substitute for instinct."
To feel is to be true to self. It is pristine instinct to survive and thrive in a life filled with tendencies to numb, deny, repress, or sink into blank unconsciousness. Best to daily take steps forward in living, surviving, and feeling thoroughly and well.