You want to break free. It’s what led you to read this blog. I’m writing about the things that hold us back and down. We’ve all experienced them in one way or another. Treating patients in depth psychotherapy for the past forty years, I’ve witnessed the emotional and spiritual ravages that come from not dealing with hangups. It’s time to face what we need to face, get through it, and break free of hangups.
Holding ourselves back and down results from hangups in the psychological closet. They are things, attitude and behaviors, that are inevitably destructive to self and others. Things like chronic negativism, addictive behaviors, and engagement in dysfunctional relationships keep us back from entering into who we are. The self is clogged and thwarted by such lack of care; conversely, the self thrives with sensitivity and nourishment via positive actions, generative relationships, and healthy minded attitudes.
Healthy mindedness, of course, is a tall order. William James, father of American psychology, essentially referred to it via his philosophy of pragmatism. He contrasted healthy mindedness with the sick soul consumed by its own negativism. With healthy mindedness, we nourish health of mind and soul. We nourish a good life, one marked by generative attitudes and feelings toward self and others.
Some have criticized breaking free as self centered. It is anything but that. True breaking free keeps in mind the practical needs of others as well as the self. What is good for self is also good for others. They may not understand it as such since preformed ideas about what constitutes love or goodness can overshadow what is practical and sound. In essence, breaking free allows us to be free and permits others to live life according to their own light as well.
A patient had a dream that they and their best friend were at a crossroads. It was in an old New Mexican town. They had been friends since childhood. Darkness descended over the desert landscape. No words were spoken, and they both caught glimpses of the sun as it flickered away in the western horizon. We processed the symbolism and saw that the time of the parting had come. The west often speaks to the end of things, the crossroads to a time of decision. The patient admitted that the relationship had run its course and had really long outlived the vital feelings that they had once shared. It was time to move on, break free.
We need to break free so we can have a life; otherwise we remain stuck. Unhappiness breeds unhappiness when we need to move on and don’t. Breaking free sets us free, to live fully, happily and loaded with potential.