Friday, November 20, 2009

The Terrible Shock

Carl Jung said, ‘To become acquainted with oneself is a terrible shock.’ It’s hard admitting that our lives are full of error and self-deception. But this very admission, though painful, makes possible its opposite– a differentiated life, lived with integrity. Tears of recognition and relief often flow with the dawn of self-awareness.

But while the truth will set you free, remember the psychologist Erich Fromm’s observation of humankind’s attempt to escape from such freedom. The truth is liberating– but only when you have the courage to live it.

-from David Schnarch’s "Passionate Marriage"

I read this today on and it kind of stuck in my mind. I too have felt the terrible shock of newfound self-awareness. Sometimes it is beautiful, other times terrifying, and occasionally life changing. Ever had such an experience?

I can think of two times right off the back. Once was Jobina sharing with me something about the way I treated her - something I hadn't wanted to see in myself. Another time was while reading "The Shack" in Belize - and realizing a big part of my heart that I was ignoring. I liked the above quote because it ties the importance of self-awareness with action. Action is essential for self-awareness to be worth anything. As a counselor I help people come to new levels of self-awareness often. Some clients are simply surprised and others feel struck by it. I find that what is most important is not how emotional such awareness makes them, but whether the awareness sparks them towards action or not. All the self-awareness in the world is useless if it doesn't help us to act, to change. My wish for us all is that we will dare to be honest with ourselves and after we have done so, we will act . . . and grow.

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