There is Always Something More
The adventure of being human
Posted Sep 16, 2014
There is always something more to our human experience. In our culture we often stay at a superficial level in exploring our emotions. We miss an opportunity to access our deeper self. We feel emotional pain (for example, we get hurt by someone’s actions) and that becomes the end of the story. As Jim Bugental, Ph.D., expressed it, it is simply the chapter heading. By exploring the pain further there is the potential to discover the richness and depth of who we are.
Exploring the ‘something more’ is a self-discovery process. We search inside ourselves for the range of thoughts and feelings that emerge from our pain. This inward searching can go on indefinitely because in the complexity and subtlety of being human there is always more in our consciousness to be discovered and integrated. If I stay with what comes next, I am led from one awareness to another. New realizations emerge of who I am and who I can be. It is a fluid, enlivening, and engaging process.
For example, you are hurt because your friend didn’t call you back. That’s as far as you go with identifying how you feel – I’m hurt. You don’t explore what unfolds from that feeling. What if you did? What if you explored why you feel hurt? What else gets evoked in you because your friend didn’t call? You realize your friend not responding triggers fear. You are afraid you are too boring and that’s why your friend didn’t return your call. You realize that you believe you don’t have anything interesting to offer.
As your inward searching continues, you remember in middle school being excited while talking to your dad about the final school science project. You noticed the familiar glazed look in his eyes. Once again, he wasn’t interested in what you were saying. You get choked up as you realize the seed of thinking you were boring may have started with how often your dad seemed uninterested when you talked about your life.
What emerges next in your thoughts is the question: am I really boring? You know you participate in mutually stimulating conversations about the latest theories in science with your friend. You know you are genuinely interested in who he is and get that across to him and you get that he feels the same about you. As you continue your inward searching, you also realize that you hold back sometimes on sharing about yourself and your own life because you believe you do not have much to offer.
As you sort through your thoughts and feelings, you realize your friend never labelled you boring. You were the one to label yourself boring. You are aware that you are being too hard on yourself. Simultaneously, you are aware that you can be more engaging and risk-taking when you don’t think of yourself as boring. You feel a sense of excitement when you think about this. It feels like a pioneer exploring unknown territory as you discover more facets of yourself. That doesn’t feel boring.
This inward searching process allows you to reveal and appreciate more of who you are. You haven’t stopped at the chapter heading: I feel hurt because my friend didn’t call me back. You have expanded your life by going deeper into your chapter. This inward searching process will always lead to something more.
As an existential humanistic psychotherapist, I will often start out my sessions by leading my clients through the following focusing exercise. The purpose of this is to set the stage for their inward searching in the session. If you think it is something that would be useful, feel free to use it.
Allow yourself to go inward. Be aware of your breathing, and bodily and energy sensations. Where do you feel good in your body, where do you feel tension? Be aware of any imagery or dreams that bubble up in your consciousness. Be aware of your emotional state, what feeling or feelings are predominant at this moment? Be aware of your mental associations, what thoughts are traveling through your mind-body right now?
As you are with yourself, be aware of what matters, what is of most concern, what is most present as you are living in your life, right now. Allow all of this to unfold inside of yourself with a sense of openness to what you will discover.