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  • Bryan Owens

When Self-Knowledge is the Goal INSTEAD of Eliminating Bad Feelings

This week I dreamed I was armed and fighting a war with all the faceless parts of myself. I was being fired upon, explosions all around me, and I had no plan for keeping myself alive in the face of all the violence. It was turmoil and chaos.

Being a therapist does not mean I do not experience painful feelings like despair. & last night I was feeling it — that unnameable dread that is the enemy of joy and fulfillment just daring us to try our hand at happiness, because it is ready to turn the whole table over.

I also felt something pulling me to a particular book on the shelf. I have had this book for so long, it has made its home on multiple bookshelves in different homes in different states. But last night, it was time to start reading, so I went to my spot overlooking 100-Acre Park and the White River.

As the sun reddened on its descent to kiss the horizon, I felt my soul lifted as I thought about this line from the book that had called to me earlier that evening:

"Sometimes our hiding from others has been so successful that we can no longer even find ourselves when we want to." - David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea

And this urged me to think about the work I do, and what it feels like to sit in a therapy session with someone entrusting me with their untold narratives. And being an expert on the process of therapy and the dynamics of healing and change does not make me an expert on your life. So, much of what I am doing in the room is getting to know the person in front of me as well as they know themselves.

The therapeutic relationship we form ends up becoming a model for the kind of therapeutic relationship you can have with your own self. And this is a wondrous and limitless thing.

It's been one of the major benefits I have experienced from my own therapy: the ability to attune with myself and trust that my inner workings (i.e.-dreams, being drawn to a certain book…) are designed to guide me to tranquility, transcendence, delight, and a belief in my own goodness and how I can achieve a state of giving that to the world.

This is the best I can offer: a therapeutic relationship that will become your own on your ever-evolving journey to knowing yourself and living into your highest potential.

And that brought me delight in the midst of the despair. Then the lightning bugs joined me and I was surrounded by the flashing abdomens of so many flying things. And then there were mosquitoes, and they ruined it. But I somehow appreciated them too.

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