Through a Jungian Lens

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Being Real, Raw, Vulnerable, and Empty

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Building sand castles to avoid reality

I saw a number of these sand secretions, structures that had no meaning but were rather a product of simply living such as this sand worm cast which I found in Thailand. Simply living and being present and participating in life is all that is needed, but that is something I find quite hard to do. Rather than just letting life be as it is, I often escape either into the past or fantasize about the future.

A good example of that would be how I try to understand the past events that have landed me in analysis or looking towards a future day when analysis is over. Somehow, engaging in these polarity positions, I don’t have to face the fact of what I am doing in the present, looking at how I am in the present. It is a hard habit to break and one that causes some sense of fear. Why fear? Well, what if in paying attention, being present, I fail? What if I am rejected even by my analyst, my family, my friends and acquaintances? Better to bury the fear in telling tales in which I look better that I was, to paint a future that shows me as an accomplished and successful person, perhaps even somewhat famous. Being stuck in the now leaves me so ordinary, less than ordinary in my own eyes. And so I become defensive stuck in fear.

“Fear does not allow fundamental tenderness to enter into us. When tenderness tinged by sadness touches our heart, we know that we are in contact with reality. We feel . That contact is genuine, fresh, and quite raw. . . .

 Sometimes people find that being tender and raw is threatening and seemingly exhausting. Openness seems demanding and energy-consuming, so they prefer to cover up their tender heart. Vulnerability can sometimes make you nervous, It is uncomfortable to feel so real, so you want to numb yourself. You look for some kind of anesthetic, anything that will provide you with entertainment. Then you can forget the discomfort of reality. People don’t want to live with their basic rawness for even fifteen minutes. When people say they are bored, often they mean that they don’t want to experience the sense of emptiness, which is also an expression of openness and vulnerability. So they pick up the newspaper or read anything else that’s lying around the room – even reading what is says on a cereal box to keep themselves entertained.”  (Trungpa, Smile at Fear, pp 58-59)

I find myself doing this too much, finding creative ways to distract me from being present in life:  problems with sitting still in my meditation, drifting into a mindless experience with Netflix, surfing the Internet to read almost anything just so that I can be distracted from my self. Being present is too much hard work. Being able to actually hold  emptiness, to hold the idea of  vulnerability, to hold onto the fact that even the idea of who I am is a fiction leaves me feeling very raw indeed. So, like almost everyone else I find some way to avoid all of this, even if it is just to once again do a statistics check to see meaningless data about this blog site. I don’t like coming face to face with shit, with my shit, and calling it shit. It is best to flush it away and pretend that it never existed, better to imaginary castles and kingdoms inhabited by heros and villains and gods and goddesses. Or, so I try to convince myself.

But in the end, I can’t escape the rawness, the vulnerability, the emptiness.


4 Responses

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  1. Yes, so true. I do it, and 99.9% of the population does it. Yet some of us long to break out of this habit. You continue to forge ahead…that’s what counts. 🙂


    June 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    • Forging ahead – I hope it is forging ahead. Thanks, A. 🙂


      June 26, 2012 at 7:50 pm

  2. Dear Robert,
    Thank you for this interesting and honest Post.
    Facing the world with Vulnerability is in my opinion facing the world without a mask or persona, because as you wrote it is Real

    Opa Bear

    June 21, 2012 at 2:56 am

    • Being real, learning to accept the fact of who I am without the driving need. compulsion to twist myself into shapes more pleasing to others is something hard to do, especially for someone like myself who has spent a lifetime meeting the needs of others. I am learning that I can meet the needs of others by simply being myself, being authentic and present. Perhaps I become more human in the process. Thank you my dear friend.


      June 24, 2012 at 6:06 am

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