One of the messier parts of seeking enlightenment is identifying all the road-blocks in your life that are preventing you from reaching this goal. It’s quite possible that whether you want to admit it or not, your parents probably got the whole thing going, messing you up in some way, unintentionally, of course, and may be somewhat responsible for why you are struggling to find the greatness that is already inside you. This process of finding all this out is about as pleasant as a prostate exam! The feelings you experience can be pretty intense, but this is absolutely necessary and worthwhile especially if your goal is to become more self-aware, to leave the past in the past and live in the present.
I started seeing a spiritual psychotherapist about four years ago. My original motivation had to do with seeking hypnotherapy treatment to lose some much needed weight. Little did I know that the weight I needed to lose was not solely the result of stuffing my face with pizza, bagels, chips, wine and beer, but because of childhood experiences and my upbringing that shaped me and followed me into my adulthood.
I must admit it took me a while to get my head around the fact that I was seeing a “shrink”. When I first started telling close friends that I was getting help, I didn’t quite know how to refer to her (yes, I have a female therapist). At first, I called my therapist my “girlfriend” and of course, all my friends panicked (for the record, I am happily married for 19 years!).
After a while, I became comfortable calling her my “therapist” because I realized I desperately needed help. The way I had been living my life to that point, was clearly not working for me. I was filled with anger, resentment and jealousy sprinkled with a dose of zero self-confidence and next to no self-esteem. The only way I could move past this was to work through it and it would take the help of a person like my therapist to accomplish this.
I have realized that I am clearly a much more complex person than I give myself credit for and that, after many gut-wrenching and very painful sessions, the weight issue paled in comparison to what was lurking behind all those layers (of emotional fat!).
Sticking with my therapist (to this day) was a commitment I was making to myself to be a much more authentic person, to reveal the greatness that already was inside me; to be enlightened! I am not 100% fixed…but the results have improved the quality of my life. I am far more appreciative of what I have, I am more present and I feel more engaged in my relationships with my wife, children and family and friends.
If you are feeling empty, cranky, “mad at the world”, disconnected from your friends and loved ones or just unfulfilled, consider this as you move forward in your quest for enlightenment:
• Be prepared to “spill it” – You must be able to share everything about your life and what’s going on inside your head with your therapist. Ultimately, your therapist will know more about you than your spouse does!
• “Man-up” You are going to be talking about some pretty heavy-duty things. You will be feeling all kinds of emotions ranging from anger and rage to sadness and frustration. While the process will be unpleasant, purging will allow you to heal.
• Be patient. Us guys have a tendency of seeking instant gratification. Success from therapy is going to take some time. Remember, it took a life time to get you to this place. It won’t necessarily take you the remainder of your life to undo what’s been done…but it will take a commitment of time and work.
• “Exorcise” How many times have you heard your spouse/partner say that you never share your feelings or that you internalize everything? If you bottle up all those repressed feelings, you are bound to explode! Think about who might be on the receiving end of that rage…maybe your child or your spouse/partner.
• “Let it go” – Men have a tendency of analyzing everything….especially what has already happened to them or what’s going to happen to them. What’s the point? The past is in the past. A famous author and columnist once said, “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.” Look at all those high-paid economists who predict the future…has anybody told them that no one knows for sure what the future holds? Men like to know that they are in control. The only place we can be certain of complete control is right now. Live in the present.
If we, as men, can get our cars tuned up, work out to improve our physical strength and health or can spend time and money improving our golf game, why shouldn’t we seek help for our emotional health; our internal engine? The pay off can be substantial.