Making an Appointment with Ourselves

The breezes at dawn

The breezes at dawn

As I explained in a previous post, etymologically, ‘weird’ means ‘fate’ and in the way I am speaking of it is also synonymous with the process of individuation; becoming one’s true and whole (unique) self. In this context, we might think of fate as a divine blueprint with which, to a certain extent, we can choose whether or not to align ourselves.

I ended my last post by suggesting that there are times in life when it becomes necessary to make an appointment with ourselves. I love this expression but can’t take credit for it. I came across it in a book by Jungian analyst, James Hollis, who wrote that at mid-life, we all need to make such an appointment.

An appointment with ourselves at mid-life makes a lot of sense. As younger adults, our energy is usually invested in establishing a foundation for life, whatever that may look like. Education, career building, families, and children, etc., are common priorities. We are still forming our ego identities as well as learning to establish intimate relationships and all of this takes a lot of focus and energy. At mid life, we catch a clearer glimpse of our mortality and death looms on the horizon. Our priorities may shift. Often the dilemma is “Do I really go for it and live my own life or do I try to please others and/or play it safe to avoid (inner or outer) criticism or conflict?” In other words, “do I live my ‘weird’ or not?”

But appointments with ourselves can be at other times throughout our lives. Certainly some of us can use more than one appointment. I even wonder if maybe regular ‘sessions’ with ourselves isn’t such a bad idea.

So what would such an appointment look like? I have some ideas and suggestions. First of all, we do what a skilled therapist would do for us - Listen. (Etymologically a therapist is ‘one who attends’.) We can ask ourselves, ‘How am I doing?’ ‘What is going well and what isn’t going so well in my life?’ Give some time for listening to the feelings. I don’t mean feelings in terms of ‘how do I feel (as in ‘think’) about that?’ Not opinions or trying to understand myself or other people, or evaluating, but instead a sinking into my body. How does it really feel living inside of my body at this time, in this moment? Is there a particular sensation that draws my attention? What is my energy like? Where is it primarily situated?

Something a skilled therapist might perceive is which of my values are truly my own and which ones I have taken on unquestioningly from parents or my culture. As both client and therapist of myself, I listen to whether I am watching myself from outside or experiencing myself from within. I might notice that I struggle with what others are thinking about me and I put energy into ‘mind-reading’ their thoughts about me. (Focusing on others’ perceptions disconnects me from my self.) As I listen more deeply, I might become aware that I am trying to get approval from certain individuals or impress them.

At this appointment with myself I can start to get a clearer sense of how much I am trying to create myself and my life as a work of art with others’ evaluation in mind, and how much of an effort I am making to be authentic. The truth is we can never be sure how others are evaluating us (and it isn’t our business anyway) and usually the real critic is in our heads. This can be even trickier to discern because the inner critic can be so insidious.

I might even realize I am not trying to please anyone but rather, am in reaction. In fact I am deliberately trying to be unique and even ‘weird’, or maybe just the opposite of others. Perhaps I have even developed a cynicism about others and have decided they are not worth the effort.

Whether I am living to please others or my inner critic or I am reacting and rebelling, I am not living from my true authentic self. I am not really living my nature. So this appointment gives me a chance to decide how much I want to. Living one’s Weird is not for everyone and it really is OK to choose not to embody our unique blueprint. There generally needs to be a sense of being summoned; a feeling of Necessity. For those who truly live their weird, there really is no choice. The other option would feel like a living death.