The rise of the physical
I have an interest in the split between our inner and outer worlds, and the popularity of everything that is physical. The things I am talking about is our self image, our jobs, our personalities, pretty much any capacity that appears to display how we appear to others. It strikes me that we are so caught up on how people see us that we lose sight and are unable to see ourselves. We are so concerned with whether our colleagues and society will accept us that we do not realise that the more we focus on what is outside of us we neglect to make peace with ourselves and our inner worlds.
What I am speaking about is the imbalance. The way that we forget ourselves and neglect our inner worlds, only stopping to wonder about this aspect of ourselves when we don’t appear to be ‘functioning in society.’ I want to push you to think, to truly think, purposely and purposefully. Even many things that we say when we communicate have not been thought through. Take for instance this phrase that many of us have probably heard “You are insulting my intelligence!” I use an exclamation mark because many times this is said in anger and frustration, the person is usually feeling insulted. How can one insult intelligence, intelligence does not have the ability to feel. Intelligence is a man-made construct, created to satisfy the appetite of the ego. The rise in the external, and all that places the physical on a pedestal is nothing but a product of the ego.
I am not saying I am against attending to our physical elements completely i.e. appearances, jobs, materialistic items, I am more speaking of the imbalance of when we give more attention to one aspect of ourselves and little to none to the other parts, at the moment we are working outside in as to oppose inside out. The issue is when the unhappiness or dissatisfaction comes due to our inner neglect and then we think that this problem can be fixed in the same way that we fix all the other external things in our life. For example, you can take anti-depressants (the product) and although these can be very helpful to alleviate some of the tension, it is often treated as though it is the only source available that can attend to our internal anguish.
There are some that speak about anti-depressants as though it is a magic pill that you will begin to take and all your problems will disappear, without any acknowledgement of the resources we already possess, that could be used to strengthen our internal worlds as well. We are a work in progress therefore working on yourself and healing comes with acknowledging what is true about your situation, it is trying to understand it before you try and move past it.
I come from a background whereby I believe in souls and spiritual journeying, I believe in unconditional love that is boundary less and free, where there is no right or wrong and therefore no judgment. Where sameness is only in essence but the acknowledgement of how we are different, liberates us, separates us but connects us. Holding the view that all that we experience is purposeful, meaningful. Experience the noun: “Experience is the accumulation of knowledge or skill that results from direct participation in events or activities.” Experience the verb: “Experience, see, go through or live through” (Advanced English Dictionary and Thesaurus app, 2015). No event or experience in our lives is in vain, there is always something to gain but we often view it from the perspective of what we have lost.
Working as a therapist, it has occurred to me that there might be a correlation between depression/anxiety and the demands of the 21st Century; this is one aspect of depression and anxiety, not all. The development of the Internet and thus social media, the platform whereby people can showcase their egos, display products in the form of materialistic items, display themselves, even they have become a product, and thus an aspiration to others. It is a classic marketing tool, show the good parts of the product and thus stimulate the desire. More and more people are buying into the illusion. Why? Because we lack esteem and confidence in who we are, fearing to be judged, fearing our difference from the other.
Another aspect of the emphasis that is placed on the physical is the concept of expectations, how the expectations created by others come to govern our lives. We become shelled inside what other people think of us, this can be seen so clearly on the social media sites and dating apps that are quickly taking over the world. It feels more that we are trying to package ourselves into contained human beings with the right ingredients. Only we are not products, we are people.
Why the large emphasis on the physical world? Money of course! I saw an amazing quote on Facebook (lol I know, the irony), it said “If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business” (Dr Gail Dines). First of all this is an example and although this specific quote mentions women, it applies to men too. To me it speaks of the dissatisfaction we have with ourselves, our strive to always be more than what we are, to be elsewhere, we cannot stay with ourselves for too long, we often cannot accept for a second where we truly are. Our inability to accept ourselves and say, “I am good enough.” Businesses these days rely on our self-hatred our struggle to love ourselves as we are. What kind of nation is this? That makes money off of peoples feelings of incompleteness. It’s like giving a child sweeties to stop the crying, but in the long run, it destroys them. A short-term fix that creates long-term problems. We have become a society of fear and avoidance, only how long can we avoid ourselves, we are with ourselves day in day out.
I urge that we attend to our inner worlds with as much passion as we attend to that, which is outside of us.
Related articles from our experts
- Anxiety - a working guide
Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor23rd March, 2017
- Persona vs shadow: The hidden side to us
Daljinder Bal (MBACP)22nd March, 2017
- The vicious cycle of isolation
Gary Parsons, MBACP (Registered), MNCS (Accred)11th March, 2017
Rob Abbott, MA, BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor15th March, 2017
- What to do when depression enters a relationship
Lyn Reed, MBACP (Registered), Ad.Prof Dip.PC, Dip.PC, B.A., M.A., Adv.Dip.CQSW13th March, 2017
- Anxiety and its best friend depression
Mary Dees, MSc, Diploma TA Psychotherapy, Registered Member MBACP10th March, 2017
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.