Matters of the soul

The word "soul" is not in fashion nowadays; if at all, we say "psyche" which sounds a bit more scientific and therefore more acceptable. The word "soulful" is even worse; it sounds cheesy in our ears and makes us cringe slightly. "Soul" is a word that contains emotion and we're not so good with emotions or feelings. We find them confusing and unpredictable; they mess up our plans and lists of things to do; they get in the way of efficiency and achievement. We're obsessed with work, chores and lists, full diaries and timetables. There is no space or time for "soul", for aimlessly ambling along for a bit, for day-dreaming, or to stand and stare.

We feel uncomfortable if we don't know exactly what to do next and we need to keep running and planning, otherwise uncomfortable feelings might surface and we can't have that! We will do anything in order not to feel; we will keep busy and push on mercilessly. We harden ourselves and say that we have no time for that kind of rubbish.

We're being good, we're doing all the "right" things; even meditation, yoga and obsession with health can be used to avoid feelings. Meanwhile we get sad, frustrated, stressed, angry or physically ill and wonder why. The soul needs space to express itself, through feeling and creativity. If we neglect that part of ourselves it will backfire. If you sit still and let your feelings come, whatever they are, without judging them as "good" or "bad", you are connecting with your soul. Our relationships become mechanical and soulless without proper emotional connection. Our work can feel empty, soul-destroying; we may earn a living but we don't have a life. We may get "depressed" (another mechanical word) and think that there is something wrong with us.

But maybe there is nothing wrong with us; what's wrong is that we don't listen to our despairing soul that feels crushed, abused or ignored. Soul needs to play in the mud, to mess about with paint, to make music, to roll down a hill, to laugh and be silly, to climb a tree, to watch a bumble bee or watch the grass grow.

Soulfulness contains tenderness, caressing, enthusiasm, excitement, dosing under a tree, loving our work, loving people, giggling with our children, dancing cheek to cheek, singing out loud and free, eating ice cream. Soulfulness also contains sadness when it's time to be sad, being who we are - warts and all - instead of keeping up appearances. If you're embarrassed by all this, be embarrassed, really feel it, notice the dismissive thoughts in your mind, feel the tension in your body as fully as you can. If you do this long enough the embarrassment will start to dissolve and transform into - freedom!

Counselling could help you to reconnect with your soul and to realise that there may be very good reasons why you're feeling depressed, anxious or angry.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Bath, Somerset, BA1 5TH

Written by Judith Schuepfer-Griffin

Bath, Somerset, BA1 5TH

My name is Judith, and I'm writing in the way I do because I would like to make psychological thinking more accessible for everyone. I have noticed that it often helps to create a context within which new ideas make more sense. With my articles I'm trying to create that context and hopefully also an enjoyable reading experience.

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