I've been exploring new facets of my inner world in recent months. I suppose I'm always about that but it's taken me into some frightful and pleasantly surprising places.
Be assured, turning inward can be an unproductive place for me. The darker parts of my soul would desire to dominate my better self. But I've found it's only by going into the dark places and owning them that I'm able to find compassion for myself.
If I don't cultivate compassion for myself, how can I ever effectively have compassion for others? So it's my quest as a healer and helper that compels me to love myself better, thereby empowering me to love others in a healthier and more affirming, compassionate way.
A friend sent me me this quote from Carl Jung. I've always appreciated the Jungian approach to the psyche. In fact, I still have my copy of Modern Man in Search of a Soul that I read when I was fifteen.
Only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the “treasure hard to attain.” He alone has a genuine claim to self-confidence, for he has faced the dark ground of himself and thereby has gained himself. This experience gives him faith and trust, the pistis in the ability of the self to sustain him, for everything that has menaced him from inside he has made his own. He has acquired the right to believe that he will be able to overcome all future threats by the same means. He has arrived at an inner certainty that makes him capable of self-reliance, and attained what the alchemists call the unio mentalis.
Honestly, I wish there were another way. It's a solitary and frightful fight. No one can do it for me. I alone must take the risk and turn inward so that I can effectively turn outward.
I am increasingly convinced that if we do not risk the fight with internal dragons we do not live to our fullest potential. We live but a shadow of the life that we could have.
My grandfather used to say, "When you are alone, you are in the best company." While humorous, I think he had hit upon some part of this truth.
We must go to the dark places to be free to live in the light.
We must be comfortable with solitude to truly be present for community.
We must die to who we think we are supposed to be to find who we truly are.
I know this much: It's only in embracing my internal dragons that they become transfigured and in turn transform me.
My dragons are less frightening, less treacherous these days. I'm less frightened too.