Working with Anguish and Unbearability

Working with Anguish and Unbearability


Hello my name is Robert Teister, I’ve
been a Psychotherapist for 36 years and a Meditation Teacher since 2001. I offer
a series of talks on different aspects of modern psychology, you can check out
my youtube channel under the “Cultivation of Wisdom” you can also check me out on
my web page under Professional Psychology, Robert Teister MFT Marriage
Family Therapist. Today’s talk is going to be about the Unbearability of
existence and the shadow side of the human experience which is often times
filled with anguish, so we’re going to be talking about unbearability and anguish
in this talk today. Let’s start with these concepts, these ideas, of our human
experience and today we’re breaking the rules because we generally don’t talk
about the things that we’re going to be talking about today. Very few people
talk about the shadow side of our experience, the suffering that we all go
through, and we don’t share that information often with people. People do
talk about this in therapy sessions though, by the way and that’s
because it’s a safe environment. It’s a tightly bounded, protected and trusted
environment and so people do bring these ideas and these feelings into therapy
sessions, so a therapist is quite comfortable talking about these kinds of
things with people, not only discussing them, but exploring them on
the feeling level, the psychological level and also on the spiritual level,
where there is trust in the sessions provided by the therapist and also protected where
there’s no shaming and given support. People can generally talk about anything
in a therapy session and that’s a confidential place to do so. It’s also
legally protected by confidentiality laws. So different philosophers have
touched on this shadow side and certainly in the psychological world
these kinds of ideas are talked about frequently, the “shadow side”, which
comes from the Jungian model, talks about the side of us that we don’t see, or we
don’t talk too much about, and often we don’t really know very much about. Some people
know quite a bit about it but they are on different kinds of paths or they’ve
been in therapy for a long time, say or they explore them in the spiritual
dimension and they have a spiritual teacher or guide. In the
existential world it is often times talked about, for example in Kierkegaard’s book called “The Sickness unto Death” and “Fear and Trembling” and he’s referring to despair. But other people have talked about the
same idea, of not embracing life and talking about this despair not embracing
our spiritual part of ourselves, you know in a full way, that we are living more on
the surface of our life and not diving into it. Now this is quite consistent
with the spiritual teachings of Eastern Philosophies of Hinduism Buddhism
Jainism and those kinds, where the spiritual side of life is embraced more fully.
But we all carry this anguish around with us, everyone has this people
rarely talk about it. We’re all afraid if we go into that it will be
consuming and so overwhelming and, often times it does feel like that,
if we explore it it’s all part of the exploration, feeling overwhelmed and
then taking it very slowly in those kinds of places and exploring it just
like you would if you’re in a therapy session, then you start talking about
your own shadow material, you follow the anguish and it goes deeper and if
you continue to work with it, it starts opening up, you become clearer. First
you’re cloudy and you’re confused and your frightened but as you explore these
parts of yourself, in a protected environment, where people aren’t
making fun of you or shaming you like they would in the general social and
economic dimensions, but so I’m talking mostly about a protected environment
where you can explore this. And there are those places, They do exist, they’ve always
existed because spiritual exploration has always existed for man, even way back
there was monasteries and this is the kind of thing that does get explored and
if you push on these kinds of things, if you explore the feelings of
anguish and overwhelm and despair, all the different forms of horror in your life
where you’re just afraid and you’re scared to death, that’s the fear
and trembling of Kierkegaard’s thesis. Those things do change when you look at
them, but when we live on the other side of it, when looking at the other side of
ourselves, it looks frightening. The point of this
talk really is to encourage people to go into that in a safe protected way,
where you have people that you trust. It’s really very nice when people do
let’s say, their own therapy for two to three years or so, and then they join
a group with other people that have done that kind of work to that degree and
everybody starts talking about that shadow material and they bring that
forth in a group setting, that’s called “learning how to socialize your
internal experience”, by sharing your inner dialogue with the group, you
take a risk and expose that, but in a protected environment,
with a therapist of course, that’s protected, and then in the group therapy
process that’s also protected, where the therapist will protect people from being
shamed or made fun of by the other group members, and everybody has it so there’s
it’s not productive or intelligent to be shaming somebody else. Shaming people
often times is a result of somebody else not in touch with their shadow material,
so we all have it and so it’s a way to eventually socialize our experience
with other people beyond the therapy group, to certain family members
and if you trust them, or certain other people that you may work with or other
people that you may know that have done some work on themselves too, so you
start expanding, you know, by circles to where you can actually start sharing
it with a selected group of people. In a competitive environment like capitalism, it’s not so safe to share these kinds of feelings with others because people find
that you’re vulnerable and they might take advantage of you, they might make
fun of you and they might undermine you in some way, behind your back, that’s in a
competitive environment you see,and they get ahead and make you look like a fool. So, you don’t want to share this stuff just with anybody you want to
be successful at exploring it, that’s the real goal initially would be
is to really start stretching out and bring this material up and work
with it until, well first it’s like were a victim of this you know,
feeling of vulnerability, but as you learn to work with it ,then it becomes jewels,
it becomes places in you that are finally getting absorbed into your
personality and then you’ll have a sense of clarity and have
more depth than you had before and you are a more authentic human being because
you’re not just a “personality structure” you’re not locked into a personality
you’re not, as Jung would say “you’re not locked into persona” and you’re becoming
more of an authentic human being that also has suffered and worked that
through and had wounds from childhood and worked that through and made
mistakes and acknowledged those mistakes. That’s more of an authentic human
being and when you do it like that, other people see that and they’re
drawn to it, and they think, “how do you do that, how can you speak from those places?”
So people can be encouraged and helped by having people
like that around them, so it’s a learning process. It’s not so easy. But it
is the reason that we’re here in this human form, in these life’s times, is to
fulfill and work with this material so that we develop our humanity, so that we
become into a fully developed human being. If you believe in
reincarnation, as all the Eastern Philosophies certainly embrace, then you
will, in your Rebirth cycles, be born into a higher realm than what you were born
into in this lifetime. There are many levels above us and there many higher
realms of existence so we’re here for a reason we’re not just born in the human
body by accident . It’s very rare to be a human being. The availability, the
access that a human being can bring into their life through consciousness, that we
are conscious beings, a lot of other beings maybe they don’t know… and maybe they do, there’s something, you know, if you’re a warrior as a wolf or if you’re a warrior
as a dog or whatever, yeah we see other animals like that, that are impeccable
and maybe that’s a reflection of their own development in that station in life
or they were born as a wolf in this life but that’s not a bad thing, you can be a
wolf and be impeccable or you know, weak and trembling you know
as a wolf just like you would be as a human, so there are wolves that are pack
leaders and they are impeccable and they have families and they mate for life and
all that kind of stuff, so there is something to this spiritual side of
animals and humans, but we’re humans in this life and so it’s important to start
exploring our depth. Some of the greatest lessons that you’ll find in this inner
work is by following the path of unbearability. There’s a side of
us that we find life to be such a struggle and and of course we keep that
so private that we’re struggling by ourselves the monks talk about you know modernity
and the you know the public realm of people that you know are suffering but
they don’t talk about it and they they say that they’re living a life of quiet
desperation so think about that for a second but from the month’s point of
view that’s how they see people that are doing any work on themselves they’re
living a life of quiet desperation they’re just hanging on and they’re not
exploring this side of them this emotional side the spiritual side and
psychological side all of that sort of wrapped in one really but oftentimes we
approach it initially in the emotional world because when people started doing
therapy let’s say they start therapy for you know commitment to do it and they
started a lot of it is emotional grief there they oftentimes cry tears sadness
starting a week quite a bit and if they stay in that
process that very year – that stuff starts falling away by the wayside and
they really start to become deeper and clearer and they have a true
understanding of why they do this work initially when their first company of
therapy the therapist has to talk a lot and explain to them that this is going
to help them but what their actual experience is that takes that crying and
they don’t really get it until later on and then they start seeing cause and
effect they start seeing that exploring the deeper side of themselves actually
makes them happier they’re more fulfilled they’re clear they’re creative
they’re creative creativity accessorizing their authenticity starts
rising they become more fully developed and then they’re much more content with
the way their life is going and when they get that the therapist can back off
and let them do their own processing work in the session and you know later
the therapist doesn’t talk so much and if there was just something that he
needs to intervene with that’s fine but they in the later sessions of three or
four years kind of set work people are expected to do that work themselves and
find what they need to work on and bring it into the session and they start
exploring it and it’s still a supportive environment but eventually they’re
intended to leave the therapist and do that on their own so that they become
more fully developed human being rather than a shutdown person rather than a
number person rather than somebody that doesn’t have much compassion doesn’t
have much love to give because they’re so frightened and desperate and scared
and lonely and confused there’s so much confusion in the day-to-day associate
economics it’s rampant and it needs to be explored to develop beyond that world
the workaday world is very competitive and
and people are very shallow or relationships in that world because
they’re afraid the boss might find something out about you or or somebody
else might hear something about you and start spreading rumors you know in
talking behind your back and you know that’s a very uncomfortable feeling so
in the social world do maybe there’s deeper relationships but they’re
generally in thing they have things in common like raising their kids that kids
are in school and dad’s coaching Little League but the relationships are contained in that kind of strata the
socio-economic world it has tight boundaries around it you’re not allowed
to talk about the unbearabie leti if you start talking about you can’t cope you
know they think you’re suicidal or something but in a therapy session if
you if you share with a therapist I can’t cope I’m at and what said I
started think about suicide or I started to think about a running away those are
critical moments for the therapist because that person might actually
choose to make changes then because they’ve already worn out all the usual
addictions that people go into when they’re dealing with unbearable D
because anytime you have an addiction there’s something that’s unbearable and
whether it’s drinking or drugs or too much sex or masturbation or overworking
or buying a brand-new Corvette or something like that there’s a
variability it’s like the fear as the existentialists say it’s the fear of
death and you know when a guy hit on a man and say hits just for the 40
syndrome getting older this Eustis gone and well
what do you have to look forward to and then you know of course we all die at
some point and we have to start facing that and so you start working with that
material there’s nothing wrong with that what’s wrong is acting it out and
avoiding it but dealing whether they didn’t you know tightly bound in
therapeutic relationship that’s really grist for the work that’s needed to be
done here an existentialist we’re right in many cases that we have to face our
existential questions why are we here what are we doing and are we wasting our
life of course we have to make money and of course you know if we have families
and kids we have to certainly be there for them too but that doesn’t exclude
doing inner work in a deeper way if you’re a father or mother that’s not who
you are that’s just a rule that you’re doing you’re raising kids and a lot of
it is custodial you’re just a custodian employee of a business that’s a role
you’re the boss or your secretary or whatever those are roles but how about
the authentic side of you that’s scared and lonely and confused
you have wounds from your childhood that you’re avoiding or running from you’re
chasing after it one addiction after another
it becomes hopeless and meaningless it has to because then running around in
the addictive States like changing your random liquor into some other kind
that’s not gonna work or go changing from booze to CBD or some of you know
THC or you know Cleo ice or the or methamphetamines
crystal meth and all that stuff which is very cheap and very powerful if you’re
if you start veering off in that direction it’s always because there’s
something under the surface and that is this anguish that we feel we can’t name
it we don’t know what it is it’s just this and this unbearable t of it it’s so
unbearable that we must pleasure ourselves by snorting some cocaine or
having sex with somebody but that’s all avoidant and it doesn’t work and it’s
not going to dress what’s being posed to you by existence itself facing these
existential dilemmas this what Kierkegaard calls despair is like a
judgment despair but if you explore despair it starts breaking up and
falling apart and what’s underneath that it might be sadness it might be a state
of confusion or like he says a fear and trembling oh oh oh I’m so frightened
like I’m stuck I’m stuck here I can’t go forward because if I go go for without
going to something painful but pain is not to be avoided it’s to being the
Masters embrace pain because it gives them a clear sign post over that there
is something that needs your attention that’s what pain is let’s say as it for
example I’ve broken my my ankle and it’s really sore and I start hopping around
on a crutch just because they don’t wanna put my foot down the point is that
I have to go see a doctor and get that set and have a cast put on it and then
we’ll slowly heal see it was painting and you get it fixed
well emotional pain is the same thing you if your hearts been broken if you
weren’t loved very much if you were born into a family where there was
any love your hearts broken you you’ve been born into a world you weren’t
received that hurts people little babies yeah feelings so sensitive if any of you
listening have babies these beings are just extremely sensitive and if they’re
not being well received and well loved and and touched and encouraged and
soothed and talked to and looked at you know all the things that babies require
they’re not going to feel very received and if mom and dad are running around
hysterically just trying to pay the bills you know or and particularly if
they it all affects a baby and if they and if you were born into a family and
nobody was there for you or very little you’re gonna have a hard time trying to
be there for your baby because you don’t know how to do it if you were in a warm
loving family and lots of people who were there for you and you felt loved
and wanted and cared for then and you have a child then that’s how you’ll
treat your child they’ll feel well-received in that child were brought
into you know more healthy adult but that’s so that’s you know just shades of
grey you know I’m talking about you know black and white but really it’s mostly
shades of grey who whose turns in early and does their own work and to finish
this process of becoming a fully developed human being not many people do
that as a therapist that’s what I see most people just either making widgets
or providing services or gadgets of some kind or doing work like that but are
they developing inwardly and this is the real reason why we’re on the planet this
is why we’re born into this life we have this opportunity and this is the most
important thing to develop ourselves we can make widgets and we can provide
services we can have but this should be the most important
thing there’s a famous monk called dick not Han and he does he’s a meditation
teacher that’s a center Dharma Center in plum village in the South of France and
he has some mantras that he gives when he works with couples when he gives
Dharma talks he he talks about you know people that are married or in a
relationship and how how to talk to them how to talk to each other listen to how
he says that one of the mantras it’s very it’s it’s very simple what he says
but we don’t actually say these kinds of things that’s why he created these
mantras for people in his Dharma talks so that they could give back to this you
know the side of ourselves that suffers and we don’t reveal it see that we’re
living them all around each other but nobody talks about how they’re suffering
so here’s what he says he says well look in your you know wife or girlfriend or
husband boyfriend’s eyes and tell them I know you suffer and I’m here for you yes
that’s why you have to say I know that you suffer and I’m here for you and he
says look them in the eye when you say that I’m here I know that you don’t feel
so good you know so just remind them it’s a it’s such a simple thing to say
but can you imagine actually trying to say that sincerely and follow through it
reminding each other that it’s like saying look I know the swirl
of modernity is we’re caught in it or going around and round all the time but
I’m your mate and I love you and I’m here for you and I’ll do my best I’ve seen that too often because we’re
caught in this swirl and we’re bouncing off each other almost like a pinball
machine you know it’s got these bumpers that call these things that fling the
ball here and there modernity sort of treats people like
that and they’re bouncing desperately a survival paying bills getting money you
know having this chaotic social life sometimes where there’s no real
connection and you have to remind ourselves that there is this other side
of us and that’s what tick non-han brings forth you know in his Dharma
talks like okay try to be in the present moment have a skinful kind of spiritual
practice and speak from the heart when you when you mean it you have a place in
your being where you stop the swirl that you can stop the anxiety and the anguish
and the unbearable ‘ti of it all stop running from it and just sit right down
in the center of it and go okay this is me I’m doing my best and what he does is
he’s a Buddhist monk and so he has these retreats but all around the world are
these meditation retreats where people can leave them the modern world the
modernity the madness and go off into a very quiet place and meditate and I
encourage people to use that every six months do like a retreat you
don’t start out by by a long retreat you started out just by learning how to
meditate that mind may just be one day you do one day and then you do a weekend
two or three days like that no Friday evening Saturday Sunday and you do that
a couple of times and then you go to some Dharma talks and then you
eventually what you’re working towards is doing what’s called the ten-day
retreat now this is very common in Asia but it’s becoming much more common in
Europe and United States because the Eastern philosophies out of India are
spreading they’ve always been over that direction and they spread to Asia out of
India from the Buddhists time and then before Buddhism there was Hindu and that
practice is thousands of years old and it’s very similar to Buddhism and
Jainism and yoga all those suta’s and talks they give are saying essentially
the same thing and so they have these retreats where people can pull out of
their busy life and regroup become clear and then draw a sort of a new map about
where they really include which they could go home and build an altar and
meditate every day for a little while so you have a way of bringing yourself back
to your Center like that so let’s say you do a 10-day retreat one time and you
you know struggled with that you come out the back side I didn’t run out so
you succeeded he got the concentration back you got
your clarity back you got to some vision emerging you can you feel that it’s
always that way it’s always that way and then you might say well
every six months I’ll do a 10-day retreat okay so if you do one then you
know you can do it and then you do another one you know every six months
you do that for a while and watch how your life starts slowly turning towards
including that more more so you do that and then you have an altar and you sit
at home and then if you have a mate talk about that you want to do that together
what kind of direction you want to go in and you go cured Dharma talks on you
what’s really nice today is though you don’t necessarily need to go hear a
Dharma talk physically the Internet has wonderful Dharma talks by many different
teachers and you can just listen to those talks and you will see when you
listen to a Dharma talk you don’t have to write it down it’s it’s it’s sort of
a stream of energy running through your body and whatever you need that was what
will stay there you don’t think about that you don’t have to grab ahold of it
you just listen to another Dharma talk another time and you keep sifting the
wisdom out of it and every teacher has their own approach to it and some
teachers are drawn to and that’s fine you can become a student like that
because they some teachers you just hear them so as clear as a bell other
teachers are you know maybe over your head at a certain point in your life but
also the the Dharma talks are also written down you can go online and you
can read the sutras even for yourself a new suit is Buddhist sutras masters from
the past that are no longer living you can read their students their Dharma
talks and gleaned wonderful insights this way the point is is that you can
start developing yourself to where this level of this sphere of The Unbearable T
of life this anguish that we carry on the shadow
site that you started exploring their depths and work with that feeling and
work it through because there’s always a lesson on the back side if you are
familiar with Joseph Campbell now here’s what Joseph Campbell his gift
was to humanity he was a teacher at a college Sarah Lawrence College for many
years and he synthesized all of the religions all of the philosophies all
the psychologies he synthesized all of it in in in a book he called the hero
with a thousand faces and he gave many talks and you can go on on YouTube and
he listened to his talks about various myths and the hero’s journey hero’s
journey is always the hero of the person trying to turn inwardly
and being confronted with all these feelings and they get scared and they
get confused and then they run back out and they’ll go back in and he says in
this in this spiritual psychological philosophical journey everybody deals
with it like that they run into it and they got all these things they got to
deal with but if you keep working with it if you get a teacher if you get a
guide of some sort to work through these thing that comes up then you become a
deeper human being and become more developed and so in his in his heroic
hero’s journey the hero confronts these things inside and works them through
maybe it has a teacher maybe hey you know ed get some help and then finds a
valuable insight into their you know some existential question gets answered
and he and he brings that back into his daily life it’s called bringing back the
boon you can share that or keep it silent to himself but it’s a valuable
step for his life that’s the inner journey
they balance your you know regular daily economic and social life with your
spiritual dimensions you can do all o that in the same basket of life you can
have a spiritual dimension and it keeps moving
it doesn’t just stick somewhere you know that boon that you had you know last
year is it different because you go in again different both different crossroad
different insight into your existence and so it’s become some very exciting
because it’s a it’s a process of uncovering the mystery the real mystery
not the silly kind of things that you see on TV but real authentic truth
seeking and finding and development actual development in this lifetime
so it’s let me remind you both the technolon work you look at his work his
talks online joseph campbell is vital because he’s an American and he speaks
beautifully from being a professor for a long time and Carl you and psychologists
are share a lot of insights to there’s there’s books of the written books some
are starting to fade a little bit because the digital universe is so
enormous it’s taken over and so you can get online and read and hear talks that
we never had available to us before and if you find something that’s really good
I go to you good on social media and share your story so that your friends of
your agent of the air you say something that’s really been helpful to you and it
might be helpful to them in particular let’s refocus down to this level of
young people coming of age the coming of age is such a
a difficult period and so these little nuggets of the truth in some kind of
direction you know where you find somebody that’s holding a candle up
that’s helped you and you share that with your friends here’s what here’s
what this guy said it can be life-changing for young people to hear
an authentic person tell the truth so that can actually actually start people
on a whole path of awakening you want to do whatever it takes to wake up from
this like dream world of capitalism and the social order of things the spiritual
dimension is different than that and the process of awakening which is really the
world the dimensions of psychology and philosophy and spirituality these things
of the true things that will help you to actually develop into a fully developed
human being it isn’t about making money doesn’t even exist on that level it’s
about finding what’s true what you need to do in this life you see money’s over
on that side it’s a reality but it doesn’t exist in the spiritual dimension or the social dimension either you know
what’s cool and what’s accepted in the social dimension it doesn’t it doesn’t
carry into the spiritual dimension you know you’re not cool in that world
that’s a facade you can actually just see yourself leaning this part of you
that always tried to be accepted and be cool and be light but in this spiritual
dimension that falls away and you see yourself like with
fool sometimes like oh I didn’t it was something I tried to get people to like
me and I had to do these things but in spiritual dimension it’s like you oh
yeah I got it see if shed that you think it is shirt and taking that off and go
that’s not really what’s true this what I nearly need to do is this so these
levels you know they’re all of course in each of our lives they’re sort of worlds
within the world but they’re different the rules are quite different in the
spiritual psychological world so you really want to know find out what’s true
for you and if somebody that you listen to listen a well-known psychologist is
giving a talk on YouTube and you listen to that name it sticks with you and
you’re going yeah that’s that’s what’s really true for me too then you see that
will change your life and so the opportunity to develop inner inner in an
inner way has never been greater because the the digital world the world wide web
is so full of all this knowledge that’s being shared and it’s uh it’s going to
accelerate people’s the search for meaning search for the truth Viktor
Frankl was a famous psychiatrist that had gone through affluence and he wrote
a book called man’s search for meaning and so he came out of Auschwitz alive
and wrote this book and shared you know what what’s meaningful in this life we
don’t want to waste this precious human experience it’s so vital to line up with
what’s what’s true stacked-up what’s true for you rather than just looking
good or you know socializing and doing what everybody else is doing and chasing
you know position title and money that’s not good
that doesn’t fit in the spiritual psychological and philosophical worlds
so you can have a social life and you can you know have fun with that and you
can work but don’t hurt people you know because when you do the spiritual
dimension and you see how you’ve hurt people you really feel that you know
when when you don’t have any compassion in your heart you can do ruthless
harmful things to people so the spiritual dimension you know you have to
get down on your knees oh boy I’ve been doing with my life and you really
question it and you look at it you explore it it’s sort of sifting some of
the you know sand out of it and see what’s left me having jewels left and so
you want to open your heart up in in that process of opening your heart up
living an authentic life developing your true humanity those things lie on this
on this other side of you which is the psychological exploration emotional work
and philosophical work and the spiritual work these are terms but they’re all
mixed in that same container over here this container over here is the
socio-economic world there’s a lot of confusion in this world a lot of false
gods in that world attainment is buying a nice house in the brand-new car but
you’re empty inside this doesn’t count see the only thing to fill up the
container is on the other side so it’s a lot to expect to someone but I wanted to
share these kinds of insights with you because I’ve been on this
path for a long time and helped a lot of people and a lot of people will help me
I’ve got some wonderful highly developed teachers and they have freely given
their help to me and changed my life so I just want to share that so that some
of you understand that it’s possible to do all of it but particularly include
the deeper dimensions so that you do your work while you’re here in this
human form in this human life you do what you’re being invited to do while
you’re here because it’s not an accident you became a human being that if you had
other lives before this they all developed up until being a human being
and the human being is a very precious form to have taken you didn’t choose it
you developed over many lifetimes to get here don’t waste it with frivolity do
some inner work and unfold with that and I’m sure that you’ll be contented a lot
happier from doing that kind of work it’s a sincere life and it’s worth
living like that and you rebirth after this life is over it’s going to be much
better depending on the Karma you’ve created in
this life so it isn’t just this life it’s the next one and the next one after
that and so forth so you’re continuing to develop this isn’t the height of the
top being a human being it’s a very priceless place but it is not the top
place there are other realms of existence and other highly developed
beings that are not humans above this station so keep that in mind that this
is transient – we all die here we don’t live that long 100 years 90 years
eight years that’s pretty much when people die so you need to remember that
and look forward to that part of it so you work you know to the next level like
that okay so I’m going to wrap this up now my name is Robert Easter and check
out my web page Professional Psychology Robert Easter online and my youtube
channel under the title of the cultivation of wisdom a Robert at Easter
okay maybe I’ll hear from you thank you very much my life

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