Chapter Nineteen - "Help Me --- I'm Tired Of Feeling Bad"

Chapter Nineteen

How the Brain Defends: Resistance

The brain hates pain. The only thing it hates more than pain is knowing exactly where the pain is coming from. The brain hates connecting with the details of why and how we were originally hurt. It will do anything to keep from the direct experience of this knowledge.

The brain blocks knowledge to preserve itself from being overwhelmed. It is not capable of remembering and reliving, all at once, the hundreds of thousands of large and small assaults that it has sustained and defended itself against through its lifetime. The ever-watchful unconscious will only let you in when it finally perceives that you have taken up the sword of inwardness and that you will not be turned aside. Then, and only then, will it begin to yield its ground to you. It tests you with serious discomfort. If, in spite of this, you remain implacably oriented toward it, it will fill your mind with its awesome and bittersweet treasures.

Defences and resistances are very, very necessary in both the child and the adult. This is most especially true in childhood, when there is so much vulnerability and when the central nervous system (unless it is traumatized repeatedly) is so open. Even though the adult central nervous system is much more closed, the adult has a very great ability (with due respect to timing and readiness) to experience and integrate traumatic information, both from the present and from the past.

Depth therapy requires that you introduce yourself both to present and past traumatic events. In so doing, you must be prepared to experience the pain of reliving them. Depth therapy further requires that, before you achieve deep insight, the pain must be allowed to increase considerably. You must enter the paradox of embracing deeper and deeper pain in order to get rid of it (the CENTRAL PARADOX OF THERAPY). When you do this your reward will be to make deep connections, and to experience profound release from lifelong tension and dysfunction. You will also gain profound insight into yourself and all aspects of your world including the manipulative behaviour of those around you.

The ever-watchful unconscious knows that you want to be rid of your discomforts. What it does not know is whether or not you are prepared to take the arduous journey that will be needed. It does not know if you are willing to pay the price.

Everyone I have ever met wants relief from pain. Only one in three people who have come unscreened into my practice are prepared to fight for this release through aiming themselves into their own depths with courage, energy and determination. One in three are prepared to move into pain in order to release it. One in three are prepared to give up their sense that their pain exists because other people are hurting them, and to adopt the astonishing notion that before they can blame others they must first take their own inner journey. Much, much later, after having taken this journey, a true clarity will emerge showing exactly who is doing what to whom. This knowledge of self and others, this enormous clarity, comes as a by-product of inwardness. Those who try to grasp it before they have finished the inward journey make a serious mistake. Whether they are looking inward or outward, they fail to see the real causes of their pain .

* * *

We are going to study the many ways which the brain has of defeating the inward journey. We have said that the unconscious does not want you within it. It will use force and every conceivable kind of trickery to turn you aside. The forces used against you will be powerful and often completely invisible. It is as though you have been dropped into a small rowboat offshore from where a huge river empties into the sea. The river, a thousand miles in length, empties the vast dark continent of the unconscious.

The moment you decide to row toward the mouth of this river, you are fighting both the current, that moves against you, and a powerful offshore wind that is trying to blow you back out to sea. Like the river current and the wind, the mind's defences are usually invisible but they exert a continuous, subtle, powerful force against you.

One of the major tasks of this book is to make these forces of the unconscious visible, and we will then offer ways of neutralizing them so that we may proceed up-river against this resistance, into the source of our pain.

We will try to keep our language very simple so that we do not get lost in yet another defence the defence of intellectualization.

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