In the late 19th century, a pivotal evolution occurred. It is one that still echoes today and underscores the entire field of psychology and a lot of the work I do as a psychotherapist.
During this time, it was discovered that major physiological diseases had a psychological basis. The French neurologist Jean Charcot was able to move physiological distress in the body through suggestion; you may know this phenomenon as transference. It is connected to the idea that much of our psychological life manifests itself in our physiological body, and that the body works to vehemently protect us against exposure, vulnerability, and humiliation.
This can be difficult for some when there is an increased need to reach out to others for help; one can go from vehemently protecting themselves one day to desperately needing others the next. This can cause a war between the part of us that longs to be comforted and the part of us that has warned us sometimes for decades against needing others too much. The energy expended trying to solve this conflict causes distress on the human body and manifests as fatigue, distraction, and a general feeling of being lost or disoriented.
Charlene Jones is someone who I always say saved my life. She introduced me to the power of strong, loving, and deliberate containers.
Charlene came into my life at a time when I needed someone who had compassion for my situation while also providing the boundaries necessary to pass through it. She was also prompted at one time in her life to dig deep and build a container for her own experience. Here are some of her best ideas and insights into managing your grief and getting through the difficult parts of life with dignity.
We need deep, strong, and powerful containers in order to go inward.
All throughout history, churches, synagogues, temples, and various buildings have been used to allow humans to gather together. In those gatherings, we have created a collective container. That container kept us feeling safe and like we belonged.
Over time, those containers and feelings have been lost in a sense. As a result, we have to dig deep into ourselves and make a personal container out of our bodies.
What Emotions Really Are
We have things in our bodies that we call emotions, but they are really like keys on a piano. When certain notes are hit, whether high or low, they manifest physically. You might see this as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, or something else that is a conglomeration of unresolved emotional energy.
However, we can understand these signals only when our container is cleansed. That puts us in a state of spiritual anarchy which means we are connected to higher energies. Those higher energies resonate through our bodies and tell us what we need to know.
All of this is like the fine-tuning of a beautiful piano. It doesn’t sound right if the keys are out of whack but when you give it a tuning and clean it up, the sound that comes out will be heavenly.
Don’t Resist Negative Emotions
In our culture, negative emotions have been swept under the rug. Nobody knows or talks about them.
In our culture, negative emotions have been swept under the rug. Many kids in our education system suffer because they are deeply depressed and suicidal. Our culture is misguided and often prematurely labels these emotional experiences and transitions as problematic when often kids are actually just in desperate need of a place to creatively express themselves and go deeper within their beings.
In our history, 16 years old was the time for deepening or maturing. Today, however, we often don’t have those initiations. In this sense, it can be a very barren time for the psyche and the soul.
She demands honesty from her clients. Although it can appear as whining when initially entering therapy, this is usually because there is a child within that has been abandoned. A large part of her work involves helping them understand how to recollect the child.
Additionally, it’s about teaching them how to listen to their signs and symptoms. It’s not about temporarily fixing things through conversation. If you want to change your life, you have to change in every possible way and become more vulnerable.
If you want to learn more about the importance of building containers for grief, check out Episode 002: The Dignity of the Body: A Container for Grief and Transition – An Interview with Psychotherapist, Author, and Podcaster Charlene Jones.