“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago” ~ Nietzsche

Currently I am reading Irvin Yalom’s book “Staring at the Sun, Overcoming the Terror of Death”. In the book, Yalom describes how frequently our overt and covert fears surrounding death influence how we experience our lives. I was struck by the quote from Nietzsche, as it does encapsulate an important reason why we seek out psychotherapy. Often this need manifests at a time of transition, major life change or loss. Revisiting ideas, behaviors, and beliefs that one has conquered before can be frustrating, as we often wish they would remain in the past rather than influence our present. I have often noted that when this occurs, we may feel like we are repeating our developmental stages; for example, responding in a manner that expresses the helplessness we may have felt as a small child or rebelling as teen to try and establish autonomy. Feeling vulnerable can shed light onto the shadow aspects of self, those parts of ourself which we have rejected and pushed aside. What is in our shadow is unique to every individual, yet if we can tolerate the confrontation with these parts we can ultimately bring them back into balance so they no longer hold power over us. At the same time, because we have gained experience and wisdom as we have grown, this does give us an opportunity to re-examine old wounds and to reframe them allowing for increased awareness and capacity to let go of old beliefs, behaviors and ideas. As Yalom writes, “Good ideas, even ideas of power, are rarely sufficient in a single shot; repeated doses are necessary”.

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