Whose voice?

Conscience in logotherapy is a moral voice but it’s much more than that. The reason it’s a moral voice is because it’s a voice that comes from beyond me and from deep within me at the same time. It’s not the voice of instinct nagging or superego or internalized figures telling me what to do. It’s about hearing what I’m here for.

Sometimes I have a question going around in my head and then I get an answer to it, and conscience means hearing the answer. Yesterday I had an experience of this sort. A question had come up in my personal development group. We’ve been internalizing the quality of tolerance and someone wondered how it’s possible to be pained over someone’s behavior while at the same time be tolerant and accepting, but without resorting to an apathetic response of “I really don’t care what you do.”

I got my answer after making the email blunder of sending a private mail to the entire community email list by mistake. Ouch!

This was my answer to the question of how one can have tolerance without being apathetic. I have very much internalized my father’s quality of getting things done quickly but I did not internalize his careful attention to detail. Having the first quality without the second sometimes gets me into trouble. I don’t like this about myself. But it’s there, and I accept it together with all the rest of me. It’s not that I don’t care. I want to change this because it’s hurting me. But I’m not going to reject myself. Hopefully I can have compassion on myself.

Similarly in my relationships with others: If I see something that is not to my liking or even if the person has hurt me or him or herself or someone else I’m not going to stop loving the person because of it. I’ll say something, but hopefully I’ll say it without emotional reactivity. If that’s not always easy to do, that is the ideal at least. I won’t stop feeling connected and being that person’s friend because of it. I won’t stop embracing and caring and doing for and affirming the person. I’ll continue all of this while carrying this heavy, painful weight called “I don’t like this thing” on my shoulder. What am I going to do about it? I’ll help carry the burden. The pain is my empathy. Because I really do care. (Batya Yaniger)

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3 Responses to Whose voice?

  1. Shelly says:

    How do you go on shouldering the burden when someone has hurt you beyond repair? If that person has damaged relationships because of that person’s actions, embarrassed you, humiliated you, and made me you feel worthless? Why should you want to shoulder that burden instead of putting it down? Are you saying that we are to have compassion on that person and still love him or her? When is it ok to put the burden down?

    • logogroup says:

      Great question, Shelly. I can feel the rawness of your pain. Am I saying that we are to have compassion? I’m saying it’s POSSIBLE to have compassion and still love the person if that’s what we want. Because I think the irony of it is that when we try to put the burden down we are still carrying it, in a form that poisons us inside. But when we say this person caused me great pain but we put it into a different perspective, then it’s no longer such a burden. That doesn’t mean it’s not a tremendous challenge. You can’t just walk away thinking “This person embarrassed me, humiliated me and made me feel worthless – and that’s okay. As if to say hey, do it some more, beat me some more!” You have to find the way to peace within yourself. For example in an abusive relationship your responsibility is to get out of the relationship. So you have to ask yourself a different question. Not “When is it ok to put the burden down?” but instead “That this person has hurt me is bad enough. Now how can I stop hurting myself?”

    • אסתר מלכה says:

      I don’t know how this relates to the “burden” analogy, however I have had the experience of someone hurting me very badly (on a scale of 1-10 this would be about 20). I was eventually able to get past what had happened, and not exactly forgive the person but repair our relationship to a certain extent. I basically thought about what had happened, and my knowledge of this other person, and said to myself: it just isn’t possible that she meant to hurt me. it was a by-product of something she needed to do for her own reasons. I feel like it would be much more of a burden to continue to hate her and feel hurt by what she did (which has been the reaction of some of my family to this event).

      Perhaps the burden that is left is that this event happened to me, it is now part of my history, and I’m still carrying it as long as anyone who was around when it happened is still around. I think “carrying this burden” is the opposite of fighting against what had happened, just accepting it. I carry it around instead of continuing to fight to clear my name or be “right” in the argument.

      I think this is an example of saying “this person did a really bad thing which I don’t like, but they are still an okay person, the bad thing does not define the whole person.”

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