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Healing the dark emotions



A psychotherapist for more than 33 years, Greenspan sees the dark emotions as potentially profound spiritual teachers—if we can live mindfully with them. She knows from experience: fate has brought her the death of one child and the disability of another. Though she believes in the idea that conscious suffering can deepen our connection to life and make us more compassionate people, Greenspan understands our tendency to turn away. She quotes from Carl Jung: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious….This procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not very popular.”…….

……in her most recent book, Healing through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair, she argues passionately that the avoidance of the dark emotions is behind the escalating levels of depression, addiction, anxiety and irrational violence….her therapeutic approach encourages what she calls “emotional alchemy,” a process by which fear can be transformed into joy, grief into gratitude, and despair into a resilient faith in life. She questions the prevailing psychiatric attitude toward grief and despair, which relies heavily upon psychopharmacology to return as quickly as possible to a “normal” state. Her focus is on transformation rather than normalcy.

Fear, grief and despair are uncomfortable and are seen as signs of personal failure. In our culture we call them “negative” and think of them as “bad.” I prefer to call these emotions “dark,” because I like the image of a rich, fertile soil from which something unexpected can bloom. Also we keep them “in the dark” and tend not to speak about them. We privatize them and don’t see the ways in which they are connected to the world. But the dark emotions are inevitable. They are part of the universal human experience and are certainly worthy of our attention. They bring us important information about ourselves and the world and can be vehicles of profound transformation.

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Well-known member
Jul 23, 2009
south london,england
Yep on a personal level i can say that's kinda true. For years and I mean years I ignored and denied my problems- which others might've been aware of etc... untill I couldnt ignore it any longer.

Sometimes the negative/bad feelings can be turned around! Own them and realise and recognise that they exist- and thats one step towards being OK either today or OK in general, if not being better.