Inauthentic Suffering: Standing Outside of Oneself
destitute (adj.), ‘abandoned, forsaken’, from de ‘away’+ statuere ‘put, place, to stand,’ from ‘to stand, make or be firm.’ Of persons, forlorn, hopeless, sense of lacking resources, without means, impoverished, indigent’.
What does it mean to ‘stand away’ from life, to step back – or be pushed back – from what’s happening? To be ‘out if it’, to be ‘besides yourself’? It happens, occasionally, that our lives and loves lead us to a place of psychic impoverishment. A bodily depletion or an erotic emptiness. An emotional vacuum, or a spiritual desolation, that finds us feeling destitute. In some way, we have lost our grounding. What ever sense of identity we had before, has broken down. We have no option but to surrender to our fate.
We have learned from the sages that in these times of no-hope and depression, the resultant loneliness, bitterness and resentment can be creative, if lived through. The suffering and breakdown have the potential to bring about a renewal of character, so sorely needed to mature and ripen. Naturally, having someone tell you this when you are in such a state, is of little comfort, and usually annoying.
How should we understand and navigate such experiences soulfully? This requires acknowledging the state and situation we find ourselves in. Neither heroically defending against nor manically denying our lowly condition. And self-indulgence in this place will produce what Jung and Hillman refer to as ‘inauthentic suffering’:
So we refuse to be what we are, begin to cheat ourselves with excuses and escapes, and self betrayal becomes nothing other than Jung’s definition of neurosis, uneigentlich leiden, inauthentic suffering, but through mauvaise foi, through lack of courage to be, one betrays oneself. This is ultimately, I suppose a religious problem, and we are rather like Judas or Peter in letting down the essential thing, the essential important demand to take on and carry one’s own suffering and be what one is no matter how it hurts. James Hillman.
For change to start within, this requires learning the value of being alone and facing the destitution that announces the end of an era and the necessity to go under.
This PanTimes, let us reflect on, and respect, our sense of destitution. The way to meet with the gods was always ‘down’, inner, and deep, for those who are living with soul.