A difficult struggle many people face involves finding the courage to really live and love again following the loss of someone or something dear to them. The death of a parent, spouse, child or close friend, the death of a beloved pet, the surrender of a dream or goal, a role or identity, even a belief system or worldview can bring forth a state of deep grief or depression. To lose what we love and are emotionally attached to can be incredibly painful. We may feel crushed, not wanting to go on, perhaps not believing that we can go on. We may experience life as having lost all meaning and purpose.
At such times you may not want to invest in life again. Some consider or pursue suicide believing that it will bring a cessation of suffering. You may turn to alcohol, drugs, or various forms of zealotry as methods of distraction. Conversely, cynicism may take root—an unconscious protective maneuver designed to avoid attachment and loss through a refusal to place trust or hope in anything ever again.
At these times, where do you find the courage to invest in life again, to risk loving again?
Alexander Lowen, a psychiatrist and founder of Bioenergetics therapy answered this question quite simply when he said, “life is courageous” [Depression and the Body, p.158] I think it is important to contemplate this statement. Life is itself courageous. Where there is life, there is a seed of courage.
If you think about it, you realize that all life starts out as something small and vulnerable—the tender seedling that pushes up through the soil towards the light of day; the blind, fumbling newborn animal; the newly hatched bird, the human infant. Such is nature’s nature, to send out roots, to explore, expand and grow, often against great odds.
That courage is intrinsic to life is also seen in humankind’s natural tendency to push the limits of what is known or can be done–to climb the highest mountains, plumb the deepest oceans, explore the most inhospitable lands, walk on the moon, or pursue increasingly extreme sports.
Courage is embedded in life; it is part and parcel of life. Lowen maintains that the courage to live life more fully and deeply is present in everyone, although it may be buried or suppressed in some. In his book, Depression and the Body, he describes the physical manifestations of depression in the body and offers methods to assist the healing of depression through bodywork. But perhaps his most important message is that life is courageous.
As long as you are alive—irrespective of your age, health, or proximity to death—there is a seed of courage that still longs to germinate, to make a bold, irrational and outlandish step towards further growth and development. There is a force inside of you, even in your darkest physical, psychological or spiritual state, that wants to grow, that wants to transcend limits, go over the edges of what is known, or what we think we know, who we are and who we think we are.
Perhaps the first step in accessing the courage you seek is to recognize that it is already within you, embedded in your DNA, in your breath and in the beating of your heart. This courage wants to expand and deepen your life in this realm or, like the courageous seedling pushing through the soil to the light, carry you across the boundary of this life into the next.
1. Lowen, Alexander. M.D. Depression and the Body: The Biological Basis
of Faith and Reality. Penguin Books, NY. 1972.
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
Excerpts may be used provided full and clear credit is given author with link to original article.