A life urge is a gesture towards aligning with health, spirit, love, intimacy, connection, creativity, honesty and passion. A death urge is a gesture away from positive, honest, vibrant living. A death urge is a withdrawal into the wound pool where we feel separate and unloved by others. In a death urge we separate away from the connection to our soul and can descend into illness, depression and a struggle with the will to live.
On a micro level, it could be said that we often alternate between life and death urges each day that we are alive. Even one limited or negative thought could be thought of as a tiny death urge. Awareness is the key. Whatever we become aware of can heal . We do not have to deny painful thoughts and emotions as they come up. When we see the deep roots of our urge towards death we can change direction.
Part of human life involves releasing with emotional pain and understanding all of the unhealthy ways that we avoid and deny it. Many of us carry not only inner hurt and self-criticism of our own, but also the unhealed pain and rejection from our families. Most of us, especially those with great empathy, seem to carry the pain of generations.
Most of us have at least one aspect of our authenticity that did not feel loved in our original families or social groups. When we perpetuate this outer rejection on an inner level, an unconscious part of ourselves may want to die. This is not to say that we will take our own lives, or will die, but we may become ill, depressed, addicted, or will suffer in a way that makes daily living difficult.
It is not so simple to say that we create our own illness. The roots of illness can run very deep. Often people who become ill are carrying pain from their ancestry. Perhaps we even bring a propensity for illness into our life at the onset. Illness can often be a soul journey of great dignity and magnitude. I respect people who are called to go into the darker, more unconscious inner places to heal. I have come to see that illness can be a powerfully transformative process.
The death urge is not predictable and the unconscious mind has its ways of healing that go beyond our conscious decision making process. In my art studio work with adults at the end of life, I was astounded to learn that people at the end of life do not always steadily and predictably decline. I have witnessed some very frail people go right to the edge of death, and then mysteriously come back more vibrant than ever. They often started painting again. They seem less burdened. My impression is that right up until death, we are shedding layers of our accumulated emotional heaviness.
The Part of Ourselves That Wants to Die Longs to be Loved
At this current point in our human history, many of us feel that we cannot show our entire selves, especially if what we need to express does not fit into the confining social scope of familial or cultural acceptability. We live in a narrow world of what is acceptable. Having a teenage daughter, it was easy to see when teens express difference, they fear they will be bullied, unloved, left out or ostracized in some way. Watching my daughter and friends I noticed the pressure they felt to be exceedingly careful to fit in.
It takes such courage to be different in our world. Even as adults we can tend to reject ourselves if our body shape, or physical appearance or personal lifestyle is outside of social norms. The broad spectrum of sexual desires, gender and preferences also often remain outside of societal acceptance.
Everyone seems to measure themselves on "normal", even though most of us have some quirks or difference that we hide. I remember walking down the street years ago and a deep realization came to my mind. As I looked at our multi-faceted humanity in all of it's shapes and colous, I exclaimed under my breath, "None of us are normal! We are all just pretending to be!" I felt elated and encouraged for the vision.
The parts of ourselves that do not feel expressed and accepted in our family of origin, society, culture or religion do not want to live here on this earth. Yet, it is interesting to contemplate that the very reason that we came into this human life is to bring our distinctly needed diversity and uniqueness to life.
What so many people do not realize is that our only purpose in life is to be vibrantly ourselves, despite all inner and outer challenges to our fullest expression. Our spiritual task is to bring our authentic self-expression to life in some true and meaningful way.
If our authenticity does not seem to fit into our social structure, strength must be cultivated. We are meant to summon our strength to bring our gifts and unique point of view to the communities that we live in. We are meant to discover and embrace our differences, and bring the warmth of our self-acceptance into the world.
Being authentic, especially when we feel different from the norm takes great courage. Sometimes what we need to bring to life is something that our family, culture and religious systems reject, deny or repress. A powerful truth to remember during times of self-doubt. We are each called to express ourselves honestly, so the world can become whole.
Our Inner Critic and the Fear of Being Hurt
Expressing our truth scares our inner critic. Our inner critic guards our vulnerability and expressing our truth is the exact opposite of what it wants us to do! Usually we protect ourselves from getting hurt, embarrassed, doubted or shamed as we have in the past by criticizing and holding back our authenticity.
As young children - when we dared to show an authentic aspect of ourselves and it was not accepted - we likely we felt we would die from abandonment. Who wants to experience this annihilating feeling of rejection again? As adults, before we even realize it, we can be taken over by our inner critic.
When we are afraid that we are going to be hurt again, the inner critic rises to the fore to make sure that we do not step forward into our authenticity. Our critic tries to keep us safe, and yet is goes about it in a child-like and irrational way.
As we grow and mature, the severe perfectionism of the inner critic starts to paralyze our growth, and we become stuck, depressed, ill or afraid to move forward. Even when we are no longer in danger of being rejected or hurt, we can continue to reject ourselves, unconsciously, and automatically.
We might not even realize it our inner critic can attack without our conscious awareness, and we may suddenly wonder why we are feeling so terrible on an emotional level. Our inner critic comes upon us quietly, usually when a repressed emotion rises up to express.
We can find ourselves losing our motivation and inspiration quickly, as we automatically tamp ourselves down in familiar ways. Before we head into a downward spiral we can ask, "What truth about myself am I afraid to share and express?"
The parts of us that are sick and want to die are hurt and angry because we do not feel loved unconditionally for who we really are.
Learning to love and express our truth in the world, sometimes requires "higher help." Our ego will never love us. It is only a tool for self-protection.
The people in our lives are often struggling with their own inner self-attack, criticism and death urges. Trying to get love and approval from other people is not always possible.
We all have the job of learning how to love ourselves unconditionally. Loving ourselves involves re-discovering a spiritual connection that we abandoned in the past.
Spiritual connection is necessary to re-bond to ourselves on the inside. For no matter how much we long love from the outside, we will not be able to receive it unless we are loving ourselves first.
Often a death urge, a close call, or a health crisis will open us up to receive love and support beyond what we have habitually avoided in the past. Having recently witnessed my partner traveling through a long illness into a powerful state of human self-love and spiritual healing, I came to understand that we are always loved at a spiritual level.
Spiritual love might be connected to creativity, love, nature, making love, dancing, poetry, sports, animals, service, hot baths. When we ask for "extra help" to love ourselves, we can reach such profound states of inner embrace, we might wonder why we ever rejected ourselves in the first place. We can grow to understand that our authentic self is infinitely beautiful.
"We were created to love the Infinite - and this is why, when we love, that which we love appears so perfect to us."
- Per Lacordaire