We All Have Life Urges and Death Urges
A life urge is a gesture towards joining with Health, Spirit, Love, Intimacy, Connection, Creativity, Honesty and Passion. A death urge is a gesture away from full and vibrant living. A death urge is a withdrawal into the wound pool where we do not feel loved. It is a separation away from Spirit and a descent 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 a negative thought or a judgment could be thought of as a tiny bit of separation away from Spirit - a tiny death urge.
Part of human life is about coping with emotional pain and understanding everything we do to 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. Some of us, especially those with great empathy seem to carry the weight, rejection and pain of generations.
Many of us have at least one aspect of our True Self that did not feel loved in our original families. When we perpetuate this seeming lack of love, 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 for generations of their families. 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 has its ways of healing that go beyond our conscious decision making process. In my work with the elderly, I have been astounded that people at the end of life do not steadily and predictably decline. There does come a rightful time to die, but I have seen some very frail older people go right to the edge of death, and then come back more vibrant than ever. They often start painting again. They seem less burdened. My impression is that right up until death, we are shedding layers of our accumulated human 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 and "lovable". Having a teenage daughter, it is easy to see that if teens express difference, they will likely be bullied, feel unloved, left out, or ostracized in some way. Teens often feel the pressure to be exceedingly careful to fit in. It takes such courage to be different in our world.
Even as adults we can secretly flagellate ourselves if our body shape, or physical appearance, or our personal lifestyle is outside of the social norms. The broad spectrum of sexual desires, gender and sexual preferences also often remain out of view. If we are very sexual, or do not feel sexual at all, we tend to hide it. Even if we have a different kind of intelligence than what is celebrated in our culture; if we are exceedingly poetic, artistic or are a different kind of visionary thinker, we can tend to feel lost and defeated when all we see everyone trying to conform.
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 cannot feel at home in our family of origin, or in society, culture or religion tends to not want to live here on this earth. But the very reason that we came into our bodies in this human life is to bring our particular and distinctly needed diversity, uniqueness and difference to diversify and celebrate life.
What so many people do not realize is that our purpose in life is simply to be vibrantly ourselves, despite all inner and outer challenges to the contrary. Our task is to bring our authentic self-expression to life in some true and meaningful way.
If our True Self does not seem to fit, we are meant to summon our strength all the more to bring our gifts and unique point of view to the communities that we live in. We are meant to embrace our own differences, and bring the love of our self-acceptance into the world.
Being authentic, especially when we feel different from the norm takes great courage because often it goes against what others expect from us. Sometimes what we need to bring to life is something that our culture and conventional religions deny, repress, or have not accepted yet. A powerful truth to remember at times of self-doubt is that we are each called to become and express ourselves honestly, so the world can become whole.
Our Inner Critic and the Fear of Being Hurt
Our purpose to express our truth scares our inner critic, and it is the exact opposite of what it wants. Usually we we inwardly criticize ourselves to protect ourselves from getting hurt, embarrassed, doubted or shamed. Consider that as young children - when we dared to show a true part of ourselves and it was not accepted - we felt like we would die from abandonment. Who wants to face that annihilating feeling again?
As adults, before we even realize it, we can feel saliently taken over by our inner critic. When we are afraid that we are going to be hurt or rejected again, the inner critic rises to the fore to make sure that we do not step forward into our authenticity. Our critic will criticize us to keep us safe. Yet is goes about it in a child-like and irrational way. It will hurt and attack us to keep us small and safe before anyone else can even utter a word.
As we grow and mature, the severe perfectionism of the inner critic starts to paralyze our lives and we become stuck, depressed, ill or afraid to move forward. Even when we are no longer in danger of being rejected, hurt, judged, or criticized, we can continue to reject ourselves, unconsciously, continuously and automatically. We might not even realize it as it happens underground and we may suddenly wonder why we are feeling so terrible inside. Our inner critic comes upon us quietly. We can find ourselves losing our motivation and inspiration quickly. 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. In the task of loving ourselves and expressing our true purposes in the world, we have to ask for some higher help to love ourselves. Our ego will never love us. It is only a tool for self-protection.
We hope people will love us as we imagine God might. But human beings are fallible and can never love us as Spirit can. 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 or available.
We all have the job of learning how to love ourselves unconditionally. Loving ourselves alone can be daunting to our hurt human self because it always involves re-discovering a spiritual connection that we abandoned in the past. Spiritual connection is necessary to re-bond to ourselves on the inside with love. For no matter how much we demand 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 top a level of openness to love and support that 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 in an intense and all-abiding way. Because the higher support is always available, we can all learn to re-open up to this spiritual love that we feel unaccustomed to in our daily lives, and yet deeply familiar with in our souls.
Spiritual Love can be connected with whatever medium that Spirit comes through for you. It might be creativity, love, nature, making love, dancing, poetry, sports, animals, service, hot baths....anything that connects you to the larger part of yourself is your God, and your Spiritual Connection to Love. When we ask for "extra help" to love ourselves, we can reach such profound states of well being that we wonder why we ever rejected ourselves in the first place. We can come to find that our unique of 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