Awareness of the Illusion of
Separation and Helplessness
By Lynn Seiser Ph.D, MFT
As I sit in counseling sessions, I feel a deep sense of sadness and compassion for people who live with a profound sense of alone-ness. Granted, we all tend to take ourselves very seriously and very personally. We all suffer from the pain of our past, our present, and even our future. Our past has taught us limited beliefs and faulty perceptions. Two of the most painful are the beliefs in separateness and helplessness.
Some modern psychology has emphasized a sense of self. Unfortunately, that self keeps getting smaller and smaller. Our internal environment gets small since we no longer identify with the body, or the mind. We have a body, but we are not our bodies. We have thoughts, but they are more the products of our history with other people than our own original thoughts. We have feelings, but they are the products of our thoughts. We have an ego identity. It is the product of the programming we received from our parents, society, and culture. As we take a reductionistic introspective view, our internal environment become smaller and smaller until we feel separated with no real sense of belonging. We are alone within ourself.
We not only separate inwards, we separate in the other direction too. Throughout history, we have seen that we continue to disconnect from those things commonly thought to be external to us. We no longer identify with our families. We no longer feel connected to our local community. We no longer belong to the larger organizing principles of the state, the country, the continent, or the world. We are less identified with our genetic and cultural history. We are separate from all that is. At least, that is our perception.
It is this perception of separateness that lies at the root of anxiety and depression. It is this perception of separateness that facilitates the fantasy of helplessness.
There are many reasons to feel helpless. Sometimes we are helpless over a situation because we are totally unaware of it. This illustrates the power of ignorance and denial. The power of counseling is to make what is out of awareness or consciousness available to us through talking about it. Counseling also provides a means of gathering accurate information to overcome ignorance. Sometimes we feel helpless because, in reality, we are. We have no power over some situations. There are only a few of these.
We may feel helpless because we have defined the problem as someone elseís, that it doesnít affect us, or that we really have no control over it. To some extent, there is some truth here. There are some situations that we really donít have control over. Accepting helplessness in those cases can be very hard. We all want to be in control. In fact, most of us want to over control almost everything. As a counselor, I often have to help people become aware and accept what they have control over and what they donít.
What if we expand the sense of self and realize our power and control in both our internal and external environment? Instead of disowning part of ourselves, letís re-own and re-integrate them into one whole being. With all the illusions of having different parts of ourselves, there really is only one whole system that works together. If any part loses, the whole system loses. Still, do not become too identified with yourself or take yourself too seriously or too personally. There is much more to who you really are.
Now letís expand our awareness and re-own and re-integrate the external environment. Letís find our connectedness to our relationships, our families, our communities, our nations, and our world. Letís realize that we all win together or we all lose.
There may be many things we really are separate from and helpless over. Yet, we can expand our awareness to see through the illusions and find the connectedness that allows us to heal as individuals, as a whole, both inside, and out.
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing this journey.
Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., maintains counseling offices in Long Beach and Tustin, CA and a website at www.AikiSolutions.com .
Return to the March/April Index page