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Ears Wide Open: Nine Tools for Better Listening

Are you having trouble connecting to someone you care about? Does a friend refuse your attempts to fix a situation that is upsetting her? Do your employees seem to constantly do what you tell them not to do? Listening may be the answer.

Really listening to someone is the key to successful communication, whether with coworkers, friends, lovers, or even a customer service rep. But what does it mean to truly hear someone?

Some people think that listening involves not saying anything at all. This approach reminds me of a romcom I saw several years ago about an ex-con who successfully convinced a town he was a psychotherapist simply by staring blankly and saying nothing when people shared their woes with him.

Despite the fact that he was a fraud, the guy was onto something. Sometimes remaining silent is exactly what people need to feel heard. But at other times reflective or active listening, in which the listener speaks, too, is the necessary medicine. This may be especially true when folks are actively seeking a solution to a problem, want to figure out how they feel about a situation, and/or want to feel connected to the person they are talking to.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Set your intention to carefully listen. Don’t underestimate the power of intention to influence any interaction.

2. Repeat back what you heard, but in your own words, being careful not to insert or infer your opinion about the issue. It is very important to set aside your own agenda and just focus on what the person you are listening to is actually saying.

3. Use what are referred to as “listening sounds”—“Ah,” “Hmm” etc.—to let others know that they have your attention.

4. Name the emotion. “You sound sad.”

5. Be curious about what is really happening. Ask clarifying questions. “Was it what he was doing or why he was doing it that made you uncomfortable?”

6. Use your intuition to flesh out what is being said—and not said. Trust your gut. Don’t be afraid of letting people know what you are sensing about an issue. It gives them the chance to get clearer about what they think and feel. “I hear that she really irritates you, and what I’m also sensing is that you don’t trust her.”

7. Be willing to be corrected. If you take a guess at perceiving someone else’s reality, be open to receiving feedback: “No, that’s not it. It’s more like this.”

8. Tune in to grace. If you are helping someone find a solution to a problem, make space for unexpected insights or inspiration to emerge.

9. When you hear “Yes, that’s it!” or “Exactly!,” you know you’re doing a good job.

Listening is not a cut-and-dried affair. Like any art, it takes practice. Most people will appreciate that you are trying. If all else fails, take a note from the ex-con (and Elmer Fudd): Be very, very quiet.


Living Life Out Loud

Do you have the sensation that life is at “the tip of your tongue,” but you can't quite reach your goals? The late Jungian analyst Marion Woodman said that this feeling of almost-thereness points to unresolved trauma. Often during a conversation, the awareness of something being at the tip of our tongues refers to words or ideas that seem to reside just beyond where our memory can take us. In the same way, repressed feelings of anger, grief, and fear can exist just beyond our memory, but their presence still affects us, and not being able to fully express and release them can result in the frustration of the full expression of our creativity. Being stuck is uncomfortable, but it also provides an opportunity to free ourselves to pursue the lives we want. And one of the keys to realizing our potential is to connect our psychic selves to our bodies, where both our creative energy—and the blocks to it—live. 

Here is a technique I learned about some years ago in the pages of O (yes, the Oprah) magazine: Take a moment to breathe and center yourself, and then think about a situation or experience in which you are stuck—a feeling, a job, a relationship. Ask yourself: "If I could place this sensation of being stuck in my body, where would it be?" Then just sit and focus your attention on that specific point in your body, and see what thoughts and feelings arise, tracking the movement of the emotional and physical energies. It's a simple technique that can bring awareness to the unconscious feelings and thoughts creating the sense of stagnancy, and so bring you one step closer to animating the life that is waiting to be fully articulated.

When our psychic energy is freed from the grips of painful old emotions and ideas, our lives will no longer be at the tip of our tongues, but rather lived “out loud,” our bodies serving as a vehicle for the words, actions, jobs, and relationships that reflect our most authentic selves. 


On the Other Side of Fear

Several years ago, I was weaving my way through a winding, cliff-lined piece of Highway 1, awed by a shaft of moonlight shimmering on the placid face of the Pacific. I was contemplating the wisdom—or lack thereof—of my recent big move to California, when out of nowhere appeared a deer! There it stood, smack dab in the middle of the road, jolting me out of my circuitous thinking and into a quick stop. Graciously, it left me plenty of room to hit the brakes. 

While the deer did not hit my car, it did impact my consciousness. I felt like it was a bit of a cosmic whack on the head, the Universe asking me to sit up and take notice. It was not the first time I had been spooked by a deer since I moved to this neck of the Redwoods. Several nights prior, I had been frightened by a deer rustling in the bushes near my house, an admittedly far less intimidating experience, but for someone who takes clues from the Universe, noteworthy, especially when taken in the context of the more recent roadside encounter. I intuitively felt that both events were signs. But of what? To find out, I worked with the two deer as I would a dream images, and contemplated the feeling that they triggered—fear—as well as the symbolism attributed to them. For the latter, I consulted Jamie Sams’s Medicine Cards, a divination system that draws on Native American ideas about the spiritual teachings of various animals. 

According to Sams, deer offer a special lesson on how to handle the very feeling they had recently provoked in me—fear. Deer teach that it is a form of self-love to fully feel your fear. The key is not to hold on to it, but to feel it and (here’s the important part) gently let it all go. You create more chaos by fighting your anxiety, deer say. If you repress your fear or try to just make it go away by force of will, you may find it scrambling for your attention — as I did, on a dark, cliff-lined road. But if you approach it with gentleness, and get it out of your system, it will cause you considerably less trouble.

It was just the right time for me to recall this lesson. I was pushing through two major life changes: the loss of my longtime job and the subsequent move to another state. I needed to remember it was ok to be afraid. 

Not yielding to the freak out rustling on the edges of my consciousness was actually preventing me from accessing the energy to create what I needed, such as a sense of stability. Like a deer caught in headlights, I was frozen—by my own resistance to myself. Sitting on the edge of the continent with no certain plans for the future deserved at least a robust “Oh my God!” So I let myself have a good, old-fashioned meltdown. And when I was done, I felt calmer, more confident, and creative. I even wrote this little piece.

My deer-friends made me stop and remember what all the wise ones know: Terror tenderly held eventually transforms into courage.

The next time you find yourself repeatedly running into a certain animal or person, ask yourself “Why is this happening?” It’s a simple question, but the answer to it may carry the power to transform you. 


Relational Homeopathy: The Transformative Power of Erotic Energy

“Wherever there is erotic energy, there is also the potential for transformation.” These are wise words said by a therapist I once knew. And she was right: What better crucible for personal growth than intimacy? There’s nothing like a relationship to get things cooking in your psyche’s kitchen. But where does the alchemical power of sexual attraction come from? It all starts in a very innocent place: childhood.

The first people we “fall in love” with are our parents. Our relationship to them programs us for future intimacies. The people we choose to be our lovers often come with the same qualities—helpful and unhelpful—that our parents brought to us. Enter the concept of relational homeopathy, a term introduced to me by the same insightful woman mentioned above. 

In medicinal homeopathy, an extremely small amount of what causes an illness is administered to heal it. For instance, there is a homeopathic remedy made from onions (Allium cepa) that treats hay fever’s watery eyes and nose. (It’s not a complete analogy because onions don’t cause hay fever, but you get the picture.) Relational homeopathy happens when you find yourself engaged with someone who reminds you a little of Mom or Dad. Sometimes when you are relating to her or him you feel just like the hurt and powerless child you once were. However, this person’s behavior is not severe enough to cause more wounding or recreate an abusive environment. It’s just really irritating. One way to know that the stage is set for this kind of “homeopathic” healing is when you have a big reaction to a relatively small event. The magic happens when you shine your adult consciousness on the young part of you who feels so sad and angry. 

Here is an example: You feel intensely rejected—like a hurt little girl—when your partner doesn’t say hello to you when he comes home. I’m willing to bet that the part of you that is feeling so dismissed is stuck in childhood. Maybe your Dad wasn’t very emotionally attuned to you, and one of the manifestations of his lack of presence was that he ignored you when he came home. But unlike your father, your partner is usually pretty emotionally responsive. However, when he’s stressed out, he does have a habit of not acknowledging you when he first steps in the door. It’s not a terribly harmful behavior, but nonetheless does trigger strong feelings related to an experience from the past. This is the optimal situation for “homeopathic” healing to occur.

And what would that healing look like? Well, it may mean that instead of lashing out at your partner, you have a kind word with your inner five-year-old. This young part of you probably thinks that your significant other’s current aloofness and your dad’s past unavailability is/was indicative of your lack of worth as a person. Now is the time to sit your sweet self down and tell yourself that that idea is a flat out lie! 

Remind yourself that:

1) your parents’ inattention had nothing to do with you
2) your partners’ inattention has nothing to do with you
3) you are and always have been inherently worthwhile

Once you’ve eased your inner kid’s sense of rejection, you can respond to the situation at hand from the position of an adult, not a child. 

It’s relational homeopathy. Your partner’s temporary inattention, approached with an eye towards self-awareness, functions like Allium cepa: It has the ingredients to make you weep, but it also carries the potential to help you access and resolve the true source of your tears—the childhood experience of feeling unworthy of affection. By using the feeling of rejection to love yourself more—not less—you take another step towards wholeness. Apply this “remedy” to all of the difficult situations in your life, and nothing can stop you from growing. 


Dreaming into the Body

Dream interpretation can be a cerebral joy ride. Yet reveling in intellectual understanding of your inner world is like hanging on to a treasure map—the gold still waits to be found. Want to unearth the real wealth? Look to the body, as well as the mind. 

Emotions are energy. When energy arises, but we don’t express it—whether it is grief, anger, or humiliation—it stays in our bodies until we let it out. Feelings may be buried for years—a whole lifetime, even. And if they are not released, they can emerge as illness, chronic pain, or dysfunctional behavior patterns. And, yes, stuck emotions often come out in our dreams, too: The marauder, murderer, starving child, wild tiger come to speak to us about our repressed rage and sadness. How do we help ourselves express the feelings that these imaginal figures carry? Sometimes just talking about our dream images with a safe person helps. There are also specific therapies that unwind knotted up energy by bringing body and image together.

For example, Arnold Mindell’s Process Work employs a variety of techniques to help dreamers integrate their imaginal and physical worlds. A Process Work practitioner may ask the dreamer to find the most compelling character in her dream, and then inquire where the image “lives” in her body. “Where in your body do you feel the tiger? How is the tiger moving? What kind of sounds is he making?” a practitioner may query.

Some find sandplay therapy helps them access long-held pain. A Jungian process, sandplay involves exploring repressed experiences through arranging figurines and other objects in a small sandbox. It sounds simple, even child-like, but using your hands to arrange concrete representations of psychic images can yield profound psychological healing.

There are many other body-centered therapies that, while not dream oriented, are nonetheless transformative. Here are a few: HakomiSomatic ExperiencingBrainspottingEMDR, and Rubenfeld Synergy Method. It is advisable to find a trained professional counselor, and not just a massage therapist or other healing arts practitioner, who practices these or any of the other techniques I have mentioned. 

Once you find a qualified guide, the rest is up to you, your imaginal world, and your body. You are the ultimate source of your own growth. Your dreams bring you sacred clues that, used in combination with focused attention on your body, can help illuminate your darkest places, doctor your deepest wounds. 


The Red Book

Sitting before me was a piece of buried treasure: an over-sized manuscript with a red fabric binding and a very simple title: The Red Book. I opened the cover and gingerly thumbed through the thick pages, setting my eyes on beautifully ornate paintings of mythical creatures paired with calligraphic text. I found myself transfixed, and I know I am not the only one. The whole of the Jungian community was abuzz with W. W. Norton’s publication of this more than 350-page volume. Carl Jung's personal journal, The Red Book had been kept in a Swiss bank vault for decades until it hit bookstores in 2009. Why was its release such a big deal? The answer to that question rests in the heavy tome's history. 

In 1913, at the age of 38, Carl Jung had a crisis during which he found himself shaken by visions of gods and demons. He dealt with his breakdown by sequestering himself in the evenings with a red-leather bound volume of parchment paper in which he wrote about, and elaborately illustrated, his emotionally charged imaginal world. What is now called The Red Book served not only as a forum for Jung to process his chaotic inner life, but also as a chronicle of the evolution of his fundamental theories. 

In an NPR interview, the book’s editor and translator, Sonu Shamdasani, described The Red Book as the story of "how Jung recovers his soul, recovers meaning in his life through enabling the rebirth of the image of God in his soul. In so doing, he created a psychology that created a vehicle for others to regain meaning in this." 

Wow! So Jung found the sacred within himself and created a whole new genre of psychology just by what amounts to some serious journaling time? Imagine what any of us could do by paying equally close attention to our dreams and images. Granted, Jung’s soul-rattling visions were a little more than dreams. But, still, even with just our lowly nightmares and imaginal visitations by ex-lovers, we have the power to do what Jung did: heal ourselves. That’s what I love about The Red Book: It’s concrete proof of the psyche’s innate capacity to achieve a sense of wholeness. If Jung can do it, so can you.

Want to know more about this much celebrated work? Check out the trailer for the book on YouTube, as well as Sarah Corbett's in-depth New York Times article, "The Holy Grail of the Unconscious," which served as the primary source for this piece. 

Want to know more about yourself? Start recording your dreams! 


Death as a Dream Symbol

Last night you dreamed your lover died of botulism. Should you worry? Well, I wouldn't. Though people do have dreams that foreshadow their own or others' demise, I think those imaginal car wrecks and accidental poisonings are usually just metaphors to be interpreted. Death dreams are often terrifying, and for good reason: They have a message to deliver about an urgent psychological matter, and eliciting fear is a good way to get us to listen up.

Take, for instance, Tina's dream, in which her close friend of many years, Marcia, died. Tina was completely unglued about this because she had heard about people having prophetic death dreams. However, as Tina described her life challenges to me, it became apparent to me that she was most likely not dreaming about the literal Marcia, but about an aspect of herself. 

Tina had recently gone through some major changes: she had had a baby, and her husband had taken an executive position that required a great deal of travel. She saw herself as a very strong, independent woman, and was not at all prepared for the exhaustion and vulnerability she experienced as a stay-at-home mom whose partner was often unavailable. Though Tina and Marcia generally had an egalitarian friendship, and Tina felt supported by Marcia, Tina generally saw her friend as a "little sib" someone who was more in need of care than herself. Given her recent life overhaul, and her perception of Marcia, it made perfect sense to me that Tina would have a dream in which Marcia perished. 

Tina's circumstances presented some serious obstacles to getting her own need for nurturing met: Her new baby was utterly dependent on her, and her primary support person, her husband, was frequently out of town. Was she even allowed to have needs? Tina was too scared to consciously ask the question. So her unconscious took over and gave her the image of Marcia—the "little sib" friend—to help her understand her experience. She felt, deep down, that her need to be nurtured and taken care of would simply have to die, and that idea is what truly terrified her. When she realized this, she took steps to tend to herself: She asked her husband to call a sitter so they could plan an actual date; she let her friends, including Marcia, know that she would be phoning them more often (in between feedings and diaper changes); and she bought a journal so that she could jot down a line or two about her feelings while the baby was sleeping.

What if the death dream isn't about a friend or lover, but about you? Sometimes we dream of our own death to shock ourselves into facing our mortality, or because some piece of our psyche that is essential to our emotional survival is suffocating in our present way of life.

The late Marie-Louise von Franz, Jung's protégé, addressed this in a conversation with the Jungian analyst and author Fraser Boa (also deceased) in Boa's book, The Way of the Dream: Conversations on Jungian Dream Interpretation with Marie-Louise von Franz (Shambhala, 1994). Boa asked von Franz, "Are there dreams that announce death, that say a person is actually going to die?" Von Franz wisely replied, "Well, I would say that until they are actually dead, you are never quite sure." She continued with this account of a client's experience:

"A woman consulted me once who had cancer, metastases all over the body. She had shocking death dreams. She dreamt that her watch had stopped. She brought it to the watchmaker, and he said it couldn't be repaired. She dreamt her favorite tree was felled in the garden. I didn't even have to interpret the dreams for her. She said sadly, 'That clearly tells the outcome of my illness.' The doctors told her in the usual way, 'You will get better. You will be all right.' But she was sure she was dying, and that terrible shock made her pull up her socks and face her problems. She had a problem she hadn't faced, and I can only say she's still alive after fifteen years. She had death dreams to give her a death shock. She could have died, and she could have not died. Out of shock, she chose to live. 

"After that experience I would say that even if people have death dreams, it might only mean that they should face death. It doesn't mean that death will actually happen but that they must come to a naked confrontation with the fact that their life might come to an end."

Sometimes the life-threatening issue that needs to be confronted isn't cancer, but blocked creativity. A friend of mine awoke from an odd dream about a murderous mad scientist with a horrible feeling that she did not have much longer to live. She had recently turned 50, and had been mulling over various aspects of her life with which she felt dissatisfied, in particular her career in advertising. The sudden, visceral feeling that she only had a very limited time on the planet catapulted her into taking the leap of applying to graduate school to get her master's in education. She had always wanted to be a teacher, and had been holding herself back because of her age. Her death dream gave her the impetus to charge after her life dream. And the rush of energy she felt after she applied to school told her that she was absolutely making the right decision. 

In her famous book, Women Who Run with the Wolves, Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés discusses the necessity of embracing the Life/Death/Life nature of human existence in order to truly experience our creative power. If new, juicy experiences are to be born, the worn-out and stagnant must die. My friend let go of her advertising career so that she could make room for more rewarding opportunities in education. Tina said goodbye to her "rock of the family" role in favor of acknowledging her authentic needs. Von Franz's client had to face her mortality before she could release her most troubling issues and engage with life. Each of these situations teaches that, while death dreams may be scary, they are often not a harbinger of pain as much as an invitation to a deeper, more satisfying life. 


The Waking Dream

Dreams don't always happen when you're asleep. Your daily life can serve up metaphors that reflect your inner world just fine. Don’t ask me how this happens, I just know that it does. It goes something like this: 

You've run into your oral surgeon (of all people) at Borders, Trader Joe's, and the children's museum over the course of the last week. You haven't even thought of the guy since the wretched day he yanked out all four of your wisdom teeth eight years ago. "What's up with that?" you ask. Well, it could be that you're experiencing what Jungians refer to as a waking dream. Just as with a nighttime dream, the key to deciphering a waking dream's message is figuring out what the "characters" represent to you. Take our dear dentist: Maybe he's letting you know it's time to extract something, like a relationship that's run its course, or the dead-end job that you hate, or the negative thinking that keeps you from enjoying what you have. 

The unconscious has no bones about letting you know what it thinks, even in the gardening section of the bookstore. Dreams are everywhere, you just need the right eyes to seem them. Sharpen your perception and you'll be rewarded with more awareness about who you are and what you want and need. Who knows? You may even discover a little magic along the way, too. 


Harnessing Your Active Imagination

It seems that dreaming is a passive process; dreams happen to us. In the case of nightmares, this concept may leave us feeling rather disempowered. Enter active imagination, a potent Jungian technique. The gist of it is to use your imagination to engage a dream character—a person, object, or even a feeling—by speaking to it, fantasizing about what it might do or say, or what you might do or say in relation to it. (It's best to work with whatever dream experience has the greatest emotional impact.) This kind of process can be very revealing—and healing.

Here's an example: A woman is left rattled by a dream in which a strange man threatens to attack her. During an active imagination exercise, she screws up her courage and decides to envision confronting the ominous figure. "Hello. What are you doing here?" she asks, with no small amount of trepidation. To her utter surprise, the beastly fellow suddenly transforms—into a weeping boy! The little guy is scared and wants his Mommy; he just needs to be held. Immediately her apprehension disappears. "Oh! I can handle a sad kid!" she exclaims with relief.

With some guidance, she comes to understand the intimidating figure as an expression of her own unrecognized fear, a feeling she didn't want to acknowledge. Why? She unconsciously thought that if she admitted she felt more like a trembling child than an authoritative adult she would no longer feel in control of her life. She did not validate her freaked out inner kid, so he (yes, females can have male inner children) went under cover as a terrifying man. Quite a handy device for getting the dreamer's attention, wouldn't you say? The process of active imagination allowed the woman to see her inner child despite his guise and experience feelings of great tenderness for him. Amazingly, validating her fear and giving herself some TLC turned out to be the key to regaining the sense of control and power she so desired. Who could've imagined that? Well, she could and did.


Ditch the Dream Dictionary

It is the unique quality of dream imagery that makes dream symbol books virtually irrelevant to me.  Page 57 may say that dreaming of an apple tree denotes an "abundant future," but page 57 doesn't know anything about your circumstances: You had a nasty fight with your significant other last night, or you just found out your job of 20 years is on the line. If you ponder that apple tree and sit with it for a while, it may bring up wonderful memories of your grandmother who had a big ol' apple tree in her backyard. She had a knack for calming you down when the "crazies" hit you when you were kid. And now, here she is, reminding you to take kind care of yourself, and even make room for pleasure, during tough times. "Have a bite of this red beauty," she says. You won't find that in a dictionary. 


Dreams Never Lie

Dreams are a gift if for no other reason than that they are completely trustworthy. A friend's advice may or may not help you, but a message garnered from your own psyche is always one worth listening to. Sometimes this can be rather unpleasant, as dreams can be quite confrontational. You (and your companions) may be trying to hide from the less enjoyable aspects of your personality, but your dreams aren't afraid to tell you the truth about them. By the same token, your nocturnal images may offer you the key to perceiving personal talents that have somehow gone unacknowledged.  But whatever your dreams convey, you can be sure the messages are crafted especially for you by your adoring Unconscious whose greatest wish is that you become more whole. How can you doubt a motive like that? Trust your dreams. Trust yourself. 


The Divine “Ah-ha!”

Ordinary people were having flashes of profound clarity way before Oprah made the "Ah-ha Moment" a regular celebrity feature in O magazine. Dreamworkers are visited often by such enlightening shifts in perception. You can tell they've arrived by the "Oh!" that spontaneously emerges from their lips. In fact, it's this exclamation—sometimes uttered in surprise, other times thoughtfulness—that is the telltale sign an interpretation is complete. "Mission accomplished!" the Unconscious declares, taking a few moments to sit down and relax before readying the next treasure chest of images for excavation.


The Third Voice

Should you pursue your creative dreams or your career? This potential partner or that one? Start a family or stay child-free? Big decisions are rarely simple ones, and it can be frustrating to feel caught between two seemingly opposing options. When this happens to me, I like to remember the Jungian principle of holding the creative tension between the opposites. Rather than use my rational faculties to argue for one choice or another, I give my decision-making process some breathing room. I don't think about the situation for a while, and when I do, I spend some time entertaining both possibilities as equally valid. The point is, I don't force a move. I sit with my embattled mind, and then I listen...for the Third Voice. "What's that?" you say. It's the part of us that is more interested in integrating new awareness than in a knuckle-whitening conclusion. If we wait, it will use the frustration of our conundrum to forge insights about what we truly need. Take for instance, an age-old romantic predicament: a woman finds herself torn between two lovers (violins, please). If she resists the urgency to act and lets herself just be with her dilemma , she may discover that what she really wants is a greater sense of selfhood in her relationships in general. That Ah-ha! Moment (apologies to Oprah) could mean she decides she doesn't want to be with either person, but with her own fine self. By holding the tension between two opposing choices, refusing for just awhile to decide one is absolutely better than the other, we are giving priority to the process of becoming more conscious over trying to be right. The mind might think this is not such a great idea, but, believe me, the soul will be overjoyed. 


Fear Not the Dark Side

One of the wonderful things about doing dreamwork is that scary dreams don't have to be so frightening anymore. Perhaps you wake up, heart racing, because you dreamed someone was robbing your house. From a Jungian perspective this isn't such a bad thing. It's merely a communication from your shadow, a part of yourself or your experience that you've cut off. If a thief has appeared in your dream, you could ask yourself: Am I robbing myself of energy by putting my needs on hold? Am I letting someone else rob me of my sense of self-worth? Do I feel like I need to steal others' affection in order to feel loved? The answers to these questions could result in a new awareness that actually creates more equanimity in your life. Sometimes your dream world shakes you up so you can come back to center. It scares you to let you know something is out of balance, but simultaneously gives you the keys to calming yourself. 


Be Who You Are

"It's easier to try to be better than you are than to be who you are." —Late renowned Jungian analyst Marion Woodman, from Coming Home to Myself, by Marion Woodman and Jill Mellick (Conari Press, 1998)

It may be safer and easier to live on automatic, letting the roles we have chosen for ourselves lead the way. But the soul calls us deeper, letting us know through our dreams who we really are, what we really want and need. Are you bent on staying in control, rising to every duty with perfect aplomb? Be prepared for dreams of overflowing toilets, said Woodman. But no worries. All that sewage is just letting you know that you're human: You're pissed you have to go to work. You're too tired to do the laundry. You don't want to smile at the person who's just said hello. Jungian wisdom says that acknowledging these kinds of less-than-perfect feelings (easier said than done, I know) will most likely keep you from wading your way through an imaginal flooded bathroom. As you grow into greater self-acceptance, you might find your nighttime wanderings take you, instead, to a wide-open field, or to a large living room with high ceilings—places your psychic self can stretch out, run around, and just be.

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