Once the search is in progress,
Something will be found.
- Oblique Strategies
It takes courage to embark on an inner exploration when you feel unhappy, depressed or unsatisfied with your life. There is the temptation, and you may have tried these "solutions," to more actively distract yourself, attempting to find happiness or meaning in more activity, travel, substances, sex, dating, or purchases. All of these activities in and of themselves are enjoyable and not in themselves harmful; however when they are used to fill up a void they will inevitably leave you feeling empty and/or become compulsions over time.
Many years ago Ram Dass said "wherever you go, there you are." Basically, you can run but not hide from yourself! Ultimately you may be called to begin an inner journey or exploration, to begin the search with no clear path to follow and only a hazy idea of what you hope to find and of what you may actually find.
I sometimes think of it as setting out in the jungle with a machete, having to make a path out of seeming no path, following your gut, your instinct about which direction to go in. It is a practice of trust or faith, that if you enter your inner world there will be signposts and guidance from within if you listen carefully. If you initiate the search and are curious and interested, you will definitely find something or some things: there may be painful feelings that were buried or semi-buried and there will also likely be treasure that you buried to protect or keep safe in the distant past.
To begin simply take the first step, begin the search. This can take many forms from journaling, reading, spiritual work, psychotherapy, self-help groups. The most important thing is to do something, to begin somehwere and trust that something of value will be found!
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley