This may really be saying something about me, but I will approach it anyway…
My therapist is a wise man. I do not always listen to what he has to say wholeheartedly; mostly because I do not want to hear it, but he knows his stuff. At our last session he suggested that I read a book called “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck, M.D.
He says the man who wrote it is an ordained minister and a licensed psychiatrist. I am always fascinated by the mind and also by my beliefs and this book is written by someone who knows something about each. So yesterday I picked it up and today I have begun to read it.
The first sentence is, “Life is difficult.” Ummm, maybe I won’t like this book as much as I thought. A couple of lines down it says, “Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it– then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” Fascinating! Truly! Clearly I am in for it. He goes on to say that most people live their lives and complain (no matter how loudly or quietly) about their problems “as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy”.
I raise my hand right there. That’s me! That’s me! Maybe I will like this book. Problems=Pain so we try to avoid them, ignore them, hope they will go away. “This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness.” Some, to the point of total exclusion of reality, Dr. Peck points out. Then he quotes Carl Jung, “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.” Truer words escape me right now.
Basically he says that the substitute becomes more painful than the original problem/pain it was designed to avoid and then we start all over again with the avoiding, “building layer upon layer of neurosis.” I now look back at my life and sigh a wow…and wonder how many layers I’ve built.
Dr. Peck suggests that there are four tools or “techniques of suffering” that help one experience the pain of problems constructively. They are as follows:
1. Delaying of Gratification
2. Acceptance of Responsibility
3. Dedication to Truth
Long story short, I have learned more about myself in the first six pages of this book than I have in maybe two years of living as me. I will approach this book as I come to it. I already have sooo many thoughts that this has provoked.