Heartstyles blog

Fear and Indolence

In Swamplands of the Soul the psychologist James Hollis sets out what for many of us are the all too familiar places we might get bogged down: guilt, grief, loss, betrayal, doubt, loneliness, depression, despair, obsession, addiction, anger, fear, angst, and anxiety.  That is quite a list, and yet it would be an unusual adult who has not passed through - at some stage in their life to date or to come - one or more of these “swamplands.”

We have popular cultural images of “getting stuck” or feeling unable to move on, or feeling overwhelmed (literally swamped).  While there can be a kind of value in being stuck, and while “stuckness” is part of how we become ourselves, moving on always feels better.  Most of us will experience these feelings in small measure, anyway, and move through them.  But if we are truly swamped, how might we set about confronting and managing them so that they do not incapacitate us? 

The first and most important step is to summon the courage to look clearly at ourselves and at the difficulty (guilt, grief, loss etc) that is weighting us down; the second is to summon the energy to do something about what we are experiencing.  There is a bit of acceptance required here, and we might think of a therapeutic circle that identifies, expresses, analyses, forgives, and changes the behavior we are examining: for example, an addict might be able to identify their addiction, put it into plain words, decide whether it is beneficial or not, forgive themselves for past behavior, and then instigate new and better behavior.

At the heart of this effort – and it is a great personal one – are two essentials: the courage and the energy to do something about a situation.  They are the exact opposites of why we tend to fail, that is, we are fearful and indolent.  Overcoming fear and indolence (laziness seems too harsh a term, but it might suit some people to call it this) is essential to navigating through the swamps that Hollis identifies and which we have all experienced.

In Heartstyles terms, when we act from a place of fear (or see others doing so) there is an opportunity to move from Below the Line to Above the Line (or to encourage others to do so).  This might mean transforming yourself or developing others to adopt more effective behavior.

Ready to start your own Heartstyles journey? Contact us.