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  • Fe Robinson

Overcoming indifference

In my work, I work with energy. People come to see a psychotherapist because they want to move towards, or away from experiences. They may seek to be relieved of symptoms, or to create new possibilities and ways of being. What they don’t want is for things to stay as they are.

I read this quote recently and found it powerful:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.” Elie Wiesel

One of the most challenging issues that arises in therapy is when energy is absent, in other words, when there is indifference. It is a profound place to begin.

Sometimes people lose the ability to love, to have faith, to live as if they are alive even. Sometimes one can become stuck in indifference and inaction, and this can be an incredibly deadened, painful place to be. I believe we move continually towards wholeness and wellness, and I see symptoms as our system attempting to call attention to what needs healing, as a part of us awakening and coming forwards to be integrated.

A first step when you feel indifferent and lethargic may well need to be small, and subtle. Having big expectations is setting yourself up to fail, better to start small and build gradually. It may be about noticing what is around you, in detail. Perhaps being aware of the way the sunlight plays on the wall, or the scent of a flower as you pass. Maybe it is noticing the birds singing, or music that draws you in. Starting small, noticing, and being aware of your noticing can be important when all seems vanilla and plain.

Life is not indifferent to you. The complex system that is your body and its many inhabitants - bacteria and all - lives. Healing suffering, even the withdrawal of indifference, is possible. I don’t pretend that means it is easy, or a short path, but I do know that however bleak or distant you may feel, there is possibility, and hope.

If you feel you are living life at a distance, or it’s hard to engage in life at all, then reach out. Psychotherapy can be useful, it can be a place of connection and recognition, and it can be a place of togetherness, and of healing.


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