Dissatisfaction is Mentally Healthy

[written in 2004]

In a world as troubled as ours, dissatisfaction is an excellent sign of mental health. Certainly there is nothing more motivating for growth than dissatisfaction. It is the root of struggle, and thus evolution. No one struggles because he wishes to, but rather because it is his calling in life. His home is the mountainside. Yet some have been granted their wish of a home on the plateau. They are the upholders of emotional compromise, and the “normal” world idealizes them for their beauty and poise. They are the world’s happy people – on the surface.

Scratch below their façade of confidence and self-assurance and you find people unsure, unsteady, and afraid – and compensating for their inner terror by holding it together with string and glue. Rarely are their relationships deeply intimate or honest, let alone mutual, and rarely are their passions harnessed to the best of their conscious beings. When crisis strikes them their poise comes crumbling down, exposing a vulnerable underbelly of intense emotion too painful for them to nurture. It is incompatible with their façade, which they rush to rebuild as quickly as possible. They cannot afford to remember their history of vulnerability – and they will blot out their memory of anyone who brings it to the fore.

But the truly growing face their vulnerability on a daily basis. Their existence reads like an open book. They know pain, insecurity, and loss of control. They live with fear, discomfort, and the constant need to self-examine, reassess, and take the risk. The ideal for them, and for the best of humanity, is to become comfortable in this state of dissatisfaction. The more one is vulnerable to the upwellings of the unconscious the more one comes to know this as healthy – and achieves a state of humility. This is not easy, but it holds the key to a satisfaction connected with the developing core of one’s character and the increasing resolution of one’s ancient traumas and one’s fantasies about reality. Those in this state achieve a joy for the journey outweighing a focus on the destination, a pleasure more in the process than the results. Of course, they love the results too, but their understanding of the process allows them the patience to achieve so much more.

To be humble is to be open to learn. And to be open to learn is to be optimally open to being wrong. Those who can find satisfaction – and even pleasure – in being wrong have the world as their classroom, and there is nothing they cannot master.

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