Stressing free will and self-actualization, in 1826 English essayist William Hazlitt published “On Application to Study.” It was a well-crafted essay delving into the art of staying engaged, and through that particular process, we find our way of moving forward. It is a concept that fits neatly within the scope of psychotherapy and counseling, suggesting that in order to be fully connected to our world and those around us, we must reach out and form attachments that both challenge and embrace our authenticity. Finding our way forward, Hazlitt suggests, resides in the framework of knowledge and intellectualism, where as psychotherapy asks us to flex the muscle of connect-ability and engagements. In that bonding with others, we hope to unpack love, attachment, and care. That formulation is the force that keeps us moving forward.
Opening our mind and our heart to others is the key to the engine that will drive us forward into the fulfillment of our lives. So many of us bottle up our emotions, not wanting to burden others or to be seen as weak in the eyes of those around us, but the opposite seems to be the outcome. To be truly emotionally authentic and allow our tribe in to see our true colors, from dark to light, that is the journey we have been placed on this earth for. But it is a scary act, especially if we have never experienced the warmth of authentic and vulnerable engagement. With family and/or with loved ones. Both forward and back.
There is a belief that we must manage ourselves on our own. “What could they possibly say to help me?” one may ask, but the reality is, most of us just need to be heard, and have that expression met with care and empathy. Having someone else solve of conflicts or issues is not generally the key to discovering growth, but a hand-held, and a caring ear turned toward us is where the art of healing and learning is truly born. Psychotherapy can be that guiding hand, where one can learn to lean on another and be vulnerable for no other sake than to be seen and acknowledged, knowing that the empathetic care given is the seed to inner development. With this quote, Hazlitt suggests that “by continuing our efforts, as by moving forwards in a road, we extend our views, and discover continually new tracts of country.” Let’s all dive in, and discover just how brave we can be.