by Payam Ghassemlou MFT, Ph.D.
Everyone has the potential to find the doorway to his or her inner space and can knock on its door until ready to be admitted. The psychological and spiritual work that we do on ourselves is the knocking on the inner door. Once admitted to that inner space, one can experience peace and contentment.
Most people search for contentment instead through successful external accomplishments which do not necessarily lead them to their inner space. To feel worthy and valuable, they struggle hard to become stars and shine in the sky of their life. From my own life experiences and from working as a therapist with many "successful" individuals, I have noticed that no matter how much one accomplishes and how high one travels in the sky of his or her life, one can never feel quite content. A so-called successful individual can develop tolerance to the highs of external accomplishments and then need more successes to feel the same high, just as a drug addict develops tolerance to the drug and as a result needs more drugs to feel the same euphoria.
Success is not compensation for feelings of inferiority. Maybe you were reared by parents who often put you down; becoming rich and famous is not going to heal your wounded self-esteem. Perhaps you grew up in a homophobic and racist society where you were made to feel humiliated for being different; you won't heal by external accomplishments such as driving expensive cars or living in a rich neighborhood. There is nothing wrong with making money and enjoying the fruits of your labors, as long as you are not doing it for the purpose of covering up your inferior feelings. Real success is not about becoming a star and shining famously. Instead of becoming a star and in the process having so many breakdowns, work on breaking yourself open through honoring your feelings. When you are broken open, you discover an inner space that hosts not only the stars but the entire galaxy. In this space you are free and detached. You no longer need to become a star to feel content or worthy because you are home to so many shiny stars. In this inner space you can experience your self-worth very differently, based on who you are as a being. This can lead to successes, including prosperity.
How do we break open and enter our inner sacred space? Life offers us mixed experiences. Some are painful and force us to notice them. The way we let ourselves experience these life events can lead us either toward growth and opening or toward breakdown and victimization. The possibility for creating inner space in relation to our life experiences comes from accepting our feelings and not repressing them. To accept our feelings, we must have empathy and regard for them. Our painful feelings carry dense energy, and this energy can be transformed. By sharing our feelings genuinely with empathic individuals, we can transform them and release their psychological weight. We can feel our feelings and understand them through the process of sharing with someone who has done his or her own feeling work.
This process, accepting and feeling our feelings, having empathy for our feelings, and sharing and understanding them, can be the opening to a sacred inner space. This inner space has always been there, but many of us did not know it. This sounds simple, but courage is required to open up and tolerate our painful feelings in order to transform them through understanding and compassion. Many of us can feel vulnerable when it comes to sharing our feelings and exposing our pain. But summoning our courage, we can take risks and be seen as vulnerable. The courage has to do with taking risks and being seen as vulnerable.
Entering our inner space and experiencing peace in that empty place requires understanding and honoring our feelings. This journey can gives us a meaningful life purpose and freedom from material greed.
© Dr. Payam Ghassemlou MFT, Ph.D. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (Psychotherapist), in private practice in West Hollywood, California. www.DrPayam.com
He is the author of Fruit Basket: A Gay Man’s Journey. In his book, Dr. Payam Ghassemlou writes about the psycho-spiritual journey of a gay man named Javid, in which he struggles with homophobia and having a life purpose. Available on Amazon