Being Well Used


Two things in my online mailbox yesterday touched me deeply. One was a post from a psychotherapist I follow named Martha. Here’s the link. I urge you to read it. It’s about the challenges faced by people who go to therapists, and what they get out of it. The other was a letter from Therese, a younger woman who took classes from me at the Jung Center some years ago and now lives in Oregon. She wrote to thank me for writing her a recommendation for admission into the Master’s program in Counseling Psychology at Pacifica University.
I saw a connection between these two which I’d like to share.  In her blog post, titled “The Long Run,” Martha noted that some people go to therapists for short fixes to help them through difficult life situations, some continue for several years, and some devote their lives to depth work.  Then there are those who wouldn’t see a therapist on a bet. As Martha wrote, “Many think that what you have spent your lifetime doing is foolish, ridiculous, mumbo-jumbo.”
Having recently written a post on people’s disparaging use of the term “navel gazing” to describe  inner work, I related! I’ve seen someone’s eyes glaze over more than once when, in response to the question “So what do you do?” I tell them I’ve written a book and teach classes about working with your dreams from a Jungian perspective. Sometimes before the eyes glaze over they narrow in confusion as people ask, “Union perspective?” I’ve learned to avoid the subject.
I don’t usually have a lot to say at dinner parties although it’s only good manners to join in occasionally, even on topics that seem deeply unimportant to me. But when I smile and say nothing it’s not because I’m bored. Actually I enjoy these conversations, especially when I’m among dear friends.  It’s just that I know that saying what I really want to say would produce more narrowed eyes—which would shortly thereafter be coated with glaze—and I don’t like doing that to my friends.
I’ve chosen a lonely path. When I first got serious about it, the realization that I was headed upstream to some distant, unknown source while everyone around me was enjoying the ride downstream was painfully isolating. Martha uses the metaphor of taking up residence on the mountain to describe the same thing. Being different is never easy. Moreover, there’s absolutely no assurance that depth work will cure what ails you, not even if you’re in it for the long run. In Martha’s words: “Here is what it will never do:  Make you normal.  Make life easier.  Make you less lonely, (or rather, less alone).”
But there’s a flip side. Martha says it best: “Here is what it gets you:  Pain transformed into service.  Meaning and purpose extracted from senselessness.  An opportunity to be creative in the face of destruction.  A chance to be well-used.”
This is the connection between the two e-mails that I’ve been leading up to. When Therese attended her first class with me at the Jung Center, her eyes were alert and shining with curiosity and fascination. Not a trace of glaze anywhere. That light never went out. Of the students I taught there, three worked with me individually, and to my knowledge, they’re still doing depth work. Therese is one of them. Serving these three souls, finding meaning in my journey, and using my creativity—being well-used—has made it all worth it. Like Martha, I found my cure in the long run.
As you begin the next leg of your journey, Therese, here’s my blessing for you: When you look back on your life some day, may you find you were well-used.

Join 5,847 other subscribers


0 Responses

    1. Who am I eating with? Anyone who’ll have me! 🙂 Actually, I think my husband’s outgoing nature and enthusiasm about everything probably accounts for most of our invitations!
      Either of my earlier books are easy reading: The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul. Also, John Sanford’s The Kingdom Within and Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language.
      Best wishes with your studies, both inner and outer.

  1. Hi Jean,
    Beautiful concept — being “well-used”. It is the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. (Talk about the power of symbols and storytelling). May the poets, the dreamers, the dream workers, and the healers know, in their hearts, that their being of service makes them real.
    All the best to Therese!

    1. The Velveteen Rabbit! Of course! I’ve never used this term before and just heard it from Martha. I loved that book but now it has new meaning for me. I’ll take that as a sign that it’s time to get it out again and read it to my grandchildren.
      Thank you for your beautiful blessing.

  2. I’ve seen that glazed over look – for me it comes when people at cocktail parties ask what “kind of therapy” I do, and only if I’m silly enough to try to give them an accurate answer.
    And that is the greatest gift of the work I do as well, almost every person who presents in my office for me to partner with, has already begun to self-reflect, to look inward to try to understand what is meaningful to them about the events transpiring around them, before the first appointment. It is a joy to share this process with others who grab hold.
    Thank you very much for the kind words you have written here, and for giving me another chance to feel well-used.
    With gratitutde,

    1. It’s my pleasure, Martha. I look forward to your next post.
      It really is a joy to share this process with those who grab hold isn’t it? That’s definitely the source of much of the joy I feel.
      Thank you for writing.

  3. Excellent, thank you. I’ve been following Martha’s blog as of late, and it is fantastic as well. I like the In Treatment screen shot at the beginning too. I really wish they would bring that show back. It was one of the best shows on television.

    1. Thank you, Rob. I really like your blog too! In fact, I’m going to add it and Martha’s to my blogroll as soon as I finish answering these kind comments!
      I never saw In Treatment! What did I miss? Will you let me know if it comes back on television?

      1. Thanks for the add. Maybe that will give me the motivation to be a more consistent blogger!
        In Treatment was a show on HBO that followed the life of 4 patients and a therapist (different patients each season), and the therapist’s relationship with his supervisor(s). Others could weigh in on the therapeutic approach, but I would say it’s definately depth therapy (seems to me to be a blending of Jungian and Post-Freudian). It was riveting TV. Others found it boring. HBO has wavered on whether it will continue. Dr. Cheryl Fuller over at has whole sections of her blog dedicated to analysis of each episode of the 3 seasons.

        1. Thanks for that information, Rob. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it. I do hope you’ll continue to add posts to your blog as possible. It makes for very interesting and informative reading! Jeanie

  4. I want to be at the party where I politely ask someone, “So what do you do?” and she tells me she has a PhD in Jungian dreamwork, instead of making plastic trays for food service or writing safety manuals for a chemical company . . . One thing I don’t see as a benefit is the deep joy of being that can come when extraneous junk is released. Is that part of Jungian work? Or is that the difference between psychology and New Age? I’m a hedonist, I’m in it for the bliss. Then again, there were many years of journaling nightmares without any understanding of why I was doing it, or any expectation of anything different, and being well-used might have sounded like like some kind of redemption, a wonderful promise.
    Not sure I’m done here but I have to think some more before I know what to say. Thanks for so giving so much to think about!

    1. Yes, in my experience the deep joy of being and the accompanying gratitude are also benefits of long term Jungian work. I don’t know anyone who lives in a constant place of bliss—I seriously doubt it’s possible as long as one has a physical body, an ego, and a shadow—but I do know beyond doubt that there’s a deep well of it at the foundation of our beings, and that depth work is a way to bring it into our lives.
      I see a very close connection between bliss (the authentic kind, of course; not the artificially induced), and consciousness. It goes something like this: inner conflict and suffering lead to surrender and depth work. Depth work leads to knowledge of our shadow, self-acceptance, and release of our “extraneous junk”, most notably fear and self-condemnation. With their release come forgiveness, compassion, service, consciousness and presence. And these are what bring joy, gratitude and bliss.
      Thanks for giving me so much to write about! 🙂

  5. Dear Jeanie,
    I am sure you know that, when I refer to “navel gazing”, I am in no way intending to disparage inner work. My point was about the failure of the Jungian community to adequately bring the gems of Jung’s ideas into being tools to actively improve Society at large (beyond their private patients). I am, of course, excluding you from this category, and Matrignosis is the proof of why that exclusion is justified.
    Best regards, Skip

    1. I know that about you, Skip. Most everything one says can be taken two ways; I took this one in the spirit you intended. (Skip’s referring to a private correspondance between us.)
      I agree that Matrignosis is a form of social action, as are your sites and the many other wonderful ones devoted to raising human consciousness on the internet these days, some of them by Jungian analysts, by the way. I personally have no problem with Jungians who reserve most of their gems for their clients. We tend to be a rather introverted group of thinkers whose gifts are more oriented to one-on-one mentoring than social action. In the interest of balance, the more active forms of social action are of course, equally necessary, but they come more naturally to some than others.
      Thanks for your honest and thoughtful comment.
      Best, Jeanie

  6. Oh do I know about the glazed look at a party. I am a psychotherapist and my husband is a minister. So we both get the glaze! It often is a lonely road, but I would not choose another. And In Treatment was my favorite HBO show. Hope they bring it back, it was so refreshing to see thoughtful programming for a change!! Thanks again for your work and I enjoy everyone else’s posts too.

    1. Hi Kay,
      Oh yeah! You guys get a double whammy don’t you! But I wouldn’t choose another road either.
      Well now I must see In Treatment! I wonder if they have last year’s segments On Demand. I’ll check that out.
      Thanks for taking the time to send good thoughts.

  7. Jeannie,
    I just had an alarming thought followed by a comforting realisation followed by a discomforting discovery. Convoluted I fear, but then you are a patient woman.
    Your blog this morning produced the usual glow I feel when I speak, read, or listen to someone so committed to meeting themselves and others at the depth levels.
    But it was not to last. When I saw the photo of the girl I freaked.
    “Surely this isn’t one of the wonderful women Jeanie is talking about? ”
    Profound relief seconds later: this dull girl merely illustrates your point that people’s eyes glaze over whenever one even hints at an interest in the dreaded ‘unconscious’.
    Outrage resolved. I returned to your blog to bask in the lovely feeling of satisfaction and privilege it so often triggers: thoughts such as,
    “How fortunate am I to be among these rare souls wise enough to be ‘on the journey’,” and more inflationary stuff along these lines.
    Probably I’d have left it there, and got on with Saturday’s chores. But one question nagged.
    “Why such a hostile reaction to this particular face? After all faces like this are every where: in the street, at work, in the helping professions, why even occasionally among groups of therapist and spiritual devotees?”
    From this point I recalled other occasions when faces such as this had triggered similar feelings. Conclusion : she IS ME.She has the same incurious, dull, un-alive, and brutish qualities I despise in others because I’m so intent on disowning them in myself.
    So thank you Jeanie. I’ll spend some of my Saturday pondering the wisdom of my discovery, and my discomfort.

    1. Dear Qestra,
      This is one of the most satisfying comments I’ve ever received to these posts. Bless you, my dear. You’re on your way.
      More blessings, Jeanie

  8. Oh, Jeanie! thank you so much for that lovely blessing! I know I have been well-served, and even better, well-loved. What a gift you have been to me, and obviously to so many others. I remember our first meeting in our first dream group. I had no idea dreams had any significance in our lives, but I was in pain, and needed to be with other thoughtful people. That week Psyche gifted me with the first dream I remember having – an inner lover experience where I kissed Marilyn Manson(!) and felt the permeating warmth of being deeply seen, cherished and loved. It was such a profound feeling for me, so otherworldly. I am so grateful for you, my teacher, and for all of the other light-bearers, mudang and pilgrims.

  9. Oh, Therese! I’m so glad you read this. And I’m so very grateful for having been a light-bearer for you. It gives me great joy to know you’ll carry the torch forward, bringing light to many other lives. I’m smiling as I write this and no doubt will smile every time I think about it for some time to come. Making sense of our lives and using our creativity in service to others really do create a threshold to joy. Thank you for leading me across it again today.
    Love, Jeanie

  10. “In Treatment” is available on DVD. I was able to borrow all of the available episodes from our local library. It is amazing that a show in which so little happens can be so fascinating.

  11. Jeanie,
    Wow, I am finding so much gold from you today. Here is another one. Thanks for your post and for referring to Martha’s post. Wow!
    I feel less lonely. I deeply resonated with what you and Martha said – all of it – and in particular, “pain transformed into service – an opportunity to be creative in the face of destruction.” Much needed building blocks for me right now!

    1. I felt the same when I read Martha’s extraordinary post: like I had found a sister, someone I could trust to tell the truth. That is gold, indeed…perhaps even rarer than gold! Jeanie

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts