The Larger Self


The Larger Self

Discovering the Core Within Our Multiplicity

By Richard Schwartz

May/June 2004


We all know about those luminous moments of clarity and balance, in our own lives and in those of our clients, that come briefly now and again. However we get there, we suddenly encounter a feeling of inner plenitude and openheartedness to the world that wasn't there the moment before. The incessant nasty chatter inside our heads ceases, we have a sense of calm spaciousness, as if our minds and hearts and souls had expanded and brightened. Sometimes, these evanescent experiences come in a bright glow of peaceful certainty that everything in the universe is truly okay, and that includes us--you and me individually--in all our poor, struggling, imperfect humanity. At other times, we may experience a wave of joyful connection with others that washes away irritation, distrust, and boredom. We feel that, for once, we truly are ourselves, our real selves, free of the inner cacophony that usually assaults us.

For much of my life, the closest I'd come to actually experiencing this kind of blissful oneness was on the basketball court. Over the years I'd become addicted to basketball because of the fleeting moments when I entered into a state in which my inner critics disappeared and my body seemed to know just what to do. I had total confidence in my abilities and experienced a sense of joy and awe at being spontaneously in the moment.

When I became a family therapist, I longed to experience something similar in sessions with my clients. Instead, my work seemed hard,…

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