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The unlived life: Trying new things, giving up with dignity (Editor's opinion)

Hey there, it's me again, trying to tell you how you may live your life to enjoy it.

The unlived life: Trying new things, giving up with dignity (Editor's opinion)

Today, I was looking through an old journal and I saw that I had written notes on "the life I'm failing at". Consequently, it led me to thinking about the life I'm 'succeeding' at currently. Then I recalled something I had glance over a while back. It was a book, "Living Your Unlived Life: Coping with Unrealized Dreams and Fulfilling Your Purpose in the Second Half of Life" by therapists Robert A. Johnson and Jerry Ruhl.

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Now, the book, or rather title, has two variations: the one mentioned above and Adam Phillips' "Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life".

The first book is inspired by the psychologist Carl Jung who's practice involves basically, accepting that one has the 'dark' primitive and socially looked down upon emotions of sexuality, striving for power, greed, envy, jealousy and anger. It centres around accepting and using these emotions instead of hiding them, in which "shadow" they still cause suffering.

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It essentially says, the unlived life is hidden behind emotions and feelings people refuse to acknowledge.

In Adam Phillips' version, the psychoanalyst talks about an unlived life as a parallel life to the one someone is actively living. The person lives a present life while being aware that there's a life where they could be/ could have been something/ someone else, a life of unmet needs and sacrificed desire. This creates tension in the form of inescapable frustration.

Phillips suggests that frustration, things that have gotten away, things not gotten, are all part of a wholesome experience and shouldn't be looked at as paralle realities, rather as a journey of figuring out what one actually wants.

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Back to my notes on "the life I'm failing at". Each person has a set of standards that support their experience of 'failure' and 'success'. Some that I had noted were: "The one where I'm perfect. The one where I'm Oprah Winfrey (ca-ching!). The one where I'm responsible for (a devastating loss). The one where I'm responsible for EVERYTHING that happens to me" among others. For another it could be "Where I please my mother/someone. Sleeping at a reasonable time. Developing a hobby. The one where I'm easy going."

It calls for change, acceptance, confrontation or taking a look at futile or unreasonable ventures and changing course.

As people grow, standards change, there are personality and character adjustments which affect values and standards.

When I looked at "the life I'm succeeding at" there was "Putting in effort to learn a new skill. The one where I have a loving family and friends. The one where I'm learning to believe in myself" among others.

It brings balance, reveals strengths and defeats the "all-negative" view on things.

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The worst part about the "Unlived life" is probably that it is seen in the light of potential and fulfillment, and it's challenges are not. It seems as if, if one could live that life, it would be free of challenges or at least, one imagines, that they would be easier to bear.

Both books look to integrate opposing things within a person. The Jungian version by accessing the 'undesirable' parts of the self. Phillips' by narrowing down what one really wants so they can have it actively and not in a haunting imagination.

"The life I'm succeeding at" and "the life I'm failing at" lists have reminded me of the life where I'm becoming a better person to myself and handling life. Or maybe I'm simply growing up.

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