Out of Darkness into the Light: A Journey of Inner Healing
ISBN 10: 0553347918
ISBN 13: 978-0553347913
A compelling account of the journey from severe depression, guilt, and near alcoholism to a true healing of the mind and spirit—from a bestselling author and noted psychiatrist
"If there is hope for one like me, who thought that he was beyond all help, and who believed he had more guilt, more shame, and a greater feeling of inadequacy than anyone else in the world, then rest assured that there is hope for you."
Millions of men and women have had their lives transformed by Dr. Gerald Jampolsky's pioneering work in the field of attitudinal healing and by his bestsellers Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Goodbye to Guilt, and Teach Only Love. In his most important book, Dr. Jampolsky tells his own deeply moving story of inner struggle and personal transformation.
As we share the story of his passage from sorrow to joy, Dr. Jampolsky sheds new light on the path to personal happiness, on letting go of fear and guilt, and on escaping the "Fifty Ego Defenses" that keep us in darkness. Here is a book of advice and inspiration from a man who has been there and back—a road map to guide you to a life of peace, fulfillment, and lasting hapiness.
"A life-enhancing book written from the only perspective Gerry Jampolsky knows—total honesty and unconditional love. I loved every page."—Wayne Dyer, author of Your Erroneous Zones
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
What is this cancer inside me?
The fiery anger that lingers,
In its thin disguise …
The coldness and the brittleness
That comes from my pores
At a moment’s notice.
Could it all be fear,
And nothing but fear?
Is there no roadmap
That can lead me to peace
Can I really feel
Whole and at one
By simply crossing
The bridge of forgiveness?
Why does something
That seems so simple
Bring out my greatest
Obstacles, obstacles, obstacles.
Is that all there is to life—
A series of obstacles
Separating me from others?
When will I awaken to
The full awareness
That all obstacles
Between myself and others
I have manufactured them
Through my own fear of love
And my own fear of God.
No one ever gave me a roadmap for how to be happy in life. I never received a map for being a happy child, or for being an adolescent who was not in conflict, or for being a peaceful adult, or for being a successful parent, or for growing old gracefully. Whatever roadsigns I saw seemed to indicate conflicting directions.
If there is a recurrent theme in my life, it is that I thought I was going somewhere, only to travel a long way and end up exactly where I started. I know that I am not alone in this: many have had similar experiences in their lives. For me, the same frustrations kept reappearing. Fear, stress, unhappiness, and feeling unloved were my constant companions.
It is as if the ego keeps telling us that we must search in life but never find what we are seeking. For me, breaking habits and old behavior patterns seemed almost impossible. Life was filled more with despair than fun. And try as I might, I could not find the way to free myself from going around in circles. I had no roadmap for happiness.
But the truth is that even if we were presented with the best roadmap in the world, it would be useless unless we had a clear sense of where we are now and where we want to go. For the roadmap to be effective we must have a concept of who and what we truly are. We must know the purpose of our life’s journey and believe in it.
These are concepts that I, like so many others, took for granted most of my life, never questioning very deeply, never looking closely at what I needed to do to give my life coherence. Caught up in my fragmented and sometimes chaotic life, I often did not find the time to look at these concepts with any depth and clarity.
Regardless of how it looked to the outside world, I never felt that my goals were consistent. I think I share a common experience with a great many people, a feeling of being lost but not wanting to admit it to myself or to others. So many of us feel that we are like the proverbial little lambs who have lost their way. We feel like strangers in the world, never quite sure where to find our real homes.
To start a journey, we need to be certain of our identities, to know who and what we are. Before I found a path of spiritual guidance, I felt that my entire identity consisted of my ego, the person in this body named Jerry Jampolsky I felt that I was the sum total of what I did in life and there really wasn’t any more to life than that. Being a physician was part of my identity. Another part was my belief that my body was here for only a limited time. Sooner or later I would die, and that would be the end of my life and the end of my identity. Because there were so many people around me who shared that belief, I never saw any reason to question it.
Over the years it has been pointed out to me that we limit ourselves and others when we create labels for one another, categorizing ourselves by the work we do. In the past, after being with a person less than two minutes, I would ask, “What do you do?” When they answered “doctor,” “bus driver,” “teacher,” etc., I would judge their value and determine whether I wished to spend more time with them.
The possibility that our true identities could be found in our spiritual beings, or that what we are is love, and that our true reality might have nothing to do with our vocations, bodies, or egos, had previously seemed both preposterous and illogical to me.
In 1974 I had an experience that taught me that there might be another way to relate to others and to myself. I was at a cocktail party. Not in the mood for small talk, I saw an empty couch and headed toward it. Just as I sat down, another man took a seat beside me.
We immediately struck up a conversation and had a wonderful time. We talked from our hearts about many things, and we spoke in depth, lime seemed to fly. Later, our hostess joined us. “I’m so glad you two met,” she said. “I can see from your animated conversation how much you enjoy each other.” We agreed.
The man and I had never introduced ourselves. It turned out that he was a world-renowned concert pianist. When our hostess told him I was a psychiatrist, he laughed and said, “I hate psychiatrists. If you had introduced yourself as one, I probably would have walked away.”
I laughed. Then it was my turn to confess: “If I’d known you were a famous musician, I would have felt so inadequate and threatened I couldn’t have talked to you, either.”
Perhaps our identities have more to do with our hearts than with what we do with our bodies in our day-to-day lives.
We learn and accept much about our identities through our parents, of course. However, a great part of our identities is focused on the creation of the ego’s road-map for life. By looking back at my earliest experiences, I find that I become better acquainted with my ego and begin to recognize its voice in my present life. I then start seeing my ego a little more clearly and can recognize its voice of fear and separation when it shouts at me.
One very loud part of its voice is in my parents’ philosophy that yesterday was awful, today is horrendous, and tomorrow will be even worse, so one must be on guard at all times. Listening to the voice of that belief system led me to depression and hopelessness. I learned a lot about this part of my roadmap from my mother, who was a very protective person.
Sometimes I would get split messages from my parents. For example, on one Sunday drive we came to a very steep hill that my mother said was too dangerous to drive up. She had my father stop at the bottom so that she could get out and walk up the hill; she got back into the car at the top. It did not occur to me until years later that in spite of how dangerous it was in her mind, my mother had allowed the rest of us to drive up that hill.
Another thing I remember is that my parents were always telling me to hurry. It didn’t matter what I was doing—getting dressed, taking a bath, eating, going off to school—I was never fast enough. I especially remember dinners with my family. With five of us at the table, everything was done in a great rush. Dishes were passed quickly, food was scooped out in a flash, and we all ate as fast as we could. It was partly from this experience that I integrated the “hurry concept” into the other aspects of my roadmap. I ran through each day at full speed, never quite sure if I was running away from something or toward it, and never certain why I was in such a hurry. My ego drove me to rush, although it seldom came up with any good reasons for doing so.
As a child I was always fidgeting, always in motion-in today’s terms, I would have been labeled hyperkinetic or hyperactive—and if there was a choice of directions to take, I invariably chose the wrong one. Looking back, I have the impression that I was always spilling milk and bumping into things. From all this I picked up another aspect of my roadmap—an impression of myself as a clumsy clod, which my ego-self was only too willing to adopt.
I always left a big dust storm behind me and must have driven my poor parents to distraction. I never walked if I could run, and I continued to bump into things and lose my way. My frenetic energy was very difficult for most people around me.