Spiritual leaders never have suicidal urges, right? Wrong. We need to break this myth. Now.
We need to start admitting that successful self-development types think about suicide, too. Leaders, coaches, spiritual teachers... hell, even 'gurus', if you want to believe that someone else has some special powers you don't and use that word. We are all entirely capable of thinking of self-destruction and the secret is that many of us do.
In fact what I have noticed is that the further you go along the self-evolution path, the MORE, not less, any tendency towards thinking of self-destruction becomes.
This actually makes perfect sense to me. Think of the yin yang, arguably the most ancient and exact symbol of all time. Try to grow the light side of the symbol and what happens? The dark side grows in exact measure. The greater the light, the greater the darkness. This is the reality of human consciousness.
Oh, I know. When we start on the spiritual path, green around the ears and convinced we are made of love and light and faerie dust, we are convinced that one day going to get rid of entirely all that gunk that we perceive as 'bad' within us, and become a giant luminous god-like creature that others admire. (Go on, admit it, that was your original goal or hope). Then we grow in knowledge. We realise to our horror that we are who we are, that the spiritual path is embracing all of ourselves, dark corner and all. And we realise that the dark and light are intricately connected.
As well as the yin yang we can look to the Bible, a text that fascinates me. In the book of Matthew is a passage where Jesus is 'tempted' by the 'devil'. Not for a day, or a few days, but for forty days and nights. (The greater the light, the greater the darkness). And note that said devil tried to get Jesus to throw himself off a building, a.k.a., kill himself. "Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 'If you are the Son of God,' he said, 'throw yourself down'. To me this is the battle between the god self within all of us (the temple in the holy city) and our egoic mind (the devil).
So how about we stop hiding and start talking? If Jesus himself had a suicidal thought, surely you won't be turned into a burning bush if you just admit that you, too, suffer such challenges? And could actually, finally, start to get help? And serve your clients honestly and ethically instead of feeding them the 'perfect teacher' illusion you've been struggling to keep up for ages?
Because let's get clear here.
Until spiritual coaches start to talk about their own self-destructive moments, their own dark bypasses and moments of exhaustion and uncertainty, we are doing all our of our clients, ALL of them, a massive disfavour. We are lying to them, creating a mythic personality that they keep failing to achieve themselves, keeping them endlessly feeling a failure all in order to hide our own imperfections. It's spiritual ego at its highest and most dangerous.
I remember when way back in the lead up to Dec 21, 2012, when many spiritual sorts were stressed about what would happen. I was chatting with an established coach and very openly shared that I felt almost suicidal. He admitted that tons of people in the community were feeling the same, that one of his clients, a very popular spiritual teacher, was indeed so overwhelmed she was struggling badly. "Well why doesn't she share about it?" I asked, rather naively. Oh no, he told me. She wouldn't say anything to anyone but him because she was afraid her followers would feel disappointed.
I remember just dissociating. Just feeling so disappointed I floated off. There I was, a person who also had suicidal urges, but clear about it, someone who also wanted more than anything to liv more authentically. And people I looked up to would not share. My main response was to just once again think, this community is a mess. It's fake, I've fallen for a scam. And to unconsciously take yet another step back, right when I was finally starting to share my gifts.
So you see inauthenticity about suicidal urges, hiding the truth, it might temporarily gain us a few followers. But in the long run, it fractures the collective and our community. It does nobody a favour.
On a good note, a spiritual practice might not protect you against suicidal thinking, or 'suicidal ideation' as it's called in psychology circles. But this is only stage one of a three step process, the following two being attempt and completion.
And a spiritual practice, or more precisely attending a spiritual community, has been found by research to be protective, and lower your chances of taking those next two steps and actually taking your own life.
So it's that interaction with a religion or spirituality that researchers found was crucial. So we need talk, we need to connect, we need to get this all out in the open.
How has suicidal thinking affected you? How would talking about it help you, and your capacity to serve? Share below or get in touch.