Humpty Dumpty made an appearance in a recent therapy session. I was looking for an analogy that would speak to the dilemma a client was having. The client was caught in a cycle of worry and anxiety that was particularly focused on health concerns. Behind these were deeply entrenched beliefs about being fundamentally flawed and broken. Like many people I work with, this client had tried many approaches to overcoming her problems. And in this session, she was searching for something else to try.
That’s when Humpty Dumpty appeared. I found myself picturing the incident:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
I shared with my client that I thought of Humpty Dumpty when I thought of her dilemma. She looked puzzled. For one, I said, this is a situation we can all identify with. When we see ourselves as broken, we become trapped in a fruitless struggle to repair ourselves. The more we look, the more it becomes clear that each shard requires a specialist or a uniquely designed technique. But no combination of experts and wonderful techniques can make us whole in the face of pervasive beliefs that we are broken.
I also told her that I thought the Humpty Dumpty story offered another way of looking at her problems. Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall. On the one side, the familiar. The fall and brokenness. That’s where we are used to looking. That’s where we see what we are used to seeing. On the other, innumerable unseen possibilities that are the natural emanations of Humpty Dumpty’s essential wholeness.
The question for us, as it was for my client, is: Which view are you going to embrace?
If you start with brokenness, you’ll be stuck in endless cycles of trying to repair yourself. Your creative energies will be diverted into identifying an ever-growing array of choices and options to remedy your situation. And you’ll never fully succeed. You can’t become whole if you believe you’re broken.
On the other hand, if you know that you’re whole, your creative energies will naturally support the full expression of yourself in the world.