Whilst visiting Florence a few years ago I saw many beautiful works of art in the Uffizi Museum. However, I was struck by one sculpture in particular: Cupid and Psyche. As well as the intricateness of the piece I was also moved by the entwining of the figures and their total immersion in each other.
The story of Psyche and Cupid, in essence, is the god of Psyche’s journey to reclaim Cupid’s love. It is a tale with many twists and turns. The word Psyche, in Greek, means spirit or soul but in modern times, the word is often thought to refer to the mind. Cupid, as we all know is the God of love or heart.
In front of the statue, I thought about Cupid and Psyche more metaphorically and as I wandered onwards through the gallery, I pondered the lovers entwining. What did their union, of mind and love/heart, symbolise?
This got me thinking about the work I do with my patients and some of the issues they bring to explore in their sessions. Often, they are about difficulties faced unravelling what our heart wants and what our minds say which may result in turmoil.
If we have a decision to make, we can find it difficult to work out what to do. If we are at a crossroads, we can find it hard to choose which direction to take. It’s uncomfortable to be in a place of not knowing and we may long for someone to tell us what to do. To give us direction, answers and a plan to follow. This often happens in the consulting room when I’m asked directly to tell someone what to do, as if I have the magical answer.
But if we allow someone to tell us what to do and blindly follow their advice, we’ve given responsibility over to them. To develop and grow we need to feel we have agency in our decisions: that we have made our decisions for ourself. That we can then stand by them and continue onwards with the consequences of our choices.
But how do we know what we want? How do we know what is right for us? How do we know which path to follow?
Do we follow our heart or our logic? Do we let Cupid or Psyche lead?
I think a wiser approach is to use both. To be led by our heart and also our head. We do this by integrating both our passion and our logic.
So how do we do that? Well, it’s not so difficult.
Giving time to think about and sit with the issue is vital. Working out our gut instinct, what we truly want can take some work. It may be useful to think about how we’d feel if the opposite happened:
Could we live with the consequences easily?
How passionate are we about the issue?
Is it a timing issue?
Do we need to wait for a while and see what happens next which may help us make the decision with more certainty?
What reactions happen in our body when we are daydreaming about various possibilities? Does this give us clues as to what feels most right for us?
Once we’ve worked out what we think we want with the help of Cupid we then need to bring in Psyche to think about it objectively. Talking with someone else can help at this point as we spend time looking at the various scenarios from different points of view. Journalling can also help to get stuff out of our head and onto the page where we can look at it more logically.
We will eventually get to our decision. One that feels right with our heart and our head.
As with most things in life, moderation is the answer. Erring towards one end of the spectrum is usually unhelpful. So, a decision based on too much logic or none at all could be regretted later. If we practice integrating our heart and our head, then we will be set up for making more comfortable decisions in the future.