Personal Growth

Avoidance through Self-Aggression

Quoted Already Free (

In Already Free, therapist and Buddhist practitioner Bruce Tift examines how psychotherapy’s “Developmental” approach of understanding the way our childhood experiences shape our adult selves both challenges and supports the “Fruitional” approach of Buddhism, which tells us that the freedom we seek is always available.

“Our self-aggression is not just a relic from the past; it’s something we choose to reinvest in, over and over, every moment. We actually maintain a practice, with great effort, of being aggressive toward who we find ourselves to be. If we can become curious about the function this serves, if we invite greater awareness, then we might find that we can work with our issues much more skillfully and kindly… Claiming that we are problematic means we don’t have to engage with our lives fully, because we aren’t ‘ready yet’ — there’s something wrong that needs to be fixed first. [So] we have a good excuse to not show up. And it turns out that really showing up—being fully present, embodied, openhearted—is often a very intense experience. Having a complaint also gives us an explanation for our difficult experience—and if there’s a cause, there should be a solution. ‘I should be able to have the life without disturbance that I deserve once this unfair problem is cleaned up.’ It allows us to continue our disengagement indefinitely, since there will always be some unfair problem in our lives” – Bruce Tift

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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