Rae Rivers signed a contract with Harper Collins, a 4 book deal to be carried out over a 3 year period – a formidable task for any writer. She suffered severe anxiety and fear of failing, of letting herself down and failing her editor and her readers. The intense anxiety led her to suffer from the dread disease of writer’s block which served to intensify an already negative situation.
She asked the question: “How do we combat fear?” And promptly answered it by stating that we should never INVALIDATE or DISMISS our fears. Rather EMBRACE them and NAME them. Rather than fall into self pity and despise herself, she started to define her fears. In this way she came to create a character called Gru, an old grey man with a sad and lugubrious expression on his face, wearing an old- fashioned grey large-checked suit. He was the embodiment of her fears – a kind of comic character she showed in her video presentation, shaped like an inverted triangle with broad shoulders narrowing down to the tip of ‘V’ of his small shoes.
|Image credit: raerivers.com|
Gru represented her fears but also helped and advised her how to come to terms with them. She could discuss her problems with him without pretence since he knew her weaknesses. He became a kind a sounding board for all fears and anxieties in her life, not only those relating to her writing and she could discuss these with him as he accompanied her in the car where she knew they were safe with safety belts and air bags (as she pointed out to Gru).
As a ‘hands on’ student of Jung psychology, I could identify with the character of Gru who was really a creation of “Active Imagination”, namely a spontaneous image of Rae’s fears which she created to help her in a dialogue of discussion and resolution. Significantly he was male, an embodiment of Jung’s concept of the animus as the masculine element in feminine psychology, just as the anima is the feminine aspect of the male psyche and leads him to creativity.
ACCEPT, IDENTIFY and ACKNOWLEDGE! Those were the keynote words of Rae’s address with regard to “Facing the Fear”.Feel free to take a look at Susan Dennard’s website www.susandennard.com
Words by Dr Pamela Heller-Stern who attended ROSACon16