Healing through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair

by: Miriam Greenspan (0)

Nautilus Book Award Gold Winner

A psychotherapist offers “crucial” guidance on how to “alter fundamentally our fearful relationship to deep feelings,” from depression and anxiety to grief and fear (Los Angeles Times)

We are all touched at some point by the dark emotions of grief, fear, or despair. In an age of global threat, these emotions have become widespread and overwhelming. While conventional wisdom warns us of the harmful effects of “negative” emotions, this revolutionary book offers a more hopeful view: there is a redemptive power in our worst feelings. Seasoned psychotherapist Miriam Greenspan argues that it’s the avoidance and denial of the dark emotions that results in the escalating psychological disorders of our time: depression, anxiety, addiction, psychic numbing, and irrational violence. And she shows us how to trust the wisdom of the dark emotions to guide, heal, and transform our lives and our world.

Drawing on inspiring stories from her psychotherapy practice and personal life, and including a complete set of emotional exercises, Greenspan teaches the art of emotional alchemy by which grief turns to gratitude, fear opens the door to joy, and despair becomes the ground of a more resilient faith in life.

“This remarkable book has taught me a whole new way of thinking.”
—Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

“A beautiful piece of work destined to become a perennial classic.”
—Martha Beck, author of The Joy Diet

The Reviews

My counselor recommended this book. In one afternoon, very suddenly, my husband died and my house burned down. I lost everything. I lived the WORST day of my life. I fell into the depths of depression and despair. I had never experienced depression before. I did not want to live another day in such unbearable emotional and physical pain. I was surprised that my heart even continued to beat. This book showed me how to listen to and lean into my grief... to learn from it, to allow myself to experience it, not to just “cope with it”, not to apologize for expressing it even when people were uncomfortable around me when I did. I found hope and peace, and have even experienced some joy. I’ve learned about self-care. I cannot cover all the ways this book has made a difference in my life. “Healing Through the Dark Emotions“ should be a must-read on everyone’s list.

Greenspan has written a down-to-earth, vulnerable, and theraputic book about a topic all of us have to experience every now and then: DARK EMOTIONS.It's a topic no one likes to talk about--let alone experience--but it's a topic that is ultimately unavoidable because the emotions we would label "dark" or "negative" are themselves unavoidable. So Greenspan takes a long, hard, and honest look at these "negative" emotions through her book, using her own life experiences and those of her previous clients, and has concluded that these dark emotions only become "bad" or "negative" when they are ignored and avoided. In fact, she goes as far as to say that dark emotions are required for a healthy life when approached and processed in a courageous and reflective manner; and having gone through my own struggles with these dark emotions, I agree with her 100%!So if you or someone you know struggles with dark emotions such as fear, grief, despair, or the like, give this book a shot and you might learn something about yourself in the process.

I can't recommend this book highly enough... The author writes is a very direct, honest, down-to-earth style, yet what she has to say is extremely profound. Like the little boy who says, "look, but the emperor has no clothes", she compassionately yet clearly through the cultural myths and denial that envelop and alienate us from the truth of our own direct experience.I came to this book having read plenty of other books already on "the shadow", "befriending our pain", the dangers of "spiritual bypass", etc. etc. etc. so I was initially concerned that I might find some of this material old-hat or repetitive. Instead, I was delighted to find that the author offers a fresh and original take on these valuable subjects from the perspective of both Jewish spirituality and mysticism, as well as from the wisdom of her own hard-won experience.The stories that the author shares from her own life, as well as the stories of the clients who have been fortunate enough to have her as a therapist, point to the real possibility of transformation and healing, by learning to listen to the wisdom of the "dark emotions". I found this book highly inspiring, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to find their way through and beyond the truth of suffering...While I have never met the author, I want to say a heartfelt "thank you" for having written such a powerfully moving book...

As a father dealing with child loss and trying to reconcile faith with reality, this book offers a very different approach. While I do not totally agree with Dr. Greenspan's personal theology, that is a sidebar to the core story. She offers an honest look at the entire psychological / pharmaceutical complex, how patients are treated, then offers a solution. While that solution is somewhat controversial, it makes far more sense than medicating ones pain. The concept of dealing head-on with pain through faith is nothing new, but the approach offered - with the techniques explained - is very refreshing.It does not make the journey easier, there are no guarantees of complete healing, but there is the assurance that grief can be faithfully observed, understood and better accepted.

Your emotions are so incredibly important. Deep healing and spiritual transformation always have an emotional component. And there are such sublime emotions available to us. But to experience them, we can't have an agenda about them. You can't say "I'm only going to feel the sublime feelings," or "I'm only going to have feelings that are worthy of a spiritual being." You have to be willing to experience them all, on their own terms. That's what this book is about. When you befriend the dark emotions you begin a journey into the rich and nuanced world of your inner self. This book prepares you for that journey and shows you how grief leads to gratitude, fear to joy, and despair to faith.

Really enjoyed first two parts of the book. Dr Greenspan is undoubtedly an expert on processing dark emotions.The book took a slightly surprising turn past the midpoint when it becomes apparent that the author is a feminist who embraces the feminine God head, altering the 23rd Psalm . "... She makes me to lie down in green pastures. She leads me beside the still waters..." Later in the book there are references to "the goddess" intentionally in the place of "God." From here the book seems to spiral into a vehicle by which the author wishes to advance the cause of the feminist platform alongside her substantially helpful treatment of the dark emotions. This is truly unfortunate because it is definitely awkward and out of place.Remove the obviously feminist platform-advancing opinions and the book gets 4 stars from me! Readers who can look past these opinions can greatly benefit, but I wouldn't recommend it without this caveat.

Healing through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair
⭐ 4.6 💛 190
kindle: $2.39
paperback: $17.33
hardcover: $36.00
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