Let me start with some theory first:
“In psychology, sublimation is a mature type of expression of desire, in which socially unacceptable impulses or idealizations are transformed into socially acceptable actions or behavior.” – Wikipedia
Sublimation is what makes it possible for higher psychical activities – scientific, artistic or ideological – to play such an important part in civilized life.
Sigmund Freud
believed that sublimation was a sign of maturity and civilization, allowing people to function adequately in culturally acceptable ways. He defined sublimation as the process of deflecting sexual drives into acts of higher social value and virtue.
From psychoanalytical perspective it’s the fundamental mechanism that permits and drives the creation of art or inventions.

We don’t necessarily have to agree with Freud on the statement that every lively impulse has a sexual source, to see that transforming our energy into creation is probably the most humane thing to do. The important part is that we want to LIVE!!! Wildly, freely, without judgement, shame or anxiousness! We want to feel alive!

If you don’t suffer from deep depression, and even then, you sometimes will want to freak free from your restrains, scream and shout, dance, kiss a stranger, go with the flow and let this energy BE! But suddenly you realize that you don’t feel that you have the capacity to do it.

Then everything turns against you. You feel inexplicable physical pain even though your physician is completely sure that you are fine. You feel your heart pounding, your palms sweating, you can’t stand your colleagues/parents/partner/children, you start getting panic attacks. Later you stop being comfortable in your own skin, you crumble when someone finds any defect in you. Welcome to the club of the grumpy neurotics!

Neuroticism is not something terrible per se. It is a side effect of the process of installing civilized values on our unconscious minds. Those values and restrictions help us fit into society and keep our reality check tuned. The question is not how to overcome the neurosis but rather how to integrate it so it will work for us not against us.

Nature has gifted us with the ability to form complex societies. And society has taught us how to transform our instincts into science, poetry, fine art. Tap that energy! Paint something, learn a new language, sing, dance. People have done it for ages (at least 40 000 years). Do something with that brain of yours! We are not here just to eat, drink and talk about politics or your job that you hate more and more each day. If you don’t have any time – find some! It is not easy to recover your mental health once it gets compromised.

Try multiple things and then keep doing the ones you like! It may be difficult to guess what you will actually end up enjoying.

Sublimate, because sincerely you have no other option. You have only one life to live and if you don’t fill it with the things and activities you love and if you don’t teach your children to do so, we are all (most probably) doomed.

Dr. Mila Petkova is an online counselor with a PhD in Psychoanalysis and Cultural Philosophy, creator of and She advocates for more accessible counseling and psychotherapy on a global scale. Her passion is to travel and her vocation is to make people see the best version of themselves and help them show it to the world.
You can follow Mila on Facebook.

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