Due to new information lately, there is so much I want to write about and I decided to write about one of the main topics of the period for me, the process of psychotherapy through the experience of the psychotherapist (the writer that is).
I noticed that a lot has been written about the issues that are being addressed in a therapeutic context, but much less about what really happens in the therapeutic space.
Often people ask me: What are the differences between psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy? Are you not influenced and burdened with people's problems?' 'What issues do you specialize in?' in an effort to untangle the external knot of knowledge: 'what different is psychotherapy to other therapies?' and the internal knot: 'sounds interesting work but luckily I don't need it', I have good friends', 'do you think I need it? What could I possibly face if I decide to to start therapy?', 'Do people really need it or do they become addicted to treatment in order for the healer/therapist to get paid? '
In no way do I pretend that psychotherapy would work for everyone or it is the only way of self-knowledge. Similarly, psychotherapy neither should nor can replace a friendship since its goals and terms as a relationship are different.
All these questions, thoughts and feelings are normal and human. In an unknown space anything can potentially happen, one of them is to feel threatened, so the mechanisms of protection and defence are activated to confront the threat, to ensure survival and not to suffer any losses. Exactly the same mechanisms (along with others of course) we helped us to become the most powerful being on the planet overruling all others.
But what is under threat in therapy (before and during it)? ... The identity and the sense of self.
Is there anything more scary than to enter in a place where you agree to explore who you really are, how and why you have made choices and what is it that you essentially asking for your life?
Psychotherapy actually began with Freud (psychoanalysis) as studies of 'abnormal' psychological behaviours that could not be explained based on the existing at the time model of understanding of human behaviour. Schizophrenia in the west was a disease while in other cultures it was considered a gift that some people had to communicate with other worlds.
Later, psychotherapy evolved with the study of the first relationships of a child as determining factors of psychology and behaviour (Psychodynamic, Attachment theory, Objects relation theory etc.). It continued with the study of human motivation and what it means to be human (humanistic movement), the existential problems of human condition (existentialism) and of course it ends with spirituality the (transpersonal).
It's an impressive step by step journey of the human spirit in trying to understand itself!
Psychotherapy (at least the one I trained in and offering now) is not only about healing, about what is wrong and what needs to be fixed, but mainly through the wound, the crevice and the need that was not met, about a deeper discovery of who we truly are in essence, what do we do in this world and what really makes us happy and in harmony with our environment.
For some people this quest is a waste of time as they have found their absolute answers in the enjoyment of consuming something material, in the structure of their lives as they are (e.g. family, work, etc.), in the orders of their religion etc.
In how someone gives meaning to his/ her own life, there is no right and wrong but what matters is what the person feels is important, worthy of attention and useful. of and for their lives.
As a psychotherapist I don't have a list in my head of what people who sit in front of me should do to feel good and happy in their lives. I do not prescribe drugs, nor do I give diagnoses based on textbooks as psychiatrists do. I have not studied thoroughly the research and theories explaining how many people experience something similar and what do they do to get better as psychologists do.
Having had my own therapy for years and continuing the quest for self discovery, I, firstly, sit opposite someone as another human being (yes with a specific education, with my own views and attitude in life etc). This relationship has no agenda from me besides the agreed terms of the therapy, which is exactly why I use the ' therapeutic agreement ' which explains exactly the terms of the relationship.
As another human being, then, who may be a little further on his exploration journey, I too have my own fears, insecurities, weaknesses and also strengths, qualities, truth and values. All of these are the things that make me human and eventually allow me to do this job, because I can resonate and relate to and empirically relate to a person's path of exploration and creation of a more authentic and creative Self.
Of course my experience and development may have limitations and that is why I do not pretend that I can necessarily help anyone who comes before me.
As another human being, I remember and understand that I do not have the absolute knowledge and that every person knows better himself and for himself; I learn from every person because we are all different; I recognise my areas of improvement both on a personal and a professional level; I follow sometimes as a spectator and sometimes as an assistant other people on their life journeys.
The whole of all these journeys is for me the totality of all mankind's journey that is part of the journey of all existence.
This is my first published text written firstly in Greek and, at all random, is inspired by the observations and the recent months that I live in Greece.
I often hear the word 'habit ' used with a sense of weight as if it is something very powerful that keeps us prisoners on a specific, repetitive route.
However, like everything else, in order to be whole, it has its other side.
And the other side of the 'monster' of habit that 'swallows' us when we enter it, is the Power.
'Habit' is not the faceless, innocent and uncontrollable underground corridor that people unnecessarily enter in the course of time.
When people fixate with constant repetition on behaviours, situations and conditions (dynamic relationships, daily actions, beliefs, routines etc), we do not do it randomly and without reason. This is how we construct our places of strength and safety. Within them we confirm our existence, we feel safe and we strengthen our stability every day.
A person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) presents those behaviours to a greater extent. The person checks several times the devices before leaving their home, repeats the same routines (e.g.. hand washing) in the same way and all for the same need, to answer the feeling of agony, fear and dis-order.
Many people's childhood experiences of chaotic environments (the lack of systematic rules of organisation of the environment and relationships within it) was associated with painful feelings, such as the agony of punishment and fear as the environment (parents, other important, school etc) could not guarantee the smooth and stable reality and safety that comes with it upon which a person can base their sense of self. What is 'right', acceptable and ultimately beneficial for the environment (as society defines it) and for us may have been very or not at all specific and/or conflicting to each other.
What we want, what we like, what we feel etc and what we do and what we do not, what we reject, compose a sense of self consciously or unconsciously. All of this is under the umbrella of "this is who I am," and because they happen repeatedly, they reinforce that 'that I am'.
The sense of self and as it manifests itself through our actions gives us the feeling of security and stability we need in the world in order to continue to build our lives on a solid ground.
Lets imagine what would be like to wake up one day and do things differently or do the same things in a different way or we had 'different' desires and we were feeling different altogether?
How much more difficult and chaotic our world would suddenly become!
Or is it already so? Do we wake up with different thoughts every day, at a different parts of our bed, saying ' Good morning' in a different way, to different people, doing perhaps similar things in a different way or in a different time and living already in a world of uncertainty and constantly changing?
Aren't all these reasons to shake any sense of self that we created the day before?
My comment here does not aim to prove that habits are necessarily 'good' or 'bad', but to underline that in the 'space' of habit two things happen simultaneously: the 'surrendering' to a flow of action, result and state of being which is sometimes experienced as 'powerlessness' to change the habit (e.g. smoking) and at the same time the exercise of our own power (and control) to define ourselves and our world through our field of action, where the unknown is limited to the minimum possible. In that controlled field we became the kings of our castle and everything unknown, different or strange becomes our threat including other parts of ourselves, especially other parts of ourselves.
For the sake of our awareness, growth and freedom, shall we ask ourselves the next time 'who' and 'what' is served by what is happening and by what are doing?
With Love and appreciation,
It has been a while since I last wrote here; it feels important to write when I have got something to say indeed and not just write for the sake of it.
The recent wildfires in Greece evoked familiar feelings that seem to be dormant for a while and yet ready to come to the surface again as soon as another 'tragedy' or very difficult event happens.
Anger, sadness and despair are the main feelings that take turns in mine and possibly lots of people's hearts witnessing such loss (of people, properties) and natural environment).
It is understandable that in difficult moments like these people want to express (almost purge) their intense feelings, say their opinion, blame someone in an attempt to reconcile with the loss, pain, powerlessness and grief.
Other people take immediate action trying to help, make things better, relieve the pain by offering or doing something that will bring comfort to themselves and those directly affected.
What does not quite sit well with me is the mentality that I read between the lines of the messages that I have read.. name ly the 'victim mentality'.
The victim of the greek government, of the wild fires, of people who want to take advantage of that area and so on.
For me this is another symptom of greek people behaving like children who do want to grow up and take responsibility of their actions. Some, if not all, the houses that got burnt in the fires were initially built illegally, outside the legal urban planning and my understanding is that much later they were somehow recognised as legal and were incorporated within the urban planning of the area.
Illness 1: not following the law and not have consequences for that: building wherever one wants without consequences and then pay to get the properties legalised.
Since those houses were build in or next to forests, did the people who bought or build them asked for all the necessary precautionary anti fire measure to be taken? or they were waiting for a magical, last minute protection from the super power greek state? (which of course never happens).
Since I remember myself every summer there were many fires all over Greece due to high temperatures and strong winds (or arsons) resulting in people being killed and properties getting burned. One could say that Greece should have been a fire expert by now in summer fires given the extent of the loss every year. Unfortunately not.
Illness 2: prevention and forward thinking are almost unknown words to greeks.
I have been travelling to Switzerland, Austria and Germany the last week while all this palavra is taking place in Athens.
I have been witnessing quite organised (not perfect) states and cities were people have created safe, comfortable and not so strenuous environments where they can live enjoyable lives with growth and development.
On the contrary, it really hurts witnessing Greece and greek people always just trying to survive driven by a 'lacking of' mentality rather than expansion and abundance in co existence with an 'narcissistic arrogance' that 'we are untouchable' and if anything goes wrong 'someone else will save us the last minute'.
I am totally aware that this is a constructed way of being, a learned and coping strategy that might have served us in the past but clearly does not serve anyone anymore and due to its complexity it is hard to easily change.
The two illnesses above and many more can be summarised into one:
that greeks have turned their backs to themselves long time ago. They have stopped loving and looking after themselves and the environment they are living in a while now. Hence, they are magically waiting for solutions to appear similar to a child waiting from the parent to save it while it feels powerless and hopeless.
I have been a 'product' of that psychology/mentality and having brought myself to the other side I can now see clearly what is happening.
The road to adulthood is a difficult and challenging one which requires lots of lessons to be learned and integrated.
One has to sit with so many fears and pains, with all the daemons personal and collective, feel them, learn and resolve them.. (a huge humanity challenge all together to become our higher selves but come one Greece.. you can do it!)
One has also to learn that there are things that humans can control and things that can not control and take action or surrender appropriately.. In the former feeling empowered and in peace that one has done all they could about a given situation and in the latter one feeling in peace that there are part of something bigger that works for the higher good.
I recognise from an archetypal point of view that Greece has a quite challenging task.. holding the path of plain simplicity, easily turned into heaven (ancient Greece-ish), easily turned into chaos (recently).
Simple beauty of the sea, sun, nature, heart; a precious empty canvas that can contain everything and we are 'failing' to appreciate and honour it.
We are neglecting to preserve and cultivate it not just only for the benefits of our own 'little greek family' (faction is very common in Greece) but also for the service of the rest of the world; in a similar way that Peru shares her natural medicines with the rest of the world.
Similarly to the rain in the UK which endeavours to teach compassion and softness to quite a 'ruthless' population, fire in Greece might aim to teach us through anger and destruction the boundaries, the pride, the owning of strength, the tough self love, the truth which say 'learn and honour who you are and what you have got and love it, protect it, share it' as a good enough parent will always do for its children..
Love and peace to all affected.
May the next summers to be talking about different things..
With love and gratitude,
Strong energies continue to affect the planet and all of us clearly calling for a release of old conscious or unconscious patterns from this and previous lives. You probably been having intense and emotional dreams, intense things happening to you, powerful encounters and discussions with friends and acquaintances all leading to review how you have been living so far and that new way that slow starts to emerging.
Today I want to discuss a concept that is key in that process, the concept of self.
I understand that discussing concepts like self and 'I' can provoke various sentiments and thoughts related to its existential nature and my intention is to keep the discussion as simple as possible and with reference to everyday life.
We all keep referring to ourselves as 'I am this and that', ' I dont do this' or 'I would never do that'. In these moments we set boundaries between what we think or feel we are and what we are not., what we like and what we do not, what we do and what we do not do. Hence we end up with a 'costume', a set of ams, dos etc that define and set the limits within which that I exists and simultaneously consists of.
Based on this costume we make decisions for our lives, form relationships, decide on career paths, life friends and partners etc. We can find them then manifesting in almost every area of our lives reflecting how we see, feel, think and behave as ourselves.
This viewpoint reflects the influences from Newton and Descartes that the world is a clockwise system that can be analysed and reproduced and so must be one's body and self.
I am wondering though, have you ever found yourselves doing or saying things that you said or thought in the past that you would never say or do? Was that a pleasant or unpleasant surprise? Did you accept and act on that new impulse or did you suppress it because it did not fit your 'costume'? If you acted on it did you tell anyone or it remained a secret away from the eyes and ears of people that know you as you are? Is all very normal if you have done one or all the above.
I am more and more realising from 'myself' and witnessing others that the costumes that we either inherited from our families, cultures, societies (and believed) or we have created ourselves in response to them, do not quite fit all the possibilities of what it is to be 'oneself.' Given that scientifically proven the human body replaces itself every 7 years (and I suspect it does more often in smaller levels), why not the same principle applies to the notion of 'self'. Why one can not change their minds of who they are, change their hearts of what they love, change their gut of what they eat, change their mouth of what they taste and so on?
Who determined as an ultimate law that we have to like, do and be the same things for the rest of our lives? That we have to follow the same career, be with the same partner, live in the same house, have the same hobbies etc? All these things that we once liked and did, they define us in return, almost throwing us to existential anxiety.. 'Who are you now that you are not doing this?', 'Where did that person go?'.
I understand that there might be some serious implications when you apply this to relationships for example, not exactly knowing who the person that slept next to you in the next morning and yet do you really know? Do we fully know ourselves ? Are we always the same? Can we not change the stories that we once believed in such as 'I am not worthy, I am not lovable because I was not valued and loved as a child?' Do always the same things have to make us happy?
Of course we can..
These days I tend to think and experience myself as a vibratory infinite 'entity' of some sort which constantly interacts with its environment, absorbs impressions and responds to it, constantly being shaped and shape others. In that respect, I do not feel there is an 'I' that I am bound to and need to serve. I do not feel that I am my story anymore (and it took years as of processing to get there, ask my family!)I do not feel I have to be of certain qualities anymore. I am continuously exploring, creating 'my self' though defining and overcoming limits and boundaries.
I definitely still have a costume be that a body, a personality, character, preferences etc who want to have time for himself, prefers this over that and yet it feels that 'I' am choosing more the qualities for example, the peace,quiet and empty space when 'I' am alone rather than to be 'with myself'. 'I' am choosing to follow the flow of energy, where it takes me and my attention, what is of interest and stimulation and what makes 'me' lethargic and s-low.
Having no clear boundary can feel interesting and scary. We do not have to be obsessed with only feeling good things. We can just be open to the voice within, to experiences, interactions, learn from all the feelings and all the states.
This post is probably a continuation of the previous one and, interestingly, I was urged to write it just before the end of the month and the powerful full moon in Libra on the 31st of March.
There are seem to be lots of sweeping changes in people's lives, feelings, attitudes, perceptions and ideas. People leaving their jobs and relationships, thinking of changing careers, changing many habits and feeling unsettled and unhappy. Feelings of extreme tiredness, depression and anxiety are also being amplified during this period.
With new energies (basically more light) coming into the planet and in all of all us, we have been challenged to shake off everything that is stuck, that does not serve us anymore, that does not match our new vibration. Why you would still use and store a 2 kilo weight now that you can lift a 5 kilo one?
You might been having some intense dreams lately. These are drawing our attention to the things that need to be looked at, possibly sitting in out shadow and want to become known and possibly released. Relationship patterns, resentments from past relationships, unfinished business, unprocessed emotions, karmic patterns and lifetime lessons are all surfacing now and can feel quite forceful too. Just to be added to the mix that Mercury is retrogate until the 15th of April which is causing further delays and calls us for a three week review of our current situation.
Of course, what I am sharing here might not apply to everyone so stay truthful to what is happening for you and what are you experiencing. We are all unique and going through our unique life journeys, lessons and purpose.
Making changes or called to make changes (something from within you) is not an easy thing as I have discussed extensively in a previous post. It can feel unsettling, scary, unknown, painful, disorientating etc but it is all part of the process, so breathe. Similar to crabs outgrowing their shells we need some sort of safety to understand, make or follow a change. We need the virtual home of acceptance and no judgement that this is happening and it is not neither good or bad.
Most of the times it will actually lead to great growth but at this stage one does not know that.
Over the last two years I had consecutive contracts ending in my hands as a manager. I felt I was doing my best and yet it as out of my control who was making those decisions and on what basis. It felt unfair, painful and powerless having to move from one thing to the other, invest really all your energy only to be dismissed by someone who did not have an idea of what was the contract about. I spent days and nights raging and battling with the issue and the change I had to navigate through following each ending. Not to mention here the psychological impact and triggers of insecurity and abandonment in the world. I could have spent a lifetime working for these contracts and 'begging' to be appreciated for what I do without necessarily appreciating myself and listen to his bigger need for fulfilment.
I think I finally got it.. My bigger life plan and lesson, my bigger shell was not to be part of organisations that were managing contracts but to create something of my own. I have learned a lot all these years and accumulating significant experience which is definitely part of who I am today and for this I will always be grateful. But why keep it small? Why continue doing what feels safe, secure and within reach?
There are a few reasons for that but I want to focus on one here and now. That is that no one taught me how to jump into the unknown and take risks. I grew up in a family where both my parents were working for organisations and there was no model of entrepreneurship around. There was no encouragement for innovation, forward thinking, creation of something new; there was repetition of the same old model of being in many ways. There is no a trace of blame there now as I would like to take ownership of what I can do beyond any conditioning.
We are becoming more and more accustomed to our safety of taking calculated risks: we now the time that the next tube, bus, train are going to come, we can calculate the weather and things around us etc. We know many things about the person we are dating before we even met them. We have many friends on social media so that we can never feel alone. We growing live in calculated and controlled environments where there is no much space for flexibility, spontaneity and creativity.
No surprise there as stepping into one's own creativity coming from one's soul calling and passion, means at some level accepting and befriending the unknown; it means facing fears and all the scripts and conditioning that one has lived so far; it almost means an identity crisis where one needs to reinvent oneself at some level and look at oneself from a different angle and prism. Of course that is petrifying and nerve wracking and takes a lot of courage and leap of faith.
But what if I tell you that there is guidance and support from higher realms to help you? what if I tell you that your struggle might help someone else and you can be helped by someone who had had similar experience? what if I tell you that you will be more fulfilled and passionate?
We always have the choice and the responsibility (ability to respond) about what we are doing and when to do it.
Following one's true calling and truth requires a new identity, sense of self, a new life that no one could even show you or prepare you exactly for but this does not mean that you fully alone.
Hello dear reader,
I keep hearing more and more people lately saying ‘I want to cut down or stop eating meat’, I ‘I want to stop partying and start drinking less’, ‘I want to use less animal based products and food’, 'I want to start recycling more' and many similar statements.
There seems to be a gradual, collective shift of (or at least intention to change) food and lifestyle habits. For decades we have been programmed and used to eat certain foods, drink alcohol, have a specific lifestyle, do specific things like partying until late etc. Please don’t misunderstand me, you will never hear me saying that there is anything wrong with all these. We have all walked home barely knowing how, we all have had too much to drink so that we can let go even for a while of our inhibitions and did something ‘silly’; we all have (over) indulged ourselves with pizza, meat feasts, chocolate, cakes and so on.
I believe we are very used to comfort ourselves with food, drinks and whatever makes us feel good. We will go for 'shopping therapy' and buy anything when we feel low, we will drink to the oblivion when we feel sad or something hurts us, we will drink again to celebrate when we are happy, we will drink we are bored or while we are waiting for something to happen in our lives. Similarly, we will watch series when we are bored, we will watch a film when we feel lonely, we will play with our phones in every opportunity we have to fill a moment, we will post our photos and 'moments' so we can get noticed by our 'friends' on social media and we will give them their fair share of attention when there is a pause in our lives. We will even meet our lovers and flirts through the phone. It is all very human..
I cann't help it but to notice how we are used to, almost automatically programmed to 'consume' in order to fill our moments. Time, our moments became this 'empty' space that we need to fill in in a similar way that we fill our shopping basket. If we don't, we are probably considered boring, unmotivated, that something is wrong with us, that we might be depressed and need some sort of help to 'recover' etc.
My intention here is not to be 'negative' or catastrophise for the future of the world. I am sharing observations and thoughts, hopefully not to be 'consumed' but as my part of the dialogue that I am interested as an alive being in having with other people, in my imagination or in real situations.
I am surprised how much our experience is mediated through material things these days. We don't stay much with ourselves, our silences, our feelings, with one another, with the unknown (of ours and others), with the mystery, with the surprise, with the adventure, with the questions. We are moving from one thing to the other constantly, we eat the one thing after the other without necessarily listen to our bodies and then we shape our bodies in the standard format (six packs, broad shoulders, etc) that is going to be liked by others. It almost feels that life comes in shapes and size and each one of us have to choose theirs just like we do when we shop for clothes.
I am even more surprised to see people 'consuming' 'healing', 'relaxation', 'meditation', 'relief' like it is a coffee from their local shop.
For me life has always been a process to be mapped, a path to be created and walked, a series of questions, mysteries, hypothesis, trials and errors, a route to discover and invent myself, others and the world. On top of that, I realised that in the same way all these things, experiences, interactions etc are also discovering me, making me who I am which was different to w ho I was yesterday and more likely different to who I am going to be tomorrow. Pretty scary and probably trans-human stuff..
The way I have experienced healing through therapy, meditation and other methods taught me that healing is a self designed, active process. It requires participation, commitment, ownership, continuous learning and loving of oneself, others and the world. Is not just the nut bar you buy from the corner shop. It is that painful and simultaneously blissful process of getting to know oneself, visit all the rooms and little hidden corners of one's own house; clean them when they get dirty, enjoy them when they feel good, stroke them when they hurt, feel the qualities of its material, the smells, the sensations.
The powerful times we live in call us to look ourselves in the mirror of our bathrooms and in the mirror of other's and the world's and admit what we see, admit honestly who we have been and if that feels real, authentic, true and whole. We have spent so much of our lives trying to please other people, conform in people's and societies expectations, we have said and done things continuously that feel good but actually at some level stop ourselves- for whatever reason- to get to know deeply and show what we want, what our heart is on fire for, what do we find peace with, what we love doing which does not just pay the bills, who we truly are..
I feel that the journey ahead is one that needs to be consciously created out of the depths of our existence which ever way that feels right for each one of us.
We have all found ourselves in moments where we have been desperate for help; we did not know what to do, which decision to make, which direction to take in our lives, which job to go for and so many other questions.
In these moments we crawl on the floor from pain, beg for an answer or a sign, ask and talk to friends and strangers about their experiences desperately trying to find in their words some support, compassion or an indication of our answer. We drag ourselves in agony from place to place trying to get some or a answer that will help us and give us some relief of the agony. Everything becomes so intense and heightened from that place like our life is in danger and we have to make the 'right', the 'life and death' decision that is either going to make us happy or sad for a long time.
In today's western societies we are so programmed to think in black and white terms that we tend to forget that there is a 'middle' way. We either feel that we have to be completely independent and do everything by ourselves or we will be dependent on others for love, help, support, company etc. The closest edge or pattern to us makes us feel good,safe and/or in control that we have what we need and we will be ok. And then something happens and our world crumbles a bit and we are not sure what to do, what exactly we need, what we are 'supposed' to do, trust ourselves and listen to others. Sometimes the confusion is so strong that we can not hear anyone's voice, mainly ours and we would rather stay in bed all bed and hide away from everything, from pain, fear, anxiety; we want to do anything to leave that place, drink, take drugs, talk about other things, watch tv, destruct ourselves in every possible way.
And there comes the moment when we realise that we can not hide anymore and need to take action and the action would be to get some help; but what kind of help. There are so many things out there, so many modalities, kinds of therapy, coaching, healing, psychology, energy work, clairvoyance, astrologists, mediums, spiritual coaches and so many others. Hundreds of programmes, online webinars, courses, How the hell does one meant to make a decision being already confused with one's own life.
And here it is, that amazing video on Facebook where the coach gives this amazing hints and promises clarity, abundance, love and happiness if one follows that programme. Of course, that can be the solution you think as it is not support, it is not weakness, it is a method, a course, a tool. You sign up for it and day in and day one, you commit to that work. To work through your difficulties, your 'negative thinking' patterns, your 'negative feelings', your 'anger issues', your continuous stuckness with the past. You meditate, do the exercises, reflect, you almost become that ' washing machine' who learns to choose what to keep and what to through away. You see the coach as this is amazing person who has done so well in their lives, they have got such clarity, they have so many answers, they are enlightened and thank god, you say, you find them to give you such an amazing help.
Indeed they might give you some help, tools, inspiration, guidance, positive regard etc bu ultimately the help is all within you! What you might have called period of depression, or feeling low or not having much energy could be a period of retrospection, a period when your soul contracts from being out in the world and seeks a quiet place to grow a new cell, to draw a new plan, to just be and recharge for the next project, mission, phase.
I have seen many people wanting a quick fix, a quick solution, to jump from one phase to the other, from one project to the other, form one relationship to the other, from a happy moment to the other, from one achievement to the other. Life, luckily, in not just the accumulation of our wants and desires. It is much bigger than that and it involves all phases, stages, states of being. How we can grow, if we don't know how is it to shrink, how we can small with all our being, if we don't know how the tears and sadness feel like, how we can truly love if we don't know what hate feels like, how we can achieve, if we haven't failed.
There is no good and bad in life, there are just experiences.
So maybe next time when you desperate try to find for answers and help from experts, when you seek to get out from a difficult situation or a painful state, when you seek solutions right now otherwise you are miserable, ask yourself what is that wants to come through?
Vulnerability? Let it come through.
Sadness? Let it breath through you.
Confusion? Let it overwhelm you.
Fear? Let it paralyse you.
It is in these moments that you will need your internal expert, father, mother, child, angel, guide, guard, hero to show up and hug you, love you, accept you, appreciate you, consult you, be with you. Access the support, don't resist it, it wont make you weaker, quite the opposite, it will bear you the gifts of strength and wholeness.
It lives within you and it has never really abandoned you, you might have temporarily turned your eyes to another expert, guide, helper.. externally.
''The wound is the place where the Light enters you.'' Rumi
.. And there comes the time where one is being called to be completely honest and transparent towards themselves first and, secondly, to others. We can not keep indefinitely turning our eyes away and keep lying to ourselves..
This post was inspired by the beautiful and inspiring documentary 'Crazywise' which Phil Borges and Kevin Tomlison have sensitively and with brutal honesty created. I strongly recommended to watch it, if you find it somewhere around the world: https://crazywisefilm.com/. It factually links mental health diagnosis, crisis and symptoms to its true origin..spirituality! and how different cultures choose to respond to it. I feel that movies like this one should be shown to every human being in this world, especially to the westerners.
The movie included for me all (or most of them, anyway) the narratives, experiences, facts, processes, perceptions, intuition and feelings from all the years that I have been working in mental health and as a therapist.
It really moved me and brought tears to my eyes again (this time via the screen) of how, mainly the western culture, has projected all its 'weaknesses', all it 'dislikes', all its 'fears' and 'ugliness' onto 'mentally ill' people.
'They are the ones who are sick, not us', 'Schizophrenic people are dangerous', 'He is crazy, stay away', 'Dont listen to her, she is a manipulative, she has biopolar' and uncountable other opinions go around for 'mentally ill' people'.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) for Mental Disorders written by the American Psychiatric Association and followed by almost all the western countries, has been continually questioned by scientists who actually dare to be honest to their own selves and ask the question: 'Where is the evidence for all this?'. None or very little is the answer.
Let me put that straight, every day hundreds of people are being diagnosed and possibly hospitalised (some of them without their consent) and heavily dedicated on the basis that there is some chemical imbalance in their brain with no evidence that this is the case as there is no test done to this person to measure the assumed imbalance!!
You are probably not very surprised as you hear everyday about 'crimes' against living organisms, so we kind of become numb and inactive.
Try to think though for a moment of someone you know, family, relative, friend, acquaintance who you know they experience or had periods of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, some sort of paranoia, the all very famous voices; what are your thoughts and feelings about that person: 'oh, poor him, he is ill', 'how sad, she didnt finish her degree', 'I always knew there was something 'wrong' with her' you might think. And this is the point where you are deeply involved psychically..
There are situations and fats in life that can be traumatic or extremely painful that can actually shatter ones' own perception of themselves and the world, sense of safety and security, worthiness of love and belonging, everything that makes us 'functional' beings to live 'normal' lives (while I am writing that these terms are already outdated).
The moment one uses the terms 'functional' and 'normal', then the spectrum of people's experiences becomes limited, with boundaries. Then, you have the 'functional' and the 'non functional' people, the 'normal' and the 'abnormal', the 'healthy' and the 'sick ' ones, the 'need-to-be helped' and the 'helpers'.
What about all these people who maintain a 'normal' job and drawn their sorrows or take drugs every other day (or even every day)? Oh yes, they are having fun..
What about those who have got a 'normal' family and they do not show any affection to their partner and children? that's true, they have a career and provide for the family..
What about those how have 'normal' lives and they abuse (verbally, physically, emotionally, through neglect etc) others. that's right, that was not actually abuse..
Hurtful and traumatic experiences are not objective experiences..
The whole life experience indeed is not an objective experience; it is a subjective one..
People might be hurt and traumatised, especially in younger, more forming ages, by things that would not touch you, but they did touch them because that is what makes Them. They are unique and special because they like different things, feel and think different things, love different things, have a different body, chemistry and soul.
Regardless how different we all are, we do have the same basic needs: we all want to be respected, loved, valued, appreciated, believed, understood, explored, cared for for who we are (which is constantly changing anyway) and not for what others think we are.
Life and definitely healing happen in relationship, nothing exists in isolation. I was inspired (or even guided) to write this post because I watched the movie. The directors of the movie were inspired by the stories of the people they heard and created the movie and so on..
We all touch one another all the time in so many ways that we can not even fully imagine (yet)!
Who we think and feel we are ourselves has a continuous and direct impact on how we view the world, how we operate in it, how do we feel about others, who do we choose to relate to (consciously or unconsciously) and how.
Thus, until take the brave step to really see ourselves for who we truly are, to acknowledge, curiously listen to, respect, love and share our deepest fears, pains, anxieties, difficult feelings (including, shame and guilt);
until we are ready to let go of stories, scripts, scientific illusions and behavioural patterns and roles;
until we allow ourselves to experience, understand, accept and worship that light does not exist without dark;
until then, we will be the 'normal' ones and someone else will be the 'ill' one and the one who suffers and has got problems.
until then, we will continue to ignore that being 'broken', hurt, wounded, traumatised admittedly is another face of life that does happen and can lead to a deeper knowledge of what it means to be human, spiritual, alive.
until then, we will live our 'functional' lives within our predefined Spectrum of Being, losing out on the curses and gifts that lie on the other side of the fence..
..The choice is yours!
Working with people in one to one therapy, in this sacred, deep and intimate space we inevitably encounter one's own whole being. That includes an exploration of the present situation and its roots to the past, namely the past that still lives within, and if unconscious and unprocessed, it still reenacts itself in present relationships, work situations, activation of potentiality and other areas.
Thus, inevitably, one comes across some painful moments that has experienced and arrive into some difficult realisations about the environment one grew up in, if it was attentive, understanding, nurturing to one's qualities and interests, loving, caring, compassionate, forgiving, stimulating, hurtful, abusive, neglecting and much more. Based on these experiences one would form feelings towards the primary care givers, family members, siblings and subsequently would form beliefs for oneself and the mould of how the world is and works. Based on those feelings and beliefs for ourselves, others and the world, we drive and continue living our 'adult' life.
If there were many painful situations then we form patterns of behaviour that keeps us safe, we fear to try anything new and form relationships, we feel less and not enough, we feel hate and shame towards ourselves, just to name a few. If we had mainly positive experiences that we have to anything to maintain the status, we can not fail, can not break up, can not feel unwell or low and many others.
Regardless if these early experiences are positive and/or negative, nurturing and/or abusive, they form part of our programming. We feel we are this person who does x and z, who likes and dislikes the a and b, who has these strengths and that weaknesses, who can and can not do certain things. This is the Limiting Narrative, the collection, the books upon books of all the things we are and are not, who form our sense of self, our identity, our face and 'body' shown to the world. The more attached we are to this Narrative the more we make choices and decisions that will evoke results that will enforce that Narrative. If I feel I did not get much love from my parents, they did not understand me or they favoured one of my siblings, then I will probably get a sense of self that is not worth to be understood and loved and it is less worth than others. Consequently, I will feel that no one values me enough to be with me or understands me or that I am enough for that person or that I deserve to get that job even though many other people have applied for it. The cycle repeats itself and we are trapped within that Narrative of our identity of who we are and what kind of lives we are living.
As we progress with our lives we sometimes naturally do things that we would be terrified of doing in the past, like going to interviews, try a new hobby, talk to strangers, flirt that cute person at the opposite table and yet at these moments we break that identity, that closed circle of all the things we have been telling ourselves that we can and can not do; at these moments (and hopefully the ones following these) we form a 'new' identity which can resemble more, little or not at all of the previous one.
At these moments we are starting getting a glimpse or start developing our Creative Narrative. At these moments we get in contact with something deep inside that tell us that 'there is a bigger me' and later 'a bigger me' and another 'bigger me' and how big is big can be limitless. De-attaching from the previous identity can be a painful experience as in order to break that previously complete circle one has to experience pain and maybe after pain comes the unknown where we do not know exactly how we are going to take the next step, what is going to look like, it can be scary and disorientating but deep inside we know that we want to take that step and follow that bigger sense of self.
Having a Narrative as human beings at some level is part of our nature, it keeps as human, within a story from our past which can be extended to many past lives we can make sense of some of our experiences and put them within a context. I am sure you have heard people referring to themselves a few years back that what they did was part of another life and yet it was within the same lifetime as we call it.
Following the Creative Narrative we can consciously create a flexible framework, almost a flexible self that keeps exploring itself all the time, keeps trying and failing, keeps being curious about its core and existence, keeps enjoying the pain that comes with the excitement and discovery. Yes, there might be specific lessons that we came to experience and learn in this lifetime but there will not be any lessons, any growth, any expansion if we are hanging on and tightly attached onto our Limiting Narrative, our programming, the way that some people once thought we were, the way that we once believed we were (and maybe for good reasons if we were to survive abusive environments).
Change is an inevitable component of life; everything is in constant change and if we might not wish to do anything different, sooner or later life will challenge us to try something new and then we have got a choice of which Narrative we are going to follow or create.
Every moment is a subtle invitation to the Creative Narrative and from a humble, painful and joyful place I invite you now to create your own next story about yourselves, your next circle that will break for the bigger, infinite 'You' to appear.
Happy New Year to everyone!!
Every year we seem to want to feel different about ourselves and lives; 'it will be a better year', 'I want this to go and that to come', 'let the happiness in and the hard times go' etc.
Every new year there seems to be amongst people a new hope for things to get better, to finally achieve the long standing wishes and goals, to become our new, better selves. We set resolutions, we make wishes, we gear ourselves towards big changes such as quit smoking, change job, make more money, move to a bigger house, find our lifetime (or many life times) partner etc.
Change is an inevitable part of our lives, of 'who we are' and as a matter of fact of the nature of the world. We are definitely not the same as we were when we were born and not the same a year ago or even yesterday. Constant change whether we like it or not happens all the time, regardless if we are choosing it or not. Of course we enjoy the ones we plan and achieve and we are reluctant, fearful and uncertain about the ones that 'happen to us' without necessarily having much control over them. Accepting that both exist and have their own merit provides us with the freedom to chose if we want to fight, resist, follow or facilitate them. Being oneself in this world will never be a 'smooth', 'easy', 'straightforward' ride; the world is not solely made out of comfort and ease these are not its purpose anyway.
This and every (new) year might bring many nice, positive, pleasant things and some unpleasant, negative and not so nice things. You do not get to choose all of them but you get to choose how you respond to them. I know, it is the cliche which points out that 'shit happens' and we have somehow the power and responsibility to 'make them work', 'to integrate them' into our lives and learn to live with them or make something out of them. Any change can affect significantly the way we see, understand and experience ourselves, others and our lives. But why change can be so difficult?
We are all used to our own ways of being, doing, thinking, understanding and all these constitute the 'I'; 'I am, I do this, I think, I feel, I know, I understand, I see'. Change challenges the 'I' by presenting us with something different (a situation, an experience, a person, a feeling) that we do not know and unsettles us from what we are used to. The full scheme, circle of what we are and what we are not breaks and we encounter 'the unknown', 'the other' that invites us to recognise the otherness and relate to it.
My first though and message for 2018 is that being oneself is all we have at this very moment.. and it will change. So love it and be with it, it will soon be a past that you might not be able to relate to. Accepting, being and loving oneself now is an act of wholeness, because we are going to break again and again on order to grow and expand. And if we wont choose it, life will break us; nothing stays the same. If you are longing for something to change than work towards it, work hard and love every single step of that process as every step is the whole within the whole. It is the part that you can not miss and if you try to miss then it will be coming back again and again until you accept it. It almost feels like we are all moving consciously or unconsciously towards wholeness, towards acceptance of everything, even the worst of our nightmares (mainly our worst nightmares) as real as a potentiality as the possibility that might not necessarily happen to us but it can happen to the person next to us. It doesn't matter, because in any case we will be affected; every change affects all of us and our response affects it back.
Every single word we say to ourselves and to others affects us and them equally. If you hate a part of you or someone else (consequently liking more another part), then you are favouring something over something else whist all is life, all is change, every single part is a part of the wholeness of your temporary 'I', of the 'I' of the other, of the 'I' of the world that you either accept and flow with, either it will come back (in this or any other life). It will come back until you accept and love it equally.