I think I have touched on the subject of 'change' in various articles but it seems that it is one of those issues that needs to be discussed from different angles, if we are to understand it as best we can. At the same time, I am pondering on the results of the recent elections with the rise of the far right in Europe.
We already know that life is constantly changing. We are constantly in progress and evolving. Every morning we wake up somehow different to who we were the night before, physically, psychologically and mentally. We are in a permanent state of change and data processing consciously or unconsciously.
A big change occurs in two ways, internally or externally.
When something changes externally, we are called to redefine our relationship with that and take the same or a different position that will maintain our survival, safety and prosperity as we understand them every time. For example, if an earthquake happens and a man's house is destroyed, he will have to find another home to stay and continue his life.
In external changes, seemingly external at least, we have no involvement in the fact that they happened as they were not caused by us.
Internal changes are probably a little different story. A person is called to listen to his inner, deep voice calling him to make a change from within. Some people find it easier to deal with changes and others find it it difficult.
Internal change, even if it concerns ones health, encompasses the choice as well as the responsibility of the person himself.
For example, if someone is diagnosed with an illness and a serious medical advice suggests to him to change dietary and other habits in order to improve his health, they have the choice not to follow it and continue to live as before, thereby taking the responsibility for any consequences.
An internal change may often bring to the surface information from he past that we did not want to confront and incorporate in our lives. For example, the reasons why we had made specific choices in the past or how we had behaved towards ourselves and others. If we are not prepared to deconstruct ourselves in order to better understanding him, then any change will be based on non-solid foundations.
This is often the case when we make hasty decisions in order to find a solution to a problem and, thus, stop to understand that there is a problem, the reasons why it exists and what could be the ways to effectively resolve it.
In the above example with the illness, a quick and easy solution could be the intake of drugs without making any change in diet and various other stressors that may affect the overall health of the individual. Therefore, restoring health will be partial, if at all successful.
This could also be the viewpoint of the results of the European elections, particularly of Greece.
Of course we are talking about a deeply complex subject, but for me the parameters for exploring it are the same.
Europe and Greece in particular, by encountering and being part of the economic crisis and its consequences, was called upon to reconsider the foundations and values on which it leads its life.
It is like waking up in the morning with a serious cold.
There are systemic problems both at European level and at the level of the countries where solutions were sought and created that do not consider and solve the problems effectively, but provide a temporary relief, as the aspirin in the cold, whose real cause was that the person was not warm enough the previous day.
Any thorough analysis and understanding of a problem, leads at least to some solutions and some lessons. My understanding of the Greek results (perhaps for the whole of Europe) is that people are quickly and easily looking for someone who will promise them hope, solution, relief and a better future. They vote, that is, with the sentiment, with the raw emotion a person has just before he drowns, grabbing the first, seemingly strong hand that is found in front of him in order to be saved.
This moment of 'despair' for me hides something more problematic, the transfer of responsibility.
It is easier for a society to vote for a man with special needs than to take care of his needs in the every day life.
It's easier to punish someone as a liar, when people are lying every day without consequences.
It is easier to ask for a political honesty and credibility when the same people had been having bad relations with those values for years.
It's easier to trust someone we looks and behaves like oneself someone rather than someone who is a little different and somehow provokes us to change.
It is almost impossible to expect different results when we continue to do the same thing.
It has been a while since I last wrote an article and this is because sometimes it takes time and silence to really listen to what is happening within and around us and to wholeheartedly connect with it.
My attention at this time-and perhaps no accident that coincides with the European elections-is particularly attracted by the coherence, the connection and the continuity of life.
Perhaps only when we grow old enough and the life before us is equal or shorter than the life behind us, we begin to look back on our lives underlining what has been important to us, what things were difficult or easy in our lives, how we were making the decisions about our lives and in general what are the main themes of our lives and what gives it its meaning.
As a psychotherapist I often encounter these questions with the people I am working work and it is almost impossible not to observe, reflect and study them.
Personally, these questions accompanied me, or rather, always guided me in my life, especially with regards to the criteria with which I needed to make decisions about my life that would eventually form what we call a life path.
I imagine that many people at some point or periods in our lives have felt the burden and perhaps the fear that goes with responsibility whether we have made or will make are the right choices, whether they will make us happy and work for our own good, whatever we think that is.
I have seen people 'staying still' for years when faced with a decision or a dilemma by ignoring it indefinitely and thus leaving a part of their self and life static.
I find that every man at any given time does what he can and knows best given his self-knowledge, knowledge and perception of him and of life in general. Any person, that is, makes a choice (and non-choice is a choice) each time in the light of the hiring and what is important to him, i.e., uses some-consciously or unconsciously-criteria.
These criteria or the reasons whether we created them, whether we learned them from others, are part of who we are or who we think we are.
As we become more self-aware, then those grounds on which we have made a choice are sufficient to support any result, even if this is unpleasant.
By understanding and accepting these reasons and also taking into account the factors that we do not have control over, we feel a silence within ourselves and not tension, because we acknowledge that we did the best we could and learned the lessons on what we might want to do differently in the future based on what is important to us.
I understand that what I am describing may sound quite general, so it requires an example.
When I decided to create this blog and start writing, I was confronted with the obstacle of what is called the 'guard of security'. I have been writing my thoughts in some form since I was little, but publishing them on my own web site initially seemed terrifying. 'Have you got anything to say?', 'You will receive many negative comments', 'People might not be interested in them' were just some of the critical suggestions that this guard was making to me .
At the same time, I strongly felt that I wanted to express things, especially when they could potentially become stimulating thoughts for other people.
I made the final decision with the thought that even if one person takes something out of or benefits in any way from what I write, for me it was worth the effort. Someone might consider this selfish and that would be another point of view. For me, however, this signifies the quintessential of life, that all forms of life are inextricably linked and constantly influenced by each other.
In the same way that we would not exist if there were no plants to provide us with oxygen, in the same way we impact each other continuously in ways that we may not yet fully understand. But the fact that life is a huge interconnected web is undeniable.
A smile can make someone's day, a piece of information can be helpful to someone else, a little honesty and understanding can raise awareness and open a communication channel with a another person. Of course it might also not.
From our experiences we constantly learn things about ourselves, about the world and about life. This knowledge of ours, the information that actually forms our individual path that we have created, could perhaps, if we share it, become useful to someone else and thereby ensure the continuity of our existence and coexistence.
When we recognise or remember that we belong to this magical web of life and that we are just a part of it (as individual consciousness) then our personal path can only be constantly connected and ending up as a drop with a special contribution to one big sea.
In this article I want to discuss some observations about how everyone sees, experiences and relates to themselves and the world around them.
Each one of us is unique and special and the soul that is essentially the essence of our existence, consists of distinct qualities, experiences and lessons that it has acquired in one or more incarnations (if one believes in them).
In this life a soul enters a body and temporarily takes the form of a character that is born in a particular place, in a particular family, at a particular time to learn specific lessons. Something like the role that an actor embodies in a performance. This does not mean that the actor is exhausted in this role and that the role describes the whole of who she is or her potential.
One's character is shaped according to the experiences that the person has in combination with the qualities of his soul, two people who have been exposed to the same situations growing up are not affected or react in the same way. Every experience leaves an imprint on a person's soul, the form of which depends both on the experience itself and on the type of response of the person on which the experience remains. This is also the field, the prism we would say, through which one starts to see and live himself and his life.
Growing up, one might realise that she is not only the product of her original experiences (and those imprints) but that she has got a greater range of possibilities for herself and, consequently, on how to create the life based on who discovers herself to be.
For example, a person growing up in a family that owns a family business can be expected to take it over as an adult, but also he can choose to pursue another interest of his, missing on one hand the certainty of the ready-to-run business, gaining, on the other, the joy of exploring his new interest.
The criteria based on which one person makes one or the other choice constitute the prism, the glasses, the values of the soul that sees the world through.
Similarly, on a psychological level, if someone has felt guilty about something in their lives as a child (the imprint), then they may continue to live their lives with guilt for many things and at the same time expect others to feel the same way, twist various information in order to fit to this pattern. In a similar way when someone wears glasses, he sees well, whilst pictures that are not covered by the lens are seen as blurry etc.
The lesson of such a person in this life could be the integration of new information into his soul, may be self-forgiveness, love and respect for himself, acceptance of his innocence, etc.
Like any lesson, they need the repetitive practice, and if they are not assimilated again and again until they become the new imprint, then they will come back again in circumstances, reflecting the already existing imprint.
Similarly, when a lesson has been assimilated, it becomes the new prism through which someone sees, experiences and connects with the world and, thus, behaves towards the others.
If, for example, someone values honesty, understanding, respect and love, then they will apply them to themselves and to the encounter with others.
We are all in a continuous journey of learning from one another and there is no right or wrong way of living.
The subject of this article seems to me to be particularly important as it lays behind many other issues I have previously discussed.
The emotion of fear, its management, confrontation, understanding and resolution is particularly current especially with the rise of fascism but also in the world of self-improvement where fear is the 'bad' feeling that one has to overcome to be free in order to create the life she wants.
Although part of this sentence may not be wrong, the obsession with which some may defend it may cover other things.
In mental health field, feelings are seen as information about how we relate to ourselves and our environment. For example, we are happy when something is very pleasant and we feel sad when we experience something as very unpleasant.
Fear serves to alert us of the presence of danger in order to act in such a way as to maintain ourselves in a state of security. If we did not feel afraid, then it is likely that we would get killed when passing a road with cars or by being hit by various objects we would meet in front of us.
To some extent, therefore, fear contributes an ally to our survival and development playing an important role.
The degree and the way each human organism activates or uses this feeling varies and is shaped as such for various reasons.
As a psychotherapist, it is impossible not to refer to the early years of a person's life where he learns from the environment what is dangerous, what to be careful of and what to trust. We are taught how to use a knife, an electric cooker, how to protect ourselves from an animal etc.
Like all other emotions, fear is created based on our past experiences and the information we have about the world. For example, if a mother is afraid of dogs (because maybe a dog once bite her) then she can teach her child that all dogs are dangerous and he is going the be afraid of them too. However, as the child is getting older she may have different experiences of dogs and decide to approach them with curiosity by learning if or how they can be dangerous for her.
Another cause of fear may be the encounter with the unknown, that is, when we live an unprecedented experience, our minds may employ whatever information they have in order to calculate and prevent any 'damage' or 'loss' to our system, e.g. feeling pain, etc. The mind fills, that is, any empty space of information (or processing of new information) with whatever information (scenarios) it already has and can create in order to prepare our system as a mapped field for what may happen in order to take the most advantageous action.
The intensity of the experience of a feeling is, therefore, a correlation of the experiences, knowledge, (memories), the information that a person has stored for the particular thing, and the means he believes he possesses to deal with it. For example, if a dog attempts to attack a person, then the availability and use of a wood stick can be a protective and deterrent factor to the attack. Another possibility would be that the person does not see or do not know how to use the wood stick and, thus, he will continue to feel defenceless against the imminent attack.
Depending on the presence of the factors of this correlation, the organism almost automatically chooses the best possible solution to manage and resolve the situation in order for the organism to remain safe (and therefore alive).
When it concerns dangers of non materialistic nature, things become more complicated. The fear of an illness, for example, may be related to the fear of death, the fear of learned helplessness, the fear of loneliness, and so on. Regardless of the opinion, information or personal experience we personally hold for a person' s situation, when someone feels something, fear for example, for him this feeling is real and we must respond to it as such, if we want to be of any help to this person.
Possible ways of dealing with fear can be to 'fight', 'flight', or 'freeze' by being paralysed and result in prolonged inactivity as the person may feel unable to manage and survive the feeling of fear, so he decides not to confront it. In addition to courage, dealing with a fear presupposes that the person feels that she will benefit more by doing something than doing nothing and also that the person believes that she has got the resources to cope with it (strength, support, etc.).
And that's where we return like the snake bites its tail, to where we started from, what we have learned to fear, to trust, and ultimately what life scenario we are living.
Admitting of feeling fearful by itself is considered by some an act of cowardice, weakness, disturbance as if a person chooses consciously not to want to resolve an internal conflict that keeps him 'stuck' in the same position.
However, seeing fear from the point of view of knowledge and evolution, then we understand that the person who is afraid is in distress because he feels that a part of him is in danger and that he needs something to feel safe in order to be able to resolve the fear and incorporate the new experience (the same one who is afraid of).
This can be acquiring more information, receive support, acknowledgement, appreciation and confidence in the strengths and qualities of oneself, gaining trust in others, etc.
If we all learn to recognise, express and accept everything we feel including what we are afraid of, then we will see how many things we have in common rather than separate us as people and also what resources (help, etc.) we need from ourselves and others to move from an unstable position to really live a free movement life.