We live in strange times for the planet.
In many countries we are just coming out of a strict lockdown, where for months we had to sacrifice our freedom in order to remain healthy and untouched.
However, something indeed has happened and the least we can do is to acknowledge rather than pretending that nothing happened.
The appearance of the virus has proven loud and clear our vulnerability or better we were reminded of it. Physical existence comes with vulnerability. We are sensitive organisms that are flexible and well adjusted, but at the same time can be easily harmed and damaged. On top of that, we can easily die due to an accident or a deadly illness.
The closest we get to their death or the death of a loved one, the more we make realisations about our lives or have the opportunity to do so, at least.
From a spiritual perspective the virus, manufactured or not, did not appear 'by accident' right now. Human kind has been walking an arrogant road for a while now, where we assumed that the whole existence is here to serve us and this is not true. We coexist with nature and one another. No one is superior or inferior to the other.
The threat of the virus and the way we have been managing it, has shown us that life is much bigger than what we thought it was. This is how human spirit develops.
We were used to go on and live our lives unaware. Unaware of the impact of our choices to the planet and to others, unaware of our deepest nature and desires, unaware of our purpose in this life.
Within the earth plain and as physical existences we operate within limits. Our bodies are limited, our physical energies are limited, our planet's resources are limited, but we have been living with the misbelief that they are unlimited.
This is one of the main paradoxes of our lives on earth. We are unlimited, endless, formless souls having a physical, limited, form-specific experience.
We can either integrate this appearing contradiction or we can continue choosing to ignore it, ignoring simultaneously the benefits of such integration.
I observe more and more people recently, following this 'crisis', changing their lifestyle, choosing more healthy habits, making career changes, breaking up from unfulfilling relationships, falling in love with people that they thought they never would and forming new, more meaningful connections. In other words creating a new, more improved version of themselves.
Collectively, we went through 'hell' experiencing an unknown global threat that could deprive of us from the most important thing, our lives and our happiness. We stayed indoors to protect ourselves from contaminating one another, from hurting and threatening one another and, yet, at some level we have been doing that for so long.
We have been depriving people from food and education, depriving people from their human rights to live the life they want to live, depriving people from their own lives by deciding to neglect or even take their lives. For the quantum physicists it is known for years now that the universe is a matrix. What we do, believe and act upon is mirrored back to us and the universe knows all the best ways to do so magically!
Ask all these people who became ill from an autoimmune or a mental health or other diseases, who self medicate with alcohol and drugs, who hide from their partners, their family and their friends the truth of who they are. They are going to tell you the same thing, if they are brutally honest, that they have been neglecting themselves, that they did not (know how to) love themselves enough to create meaningful and fulfilling lives.
When we truly love ourselves and connect deeply with our existence, then it is impossible not to love others; it is impossible not wanting the best (and actively trying to make it happen) for every human being and the living beings as whole, it is impossible not to look after our planet. It is like telling a mother not to love her children. Maybe she does not always love them equally, because she is human and has her own temperament, but she loves them all in some way.
As equal parts of one whole, the One, we are brothers and sisters, we are cohabitants, we are co creators, we are all providers and receivers, we are all strong and vulnerable, all together and separate, all unique and alike, all beautiful and ugly, all god-like and devil-like, all attractive and appalling. But all alive and all with inherent capacities to thrive!
Really, a soul has no fixed boundaries, we can be attracted to anyone that we connect with, we can become whatever we want in order to experience something new, there is no end to this desire to experience. The boundaries are only being set by our physicality and the identification with what we think we are.
Until we realise that, we will keep hiding behind identities, limitations, stereotypes, unlived lives, lies and so on, completely unaware of all the possibilities and the beauty that comes from living freely.
With every article I am trying to process a subject, alleviate a pain and share my process of understanding (their) existence.
The starting point is often a troubling feeling that does not allow me to rest or be in peace. I know I have to follow that feeling until it takes me to a place of understanding and, therefore, peace. It is like being with a snake that until you know how it operates, you will still feel under its threat!
Today, I have encountered the snake of 'responsibility and self abuse'. A powerful and vicious snake whose venom is significantly more powerful and subtle than others'. I know this snake quite well. I do not know if it comes from, but it definitely flourishes in Greece.
How else one can explain the continuous conservatism that keeps popping up and ruling this 'in between' country? 'In between' because it simultaneously belongs to East and West, two opposites of the spectrum of physical existence.
I think I have extensively described in previous articles how the modern Greeks- in their majority at least- have been behaving like irresponsible adolescents who refuse to grow up and create an adult life. They constantly accuse someone else for things that they also have responsibility, they always call someone else to help them when their decisions have gone bad, they mainly want to have fun and an easy life, they mainly want to feel joy and not all these other negative feelings, they want to be liked and free, not seeing that these two do not always go together, they avoid at all costs any consequence for their actions and so on.
Like a 'caring parent' I have been extensively trying to understand the reasons behind this behaviour and find ways to respond to it in an impactful and mature way. Today while contemplating the tolerance that Greeks show to all the totalitarian rules that have been imposed to them for a while now, I had a revelation! The (collective) greek soul suffers from the 'Stockholm syndrome'.
'Stockholm syndrome' was named after a robbery in Sweden in 1973 where 4 people were kept hostages for 6 days by the robbers. Upon their release they refused to testify against their captors and even helped to raise money for their defence. It is the syndrome where an abused person over a period of time develops feelings and bond for their abuser. Psychologists and medical professionals defined it as a psychological response, ''a coping mechanism, or a way to help victims handle the trauma of a terrifying situation'' (www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/stockholm-syndrome#history).
How is that related to Greek psychology? Think of yourselves as being for decades under the illusion that there is progress in your country, that everybody is having a better life, that there is evolution and development on all levels of society and so on, while at the same time there is huge governmental corruption, lies, abuse of power, stealing of public money, denial of human rights and so on. These are two different realities. On the one hand, you would feel so elevated, free, powerful and, on the other hand, powerless, cheated, fooled and depressed.
This is the wonderful schizoid position that greek psyche has been experiencing for a while now.
For decades politicians have been asking for our votes with the same lies over and over again and we have been electing them over and over again. It is clear to me now that we must feel like hostages of a political system that is responsible of our lives and we have developed feelings and bond with them as a mechanism to cope with the continuous trauma.
A hostage is petrified and powerless, their life depends on someone else against their will.
When someone is held in captivity they have two options, either protest and fight for justice and freedom or succumb to the power and play a dark and dangerous game in order to achieve one day the desired release. Both strategies have consequences, for example, if someone fights for their freedom they might get killed. The latter strategy, however, can be proven dangerous in a different way as the hostage might indeed forget the desire for freedom and end up being an 'own will hostage'. 'Own will' because the situation they live in might have acquired some meaning and benefits for them, losing sight that overall the situation is restricting them.
When money kept coming in, almost everyone became corrupted in Greece. It is like a 'parents away' weekend, where of course adolescents will constantly drink, take drugs and party. That weekend lasted for decades in Greece!
Eventually, the parents were forgotten and it became a toxic situation where alcohol and drugs became a normal, self abuse routine.
We stopped questioning the authorities, stopped constructively criticising decisions, stopped asking for justice, honesty and transparency, stopped knowing what is right and wrong for us. We gradually became numb, confused, sedated because of the guilt that we also have been partying (and voting), so how can we accuse someone else?.
We learned to be part of this opportunistic omerta as opposed to investing in our own and our children's future.
I am surprised again and again when people in social media just repeat governmental discourses omitting information which change the picture completely. It it like living in a cave for so long and not even imagining to look at the direction of light; imagine how threatening that must be, how life changing!
Here I am not referring to any particular political party, but the mechanism of denial and unilateralism for anything different that threatens the story we have been telling ourselves.
The most difficult thing to comprehend is that the same mechanism operates, firstly, internally. As family bonds are one of the strongest values in greek society, we do not get angry with our parents in fear of upsetting them and losing their love, we do not tell and show them who we are in fear of rejection and loss of support, we do not disagree and face the consequences in fear of being alone and separate from the unit.
We end up becoming our self hostages and oppress ourselves day in and day out. We learn to believe our stories that we are who others wants us to be. We identify continuously with the victim, because we forgot that we are also the perpetrators of ourselves and often of our loved ones.
Back again to another vicious circle where there seem to be no end to it.
When I searched for a solution, a way out the main thing that came to mind was... forgiveness.
Maybe that is that is holding us back from admitting our mistakes, our weaknesses, our faults, our omissions, our actions. Yes, we have been hurting ourselves.
Governments and public decisions are only one external symptom, the disease lives much deeper within us and this is where the healing and catharsis need to take place.
Forgiving ourselves is the ticket back to ourselves, to our wholeness. We are humans, we are prone to mistakes, we do not know everything, otherwise there would be nothing to learn in life. We are also humans when we admit our 'wrongs', when we admit that our actions hurt ourselves and others and take responsibility for these actions.
Forgiveness means to to be brutally honest, to understand ourselves and offer them choices, to acknowledge what is not serving us anymore and be brave to change route, to give them the life and opportunities they deserve beyond the restrictions of the past. To offer all these thing to other people too.
The ultimate responsibility is indeed towards ourselves and our individual souls.
Did we do our best? Did we love ourselves and others enough or we just took advantage of everything for our pleasure? Did we give our hearts' fights or we went for the easy ride?
Did we strive for what was important for us or we followed what was important for others?
Did we forgive and, yet, punish the captors or we continue to live codependently with them fearing that if one is punished, then we are going to be next without end to it?
Do we dare to clean our soul from its burdens and let it travel wounded, proud and shinny or do we continue to hurt it by pretending that is clean, functional and 'together'.
Today I will attempt to combine a few important topics that I feel are currently present before our eyes and, yet, somehow hidden from really being seen.
'Soul' is not an easy term to define as there is a mystical element to it. We can attempt to understand a soul like a formless sponge that constantly absorbs and releases elements from and into its environment. Like every living organism it operates with an 'input' and 'waste' process. It is made of specific material (qualities) such as hardness, density, colour, smell and so on. Through various interactions and processes these qualities continuously change, hence, we can say that soul is a dynamic being rather than a static and fixed one.
Every experience and the related feelings have an impact, a consequence on that 'sponge'. The action we take to respond is just the top of the iceberg. It is the partial manifestation of one's internal world and not his whole world. It is the way that someone is able to be present in that situation.
The experience and the feeling that comes from the initial experience interact with the existing structure of the sponge and in some way they affect it. Its impact can be permanent or temporary, deep or shallow, manageable or overwhelming and so on. In any case, there is a change, the experience has left its mark and became part of the history of transformations that this soul is going through.
It is really magical if we think about it, that with every experience we alter, we become someone new, a new consistency, a new arrangement, a new potential!
Based on this new consistency we respond to that experience and the subsequent ones.
Through action one exercises their strength, power, force onto something. We show ourselves, we make ourselves known, through our actions we exist.
We, also, exist through our internal experiences, our internal world. When someone's experiences, feelings and actions are not being seen and acknowledged by themselves and/or someone else, then it is like they do not exist. Imagine there is a child who attempts to make contact with their environment το express their needs, their feelings and there is no response to them from their parents. What happens then?
There is no mirror, no acknowledgment, no light shed on their darkness, they remain hidden in their caves. mainly physically alive.
This child will grow into an adult with very little, if any, contact with their deep inner experiences and their impact on their soul; with little, if any, contact with the respective experiences of other people, bound into a limited world. This limited internal world, consequently, they will manifest outside, with their thoughts, feelings and actions they will represent their internal reality.
Can you see examples of this in today's world?
Maybe how we have prioritised money over other values such as health and education?
Maybe how we still consider some people less worthy with less rights than us?
Maybe how we often treat one another with severe judgment and lack of respect?
All of us, whether we are aware of and honour it or not, we have the potential of a very rich internal and external life. If having such life is one of our values, then, I imagine we will consciously try to nourish it, to feed it, we will sow and reap again and again, no matter how hard this might be. We will take ownership of our field of existence, our soul and appreciate it by keeping it alive, well maintained and growing.
For whatever reason, this might not be the goal for everyone on earth. Some people might prioritise other things such as survival, accumulation of wealth, pleasure and so on.
It is their exercise of freedom to do so, it is their right and it is the right of other people to prioritise other values.
What happens then when these two sets of people live side by side?
They can choose to live separately, they can fight endlessly or they can come into a baseline agreement.
We can find ourselves feeling angry and hating someone for what they represent, what they have done or not done to us and rightly so, if that experience has caused some adverse change to our soul and the way we exist the world: we may be hurt, maybe we became less trusting in people, maybe we are more afraid that hurt is going to happen again and so on. These feelings create a dark impact on our soul, that life is dangerous and people can hurt us at any time. However true that may be, we can also decide to still risk to trust other people fulfilling that way our desires, without letting past experiences determining our future decisions.
On a instinctual level the child that is not being seen for what they experience and express, they scream and shout, they demand what they deserve, they do not give up until they succeed in what they want. This is the wildness of children that we often silence with sweets, with blaming speeches, with quieting imperatives and so on.
We often do so because it reminds us of our tamed wildness that we forgot in order to live a modest and conventional life.
It is the sum of all these supressed wildness' that succumbs to 'higher powers' and restrictions, that tells other people that what they are doing when they are protesting is wrong, what they are doing when they are creating a different life than ours is worrying, what they are doing when they are suggesting something new is futile.
A soul like everything else is not necessarily good or bad in itself.
It rather flourishes when seen and loved or diminishes when hidden and hated!
When is being seen and loved, she does not have any reason to attack or restrict herself or anyone else, because she knows how important freedom and respect are for her.
When is being seen and loved, she does not impose other people to sit still, because she knows how important moving through is.
When is being seen and loved, she does not tell anyone else who and how to love and who not, because she knows the expansion of love.
When is being seen and loved, she can accept survival, failures and lessons as important parts of life as she appreciates hers and everyone else's lives as they unfold.
Being wild does not live in extremes as we have been told by our collectively tamed sides.
Wildness is a necessity of the soul, one of the materials of the 'sponge'. It wants to be free to express itself, to explore, to become, to interact, to learn and grow through experience life and others. Otherwise, she becomes miserable, resentful, ugly, disappointed, lost and dead.
This Wildness goes beyond the wildness and demands of the child into the encounter and unity with one's true and free nature and Self.
When was the last time you listened to your Wildness?
Greek society continues to be shocked by the constant revelations of people who experienced as minors or adults sexual harassment and/or abuse by people of power in their field.
There is no doubt that such behaviours, especially when it comes to minors, are unacceptable and deserve punishment. I do not think there is anyone who characterizes these acts as right, honourable and moral or who does not seek the punishment of those who committed them. Not only for the Justice of the victims, but also for setting an example for those and others to avoid similar incidents in the future.
My comment here is not about something that, for me, is obvious, the condemnation of actions, but that hidden, the 'in between the lines', that eludes us to make the picture whole (if such a thing can ever be achieved). Greek society has a tradition of avoiding its 'blind spot', things that are difficult and does not know how to cope with.
I have been listening for days to the descriptions of the victims, the comments of journalists who have taken on the role of a detective (they do not do justice, but collect evidence for it!), the opinions and thoughts of people who have some public fora including social networks. I let it all pass through me like a machine that has learned from meat to make mince and remove the stain from clothes for the sake of truth and personal wisdom, If you wish.
What I don't hear or don't hear enough is (again) individual and collective responsibility.
You may describe me as obsessed with responsibility, but I consider it perhaps the most important factor that defines an adult, that is, a mature person who has some skills to manage their life and its adversity effectively and to their advantage.
Minors were raped and abused for years in society, under and inside its 'nose', when it was feasting on entertainment and hunting how to make more money.
I repeat that I do not take a moment's attention from the criminality of the acts, but I ask: where were the parents, teachers, siblings, friends, colleagues, neighbours, principals, etc.? How does a society preserve the health, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, of its underage and adult citizens? How does it happen that for years children find the strength to lie to their families about where they were going, but did not find the way to tell them the truth, which they may not had understood how much it hurt them, but still was the truth the were experiencing?
I find it extremely difficult to imagine this happening to my little brother and not to have understood something. Not because I am intelligent or enlightened, but because I had my eyes there, on a person I love while he was at a tender age, I was talking to him, trying to understand how he thinks and what might concern him (in general).
In general, it is easier to condemn someone as the' problem', the' Black Sheep', the ultimate culprit, forgetting that he too grew up and lives in the same society as all of us and feeds off its health and illness as we all do. We easily forget that we are all potentially capable of anything and that the 'monster' lives in a way within us all.
And we know that deeply, because we get so angry about things like that. Because to some extent we are trying to cover up what we did not do altogether to prevent it from happening, but also making the assumption that civilization, or human domestication, is not a one-off, but a continuous process.
I find it deeply hypocritical and pathological (as well as cathartic) that much of Greek society now zeroes in on people who previously had been 'gods' and worshipped. Yes, it didn't know what they were doing behind closed doors, but he didn't want to know. He heard suspicious whispers and never spoke about them. It's easier to put someone else's hand in the sewer than ours!
I am not interested in condemning anyone here, but I think it is important to stress the importance of responsibility and reflection. Abuse, whatever its form, is the violation of boundaries and is often presented as a' double message'. No abuser will say 'now I am abusing you', but will try to present their act as' right', either because it is the result of love, or because the victim will have some benefit from it, pleasure, career benefit etc. This is why often victims, especially minors, find it difficult to understand what is happening, because it is presented to them as an act of interest and love that contradicts with their own experience. That causes confusion, guilt, shame and so on.
In clinical terminology, neglect is also a form of abuse and it seems that in many cases this occurred as a second level of abuse to victims from their environment.
And it deeply hurts, individually and collectively, to think about, accept, incorporate and change that.
We did/do not teach our children to love themselves beyond and above all ambition and to stand up equal to every authority and to every power, if required.
We did/do not teach our children what it's like every moment to have choices, the choice to stay or leave a situation and define their own lives at all times.
We did/do not teach our children to exercise their own judgment, to trust their instincts and, most importantly, to trust themselves that they deserve to have what they want.
We did/do not teach our children to trust us and others close to them to share what happens to them, because we love our opinions, taboos and fears more.
We did/do not teach our children to claim respect, fairness, dignity and meritocracy, because there would always be a 'connection' who will bring the desired result for us.
We did/do not create robust rules, laws and safety nets where people can admit the 'wrong doings' and find justice and healing.
For these results, where the end justifies the means, we have for years maintained a society in moral decay and decadence which we now see its extent as it mirrors it back to us. The garbage that we see washed up in the sea and still do not collect, did not fall there but way long before.
It is indeed now an opportunity, not only for victims to speak out, not only for some people to be punished, but, also, to fundamentally examine and redesign our values and principles as a society and as a whole.
We have lived long enough in the lie of the role, it's time to embody our truth!
Interestingly, while I'm used to writing articles first in English, this one wants to be written first in Greek for some reason. Perhaps because it is very much about Greek society and my recent observations from it.
For some people it may be just moaning or useless thoughts, but I think it is important for one to think and reflect on what is happening around them, if they want to evolve.
In the last articles I have clearly written about my recent reflections around the power figures we are all surrounded by.
When we are children, our parents and family are in charge, all these "grown-ups" who constantly tell us what we should do, what is right and what is wrong and who we should be, if we want a place in society, in the family, in love, under the sun!
Later, 'power' becomes our pedagogues and teachers. All those 'serious' people who have studied and have something to teach us on a particular subject. We are, thus, called upon to learn the knowledge that they impart to us, and also learn to pay respect to the beholder (and beholders) of this knowledge.
Subsequent authority is our seniors at work, the managers who do (or do not) have more experience than us, who seem to know something more than us about the subject of our work or is in a position of responsibility to manage the progress and execution of a project.
I have been through all these aforementioned environments and have my experiences and opinions about to them.
The highest powers in a democratic state, at least, one would say, are the criminal justice for the violation of laws, the government for the execution of laws, and the parliament for the enactment of laws. This constitutes the framework of rules within which we all come together directly or indirectly to live as members of a society.
At regular intervals we elect people who will directly or indirectly administer the above powers for us for the benefit of society.
This is the macro level of society that concerns a lot of people, 'the big picture', if you wish.
But there is also the smaller image, the micro level, that we all experience in our daily lives, in our contact with each other, in our relationships, in our exchanges and so on. This level is partly related to laws and their application, but also is largely left to personal rules and a sense of justice and law.
It is really impossible to have a policeman for every citizen to impose the laws that were established for him and his fellow citizens, so that they live in peace and prosperity. But if laws are not been respected or passed to serve only one part of society, then whose responsibility is this? We know whose responsibility is their creation and enforcement, but their implementation?
The answer for me will always go back to the same: individual responsibility and ownership!
It is really impressive with how much hypocrisy people can live. They cry, get angry and furious when they are wronged and demand to be treated with respect when they themselves pollute the environment they live in or park their cars in the place where a fellow citizen could use to cross the street. They lament the hunger and misery of other people in the world, but they vote for governments that foster wars, sell weapons and repeat a nationalist hate speech towards other nations. They advocate justice, safety, health, but, through, their actions do the opposite on a personal and collective level.
Personally, I have found a certain peace in the thought that the 'game' here on Earth is not permanent for anyone. Even the most unjust, selfish, arrogant and dishonest person can do what they want but they will not live here forever (thank God!). So are their victims.
But everyone's actions leave imprints both on themselves and on others who will sooner or later experience their consequences, especially if they have some authority. Mostly they leave imprints on their own and on the souls of those involved who will take those eventually with them, largely what is referred to as karma, and contains the imprints of all, beneficial and painful acts.
In spiritual terms power alone has no master. Towards life (and to God, if you believe in) we are all the same. There are no poor, rich, powerful or powerless.
Only in this 'game' here on Earth we have created these conditions, because we need to understand what is it to control others or to be controlled by others.
Of course it takes some sort of hierarchy (role allocation) in a system to function effectively. The way the roles are played, however, and for whose benefit it is what separates a worthy leader from a not worthy one. The parent, the teacher, the manager, the government are mere managers of a person or situation for a specific period, not forever, and will, therefore, be assessed at some point by themselves and by others.
I'm not talking about the day of reckoning or the fear of hell. I refer to the knowledge of the Self as the only force and motive of life. I have worked with people who attacked or killed someone, while mentally unstable, and after years of deprivation of liberty and treatment, they were given a chance to have a freer life. Some have had a hard time admitting what they've done and acknowledging the pain they've caused someone. Some find it difficult to use this opportunity, because society and themselves are too different from each other to understand and respond maturely as an adult to their whole situation.
Similar may be other experiences, such as abuse (violation of boundaries) that only some members of society may have felt. How everyone connects to such a narrative is very personal and relates to their own experiences.
In no case, however, in a democratic and civilized society any violation of boundaries can be considered right. And, unfortunately, our societies have a long tradition of breaking boundaries at a macro and micro level.
Something similar happens when we comment on someone's choices or achievements. People are used to judging each other about who is 'more' or 'less' of something. This comparison would make sense, if we all had the same starting point, the same support, the same resources, the same temperament, the same desires, which is impossible.
Why, then, do we think it is right to compare paths and outcomes of people, when they bare little similarity to one another? Is it not a form of 'violation' when we can not see someone for their unique nature and with their special characteristics that they are made of?
Why do we expect people to act the same way in similar situations, when people themselves are not the same to each other?
The answer may be as simple as having learned to relate to anyone who is similar to ourselves. We don't care about the experiences and stories of others, so we stay at a safe distance for criticism. Or, worse, whatever difficulty we have not worked through from our own experiences, we project it to the other by changing ourselves from victims to abusers, also a long-standing problem, because no one is freed from this dynamic for generations and constantly continues to hurt new people, kind of like a virus!
Personally, I admire and connect more with people who have encountered and faced things, their darkness, their traumas, their diversity, their own selves, to get to where they have arrived - wherever that is - and less with those who follow the ready made path that they have learned from the dominant stereotypes of the society they live in.
We are all given (or chose) a place in the 'game' earth. Some people hold a more powerful position than others, but the rules of the game are the same for everyone: that there is an end, there is a setting and the rules are made by people.
This power of self defining and ruling, which always comes with a cost, can be so terrifying that often people prefer to permanently obey the existing authorities and the 'orders' of others losing sight of their own authority.
It is more difficult to seek to find the parent, the teacher, the manager, the governor, the priest in us, than to bow to the authority of others, even if they take us to our misery.
So who has the power over your life?
Who makes decisions about it?
Who implements them?
What values do you want to live your life by?
How do you feel about the values that now prevail in the society you live in?
What are you doing about it?
What kind of society would you like your child or someone you love to live in?
What soul prints would you like to leave here and not take with you?
What screams in your soul that you haven't heard and lived yet;
If you find the time and strength to think about these questions and the answers point in many directions, then you are probably living dissected among the two orphans of 'desires' and 'shoulds' who they have been looking for their parents!
Rest assured that when people are treated with respect and appreciation for who they are and what they want, they will always find their way to their higher selves and the light.
It looks like the more we stay in lockdowns, the more interesting things happen.
The last few days it has been all over the greek media the revelations that men in authoritative positions have been abusing their power to molest and insult their male or female colleagues.
It seemed that the 'Aeolian bag' has opened and more and more people, mainly females, are coming out to talk about their verbal, physical or emotional abuse.
The 'why now?' question is often used in therapy to place a discussed issue within a context and give some perspective to the current situation, but I feel in this matter, the question is somehow irrelevant. Because 'now it is the time to speak freely and be listened to' lots of victims state. Maybe they are right, as it seems a good opportunity due to the mandatory introspection that the lockdowns impose and the subsequent realisations that come from it.
The whole issue became huge very quickly and reminded me of an article I wanted to write about celebrities and their influence.
I have been observing for many months now how various actors/actresses, tv presenters, singers and other famous people advertising through their social media various products, from snacks and cheese to sauce pans and cars. For a minute I thought we were back on the 90's where the ads during the tv were lasting longer than the actual programme.
I thought to myself: 'Could it still be happening? People actually are buying things that their favourite actors suggests them to?' and I stayed reflecting upon that thought for a while.
I can understand how people have the need to admire someone special, to get hope and courage from people who have achieved something quite big in their lives, but the extent to which that occurs it is not easy for me to comprehend. That was, also, exactly what I was thinking when I was studying mass media, communication and advertising: 'people do not know what they need and what they like and they need someone famous to tell them what to buy?!' And then I turned into psychotherapy...
I do understand that people need guidance. We need a teacher at school to pass on some knowledge, we need our parents as guides to show us what is good and bad in life in early ages, they are responsible to keep us alive and somehow functional, content and maybe happy. We later on get our first jobs and there is someone senior who 'knows better' and has been in the job for longer than us. We admire this person and look at them with awe as they have accomplished something that we want to accomplish too, to become successful by mastering our art, whatever that is!
There is nothing necessarily wrong with having role models and people who we admire. We actually need those people as helpers to shed some light in our paths. Usually, these people hold qualities and achievements that we want for ourselves too so, through them, we connect to the possibility of happiness and success.
What happens, though, when their values are opposite to ours? What happens when the very same person that we look up to and respect, approach us in a way that crosses our personal and/or professional boundaries? What do we do then?
I imagine that we feel shock, conflict and disappointment that the person that was an important figure for us, turns out to be someone that not only we do not like, but also that we have to defend against. Our guide becomes our threat, an enemy that we need to assert ourselves in front of and set our clear boundaries; us that we are the 'newbies', the 'newcomers, the 'novices' in work and life.
I would. also. imagine that some people would assert themselves immediately and leave the situation or place, or fight it until they find justice and peace within themselves.
Some other people might do nothing, because they need the job or they fear to challenge the authority, feel confusion, shame and guilt for what has happened accusing themselves for even slightly provoking the situation.
The root cause in both the aforementioned situations for me is similar, 'the ownership of the inner authority'. Especially, but of course not exclusively, the greek mentality assumes that a parent, a teacher, an authority, a celebrity are not to be questioned as they are experts of some sort. This automatically leads to an internalisation of that figure as superior, 'they know something more to be calling me names' etc. Utterly bullshit!
When we think that someone is better than us because of their position, their knowledge, their experience, their looks, their achievements etc is like we give them the power to exercise it on us as they please.
I am not talking here about respect. Respect is a very healthy value that a person can earn with their actions and everything they stand for.
I am talking about our own view of ourselves. Luckily over the years, there have been improvements and we are not, for example, hitting children in schools like our parents used to experience in order to become 'good people'.
Passing knowledge and values through fear or harsh behaviours feels so outdated and it has clearly proven that it hurts more than does good. It, actually, hurts in multiple levels, the most important for me being that the person loses connection with their own authority. They learn right from the beginning that they are here to obey their parents, their teachers, god, whoever have some sort of power. Of course, following the tactic of fear, imposing and punishment, we either create obedience or resistance.
Obedience creates 'slaves' and people who learn to put other people's needs before their own.
Resistance creates 'rebels' who are constantly arguing against authority, power and their opinion.
Both extremes can be problematic for an individual and they come with a split into their consciousness where an unexpressed part is being projected onto someone else (good or bad) outside.
A 'healthy' and free adult is someone who can exercise their own free will to choose what they do based on their own values and not based on what they have learned 'should do'.
We are all incredibly unique and special, hence we can not have rules that apply to all of us without exceptions.
What we can learn and ask for, though, both from ourselves and the others is dignity, respect for our own beliefs, boundaries, values and desires on how we 'spend' ourselves.
It is this self authority that actually judges and decides whether an experience is for our own benefit or not, and then we can take the relevant action. It is this inner authority that can decide whether it is of value to us to buy the product that our favourite actor presents to us so idyllically.
It could be a life long process to realise what masks we are wearing, where they are coming from, if they fit us or not, choosing the mask that feels more like our authentic selves.
It is always a very personal choice...
As always my interaction with the world, my observations and my own process inform this writing.
Today, I feel I have got a strong message which came from several sides and that concerns the issue of trust.
In Greek the noun 'trust' is called 'em-pistosini' which means the faith on something or someone.
Immediately that describes something that is, simultaneously, humane and beyond.
The humane part means that one 'strongly believes' that they are not going to be fooled, that they are going to be taken care of, that they are being told the truth, that they can rely on someone or something and so on.
The beyond humane part signifies 'having faith in god, in life, in something beyond this word, faith that things will be ok, that they will work out themselves and be resolved, that there is hope in the most difficult times etc'. This is a more religious & spiritual perspective which recognises that we are not the sole determinants of everything in our lives.
I will discuss a bit more the humane aspect here, as it is in this human & physical field that things tend to show their messiness.
Having faith in the physical world may apply in many situations from having faith that a street lamp is not going to fall on me to having confidence in a sincere person, a relationship and so on. Having confidence can be also applied to ourselves: How confident do you feel within yourself? How much do you trust yourself that they are going to create a life of happiness? How much do you trust yourself that they are going to be successful or create a relationship that it is going to be fulfilling?
Some people will be very certain to answer that they are very confident within themselves, that they can achieve whatever they aim for and that there are very few things that they can not have or give to themselves. These people are more likely coming from secure backgrounds, where they were told that they can indeed achieve anything they want and somehow that was also proven in their subsequent lives.
Other people will reply with uncertainty and maybe with more 'little' than 'much' trusting themselves. These people, as you can imagine, probably come from more unstable backgrounds where their worth was not actually mirrored to them and their needs were not quite adequately met.
Some of you might be thinking that 'the card' about the wounded child and difficult childhood has been overly played and, maybe, you are partially right, because childhood 'failures' may often be used as excuses for someone to progress in their lives.
My point here, though, is that as we grow up, wearing the costume of adult, we continue maintaining a relationship with ourselves on the basis of our early experiences, be that positive or negative.
The relationship with ourselves is the most crucial and important relationship we ever going to have in our lives. This relationship determines the 'successes' or the 'failures' in our lives. We might have the best ideas, the greatest of intentions and skills, but if we do not trust ourselves to move us through, then everything else is left to luck or to the unknown.
In the relationship with oneself, I feel that trust plays a key role, because it almost means 'carrying'. When we say 'I trust' myself we 'hold' ourselves, the same thing that our legs do to the rest of our bodies every day. It is this part of ourselves that we can rely on and assures us that we can do whatever we need to do. It is our spiritual bone structure that we can go to in moments of fear, despair, helplessness, anxiety, loss and destruction. It is this goddess who in a battlefield will help to bring out the gold from the souls.
The lack of trust is the disbelief and the absence of support. The lack of trust leads to a very tricky and unstable ground where anything can happen at any time and that is really scary. When there is lack of self trust then the self becomes the enemy and there is a constant battle between conflicting parts which, simply, have not learned to work together; they have mainly learned that in order to survive they have to 'kill' the other at all costs.
Do you understand how vicious and threatening that may be proven for the wellbeing of some people?
It is a big myth that trust is one of these things that one either has it or not; it is learned and exercised. A toddler when attempts to make their first steps, they hold on to things until they feel strong enough to let go off them and then... they fall! This is how we have all learned how to walk, by falling! If we were always holding on to things, we would have never taken the risk to walk.
It is inherent in the human system to trust. The toddler somewhere deep inside them knows that they can walk, they just have to keep trying until they are strong enough to succeed.
How different our world would be, if we all consciously learned that when we were young!
There is, also, another layer to the toddler story, a more hidden one. The toddler every time they fall, they get disappointed, disheartened, maybe a bit embarrassed too, but somehow without even 'talking' to themselves, they can support themselves and give them the courage to overcome or better to counterbalance those feelings and try once more. It is, also, important how the environment responds to them, by encouragement or disappointment?
I have seen so many people (including myself at times) struggling to offer that support to themselves on a permanent basis. For someone that has never really 'fall', there is no need for support, but for people who have really 'fallen' or felt unsupported by their environment, then it does take a lot of courage to support themselves and learn that 'it is ok to fall'', that they are not perfect and it is ok to receive support, that they can ask for what they need and not just for what is offered.
This, inevitably, takes my back to unconditional love. If we try to accept and love our deepest, ugliest, darkest, embarrassing and peculiar sides, then automatically they become beautiful, lighter and worth living sides of ourselves, which can be trusted and not to be afraid of.
The lack of trust on a large scale can create an unhealthy socio-political environment such as the one in Greece.
I recently had an appointment with the greek tax office office to produce and authorise an official document that I needed. Due to covid restrictions, I booked an appointment with an employee for a specific time and date I could go in. I presented myself at the agreed time and date to the door, only to find out that the employee did not go to work on that day and no alternative arrangements have been made for my appointment.
I lost trust once again to the Greek authorities. The lack of organisation in Greece is world famous and resembles the one of a third world country, where only if you are lucky or you know someone, you will be helped, otherwise you can spend hours and days trying to figure out a solution to the problem that the state creates for you and can not solve.
These situations always take me to a helpless state, which I knew well while I was growing up and it was one of the reasons I left the country as soon as I could, longing to experience another way of being. Like the toddler, I knew there was a better way of being, which I discovered both within me and outside me (luckily!).
My appointment did happen in the end thanks to the kindness of another employee who was, already, overwhelmed with work and was making sure that everyone present knew about it (you know, the greek dramatic and tragic way!).
The observation and consequent question remain though: there have been so many politicians over the years, there have been so may changes and no one has ever thought to simplify those processes?
The Greek state was and still is a very mistrusting state, there are so many seals that have to be put on a document in order to be authorised that any queen would be jealous of!
Simultaneously, there are so many illegalities happening unpunished on a daily basis by citizens, that turns the state-citizen relationship into one of a mafia, where the mother covers for its children and vice versa. There is no adult costume here, do not even try to look for it, there are mainly two children fighting or loving each other depending on the occasion.
When we create and step into an adult position, then we can acknowledge all our parts, honour them and our feelings and make decisions that reflect our values and our aspirations. In that position we can have the freedom and power to choose if we want to behave in a childish or more strict way to situations as opposed to be feeing directed only to one pole without a choice.
Creating trust within ourselves allows us to live with support and love at all times. Trust is not blind, it needs constant feeding and can directs us towards where we want to go; the big question each time is where do we want to go? It might not be a specific place, but can be a direction, a path and a route.
When we know it, then we can gather all our strength and qualities and make the effort to get there where our soul needs to go, just like the toddler.
I do hope the Greek state and citizens will consciously answer that question for themselves one day!
Today I am writing about something that I have experienced a lot on a personal and professional level and I feel that that we do not often talk about or understand it enough.
Besides the odd commentaries and opinions before that, I initially heard about 'bipolar disorder' during my psychotherapy training among other clinical diagnosis of mental health illnesses. There are these lists that psychiatric associations and institutions have created with symptoms and criteria for diagnosis. If a person fits the majority or all the criteria, then they were given the 'label': 'bipolar' or formerly 'manic-depressive'. This diagnosis in very basic terms describes a person with extreme consecutive 'high' and 'low' mood episodes.
The 'high' mood can include an very elevated and happy state where the person can spend lots of money unnecessarily, gamble, take drugs, break up important relationships and, generally, exhibit behaviours that do not belong to its 'normal' self. In the 'low' mood the person falls into severe depression with feelings of helplessness, shame and guilt suffering the consequences from the actions during the 'high' mood.
Does any of these traits sound familiar?
I have always been suspicious with diagnosis mainly because they are focusing on symptoms, criteria and 'problematic' behaviours rather than the causes of these behaviours and more importantly with the solutions to change them.
With the years and by seeing extreme cases of people who were putting their lives in danger, I came to appreciate the contribution of psychiatry and medicine to the management of severe forms of mental health illnesses.
I have seen people become more stable when their are on medication for bipolar disorder (mainly mood stabilisers) maybe partially because they feel they are doing something about it. The angle that I am coming from in the matter has more to do with the psychology and the formation of the behaviour and how, ultimately, a person can have a more stable and fulfilling life.
Imagine that you have in front of you a young child that pride is an important value for him or her. He wants to be good at school and wants to be naughty too. He is smart and does not like when he is being told off as he takes it really at heart, especially when he has taken the blame for something that he has not done. He is very sensitive to other people's feelings and tends to put his feelings second in order no to cause friction and unpleasant behaviours to the people he loves.
Imagine now that this child is growing up in a family where there is a little bit of chaos (like there is another way for a family to be!). Mother and father are often fighting, they are giving mixed messages to the children of what is good or bad and what is expected of them or not, without giving any explanations, there is no justice in the family system and people are being blamed in the wrong, there is no sufficient and firm guidance on principles of life such as freedom, responsibility, emotional recognition and expression, clarity of roles, accepted behaviours, love and so on.
It feels like the list of dysfunctional behaviours could be endless, but you get the gist of it.
I am aware that many parents are going to think now: '...but I did my best, how could I know that my child felt confused or is going to have some serious bipolar traits? Do you know how difficult it was for me to grow up in my family environment and also create my own family?
Of course the parent has her/his own experience and take on on their parenting skills. It is not about blaming here, but understanding. The fact that someone felt neglected, hurt and did not receive what he needed as a child does not mean that he can not do the same to his own children, if he is not conscious of the impact of his actions.
When a child with the above background and personality traits becomes an adult we can imagine that their life will be a bit confusing. They might not know who they are serving, really, themselves or someone else? They will not probably know how to access support and guidance from their environment as they do not know that a supportive and stable environment is possible for them. They might not have the confidence in making decisions and forming relationships that are going to survive difficult feelings that are caused by disagreement or fights.
When a child is receiving conflicting messages from their environment- like any person would do- they are finding ways to close the gap and control the tension they are feeling by creating a 'story', like that 'it was my fault', 'they do not care about me' etc, by taking one side of the conflict neglecting the other or by not trusting the environment all together for guidance and support. That leaves them feeling vulnerable in their lives as not only they have learned that there is no one trustworthy to go to, but, also, by internalising the aforementioned dynamics, they are not able to trust themselves!
It is not by accident that certain people develop certain illnesses, both physical and mental, and other people different ones. Or to say it better, every mental illness, every behaviour we adopt, every strategy we use to react to life is our own unique way to respond to our life experiences.
In the example above the person has not dealt with and, thus, has not learned how to deal with difficult situations and the associated feelings, including standing up for themselves despite the cost. It is more likely that they will either 'fall under them' or 'rise above them' those feelings as a coping mechanism to deal with the conflicting (both internal & external) demands. Here they are, the 'high' and 'low' moods.
Imagine you are about to climb a mountain; you have not done it before and, normally, you might feel scared and, simultaneously, excited as that would be something new. If you start climbing and things are more challenging than you thought they would be, then what would you do?
A possible adult (mature) reaction would be to feel sad that you did not fulfil your desire, but you would still praise yourself for the effort you put in and maybe encourage her to give it another go in the future. Another person might give up blaming themselves for being a coward because they did not try enough etc. or they might continue climbing by losing connection with their fear, terror, fatigue and helplessness resulting in over estimating their abilities and possibly ending up in harming themselves.
This is in very generic terms the dipole between 'over-achieving' and 'under pressure'. In fact many high achieving, successful professionals are functional, diagnosed or non diagnosed bipolar who have frozen their feelings and feel only alive when they achieve; anything else is a hated failure from which they will ran away at all costs.
Working with people in deep, soul level can be challenging by itself at times. Working, though, with someone who presents with strong bipolar traits can be even more challenging as it can feel like there is no ground, there is either flying or being underground; there is no stability, no hope, not something to rely on and ground oneself in.
However frightening or difficult this may be, it is ultimately the reality that all of us live in to some extent.
Nothing really is set in stone. Relationships end, jobs are changing, the world is changing and this can be more challenging for some people than others. People who are overly attached to stability or they have never experienced it as such, they will tend to suffer more. We all need a level of stability in order to build our lives upon, but if we place too much emphasis on stability and ask for it in places (or people) that can not provide it, then this can become a problem.
The biggest challenge for people is to realise that ultimately the answers (and the support) lie mainly within us, if we 'dig' deep enough in our hearts and existence.
There are a few factors that work as lighthouses for me when it comes to extreme states of being in general, not just bipolar.
Follow one's own truth
My antidote or better the path that my soul chose to follow is the one of honesty, freedom and grounding. It is only when we find our own voice, our own truth, our own power in every situation that we can feel at home and relax. For some people that requires training as they may not be used to trusting and give credits to their voice of truth. There is great bravery and risk when one stands by their truth and needs while the possible costs are painful and, yet, less important than the gains. Sometimes the voice itself might sound confused and unclear and that is ok: decisions often bring conflicting options and feelings with them. Staying with the conflict will help clarifying your values, what is really important for you. When that clarity comes, then be prepared to withstand they break down of your old life and to move mountains.
Make your voice heard
Often we feel that we have to deal with challenging situations by ourselves and we retreat in our caves. Sharing our struggles can help in two ways, firstly, by feeling heard as we listen ourselves describing our challenges and, secondly, by receiving a piece of advice, information or something from someone else who is more distant and possibly more objective than us.
Unconditional love and self care
Mania and depression are both harsh states. There is a situation, a demand, a need that is so difficult for the person that he will have to move away from his centre (if he even got to know where that is) to the tortures of hell or the skies of heaven, where he feels untouchable. In both cases there is very little love, there is just survival from one state to the other, from one situation to another, going through the motions like watching a film without understanding it or participating in any way.
What if we try to spread some love in every step of that journey?
I am aware that this is easier said than being done, especially for people who have lived the majority of their lives feeling that there is something wrong with them or that they have always done something wrong to be blamed for.
Train ourselves moment to moment, day to day, week to week that we are enough, we are doing our best at all times, we are loved at every single moment without any 'buts'. We are unconditionally loved full stop, for no reason, just for being, just for who we are in our totality.
I am fully aware that for some people that might sound gibberish but is actually true. It is when we lose contact with that truth that we harshly judge ourselves and accuse them for everything that goes 'wrong', even if it is not our fault and beyond our control.
Are you aware of the effort and training that is required for an athlete to become champion?
That is the commitment and the effort we need to show in a continual basis for self care and self love. They are not given, for granted, they are actions towards ourselves every single day!
Early life experiences both pleasant and difficult shape who we have become, how we interact with the world and how we create our lives. Getting to know oneself is the first step of changing what is dysfunctional within us and holds as back.
They have formed our lives so far, lets not allow them to shape our future too...
No doubt, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years of the last decades for the whole globe.
Our global health has been jeopardised, the 'normality' of our lives has been interrupted, we experience restrictions in our freedoms of being, we see many people dying and many others becoming seriously ill, many people are losing their jobs or they are forced to make different work choices, we can not hug and touch our loved ones and so on.
For some this epidemic is just something that happens every so often in humanity as we constantly live among viruses. For some others this is part of a global plan to manipulate the masses. For others, this is the consequence of humanity's arrogance who went to places that are proven threatening to its existence.
Each one of us can give our personal explanation and meaning on the reasons why the pandemic happened and what impact its appearance and implications had on one's self.
My intention here to set a framework, a context, a spiritual perspective in what I perceive has happened this past year and continues to unfolds in front of our eyes.
Many people who are interested in the evolution of human spirit (including myself) have observed for some time now that humanity seems to be going into a new phase. Some people call it the 'era of Aquarius' with its own new characteristics.
I have extensively written in previous articles on how human spirit progressed from simple to more complex ways of being.
For more than a century now humanity has gradually, but steadily, developed great mastery of anything material. We can change the climate of our homes, we created sophisticated tools and intelligent machines, we can even cure diseases that previously were death sentence. All these are proofs of our immense intelligence. Building on each other's knowledge and experience we continuously improve and develop our lives further and further. For this we deserve collectively to feel proud, happy and grateful.
We have grown beyond survival; we have become a creature of innovation, of constant growth and adaptation; we have become to some extent the masters of earth!
That is all so great, our father is very proud of us, but if we zoom out of this frame we will see that the frame is about anything material: our bodies, our houses, our environment.
What about our other levels of existence?
We also have thoughts, feelings and spiritual aspirations.
When we see a mountain we can think: 'oh great, what a wonderful challenge to cut its trees and use them as paper or create a hole through it, so a road can pass through to shorten our journey to its other side'. We can also think: 'what a beautiful shape of earth, what a marvellous source of oxygen for our health, what a wise, full of life cohabitant!'
They are both thoughts who in turn provoke sentiments and feelings within us based on our values (spirit).
In the first set of thoughts, the materialistic, our value is mainly... ourselves. How our lives are going to become better and easier, what are you going to gain from one thing or another, how useful is something or someone to us and so on. You might start seeing now how egotistical and self centred such approach can be.
The 'all about me' mindset not only focuses on the personal gains of an interaction, but it barely sees 'the other' as a separate , autonomous, self defined being. In the twists of this mindset we can find the seed of hurtful actions against another being. 'If the other person does not exist separate from me, then I can do whatever I want to him without feeling any pain or guilt' a criminal might subconsciously think.
When the other becomes 'less than' us, then we can do to her whatever we want, can use her, let her die, give her less resources to live a happy and fulfilling life because she might be a threat to us and our special culture.
The second trail of thoughts (with subsequent feelings attached to them) is based on the value of beauty, respect, wholeness, equality, unity and peace. The subject who thinks those thoughts somehow comprehends that lives with and due to the existence of everything else around him. A plant, an insect, an animal, another person even a virus, are all creations of divine nature and deserve to live and be respected the same as everything else. There is no arrogance in nature. Carnivore animals kill other animals to eat and survive, not to make clothes and accessories.
I do not assign any moral judgments to the above. Morality, after all, is another human construct that takes the form and shape that we give to it.
My personal morality these days instructs me to accept whatever happens within and around me as a purposeful event driven by values and to live by my own values and truth.
Ego and Thy Self
For those of you who know me (either in person or through my writings), you know that I am nowadays not a person of separation but of unity. Is one thing to believe only in one side of the coin and another to make the effort to understand both sides and then decide the one that feels right and true to you right now.
I do have a strong sense and feeling for what is happening and I only want to communicate this with you. What are you going to do with this information is completely your personal matter.
I feel we are evolving like we have done so many times in the past centuries. For those who believe in past lives, you most probably have experienced another shift in consciousness sometime in the past; of course, not the same one as every time we truly integrate a lesson we move to the next one.
In every evolutionary (and change) process there is a pull from behind, from the known and safe state that we used to be and a push to the new, unknown, scary and exciting at the same time that 'calls' us forward. It is like as we were growing physically up and our clothes do not fit us anymore. We can pretend that we can still wear our favourite jumper and yet the reality is that it is too small for us now and we have to let it go...
Something similar happens with the collective and our personal egos now. It was/is part of our evolutionary journey to go through out material phase, where all material goods, including the food we eat, adopted the majority of the meaning of our lives. They became our happiness and misery, our joy and sadness, our excitement and depression, our hope and desperation, our memories and void, our identity.
Of course, they failed us, or better, our plan (the extended use of them) failed.
It is one thing to do a job that we enjoy doing and we feel it contributes to the benefit of the society we live in and it is another thing to live in order to work and accumulate wealth which we do not have time to enjoy and, in the end, we are going to leave behind when we leave this world.
It is one thing to enjoy the rejuvenating and refreshing effect of the sea on our holiday and another to use and through our plastics into the sea being indifferent on their effect on her.
No matter how many times and sizes we are going to buy the same jumper in, there will be a moment for us to admit that yes, it gives us joy to have it, and ultimately our joy is something different, bigger and wider.
I am sorry, but I can not name that for you...
You have to search deep in your heart to find it. You have to really sit in silence and ask your true self: 'what really gives me joy?', 'what excites me and makes my heart move?', 'is there something that I can offer to the world?'.
The ego will always try to give an answer that will fill this void, this is its job, to not leave logical gaps to our understanding of the world, otherwise the world is madness. Ego functions through identification with thoughts, feelings, values: 'I am, therefore...'. etc.
What if there is a bigger truth of us, a truth that knows when we eat because we are hungry and/or because we are sad, when we buy something because we need it and/or because we are missing a hug, when we say something that we mean to say and/or we say it because it is the 'right' thing to say, when we do something because we really want to and/or because 'that is who we are'.
For me it is clear that we are entering a new era which calls for integration and balance.
We are moving into a 'wireless', 'paperless' and remote working period, lets be mindful that it will not become emotionless, lifeless and isolating period.
Life is a process of becoming who we truly are, who we are already with our flaws, our gifts and our values...
Happy New Year, happy new you!
Here we are again in the second lockdown in many countries. Here is to another strict measure to deal with the consequences of the epidemic of coronavirus.
On some level it feels like reexperiencing trauma. We had made our efforts globally to the best of our abilities (and decisions) and here we are again, in almost the same place. What did actually happen? Some prognosis say that epidemics remain for at least three, four years until they become manageable for the large population. Continuing the lockdown does not quite feel a viable option.
I do not intend to make an analysis of the epidemic as we are already overwhelmed with analysis from scientists, politicians and so on.
I always return to the knowledge I acquired from the university studying various theories of communication. At the centre of an enormous field of knowledge I learned that everything a person does is one way or another political. From the goods we are buying, to the types or relationships we form, our vote and so on. Politics is, basically, everything we do in order to accomplish something. Right after our political actions comes the communication of our actions. Some actions may 'speak for themselves' and others need some sort of 'translation'. Why someone said something and what was their goal of saying it?
Lets not fool ourselves anymore, there is meaning in everything we do and say. We might say something to express ourselves and/or to provoke a certain reaction from another. It completely changes level when we are talking about the decisions concerning the entire population of a country.
My sense is that the majority of people in the countries having a second lockdown is experiencing mixed feelings about it. There might be anger towards the virus, politicians and anyone responsible for the why we are back here in this restriction, there might be sadness, powerlessness, disappointment, even a sense of giving up of any effort to feel optimistic or maintain one's good mental health.
Indeed, there are so many unknown variables in this equation that it is hard to maintain a stable and positive appearance. Many people have lost their jobs, others had their income substantially reduced, others are dealing with uncertainty in their lives including the breaking down of their relationships, others have actually lost someone during that period etc. It is fair to say that, even though, we all live the same thing, we are experiencing it in a very different and personal way.
During this second confinement, besides the external consequences, we are probably, also, dealing with internal processes and challenges, for example, feeling lonely, overwhelmed, in pain due to trauma triggered and so on. Unfortunately, I do not have any magical solution to offer you to feel better. It is a new situation to all of us and we are all dealing with it in a way that feels right to us.
What I do have, though, is some conclusions of my own and some suggestions as a professional with some experience working in mental health.
1. Let it be & let it go
Some people might say 'what are you talking about? this is our lives?'. I do not mean let go of your life, quite the opposite. I mean let go of the idea you have about your life and start living it as it is right now! I, also, mean let all your feelings be present and not judge them. They are all valid, even if they feel overwhelming and is hard to understand them. Give them air and space, write them down, draw them, sing them, dance them, just do not suppress them. They are not your enemies now or ever, they are your friends who are informing you of what are you experiencing right now.
We all have aspirations, plans, things we have planned and were looking forward to be doing. Change is inevitable in life, so let your system (your body, your feelings, your mind) to accept, process and adjust to this change, do not force it. The whole nature is going through a dying and rebirthing process every single year through the seasons and notice how smoothly it adjusts to it.
It is, also, like breaking your leg, you need time to operate, heal and recover. You can not just start walking again, you need to let your body heal itself and help it with prescribed exercises to become stronger day by day. If you rush it, you might cause further damage and it may not heal properly leaving you the promise of future problems.
2. Sit with it
This is a very common phrase that psychotherapists use a lot to signify the way to deeply integrate a situation. Remember that events are just events, neither positive or negative. It is our own lens and perspective that makes them significant and meaningful or not. Of course, we would feel angry as we are being denied our freedom, our health is potentially under threat, our life is being placed on hold or turned into an unknown route and so on. It is absolutely valid and undeniable.
Another thing that the situation calls us to sit with, I feel, is the issue of power and responsibility. There have been a lot of discussions around 'personal responsibility' towards oneself and others during the epidemic. How about sit with yourselves with some calm music and lit candle and ask them: 'what are you responsible and not responsible for what is happening?', 'what is that you can and can not do to protect yourself and your vulnerable elder neighbour?', 'what is it you can do to contribute to the decision making process that concern your lives on a local and national level?', 'is there anything you can do to make your feelings, voice and concerns heard by your people and the people around you?', 'how do you personally assess the results of the choices that you, others and politicians make as political actions to deal effectively with the situation?'
As always, processes like these can be hard for one person to do alone without some sort of guidance and, yet, I would encourage anyone who is not comfortable with the situation to actually start a process like this, where the only goal would be to listen to themselves. Especially now that we all have more time and space to do something like that. You can view it as a mini retreat time in your own house.
I was, initially, surprised at the first lockdown how many people decided to leave their jobs in the midst of all the uncertainty, because it did not feel right for them anymore. Sitting with something that 'bothers' you can be proven very productive as it might lead to solutions that you would have not easily thought before.
Inevitably, another major area that is being affected again from the lockdown is our relationships. Being single or with a partner, living alone or with someone else, the confinement forces us to see ourselves and the other more closely as the space around us becomes smaller. It is no surprise that many relationships were tested in the first lockdown and they did not survive it and some others were either formed or became much stronger.
In all cases, what might be helpful is honesty and courage to open up. We often lock ourselves behind roles, certain expectations and demands, that we forget what is really important to us. Our primary relationship, at least as adults, is with ourselves. If we have lost touch with our feelings and who we are, then, nobody can really bridge that gap for us. They can help us temporarily, for example, to not feel alone and, yet, we know that this is not a permanent solution.
Let yourselves, then, have a better chat with yourselves; organise a good catch up, be curious of where have you been, how was that, was there anything missing? Do that with people that interest you, your family, friends, partner, look at them in the eyes and enquire for a deeper and more sincere truth. You may be surprised to discover in that process how much you did not know, how many colours of yours and others' rainbows you have been missing, in how many ways you can really contact someone.
I feel I can write endlessly about the importance of making the best out of every situation.
From a consciousness perspective, that regards everything as a necessary part of the whole, there is no 'enemy' virus or, better, the virus is both an enemy (of our health) and a friend that can show us new things about ourselves and the world.
Being with whatever exists is a political act of love. It can lead you to show more love to yourself, to take new directions, to be kinder to your neighbours, to care about your surroundings, to become a more involved and evolved human being.
As always, the choice (and personal responsibility) is always yours...