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...
It has been a while since I last wrote and that is because every so often I need to 'sit with' what is happening and not do or say something. The current epidemic and its consequences had a domino impact on many levels for all of us.
In this article, I wanted to discuss a bit more something that has always been present in my writings but, maybe, in not such an explicit way: the constant transition of oneself.
Most of the times we consider ourselves as that fixed entity that moves from one thing to another. Perfectly understandable as we live under that physical, emotional and mental skin all the time. The way that each one of us knows we are present in space and time, is by experiencing at any given moment how our bodies function and feel, what are our feelings, what are we thinking and what is it that we want- a need, a drive and a quest-. This experience is unique for each one of us every moment and we can only describe or even consciously understand ourselves some part of it.
Contemplate for a moment that right now you are reading this, your body continues doing all its internal processes, you might be drinking or eating something at the same time, you are hearing noises inside and outside of the room that you are in, you are experiencing certain feelings and having certain thoughts. The complexity of our presence is really a wonder!
As this wonder is not enough, it is also continuously changing. The very next moment we are feeling something different, we are thinking another thought, we are engaged with something else and altogether having a different experience. How could we still be the same 'person' that experiences all these?
Are we not being influenced, touched and affected by the smile of another person, their touch, the view from our house, the noise from the street, the internal demands? How, then, can we still be the same person every day?
It is true that in order to make sense of our lives we need a reference point, something that will remain somehow static, still and stable in this 'madness' of constant change inside and around us. Hence, we invented the sense of self, that entity that consists of things that we are and we are not, that we know of ourselves, that we can and can not do, that have formed us and are part of our history. We feel we are that narrative that describes us exactly and, partially, is true because it consists of all the experiences, processes and truths that we have understood to be. It is like being a library that is made of the building, the books and the people who work in it.
Lets entertain for a while the thought that the entity 'library' could also include the books that were ordered and never arrived, the builders that build it, the repairs that were ever done to it, the weather conditions that touched its exterior, the people that ever visited the library, the sentiments that the people left by being there, the missing books that were never returned to it and so on. That makes the library a much 'bigger' entity that consists of so many more processes and material than our initial perception of it.
That is also what is happening to us. Like caterpillar that turns into chrysalis and then into a butterfly, we have the ability to change. In fact our bodies change without even asking us, destroying and creating new cells every day. For other animals contemplating a change, like the one of caterpillars, for themselves is probably considered impossible. Somehow, though, the caterpillars in their evolutionary journey they managed to imagine themselves differently, they created and followed a different narrative of that that they can not fly and they managed to transform into a being that can fly, even if that meant that they will live only up to few months more.
Imagine the fragility of the transition from a body walking onto the earth into a being creating (beautiful) wings to fly. It stays there from days to months semi-protected, vulnerable to weather conditions and external threats. Yet, this is its journey, this is the journey that completes and fulfils its existence, this is its destiny!
I find this a very powerful and important symbolism of the human evolutionary journey. We, too, have evolved from other species. It is absolutely miraculous, if one really contemplates the amount of achievements humanity has achieved. From rough, egotistical, language less survivors, we became the creators of societies and civilisations, religions and laws all driven by a desire for something. That desire or desires, whatever they were, made us commit to and pursue our expansion further and further.
It is really wonderous to realise that we have been driving a ship with such eager without knowing exactly
where it is going!
What is really driving us? What are we truly devoted to?
They both feel very important questions right now, which they need to be answered on a personal and collective level. We are triumphants of the earth, we came, we evolved, we conquered, we managed to survive and thrive on it. What is it that we want to do now? Destroy it and, along with it, our lives?
The creation of political and financial systems helped us for many centuries to put things in order, to organise our library and make it function as smoothly and productively as it could. It feels like they have taken a life of their own now. People have identify so much with what these systems mean to them, that they are so resistant to change. The same happens in several systems such as family, companies, societies.
It is like the employees of the library have taken it over and keep piling up books considering them to be the most important good in the world and the library gets so full that no one can visit it anymore, gets dirty and so many things are breaking down.
What is, really, the point of having so many poems, when we can not read and appreciate any?
What is the point of creating music and sound, when we can not sing our own songs to one another?
What will it take until we realise that caterpillars become butterflies because they survive better and prettier and not necessarily for longest?
The answers are always personal...
The content of this article has been building slowly lately and owes its composition to various sources of observation as well as personal experiences as always. My intention is to share various thoughts and reflections that may encounter some of your own.
Most of the world is still numb from Covid-19 and perhaps anxious about what might come next. On the one hand, we want to continue to live 'normally', to do what we like, to make money, to somehow plan the future and, on the other hand, many of the givens that existed to allow us the above have now been disturbed.
I notice quite a lot of the economic consequences of the measures against the virus in various touristic professions in Greece, which made me once again realize how interdependent we are globally. The economy and the choices of the English and Americans, for example, affect quite directly the small population of an island in Greece waiting for the exchange of money-services/goods in order to make some money to survive.
Similarly, the Americans, the English etc need Greece to buy some of their goods.
So we are almost all globally connected under the rules of a capitalist system which tells us how to produce, manage and exchange resources, goods and services within a society and among countries.
This whole system of rules and relationships (capitalism) ensures to some extent the preservation and smooth functioning of our lives since, within this system, our purpose is to find money to be able to buy what we need to survive and to have access to what we want to do. In essence we are talking about a mechanistic model of life where everything, including people, is subject to one price, has a measurable value determined by someone based on production costs, competition, internal and external market climate etc-economists can explain them better than me-.
At the same time, this specific system of organizing our lives regards everything potentially as a commodity and man as a consumer. So in order for consumers to continue eating meat, building luxury homes and having exotic experiences, they must turn their resources into commodities at whatever cost, including the destruction of entire ecosystems.
That is, we bring everything that is available in our measures to use it as we think best. Most often this way of living signifies a self-referential situation where we identify our joy almost exclusively with material goods and as a result many of our relationships are structured and signified based on this purpose. We have fewer friends now and more followers who like and 'consume', like us,' staged ' photos, advertised products and our idyllic moments through social media.
We live in a time when we discover every day how connected we are people, how much we can not live without each other, if we want to live well and not just survive.
The argument for our attachment to matter as the signifier of our life loses its strength. Of course we are in need of food and material goods and we have managed to have them in superabundance, by overusing the resources we have.
A dish of food we can perhaps easily find (if we are lucky of course), but there are other things that seem to be getting harder and harder to find. A hug, the expression of love, the joy of a child when the are being listened to and understood, inner calmness and satisfaction and other such have no specific value. They belong to the category of non materialistic needs that turn out to be so difficult and frightening for people to fulfil because they bring him face to face with the depth of his being.
Depth that can neither be measured, nor specific value can be given to it. It is our infinity and eternity, it is what we are in our essence, it is what we forget when we dive into the hole of the finite and are caught by it, by the body and the senses, by material satisfaction as if what we feel belongs to things and not to us.
Well, they belong to us and we can direct them wherever we want. Our happiness was associated with other things in our 20s and most likely with others in our 30s and so on. The feeling of joy that we experience, the very thing that we interpret as the reason to feel joy or not with something, is in us and does not belong to any material good or service in themselves, it is made out of the focus and importance that we give to things.
While observing, I see more and more people being 'hungry' despite of them working and acquiring many material goods (most of the time useless). They are still 'hungry' for something else, for a' real ' moment, a close contact, a reassuring conversation, a selfless embrace, a little inner satisfaction and tranquillity.
We live in a time when the truth begins to manifest itself more easily. We don't have many places left to hide anymore and to keep lying to ourselves.
Scandals, frauds, suspicious intentions and lies are more easily revealed because the light travels more forcefully and reveals things. A lot of the things that used to make sense like someone's meaning of work are now like being put under the microscope and their importance is being reviewed. The same is true of institutions such as religion, states, organizations, which to a large extent fail to include all aspects of human nature and potential and, therefore, become less important to people.
At the same time, we cannot continue to 'hide' behind matter, because its obsessive and thoughtless use to satisfy deeper needs has failed us, while displaying cataclysmic consequences in our climate and environment, such as global warming.
The role of the consumer has helped us for decades to turn our attention and form our relationships into a productive way. It has served us in a way more to produce and spend than to wage wars on moral and religious grounds. Greed and power addiction, though, ,like the joy I mentioned above, as motives of action belong also to human nature and are activated as an occasion and not as a cause by any material goods.
I wonder if it's time for people to discover other 'roles' they can play in the 'game' of life. Is it time for him to begin to recognise his ambiguities? That we are at the same time immaterial and material beings living in a finite planetary environment, that we are what we like and what we do not like about ourselves, that we are with others and also alone, that we are independent and also dependent on others, that we are free and at the same time not free at all.
I feel like the presence of the virus is calling us to rethink a lot of our givens. It's like chess that the other player has made his move (spread the virus) and expects us to make ours. It is no coincidence that during the quarantine and right after there was an increase in cases of spousal violence, suicides and the number of diagnoses of mental illness. It is logical that when any normality in a person's life is disturbed and uncertainty enters then there is insecurity, anxiety and a kind of trauma or crack about whether and where one can rely on.
It is worth mentioning two examples of this (of course they are not the only ones).
One is about gay people and the other about heterosexual couples. A gay person grows by definition (at least in more conservative countries such as Greece) in a system that is not at all friendly to diversity and to a large extent internalises the constant rejection with which he/she is constantly confronted. He/She will be very lucky if while growing up he finds a person to tell him/her that it's OK to be who they are, something that a straight person does not have to experience in their lives for something that is an inherent part of oneself, sexuality. This internalised (perceived or real) rejection becomes later hay people's lifestyle that they then reproduce in their relationships and contacts with other gay people as a familiar way of being and self-protection. Fortunately all these learned behaviours can change when one works on their self-awareness and personal development.
In heterosexual couples we often refer to the violence that a man exerts on a woman as traditionally the physically strongest one that to a certain degree happens and needs to be addressed. At the same time, however, we are talking much less about the behaviours that a woman often adopts to deal with a male-dominated society. This behaviour presents characteristics of manipulation and emotional 'violence' where they try, many times and unconsciously, to restore a certain equality in a relationship using their feelings and whatever effects they may have.
An adult, healthy relationship regardless of gender and roles has the characteristics of mutual respect, equality, honesty, appreciation and love in all parts of one person and the other.
Why is it so hard to be honest with ourselves and with others?
Do the roles we have adopted both individually and collectively in our relationships keep us bound to specific behaviours and patterns;
Is it time to honestly and courageously reconsider the responsibility we have as beings for all our choices and respectively to who we trust (including governments, institutions and organisations)?
We humans can do the 'worst' and the 'best', we can destroy but also save, we can condemn but also deliver. I speak not only of everything material and external, but mainly of our souls themselves; the rest are mere expressions of them.
Will we continue to live in the 'security' and the illusions of any role we play or will we dare to create and claim those conditions for calmer and complete souls and consequently happy lives?
It has been a while since I last wrote as there are so many changes taking place on all levels. As always this article is a combination of my own experiences and observations of the experiences of other people.
We are in the midst of a big collective change. It is fair to say that they current structure of affairs is crumbling, like an earthquake had just happened and everyone assesses what has collapsed and what is still there.
There are so many analysis published that to write another one would be simple an excess.
My intention here is to share some clarifying thoughts and some- hopefully- helpful messages as possibilities to navigate your way through the situation.
When I talk about structures I mean all those components that we use to build our lives upon. Some of these components that stood out for me I will discuss here. I am, mainly, looking at it in the context of the western world and I am sure there are traces of these in other parts of the world too as they are universal components.
The issue of Truth: Whilst before there seemed to be some 'political correctness', some rules on how we were doing and saying things, now it seems that we can not 'hold it' anymore, we can not hide our truth, we can not pretend otherwise, our truth is burning inside and we will feel unwell if we do not speak it or find a way to show it. Of course, that may cause friction as people may not like our truth, they might disagree or they might find it hurtful.
Does this mean that we have to hide back to our caves or 'swallow' things? No, our truth is important, it is associated with the fifth chakra, the throat chakra, and concerns our expression, our voice, our freedom of speech and creativity. Expressing one's truth is vital for one's physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health as it allows the flow of energy from the higher to the lower chakras and vice versa. People often say: 'I know this, I dont think I have to show it or say it'. Usually what they mean is that they know it intellectually and they are afraid of the consequences if they say it or express it. Otherwise, they would say that they normally say it and I choose in this situation not to for their own reasons.
It is true that speaking one's own mind (and heart) might feel quite exposing and difficult, especially when it entails admitting vulnerability such as helplessness and fear. It is like showing one's physical, emotional, mental and spiritual naked bodies. Speaking one's truth might also trigger another to feel that way. What we can do is to be mindful of our own and other people's feelings. Some people are more trained and skilled than other in doing this and we can all do it!
Check with yourselves what you need when you speak your truth: do you need respect? be listened to? not to feel judged? love? support? acknowledgement? Can you or someone else offer these things to you during or sooner after? It is like when we have fever and we feel weak, we need to be looked after by ourselves or someone else in a way that makes us feels better and more comfortable, even though the situation we are in might not feel easy.
Check, also, how the other might feel when you speak your truth. If for example, you are angry with them for not giving you what you want, they might feel incompetent as they might not know how to do it, so they might feel vulnerable and close down perceiving your truth as hurtful and threatening. If they do not have the courage to speak their truth, then you might get caught up in a defensive fight between the two of you that no one will really listen to the other. Remember there is no One truth. You have got your own and the other has got their own. An adult speaks their truth respecting another's point of view, even if it is the opposite or difficult to hear as it may not be the expected one. Try to negotiate your wants or be honest when there is no room for negotiation anymore! In the long term it might be better to live in truth rather than in lies.
Taking into consideration the other person's truth might show you something you did not know about them or might increase your empathy and love towards them. After all, no one is perfect and a 'superior' position might leave you feeling lonely.
The issue of Trust: In these changing times we are living, it is normal to experience intense fear and insecurity. When changes are happening, something is dying and something else is being born and we might not know how it will look like or how we will end up in this new structure. It is absolutely normal to feel that way. Our bodies every single moment communicate with the brain giving it information on where it is in space so it will not hit a wall etc. Your mind is doing the same, it needs security in order to imagine and create a safe and stable life and if it can not find it around, then it gets 'hyper', overworking to find a solution, or 'hypo', admitting helplessness and powerlessness to find one.
The truth (mine at least) is that none of these positions, 'hyper' or 'hypo', are absolute positions. For example, you might experience difficulties at your work, feeling helpless having to wait for more news on your job progression and, at the same time, you might feel all mighty in your relationship experiencing love, intimacy and joy with your partner.
Oh yes, human body, mind and soul can tolerate two opposites at the same time. They are actually made of all these opposites in a similar way that potentially harmful bacteria coexist on our skin, the magic dance of 'good' and 'bad' of existence. When I had just buried my beloved grandfather, I could also feel the love from the rest of my family who were right next to me.
Change brings loss and when we experience loss of anything, it is a small death. We need to say goodbye to what is leaving us (or what we are leaving) behind, we need to grieve, we need to feel and stay with the void that the loss lives in our lives. It is not easy, it is painful, scary, terrifying, lonely and, yet, is real. When we are in touch with what is real within us, then this becomes our anchor, we can relax into it and continue breathing regardless how painful it may be. For this anchor never suffocates us, the opposite, it allows us the space to be freely. What suffocates us is any demand that asks us to feel something different from what we feel or behave in a way that is simply not us.
Trusting oneself means exactly trusting what we feel, what we think, what we do as valid. When we acknowledge all these, then they become information, they tell us what is happening for us, similar to the location of the body example above and when our bodies ache informing us that that part needs our attention. Most of the times, if not all, physical pains are manifestations of neglected 'pains' or parts of us in our emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. In psychotherapy we can often have whole conversations with aching parts of one's body in order to identify the source of that pain and consequently attempt its relief.
Knowing and trusting oneself, also, means knowing (or getting to know as a lifelong journey) and trusting one's own strengths and limitations. Despite of how super-human we want to act, we are actual just humans in all our physicality and limitations. Think of your limitations as your boundaries which say 'I am this and I am not this'. When we acknowledge our boundaries, then we can separate what is within and without our sphere of control. For example, we were not responsible for the breakout of the coronavirus and yet we are responsible of protecting ourselves and also, critisize the measures that the governments took for it. There are things constantly within and without our control and by knowing and trusting ourselves, we can build our confidence to exercise our power where we want.
Completely surrendering our trust to any source of power, including religions, governments, institutions etc is also a sign of mistrust on ourselves as we also surrender our power to them to make decisions on our behalf, which in the end can be harmful to us or not in alignment with what we see as our best interest.
The issue of Love: I feel I have written a lot about love and yet is one of these things that it is infinite to explore. In this context I am referring to love as anything that we you care about. I have a strong feeling that this will be a theme for humanity for a while from now on. The brutal murder of George Floyd in the US has brought up to the surface again all the emotions (pain, suffering, anger, grief and others) and memories that a colourful part of humanity is still suffering today. For some people love means all people to be alive, free, equal, respected and well. For some other people love means mainly love towards their family, their race, their sexuality, their colour considering other people of different characteristics as somewhat 'less'.
Certainly, I can not find any reason to justify (make it just) the action and yet I think is important to understand it. The 'enemy' that the policeman saw in George Floyd had most likely nothing to do with George himself; it was probably the accumulated beliefs and emotions that the policeman have been forming and carrying for what someone like George Floyd meant to him. Perceived threats could be any men, women, homosexual, transexual, immigrants and so on who do not fit the norm, who are not the same as the prevalent outlook.
My understanding is that the people who use violence towards another human being, they do it because they love something else more than that being, be that their 'normality', 'superiority', 'rights', 'safety' etc. at the expense of the person that they are harming. We can punish individually and collectively in any way we want those people and, yet, we might not succeed in somehow teach them that love can include all opposites, all differences, anything that is not like us.
In nature animals kill each other mainly out of their necessity to eat. Maybe it is time to realize that we have evolved from just being in that state of mind. It does not mean that we have stopped being animals with raw instincts (the evolutionary brain parts are still in our heads for our survival!), it just means that we can consciously choose not to be in that state of mind and build a world based on truth, trust and love!
For centuries now we have been living our lives collectively considering the prevalent behaviours, beliefs and characteristics as 'normal' and anything that does not resemble them as 'abnormal' with lots of suffering for the latter. We have been critisizing men as weak and soft, women as sensitive and provocative, gays as natural mistakes, people of colour and immigrants as dangerous. This is the normality speaking that may never dared to be different and unique and yet it was 'strong' enough to hurt the 'non normal' in so many subtle ways.
In Greece (similar to other parts of the world) this is still quite strong as less 'normal'people are not being seen for who they are but through their differences to the prevalent life style.
I would suggest to anyone who reads this, ask yourselves: what do you love about your life? What is important to you right now? Write your answers down. Spend some time with them, contemplate your answers. This is your life we are talking about after all!
If you want to go deeper, stay a bit in silence and ask yourselves: What are you devoted to? What is it that you serve with your life? Love, money, hate, health, status, power, friendship, growth, beauty, wholeness, god, unity, creativity, love and so on? Be honest with yourselves, these are your answers and only you can read this, unless you choose to share them. Giving sincere answers will allow you to ground yourselves, to feel anchored, to honour what is important to you and consciously follow that in your life.
You might feel surprised, it may be hard to pin them down and recognise them, you might have no idea and that is ok.. Allow them to surface, be gentle and kind with yourselves. Your soul is trying to speak to you.
Imagine to solely live and speak from that place, what a joy and it is possible!
Now that we have to somehow reinvent our normality lets be more sincere with ourselves, more generous, more loving, more open minded, more inclusive and whole.
The world the same as our lives, is a reflection of our state of mind.