Category Archives: Personal experiences

Don’t Wallow

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I just read a great article by my favourite author, Donald Miller at his Storyline Blog.

It was about not giving into self-pity, and he gave the example of an Olympic ice skater who knew how to not wallow in his mistakes. You can’t wallow when you’re performing in a competition and make a mistake. You have to pick yourself up quick smart and keep going even when it feels so demoralizing to fall.

This lesson can be applied to life. We’re gonna make mistakes, we’re gonna fail and fall regularly. We’re gonna have cause to to feel self-pity and wallow. But don’t be consumed by it, because it stops you from getting on with what you’re supposed to be doing.

I know when I do something stupid, I can cut myself up about it for ages. This doesn’t help anything at all. So there’s no use wallowing in it and thinking I’m the worst of the worst.

No, I learn my lesson. I made a mistake, I learn from it, and then I move on.

When I don’t move on and I wallow, it cripples me. I beat myself up and I become ineffective because I feel like I’m no good and have nothing to offer. I get consumed by my wallowing thoughts.

There’s no point.

I know.

I’ve done both. I’ve wallowed over a mistake and felt terrible for ages; and I’ve controlled my mind to stop dwelling on it and move on with the lesson I learnt.

I can tell you it took a lot of effort to control my mind because it naturally wanted to wallow, but I was so much better for it when I didn’t give into it. I wasn’t crippled, I wasn’t wasting time worrying when there was nothing I could do, and I could continue on with life and focusing on things that did matter.

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The Therapeutic Alliance: The Essential Ingredient for Psychotherapy

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umbrellas

 I am currently writing on the ‘therapeutic alliance’ – its relation to mindfulness, psychotherapy, understanding, and ‘being listened to…’   What follows is an interesting article that I came across that may interest some of you…

Excerpt:

Have you ever tried to change the way you do something? It could be anything — the way you hold your tennis racket, blow into a flute, meditate — you name it. If so, think about that experience. No matter how motivated you were to change, and no matter how much you knew that it would help your serve, musicality, or sense of inner peace, it can be difficult and scary to change even the smallest thing. In order to change, you have to give up your old way of doing something first and then try the new way. That means that for a while you’re in a free fall — you no longer have your old habit to rely on and you don’t yet have the new one.

The anxiety of trying to change something as complex and entrenched as how you relate to people close to you or manage stress takes the feeling to a whole new level. Yet, that’s just what you do when you enter psychotherapy. Just as you had to put yourself into the hand of your teachers and coaches, in therapy you need to gradually do just that with your therapist to help you through what can be a harrowing adventure. The foundation for therapy is called the therapeutic alliance (1, 2). When it’s there, you know that your therapist is there to help you, no matter how hard the going gets.

The therapeutic alliance might be the most important part of beginning a psychotherapy. In fact, many studies indicate that the therapeutic alliance is the best predictor of treatment outcome (3-5).

See entire article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-l-cabaniss-md/therapeutic-alliance_b_1554007.html

 

WOOLF’S DARKNESS: EMBRACING THE INEXPLICABLE

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Woolf gave us limitlessness, impossible to grasp, urgent to embrace, as fluid as water, as endless as desire, a compass by which to get lost.

“The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think,” Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal on January 18, 1915, when she was almost thirty-three years old and the First World War was beginning to turn into catastrophic slaughter on an unprecedented scale that would continue for years. Belgium was occupied, the continent was at war, many of the European nations were also invading other places around the world, the Panama Canal had just opened, the U.S. economy was in terrible shape, twenty-nine thousand people had just died in an Italian earthquake, Zeppelins were about to attack Great Yarmouth, launching the age of aerial bombing against civilians, and the Germans were just weeks away from using poison gas for the first time on the Western Front. Woolf, however, might have been writing about her own future rather than the world’s…

…Despair is a form of certainty, certainty that the future will be a lot like the present or will decline from it; despair is a confident memory of the future, in Gonzalez’s resonant phrase. Optimism is similarly confident about what will happen. Both are grounds for not acting. Hope can be the knowledge that we don’t have that memory and that reality doesn’t necessarily match our plans; hope like creative ability can come from what the Romantic poet John Keats called Negative Capability.

On a midwinter’s night in 1817, a little over a century before Woolf’s journal entry on darkness, the poet John Keats walked home talking with some friends and as he wrote in a celebrated letter describing that walk, “several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature.… I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”

To read this entire essay, see link: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2014/04/virginia-woolf-darkness-embracing-the-inexplicable.html?utm_source=tny&utm_campaign=generalsocial&utm_medium=tumblr&mbid=social_tumblr

Depression and learning disabilities: Will you ever read anything like it?

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Andrew Solomon

“Stories are the foundation of identity. We forge meaning and build identity.”

Andrew Solomon

I am moving my eyes back and forth as I chase the words of enlightenment in Solomon`s book. Sometimes I glance up, look out the window and stare at moving cars or people. I let my feelings, awakened from a line beautifully crafted, circulate inside. I let the meaning of it touch me, and let the aftershock of new insights and hope explode. I want to inspire. I want to live.

The power of books, and the people writing them, can never be unappreciated. Instead of learning every lesson ourselves, we can let other words touch us by reading and listening to other`s experiences. The last week, I have either let my eyes rest on «The Noonday demon» or listened to “Far From the Tree “. Andrew`s two books feed you with experiences and knowledge from the first to the last page. The first digs deep into Andrew`s personal depressive demons, the other explores learning disabilities and challenging diagnoses like autism, schizophrenia and down`s syndrome.portable

Both books have a plethora of examples fitting the themes like a glove. They both blow life into theory, by letting us feel the people`s pain so we can also feel it. As psychological theories shows, you learn more when emotional. Another thing I like, is that my eyes never bumped into walls of bad writing, you simply float from page to page, only irritated by lack of time to devour everything at the same time (I have wished many times that I`d taken more time to learn to read faster, like I tried for a while).  

In addition to relevant stories from people with different types of problems, he writes about the newest research and even test many of the methods himself. He is not afraid of testing even alternative approaches that hasn`t been researched much. This is done in a balanced way since he manages natural skepticism blended with openness for new experiences at the same time (he liked EMDR).

I`m not sure how much time he`s used on the books, but I do know he`s been travelling all around the world (Bali, Africa, Europe and of course many states in USA) and investigated both medical and theoretical theories by reading and talking with professionals with diverse thoughts. He even tried to talk with America politicians (who sadly had their hand tied). It is clear he has taken the time necessary to write the book, even if he had to stop writing when Mr. depression knocked on the door.

Product Details

Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Solomon, Andrew (Feb 7, 2013)

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Another positive feature of the book, is the compassion towards people with a variety of conditions most of us would automatically turn our backs too. He is honest while describing his thoughts and experiences, and doesn`t try to walk on the water with the work he`s done. He has a down to earth attitude, also when it comes to the description of own shortcomings. He writes he can feel self-absorbed at times, and tries to look own motives in the eye if they walk next to him. Acceptance is mixed with curiosity, and the end-product is two of the best books I`ve read this year. He talks about the magnificent courage of the interviewees, but seldom points to his own. If he mentions it, he talks about how he should have written more.

I must not forget to mention how much knowledge he has managed to fit in between the stories of people who fight every day. He is capable of doing this in a very readable way. The emotions awakened after stories, make it easier to remember the facts.

He presents a cocktail of different treatment options, and is not judgmental if others chooses something different than himself. Once in the book he states that people can use the strategy they want, as long as it helps. This shows more than anything, that he writes (among other reasons) to help others who suffer.

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity  Sounds like a really interesting read, heard him interviewed on the CBC.

What touches me the most is his own insight about why he writes; Because it gives hope. He chose the stories of people who impressed him, which doesn`t mean that you won`t see the dark sides of depression or learning disabilities, because you will. It just means that he again uses his ability to balance different views with grace and style. In my opinion, if others find it too positive, this is one of the books qualities. We learn better if we realize that we can do something about it. That`s why they have anti-smoking advice on the cigarette packages. You can`t jump into the water if you don`t know how to swim. I could have written much more, but I`d rather just recommend it, and hope that people with interest in psychology and especially in depression or learning disabilities, will run to the next shop (or amazon internet store) and start their own trip to wonderland. 

A mad world A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever – did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognise it?

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Unfortunate Events

When a psychiatrist meets people at a party and reveals what he or she does for a living, two responses are typical. People either say, ‘I’d better be careful what I say around you,’ and then clam up, or they say, ‘I could talk to you for hours,’ and then launch into a litany of complaints and diagnostic questions, usually about one or another family member, in-law, co-worker, or other acquaintance. It seems that people are quick to acknowledge the ubiquity of those who might benefit from a psychiatrist’s attention, while expressing a deep reluctance ever to seek it out themselves…

…While a continuous view of mental illness probably reflects underlying reality, it inevitably results in grey areas where ‘caseness’ (whether someone does or does not have a mental disorder) must be decided based on judgment calls made by experienced clinicians. In psychiatry, those calls usually depend on whether a patient’s complaints are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. Unlike medical disorders where morbidity is often determined by physical limitations or the threat of impending death, the distress and disruption of social functioning associated with mental illness can be fairly subjective. Even those on the softer, less severe end of the mental illness spectrum can experience considerable suffering and impairment. For example, someone with mild depression might not be on the verge of suicide, but could really be struggling with work due to anxiety and poor concentration. Many people might experience sub-clinical conditions that fall short of the threshold for a mental disorder, but still might benefit from intervention.

See link for interesting article on psychiatry…and bits about the importance of psychotherapeutic intervention…

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/have-psychiatrists-lost-perspective-on-mental-illness/

Mission of life

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“It has always been this way. Death is followed by birth. To reach paradise, man must pass through inferno. – Bertrand Zobrist”

“The decisions of our past are the architects of our present.”

— Dan Brown (Inferno)

Have you ever seen the skies draw apart relieving the image on the other side. It might have looked like some unclear oasis in the desert; Your own hopeful mirror image. Have you ever felt sure on what your mission in life will be? If not, don`t panic. It is not certain that these experiences would be classified under “normal” anyway.I have had some sudden insights in my life, often after waking up in the morning, when my eyes have fluttered from side to side in their world of dreams.

After working with EMDR, insights happen even more frequently
then before, like a thousand blaring lightbulbs. Some people can`t follow
my thoughts and ideas, but we still like and try to understand each other. These people have learnt that I can`t be as rapid as my head, or I`ll confuse people enough to make them dizzy, so I always attach my legs firmly to the ground.

For the curious of you (and there has beenenough question to validate that people ARE indeed curious), you know I have been working on something the last weeks. Not everyone knows, however, that I`ve actually worked for months on what will berevealed as my Mission in Life tomorrow. True enough, I have put energy into this, but it doesn`t mean that I`ll poured over books too heavy to lift. I`ve lived my life to the fullest while letting my (surprisingly clever) brain do its magic consciously or unconsciously, requiring some practical work every now and then.

I`ve asked myself the same question countless times:

Why is life so short? But until I figure that one out, let me continue with what I`ll learnt so far:

“Nothing is more creative…nor destructive… than a brilliant mind with a purpose.” — Dan B.  (Inferno)

and:

“Denial is a critical part of the human coping mechanism. Without it, we
would all wake up terrified every morning about all the ways we could
die. Instead, our minds block out our existential fears by focusing
on stresses we can handle—like getting to work on time or paying
our taxes.” Brown (I am fond of his books, but not denial)

and:

“I’m a fan of the truth… even if it’s painfully hard to accept.” — Dan

can you see the picture?

I also have some bad news that might frustrate some:

From tomorrow I`ll password-protect this blog.

Some might think “Oh lord! I`ve been waiting for this “revelation” for WEEKS now, and this is what I`ll get in return?” If this was somehow descriptive, I do apologize. I can only assure you that we`ll all get our cherries in the end.

Of course, you can shorten the waiting time by writing an email (forfreepsychology@gmail.com) and I`ll give you the password.

I won`t say much more now; Some might even have an inkling what my new project will be (I have belief in the fearless conscious and unconscious mind) and tomorrow you`ll know for sure. Until then, we all make our small steps that sooner or later, might alter the future of mankind.

“..”consider this. It took the earth’s population thousand of years-from the early
dawn of man all the way to the early 1800s-to reach one billion
people. Then astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to
double the population to two billion in the 1920s. After that, it
took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four
billion in the 1970s. As you can imagine, we’re well on track to
reach eight billion very soon. Just today, the human race added
another quarter-billion people to planet Earth. A quarter million.
And this happens ever day-rain or shine. Currently every year we are adding the equivalent of the entire country of Germany.” — Dan Brown

EMDR – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT in London

The Unconscious Brain Can

Do Math – Scientific American

Useful in our weakness

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One of the things I’ve learnt is our weaknesses, brokenness and realness can be used.

I used to think being broken and weak was something to be steered clear of. But I’ve found it’s often in my weakness, brokenness and realness that I connect best with people, inspire people, and help people deal with the very things I struggle or struggled with.

People appreciate empathy and compassion. They appreciate being understood. They appreciate knowing others have gone through the same things they have. I know I appreciate all these things in my struggles and it’s often through weaknesses and brokenness that we develop these things.

Just knowing you’re not alone in something is the most comforting thing.

So I’m encouraged by weakness because it can be used. We are not worthless or useless in our weakness. We don’t have to hide our weaknesses or ourselves. Be seen, share out that weakness with a caring heart that wants to lift others up; it is a beautiful thing.

And it is needed. We all have different weaknesses. Let not one person feel alone in theirs. Let not one person feel useless in theirs.

Sometimes it’s in our openness, our honesty and vulnerability – when we are weak – that we can be a strength to others.

Own Your Personality

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There’s something about myself it took me a while to understand.

When I read my enneagram personality profile (number 1), I knew most of it was pretty spot on. I’m a perfectionist with high standards and morals. There was one thing I didn’t get though: this reformer and advocate stuff. What was all that about?

Detailed freak and nit-picky perfectionist is me to a T, but reformer? Me? I always thought of myself as passive, a follower, someone who doesn’t rock the boat, and the most cautious person in the world. So, the image of reformer I had in my mind didn’t match up with what I knew about myself.

But over the years I’ve come to understand this side of myself more and can see how I really am a reformer, in spirit if not in action – yet.

See, with my high standards and morals, they are most definitely for me (I’m my own worst critic and place higher standards on myself than others) but I’ve always thought others should have high moral standards too. I never impose my standards on others so that’s why I thought I wasn’t much of a reformer. But my desire is for others to have high moral standards because I believe the world would be a better place with them – if everyone treated each other with compassion and respect, for example, I can’t see anything bad there.

I’ll never impose my standards on others, but I’m ever hopeful that everyone would have the morals of looking after each other and caring for the world we live in.

See, I believe in people. And my desire to see people be all they can be, to live their dreams, and to treat each other well is something that has always been in me. I want all people to know they are worthy. I want all people to show others that they are worthy.

What the enneagram did for me was articulate something I always had in me that I didn’t fully understand. I don’t really know why I believe in people despite all the horrible things people can do, but it seems that it’s in my personality to believe in them no matter what. Because I do. Not everyone has this relentless belief in all people, especially when the evidence suggests otherwise, and I’ve sometimes felt guilty about my belief. But I still can’t help what I believe.

With this understanding, I’ve been able to embrace this part of my nature and things just seem that little bit clearer in my life. I’m becoming more intentional and active in what I believe about people and it’s given me an even bigger sense of purpose and a feeling of this is part of what I’m meant to do.

I love it when people own their personality – which can only come from understanding it and using it for good. I’m owning this reformer side of my mine.

This is just another example of how understanding personality through the tools of personality tests/profiles has helped me.

I’ll always advocate the personality test because I believe it can help people. And I believe in people!

Attitude and Perspective Matters

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The attitude and perspective we have has a big effect on our emotions, ability to learn, and ability to succeed.

I’m a terrible actress. I don’t like people’s eyes looking at me, I don’t like being on stage, I hate public speaking, I’m terrible at improvisation, and I go blank. But every year I  have to act at least once at a family holiday program I’m part of. I get very nervous and anxious during rehearsals and just before going on stage if I have a large speaking role. (If I can be a clown or someone who mimes, I have a ball on stage!)

But there was one year I had a large speaking role that I had to memorize. I was freaking out! One of my friends heard me mutter that I couldn’t do it over and over. He did the best thing. He had me stop muttering and had me focus on him.  He said with authority that if I told myself I couldn’t do it, I stopped myself from succeeding right there. When he told me this I knew he was right. I defeated myself with my own perspective and attitude. I had to change it. I didn’t feel any better about it and I didn’t know if I could do it, but I knew I had to stop thinking I couldn’t do it.

I stopped telling myself I couldn’t do it and just focused on remembering the words. And guess what, I delivered the monologue to a T.

I was with an older person today and he’s not very computer literate. The whole time we were talking about computers he said he couldn’t do it and that he’d never figure it out. He got angry at the rate of changing technology, blaming it for the problems he faced with it.  But instead of getting angry, I thought all he needed was a change of perspective and attitude. Instead of wasting all that energy thinking he’d never get it and being angry over it, he could use that energy to really focus and learn the new technology.

I think part of the key is to stop focusing on how bad things are and how much you don’t like them. I don’t like acting, this guy didn’t like new technology. They are difficult things for us that we have to get used to. But there’s no point getting worked up about it and fighting it trying to get your own way. Separate yourself from it a little and get a different perspective. Embrace it with a different attitude. Learn what you need to know. It might be hard and a lot of work, but try.

Having the right attitude and perspective means you’ll have the discipline, commitment and focus to at least give it your best go.

I have a friend who was never any good at school and hates studying. The problem is she can’t get anywhere with the career she wants without studying. I think she can study and get to where she wants to be, but she thinks she’s a lost cause in that area. She’s defeated herself right there. She doesn’t even want to try, because her attitude and perspective won’t let her.

To give it a go, get the right attitude and perspective.

You might not be able to do whatever it is you want and/or need to do, but if you tell yourself you can’t do it from the start, it’s certain that you won’t be able to do it.

How’s your attitude and perspective? I think I have to check mine in a few areas.