Archives for Problems
It's an old story. Old as the hills. And yet new every time it tells itself again. Have you heard it told to you lately? The clouds have gathered, thick and dark, on your skies. They're banked up and rolling heavy to your horizon. Maybe the rains have already started, pouring their grief over everything you know and soaking it all through with shadows. And then maybe the wind starts up. The lightning. It seems everything is going wrong at once. It's hard to imagine ever riding out this storm. And yet, if the story has its way, there will come a moment. A moment you might not notice at first. A moment that can start out smaller than small. But it's enough. Enough to invite a shift - an infinitessimal shift - that's almost no shift at all. Except that it is. So something tiny changes. And somehow that awakens the next little change. Until, gradually, all these fragile moments come together - like countless particles of light converging - almost invisible on their own. But together, slowly, they can start to pull the temperature of your day in a warmer direction. Together, they start to matter.
Trust is such an important part of therapy. And, of course, of life… So do you trust yourself? To know yourself. To grow yourself. To heal. A gentleman born in the early 1900’s trusted you, even though you’ve never met. His name was Carl Rogers, and he was a psychologist. And he believed that you – that all of us – have the innate power to understand and heal ourselves. He believed that somewhere inside, you have the solution, the answer, the salve for your life’s struggles. And that trust will help unlock them. So how do you do that?
On a day that started with torrential rain and umbrella wrestling (and weather forecasts of doom), it seemed almost miraculous to be able to stroll the street in a dry golden-blue-sky evening. But that’s what happened. Unexpectedly. And it was exactly then that this notice on a shopfront window caught my eye (you can see it in the photo, above): “All things must pass.” (And they certainly seem to). Sometimes this apparent truth about the world feels confronting. Unfair, even. Because these “things which must pass” inevitably include the things we love, and the things we celebrate. The things we might want to hold on to and never let go. But they're not the only things that this saying is on about...
Have you ever felt anxious about something that turned out to be nothing? Worried about an event that never ended up happening (except maybe in your own imagination)? Perhaps you've caught yourself planning for trouble before it actually hit. And feeling the feelings that comes with all of this... It can be pretty sickening - a lurch in your gut, a fast-beating heart and sometimes you might even get the sweats. And no wonder. For your thoughts are joined to your feelings - intricately linked. As one moves, the other will probably follow. So it's important to keep an eye on your thoughts, to monitor them a bit, so a sudden downward spiral into darker feelings doesn't catch you unawares. And so you can nip any unnecessary anxiety in the bud if you want to.
Have you ever tried to make up your mind about something and then found yourself lost in a never-ending argument of pros and cons? Looking for "the right" answer… Where you catch yourself thinking: "On this hand…" and "On the other hand…" until it's all completely out of hand? And now you're feeling even more lost than when you started. Swamped. Confused. I know I have. Yet maybe there's another way through all of this. For if world class thinking theorist Edward de Bono is right, the way you explore an issue is key. In fact, he thinks that: "If you explore well, a decision makes itself." . (And how handy would that be?) So what's he actually on about? And how might you be able to try some of it out?
How will you know that you're ready to start? Once you've planned and perfected and plotted all your goals on a graph, like we're so often encouraged to do. How will you know you're ready? It's an important question, whatever change or dream or hope you might be facing. (And, life being what it is, it's pretty rare not to be facing one of these sorts of things…) So how will you know you've done enough preparing and perfecting of the plan - and when it's time to just take the plunge? Does the perfecting have a use-by date? Or is it something you could get lost in the safety of and languish in forever if you wanted to? Something comfortable, even? Something that perhaps beguiles you with the promise of being able to predict and resolve almost any problem that may arise - before they appear, of course. (And in a universe of potentially infinite possibilities and permutations, is that even possible?)
Cloudy days will come. For you. For your family. For your friends. And not just the kind that dominate the skies above you. But also the ones that help set the weather within you. The internal cloudy days that send your mental and emotional landscape into overcast sadness. Cloudy days will come... I was thinking this the other day, when some of my family came to Sydney to visit. Even now, in spring, it was suddenly cold and wet again. And even though it was sun that we wanted, it was cloud and some rain that we got (as you can see in the photo). So what do you do when the internal cloudy days come to visit? How can you get through them? Or maybe even prepare for them? On this year's Mental Health Day, perhaps it's worth getting mentally meteorological and taking a look at what you'll do when your weather changes.
Anger. It’s got a pretty bad reputation. And we’re often told what to do with it: be careful with it. Suppress it. Vent it. Override it. It’s like anger’s some kind of volatile, toxic force to be harnessed or defused. But maybe there’s another way of looking at it altogether. Maybe you can actually learn from anger. Listen to it. See what it has to tell you. Get curious about it. The sticker in the photo (above), in a cleverly vandalised train carriage I travelled in recently, has another suggestion for how to respond to anger: “If anger is present rove to another age” So let’s take another look at anger for a moment.
Have you ever felt sometimes that your life was going 'round in circles? That you were stuck on some broken record? Repeating the same cycles - the same patterns? I know I have. And it can be frustrating. Dizzying. Maddening. And hard to know what to do about it. So what are some options? Well, maybe it depends on how you look at it...
Sometimes life is just challenging. Hard, even. Just when you think you've got plenty to deal with, along comes even more. Right on time. It can start to swamp you. Overwhelm you. That's what this photo reminds me of (above). A street art tsunami coming for you at the end of a no-through-road. It can feel hard to escape... So what can you do to help yourself through the overwhelm? How can you get through life's no-through-roads?