Thursday, 12 April 2012
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
My alarm goes off at 06:30 in the morning, completely annoyed I curse heaven and earth, and of course I try to sabotage me by staying some extra minutes in bed, however the consciousness of getting late throws me out of my comfy bed. I remember my update on Facebook last night: "If Frodo can manage to get the ring to Mordor, you too can get out of bed". I smile and get up.
Another week begins above the parallel 51° north. Although, this week is a short one, only four days after Easter, I feel tired, but I am on my way to have a few days of rest. Over the next forty minutes I follow quite blind around the house. I go from one room to another until I am finally ready to leave, and soon I find myself inside the train on the way to London. I can't help but notice the people around me, teammates and comrades of commuting that probably faced the same personal battles that I faced upon waking this morning. Many of these faces are familiar, even though we do not talk or say hi to each other, I feel like I know them. They are people who are part of my routine. These people are my “friends” that like me, are on their way, and just like me, they are also in search of something. Probably they are waiting for their dreams and projects to come true within the deadlines planned, or maybe those holidays will arrive sooner or even that the boss will finally give them a break today and stop making their life a misery… The wait, we are always waiting… Wishing and hoping.
I blend myself in this environment and I follow the people who are listening to music on their phones, ipads or computers, and without surprise, the time pass quick as we are completely immersed in our own worlds. The train arrives at St. Pancras International Station thirty-five minutes later and from there I board into a carriage of the Piccadilly line, which miraculously is not crowded this morning, maybe is the Easter week, and once again I spare a look at my fellow travelers with their faces around me. I think about the vulnerabilities of the people around me, and of course, this process only happens in my mind, because in a city like London, there is no talking with strangers in public transport. People don't relate to others when in these environments. Sometimes, they look at you, only to lower their gaze when they realize that you are looking at them. The last thing we want is to give the impression that we are invading a stranger’s life and privacy. Odd, very odd! Anyway, there are rules that are understood without the need for verbal explanation in a city like London, and despite being affected by the world of others around us, our essence is connected, rooted in our own world ... stations pass by me and after a change of line in Leicester Square, I got to work twenty minutes later.
At the twenty-first floor window, I see London opening-up in front of me. The sun shines on a typical spring morning and even through the double glazed windows, I can hear the noises that come from the street downstairs. The city is alive, as usual and I feel my mind wandering while I press the button to bring my laptop to life. If we are constantly affected by the environment, including all the people around us, and even without having a conversation with them, why we have the tendency to ignore these people so easy? Why is so complicated to give the real meaning to these “relationships”? Even worse, why we don't even realize that we are in constant contact with the environment?
I believe that we are all one and that our basic operations revolve around our self regulating function. We are a balanced system where we exchanges everything we need with the environment around us, so we are in touch with a surrounding world that constantly performs trading with the environment, i.e. we make contact to satisfy our dominant and emerging needs, therefore the contact has a cyclic operation: contact and retraction.
Here, I open a space to cite the theory of J.Zinker (1979), which defines the contact's cycle as follows:
• Awareness: is the emergence of vague impressions, restlessness, which soon begins to realize, is consciousness. Generally speaking, is situation where we know that something is bothering us, like something is not quite right, a little bit out of place, but we cannot quite put our finger on it. If the awareness is complete and clear, then we are able to identify our dominant need at that time.
• Energizing/action: is the penny dropping moment. We know that something must be done, and as a result of it our body invites our muscles for the action, there is a growing feeling of energy, awareness is being organized for our satisfaction.
• Contact: this is when we come in contact with what will satisfy the need, is the time of encounter with the difference (Me and the Not-Self), the transformation takes place, and the figures clearly emerge. What was in the subconscious (background) comes to the fore and become clear "figures".
• Withdrawal/conclusion: the need was satisfied and the body now retires, the resolution and the relief can be felt and the energy begins to collapse.
• Withdrawal: here there is the closing of the Gestalt as the energy fully retracts bringing that feeling of accomplished duty.
But what all of this have to do with the theme of this text? Hold on, I will be there in a moment. The cycle described above is known as the gestaltic cycle, and reflects the healthy functioning of the body. During this cycle the break of energy can occur and may be stagnant or be extended. This is known as a phenomenon called contact disorders or neuroses, that start to appear.
For all of those who left the teenager years behind, knows that life not always follows the fairy tales. A friend of mine used to say that “As the rickshaw progresses, the watermelons accommodates itself”. Well, it is true that with the balance made by the rickshaw, the watermelons will find their places, however, the question is: is the place found the right one? Sometimes we feel that we are at a crossroads. Nothing looks good. Nothing brings satisfaction. Usually this happens during moments that we can no longer identify our eminent needs and our organism, nevertheless, attempts to find the balance lost, and usually create conflicts.
For all those who know me, it is known that my main educational training was in Psychology, moreover, in Gestalt Therapy, so based on this, I feel free to use the concept of Gestalt to explain my thoughts. If you feel more comfortable, feel free to use the psychoanalysis concept of insight, which is far more known by the majority of people. Anyway, whichever term used, unresolved issues remain outstanding and the balance is impaired, the neurotic symptoms arise as an attempt to reorganize and assimilate the gestalts opened, or are not met. And let's be honest, we all know exactly what is like not having our needs met and all the stagnate energy that comes from these facts.
Various authors, whom I studied throughout my academic life, described the process of formation and establishment of neuroses. Freud had specific thoughts and explanations, Behaviorism, as well, so as Existentialism. For me, an existentialist by conviction, I believe that the neurotic is constantly interrupting the process of formation and elimination of perceptions, not realizing clearly what are their needs and their emotions. This way they do lose the opportunity to complete their gestalts and therefore satisfy their needs. On another hand, this creates a continuous state of dissatisfaction, taking the neurotic to not take from the environment what it is needed to keep the balance and a healthy survival, let alone does not contributes to give back to the environment what it is claimed to somehow fit him. This is a vicious game that resembles a kind of addiction is more pathological cases.
In order to allow us to satisfy our needs we need to have the awareness of the needs that arise as we make choices throughout life. We shall have to learn to make right choices, it is a tricky process and as a result, the neurotic is a person full of interruptions, which interrupts himself in the process of meeting his own needs, perhaps because he is unable to make choices. Remember that even not choosing one or another option, turns out to be a choice too, after all stay over the fence is also a choice.
The neurotic people are first and foremost phobic people. They are afraid of pain and frustration. They stop themselves in the process of growth; the unresolved gestalts accumulate and restrain them to establish new contacts with the world and people around them. They usually are confused as to what they feel or what they do; do not recognize what are their real needs, resulting in a fragile self-esteem and self-concept, and to feed themselves constantly they seek external support in the environment, using manipulations and stereotyped defenses to achieve their satisfaction. The neurotics are very poorly in resolving their issues, consequently they become blind spots.
The human been is the only specie able to exist. This existence can be translated by the ability to put things out, projecting you in the environment. This capability is characteristically human, human beings alone transcends all barriers, while, other species follow their biological programming. Humans construct themselves based on culture, history, and their own individuality.
The human’s goals, their condition of existence becomes their potential, these then proceeds to give meaning to itself and its trajectory. Humans are the only specie that lives in a constant evolution and gearing towards the process of “coming-to-be”, improving by doing. The man is by it an unfinished creation. Their project is to make their own destiny more comfortable and therefore being masters of their own destiny.
During our journey, the social environment where we live can sometimes be devastating, cruel, which may destroy our genuine potential and corrupt us. Only children are pure, remember this popular saying? The way of human existence is rough and filled with stones, and for much the existence loses its greater meaning, the happiness is lost; our achievement becomes increasingly distant. Some people living their meaningless life are unable to live fully. In human existence, it is needed to dive into the darkness; this is part of the walk; however, to exit out of the darkness we have to find the true meaning of life. Remember that even in the desert, the most beautiful flower can bloom.
A good Easter to all of us, and I wish we may be able use the mean of this celebration to somehow revive, to understand how we make contacts, not only with us, but with the environment around us, so that we release stagnant energy back t the universe, and thus prevent neuroses evolve to a higher degree. I wish that many flowers flourish in your garden.
Have a good afternoon,
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Thursday, 15 April 2010
I am now going towards my forties. The famous age where people tend to revaluate their life, and usually take drastic attitudes, mainly the men, I have to say. Why the number of women going through midlife crisis is not that high? Because they have the menopause to go through! It is impossible to balance both. Going back to the males, it doesn't matter if they are gay or straight, the process and the consequences are the same. Erratic behaviours appear from nowhere and they make fool of themselves, some abandon their family, and some change their beautiful wife of 40 years for another, with half the age: 20, or maybe they swap her for two of 20 years old each. Swapping for 3 with 15 years old would be paedophilia, which is a crime! Some radically change their job, or even carriers. All of that is because they want to be happy at any price. Men going through midlife crisis have a strange relationship with time. They see time flying and they don't want to repeat in the future what they did in the past. A curious point here about me is that until this moment I don't get to see any symptom of this crisis happening. Will my midlife crisis, that was supposed to hit me now, arrive when I am fifty? God have mercy upon my soul! It will be very sad if that happens! Watch out here, I do not have anything against people that are looking for what they believe to be the right thing to do in life; therefore you can hide the stones, the cross, the hammer and the nails!
Throughout my childhood, adolescence and even during my adult life I have lived very close to Peter Pan: My father. In many occasions I questioned his attitudes towards life, family, children and other important subjects for a married man. Today I can see that he was in search of happiness, in his own way, as we all do, and for that I would never say that he was wrong. Maybe the pain he caused to a lot of people was not right, but hey, life is short, isn’t? Besides, what is the point of living with someone that clearly is not going to fulfil your expectations in life?
The truth is that I refused the invitation to live in Neverland. I preferred to live in the land of reality, where people move from passion to love, and from the last one to partnership and friendship. I won't talk about passion now, because that deserves pages and pages of writing. So, returning to my father, he doesn't look the age that he has, actually a lot of people think that he is my older brother, or a distant uncle. Good genes, I hope I have acquired these genes, that will save me a lot of pounds in plastic surgery and perhaps I can use that money to pay for the therapy sessions that I will have to do after having Peter Pan as my dad!
Was my Peter Pan complex resolved along the years? Is the fact of me being part of the fellowship of the silence an important thing that somehow created an immunity to this mid life crisis that I should be going through now that I am approaching the age of the wolf? The true is that very early in life I learned how to believe that stability in life is something cool and important, and I grew up believing that a relationship should be forever... that we have to try to make things work, therefore it is important to have somebody that walk with you side by side. Well, that is nice and well written, however I can not stop thinking that there must be something very wrong going on with me, as my historic of past relationships are not exactly a success, after three failed long relationships, five, six, and ten years respectively, I am back to single town. Oh my God, more money to spend in therapy!
Today, in the middle of the emotional hurricane I am experiencing, I feel strong, ready to face the next years of my life with dignity and tenderness in my heart, with discernment to see my mistakes and my areas of emotional deficiency that need to be tackled. I am sure that adolescent behaviours are not more acceptable, and I do not even want to have them, but at the same time why I do not feel I am forty? It is a duality that for sure will increase the number of hours with my therapist. Oh crap! I need to verify the balance of my savings account; I am becoming really concerned about the costs of it! I am under the impression that the price of each closed gestalt will be very expensive!
Speaking about therapy, I cannot complain about investment so far, it has been showing results. In fact therapy is something wonderful that every person should go through from time to time. In my last session I came to a conclusion that when you are going through the process of ending a relationship or even death, you will be immersed in a process where is necessary to elaborate the mourning for the loss, in another words, you have to grief what you lost. That is a vital process that happens not only when a loving relationship ends, but whenever we lost something that is dear and close to our heart.
The first stage of grief is the one where we suffer for what we had. The past frames us and throw at our face all the good things we had. It is impressive that during this period we never got to think about the bad things that happened; only the good things appear to be relevant! During this time it is good to stay far away from pictures, cheesy songs, and mainly bathtubs. Who never cried in a bathtub before? Besides, the risk of having a mercy fuck is too big! So be strong!
The second stage of the grieving process is the one where we mourn all the things we could have had if the relationship was not ended. This means, we suffer for the future that was robbed from us. We won't travel together, we won't buy that house, and we won't go... anything! You won't make anything else as a couple. Forget it! It’s over! I still thinking that it is not a good idea to come close to a bathtub! And remember, whatever happens to you, stay away from the bottle!
The third and more important stage of the grief process is when we begin to mourn the possibilities. It happens when you start to imagine how things could have been, if you have saw the whole thing coming before reaching you, and if you had made some changes or arrangements to avoid the end. What if I had made this or that? Would it have been worthwhile? What if I had been more careful about his feelings? Is the “what if” phase! Stop torturing yourself. Probably the answer to all the previous questions will be... NO. But the ugly side of this is that you will never know with certainty. And this is the vital moment of this whole process of mourning living people. When you finally come to terms with the fact that this doubt will never clear, you overcame the suffering of the loss, and the world will become more cheerful, the days will become less heavy and the will of living will appear in your soul again.
Now, fill the bathtub with hot water, add some nice aromatic salt, light some gorgeous candles and don't forget to add some petals of roses as well. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine or champagne and take a long relaxing bath, listening to a cheerful song that you like, you will soon realise that life is not complicated and to know how to live is also easy.
The proximity of my birthday has been touching me, not sure for the normal reasons, in fact I have to say that I do not know exactly what is normal or not. All I know is that all the important people around me is insisting that it is a special date, and for this reason I have to commemorate in big (as the Portuguese people say) and my work mates already told me that we should do something, not sure yet, but maybe go to a fancy restaurant, or maybe go to a day trip outside London. My mother and some of my best friends in life will be on route to England in some days, in fact I need to sort things in the house to receive them, I know that will be a pleasant day, because I will be in the company of dear people and that it is all that matter.
I think the conclusion for me is that doesn't matter if you are celebrating your forties or your fifties. Birthdays are just a date where unavoidably you rethink the events in your life and plans the future, something like New Year’s Eve, therefore the thing I will do is to take advantage not from the day itself, but from the company of the people that will be around me, because they deserve to see my happiness, as well as I do. So bring on the Forties!
Finally I will leave here a quote of one of my favourite Brazilian poets: The wonderful Mário Quintana:
“I want, one day, to say to people that nothing was in vain… that the love exists, that it is worthwhile to give it to friends and also to people, that life, yes, it is beautiful, and that I always gave the best of me… and for that, it was worthwhile"
Have a good day.
Monday, 12 April 2010
When we want something, we fight for it. We focus our energy on the subject, on the person, or on the cause we want. Current fact is that we do not measure the consequences for satisfying our desire. Is the desire of the ownership of someone or something larger than everything? In my opinion, it is super normal to fight for what we want; as long as we combine our ambition to the respect we should feel towards other people around us. This is more than healthy, actually I would say that it is vital for our development, after all, nobody wants to be that person that is moved around places without any capacity of making choices, right? That would be sad!
I guess that what I am questioning here is our posture when we are faced with choice situations. It is about the way we behave. What takes us to choose A instead of B or even C? The concept that I am referring here is the one about making the choice itself, because a lot of times the desire to have something alienates us in relation to the other possibilities that we have in front of us.
One of the interesting aspects about what moves us towards a specific option is that on a daily basis we even don’t notice we are making choices at all, but if you stop to think about it, every moment we are opting for something: soup or sandwich? Should I give up chocolate for good? Should I ring him, or should I wait for him ring me? Should I go out or stay in doors? God, so many questions… so many choices! So many things gained, so may things lost!
When we are faced with a choice situation, usually we just do it. We do not think about what we are not going to gain if we had chosen a different option. Especially because, when we are due to make a choice, in a certain way we are already inclined to a certain one. I won't discuss the reason why this behaviour happens, it is not the point now, but I am sure it can be the result of countless situations, but the fact is that the tendencies exist, whether you believe it or not. These tendencies combined with our feeling of urgency, which is inherent to our personalities, are responsible for our decisions and then, exactly like that, we reach to the alternative that we think will give us more pleasure and happiness… and the choice is made...
Great! You now have that feeling that you are and you will be happy with your choices for the rest of your live, well done you! Think about, we do not marry thinking about breaking-up; we don't have children planning to get rid of them in the future and so on. We are the lord of our destiny and choices, we are adults. After all we have chosen the ideal companion, we have accepted the best job offer after carefully consideration, and we decided for the ideal place to live, we picked-up our friends and we haven’t choose our family, we just have them around!
So what? After all these choices, finally everything is beautiful and life proceeds as it should be, like a fairy tale. Small addendum here: I don't believe in fairy tales! Just for the record. Anyway, suddenly... your world falls apart, something very bad happened in your kingdom and you feel your crown is in dangerous. Maybe your beloved husband/wife gave you a beautiful and great kick on ass, which means you were dumped! Or maybe your boss felt like being tired of looking at your face and fired you, moreover, an earthquake maybe happened in the city where you live, or your family... does your family still the same? Well, don’t bother about this one, after all you have not chosen your family, remember? At least you don't need to suffer for that! You were just born among them!
So now it is already too late, there is nothing that you can actually do. You can see the depression knocking on your door with the suitcases and looks like she is coming for good to live with you. The dissatisfaction already entered trough the window and is sat down on your sofa in your living room without being invited and it is sipping a nice cup of tea, readily available to make you company. On top of that, the despair already contacted you letting you know that he is on his way as well. It is all lost now, you are feeling like crap. By this time, only one exit remains, to starts blaming the world for your misfortune! However, you notice that blaming the world is not getting you anywhere, then you begin blaming the God almighty, and not satisfied you then bring the Devil to play a central role in your drama, and finally, any thing or person that can be made responsible by your personal tragedy, after all you are the victim right? You are the poor guy. How could that happen to you? It is not your fault.
Well my friend, here is a little piece of advice for you. If that is happening to you in this exact moment, or when that happens to you again, because I am sure that it is going to happen at some point in time, it is just a matter of time, and no, I am not cursing you, although I have my connections from beyond the grave, they would not go to far! The point is, when that happens, stop and think about how you ended up to the point you are now. Contemplate the whole happiness that you lived previously, and of course you had happy moments, do not be such a drama queen! Think about the whole path you travelled and please, for the love you have to God, or Shiva, Prophet Mohammed, or any saint, remember the reasons that took you to pick this road in the first place. Revive the reasons that took you to make this choice ten days ago, ten weeks, ten months or ten years ago. Do use the pain for the good, stop complaining, grow, learn with your mistakes and you may have lesson for life here: try to do right choices next time.
Do "Stop crying over the spilled milk” How many times you listened to your mother or probably your grandmother telling you that? An unalterable truth exists in this sentence. You are responsible for your life; you choose your own paths. Did anybody force you to make this or that decision, or were you under life threatening circumstances? Did you have a weapon pointed to your head? In case you have answered yes for any of the above questions you are then excusable and do not need to continue reading this text till the end! You were one of the lucky ones.
The human being is endowed with free will, the capacity to choose independently; therefore what about to take the lead of your life and stop imputing blame to the others? Your family, your parents, your friends and also the world out there do not hate you, on the flip side there is a lot of good people outside that worries about you want to see you well. Do make use of your friends, but doesn't abuse them ok? After all everybody have their own problems. I don't think that is an easy exercise, on the contrary, it is something painful, that we force us to see things in us that a lot of times we just deny, but in some way we need to become better people, not only because the others, but for us.
Within three weeks I will reach forty years of age and I remember when I was still a child, where I ran free in my imaginary and physical world, where my innocence allowed me to travel to the future, I used to sat down under this giant mango tree in the back yard of my house and I would then imagine how my life would be when I would finally reached my forties. In that time even my mother had not arrived there. I have to admit that in some moments of my life I doubt I would reach the 03rd of May of 2010, but in spite of my human doubts, I am more and more close to this milestone. I have got the intention for this day to be a special day, where I want people that love me around me. I want to feel special and in some way the memories of this day will help me to get through the next ten years and then I can celebrate my fifty birthday.
The winds of the change blow unmercifully towards our life and suddenly we came across situations that force us to revaluate our life and old choices and promises. Sometimes we have to look back and face the facts about why we took that specific rod? I have been learning that whatever may happen to me I will continue to try to be happy, and I will always try to analyse my possibilities before making any choice.
A good week to you and remember to think twice before making a choice, use your wisdom and with care, do considerer all your alternatives and options before opting for something, however, when you choose the road to follow, don't look back, follow it, fight for what you believe, work everyday to proof to you that you have done the right choice in your life and if you find out that it was wrong after all, no worries, go back, analyses the remaining choices you have and begin again. This is what we call leaving!
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
I am not a religious person. In spite of being raised as a good Catholic, it was very early in life that I stopped believing in the rituals of the Roman church, and I ended seeking spiritual encouragement in other religions or even in other life philosophies. That search, took me towards the spiritual religions, where my questions seemed to be accepted and the answers were somehow clarified in some way. The main reason of this text is not to glorify one religion, which is the best or which is the worst, especially because for me, at the end of the day, they are all the same... Therefore, choose something that takes you closer to your essence and follow your life in the best possible way with no regrets, if that is all possible.
More than a decade ago, I went through personal circumstances in my life that brought me a lot of anguish and I ended being introduced to a more spiritual approach to life. Which means a more ethereal way of seeing things, you know, to put things in perspective. It was then, when I was introduced to one of the most wonderful and wised person I met throughout my life: Lady Lúcia, a good friend's mother, and it was with her that I learned that, a lot of times in life it is necessary to go over our own feelings, prejudice and pride (No, I am not talking about Jane Austin!), to learn how to forgive, that it is vital to help people and try to wish good things to others, moreover, above all, to be available for your mates when they need you. I have also learned that what you wish to people usually comes back to you faster than you thought. For this reason, wishes me plenty of money and you will be richer than me. Now, if you want to play the game and wish me a lot of shit… you will be buried in crap faster than you imagine. Action and reaction... Physics’ Law… Simple as that!
I am fine in being a spiritual person. The problem is that some people abuse my patience and also my readiness, and the reason why they do that is because they always rely on my “kindness” and disposition to help. And me, due to my spiritual beliefs or even making use of my solidarity, or perhaps, even due to the moral values that I received from my mother, or maybe due to my upbringing, end up being taken by the heat of the moment. And when I realise, it is usually too late and the feelings of abandonment and frustration is already settled in my life and I feel like an idiot.
Sometimes it is necessary to set the limits clear; this is the only way to avoid getting these feelings in the first place. Some people are parasites and feed themselves from your energy and will power. They are like that by nature, they were born like that and they don't need to make any effort to act like. Others never realizes that they behave like a parasite, this is when you have to be brave enough to say it, and of course you are at risk of loosing a friend!(usually is not worth keeping!) Remember, the truth is not for everyone. The point is does not matter how you got wrapped up in the situation, and is up to you to get the responsibility of saying that enough is enough.
How many times, without notice, have you received a call, or even an e-mail from someone asking for a “little help” in the most unusual hours? Or even someone asking if you can lend them some money? How many times did you change your plans to make someone else feels better? Or even have done something to include someone in a situation? What about those times that you even gave the last piece of your sandwich or a pastry to someone that was giving you that poor face, which of course broke your heart? (I know that is sad and cruel! I don't know the reason why, but the last piece of any food seems to be always the best one!).
Have you already been through one or more situations above? Well, the positive side is that under the light of the psychology you are not a psychopath! Which is a good thing; after all you possess affection, the capacity of being affected and to affect people. You probably are always described by your friends as “a good guy”, “cool”, “Good mate” or simply “someone with a good heart”. Looking on the negative side... you are a serious candidate to the “Idiot of the year” crown.
Question that does not stops: How to recognize when someone is pushing the boundaries and really abusing your good will? Or literally trying to send you to the circus to substitute the clown? It is a difficult answer for sure. Ready revenue doesn't exist, but in the general, it is necessary to be cautious, because that varies from case to case. The truth is, usually this person has some issues about being accepted by others (Tip of advice? Seek a therapist; I am not here to deepen anything!). In my opinion, the person that submits themselves to certain people and certain situations are those with serious self-esteem problems. Another piece of free advice, when you feel abused, tired, betrayed or even placed on a corner, do not wait for Patrick Swayze to come and say “No one puts you on a corner”, first this is a film, and second, he is dead! It only remains one thing to do, look the person in the eyes and say it loud... mate, I am a spiritual person, not stupid!
Lady Lúcia, thank you very much for having taught me that catch phrase.
A good week and remember, don't leave anybody to abuse your trust. To help others is nice, but not helping yourself is not cool!