‘Every day brings some new trauma’: keeping calm in an anxious world

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From Trump’s tweets to EU uncertainty and the threat of nuclear war, the stress-inducing headlines keep coming. Therapists share tips on how to cope.

In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum and the US presidential election, it became common, on the losing side, to compare the experience to a death in the family. First came the punch to the gut, the thunderbolt of disbelief. Then came the days when you would find yourself going about your business as if nothing untoward had happened, only to recall, each time with a fresh wave of nausea, that it had.

In one major respect, however, this analogy has turned out to be wrong. By this point, following a “normal” bereavement, you might expect the process of recovery to be underway. The wound may never heal, but things reorder themselves around the injury and life moves on. To put it mildly, this is not how things seem to be unfolding on the leafy Greenwich Village block in New York where Paul Saks keeps his consulting room.

READ MORE | From The Guardian

The RAIN of self-compassion

A beautiful article providing food for thought from Tara Brach, a psychologist, author and teacher of meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening.

Recognize what is going on;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with interest and care;
Nourish with self-compassion.

When I was in college, I went off to the mountains for a weekend of hiking with an older, wiser friend of twenty-two. After setting up our tent, we sat by a stream, watching the water swirl around rocks, talking about our lives. At one point she described how she was learning to be “her own best friend.” A wave of sadness came over me, and I broke down sobbing. I was the furthest thing from my own best friend. I was continually harassed by an inner judge who was merciless, nit-picking, demanding and always on the job. My guiding assumption was, “Something is fundamentally wrong with me,” as I struggled to control and fix what felt like a basically flawed self...

READ MORE | From Tara Brach

In Therapy: Why you might feel worse before you feel better

As long ago as 1923 when Sigmund Freud was busy inventing psychotherapy, he recognised a phenomenon he dubbed the ‘negative therapeutic reaction’. That for some people ‘Every partial solution that ought to result, and in other people does result, in an improvement or temporary suspension of symptoms produces in them for the time being an exacerbation of their illness; they get worse during the treatment instead of getting better'.

He had hit upon one of the reasons clients can feel worse as therapy goes on. In this case a self-sabotaging resistance to change, largely unconscious, whereby the client experiencesinternal conflict where one part of him or her wants to change, hence coming to sessions, and another part, the unwell part, is frightened of change and resisting it with all its might.  

READ MORE | From Welldoing

Short film: "The thing most likely to kill me is me"

A poignant short film by CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably), an award-winning charity dedicated to preventing male suicide, the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.

CALM have teamed up with 101 London and Hungry Man to give a rare glimpse at the inner monologues many men battle with alone – using the actual words of men going through depression and suicidal thoughts.

Ikigai – finding your reason for being

Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an Ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s Ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life. In the culture of Okinawa, ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”; that is, a reason to enjoy life.

The word ikigai is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It’s not necessarily linked to one’s economic status or the present state of society.

Even if a person feels that the present is dark, but they have a goal in mind, they may feel ikigai. Behaviours that make us feel ikigai are not actions which we are forced to take—these are natural and spontaneous actions.

”People can feel real ikigai only when, on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed toward self-realization.”
– Kobayashi Tsukasa –

What is your Ikigai?

Eating Disorders Awareness Week | 27 February to 5 March

In support of Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity

Eating disorders are a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially. They are serious mental illnesses and include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Over 725,000 men and women in the UK are affected by eating disorders.

Although serious, eating disorders are treatable conditions and full recovery is possible. The sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.
The first port of call when looking for help is always through your GP. It is an incredibly brave thing to speak out and ask for support and if it is something you’re anxious about you can speak to Beat’s Helpline about your anxieties:
Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677
Youthline: 0808 801 0711

READ MORE | From Beat

Pictures of the therapy space I use at Stamford Works

The nurturing and beautiful therapy space I use at Stamford Works, close to Gillete Square in Dalston. The space is shared with two other Transpersonal therapists.

Brené Brown’s inspirational videos

#1 - The Power of Vulnerability
Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

#2 - Listening to Shame
Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.