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Evolution Counseling -- Struggling With Mortality
'...As much as most of us want to be alive, want to live forever, death is our destiny. We can rail against that unalterable fact all we want but the march of time keeps on in its steady rhythm just the same. -- There are certain signposts along our life paths that remind us of this fact, that subtly or forcefully place the prospect of mortality into our conscious awareness. Birthdays, deaths of loved ones, breakups, career changes, moving from place to place, changes in the body, and myriad other happenings that qualify as ‘mortality events’ leave us awash in anxiety. In this state of anxiety and the desperate tunnel vision that anxiety entails we have a hard time tracing the clear, obvious, direct line between our painful anxiety and the ‘mortality event’ that set it off in the first place. We’re all struggling with mortality, we just don’t all know we are. -- What we’ve got to do if we want to live fulfilling lives, if we want to become that which we were always supposed to be, is to lean into our existential anxiety cued off by the prospect of real or symbolic mortality rather than continue to run away from it through our too much behaviors and other defense mechanisms. We’ve got to summon up the courage to deep sea dive below the psychic surface so that we can more clearly see how so many of our destructive behaviors, while rationalized on some plausible grounds, are in actuality the manifestation of a desperate attempt to keep the prospect of mortality unconscious and to keep the anxiety that stems from this prospect at bay. -- Existential anxiety is not our enemy, it’s our friend. It’s an alarm clock. Alarms can be unpleasant but they exist in order to remind us that we have an appointment we need to keep. Existential anxiety is the alarm clock reminding us that we have an appointment with life, with our life. It’s the alarm clock reminding us there’s something threatening that has already happened to us or maybe about to happen to us, and this something requires all of our mindful, compassionate attention right now. It requires us to either make certain productive changes to our behavior or to grieve what we’ve lost in order to move forward with what we now have. As long as we recur to our various preferred defense mechanisms and too much behaviors instead of squarely facing and coming to terms with the mortality that is the authentic root of our existential anxiety we remain in a holding pattern, we remain in a state of stagnation, we remain in the exact same rut we’ve been carving out for ourselves for a long time. We don’t grow, and we certainly don’t learn anything we can apply to our lives moving forward. We ignore, repress, project, blame, fight, claw, scratch, hate, despair. But we don’t grow. -- We might not be able to alter the unalterable, we might not be able to change our fate of mortality, but we do have the freedom to become the best versions of ourselves now while we have the chance. It’s by honestly confronting our mortality that we gain the impetus to decide to live our best lives now instead of later. '
psychology  death  humility  freedom  OttoRank 
december 2018 by adamcrowe
The Book of Life -- How to Choose A Good Present
'...The sense of despair that hangs over the process of choosing a present stems from our background awareness of how hard it will be ever successfully to identify a material object out in the world that could properly quench a sincere need in another adult. Though once or twice in our lives, we may hit on just the thing, the chances of locating such an object are too miniscule to be statistically relevant – as our own attics and cupboards, filled as they are with the fruits of others’ misguided good intentions, poignantly attest. -- We would be better off facing up maturely to the hurdle we face. We cannot hope to guess with any degree of specificity at the objects still missing from the lives of our friends. At the same time, there is no question that we should and must bring presents, for we are all too fragile to believe in love without a wrapped box to underpin our claims. -- The solution lies in toning down our ambitions. We won’t be able to determine the subtler contours of the gaps in the material lives of those we love. And yet it is still open to us to offer the kinds of objects we know they will need, not because we can peer into their souls, but because they are human. We should concentrate our efforts on buying them somewhat above-average examples of the ‘material’ of daily life: scissors, rulers, rubber bands, pencils, notepads, olive oil, salt, nail clippers, earplugs, mineral water, washing up liquid… the things one can be guaranteed to need and always to lack. By investing in slightly higher quality versions of these staples – for example, tracking down one of the very best kinds of dust pans or cans of tuna – we will be emphasising our degree of care. But the very obviousness of the present is a way of owning up to the dilemma we are up against and of signalling with grace that our real role in our friends’ lives is of an emotional, not a practical, nature.'
gifting  humility 
december 2018 by adamcrowe
The Book of Life -- Twenty Key Concepts from Psychotherapy
'#The Fundamental Rule -- When he was trying to describe the process of therapy, Freud said that it required really only one thing of patients: that they must ‘say everything that comes into their head, even if it is disagreeable for them to say it’. Freud called this ‘the fundamental rule’ of therapy – and the only route to successful treatment. Of course, the rule flies in the face of all our impulses. Civilised life constantly requires us, in order to be deemed good, to censor what we say. Very little of what we are actually feeling or thinking makes it out into the world, or even into our conscious minds for long. This may help us in certain situations but it can also, Freud knew, make us deeply sick. There are tricky or disagreeable ideas we need to be able to entertain without cleaning them up – in order that we liberate ourselves from their subterranean grip. According to therapeutic theory, we grow sick when we fail to understand our own more troubling desires and fears, when the story we tell ourselves about who we are no longer tallies with the truth – and the consulting room is a unique space where we can, finally, dare to take a look beneath the surface. -- For their part, therapists are properly unshockable and without any desire to moralise: they know human nature, and their own minds, deeply enough never to be surprised. As we watch them accept our darkest secrets with calm and patience, we grow more confident about our own acceptability. We no longer have to keep so many things from ourselves and grow at ease with our underlying strangeness and wondrous oddity – which we share with pretty much everyone on the planet. -- ... #Mourning: In 1917, Freud published an essay called Mourning and Melancholia. In it he made a distinction between two ways of feeling sad. In the first, mourning, we suffer a loss and consciously recognise that we have done so. We then enter a period where everything seems worthless and deadening and where we think continually of the person, or ambition or hope we have lost. But eventually, mourning comes to an end. We realise that the world, despite the absence of something deeply good we once knew in it, is still worth enduring and exploring. -- The second state of sadness, melancholia, is far more open-ended and far more difficult to handle. Here too, we have suffered a loss and the world seems sad and dispiriting. The problem is that we are not consciously aware of what we have lost. The loss is too difficult for us to factor in, perhaps it took place before we understood our situation properly or maybe it feels like an affront to our self image. We might have forgotten how much we miss someone; we might be repressing our love for an ambition we’ve had to surrender; we can’t bear to think how much a parent has hurt us. -- In such circumstances, we are no longer merely sad, we are numb. We cannot pinpoint any specific source of grief and therefore everything becomes hopeless and without meaning. We are depressed. -- The goal of therapy is to try to reunite our sad feelings with the forgotten events that will, somewhere in the past, have triggered them. With the therapist there to comfort us, we may feel braver to explore tragedies that have hitherto been too large for us to be able to feel. We realise that we aren’t sad about everything; simply about a few things it felt unbearable to confront. Therapy knows that, when we can cry over something specific, we are well on the way to recovery. -- ... #‘Good Enough’: The English psychoanalyst, Donald Winnicott, who specialised in working with parents and children, was disturbed by how often he encountered in his consulting rooms parents who were deeply disappointed with themselves. They felt they were failing as parents and hated themselves intensely as a result. They were ashamed of their occasional rows, their bursts of short temper, their times of boredom around their own children and their many mistakes. What struck Winnicott, however, was that these people were almost always not at all bad parents. They were loving, often very kind, very interested in their children, they tried hard to meet their needs and to understand their problems as best they could. As parents they were – as he came to put it in a hugely memorable and important phrase – ‘good enough.’ -- Winnicott was putting a finger on a crucial issue. We often torment ourselves because we have in our minds a very demanding – and in fact impossible – vision of what we’re supposed to be like across a range of areas of our lives. This vision doesn’t emerge from a careful study of what actual people are like. Instead it’s a fantasy, a punitive perfectionism, drawn from the cultural ether. -- With the phrase ‘good enough’, Winnicott wanted to move us away from idealisation. Ideals may sound nice, but they bring a terrible problem in their wake: they can make us despair of the merely quite good things we already do and have. By dialing down our expectations, the idea of ‘good enough’ resensitises us to the lesser – but very real – virtues we already possess, but which our unreal hopes have made us overlook. -- A ‘good enough’ life is not a bad life. It’s the best existence that actual humans are ever likely to lead.'
psychology  psychotherapy  honesty  sorrow  humility 
december 2018 by adamcrowe
The Book of Life -- How to Love
'...Looking at another person through the eyes of love involves some of the following: #Imagination: Moralistic-thinking identifies people closely with their worst moments. Love-thinking pushes us in another direction, it bids us to use our imaginations to picture why someone might have done a regrettable deed and yet could remain a fitting target for a degree of understanding and sympathy. Perhaps they got very frightened, maybe they were under pressure of extreme anxiety and despair. They might have been trying to say or do something else, and this was all they could manage. -- Those who look with love guess that there will be sorrow and regret beneath the furious rantings or a sense of intolerable vulnerability behind the pomposity and snobbishness. They intimate that early trauma and let-down must have formed the backdrop to later transgressions. They will remember that the person before them was once a baby too. -- The loving interpreter holds on to the idea that sweetness must remain beneath the surface – along with the possibility of remorse and growth. They are committed to mitigating circumstances; to any bits of the truth that could cast a less catastrophic light on folly and ‘nastiness’. -- ... #A Story, Not a Headline: Moralistic thinking likes headlines; love-thinking goes in search of stories. ‘Angry spouse abandons family’ will have its origins decades before, in the old house, at the hands of unsteady parents, when innocence was first lost and stability destroyed. ‘Scandalous CEO ruins company’ isn’t a story of greed or venality, but one of loss, grief and mental illness. In the face of caricature, the task of love is proper curiosity. -- ... #Redeeming Features:Love-thinkers interpret everyone as having strengths alongside their obvious weaknesses. When they encounter these weaknesses, they do not conclude that this is all there is, they know that almost everything on the negative side of a ledger could be connected up with something on the positive. They search a little more assiduously than is normal for the strength to which a maddening characteristic must be twinned. We can see easily enough that someone is pedantic and uncompromising; we tend to forget, at moments of crisis, their thoroughness and honesty. We may know so much about a person’s messiness, we forget their uncommon degree of creative enthusiasm. There is no such thing as a person with only strengths, but nor is there someone with only weaknesses. The consolation comes in refusing to view defects in isolation. Love is built out of a constantly renewed and gently resigned awareness that weakness-free people do not exist.'
philosophy  psychology  splitting  blackwhite  humility  love 
november 2018 by adamcrowe
The Art of Manliness -- How to Accept Your Partner’s Flaws
'...The only alternative to the typically fruitless hope of getting one’s partner to change, is to simply accept that they’re never going to. To accept their idiosyncrasies as a part of their, and your, life. Yet this can seem like its own quixotic quest; someone can desire to accept their significant other’s flaws, and yet truly struggle to move this sense of acceptance from their head to their heart. -- Let me suggest a paradigm that I think is most helpful in making this mindset shift. Through it, you can come to not only accept your partner’s “flaws,” but even appreciate them. -- We typically think of the things we love about our partner, and the things we dislike, as being sorted into two very separate categories. The reality, however, is that they’re often inextricably linked. They’re two sides of the same pole of energy — one a “light” side, the other a “shadow” side. -- A wife loves that her husband is a man’s man, who’s rugged and stoic and makes her feel safe, but she dislikes that he isn’t more empathetic and emotionally expressive. The energy that fuels his very masculine side, however, is the same that inhibits his tenderness. -- A husband loves that his wife is artistic and creative, but he dislikes how flaky she is about keeping plans. The energy that gives her that more esoteric side, however, is the same one that makes her mind a little more spontaneous and scattered. -- The same energy that creates the side of someone that you love, is frequently also responsible for the side that drives you crazy. You thus shouldn’t pine for an impossible scenario where you can retain that which you adore, and excise the part you do not; you can’t pick up one end of the stick, without picking up the other! Once you recognize that someone’s flaws are just a different manifestation of the same energy in them that you love, these faults become easier to accept.'
psychology  relationships  humility 
november 2018 by adamcrowe
YouTube -- [Alain de Botton]: Why None of Us Can Escape Catastrophe
'We are nowadays sold the story that we can, with a bit of luck, all have relatively pain and error free lives. But in fact, life is fundamentally catastrophic and tragic in structure. None of us will get through this life without some grave and searing reversals. It isn't that we've been cursed. We're just human – and we need to be prepared and have plenty of compassion for ourselves and others.'
philosophy  humility  pessimism  stoicism 
november 2018 by adamcrowe
YouTube -- Esther Perel: Finding "The One"
"Every couple has issues; the only question is which are the issues you want to deal with? You pick this person, you deal with these issues; you pick that person, you'll deal with other issues."
psychology  relationships  humility  EstherPerel 
october 2018 by adamcrowe
YouTube -- Emmy van Deurzen: Open up to autumn
'Open up to autumn or to the end of your life when you feel melancholy for the loss of summer but also find the inner peace of mellow appreciation of the bounty still left to enjoy. Change is everywhere. Allow it to carry you forward.' -- Time just gets away from us. ~ Charles Portis
philosophy  existentialism  death  humility  EmmyvanDeurzen 
october 2018 by adamcrowe
If Humility Is So Important, Why Are Leaders So Arrogant?
Indeed, humility in the service of ambition is the most effective and sustainable mindset for leaders who aspire to do big things in a world filled with huge unknowns.
leader  leadership  humility  humble 
october 2018 by johnnyreach
The Book of Life -- Why People Get Defensive in Relationships
'...What is so sad is how easily we (as the accused) might, if only the circumstances were more sympathetic, confess to everything. We would in fact love to unburden ourselves and admit to what is broken and wounded in us. -- The answer is to create a situation where both partners accept that they are flawed but not – on this basis – ever beyond a need for love and kindness, where the mutual need for evolution is taken as a given – and where every well-considered criticism is handled as both correct and yet needing to be wrapped up in extraordinary layers of reassurance. -- There should be a recognition that people don’t change when they are told what’s wrong with them; they change when they feel sufficiently supported to undertake the change they (almost always) already know is due. It isn’t enough to be sometimes right in relationships, we need to be generous enough in our love in order that our partner can admit when they are in the wrong.'
philosophy  relationships  humility  debate 
september 2018 by adamcrowe

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