As I have aged and matured and not only weathered the complex and sometimes chaotic transitions in my own life, but also walked alongside many others going through theirs, I have come to greatly appreciate the uncertainty and unpredictability of life. With difficulty and some exhaustion I have experienced the liberation that comes with an acceptance of personal responsibility and choice.
We live in an increasingly technologically complex and competitive society. The problems that beset us as a result of globalization, inequality, urbanization, social isolation, and alienation from ideals and values, as we pursue goals that have lost meaning, can overwhelm our ability to hold onto a meaningful path and we can easily lose our way.
This is especially prominent and prevalent during transition periods in our lives. These periods are beset with uncertainty, emotional lability, chaos and anxiety. We allow ourselves to become and be defined by those feelings. None of us are immune and anyone can be drawn into insidious yet maladaptive ways of coping. We can accomplish this through self-medication with substances: legal, illegal and often prescribed; and behaviours such as porn, sex, gambling, love…; the list is as broad as we are creative. The relief can be short-lived but oh, so seductive and before long we can find ourselves spiraling into a vicious cycle of anxiety and exhaustion; we surrender to our lowest instincts, further numbing through our addictions and deepening self-loathing and despair.
This dysfunction has characteristic patterns of bio-psycho-social and spiritual manifestations as we engage in a pathological pattern of reward, relief, despair and self-loathing; this long winter of the soul can become entrenched leaving the devastation of intimate and connected relationships in its wake.
Transition Periods, as we move between events, experiences or periods in our lives, are a source of significant stress and chaos but they also hold within them the quality of in-between-ness, a mysterious and powerful opportunity to confront our fears and learn to let go. To avoid leading inauthentic lives buffeted by fear and rage and a futile attempt to control and predict, I am of the opinion that we need to reshape our worldview to one that acknowledges impermanence; impermanence of body, feelings and mind. These are constructs to which we attach such importance, yet through a disciplined practice and investigation we can let go and in letting go, open ourselves up to the Joy of living with Awareness.
A spiritual dimension is, in my opinion, imperative in recovery. I practice from within an Existential, Humanistic orientation where developing Mindfulness is a key towards deepening our connection with our higher selves, each other, and the world around us.
I now have more than 30 years experience as a psychotherapist. I have seen first hand the developmental challenges faced by infants and children and how the basic template of personality is established as a socially defined construct; I have supported adolescents through the challenges of establishing a sense of Personal Identity, choosing for themselves rather than needing to conform; I have seen those early childhood developmental challenges and conflicts forced into the unconscious only to play out in the crises that beset adults transitioning through periods of chaos and I have first hand experience in overcoming the fear of stagnation through a process of Generativity towards a greater sense of purpose and meaning.