Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Psychotherapy Oakville: 4 Insights into Natural Life

June 24th, 2013 · Oakville, Psychotherapy, psychotherapy Oakville

To practice depth psychotherapy in Oakville is to be aware of many key symbols in peoples’ lives, including “naturalness” or “the natural life”.

psychotherapy Oakville

This symbol has become of more and more importance to dwellers in affluent suburban communities like Oakville, especially in the last 15-20 years.  It seems clear that it resonates with the increasing divorce from nature that we have experienced in an advanced technological mass society.

What makes this symbol so potent for us?

Nature as Symbol

If you study the history of suburban life, you discover that, at its roots.  it’s really about return to, and increased contact with, nature.

The idea of suburbia springs from the awareness in late 18th and 19th century cities that life was increasingly divorced from meaningful connection with the natural environment.

So, as long as there have been communities like Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga, their inhabitants have yearned for connection with the natural world.

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Outer Nature

Connection with outer nature concerns 21st century North Americans more and more.  You can see it reflected in a a vast variety of ways in popular culture, and in economic life.

Many of us feel acutely that our lives are more and more confined to artificially constructed environments.  Often that awareness brings a sense of claustrophobia.

psychotherapy Oakville

We want natural everything:  exposure to the outdoors; natural fabrics in our clothes; natural cleaning materials; and perhaps especially, natural foods and medications, due to our fear that ingesting man-made chemicals or GMOs may lead to grave illness.

In many areas, people flock to cottages at this time of year, often to experience less complicated living that seems closer to the natural environment.

Our yearning for closeness to nature — at least nature in its outward manifestations — seems boundless.

Inner Nature

What we may be less aware of is our need for a return to inner naturalness.  There is real danger that we can become over-civilized, over-technologized, and over-rationalized, thereby losing contact with who we most fundamentally are.

In particular, we can lose contact with those aspects of our own nature that don’t fit the mode and expectations of our society, or our idealized self-image, or fit the way we present ourselves — what Jungians call the persona or social mask.

Rediscovery of our connection with our most fundamental nature, with who and what we really are, may be experienced as a genuine liberation, accompanied by a deep sense of being wholly, and integrally, ourselves.

This is the deepest, and most profound, sense of contact with nature.

Psychotherapy Oakville: the Journey to My Own Nature

psychotherapy Oakville

One of the most painful things can be to discover that I am at odds with my deepest nature, with my most fundamental self.  This awareness can manifest in a profound yearning for authenticity and wholeness.  In this fundamental sense, the journey of individual therapy can be a journey toward natural life — life in connection with the whole of the instinctual and spontaneous Self.

PHOTOS: AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved pabadoo ; See-ming Lee ; ~Brenda-Starr~
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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4 Ways the Orphan Appears in Individual Psychotherapy

June 17th, 2013 · individual, individual psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

The experience of the orphan is surprisingly important for individual psychotherapy.  Why is this image so powerful for us?

individual psychotherapy

For those who come from stable family backgrounds, that might seem like an absurd thing to claim.  But let me try and show you what I mean.

Exile

To live as an orphan, is to feel completely alone in the world.  To feel that the world is not dependable or safe, and in particular, that there are few or no bonds with other people that can be depended on at any deep level.

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The true orphan is one prevented from forming and relying on the bonds to parents and family that are so crucial in early life.

To be an orphan is to experience radical aloneness.  It is to experience radical vulnerability.

There are many people who genuinely don’t have parents.  Some actually don’t have living parents.  Others, many more, live the wound of profound abandonment, due to parental apathy, abuse or fundamental rejection.

And, all of us, in the process of individuation, will at times partake of orphan reality — where we are left feeling profoundly isolated and abandoned, with no resources to rely upon but our very own.

Eric Clapton sings of many kinds of orphan state in the song Motherless Child:

Forever Taking Leave (Always on the Verge of Departing).

As John Bowlby showed, one of the characteristics of those who, like orphans, have had weak or broken attachment to others in early life is that, very often, they can be ready to cut their connections to other people, places or situations at the drop of a hat.

When I reflect on this, I’m reminded of some lines from an old pop song by the Eagles:

“I’ve got this peaceful, easy feeling / I know you won’t let me down / ‘Cause I’m already standing on the ground”

The orphan part of our psyche is always ready to pull away, because it never truly feels like it is at home, or that it really belongs.

individual psychotherapy

Yearning for Home

Yet orphans continually yearn for home.  Symbolically, home represents a place of true belonging, to which a person is fully, fundamentally and irrevocably connected.

This yearning is deeply embedded in human psychology and biology, through 200+  million years of mammalian evolution.  It expresses itself in a vast variety of ways in human art, literature, music, religious symbolism and philosophy — and also, I note with interest, in baseball!

individual psychotherapy

To Really Come Home

All human individuals can can experience this orphan dimension to human existence — can, at times, feel incredibly alone and without a true home.  One of the key benefits of in depth individual psychotherapy is to enable the individual to have the sense of being at home in her- or himself, in one’s true nature.  Just what that means for any given individual is apparent as he or she takes his or her own journey into the experience of the orphan, and into self-understanding, and self acceptance.

PHOTOS: Attribution Some rights reserved muffet ; texas_mustang  ; Sister7     VIDEO: © 2007 WMG Motherless Child
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Five Ways Help for Depression Involves “the Real Me”

June 10th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

If I’m going to get help for depression that really makes a difference, I’m going to need to come to terms with the real me.

help for depression

Self understanding and self acceptance are often key elements in lasting, long-term help for depression.

1.  Personal Experience of Depression

Depression is an extremely varied and complex thing.  It manifests very differently in different people.

It’s essential for an individual to understand how depression has appeared in his or her unique life.

Truly effective long term help for depression begins with awareness of how this condition is rooted in the unique circumstances of the individual.

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2.  Depression Has an Unconscious Aspect

Very often, there’s more than meets the eye in an individual’s depression.  Likely, we don’t know everything about how our depression affects us and where it comes from.  To uncover that often entails genuine exploration both of how it came to be in our lives, and also of the present situations where we feel “stuck” in the middle of insoluble dilemmas of which we are often only at best partially conscious.

help for depression

 

3.  Depression is Individual “Life Pressed Down”

James Hollis takes us back to the literal meaning of the word depression:

Think of what the word means literally, to de-press, to press down.  What is “pressed down”?  Life’s energy, life’s intentionality, life’s teleology is pressed down, thwarted, denied, violated… [S]omething in us colludes with it. Life is warring against life….

For “life’s energy, life’s intentionality, life’s teleology” to be pressed down or thwarted means for me in some fundamental sense to not be allowing who I really am to emerge.  I need to explore the unique situations and things in my individual story where that is occurring.  What in me is keeping me back?

4.  Depression, Anxiety, Self-Awareness

Part of the help for depression that I may need is to become aware of the ways  which my depression may be related to my anxiety.

EXAMPLE:  “Lisa” is depressed, because her life dream to be an artist is slipping away.  However, to realize that dream would mean dealing with the anxiety created by disappointing her family, who point proudly to her career as an actuary.  She finds herself “stuck” between the anxiety and the depression.  Perhaps the only way forward for Lisa is to accept that she will never win the approval from her family that she has always sought, and to move into what she wants for her life.

5.  Hand in Hand with the Real Me

Help for depression that makes a real difference involves individual therapy that keeps bringing me back to myself, to my own story, and to my own unique being.  As Hollis again says, “It takes great courage to value depression, to respect it… to go down into the depression and find our soul’s greatest treasure.”

help for depression

Often, our own fundamental nature lies at the bottom of depression.  Only when we are prepared, like Orpheus, to venture to the bottom of that underworld, can we find our sense of real aliveness.

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© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

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4 Relationship Facts for Midlife Transition & Later On

June 4th, 2013 · midlife, midlife transition

In the midlife transition, and later on, relationships take on incredible importance to individuals, an importance that they retain throughout the second half of life.

midlife transition

As we journey through the second half of life the questions around what is fundamentally meaningful in life become more and more important, as do questions around truthfulness and authenticity.  Nowhere are these concerns more powerfully alive for us than in the context of the deepest personal relationships — friends, lovers, mentors and family (where possible).

Download 12 Questions

1. The Ever Present Realities of Personal Commitment

At every life stage we need relationships; if we are alive to them, they continually change us.  As Prof. Aldo Carotenuto tells us,

“the encounter is continually being recreated… we feel we are pervaded by something new and something old: the new thing is the transformation underway and the old is nothing other than the rediscovered subjectivity in the relationship….  But here we come to the question of personal commitment….  The beloved has a reality as legitimate as my own, one which my desire must come to terms with.

As legitimate as my own, that I must come to terms with…  As I move through the second half of life, do I have the courage to let the other be who they are — and to let them in?

2. Relationships That Abide Through Transition

Moving through life transitions, and especially midlife transition, our awareness of who we are changes, as does our awareness of those with whom we are in intimate relationship.  If we are honest, this means that our relationships face the challenge to either grow with our changed understanding of ourselves and perceptions — or else to face death.  Death can come as the quiet drifting apart of two people, or the fiery end of long-standing connections.

Will our relationships truly abide midlife transition and later life?  Or must we find new relationships that will?

3. Relationship Trauma

It is often an experience of shock and anxiety for an individual to come to the awareness that a key relationship upon which he or she has relied is not a secure and resilient.

This knowledge can come in the dramatic form of marital infidelity, various kinds of betrayal rooted in issues such as addictions, or in the awareness that the other no longer holds me as a person.  This last can manifest itself in an awareness of studied rejection by the other, or in the form of a lack of curiosity about the other, and the ways that they differ from oneself — the person simply does not want to know about the differences.

4. At Home with the Other

The opposite of the above is a fundamental kind of welcome or hospitality for the other.  An openness to both the mystery of who the person is, and who he or she may be becoming.  You have to be gentle for that.  And tough.

midlife transition

In midlife transition and beyond, depth psychotherapy can open the way to finding soul in individual life and relationship.

PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved bravenewtraveler ; jenndurfey
© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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