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In Fall: Help with Anxiety & Individuation, 4

September 10th, 2012 · Anxiety, help with anxiety, Individuation

This last post in my series on issues of individuation and help with anxiety in the Fall start-up season focuses on the role of imagination.

help with anxiety

Imagination has a huge role in both our anxieties and also in our hopes and aspirations.  How does it affect us as we deal with the challenges of this time of year?

Imagination Has Formidable Power

In the Fall start up, whether we are aware or not, our imagination is powerfully activated.  We can imagine the greatest possible outcomes for ourselves or our children, and we can often imagine the most threatening and scary outcomes.

Often, imagination is the power behind anxiety.  Those with powerful imaginations often experience more anxiety, because they can vividly imagine negative possibilities.

But imagination is also strongly connected to individuation.  The things that come into consciousness, through dreams, daydreams, fantasies and even the images connected with internet addiction are powerfully related to what goes on in the unconscious.  Our deepest conflicts and fears, as well as new possibilities that try to break into our lives — all are vitally connected with imagination.

Imagination: Rooted in the Unconscious

We tend to think of imagination as under conscious control, but actually our control is rather limited.  Things we imagine burst into consciousness from the unconscious all the time, if we are honest with ourselves, and do not censor.  There are connections between these manifestations and the deep processes of the unconscious self.

Whether as adult or child, if we explore what we imagine, we learn a great deal about ourselves and our journey.

Taking What We Imagine Seriously

It’s striking how deeply that which emerges from imagination can affect us.  On the unconscious level, they come out of what we’ve experienced, combined with the deep level issues with which the unconscious concerns itself.

The power of the imaginal profoundly structures our relationship to our lives.

Fantasies of Fall

This Fall start-up season is laden with emotions.  They can produce joy, strong anxiety, or may even colour our expectations and experiences with dark foreboding.

Alternately, if we can explore and understand what our imagination is putting in front of us, and where it comes from, we may understand some profound things about what is trying to emerge and live itself out in each of our individual lives.

The fantasies and anxieties of Fall surround us.  They touch on our deepest hopes, fears and aspirations.  They invite us on the journey to ourselves.

PHOTO:  AttributionSome rights reserved by Natural Step Online   VIDEO: ©   , 2009

 

 

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In Fall: Help with Anxiety & Individuation, 3

September 3rd, 2012 · Anxiety, help with anxiety, Individuation

As I’ve suggested earlier in this series, needing help with anxiety, and feeling the call of individuation may both be our experiences in the “September rush”.

help with anxiety

The busy-ness of this season can make it hard to find time to reflect on very much at all.  Yet, there may be some very profound things that we need to consider, as we try to open up the meaning of this time of year for ourselves.

Beginning September: Four Reflections

1. Life is Beckoning

We feel it all around us, as September begins.  The surge of renewed life as the Fall season commences.

We see it in our collective life, as kids go back to school, adults go back to university and college, and all manner of Fall activities start up again.  Everything urges us to jump into collective life.  But what about getting into our own, unique individual lives?

What is real life, for me?

2. The Gift Inside the Anxiety

Real anxiety is often associated with this time.  If I do need help with anxiety now, it may be important to ask — what does it mean?  What might I not want to face?  Is it tied to fear about the future, and possible mistrust of myself, or of life?  Or possibly to repressed feelings or yearnings?

Life’s energy often gets tied up in anxiety, rather than poured into those parts of our lives that need to be lived out.

What would it be like to give some unacknowledged part of yourself real, concrete life?

3. “Why be Happy When You Could be Normal?”…

…is the ironic title of Jeannette Winterson’s autobiography.  It’s an actual remark made by her adoptive mother, a woman of very narrowly conservative religious views, when Jeanette declared herself on certain key lifestyle issues.  It leads all of us ask where we have sacrificed happiness and meaning in our lives for the sake of being “normal”.

Might that need to change, for the sake of our psychological well-being?

4. The Divine Child

At this time, much gets stirred by the changes we experience.  We’re powerfully aware of the vulnerability of our children, their seeming fragility.  Yet we lose sight of youth’s resilience and adaptability, captured in the symbolism of the divine child.  Throughout the world we find the myth of a child born, seemingly fragile and “at risk”, who, despite the terrifying array of opposing forces, prevails.  So it is with the new life appearing in our children, and — dare we say it? — striving to appear in the lives of their parents.

Next post in Fall, Anxiety & Individuation Series

PHOTO:  AttributionSome rights reserved by Phil Roeder

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In Fall: Help with Anxiety & Individuation, 2

August 28th, 2012 · Anxiety, help with anxiety, Individuation

In my first post on Fall: Help with Anxiety and Individuation, I explored the connection between anxiety and our individuation at back-to-school time.  In this post, I’d like to take it further.

help with anxiety

Children, and the symbol of the child, produce an incredibly strong emotional/instinctual response in us.  And I think that there is scarcely any time of the year when the potential for that archetypal response gets more activated than in the “back to school” season.

The Symbol of the Child: Lightning Rod for Angst

Parents are both socialized and hard wired to bond with their children, and to meet their needs and protect them.  What is more, on a symbolic level, as in dreams, children often represent both potentiality, and the future.

That’s why popular culture in recent times is full of movies involving vulnerable kids in peril, like Gone Baby Gone, The Road and I am Legend, among many others.  They express a profound uncertainty that many feel  in our time about their own, and their children’s, future.

The Endless, Anxious Challenge of Kids

In our uncertain times, parents give continuously to meet children’s needs, struggling to feel confident that what they provide will be enough to enable their kids to “make it”.  Yet, at some point, we have to trust in our kids and their potential.  If we find it hard to do that, might we be projecting our own feelings of lack of trust in ourselves, and our own lives, onto them?

How is My Unlived Life with Me Now?

The symbol of the child can activate all our feelings about all our aspirations and yearnings that we have never made real.  We might then easily foist the burden of living that out onto our children: e.g.,  I always wanted to be a heart surgeon, but couldn’t… but my child will fulfil my dreams, damn it!

To be Myself in this Time

But time is a one-way door.  As Joni Mitchell expresses so well in her song “The Circle Game”, I cannot find help for anxiety in clinging to past possibilities:


Can I be open to what life brings to me, to what wants to be alive in me — now?  Here in the present, can I decide to open myself up to experiences and to possibilities in myself, to live now?

Often the journey of individuation in depth psychotherapy requires help with anxiety connected to the past… to allow real life in the present.

Next post in Fall, Anxiety & Individuation Series

PHOTO:  © PeJo29 | Dreamstime.com  MUSIC:  Joni Mitchell “The Circle Game” © Siquomb Pub. Co.

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In Fall: Help with Anxiety & Individuation, 1

August 21st, 2012 · Anxiety, help with anxiety, Individuation, individuation process

The demands of the Fall season make many feel a need for help with anxiety: the surprising thing is how this anxiety connects with our need for individuation.

help with anxiety

Often parents of school age kids feel a need at this time for help with anxiety — for many very good reasons.  But others feel restless and anxious as well, whether they have children or not.

What does Fall evoke ?  We may need help with anxiety, sure enough, but what about our individuation?

Hopes and Fears of the Past

For many children, embarking on another school year evokes hope, but also anxiety.  Returning students anticipate that the school year might be a time of personal growth and adventure, when they might find something really new and exciting in life — some new possibility.  Yet, the school year’s start may bring anxious forebodings that the year — and life — may not be like this.  Adults often feel some echo of this.

“Children Must be Realistic”

My earliest school memory is of a friend in my class who was slapped with a ruler for making 4s that were closed at the top, rather than open, as the teacher had shown us.  I think that he had intended to proudly show the teacher that he already knew how to make 4s, but instead he ended up humiliated and chastised.

For many adults, the association with school may be all about having to accommodate — to shut down parts of themselves that proved “too much” for the school environment.  Some people take that shutting down message to heart, and never recover from it.

Just how “realistic”, i.e., not ourselves, have we learnt to be?  If we need help with anxiety, could it stem from alienation from ourselves that forms a barrier to our individuation?

Onrush of Demands and Obligations

For parents, the re-commencement of school along with the whole multitude of kids’ activities can be an overwhelming burden at this time.  In my experience, many do need help with anxiety.  How do we take care of ourselves in the midst of this?  Is it even OK to think about what I might need to develop as a person?

Where are My New Beginnings?

Living through this time of year, we’re aware that kids have new beginnings, and kids have optimism about the future.  What about me?  Does my life open on any growth, any depth, any new beginnings?

The journey to individuation may call to us most strongly in Fall.

Next post in Fall, Anxiety & Individuation Series

PHOTO:  Attribution   Some rights reserved by ErikCharlton

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