Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Depth Psychotherapy, Stress Reduction & the Holidays

December 8th, 2011 · depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, stress, stress reduction

Stress reduction during the Holidays: can a depth psychotherapy perspective help with keeping the season genuine and human?

depth psychotherapy

I hear from many people in many ways at this time of year how hard it can be to stay true to oneself.  People find it hard to stay with how they really feel; to keep to what they want for themselves, instead of being driven by others’ expectations; and, to stay with their own genuine spirituality.

 

Approaching the season in the spirit of depth psychotherapy, here are 4 potentially important elements.

Honest Connection, Not “Going Through the Motions”

Relationships with others in the holiday season can be routine, rather than genuinely connected.  Sometimes I would really rather not see a particular person at all; experiences of betrayal or violation by family members, for instance, can generate such feelings.  Or, it may be painful to pretend to be as others rigidly expect me to be.

These holidays, could my stress reduction involve making my connections with others reflect how I really feel in my depths?

Authenticity, Not Conventionality

Similarly, my holiday activities might be motivated by what I’m expected to do, rather than what I really want.  How free can I be this year to do what genuinely matters to me?

More Living, Not More Stuff

We all know the ever-growing marketing pressure to buy more at this season.  Underlying this compulsive push is a powerful fantasy: the idea that owning the right things will lead to an imaginary good life of fulfillment.  But maybe the key to our fulfillment has much more to do with what we experience.  How could I alter my holiday season to experience more, in order to feel more alive?

Depth of Feeling, Not Sentimentality

The holiday season is often full of hackneyed sentimentality, both sacred and secular.  I can feel a lot of pressure to feel what I’m “supposed” to feel, rather than what I actually do feel.  This doesn’t mean that I have to be cynical; in our era that can be a canned sentiment, too.  What do I genuinely feel and think as I reflect about myself, the season, those close to me, and my journey?

Father Christmas” by Emerson, Lake and Palmer expresses these psychological truths:

 

My very best wishes for the Holiday season,

[cta]

PHOTO: © Wessel Du Plooy | Dreamstime.com
MUSIC: “I Belive in Father Christmas”, Greg Lake © 1975  Atlantic Records  All Rights Reserved.
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga

 

→ 2 Comments

Jungian Therapy, Stress Reduction & Perfectionism

November 17th, 2011 · Jungian, Jungian therapy, perfectionism, stress, stress reduction

stress reduction

There is a clear link between stress reduction and perfectionism, when these two things are viewed from the perspective of Jungian therapy.

Roots of Perfectionistic Stress

Often perfectionism and much associated stress are rooted in complexes, those “knots” or “eddies” of feeling toned energy in our minds, that often have their roots in traumatic occurrences.

 Never Enough

Often, the negative side of the father, mother or family complexes can lead to a continual sense that whatever we do or produce is not enough.  Another factor in the continual striving to make what we do better can be the shadow, which is the sum total of all those aspects of ourselves that we don’t wish to acknowledge.  Our anxiety about these unacknowledged aspects of ourselves can drive us to strive ever more relentlessly to try to cover our weakness and imperfection.

Unrealistic expectations for ourselves are rooted in a lack of willingness to accept our own fundamental nature, with its particular strengths and weaknesses. This is a kind of pride.

The Sisyphus Agenda

In Greek myth, because of his pride, Sisyphus is eternally condemned to push a heavy rock up to the top of a mountain.  He never can finish the task, and the rock continually rolls back downhill, and must be raised again. The eternal exhaustion and frustration of Sisyphus are an apt image for the struggle and stress of perfectionism.

Often, our own perfectionism can have this feeling of an endlessly wearing, endlessly frustrating ordeal.  I know I have rolled the rock of perfectionism up the endlessly defeating hill more than a time or two in the past!

Accepting Ourselves and the World

Recently, a Facebook friend, Paulette Turcotte, posted “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen on her wall.  The song is a remarkable commentary on perfectionism, and on our need to accept the shadowy and broken dimensions of life.

Cohen’s lyrics are profoundly expressive:

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything…

That’s how the light gets in, that’s how the light gets in

We don’t get perfection in this life, either inside of ourselves, or outside.  If we can accept this, and have some compassion for ourselves, then perhaps we can make some peace with the demands that we make on ourselves, and equally importantly, set appropriate boundaries for the demands that others make on us.

[cta]

PHOTO:  © All rights reserved by New Visions2010
VIDEO:  “Anthem”, by Leonard Cohen © 2011 Sony Music Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

 

© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga

 

 

 

→ 1 Comment

Individual Psychotherapy & Stress Reduction: 4 Basics

June 26th, 2011 · individual psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, stress, stress reduction

stress reduction

Individual psychotherapy can enhance mental resilience and stress reduction.  Increasing our capacity to cope with stress is a vital concern.  A recent StatsCan study shows large recent increases in the number of Canadians over 15 who report that most days are extremely or quite stressful.  Reducing stress matters a lot in a time like ours.

Since the great Dr. Hans Selye of the University of Montreal coined the term “stress” in 1950, our understanding has grown immensely.  Selye and his colleagues have shown us very important things about this important psychological state:

  • It Can Cripple

Selye pioneered the connection between mental stress and its physical manifestations in coronary disease, ulcers and many other  illnesses.  In its physical manifestations, stress can rob us of our health, or sometimes even our life.  Stress can also cripple us psychologically, taking our enjoyment of life, and, sometimes preventing us from carrying out even rudimentary tasks.

  • Personal Factors Can Increase Its Severity

Personal psychological factors can directly affect the way an individual handles stressful situations.  A powerful example of this would be when an individual has experienced post traumatic stress disorder through physical abuse in childhood, violent crime or accident, exposure to combat, or similar factors.   Other kinds of of psychological wounding also greatly increase the difficulty of dealing with stress.

  • Problem or Symptom?

All too often in therapy, symptoms are treated, and we think that eliminates the issue.  But depth psychotherapy knows that just treating stress may leave big underlying emotional issues untouched.  There is a great deal more to us than initially meets the eye.  Stress is often fundamentally connected to how we relate to ourselves and our lives.

  • Is Your Stress Related to Your Life Journey?

Stressful states can be related to what is going on in the deepest levels of the conscious and unconscious self.  To put it in Jungian terms, if the way of life of a person is fundamentally at odds with the true nature, or the unlived life of that individual, this is an enormous stressor.  This can especially be true at midlife.  On the other hand, a better connection with his or her own real identity may often bring a dramatic reduction in an individual’s level of stress.

Personal stressors may be an urgent invitation from body and mind to embark on a personal journey of discovery of the true self.

What do you think about stress in our age? I’d welcome your comments or emails.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Ontario

[cta]

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO: © Picstudio | Dreamstime.com
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario  (near Mississauga)

 

→ No Comments