Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Stress Therapy & Making Difficult Decisions

September 22nd, 2011 · difficult decisions, making difficult decisions, stress, stress therapy

stress therapy

Stress therapy reveals that major life transitions are often fundamentally linked with the necessity of making difficult decisions — and with intense anxiety and stress.  When one is confronted with major, potentially life-changing decisions, it can seem very fateful indeed.

Relationship Choices

Stress therapy shows it’s common for crises or major life transitions to be mixed right up with the process of making difficult decisions about key relationships in our lives.  Decisions about whether to stay in marriages or relationships, or possibly difficult choices about who to love are frequent.  Sometimes these feelings are occasioned by major life transitions; sometimes they force us into the crisis of a major life transition.

Career Transition

It may be that a career path that has been pursued ends or starts to feel like it simply can’t or won’t work anymore.  An individual must face whether to stay in the old career, or else find some new way to move forward.  Often there can be intense stress in deciding what to do — or how to do it.

Changes in Philosophy, Spirituality or World View

Changes in the fundamental way  a person views the world can lead toward making difficult decisions.  The reverse can also be true.  A change in a fundamental aspect of belief, or a spiritual crisis can be a real earthquake in a person’s life, and it may require a very individual solution, and also the right kind of help to work it through in a way that is authentic for that individual.

Patterns of Behaviour that Don’t Work Anymore

We adapt to situations in life with patterns of behaviour.  For instance, the person who grows up in an incredibly chaotic house may learn to be incredibly rigorous and methodical, as a way of “getting through”.  Such attitudes may serve a person incredibly well — until one day life calls for change.  Transitioning to a new attitude may require skilled help through stress therapy.

A Whole New Way of Making Decisions — and Living?

At crisis points, the challenge of making a particular major decision may lead to a transformed way of making decisions, and, in fact, to a whole different outlook on life as it is worked through.  Often, depth psychotherapy such as Jungian analysis can be of tremendous help in the decision process.

I wish each of you the gifts of insight and clarity in the decisions on your journey towards wholeness.

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

 

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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

1-905-337-3946

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

 

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Burnout Treatment : 4 Jungian Insights

June 12th, 2011 · burnout, burnout treatment, treatment for burnout

burnout treatment

What is the right kind of burnout treatment?  Burnout is the state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, often work related stress.  It often occurs when a person feels overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands, which can be from work, or sources such as long term caregiving, or heavy family demands.  Burnout leads to disengagement, emotional blunting or numbing, helplessness and hopelessness, loss of motivation, and detachment and depression.

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4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BURNOUT TREATMENT FROM A DEPTH PSYCHOTHERAPY PERSPECTIVE:

  • Honestly Acknowledge Emptiness and Loss.

Often burnout sufferers have a great sense of hollowness or emptiness.  Only through acknowledging what has been lost can they move beyond this.  What do I hope will come back?  Do I remember times in the past that were full of vitality and joy?  It’s important to ask: what do I really yearn for, at this stage in my life?

  • Can You be with Yourself, Instead of Caught up in Doing?

Often those in burnout are so totally caught up in work or tasks that they have little time for themselves.  This is particularly so with recreational time, and also time with their own thoughts and feelings.   It may well be essential to take that time, even if you meet a lot of inner resistance and guilt feelings.  It can be especially important to spend time away from technology: laptops, cells, smartphones, and especially social media, so that you spend time talking to you, not others.

  • Who am I Now?

Work identity, or persona, is not the same as your real identity.  To try and understand who you are in yourself, outside of your work or other role can be key to recovering your lost vitality.  To truly sift reactions, thoughts and feelings, in order to distinguish between your roles, and your own deepest feeling self takes patience and effort, but can connect you again to your real life.

  • What does the Unconscious Say?

People are unaware of their unconscious self, and its reaction to events in their lives.  In burnout, much is going on in the unconscious levels of the self.  Often, this is reflected in the dreams of the burnout sufferer, and also in reactions to daily events that the sufferer may experience, without any clear idea of from where these feelings or thoughts might come.  Often the unconscious can shed a great of light on conflicts and the nature of the individual’s burnout reaction.

A therapist with depth psychotherapy expertise may help greatly in the healing process, and with bringing material to consciousness.

Have you experienced burnout?  If so, how did, or does, it affect you?  I would welcome your comments.

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

 

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO: © Pumba1 | Dreamstime.com
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga )

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4 Benefits of Psychotherapy for Work Related Stress

April 25th, 2011 · psychotherapy for work related stress, stress, work related stress

work related stress

Why would someone get psychotherapy for work related stress?  There are a variety of reasons, but a key consideration is that the stress of work is often so consuming that it involves the whole person.  Because it is concerned with healing for the whole person, psychotherapy can often be the most effective way to deal with problems concerning personal growth and work.

Four principal benefits that come through psychotherapy for work-related stress are the following.

1.  Talking with Someone Outside Your Situation Can be Vital

It can be essential to speak to someone who is outside your situation to gain some perspective on your work situation, and how all the stress and emotional factors are affecting you.  Someone who is objective, but who can truly listen and be emotionally attuned, like a depth psychotherapist, can be invaluable.

2.  “Hanging onto Yourself” Makes a Huge Difference

Staying in a place where you are not overwhelmed by emotional or stress factors at work can be vital.  To gain real insight and help in dealing with potentially overpowering emotional factors can make a great deal of difference for “getting through”.

3.  Work Related & Personal Stress Amplify Each Other

Often important personal issues can affect the stress loading at work, and work stress can complicate personal life and relationships.  Good psychotherapy creates an environment where you can understand all the separate factors, and begin to deal with each of them in the way you really want and need.

4.  Connecting Work to the Direction & Meaning of Your Life

Work is a part of life, but it isn’t the whole thing.  Work can be fulfilling, but the whole person, the Self, needs more than just work.  Depth psychotherapy focuses on the needs of the whole person, conscious and unconscious, and how a person’s work fits together with, and emerges from, the needs of the deepest personality.  This is an exploration that many people need to make for a meaningful life.

How Does Your Work Relate to Your Deepest Self?

What do you want and need from your work life?  Is the stress that your work produces interfering with your sense of well-being, and keeping you from a fulfilling life?  Psychotherapy can open up the way to healing and meaningful connection of your work life with your life as a complete person.

Wishing you the satisfaction of meaningful, balanced work on your journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

1-905-337-3946

PHOTO CREDIT:  © ShashiBellamkonda

© 2011 Brian Collinson

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

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Stress, Power, Resilience — and Myth, Part 1

October 10th, 2010 · Anxiety, Carl Jung, depth psychology, Hope, Meaning, mythology, Oakville, power, Psychology and Suburban Life, resilience, stress, trust, work

Some of the greatest stressors that people experience in the second decade of the 21st century stem from the things which people feel powerless to control.  At times, individuals can feel like life is a dice-roll.

I think that’s why a lot of people in Oakville are so happy about the cancellation of the Oakville Power plant.  Here in Oakville, the mood almost borders on euphoria.  It seems that the feelings are associated with a sense of release, though.  I think that this may be due to the fact that many in Oakville felt that the Power Plant was something close to an an inevitability because of the array of formidable powers (Ford, Trans-Canada and the Premier and Provincial Government) that apparently wanted to see it come to completion.  Fortunately, there were many in Oakville, in organizations like Citizens for Clean Air, who kept up a formidible fight.  And they succeeded, to their very great credit!

There are many things in the 2010s that can easily make people feel powerless.  Many of those things have to do with economics.  It is not that long since the 2008 market meltdown and the Great Recession which followed it, and the recovery which is underway can certainly seem precarious.  Many people have had to contend with job loss, and many more feel that their jobs–and the lives that they have built around those jobs–are precariously balanced.  To a lot of people, dreams that seemed readily attainable for their parents’ generation do not seem at all easily attainable for them.  And many worry about their children’s education and future — and their own later life.

In addition, the majority of us struggle, or have had to struggle with our own inner wounds.  For many people, there can be a strong sense that their experience growing up has not equipped them to feel strong and confident in meeting the challenges that they are facing in their lives.  It can be very hard to the people who feel that “something fundamental  was missing” in the kind of love and affirmation that they received from those who were supposed to love them.  For others, it can feel that events in their lives — loss of love, marital breakup, personal tragedy, trauma — have deprived them of the wherewithal to meet the challenges that life is putting in front of them.

What we each need to meet our lives is what psychologists increasingly refer to as resilience.  Simply put, resilience is the power to “roll with the punches” that life throws at us, and to “have the stamina to go the distance” in our lives, and to “hang in”.

What psychologists and sociologists have noticed in their study of the coping patterns of people, even people dealing with some of the most difficult situations imaginable, is that there are huge differences in how people respond, and whether they are able to cope and endure.  Even in appalling situations, there are some people who have the capacity to overcome their circumstances, and to find the courage to live meaningful and courageous lives.  Resiliency has been defined by psychiatrist Steven Wolin as:

the capacity to rise above adversity—sometimes the terrible adversity of outright violence, molestation or war—and forge lasting strengths in the struggle.

Clearly, we all need resilience.  But we have to be careful that the resilience that we seek is the real thing, not the fake kind.  I think most of us have had some experience with this less-than-authentic resilience.  The fake kind is kind found in the “you can do anything, rise above anything” variety of pep talk, that unfortunately is often found in self help literature.  Regrettably, it is also espoused by some psychologists and therapists.  This heroic version tends (consciously or unconsciously) to over-emphasize will power, and it papers over the cracks and the pain that often run unbelievably deeply in peoples’ lives.  This emphasis on “where there’s a will there’s a way” (a phrase Carl Jung hated) will not sustain when the chips are really down in life.

Mark Bolan’s Cosmic Dancer , which many of you may know from the movie Billy Elliot, itself an incredible celebration of resilience, uses the metaphor of dancing for resilience — “I was dancing when I was 12 / I danced myself right out of the womb / I danced my way into the tomb” :

So, how do we get to the real thing — to a resilience that is rooted in our own real lives?  This is a subject I’ll be pursuing in the next part of this series on “Stress, Power, Resilience — and Myth”.

What are your “impressions” on the whole subject of resilience?  What is it for you?  What is it rooted in?  I’d welcome any of your reflections.

I wish you every good thing as you make your personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Lawrence Wee | Dreamstime.com

MUSIC CREDIT: Mark Bolan and T Rex performing “Cosmic Dancer” from the album “Electric Warrior” © 1971 Warner  This music is the property of Warner and is used here in the fair use context of critical discussion.

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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