Rony Caspi » Thoughts

The ideal “Self”                                                                                             

If only we could see and accept ourselves as we are.

It is so easy to view an ideal persona as our true selves. Yet ideals are rarely if ever reachable, and inevitably we end up feeling that we haven’t lived up to our “true” selves, therefore we must be failures. But really this ideal persona isn’t our true self, it is an ideal; therefore we do not fail when we cannot quite live as “it”. In fact, viewing this “ideal” self as real and present rather than a goal, entrenches a sense of failure and frustration.

If those aspects we so desire were viewed as goals we choose to strive for, would the situation be different?                                        The answer is most likely, yes, as long as at the same time we recognize and accept ourselves as we presently are.

And, what would be so bad if we accepted ourselves, as we are, “warts and all”?

And, what would be so good if we accepted ourselves, as we are?

Supportive professional psychotherapy can help you regain perspective and heal. It is about much more than a simple conversation; Psychotherapy assists you to see yourself, others and your world from a fresh perspective, to gain a better understanding of your response to life’s challenges, and to take ownership of your future path. This is just one of the ways therapy can assist you; the therapist’s job is to partner you through that journey.

by: Rony Caspi

 

Repeating harmful patterns

Far too many of us react to a parent, child, partner, boss, in a manner we regret or, on the slightest provocation, feel that we are unworthy of love or respect.

Where does it come from and why does it happen again and again?

We have all known a child who craved their parent’s appreciation and pride. But with some parents, expressions of approval and pride are rare. Realization that no effort is enough can be bruising. Such bruises often transform to a damaging belief we simply aren’t good enough, a debilitating scar that can stay with us for a lifetime. That child learns that low self-expectations ease inevitable disappointments, and often adjusts behavior to that of one who doesn’t care and may also “dumb-down” to match the image. Years later, the now adult will continue to carry low self worth, low motivation and general dissatisfaction. The parents’ influence is long gone, yet that pattern of behavior, that helped manage the pain and disappointment has become stuck, blocking the adult.

We are never in a vacuum. We live in a constantly changing social and physical environment in which we adjust our responses according to our needs. We discover what works for us in emotional highs and lows; and we repeat what is familiar and what feels safe. Patterns are developed over years. Sometimes behaviour, thought and emotional patterns become ingrained. When we do something the same way for a lifetime, it is easier to continue the pattern than to change, and we often fail to identify it as the cause of harm.

Our task isn’t to identify and change all patterns, but to become aware of patterns, understand where they come from and to recognise their positive and negative impact, in order to make informed choices.

We can learn to recognize thoughts, emotions and actions that are harmful to us or to others. We can teach ourselves to choose differently and to develop new responses that are productive and positive. This process can be slow and arduous. It isn’t always possible do that on our own, yet it is well worth undertaking. Perhaps the time has come for you to find a sympathetic psychotherapist to help you heal your wounds, whether they are recent ones that you wish to manage well, or old ones that have been festering for a while, and that need gentle help to open and heal.

by: Rony Caspi

 

When it’s time to move on                                                                           

 The experience of a significant loss often brings an all-encompassing reaction of grief. We usually associate grief with an emotional response to loss, yet it also involves physical and cognitive functions, and it affects social and philosophical outlooks.

Most of us identify ourselves as partners, parents, sons, daughters, employees, or homeowners… and when a loss occurs through death or other misfortune, this identity is shaken and it is no longer relevant. The impact can be profound. We grow accustomed to a self-identity based on our role in life, and when this identity is no longer true then, who are we? What is our function?

That which was lost occupied an important part of our past, yet it cannot take an active part in our future, and somehow, we need to learn to accommodate that change. This is not an easy realization, as the future we planned for, did not anticipate us being left alone or without. Grief is a natural process and it must take its course. Sometimes we can’t find the motivation and strength to let go of the familiar life narrative, which was disrupted by loss, and then we get stuck, for we need to let go to begin to move forward.A significant loss necessitates significant change. It also presents us with a rare opportunity to re-write the next chapter in our lives, which is not an easy task yet it is one worth undertaking, for we all deserve the right to determine the course we take.

Moving on cannot always be faced on our own. A trained psychotherapist can help you face your demons, so that you are not dogged by dread, anxiety, or depression. Perhaps the time has come for you to find a sympathetic professional to help you heal your wounds, whether they are recent ones that you wish to manage better, or old ones that have been festering for a while, and that need gentle help to open and heal.

by: Rony Caspi

 

The courage to change          

We all experience periods of unhappiness from time to time. Unhappy feelings often mean just sadness and nothing more – they are a healthy response to a difficult situation. They can also be symptomatic of a more chronic concern such as depression, anxiety, and complicated grief.

Hands up those who resist change, especially when unhappy.

We find comfort in the familiar, even in familiar pain and fear the uncertainty that accompanies change. We get accustomed to a weight we carry until we no longer are aware it slows us down and encloses our world. We may feel a level of security in the knowledge that we experienced similar pain before and came through. It can be difficult to let go of that which is known and embrace change, yet how else can we heal?

Only when we take a step to allow uncertainty, can we have a different future, and we can only do that when we feel supported in ourselves and in our environment. Persistent unhappiness can lead us to self-doubts, to question our ability to tolerate the new and unknown.

How can we feel supported enough to face and embrace uncertainty?

Sometimes hurt takes its toll and change seems too hard. Then psychotherapy can help. It is about much more than just talking; it allows you to see yourself, others and the world from a fresh perspective, to gain a better understanding of your response to life’s challenges, and to take ownership of your future path. This is just one of the ways therapy can assist you; the therapist’s job is to partner you through that journey.

by: Rony Caspi

 

Anxiety, a living condition

Anxiety is a mood state, an uncomfortable one. It involves racing negative thoughts, physical tension, and dread of the future. Anxiety is apprehension of what might be, whether it is likely or not… Something may go wrong and we are not sure we could deal with it. The threat can be specific or generalized; the accent is on the apprehension that we may not be able to cope with the imagined risk rather than the risk itself. Anxiety differs from fear, which is a reaction to imminent or present danger.

Both anxiety and fear are common living conditions, i.e. they are a part of what it means to be alive. Most of us feel some anxiety every day of our lives: before a date, an exam, an interview, an important meeting, a medical examination, and a holiday…then, what is it that allows us to sit with such uncertainty most of the time? After all, there is very little in life that we can certain about, yet, we cope most of the time. We feel adequately supported in ourselves and in our environment therefore we can trust our ability to respond to situations.

Sometimes our thoughts become unhelpful, and we get stuck with “what ifs” that persist to the point that we no longer trust our capacity to respond, and then the imagined danger overwhelms us.

Overwhelming anxiety, when we struggle to function under the weight of physical symptoms and we can no longer cope, can be shaming, debilitating, and it can lead to panic attacks (abrupt and intense discomfort that is often accompanied by physical symptoms like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.).

It is helpful to examine what helped you in the past when you were threatened by anxiety, maybe a combination of things? Did you recognize the onset of anxiety early and were you able to take any of the following steps?
• Complete unfinished tasks so that the “to do’s” did not overwhelm.
• Reduce the load for a while, and pace the pressure.
• Focus on the moment; on each task and each little experience. With practice of mindfulness we can keep negative thoughts at bay.

Learning to recognize the signs of anxiety early, before it becomes overwhelming can definitely help. Once anxiety becomes overwhelming, it is not easy to manage on your own. Supportive professional psychotherapy can help you regain perspective and heal. It can assist you with appropriate skills and strength to manage anxiety in the future.

by: Rony Caspi

 

Loss, grief, guilt and moving on

We experience many losses in life. It is important that we recognise that grief can follow all loss, not only the death of a loved one. What do we go through when we lose a life-dream, or following the end to a relationship, the loss of a job, or our health? All of these losses, and others, evoke grief, a natural and often-painful process. To be resolved, grief must accommodate re-adjustment to a new reality; otherwise we may not be able to move on.

A frequent aspect of grieving is a struggle with guilt for moving on with life beyond the loss. This is a difficult struggle because we may feel it is disloyal to consider a future beyond that which was lost or let go. Sometimes, we may even blame ourselves for the loss, believing that we somehow contributed to it, or didn’t do enough to prevent it. Yet, it is essential that we give ourselves permission to move on with life, so as not to remain tied to that which is no longer with us.

Our important challenge then, is to accept the reality of an ending, and a transition to life beyond, and that questions of fairness and responsibility, although important, aren’t central to this task. We need to permit ourselves to adjust to a future without that which was lost, to consider possibilities of a new meaning to life and to allow ourselves to move forward to a new beginning. We do not have to devalue the past but simply to rewrite its ending.

Grief is not an illness to be treated; it is a whole body process that is often not confined to emotional distress. It also impacts on physical and mental functions. And the grieving process can always benefit from support. Often, this support is to be found in friends and family. Sometimes, sensitive counselling support can help people work through stuck points, and find new meaning in life.

by: Rony Caspi

 

Facing The Pain

It is a natural human tendency to avoid pain, and most of us are reluctant to face it. But every life carries its own pain, and even though we fear painful emotions, we ignore them at our peril. Avoidance leads to non-specific anxiety, depression, and even minor physical symptoms such as headache, digestive disturbance or insomnia, and the wound is left to fester.

Avoidance takes many forms. We may distract ourselves with activity, avoid anything that reminds us of the difficulty, change the subject, intellectualize, work too hard or too much, ‘keep busy’, or find ourselves relying too much on alcohol to blunt our awareness.

But avoidance usually doesn’t mean escape and often, emotional pain is stored to resurface later. It is added onto any other unresolved pain, and at times leads to a disproportionate reaction to stress, pain, or loss. All that has been repressed or avoided gathers together to make itself felt in the present, and is much more difficult to deal with than it would have been had it been faced at the time.

It is healthy and adaptive and less painful in the long run, to face the pain head on. Just like the threatening figures in our dreams, if we can find the courage to turn and face it, it loses its power to frighten us. All of us have had the experience of dreading a particular experience, and for this reason, have avoided it. But when we are forced to face it, we discover it was not as terrifying as we had imagined. There is a poem by cartoonist Michael Leunig that teaches us how to manage hurt.

When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken
Do not clutch it
Let the wound lie open

Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt
And let it sting.

Let a stray dog lick it
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell
And let it ring
From The Prayer Tree 
by Michael Leunig

Facing pain is not always easy to do on our own. A trained psychotherapist can help you face your demons, so that you are not dogged by dread, anxiety, or depression. Perhaps the time has come for you to find a sympathetic professional to help you heal your wounds, whether they are recent ones that you wish to manage well, or old ones that have been festering for a while, and that need gentle help to open and heal.

by: Rony Caspi and Jo du Buisson

 

Facts don’t help feeling insecure

What supports us when we are feeling insecure?
Facts don’t. Insecurity bears no direct relationship with facts.
How can you prove to me that there can be no ground for my feeling insecure?

Often a simple hug from a friend, or reassurance of good will offer relief far better than a book of facts, and it is important to remember that we all feel insecure sometime.

Some of us feel insecure most of the time – professional counselling can help build self esteem and confidence.

By: Rony Caspi