My Therapy Blog

From time to time I share a few thoughts on psychotherapy, the creative process, and other subjects of interest to me.

Becoming Whole

Often we hobble through life, assuming there is no other way of moving forward. We are confronted by difficult feelings and stymied as to how to deal with them. In our quest for fulfilment, we face decisions that at times feel arbitrary. It simply does not occur to us that something can exist, a path, a process that answers the unanswerable. Or, if the question occurs to us, we cannot fathom a possible answer. We might consider therapy, but that carries with it deep stigma. Something must be flawed about us if we reach for therapy. So we carry along, contend with what we have, compare our limping to that which is graver in others, and momentarily feel better. Nothing much changes. But that’s okay, until we look. Or shout at those close to us, and repeat our patterns, frustrated and defeated.

Only being whole affords us true happiness – that unfurling of becoming more of ourselves, with trust in our spontaneity. The truth is that there are ways to integrate our ugliest, most hurtful, or shameful, or weak parts of ourselves. Equally, we can accept and integrate every need that fuels our actions, including our wild, masculine, feminine, mischievous, creative, reflective, child-like, alive, or you-name-it parts of ourselves. We can thrive, beyond surviving, and therapy can hold out the process.

When engaged in a meaningful conversation with a skilled professional, a person begins to hear one’s longings and needs, discover words for what is churning inside, explore and connect the unresolved to past experiences, make sense of things, fine-tune into one’s self, and discover choices. As one of my leading teachers, Dr. Les Greenberg, puts it, we need to arrive in order to leave a place. And learning how to work with emotions allows for that arrival.

This article first appeared on the website of Holistic Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher Grace van Berkum - Gracious Living.

My First Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market

The Therapist is In.

Met many wonderful people outside our venue, Spiritwind, at this event. Feel so privileged to have the opportunity to speak with others about what is most meaningful to them. Made $11, although that is not equivalent to 44 questions (25 cents per question), as some people offered more and added coins as they kept talking. One woman asked me, “What is the root of all evil?” I said, “Disconnection from the self”. She smiled. “I am a psychiatrist”, she said. We laughed.

The Therapist is Out

Went for lunch. Had awesome grilled fish on Baldwin. When I returned I found people photographing my sign. It was a truly festive day.

The White Horse of Uffington

I came upon the image of this horse while browsing on the Internet one night. It is a 3000-years-old, 110-metres-long geoglyph carved into a hill in Uffington, Oxfordshire. And I was instantly drawn to it. It captures the nuances of therapy – working with primal forces and elemental materials, and the continuous journeying. We thus make the possible, carve it in hills, utter it in quiet rooms, write it in journals. Eventually we do it.

Love Starts With You

So much is written about love. We read about it, talk about it, touch it whenever we can. Yet, sometimes it remains outside of our daily lives, as an idea, a cliché, or a mere yearning thumping in our veins.

Often, we enter adulthood blind to the patterns that form throughout our young lives. Shaped by our caregivers, by those around us, and by the events that happen to us, these patterns become the default, our automatic way of responding to the world and ourselves. It can take eons to step back and see the boxes we live out of, their cracks and insufficiencies, and attempt something new when they no longer work.

Sometimes, before awakeness sets in (and it can be many sunsets for that to take place), we move through our lives without realizing that change is possible. We do not see ourselves. Sometimes isolation is that cold. There is no one off whom to reflect; to see one’s self. And we have either never witnessed a modeling of something different or it doesn’t occur to us that we no longer have to stay in a pattern.

So, we begin with self-reflection. To revise what no longer works we need to see it first; to see ourselves first. And the seeing needs to be honest and clear. A full digestion of what that has happened thus far, of one’s experiences and actions. With genuine kindness.

Kindness and compassion emerge effortlessly when we connect to our context out of which we have done the unspeakable. When we acknowledge the fullness of our situation, the parts that are likely invisible to others, we begin to breathe again. We find our validity, comprehend ourselves, and re-order our sense of self. It all becomes spacious again, our life, and we can turn toward and discover the possible.

And then we can fully exhale. Then it becomes clear what is no longer necessary. It is in our kindness toward our own fallibility that we can find the courage to get back up and try again, despite the lack of any evidence that we might succeed. It’s the compassion for ourselves that allows us to get past shame or regret over something we’ve done, and truly move on.

Such is the process of psychotherapy. It guides toward a daily practice of wholeness, one in which you don’t have to sever or lock away any part of yourself. Every bit is valuable and integral to who you are. Like the sweep of an arm in a yoga posture that calls forth your entire body, emotional and mental wellbeing calls forth your entire being. At its core is love. It starts with you. Between you and you.

This article first appeared on the website of Holistic Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher Grace van Berkum - Gracious Living.