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Elaine's Journal Archive 3

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Welcome to the archive 3

This journal discusses the issues that arise in therapy: anything concerning the human condition. I write when I have something to say, normally about two or three times a week, so drop by for new entries. It is not a substitute for therapy. I do not mention my clients as their personal information is confidential. I hope you find my journal interesting. The views expressed in my journal are my own and not those of Richard Snowdon Counselling Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis.

Size 00

20:16 - 26|09|2006
My friend and I were talking about the current debate about models who aim to be a size 00. It started out as a discussion on what exactly a size 00 was, but as the conversation continued I realised we kept talking about how these young women want to be a zero.
To want to become zero, it suddenly hit me as a word rather than a number. Young women wanting to become zero, to become almost invisible. Paradoxically they become seen if they attain the size zero. Designers want to design for that body shape solely because the clothes hang better. The women therefore put themselves under pressure to fit into the ideals of the designer. So as they reduced their bodies to a size 00 do they also reduced their feelings and thoughts about themselves to a zero? Are they driven to nothing to become something in someone else's eyes


23:12 - 25|09|2006
I was involved in a conversation about the emergence of the 'culture of competency'. Various people were sharing their experiences of their work and how they are now evaluated in their jobs.
It seems that they all now have to fulfill a set of competencies that the organisation sets for them. They are given a definition of how they can achieve these competences which invariably leads to the ticking of boxes in order to prove that you have achieved the set task.
I could not understand how this system could possibly work. Firstly who is it that sets the competences? Who defines what it is to be a competent individual in the workplace?
If this is the new and latest thinking in the employment sector, I feel it will not last because it will not work. It will not work because of the desire to be an individual, to be free and autonomous. It is not possible to motivate a workforce by dictating to them.
The desire to shape the individual in my mind is based in a need to control them. If the work force is uniformly the same is it not easier to manage?
When an individual has to fit into another person's idea of what is competent behaviour they are robbed of their creativity. Without creativity business will not thrive, hence again my belief that this 'culture of competencies' will not be workable and will not be able to withstand the desire of the free autonomous individual.
22|09|2006 - No journal today

Secure Base

23:10 - 21|09|2006
Some friends of mine were talking about the idea of the 'secure base'. The idea being that if you have a secure base your more likely to feel confident about taking risks.
They spoke about how younger people were more able to take off for a year and travel the world and they were more likely to have the confidence to do that if they had the security of a supportive family and a home to come back to.
Life can no doubt feel very precarious for the individual who does not have these things to fall back on. If there is no support how then do you make a choice about taking a risk in life? If you risk it and it goes wrong who is there to fall back on?
So it would seem it is more of a challenge for the individual who has grown up in an insecure environment to take risks. If you have something to fall back on in life, it makes risk taking safer. If you only have yourself to fall back on it can make it much harder to take the risk. Or alternatively the insecure person can be more rash in their decision making, as if it is a no win situation so they do not care about the consequences of what they do.
Even from a very young age you can see the impact that growing up in a secure environment brings. You only have to see toddlers in a park running around, excitedly exploring their environment. They run forward completely focused on what ever it is that has caught their attention, and then you will see that moment when they look over their shoulder to see if their parents are still there, when they see their parents they move confidently on, carrying on the exploration. Imagine how it would feel for the toddler who looks back and the parents are not there.
20|09|2006 - No journal today


11:39 - 19|09|2006
I saw an advertisement on the bus today. The poster was full of questions as the company was offering a service that would supply the answers. So the questions were to do with travel, beauty, food, and then there was a question as to whether fish drown? I then had the image of a goldfish flapping on the ground out of it's element.
I began to think of that idea more, the sensation of being out of your element and how it can threaten your survival. A goldfish needs to be in water and have access to food to survive.
What is it then for a human being to be out of their element? A human being needs food and water to survive, but other elements to survival are that a human being needs warmth and shelter and love and care. If those conditions do not exist we are out of our element.


15:58 - 18|09|2006
I was thinking about the ways in which individuals who in order to protect themselves from feelings which make them feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, shape their behaviour. In not wanting to feel vulnerable could the individual take that to another level and begin to chose behaviour that will deaden their feelings?
I was thinking specifically today about how the individual can relate to a person as an object, and how an individual can chose to become the object. In language people can become defined as an object. Take the language of love, for example: 'You are the object of my desire'. Or the description of someone being a sex object, or sex symbol.
An object can become a symbol into which we pour our emotional needs. Yet an object is not emotional. To be objective in life can often denote a logical pragmatic way of being. To be objective emotionally is a way of controlling ourselves and of course is an important part of our natures. The objective view protects against us becoming carried away with our emotions.
So we need a balance in order to form meaningful relationships, we need the objective and the subjective. It will only be a problem if the individual, in order to feel secure and in control, finds that the only way they can relate to others is objectively.
In the extreme, to use someone as an object, dehumanises, and also to become a object for the other also dehumanises. It is no longer a case of wishing to control emotion, it has become a way of cutting off emotions.
I would assume that the extreme occurs because the individual had a traumatic emotional experience and therefore in order to survive that they cannot experience their own subjectivity because the subject is too painful. If they cannot experience themselves as a subject, then it is going to be more difficult for them to form an emotional relationship with another person.


12:58 - 15|09|2006
It was Nietzsche who said "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how". I read that quote in Victor Frankl's book 'Man's search for meaning'. Frankl knew that as long as he was able to hold onto his 'why' the experiences of the concentration camps would not mentally break him. It is also the 'why' which enables Frankl to retain his humanity. He also wrote in his book that he was a man who became a number who became a human being.
I often think about the 'why' and I realised it is because the work of therapy and counselling is based in the 'why'. Counsellors, therapists and analysts are always working with that 'why'. The clients may come into therapy with the burning question of 'how'. How do I cope? How do I deal with this? How can I get better? But underneath all that will be the 'why'. Why did I get like this? Why do I want to stop?
It is in therapy and counselling that the client is able to understand and strengthen the 'why'.

The myth of Icarus

16:32 - 14|09|2006
I was reading about Icarus and remembering the first time I'd read that story. I was in primary school, and I just couldn't understand why Icarus kept flying towards the sun. I can always remember the dramatic drawing in that childhood book, of Icarus falling to his death. As a child I wondered why Icarus wanted to do that, what made Icarus keep going even though his father Daedalus had warned him of the danger and had instructed him to stay close.
When I re-read the story I realised that Icarus was perhaps a symbol of our desire. Icarus just had to do it, he had to see if he could fly to the sun, it was a need. We all have desires and needs and sometimes we can been driven to destructive behaviours and literally burn ourselves out. Yet desire is fundamental to us, it is desire that helps us live, it drives us. Desire for life means we are living it, desire gives meaning to live.
Daedalus invents the wings so he and his son can escape, his desire is driven by a need to save and be saved. In Icarus we see he is driven by his desire to get to the sun, to fly just a little bit higher. In the story Icarus is excited and just wants to get closer to the heavens and to the Gods. So the sun melts the wax and Icarus falls into the sea and drowns.
The part of the story that also affected me as a child, was that Icarus does not listen, I just couldn't understand it. But now I'm an adult I can understand it perfectly. Icarus did not desire death, he was just reaching out for something beyond him. We are all trying to reach something in our lives, we all desire something from our lives.
In the story Daedalus represents reason, and I suppose that is the challenge for the person trying to come out of a cycle of behaviour where their desires and their needs have almost burnt them out. The challenge in those situations is to be able to reason, to be able to listen and to be guided back to solid ground.

Why does censorship exist?

13:56 - 13|09|2006
Is the idea that the role of the censor is that of protecting? For example, in cinema, the censor awards the film with a certificate so that young children will not be exposed to films that are deemed too violent or too sexual.
The problem with censorship is of course that a group of individuals make the decision of what is and what is not appropriate on behalf of the general public. Inevitably the ideas of society could be formed and implemented by the censor in order to teach the public to think as they do.
What then is the motive behind 'internal censorship'? Firstly it must be a way of protecting. As individuals there are things we keep secret from others but of which we make no secret to ourselves. And yet there is a need to sometimes censor a thought or a feeling.
It could be a thought or a feeling occurs which makes the individual perhaps feel guilty or bad, it could be based in the idea of the taboo. In order to protect, the self may then feel the necessity to censor the thought or feeling so that it can fit in with the established ideas of behaving.
For a thought or a feeling to become taboo it would have meant an external process had taken place, and once again, society, or the group would have defined the idea of what was appropriate and what was inappropriate.
So is the internal censor that resides within us born from the influences of the external censor?
Undoubtedly then if the individual grew in an environment of strict censorship it would follow that they would be less likely to be able to feel a sense of free self expression, as their feelings and thoughts may have become stilted by their own internal censor absorbing the ideals of the external censor.


15:19 - 12|09|2006
The word 'vulnerable' keeps cropping up in conversation today. To be vulnerable implies you can be easily hurt, you are not in a position of strength and therefore cannot defend yourself physically or emotionally. It also implies that you are easily influenced or tempted.
What brings on vulnerability then? The vulnerable individual would perhaps feel as if they had no strength. To become vulnerable they may have been made to feel insecure about themselves, they feel unable to make decisions and become dependent on another to take control.
In order for a person to no longer be vulnerable conditions of safety would have to exist. It would be all to easy to abuse the trust of someone who was feeling vulnerable. So the vulnerable individual would need to be in the company of others who were supportive and encouraging and also understanding of their state of being at that moment.
The best person to help a vulnerable person is the individual who is secure in themselves. An insecure person is more than likely to feed in to the person's vulnerability, or to take advantage of it in order not to feel their own insecurities and their own vulnerabilities.
The main challenge for the person who is experiencing that time of vulnerability is to stay in the company of the secure person and to have the ability to recognise that if certain individuals or situations tap into their vulnerabilities then that is the time to dig deep and find the strength to move away.
If a cycle of repetition is taking place and the individual keeps returning to situations or people who keep them in a position of vulnerability, then they would need to understand why they cannot break the pattern and perhaps come to terms with whatever it was that made them feel so vulnerable in the beginning.


23:11 - 11|09|2006
I met one of my friends in the street today, she was with her ten year old son and they were going to the dentist. We were going in the same direction so I walked with them and as we were talking my friend's son kept sighing and saying he was bored, and yet he seemed anxious.
Strangely enough I have heard this before, I was with a group of friends who had children and one of the young boys was getting angry about something and he kept saying to his mother that he was bored. I kind of realised that both the boys used the word bored to not describe the feeling they were having at that moment.
Could it be that the two children, in their separate experiences could not yet define the emotion they were feeling so they felt it as boredom?
Or was it that they had learnt to suppress the real feeling, to mask it, so any difficult feeling would be defined as boredom?
I think it was easy for the 10 year old to say 'I'm bored' rather than 'Im scared'. It could be at the age of 10 he feels as if he is supposed to be a big boy and not worry about the dentist. So too for the other child, he had not wanted to express the emotion as anger. Perhaps he did not want to let his other friends know they were winding him up. So both boys found a safer word to use, boredom.
That word boredom does seem to come in handy, and when I have discussed the word before I have said that I felt boredom, far from being an apathetical state, does actually contain suppressed feelings. To be bored is to be distant from your emotion. So both those boys had found a way of dealing with their difficult emotion at that time.
I can see for those two boys that was a way of managing their feelings. They changed the name of what they felt to a more passive emotion, boredom. So it seems we can grow with that ability, in order to feel in control we can change the name of the emotion we are feeling and make it more safe.
I hope that those boys were able to balance it out, that the boys would feel safe to express the real emotion with their parent or best friend. I think that if I had not been walking with my friend that her son would of been able to say to his mum that he was feeling scared about the dentist.
The boys would need to feel safe in order to express their feelings, and as adults too we need to feel that safety in order to express the sometimes difficult emotions we have inside us.


23:11 - 08|09|2006
I have watched two programmes on the television this week about the events of 9/11 and the collapse of the Twin Towers. The first program I watched was on Channel 4 called 9/11 the miracle of stairway B: How 12 firefighters, a police officer and an office worker survived inside the North Tower of the World Trade Centre.
The second programme was on BBC 1 called 9/11: The Twin Towers. A docudrama retelling the story of the terroist attacks from the victim's point of view, using testimonies from survivors, families and emergency services.
In both programs the survivors spoke about guilt. The survivors spoke about feelings of overwhelming euphoria at their miraculous survival but it seems that as the euphoria, like the dust from the towers had settled, the survivors began to experience feelings which they vocalised as 'guilt', as they reflected on the ones who had not come out alive with them.
We often associate guilt with the idea that we have done something wrong. But I think for the survivors of the Twin Towers, their guilt was elicited because of their depth of feeling towards the ones who had not survived.
Some of the survivors had been helped out of near death situations by individuals who had chosen to stay and assist as many others as possible.
The survivors had been affected by the characters of those individuals so deeply, that it obviously brought out strong feelings.
Out of an inhuman act the survivors had been bought into contact with people who in that moment cared so deeply about their fellow friends and co-workers that they had done all that they could to rescue and assist.
Guilt is often elicited because the person feels they have done something wrong, and yet in the case of the survivors what had they done wrong?
I feel as if their guilt was somehow based in the strong feelings of love, respect and admiration that would of been elicited by the humanity and courage of those individuals who had assisted them and cared for others. In that moment the survivors were in the company of people who's actions were bourne out of love for others.
The survivors would no doubt be overwhelmed with such an emotion for those brave individuals, that it seems to me as if that at that moment in time they could only make sense of it, and translate it into a feeling of guilt.
It would be hoped that time has enabled the survivors to process the natural feelings of guilt that came out of that most unnatural day in their lives.


22:17 - 07|09|2006
Whilst walking about today I saw that a double decker bus had come to a standstill due to the traffic that was in front of it, thus blocking the flow of traffic at a junction. So the drivers that were unable to move on all started to beep their horns as frequently and as loudly as they could, and there was a huge chorus of horn beeping going on.
What I could not fully understand was, well what was the point of the horn blowing anyway? The bus could not go anywhere because of the traffic that was also stuck in front of it. But there it was stuck. A huge red block in front of all the drivers, who also must of known it could not go anywhere.
Did it anger them that bus? Perhaps the stuck drivers felt the bus driver had done something wrong, and that was the reason for the chorus, a huge sound of disapproval levied at the hapless bus driver.
I guess in that moment the bus had become the symbol for something, and it was as if suddenly an avenue for expression opened up, and there it was, that unashamed display of noise and impatience and perhaps the realisation that here was an opportunity for them to be allowed to beep beep their horns repeatedly. I'm sure there's still an amount of childish fun in that ability to beep beep your horn.


23:14 - 06|09|2006
When I'm introduced to people for the first time, they ask that inevitable question; 'So what do you do?' and I answer: 'I'm a counsellor.' I sometimes get involved in a conversation about the validity of the profession of counselling and therapy. They perhaps wonder why a person would feel the need to have counselling or therapy. They don't dismiss the idea of talking to someone when they have a problem, but they may question the reasons why people come and stay in counselling/therapy for a number of years, when surely a month or so would suffice.
My experience of it is, when a person comes into counselling it is because they are examining their lives in such a way that it of course requires the time that is needed for such an important task.
I think Socrates, that great thinker, understood the concept all those hundreds of years ago when he said: 'The unexamined life is not worth living' (Plato, Dialogues, Apology).


14:26 - 05|09|2006
A friend of mine has just finished reading the book 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus. She commented on the fact that she felt that the main character is judged and condemned not for the crime he committed, but because he did not show the correct emotional response at his mother's funeral. He does not cry. Because at the beginning of the story he does not show the expected emotional response, he is judged by his society, and condemned.
It is a fact and not fiction that we can be judged by the way we think and the way we feel. There are certain events that come with a collective idea of what the emotional response will be, for example birth or death. The assumed response is that at the birth of a child there will be joy and celebration and the parents would have an immediate love for their new born infant. At death the usual response is to grieve with sadness and tears.
For the individual who does not feel the collective idea of the emotion, there can often be a suppressing of their real emotion as they may not want to feel separated form the mass feeling, as that would isolate them from the group. They may come to think there is something wrong with them, and there can be accompanying feelings of guilt and self doubt.
Coming to terms with the feelings and recognising that of course we all are different, may help the individual not to feel condemned by the collective assumptions of others just because they do not have the same emotions that are displayed in the collective experience.
You feel what you feel, but if it does become difficult to understand why you feel so different, and that difference begins to bring on feelings of depression, or isolation, then you may benefit from talking it through with a counsellor or therapist, as you will be able to understand it from an individual perspective, rather than trying to understand it from the group perspective.


22:16 - 04|09|2006
When we are moving out of an old flat or house and moving into a new one we start putting our possessions into boxes. Sometimes we don't realise how much stuff we've actually accumulated until we start boxing it all up. We question if we really do need all of this stuff and invariably there is a chucking out of what is no longer needed or useful.
We can do this with our emotions too. We can put emotions into different boxes. Perhaps emotions we don't want to feel, or think about we put quite far away from ourselves, and perhaps it's not until we are trying to move onto something, to move on to a new self, do we suddenly see all these emotions. Then we need to decide what to do with the ones that seem to be holding us back from moving.
Do you hesitate and hold on to them because you have had them for so long you're not sure how to let go? Or do you learn how to discard them in order to move on uncluttered and clear?


22:11 - 01|09|2006
I was traveling through Hoxton today on a bus, and as I was looking out of the window. I became aware of how expressive Hoxton is. The graffiti is abundant, and everyone dresses as funky as possible. Tattoos seem more colorful and elaborate on the people passing by, and haircuts take on a life of their own.
There seemed nothing more wonderful to me in that moment, that witnessing of such free expression, and knowing how vital it is to our mental health.
For someone to take away our ability to express ourselves would seem the most cruel of mental tortures. Self expression is such an important and vital part of our natures.

The key

13:44 - 31|08|2006
I have written about the experiences of what it may feel like for friends and family to witness the destructive behaviour of a person, and how difficult it is to understand the person's behaviour. If the individual knew why they chose such apparent destructive patterns, then it would inevitably stop.
That is the dilemma for the person who is in the destructive pattern. They don't fully understand why they cannot stop, or why they push themselves to such extremes. I have heard the dialogue of the individual who is in the process of trying to make sense of it all and wanting to change. In the beginning there is the examination of 'Why'. They question themselves: "Why do I keep doing this"? "Why can't I learn my lesson"?
That question of learning the lesson is the most poignant for me, as that is what I hear the individual struggling to do. They are trying to learn something about themselves. Yet by trying to learn something, they seem to need to constantly negate themselves in order to find themselves.
This is a confused state to be in, so this is what makes it difficult for the witnesses to understand, and for the individual to understand. Counselling and therapy is a place where that negation can be made sense of. That confused behaviour is made sense of in the counselling/therapy room. It can become the place where out of chaos comes order. The individual is given free reign and time to finally explore the feelings that illicit the need to choose those destructive patterns.
Because as destructive as it is, I believe each individual is really just trying to come to terms with themselves and their world. They are trying to make sense of the chaos that may reside inside them. They want the behaviour to stop, just as much as their family and friends want it to stop.
Understanding is always the key.
30|08|2006 - No journal today


20:46 - 29|08|2006
What does it mean to feel nothing?
Sometimes individuals state that they:"felt nothing". Or they may become the word and state: "I am nothing". The desire to feel nothing could be vocalised as: "I don't want these feelings". To not want to feel something would mean that the need is to feel nothing.
This desire for nothing can sometimes drive the individual into repetitive patterns of destruction. There is a drive towards an annihilation of the senses in order that the individual can reach a state of feeling nothing. It can seem strange that in order to feel nothing that the individual has to assault their being.
The individual chooses behaviour that invariably makes them feel bad about themselves. It is as if they are eroding themselves, until they begin to feel as if they are nothing anymore. The destructive behaviour even begins to lose it's meaning, as the endless repetition of it has begun to numb their sense of self.
The behaviour can manifest its self in many ways. The individual may binge drink, consume pills and take cocaine, all in one night. The individual may become promiscuous and practice unsafe sex. Food may be denied and then there may be a massive binge at the end of the night and then a purging of the food through vomiting. For some individuals when the feelings seem too much they will cut themselves, they will self harm in order to stop the feelings.
This behaviour when viewed by others can seem so hard to understand, because the individual who is behaving in this way does not seem to demonstrate a need to feel nothing. On one level they can seem to be over indulging there senses in order to feel everything. The drinker, drug user, sex addict, could be seen as hedonistic. The person who binge eats and the person who self harms of course keeps there behaviour hidden from public judgment.
What drives each of these individuals to this self annihilation?
I assume something destructive may have happened to the individual as a child, or an adult, that lead onto them developing this behaviour. Perhaps one of the mitigating factors was that somewhere in their life at sometime another person, or an event slowly eroded them until they finally came to feel, and believe that they were nothing.

Walking away

20:48 - 25|08|2006
When walking home from the cinema last night my friend and I were approached by a young man. He asked if we could could help him. He needed a bus fare. I just thought that he was another one of the many homeless people on our streets, who in order to survive need to beg.
I was about to say sorry I had no money, till we realised he was injured. His arm was badly cut. He went onto explain that he'd come off his bike and was trying to get to A/E. I did not know if that's what had really happened, but the wound in his arm was real, so we passed him some money for bus fare.
I could of walked pass that young man, just like I have to walk pass all the young homeless people walking the streets, traveling the tube, sitting on the pavement, with a just a piece of cardboard boldly declaring the absolute abject circumstances they have come to exist in.
The sheer number of people that are now having to live that existence, means that I have to shut down something in myself. I have to shut down in order to withstand the emotion I could experience every time I have to see a person subjected to this.
I know when I walk pass, that these young people have been running from something, trying to escape something. Or without a thought the family have just thrown them out and told them to go.
I do not like what is happening. I resent the way the crisis is ignored. I resent the fact that our government does not do enough to protect the young vulnerable children, and the fact that the government's lack of care and foresight has meant that I, and many others, are forced to close off our feelings and walk away from the dejected one's.

The idea

19:44 - 24|08|2006
A friend of mine was telling me about a line from a poem she had heard at a local poetry reading a month ago, and how it seem to be stuck in her head. She said the poet had posed a question about what was stronger: 'the power to love, or the love of power' ?
He was a political poet and so had written the poem as a critique of the worlds political leaders and their apparent love of power. My friend felt that the poem had not had a political effect on her, but rather had tapped into her own cynicism, and the belief that of course it will always be the love of power, rather than the power to love that dominates humanity.
For some reason this morning she asked me quite earnestly if love actually exists? Life can seem very hard at times and we all could question the validity of love, so I was at a loss as how to answer the question. I could only suggest that although we cannot prove love exists, we can choose to behave as if it does, regardless of other people's ideas of love.
My question to my friend was: 'do you let go of your idea of love just because other people seem to have no idea of love'?

Air conditioning

23:58 - 23|08|2006
The building I am working in today is having problems with its air conditioning. The air conditioning system is blowing out very cold air, and is making very loud humming noises. This is of course making the working environment difficult.
Air conditioning was invented with the idea of making the working environment more comfortable. It's job is to maintain the right temperature. So at this moment in time an engineer is working on the air conditioning in order to understand what's got wrong so that he can fix it.
We naturally want to create things in life that will make us feel more comfortable. We invent things to improve our way of life. If these things breakdown we feel uncomfortable and perhaps are unable to function in our work or routines until the problem is fixed.
To keep a machine functioning means that it will need regular maintenance from a trained engineer, it needs to be looked after. It is a simple as that for a machine, but oh how much more complex for a human.
We of course want to feel comfortable and we have emotions that inform us if we are feeling comfortable. If our emotions start informing us that we are uncomfortable, what do we do? Perhaps if the individual is unable to take care of themselves, then they will continue to experience uncomfortable emotions.
All individuals need to be cared for in order that they can maintain their existence. Can it be that a part of our nature is to feel self resilient, to be independent, and to need no one ? If we feel capable of doing this, then of course we would also feel that we would not need the care of others.
In the same sense all the people who came into work today did not think they'd have to be dressed for winter, and now find themselves sat at their desks shivering. We need the engineer to fix the air conditioning for us, so that we can feel comfortable again. The engineer can help us, we are not dependent on him, but right now we recognise that his skills can restore our comfortable environment, and the engineer will be on hand if needed again.
If your inner resources are running out and your emotions are stretched, think about maintenance, care and help. Think about where you can go to access the right support to maintain your own equilibrium.
22|08|2006 - No journal entry


21:49 - 21|08|2006
We seem to always be going through transitions in our lives. From infancy we are growing, developing, aging, we are in constant change.
The infant who has grown in a secure loving environment will no doubt feel secure within themselves, and when difficult events occur they will be more likely to have an inner resource because of the secure up bringing.
Those individuals that grew up in a chaotic insecure environment will not have the same security or strong inner resources, and may find change and transition harder to manage. If a life transition is causing anxiety in the individual, if they become depressed by the situation, that individual would benefit from talking to a counsellor or therapist.
Sometimes it is even hard for the individual to access this support, as they may feel or think of it as some kind of failure. They may see other people around them going through the same transitions and seemingly taking them in their stride.
But every individual will feel the impact of change, and will experience a range of emotions, and there is a need within the individual to talk about the changes.
Certain individuals may have a strong family around them to whom they could talk to, or a strong group of friends. For other individuals there can be a sense of not being able to talk, of being wary or feeling that it's a sign of weakness, or dismissing it, thinking that there not that important, who would listen? This can sometimes be the ghosts of the past haunting the present.
The insecure upbringing impacts and therefore it seems that the individuals who most need to talk, lock themselves in silence. It is not a failure to go and seek counselling or therapy, it is a place that exists because we have not all had the perfect upbringing, it exists in order to offer individuals a safe place where they could finally come and talk and be listened to.
18|08|2006 - No journal entry
17|08|2006 - No journal entry

The challenge

13:59 - 16|08|2006
Traveling on the tube this morning, I caught a glance of the 'Metro' newspaper, which was being read by the passenger opposite me. The headline was ''Hate crime pleas fall on deaf ears''. I don't know what the article was about, but the term 'deaf ears' made me question what our attitudes are to that idea. The idea of trying to say something, of trying to make a change by being heard. Yet the particular person or perhaps group that you try to address simply chooses not to hear what you are saying. Do you stop talking?
I realise that the possible aim of the person or group is to stop the talk, the communication. It therefore challenged me - the idea of deaf ears. I could naturally feel pessimistic reading that headline, a thought permeates, 'Well what's the point then?' That thought could be brought on by numerous pessimistic headlines I could catch glances of everyday.
I realised that the point is that no matter how deaf the ears of the person or group, it cannot render the individual mute. The point is to keep talking, in order that the sound will eventually reach the ears of the receptive.


14:35 - 15|08|2006
There's a word that is oft banded about in society today, awareness. I have frequently read or heard the sentence 'we need to raise awareness'. It might be a political party wanting to raise awareness of an issue, it may be a manufacturer wishing to raise awareness of their product, or a charity needing to raise their profile.
In order to raise awareness they first have to gauge what the market their aiming for needs. In politics if there is a need for greener issues, MPs will ride around on bicycles to show how aware they are of environmental issues. In manufacturing, if people's needs are around a more healthy lifestyle, products will have zero sugar. In charities, if individuals say they need more support, they run an awareness campaign.
In the case of individuals could we then say that if they are able to identify their own needs they can become more self aware? But what about the individual who is confused as to what their needs are?
That is a part of the work of counselling and therapy, enabling the client to identify what their needs are and working on them, or working through them, in order that the individual may become more self aware.


20:24 - 14|08|2006
A thread of a conversation spun itself around my weekend. The conversation began last Wednesday, regarding the idea of 'nothing'. I enjoyed the conversation and shared it with other groups of friends. What came up was very interesting.
If you took the word 'nothing' literally you could dismiss the idea that nothing exists quite early on, as it seems too nonsensical. Or you could try to define what is meant by 'nothing'. You can decipher it scientifically, or you can try placing it in a spiritual, phenomenological context.
Each person I spoke with had a different reaction and opinion to the thread of the conversation on 'nothing'. People got quite animated by the topic and liked sharing the idea and inventing new ones of their own. I noticed how creative people's thinking got as they played around with all the different ideas.
From that one conversation on the Wednesday I realised people have the ability to create something from nothing. I naturally assumed you got nothing from nothing, and now I can see that nothing can still create something. Each person I spoke with challenged the idea of 'nothing' and changed the way they felt and thought about the word. People have that ability, to change through new ways of thinking. The situation may be the same but the individual can change the way they think about it and how they feel about it. From nothing they can come into something.
11|08|2006 - No journal entry today

In response to Lloyd - 09|08|2006

22:34 - 10|08|2006
Hi Lloyd,
Thank you for sharing your ideas and philosophy on life. As I read it I was reminded of the idea of the three hearts ('Three Hearts' entry 18|04|2006).
It seems that in order to know 'thyself' we have three levels of relating.
There is the relationship the individual forms with a group in order to feel connected and to share experiences.
Then the relationship with significant others, or the one person who the individual shares a more intimate part of themselves, a close relationship so to speak.
These relationships are formed as we go through life, and I guess we all have an idea of what we want from relationships. Part of the learning process in life is that we may not always get what we want. So we learn through our experiences with others what works and what doesn't work for us and how we then improve the relationships.
The third relationship is with the self. The self relating to the self. I think that's where your quote comes from "Man/woman know thyself". I guess the question we can sometimes ask ourselves is 'How do I know myself'.


15:12 - 09|08|2006
Hi Elaine!

Loved reading your blog :)

My life is one long journey of self discovery!...I really believe in the
saying 'Man/Woman know thyself'
But I think only in relationship can you know yourself. Hence as a young
child I felt fear on losing my parents in a supermarket as I no longer
knew who I was (no parents) and let's face it no one really knows where they are in a supermarket!

I think adults become lost when the things they use to identify
themselves break down (wether internal or external)
I've seen people having identity crises just because they're changing

I find people tend to either have a strong sense of who they are and are
more likely to believe in themselves and hence everything around them, or have a weak sense and hence belief.

I've sometimes wondered about what it would be like to just be
conscious with no senses - touch, sight sound etc
I reckon it would be almost impossible to have a sense of identity or
self, within about ten minutes I wouldn't know who/what I was and how I connected to the universe at all.

Which leads me on to the idea that we have senses to help us relate to
the world and learn how we really connect to the world
To me one of the biggest paradoxes is that we are individual souls and
yet are universal souls as we are all human. I'm sure god's having a
good giggle somewhere off stage!

Some of the best experiences of my life have been moments of feelings
of oneness with a big group of people and sometimes with one other

Many thanks for inspiring me to write!

(name appears with permission)


14:52 - 09|08|2006
I have written before about the idea of the creative process ('Creative' 23|06|2006 Archive 2 view). The idea of how artists can use their depression to create their art, and how the creative process for the client in counseling is to talk 'it'.
So I began to think about the reason's for not being able to talk 'it' outside the counselling room.
I recongnise that the counselling room can become a unique space for the individual, as it's purpose is dedicated to creating the space in which words will be heard. The room is actively geared to be a listening environment. The counsellor and client work together to enhance this environment, hence the ability for the client to create something from that time and space.
Outside the counselling room the environments that the individual inhabits may not have been, or maybe not be so geared up to listening. Is it that we are spoken 'at' rather than spoken 'to' ?
This environment would undoubtedly stilt communication. In these environments the individual may not know how to talk. Thoughts and feeling go unexpressed, and perhaps this occurs without the individual feeling the loss of that, because they have never known anything different.
Yet those individuals who feel that loss of language, the loss of communicating who they are with a group or an individual, they are the ones that may feel as the poet Shelly felt, that misery would come to haunt them, due perhaps to the aloneness of existing without communicating. Yet Shelly was not alone as he wrote his melancholy and communicated it, shared it with others.
So to the silent individual who wishes to talk, there is always a place where other like minded individuals create an environment born of communication. You can become a part of it, you can share the artists communication by viewing it. You could to go to a gallery, or read a book, or watch a film, to access that communication. So it is in the counselling room, you can enter into it and talk.
Once an individual enters into the world of communication and opens up to the experience, well then it can become easier to find the space outside, and the others who have chosen to inhabit that space too, and conversations can begin.

Other people

23:11 - 08|08|2006
I read a quote by Jean Paul Sartre today where he said 'Hell is other people' (No Exit). I wondered what Jean Paul Sartre was experiencing when he had that thought. It is of course a somewhat famous quote of his, which would imply a large group of people identified with it for it to become so widely used.
Perhaps there is that need to acknowledge that of course individually we cannot relate to everybody. I suppose that's the difficulty sometimes, relating with people can sometimes feel like hell. Perhaps if the individual feels they can not be genuine because there are unable to be themselves, due to pressure from others to conform to an established way of living, to be instructed that this is the way to behave correctly in life, well then I guess I can understand Sartre's quote.