There is nothing new under the sun.

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun”. Ecclesiastes 1:9 Old Testament It might be true that there is nothing new under the sun. Maybe it leads some to cynicism, fatalism and a sense of powerlessness in relation to the tasks and demands of their daily living, more so perhaps when one might be losing heart or feeling uninspired. I see it differently.  Whilst there may well be nothing ...

What does it mean that I must live my potential? 

We are often told to live our potential, but what does this mean and what are some of the elements involved in understanding and living one’s potential and why is it important. I am going to try and answer the question by first looking at a perspective on guilt! Rollo May explains that “guilt is a perception of the difference between what a thing is and what it ought to be…a positive constructive emotion”. He chooses to use the example of a ‘crippled beggar’. He says, “guilt in seeing t...

96, 97, 98, 99, 100…ready or not, I’m coming…..out!

There have been two people who chose to tell me (separately) that they were gay; in fact it sounded more like a question than a statement. It was the first time each of them had disclosed this hitherto unrevealed fact to anyone other than themselves. Diana Ross I'm Coming Out From the look on their faces I sensed that there was apprehension as to what my reaction would be. They each waited worriedly for my response; beads of sweat growing larger o...

I look, this is what I see

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” Henry David Thoreau I do psychology that is one of the things I do amongst many other things. I try with conscious intent not to say that I am a psychologist (although I often forget to stick to that resolution; I also often believe it). I also do guitar playing, cooking, furniture making and restoration, web-site design, house painting, electrical repairs; but I am not these things; I just do these things. Perhaps what is more im...

Life, life is a verb, life is a doing word

I have a friend who did the clinical masters with me, Margaret. After seeing a client for therapy she would very happily trot out of the room nodding her head slowly, reassuringly saying, “There’s movement, as long as there is movement, its good”. Years on she specialises in ‘stuck’ complex issues. Tear drop lyrics - Massive Attack Margaret Henning - Systemic Narrative Therapist and Cons...

The messages we get in life

It is impossible to not send messages; we are all communicating all the time with or without words, directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, with awareness or without awareness. The issue is that for some people the words that they hear said about them may not appear to have any negative effects; we are all trained to behave, not show our vulnerabilities, especially emotional ones. Sometimes the effects of words are not apparent but often become very pernicious in the long te...

So! Are you the scientific (scientistic) psycho- technician, the eschatological secular priest or the abundant and abundant teacher coach

I am reading an article by Greenberg on Emotion Focused Therapy. He introduces the Principles of Emotional Intervention of EFT, explains that experiencing transforming and making sense of emotions is what causes change and then adds at the end of the paragraph that…”it is important to note that these principles are discussed below in relation to working with emotion in therapy not with reference to managing emotion in life. Emotion-Focused Therapy: A Clinical Synthesis Leslie S Greenberg ...

How many worlds do you live in?

“I have never been aware before how many faces there are. There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several. Rainer Maria Rilke Rainer Maria Rilke- A friend of a friend once proposed a toast to his wife on the occasion of her birthday. To the gathered crowd of friends and relatives he said in a regretful tone. “She very rarely allows her real self to be seen. I look forward to the moments whe...

You can be whatever you want to be?

They told me I could become anything so I became a Doberman
I used to run guidance classes at the school with the kids. I was always intent on pushing the issue of knowing yourself. As part of my attempts to “disturb complacency”, a pivotal concept I was fortunate enough to have learned from Jan Darsa when she visited the school. Jan Darsa | The Covenant Foundation I created a scenario.  I told the kids that as we were doing subject choice and in order to choose the right s...

To be truly happy you need to pirouette with your best friend

love_yourself_5 - Copy
Some years ago, it seems to have been dropped, there was an advertisement on South African TV. It opened with a man in a long brown coat and hat walking on a railway platform towards a train that had just pulled in to the station. He walked with lightness, with delight, almost on his toes like a dancer and whilst you could not see him from the front, only his back, you had a sense that he was meeting someone very dear to him, a person who dwelled deeply in his heart. The camera panned left...

“There is no such thing as freedom.”

Freedom pillar Apartheid museum
An attempt to clarify the meaning of the words freedom and free-will and to place them in a psychological context. Is there a statement more likely to provoke consternation from people than to submit that there is no such thing as freedom? I think not. So why suggest it? Here is Fromm’s quote “Freedom is not something we have; there is no such thing as freedom. Freedom is a quality of our personality; freedom is always a question of increasing the freedom one has or decreasing it”. (1) ...

The psychology of coping

Is a difficult and challenging event inherently stressful or is it experienced as stressful? This important question lies at the heart of understanding how people successfully cope or not. It is evident to all that life throws at us an endless cycle of demands that we are required to attend to and deal with. Some might say that life is hard. Even if this is true, which it probably is, it does not mean that life cannot be enjoyed. As children grow into adults their resources, skills and capaci...

Psychologically, How Much Can A Person Tolerate?

The rapist
At university I had a lecturer who taught abnormal psychology. We were sitting in the lecture theatre waiting for him to start talking. Without a word he picked up a piece of chalk, strode to the green board and wrote the word therapist in large letters. He looked back at us, still not speaking and then quietly said “the therapist can sometimes become the…“ He turned back to the board and inserted a dash between the third and fourth letters of the word he had scribed. “…rapist”. He knew somet...

The psychology of individual differences….40 green bottles hanging on the wall

So a friend told me the story of him and 39 other young men who were in their basic training in the new SANDF. They lived in a barracks all 40 of them. Each had a single size steel bed with a thin foam mattress, two thick grey blankets, two sheets, one pillow with pillow case, a steel trunk at the foot of the bed and a single locker to the left of the head of the bed. That is all. Each morning at 04h00 (ouch!) they were awakened by the shrill shriek of the regimental corporal often hurling less ...

Meditation is not psychotherapy but it is a great coping resource

It is unfortunate that the practice of meditation is generally misunderstood and often scorned. I knew someone who on hearing the mention of the word meditation put his hands together in mocking supplication and intoned ommmm with a supercilious grin on his face. Meditation is a behavioural technique to slow down the level of nervous system arousal and excitation in the body and induce a relaxed physiological state, no more or less. The fact that meditation is sometimes frowned upon because o...

How can you know what the child is if she hasn’t emerged yet?

She told me how a couple, friends of hers; newly married had decided that they were going to raise their children “gender free”. As I understand this, it means that they will attempt to raise their children not as boys or girls but as whatever they want to be, free of all biological and or cultural ascriptions, psycho-social constructions and determinants. No metaphor ever fully captures the whole idea but this one captures some of it for my mind. Each of us is born with an existing armature....