My morning’s dog walk could have been cold wet, dark and miserable. It was 7am, still very dark, raining, with quite a cold breeze.
Yet, it was really quite ok. As I made way around one of my usual routes I found myself thinking about how much our perception can change our feelings about an event or experience. If I had been feeling grumpy and determined to experience my walk this morning as cold, wet, dark and miserable then that is undoubtedly what it would have been. Instead, it was enjoyable walking the streets in the half-light as the sun was coming up. I enjoyed seeing who was also out and about. The rain felt refreshing. The air crisp and wintry.
Unfortunately some experiences we are faced with my be too difficult or traumatic for us to shift our perception of them. The recent floods in many parts of the UK, brought on by similar rain to that I enjoyed this morning, will be an example of this. Some people’s lives will have been dramatically impacted by what has happened.
Therapy for difficult memories
Sometimes experiences in the present can be too evocative of painful experience in the past. We may be unable to move past the significance of certain events without professional help of therapy. For example, significant anniversaries may be triggering past losses, day to day events may trigger anxieties about past traumas. If you have had an experience where shifting how you perceive it might be useful, therapy can often be very helpful in that process.
But this morning was happily one of those days when what could have been cold wet and miserable was refreshing energising and connecting.
The photograph is of Barcelona one of the places Picasso lived during his youth.
Mosha Ben Maimon (Maimonides) was a 12th century Jewish Torah scholar and physician. Maimonides was born in Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain.
Slightly late for last week, but some interesting thoughts from about how important it is to have sense of the direction. It reminds me of the tension many transactional analysts experience between developing a clear contract for therapy when working with clients and allowing the space for other areas of work to emerge that have not yet been considered.
And it seemed appropriate to use Roman font along with a picture from Italy.
Something a little more light-hearted this week from the American journalist Franklin P. Jones.
Monty (picture) and I spend a good few hours together relaxing – well I scratch him, and he relaxes.
Two people whose writing inspires me. I really enjoy the personal, reflective approach taken by Barbara Clarkson and Martha Crawford. Barbara’s blog is new and very much reflects her personal style and interests and I’m looking forward to seeing what she has to day as the weeks go on.
And then there’s Martha Crawford. whose writing I have been following for a while. I find her intellect and ideas fascinating.
I hope you enjoy both of these too. Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear any recommendations you may have.
Here’s the second of my posts on ego states. A piece of Transactional Analysis theory that I think is a useful way of understanding ourselves and something that many of my clients have found helpful. First, a quick recap on ego states:
Eric Berne, founder of Transactional Analysis described an ego state as “a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behaviour”. He identified that we each have three ego states, which he named Parent, Adult and Child.
In this post I’m going to write a little about the Child ego state, described as archaic thoughts, feelings and behaviours replayed from childhood. This is description is one of an internal experience based on early emotional experiences. So, what do I mean by this? Here’s a simple example.
You are at school maybe 4 or 5 years old. The teacher asks a question, you think you know the answer so you put up your hand. The teacher asks for your response, which, when you give your answer, is wrong. As you get it wrong someone at the back of the class sniggers, and you feel really embarrassed at not knowing the correct answer. And think “it’s not a good idea to answer questions in case you get it wrong.”
Thirty years later you are attending a one day training course as part of your job. The trainer asks a question, you answer and get it wrong and in that moment you revisit the experience you had when you were 4 and answered incorrectly in class, you feel the same embarrassment and shame and again think, “it’s not good idea to answer questions. ”
Being a Child
So, as with Parent Ego State when I am in my Child Ego state I am responding to a situation or stimulus using thoughts, feelings and behaviours from the past. Now some of our experiences that we use from Child can allow us to revisit and enjoy the free and uncensored joy that was part of being a child. For example, when I am out walking with my dogs and it’s wet, muddy and raining there are times when I find myself enjoying splashing through the puddles. I was walking on Birchen Edge last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed the feel of the sticky mud sucking on my boots in just the same way I have since I was 8 years old.
How is it useful to know this about our personalities? When I am in my Child ego state I am likely to be responding to a situation or stimulus using thoughts, feelings and behaviours from the past and this response just may not be relevant or appropriate to the present. I may also be using the strategies I developed as a child in response to the past, to a present situation an adult. It is likely therefore, that those strategies will not be an effective way of problem solving.
I invite you reflect on a time when you think you might have responded to someone from Child ego state and to consider how else might you have responded.
I’ve just returned from a a great trip to Krakow in Poland. Part holiday, part work I’m feeling invigorated by the experience. The work aspect involved my taking part in a workshop that will mean I can work as a Transactional Analysis supervisor and trainer of other psychotherapists; an important and exciting career development for me. What impacted on me most from this experience were two things: having a sense of the truly international membership of Transactional Analysis and secondly, that in spite of language barriers and cultural differences, there are often ways that we can communicate with others.
The European Association of Transactional Analysis has over 8000 members and there were people from Germany, Belgium, England, Scotland, Ireland, Russia, Italy and the Ukraine on my workshop. Some speaking English, others communicating through a translator. What struck me was, that in spite of the language and cultural differences, we had a common framework that we could use to communicate through Transactional Analysis (TA). In some ways that does make this a unique experience, and even with TA there are national and cultural differences and I found it fascinating to explore this with my colleagues.
Since I’ve been back I’ve been thinking about this experience and how we communicate in a more general sense with others. Are we aware of the similarities and differences between us? How often do we make assumptions about others? On this workshop there were people from 8 different countries where cultural and language differences were very clear: every day in our interactions with people, at work and out and about, we make contact and are communicating with people whose “culture” is likely to be different to ours. Sometimes because of a difference in country of origin and sometimes just because they were born in a different part of town.