Category Archives: psychology

Meh?

Meh – Word Of The Day

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I’ve had a great day today, so it’s meh to meh. However, as an anagram, hem will do.

Hem carries two meanings or tones, the first is to hem a garment, as in the hem of the shorts in the photo, or hemming curtains to make them look complete and drop properly. Secondly, hem can also be about restraint, not just in stitching, but in being held back, trapped, pinned, stopped. People feel hemmed in if they’re on a tight schedule that seems impossibe to complete, stuck in a role they don’t like, or if they’re in a room and cannot easily break through the throng of people. In claustrophobia it is that feeling of being trapped in a confined space and the fear of no escape.

Phobias are helped by therapy, sewing by those who know how, but feelings, well they’re down to us. The feeling of being hemmed in is surely a time to take stock, to talk to a confidant and tease the feeling out, to prioritise and make adjustments in the daily, time to self care. Feelings just are, they’re never meh, but they are always a communique to take note and take steps. Feelings, especially those that alert us to pressure, are the best time to be mindful.

“If you have no power, talk about your influence. If you have power, talk about the constraints that hem you in.”  Mason Cooley

like a spider's web
gossamer-like I'm tied
meditation frees

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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The Other “I”

Doppelganger

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(Image by Toby Dixon: found at https://i.pinimg.com)

The term alter ego was first used by the Roman philosopher, lawyer and statesman, Cicero. Cicero described a second self or other self, he used it to describe his close friend and trusted advisor Atticus, saying in a letter to him: “You are a second brother to me, an alter ego to whom I can tell everything.”

But alter ego has also been used to describe something else, a person who has a second self which is distinct and separate from the person’s true original self, they literally live a double life. Or put differently, the alter ego is a differnt version of you, it is another “I.”

We can see this in David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust, Barry Humphries/Dame Edna Everage, Ernest Hemmingway/Nick Adams. In the dark sense this is Jekyll and Hyde, or Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. In the hero sense this Spider Man/Peter Parker, Superman/Clark Kent. In the non-fictional sense they are projected or intentional personality, an alternate person, a way to express differntly. In the Fiction sense, it is a person thrust upon you or is derived from circumstantial change. But it can be dark and evil too, the unrecognised me as when the gentleman doctor Jekyll becomes the evil Mr Hyde when he takes a particular potion.

There is in some of this a hint of the shadow as described by Carl Jung where he talks about the shadow as being an unknown dark side of the personality, the unacknowledged, rejected least desirable aspects of oneself, manifests in dreams, and also comes out in the things we see clearly in others (ego, controlling behaviour, manipulative behaviour, fantasies, greed, lust). Shadow feeds the ego.

We all have a shadow, and some of us have alter egos, and some of those are dark. My late father was wonderful, caring, helpful, George in public and jealous, angry parent and husband in the home. I think we all have a bit of Darth Vader in our Skywalker. But if that is true, we also then have a bit of Skywalker in our Vader, depends where you’re standing and how you’re feeling, it’s never black or white. It gets dark when we fail to recognise who we are and how we are effecting others. It gets better when we acknowledge our other side and we put it to good use and it becomes creative potential (like Bowie).

I very much prefer Cicero’s original use in practice, that my alter ego is a close and trusted journey or soul friend. The twist is, if we have a good journey friend, they will point out to us the short comings of both alter ego, and shadow in due time. I hope you have a good journey friend, I certainly have a few, they are like gold, but a far better investment. Soul friends are the key to unlocking the shadow and pursuing the real me, that’s an alter ego we all need.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Daily Prompt: Assumption

via Daily Prompt: Assumption

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The assumptions we sometimes (perhaps often) hold become like a dirty film that encrusts our windows to the point we can no longer see out of them! In other words, our assumptions blind us, distort our view of people and life, the world.

How do we form assumptions? Well instead of observing what is going on around us in the world, instead of checking facts, instead of trying to understand another person’s view, we tend to bias our views on what is going on in our inner world. And so we base our views on our emotions, feelings, expectations, beliefs, preceptions, and even our desires and wishes. Our inner world, which can be so helpful and yet in extremis, so unhelpful, becomes, in assuming things, the controlling factor. In assumption there is no second voice, no check, no brake, no alternative canvassed, it is all in our mind. In assumption we are going solo, but we are also going mono. The problem is we begin to believe our own views to the exclusion of other voices and facts, and we become convinced that we are right, and we live into our own reality, our own version of the world.

Simple assumtions don’t really matter, but important ones really do.

One example would be the infamous bystander effect. Following the murder of Kitty Genovese in NY city in 1964, researchers Latane and Darley discovered that there were many witnesses, but all had assumed another would act or do something, hence their coined phrase The Bystander Effect (perceived diffusion of responsibility).

Another example would be the original 1968 Broken Window Theory where Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo was able to prove that when buildings, parked vehicles, and property in general are left unrepaired, some people assume they too can vandalise that property. Thus, one broken window becomes several broken windows on a factory. We assume no one cares.

In terms of people we often make assumptions. We have written off people with disability, we have been suspicious of the foreigner, the refugee, the person who is different by race, colour, belief, creed. Sometimes we cannot even see the person if they hold different political or religious views. we assume they are too different, not from our world, not of our kind. We assume they are dangerous. We just assume.

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We must clean our windows! Alan Alda makes a good point when he said: “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

Assumptions are costly in every way.

One of the greatest antidotes to assumption is dialogue, to simply sit with your neighbour, be that house, train, bus, walkway, beach, college, wherever, just get to know the person and not the assumption. Simple really, yet so little practiced. The other antidote is to check your internal view against what is going on around you, don’t just take self-reference as the expert view, or what I call the Facebook view of the world.

Talk and reflect – what do you see now?

All is now darkened
my mind has painted the glass
my ears will bring light

©Paul Cannon

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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A Little Reflection (Don’t Smash The Mirror)

via Daily Prompt: Narcissism

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Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. Liriope was told by the blind seer Tiresias, that Narcissus would have a long life so long as he didn’t recognise himself. As the story goes, Narcissus was rejected by the nymph Echo (though in earlier versions, he was rejected by Ameinias). He went to a pool and gazed in and was captivated by his own image. Narcissus was know for his beauty. He fell in love with himself, and could not leave his reflection, and as a result he died there. The ancient Greeks are said to hold the belief that to see your reflection was fatal (there is a third story that says Narcissus was consumed with grief by the death of his sister, but this is not commonly accepted).

Freud took the term and utilized it as a clinical descriptor. For Freud, narcissism is when you have an excessive degree of self-esteem or self-involvement (focus) which usually denotes immaturity. Freud noted that narcissists become their own sex object (sexual overevaluation), are experts on everything, have no understanding of other people’s boundaries, are likely to exploit others, suffer envy, and more. There are seven types listed, ranging from Positive Narcissism to Success Oriented Narcissism. Many confuse Narcissim with being egotistical, or with being arrogant. The fact that Narcissism memes float around Facebook with indiscriminate likes and comments is proof of this, too many think they can diagnose someone as a narcissist by a single trait. It’s more complex than that. That sort of thing is best left to those professionals trained to make such judgments.

But clinical diagnosis aside, there are still things we can attend to in this story.

It raises a number of valid questions. Am I consumed with myself (am I just gazing into myself all the time)? Am I aware of others? Do I know other people’s boundaries? Do I claim to know things when I really don’t know? Do I exploit other people? Do I shame others regularly? Am I crippled with envy? A yes to any of these would warrant some self-work to effect change. If we don’t we might just die! There is a body of evidence in the public sphere now where medical researchers have show connections between health problems and anger, jealousy, hate, egotism and more. Such things literally eat away at us. But we also die in others ways, constant anger kills relationships, as does egotism, envy, lack of boundaries and so on. And when we live an unfiltered life we not only have an impact on others around us, we also affect ourselves deeply, often crippling oursleves emotionally.

The way forward is not to smash the mirror, but rather to set the mirror aside and notice the world around us, to respond to others in our lives, to not love the self more than another (balance), to respect our own and other people’s boundaries … Our health is in each other, we are the key to each other in some ways and should value each other as reflections to learn from rather than being absorbed in solely ourselves. We are not singular repositories of excellence, we all have pieces of the puzzle of life and we need each other to be able to put the whole picture together as best we can, it still won’t be perfect (and my view is that life can’t be perfect, nor was it meant to be). Alone we may flounder and stagnate. Together we can thrive and flourish and grow. The best reflection is not our own image but the things we give out into the world.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Love is Infectious

via Daily Prompt: Infect

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My love walking the beach.

When we fall in love there is a chemical cocktail that is released into the body, literally infecting us with those feelings we call love.

Being attracted to another stimulates the body. If you feel elated, over-the-moon, energised, then dopamine has been released in your system. It works for other forms of elation too, winning a prize, gambling, sport, and drugs. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical.

Intimacy, closeness, bonding, means that oxytocin is in your system. Oxytocin is released when it gets physical, all that hugging, holding, kissing, touching, staring into each other’s eyes. Oxytocin calms and eneables intimacy and bonding. Sigh.

If sex is on the menu, then testosterone is in the system of both sexes. Testosterone is higher in males, and higher in male saliva, it is believed that kissing increases desire in both partners. Sex increases testosterone in the system.

Pheromones, those chemical messengers, also play a role in love, our noses are key to how we interact with others.

These chemicals work at the intense falling in love/sexual leel, but they are also released in long term relationships. They also impact in the four types of love, so that family, sibling, pet, and friendship also include feelings of love as these chemicals are released.

They’re the things I want to be infected with, the things of love, the elation, the focus, the bonding, the intimacy, belonging, joy, and the energy. Imagine if that infected the world!

The Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love” it was considered a trite song by many, and way too idealistic, and maybe that’s so, but there’s nothing wrong with poetic aspiration. I really liked then, Iand I like it now. And I beleive that love is all we need to change ourselves, and therefore, in turn, to change the world. It doesn’t seem that difficult.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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3 Day Quote Challenge – Day Three

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Viktor E. Frankl, neurologist, psychiatrist, author, holocaust survivor. Frankl was the founder of  Logotherapy (Existential analysis). Frankl, a keen observer of human behaviour, and especially his own (much of his reflection came out of the camp life) wrote:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

I love this quote because it is so encouraging, we are not disempowered by circumstance or situation, only by our own refusal to engage with change. Frankl had to adapt rapidly to the life in the SS camps. First he was sent to Theresienstadt Ghetto in (the then) Czechoslovakia. He was later moved to Auschwitz in Poland, and then to Kaufering (a satelite of Dachau), and then to the labour camp at Dachau in Germany. He worked in camp clinics to help give fellow prisoners mental health tools for survival, and he helped newcomers get over the shock. thus, challenge to change was in his own experience.

Again, thank you for the nomination Soul Write Empire

Rules:

Thank the nominating blogger.

Post three quotes (one per day)

Nominate three bloggers each day, today’s nominations:

sumiswu8

Rohit Sahu

A Voice From Iran

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Laughter Is The Good Medicine

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean.

In a documentary he did on comedy I remember Atkinson saying that he’d modelled Bean on the great silent comedy actors, Buster Keaton in particular. Atkinson was quite serious about his comedy. Mr. Bean is not everyone’s cup of tea though. Comedy is a matter of taste, some people struggle to laugh at contrived misfortune, others don’t get certain types of jokes. I love all types of humour, and I struggle to be serious for too long. I think life without humour becomes a rut, which “is a grave with both ends kicked out” (attributed to Earl Nightingale). Unfortunately we have entered an age of poltical correctness that won’t allow for certain types of humour –  it would be hard to imagine Benny Hill starting out now.

I thoroughly enjoy the slapstick of Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the satire of Monty Python or Littel Britain, the black humour of Blackadder, the innocent humour of the Vicar of Dibbley or Keeping Up Appearances, and the pointed humour of Yes Minister. The gentle humour in Friends, or the raucous Seinfeld, political humour with John Stewart. Some of you may remember Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, in Australia the Graham Kennedy Show, the Glass house and so on, too many to list here.

Humour is even acknowledged in religion. Osho taught that laughter was releasing, and held sessions in laughter release, he also taught that laughter brought energy to the fore and was for a few moments a meditative state. Both Jesus and St. Paul used sarcasm. The Christian Pentecostal movement encouraged holy laughter as healing. In the Medieval Church a mass was developed in France where the lowest of society were invited to take high position and celebrate their own version of the mass, a social inversion, pure comedy. It was an attempt to offer an opporunity to release social pressure.  Naturally, the Church hierarchy were horrified, but the Feast Of Fools is still celebrated (and still upsets serious minded purists, which in my view is a good thing). In his book, “My Spiritual Journey” the Dalai Lama, reflecting on the many sadnesses of exile and hardship, says: “… I am a professional laugher …”  There is even laugher yoga.

Laughter is also homespun, families have their own treasure chest of humourous moments. Some yo uhave had to have been there to really get the humour. Mine include dad handing mum the steering wheel when it detached from the column (as we entered the school parking lot). Or when our family were at a Chinese restaurant and the vegetable oil for the sizzle dish spilled onto a napkin and my yongest son said: “I’ll help” and tried to blow it out, turning it into a blow torch that set fire to my beard (fortunately quickly doused). We are still laughing.

Laughter is releasing and it is claimed that it brings several health benefits. It destresses, uplifts, it is contagious, breaks down barriers, is enjoyable … Some of you would be familiar with the maxim of the Readers Digest – “laughter is the best medicine.” I certianly feel much better after a good laugh.

I love a good laugh and I don’t mind being laughed about. I like ot think I’m a professional laugher – I hope you are too.

For those who are more serious minded a video about laughter 😊

sitting for dinner
my beard is aflame now
laughter douses it

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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R.E.M.

via Daily Prompt: Rapid

R.E.M., remember the band and those wonderful songs? As the story goes Michael Stipe was looking for a name for the newly formed band and plucked R.E.M. from the dictionary. So, no deep connection there at the start, but a name that stuck in the public mind.

Generally speaking, there are five stages to the sleep cycle (some say four stages), and the fifth stage is known as R.E.M. or rapid eye movement. The R.E.M. stage is when the body is so relaxed it is as if paralysed, the brain signals the spine to shut down muscle activity, and the body enters deep relaxation. However, the brain enters a phase of intense activity, alsmost as if we were awake, and it is in this phase that we have those memorable dreams. Notably, there is perceptible, rapid movement of the eyes during this stage, hence the name.

Without the R.E.M. stage we are deprived of our deep restorative sleep, the proteins produced at this time will also be lacking, it affects our memory, and our memorable dreams don’t occur. Our diet affects our sleep stages, and if we are not preparing by overstimulating the brain before sleep we will battle to gain the deep sleep and if we are lacking in physical and creative experiences in our day, that too affects our sleep.

Sleep like exercise, play, and creativity, is a natural physical need for healthy living, but it affects us body, mind and soul. Without the restorative and refreshing stage of R.E.M. we are sluggish, sleepy, forgetful, and phsyically, mentally and emotionally flat. It affects mental health in particular. In typical cyclical fashion we need sleep in order to be creative, physical and playful, and we need play, exercise and creativity to help us sleep.

Problem is, we moderns have packed in so much in our lives that we are not all getting the good sleep we need for our health. We are literally cheating ourselves of our health. But, as with play, we can make the change, it’s simply prioritising. But the results are amazing.

The Dalai Lama has said: “Sleep is the best meditation.” 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Bubble Wrapped Life?

via Daily Prompt: Bubble

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Image: id.marge.com

Who hasn’t enjoyed popping the air bubbles on Bubble Wrap, and who hasn’t danced around on it, or run on it. Most of us would have wrapped something fragile in it to mail to someone? And who wouldn’t want to protect valuable, fragile gifts?

Bubble wrap was invented through failure. Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes were attempting to make a 3D wallpaper in 1959, but it failed, however, the material they ended up with was useful for packaging fragile objects. And, in 1960, Bubble Wrap was born. I don’t remember it before 1973, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention!

Bubble wrap is a polyethylene product, a hydrocarbon derivative, and in the current situation, an unwelcome intruder in the environment as a non-biodegradable plastic. It will be hard for commerce to wean themselves from this highly effective and cheap product.

Bubble wrap is also a metaphor, as per the image above. The desire to protect ourselves, our family, and our friends, is a powerful one as the saying:  “Don’t bubble wrap your kids” indicates. I’ve known parents prevent their children from doing all manner of normal play activity in an endeavour to protect them from physical harm. And local government have compounded the matter by overprotecting communities with by-laws. Pool fences come to mind (how on earth did we ever survive without them?), my own children quickly leaerned to conquer pool fences as do many children, nor have they prevented drownings. In one classic case of beaurocratic madness one family I knew were ordered to put in a pool fence around their new pool, which was not far from the farm damn, and also near the river, anyway, you get my drift.

But there are all sorts of overprotection, emotional, mental, physical. In my work, I encounter parents who overprotect around grief issues, as if not talking about death will make it go away and their children will not be upset!

I might be good to bubble wrap and ornament to send overseas, but it is counter-productive to bubble wrap people. Psychologists can now show that overprotecting our children can cause anxiety, can erode self-esteem, and in some cases can result in anorexia. Just some of the results of over-protecting. and like its plastic counterpart, the psychological bubble wrap will be difficult to abandon for some.

Psychotherapist Michael Ungar Overprotection Leads to Psychological Damage has written on the dangers of overprotecting children. One of his main points is that we actually neglect our children when we prevent them from experiencing risk, we do them a disservice in preventing them learning to face problems. Australian advocate for children at play Maggie Dent, has long pushed for play grounds that are real (like they used to be). One school in Perth has reintroduced tree trunks as climbing aparatus, a major step away from the culture of overprotection.

In 2009 journalist Lenore Skenazy coined the phrase “free range kids” following the liberating experience of giving her daughter more freedom in public, and on her own at the age of nine. www.freerangekids.com

I find it refreshing that there are parents and individuals willing to confront the bubble wrap parenting methodology. But we are on notice as adults, do we overprotect ourselves, are we so risk averse that we will no longer “have a go?” And are we guilty of squashing our inner child? We need more free range adults too!

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Notable, Remarkable

via Daily Prompt: Notable

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Warren Macdonald, still climbing.

In April 1997 Warren Macdonald was in the midst of a long sojourn in the Whitsundays. Macdonald, an experienced bushwalker and avid climber set out to climb Mt. Bowen on Hinchinbrook Island. He teamed with another climber Geert Van Keulen, a man he didn’t know, had only just met.

They set out on April 9 (1997). Mt. Bowen is 1,121 mtrs, and though short, it is a tough climb with rain, mud, streams, loose stones and boulders, and the humidity. They climbed for some time, eight and a half hours,  and made camp, but they hadn’t reached the summit.

In the dark,  Warren went out to “take a leak” and then things took a turn. He went out to a ledge across a stream and tried to accommodate the rock, as he positioned himself there was a rock slide and he became pinned, a large wedge of granite had fallen across his leg, the crack he had heard was the breaking of his pelvis. He screamed for Geert, and so the long proces of getting help began. Geert could not budge the rock. and so, the next morning he set off to get help. It took him eleven hours to get down. When Geert arrived at the lagoon he was exhausted, and there was no one to contact, so he made camp and decided to set out the next morning.

Warren Macdonald was rescued, and then went through a very lengthy rehab, losing both his legs above the knee.

What is inspiring is his tenacity, courage, and strength in adversity. He never gave up, sure, he doubted, and lost his cool at times, but he stuck with getting on with life. He worked hard with specilaists in prosthetics and as a result was able to have specially designed prosthetics that enabled him to climb again. He would be the first to say he didn’t do it on his own, doctors and specialists yes, but also family and friends, love and support also helped get him through.

Macdonald has climbed Cradle Mountain in Tasmania using a modified wheelchair, later he climbed Federation Peak (also in Tasmania), Mt. Kilimajaro in Tanzania (being the first double above the knee amputee to to achieve the summit), El Capitan in Nevada, and the Weeping Wall in Alberta. He has also become a motivational speaker.

In one of his talks he says “It’s not about climbing mountains” and in one sense he means that his life is not just about conquering mountains, and in another sense he means that mountains represent many things.

We all have mountains to climb, sometimes we have the emotional or physical equivalent of be being pinned by a granite rock miles from help. And here we are, we’re still here to talk about it, we have survived! We will continue climbing life’s tracks. There will be other trials, and there will be trials for those around us, we can be our own coach and we will undoubtedly be called upon to coach others. Together we can make it. That old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is true enough in my experience, but I also think it takes a village to survive. We need each other. Warren Macdonald had Geert, hopefully we have our Geert or Geerts when we are pinned down, but also our own inner strength to call on too. And hopefully we are Geert for others.

Living the daily
pinned by granite mountain
I arise by love

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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