wrapped-image 31 Oct 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Wrapped

As Winter enfolds us in its arms, the apparent incongruity of ancient pagan festivals dressed up in contemporary accoutrements in the form of sanitised tricks, treats and fireworks followed a couple of months later by anodyne Santas, sleigh bells and shopping malls, will be upon us.

And children, those of whom are lucky enough anyway, will be delighted and their parents will delight in their delight and all will be festive.

By order.  Whose order? Well, the deep-rooted need for order that our ancestral forebears knew much better than we do that was, and still is in so many domains, the difference between life and death. So much so that some of us, if not all of us, still and must make putting things in order an absolute priority needing to be celebrated and highlighted by way of festivals of light. It is deep-rooted because it is one of our presents from the dead. Without wrapping ourselves in collective rituals of sleeping and eating and sex and relationship etc., we adults won’t be able to work for our children, wrap them in warm clothes of safety and predictability and celebrate their safety, and our success in providing them with it, in festivals of light year after year.

Is it any wonder that some of us in our aim to take on board this deep-rooted, collective need for order bequeathed to us by the dead, can find our feeling and sensitivity dulled and deadened by the sheer overwhelming power of this ancient ancestral need to make order out of chaos, light out of darkness? Is it any wonder that some of us feel so completely overwhelmed by it that we render ourselves helpless and hopelessly inadequate to the task and give up trying to stop ourselves being swept up in an annual materialistic tsunami of presents and food and try to get to some deeper meaning?

But some of us can’t. Or at least we struggle to swim against the tide for various reasons because we might not have the money, or time, or inclination. For example, we might be scrooge-like because our feelings of loneliness and depression that we are already wrapped up in, are like an endless, internal pass-the-parcel game in which the layers of paper around us are the feelings we just cannot remove enough of from around ourselves and which prevent us from being able to participate in ‘seasonal cheer’. Or again, we might have become so obsessively caught up in everyday wrapping rituals like washing and cleaning and doing things in a compulsive and particular way in order to stave off unbearable feelings, that we are just not able anymore to spontaneously and freely give ourselves up to celebration and can only pretend to do so.

And our ancestors and predecessors, and theirs, and theirs, and theirs in all their different times – the dead, if we could just hear them – would want to tell us, in a way which we could hear and respond to and feel wrapped up warm and safely held by, that all we can ever do is our best, whatever form that takes, and that when all the wrapping has eventually come off and we are dead too, what will matter is that the living carry on trying to do their best too.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

 

take-me-to-the-dream-849_252 27 Oct 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Anxiety / Therapy

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Imagination

So much of what we do involves images. Images in our thoughts and feelings, memories and hopes, fears, dreams, daydreams, anxieties, fantasies and so on. Each one us pictures things in these different domains from the different points view of the different states of mind and body we experience as we perceive them.  And each one of us differently!

It is a blazingly amazing, if complicated, fact that imagination is everywhere!

In fact our mental images or pictures can get so plentiful, so jumbled up and confusing, that we feel like we could seize up with it all, at best dissociate, meaning split ourselves off (both from what we see and from our feelings about it), and at worse, become mentally and physically paralysed, catatonic.

Ýet we are also and to some degree all blind, (using the widest possible definition of that word, and meaning no insult to those with ocular incapacity. I have myself suffered ophthalmic shingles a few years ago which permanently damaged the sight in my left eye).

Relatively speaking, at least, and to a greater or lesser extent, we can ‘see’ very little. If we could see everything it would have the same effect on us as staring at the sun. But we do need to see what we can, especially of ourselves, and this requires imagination.

With the help of a psychotherapist whom we are able to trust, some us find it is possible to see a little more of ourselves, of our underlying personality and character, without becoming permanently overwhelmed by what we reveal to ourselves about our needs, motivations etc., which we have been ‘blind’ to; or alternatively, without perhaps remaining too much in denial of ourselves so that we wander the world emotionally rigid and repressive because of it. ‘Seeing’ ourselves better can help us feel less helpless and frightened and, crucially, less disempowered.

Metaphor and simile almost always involve images in our minds, and producing images requires imagination. Imagination is essential to the human condition. We use imagination to make sense of what see and actually perceive it. Imagination is not the exclusive property of children or artistic people, writers, painters and musicians, inventers or scientists. Whether we know it or not, we all have it and we all can use it as much as we choose.

So just imagine. Just imagine safely using your imagination more and it will help you better see yourself and the world around you!

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

dreams 20 Oct 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Dreams

Dreams spin our days; mix our dreads and desires with the everyday stuff of life, reach into our pasts and futures and make any possibility actual while they process. We are inside them but they are inside us.

We all know that. But so what?

So this: after another day existing in the outside world, and any variation of it we can imagine, dreams whisk it all up any which way for us inside our heads, adding anyone and anything from our pasts or futures in the absolute present of what  indigenous Australians have called the ‘Dream Time’ .

Inside our heads! It is astonishing that we can have the all the world’s possibilities inside our heads. And all while our eyes are closed!

Since earliest childhood we have been used to being inside our dreams, nice or nightmarish and all variations between, and all usually if not always to some degree enigmatic, that we forget how amazing this is. Or at least we take it for granted and think, ‘well, that’s how it is with dreams’.

But think about it. What do they do for you and to you? How do they affect you? What is it about them that makes you forget them? And remember them? How do you best understand their origins and purposes? What do they tell you about what does and what does not matter to you?

Only you can address these questions because it is you who has the responsibility for being inside your dreams. If the whole world and all time is in them with you too that doesn’t make them any less and any less uniquely yours. Listen to them. Speak to them with your feelings during spare moments in your waking hours if you like. Feel them with your words. Let them feel you.  Let them have you as you have them. Even the upsetting ones!

Over the length of our lives dreaming keeps us connected with that which is beyond time and space. I mean our very humanity.

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

fear 13 Oct 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Anxiety / Therapy

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We are what we fear

Really? What a stupid statement, some might say. And, of course, it is. It’s not true at all.

Or is it? Just a little bit?

After all, it is often the case that the more intensely we feel something, the more important at least some elements of it, if not all of them, are to us, isn’t it?

Take for example the fear of small creatures. How much is the fear of them really about feeling we ourselves are like small creaturely things scurrying about in a big dangerous world, defenceless but in our own small way able, sometimes at least, to bite?

Qualities and characteristics that we cannot admit to, or abide in, ourselves, for whatever reason, often get externalised in this way and ‘seen’ as existing outside of ourselves, nothing to do with us at all.

It is not our own mouseyness or spideriness which is scary! Of course it isn’t. What a ridiculous thing to suggest, Carrie!

And yet…. the disproportionately high level of anxiety we can feel about some things that in themselves really don’t merit it at all, must be telling us something about ourselves, surely?

To be a human being is to be vulnerable, including being vulnerable to unbearable feelings which come from we know not where and which we don’t understand. They can be so emotive that we can lose sight of the fact that feelings and facts are distinctly different even if they do happen to coincide. Some of these frightening feelings we can admit to ourselves, even if we find them absolutely terrifying, and others we just can’t.  For example hating oneself for sometimes having a deep dark urge to commit a violent act towards ourselves or somebody else, even suicide or murder. Or again, though less obviously extreme, hearing an inner voice too often judging and criticising us for our ideas, fantasies, desires etc.,  all those things that make us human.

If we can let ourselves be vulnerable and understand our fears in terms of what they tell us about ourselves, our personalities, they can then begin to deflate and become less overwhelming. But only as much as you want them to do so!

Psychotherapy can provide a safe neutral space and time in which to get help with this process of self-unfolding and self-acceptance. Even of our mousey or spidery or snakey bits!

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

binge-eating 06 Oct 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Eating

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Binge eating and perfectionism

I’ll start by stating the obvious: eating disorders all exist in relation to the consumption of food.

The first persons to give us food, other things being equal, are our mums when we are born and put to the breast.

Swiftly moving on (to some years later): people who have developed a binge eating disorder often seem to struggle in their compulsive overeating with somehow having lost inner touch with their experience as babies of that physical and emotional nurturing which is part and parcel of the cuddles and milk from our mums in early infancy. Sometimes some of us never really developed that nurtured (loved and held) feeling in the first place anyway.

And because we don’t feel that early experience, that lovely but forgotten nourished and cared-for feeling,  now only biologically remembering it, the state of being physically and emotionally nurtured gets idealised – idea-lised! – as perfect, but this happens at the same time as it gets forgotten about or dismissed and, by being forgotten about or dismissed, relegated to what we call the unconscious.

And it is from this unconscious part of ourselves that that state of not feeling fed emotionally (which may or may not be a fact – your mother will know!) takes control of our behaviour when we are feeling stressed and adds to our feelings of emotional emptiness. When we become habituated  to bingeing to try and fill the hole of emotional emptiness inside, we find that the fuller we feel in our tummies the emptier we feel in our hearts.

It is an awful irony that habituated bingeing patterns and the associated unwanted weight-gain accompanying it, usually developed out of ‘comfort feeding’ ourselves in the first instance. We needed comfort because of feeling imperfect and unconscious, (meaning unaware), of our inability to feel the authentic self-confidence that comes with having felt perfectly nurtured and loved during infancy and early childhood. The self confidence that is free of the desperate drive to feel perfect.

I must emphasise that in no way am I blanket-blaming the mums (or/and dads) for their child not having ‘internalised’ their comfort and love when they were younger. Often the parents could not have been better at the loving and nurturing task. It is far, far more complicated than that.

In psychotherapy we can look at all the complicating factors together and try first to discover, and then to find a way of letting, the past let go our present.

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/