luck 24 Nov 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

Comments: No Comments

Luck

Imagine reversing or switching all your beliefs and preconceptions for a moment. Imagine what it would be like.

It’s almost impossible when you think about it. Hard anyway, unless one suspends disbelief, goes into a trance-like dissociative state and really let’s go….

But if and when you do so, or fail to do so – either way! –  we are re-presented with how little we know!

And what’s the use of that, you might wonder?

Well part of coming to terms with the fact there are as many, if not more, neurons in the brain as stars in the sky – check it out! – is that we obviously know so little. So very, very little. Not just of the external world and the wider universe, but also of ourselves. And of course, as is the way in this irony-filled, contradictory world of ours, accepting that we know so little is the beginning of knowing more.

But where? Where do we actually start?

Well, I am not encouraging any kind of egotistic or overly narcissistic selfishness, in saying we obviously have to start with ourselves! Our self is the one thing we have and which has us until we die.

Everyone being different and unique, people dying and others being born all the time, there are clearly things that separate us and things we have in common as human beings. For example, one of these latter is that we all make mistakes. Another is we are all subject to luck, to forces beyond our control which shape our lives. From natural disasters and wars at one end of the scale to trivial things like spilling something down our fronts at the other, luck plays a huge part in our lives on planet earth.

So, whether our luck is good, bad or indifferent at any given time and as it is anyway inescapable, our duty to ourselves is to embrace it. We don’t have to love it in any conventional sense, but we do have to take it on and deal with it as best we can.

But when times are challenging a different perspective from a psychotherapist, who may well themselves have both different and yet also some similar, if not identical, beliefs and preconceptions as your own, can sometimes be helpful in addressing our luck or karma. A psychotherapist is paid to help people safely feel and think their way through the complexities and contradictions going on in the personal or interpersonal circumstances they find themselves in, so that whatever may be happening they can at least feel they are being as true as they can be to themselves.


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

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

 

gender-image 17 Nov 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

Comments: No Comments

Sex and gender

For most of us our sex and our sense of it, our gender, overlap seamlessly. Or at least they virtually do so. More or less. But in transgendered and intersexed people their sex and their gender can often be quite, sometimes even completely, distinct.

Our sex is a biological given with females being chromosomally XX and males chromosomally XY. So much is clear. Gender, in contrast, which may or may not be biologically determined (not enough is yet known about this, but there is some evidence that it may be, at least in part), is more obviously socially constructed. That is, it is further developed during our childhood and adolescent years by the way we relate with, and our related to, by others.

Some transgendered and intersexed people have the external sexual characteristics of their anatomies surgically altered or, as they experience it, corrected to more accurately fit their sense of gender. They show just how complex the very notion of gender actually is. They show it by not following the ‘normal’ developmental trajectory. Instead they have a greater or lesser certainty, which they may or may not express, that they are different from the norm in terms of their gendered sense of who they are.

Before I go on I have to declare an interest: I am an XY female who has had full gender confirmation surgery because from earliest childhood I ‘knew’ I wasn’t a boy. I couldn’t understand how I ‘knew’ this, but it was as certain as day follows night. Then I would wake up every morning to be confronted  anatomically with the fact that what I ‘knew’ to be the case was not actually true.

It was a bit difficult, to say the least!

Hormonal and surgical intervention are not lightly taken steps. Like that between the brain and the mind, an unbridgeable gap exists for some transgendered people between their given biological sex  on the one hand, and their personal sense of self or identity on the other, which at this present time in history only hormones and surgery can satisfactorily address. The stress of feeling wrongly embodied is otherwise just too difficult to bear.

So next time you consciously take a gendered look at someone, (and unconsciously we all do it all the time in relation to one another), remember that your gendered sense of who and how and what we are as human beings is sometimes not as straightforward as it might appear.


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

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

waves 10 Nov 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

Comments: No Comments

Self control

If some dreams just mix up the ingredients of our waking life into a jumble of apparently random events adding a few relatives, strangers, memories and visions of the future for spice, then popping them in the oven of our sleep to be cooked regardless of whether we remember them or not, doesn’t mean they are unimportant and ‘just’ dreams.

What it means is they are simply not available to us to think about or dwell upon in the same way that the ones which we remember are.

So what? So when we do think about the activity of dreaming than rather any particular dream, we have to wonder what it is about this human being business that whole worlds can whorl around inside our sleeping heads which we are not even aware of.

Again, so what? So when we are awake and make conscious attempts to have full control of ourselves instead of just accepting what and how and who we are, we are doomed to failure.

So am I crazily suggesting we behave like slobs? Not even a little bit. What I am suggesting is that we can trust ourselves. We don’t have to bully ourselves.  Instead we just need to listen to what we are feeling and hear it. For example if/when we are struggling with eating disordered patterns, instead of trying to consciously impose an ideology of restraint upon ourselves with psychological whips and jackboots, we just listen to our tummies telling us when they are feeling too empty or when they are feeling full enough and then show them (our tummies) that we have heard what they are saying to us by responding appropriately (eating some more if they say we haven’t had enough, or stopping eating if they are telling us we have had enough) we will start to free ourselves from being trapped in the depressing cycle of having to ‘be in control’ and inevitably then losing it.

Yes, I’ve just made a quantum leap from talking about dreams we don’t remember into a parallel world in which we can trust our feelings instead of trying to control them. But it can be done!

So much major mental illness behaviour can be understood in terms of well-intentioned if misguided attempts by our waking consciousness to have more control over things within ourselves that are actually beyond our control, like dreams or feelings to name but the two I have talked about here.

And there are many more. So when/if you notice a kind of rigid inflexibility in your thinking then it can help to get back in touch with what you are feeling. That may not be easy. The feelings may too often be almost intolerable. If so, you may want to consider seeking professional help, rather than obsessively avoiding them with the distractions of behavioural self-control.


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

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

rose 03 Nov 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

Comments: No Comments

Death Again

I was gardening and I looked up at the clouds skudding past the late afternoon, autumnal sun and I thought of my mother who also loved gardening when she was alive. I remembered that before she died I promised to give my dead brother’s headstone an annual clean. He died when I was eight years old and he was five.

I hadn’t cleaned it in over the year since she had died. I felt guilty and sad.

I am old now. His destiny was a short life. My mother’s was to care for him during those first so very needy years, (he was brain-damaged), and then lose him. It left her unable to subsequently relate to children easily, if at all.

In contrast, I have spent my whole career working with children and young people and having some lovely ones of my own too. What did she let go of which somehow enabled me to relate to children so easily? I don’t know.

And without going into that, it is obvious how the existence of our families…. and the deaths of loved ones, not only shape how we feel in our lives, but also what we do in them and how we do it.  Regardless of whether we realise it or not.

So, are we also shaped by the generations that came before us? My answering feeling to this question must be a resounding ‘Yes!’. I think there is no disputing the fact that we must be shaped by them; even though we don’t realise it, and even though the more scientific amongst us use long words and talk about epigenetics. Of course, it would be too much if all our ancestors could talk directly to us, but surely we would not be here without them. Nor their particular experiences, relationships and dilemmas about how best to do this human being business. We may not know them in this world of linear time. We have our own experiences, relationships and dilemmas to deal with and there is only so much we can take. But our ancestors, obviously, did all the things we do, (breathe, eat, feel etc), including struggle with love and loneliness and death, just as we do.

It is a defining characteristic of being alive that we all must die. Death gives life it’s importance. This is why we must not let ourselves be seduced by the smooth tongues of warmongers and their political and media apologists.

I was in Amsterdam last week where Gandhi, Luther-King and Mandela were all being celebrated. All three are dead now; dead people who stood up for resisting prejudice, violence and the associated diminishment of the importance of each human being’s experience which includes that of small children whose lives are caught short by circumstance, and too, those of mothers who have lost their babies, like my mum did.


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

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