23 Mar 2018


Where to start? Where to start? Lines? Lines? Yes, okay. Yes, okay. Worlds? Worlds? Definitely! Definitely!

This can’t go on.

And it won’t! That’s enough of that. Especially as parallels are not identical. And neither are we human beings. But we do have collective patterns in common, which is a different matter. From physical characteristics like the fact that, other things being equal, we all have noses; through behaviour like the fact that, other things being equal, we all prefer to sleep at night; to mental functioning like the fact that, other things being equal, we think and feel and dream. So much so uncontentious.

Perceiving patterns, not only collectively, but personally and more minutely, which seem somehow to be similar despite the fact that they make themselves evident in completely different contexts or domains, is a different matter altogether!

Some examples: Bingeing (or restricting) on food with a parallel pattern of bingeing (or restricting) on relationship with other people. Or again and more straight-forwardly, experiencing a traumatic event and then subsequently having recurring dreams and flashbacks about it. Or again, and often more mysteriously, having experienced harm in the past and then repeatedly putting ourselves in situations which potentially or actually threaten to, or even deliver on, giving us more and similar pain in the here and now. Or again, and finally, for now anyway, repeatedly and inexplicably feeling guilty about all kinds of completely different things when we know in fact there is nothing to be feeling guilty about.

Patterns like this are often characteristic of people who seek therapy. They are cognitively and emotionally intelligent and perceptive enough about themselves to actually notice these sorts of parallels. They have also realised that their insight, understanding and ability to perceive parallel patterns, does not in itself make much, if any, difference at all to the way such patterns are adversely affecting their quality of life.

Parallel patterns in part, and speaking reductively, often might appear to simply be a product of our tendency as human beings to seek comfort in habit and making unconscious connections. But could it also be, from a more positive and purposeful perspective, that our even deeper, even more unconscious, self is trying to tell us something we have somehow forgotten or lost touch with? Taking the trauma example above, could it be that flashbacks and recurring dreams about what happened in the past, are telling us that we still have unresolved, connected feelings about it that need our attention now in the present so that we can forget about it, leave it behind us in the past where it belongs? Or again, referring to the example above of a pattern of bingeing (or restricting) on both food and relationship, that we need to attend to both to our physical and our psychological nurturing needs? Or again, if we are putting ourselves at repeated risk of harm, that we need to attend to why?

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

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

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