While sitting at work today, I thought “I had neglected my blog” – I haven’t written a new article in over a month. Then I was wondering what I would like to share with you. The topic came up by itself – here I am grateful to my clients and my own experiences from the present day. Many of my clients don’t know why they struggle with anxiety. Very often I hear from them “nothing spectacular happened today and yet I felt a growing anxiety”. After discussing the topic in depth and analyzing the activities of the day, we very often come to a common conclusion that they did not act in accordance with their moral campus – they could not say “no” to the other person despite the fact that they did not want to do something. Many of us have a problem with this, we are afraid that if we take care of ourselves and say “I’m sorry but I don’t feel comfortable in this situation” or “I need some time to think about it”, we will disappoint others, perhaps we are afraid that others will stop liking/loving us? Or that they consider us selfish. In such situations, there are also thoughts like “I have to do this”, “I should sacrifice” – and this is where we can talk about expectations and its relationship with anxiety. Such thoughts as “I have to”, “I should” are related to the expectations we have for ourselves, but also to the expectations from society/others. We have great difficulty taking into account our own boundaries at such times and that is why anxiety arises in us. Anxiety is not always “bad” – sometimes anxiety is a signal from our psyche, our body, that we are acting against ourselves. But we have a problem sometimes listening, right? I would like to encourage you to question certain thoughts – instead of “I must/should” try to apply “I choose/would like to do it” (or of course “I don’t have to/I don’t want to”). Give yourself a choice that will affect your psyche in a positive, empowering and up-building way. Such a small change and so big in consequences. Also you can practice active listening of your body – if you feel anxious in certain situations ask yourself “what does my anxiety signal to me? Am I acting against myself/my morals?” If the answer is yes, then I hope you will find the courage, show kindness for yourself, and take care of your own mental health by saying that magic word “no”. There is a mirror side to this idea, closer to the Jungian view of the value of anxiety – in which anxiety comes when we avoid what we know we should do, when we avoid taking responsibility and choose to stay in limbo – some “should’s” could be useful, if we learn how to moderate and apply them. The lack/avoidance of should’s can be as damaging as having to many of them. Start with small steps in your everyday life – good luck!
he family plays a fundamental role in a child’s mental health. It is emphasized that the husband and wife are the architects of the family. It is mainly up to them how the children will develop. So what happens in a home that is dysfunctional? What is a dysfunctional family and how does it function? What roles do children take?Based on Bradshaw, a dysfunctional family is created by a dysfunctional marriage, and such marriages are created by dysfunctional individuals who find each other and marry each other. People with dysfunctions very often find another person who acts either at the same level or at a higher level of dysfunction. Children growing up in a dysfunctional family are innocent, they have no control over the toxic environment in which they grow up. They are hurt by adults on different levels: physical, emotional, psychological, sexual. For such children, uncertainty, chaos and the instability of the environment are everyday life. Children from dysfunctional homes do not receive the attention and support they need in key stages of their development. Instead, they focus on the dysfunctional behavior of their parents. Very often they cannot show their feelings (especially anger, sadness and fear).What can cause family dysfunction? These are among others:- physical, emotional, sexual abuse,- addiction,- personality disorders and other psychological problems,- family conflicts between parents,- conflict between parent and child,- religious fanaticism,- abandonment,- neglect.For the family to survive, children take on different roles. They do it out of love for their parents, they undertake tasks that are beyond their capabilities. They work hard to maintain “balance” in the family. The roles described below serve the family, but not the children who play them:1.”Hero” – is a child who plays the role of an adult in the family. His job is to provide the family with self-esteem, hope, pride and success. The child takes on this role because one or both parents are emotionally unavailable due to their own problems. Despite the fact that he has not gone through the full cycle of adolescence and maturation and is unable to cope with such a challenge, he plays such a role, although internally he is not prepared for it. Usually takes on various responsibilities and copes with them very well (e.g. cooking, cleaning, raising younger siblings). He is brave, composed, dedicated and ready to give up on himself for others. The extended family, friends and neighbors often look at such a child with envy, praise and admire him. Thanks to the hero, the family can feel good, because it has brought up such a responsible and successful young person.2. “Scapegoat” – it allows the family to distract from their real problems. It treats the child as a kind of substitute object on which to concentrate and unload negative feelings. The scapegoat is the opposite of the family hero. Adults perceive such a child as irresponsible and difficult, bringing troubles and problems with their behavior. He often learns poorly, uses stimulants early, falls into the so-called “bad crowd”. He is usually brazen and arrogant towards parents. In this way, he expresses the negative emotions that family members react to him. The scapegoat, however, can be surprisingly similar to the family hero: he can take responsibility for what happens in the family. But the hero takes responsibility for the positive image of the family, and the scapegoat for the negative one. Children in both roles experience fear, a sense of rejection, loneliness and harm. The scapegoat also sometimes has a feeling of hatred towards the world and people who give him no chance to be good, as well as a feeling of jealousy and underestimation.3. “Mascot” – the mascot child is responsible for improving the mood and humor of the family. It provides a relief of tensions with laughter, antics, and humor in an otherwise sad family environment. It often becomes a home antidote to crisis moments. Many children who develop hyperactivity simply try to relieve tension in the family by fooling around and paying attention to themselves. Parents like to show off their mascot in front of others. At the same time, regardless of age, they treat child as an immature person who understands little of what is happening around him. Since he is not taken too seriously by the family, he is often not informed about various matters and does not take part in making decisions. When a mascot has to deal with someone else’s anger or rage against which adult household members are powerless, he is actually scared and tense. He has the feeling that if he cannot improve someone’s mood, he becomes unnecessary like an abandoned cuddly toy.4. “The invisible child” (also called the child in the fog or the lost child) – acts as if he was not there. He often feels that it would be better if he wasn’t there at all. He can take care of himself for hours. It does not cause any problems with education, usually it does not want anything. In social contacts it is withdrawn, sometimes considered shy. He does everything not to draw attention to himself. Sometimes he succeeds so well that he grows up in a kind of social isolation, despite the people around him. Such a child lacks basic interpersonal skills: establishing contact, expressing his needs or cooperating with others. At school, he clearly differs from his peers in the level of social skills.What was your role in your family?
Perfectionism – it is my old friend, so the topic of it is very close to me. This friendship has been present in my life for many years. Today, I decided to share with you my experience on this subject. Anyone can be a perfectionist – an elderly person, a young adult, and even a child. The causes of this feature in humans are not entirely clear. It is suspected that genes can influence the development of it. However, the most crucial period for the possible development of perfectionism is adolescence – various difficulties that arise in this period of life, which can ultimately result in a given person becoming a perfectionist. The problems that may contribute to perfectionism include, among others, excessive parental expectations towards the child, constant criticism of the young person and early loss of a loved one (e.g. one of the parents).
Characteristics of perfectionism:
For a perfectionist, the word “forbearance” is basically foreign: what matters most is that various activities or tasks “should” be performed in accordance with rules (usually adopted only by himself). This applies to both professional and household duties.
A perfectionist at work can check e.g. the project several dozen times before sending it and give it to the supervisor only when he becomes absolutely sure that everything is fine with it. For a perfectionist there is no half-measures: he either does something right or he doesn’t do it at all. However, we have to distinguish between “good” and “perfect” here.
A minor mistake that most people would simply not care about can inspire a perfectionist with a serious feeling of guilt or anger at oneself. So you could say that for a perfectionist the world is black and white: either something is done right or completely wrong. It may seem that perfectionism in certain professions – e.g. accounting – could even be an expected feature. In practice, however, not necessarily – striving for the task undertaken by the perfectionist to be completed correctly, as it may result in the fact that the task of this will not be completed at all.
In addition, the constant fear of making a mistake can result in a feeling of considerable anxiety and fear. It is worth mentioning here that perfectionism can in some way impoverish human life. It happens that a perfectionist – fearing that he/she will not manage to do something perfectly – will avoid taking on new challenges or responsibilities.
After all, perfectionism is related to the fact that a person displaying this trait tries to be perfect at all costs – so he or she may be afraid of new challenges due to potential failure, which perfectionists hate too well.
How to deal with own perfectionism?
Perfectionism can literally poison life, not only for the person displaying it, but also for the people around them. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with it. First of all, you need to be understanding with yourself. It is worth asking yourself some questions: what happens if you make a minor mistake at work or what happens if one of the dishes in the house is not washed thoroughly? The answer is generally simple: nothing. You just have to realize that every human being has the right to make mistakes and making them not only takes away nothing, but even more – enriches us, helps us to grow. After all, when we make a mistake, only then do we find out what the consequences are and thus avoid committing another mistake in the future. It should also be taken into account that the above-mentioned consequence of perfectionism is the avoidance of engaging in new activities, entertainment and tasks which can take away many beautiful experiences in life.
My work on my perfectionism was very much based on identifying and evaluating my core-beliefs (you can read more about them in separate post). So, instead of believing that “everything needs be perfect” or “I have to be perfect”, I am believing now that “I am good enough and everything I do I do to the best of my abilities”. “Maybe my best isn’t as good as someone else’s, but for a lot of people, my best is enough. Most importantly, for me it’s enough.” L. Stirling
In the process of introspection, we look at our own feelings, fears and desires. We observe our behavior, analyze experiences, try to find answers to the questions “why” and “for what purpose”. Thanks to this reflective practice, we are able to reach the underlying cause, which is often behind our motivations, and the existence of which we are not aware of. Introspection, as a form of self-psychoanalysis, helps to draw conclusions, systematize them and analyze them. Self-reflection also requires distance from oneself and accepting often some painful conclusions. Introspection is a great tool for getting to know ourselves, although the truth that we discover during it will not always be in line with our expectations.Lets look at introspective psychology for a little bit here… Introspection proposed by Wilhelm Wundt was initially considered a valuable psychological tool, but in the following years this technique lost its importance. Scientific circles criticized introspection primarily for its subjective character and rejected such methods in cognitive psychology. Introspection, however, turned out to be useful in psychotherapy (thanks for that! ). Thanks to introspection, we are able to get to know and analyze our thoughts and emotions, look at the decisions we make, understand our fears and needs, as well as our relationships with other people. Introspection allows us to analyze our behavior and, with the therapist’s help, change our thinking and work on specific problems.You can also introspect yourself. Self-reflection takes time, it is worth doing it regularly. Some people need peace and quiet for it, others prefer to use introspection during a walk or yoga session. Introspection does not have to be limited to thinking, additional tools may be helpful in organizing the stream of thoughts. Some suggestions:- you can write down your thoughts in the form of a classic diary or a virtual blog;- using a mind map;- talking to yourself;- take part in group therapy;- appropriate literature may also be helpful in introspection, as well as films in which the characters grapple with problems similar to ours. Here are also some questions we can ask ourselves while practicing self-reflection:- Am I using my time wisely?- Do I take anything for granted?- Do I have a healthy perspective?- Do I have a positive attitude to the world when I wake up in the morning?- Do I have negative thoughts before going to bed?- What am I most worried about when I think about the future?- Do I put enough effort into my relationships?- Do I take care of myself physically?- Do I live in harmony with myself and others?- Am I achieving the goals I have set for myself?- Have I done anything worth remembering lately?- When was the last time I pushed my limits of my comfort zone?- What do I want/need to change in myself/life?- Who has influenced my life the most and how?- What is the only thing I would like others to remember me for?- Does it really matter what others think of me?- If I could talk to my teens-self, all I would say would be…- What am I afraid of?By answering these sample questions, you can better understand your own emotions, fears, prejudices, and desires. For me, time for self-reflection is very important. So, every day I dedicate at least a few minutes on this valuable internal exploration process. Maybe you would also like to try? “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” (C.G. Jung)“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” (Aristotle)
On a sunny day, everyone sees their shadow, there is nothing to be afraid of, it is just an obvious part of our reality. But when it’s almost dark and we only have a little light, the shadows can really look scary, then they have the power to trigger different emotions, reactions and behaviors within us. It is similar with our individual Shadow. The less it is illuminated by the light of our consciousness, the more frightening it is. According to Jung’s theory, we are divided into the so-called Ego and the Shadow of the ego. Ego is the center of our personality. This is our concept of ourselves within which we accumulate everything we want to consciously identify with. And in this process of selecting, we create our Shadow, because in order to make a selection, we have to reject something. So the shadow is the part of the unconscious where we store everything we reject, with which we do not want to identify. In other words, the Shadow is a repressed, negative personality, the sum of the content that has been rejected by the ego. Let’s say these are things swept under the rug to make the room appear neat and tidy. Unfortunately, these things do not disappear from under the carpet, they accumulate under the threshold of our consciousness and have their own mass, charge, energy. This is why shaking the Shadow triggers very strong reactions. It is worth mentioning that the Shadow activates in sudden, difficult, borderline situations – under the influence of high stress, unpredictable circumstances. Also under the influence of stimulants – wherever the ego control weakens, the Shadow reveals itself. Then we say to ourselves – “I don’t know what happened to me, something has possessed me, that wasn’t like me”. On a daily basis, sometimes we can also recognize our Shadow in thoughts and desires that have nothing to do with the person with whom we identify. These are dark thoughts, full of hatred, anger, resentment, violence, desires, which are very uncomfortable, so we quickly run away from them, suppress them, tell ourselves that we must not think that. We start to form defense mechanisms and we run as far away from it as possible. And Shadow grows quietly. How to recognize the Shadow in practice? Below are some suggestions.1. The first way to identify your Shadow in practice is to look at your judgment of other people. Unconsciousness literally projecting our Shadow to other people as on a big screen. The more you cut yourself off from someone, the easier it will be for you to project something onto this person you don’t like about yourself. So you are just hiding from your Shadow, pushing it into the unconscious and throwing it over to another person or to something outside of you. It is easy to recognize, because it is always associated with quite a large emotional charge. You wouldn’t be so pissed off about something if it wasn’t related to you in some way. That is why it is worth following your sharp reactions to other people, to how they behave, what they are. This is the direct manifestation of Your Shadow. There is nothing wrong with the projection itself, as long as you are aware that you are doing it and that the content of your projection is really about you most often. When you start looking at it, you will likely discover that your strong emotions in this situation have something to do with some old scenarios, beliefs, stories, ideas and thoughts. Something has awakened in you and this something has nothing to do with objective reality. How does it work in practice? Imagine that you are at some training and there is a person who annoys you terribly. She is loud, insolent, smart and you think that she is acting arrogant. In a word – drama. Meanwhile, when you are aware of your judgments and the projection mechanism, you will know that this person reflects to you that part of you that you are not aware of, that you have renounced. Maybe you would also like to be so bold? Maybe you think you lack confidence, but are actually hiding it in the Shadow? Or imagine that you keep accusing your partner of being stubborn and not listening to you. If it repeats itself, take a look at yourself, maybe you are projecting on it exactly what you do yourself? Maybe you don’t listen to it yourself and are so stubborn? It may also be that you admire some person’s qualities. If so, it is a sign that it would be good to look at whether you really do not have such qualities within you or just do not have access to them. The projection is very comfortable, because thanks to it we do not have to look under our “carpet”, we can shift our darker side to others, but it also means that we are not aware of some resources.2. The second thing we can tell if our Shadow has been activated is reactivity.Reactivity is about responding to what is happening here and now in a very intense way, but not because the present situation requires it, but because it reminds you of something. It reminds you of the past, so when you are reactive you simply react to the past – for example, to your mother, brother, sister, father. You do this even though the person you are talking to has nothing to do with them, they just activated some kind of reaction pattern in you. For example, your partner gives you some loose observation and you react in a furious way. And the other person completely does not understand what is happening to you, because from her/his perspective it looks like you would be “shooting a fly with a cannon”. But to you your reaction seems adequate, to you this reaction makes sense. Only later you do come to the conclusion that this was an exaggeration after all. You react like an automaton because you have no idea what is driving you, you don’t know anything about your Shadow – what patterns, emotions and triggers activate your reactivity, you are not aware of it. And reactivity is relatively easy to recognize. For example, if you are attentive, you will know it by hearing yourself say similar words in a similar situation. You can also recognize it by the fact that you are very attached to the fact that you are 100% right in a given situation, there is no other option for you, you are right and that’s it. In addition, you may also find that you have a complete lack of empathy for the person you are talking to. You will also recognize reactivity by the fact that you do not feel a little irritated because someone told you something, rather you are immediately overcome by a wild frenzy.3. The signal that the Shadow is working in your life are also repeated situations, for example patterns in relationships, constant selection of similar partners and sabotage of good relationships. In short, it’s about making the same “mistakes” over and over again. If so, it is a signal that our conditioning is leading and we completely do not know what is going on. And we still have something like groundhog day – we keep going through the same situations and getting the same results. Either we choose the same type of partner or we spoil everything with our approach. And even though we don’t want to do that, we somehow end up in the same place. And it will be so until we look at what has been suppressed in relation to our relationships, maybe closeness, sexuality, fear – who knows what we will see when we start looking at it.4. Another sign that the Shadow is active in our lives is our excessive attachment to all that is positive. So in short, we have a negative attitude towards our negativity, even though we are generally positive. Unfortunately, in order to be able to keep these appearances and our reality in a positive frame, we cannot allow ourselves to perceive different things, or feel them, experience them or think about them. We cut off anything we think is negative, including emotions that don’t fit in with our positive world. We suppress them, pretend they’re not there. And the only thing that we achieve in this way, apart from appearances, is that our Shadow is becoming more and more powerful.5. We can also see a shadow in our life through introspection. All you need is a few simple questions to ask yourself and then write down the answer – what parts of myself do I not accept? What would I like to get rid of? Which parts of me do I judge most harshly? When do I react most strongly to what someone says to me? What are the topics, manner of speaking, tone and what is it about? What parts of myself am I afraid of? What did my parents disapprove of in me? If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do with my life? These questions help to discover resources that we are not aware of. To increase your Shadow awareness, you can also list all the things with which you identify most strongly – with what groups of people, with what interests and traits. Then write down what you consider to be the opposite. Let’s say you identify with women of science, wise, intelligent and you look down on those who are interested in makeup or fashion. Try to see the opposite pole.I think these are the most important suggestions our Shadow shows us. But the first step to be able to observe your Shadow at all is to acknowledge its existence within us. It is about recognizing the simple truth that man is as “good” as “bad”, is light and dark, order and chaos. And it’s not about becoming perfect, but more about striving for authenticity and being just human beings. And the road to that leads in the middle – it’s about standing between light and dark and experiencing full humanity. For this you have to face the dragon, but not to defeat it or let it eat you, just to get to know it. Otherwise our development will be apparent.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” (Anonymous)
Many of you know what I do: I am a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. My work is extremely interesting, it requires improving myself not only on a professional but also on a personal level. It is based on building close relationships with other people and working with the process of change. And this is what I would like to share with you today – why is change so difficult for many of us? Why for many of us sometimes even the word “change” causes fear and paralysis? Why, despite the pain and suffering, do we feel that we are unable to make changes? Very often it even happens that we choose to stay in a painful situation so that nothing changes. Why?
I will not hide the fact that change IS DIFFICULT. I think we should start with the fact that a lot of people think about change as something sudden, one moment, a point in time when everything suddenly changes. And such a change is not – the change is accompanied by a process, sometimes lengthy. Change requires dedication, time, energy, repetition and perseverance. Change is related to something new, unknown – and that is what causes fear. At the beginning of the change process, you really have to make an effort not to choose the path that is well-known – to not react in the same way, not repeat the same thinking process. This well-known path is very easy for us…. so how do you deal with the fear associated with change?
There is one very cool exercise that I encourage many of my clients to do – and now I would like to encourage you too. Take a piece of paper and crayons (yes – we will draw ). To start with, I would like to ask you to draw a bridge (whatever comes to your mind) and then draw yourself – are you on your bridge? where – at the beginning or, perhaps, in the middle? Maybe you are standing in front of the bridge, not on it? Now imagine that one side of this bridge represents your current reality. Stop here for a moment and write down everything that is related to your current situation (for example: I feel bad, I feel deeply sad, violence, gray, loneliness). The other side of the bridge is the place you want to get to – in other words, how would you like your reality to look after the change. Here, too, I would like you to write what you would like to feel or experience in a new situation (maybe freedom, joy, fulfilment, peace, friends).As you probably already guessed, the bridge is a symbol of the process of change – sometimes it seems unstable, sometimes it shakes a little, maybe some places on that bridge are cracked or hollow. From this side of the bridge the other side looks blurry and unclear. This journey into the unknown at first seems scary, uncertain so at the beginning stepping on the bridge involves some leap of faith. But believe me, it is worth overcoming fear to get to the other side because as we move along on the bridge things on the other side start to take shape and we can see them more clearly. This other side… that’s where you are waiting for what you strive for. So maybe it’s worth taking that risk? That’s one of many reasons why going to therapy can be beneficial – you don’t need to take this journey alone but with somebody who will support you at every step you take.
Today I decided that I would like to share something practical with you – namely, an exercise to which I encourage many of my clients to do when we work together. Each of us sometimes experiences disturbing thoughts. Each of us sometimes experiences terrible, obtrusive, sad, overwhelming thoughts. But not every one of us does something with them. Many of us take for granted and absolute truth what is happening in our mind – we believe that our thoughts are our reality, that they are true. But is it really so? How would you feel if I told you that this is not true? That not all our thoughts reflect an objective reality? Virtually, all of our negative thoughts are based on emotions – not facts. And here I would like to invite you to verify these questions (or should I say thoughts). So… how do you ask? How to start questioning the truthfulness of our thoughts?
The exercise is very simple: I would like you to play the role of a judge. During court hearings, the judge listens to two parties: the defence and the prosecutor right? So I would like to invite you to take a piece of paper and something to write. At the top of the page I would like you to write a thought that bothers you and then divide the piece of paper into two halves (line in the middle will be just perfect). Let’s say that the left side will be a defense of your thought – here I would like you to write EVERYTHING which in your opinion supports your thought. The right side will be the prosecutor’s side – here I would like you to write out all the factual evidence that indicates the falseness of your thoughts. After unsubscribing from both sides, I would like you to issue a “verdict” – after all, you are a judge in this exercise. Is your thought true? If you come to the conclusion that is not, how could you transform it (or re-shape it) to fit objective reality? Perhaps challenging absolutes like “always”, “never”, “every time”? Because you see… our thoughts are ONLY thoughts, not facts. Not everything we think is real – sometimes it is a reflection of our feelings but not us, not our reality. Perhaps, thinking about your thoughts as mental events instead of reality can be useful. This is something I would like you to remember every day.
It took me a few weeks to make a decision about a theme that I wanted to share with you in this post. My emotions (especially one), which I haven’t experienced for many years, helped me make the decision, namely – anxiety appeared in me. In the past, this feeling was well known to me, it accompanied me practically every day. After working through my traumas I freed myself from this feeling but it returned to me – like an old friend whom you have known for years but you have not had contact with. Reflecting on what changed, why the fear returned, I realized that for the past few weeks I had not lived in accordance with my values and beliefs. Values that are of great importance to me include family, friends, self-development, work, health, openness and honesty in relationships with myself and other people, a daily dose of exercises and practices that allow me to maintain mental/emotional health, a balance between responsibilities and pleasures.
For many of us, life has changed drastically in recent weeks. Many aspects in our lives have changed a lot – mine too. And it was here that “my old friend” found his way to me. Unpleasant thoughts began to appear: “What will happen to my work?”, “How will I cope with the change?”, “I will not be able to leave the house and enjoy the meetings/activities that give me fulfillment” – these are just some of the thoughts that appeared in my mind. I also started following news – about seven years ago I made a conscious decision to stop watching/listening to them because they influenced me in a negative way (they caused me sadness, sometimes anger and sometimes anxiety).
I will not hide that it took me some time to find a solution to say goodbye to anxiety and adapt to change in everyday life – however, I succeeded. Fear left me because I realized that I had devoted too much time and energy to focusing on things that I couldn’t do. Instead, I allowed myself to change my perspective – I began to pay attention to what is in my control and to aspects that I can still practice. I can still give my clients support but in a different form, I can still go for a walk, I can still practice yoga and meditation, I can still develop professionally and personally through reading/studying/painting/creative work, I can still develop and care for my relatives and friends, I can still laugh/dance/sing/feel the joy of being – being myself fully. And here, I would like to invite you for reflection, ask yourself the questions that I asked myself: “what in this situation can I do to keep living in harmony with myself and my values/beliefs?”, “what can I focus my attention and energy on? “,”what still makes me happy? or maybe I can discover new activities that will bring value and meaning to my life?”
I am sure that the answers to these questions will give you courage, peace, positive surprise of how much you can still do each day. I wish you successful attempts in answering the above questions and in implementing the change that you can achieve.