Monday, February 13, 2017

Psychotherapy And Politics

If anyone thought that psychotherapy was not political and never should be, take a look at the following questions, asked by Carl R. Rogers relative to the “philosophical orientation of the counselor" (quoted from Client Centered Therapy, 1951, relevant in 2017)

“The primary point of importance here is the attitude held by the counselor toward the worth and the significance of the individual.

How do we look upon others?

Do we see each person as having worth and dignity in his own right?

If we do hold this point of view at the verbal level, to what extent is it operationally evident at the behavioral level?

Do we tend to treat individuals as persons of worth, or do we subtly devaluate them by our attitudes and behavior?

Is our philosophy one in which respect for the individual is uppermost?

Do we respect his capacity and his right to self-direction, or do we basically believe that his life should be guided by us?

To what extent do we have a need and a desire to dominate others?

Are we willing for the individual to select and choose his own values, or are our actions guided by the conviction (usually outspoken) that he would be happiest if he permitted us to select for him his values and standards and goals?"


Monday, February 6, 2017

Waste Not Want Not

My grandfather used to save string, tying strands together and rolling them in a tight ball, which he kept in the drawer of an old desk. I can still see the fuzzy brown twine, matched end to end with a slicker, finer white string.  He also saved rubber bands. And tin foil. And once-used nails. 

The nails, which were often bent severely and rusted, were taken out to the oak stump that served as a chopping block for the chickens. There—the head of the nail left over the edge of the wood—he would hammer and turn, hammer and turn, until the old nail was straight enough to drive. I have reused many nails that same way.

My grandfather, who lived with us and we with him for periods of time, grew up in the shadow of WWI and the Depression. Waste to him was about as familiar as the rings of Saturn. There was no question that material things had more than one life and nearly everything could, and would, be used ‘til it absolutely gave out.

He, as well as Mom and Dad, didn’t think this way just about material things either. No use wasting your feelings about that. That’s a waste of time, thinking that way. Waste was one of the bad words, and concepts, in our household.

This morning I was thinking of my grandad and thought further about waste, specifically how we human beings waste our energy. I believe that thoughts are real, that they take energy, and that they lead us to places we may not be conscious of and may not want to be.

So, how do we waste our energy? Regret. Guilt. Shame. Hate. Self-doubt. Predicting. Reading others’ minds. 
I’m sure you have your own list of thinking in a repetitive way about yourself, or someone else, that has no real purpose, accomplishes nothing and will lead nowhere that will serve you. This is our little monkey mind, churning through the established ruts in our thinking. It’s this that we can be more aware of and about which we can give ourselves choices. This is the path to freedom.

I find that freedom is not so much from another person as it is from the tyranny of my own mind. “Save me from the tyranny of my self.” I am fond of saying. It’s that small self that is running around in my consciousness, tempting me with dreams of controlling others, getting revenge, feeling sorry for myself, defeating my wishes and thinking there is no love in the world. It takes a lot of energy to think about these self-defeating things in a repetitive manner.

I need to wake up to my own thinking and how I am spending energy in ways that don’t’ serve me.  This repetitive, negative thinking is a big waste of my best self. My grandfather would not have approved, although he might not have wasted words trying to change me.