Tag Archives: human nature

Winter and Radical Acceptance

I’ve heard visitors and settlers from colder climes say that Australians don’t do winter well. Our houses aren’t built for the cold; our heating systems aren’t up to the task; and some of us don’t even know how to dress for freezing weather!

Fair enough. Of course, if there are any of us who don’t do winter well, it’s because we don’t have to; and I’d much rather live in a milder climate with fewer freezing days and endure the occasional barbs of a visitor or expat than live in an ersatz Siberia.

Having said that, this winter I am simply having to accept some things, things I cannot change so must live with and work around:

  • I’m not enjoying the grey skies.
  • I don’t like this biting cold.
  • I’m grateful for the rain, but amazed it isn’t snow, hail or sleet: it feels as though it should be! (As an Australian, at least an Australian south of the tropics, I’m constitutionally obliged to always be grateful for the rain.)

So now to the nexus of old spirituality and new psychology: radical acceptance. As St Francis prayed centuries ago, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”, and so read the DBT (dialectic behaviour theory) texts of today: radical acceptance is the name of the game.

You won’t hear me complain about the cold (much). You’ll find me snuggled up somewhere warm, making the most of the excuse to coddle myself against biting winds and driving rain, and catching up on some work or play …

… but secretly grateful that it’s only this cold, and our winter only lasts that long.

Rain

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Shapes and Sizes

Return visitors might recall that I’m currently rocking “quirks and frailties” language for discussing psychiatric conditions and other mental health issues. After all, we all have “quirks and frailties” – they’re just more pronounced in some of us!

I’m upgrading laptops at the moment, and came across this photo taken in Frankston, Victoria, a couple of years ago:

2012-07-07 13.01.36

The varied forms of these trees got me thinking about how different we humans all are. In fact, New Scientist informed me in 2012 that there were 11 things which are uniquely our own: our DNA, fingerprints, face, gait, ears, eyes, voice, scent, heartbeat, brain waves and microbiome! Surprisingly, even identical twins’ DNA is only 100% the same at the time of conception; from then on, their genomes diverge, and the older they get, the less identical they are (don’t ask me, I’m just a curious reader).

So, we’re all unique, and we all have a set of quirks and frailties willed to us by our nature, strengthened or weakened by our nurture, and ultimately expressed in our environment.

To me, this is one reason I love psychotherapy so much: it’s so deeply personal. Medication hasn’t yet reached the stage where drugs can be manufactured to match my genes, and the briefer therapies – CBT, DBT and the like – teach valuable skills, even essential skills, but don’t necessarily deal with those individual and underlying patterns which keep recurring in my life. They teach me to live with them more comfortably, but are not necessarily transformational.

I see my “talking therapy” as an essential part of my wellness regime. It might not be trendy; research is less prolific, because the number of variables makes designing research programs problematic; but, to me, long-term psychotherapy is part of my healthy moving forward.

What’s your opinion of psychotherapy? Have you tried it, and have you found it useful?

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Love is as love does

I’ve decided that this is how I’m going to measure my relationships from now on. Love is as love does, speaks, gives, receives …

My husband and I had a loving discussion of the issue which arose for us last night. Love is as love does. Now, all is good, all is resolved. Love is as love speaks.

My online support community is always supportive, always ready to understand and empathize. Love is as love gives. In this case, as the support, understanding and empathy are mutual, love is also as love receives.

Whether you’re a believer or not, the Bible is a primary text in Western culture. As I was typing this post about love, 1 Corinthians 13 came to mind – how could it not? Then I remembered a piece of trivia from, believe it or not, Year 7 Art class! Corinthian columns in Ancient Greece were topped with flourishing plant motifs, as though new life were springing from inanimate stone. Isn’t this a great symbol of love, and its action in our lives?

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Virtue

I absolutely love Alexander McCall Smith’s writings, with his gentle and engaging tales from the contrasting locations of Botswana and Scotland. Of his series, my favourite is the books about Isabel Dalhousie, in which we’re treated to the inner ruminations of a philosopher as she navigates ordinary life, considering and confronting the myriad moral dilemmas she – and we – face everyday, sometimes unknowingly.

I saw an interview with Smith once where he discussed writing about virtue, not vice. Doesn’t it say something about most of our popular fiction, that he could distinguish his work in such a manner? That lead me to think about much of the entertainment I watch: mysteries, dramas, adventures … most of these have some form of vice as their central theme.

Are we distorting our view of  the world, by focussing so much on vice, rather than virtue? Or is nature truly red in tooth and claw, and attempts to live morally mere constructs of human vanity? What do you think?

I think I’ve decided that focussing on virtue rather than vice is no bad thing. I think I will choose to seek out more fiction with an emphasis on virtue.

Perhaps this will make the world seem a more livable place, a more enjoyable place, a place in which it is easier to enjoy good mental health.

 

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Nature Loves to Hide

 

… or so says this piece of street art from an alleyway in my city: Street Signs 2

There’s something which is eluding me at the moment, and that’s the post I’m trying to write about leaving the therapy group which wasn’t working for me. Some drafts are most certainly a bitch, rather than a vent, which isn’t helpful. Others go into too much detail, so someone reading the post may be able to identify themselves or others, which goes against my strict self-imposed anonymity policy. Finally, my last draft was full of too much detail, which ended up obscuring the message I wanted to convey – why I left, and why it was a difficult decision to make.

Usually, I wouldn’t mind publishing something which was still a work in progress, but this particular post means a lot to me, and I want to get it right.

So, my friends, that post is coming – but it may still be a while off!

xx DB

 

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