Memory Reconsolidation – The E.R.A.S.E.D. Process

Bringing ability into accord with objectives is to bring ones ability into accord with one’s intentions, purpose, goal or aim and refers to what one wants or is motivated to do or achieve, signifying a course of action one proposes to follow (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 2016).

In an extraordinary feat of competition and cooperation in humans, the conscious, aware mind and the faculty of attention, as dynamics of an innate neuroplastic system that changes orientation, can combine to erase obsolete and defeating learnings and replace them with new knowledge.

This is achieved by means of a process developed by Leslie Zimmermann designated as “The E.R.A.S.E.D Process” a name that encapsulates both the protocol and its desired outcome.

When an embedded negative learning is triggered – along with all its attendant disruptive emotions and a concomitant deep, unfulfilled yearning to be liberated from its debilitating effects – it will typically generate the same old responses and a resultant acting out of a repetitive and unchanging tale over a lifetime. It is clear that much is at stake and much is to be gained if this type of learning is finally to be overcome by a new reality, by the creation of a new, more constructive script.

This process acts efficiently, quickly and in the moment, in order to modify and supplant old learnings with new and beneficial knowledge.

This process concerns memory reconsolidation, a function that has been adapted from laboratory research for psychotherapeutic use. It has engendered considerable excitement in the therapeutic world because of its efficacy with patients. This has in turn motivated the development of numerous varieties of reconsolidation processes.

The capacity of neuroplastic adaptation of the brain in order to reconsolidate old learnings and update them with new knowledge has existed for millennia. It functions successfully for both animals and humans. Although its governing principles were only finally understood in 2004, organisms needed to experience reconsolidation frequently enough during the long period of this facility’s development and its maintenance, for it to be selected. But understanding the governing principles means that it can now be purposefully applied.

Organisms with minds possess the advantage of being able to deliberately create ways and means to regulate their lives, maintain homeostasis and thus further their survival. In addition, humans have not only creatively evolved many cultural instruments that help to establish and support such a state but are also able to take survival to another level by developing ways of thriving and creating and living a good life. The capacity that enables this in individuals is a conscious, aware mind that can represent mental feelings of what the organism is experiencing. These feelings are subjectively felt and matter to the individual, and thus guide and enable deliberate behaviour. 

The principle driver behind the E.R.A.S.E.D. Process is the capacity to change orientation by means of a sequence of specific steps powered by the mind and valence, and the operation of attention, which harnesses the force of erasing old learnings and replacing them with new knowledge.

The problems that hinder the reconsolidation system, and which need to be overcome, are:

  1. That which an individual learns from the time of birth needs to function for life. This means these learnings are stored in long-term memory and then act automatically.
  • These past learnings are not isolated memories but, as a result of real past experiences, are structured as complete models. These categories function as living schemas, i.e. patterns with inherent processes that include autobiographical memories, emotional memories, memories of what the world or self is, and memories of learned ways of responding whenever the specific, related schema is triggered.

  • Nothing escapes the conscious, aware mind, whether it is the state of the body, positive or negative emotions and their actions, the translation of emotions into a label, the continuum of gripping, pleasant to unpleasant valence, the concordant thoughts arising from the emotion, and the thoughts of automatic, learned responses, all of these represented in the mind. In mythical terms, the mind is Apollo, the sun god who always gets his way. The mind thus powers the awareness that informs individuals of the status quo in the organism, which as part of being a minded organism, can enable the creative functions of reasoning and decision-making that can effect changes. But at the same time the mind also faithfully reports the old learnings – the latter acting as a force to maintain functions that were meant to endure, not change.

  • The mind is thus the power that either enables or prevents change in orientation. That is, it facilitates or prevents change. But importantly, the part of the mind that is able to find creative solutions, while being the power that can enable such change, is not the force that actuates change – it is not the “technician.” It will represent the status quo, report on the progress – positive or negative – of actions effecting change, if and when they take place. Further, it is able to creatively find solutions and engage in decisions and planning, which are in turn influenced by the state of the organism – aversive or in a state of well-being.

The E.R.A.S.E.D. Process consciously and effectively enables individuals to not only attend to aversive emotions and thoughts, to not only erase old learnings and replace them with new knowledge, to not only survive, but also to actively thrive.

This is the aim of memory reconsolidation. This is the goal that evolution painstakingly developed and selected for over all the past millennia. This has now, in contemporary times, become available as a conscious, deliberate function.

About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is an accredited  Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a symbolic perspective including neuropsychological and biological systems.

MA in Research Psychology, Cum Laude (Witwatersrand University, South Africa)
Post-graduate Diplomate, Accredited Analytical Psychologist (Switzerland)
Member: SAPC (South African Psychoanalytic Confederation)
Member: IAAP (International Association for Analytical Psychology
Member: SAAJA South Africa

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Memory Reconsolidation – The E.R.A.S.E.D. Process

Flourishing – Life’s Natural Throb of Ongoing Reconstitution | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

Sylvia’s journey

Her best and her worst, her life anchor and her desires are actually different facets of the same diamond. Turn it around – gaze upon each polished shimmering surface as it becomes the foreground – and you’ll see her story.

Looking at her first facet, we see the story of her best talents and strengths, of being able to see the parts of a whole with its relationships and connections, even those, which are seemingly distant. This is what she does in her every-day life. This enables her to see the wholeness, the seeming solidness of people and things so that the myriad deep, layered and rich inner and outer environment comes into view. It is a spectacular sight of hopes, desires, yearnings, joys, deep losses, pain and strengths. This done, she can partner with the innate living power and reach of the other so that inner flourishing can be restored. In this way, she is something like an orchid, but also recognizes this in others.  She sees herself, and all things living as beautiful, enduring and serene – like an orchid. Not fragile – but solid and well-formed in their structure and in their ongoing reflowering – each time new, yet, recognizably the same. This is her anchor. Like her orchids, her only vulnerability is found in not attending to her unique needs for living life and flourishing, whereupon she then slowly withers and dies. But she doesn’t give up. With ongoing constancy, she works and toils, always moving herself onwards and forwards and all the while, she creates a milieu of beauty, aesthetics, peace and serenity in her life.

As we turn towards a second facet, we see her deep scars – the tearing, the rips that take her apart, shredding and scattering her into countless shards of pain, of anger, of shock. This is no longer the creative act of awakening, of analyzing, of opening up – much as a bud opens to reveal its intricate inner self. This is rough, irregular stripping – the wordless decent into a void. Into darkness so deep it is “the unnameable.” It becomes fragmentation so unbearable that all consciousness of it must urgently be removed and eliminated so that peace can be restored once more. It is self-destructive. It is the driving need to remove mind, all thoughts, all the terrifying emotions that are lacerating her body and mind until finally, her body becomes still once more. But wait, we can see that a window has opened. She has seen a glimpse of her suffering self that has been hidden all this while. All these years. She begins to see a chink of light in this blackness. She feels hope and deep love for her wounded self as at last, she sits quietly in this faint dawn that is breaking through.

One more facet reveals her need to be free – a way of being in the world that is not rule bound, but a healthy form of moving beyond the bounds. Just as being able to see the parts of a whole with its relationships and connections, which open up the rules of wholeness, she has also lived its opposite of tearing apart, always… until now… a juxtaposition with her slumbering, but living violent, terrifying moments of dark fragmentation.

With the beginning of some light revealing her inner and outer story, yet another facet illuminates some understanding about her shock and distress when logic in others disappears and their insanity enters. She realizes that it begins to touch the deep gloomy, black cavern of her own early experiences that led to losses and the shock of being met with such insanity– a lack of reason – by others – awakening a brooding in her depths. No need to fear what has now been seen. Gently coax her suffering self into the light. Bring words to a terrified self who needs her care. Who always has.

And then, the final facet in this quarter of her diamond brings all of it together. Both the beauty and the pain of coming apart. It opens the door for some kind of reconstitution as these two emotions are twinned in life. Pain, disappointments and difficulties when seen and understood in differentiated form, can move her towards finding solidness, peace and serenity. So that, like her orchids, she can provide herself with what she wants and doesn’t want and what she likes and doesn’t like – so that she can return again and again to flourishing – to life’s natural throb of ongoing reconstitution instead of silently withering and fading away. This is also her way of life – the rules that foster living, woven into the freedom to live it her way.

Bring some magic into your life! Ideas developed by Leslie Zimmermann.

MA in Research Psychology, Cum Laude (Witwatersrand University, South Africa)
Post-graduate Diplomate, Accredited Analytical Psychologist (Switzerland)
Member: SAPC (South African Psychoanalytic Confederation)
Member: IAAP (International Association for Analytical Psychology
Member: SAAJA South Africa

About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is an accredited  Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a symbolic perspective including neuropsychological and biological systems.

Posted in Development and Change, Personal Growth, Things to Think About, Want and don't want / Like and don't like | Comments Off on Flourishing – Life’s Natural Throb of Ongoing Reconstitution | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

An Essay On Inner And Outer Transformation By Means Of A Different Way Of Making Decisions And Choices| Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

Nowhere are we closer to the sublime secret of all origination than in the recognition of our own selves, whom we always think we know already. Yet we know the immensities of space better than we know our own depths, where – even though we do not understand it – we can listen directly to the throb of creation itself. C. G. Jung.

How could you creatively find solutions in your own everyday lives and relationships? How could you find greater well-being in body and mind? How could you understand something about the “the throb of creation” in this sense? And how could you, as an agent in your own life – to whom your life matters – creatively take part in realizing your own depths? Some of the answers to these questions can be found in the stories of people who have gone before us, psychologists, neuroscientists and theorists, opening some of these doors by doing research over many years. Standing on their shoulders, I have also woven in some of my own thoughts and innovations on how you could make changes that could shift you toward a different way of living your life – a flourishing life.

Sean’s Story

Sean is recognized as quick and intelligent at work and he’s satisfied with his job – on the whole. Sometimes he feels a bit bored but then he takes on some extra work and that helps. His only complaint is that he feels he could earn more but he doesn’t know how to go about doing something about this. He’s often wondered whether he should change his job. He’s a bit anxious that if he asks for a bigger increase than usual they’ll just say no. Worst-case scenario, they might let him go. And then, the job market is depressed at the moment. What if he can’t find a job? What if they pay him even less in a new job? What if he can’t afford the repayments on his car if he earns less? At about this point in his thinking, Sean would typically just stop thinking about it. “At least I have a job. And my salary’s not that bad. And if I feel bored, well, at least it’s a job.” So, instead of speaking up, he’d just keep quiet and carry on. He’d leave it for another day – only to go through the same old reasoning process the next time he felt dissatisfied.

His friends think Sean has done well in life. In fact, they are secretly envious of his success. Not all of them are able to afford his lifestyle. Some of them have to keep quite a tight budget. Strangely though, just out of the blue his friends think, he seems to be uncertain about things and instead of managing some of his situations as he usually does, he falls apart.

What no one realized, because he kept it well hidden, was that Sean actually suffered from anxiety quite often – especially when he felt helpless. He’d learned over the years that he had to do everything for himself. He’d had little support while he was growing up. His parents had both worked full-time jobs and were always too tired to help him or advise him when they came home at night. Weekends were their time to relax, which made them even more unavailable. He’d had to figure out most things himself, which he did quite well because he was clever enough. But, there were always some things he couldn’t manage alone and then, the feelings of helplessness and anxiety would overwhelm him. He still suffers strong anxiety to this day when he feels helpless. For Sean, the better alternative now is to simply opt out when this happens. Better to say nothing and keep the façade going…

How had this come about? If Sean’s parents had helped him to find creative solutions to his bigger, more difficult problems while he was growing up, he would have learned how to do this from them. He would have gradually learned how to do this for himself as he matured. It would have been that simple. “Oh really!” you might think. “You can’t blame everything on your parents. Sean should pull himself together now. Just sort it. After all, he’s an adult now.” But, if it were that easy, we’d all be able to effortlessly “fix” our vulnerabilities once we’ve grown up. We’d all be happy, well-functioning humans. But, it’s not as straightforward as that. Your own experience, and my experience as an analytical psychologist have witnessed this – time and again. Instead, to become that person you yearn to be is a hero’s journey of traveling, step by step, from your current, familiar “not knowing” towards something that is “yet to be known.” Sean’s journey needs to take him down the road of discovery where he will find that part of himself who can manage uncertain situations, instead of being overwhelmed by debilitating feelings of helplessness.

What Sean needs on his journey toward flourishing is supportively expressed by António Damásio when he writes, “The enrichment [of minds] came to include the ability to invent and produce intelligent creations, a process I like to call “creative intelligence” and that is a step up from the smarts that enable numerous living organisms, including humans, to behave efficiently, quickly, and winningly in everyday life. Creative intelligence was the means by which mental images and behaviors were intentionally combined to provide novel solutions for the problems that humans diagnosed and to construct new worlds for the opportunities humans envisioned.”

Toward your own journey of discovery and change

How many of you quietly struggle with a pocket of vulnerability, despite being well-functioning, or even high functioning in many areas of your lives? How many books have you read, and how many conversations with friends, or courses have you been on to try to remove this vulnerable “spot?” In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth’s problem illustrates how stubbornly these vulnerabilities, lying deep in our past can be. “Out, damn’d spot” she says as she washes her hands. But this not just a soup stain, or a coffee stain she’s attempting to wash away, it is blood, psychological blood, a psychological demon, and it will not be removed by mere physical hand washing. Similarly, we try all manner of ways and means to remove that inner, psychological vulnerability – reasoning, reading, courses, detachment from the problem, ignoring it, revengeful actions, or bad decisions that damage our relationships. But these don’t remove it.

Just how deeply and almost unreachable “what we did not learn” and “what we find difficult to access” is expressed by Carl Jung when he writes, “Being inside or contained in something also suggests darkness, something nocturnal and fearful, hemming one in.” With respect to this he notes that the mother-symbol can also point “to a darker background which eludes conceptual formulation and can only be vaguely apprehended as the hidden nature-bound life of the body.”

By “nature-bound,” and thus, unconscious with respect to his conscious personality, his aware mind, we can understand that in Sean’s case, he would need to seek and find and develop his innate, but as yet unavailable capacity to manage uncertainty in order for it to become a part if his conscious personality, if it is to become something more than merely being an innate possibility, if it is to become a function he has conscious access to. In short, he needs to make that, which is unfamiliar into that, which is familiar.

To seek this part of himself, to interlace it with the cloth of his being, is to embark on an amazing voyage during which a whole pattern, with all of its processes, becomes a conscious, readily accessed function. It would involve how to feel – that is, having the kind of emotions that are facilitative when faced with uncertainty, how to think and behave in complementary ways, how to articulate himself in a corresponding style, harmonizing his attitudes and beliefs to this pattern – if he is to change the structure of his vulnerability. At present, all of this is unavailable to him. It lies within his organism’s innate dispositions, it is merely “nature bound” – inaccessible, inapproachable, a dusky, shadowy part, concealed in darkness. What is unconscious really is unconscious.

Jung puts it this way. We are all born with unconscious, innate dispositions that is, all available human-specific possibilities – and their potential patterns with their processes, each one of us filling these out in a singular manner. This is an evolutionary adaptation. These possibilities fall on a continuum that includes their entire negative and all their positive eventualities. He writes that, these human-specific possibilities “exist in the form of a kind of aptitude, disposition or capacity, capable of being represented in the person’s psyche as an image.” Neuroscience further clarifies that represented images are at base, neural images, neural maps, which are then experienced in “translated” form as images in our minds, in the form of verbal words or otherwise. Neuroscientifically, innate dispositions are firing potentials that have the possibility of representation. Similarly, Jung compares dispositional potentials to “the axial system of a crystal, which … performs the crystalline structure of the mother liquid, although it has no material existence of its own. This first appears according to the specific way in which the ions and molecules aggregate.”

With respect to our innate potentials, and comparing this to failures in parenting while growing up, Jung writes that the patterns and processes “of the relationship of mother and infant include all the possible interactions that promote healthy psychic functioning: such as, feeling loved, safe, and secure.” But, he adds, “Where the individual mother fails in this or that respect, in her personal relationship with her infant, a loss is felt.”  He notes that when this happens, homeostasis, the imperative to survive and more than this, experiencing flourishing, “make an inner demand for fulfilment. The demand is felt as a longing and as an aching inner emptiness a hunger and thirst that cannot be fulfilled” (Jung, 2001).

Here, Jung is telling us how to recognize what the failure was. This is how we can know what we want and what we need to develop, as a new function, in our conscious personality. We recognize it by what we yearn for.

David Whyte writes, “Longing has its own secret, future destination, and its own seasonal emergence from within, a ripening from the core, a seed growing in our own bodies; it is as if we are put into relationship with an enormous distance inside us leading back to some unknown origin with its own secret timing indifferent to our wills, and gifted at the same time with an intimate sense of proximity, to a lover, to a future, to a transformation, to a life we want for ourselves, and to the beauty of the sky and the ground that surrounds us.”

In Sean’s case, he longs to feel certain about his own ways of functioning, his own views, values, standpoints and arguments. He yearns for the ability to be able to contain the “not knowing” – the uncertainty of outcomes. He longs to feel like an agent in his own life, who has the capacity to creatively come up with choices and solutions, to be able to weigh up possible consequences and to reflect on how he could manage the various outcomes – to his advantage. Instead of feeling helpless and incapacitated, he wants to be able to manage the difficulties and disappointments in his life.

Neuroscience also gives us the thumbs up for the journey we embark on when we want to change our old ways of functioning. Specifically, this view notes that we can change our old, acquired ways of functioning because this is an evolutionary adaptation. It thus tells us that if we work on, and modify an old, out-dated, learned way of functioning, success is possible. With regard to this, Damasio writes, “The acquisition of new knowledge is achieved by continuous modification of … dispositional representations.” Change is possible because whatever we acquire by learning is “obtained under the influence of dispositions that are innate.” He adds that these innate dispositions are already “available to newborns” that is, we are so constituted from birth. Understanding the neuroscientific view of “dispositions” explains why it is a herculean feat to modify an old pattern. With respect to this, in the language of everyday parlance, we understand dispositions as, a person’s usual temperament or frame of mind. But underneath this definition, neuroscientists tell us what this means, what lies beneath from the perspective of brain functioning. Notably, “…a dispositional representation is a dormant firing potentiality which comes to life when neurons fire, with a particular pattern, at certain rates, for a certain amount of time, and toward a particular target which happens to be another ensemble of neurons” (Damasio, 1994).

But, while this is a support for change, it also tells us that a transformation will require some work. It requires that we modify an acquired neural pattern that has in all probability been reinforced countless numbers of time over the years.

So, how could Sean go about actualizing and achieving what he yearns for? How is he to attend to the failure in parenting that he experienced? What can he do about the loss he experienced?

In answer to these questions, even though Sean is not in therapy, there is a way that he could proceed, that could help him to change. It is a way in which anyone could proceed, whether you are in or out of therapy or, even if you have never been in therapy.

As the business of change and transformation are an essential part of my work, I felt inspired to place these views, this research, and these theories into a format that could empower and facilitate change and thus, contribute toward transformation. The process below is about making a small, minor choice, decision, or change of attitude that is different to your usual way of doing these. Some of the features I have added below reflect my own innovations. These are the steps of asking yourself “what do I want” and the need for your decision or choice to reflect self-care.

A process toward change – experiencing the “throb of creation”

  1. Make a small, minor new choice or decision – Adapted from the writings of Professor Jordan Peterson
  • Check the list of emotions below to locate the emotion that was triggered in you
  • Now, look at the examples of decisions or choices you might usually make when you experience this emotion.
  • Note which of these responses is your usual approach. If your usual response is not listed here, note what it is.
  • Now, ponder on “what new, different, but minor decision, choice or behavior you could take or, what new, small attitude you could have, that will result in a feeling of satisfaction, feel promising, or give you hope.
  • If you feel anxious when you think of this decision, it’s too large for you to take at this moment. Stop and ponder again – think of a smaller step to take.”
  1. What do I want? – Leslie Zimmermann
  • Because hunger is also a need, a yearning, you approach your decision, choice or solution from the perspective of, “What do I want?” Thus, what do I want to do? What do I want to say? What kind of lifestyle do I want? How could I think differently about this?
  • For example, if you find that you are often treated as if you don’t matter, meaning, people feel they are “allowed” to upset you, they feel they are “allowed” to ignore you, they feel they are “allowed” to be nasty towards you, they feel they are “allowed” to say what they like to you, without holding back, there’s a strange reason they do this to you. For instance if, while you were growing up, your views and interests were ignored, if you were bullied or a sibling regularly attacked you and no adult stopped this – no matter how these actions hurt or angered you – you could eventually come to believe that you don’t matter. Now, as an adult, when you interact with others, you will act such that the way you feel, the way you think, the way you speak and your overall posture will give others the message that “I don’t matter” and they will then treat you as someone who doesn’t matter! What you DO know is, “I don’t like this!” Wanting others to treat you differently will not work on it’s own. So how do you change this? You change it by turning towards yourself and then YOU start treating YOURSELF as a person who does matter! For example, if you are emotionally suffering and in a negative body state, you matter sufficiently to think kindly about yourself and to settle your body-in-distress. Amazingly, doing this will change how you feel, how you think, how you speak, how you behave and will be seen in your facial expression and posture, all of these acting in concert to reflect to the world that “I matter.” This is “what you want” and this is what you will then start receiving from others over time.
  • Or, perhaps you want to read sometimes instead of always being driven by “busyness.” Perhaps the step of reading is too big a step at the moment. Ponder a while longer. There might be a minor step you can take in another area until you are able to start reading. You possibly need “space” for yourself within your busyness. An idea might then arise such as, making the ‘space/time” to sit in your garden sometimes while you have a cup of tea or coffee – without your mobile phone. This would be what you want for now – the beginning of making space for yourself, so that you are able to begin living your life differently.
  1. Your decision or choice needs to reflect self-care – Leslie Zimmermann
  • Because a return to well-being is an act of self-care for your body, brain and mind in terms of being able to flourish, make your decision or choice by asking yourself, “Will this decision reflect care for myself? Or will it reflect harm toward myself? For example, if you feel anxiety, this is self-harm because your body will be out of balance. Therefore, you need to make a choice whereby you feel satisfied instead. This is self-care as your body will remain in a balanced state of homeostasis and thus well-being and your mind will be at ease. If you make a choice that is revengeful, although it might feel good on one level, it is likely to be accompanied by an emotion of anger. This is harmful to you, as anger will put your body out of balance, out of homeostasis, so that in your body and in your mind, you will experience a feeling of unpleasantness – of suffering. This is distress. This is harm that you have then inflicted upon yourself. The way you can tell whether your decision is one of self-care or that of self-harm is by noting the emotion you induce inside yourself when you consider that decision or choice. If it is self-care, your body and thoughts will feel pleasant and you will experience well-being and satisfaction. If it is self-harm, you will experience negative emotions and thoughts – your body and thoughts will feel unpleasant, and you will experience suffering.

HOW YOU CAN CHANGE BY MAKING A SMALL, MINOR NEW, DIFFERENT DECISION, OR CHOICE, OR FIND A NEW SOLUTION

BELOW IS A LIST OF COMMON EMOTIONS AND TYPICAL REACTIONS TO THEM

These typical reactions to emotions are taken from research, studies and theories by Professor Mark Solms, Antonio Damasio, and Jaak Panksepp and include Jennifer Lerner’s review of studies on emotions and decision-making, covering a period of 35 years.

ANGER

When a goal is hindered or frustrated, do you often or sometimes,

  • Blame someone else
  • Find it difficult to argue your point
  • Have a tendency to become aggressive, irritated, frustrated or annoyed
  • Make disadvantageous decisions and choices that sometimes damage your relationships, your job or your finances
  • Experience that anger from a powerful person makes you fearful
  • Find that anger enables you to take control and exercise dominance
  • Experience anger as a loss of composure
  • Other
  1. Instead of your usual response, ponder on what new, minor decision, choice or behavior you could take or, what new, small attitude you could have, that will give you a feeling of satisfaction, feel promising or give you hope. If you feel anxious when you think of this step, it’s too large for you to take at this moment. Stop and ponder again – think of a smaller step to take.
  2. When you decide or make a new, small choice, ask yourself, “What do I want?”
  3. When you decide or make a new, small choice ask yourself, “ Is this self-care or self-harm?

FEAR AND ANXIETY

When you feel fear do you often or sometimes,

  • Sense more risk than usual in future situations
  • Make more cautious decisions so as to avoid risk
  • Feel pessimistic
  • Feel less certain
  • Feel you have no control
  • Cope less well in uncertain situations because you remember helplessness in past similar situations
  • Have a tendency to flee the situation
  • Keep quiet instead of responding
  • Other
  1. Instead of your usual response, ponder on what new, minor decision, choice or behavior you could take or, what new, small attitude you could have, that will give you a feeling of satisfaction, feel promising or give you hope. If you feel anxious when you think of this step, it’s too large for you to take at this moment. Stop and ponder again – think of a smaller step to take.
  2. When you decide or make a new, small choice, ask yourself, “What do I want?”
  3. When you decide or make a new, small choice ask yourself, “ Is this self-care or self-harm?

WORRY

When you feel worried do you often or sometimes,

  • Passively agree when you bargain or negotiate
  • Other
  1. Instead of your usual response, ponder on what new, minor decision, choice or behavior you could take or, what new, small attitude you could have, that will give you a feeling of satisfaction, feel promising or give you hope. If you feel anxious when you think of this step, it’s too large for you to take at this moment. Stop and ponder again – think of a smaller step to take.
  2. When you decide or make a new, small choice, ask yourself, “What do I want?”
  3. When you decide or make a new, small choice ask yourself, “ Is this self-care or self-harm?

SADNESS

When you feel sad do you often or sometimes,

  • Blame your situation on life outcomes
  • Feel your situation is not under your control
  • Experience that you tend to weigh more alternatives than usual
  • Find it difficult to wait so you perhaps accept less money for something you’re selling
  • Tend to proceed with or, process situations more carefully than usual
  • Feel lonely
  • Cry frequently
  • Think about loved ones and past relationships
  • Feel distress when you are not with loved ones
  • Other
  1. Instead of your usual response, ponder on what new, minor decision, choice or behavior you could take or, what new, small attitude you could have, that will give you a feeling of satisfaction, feel promising or give you hope. If you feel anxious when you think of this step, it’s too large for you to take at this moment. Stop and ponder again – think of a smaller step to take.
  2. When you decide or make a new, small choice, ask yourself, “What do I want?”
  3. When you decide or make a new, small choice ask yourself, “ Is this self-care or self-harm?

DISGUST

When you feel disgust do you often or sometimes,

  • Feel disgusted by behavior you feel is disgusting, or by foul or contaminated things such as food
  • Have a tendency to distance yourself from the offensive thing or person
  • Have a tendency to reject the offensive thing or person
  • Find that you tend to dismiss choices
  • Find that you tend to discard things, cast aside, or leave people when they disgust you
  • Other
  1. Instead of your usual response, ponder on what new, minor decision, choice or behavior you could take or, what new, small attitude you could have, that will give you a feeling of satisfaction, feel promising or give you hope. If you feel anxious when you think of this step, it’s too large for you to take at this moment. Stop and ponder again – think of a smaller step to take.
  2. When you decide or make a new, small choice, ask yourself, “What do I want?”
  3. When you decide or make a new, small choice ask yourself, “ Is this self-care or self-harm?

DISAPPOINTMENT

When you feel disappointment do you often or sometimes,

  • Feel guilty and feel that you need to do something to repair the situation or relationship
  • Do you have a tendency to give in when you’re bargaining or negotiating
  • Do you tend to be more cooperative than usual
  • Other
  1. Instead of your usual response, ponder on what new, minor decision, choice or behavior you could take or, what new, small attitude you could have, that will give you a feeling of satisfaction, feel promising or give you hope. If you feel anxious when you think of this step, it’s too large for you to take at this moment. Stop and ponder again – think of a smaller step to take.
  2. When you decide or make a new, small choice, ask yourself, “What do I want?”
  3. When you decide or make a new, small choice ask yourself, “ Is this self-care or self-harm?

REGRET

When you feel regret do you often or sometimes,

  • Refrain from taking extreme risks
  • Other
  1. Instead of your usual response, ponder on what new, minor decision, choice or behavior you could take or, what new, small attitude you could have, that will give you a feeling of satisfaction, feel promising or give you hope. If you feel anxious when you think of this step, it’s too large for you to take at this moment. Stop and ponder again – think of a smaller step to take.
  2. When you decide or make a new, small choice, ask yourself, “What do I want?”
  3. When you decide or make a new, small choice ask yourself, “ Is this self-care or self-harm?

SURPRISE

When you feel surprise do you often or sometimes,

  • Attribute the cause for advantageous or favorable events to others
  • Do you have a tendency to experience less certainty
  • Think that advantageous or positive results can’t be controlled or determined
  • Other
  1. Instead of your usual response, ponder on what new, minor decision, choice or behavior you could take or, what new, small attitude you could have, that will give you a feeling of satisfaction, feel promising or give you hope. If you feel anxious when you think of this step, it’s too large for you to take at this moment. Stop and ponder again – think of a smaller step to take.
  2. When you decide or make a new, small choice, ask yourself, “What do I want?”
  3. When you decide or make a new, small choice ask yourself, “ Is this self-care or self-harm?

Bring some magic into your life! Ideas developed by Leslie Zimmermann.

MA in Research Psychology, Cum Laude (Witwatersrand University, South Africa),
Post-graduate Diplomate, Accredited Analytical Psychologist (Switzerland)
Member: SAPC (South African Psychoanalytic Confederation)
Member: IAAP (International Association for Analytical Psychology)
Member: SAAJA South Africa

About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is an accredited  Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a symbolic perspective including neuropsychological and biological systems.

Posted in Development and Change, Personal Development and Change, Personal Growth, Things to Think About, Want and don't want / Like and don't like | Comments Off on An Essay On Inner And Outer Transformation By Means Of A Different Way Of Making Decisions And Choices| Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

An Essay Concerning, “What Is Being Mindful In It’s Fullest Sense?”| Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

To be mindful suggests being a participant in a vast arena of mind where you are audience, actor, background chorus, producer, creative director, scriptwriter and stage manager in the drama of your own life. It is the play of you, as a conscious subject, unceasingly seeking to flourish, a never-ending moving between, partnering with, coming together then going apart of your living mental images, your feelings, as they pulsatingly flash across the screen of your mind, changing constantly, gripping you with their companions “pain” and “pleasure,” and arousing your loyal escorts and advisors, imagination, reason, creativity and decision-making, consideration and heedfulness to join the throng of actors.

Michelle was feeling anxious as she rushed to have lunch ready in time for her friend. Time seemed to be short but she still needed to do a few things for her business also. She felt spaced out, as if her mind was blank, her fingers were fumbling as she set the table, her breathing short and fast, and her cheeks were hot and tingly. She told herself she was being ridiculous – there was still sufficient time but even her reasoning didn’t help. Her body continued to respond in these erratic, uncomfortable ways. It all felt so unpleasant. She just wanted this all to go away. If only she could just escape from this horrible experience and get on with things peacefully. Look forward to her friend’s visit instead of feeling incompetent. “What’s going on?” She thought. “Instead of anticipating my friend’s visit with pleasure, I am in such an unpleasant, horrible state!”

But then, she recalled that she could actually do something about this. She stopped what she was doing, and took several long, deep breaths and her body began to settle down. Her thoughts slowed down. She stopped imagining her friend’s displeasure. This felt pleasant. She thought about her situation again. Now that she felt more comfortable and settled in her body and mind, she was able to think more clearly.

It felt important to Michelle to consider her friend but also to appreciate her own situation and needs. By being heedful of the state of her body and the pointlessness of her earlier thoughts and by settling her body down, she was now able to come up with a few helpful solutions in her mind. She was able to experience a new attitude to it all. “I don’t need to have absolutely everything ready when she comes – we can chat while I complete what still needs to be done. I can tell her that I needed to attend to a few urgent business needs also. I can tell her I’ve been looking forward to our meeting. I’m sure she’ll be reasonable. She’ll understand.” Humming quietly under her breath, Michelle felt relaxed as she swiftly continued her preparations.

MINDFUL

Mindful is “mind” plus the suffix –ful, from “full”. “–ful” means full of, or notable of, and expresses an attribute of mind. “Full” means characterized by fullness, having, containing all that is normal or possible, complete in every particular, entire, whole – including all components without exception.

At first sight, the word “mindful” is remarkable enough but as I explored it’s meaning, as I peeled away the layers, I found a shimmering jewel. Surprising, yet, at the same time it had a feeling of familiarity – I hadn’t noticed what had been there all the time.

In this essay, I propose an added extension in meaning to the current definitions and understanding of the concept, “mindful.” As the reader will come to see, my proposal will be rooted in a view of “mind” as elucidated by one of the foremost, current authors and researchers of emotions and mind, Professor Antonio Damasio.

If you look up the word “mindful” on the Internet, most dictionary entries and the majority of articles refer to it ubiquitously as a practice, which entails focusing on the present moment. It includes meditation, wherein one attempts to detach from any thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, seeing them as mere objects, while remaining in the moment. It is called Mindfulness. It is a practice that attempts to access pure being. For this reason, the practice of Mindfulness meditation requires the capacity for attention, but does not include some of the mind’s other mental capacities such as logical reasoning, pondering or thinking about something in order to make a decision.

If we turn to the definitions of “mindful” in dictionaries they include that it is the capacity for conscious beings to use their minds in order to be attentive, heedful, observant, aware, to bear in mind, to be thoughtful and appreciative. It is also a way of functioning that is based on perception of and approval for the worth of a person or thing. It is to think of or consider in a particular way and to have due regard for something considered important. It also means to contemplate, ponder or think carefully about something, someone, or a situation, especially in order to make a decision, as well as to avoid interfering with or intruding upon, and to avoid violating.

These definitions uncover something of the splendour of this word. But something is missing, which means we need to step off the well-trodden pathways. We need to go deeper. We need to head toward the underbrush because … despite all these definitions, “using your “mind” does not tell you what mind is. To understand the “mind” in mind-ful means we need to examine what mind it is.

Returning to our dictionaries, we read that the definitions of mind are that it is, a philosophical, psychological, and general term for the centre of all mental activity, as contrasted with the body and the spirit: Mind is commonly defined as the process humans or conscious beings have to reason, think, will, perceive and judge. It is intellect or understanding, as distinguished from the faculties of feeling and willing; it is intention, conscious or intelligent agency and applying oneself or attending to. In some disciplines of psychology the mind is the totality of conscious and unconscious mental processes and activities. Finally, mind is defined as a process of a state of awareness or remembrance, opinion or view, purpose, intention and to take notice, observe, or understand. These definitions of mind refer us to specific and vitally important kinds of mental activity. But, is this all there is to mind?

At this point, we have reached a clearing in the underbrush. A small meadow lies before us, lush, with dew lying lightly on it. Rays of sunlight bounce off these tiny drops of water – each drop a perfect sphere. Tantalizing, it draws us in compelling invitation to spread a thin blanket down, to linger for a while. Invites us to sit here, looking further at our enquiry, “But is this all there is to mind?” The question we first raise is … what does the phrase “the capacity for conscious beings to use their minds” mean? In his book, Self Comes to Mind, Antonio Damasio says this about consciousness, “Without consciousness – that is, a mind endowed with subjectivity – you would have no way of knowing that you exist, let alone know who you are and what you think.” Mind and subjectivity and consciousness are thus irrevocably tied together. According to him, mind or mental contents are made up of every kind of abstract and concrete pattern one could think of, in the form of neural images. He poetically describes the unique feature of your consciousness as “the very felt thought of you.” What does he mean by this statement?

 ANTONIO DAMASIO AND MIND

Damasio leads his readers on a fascinating journey, solidly based on neuroscientific studies, telling the story that grounds the mind as a function that is “nested” in, and inseparable from, the living processes in the internal worlds of our emotions, bodies and brains also representing our external environment of people, relationships and objects “out there.”

Professor Damasio writes that mind includes the conscious awareness of feelings. In his view consciousness systems evolved because they are crucial to our survival and supply us with competitive advantages. But, what does he mean by feelings?

Having tarried for a while, we now join Damasio on a bold, adventurous journey toward an exciting understanding of mind that will fulfill our search for the “mind” in “mindful.”

He starts off by telling us that although feelings and emotions are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.

Emotions he explains are a group of alterations in the state or condition of your body, which have been triggered by the brain when it responds to perceptions of incidents, whether they are real, in the present, remembered, or imagined in the future and, when your external environment has triggered them.

Emotions, he says, are thus the internal actions of muscles, nerves, organs, hormones, the endocrine system and so on, whereby your physiological state and certain functions of your body are changed. For example, these changes may include increased heart beat, shallow breathing and so on. Only you are aware of these inner changes. However, you are able to observe these physiological changes externally in others such as in their facial expressions and in their fight or flight responses.

What are feelings then? Feelings, he tells us, are the signals of your body changes that are mapped as neural images in your brain, which then result in your conscious, perceived mental experience of your body changes – in your mind. In order for you to experience your emotions of fear, anger or joy, your physical bodily actions and changes (emotions) have to be converted into feelings, which he writes, “is the same as saying that [your emotions] had to acquire a mental face, which is the same as saying that the mental face had to be owned by the organism in which it occurred, thereby becoming subjective, in brief, conscious.”

Feelings in this sense are thus the mental images of the actions of emotions, which then comprise a part of your mind. But he points out that our mental images are not “pictures” they are all “processes in time” that involve the interactions of both your body and your nervous system that is, your body and brain structures communicate with each other by means of interactions and blendings of those very structures. As his words reverberate in your conscious mind, you might perhaps begin to shift an age-old view that has teased at the greatest minds. Body and brain structures are not separate; they are blendings. Suddenly, we have an image of wholeness.

But this is not the whole story. Damasio adds that your feelings comprise more than just the mental images of your emotions. They are the awareness of the whole narrative of what is going on in your life – in your entire organism. For example, he adds, they include mental images of the experiences of well-being, tiredness, unease, heartburn, the tightening of the throat during fear, breathlessness during an asthma attack, and even the effects of molecules on certain parts of the body when we experience this as nervousness or excitement or tremors – all represented in your mind as mental images. Their messages are always about your body experiences, your body states. In this way, he says, conscious mental images enable us to translate the nonverbal language of the body and its processes into the language of words, telling us about what’s going on.

Your feeling images in your mind are also not “mere” neutral, neural images. You are not watching, or “sitting across from,” the images as if they were part of a television show. If you observe them for a moment you will become aware that they are three-dimensional, just as your body is. They are faithful representations of each flutter in your abdomen …the exact location, the strength or weakness of fluttering – the fluttering is alive in your mind. An exact report by your body-alive of your living inner processes – the living you. Not only in your mind, it is part of your mind. It is mind.

But, Damasio tells us, although feelings are different to your other mental experiences such as reasoning or imagining, they dwell within your mind as equal mental inhabitants, enjoying the same privilege of being represented in your consciousness. In fact, he says, it is your feelings that drive your intellect and creative processes. What might the purpose be for having your body’s processes and states represented in your mind – as a part of mind? In Damasio’s words, “Feelings work as motives to respond to a problem and as monitors of the success of the response or lack thereof.”

These interactive communications and blendings that eventually manifest as mental awareness illustrate why mind cannot only be conceptual; mind is an inseparable function of body and brain. As Damasio notes, these blendings are the body-brain aspect of unity.

But viewed from a different perspective, he adds that body-brain duality also exists simultaneously. For example, when the external world elicits emotions and then mental feelings, we can distinguish between the inner sensory neural images for example, those that are visual and auditory which map the exterior world and separately, the neural images of the spatial positions and changes of the organs that characterize our emotions. Here, we meet up with Scott Kelso’s complementary nature of the strange, yet real world, of both/and~either/or … the world of multiple interpretations and behaviours. One moment, complementary aspects can seem to be discernable and the next, they merge, one moment they exist as opposites, the next as complementary. They are tendencies that are revealed, depending on how you look at them, depending on the contexts and constraints that act upon them.

Feelings also include a certain kind, a certain mode of thinking – thoughts, which complement your emotions. But by this, Damasio does not mean that if we feel fear that we begin to think of all the fearful experiences we have experienced in our lives. What he is saying is that when something you have learned that resulted in fear, such as having an alcoholic parent unexpectedly lash out at you frequently so that you were in fear of your life, or something that could innately constellate fear such as a snake, triggers an emotion, thoughts linked to the actual current, or a recalled memory, or a future hypothetically imagined situation. Your memories and thoughts are about that very situation that triggered the emotion and those very emotions you experienced.

For example, if the memory is about your alcoholic father, your thoughts will revolve around that past situation. If you are imagining your boss’ reaction in a hypothetical future situation and she also has a tendency to unexpectedly lash out at you, such that you fear you might lose your job and thus, your livelihood, your thoughts will revolve around this imagined situation and may include an imagined image of her firing you. Damasio tells us that your mental feelings will now include conscious, layered images that represent the state of your body and all of its changes. These might include, the experience of tightness in your abdomen, your hot, tingling cheeks, a mental representation of “fear”, a representation of “unpleasantness” together with images of your thoughts as they revolve around your fear situation – all of these are mental feelings in your mind. But, he adds, they start functioning in a circular fashion, emotions triggering thoughts, thoughts triggering emotions, and so on, over and over again. You are now on a revolving wheel of suffering. This ongoing suffering and distress compels you to do something about it. It irresistibly obliges you to return to a state of physical thriving. An evolutionary development. It will not let go until you do.

Following on from this, there is still more to feelings. Damasio tells us that feelings have the capacity to grasp you and have an impact on you, because they inform you about the “goodness” or “badness” of the state of your body, that is, of its homeostasis, which you experience as a feeling of well-being (pleasantness) or pain, malaise (unpleasantness), which force your attention. But, he tells us; homeostasis is not just a steady, balanced or stable state. Instead, he brings to it a powerful, moving image when he tells us; it is a specific kind of steady state – one that leads to flourishing. He adds that homeostasis is also not merely an unconscious, automatic function because minds are able to interfere with automatic self-regulation by creatively finding new and different kinds of ways of regulation. By extension, self-regulation includes managing the effects that social and external situations have on your body. What would this look like in a real-life example?

Jeremy was trying to focus on an important presentation for work, but his thoughts kept returning to his friend Chris. Chris had been a good friend for a long time, but now, Jeremy had heard via the grapevine that Chris was having a birthday dinner at his apartment that weekend. But he hadn’t invited him. “Why not?” Jeremy wondered. Yes, they’d had a bit of an altercation about two weeks ago but surely that wasn’t enough to not invite him? Was their friendship not as strong as he’d imagined it? He’d sent a message to Chris at the time, which he’d thought would clear the air. But now that he thought about it, Chris hadn’t replied. Jeremy pushed his thoughts away and tried to continue with his presentation – to no avail. His thoughts kept on intruding. Now he was angry. “How could someone hold a grudge about something so insignificant? It doesn’t say much about his character!” Jeremy thought about his own views. “At least I’m not that small-minded,” he concluded. He got up to make some coffee. He was aware of a feeling of disappointment and sadness. His chest felt heavy. His body felt out of sync. He started feeling guilty. He’d actually gone for Chris quite aggressively. But the worst feeling was how his circling thoughts and emotions all felt so bad. He didn’t like feeling this way. It nagged at him – feeling like this was exceedingly disagreeable. He desperately wondered what he could do to feel at peace again so that he could get on with his presentation.

Jeremy sat on his balcony drinking his steaming cup of coffee, trying to get some perspective on this situation. The fresh air and the warm coffee felt good. As he reflected he realized that not going to a birthday dinner was not the end of the world and didn’t have to represent the end of their friendship. He resolved to wait until after the weekend and then to meet up with Chris. Perhaps they could resolve the issue? He could own his part in their altercation. If it was not possible to resolve, it could mean that they were moving in different directions, growing apart – that can happen. As Jeremy pondered on this, he began to settle down more. His desire to lash out at Chris settled down. His thoughts and feelings were now attended by a matching feeling of agreeableness. His body was more relaxed – his tension dissipating, his thoughts more easy, less intrusive. In fact, his thoughts were now turning toward his presentation. Jeremy got up. He felt that his reflections had not only brought him some peace but, he’d learned a lot by devoting some thought to what friendships are and what it could mean if they possibly start coming apart. He felt energized, he was already creatively thinking about what to write, even before he’d got back to his desk. This was going to be a great presentation!

As one can see, conscious regulation draws on and partners with mental capacities that include deliberation, reason, the capacity to reason beyond what we perceive in the present, the ability to understand and diagnose situations and their causes and effects. This in turn enables new responses to come into existence. Each and every one of these mental functions and also the mental activities of their dynamic interactions are consciously represented in concert, as neural images, to a subject, to you as a being that is aware of them and who owns them. Damasio tells us that mental feelings with their positive and negative valences (that is, the experience of pleasantness and unpleasantness that are the close comrades of every feeling) enable the intellect to expand and focus and provide it with purpose. The drive toward flourishing, the state of your entire organism with respect to meeting this evolutionary need, together with the dynamics of diagnosis and finding solutions toward flourishing will thus also be conscious mental components of your mind and thus, constitute mind.

How might you have so much going on at virtually the same time in your mind, you might ask by now? How could you possibly keep track of it all? Would it not just be a discordant mixture of competing, indistinct noise – a cacophony of the worst kind? Indeed, it would, were it not that your mind also functions like an exquisite, coordinated ensemble. Think of a musical, an orchestra, an opera, a band, or a jazz group. For example, at certain points in an opera there might be 10 singers singing at the same time – sometimes at cross purposes, sometimes about the same event. Their words are not the same, the melodies they sing are different, some may be singing comical lines, some may be complaining, some entreating – all at the same time – sometimes one voice or another group of voices rising above the rest – portraying a complex situation, then another, perhaps a condemnation, and another, expressing sorrow, then judgment, then receding into the background of the whole sound. But, this performance – the voices … soprano, tenor, baritone, alto, the different melodies and the different words sung, are interwoven and held together musically to produce a harmony that is spellbinding to your ears. In the same way, your conscious mind is the playground of an elegant harmonic composition of you – and yet, just as the story in the opera moves us forward – onwards and onwards, one action at a time, one phrase at a time, one note at a time, so our feelings, in like manner, move across our minds as processes in time.

But what about those past, recalled memories you might ask? Surely in these times where a number of systems of thought consider the “past” redundant, positing the present as the all-important consideration – what about this? Damasio has something to say about this also. Namely, he tells us from a neuroscientific perspective that a normal function of humans is that our brains operate in the present. Recalled memories are alive in the present. Your brain doesn’t function in the past. What does Damasio mean by this?

This can be illustrated by an example. You recall a holiday with friends and family at the coast. Now, your brain reconstitutes stored mental images from different brain locations which include memories of good and bad moments, the emotions you experienced, images of the people involved – your mother, aunt Annabelle your fun friend Lulu, your grumbling uncle Max. You remember visual images such as aunt Annabelle’s ever-smiling face, smells such as your mother’s cooking, drawing you faster and faster to your holiday cabin after swimming in the surf, scenes of where an interaction took place, the relevant conversations – the words used and their inflections, and so on. All vivid, recalled images. But Damasio tells us that these are not the construction of whole mental images – your brain has not reconstituted actual, whole pictures. Instead, your past memory comprises many different images from many different parts of your brain. This is an awe-inspiring process. For example, the image of grumbling uncle Max’s face will be partly reconstituted by the visual parts of the brain – they will be made up of, and include aspects such as vertical and horizontal lines and colours from different parts of your visual cortex. The sound of his voice will come from the auditory cortex but also from other parts and regions of your brain. These are just small examples of a myriad of processes being activated in the many different parts of your brain as you re-member him. Damasio tells us that it’s all happening now, in the present moment in your brain, multiple parts and regions of your brain constructing your apparent whole image, which, is actually a presentation of many bits and pieces. The empowering outcome for you is that because your brain presents the past as current images, you can change and transform former old, worn out views about yourself and your previous dynamics, by bringing a new understanding to them in the now – one of the striking and critical evolutionary endowments that enable us to develop, grow, change and thus, thrive.

But further to this, the past doesn’t only affect the present; it also has a bearing on your future. With respect to this, Damasio and others, have shown by means of brain studies of people who have suffered certain kinds of brain damage that, without the capacity to recall the past, people repeatedly make disadvantageous decisions for the future that lead to financial losses, social problems, loss of relationships and job losses – despite their retention of many other faculties of intelligence. A typical example is that if you are unable to remember the pain you experienced when you first touched a hot stove, you will not have the benefit of your past experience, memories and emotions to stop you from touching it again. But recalling this experience will stop you from getting burnt in the future. What Damasio is telling us here is that how you have experienced and lived your past – in pleasant or in painful terms – has a bearing on how you are able to imagine and transform your future.

Thus, because feelings are always experienced in the present, and because we are able to experience that they matter, because they inform us about whether a situation and thus, the state of our bodies is problematic or not – our subjectivity means we can consciously invent new and different possibilities to creatively come up with a different approach, which can in turn change the course of our lives. Damasio tells us that our feelings can motivate imagination, our creative intellect, and can arouse our reasoning processes and then, working together, they can result in different behaviours. He expresses this both scientifically and poetically as, “Feelings and reason are involved in an inseparable, looping, reflective embrace.” From his perspective, one could interpret this as mind in an interactive dance with the body, brain and environment.

One last aspect needs to be addressed here. Although, as conscious beings, we are attentive, and take much into thought when we make decisions, several decades of studies by many notable researchers such as Antonio Damasio, Antoine Bechara and Jennifer Lerner’s review of 35 years of research on decision making, have illustrated that decisions are not always taken consciously. Our emotions also have a say by affecting the kind of decision we make. This is one reason why some outcomes are advantageous and others are not. This has a bearing on being mindful – there is more at play than merely acting from a perspective of a conscious subject with awareness.

In conclusion Damasio paints a canvas that illustrates the immense vastness of your mind. It includes the awareness of what is happening in your entire organism. This includes the effects that your experiences with your external world, with people and situations, with culture and society have on your body and thus, your mind. All of this is represented in your mind in the form of the play of a myriad of mental images changing from moment to moment, moving towards the foreground and then receding, dynamically, as a subject; playing with them as you manage the state of your living existence. Most of all, Damasio’s view is one of mind as a function of wholeness, having the attributes of containing all that is possible, and complete in every particular

Returning then to being mind-ful, it now includes a mind that is “full and complete,” that is, it includes your entire organism, the external environment of people and things and also the common understanding of mindful as a conscious, aware person functioning in attentive, heedful, thoughtful and appreciative ways, having due regard for what you consider to be important, the capacity for contemplation, thinking carefully in order to make decisions and to avoid violating or intruding – all of this mentally represented, all of these aspects stakeholders, and all of this resident in mind to a conscious subject who has a say and to whom it all matters.

To be mindful in this sense suggests being a participant in this vast arena of mind where you are audience, actor, background chorus, producer, creative director, scriptwriter and stage manager in the drama of your own life. It is the play of you, as a conscious subject, unceasingly seeking to flourish, a never-ending moving between, partnering with, coming together then going apart of your living mental images, your feelings, as they pulsatingly flash across the screen of your mind, changing constantly, gripping you with their companions “pain” and “pleasure,” and arousing your loyal escorts and advisors, imagination, reason, creativity and decision-making, consideration and heedfulness to join the throng of actors. In a word, to be mindful is the collaboration of the complete display of your mental images presented in your mind by your entire organism as body and brain blend, together with your mental functions of thought and reason. This is the ground from which you, as a conscious subject in your own life, have the capacity to be attentive, thoughtful, appreciative, ponder and make advantageous decisions for yourself, in your relationships and in society. This is possible because evolution had a say in how we can prosper and flourish. This is possible because we have consciousness, which enables us to perceive this entire range. This is possible because we experience ourselves as a subject, as an agent in our lives. This is what Damasio means by “the very felt thought of you.” This is what I propose being mindful is in its fullest sense.

Bring some magic into your life! Ideas developed by Leslie Zimmermann.

MA in Research Psychology, Cum Laude (Witwatersrand University, South Africa),
Post-graduate Diplomate, Accredited Analytical Psychologist (Switzerland)
Member: SAPC (South African Psychoanalytic Confederation)
Member: IAAP (International Association for Analytical Psychology
Member: SAAJA South Africa

IMG_1248About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is an accredited  Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a symbolic perspective including neuropsychological and biological systems.

 

Posted in Development and Change, Overcoming Negative Emotions, Personal Development and Change, Personal Growth | Comments Off on An Essay Concerning, “What Is Being Mindful In It’s Fullest Sense?”| Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

An Essay Concerning Creating ~ Annihilating, Qualified by Devotion | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

“What if I should discover that the poorest of the beggars and the most impudent of offenders are all within me; and that I stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I, myself, am the enemy who must be loved — what then?” C.G. Jung.

When you are able to be both creative, devoting your time, interest and energy to building up and supporting society and the world AND ALSO, vitally devoting your interest, time and reflection to yourself, annihilating your past old, worn-out views and attitudes about and to yourself that you were required to adopt, replacing and adding to the old view, new understanding, in careful and controlled ways, qualified by positive feelings, it will enable you to lead a more fulfilled and happy life. “The enemy within”, an out-dated viewpoint of yourself, is transformed into a new understanding of that very view, through devotion to self. You are invited to go on a journey with me to learn more about this by reading my article below 

Complementary Pairs: Creating ~ Annihilating, Qualified by Devotion

 

INTRODUCTION

Sonia and her partner David have been together for many years. Although they’re happy on the whole, they tend to argue most days, often several times a day. After years of this, Sonia has taken to avoiding David’s company whenever she can. She always finds a reason to be busy with something in another room. She doesn’t want to end their relationship; she actually likes being with David in many ways, but she doesn’t know how to change their problem. The problem is that David always thinks he “knows best” – about everything. For example, he interferes with their helper in the house, instructing her on how to wash, when to wash and what to clean – repeatedly – even though Sonia knows his viewpoints are often ill informed and incorrect. Her best approach is to argue with David, or to keep quiet. He even does this with her. He has this annoying habit of asking her to do something and then proceeds to give detailed instructions. And if the same task comes up, he provides the detailed instructions all over again. If she is going to speak to someone, he starts suggesting in detail what she should say. David challenges Sonia’s approaches on a daily basis. One of his annoying habits is to ask her questions, “Why did you do this? Why did you say that to this person? Why didn’t you do this? What are you doing that for? Why would you think this? If she replies to his questions he’ll respond with another question, “Why?” No matter what her reply is, he shoots it down and tears up her responses. Her replies are always “wrong”. But, Sonia is only able to justify her thoughts and behavior, to argue, or to become silent. But, the worst problem she has with David is his habit of being contrary. No matter what she has to say, his view is always opposite. If she ventures a view on a current political event, he overrides it forcefully “proving” to her that she is totally wrong, then lectures her according to his view. If she tells him about something she read that moved her, he launches into an argument that invalidates the approach she likes. For every word, every thought and every action of hers, his is immediately the opposite, a contrary view that consistently annihilates her views.

Sonia has reached the point where she feels that her energy is depleted. She feels so drained at being continually challenged. She can’t take it anymore. It’s enough. David has just annihilated yet another view that Sonia finds very interesting. He listened to it for a while, but halfway into her explanation he forcefully interrupted her with his usual confidence in his own views, “I have the complete opposite view,” he said. “This is how I see it and in my opinion, it is the right view.” Sonia felt crushed. After a few attempts at pointing out why she finds it interesting, she fell silent.

How could Sonia change this situation? How could she change the way David interacts with her…? There is a way. A good way. But first, you are invited to go on a journey with me and at the end of traversing this article, we will see how Sonia can and did change things, every step qualified by devotion to self and experiencing positive feelings as she took each step.

DEVOTION

Mary-Anne loved music and decided to devote her life to being a concert pianist. As a young child she already practiced for hours and hours. There was no need for her parents to remind her to practice. Whenever she was at the keyboard, she felt happy. She thought about music all day, mentally rehearsed the finger placing’s on the keyboard and reflected on different interpretations, accompanied in her mind by all the intricate technical theories that chased in tandem through her mind. Schoolwork felt like an intrusion, which she reluctantly did. Even friends came second. She dreamed about playing in concert halls and enthralling her audiences with the beautiful sounds the composers had created throughout the centuries.

Devotion is to dedicate your time, attention or yourself entirely to a particular activity, pursuit, cause or person or end. Alex Lickerman tells us that “whether we realize it or not, at every moment we stand devoted to something -something which we cherish above all others, whatever it is, it’s the thing to which we orient all our resources, all our interest, and all our hope”, whether it is money, work, another person, an ideal, or our own comfort. And, whatever we may choose to focus on in life strongly affects our capacity to be happy.

Money is Jonathan’s object of devotion. Not the natural importance of money; it is the most important focus in his life. He started early in life first working weekends in the local supermarket, and as he got older, working weekdays after school. His passion was to see his bank balance growing in his savings account and money also meant being able to buy all those latest phones and devices as they became available. Jonathan studied finance at university and quickly rose up the ranks at work. He works eighteen hours a day with promotions and increases following hot on their heels. He is already into his third marriage – there’s not much time left over for relationships. But happiness continues to elude him. He always wants more and more money. For him, it is never enough. This limits the height to which his happiness can rise.

Even though the word “devotion” might lead us to conclude that we are referring to noble ideals and pursuits, as we see, we can also dedicate our devotion to lessor than ideal objects.

CREATIVITY

When Carl Jung referred to discovering and becoming aware of our own depths he poetically called this “the throb of creation.”

Steven has a thriving counseling practice. He’s quietly reflecting on his work with Michelle. She’s been working with him for a few years now and will be coming to her last session with him later in the day. Steven smiles to himself as he reflects on Michelle’s journey. During this time she has learned how to consider herself – a function that was unavailable to her previously. She had spent her life only considering others. She’d sit on the phone for hours with her friends, listening to their problems at work. Patiently supporting them through their break-ups with their boyfriends – even though she’d planned on reading that book she’d bought four months ago. Someone always needed her, needed her advice and help. Although Michelle felt frustrated at times, she felt appreciated and needed and she always ended up feeling happy. If she didn’t take one of those phone calls, she was overcome by feelings of guilt and badness. But her counseling sessions with Steven had helped her to see that considering herself was just as important as considering others. This could also bring her happiness. Slowly, step-by-step, she had learned to also experience happiness through self-consideration – without feeling guilty or bad. Michelle’s changed ability to feel, think, and behave in self-considerate ways simply did not exist for her before. But now, it is as if something new has come alive in her that didn’t exist before, she is able to consider both others and also consider herself. Steven feels a sense of quiet satisfaction. He never fails to experience a feeling of wonder at how qualities that were formerly non-existent in clients develop into conscious functions in their personalities. Not a day goes by without him reflecting on how fortunate he is to be in this profession – doing exactly what he loves doing and helping people at the same time.

Creativity is a wide, interesting, pleasing, yet vitally important function for people. According to Professor Antonio Damasio, at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, our organisms in their entirety and thus, our selves as conscious beings, bring a concern for our life processes into existence. This permits people to seek well-being. This, in turn, leads to complex, rich social behavior, to culture, and eventually civilizations. For him, feelings play an essential role in our creativity such that our emotions and cultural responses include, “yearning to alleviate the suffering of others and taking pleasure in discovering a means to do so; delighting in finding ways to improve the lives of others ranging from the offer of material goods to playful inventions that result in happiness.”

Creativity in this sense is about a function that is qualified by devotion to others – building them, helping them to change, to transform and so live happier, more productive lives. It’s about helping others to find solutions and to find relief from distress. For example, you might work in organizations that promote disadvantaged children or you might help refugees or homeless people. You might be in a job that involves designing training courses to help people to function more capably in their jobs. On a smaller scale, you might volunteer your time for a worthy cause, or help a friend move. You might take the time to be caring towards others, letting others know you are there to support them when they are going through a rough time. Make donations of clothes. It is a way of experiencing positive, rewarding feelings of usefulness, feeling appreciated, needed and happy and bringing feelings of greater well-being to others and yourself.

In order to build others, we need to be harmonious and in agreement with others, positive and helpful – mindful of the feelings of others. It is a great and necessary quality to have. We are hard-wired to function like this. For example, during evolution our brains evolved the function for empathy – being able to “stand in the shoes of another” and imagine situations and emotions from the point of view of another. Caring about the survival and well-being of those close to us and that of our social groups, ensured better chances for everyone in the past. This continues to be so in the present. Creative abilities and endeavors have also led to finding cures for disease, medications for mental illness, have given rise to scientists, healers, medicine, artists such as painters, musicians and designers, and philanthropists – all in service of survival and advancing feelings of well-being, itself a requirement for maintaining life.

But, even when creativity appears to be devotion to self, it is often more about solving the problems we have with others so that our devotion, or focus, is actually riveted instead on the problem and how to resolve it, but not on ourselves. For example, your partner criticizes something about your behavior or attitude – perhaps, you sometimes leave the lights on. This may lead to an argument about wasting electricity and thus the cost. You feel unhappy, angry and defensive and your thoughts revolve around his unfairness. You think about the times he’s also left lights on but how he always brushes this off. You might feel bad and mentally attack yourself for your negligence. You might resolve to switch them off in future – to avoid his verbal attacks. But you are not being creative towards and for yourself. You are not devoting time to focus on and being interested in developing an essential change in your attitude and behavior. There is no devotion towards yourself and no positive, rewarding feelings when you try to remember to switch off the lights. Your time and energy are devoted to the problem.

Creativity has long existed; developing and being refined over tens of thousands of years. But, if being creatively devoted to others is your only source of experiencing satisfaction, peace, and happiness, you may be neglecting yourself and suffering when it comes to yourself.

ANNIHILATION

Annihilation is destruction and elimination of anything, considered undesirable. It can include invalidating others and crushing them, showing relentless negativity, cynicism or rejection. Some children experience ongoing criticism. For example, a parent always demands immediate explanations from you, but you find it hard to “think on your feet.” You need to reflect a bit first. Feeling under pressure, you might grasp for some answer you think might be acceptable, but it’s not your best answer because you haven’t had time to reflect and your parent shoots it down – criticizing you relentlessly. Some of you might have had the experience of a parent who thought their views are always correct. For example, you were constantly bombarded by their advice, their take on things, how you should behave and think, and their rules for life. When you made any attempt to think for yourself and give your opinion – even though it might have still been the view of a young, growing child or, as a teenager beginning to use your developing capacity for thinking about different approaches and scenarios to managing life – your views were constantly rejected. You had no voice. You were decisively defeated. Because they were the authorities (and often authoritarian) in your early life, you were powerless to change their behavior – other than defending or keeping quiet or, perhaps rebelling. Often you might have even given up and “become” the person they thought you should be so that you became “disguised” to yourself.

But mostly, when you’re young, you don’t know how to deal with people who annihilate in these ways. The reward for these adults will be feelings of satisfaction and even happiness. After all, you are “learning” from them and being pointed in the right directions – in their view. Their reward could also include the righteous feeling of being able to maintain, what in their view, is correct – their ways of thinking, their own beliefs. They devote all their energy and interest toward annihilating your capacities, your views. They are often motivated by the view that “I know better.” Theirs is a view that they consciously or unconsciously have come to value above all others.

Some of you continue to experience annihilation in your present lives. For example, you have a boss who constantly finds fault with everything you do, aggressively criticizing your work and finding fault. Or, you might have a supervisor who thinks you’re too slow, not thorough enough, picking on you day after day and breaking you down. Or, when you approach your boss or an organization you might find that your ideas are regularly dismissed and criticized. According to them, you have not properly understood what you are proposing, or they might tell you it will not work – whether their views are properly informed or not.

But, It’s not only other people out there in the world that attack us. Early experiences of being annihilated could continue relentlessly tearing you apart from within. In the present. In your own mind and thoughts. You learned from the “authorities,” your parents, teachers, or other adults that “this is who I am. My views, needs and interests are wrong.” Now, the voice of your own imagination might have a go at you. Instead of your imagination functioning creatively to build you up, support you and alleviate your suffering, it turns on you. Your story-telling brain conjures up fantasy scenarios in the theatre of your mind. “Attack, demolish and defend.” For example, you imagine your boss viciously criticizing you while at the same time, you imagine a colleague standing up for you, defending you – the imaginary scenario repeats again and again. Or, while you are reading something that inspires you, you imagine your partner tearing it apart when you speak about it – including his imaginary contrary arguments against it. You also imagine your own defensive arguments as you attempt to stand up for your view, together with the usual failure to convince her or him – as usual. Or, you imagine a friend unfairly judging your behavior, pulling you apart, while your fantasy brings in another friend who valiantly attempts to explain your actions – again in vain. This scenario might also repeat and repeat in your mind, with no resolution. Attack, demolish, defense follow you in both your outer and inner world.

Taken altogether, it is no wonder that we view annihilation and destruction as one of the worst manifestations of human behavior – especially if we are the targets of it. No wonder we prefer the pole of creativity. After all, it’s natural to want to rather build up others, to listen to and understand their views, and to encourage and support them. We want to rather devote ourselves to seeing others grow and develop into their best selves. The rewards of happiness and satisfaction we feel when we see their appreciation, see the happiness they experience as they overcome their vulnerabilities are well worth the time and effort we devote – even though we don’t get to that book!. We have seen how contributing to society and the world makes this world a better place; it feeds into the centuries-old needs for the safety and security and well-being that a better world brings.

But what if there is something magic beneath this terrible function of annihilating? What if it carries within it something that has great value? Even though you might fight against this possibility with every fiber of your being, there is indeed a value – which could open the way for you to at last leave the negative, damaging side of annihilation behind, together with its suffering.

APPROACHING “THE ENEMY WITHIN”

Psychologically and symbolically annihilation refers to transforming, becoming different, altering and changing from one state to another, putting an end to something, or setting something aside. For example, as a natural part of human development, you change over time, putting an end to youthful functioning as you grow and mature. As a function of reversal, annihilation is when you change your mind, reverse an earlier decision or when you change a direction or adopt a new orientation. It is replacing one thing with another. For example, instead of routinely seeing yourself as flexible and your friend as too rigid, you might change your ideas about yourself and realize that in fact, you make compromises too easily and need to set up some boundaries. This could reverse the view you have of both yourself and your friend.

Annihilation by others might have been experienced as unfeeling and pitiless, tearing us apart. But, death and rebirth, as the co-existence of the functions of creativity and annihilation are often the subjects of myth and religion and ritual that lead towards our being able to change. Many rites of passage include a “death phase” preceding a “new life” – a new attitude. Psychologically, this is the experience of being freed from negative and harmful ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. These are “dematerialized” or demolished and free up new positive and facilitative ways of functioning. In this sense, “annihilation” opens the gates to being able to live a full life according to your talents and strengths, according to what you want or don’t want, and according to what you like or don’t like. But, it is not others we need to change. It is ourselves we need to change and transform. You need to be the hero in your own life. According to Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, it is the hero who transforms her- or himself.

Functions of destruction that make way for the new are not only found in psychological development; their reach extends right down to the cellular level of living organisms and plants as a normal operation in the maintenance of life. Unwanted or worn-out cells die and are replaced by new cells, benefitting the health of the whole organism. Controlled cell death is essential for normal human development and good health throughout life. On a cellular level, these functions of death and life are called apoptosis and mitosis. For example, apoptosis (the controlled death of cells) helps the developing embryo to fashion many aspects of its physical form. Human embryos start off with webbed fingers but as the embryo grows, the cells forming the web, which connects the fingers, are programmed to die. If they didn’t do this, you would have webbed hands. Similarly, tadpoles lose their tails in the process of becoming a frog by means of cell death. We also see this function when deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn. In fact the word apoptosis is from the Greek meaning “falling”. Importantly, the cellular processes of apoptosis (death of cells) and mitosis (division of cells, to make new cells) developed evolutionarily to function in a careful, controlled manner because the operation of removing cells is just as vitally important to the health of an organism as growing new cells is. This same mindful care, functioning in a careful, controlled manner is required when humans transform an old “worn-out” psychological approach by replacing it with a new, updated one. This approach found in cellular death and renewal is just as necessary if we are to maintain the psychological health of the whole person during this process.

Professor Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist from the University of Toronto, using the analogy of myth, explains that the functions of annihilating and destroying are part of the natural function of adapting. A rigid, old approach is modified by means of bringing understanding to it so that it can consciously function positively, with new insight, in your present life. This is how you overcome the antagonistic parts of the old approach, and how you transform it. Until you are able to do this, it is as if the once life-giving parts of a function have come apart – been torn apart. For example, the capacity to trust others may have “come apart” for you while growing up – you might have been disappointed, let down or neglected again and again while growing up. And, by trust being thus dismembered, you might have become excessively self-sufficient, believing that if you are to get (or do) what you want or, what you like, you can only rely on yourself. Consequently, when you see others who are able to allow themselves to be dependent – receiving financial or emotional support – you only know its antagonistic side – they are now seen as incapable or weak. The idea of “trust in others” has become inaccessible to you. Looking at “tearing apart” or “dismemberment” in this way – coming to understand what the role of annihilation actually stands for, we can change its meaning – bring new understanding to it.

THE HERO TRANSFORMS SELF BY MEANS OF DEVOTION TO SELF

Replacing the damaging existing view you have of “annihilation” with a new view and new understanding needs the assistance of our feelings. According to neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, your conscious feelings developed evolutionarily in order to inform you about risks and dangers and included fears, anxieties, jealousy, disgust and joy, so as to make you aware of what you want and don’t want, when to approach, and what needs to be avoided. Feelings show you the way towards behaviours that will guide you toward physical, emotional and mental well-being. Significantly, this works because your feelings are always accompanied by, and coloured by valence, that is, by feelings of the “goodness” or “badness” of the state of your bodies, and your interpersonal and social conditions.

 Jordan Peterson tells us the fascinating story of how rats can illustrate the way to proceed, using our feelings as a guide. When a rat is placed in an unfamiliar cage, it immediately freezes. If nothing dreadful or unpleasant happens it starts sniffing and looks around the cage, getting information about this new terrifying place it’s in. Step by step it begins to move around the cage growing more and more confident. It explores the cage for what is interesting to the rat. What feels good or bad for it – not the cage’s objective qualities. Is there food, any hostiles or friendlies? Voluntary exploration creates new mental patterns and images in the rat’s brain as this initially unknown and seemingly dangerous cage is transformed into something familiar and known.

Similarly, when you embark on changing the function of annihilation from a formerly experienced destructive function only, to something that is positive and useful, you are changing the wiring in your brain, as you develop a new understanding of annihilation. You are initially shifting from your old, familiar experiences and ideas of destruction toward a new, but as yet unfamiliar understanding of annihilation. And while you are navigating and exploring this unfamiliar territory, you need to “sniff” your way along that is, you need to move gradually toward the future you visualize – taking minor steps, guided by your feelings. In the same way that dying and renewal of the cells in your body follow a program of care and control, to ensure the health of your organism, so must the activity of both changing your former way of understanding annihilation and your development of a new understanding of it, be careful and controlled. According to Peterson, gradual steps, or sequential stages, are a series of operations in the present that lead to an envisioned future, which “…may be conceived of as links in a chain (with the end of the chain anchored to the future desirable state).”

This is how he encourages us to proceed: As you step into the unknown and begin to explore what is unfamiliar to you, you “sniff” that is, you take a very small or minor step. This step MUST be accompanied by a positive feeling of promise or satisfaction. Together with these feelings, a feeling of hope arises. If anxiety or hopelessness are felt, the step is too big for you. For example, Susan began having romantic feelings for a long-standing friend. She wanted to tell him but telling him that she “has feelings” evoked a high level of anxiety in her – it felt too loaded for her. She devoted her time and energy, and interest to thinking about another smaller step that she could take. She decided to tell him instead, “I’m beginning to feel attracted to you.” Saying it that way felt satisfying for her. She’d be saying something, and it didn’t feel threatening. Note that her choice of words may not be somebody else’s choice. The small step you take needs to be what will give you a feeling of satisfaction!

HOW DOES A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF ANNIHILATION POSITIVELY CHANGE YOU?

We have seen that our feelings inform us and guide us towards well-being. We have also seen that in unfamiliar territory, we need to take minor steps that ensure positive feelings such as promise and satisfaction, which result in hope. We have also seen that the dismantling of a former view needs to be as careful and controlled as building a new view is. Turning carefully toward yourself, you safely bring an old viewpoint to an end – fully devoting your interest and energy to doing this and every step you take MUST be accompanied by positive emotions.

This is the hero’s journey – transforming self – not trying to change the other person. In order to understand what positive, healthy “annihilation” is, you turn to yourself and begin the process of putting a stop to your own old, worn-out attitudes, beliefs, habits and behaviours, many of which were imposed on you in childhood. Just as controlled cell death is essential for normal human development and good health, so is the disassembling and replacing of your worn-out views.

John and his partner Paige visit a local coffee house a few times in the week in the middle of the day, taking a short break and enjoying the opportunity to talk with each other. They used to drink coffee. One day they ordered wine. This was also pleasant. Soon, they were always having a glass of wine there. John couldn’t imagine having coffee there anymore. Even if it was still morning. One day, Paige said, “Let’s go for a coffee.” An instant, silent protest rose up in John but, something in him wanted to be able to have coffee instead of wine, even though the very thought brought up a host of negative feelings. But, instead of going along with his acquired habit, he turned his mind towards picturing himself in the coffee shop drinking a foamy cup of coffee, relaxed, talking and feeling satisfied. His full interest was devoted to this image in his mind, turning it over and moving into the possibility. It felt good and satisfying. Suddenly he found that he’d turned his view around completely. His former view had been completely obliterated. He went to his partner and simply said, “Yes, coffee with a small cake sounds great!” It was authentic and the coffee and cake and their usual good conversation were just as good as he’d imagined it. John had annihilated his old habitual view; he’d devoted his interest, energies and time to reflect on a forgotten enjoyment, he’d put the “scattered parts” of his previous coffee-only view together again. But, he now also had a new understanding, “It’s possible and enjoyable to choose my refreshments. It doesn’t have to be a case of “either/or” be it coffee, wine, tea, fruit juice or water. That felt good!

Mary’s story …

“I always bowed under the pressure of my boss wanting me to work late – over weekends, even needing me to be available when I was on holiday! I began to devote my time and attention fully to my work situation and realized that I was still carrying an old, childhood view that ‘other people are allowed to regulate my life.’ I began to regulate my own work time. I began to leave work at reasonable times. It felt very satisfying to be responsible for how I worked and for how long. Interstingly, my boss accepted these changes. I feel like an adult now, accountable to both my job and myself. My anxiety has begun to go down. It’s still a work in progress but I feel more and more confident, taking it a step at a time otherwise, my anxiety flares up again”.

Mary is in the process of putting together an early shattered view that “I have the capacity to regulate my life appropriately” together with her new understanding that “the way I do something and and the pace I do it at, is actually acceptable and correct.” She is in the process of annihilating and putting to a stop the past, worn-out view she learned at home.

Sonia’s transformation…

As we come toward the end of this journey, having travelled through devotion, creativity and annihilation, we can now answer the questions posed at the beginning of this article. How could Sonia change her situation? How could she change the way David interacts with her…? And further more, we can now add, how could her negative experiences be approached without attempting to change David? How could she become an intrepid, fearless “hero” who transforms herself?

 Sonia began to devote her time, her interest and energies to reflecting on her situation. She remembered that her mother always believed that she knew better than anyone else. She always had the best solutions. She was more intelligent. Even if someone was an expert in a particular field, she spoke as if she understood that field, not realizing that simply having some of the vocabulary didn’t mean that she understood the depths and complexity of that field. Sonia’s father had also been a problem. He often questioned her. He would ask her why she wanted to do this or that. In fact, his conversations were defined by questions. And for him, all Sonia’s answers were wrong, or were mocked. “Nothing I said or did was correct or good enough in my parent’s eyes – both mother and father always knew best.” But, as she continued to reflect, Sonia also remembered that when her father argued with her mother, he frequently went into victim-mode, turning her into the aggressor. “That was an eye-opener for me” she recounted, “David does exactly the same to me!”

What Sonia came to realize was that she had internalized her parent’s view of her. As an adult, she viewed herself in the same way. “Even though I protest, I always cave into the requirements of others. I defend and behave as if others are always right!”

But she reflected some more on why it was that both her father and David used the language of ‘victims’ when they were angry and contrary. A victim is someone who is harmed, killed, cheated, tricked or deceived by another and made to suffer from destructive or injurious actions. It is also when someone is a prey or target, the aim of an attack or exploitation. Sonia felt horrified as she realized that the function of annihilation had again crept into the equation, but this time, with both her mother and herself being turned into the aggressors. Could she unconsciously be doing this? Or was this actually merely her father’s and David’s problem?

But as she devoted more time to this, looking back over the years, she was shocked to realize that there was something to this! “I became aware that I have always considered that my approaches are correct and that David’s are wrong, inappropriate, unjust, inaccurate, improper – never correct in my view. I always had the right approach – in my view. Here was my mother’s approach and voice, blatantly evident in my own. “I am always right. I always know better! A put-down time and again. Nasty, judgmental thoughts always running through my thoughts, coming out in subtle comments, sometimes openly hostile, but also disguised in ‘helpful’ suggestions, telling David how I thought he should behave or proceed. It was so invisible to me. Lying beneath my view that ‘others are always right and others always know better’ was another insidious view – the model I’d learned while growing up – the model from my parents towards the world, toward other people repeating and repeating in myself – in my thoughts, my speech, my actions, my attitudes and my beliefs – ‘I am always right and I always know better lay beneath!’ During my years of growing up, I’d learned the entire pattern with all its processes, all the nuances involved in ‘knowing better, being better.’ David was indeed a victim. He was experiencing my ‘all-knowing’ criticisms loudly and clearly. He really couldn’t do anything right because I ‘knew’ better! I felt embarrassed, mortified. It’s not that he was totally innocent but I realized the degree to which I was contributing to our unpleasant conversations.”

This is also “the enemy within” to whom we need to be kind. The enemy whom we need to love. This enemy is then us, who offends and annihilates – often those who are the closest and most loved in our lives. The enemy is yourself – attacking you from within and others without. When the function of healthy annihilation has been dismembered and shattered, it functions destructively in all contexts!

Being right and knowing better don’t exist in a vacuum. Rightness is associated with a sense of morality and justice, with what is correct, fitting, appropriate and proper, often according to one’s reasoning and with what one perceives is true. It is the ‘correct version’ and requires conforming to accepted standards of social or professional behavior. There is a sense of it being supported by, and connected to having a moral or just law on one’s side – even if these are outdated, belong to past traditions and are no longer appropriate. This connection to morality and lawful justice that is, support by these “authorities,” is what contributes to the power of “being right” and “knowing better.” Being right is generally accompanied by putting wrongs back in order, by sorting out problems and finding remedies and solutions to invalid assumptions, and righting nonconformity to “accurate, morally right or lawful approaches.” Thus, one feels that one is within one’s rights and allowed, one is even entiled to apply ‘authorized’ corrections. But, while there is truth for some of society’s principles of right and wrong, there are also valid different truths for different societies and for individuals. Your version is not the standard by which everything should be measured or judged.

How did Sonia go about the process of transforming herself? She began the process of carefully dismantling and annihilating her inner viewpoint that “others know better than I do.” She began to stand up for her own viewpoint and actions. For example, she’d quietly, but clearly say to David, “I did this or that in exactly the way I considered was correct.’ Interestingly, he refrained from arguing then. She also stopped answering all his questions, choosing which ones to reply to. She is beginning to see that the old view of herself that believed that “others know best” and her ongoing defense against this has merely caused her to suffer. This is an old, worn-out view belonging to her parent’s approach to her that needed to be understood, updated and transformed.

At the same time, Sonia began to consciously observe her thoughts and views about David. She realized that he has valid approaches that are different to hers – her’s are not the yardstick against which he needs to measure himself. She stopped correcting and advising David and dismantling his approaches. She stopped righting his “wrong” approaches and views. It was a difficult, humbling experience at first. But she valiantly kept returning to apply her changes with kindness and a loving attitude toward herself. Checking that every step she took was accompanied by positive feelings of satisfaction. She gives herself time by taking small careful and controlled steps. She is carefully “annihilating” her old approach in a healthy way, step-by-small-minor-step, accompanied by positive feelings of promise and satisfaction. Her habit of attempting to annihilate David’s verbal attacks, using the same argumentative defenses she attempted as a child, is being brought to an end and a new understanding is being built. David’s approach to her is also changing positively since she started believing in her own views and believing in his. Her relationship is steadily improving.

This is the enemy within that you need to be kind to, that you need to love. It is a part of yourself that was brought to a stop in your youth. It is your old worn-out way of understanding “annihilation”.

When you are able to be both creative, devoting your time, interest and energy to building up and supporting others AND ALSO, vitally devoting your interest and reflection to yourself, annihilating your past old, worn-out viewpoints and attitudes about yourself that you adopted, that you had no choice in adopting, replacing them with a new understanding, in careful and controlled ways – replacing the old function with a new understanding of it, such that each step is accompanied by positive feelings such as satisfaction, promise and hope, you will be able to lead a more fulfilled, happy life. “The enemy within”, an out dated version of a function, is transformed into a new understanding of it. The hero is you and it is you who is transformed.

Bring some magic into your life! Ideas developed by Leslie Zimmermann.

MA in Research Psychology, Cum Laude (Witwatersrand University, South Africa),
Post-graduate Diplomate, Accredited Analytical Psychologist (Switzerland)
Member: SAPC (South African Psychoanalytic Confederation)
Member: IAAP (International Association for Analytical Psychology
Member: SAAJA South Africa

IMG_1248About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is an accredited  Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a symbolic perspective including neuropsychological and biological systems.

Posted in Archetypes, Complexes, Jungian Analysis, Personal Development and Change, Personal Growth, Shadow, Things to Think About, Want and don't want / Like and don't like | Comments Off on An Essay Concerning Creating ~ Annihilating, Qualified by Devotion | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

An Essay on Withholding ~ Letting go and Releasing, Qualified by Cherishing Values | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

Who I am, what I like, what I want, what I don’t want call to us – sometimes softly, sometimes loudly. These inner voices lie deeply within the lifestyles we have woven for ourselves. Here reside our guides; here are our own cherished values, pulsating with the joys and sorrows of the past and present. They are our ever-present companions, held in our own living, patterned fabric. For further thoughts on this, on how you can make seemingly impossible things happen for you, Read on to discover how.

Complementary Pairs: Withholding  ~ Letting go and Releasing, Qualified by Cherishing Values

Some of us are able to both withhold and also grant or release by letting go. These are both qualified by cherishing values, which underpin our lifestyles. Values serve as guiding principles of what we consider important in life, and lifestyle is a way of life or living that we choose, based on our values. But some of us are only able to withhold OR let go. The gripping hold our values and lifestyles have on us helps us to understand withholding versus letting go, releasing and granting.

Michael learned early in life that this world is not a safe place for him. His father was an alcoholic and he never knew what to expect when he got home from school. One moment his father was a quiet, soft-spoken man, but suddenly he’d fly into a rage, taking his anger out on his wife, she cowering and silent, shouting, throwing things against the wall, screaming at Michael. He’d run outside and hide in the garden. Life felt dangerous and uncertain. Safety and security became his greatest need. Now, as a head of department, one of his top values continues to be safety. As a result, departmental controversies are always dealt with by emails and discussions that leave him in a safe, secure position. He writes statements ending with question marks. Behaviors of staff are always described with their possible, opposite reasons for their behaviors – noted in brackets. His style makes all things, all behaviors in the protagonist possible such as, “the person might have done this (but perhaps she meant that).” He makes it impossible for anyone to pin him down to any single viewpoint. This makes it impossible for anyone to contradict him or enter into a counter argument. His value of “being safe” protects him.

People’s values are relative and subjective. Values are what you regard as desirable and serve as guiding principles of what you consider important in life, guiding selections and the evaluations of your actions. They are regarded as uncompromising, worthy, are highly esteemed by you and are beliefs in which you have an emotional investment – either for or against something. Their importance to each person includes concepts of what is right, serving as an ideal. As a result, people often attempt to influence others to accept their values. Adding to this complexity, Kenneth Fleischmann tells us that we in fact have a large range of values such as personal values, professional or work values, national values, environmental values, group values, and societal values. They all act as determinants with respect to aspects that are “material and physical, economic, moral, social, political, aesthetic, religious (spiritual), intellectual, professional, and sentimental”.

Rosemary was a happy child on the whole. She was talented and artistic and did well at school.  But her parents were in constant conflict and her spendthrift father’s habits meant that money was always short. But Rosemary’s mother had a great approach to life. Her motto was “there’s always a way!” Over the years, Rosemary saw again and again how her mother’s creative view opened the doors and how she found solutions for Rosemary to pursue her interests – despite the shortage of money. She also saw how her mother was able to overcome her own financial constraints and how she found ways to create a lifestyle for herself, despite her marital problems – letting the conflicts go. Most of all, Rosemary saw how this value gave her mother satisfaction and how it always brought about positive feelings in her. Rosemary’s whole life has since been guided by her mother’s example and this value. Although her life has been much easier than her mother’s was, it has had a substantial, positive effect on her own lifestyle. No matter what difficulties or disappointments come her way, she “always finds a way.” She is able to creatively maintain and even remake her lifestyle in satisfying, enjoyable ways – again and again.

Lifestyle is the play of self-identity. One’s lifestyle is often seen as a way of life or living, but according to a paper by Mikael Jensen, lifestyle needs to be understood in terms of values and attitudes. For example, “how to eat and what to eat (and drink); how to move around (by car, by bus, by bicycle, by foot, by aircraft, by boat and so forth) and where to travel, what to wear and when and where to wear it; where to live (urban, rural or in a suburb) and how to furnish, what to watch and read, what to work with, choice of education, how to engage politically or religiously, who to associate with, how (where and with whom) to spend leisure time, whether one uses drugs, tobacco or alcohol, how to communicate, and health approaches.” As if this were not complex enough, lifestyle also includes the differences and similarities between countries, societies and cultures. It also includes which behaviour one might see as correct such as manners, styles, tastes and background and the different ways in which one sees reality.

Lifestyle is about choices we make over a long time, not about a single choice. It is about our own style of how to act, who to be, how to handle the problems and difficulties in relationships with others, and how to overcome inferiority. In doing this we continually make and remake our identities. The term “lifestyle” was introduced by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler with the meaning of “a person’s basic character as established early in childhood.” A lifestyle is a means of forging a sense of self and to create cultural symbols that resonate with personal identity. This all gives an indication of how deeply rooted your values and lifestyles are, and why you and others hold onto them so vigorously!

“Letting go” and “withholding” are both inseparable from your value system, your lifestyle and your identity. The one is about considering the important values of other people, the other is about cherishing your own values.

Letting go is generally about conceding or agreeing to the value systems of others. Letting go, is a value defined by belief and trust in others, where we grant and accept or credit another person or situation as true, real, conforming to fact and accurate. This does not mean that you change your own value system for others; it suggests that one of your values is the ability to trust and believe. Based on this, you may then concede, and agree with a request, with someone else’s needs, and allow them to have or to do what they want to do. Yielding, we consent and grant permission. For example, your teenage daughter wants to go to a party and stay out later than usual, but you feel she’s still too young. But, her arguments sound solid and safe so, you trust she will conform to her line of reasoning and promises and you yield, relaxing your rules, allowing her to go. Doing this, you have trustingly accepted your daughter’s promises as real. The reward for you is happiness when you see her smiling face. Letting go can include releasing yourself on the odd occasion from a good value that promotes healthy eating. For example, you’re at a restaurant that only offers certain kinds of food and you choose an item on the menu that’s tasty but not very healthy. You allow yourself to eat that food and you apply the value that breaking your rule about food once in a while doesn’t mean that you have harmed yourself. It’s only when you have a vital health condition that you need to remain rigid with your food choice. Letting go, or granting is also being able to forgive and stop blaming. When you do this, feelings of relief and peace reward you as you stop carrying your on-going negative feelings and thoughts. You have recognized and allowed for the other person’s different value system, but maintain your trust in your own values. Your identity remains intact.

Granting also includes having a firm belief and confidence in the integrity, ability, strength and surety or character of a person or thing. Just as you endeavour to be the best at what you do, you trust and believe that others can also do this – although, sometimes naively. Consequently, when others repay your confidence in them, your reward is the great, positive feeling about the general goodness of people and the world, and a lifestyle that allows you to relate and function with trust. Letting go is also consent. For example, you choose to fulfil what you have been asked to do. Even though someone else is miserly, withholding money, withholding praise, or a promotion, you feel honour-bound to fulfill your obligations. This may be an important value to you and the reward is a feeling of satisfaction that despite everything, you are sticking to our own values. Although you have also allowed the negative value system of the “other” to prevail over our own, it results in a better feeling for you to let go. But, perhaps even more important to you, you love to cook, or at work, you really enjoy solving problems so that, letting the “petty” behaviors and views of others go and instead, going ahead and doing what you really enjoy, brings in the added reward of enjoyment, happiness or flow, so that it all feels worth it in the end!

One of the enjoyable attributes of being able to let go includes being helpful and supportive. This can function by being able to release people from certain commitments or obligations or debt. For example, someone on a committee has taken on a complex task but then you discover that she is going through a really tough time at home and you take on the task because you are doing well, and you feel that you have the time and energy to do it. You feel good because the other person will have some relief from their suffering and you don’t mind the extra burden – even though you are overwhelmed with your own commitments. For you, the reward of releasing someone else feels greater, feels noble, you feel happy. The appreciation and thankfulness of the other person also rewards you with good feelings. This all exceeds your suffering from being overworked.

You may release a person by excusing them. For example, someone may have been thoughtless and said something that hurt you, but you reflect that if they’d known better, they would not have said those nasty things. You excuse their behaviour and let it go, which results in a good feeling for you. You might also relieve a child from punishment because, after all, you think, it could have been on the harsh side and he’s usually a good, responsible boy, so you give him a talk, let it go and allow him to go to that movie after all. Altogether, by being able to let go, to grant and to release, you experience a feeling of being unfettered, you don’t feel unimpeded and don’t feel controlled by others – instead, you experience a sense of liberty and freedom – you get to think and behave according to your value system and you are rewarded by positive feelings. Promoting others, being helpful and supporting the values and lifestyles of others is great and satisfying – unless this drives you. Unless this way of functioning is one of the only ways in which you can experience happiness. Or, unless your values and your lifestyle are often, and even radically compromised. Living excessively like this, your own identity may then remain concealed from others – and parts of it, even from yourself.

Withholding, on the other hand, has been a very hurtful experience for some of us – during childhood and even into the present day. In the past, it was all about lack of acknowledgement, hardness, being made to feel invisible, and excessive strictness. For example, parents may have often withheld permission for fun outings and visiting friends. Either it was a flat no, with no explanation or, they always engaged you with their views of what they think is good for you, what they thought you should do, or study, dismissed your ideas – never listening to what you like or want. Never noticing your unique nature, talents and strengths in fact, showing little interest. Usually, they were engaged in trying to make you a carbon copy of themselves or, of what they thought you should be. For example, a parent or teacher may have required you to give quick, off-the-cuff answers or explanations but, because you are introverted, you needed to reflect a bit before you were able to give a coherent response. Perhaps a parent or teacher frequently didn’t believe you, didn’t show trust and belief in you, even though you were telling the truth – you were often doubted, discredited and faced with suspicion – just because you were unable to articulate yourself in the way they imagined you should. Whatever it was, it was always, a rigid, immovable encounter. In this negative sense, parents and other significant adults got to maintain and sustain their own value systems and sought to impose their lifestyle, values and attitudes on you.

As adults, many of you continue being subject to others’ withholding. This is qualified by them maintaining and sustaining their own cherished values and lifestyles, and their reward is the positive emotions of feeling right and that feeling of ease, whereby no effort to think, reflect or to see the “other” is required of them. They refuse to give or grant. For example, a boss might withhold praise for your really great work or, might prefer to look at profits rather than rewarding you with a promotion or a good increase. The reward for your boss is the good feeling experienced as his company’s profits climb – together with his own increases. And, by sticking to his value that “people should do their best and work well, because they’re being paid to do that and … after all, why praise someone whose doing what they’re paid for,” he might also be rewarded by a positive self-supportive feeling – feeling that his behaviour towards you supports his value.

People might sometimes withhold information, keeping it to themselves. The reward could then be the delight or security or feeling of superiority of knowing more. Or, they might vigorously keep you in check with their rules and own desires and needs, restrain you, and refuse to share. For example, your partner might withhold all their money; yet force you to contribute to the lifestyle they want to enjoy. This might be seen when your partner is buying all the toys and devices they want, while you are required to provide “gourmet” meals (perhaps you do this in order to prevent criticism or a sulk), even though your salary is smaller. Another example is when they spend all their money on themselves and then claim they are unable to contribute to expenses that month (or month after month) because of all the “expenses” they’ve had. Their value system could then be that they “deserve the best” and can thus get everything that they want or desire. Not only have your values of the principle of sharing and of living economically been overridden, but also your choice of lifestyle, your sense of identity and the self you have constructed over many years, is compromised.

Some partners might withhold their money, forcing you to cover all your own expenses or, going 50/50 on expenses, on dining out, and requiring you to pay for your own holidays, holding onto their own large bank balance, perhaps holding the value that they are “not responsible for another adult.” In this way, as you watch your own bank balance getting smaller, they keep you from obtaining what you want, like or need – restraining you. In all of these ways, they immobilize, freeze, block, deny and refuse you, often holding you back, depriving you, but keeping what they have, keeping to their own value systems and maintaining their own chosen lifestyles. You are kept in a state of subjection, controlled by the rules and values of another, while they are rewarded again and again by the feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment because they are able to maintain their attitudes, beliefs, values and lifestyles. Their sense of constructed self and identity is maintained. It’s no wonder that many of you despise the very word “withhold!”

But, withholding is not only about lack of acknowledgement, hardness, feeling invisible and excessive strictness. It is not only about refusing to give or to grant, or about the rules, desires and needs of others keeping you in check. It is not only about restraining you, and refusing to share, denying you, disallowing, and turning you down, or about keeping you in a state of subjection. This is only the negative side of withholding but this is often the only side we have been exposed to. For this reason, many of us don’t know the benefits of healthy withholding. NOT knowing how to apply the function of positive withholding means that being driven to always “let go” is often accompanied by betrayal of many of your own values and lifestyles. But, just as letting go, granting and releasing in terms of your own cherished values, such that you experience the positive, rewarding feelings of happiness, peace, relief, hope, satisfaction and enjoyment is a great function, SO CAN withholding be a complementary positive function, maintaining and sustaining your cherished values and lifestyles, where you are also rewarded by positive emotions.

The magic is found in turning towards yourself and withholding yourself. It is not in withholding others and not in trying to change others. Withholding is when we restrain ourselves and keep ourselves in check. For example, you refrain from having an unhealthy chocolate binge. You keep yourself in check. But, this MUST be qualified by a cherished value such as valuing a feeling of physical well being in your body as opposed to indigestion and it MUST be accompanied by the reward of experiencing a positive feeling, such as feeling satisfied. Failing this, you will merely feel deprived and restrained all over again! You’ll be ready for your next chocolate binge. Your value system – for example, not being unnecessarily wasteful or, not pushing yourself towards illness (especially if you’re teetering on the edge of diabetes) will thus not be betrayed and your reward will be the feelings of power, satisfaction and perhaps safety. If you have noticed that one of your boss’ values is safety and security, you could refrain from merely keeping quiet when his response affects your situation negatively. Instead (without telling him explicitly what his value is) you could reflect on what he needs you to provide in terms of information and details in your report that will make him feel safe – to make his company safe and reply to his email with that information. Doing this could in turn help you to discover some vital facts you yourself may have overlooked. This could be based on a value you hold that that “the views of others could help me to develop – even when theirs are different.” Your reward could be a feeling satisfaction and power.

Positive withholding is also when you keep back – you hold back, or set aside something, especially for the future. For example, you hold back spending your money on inessentials, or yet another kitchen appliance, or that third television that you don’t actually want or need so that you don’t have to borrow from the bank for that holiday. Your value of “not incurring debt” is thus not betrayed. This must NOT feel like deprivation, NOT feel like being held back and NOT feel as if you’re restrained. It MUST be qualified by cherishing your values and MUST be accompanied by a reward such as feeling empowered, satisfied and coloured by positive anticipation. Withholding is also when you have information & keep it to yourself. For example, you might know something about another person, but then you withhold judgment and unnecessary criticism of others because you consider that you might not know the whole story. Or, when you feel upset with someone, you might refrain from speaking your mind unkindly or angrily, choosing to reflect first and then say something in a civilized way – if at all. This form of withholding would reflect a value where you “regard yourself sufficiently by not letting yourself down” by speaking or behaving badly.

When you find yourself with a partner who requires a 50/50 contribution unfairly and requires you to pay for your own holidays, even though you earn much less, you can withhold yourself from overspending. Keeping yourself in check, you choose a budget that matches your salary. For example, if you enjoy cooking, you can still cook great meals but not by spending unreasonable amounts of money on the ingredients – you could make them simpler, but exactly to your taste, keeping in mind that this must not feel like a restraint or punishment. It needs to feel good. If you usually make very large portions of food which results in everyone overeating because it tastes so good, you might restrain this habit and instead, make smaller, but still generous portions. This could address both your economic and health values, which would enable a lifestyle you might prefer. If your budget does not allow for that holiday, you can reflect on it – no need to make it an either/or situation – and choose to withhold a portion of your money (which you should rightfully be saving) or, which you need in order to cover other expenses. Your value could be, “it’s responsible to live within one’s means”. The conversation with your partner might then be for example, “If we go on this holiday together, I am able to pay for my airfare and share the cost of meals, but you would need to pay for our accommodation as this will fall out of my budget as I am obliged to also meet other expenses.”  Your reward for remaining with this value could be peace of mind and a relaxed body. And you might be surprised by your partner’s response.

You might also withhold a repetitive compulsion to take over meetings to rescue them when others have not prepared for them – especially when this meeting is not your responsibility to carry. And you might be able to refrain from your usual drivenness to voluntarily take on someone else’s project when they are doing it badly, because one of your values holds that “all projects must be very well done.” When you take on other people’s work, they are withholding their time, effort and labour and you merely fulfill and allow their values to prevail, held in their attitude, “the less effort I expend, the better.” This is a great approach to have when people go on holiday, but not for work, or when people study. Taking on someone else’s work and responsibilities might violate and replace your value that “responsibility is required by all involved.” You will have betrayed your value but fostered theirs. You will have excused them and released them from responsibility, which doesn’t belong in this context. When you apply withholding to yourself – by withholding yourself, you MUST experience a feeling of satisfaction, regard for self, and happiness with your decisions – sense that you are staying with your cherished, important values, which in turn enables you to live the lifestyle you choose and enables you to stay in integrity with your identity. You MUST experience withholding as a reward. And then, something magical starts to happen! As you change in these ways – as your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, behaviors and beliefs about withholding change, you will experience an entire inner shift in the pattern and the processes that make up the capacity to positively withhold.  You will begin to think, feel, behave and speak differently. This will positively and powerfully change the way you interact with others and as a result, other people will begin to interact differently with you!

When withholding starts giving you rewards in terms of generating good feelings, in the same way that letting go, granting and releasing does, you’ll be able to choose EITHER of these options, depending on the context. Both withholding AND letting go MUST be qualified by cherishing values if we are to be rewarded by a feeling of happiness and want to live a happy, richly filled and successful life.

Bring some magic into your life! Ideas developed by Leslie Zimmermann.

MA in Research Psychology, Cum Laude (Witwatersrand University, South Africa),
Post-graduate Diplomate, Accredited Analytical Psychologist (Switzerland)
Member: SAPC (South African Psychoanalytic Confederation)
Member: IAAP (International Association for Analytical Psychology
Member: SAAJA South Africa

IMG_1248About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is an accredited  Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a symbolic perspective including neuropsychological and biological systems.

Posted in Archetypes, Development and Change, Overcoming Negative Emotions, Personal Development and Change, Personal Growth, Things to Think About, Want and don't want / Like and don't like | Comments Off on An Essay on Withholding ~ Letting go and Releasing, Qualified by Cherishing Values | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

An Essay on Limits ~ Generosity, Qualified by Self-Care | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

I’ve always been generous – it’s the way I live so, don’t even talk to me about limits – that’s all about deprivation…I’ve had enough limits imposed on me in my life. Still do! But, what if both generosity and limits can bring magic into our lives? To discover how, read on.

Some of us are able to be both generous and put limits in place. These are both qualified by self-care. Self-care is when our behavior, speech, thoughts, feelings and attitudes are not harmful to ourselves. But some of us are only able to be either generous OR apply limits.

Louise’s Story

Louise and Marcel always end up having the same exchange about the taps in their kitchen. When she turns on the hot-water tap, the water flows out of it in a constant stream of water. When she turns on the cold-water tap, it initially flows strongly and then it becomes a dribble. Then she has to stop washing her hands or whatever it is she is cleaning and turn it some more for a consistent flow. She immediately feels irritated then. It feels like such an effort for her. For Louise, it is a no-brainer to use the hot-water tap. She doesn’t have the patience or inclination to play around with that cold-water tap.

She can’t remember how many times Marcel has complained when she does this. Mulling and muttering under her breath, she replays his words in her mind, “Do you know how much money it costs every time you switch on the hot-water tap?” He’d always say this! She recalls how he then gives her a run-down on how much it costs each time she does this. But by now, Louise invariably switches off. She stops listening. Being free of irritation when she uses the taps is more important. That tedious adjustment of the cold-water tap is just too much trouble for her. Sometimes she feels an almost imperceptible feeling of guilt but it’s quickly suppressed. She’s more aware of her rising feelings of rebellion. “Why does he have to fuss like this?” she thinks. “This probably makes such a small difference to the electricity account, it wouldn’t even be noticed! He’s always cramping my style.”

Generosity

Generosity is the other side of the coin of limits. But, generosity is not only about money; it includes giving fully of our time, advice, and help and even amusing others. At its foundation, generosity is about caring for others. But, when you are always generous you end up not caring for your self and instead, often inflict self-harm. For example, certain people at work are unable execute their tasks and you often generously solve the problem for them but, at the same time it means that you become burdened by having to work harder because you have less time available for your own work – you become overworked. Or, you spend too much money on others – on gifts and being the one who pays for those lunches so that you end up struggling to meet your own financial requirements. This often results in ongoing financial anxiety. You might even extend this function to being excessive in your own life, as a compensation for early deprivation and constraints/limits on what you wanted and needed and also, experiencing unreasonable restrictions when you were young. For example, you find yourself buying too many clothes, getting the most expensive car, overfilling your home or garden, eating all those foods you yearned for – good for your health or not, good for your budget or not – or, being driven to create an aesthetic environment no matter the cost, which a childhood poverty situation prevented.

Why do we do this? If you look closely, you’ll notice that you are rewarded for this behavior. The gratitude, relief, happiness and enjoyment of those who receive from you bring about a great feeling in you. You feel seen, acknowledged, appreciated and happy. This is the reward. For some of us, this has been the primary way we are able to experience these good feelings. It often begins in early childhood.

Limits

Perhaps, in your early years, in a world characterized by too many externally imposed limits, you gave your talent for being funny full reign, making your parents and others laugh, and you were rewarded by feeling happy? Your excessive purchases also give you a momentary experience of reward – happiness. Because aesthetic surroundings give you daily pleasure, your money is poured into creating ambiance in your home. Generosity is a great quality to have, when it is not your only source of experiencing well-being. But this might have extended long past your childhood. Having limits imposed on you might continue to be your experience.

But, limits are not only about deprivation, restrictions, restraints, confinement or, frustration of goals and pleasures. But, for some of us, this was our experience of childhood. As a result, once we are grown up, some of us apply overly strict limits to our lives in order to not suffer financial deprivations. This is often accompanied by self-harm rather than self-care. For example, we might excessively restrict our pleasures and needs and what we want in order to have that safe, big bank balance. For others, limits have become tainted. The very word “limit” might evoke a shudder of distaste. For example, if you merely set up a tight budget, it is likely to be characterized by that same feeling of early deprivation, restriction or, frustration of goals and pleasures. This limit thus becomes punishment for you all over again. You will soon ditch that budget. If you decide not to spend hours advising that colleague or always paying for those lunches, you will miss out on those rewards of a warm feeling happiness. It might thus feel impossible to change this behavior. You might not be able to put a limit, or boundary on that client or supplier who flirts with you during business transactions. Indeed, you probably have no idea how you can limit this behavior and how to stop it. These are examples of how we often don’t know how to apply limits. We only learned about the negative side of limits and simply don’t know the language or behavior for setting healthy, boundaries.

But, just as generosity is self-care in terms of acting such that you feel happy and experience well-being by making others happy, so are limits a function of self-care. For example, you limit your spending to what you really want and like, not according to an excessive need to prevent a feeling of deprivation or to fill that hole – that feeling of lack. You limit that urge to buy that new coat this season, you limit your grocery spending to a reasonable percentage of your salary instead of buying more than you can eat while watching your credit card balance skyrocketing – and often throwing away the excess food that’s rotting in your fridge. But these limits MUST be qualified by self-care. You MUST experience a feeling of satisfaction, regard for self, and happiness with these decisions – sense that you are showing self-care toward yourself – experience this as a reward, as a result of feelings of satisfaction and happiness. Failing this, if you feel deprived, your good intentions will crumble and instead of feeling happy, you will spiral into the old pattern of self-harm, which manifests as anxiety, fear, guilt, self-recrimination and negative experiences of limitation being imposed on you – by yourself now.

For example, stopping that client or supplier from flirting with you by applying the inner view – a limit – that “flirting belongs to my social life but not my business life” might result in discomfort for the flirter, but you will be rewarded by the good feeling of happiness and satisfaction in your business dealings. This is “limit” qualified by care of self. Putting a grocery and spending budget in place that allows you to eat and live according to what you like and want, but not excessively so that you have to throw rotting food (which equals your hard-earned money) into the trashcan is caring for yourself. Budgets MUST be qualified by self-care otherwise they will fail. It needs to feel caring for you to have the energy and time you need to do your own job and derive happiness at the thought of doing this for yourself as opposed to struggling with time and loss of energy by always helping someone else who, should either be doing a different job if they can’t do their work adequately or, might need to put in some more effort. It’s always about self-care. This does not mean that you never help someone else; it means that you choose according to context so that you also care for yourself – not only others. Caring for yourself, you could be rewarded by relief when you stop those advertising messages and emails you once signed up for but which now take up your time daily by needing to delete them. And, it could feel rewarding to wash your clothes in cooler water to keep their colors fresh and bright and to stop wearing them out too soon so that you feel compelled to replace them. Limits must always be qualified by self-care, which means you are rewarded by good emotions, pleasurable emotions, and you are not harming yourself financially or otherwise.

Louise’s transformation

One day, Louise was going through her credit card expenses. She also noticed how low her savings were. She couldn’t see a way to do it all differently. She’d tried setting up budgets – to no avail – at least once or twice a year… for years now. But, before she knew it, she’d bought yet another dress or another ornament for her home. She’d bought too much food. It would rot. She’d invariably have to secretly dispose of it, so that Marcel wouldn’t see this.

It was as if she was always driven. As she entered the shopping centre and walked past the stores on her way to shop for groceries – she habitually always wanted to walk past the shops first – she always felt a comfortable, familiar feeling envelop her. What delights might be waiting for her on this day? What unexpected surprises could the stores hold? She’d walk into shop after shop, looking through the racks of clothing or into the store windows with their many wares – an invitation to walk inside and buy that beautiful vase, so aesthetically displayed. The funny thing was that Louise didn’t have anything particular that she wanted to buy. She’d just look until something would capture her attention and then, like a sleepwalker, she’d buy it. It was easy to do with a credit card. Then she’d walk off with a fuzzy, warm feeling inside her, her thoughts continually going to the shopping bag and her new “valuable prize” – again and again…imaging how it was going to make her life so much happier. In a strange way, any new “treasure” repeatedly made her feel as if she’d become something more, had become the person she unceasingly wanted to be, but always fell short of being.

But, today was different. She was reflecting on those annual expenses such as her car licence, about unexpected expenses such as that sudden need for a costly dentist visit. She got caught out every time. She had to juggle her money and cut down on buying for a while. She always felt some panic and anxiety at these times as she sought to manage her finances. And then, the feelings of limits, confinement and a low-level, but ongoing flatness would follow.

But, today was different. She felt as if she’d somehow woken up. “What if I choose to put some limits on myself?” she thought – with some surprise. “What if I choose to only buy what I want and need? What if I specifically choose to keep less food in our home? What of I choose to stop putting huge, generous amounts of food on the table? Now that I think about it, that’s a ridiculous thing to do! I act as every meal is a feast, in fact a smorgasbord – what’s that about?” As she pondered on this, Louise could imagine how her savings would increase and how – what a relief, she could save some money every month towards all those annual and unexpected expenses. It would be so great to have it available when she needed it. That felt even better. She almost felt as if something was physically changing in her. The thought of potentially being able to buy whatever she wanted, without buying it – of rather keeping her money – began to feel very appealing. A feeling of relief and greater peace fell upon her. That inner drivenness was melting away.

The best part was that when Louise went grocery shopping the next time – and every time after that, she noticed that she was becoming very particular about how she used her money. She’d look at something and then think, “No. I don’t want that, I have enough.” And now, instead, she’d have that same fuzzy, warm feeling as she thought about the money she’d just saved by not spending it unnecessarily. And then…relief from Marcel’s nagging comments around those kitchen taps. Of her own accord, Louise had realized that it was rather thoughtless on her part to waste money needlessly by using that hot-water tap. Small expenses add up. But the real reason was that placing limits on herself in terms of mindless wasting was starting to infiltrate every area of her life. And it felt just so good. Her image of herself, her self-regard was getting better by the day. “Strange,” she though a few weeks later, “ I can’t understand why it felt so difficult to use this silly cold-water tap and to quickly coax it into a free-flowing consistent stream of water? It’s taken a bit of practicing to break that old habit but I have, and I feel so, so satisfied!”

When limits start giving you rewards in terms of generating good feelings, in the same way that generosity does, you’ll be able to choose EITHER of these options, depending on the context. Both limits AND generosity MUST be qualified by self-care if we are to be rewarded by a feeling of happiness and want to live a good, fulfilling life.

Bring some magic into your life! Ideas developed by Leslie Zimmermann.

MA in Research Psychology, Cum Laude (Witwatersrand University, South Africa),
Post-graduate Diplomate, Accredited Analytical Psychologist (Switzerland)
Member: SAPC (South African Psychoanalytic Confederation)
Member: IAAP (International Association for Analytical Psychology
Member: SAAJA South Africa

IMG_1248About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is an accredited  Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a symbolic perspective including neuropsychological and biological systems.

Posted in Development and Change, Personal Development and Change, Personal Growth, Things to Think About, Want and don't want / Like and don't like | Comments Off on An Essay on Limits ~ Generosity, Qualified by Self-Care | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

When We Become Disguised to Ourselves | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.
La Rochefoucauld

 

Leslie Zimmermann: And often the disguises we use are in place in order to be what others want us to be. Underneath the disguise is “who I actually am”, what I want and what I like.

IMG_1248About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is a Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a symbolic perspective including neuropsychological and biological systems.

Leslie specializes in Analytical Psychology, Voice Dialogue, Life Coaching solutions for business executives. Consulting and coaching for family owned and home-based business
For an appointment Leslie Zimmermann can be contacted on:
Email: leslie.zimmermann@gmail.com
Mobile: +27 (0)83 384 9812

Posted in Personal Development and Change, Things to Think About, Want and don't want / Like and don't like | Comments Off on When We Become Disguised to Ourselves | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

Introduction to Finding Well-Being in Body and Mind: Settling Down Your Body-In-Distress | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

Finding Well-being in

Body and Mind By Settling Your Body-In-Distress

IMG_1248What you want: When your body is in distress. When you are consumed by negative emotions. When you are filled with tension. When your thoughts are chasing after and mirroring your negative emotions… what you want is to experience a sense of well-being in your body and mind once more. One of the ways to settle your body and thus, your tyrannical thinking is diaphragmatic breathing. Although this is not the full story, it’s a great way to start and does have some profound effects.

To make sure you are breathing diaphragmatically, breathe as follows: Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth as if you were sounding a silent “Ha” –  as if you are sighing – a nice full slow sigh out. Not forced. Not too short. Not too gentle. Do this 6-8 times. Although we usually breathe in and out with the nose, this way of breathing for this short period of time “forces” diaphragmatic breathing. It means that you don’t need to concern yourself with whether you are doing it correctly – whether you are breathing deeply in the correct way. People who sing or play wind instruments also exhale through the mouth. This suggests that the breathing exercise proposed above is safe.

In a Pilot Study I conducted last year, this is some of the feedback I received with regard to the breathing component of the technique I tested:

“I have found it to be very useful to come to real awareness as to what’s behind some intense emotions. Some are just momentary and don’t hold for long, and the breathing brings relief and perception quickly, But even with the intense grief behind some of the negative emotions, it still brings a sense of perspective into the situation to do the breathing.”

“Dear Leslie, This study created an awareness of the physical aspect as well as the negative thought patterns that swirl around in one’s head almost mindlessly at times. This recognition helped me tremendously because it made me pause before I reacted, and in this pause, …sense prevailed! Thank you for including me in your study.”

A gynaecologist wrote, “Thanks for inviting me to participate. Maybe you will find it interesting that in the past year, as I take patients’ blood pressure reading in pregnancy and it is slightly elevated I always repeat it. I then tell them to breath slowly in and out three times before repeating it. In virtually 90% of the time there will be a significant reduction of systolic and diastolic values with the repeat measurement. This ties up nicely with your study to show that just breathing deeply has an immediate physical measurable effect…  not new of course being labeled white coat hypertension in the old days. Regards and warm greetings!”

“Thank you Leslie. I did not get many opportunities to submit [for your survey], but when I used the technique, it really works for me in a very powerful way. I will actually continue using it.”

Leslie Zimmermann

MA in Research Psychology, Cum Laude (Witwatersrand University, South Africa),
Post-graduate Diplomate, Accredited Analytical Psychologist (Switzerland)
Member: SAPC (South African Psychoanalytic Confederation)
Member: IAAP (International Association for Analytical Psychology
Member: SAAJA South Africa

About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is a Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a symbolic perspective including neuropsychological and biological systems.

Leslie specializes in Analytical Psychology, Voice Dialogue, Life Coaching solutions for business executives. Consulting and coaching for family owned and home-based business
For an appointment Leslie Zimmermann can be contacted on:
Email: leslie.zimmermann@gmail.com
Mobile: +27 (0)83 384 9812

Posted in Development and Change, Overcoming Negative Emotions, Personal Development and Change, Personal Growth, Want and don't want / Like and don't like | Comments Off on Introduction to Finding Well-Being in Body and Mind: Settling Down Your Body-In-Distress | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

You Are Not A Burden! | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg

You are not a burden!

IMG_1248“What I want:” When you apologize, you are expressing both what you don’t want and what you want namely, I don’t want to feel bad; I want to be accepted and to feel like a good person. How do you change “what I don’t want” to, “what I want”?

Sometimes we may feel bad because we are not being what we think we should be. For example, you may have had a shock and someone who is aware of this, empathetically notes that you are not quite yourself but you immediately apologize for not being “yourself” before the person is even able to continue with what they wanted to say! This suggests that while growing up, you could have learned that you should always be 100% functional, no matter what is going on in your life. Or, that you should not burden others by being vulnerable. Or, that you should think of others before yourself. Apologizing seems to make it right again. But actually, nothing has been made right. You assumed you were being chastised – which you were not! Your emotion and your response happened so quickly that you didn’t even notice that you had just made yourself into a bad person.

In such instances, when you fluctuate in functioning, show regard to yourself, and be mindful towards yourself, by reflecting on the frailties of the human condition – shared by all human beings. When you feel that you are a burden by being vulnerable, be caring towards yourself by allowing yourself to be dependent sometimes. Start being a caring person towards yourself. After all, would you attack a friend if they were more scattered than usual as the result of a shock? If they were in a vulnerable state, would you tell them to go away and contact you again when they are strong again? What you want is to settle your body-in-distress and to return to a feeling of well-being again.

Although we might feel uncomfortable showing vulnerability at work, we often show our vulnerability in indirect ways. For example, when we are not as clear-headed as usual or, when distraction, because we are suffering, or ill, or worried, leads us to make mistakes we wouldn’t usually make… At these times we are vulnerable, frail humans. We feel bad because we have not measured up. We can then show regard and kindness towards ourselves for not measuring up, instead of heavy criticism and feeling bad. We could postpone a discussion until our heads are clear again. We could ask a friend or colleague to read through something we’ve written when we feel distracted (this is being dependent without needing to disclose ones vulnerability). Once we start feeling better about ourselves, through kindness to self, and start thinking about what we need (and want) in that moment, our human strength of mind and past experience could lead to many such solutions.

Leslie Zimmermann

About Leslie

Leslie Zimmermann is a Jungian Analyst trained in the philosophy and psychology of C.G. Jung in Zürich and is based in Johannesburg. She offers a range of services, which she integrates, to meet the needs and aspirations of people. In a word, her work is in the service of wholeness. Wholeness includes both our vulnerabilities and our strengths, becoming conscious of our own unique mix of these, honoring our own unique way of functioning and with this knowledge and confidence, contributing as only we each can in our own way, to this evolving world we find ourselves to be a part of.

Besides having a Diplomate qualification in Analytical psychology, which qualifies me to write about the theory and practice of dream interpretation, I also have an Honours degree in Applied Psychology and a Masters degree in Research psychology, which qualify me to write about theories of human development, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, sociology and ethics. Also, theories and knowledge pertaining to sleep and dreams from a perspective of neuropsychological and biological systems.

Leslie specializes in Analytical Psychology, Voice Dialogue, Life Coaching solutions for business executives. Consulting and coaching for family owned and home-based business
For an appointment Leslie Zimmermann can be contacted on:
Email: leslie.zimmermann@gmail.com
Mobile: +27 (0)83 384 9812

Posted in Overcoming Negative Emotions, Personal Growth, Things to Think About, Want and don't want / Like and don't like | Comments Off on You Are Not A Burden! | Leslie Zimmermann | Accredited Jungian Analyst | Johannesburg