My habit this month has been to be drawn into to World Cup. There only a few sets of fans who actually experience the high pleasure of winning something despite the high expectation of many fans the team often do not deliver the goods (sorry Arsenal and Spurs fans). The fans of those teams and teams like them give a sense of your public expects, so perform the miracle. The actual chances of winning are remote since there is only one prize available, or one or two cups (no-one really cares about this in comparison with life in general). Unfortunately this season my side will more than likely not be in contention for three cups but won’t be in with a chance of any of them! Despite this, I will undoubtedly fall into the trap of going to support them against my better judgment!
I was curious about a 1960’s theory which was originally driven by the Freudian thought that we cannot help but fall into patterns of behaviour based on the conditions of our previous experience. It’s called an Internal working model of attachment and is a psychological approach that attempts to self-value and expectations of others’ reactions to the self. The model concentrates on our relationship with our primary caregivers which become internalized, and is, therefore, an automatic process. Such internal working models guide future behavior as they generate expectations of how attachment figures will respond to one’s behavior. Put simply if you have a father who was violent and abusive then you would look for a partner who displayed those same traits. I have lost count of the number of times that I have heard at the start of therapy clients say that they feel that they always fall into the trap of falling for the wrong partner. I am not completely sold on the theory because I think a lot depends on luck, situation, environment, and other people, but to illustrate this, tendency one of my favourite pieces of writing I have become aware of is An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters. It is reprinted here and is possible that I can do this under the agreement of a free internet 8-week Mindfulness-based stress reduction programme produced by the wonderful Dave Potter as long as I plug it here. I would say that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by completing the course and getting your MBSR Certificate, which you can check out at @ https://palousemindfulness.com. Anyway back to the book
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I still don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. It isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there, I still fall in. It’s habit. It’s my fault. I know where I am. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down a different street.
It’s essentially a poem and or a short book (at which point does a collection of books become a library?) and for me it says many things that yes we do fall into the same behaviour, but that there is always a way out if things become unbearable. There is something appealingly visceral about a piece I heard on the Radio around a year and a half ago, from Professor Stephen Hawking just a few months before he sadly passed away. I carry this around with me in my daily notebook;
“Virtual particles fall into black holes together annihilating each other in the process. However, it is also equally valid that one member of the virtual particles may fall into the black hole, leaving the other member without a partner with which to annihilate. The forsaken particle or antiparticle may fall into the black hole after its partner, but it may also escape to infinity.
The moral of this story is; if you feel that you are in a black hole without escape, don’t give up! There is a way out!
As I am reaching out to the end of this month’s blog I am realising that I have chosen to expound the work of three men already in this month’s blog, so in order to redress the balance, I am going to point you to a practitioner call Tara Brach whose work I love, and she helped me in kicking a smoking habit of decades, (yes counsellors have issues too!). I healed by exploring why? Why did I behave in this way? What was wrong, and how can I heal, make it right? I will keep the answer that I found to myself, but I stopped and stopped happily, not looking back over my shoulder, kidding myself I miss the habit. Here is the practice that helped me arrive at kicking a habit, showed me a different path and that there really is an alternative. Not just one alternative but choices multiplied by infinity.
My way of working is to recognise that we all have choices in life and I don’t necessarily subscribe to the theory that we have a “life blueprint” that is going to happen to us anyway no matter what we do. It’s whether we accept that we are where we are, and that it’s up to us where we go from here. However, sometimes we have to turn toward our difficulties rather than try to escape them and that’s where counselling can come into its own, with a counsellor whom you feel that you can trust, to really explore the why, where you are now and where you wish to go. Hopefully, it’s not to jump into a Black Hole any time soon.