Affirmations …

Affirmations … One more thing that must be mentioned here is the power and use of verbal instructions: affirmations. 

affirmation-tree-mindmap

Psychotherapists call the use of words in this way ‘ego strengthening’.  Others speak simply of affirmations.   Louise Hay has written whole books on the subject of changing our perceptions of ourselves by changing the way we think about ourselves, and she suggests the use of visualisation together with affirmations, because the one strengthens the other. So what exactly is an affirmation?  Stuart Wilde (1987, p16) proposes the following definition:

 “An affirmation is, in effect, a statement either of word, thought, feeling, or action that underlines or confirms a belief pattern that you hold. There are negative or positive affirmations.”

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There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at: sue@suewashington.com

See also www.cringedump.com

Fantasy, films and TV

The inner journey with Joanne was written about ysterday.  It came up and occurred spontaneously within a therapy session.  It is an example of how individual a symbolic journey can be, and also how powerful.  If we accept the research finding reported by Syer & Connolly, that nerve pathways are widened by the use of mental techniques, then it is easy to see that a mythical or symbolic journey like this does in fact ‘get into’ a real place somewhere in the hidden part of ourselves, and can in fact influence our lives tremendously. 

Popular Fantasy, both films and books really reflect a desire to access our symbolic selves. The simple reality is that we can access our deepest parts, and bring about profound changes as quickly and simply as Joanne did as mentioned in the last posting.

Most film makers use symbolism.  When it starts to rain it is often symbolic of tears.  If a character is going to be imprisoned either physically or emotionally they are seen behind bars be it erect lances (“Last of the Mohicans”)or  a balustrade. In “It’s a Wonderful Life” the director uses a diagonal clothes line to divide our hero George Bailey from his guardian angel Clarence.  Other films will describe a ‘journey’ of ‘trials’ like “Pan’s Labyrinth”.  There are many, echoing Homer in Greek myths.  You can perhaps start to look at films in that way!

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at: sue@suewashington.com

Symbolism: The journey from illegitimacy to legitimacy – a case history

The following inner journey with Joanne came up and occurred spontaneously within a therapy session.  It is an example of how individual a symbolic journey can be, and also how powerful.  If we accept the research finding reported by Syer & Connolly, that nerve pathways are widened by the use of mental techniques, then it is easy to see that a mythical or symbolic journey like this does in fact ‘get into’ a real place somewhere in the hidden part of ourselves, and can in fact influence our lives tremendously. 

Joanne

Joanne is a very self-aware individual – someone who has spent a large portion of her life looking at the reasons her life is the way it is.  Although she doesn’t believe in pre-destiny as such, some of the events in her life, and her apparent powerlessness in the face of them makes her tend towards the idea of karmic retribution – or that somehow the misfortunes in her life may be a kind of a repayment for ‘previous’ wrongs.

Before seeking help in her personal explorations, Joanne had concluded that much of her sense of not being quite connected to the events in her life stemmed from a gap in her very early years.  She was adopted at the age of three months, after apparently having been somewhat neglected by her teenage mother.  Her adoptive parents were wonderful, and she grew up secure in the knowledge of her specialness and of how dearly she was loved and wanted.  A single, very dark cloud on the horizon was the fact that her biological parents were not married.  She discovered that she was illegitimate at the age of about 9, when she understood the full implications of this fact.  To her, at nine years old, illegitimate meant ‘not legal’.  Illegitimate meant ‘no right to be here’.

Suddenly to the adult Joanne it became very clear that her lifelong insecurity and shyness was related to the idea of not really having a right to take up the space she occupied.  She also made the interesting connection that her frequent complicated dealings with lawyers and the legal system over the purchase of houses and so on echoed the idea that she was ‘not legal.’

Using mental imaging, or creative visualisation, Joan placed herself on a sunny mountainside in front of the entrance to a dark cave.  Gingerly she entered the cave, and armed herself with armour from the armoury at the entrance to the cave.  Suitably protected, she took the flaming torch from the wall and proceeded down a dark passage.  The floor was sloping downwards, and each step took her deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth, and further and further away from the safe sunshine outside.  The incline became steeper and steeper downwards, till she reached a series of stairs cut into the rock.  She started down the stairs, and discovered that on each step a letter was carved.  Going from step to step, she soon saw that the steps read ‘ILLEGITIMATE’.  Stepping off the last step, she found her passage blocked by a small locked door.

Determined, she managed to pry the door open, and inside she found a small room, stacked to the ceiling with cardboard boxes.  On each box was written an attribute that had caused her distress throughout her life.  She saw ‘no confidence’, ‘useless’, ‘ugly’, ‘’no right’ and many more.

Each box seemed to be suspended from the ceiling by a white cord, and it seemed important to her that the first thing she had to do was to disconnect these boxes from the cords that bound them, and using the sword with which she had armed herself, she set about cutting the boxes free.

When she had done that, she was satisfied, and didn’t feel the need to go any further at that stage, so she left the room and found, to her delight that the word spelled by the steps had changed to ‘LEGITIMATE’, and that each step upwards was an uplifting experience, where her legs became stronger, and her heart became bolder. Finally she reached the sunny mountainside, and sat there for a while, enjoying the bright sunshine after the dark dankness of the cave.

After her inner journey, Joanne reported feeling a great deal brighter and happier.  She was also aware that she wanted to go back to the little room, because she wanted to look inside some of the boxes, and probably even destroy them.  For now she felt that having cut the white cords that bound them together, and probably to her life, she could choose the time she would go back and ‘finish the job’.

There are of course universal journeys – and Joanne’s journey contained some universal elements. It is easy to identify some of these, such as the downward movement, and the protection by magical weapons – but they also served a pragmatic purpose.  And so it is with most personal mythological stores.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at: sue@suewashington.com

Mental images enacted in our lives …

Much interesting work has grown out of Jung’s theories.  One in particular springs to mind, and that is the work of Dora Kalff from Germany.  She is the pioneer of what has come to be called ’Sandplay Therapy’, which consists of constructing a picture or scene in a sand tray.  Toys and symbols are used to create a picture in the sand.  Recorded over time, these pictures or images produce a fascinating window on the hidden part of the mind, and the process of their creation has a powerful therapeutic effect on the psyche.  The basis of the therapy is non-verbal, and the role of the therapist is as witness and support for the unfolding journey of the client.

Mental images can be used in a similar way.  Each of us has our own story or myth, which we are enacting in our lives.  When our lives ‘don’t work’ for whatever reason, we can help ourselves to cope better by discovering the reason for our difficulty and by recognising that our lives are in effect our own hero’s journey.  Our difficulty may stem from ‘faulty programming’ or inappropriate ideas we hold about ourselves, usually dating from a distant childhood time; from too much stress; ill health, or any of a number of problems which can beset us on our journey.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at: sue@suewashington.com

Wonderful dream! “Too many irons in the fire”

The use of myth in ancient and traditional ‘psychology’ establishes a good precedent for us to follow.  It is probably worthwhile to take the time to learn the symbolic language of the unconscious.  By beginning to understand the messages that come from the unconscious – both our own, in the form of dreams and images, and that from the minds of others, through the use of world myth and fairytale – we can begin to formulate messages from our conscious to our unconscious.

In the last couple of weeks I had a dream.  It was like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walking around in a fiery furnace – only mine weren’t Jewish princes with a devotion to God but lions.  A whole pride of them.  They were healthy and unharmed by the flames and I woke with a strong recall of the dream wondering what my unconscious was trying to tell me!  I always have a ‘lot on’ and get involved in projects and so on.  I’ve always done so!  However, as I thought, and the dream stayed with me, I realised that it wasn’t LIONS that were in the fire but IRONS!  It was also somehow tangled up with my pride.

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As a rider, it didn’t take me long to cease a couple of interests … let a lion or two out – and am bent on doing some more!

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at: sue@suewashington.com

Creation myths – Summer/Winter, murder explained …

To follow on from the last posting, keeping our brains (both left and right) safely in their place, let us return to the idea of myth, with which we began this chapter.  Myth is really nothing more than a symbolic communication on a collective or general scale.  Communication that comes out of the individual unconscious seems to be in the form of symbols (for example dreams) so it makes sense to use the same terminology to communicate in the other direction.

Early man used myth to make sense of his world, and different cultures used different myths to describe the same events.  Take the myth of creation – the Babylonians told of, “The Epic of Gilgamesh”.  In it, the world is made of water, and Gilgamesh sets off to slay the chaos dragon.  He eventually kills it and cuts it in half, putting half of it below his feet, the earth – and the other half above his head as the firmament, or heaven.  Many of us are more familiar with the Jewish or Biblical version, wherein God created heaven and earth in seven days.  Myth and stories were also used to explain human behaviour.  The Greeks used Pandora’s box to explain the presence of trouble and difficulties in daily life. They then used the story of Persephone eating six pomegranate seeds when they had been forbidden, to explain why we had six months of light and ‘summer’ and 6 months of darkness and ‘winter’. The Jews used Eve’s taking the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in an attempt to explain the presence of hardship in life.  The slaying of Abel by Cain, likewise, was the attempt to explain murder in our society.  The Tower of Babel was taught to explain why humans had different tongues, and Abram and his children by Sarah and Hagar the two major religions of the time of Judaism and Islaam.  Abram himself, scholars decided was not a person at all, but a personification of tribal movements!

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at: sue@suewashington.com

Visualisation: Do what our athletes do – for yourself!

Visualisation: Do what our athletes do – for yourself!  This is what the practitioners and writers Syer & Connolly say in their book about using the mind in sport:

“Visualisation is a skill.  It is the process of watching yourself on a screen in your mind’s eye, consciously evoking and guiding daydreams in which you appear, usually towards a specific end.  The academic term for this technique is mental imaging.  We keep the common usage ‘visualisation’, but it is important to remember that visualisation includes an auditory and kinaesthetic (feeling) component.  In other words, if you visualise yourself moving, you may see, hear and feel yourself moving.  In most visualisation the kinaesthetic sense is particularly important.”      

Although these words were written a while ago, and with sports performance in mind, they remain essentially true and relevant to other aspects of life as well.  Visualisation is essentially a right brain, or creative exercise, and as such, may prove a bit of a challenge to the many of us who function predominantly using our left-brain.  It is a challenge and not an impossibility, and in fact quite easy via states of altered awareness, which will be discussed at great length later.  The ‘challenge’ part lies in being able to remain ‘open’ to ideas which may be totally foreign to us, and which we may consider a waste of time.

There is a great deal ‘out there’ about and surrounding what is commonly called visualisation techniques, and much of it is associated with rather ‘spaced out’ and alternative philosophies.  To ignore the proven value of such techniques on the basis of possible questionable associations is of the order of tossing out the baby with the bath water.  The sensible course is to keep an open mind, but not quite so open that our brains fall out!

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at: sue@suewashington.com

Is this how the crocus is?

Then and there I invented this rule for myself to be applied to every decision I might have to make in the future.  I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness, and other things being equal I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side.  I think it must be a rule something like this that makes jonquils and crocuses come pushing through the cold mud.

Katherine Butler Hathaway

Mental imaging will’ve been used by our Olympians!

There is a technique called ‘mental imaging’ by the academic establishment.  It will undoubtedly have been used by our Olympians.

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Positive results have come from research into this technique.  Syer and Connolly (1984) list the following benefits of Mental Imaging:

  • 1. It affects physical functioning – research into biofeedback techniques has demonstrated the ability of the mind to do this.

2.  It accelerates the learning process – physical practise involves nerve impulses running from muscles to the brain. This widens the pathway between muscles and brain used by these signals, in a similar way to the way a path is worn across the field by many walkers.  Mental imaging has been found to cause a similar effect – therefore mental practise can be very powerful and as useful as physical practise.

3. It uses a language the body understands. The body does not communicate by words, it communicates by seeing and feeling – visually / kinaesthetically.

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Regarding the theoretical back up of Sue’s working practices which was spoken about in the last posting, there are mountains of research data on the nature and function of the two halves or hemispheres of our brain.  The differentiation into ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’ is a well-known concept within popular psychology.  The left-brain is said to deal with matters of logical and concrete significance, while the right brain is the ‘creative’ or ‘intuitive’ side.

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at: sue@suewashington.com

Theoretical back up of Sue’s working practices

Regarding the theoretical back up of Sue’s working practices, there are mountains of research data on the nature and function of the two halves or hemispheres of our brain.  The differentiation into ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’ is a well-known concept within popular psychology.  The left-brain is said to deal with matters of logical and concrete significance, while the right brain is the ‘creative’ or ‘intuitive’ side.

Following this model, entry into an altered state is said to proceed via the right brain.  Techniques of guided visualisation and mind control use the creative faculty of the mind to change attitudes and destructive beliefs in life.  In the words of Marilee Zdenek, in her book “The Right Brain Experience” (1983, p 60):

“How can anyone rise above a limitation that is self-imposed?  The internal judge has the last word.  … Two conditions are essential for success; positive thinking and positive feeling.  The first is a product of your analytical self; the second is a product of your emotional self.”

If this is true, and our experience and the experience of many others says that it is – then two things are necessary to bring about change – there needs to be a change in thought and belief as well as change in feeling.  So how can this be achieved?  A change in thinking seems possible – we can change our minds, and almost all that we have discussed so far relates changing the way we think about ourselves.  Modern psychotherapy has shown that it is possible to bring about tremendous change using techniques that access only the conscious part of the brain.  But these changes are slow, and in most instances require the presence of another human being.  After all, it is not very satisfactory to talk to a wall (as Shirley Valentine proved! (Russell 1988)).  So, reading this book, all alone, with nothing but a wall for company, we clearly need to work not only on the mental level, but also on the emotional level.  So how are we to do this?  Emotions, or certainly that which influences them, seems to be beyond our conscious control.  The way we feel seems to come from somewhere very deep inside, somewhere from that dark and shady place psychology calls the unconscious.  Some feelings are easier to change than others.  Sometimes it is possible to lift our mood or state of mind by changing our thoughts, but some feelings are so basic and profound that we can’t seem to reach them …

There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”.  Download chapter 1 free now!

There are helpful free downloads at: sue@suewashington.com