Parts to the Whole.

Falling apart. What an abstract way to describe an metaphysical, yet universal experience – to feel incapable of pulling yourself together. This common phrase reminds me of the Gestalt Theory in psychology, which in short, asserts that the whole is more than the sum of it’s parts. Gestalt is a German word, that can be translated to mean “pattern” or “configuration” – the former suits the direction of this post a little better. Where you are right now, what you are right now, and who you are right now cannot each perform separately while still maintaining the full image of you. This theory also emphasizes awareness and intentionality in your actions and thoughts and the way you connect with your internal, as well as your external environments. Why is this theory important?

Art piece by Emily Wallmeuller (@i_have_no_beef on iinstagram)

When you’re falling apart, it feels like every aspect of your life is being affected all at once, individually and holistically. Understanding that, and being aware of that feeling is not only integral to your ability to keep your pieces tethered, but to be able to eventually begin to congeal into a new version of yourself. “Gestalt therapy is lively and promotes direct experiencing rather than the abstractness of talking about situations” (Corey, 2017). That is why the whole is more than the sum of its parts; when one part changes, so do all the others. All of your aspects being in the same vicinity, but disheveled, deters from the process of a complete change. It is important to realize that as we go through life, change is inevitable and so is pain. We will suffer through many on every cultural level intrinsically, and from the forces that surround us. All the while, it is our unspoken task to keep it together. Rigid and concrete words for such a seemingly impossible task. I believe that in his view of the human, as well as devising a holistic approach to healing his clients, that he probably thought it was important to help the client place all their pieces too.

Yes, as we grow, our minds should expand and come to an understanding that at large, we have very little control over what the future holds. That as we travel, we may drop a piece or two because honestly, we’re just trying to keep it together. Maybe it’s less important that we worry about the pace of time, and more important that we focus on how to effectively maneuver it’s subjective nature, so that we may transform each piece in the most efficient way possible to focus it in the same direction that we want all of the other pieces to go. Truthfully, no one can be on both sides of the fence while remaining fully aware of their subconscious and conscious and how integral they are to the final product? As someone who strives to remain self aware, I have seen the development of my fragments, and how when one of them was changed sooner or later than the others, the end result was undesirable. I couldn’t see where I wanted to be, but I could see growth and that was enough for me to understand that every part of me matters. There is not one single part of you, that should not be at work to create a more developed, experienced, and autonomous you. I challenge you to think about a topic, and how just a year ago, you had completely different feelings about that topic (even if you have to go into minutia). Every bit of you is important, but every bit of you is not you unless you make it so. You decide which parts to abandon or enhance as you transition into your next you.

Special thanks to philosophy for its subjective nature, to Gestalt theory for letting us know that our parts are what make us, and to you for reading my thoughts! ❤

References

Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. 8th ed. Australia ; Belmont, CA: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.

Advertisements

Self-placement.

Abrahm Maslow, a pioneer in the field of psychology, came up with a model that relates to the essential needs that every being unconsciously sustains, called the Hierarchy of Needs. These conceptual needs are ones that everyone needs to survive and most importantly, have an optimum life; in the model, the lowest level need has to be satisfied before the individual can move to and achieve the next. The absence or lack of one of these needs in an individual‘s life can cause mental illness or distress, or what we commonly know as unhappiness. One of the pillars of this model is the need to belong.

How necessary do we feel it is to be a part? Not just any part, but a part that blends in with the others. A puzzle piece that matches the picture on the front of the box. Don’t we all strive to be relative to something? Why is it the magnitude of our desire to belong varies from being to being? There are the obvious approaches of biological, social, and psychological differences, but some people who are placed in similar situations in those aspects grow so uniquely of each other on the basis of their ability to cope with being a part or not.

Before I get too deep into that, I just want to focus on the extent to which we will stretch ourselves so that we can be a part of something – so that we can be the puzzle piece that’s missing. There’s a woman, and her need for belonging is filled in every other way other than a relationship. She wants to be in a relationship so bad, and to experience feeling with a man, that she endures mistreatment that she never thought possible just so that she won’t be alone. At what point does our sense of autonomy kick in and drive us to relieve ourselves from toxic situations that we didn’t mean to become a part of? Some may say instantly, and some may say until you don’t want to feel the pain anymore. My personal experience has found that there are situations I put myself in solely for the purpose of belonging to something, or to someone. It took a diligent fight with external forces and an internal struggle in order for me to free myself from the situation. Sometimes, even after I became unweaved from difficult situations, I had doubts and went back with the mental intent that I would demand change or I wouldn’t be as fully invested is I was the first time – it never happened that way. My desire to belong turned me into someone I didn’t want to be, and transformed from being just a pillar of Maslows theory, to almost an addiction. So the next question is as follows: Why am I subjecting myself to this type of treatment? A question that I’ve asked myself lately.

Growing up is difficult; it’s one of the biggest parts of figuring out where you belong and how you belong. As a person who has felt as though I didn’t belong for most of my life, I am aware that as an adult it is my own responsibility to create a place where I do belong, rather than force myself to be someone who would belong in my circumstances. To say I have been struggling would be an understatement, but I will overcome all growing pains and frustration, as long as I am working towards a goal. To decipher if the person that you’re deciding to be right now, is the person that you want to be in five years, is not an easy task. The only thing that is constant in life is change – wouldn’t it be the same for your sense of belonging? As you go through this next week, think of places where you put yourself in your current life that you do not belong to you. Or rather, think of places where you do belong, and work to put yourself in those positions in a way that will leave you feeling moral and competent and accepted rather than morphed.

Special thanks to Maslow for his hierarchy of needs, to my mind who is fond of raising self-awareness, and to you for reading my thoughts! ❤

To Be Stuck In Time.

I was hiking on the Bankhead trail at Monte Sano state park today, and once I started I saw a tree. The tree was not full, it was broken in half, and it was stagnant on a ledge. “Why didn’t the tree fall down the hill?”, I wondered. The tree was stuck in time. The tree was stuck in space. The tree was stuck. Not by it’s own might, but by the roots from which it grew; it’s foundation. It reminded me how fragile and relative time is. It also reminded me of how so often, too often, we as humans are fixated in time when time is but a concept. When our roots get stuck in places that they don’t belong, whether intentional or unintentional, it causes us to be stuck. We can’t even move if we wanted to, because that movement would end us as our current selves or end somebody else; we would have to restart. It made me wonder, how stuck I am right now? Where have my roots left me? How can I uproot, when it seems that there’s no one around to help me relieve myself of my foundation. That is the question that a lot of us suffer through, that a lot of us try to answer on our own. That is why, we have mental health facilitators, counselors, and therapist.

But what about when we decide to self alleviate? How do we go about doing that? In my own process, I found it’s not easy! There’s sometime where we feel like we’re barely moving, or when we relapse because some roots prove to be an addiction. But I think the biggest part of solving that problem, answering that question, is figuring out how connected we are to those around us who are stuck in time.

Is being stuck in time a product of familiarity, or groupthink? As I go on this journey of forming new foundations, and breaking roots that come from other timelines that are intertwined with mine, I ask you to evaluate your life and time. How are you spending it? Are you stuck? Are you afraid to ask for help, to move?

Special thanks to nature for its relativity even in its silence, to my mind who told me I needed some fresh air, and to you for reading my thoughts! ❤

Eating Like A Rabbit.

Summer of 2018, I went out with two of my friends. We had some drinks and headed to a local club just to dance a little, but once we got there were overwhelmed by the feeling of a desire to be anywhere else. We unanimously decided that we would make tacos and brownies at my apartment, so we got back in the car and went grocery shopping. On the way back home from the store, I felt unwell, but for me to have a stomach ache has been my normal for quite some time so I decided it could have been hunger. The longer time went on, the less bearable the pain became, and it seemed like the only solution was to induce vomiting. Sitting at the toilet bowl with one of the most intense efforts i’d ever made to throw up, I could do nothing but bend over and moan. This wasn’t a normal stomach ache, this wasn’t my normal, but maybe it would pass. After laying on the bathroom floor for what seemed an eternity, my friends opened the door and sounded scared. I didn’t know exactly how I looked, but apparently it wasn’t good. They got me off the floor and put me on the couch. They asked who to call and I told them my mother and my ex-boyfriend, anyone but the ambulance. I was convinced that I could muster the strength to climb down three flights of stairs when I couldn’t even remove myself from the floor not even 5 minutes prior. The ambulance arrived and asked if I’d be able to get down the stairs, I stood up and instantly feel over. I don’t know if rolling down the stairs would’ve been in my best interest, but at that point I felt ready to do anything to avoid paying for an ambul—

I blacked out.

I woke up in a hospital room, a little confused, and to be candid, afraid. Was I dying? What just happened? Where is the doctor? A nurse came in and talked to me and did the procedural things, and asked me a lot of questions which is something that has always inflicted anxiety on my part. After waiting for an hour or two – it could’ve been longer, I was drifting in and out of consciousness – I experienced another surge of pain. I asked for pain medication and was told that I wouldn’t be able to have any until I went in for a scan. Another hour passed, and I was finally sent to get the scan. I laid on the bed and was told not to move while being in excruciating pain. I moaned, I cried, I even tried deep breathing, but it just made the procedure seem longer. I was wheeled back to the room, and for another hour or so drifted in and out of consciousness until the doctor had time to see me. He came in with spunk and spontaneity and said, “well you can either get your gallbladder removed, or you have to eat like a rabbit”. I just found out that I had gallstones, and the professional in the room, who I looked to for encouragement and more information told me to eat like a rabbit. His nonchalant attitude extended even further into the session when I asked for a vomit back and he lazily looked through every drawer in his magical cabinet. Eventually, I just asked if I could use the restroom. I was a pill for the pain, and told that I could leave. I was confused, and afraid to eat anything that wasn’t cheerio’s and blueberries for at least a month afterwards.

I write this particular blog to say that this is why the integration of psychology necessary in the hospital setting. Not only for the sake of the patient, but because every physician, nurse, and health care practitioner at times need to be reminded that the diagnoses and prognoses that they give patients impact their immediate lives. I learned how to cope with my situation, but there are days when I cry in pain or simply in dismay that I don’t know any other solution to what I’m going through. If I get my gallbladder removed will the problems stop? How long will it be until I can eat normally again? Is this my new normal

Special thanks to my mother and ex-boyfriend for their urgency to help me in my time of need, to my physician who was brutally honest yet greatly unhelpful, and to you for reading my thoughts! ❤

My Adlerian Theory.

One of the parts that I enjoy the most about Adlerian theory is the focus on the impact of environment on the personality, and not simply geographically or in terms of socioeconomics, but the way that we psychologically perceive our environments as individuals and families. For most of my life, I lived in a single parent home with my older sister in blissful poverty, that’s the kind where you’re poor but you don’t really understand the extent. In my frame of mind, my life was normal. Everyone went with the lights off sometimes, everyone ran out of hot water, everyone’s cell phone service got shut off, everyone’s mom cried because she was late on rent again, and everyone was used to it.

That was my perception, and because it was a part of my reality, I didn’t realize that my family was poor because other than the financial upset we were happy. The first time I remember fully recognizing how traumatized I was by my families position, was when we moved into our first house after moving from apartment to apartment for years. My mom was finally able to get my sister and I mattresses, and I was overjoyed because for a while we had been sleeping on pallets (stacked blankets and sheets that you assemble when you sleep on the floor). We finally had our own rooms, windows, and mattresses, and the next immediate thought I had was “I hope mommy can keep up the payment on these”. I registered this as trauma because we weren’t renting the mattresses, they were ours, but the pattern of loss in my life had influenced me to always expect to have something taken away.

Our family constellation was something my mother placed the utmost importance on, and she made sure we knew that if we had no one else, we would only have each other.  My psychological perception of my environment and the impact of my mother forcing our family constellation to work, past any unrecognized birth order issues, has shaped me into the resilient and driven person that I am today.  My life in the scheme of Adlerian theory currently reminds me of the concept of life tasks and how my mothers focus on some more than others have influenced me. My mother fostered my imaginative, and frankly talkative spirit, and encouraged me to be involved in communication of all sorts therefore contributing to my social life tasks. She also concentrated on my intimacy life tasks, due to the fact that I would hit my sister whenever she tried to hug or kiss me. My mother constantly stressed how it was important for me to let my sister express those feelings, and how I should show her the same intimacy even if it was against my inherent will. She also focused a lot on the more traditional style of a woman (I.e. cooking, cleaning and smelling pretty), rather than living myself for who I am and having those abilities. We were constantly doing community service, and were encouraged to work, so our occupational life tasks were developed from a young age.

This post is in no way me over sharing, or secretly expressing the implicit disdain I have for my childhood. With the down times, there were also many good times, probably more memorable than the bad. I’m appreciative that this theory gives me a lens into my past, and helps me see where I need to reorient behaviors due to the way I was directly and indirectly educated. By no means do I blame my mom for anything, and I am happy to feel my future is in my control.

Special thanks to my mother and sister for their unconditional love, to my mind for its willingness to uncover and interpret the past, and to you for reading my thoughts! ❤  

Healthily unattached.

I vividly remember knowing how to be lonely. I was in my room playing quietly, and my mom came in and said something to the effect that I could be an only child because I was so independent. I didn’t mind being alone when I was a child. I didn’t mind the silence. I didn’t mind when my eyes would see something and my brain turned it into something else; my creativity went unsuppresed. Now as an adult, I can’t seem to take myself back to that point. I moved out on my own in a quaint one bedroom, one bath in March. I was so excited to start a new journey of getting to know myself and being ok with being alone…but I couldn’t help the feeling that I needed someone there. I had lived with people my entire life up to that point, and never even realized that I had attatchment issues until one night both of my roommates planned to leave and spend time with their boyfriends, and I caught an attitude, making one of my friends feel like she needed to stay home. “How could she leave me like that?” I thought. “She knows I don’t like to be alone.”

Abandonment issues. My father passed away in 2008 on my birthday. We found him in his house with my brothers (our dogs) sitting next to him crying. There had never been a more heart-wrenching and unbelievable day until that day. The day a man I’d known for 11 years just left. Then a few years after that his brother abandoned me, and then a few years after that some other father figures in my life left. It made me begin to think of who was the true one leaving. How could it be that everyone leaves me without me first leaving them? Was I doing something wrong? Now as I ask myself those same questions, that I invariably have no answer to, I wade through the decision to come to terms with the fact that those relationships are in a sense dead, and it is my job to form new healthy relationships that don’t involve me clinging on to someone so tight because I’m afraid I’ll lose them, and then when they start to cling to me, letting them go. What a horrible cycle to be in, and how confusing it is that I had to be lonely in order to conceptualize this process. This reminds me of the other blog I wrote about staying in places that aren’t for us, and the same attachment that I so readily placed on other people in my life, I neglected to give to myself. How it feels to be attached to me, to finally be one with myself, to understand my mind when I’m upset because no one else seems to. That is the beauty in loneliness, and the loneliness in beauty. I challenge you to make a decision to make healthy attachments, whether you struggle with attaching negative events to positive memories, how you looked at a certain time to how you look now, or positive people to negative events, take some time to think about it. Then take time to think how insignificant those attachments are in parallel with the world around us and the universe. We are all here to live a life of beauty and subjective opulence, why should we obstruct that by objectifying relationships with unhealthy habits? Be attached to nothing, and be prepared for everything.

Special thank to my father for his gift of laughter and love, to father figures who gracefully parted ways and laid a piece of the foundation for who I am today, and to you for reading my thoughts! ❤

Let’s get personal.

Health psychology, to me, is best explained as the integration of public and mental health. Therefore disseminating information about mental well-being, psychological fact and theory, and why their important are most of what I’ll be sharing on this blog. I may not be consistent, I may be too vulnerable, and at times I may use this platform to talk about other things; ultimately it is my hope that by being a proud over-sharer and lover of all things informative, someone will learn something knew whether it’s about me or you.



Special thanks to WordPress for their medium, to my mind for its willingness to share, and you for stopping by. ❤