Psycle Cycling on existential thoughts Tue, 23 May 2023 09:23:39 +0000 en daily 1 Therapist to therapist with Tiffany M. <p>Today, a new kind of “series” will start running on the blog. This new thing will be called “Therapist to therapist” and it is practically me asking a bunch of questions to some master therapists out there!</p> <p>First on the list is Tiffany M., whom I consider something as a virtual mentor. Her super helpful website <a href="" title="">“Hey Tiffany”</a> is totally dedicated to young therapists out there trying to to build a successful practice. If you haven’t been there already, RUN there, now!</p> <p>Tiffany M. is (probably a superhuman) Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who holds a private practice in San Francisco. She has a Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology. She works psychodynamically with a psychoanalytic background. I admire her combination of humour and serious work and her fresh way of thinking. I’m glad I found her in this deep sea of the web. She decided to make a video response to my interview questions! Without further ado, here she is!</p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p>"Therapist to therapist with Tiffany M."</p> Fri, 08 Jul 2016 13:24:44 +0000 Where the birds always sing <p>Death is so common and yet it manages to startle me every single time. Do you ever get used to the natural process of things? Do you ever get used to the pain one’s absence leaves you with? And if you could, would you want to?</p> <p>These last days all I hear about is people dying or people getting serious issues - physical or mental. It’s that disruption of the normal-ness that annoys me, too. But what is ever normal? We’re lucky to have normal days. However, this is totally dissonant with our experience as human beings (and with the presentation I have to give on Sunday about stress - talk about irony!). We think we’ll be there tomorrow to finish our conversation with that particular someone, we think we’ll get to hug our partner the next time we’ll see each other, we get really anxious about our future and how this future will turn out to be. Am I gonna make the right choices? Am I gonna marry the right person, am I gonna do the right job, will I ever be happy? Of course we need this potential future to be there, how else would we do anything again otherwise?</p> <p>But it’s not just that we need it. We’re totally immersed in this safety bubble. We literally forget that our time here is brief. So, so brief. And we can cry all we want to, but it ain’t gonna change a thing (trust me, I’ve tried). Today, a person I value deeply came really close to death, without having any serious health issues before. Death can be so intrusive, so disruptive, so violent. Life after death, too.</p> <p>I’m afraid to lose the people I love. But I’m afraid I’ll have to, sooner or later. Yalom says the idea of death can save us, but can it save the people we love, too? Ok I know that’s not what Yalom meant, but having lived an unlived life is one thing, having to survive without the ones you love is totally another. And it’s that life that can be scarier for me, than anything else.</p> <p>I think The Cure have very well articulated what I’m trying to say, in their song “where the birds always sing”.</p> <blockquote> <p>But the world is neither just nor unjust It's just us trying to feel that there's some sense in it No, the world is neither just nor unjust And though going young So much undone Is a tragedy for everyone It doesn't speak a plan or any secret thing No unseen sign or untold truth in anything... But living on in others, in memories and dreams Is not enough You want everything Another world where the sun always shines And the birds always sing Always sing…</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, living on in memories is really, truly not ever going to be enough.</p> <p><a href="" title=""></a></p> <p><img src="" alt="" title="" /></p> <p>image from "<a href="" title="The Guardian">the Guardian</a>"</p> Mon, 08 Jun 2015 22:43:34 +0000 Lena Dunham on death <p>I recently read Lena Dunham’s book Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”. I love Lena Dunham for a million different reasons and as the book shows, we share a mutual death anxiety from a very young age.</p> <p>Yet another time, I’m writing about death! This blog isn’t much fun, is it?</p> <p>She writes:</p> <blockquote> <p>As a little kid, an unnamed fear would often overtake me. It wasn't a fear of anything tangible – tigers, burglars, homelessness – and it couldn't be solved by usual means like hugging my mother or turning on Nickelodeon shows. The feeling was cold and resided just below my stomach. It made everything around me seem unreal and unsafe."</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, death can do that. It’s a cruel thing to think upon, even more when you’re a little child.</p> <p>She also writes that she used to have a serious sleep problem (just like I've had) and that for her,</p> <blockquote> <p>...sleep equaled death. How was closing your eyes and losing consciousness any different from death? What separated temporary loss of consciousness from permanent obliteration?”</p> </blockquote> <p>Good question, Lena. And not one to dismiss easily, I’m afraid. She keeps writing:</p> <blockquote> <p>I think a fair amount about the fact that we’re all going to die. It occurs to me at incredibly inopportune moments — I’ll be standing in a bar, having managed to get an attractive guy to laugh, and I’ll be laughing, too, and maybe dancing a little bit, and then everything goes slo-mo for a second and I’ll think: Are these people aware that we’re all going to the same place in the end? I can slip back into conversation and tell myself that the flash of mortality awareness has enriched my experience, reminded me to just go for it in the giggling and hair-flipping and speaking-my-mind departments because . . . why the hell not? But occasionally the feeling stays with me, and it reminds me of being a child — feeling full of fear but lacking the language to calm yourself down. I guess, when it comes to death, none of us really has the words.</p> <p>I wish I could be one of those young people who seems totally unaware of the fact that her gleaming nubile body is, in fact, fallible. (Maybe you have to have a gleaming nubile body to feel that way.) Beautiful self-delusion: Isn’t that what being young is all about? You think you’re immortal until one day when you’re around sixty, it hits you: you see an Ingmar Bergman-y specter of death and you do some soul searching and possibly adopt a kid in need. You resolve to live the rest of your life in a way you can be proud of. But I am not one of those young people. I’ve been obsessed with death since I was born. […]</p> <p>The fact is I had been circling the topic of death, subconsciously, for some time. Growing up in Soho in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was aware of AIDS and the toll it was taking on the creative community. Illness, loss, who would handle the art and the real estate and the medical bills — these topics hovered over every dinner party. As many of my parents’ friends became sick, I learned to recognize the look of someone suffering — sunken cheeks, odd facial spotting, a sweater that no longer fit. And I knew what it meant: that person would soon become a memorial, the name on a prize given to visiting students, a distant memory.”</p> </blockquote> <p>When it comes to death, age doesn’t matter. Death has such an ugly face. But it’s the idea of death, as Yalom has said so many times, that can save us, can awaken us to lead a life more conscious. Lena Dunham has also expressed this in her own words:</p> <blockquote> <p>I thought about all the things I hoped to get done in my life and realised: I'd better get cracking. I can never spend a whole afternoon watching a Singled Out marathon again if this is what's going to happen.”</p> </blockquote> <p>And here I am, having spent a whole afternoon watching a “Mystery Jets” live on youtube and looking at photos of Northern France.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" title="not that kind of girl" /> image from <a href="" title="">here</a>.</p> Sun, 30 Nov 2014 17:13:28 +0000 A Spark of Existential Therapy in Greece <p>"In the beginning of October, I was lucky enough to participate in a two-day workshop with Dr. Kirk Schneider, here in Athens, Greece! It was organized by “gignesthai,” the Hellenic association for Existential Psychology. I’ll write to you about this experience, with my own little words and from where I stand today. Maybe if I wrote this post some days later, I would focus on totally different things. I couldn’t possibly bring to you all of what happened there, or all of the wonderful things Dr. Schneider said to us, but I’ll share with you my personal experience (along with a lot of quotes), hoping that I’ll do it justice (and if he ever reads this piece he won’t feel disappointed; oh, the angst!).</p> <p>The workshop started with Dr. Schneider asking a girl from the group this simple (?) question: “How are you?” She answered, and he posed the question again for a few more times, saying there are many layers of asking, and he could keep asking her, but he actually had to stop for the sake of the workshop’s purpose! What amazed me was his stance during his asking that question. He was so relaxed, tranquil even, so open to what he was going to hear. I can’t imagine myself asking this (or any question for that matter) repeatedly, with such kindness and eagerness in my face and body. I suppose I would feel anxious about what the other person would answer, but then again maybe that’s my personal burden, this anxiety that’s hugging me like a super cute but also asphyxiating little bear."</p> <p>Read the rest of my post for the New Existentialists blog <a href="" title="here.">here.</a></p> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 12:49:17 +0000 Think positive; or maybe don't <p>“Think positive” was my motto when I was in high school and my my most hated expression some years after college. Seasons change for sure, but what has since remained quite the same is my slight aversion for excessive positive thinking. Let me be clear; I do not hate all positive thinking, I just hate it when it’s unrealistic. And now, to my amazement, research shows it might not even help you as much as you’d expect. Thank you research. For once, I like you.</p> <p>Gabriele Oettingen, a professor of psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg, and her colleagues have conducted studies that:</p> <blockquote> <p>Fantasizing about happy outcomes — about smoothly attaining your wishes — didn’t help. Indeed, it hindered people from realizing their dreams. Why doesn’t positive thinking work the way you might assume? As my colleagues and I have discovered, dreaming about the future calms you down, measurably reducing systolic blood pressure, but it also can drain you of the energy you need to take action in pursuit of your goals.</p> </blockquote> <p>A-ha! So you ought to find a balance between energetic pursuit of your dreams, with a spoon of positive thinking and two cups of realism. Realism, is not the same as negative thinking, and I feel the need to underline this, because some people might think it means so. Gabriele Oettingen writes:</p> <blockquote> <p>Some critics of positive thinking have advised people to discard all happy talk and “get real” by dwelling on the challenges or obstacles. But this is too extreme a correction. Studies have shown that this strategy doesn’t work any better than entertaining positive fantasies.</p> <p>What does work better is a hybrid approach that combines positive thinking with “realism.” Here’s how it works. Think of a wish. For a few minutes, imagine the wish coming true, letting your mind wander and drift where it will. Then shift gears. Spend a few more minutes imagining the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing your wish.</p> <p>This simple process, which my colleagues and I call “mental contrasting,” has produced powerful results in laboratory experiments. When participants have performed mental contrasting with reasonable, potentially attainable wishes, they have come away more energized and achieved better results compared with participants who either positively fantasized or dwelt on the obstacles.</p> <p>When participants have performed mental contrasting with wishes that are not reasonable or attainable, they have disengaged more from these wishes. Mental contrasting spurs us on when it makes sense to pursue a wish, and lets us abandon wishes more readily when it doesn’t, so that we can go after other, more reasonable ambitions.</p> </blockquote> <p>“Reasonable ambitions” sounds plausible! One can always dream for world peace though :p</p> <p><img src="" alt="" title="what-you-think" /></p> <p>photo from google</p> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:12:04 +0000 2551 Saturdays <p>"There’s a website called 4000Saturdays and, among other things on the site, it contains a life calculator. You enter your birth date, and it calculates how many Saturdays you have lived and how many more you will live (if we take as given that 4000 Saturdays is the average number of Saturdays in a person’s life).</p> <p>The website tells me I have about 2551 more Saturdays left to enjoy. Oh my God! Today, the day I chose to do this little calculation, is indeed, a Saturday, and a very dull one. I can’t live any more Saturdays like this! Life’s too short, 2551 Saturdays are not that much! I have to do something! So what do I do? I panic."</p> <p>This is a guest post I did for the <a href="" title="The New Existentialists">New Existentialists</a> blog. Read the rest of it <a href="" title="here">here</a>.</p> <p>Discuss it on <a href="" title="reddit">reddit</a>.</p> Wed, 28 May 2014 13:47:55 +0000 Happiness is overrated <p>Everyone wants to be happy. Emmy van Deurzen asks</p> <blockquote> <p>Is happiness possible? Or even, is happiness desirable?</p> </blockquote> <p>For most people, it is. Every magazine I know, has at least one article about “how to be happy”. But what is happiness?</p> <p>According to wikipedia, “Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy”. It is also mentioned, that “happiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean many different things to many people.” True, that. It could be having what I want, feeling good, having a good time, a state of bliss etc.</p> <p>Whatever happiness is, we have made it such a big deal. Happiness is a nasty goal, for happiness only lasts for no more than a couple of hours. No one is happy all the time (and if you know one, maybe he’s on something). Aim for happiness and you’ll probably be disappointed.</p> <p>Happiness, for me, is something internal. Like a state of mind which you either have or haven’t. And it comes from having a purpose in life, doing things that have a deeper meaning for you. Because meaning lasts, happiness doesn’t, as <a href="" title="scientific american">recent research</a> shows. Of course, van Deurzen is right when she says to have little goals that you can achieve in a rather short amount of time, or you may be lost on the way. It’s crucial that you can meet up the challenges life throws your way.</p> <p>To get back to what I was saying about every magazine I know (and their 10 do-this-and-you’ll-be-happier lists), they seem to imply that happiness is the basic step and everything else will follow. If I am happier, things will be better. Isn’t that a bit off? Of course our stances and moods colour our worldviews, but you can’t just start being happy. Lists tell you to exercise, to meditate, to cut down on your facebook time, to laugh. Well, shouldn’t these behaviours derive from being happy rather than be the prerequisite of happiness? This has always been very confusing for me.</p> <p>Sure, there’s biology and endorphins and getting out of your house to jog, will, eventually, bring you some highs. But lows are around the corner if you’re not pre-happy. Pre-happy, meaning being in a state of a somewhat internal bliss. But even that, is not always possible. Life’s full of difficulties and agony and happy-go-lucky lists tend to forget that. It’s like you have to ignore the hardships, but how is that doable? And why would we want that? Our lives are full of conflicts and loss and pain. And getting through these hard steps makes us grow. So, it seems more important to build resilience, than happiness. At least it seems more important to me, because the hards are always there and wishing to just be happy is like wishing for the weather to always be sunny. Impossible.</p> <blockquote> <p>Being cured of all difficulties is the death of possibility and creativity</p> </blockquote> <p>says van Deurzen and I couldn’t agree more. If nothing changes, nothing new is born.</p> <blockquote> <p>You can’t eliminate problems, but you can learn how to thrive upon them”</p> </blockquote> <p>(to quote Emmy van Deurzen yet again), and that what’s therapy is all about.</p> <p>I hope you know I don’t have something against happiness, I, too, want to be happy. But I don’t want happiness to be my only goal. I want to love the life I’m living, I want meaning, I want to have a life with a sense of fulfillment at the very end. And you can only achieve this by finding what really is important for you, what matters to you and then find a way to live by this. Of course it’s not always easy, but it actually worths the try.</p> <p>Apart from my “I’ve had it with happiness talk”, this post is hugely inspired by and based on Emmy van Deurzen’s book “Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness”. You can find a relative slideshow <a href="" title="here">here</a>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" title="6nights" /></p> <p>photo from <a href="" title="6nights">six nights</a> project, by Katerina Paspaliari</p> <p>Discuss it on <a href="" title="reddit">reddit</a>.</p> Mon, 05 May 2014 22:37:10 +0000 What should we think about death? <p>This is the title of a short Humanist animation about death, afterlife, and living in the here and now, narrated by Stephen Fry. I think it greatly points out various existential ideas in a short amount of time. People try to forget about death most of the time, but this video argues that the finitude of life is what gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. "</p> <blockquote> <p>Imagine eating an endless cake, where would be the fun in that?,</p> </blockquote> <p>asks Fry, in the video. Well, I don't know about you but I wouldn't mind a never-ending ice cream. Nonetheless, life is finite, "death is a natural part of life".</p> <p>Great video. Worths your time, if you're ready to seriously wonder upon how you live your life.</p> <div id="fb-root"></div> <script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> <div class="fb-post" data-href="" data-width="466"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><a href="">Post</a> by <a href="">British Humanist Association</a>.</div></div> <p>Written &amp; produced by the British Humanist Association, and narrated by Stephen Fry. Animated by Hyebin Lee.</p> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 15:02:22 +0000 Why do today what you can do tomorrow? <p>I mean, really. Tomorrow is another great day, waiting there for you to do things. Why bother doing everything today?</p> <p>Existentialists might argue that life won't be there forever, that tomorrow might never come. With that on mind, I'm seriously asking you, if tomorrow you're not alive and kicking, why spend so many hours today, doing the most boring stuff there is on earth? If someone told you you're going to die soon, would it really matter to you to get this paper done, or would you rather going out with some friends?</p> <p>The truth is, you're always postponing something. It's either work, or pleasure (among other things). Of course work is important and sometimes it can't be postponed, deadlines are over your head. That doesn't mean that pleasure isn't as important as work though. I'm a person that almost always puts work first, but some day I realized work is never finished and I haven't seen my friends for over a month. You're always not doing something, but it is crucial that you decide what you want your life to be about. Can it be all work? Can it be all play? Which one you'll put off today?</p> <p>These last days, I seem to procrastinate an awful lot. I used to think that procrastination is a very bad thing that should never happen to creative people, to people “who get the work done”. Then again, I thought to myself, I can’t always do my best and that’s actually very ok. No one can be absolutely efficient all the time. That whole procrastination thing used to make me feel a lot of guilt and anger, but somehow, something changed. I don’t perceive it as so bad now. I do a lot of things while procrastinating, I’m not just sitting idly on my bed. But even if I did, it would be all right, it could even be needed in some circumstances. Sometimes I just want to watch “The Mentalist” all night long. There’s some beauty in giving in, too.</p> <p>I have been reading a lot about procrastination lately. Different authors, different interpretations of the concept of procrastination and the procrastinator. But unless you know the person who procrastinates, you cannot know why he’s doing so. It’s a too general idea to make out some one-fits-all conclusions. To speak for myself, I don’t even procrastinate for the same reasons every time I do it, so how could I speak for another person?</p> <p>Then I came across John Perry (Professor Emeritus, Stanford University) and his idea of structured procrastination. I let the man speak for his concept and I quote:</p> <blockquote> <p>All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.</p> <p>Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.</p> </blockquote> <p>Structured procrastination. Genius. He also goes as far as to recommend procrastination and he writes:</p> <blockquote> <p>Non-procrastinators are inevitably ignorant. Suppose you really never put off until tomorrow what you could do today. You'd have to work right up to midnight every night. So you would never be able to watch John Stewart or Stephen Colbert or David Letterman. So you wouldn't know anything about current events and their deeper meanings. That would be irresponsible.</p> </blockquote> <p>Listen to the man. He is Professor Emeritus of Stanford University. He must know what he’s talking about, right?</p> <p>You can find more on his concept of structured procrastination <a href="" title="here">here</a>. You can find out his blog entry “Procrastinating Tips: 9 Reasons To Slack Off”, on <a href="" title="Huffington Post">Huffington Post</a>.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" title="Ellen is always right" /></p> <p>Ellen is always right.</p> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:48:48 +0000 Philosophy meets Cara Delevingne <p>Today's post is about two things:</p> <p>a. A great attempt by philosophers to bring a philosopher's view to current news, like Daily mail does but with a different kind of look. I think it's mainly created by Alain De Botton, but it's not all exclusively his work. Their website is called <a href="" title="&quot;The Philosophers' Mail&quot;">"The Philosophers' Mail"</a> (pun with Daily Mail intended).</p> <p>b. An article of theirs that has to do with beauty, youth, personality, and aging, all of them combined in the face of the world's super model crush, Cara Delevingne.</p> <p>On their article there is a paragraph saying this:</p> <blockquote> <p>We make such a big thing of youth that we struggle to find good ways of dealing with the inevitable facts of ageing. It's slightly demented for a society in which most people live into their eighties to locate twenty one as the high point and regard everything beyond that as downhill and lamentable.</p> </blockquote> <p>I want to focus on this because it really concerns me. I am deeply fallen in that trap too. I'm not even 30 and I'm already in a panic that I'm too old and my youth slowly (but not so slowly) fades away and I will never be that young again. As true as this is, we (my fellow 27-28ish friends and me) shouldn't behave like there's nothing more to life than a pretty young face. (All my readers over 30, please don't hate me, be compassionate with a girl in deep existential angst). Of course, every celebrity that respects herself goes on a full-face of botox to prevent herself from crying every time she looks herself at the mirror, but I respect the woman who doesn't care to show her age, who doesn't find value only in being young. I have a long way before me, until I become that woman, because young as I am now, I totally freak out every time I picture myself at my fifties.</p> <p>Only one thing makes me feel better. That when I’m 50, I’ll have become this super wise person and will be way beyond all these matters. Truth be told, I am not that old, but I'm getting older. I have my choices to make and some of them you can never take back, so youth isn't always as carefree as “Everyday toiletries” make it to be. Still, it doesn’t need to be as bad as all the photos around us show it to be. Years ago, people of age were fully respected and considered of great value. What happened to our modern society, I wonder?</p> <p>On a happy note, Jung believed life really begins at 40. I'm adopting that, it definitely suits me.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" title=";set=a.222277093580.134233.54598478580&amp;type=1" /></p> <p>photo found at <a href=";set=a.222277093580.134233.54598478580&amp;type=1" title="facebook">facebook</a></p> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 17:40:35 +0000