Three Quick Quotes and a FREE resource – 24 February 2021

Hi there

Many thanks for your ongoing support, and I hope you’re finding these emails and the free resources helpful. If you wish to revisit them at any time, you can find an archive of previous emails at www.carolynspring.com/tqq-archive.

This week our free resource is the PDF version of our leaflet ‘Dissociative Identity Disorder: Information for Professionals’. Next week will be another poster.

We’ve also got quotes this week from Sue Johnson, Konrad Michel and David Jobes, and a snapshot of my week … including my latest hobby!!

If you enjoy this email, please forward to colleagues and clients and ask them to sign up to receive it here – where they can also get their hands on a free copy of our ‘Emotional Resource Guide’.

Stay safe!
Carolyn

three quotes

“A sense of felt security with a loved one increases a person’s ability to tolerate and cope with traumatic experience. The attachment system is evolution’s way of maximising survival in a dangerous world in which a person cannot survive alone. Secure attachment, as formulated by John Bowlby (1969), provides a safe haven and a secure base from which to explore and learn about the world. Secure attachment creates resilience in the face of terror and helplessness and a natural arena for healing. Isolation and lack of secure attachment, on the other hand, add to our vulnerability, exacerbate traumatic events, and are actually wounding in themselves. It is also hard to develop an integrated, confident sense of self without secure connections to significant others. As Merleau Ponty states, ‘I borrow myself from others; man is a mirror for man.’”
“The therapeutic alliance begins with the therapist’s genuine empathic interest in the patient’s subjective experience. In psychotherapy with suicidal patients, however, intense emotions of hostility, hatred, loneliness, rage, and shame may arise and be difficult for the therapist to tolerate. In the face of such intensity, the therapist may not be aware of defensive mechanisms that draw him or her away from the patient’s experience in order to provide momentary relief. Examples of these usually unconscious countertransference defensive mechanisms include avoidance of affect, through an overly exclusive focus on symptoms to the detriment of emotional experience; and denial, in which the therapeutic effort aims to convince the patient that he does not – or should not – feel so bad. However, when the therapist withdraws from these unbearable affects, the affective connection with the suicidal patient is attenuated, and this can lead the patient to experience suicide-inviting affects of loneliness and abandonment.”

 “Slowly it began to dawn on me that recovery would remain forever out of reach if I continued to see myself as a victim, or as a child, overwhelmed and powerless. I had to teach my brain instead that things are different now, that new resources are available, that ‘it’s not happening now’. I had to see myself not as a powerless, pathetic victim (urgent and primeval though that belief was), but as a resourceful, resilient survivor. It didn’t come naturally at all: I had to work at it. I couldn’t choose what happened to me as a child, but I could choose how I viewed myself now as an adult who survived that.”

this week’s free resource

A simple, straightforward free PDF explaining the causes, prevalence and treatment approaches for dissociative identity disorder (DID) – aimed specifically at professionals but also relevant to survivors and their supporters. You can find it here.

snapshot of my week

As a child, I was told I was rubbish at painting. Undoubtedly, this was true – after all, I was only a child. But the teacher telling my whole class and holding up my green stick men picture of my ‘family’ as proof, was also unkind, and it made me believe that the ability to paint – or the ability to enjoy the act of painting – was an innate quality that I didn’t possess. It was, in Carol Dweck’s terms, a fixed mindset rather than the joyous multitude of possibilities of the growth mindset. If someone had encouraged me to paint, I would have spent more time painting, and with practice I would undoubtedly have improved. Instead, I gave up trying and started believing instead a narrative of incompetence. For over 40 years I have missed out on the pleasure of putting colours on canvas because someone told me, in effect, that I was excluded. (Hello, shame.)

Then just before Christmas this year, I was FaceTiming with a friend. Along with a dazzling array of other positive attributes, she is also artistic and creative and showed me her work in progress. ‘Wow!’ I said, amazed. ‘Just wow!’ She laughed. ‘Don’t be too impressed,’ she responded. ‘It’s just painting by numbers.’ – ‘Really?’ – ‘Really.’ I’ve always admired her talent, but it turns out that even she enjoys the sheer simplicity of repetitive, patient brush strokes, without the pressure of expectation and of having to create from scratch.

For Christmas she gave me a painting by numbers set. My first reaction was one of terror: ‘I can’t paint!’ But she was reassuring. ‘You can’t go wrong. You don’t need any skill. You can just enjoy painting. And no-one has to see the finished product.’

Six weeks later, I’m hooked. So far I have completed half a dozen ‘paintings’. I have given up any standard or self-demands of what it should look like at the end. I am happy to pick up where I left off as a 7-year-old. I have (mostly) given up the embarrassment that it’s ‘painting by numbers’. I have (mostly) given up the notion that ‘painting by numbers’ is just for kids. And I have absolutely loved becoming immersed in the steady, quiet, mindful repetition of strokes of a paintbrush, the visceral pleasure of colours, seeing a beige canvas burst into life and form, and the slight obsessiveness of trying to find all the number nines.

I stick to the simpler ones, because I’m really NOT very good at painting – through lack of practice I just don’t have the requisite fine motor skills. But I don’t care. I really REALLY don’t care. I’m just enjoying creating something and employing a completely different part of my brain that I am used to. It’s a revelation to me that you can enjoy doing something that you’re not, objectively, very good at.

I wonder how many of us have been told that we’re no good at something, as if that is a requirement for doing it? I wonder how many of us have felt not good enough, and shamed into not participating, and therefore have missed out on the simple pleasure of the activity because someone, somewhere, has declared that we’re not good enough? What might we be we missing out on?

And so to prove that I’m not embarrassed, let me show you one of my ‘creations’ … My 7-year-old me would be proud, I think.

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