Simplify your life

What better time to simplify our lives than during this busy season, which so greedily invites us to indulge and spoil ourselves and those around us. Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to be said for a treat and a special gift, but sadly, the way that the media encourages us to indulge and spoil is purely looking to buying things, and more things, and just a few more. Things that we might like, but ultimately have no true meaning.

If we allow the media (particularly advertisements) to tell us that true love is only shown with this product, true happiness can only be achieved with this item, and your children will be bitterly disappointed if they do not get this-whatever-thing, then we have lost. Because disappointment is going to happen. The perfect Christmas (whatever that is anyway) or true happiness does NOT lie in any of these items to be given or received. Yes, we do all want to have a nice time. And giving and receiving gifts can be so much fun. But does it have to be 10 gifts per child, when they zoom out after having ploughed through number two? Does it have to be another tie or one more jacket? Does it have to be another cream or phone?consumerism

Yes, giving gifts can show love and care, but there comes a point when the gift is no longer out of love but pressure of feeling one HAS to give, even independent of what the other might need or want. How about giving the gift of time? This could come in the form of a weekend away, if there is the money to spend, or could be as cheap and simple as a special coffee date in a lovely little café around the corner with no phones on or no time pressure. It could be the commitment to loving more and giving more of our time in the form of helping with dishes, making a cup of tea in the morning, taking the kids out so the other half can just be, or even offering to babysit for the neighbour so the parent/s can go out and enjoy themselves. It does not have to be expensive to be special! It can be a home-made cake, a drawing, a simple card that lets the other know that we are thinking of them.

Christmas TreeLet’s try not to –literally- buy into the Christmas craziness by believing our Christmas will only be special if we get or give xyz, because this is simply not true. It is a hard challenge as everything and lots of people around us tell us that we need and need and need. Well, I believe our Christmas will be special if there are cuddles around, if there is a relaxed atmosphere with enjoying each other’s company, with telling each other that we care and love, with sitting and playing a game, with making or receiving that phone-call when there is no family around, with a simple cup of coffee, enjoying looking at the fairy lights or watching the kids play. And in addition to that, it will be special as we think of the real meaning of Christmas, reading the special story of Jesus and looking back on what happened that night in a stable.

Thanks for listening.

Happy first Advent and happy home-decorating, if you are already onto that.

Antonia

Advertisements

The hurting Soul

Shock!!! This was my instant reaction to the attacks in Paris. Shock and disbelief. Shock that does not allow even any questions to come to mind but simply wants to freeze up my brain.

Disbelief allows thoughts to be formed, but they are against my rationale, telling me that this COULD not have happened. It could not be true. It just seems way too unlikely, too unreasonable.

Anger. Yes, a lot of anger arrived later on. How could this happen? What on earth were they thinking? How can one human do this to another? Who on earth thinks of training up someone to kill others at random?

Depression with hopelessness. The debates feel frustrating and powerless. Bombing or no bombing? To me, neither seems like a good idea. Being reactive or proactive? To me, neither seems like a good idea. Increased surveillance or no change? To me, neither seems like a good idea. The list can go on. Because neither and no option will undo what has happened, and neither and no option will bring true reconciliation.

Acceptance. Well this even surprises me but one part of me feels as if this is now just the world we live in. This is the context in which we raise our children and teach them right from wrong and teach them love by loving them unconditionally.

Please know that I am not looking to start a political debate. There are many around and they are important, but not my objective here. I am looking to process thoughts and look at the heart.

The heart of brokenness. I cannot help but feel heartbroken over what is happening, even reaching further than France, and looking at the world around. The terror that is around. This includes terror attacks, but reaches further to humans – fellow human being of all ages, all backgrounds, all religions, all hopes, all dreams, all interests, all abilities- suffering!

Would you look at  a photo series of children and youth going through the refugee crisis. Would you look at it and read about these children with me, and set aside political ideas of whose fault or responsibility it is? Just for a moment! Would you go ahead and see these individuals for what they are? Individual children,youth, adults – humans- suffering! With trauma and broken hearts and lives! That is the reality of it. Yes, there need to be wider debates on how to solve this and not all of them can be based on emotions. But our emotions and compassion has to be a major ingredient in this decision process, and I believe this is only possible if we choose to look at the individuals and get familiar with faces, rather than make them “the other”.

standing together

Again, I am not trying to spark a debate on boarder control or immigration policy. What I am trying is to touch our hearts to choose compassion as an ingredient in any debate and to choose to process with those around our and their suffering and heart-ache.

If you know anything about grief, whether this is in theory or by personal experience, all of the above will be part of a grieving process at one point or another. And what I always emphasis with my clients is the importance to walk through this grief and to process it, rather than try to bypass, run, or ignore. I am a firm believer of this being the only way to integrate what happened and what is happening. And a long way it is! And the second aspect I always emphasis with my clients is that it is by no means pleasant. And it sure is not…but nonetheless important!

Thank you for joining me in my thoughts and I hope the above support you in your processing of your thoughts and situation.

Antonia

Let’s be real!

Life is always a mixed bag. There is fun and joy, some of life is heartfelt, some heartache, there is fear and inferiority, there is laughing until the belly hurts, and there is crying until one has run dry. There are so many seemingly contradictory elements to life and most of us feel them all over time. However, most of us pretend that we are even-keeled. Well, let me rephrase: I do. This is not a conscious choice of mine, and I do not believe it is for most others either. We like to seem ok because we don’t like to be vulnerable. And not being ok shows vulnerability. It is saying to others: I am struggling here and certainly do not have it all together. I am in need of help and support, love and kindness.

impact pic

When counselling, I come across many who are open about their struggles. In fact, I believe that those with depression often do not feel anything fundamentally different from someone without depression. However, there seems to be an element of feeling more deeply. More numbness. More sadness. More darkness. More inferiority. More vulnerability. Less confidence. Less smiles. Less shoulder-shrugging.

Depression is a horrible condition. No doubt about that. I wish depression on nobody, nor to make it seem any less horrible than it is. In fact, I read an article this week, which I would recommend for people who are interested in understanding the horror a little more.If you are a sufferer and have not found any support, would you seek it out? Would you speak to a trusted friend, a confidant of some kind, contact your GP or come to see somebody like me, who is professionally trained to offer support?

Returning to my original thought, there is something about vulnerability and the awareness that comes with it. Maybe it is the honesty about these feelings, the rawness of them and how intensely they are experienced. Maybe there is a lesson for us all to be more honest, to dare being more ourselves, and be real? This could help building more meaningful relationships, create a place to be real, and save the energy wasted that is spent on faking being ok every day all the time.

Thank you for joining me today.

Antonia