The human being can count on a wide range of expedients to face difficult times.
Any kind of stressor may impair the equilibrium in the unity of psyche and soma because of its effects on the Nervous System, the Immune System, the secretion of hormones and the psychology of the individual. As a consequence, life rhythms are modified and problems can arise at work, within the family or in our relationships. The structure of the person-in-environment system suffers a crisis when a frozen situation starts defrosting and a new equilibrium is not yet in place.
Our habits organise our days creating a feeling of comfort, confidence and safety. When we are forced to abandon them, we feel confused as we don’t know what to do, to say, to think. Emotions can be overwhelming and managing them may be difficult. Everyone tries to orient himself or herself using his or her usual thinking and behaviour patterns.
Defusing, an approach commonly used in emergency psychological treatments, aims to minimize the impact of a traumatic event softening its emotional weight. Single individuals or entire communities are helped understand what is happening, who is involved and the possible developments. This encourages people to accept emotions without feeling guilty or wrong.
People are thus given the ability to recognize and activate resources they can find inside themselves or in the surrounding environment in order for them to address the situation.
First of all, it’s important to be judgemental and think independently, avoiding panic. It’s good to keep oneself informed but it’s necessary to draw information from reliable sources and refuse news not supported by facts. Anyone, even people with no competence, can disseminate the web with false information. Let’s keep this in mind!
Feeling able to manage a situation, self-confident and motivated influences the level of our commitment, the way we define and face the problem. Concentrating on the controllable elements of a situation combined with a realistic attitude maximizes the possibility to find a solution.
The memory of hurdles we have overcome increases our self-confidence and self-efficacy as we perceive ourselves as able to face a new difficulty.
Protection, warmth and tenderness we perceive when we are in contact with our loved ones help us feeling safer, stronger and not trapped by emotions. This is possible because relationships are a stabilizing factor for our behaviour. Other people’s judgments automatically make us limit our over-reactions as we don’t want to disappoint them.
It’s useful not to focus only on the negative aspects and potential risks of a situation, avoiding ruminating excessively only on a deficient thought. This absorbs precious energy we could use to find the solution.
Drawing up an action plan considering contingent limits, positive characteristics, deficiencies but also the potential support of our friends, relatives, acquaintances and Institutions help us feel less disoriented and experience a sense of control and competence.
Affective neuroscience provides us with some advises on how we can adapt ourselves and live in uncertain times. First of all we must recognize the indisputable charm of Evil. The Shadow of the Jungian Psychology keeps recurring with all its echoes. This is all we refuse, all we don’t want to see.
Cruelty and catastrophe seduce because they cause strong emotional reactions stimulating our ancient limbic-reptilian brain. When this brain is the most active structure, our perception results altered. The world is felt as a jungle full of dangers, the Other as a potential enemy whose death is functional to our life. Mors tua, Vita Mea, Latins used to say. In such a stage we regress as the only important thing is staying alive, but Existing is actually a different story.
All societies denying the human weakness have made disasters. Neither communities made of pure light nor men consisting of pure Good have ever existed and they never will. Shadow deserves all our attention as it brings pleasant gifts. Also Evil brings along a transformative and revolutionary potential. The only way to go beyond abomination is looking at it and being able to make it sublime.
If we are able to maintain a centred inner presence and a certain degree of mental freedom, which absolutely does NOT mean denying real facts, even in the worst tragedy we are able to control our ancient brain and activate more evolved structures.
In a famous Italian song, Franco Battiato speaks about a “Centro di Gravità Permanente” (Permanent Centre of Gravity) that we should create inside ourselves.
Taking roots in the centre of one’s Self allows to express our most vital part, the most playful and authentic one. Following our own inclinations, cultivating our passions even in hard times makes our interior garden continuously bloom and does not allow stress, worries and obsessions to deprive, like weeds, our personal blooming of vital nourishment.
We feel at the mercy of events when external sources of meaning, on which we normally anchor our life, fail. There cannot be a better time to start a growth path bringing us back to our Essence.
When we talk about inner presence and centering, we risk to provoke an instinctive defensive reaction as these words are connected to mysticism and religion, areas mostly considered too far from everyday life.
According to Jung, all his patients over 35 years got sick because they were confined within too narrow cultural horizons.
Building an inner source of meaning gives direction and orientation to our existence. This has nothing to do with acquisition of consumption goods. It refers to Being instead of Having. It’s something linked to the creation of a small peaceful oasis where we can restore ourselves before continuing the journey. Something that cannot be torn away from us by the outside world and helps us staying the course when all supports fail.
There is no favourable wind for the sailor who doesn’t know where to go.
Iolanda Della Monica
Blogger Rebis Group
Translation by Graziella Cella