What is the connection between Stress, Anxiety and Depression and the political, social and economic problems that we are facing today?
Here is a summary of the main points:
- We live in a sick society and we are not addressing the root cause.
- Our whole system is motivated by fear and consequently the most frightened people are the ones most likely to govern and yield power.
- The door to constructive change will open if we stop trying to convert others to our point of view.
- Any attempt on my part to convince you that I am right is counter-productive and contradicts what I am trying to convey.
- The underlying cause, the underlying and all-embracing dynamic is not climate change but FEAR.
- We do not listen to viewpoints that challenge our beliefs because they trigger our fears.
- Anxiety and depression can be the result of fear and unresolved trauma.They can also be healthy signs that something needs to change.
- My hope is that somatic psychotherapy can enable us to lessen the hold that our fears have on us so we can proceed rationally.
- The psychotherapy that I have faith in is one that respects and validates each individual’s values and opinions, not one that tries to adjust us to society.
We live in a sick society and we are not addressing the root cause.
I believe that, with very few exceptions, we are caught up in an endless war and we are not addressing the root cause.
We define ourselves in terms of opposites. We are “climate activists” or “climate deniers”. We support “the government” or “the opposition”, or we oppose both.
Our whole system is motivated by fear and consequently the most frightened people are the ones most likely to govern and yield power.
Perhaps it’s time to stop fighting and start listening!
Attacking each other only makes things worse. Each side is convinced they are right. Again with a few exceptions, we are unable to truly listen to and empathise with anyone who disagrees with us.
Sometimes I find myself getting caught in the trap of attacking the people I believe are responsible for the state we’re in. Then I realise that in doing so I become part of the problem, part of the cause of the situation that we’re in.
Some years ago I asked a friend from Israel what his understanding is of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He answered that there is no conflict between Israel and Palestine.
He said that the conflict is between the people who believe that differences can be settled by peaceful means, and people who believe that they can only be settled by violence!
I believe that understanding this is the key to change. I also believe that both sides are so deeply convinced that they are right that there is no room for true listening.
Hence there is no possibility, at least as yet, for us to work together as human beings regardless of our beliefs. The cognitive dissonance that kicks in is too strong and overrides all other considerations.
I believe that the door to constructive change will open if we stop trying to convert others to our point of view. And that includes me.
Any attempt on my part to convince you that I am right is counter-productive and contradicts what I am trying to convey.
I believe that somatic psychotherapy can enable us to lessen the hold that our fears have on us so we can proceed rationally.
The psychotherapy that I have faith in is one that respects and validates each individual’s values and opinions.
My understanding is that, no matter how strongly we believe that we are right, nothing will change unless we are able to truly listen to and understand the points of view that contradict ours.
Regardless of whether we are right or wrong, nothing will change until we are able to acknowledge that from where they stand, these contradictory points of view have as much validity as ours.
The underlying cause, the underlying and all-embracing dynamic is not climate change but FEAR.
So what’s the connection between stress, anxiety, depression, climate change and psychotherapy?
Anxiety and depression can be the result of fear and unresolved trauma. They can also be healthy signs that something needs to change.
The reason we do not listen to viewpoints that challenge our beliefs is that these trigger our fears. We protect ourselves against these fears by convincing ourselves that we are right and they are wrong.
If we were to listen to certain viewpoints, if we were to allow ourselves to consider that we may be mistaken, we risk feeling anxious and perhaps even depressed. This is not something that we reason out and do consciously. It is an unconscious defence mechanism that is there to protect ourselves from what we perceive, usually at a deep unconscious level, as a threat to our survival.
I participated in the school strikes for climate change in Sydney and am full of admiration for the way the students and others conducted themselves. And I totally agree with most of what “climate activists” say about climate change.
I believe the scientists.
I agree with David Attenborough. I admire Greta Thunberg and agree with her understanding of the world climate situation. I also believe that it was and indeed is still essential to present and explain this point of view.
This is where I differ:
If creating a healthier and more caring society is more important to us than convincing others that we are right, then both “climate activists” and “climate deniers” will need to get together and TRULY LISTEN to each other.
We need to be willing to put aside our convictions, at least temporarily, and say to each other: “we want to work together to create a better world for all of us. For us, for you, for our children, for the planet. How can we do this?”
So why do I sometimes lose faith that this will happen?
Because I have come to believe that most people’s beliefs are so deep-seated, that most people are so frightened, that they are not capable of grasping this reality.
And I have never wished more deeply that I am wrong.
Unless and until we realise that we all want a healthier and more caring society, and that the one obstacle that we have in common is our fear, we will not be able to work together to create what we most truly want.
My one hope, however, is that somatic psychotherapy can enable us to lessen the hold that our fears have on us so we can proceed rationally.
Not psychotherapy that labels and classifies people according to their ability to adjust to society. Being adjusted to a sick society is not how I measure a person’s mental health.
The Psychotherapy that I have faith in:
- Respects and validates each individual’s values and opinions.
- Understands that, when allowed to be themselves, children and adults are naturally kind and cooperative.
- Believes that human nature is naturally caring and loving, and that hate, violence and destructiveness are a result of interference with a person’s natural development and a lack of understanding of our needs.
- Takes into account the whole picture
- Recognises the importance of understanding the effect that social, economic and political structures have on the mental, emotional and physical health of individuals, organisations and societies.
- Sees stress, anxiety, depression and other emotional challenges as symptoms of deeper and wider conflicts, and
- Understands that these symptoms are not necessarily a sign that something is wrong with the individual. Sometimes, in fact often, these are signs that the person is healthy enough to produce symptoms that point him or her in the direction of greater health and wellbeing.
This is why I created Core Development, and this is what I can offer to those who are willing to explore and validate the often hidden contradictions, or rather the paradoxes in ourselves, in our relationships, and in society.
Are you willing to try?
Mob: 0412 178 234 email: email@example.com
Donald Marmara created Core Development – a process of change and personal growth developed from his professional training and 35 years’ experience in somatic (body) psychotherapy, counselling and structural dynamics.
Core development adopts a flexible approach, recognising that what works for one person may not work for another.
He can be contacted on 0412 178 234.