We focus on the present: where the past is played out and the future is dreamed of. It is in the “here and now” that we can observe and modify the tone and content of the internal dialogue we have with ourselves. Here we can access and reframe our interpretation of the events in our life. Now we can adopt a point of view that generates positive emotions and promotes our ability to act. In the present we can define what we want, learn new behaviors and deploy effective strategies that will lead us to achieving our goals.
“We do not have to look back to the past in order to see what we ourselves or other people are made out of. Things speak for themselves, right here and now.”
- Chogyam Trungpa
What we find in the world is the projection of ourselves. Our world is the mirror of ourselves. To exist is to relate. There is no life without relationship. Relationship is the interconnection of challenges and responses between people. It is this interconnection, based on interdependence and mutual assistance, that creates a family, a group, society. At its worse, a family is a relationship where husband and wife live on the opposite sides of a wall of isolation. Each is invested in his and her own personal ambitions and uses the other as a means of gratification. A family at its best is a relationship of communication and intimacy, where there is no fear but freedom to understand each other and communicate directly. In this milieu, everyone flourishes and sustains the other.
“It is the lack of right relationship that brings about conflict, misery and strife”
The strategies that we utilize to relate, to obtain what we desire, limit the possibilities and define what we find. Our strategies are repetitive and habitual, mostly motivated by fear and the need to protect; they are also strengthened by their effectiveness in delivering what we were after in the past. Problems are created by our response to the new, the ever-moving fluidity of the present with strategies developed and implemented in past situations. The new is met with the old.
“The problem is rarely the problem, more often the way we approach the problem is the problem.”
- Domenico Chiariello
“Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.”
- Emile Chartier
We focus on the situation at hand and its context where we find the resources to develop strategies appropriate to presenting challenges. The extension of our life and productive years, the complexity of our environment and the expansion of possibilities has rendered evident the old illusion that there is a place to get, and that success will be granted by persevering in the “right” direction. The traditional ways of the agricultural society, defined by the progressive evolution of the seasons, limited possibilities of movement and the rhythm of procreation, along with the ways of the industrial society, with its standardization of productivity, urbanistic structure and well defined cultural norms have proven inadequate to respond and adapt to the demands, challenges and opportunities of the information age. In a world “flattened” and expanded, we are exposed to a constant moving scenario. In order to adapt we need to be flexible, to develop new skills and define visions with an “expiration date”, making the need for personal coherence, balance and relational wisdom much more difficult but much more urgent to satisfy.
“If you do not know where you are going, you are definitely going to get there.”
- Domenico Chiariello
“The knight errant, who finds his challenges along the way, may be a better model for our times than the knight who is questing for the Grail.”
- Mary Catherine Bateson
Freedom and Creativity
Understanding ourselves, our experience, the complexity of our situation, free for a mom ent from the desire to obtain a result, to obtain certainty, inward security, will allow for real creativity that will bring transformation or regeneration. Changing the relationship with the problem will open the possibility for solutions. By loosening the grip on insisting on the way we want things to be, we open to chance and give the space to our talent and find innovative solutions.
“Change your state of mind before you approach the problem.”
- Mark Oldach
“Rather than seeking beauty, create beauty wherever you are.”
- Domenico Chiariello
Models of possibilities.
We see our lives as works of improvisation, and we look at our problems as creative opportunities where we can discover how to combine familiar ways with new components and adapt to a particular context, or elicit a specific response to a new situation.
In a world where children will have increasing difficulty replicating the career of their parents, and cannot even know the names of jobs that will be open to them, and even those who continue to work under the same professional definition have to reinvent and relearn their craft, we have to develop a new sense of value for the transitory and learn to curb our desire for continuity. We need to continually reconstruct and redirect our lives. Our commitments of energy and passion will focus toward transitory goals while we strengthen the ability to transfer our learning when facing a collage of different tasks. Some men and women stubbornly resist the challenges of change; as battered wives and abused children hold on to what they know even though it is severely flawed. Frightened by change and damaged by their dependence on continuity, those will lose the possibility of learning and development and will create areas of stagnation in our society: we all lose with them. But if we realize that misery is the result of a restricted vision, we may be spurred to learn new and more fluid ways to imagine the future, develop new models of possibilities, and discover that far more can be lived.
“Love learning and the fear of change will disappear.”
- Domenico Chiariello
We embrace the viewpoint that human beings are fundamentally good and their basic qualities are healthy and positive: openness, warmth and intelligence. The problems they encounter on their journey are temporary and superficial. In fact, rather than a disturbance to be avoided or a threat to be eliminated, problems are seen as an opportunity for learning about ourselves (“what is the lesson to be learned in this situation?”) and a possibility to reestablish a more direct connection to our true nature. In this context the role of the therapist is seen less as that of a teacher of new techniques and skills, and more as that of a guide toward the experience of fundamental goodness and health. Of course, therapists must have the direct, personal experience of being genuine, true human beings so that they can convey their appreciation and be of encouragement to others.
“The sage helps the ten thousand things find their own nature.”