Tag Archives: Gestalt

A Conversation with Writer’s Block

MoonI have been working on a story lately. It is actually a rewrite of a rewrite of a rewrite of a story my cousin and I collaborated on many years ago. I have made a few attempts to write it in a final form but I always seem to get derailed and end up not finishing what I have started. That is why, in the tradition of Gestalt therapy, I have invited my writer’s block here today to discuss what is going on and perhaps get to the bottom of it.

WS : Let’s cut to the chase. Why do you block me?

WB : The simple answer is that I am writer’s block and blocking your writing is what I do. But I know that you are not looking for the simple answer. You want to know why I desire to block you. I could answer that question in one of two ways. The first way I could go is that I block you for your own protection. Whatever you are attempting to write about or the reason for which you are trying to write is causing you to push up against a fear. I am protecting you from having to experience this fear. The second way I could go is that I am blocking you from writing because I am fucking with you. Which way do you think I am going?

WS : Probably the first one.

WB : I suspect you are right although it is difficult to be sure. Why I think you are correct, however, is that writer’s block is a type of lethargy, procrastination or inaction. This is always fear based although it feels like laziness. The fucking with comes in afterwards when you beat yourself up for being lazy.

WS : Alright let’s go with the protection theory. I like that better anyway. So what do you think I am afraid of?

WB : Most writers experience a fear of being judged. When they write they are being vulnerable. What they have written is intended for others to read and there is a bit of vanity involved. So there is the fear that they will be judged for being or appearing to be vain.

WS : Is that my fear?

WB : That’s part of it. But there is another related fear there too.

WS : What is it?

WB : I’m not going to do all the work for you. I block you to protect you from this fear. That means there is a feeling that would be triggered if I allowed you to write this book. This feeling is unendurable or at least you think it is unendurable. So you won’t go there. What do you think this feeling is?

WS : I don’t know.

WB : You do, but it makes you too uncomfortable to articulate it. So you pretend not to know. Actually, “pretend” is too strong a word and it suggests that you are aware of this dynamic which you are not. Let’s say that approaching this fear becomes uncomfortable and so you by default veer off course. It is something along those lines.

WS : So the fear does your work for you?

WB : I am merely a personification of this dynamic playing out within you. You have personified me to have this dialog in order to better understand the dynamic. You know all that so don’t waste our time asking me those types of questions.

WS : I apologize.

WB : No problem. Let’s just move forward. The solution to this problem is that you must face the fear and endure this feeling. The good news is that you don’t really have to identify or label the feeling you fear in order to have gnosis of it. All you have to do is write the story and notice when you feel blocked. Then you will know that you are pushing up against it.

WS : What do I do then? How do I get through it?

WB : I have a simple answer but not an easy one. There is no other way to get through it than to get through it. In other words, you cannot face your fear without experiencing what makes you afraid.

WS : I understand that. But when I sit down to write and nothing comes out it just feels like I am experiencing writer’s block. I don’t have any sense at all that I am afraid of something. It just feels like I can’t do it.

WB : Yes. I am very good at what I do. I am so good that I can explain the dynamic to you and you still will not be able to get past it. Just remember that I do it for your own protection.

WS : Now it feels like you are fucking with me.

WB : Does it?

WS : What if I told you that I do not want your protection? I willingly want to endure the feeling by facing my fear.

WB : Are you sure about that?

WS : Yes.

WB : If you were sure then you would face your fear. You would not need me to be here. Remember, I am merely a personification of the dynamic at play inside of you. It may serve your purposes to think of me as a separate entity with a fully independent will of my own but that is not really an accurate description of reality.

WS : What are you saying?

WB : What I am saying is that if your writing is blocked it’s because you want your writing to be blocked. And like I said at the beginning of this conversation we can go one of two ways. Either you block your writing because you are protecting yourself from something or you block your writing because you are fucking with yourself.

WS : Why would I want to fuck with myself?

WB : We’ll have to leave it there for now. We’ve exceeded 1,000 words.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How to Love Yourself in Four Easy Steps

Separation of Light from Darkness ( )

Separation of Light from Darkness ( ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone has darkness and lightness.  If you feel judged all the time this judgement comes from inside of you.  That means you are judging yourself.  There may be other people judging you as well but the feeling of being judged comes from within.  The part that judges you is the darkness.  This part does not love you.  However, if feeling judged makes you feel bad then this means there is also a part that does not like being judged.  This is the light and is the part loves you.  I believe the light is your “true self”.  The darkness came from the outside world and was internalized.  The darkness is not your true self but pretends to be and if you are not aware of it then you will believe that it is your true self.  In this state of affairs you feel judged and you believe whatever is judging you is right to do so.  In order to love yourself this state of affairs must be dismantled.

 

Step One: Separate Yourself From the Darkness

 

To gain separation from the darkness you must become aware of it.  You must accept it as a part of you but also know it is not truly who you are.  To become aware of the darkness you must start with the intent to become aware of the darkness.  That is enough.  Cultivate this intent.  Take time each day to intend to do this, as a meditation.  Soon you will recognize when you become self critical, judgemental, jealous, resentful.  When this happens say to the darkness, “I see what you are doing.”  The more you do this the more you will become aware of the darkness and the more separate it will become from you.

 

Step Two:  Cultivate the Light Within You

 

There are many ways to cultivate the light within you.  Probably the most powerful way to cultivate the light within you is to forgive yourself.  This may be hard to do at first.  Here is how I started to do this.  I would always remember embarrassing events in my life and literally cringe.  This would happen several times throughout the day, every day.  I decided to let myself off the hook for these situations.  I allowed myself to remember these situations and love myself nevertheless.  I would say, “I can love myself through this.”  There are other ways to cultivate the light.  Make a list of 10 things you are grateful for (I have James Altucher to thank for that), do something whole heartedly, allow yourself to enjoy doing nothing or something you really want to do and meditation are all things that I have found will cultivate the light.

 

Step Three: Learn to Trust the Outside World

 

I learned this lesson in a men’s group.  The facilitators were therapists trained in the Gestalt body centered technique.  One session was particularly powerful for me and I broke down sobbing.  This would normally be a pretty humiliating situation for me.  But the group supported me and did not judge.  This was a key moment in my journey towards trusting the outside world.  I certainly have much further to go.

 

Step Four: Learn to Not Need the Outside World’s Approval

 

Ultimately, whether the outside world judges you or loves you, what really matters is that you love yourself.  There will always be judgemental people but if you can be there for yourself and support yourself through it that is the way out.  For me it is a long journey.  It comes in very small doses and I have a way to go, but I know there is truly a way out.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My Experience with Gestalt Therapy

I have experienced Gestalt therapy as a patient and that is the perspective from which I write.  In other words I am not a licensed Gestalt therapist nor have I received any formal training other than what I have learned from my therapist and what I have read on the subject.  For many years I attended a men’s group therapy sessions facilitated by two therapists trained in Gestalt body centered therapy.  After the group broke up I continued on with one of the therapists.  For what it’s worth, this is what I have learned.

I have learned to trust my feelings.  If I feel an emotion in my body it is there for a reason and it is never morally wrong or bad.  I think the root of my anxiety, depression and shame was the belief that my feelings were wrong.  I can remember being a teenager and feeling anger that my parents would not give me more freedom.  They responded by telling me my anger and the fact that I could not control my anger displayed how undisciplined and irresponsible I was.  My anger was wrong and if my anger was wrong by implication I was wrong as a person.  When a “wrong” feeling (like anger) presented itself I had to either deny it or bury it somehow.  That was how I learned to mature.  This requirement that I bury my emotions was the genesis of my addictive personality because I buried bad emotion with whatever addiction I had at my disposal.  Further, this inner conflict initially produced shame and anxiety which eventually turned into depression, anger and grief.  My therapist would always ask me, “what would you have to feel if such and such happend?” as a means of getting me to acknowledge and accept my natural feelings before the urge to deny or bury them took over.

I have learned about “the vicitimizer.”  This is a concept similar to the Freudian “super-ego” in that it is my inner voice that makes me feel ashamed either by criticizing what I am doing in the present, causes me to remember embarrassing situations in the past or makes me anticipate and fear embarrassing situations in the future (all of which trigger the feeling of humiliation).  However, the victimizer is much more vindictive than the Freudian super-ego.  The victimizer is the embodiment of abusive energy from my parents that I bonded to as a child.  When my parents told me I was wrong for feeling the way I did I took that energy into the energy of my body and there it remained all my life.  When I feel the urge to shame my children for little things like having a messy room as I was shamed I recognize it as old bonding.  Through Gestalt therapy I purged this bonding a little at a time and took on new, non judgmental bonding.

I have learned that I am a shame-based person.  That is how I defined myself.  Every situation I encounter is a new possibility to be humiliated in some way.  For a long time I saw a  therapist who was more cognitive behavioral / client driven in practice.  We sat and talked for many years.  I have no doubt that he was an honest and compassionate person but this was not the therapy I needed to move out of being a shame-based person.  He commented that I experienced a “lack of entitlement”.  This is true but we never progressed past that.  Gestalt therapy is driven by the therapist.  There is a path to follow and the therapist has the answers.  Unlike client driven therapy which I assume was designed for me to stumble upon the answer myself in due time.  I want to emphasize that I have nothing against the man as a therapist.  It’s just that Gestalt therapy is much more effective in the treatment of shame in my experience.

I have learned about the “Death Layer” which is an emotional place that holds my greatest fear and a place that I would never have gone had it not been for Gestalt therapy.  For me the death layer is humiliation.  This is a place I tried to avoid at all costs.   Although I never successfully avoided it because I experience humiliation all the time.  But I always experienced humiliation with my guard up and holding myself against it.  Through Gestalt therapy I learned to trust other people and to release my guard and descend into the death layer willingly.  By doing this I experienced the energy or feeling humiliation in front of my therapist and the men’s group I attended.  I learned that it was okay and that feeling did not mean my death (as some part of me whole heartedly believed).  My approach to this inmost cave was accomplished in small doses and took some time.  When I cross that barrier a well of grief that normally exists way below the surface is tapped.  To experience that in a supportive environment (as opposed to a judgmental environment) is both liberating and purging.  This is the path of Gestalt therapy.

I have learned that I have an inner child.  Inside me there is a child that does not trust anyone and expects to be humiliated and shamed at every turn.  This inner child does not even trust me because I have abandoned him every time I have ever been humiliated in my life.  Through Gestalt therapy I have learned to love and support myself when I experience humiliation.  I can be the adult for my inner child that was never there for me growing up.

I have learned that I was fucked with (not in a sexual sense) as a child by the people who were supposed to love me.  When I protested I was made to feel ashamed (ungrateful, selfish, undisciplined, weak).  There was this inner sense of loyalty that I had that made me choose to take the abuse and to agree with it in order to survive in this environment.  I have learned that the people who fucked with me enjoyed it.  I can see that in myself when I feel the urge to fuck with other people.  Again, this was the energy I bonded to.

This may all seem to be a very harsh judgment of my parents.  But they were simply acting in accordance with the bonding they received from their parents and so on down the line.  This is not written to condemn them.  Rather it is written to acknowledge that through Gestalt therapy I have found an effective treatment to break the chain.

15 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized