It may be easy to forget, especially amidst my somewhat colourful observations, that when I first started to write about my experience of Rome, I compared Rome to myself. Today I wanted, to reflect on this. This is in order for you to understand a little more about why I chose to come to this place; where, for all intents and purposes, I am so utterly harassed and seemingly jarred by its culture.
In my work as a therapist, I have chosen to focus on two modern approaches to understanding the human experience – I will, however, confess that I am also quite rooted in both humanistic psychology/existentialism and psychodynamics – These approaches are dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and internal family systems model (IFS). At this point, you might be wondering, “Okay, D, what exactly is the point?”
Well, the point is that these two approaches have, in essence, saved my psychologically-saavy booty from disaster time and time again! I suppose, I wish that I could apply these approaches to Rome… If only Rome were a person, with whom I could corner, speak and encourage (Apparently, I am quite good at all three of these actions, particularly the last. My thanks to April, Doli & Isobel and others who have agreed.) to have a session either with me or someone else (Group therapy even! I am sure there are some other cities, whole countries,…entire continents, who would want in!).
People are like this too. We sometimes compartmentalize ourselves, and show only parts of ourselves to the world around us. At any given moment, ask yourself, “What part of myself am I showing right now?” or “From which part of myself am I operating?” It is when you begin to realize that you are not whole, not completely synthesized as a human being, that I believe you can begin to make effective change. Because at that moment, you can begin to become more aware of who you are, the many parts that make up you and why they are. Now back to Rome.
Pleasure and religion – These are the two sides that I have been able to see of Rome thus far. For me, the merger of pleasure and religion has quite a jarring effect, and has created within me this feeling of Rome as a place of inauthenticity and superficiality. There are usually and thankfully, however, more than two sides to every story – My own self-development is a testimony to this. Thus, I am inclined to give Rome a chance to tell her story in a new way, and to keep my ears and heart open to experiencing her differently. After all, this is what I have done for myself, and as a result I am the most content I have ever been in my life with who and how I am as a person in this world.
In DBT you learn that our actions/reactions are often triggered by our emotions, and our emotions are triggered by our thoughts, i.e. how we perceive the circumstances that are occurring in our lives. The point is, if you are able to become aware of your thoughts and to change them, you are more capable of effectively managing your emotions, and thus able to manage your actions. Why am I harping on about this? Well, I am going back to my crying last night.
Crying is a reaction to an emotion I felt, which was fear. Emotions are wonderful and powerful, and a driving force for creativity. How we choose to manifest our emotional states is important to consider. Crying is healthy. Throwing a chair out of a window is not (and no, I have not done this, but I have seen it done).
As I said our emotions are caused by our thoughts. So, what was it that I was thinking that caused me to feel fearful late on a Saturday night while alone in Rome? What caused me to feel fear was that I did not know,… that my life is in an uncertain place – And in that moment, I doubted my own self-efficacy. Doubting one’s self can be a difficult and life-stopping experience. It can ruin careers, relationships, and even actual lives. When we begin to doubt, we are in essence putting ourselves on a type “pause.” We are holding ourselves in abeyance until we have some evidence of a direction in which to go that helps us to feel more secure or self-assured. Being in abeyance can feel safe for a long time, but you are not living if this is where you are. You have hit the “pause” button on your life, and hoping that “something,” or sometimes “someone” will come to propel you into the play of life once more.
However, the reality is this: you pressed the “pause” button. Thus, it is up to you to press “play.” No one can do this for you. You can get help, and there are always people to help, if you are willing to be helped. The job, however, is yours…
So, I am taking my own advice… I am pressing “play.” There is a time for fear, and I have felt it. My life is uncertain, yes. What isn’t? (Oh yeah, death and taxes… I know!) This uncertainty, however, can also be looked at as a chance for a grand adventure and new opportunities. So, world (and presently, Rome), I am opening myself to you and accepting all the life-benefitting, wonderful and rewarding gifts you have to offer!
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.