Reflecting on week one… and Pressing the “Play” button.

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!). 

Perceptual Organization (Two silhouette/Vase) - Image by Mila Zinkova, who neither endorses this blog or my use of this image.

You see, Rome reminds me of how I used to be, i.e. unable to show my true “Self,” only showing to people (and myself) various “parts” of myself, but never the whole.
I will spare you the lecture on IFS (today).  I will, however, try to explain what I mean by the above-statements.  It is like the image on the left – I think most of you know this famous illusion. What do you see?  The two faces? Or the vase?  Either way, your mind will force you to see either one, and then the other, but rarely simultaneously.  In essence, we are seeing only one “part” of the image, and then the other “part” reveals itself to us eventually. 

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.

A restaurant in the Campo dei Fiori neighbourhood.

So far, I have been only able to see Rome dichotomously.  I am presenting this picture on the right as an example of the dichotomy of which I have been experiencing.  When I first looked at this area, all I saw was a restaurant.  My eyes, however, were then drawn to the image at the top of the building directly ahead.  Do you see it?  If not, then I will give you a closer look below. 

Religious image on building in the Campo dei Fiori neighbourhood.

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. 

Pressing “Play”

Last night for the first time in a long time, I truly cried.  I cried not because I was angry, or something bad had happened.  I cried because I could actually allow myself to feel a moment of fear, and to let it manifest in tears for myself and my unknown future.   Crying is a healthy action, and I have encouraged it for years in my clients.  It is, however, something I have despised doing for a multitude of reasons.  Allowing myself to cry last night meant something very important to me.  It meant that I was continuing to grow, and to become more emotionally healthy as a human being – And there is nothing wrong in that. 😉

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-efficacyDoubting 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 thoughts, they become words.
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.

6 thoughts on “Reflecting on week one… and Pressing the “Play” button.

  1. April Rivers-Blake says:

    Wow. This piece is very serious in tone and message, but also lifts the spirit in ways that are very important. The idea of our compartmentalizing ourselves in ways is very true, and very real. I love your use of the image of the vase/two faces to illustrate that point.

    I also like the idea of ownership at work in this article. The idea of the “play” button. I think your piece will resonate with any of us who have felt “stuck” in our lives.

    I wish you luck as you experience yourself and Rome in a new, more holistic way.

  2. michelle blake says:

    This one hits home with me. I am in that place. I feel that I am also on pause.Except its from Ambers bed time to when she wakes, where I have to take care of her. Is it possible that when you hit play; the entire song isnt playing?
    Thanks for writing this Dee!!

    • Diedré Blake says:

      Sometimes I think it’s in another language, Michelle. 😉 Then, it’s my job to learn it… or to figure out whether or not I am just not hearing the lyrics right. I am glad you like it. 🙂 It means a lot!

  3. Doli says:

    This article is so instructive and has served me as a therapy. I especially likes the idea of the play and pause buttons. Tens of minutes after I read it still keeps me in thinking. Yes, thanks for writing this!

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