What’s the point to disappoint?

Psychotherapy Paris Image of Self, about disappointment, how to disappoint and be disappointed...
Pascal Acklin Mehri Psychologist Paris, Self-Confidence – The way we are looking at the others or ourself

Disappointment, whether to avoid or defy it, weighs heavily in the orientation of human behaviour. It is directly related to the way we judge ourself or others or that we believe the others are judging us. Learning the power of disappointment begins at an early age, at the same time as we discover what pleases and displeases our parents, school, or society. It is a learning that shapes us throughout our lives at the same time as it cultivates our contradictions, our deepest guilt. Everyone constantly navigates between the desire to be in the norm and the desire to differentiate themselves, the desire to do well as is expected, and the desire simply to do as one feels. In other words, we are always balancing between the desire to be well seen, beloved, loved by our parents, teachers, bosses and others in general, and the desire to be oneself, even if it displeases.

But whether I am disappointing others, or am disappointed by them, or by myself, disappointment is always accompanied by unpleasant feelings. So we soon wanted either to deviate from any event that might cause us to feel this unpleasant experience or on the other hand we may try to do our best to crush or fight against the negative sensations that could invade us whereas we simply seek to try to be ourself, despite the prevailing disagreement. This can lead to two extreme behaviours, adapt as best as possible to the norm even if it means crushing certain basic needs that one will not dare to live or only in secret, or force provocation by claiming by one’s behaviours that one has nothing to give a shit about what others think, even if it means being in a perpetual struggle to be yourself. Between these two cases lies the common mortals, always looking for the right balance with, as the main cursor, the feeling of guilt that puts in those unpleasant sensations in our body.  To be or not to be, to be loved or not to be loved, to disappoint or not disappoint, that is the main question!

Those who manage kindly to realize themselves as they are, and not as one would want them to be, are precisely those who best manage to accept and explore the inescapable disappointments of life without the need to hide or the need to hyper affirm themselves in order to exist. In fact, they also have inevitably accepted and learn to go throw their different levels of guilt and therefore all their internal contradictions. So my point here is mostly to talk about the need to accept and travel not against, but with and trough the disappointment, your own disappointment or that of others, when we do, when we want to do, or have done, something that seems right to us in relation to true profound information that comes from inside of us. This inner information is also what we call the guts or even intuition, the little voice whose listening makes us move ever more towards our true self.

Disappointment and self-realization

Because to disappoint, is also helping to grow up a little more each time… Indeed, if the disappointment stems from the discrepancy between what our little inner voice says and the way it will be judged in the context of the perception of others, it is essential to accept this disappointment and cross it to leave room little by little, and more and more often, to self-acceptance. This is maybe more necessary when this judging gaze is so integrated into us that it has become ours, and our little inner voice then faces directly our own self-judgment about ourselves. In a way, the small voice of intuition, our gut’s voice, meets the big and often invasive, voice of the mind. This can then trigger a real civil war between the Me and the Self. The Me summarizes, for our example, the result of what we call our identity has it has been built having integrated a certain framework of cultural, social, religious representations (etc.) that defines morally what is good or bad, what is right or wrong. This is the main frame which makes us judge our own values or the values of others. In another hand, the Self would be an intuitional, bodily intricate information, manifested in the body and anchored in something much larger and much closer to a more intuitive rightness (right because coming from the truth inside of us and therefore not mentally constructed by values..). And so the Self often disagrees with the frames of thought already there and that surround us and shape us from birth.

So what is right in oneself is not necessarily in accordance with what is considered normal, acceptable, or valuable by the Me. And when the Me enters into a struggle with the Self there is then a contradiction between my induced and instilled values (to which I can consciously feel that I adhere or not…) and this profound intuition that defies pre-established values. This means that even if I do something profoundly right in self, I can disappoint others, and/or disappoint myself. In short, whether the Me I confront is that of the group (of others), or of myself, it is never anything but the Me that is disappointed. Of course the more one identifies and adheres without hindsight with this Me, (the Me who thinks what I think I am or what I think I should be), and the more vivid the contradiction is going to be and the experience of disappointment will be difficult when the intuition of a much more fundamental truth of the Self comes to show the tip of his nose.

This conception of disappointment leads to an overall reassessment of the phenomenon. It is a question of no longer considering disappointment as the logical consequence of the fact that I have not been up to the task or that the other has not been up to the task, (therefore suddenly I have to pay, I am to be punished and that is normal because I was bad). On the contrary, it is a signal in the body, which draws our attention to a latent conflict between the Me and the Self. That is to say on the one hand between what I believe, what I think should be, what people want me to be, and on the other hand what is imposing itself to me (often against my will, against my thinking) as the fair and intuitive truth of what I feel more deeply (about myself, about my relationship with the other, on my real connection to this job, etc…) even though I wasn’t ready to face this truth. The violence of disappointment is greater as the Me seeks to maintain control over what I believe or I am used to believe, on how things should be, how they should happen, how the couple should function, what love is, how it is normal for me to behave or how it would be normal for the other to behave. If I encounter disappointment in a regular manner without being able to extract myself from it, then it is time to consider repetition as an attempt of your unconscious to open your eyes to question the frame of thought that makes you suffer and also is it time for you to open up a little more to this deeper intuition that awaits you to pay more attention to it.

To get out of the disappointment then means agreeing first to go back in it and explore it for what it is, an opportunity for profound questioning. And here, my proposal is always the same, the exploration must be done in a sensory way and not in a mental way. Or rather, in the process I propose, the mind must lose its status as a boss who decides and controls, for that of a simple tool in the service of information distilled by the body at the time of disappointment. The words of the mind should no longer be used to interpret but only to describe the sensory state that one goes through. Even if at first it may seem difficult for some, describing what one feels and not what one thinks, forces us to pay attention to the Self and no longer to the endless loops of mental neurotic procrastinations that attach only to the Me. However, the more time one spends paying attention to the information of the Self in the body, the more one brings the attentional gentleness that is the only remedy for the emotional violence that one is going through. And the more we take this time of description of what is going on in the body, the more the description refines and becomes evolutionary. Then we may find that we can rediscover internal levels of benevolence and then self-healing properties simply because we have again developed an unconditional form of self-loving listening, even when initially it does mean to listen a high level of violence, conflict and internal disorganization.

NB: Warning, I am not saying here that we must disappoint in order to disappoint at all costs, I say that disappointing and being disappointed are inevitable phenomena and that they are a constituent part of human construction. Exploring disappointment by accepting to feel and live it, potentially allows humans to grow and evolve into a better version of themselves. This, by allowing the reworking of all our expectations, representations and thought-forms that try to format the real not as it is, but as we believe it should be. To re-phrase it in another way (for this is the main message of this text), disappointment operates whenever the true nature of reality, of the other or of our deep self, clearly shows that they are not assimilated to our expectations and to all our conscious or unconscious mental representations that we believe it should logically obey. Therefore, if accompanied and accepted, disappointment can open us to a world of possibility much larger and enriching than the limited and limiting mental representation of ourselves, of others, and of reality, in which we did not know yet we were imprisoned…

P.A.M.

What about Psychic Paralysis?

Psychologist Psychotherapist Paris, Pascal Acklin Mehri. Get out of psychic paralysis, get out of confusion.

Psychic paralysis has a profound impact on psychic functioning. There is like a blank, a suspension, an absence, in the functioning of the person who can not talk about it or think what happens to him until he realizes that it has happened to him. And the fact that we can’t really talk about it or really think about it, is for the human mind a way to make it kind of disappeared. Thus, the event which has caused the psychic paralysis returns periodically to the limbo of unconscious suppression because we simply do not know what to do with it. If the person begins to become aware of the phenomenon and takes the time to self connect what he feels at that moment, then he may feel, (after having overcome the apparent absence of sensation), that his body is frozen, paralysed, sometimes numb, or like if he were made of cotton. And other times as if the whole person was out of his body. This, in all cases, results of what is happening in your body when you are facing an inability to respond in front of a drastic situation or type of situation.

Psychic paralysis, more often than not, occurs when we are dealing with a traumatic situation. Then, following this trauma, the phenomena can be re-lived even when faced with a situation apparently innocuous, but which reactivates the unconscious memory of a trauma of the past. A situation is traumatic when the person’s body is not able to integrate, to metabolize in his body and his psyche, the sudden influx of sensory and psychic information that bursts in a way totally unusual at the time of the event. It is easy to understand the possibility of a trauma in case of assaults, sexual abuse, rape, violent attacks, events of wars,  accidents etc. But in fact, there is another category of events, some times much less obvious, on a daily basis of exposure, as can be for a child, for example, the exposure to the unspoken, silent secrets charged with prohibitions or taboos, which can be as strongly omnipresent than they are strongly muted in a family or into a social group. It is clear that, depending on how the parental or family history is organized around them, some secrets or taboos have a powerful potential of a paradoxical injunction.

It should be pointed out that a paradoxical injunction operates when one faces an entanglement of verbal, sensory and representational information that places the person in front of contradictory choices that then become impossible to make. Typically, in the case of aggressions, the archaic animal brain that governs our impulses pushes us to behaviours that oscillate between two extremes, fleeing or attacking. The flow of stress experienced then by the human body serves to make this flight or attack possible. Submitting can also be a possible and viable behaviour when it helps to stop the aggression and thus relieve stress. But what happens when none of these options seems possible or simply viable? A child beaten by his parents or subjected to powerful taboos or unspoken secrets can neither flee nor attack because of his situation of weakness and emotional and material dependence. This is a type of paradoxical injunction. One way or another if I struggle I lose, if I flee I lose, and submitting will not be enough. Whatever he does, the child’s experience is that there are no possible viable outcomes. Rape or situation of hostage-taking can lead to the same kind of paradoxical experience when no matter what I do, my mind sees no viable outcomes. I then suffer a state of deep internal stress that can lead to no possible liberating choice and no release of this internal energy build-up. Whatever the threat, apparent, real or even sometimes subjective, the mind reacts as if there are no more options while the body instinctively continues, in a continuous flow of stress, to prepare for an impossible solution. Such internal contradiction is unbearable violence for the human body…

Psychic paralysis, for these extreme cases, is then the ultimate choice of the unconscious, the last way out. I can’t run away, I can’t attack, but I can kind of disappear by disconnecting from all or part of my feelings related to this traumatic situation. I have no choice but to stay in a kind of in-between, a kind of standby position, an on-site frost called psychic paralysis. The energy of stress is also frozen, contained and repressed deep into the unconscious memory of the body, along with the sensations and memories to which they are attached. The person becomes foreign, absent, amorphous. There are even certain situations of assault or rape where one can believe by watching the scene from the outside that the person is willing, because he or she seems to let himself be done, not defending himself, not fighting back, when in fact he or she is in a state of astonishment, completely stunned, unable to react.

The unconscious, being somewhat timeless, the psychic paralysis allows you to go through the traumatic event by taking you psychically away, like out of time so to speak, while waiting for the conditions to evolve sufficiently so that you’ll be able finally to make a choice again. Psychic paralysis is a kind of global “standby” of the psyche and the organism, which freezes the traumatic moment and pushes it back into the unconscious until a new psychic maturity may later allow the person to resume it, to become more aware of it, with a new opportunity to try to get out of it at last. The problem is that this “later” may be more or less distant and in the meantime, long after the trauma itself, the person can continue to live, grow and organize his life, without knowing it, around what is now repressed and deeply frozen in him. Sometimes the phenomenon is partial, I remember the events, I can even name them but they are no longer connected to either energy nor emotions.

In the case of the family secrets, it is the same process except that the paradoxical injunction intervenes when the feeling of the existence of a family trauma encounter the obligation to not talk about it, to forget it and to pretend that it does not exist. This peculiar paradoxical injunction can possibly lead to a form of psychic paralysis. For what is frozen can be buried which will allow the child to survive despite the paradoxical injunction and its underlying trauma.

How do I get out of psychic paralysis?

To get out of this “madness” we must first become aware of it, then we must accept, with the right accompaniment, to re-enter it. To return into it voluntarily must be done step by step on a sensory way by verbally describing what one is going through in order to gradually re-order it. This is delicate and rarely done because, in essence, it involves feeling the condition and consequences of a traumatic state that has not been digested the first time. But, by gradual going back and forth in this state of psychic paralysis, the verbalization of sensations in the body allows precisely a new movement of the psyche and then a renewed capacity of thinking the past traumatic events. As the stress of the body has also been frozen and blocked inside, the progressing release of emotions also allows the release of frozen energies. If so, any repressed memories may also come to the surface.

The exit from psychic paralysis most often leads to the entry into another phenomenon more or less intense: confusion. This confusion is quite normal since, to come out of this “frozen” situation, is moving a part of your identity that invisibly (unconsciously) was organized around the psychic paralysis. Sometimes it is a profound overhaul of some of the foundations on which we thought we were built, hence the necessary passage of confusion. And just like psychic paralysis, it will also be necessary by the same way, to cross and to verbalize all the sensations related to the confusion, to be able to travel through it. At the same time as we go through the confusion, and if trauma and psychic paralysis were related to family history, then the memories and questions connected that have been repressed and unanswered can be traced. The new questions are accompanied by a liberation of the feelings and emotional energies associated. At the end of the confusion, certain passages-to-act, such as confronting one’s family or its aggressors, seem to impose themselves as the logical continuity of the exit from psychic paralysis, and thus as the possibility finally renewed to be able to react again. But contrary to what our mind may believe, it is not so much the answers to the questions, rather the fact of finally being able to ask them and thus allow ourselves to feel all the associated emotions (which are released at the same time with or without the answers), which are a sign of an ongoing liberation process and thus an exit from stupor. The answers to questions if they happen are just the icing on the cake…

P.A.M.