Welcome to December 2017's Pandora newsletter
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Christmas is quite an event, isn’t it. In the West we are usually presented with an image of Christmas as a happy family, gathered around the tree opening presents, or seated at a table full of food. It’s not always (often?) like that in reality, of course. Christmas comes in all shapes and sizes for a wide variety of people, and sometimes I wish that we could recognise that.
In addition to our actual family, we often recreate our original family in the groups we are part of – at work, maybe, or in a circle of friends. We take the same sort of role we took in our family, and then, often to our surprise, we find that someone there starts behaving towards us like an actual family member used to. Are they really behaving like that, or are we just seeing them do it? It’s probably a bit of both – it starts in a small way, we react in our traditional way and then it snowballs. Patterns start small and then increase in size and speed.
It’s no coincidence, I often think, that one of our country’s best loved traditions is a pantomime – often Christmas Day itself is as well rehearsed as pantomime, with everyone playing a well worn role and old traditions revived – for good or for bad. It can feel stifling and stressful, and people often feel trapped into doing things – visiting certain people, eating certain things- that they can’t seem to refuse.
I keep trying different ways of having Christmas, looking for the perfect one – in reality our needs and likes probably change as we get older, so keeping alive to what we want to do and, if appropriate, what our loved ones what to do, is important.
Whatever you do this year, I hope you enjoy your Christmas.
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As you may know, along with most therapists I am a great fan of Irving Yalom. He writes so beautifully, and with such humanity. Not for him the often rather cold analysis of his ‘patients’; he sees himself in them and connects with them. He’s now 86 and has published what he says is his last book – it’s a memoir of his growing up and the issues he faced and worked through. It’s a great book I think, for therapists and non-therapists. It’s called “Becoming Myself” – I recommend it as a Christmas treat!
Quote of the Month
“One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Socerer's Stone
There’s a CPD event in Banbury in February I would love to go to, but I’m otherwise booked. So just in case you don’t know about it, Karin Creasy is doing a seminar on “Finding the Real Self – Identifying and working with clients with narcissistic and borderline presentations”. Click here. for more details.
Counselling, psychotherapy and supervision