Presence is being attentive to our present reality, to that which is going on for us and around us now.
Does this mean that when we think of the past or the future we lose the experience of presence? It can compromise or reduce the experience of being present, but rarely will we fully lose presence. If as a therapist I am in session with you and fully present to you and then I need to look at my clock to see how much time we have left because I have another client who is on a tight schedule after you, I am no longer as fully present. I am still present to you: I am aware of you; I know we are sitting in the same room together. I haven’t lost my present experience, but the level of presence has shifted because my awareness is now including a future event that involves another person.
There are multiple levels of presence, probably as many levels as there are people in the world today. Most people in European and North American cultures live between present, past and future. These days it is called multi-tasking. Continue reading
The Story of Richard
Richard’s feels ignored by his mom and dad. His parents are so much into their own career they give their one and only child the minimum of care. They live under the illusion that they are good, caring parents. The reality is, Richard’s care see-saws between a nanny on some days of the week, day-care on others, and a teenage babysitter on the nights they attend their ‘mandatory” business meetings. When Richard does see his parents, usually on the occasional evening and when they are not catching up with domestic and household duties on the weekend, he is needy and frustrated and prone to angry tantrums. His parents have absolutely no time for these anger tirades. They themselves do not possess the capacity to see or understand the connection between their absence and his frustration. When he does express anger they respond by sending him up to his room for long periods of time, having him leave the table without finishing supper, disallowing him from playing with his PlayStation or computer, or banning him from watching his favourite television programs for the rest of the week. Continue reading
Children are highly absorbent during their pre-school years. They speak as their parents speak mimicking their accent often with the same tonality or dialect. They want to walk like their dad, become the policeman, consultant, or the musician their mom or dad is. They parent their stuffed toys and dolls in the way they themselves are parented and playact the role of parent to their friends in ways they are used to being parented. Our young children are sponges, absorbing the speech, behaviours, stories, and idiosyncrasies they pick up from their parents, teachers, neighbours, television personalities, and story-book characters. Everything a child is exposed to has the potential to be absorbed.
Children absorb trauma in the same way they absorb the behaviour traits occurring around them. Not having the psychological capacity to objectify traumatic events occurring in the family environment, or the learning in place to rationalize or make sense of what may be beneath the traumatizing event, children have no option but to involve themselves in trauma, creatively seeing themselves as a causative factor or the actual reason the trauma is taking place. (Read: What is trauma?) Continue reading
Defense parts expect trauma to occur again. In the attempt to ensure trauma doesn’t re-occur defenses widen their vision. Wide-angled vision is a condition of expanded suspicion where all situations or people bearing some similarity or resemblance to those who originally caused trauma are suspected as having the potential or ability to create trauma again.are (Read: What are defenses?)
If the old retired male neighbour caught the child picking apples off his apple tree and screamed and yelled in the child’s face to the point that the child was traumatized by the incident, to ensure the child is never traumatized in this way again his defense parts might widen their vision to include all older men as having the potential to re-traumatize him. If this wide-angled vision stays in place the child’s defense part may advise him to be wary and suspicious of all older men, a suspicion that if left unchecked could extend into his or her adult years. Even into his middle aged or retirement years he could feel anxious and insecure when in the presence of an elderly man and may choose to avoid situations where he is alone with an older man. Continue reading
Defenses do not trust change and are there specifically to limit or even to prevent change. To the defense change could mean encountering trauma again. So, the defense is more interested in keeping your life familiar. (Link: What is a defense?)
If I avoid intimacy with my wife by turning on the TV, that is, I turn it on to avoid conversation or interaction with her, a defense part is advising me to use TV to prevent me from moving into intimacy which it sees as unfamiliar, perhaps unsafe, maybe even threatening. Most likely I will not be aware that I am using the TV so strategically. If you were to ask me if I do that as a tactic to avoid intimate conversation with my wife, I will probably genuinely deny it. I may even get angry with you because you suggested it. You may be hitting too close to home, that intimacy is unfamiliar, unsafe, and a situation I am not comfortable being in. I may not even be aware of this truth or want to be aware of it. Continue reading