The power of desire
Our desires have a tremendous power and are capable of rejuvenating us, leading us to changes in life in which we find our creativity.
Desire is the energy for life. It is the power that drives us to change our lifestyle, discover what makes us feel good, develop or interrupt relationships with other people, change the area we live in or the type of job we do. Furthermore, desires help us bring our unique tendencies and capabilities to the surface and this way we reach a self-realization state through uniquely caring about our self.
If we pay attention to nature around us which works by all the physical laws, we will see for example that the bee knows exactly how to make honey without being taught by someone. Likewise, the seed knows exactly how to make fruit and so on. In a similar way, people are driven towards their own ambitions, their own personal self-realization through the power of ones desires.
At this point I would like to highlight that, it’s not the kind of desire we have, rather it’s how did we get to the point to have a specific desire. Without this realization, we often get caught up in a chase of goals without feeling any satisfaction or contentment. At that point we have to reconsider the choices we made and focus the energy of our desires elsewhere. We have to focus our energy on what really expresses us. This way, pleasure is sure to follow.
Oftentimes we make the mistake to expect happiness from someone or something. It is important though to escape that false mental state we are trapped in. Our expectations are responsible for blocking our real desires through cognitive schemas such as “how love must be” or “how life must be”, human relationships, our professional life etc.
Our decisions are often made using our logic and beginning from ourselves. Only by truly understanding our feelings at every moment are we be able to understand how we feel and therefore our true desires will come to the surface.
What really matters is to bring our real needs which are in the unconscious to a conscious level. We are able to do this by paying attention to the messages that our own body gives us through a variety of bodily symptoms.
Being stuck in situations due to our habits is the true enemy, because this way we are unable to change, to learn something new and advance, which is a requirement of life itself.
It is obvious that in situations like these there is some kind of a mental battle going on. On one side there is our EGO filled with egoism and personal expectations and on the other side there is our true self compassion and self love that we have for ourselves.
Oftentimes we feel that we are not free human beings. This happens because we have given our ego too much space. Too many thoughts, and all sorts of remedies that get us into situations we feel trapped again. And so, we create new boundaries that stop our energy once again.
- N. Kazantzakis (1883-1957) once said: “ I don’t hope for anything. I don’t fear anything. I am free”.
For Carl Jung, (1875-1961) a Swiss psychiatrist, desire corresponds with our mental energy which gives us the needed vital push. The free expression of desires helps the person make changes in life which when combined with maturity, he/she reaches self-realization.
The biggest obstacle in our self realization is our own self. It’s our false understanding that we “must” serve that feeling of duty and obligation that we often feel which is of course accompanied by feelings of guilt. These feelings are derived from prepossessions and somewhat weird beliefs. That’s why it is important to serve our own dream and not someone else’s. We too, often become as in the ancient drama of Aeschylus (525-456 B.C) “Prometheus the Bound” who through the conviction of Zeus, was punished because the meaning of sin, blasphemy and guild was predetermined.
Every day we wake up is a brand new day because we ourselves are brand new. We owe it to our self to take care of our self, dress in a way that makes us feel good and ware our best smile. This attitude toward life is the key to live not only happy moments, but full happy days leaving behind all of our false expectations and life programming that simply doesn’t suit us.
Nobody can take away our right to desire and dream.
Spiros Metaxas Psychiatrist-Psychotherapist
How many worries can my mind tolerate at once and for how long?
For a very long time we’ve been on a hurry to get things done, worrying and running at a very fast pace, especially if we are speaking about living in the city. We are constantly forced to prioritize our errands, but this isn’t always possible due to unexpected things that might occur which we didn’t expect.
Additionally, we are not able to cope with the pressure of our environments effectively and at the same time think about our own personal worries. This happens because both cognitive processes happen in the same part of the brain, the temporal lobe.
For example, if we have just had a fight or a misunderstanding with someone very close to us, while leaving the house we might have difficulty in finding the car keys. This cognitive overload which may occur after an emotional challenge such as the one described above, comes from our incapability to balance tasks which may in fact be very simple. In this situation, the emotional load we are experiencing is what makes us feel immobilized. For us to understand how much of this pressure we can actually tolerate, it is important to be able to listen to ourselves. This is possible only when we quiet down and really listen to ourselves in order to understand the emotions we are experiencing.
Since we are unable to deal with more than one task at a time, we find ourselves constantly working by completing one after another by prioritizing them. At the same time, we are expected to have a good understanding of the whole situation without missing any details.
A mental overload for years in which we are constantly supposed to remember everything and deal with all these errands effectively, creates that feeling of “I always have to think of everything”. The stress and fatigue which occurs hinders the function of the temporal lobe. As a result, we are unable to prioritize our tasks effectively and this makes it difficult for us to act. Every effort we make to compete a task, makes us feel like we are making the wrong choice among the other tasks waiting for us. This leads to the phenomena of “ego depletion” in which we are so tired mentally that we simply cannot decide on anything.
Therefore, it is very important for us to deal with this problem effectively when we are in a calm state. A good time to do this is in the morning while having our morning cup of coffee. Before beginning our day, we can organize our tasks and prioritize them effectively without feeling any pressure. We can also write them down on a piece of paper if that suits us best. This way we are making a list with what is most important to us.
The mental peace of each person depends on the balance he/she creates among nine areas of life.
Those areas are the following:
- The affection and love that comes from our spouse/partner.
- Our family life.
- Our social life.
- Our professional life.
- Our personal content.
- A healthy life style.
- The ability to deal effectively with every day tasks, financial matters, errands and more.
- Our self-realization through enhancing our self-esteem, creating a positive self-image and trusting ourselves.
- Helping others and offering support through volunteering and sharing.
Through understanding these areas, we can recognize our needs and this way it is easier to make a list of our priorities that suits us best.
Summing up, I would like to point out that we are not forced to run at the pace of such a fast rhythm of life. Instead it is essential that we develop a deeper understanding and a proper alertness in order to live a fulfilling and happy life.
Spyros Metaxas Psychiatrist-Psychotherapist
The meaning of time in human psychology
How do we define the meaning of time? Is it a simple matter? Is it as simple as just looking at a clock or an hourglass counting as the moments pass?
How does the feeling of time, change during our life? Of course, we cannot simply stop time or make time pass quicker.
In different phases of human life, the perception of time is characterized by fluctuations. People perceive time in different ways according to the events that occur in their life. Sometimes, when thinking about time, people often think about the meaning of life and death, as time continues to go by merciless.
Time flows by like a river that never stops, moving from the past to the present and from the present to the future.
Time has three phases. The first one is the phase of the past which is experienced through memories and nostalgia. The second phase is the phase of the present which has to do with what we are doing here and now and how we are living in the present moment. The third phase is the phase of future in which we have laid our expectations, hopes and plans.
All of us have the awareness that we only have a certain time in life. Others experience this awareness more intensely, while others not much. The point is that we all somehow understand that we cannot predict how long we will live because this depends on many factors. However, the important thing we have to understand is, it’s not how long we might live, it’s how we experience life itself. For example, if we spend our life on meaningless experiences, we will feel like our time here is very short. On the other hand, if we spend our time making better choices, experiencing more meaningful events that are in line with our values and beliefs, and expressing our creativity, we will feel that our life is full, long enough and content.
Sometimes we experience situations in which we feel hopeless, sad and hurt. However, in these situations, we must think that “hope always dies last”. Additionally, if we think about the happy events in our life, this gives us hope for the future.
It is very important to have a good understanding of our everyday life, even if we feel that some days seem like illusions. This is not necessarily bad. On the contrary, it is only then that our reminiscence can lead the way back to hope again. This way, through hoping again, we can trigger emotions and desires that had disappeared from our life.
The art of psychotherapy is to help people discover their capabilities and potential and bring these good elements of their personality to the surface again. It helps them cope with the difficult and complex situations in their life. It helps people when they feel that time is stuck and it’s torturing them, or when they feel in their mind and soul that they are being chased by it.
Through understanding our emotions, we can understand what is going on in our mental world. It is important to allow our emotions to be expressed, because this way we understand ourselves better and learn more about us. Reminiscence has an emotional investment that follows us throughout our life and is often responsible for our behavior.
Reminiscence is also often linked with sadness and our desires. Getting to the root of it, it means that we are dwelling in the abyss of our sadness, our hopes, our expectations and our desires.
What is very important is the fact that we cannot exist without time, which is often overwhelming for us because it is constantly counting our days and our time in life. Apart from the time that goes by in our life though, there is also our internal clock, our internal time, which is very private and important for each of us. This kind of time has nothing to do with clocks, it has to do with our mental state, and it is a form of contemplation.
While reminiscence exists due to the past and serves the past, hope belongs in the future and actually exists for the future itself. When we keep reliving the past and bringing it to the present through memories or when we keep wishing that the future was in the present, then we are not living, rather we are hoping to live in the future. It is very important to understand that we must live in the present, embracing every moment of life through the meaning we have freely given it.
Spyros Metaxas Psychiatrist-Psychotherapist
The power of words
Words are very important when it comes to proper communication and coexistence among people. However, great attention must be given as to how we use words, which ones we choose in order to give the precise meaning when we are communicating, and also it is important to think about when we choose to use them. Not all moments are appropriate for proper communication. This is important because words can cause certain brain waves to occur through the way one listens to them, which happen inside the brain and which in turn might cause uncomfortable behaviors and might trigger emotions, fears, memories, hopes etc.
Words have such power, that one in fact can compare them to the significance of the scalpel during a surgical procedure. They are cognitive events and their job is to deliver a meaning through consciousness. Furthermore, they resemble human thinking. Perception is not the same in everyone. Not everybody perceives things in the same way. It is not uncommon for people to say one thing and actually mean another or believe certain things and do otherwise. This is where selfishness and vanity are imprinted.
The improper use of words can make us sick.
First of all, it is important to pay attention to ourselves and understand how we communicate with other people. Inside every one of us exist two selves. The first one has the tendency to repeat words which have been heard repeatedly and which expresses ideas, predispositions and what is usually said and heard. The second self reflects the true nature of who we are inside, our unique character and the choices we make authentically. This is where we need to be cautious because if our first self is in charge, we easily slip into emotional imbalance which is very dangerous for our overall happiness and health.
We are used to believing that others are responsible for the misfortunes and difficulties we experience from the external environment throughout our life. This way we end up believing that other people are making us miserable and sick. However, this is not the case. It might be true that what we perceive from our environment may be hurtful and might even frighten us, but the disappointments we encounter can change as time goes by and furthermore the wounds we have, heal. The problem is that when we are experiencing negative emotions due to our misfortunes for a long time, or even depression, all of this is based on wrong cognitive schemas and on unresolved internal battles which make it difficult for our genuine energy and creativity to be expressed.
At this point I would like to mention the stoic philosopher Epictetus (50-138 A.D) who thought that education was what established his freedom. He used to say that “it’s not the events themselves that scare people, it’s the idea people have about the events”.
Words always have an emotional investment.
Oftentimes, words we hear from other people can charge us emotionally so much that we end up loosing our logical way of thinking and we feel emotionally paralyzed. Unfortunately, this way it’s easy to act counteroffensive and end up losing a possible chance to build a good and stable relationship with a person.
When we feel paralyzed it’s because we look at things from our own perspective only, but we must keep in mind that this way of thinking and feeling is derived from our own negative experiences. Events though have another side too, one that we are not aware of. Our dysfunctional cognitive schemas are responsible for not letting us discover other more functional ways of living. We all have another side of looking at things within us that is opposite to the one that made us feel paralyzed. That’s where we can find the best solutions to our problems. That side of us can only act when we decide to lower our selfishness and get in a state of mind which is a long way off of dysfunctional thinking, false beliefs and role models, in order to give our mind the chance to activate positive functions that it already has. Phrases such as “what will others think of me” or “what will others say about me”, often get us in a position of feeling accused and therefore we feel that we have to apologize or feel bad about ourselves. However, the real judge is within us and this has to do with the values and beliefs each of us have and follow in our lives. It is our conscience. Our self esteem cannot improve if we constantly compare ourselves to others. In fact, it can only improve when we quiet down and listen to our real self without any criticism.
Socrates who was a Greek philosopher (469-399 B.C) and the teacher of the dialectic method, used to tell his students to filter what they say to someone. He claimed that before speaking one must think of three things: How true is what I am about to say? How kind is what I am about to say? How useful is what I am about to say? Otherwise, there is no reason to speak at all.
Words can be a very powerful tool that we can use in many circumstances such as at the work place, how we talk to our spouse, and so on. Due to personal conveniences though, or selfish goals, false beliefs etc., we might often use words that will belittle the other person. When this happens, the Rosenthal effect or the so called effetto Pigmalione takes place in which the person who is being criticized acts in the same way as the one who is criticizing him/her in an attempt to feel better when in reality he/she exonerates and justifies the blamer. This is how a false cycle establishes within a relationship in which one person becomes a stooge for the other one.
Culture impacts words directly.
It is well known that in different cultures and societies, the use of the same words can cause different reactions. The way a person perceives and understands the meaning of the words has to do with his/her beliefs, knowledge status, and the general attitude towards life at that given time. In other words, perception and cognition of a person has a lot to do with the culture in which he/she lives. In the western cultures, we usually focus on what the other person is saying, ignoring where he/she is really coming from and whether he/she is being influenced positively or negatively, and this way we tend to classify people in a way that suits us.
In societies where collectiveness is in charge, the person tends to blend in with the others in order to not stand out in contrast to western industrial societies where individualism is being encouraged.
Therefore, the way a person expresses him/her self and the words he/she uses differs a lot among societies.
After all that I have stated about the power of words, I hope that all of us better understand how to use words in such a way that will make our coexistence easier and more harmonic.
Spyros Metaxas Psychiatrist-Psychotherapist
Prisoners Under the Gaze of Others
Many people feel uncomfortable outside their home because they feel that others may make negative comments about them because of an awkward movement or a mistake they might make. That situation puts them in a tough spot and, as a result, they feel humiliated and ridiculed.
The fear of turning red or trembling and stuttering before others can lead one to avoid eye contact. As a result, shy people curtail their activities whenever possible. If, however, they have to talk in public or address individuals of the opposite sex, etc., they experience intense agony and distress, a sheer torture for the speaker. This emotional state is often manifested in physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat, breaking into a sweat, turning crimson, etc.
When such individuals remain untreated, they end up unmarried, unemployed, and/ or living with their parents. From an objective perspective, their main characteristic is their inability to love themselves and to realize the true value of their positive attributes. Those suffering from this disorder underestimate themselves without good reason. After all, we neither ask to be born nor do we choose our parents, but we all have the inalienable right to finding tenderness and the chances for a better quality of life. Too often, however, things take a very different course than what we had hoped for and this leads us to believe that we are not worthy of anything better.
Transforming our agony of being judged by others leads us to actual symptoms; thus, our life becomes a continuous state of being under examination.
All too often, those who suffer from this condition accept this as normal, i.e., this is the way they were made, but this is a great pity because under proper treatment, they can improve their state significantly. It is estimated that only half of those suffering from social phobia decide to seek help and they do so in order to resolve problems that are the result of stress, depression, or substance abuse.
It is a fact that social phobias coexist with other emotional disorders such as depression and other types of phobias. Adolescents, in an effort to keep their anxiety in check, often abuse alcohol, prescription medication, and cannabis.
Nowadays, the widespread use of social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) has created a new type of sociability, ostensibly better fitting for those who don’t find it easy to maintain live human contact. This subterfuge, however, harbors the danger of making shy individuals even more reluctant to connect with others. But if we bear in mind how competitive society has become and how favorable it is towards confrontational situations, avoiding public exposure may in fact end up being useful for their survival. In this case, social phobia takes the form of self-defense.
It is well known that there are negative factors contributing to shyness that are related to the family. It is clear, however, if they owe their existence to a genetic predisposition or to acquired behaviors from the family environment.
Prevention: Developed countries have a systemic approach to the prevention of these psychopathological conditions starting as early as grade school. Their educational system cultivates the spirit of cooperation, i.e. the development of the team on the basis of equal rights and responsibilities among its members, all in an atmosphere of mutual respect and recognition. At no time are antagonism and conflict encouraged.
Treatment: Treatment must be particularly individualized, focusing on his or her specific needs, sensitivities, and family history. As far as prescription medication is concerned, the newest antidepressants have proved useful, but only complementing a parallel course of rigorous psychological counseling.
Spyros Metaxas, psychiatrist/psychotherapist www.anotropia.gr
Depression is one of the most painful human trials; however, we must not confuse its character with the natural experience of profound grief.
Depression contains grief of an extended duration, but it has other symptoms as well such as an intense feeling of guilt, a lower self-esteem, ideas of self-worthlessness, a lack of interests, a reduction in physical and intellectual pursuits, a diminished appetite for food resulting in loss of body weight, difficulty falling asleep, and a loss of sexual desire.
There are different levels of this disease that can be diagnosed as mild, medium, and serious which can lead to suicide, the latter of which is felt as a form of release from the impasses one experiences.
The loss of the ability to experience pleasure is considered an important symptom and when it is accompanied by the loss of hope for a particular situation to change, then thoughts of suicide develop very easily.
There are various causes that contribute to the development of this emotional disorder. The following, more specifically, are all intertwined:
- Organic factors (DNA, elevated blood sugar, thyroid disorders, etc.)
- Psychological factors (sudden death of dear ones, parental neglect, etc.)
- Social factors (unemployment, lack of a healthy emotional relationship, lack of family support, etc.)
Treatment of depression
It is impossible to use a single treatment for a disorder with so many complex causes. The most common treatment of depression is a combination of psychotherapy and the appropriate medication. The medical treatment lasts several months and aids at restoring brain chemistry of the depressed to natural levels. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, helps the individual look at life’s impasses from another more functional point of view. Psychotherapy also helps in a proactive sense to avert future relapses once the medical treatment has run its course.
Today, when there is a serious crisis of values, working people and their families are faced with very difficult trials.
Today, more than ever, prevention is of the utmost importance. Short term psychotherapy with an experienced therapist, can act proactively because the patient feels that his counselor is genuinely empathetic and attentive to the difficulties and impasses in his life.
I would also like to point out that many organic illnesses are psychosomatic. They mainly manifest themselves as diseases in the body but inherent in them are depression and stress which fuel them. Such diseases are cancer, heart disease, skin afflictions, gastrointestinal disorders, etc. There are more conditions that coexist with depression known by the term cumulative illness, like alcoholism and other forms of addiction as well as personality disorders, etc.
The ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates (460-365 BC), the founder of rational medicine, achieved the harmonious pairing of the anthropocentric science with medical art and philosophical reflection. In fact, he used to say, “Prevention is better than cure.”
The most important thing to keep in mind is prevention because no human is invulnerable to disease. We are emotional beings with specific individual limits of resistance to life’s unforeseen difficulties.
I wish for everyone to live well because then we can all coexist in peaceful harmony.
Spyros Metaxas, psychiatrist/psychotherapist www.anotropia.gr
Human Creativity: The Channel to a Meaningful Life
Creativity is a complex phenomenon we are only just now learning to understand in all its dimensions. This human trait is developed early on in childhood when a specific number of games activates and cultivates the imagination, the inventiveness, and creativity in children. Unfortunately, the majority of games do not fulfill this function. However, with the right kinds of games, a child can discover the different uses for the objects used in the game and develops confidence through the pleasant feelings evoked in the process.
It’s been scientifically proven that upbeat pleasant music activates creative thinking in children in contrast to silence. Each type of activity triggers different areas of the brain.
There are two prevailing brain functions directly associated with generating creative thoughts. On the one hand, creative people tend to roam in their thoughts in complete freedom and generate spontaneous ideas. On the other hand, they have perfect control of their attention. When we think of nothing, we are in what is called a state of nirvana during which our thoughts roam freely between new ideas and correlations without a clear aim. It is a particularly important phase for the generating of creative thought. In this phase the human brain exhibits an intense electrical activity of a different kind than the one demonstrated when we focus on a particular task.
Absentmindedness and the existence of seemingly insignificant stimuli while we are preparing for a project at hand, in actuality constitute a rejuvenation of thought, classified as disruptive creativity. Distraction is nothing but mind wandering. It’s no accident that many pioneering ideas come to us when we are not forced to do something and when we are thinking of absolutely nothing, like driving or lying down or staring at the ceiling.
In all of the above our education system plays a very important role. School has never made it easy for the development of creative thinking; on the contrary, it’s stood as an obstacle to it via rigid learning. By studying human creativity, new ideas for teaching paradigms can evolve.
Cohesion is a fundamental element of social life. However, this can also become a dangerous trap to the health of its members when it is too rigid to acknowledge individual choices and behaviors. This is what happens when our attitude in different situations in life remains unyielding because “that’s how it should be,” regardless of whether that is a source of stress, pain, and frustration.
So, desires and impulses are blocked in the name of social cohesion from which we draw no pleasure whatsoever. In order to survive, however, we don’t need this social cohesion as much as we need a spiritual flexibility and a great openness to change. It is no accident that there is a direct correlation between the absence of cohesion and creativity when it comes to deriving pleasure from life. It is very important to see the world from different points of view and to feel free to allow our desires and impulses voice and the room necessary to grow.
Allowing ourselves the right to change, however, does not mean that we cease to be consistent with our fundamental values. It is through this concept that we must assess and acknowledge ourselves for what it is and not through the material things we desire.
When the individual is in a creative process, he or she feels enlightened and material possessions are of no particular value. The individual then is in the state between reality and pure creativity and is overwhelmed with a feeling of completion and contentment.
Being creative means, one is enjoying every moment of his life and is not subject to monotony, routine and to a meaningless life. This is a very personal process and a lonely path.
Those close to creative people receive the satisfaction that emanates from them. But this satisfaction comes mainly from the journey towards the aim like Ulysses’ journey to Ithaca as Kavafy described.
The poet assures us that creatures like the Cyclops or the Laestrygonians are nothing but our personal demons, figments of our own fear. They are problems that we pose to ourselves while in reality there are none. Ithaca, aside from a destination of life, also symbolizes the great task we set for ourselves.
I’ve come to the end of my thoughts on creativity and I wish to everyone creative journeys that make our life more beautiful.
Spyros Metaxas, psychiatrist/psychotherapist www.anotropia.gr
Let Me Make My Mistakes so I Can Grow
Expressions like “to err is human” are well known. Mistakes are part of our human nature. Adults solidify their behavioral patterns according to the development of their individual value system taking into account informal social rules as well as established laws for harmonious living.
During the course of his life, man gets to know himself better through personal experience of various situations and so he can choose who he wants to be. In this journey, he also makes his mistakes. But in order for him to benefit from his mistakes, it is imperative that he accepts them and assumes responsibility of them. Admitting one’s mistakes, however, is a difficult matter. And yet, it is only through self-criticism that one can improve.
Through his mistakes man can delve deeper into himself and thus bolster his self-awareness. Examining them carefully he can choose anew who he wants to be, what direction he wants to take, and for what reason.
Great caution should be exercised though, so that our mistakes do not lead to an emotional standstill like that of guilt or shame. Only by understanding, loving, and accepting ourselves can we avoid stagnation. Even our church, through the sacraments of confession, release man from the guilt of sins and helps him move on in life free from the burden of guilt and shame, in the journey to a more functional life.
One can’t stress enough the defining role of family environment on the individual. One’s value system and behavioral patterns are determined to a great degree by that of his parents thought they may be dysfunctional at present. I can’t stress enough at this point how much psychotherapy helps to shake off anything dysfunctional we carry from as far back as three generations even though we may not be aware of carrying such traits. The next generation will be helped only if we do not pass onto it our own burdens.
The Nobel prize winner Irish author George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) said that “a life spent on mistakes is far more praiseworthy and far more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
It is equally important to know how our brain is wired and how well equipped it is with the apparatus for error recognition. Their identification and correction aid our knowledge. By depriving our brain of such a capability, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn. Overprotective parents are at high risk for this because by overly guarding their children in hopes of sparing them pain, they actually help form characters too weak to counter the adversities of life when they become adults.
During the 90s, neurologists through EEGs discovered an electrical activity observed only when we make a mistake, like, for example, when we are taking a test or when we are in a hurry while driving that we turn in the wrong direction. This action is called ERN (error-related negativity) and it lasts 80/1000 of a second. This is precisely the signal that allows us to interrupt an activity before we complete it and, if time permits, to correct it. As to the type of correction or appropriate solution, this is a function of other mechanisms to which I have already referred.
Our brain is designed to foresee the outcome of its choices and to record the difference between what it had foreseen and what actually happened. This directly affects our behavior and provides us with the opportunity to adapt to the new data thus allowing us to perform better in our lives.
Besides, our life is still beautiful regardless of any challenges or hardships because “what does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
Spyros Metaxas, Psychiatrist/Psychotherapist www.anotropia.gr
The Power of the Team
Our era is characterized by an intense competition, by a production of goods and availability of services at the lowest possible cost. It is also characterized by an alienation in human relationships; therefore, the development of teamwork is a necessary condition for our well-being.
The definition of teamwork work is not the sum total of its members' individual intellectual skills. Rather it is the life-giving element to a collective intellectual creation, an exponential product from which the best ideas are produced, and the best decisions are made.
So, the process developed within the team proves to be more creative than the mere total of the intellectual work of each of its members. Ideally, participants should possess different traits and come from different realms of experience and knowledge so as to promote flexibility in thought.
The following concepts are cultivated in the team:
- 1. Cohesion: This is achieved when the sense of belonging and of mutual acceptance is cultivated in the group members and the team becomes a source of care for them.
2 Interpersonal learning: Every new member has his or her own specific attributes both positive and negative. The team's attitude towards all new members will help them draw valuable lessons for a more accommodating individual attitude.
3.Substitution of "I" for "we."
4.Mutual help. The team process makes it easier for members to help one another.
5.Relief through self-revelation. Through the spontaneous expression of feelings like anger, stress, shame, guilt, etc., and by revealing information about ourselves we attain emotional relief.
- 6. Guiding and providing information. The clarification of problems helps in countering any sense of confusion and discomfort or any reservations. All too often, the ideas of one team member stimulate another member’s ideas which otherwise would have remained dormant .
- 7. Development of expectation and hope in the members. These are common traits cultivated in working groups or therapy groups in which self-esteem and self-confidence are developed.
Participants in team processes feel greater contentment which in turn reinforces team spirit. The effectiveness of a group session is not to be assessed by the ideas generated in it, but by the possibility of their materializing into action. In other words, there is a natural succession between creative thought and its realization into action as well as constructive criticism of it. Therefore, what is produced is an original, realizable, and efficient outcome.
Best wishes for a creative, team-oriented, more human and productive tomorrow.
Spyros Metaxas, Psychiatrist/Psychotherapist www.anotropia.gr
How Much Does Selfishness/Egoism Help the Co-existence between People?
Napoleon Bonaparte was a typical example of an egoist. He wasn’t renowned for his political abilities, prowess nor was he endowed with a high sense of culture. He had, however, a very highly developed drive for personal power, and every time he won, he attained a more glorious place in history; that’s what he was principally after.
The main characteristic of his personality was an especially developed intelligence accompanied by a relentless ambition. These attributes affected his judgement negatively, so he underestimated the English general Wellington as well as the weather conditions in the battlefield of Waterloo. As a result, the outcome was catastrophic both to himself and his troops.
There are Napoleons in contemporary history as well, in whom ambition and egoism in the name of motherland, religion, etc. dominate with terribly catastrophic effects on the peoples of the earth.
While morality may be a bulwark against the onslaught of barbarians in the sense that the latter lag behind in civilization and culture, it is used at will by the Napoleons in order to overcome the resistance of the people of the world. Then, corruption, cynicism, racism, and uncontained self-centeredness prevail. The means to achieve this is the use of concepts like remorse, sin, as well as the development of a sense of guilt in others. Behind all these lies a well-known, powerful conflict of interests, which nobody dares to contest either because of fear or due to an inner conflict of conscience since we believe we are serving institutions like freedom, faith, or the motherland.
For this we are ready to sacrifice our very life should that be deemed necessary by the Napoleons of the time.
The survival instinct prevails in people just like in all living beings and it leads us to aspire to become more capable and more powerful regardless of the social class we belong to.
The strength of this instinct is the source of antitheses, of conflicts, of wars, as well as of alliances and friendships. So arises the need to mask some of our desires. There enters human selfishness, which does not purport to procure for the basic needs as it does in other living organisms, but instead strives to expand its realm of desires. Desires, however, are not instinctual, so it all depends on our individual judgement whether or not we will become freer and more responsible beings.
Nowadays we know of countless ways to pinpoint our own shortcomings and particularly those in others and to categorize others with ease and to relate to others with prejudice, distrust, and narrowmindedness. But this does not make for improved relationships. As a result, a great deal of human potential is lost due to the lack of extra linguistic communication. Relating, then, a difficult process even though we may claim to have thousands of friends on Facebook.
With postmodernism in full swing, globalization has contributed greatly to our conscious awareness of the importance of relationships of mutual influences, of interdependence and of the development of international business.
It is an established fact that many multinational businesses claim larger profits than the gross national income of many a nation and this influences the politics of many governments.
The more conscious we become of interdependence the more distinctions fade between the self and the others or between what is mine and what is yours. So, the idea of a war is a pointless proposition.
In today’s world there is no more room left for selfishness. There’s only room left for the development of conscious coexistence. This, of course, does not mean that we are not interested in ourselves or don’t care about ourselves in the best way: it means instead that it can only be accomplished through coexistence.
Spyros Metaxas, Psychiatrist/Psychotherapist www.anotropia.gr