Dr Ewald Crause
Welcome to another edition of PsyTalk, our quarterly bulletin showcasing the work of PsySSA’s Divisions, Standing Committees and Branches. We trust that you will find the content topical and relevant to our context where we choose to practice our profession.
It is now just after 01:00 on a Wednesday morning and I find myself searching for something that I don’t have… time. I suppose it is a feeling that a lot of people experience during this time of the year… that feeling like you have just not been able to capatilise on all the opportunities faced throughout the year. For me the experience of missed opportunities seem to be an ever present passenger as I travel through the vaults of memories crammed into my 2017 ‘travel bag’. In fact, I can’t help but smile because to me this metaphor about my emotional experience of the year resembles the very tangible image of my holiday luggage…always pack to the point of bursting at the seams.
Typing away on my computer at 01:10 I realise that I, like many people I know, am confronted with the reality that time, specifically relating to time available in 2017, is not on my side. In psychology we are acutely aware of the fact that it is here, in this present moment, where our thoughts and feelings can have a significant impact on our perception of the lived experience. For example, you can reflect on the many missed opportunities and feel despondent… or you can consider the possibilities that still remain viable even when our energy levels are at an all time low. Two different views, two significantly different outcomes… one life lived.
It is really in this moment of solitude in the stillness of the night where my thoughts regarding 2017 have started to change somewhat. For full disclosure I probably have to emphasise that work stress and sleep deprivation has not been kind over the last couple of days… but somewhere in my delirium at this hour with a half eaten Ouma Rusk and a coffee stained mug glaring at me there is a sense of calm that I have noticed. The realisation that despite all my attempts to control life I have failed miserably (i.e., when measuring success according to achieving my 2017 goals)… yet loved the experience of change and challenges in my life. Change, in 2017, was my companion. The arrival of a baby, stepping into a new career, relocating… and the list goes on. Yet all these ‘unplanned’ events have contributed greatly to my now sense of fulfillment.
I might not have the sense of achievement when comparing my 2017 goals to what I have accomplished, but there is a deep sense of fulfillment stemming from the lived experience of a challenging year. That… for me, is just fine. Things don’t have to be perfect. Life seldom is. And we still have some time left to make a meaningful change…even if that change is to acknowledge the stories of survival above the stories of despair.
Enjoy this last issue of PsyTALK and make the best of the festive season.
We look forward to seeing you in 2018.