In my years as a psychologist, I have come to believe that most people seeking psychotherapy are unhappy. This is not only due to earlier hurts and traumas, as well as present frustrations and problems, but because they cannot access earlier happy moments often enough. The unfortunate result is not being able to experience enough positive states of well-being. It is these unique states of well being that I have come to label THE ENCHANTED SELF. Many scientists of human behavior recognize that we do not yet, and perhaps never can, fully understand human nature. I have become more and more convinced that we do not. What interests me, is that we do not fully understand some people, who have apparently fortunate lives but experience little joy, while others, apparently less fortunate, experience great joy. Perhaps we have tried too hard to understand pathology in our science of psychology, and have not tried hard enough to recognize and understand what I call ego-states, or happiness. When I first began to analyze the data from the women I interviewed, I kept trying to understand how their enchanted adult lives evolved from the childhoods they talked about. I found that although there seemed to be some clear connections, many others were not clear at all. The capacities of these women to reclaim positive aspects of their childhood, while discarding the dysfunction that was often also present, was astounding to me. It seemed as if a magic wand had been tapped on the women’s heads in their adult lives. For example, when Edith talked about her childhood, she at first remembered only its dysfunctional aspects: the fighting between her parents and their constant criticality. I suggested that we go back and look again at her childhood to identify times when, in spite of the pain of family life, she felt excited about her own life and about herself. With this encouragement, she could separate out positive memories of herself from dysfunctional family experiences. She started remembering some wonderful times: delightful family picnics, fishing with her grandfather, and more. An activity you can do to start on the positive road of Enchantment: What are some golden moments in your childhood when you felt particularly happy? These moments can be from any age, from your earliest memories through early adulthood. When you find a golden memory, enjoy it. See yourself at that age and experiment with letting different senses reconnect to that happy time. Can you remember the way your body felt? Can you remember what activity you were engaged in? Were there any aromas? What was the weather like? How did things look around you? What did your mood feel like? Take time to really enjoy this happy memory of yourself. I wish you a joyful journey. I hope that your life feels whole and that you find your past, whether beautiful or painful, a repertoire of talents and capabilities is that are uniquely yours. I hope that your talents, capacities and potential will give you a sense of well being as they thrust you into the world in meaningful ways.
THE ENCHANTED SELF, That’s Each of Us!
Posted in A Positive Therapy and tagged A Positive Therapy, childhood memories, Enchanted Self, Positive emotions, Positive Psychology.