Getting out from under the crushing weight of disappointment

A bloom of sadness and anger

Disappointment flourishes in the space between expectations and reality, the greatest expectations often kindling the bitterest of disappointments.  It fires up when our dreams come crashing down, when we’re let down by friends or lovers, or when we let ourselves down with failures, real or just imagined.  It’s one of those emotions that can leave us crushed and, worse still, your disappointment in me can feel as bad as my disappointment in both myself and in you.  So what do we do when disappointment strikes?  And how can we stop it happening again? Continue reading “Getting out from under the crushing weight of disappointment”

Emotions aren’t good or bad – they’re useful!

A spot of emotional confusion

You’ve probably heard about positive and negative emotions.  Joy, pride and love are all positive emotions, while anger, fear and disgust are all negative.  I’ve heard it said countless times:  if you have any sense, you’ll stick with the positive ones and do everything you can to banish the negative ones.  But that’s unsound advice.  This antipathy towards negative emotions is based on a curious misunderstanding about what we mean by positive and negative emotions – and it’s something that can have serious consequences if we leave it unchecked. Continue reading “Emotions aren’t good or bad – they’re useful!”

The strange case of René Descartes and Madame Guillotine (Pt II)

Part Two:  Bridging the gap between body and mind

What are our minds like and how are they connected to our bodies?  It’s a question that’s perplexed philosophers for centuries because, although our bodies are clearly here, we can’t see, touch or apparently know the mind from outside our own subjective experiencing.  It’s a toughie.  We’ve seen what mind-body dualism has to say, with its metaphysical decapitation of body and mind.  Now we’ll explore some alternative ideas and theories that challenge Descartes and the dualists, bridging the gap between body and mind – making us all whole once again.  But first, time for a reality check. Continue reading “The strange case of René Descartes and Madame Guillotine (Pt II)”

The strange case of René Descartes and Madame Guillotine (Pt I)

Part One:  Body and mind, divided

Many of us accept the idea that mind and body are separate things, and why wouldn’t we?  We see it in the Mind, Body and Spirit section at the local book store and at the alternative health centres that promise to rejuvenate us, body and soul.  Less obviously, it often appears in healthcare settings where mind and body remain curiously disconnected.  Mind-body dualism is everywhere – but what does it mean for the body to be disconnected from the mind, and vice versa?  As we’ll see, this metaphysical decapitation has created all sorts of problems around how we understand ourselves and the problems we live with – and that has a direct bearing on how we understand health and wellbeing. Continue reading “The strange case of René Descartes and Madame Guillotine (Pt I)”

With neuroplasticity, the power of change is at our fingertips

Our ability to adapt and change is rooted in the brain’s neuroplasticity – and therein lies the power of transformative self-renewal

Our subjective sense of wellbeing is affected by a whole range of factors, from the quality of our interpersonal relationships to the regulation of internal bodily processes, our sense of place in the world and the things we do that give us a sense of meaning and purpose.  Childhood experiences have a hugely influential role in how this all plays out, and it can often feel as though things are set in stone by the time we hit adulthood.  The reality is that neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to grow, adapt and change – gives us all the capacity to grow, adapt and develop across the span of our lives. And this means we can grow beyond the developmental harms embodied in our neural circuitry and enjoy transformative self-renewal, whatever our age. Continue reading “With neuroplasticity, the power of change is at our fingertips”