Thursday, 7 August 2014

Lifeline Session 3: Learning and growing

Today’s session explored our self-concept, self-disclosure, acceptance of feelings, and self-acceptance.  We also spoke a little bit about the meaning of life and tragic optimism.

Tragic optimism is the principle that life can be potentially meaningful under any condition, even for the miserable and despite of the pain or guilt that we are going through. It allows for us to turn suffering into achievement; move from guilt to improve ourselves for the better; and the ability to take action.

The search for meaning involves taking responsibility for our feelings, thoughts and actions. This can be better explained in Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search For Meaning”. 

I haven’t quite thought about life like this. I've just been wallowing in self-pity. But this is not something I want to do for the rest of my life. I need to read that book!

Self-disclosure means to communicate to others some personal information about ourselves in order to build relationships with them and become meaningfully involved. This also helps us learn more about ourselves.

“Personal growth requires not only that you acknowledge and accept weakness, but also that you recognise and develop your strengths.”

Acceptance of feelings is an important part of communicating with others. It shows them that you understand what they are feeling and essentially, lets them know that it is all right for them to feel that way. It means that you don't need to do something about the feeling - such as giving advice, giving assurance or even saying that you think the feeling is justified, but that you are comfortable with the person expressing that feeling.

This puts things into perspective about meaningful relationships. It’s so easy to try and reassure someone when they are going through something, but that may not be what they are looking for. Sometimes I just need someone to hear me and understand without trying to fix things, or feeling sorry for me. 

Self-acceptance is the ability to know our strengths, but also accept our weaknesses.

“When you value the different aspects of yourself, you feel accepted by others and you accept yourself, then you can actualise your own potential.”

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In group we spoke about our feelings in response to certain situations, using a list of feeling words. And we also drew our “secret place” – real or imaginary, where we go to escape life or take some time out. 

My secret place is a combination of real and imaginary. I've always loved gardens - colourful flowers and big strong trees. The mountains remind me of the distant Stellenbosch mountains I could see from the fields on campus. I like the way a flock of birds fly in unison at sunset or in the mornings. I love the sound of water flowing, and the way the clouds drift across the sky.  

I imagine myself alone in this place, free from distractions, and any worries. It is peaceful and comforting. 

Things are changing in my life. I can feel it. It's a slow process but I need to be patient and trust that in time things will start to work out. 

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