3 Lions

The blog below concerns the many losses that occurred after the European Cup Final in 2021. If vicarious trauma can offer something of use, it would be to remember the steps to remain safe, aware and empowered.

Hurt Magnified
The violence witnessed via news sources at Wembly Stadium on the night of England’s defeat last month, came as a chafenning. The thousands that spilled out from the stadium causing uproar and wanton destruction on the streets of London was indicative of a hurt people hurting, that don’t realise that they are hurting and expel their hurt on to others. It pained me to see these esteemed set of players fall foul after an epic game of many ups and a few downs. The following piece of writing is an attempt at exposition.

FFS
I wonder a few thoughts here: Would an emotionally intelligent person/people act in ways that cause further emotional or physical distress and harm to others? What device could invite pause, for those who are hurting? Acting out in childish and outlandish ways is an errant choice. Could other creative means be employed to expel disappointment? My feelings of let down and frustration by the end result of England not winning the European championship made me look at future goals. There is a sense of inevitability rather than hopelessness. I was also able to recognise and hold onto the numerous successes the whole team had achieved. Mostly of briefly unifying a multi-cultural society as England soared through the group stages and made it to the quarterfinals, the semifinals and then on to the finals.

On Repeat
What I am left questioning is, if English football fans and supporters witness their team’s defeat again, will further racist, vindictive showings of abuse and violence, that appears mindless, again fill time in national and international media? My guess is that yes, there is a high probability the sensationalist press will. Filling time and news print. Unable and unwilling to offer themselves or the public a vulnerable introspective or reflective persective, but the regular, standardised rote stories of old. Stories that continue the divisive ‘us’ and ‘them’ rhetoric. ‘British football fans are as brutish and as problematic as they were in the 80’s.’ The press may report.

Systemic
Attempts at Kicking Racism out of football have continually been made however, if the structure upon which the beautiful game was first built and then is played upon: Historical legacy, Politics and Governmental Policy, Sports Journalism and sports infrastructure, Education, Law, Policing, Prison, Healthcare, Social Care, continue to hold and perpetually consume racist thought, beliefs and decisions, can supporters of the England football team be any less racist? Can racism be kicked out? The beautiful game is an idyll. Similar to many human ideals. Football and sport overall arises from humanity’s basal, primal needs. Aspiring towards something greater, the outright good for all.

Islander

Blame You
The fans are not the team. The fans are representative of a dormant underbelly. The seemingly over patriotic fans are of a settler refugee people that were war strewn and savaged historically by numerous conquests. What has been left? A residue amongst the psyche, an islander who feels vitriolic and triggered by any seeming slight gain at its shores. The national psyche will even dispel and violently attack any that is classed as other, and hold them to account for its own failings. This is a trauma response. This is a way to cognitively separate self from perceived harm that may be real or imagined. My question mostly is about the right some explicitly feel they have, to publicly disown fellow islanders. Is this lord of the flies on repeat?

Origin Story
It is undeniable that the 3 members of the team missed their penalties. It is also undeniable that these players origins hail from communities that lie beyond English shores. Do these two facts make these football players any less English because of their families place of birth or because of where their parents or grandparents grew up? A few years ago (11 if we want to split infinitives) I had a similar discussion with a psychotherapist from Germany. She argued that some people in her country were not really German. Primarily because of where their grandparents or parents were from. My argument was, if these immigrants spoke German, were educated in German schools and colleges, held a passport or other form of I.D. that identified them as German, they were in all manner of speaking as germane as she was. Lineage and history are something to be aware of, but are not tombstones upon which any country can claim who is to be classed amongst or dismissed as alien. Her argument was largely levelled against Turkish immigrants, who have suffered similar persecutions as visible minorities in the UK, Europe, North, Central and South America. A historical genealogy would show that there are more intersections of similarity amongst a nation state than there are aspects that separate citizens. Belonging is a matter of perspective.

Trauma Response
What I am left with is when we are quick to anger and disappointment, we stop existing in our thinking rational human minds and enter a primitive brain system. A similar disordered thinking pattern happens too, when we are triggered by traumatic memory or experiencing trauma. Our pre-frontal cortex goes off-line and we enter a way of being that is operant on survival instincts. We flee, fight, freeze, or friend with an aggressor. The applied psychology for me here, is if we observe the furore of English football fans snarling and lashing out against a perceived threat, we could ascribe these actions to a fight response. Quick to anger is a trauma response too, involving perceived ideas and experiences of defeat, destruction and death.

Industrialisation pictured

Result
How some choose to discharge these feelings without further processing are to attack either verbally or physically all who are potentially a threat. With vitriolic and seemingly patriotic missiles thrown against those who appear obviously different. On Sunday the 11th of July 2021, fans threw barbs, fists and feet at Italian football fans wearing the Italian football team’s colours. The 3 English football players that brought about England’s defeat received racist abuse. Physically they could not be attacked. Mentally, psychologically they could.

The loss of the game, which on that night appeared not to be tolerated, accepted or predicted. The fans caught on camera and fans who wrote horrible messages online, seem not to be able to subsume loss without personal affect. It would appear that the subsidence of adrenalin and endorphin coursing through blood streams moments before the first English missed penalty caused hearts to stop. The stress hormone cortisol that possibly swamped an uncountable number of bodies and minds, worked it’s alarming panic. Can our human minds make sudden hormonal and emotional changes without veering towards the unthink of the wounded? The reasoning may be because, learning of loss and defeat are also a part of living a full and complicated life. Enduring a football match of such importance may not have been readily appreciated, by a triggered few. Once traumatised – one’s thinking can be altered and may not allow for thinking that involves *greydom. It is either Black or it is White. We run or we fight. Simple. Ultimately we stay alive!

Make Sport, Not War
The difficulty I have with the trauma responses at the defeat of England’s football team, or the unthink of trauma reactions by fans, are there was no war, only sport. The beautiful game became sullied with wants of victory that were pulled from grasp at seemingly an intolerable moment. Thereby causing a rupture into basal behaviour and non thinking actions. That has lead to hysteria, harm as well as over-hyped expectations being dashed. Leading to wanton damage. Trumpism on a national scale. It is like the idea of a White offensive nationalism overriding and overtaking a largely positive muti-cultural and encouraging experience. What was shared and possibly would be best to be later processed, are trauma words that then potentially traumatise many others.

Marriage
For a misremembered history to be made factual, a mislabeled past is to be believed above and over the data that invites doubt that the evidence is false. The UK and England suffered invasion, repeatedly from nation states as far afield as Scandinavia, Spain and Italy. The French and the Dutch were also interlopers despoiling ransacking and plundering the island as they saw fit. The point of my historic meanderings is to observe what defences an Island Nation can install. The UK could invest in fleets of ships to defend it’s shores. An island Nation can use intellectual defenses like cognitive dissonance to deny what it has seen, heard and felt. A nation can make allyship and appeal to powers greater than itself to keep it’s sovereign soil free from further invasion. The UK has engaged in all manner of similar actions mentioned above, but the nation and the minds of it’s citizens are still yet to heal from previous historic wounds. The UK has spread them, like a polygamous intimate violent partner whose tools of hurt are psychological, physical, sexual, emotional, financial and emotional – Slavery, Indentured labour, Colonialism, Capitalism.

Equal and yet

All Past
These forms of abuse listed afore, were visited upon the Island nation and once the UK and England became a global controlling behemoth, it too became like it’s former oppressors: abusive, controlling, violent, as insidious and vindictive as the harms suffered in the past. Contorting to a new form of divisive control amongst the UK’s global subjects that included industrialisation, economic disparity, wealth acquisition and dominion over through Colonialism. There are ghosts in the shell that will not acknowledge that a past as challenging and as damaging would have left a people battle scarred and lithe to violence and harm at the smallest infraction or insult. A football game can now be seen as an act of revenge and just desserts that underline a trauma response from a formerly traumatised people who then exact their experiences upon others. It is Israel and Palestine. It is Spain’s assault of Central and South America after the Moors 800 year conquest leaving architecture, religion, science, and libraries. It is Europe’s global treasure seeking exploration into Africa, Asia, North, Central and Southern America and the greater Pacific Islands of Papua New Guinea, Austrialia and New Zealand. An unjustified, unequal exchange offering only barbarianism over civility.

Defy
I am left with:

A little more humour,
Some semblance of understanding,
A degree more compassion for
Hurt people who then go on to hurt others.

There is cause, and there are possible outcomes and effects. With a psychotherapists scalpel to hand, supporting the necessary surgery and bleeding away with uncompromising words…

Asé

Resources
The resources shared below are in order to support reflective thinking in relation to the above post. The aim is to in one small part share knowledge and engage with ideas that interrupt miss interpreted notions of good Black, bad White.
Kicking Racism out of Football a sliding doors YouTube moment where one error filled choice, potentially leads to dire consequences.
Howard Nicholas discuses in a clear way the Zero Sum game Western countries, their policies and practices have prevented the development of Sub Saharan Africa.
Ghost in the Shell offers a rapid overview of the 1995 Manga classic. Where knowledge and doubt are used to coerce a number of outcomes for a number of protagonists/antagonists.
Joy DeGruy explains her idea of Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome and how the behaviour is presented as, for Black communities in the African Diaspora. I use Joy DeGruy’s position on PTSS as a pin to spin the idea of the UK’s self perceived greatness to it’s conquered and defeated past, and what effects it’s citizens are unknowingly carrying.
Akala is possibly one of the most electrifying thought leaders the world has in relation to race theory, critical analysis and culture. In 2016 he shares his ideas about Institutionalised racism. I wonder what has changed since 2016?
Gary Neville offers his understanding of England’s defeat and racist outrage with understanding and compassion.
Anna Edwards writes a short article on the book Fortress Britain by Ian Hernon. Anna also shares in the article the list of the many countries that the UK later despoiled is another factor to be contended with.

Joy DeGruy Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome
Akala explains Institutionalised Racism
Gary Neville interview on England’s Defeat Sky Sports
False Notions of Britain – Daily Mail

Images
Cover photo Football Pitch by Izuddin Helmi Adnan on Unsplash
1st photo inlay of 4 Islands by Ahmed Yaaniu on Unsplash
2nd photo inlay of Industrialisation by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash
3rd photo inlay of 2 Knights embattled by Hassan Pasha on Unsplash

Vicarious Trauma

Before
I was 17 when the vicious attacks by LAPD officers on Rodney King were made and became a pre viral assault for global audiences. This was before the days of the internet. News was gathered from television news reports.

When
March 1991. This was my first year attending an art college in Wisbech Cambridgeshire. The Isle College was as far removed from the site of the brutal attack as I could safely imagine. Wisbech was then a small rural town.

Heard
Police and their brutal treatment of law enforcement towards Black, Brown and poor people – a frequent backdrop to the music I was listening to at the time – Public Enemy, N.W.A. and Jazz infused Hip Hop.

Understanding the double speak of systemic oppression



A First
The Rodney King event was something I had heard about but never witnessed! The video arrived in as raw a format as it could be filmed. A video 8 hand held camera – shaky – unfocused – capturing a seldom caught, or filmed spectacle.

Art Imitating
A friend at the time a fellow student, asked me the day after if I was okay? He a white male. A skateboarder. Aware of the hare-pin trigger reactions of police both here and there. His query stirred me. Back then I did not have the language, reasoning or capacity to make sense of Rodney King’s attack. I don’t now. His experience was unfathomable. Later that year I queued up to watch Boyz n The Hood. The film gave me a sense of context and framing to what I had been a naïve witness to earlier that same year.

Sho’
This post is short primarily because other’s have words that are far more apt, powerful and relevant for this time. In our age of oppressive acts and fear based divisive ideologies. The Jury left the building a long time ago and aren’t coming back.

Over
For women and men like George Floyd slain because a combination of conflicting factors have violently met. This systemic experience now calls for historic revolutionary unprecedented change.

Resources
Othello’s Children by Jose V. Pimenta-Bey
Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr Robin D’Angelo
Russel Brand with Dr Kehinde Andrews discuss White Supremacy
Whiteness on the Couch by Natasha Stovall
Hell you talm bout by Janelle Monae
When Black Death Goes Viral by Kenya Downs
www.kwanda.co The Community’s Village
#howwefight It takes a consistent approach to change

Images
Cover photo by Tyrell Charles on Unsplash
Inlay photo provided by PK of Diversity Space who sourced the image from: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence 2005 Adapted: Ellen Tuzzolo 2016; Mary Julia Cooksey Cordero 2019; The Conscious Kid 2020. Originally shared by Michelle Gyimah & Ashanti Bentil-Dhue on their LinkedIn feed.

With thanks to Dr CW, ATPN, The Family Across the Miles Check in and Diversity Space for the videos and commentary.

Conspiracy Theory: CoViD19

Weather
The reason I am attempting to write a counter conspiracy is for a counselling client (PK) who summed up the mælström that is the pandemic. Wherever one may have been in the last 2-3 months, in all of the countries around the globe, one word has possibly been used billions of times more than almost all others: CoViD19.

More
The meaning of the word CoViD19 is an amalgam for the Corona Virus Disease 2019. There have been other Corona Viruses which this one has become the most famous currently. There was H1N1 and SARs that are also well known to have had deadly effects on us humans.

Past responses
In my last piece of writing, I attempted to show what a millennia of learning has taught us. What do we do in the face an of overwhelming threat? We share knowledge to defeat said threats. With this virus – sharing unverified information can have a large downward spiralling affect.

Valuable
Sharing viable information from reliable and trustworthy sources serves to contain and uplift those that we care about. Putting forward concerning or hopeless material can put even more stress and strain on already overwhelmed biological systems. The effect: more illness and disease and possibly death. Various communities have been hit disastrously by COVID19. Globally – China, Italy, Spain the UK and then the US, have been affected grossly with high infection rates and death tolls.

Guardians
African Americans, African Caribbeans, Black British and Asian British people appear to be experiencing the illness at a considerably higher rate than the general population. Within these communities the disease has spread very quickly: see the Guardian article below. Some time could be spent reviewing incident rates, skewed figures and total numbers observing underlying health difficulties.

You at the Front
African and Asian communities, here in the UK are often frontline workers i.e. Doctors, Nurses, Public Transport operatives, grocery shop employees, refuse and garbage disposal operatives, cleaners, janitors, security guards, delivery agents, postal workers, packers and sorters.
Who come into frequent contact with the disease from a wide array of sources. Often frontline workers are without the appropriate equipment, training or guidance. Simply doing their jobs without due protection.

How did this come to pass?

Responsibility
These women and men as brave as they are, perhaps, are as wary of the set of circumstances we all face but may have little option but to continue to support themselves, their employers, employees, their families, their communities.
Why? Because they care?
Yes, and there maybe a simpler more human reason. If they aren’t able to fill the unforgiving task, who will? If they don’t, will frontline workers be able to stop working if they are the main earner in their household? If family in countries of their origin are in need of the stipend they are able to send each month can frontline workers easily walk away from their frontline roles?

Unknowing Unseen
Perhaps just before we are about to click send on the latest conspiracy theory: showing how this latest crises caused by the Nameless Them will be our undoing. Maybe we should think of others who are fighting for a larger ideal. Rather than the 2 or 3 minutes of edutainment that the video has provided us with. Maybe we can think how is this information going to serve another? Spending time with the idea of – “if I cannot verify or make good use of this too hot to handle information, should I send it?”

Accountability
I am not saying do not send info that you feel can be useful for others. What I am asking is that we make a considered effort to pause and think of others more. Because if what is sent causes another to feel progressively worse and hopeless – do they deserve that? For another to carry the burden of a future that looks as bleak and as unpromising as their not too distant past has been?

Dual Responses
For communities suffering with co-morbid presentations of hypertension, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, poverty, racism, homophobia, sexism, mental illness, personality disorders, substance misuse and pasts affected by the criminal justice system – would adding another straw to an already overworked overburdened back be a compassionate wise or empathic response?

Holding a candle

Light in Dark Spaces
Aim always for kindness I have been told. Always! Aim for lessening the load of others and bearing some of the weight they carry.

Do not click send without forethought.

If the South African term Ubuntu (I am: Because You Are) is used as a guide, CoViD19 could be used as a tool to look to a greater good for all.

Pandemics do not need to separate but throw us all under the same sky fighting a microscopic monster together. Would that not be a better conspiracy to spread?

Resources

P Diddy State of Emergency – A plan of action
The Stoop Podcast – Together and Apart
The Guardian – CoViD19 affecting Black Communities
Pod Save The World – How a Virus Can Threaten Democracy There are many relevant view points incorporated into this episode including David Lammy discussing Corona Virus and his new book!

Images
Cover photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash
1st Inlay photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash
2nd Inlay photo by Eyasu Etsub on Unsplash

Falling Ability of Memory

Oh my MG
A good writer, journalist, author can bring you aboard their insight like a sea worthy crew member after being swept up in a raging sea storm. Malcolm Gladwell is for me that great sailor and an ongoing *inspirator (inspiring conspirator). His expansive ideas educate and instill knowledge like glittering diamonds. Carefully collected like the gems they truly are.
Currently I have been challenged by his Revisionist History episode Free Brian Williams and will explain below.

Do You Remember When?
The episode presents a curious point of view. It all begins with where we’re you when the World Trade Centre Buildings were attacked? Me: September 11, 2001 I was called from my office by a young person. I remember them asking “but weren’t you there this year?”

Rain Soaked Street

I remember looking at the TV in a Youth Cafe in Woolwich in dumbfounded shock! Filled with disbelief. In January of that year I had spent many wonderful days in NY with my friend SO. Travelling from New Jersey to NY beneath the World Trade Cenre Buildings.

And so hooked I fell into the story of a news anchor person who told a version of events that did not occur as his memory told him they had.

Made up mind
The why of the story is what threw me. I did not want to have my mind changed. Especially because what I had thought was so obviously correct. In my minds eye I was right and decent and moral. He the cheat, Brian Williams, should have known better. But Malcolm weaves a story that blends science, psychopathology with neuroscience. The mix is heavy and splits me along ethically dubious lines. The show ends and I find myself interrogating my many memory missteps too.

Again with the Netflix?
Mamadou Athie was not Grandmaster Flash in the Get Down I confidently said to Dr CW as we watched Uncorked. He was an older gentleman I said. I replayed scenes burned into my mind of Grandmaster flash teaching the ‘younger’ DJ how to find the lyric in a song and keep that playing. I was confident. Then I heard Malcom whispering “remember what was said in the podcast”. We think our memory is indelible like a CD or Video recording or cassette tape. It is not.

Screw Cap
Our memories may remember key pieces of information. Bits. Like an outfit. A face. A scene. A voice. A piece of music. A scent. But the whole conceptualisation our memories simply cannot fully compute with crystalline accuracy.

Review
For 1 second of data to be processed by our brains there are millions of pieces of information being assimilated, ignored and stored. Of course we aren’t going to be able to recall them all. We simply cannot. So I revised mentally The Get Down and Mahmadou in Uncorked and realised my error.

Malcolm and Dr CW were right. My memory had failed me and yet I was ready to stick to my wrongful ideas and hold these above what turned out to be a truth. Reluctantly I realised that I was similar to Brian Williams! Believing what my memory told me and not what others advised me was true and correct.

Duality
The effect of the realisation is laughable and uncomfortable. Another area of fallibility is our gut feeling or going on the feeling of something purely. Read ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman for a fuller understanding. We should employ both fast and slow thinking. We would find, we would make different choices. Also read the Chimp Paradox to gain a better understanding of our brains capacity to splice information resulting in different reactions.

Sidestep
Listen to the episode of revisionist history and share either anonymously or below when and where your memory played a trick on you.
Altered Carbon? Possibly we are. We were not meant to hold onto these *rememberings. In fact every time we pull up a memory the memory changes. These blogs, journals, diaries, photos and videos are a way of capturing an idea or memory in a time capsule and store it as it was back then.

After Lockdown 2020
Post COVID19, you could do yourself a favour. Welcome a new world. Where we recognise that unless we train our minds to become memory champions like Jim Kwik or Yanjaa Wintersoul, external devices will store parts of what you no longer have active need to remember. Why not let these memories go. Remembering things like embarrassing or traumatic events might actually be holding you back from experiencing something new and worth remembering. Just a thought. Remember to forget.

Perhaps life is better that way.

Resources
Revisionist History Free Brian Williams
Jim Kwik Memory
2 Guys on Your Head – Memory
Hidden Brain – Did That Really Happen?

Images
Cover photo by David Becker on Unsplash
1st Inlay photo by Bangkit Ristant on Unsplash

The 3rd World War a Theory: Coronavirus

It is possible that we as a world are facing the largest global threat to our ongoing human survival since the 1918 flu epidemic and WWII. COVID19 has been termed a pandemic, an unprecedented global emergency, and a war.

The threat is a protein that once it invades/infects its host, reproduces and causes illness and worryingly death. It is the death part which is indiscriminate and strikes down neighbourhood’s and nation states. I am reminded of documentary’s on WWII and buildings being blown apart and communities destroyed. We all have been unwillingly called up to fight, NOW.

Warning: this is a dive into a few associative ideas I have to support and manage the current crisis. The aim is to provide useful ideas and a brief overview of some media I have consumed that help me position this existential threat.

Cat Theory
A theory of Schrödinger’s cat I shared with a client to support their accepting and reconstructing their ideas of the unknown that is the COVID19 strain of the flu currently turning the world on it’s head. Loosely I presented the theory of a dead/not dead cat in a box as a way to help assimilate a challenging awareness of the pandemic that is COVID19.

The virus reminds me of a fungus (David Attenborough presents entomopathogenic fungi) that affects insects. Over a period of days these insects become cadavers that help spread the fungi’s spores to other unsuspecting insects to create other fungi. Nature is ridiculously clever. In a similar way, an invisible assailant is causing all that we hold in our world experience as important and precious, being torn down and irreparably altered.

Schrödinger’s Theory
And so to the Theory of Schrödinger’s cat. The theory is that we imagine a domestic house cat. The tabby is placed into a box with a radioactive isotope. I should say that, at no point was this experiment ever carried out. This is a thought experiment, inviting our human minds to hold two opposing ideas at the same time. Like in quantum theory where light is made up of particles and acts as a wave at the same time. The radioactive isotope is wired with a timer that releases the poison at a specific but unknown time.

Unknown Paradox
The question to be answered is, is the cat dead or alive? For a scientist or an inquisitive person like my client, questions are posed about the amount of radioactive isotope and the resilience of the cat? Other questions could also include whether the cat had food or water to sustain itself and how long the cat is in the box for? 24 hours is the length of time I gave as my answer. I think for the thought experiment the answer was an hour and yes there was enough food and water to sustain the cat for 24 hours in my example.

Both
Now to answer the question and bring this level of questioning full circle. Point the question at the deadly virus that is irrevocably changing the world. Because we cannot determine the effectiveness of the radioactive isotope. Nor the resilience of the cat. The answer to the question about the wellbeing of the cat, is, that the cat is both dead and alive. Simultaneously. It is neither dead nor is it alive. We would have to open the box and see for ourselves. Up until that moment we are to hold both ideas as probable correct answers.

Is it quantum theory?
I went a little further with the example of Schrödinger’s Cat and COVID19 with my client. Globally we are in the boxes of Known Unknown’s and the box of Unknown Knowns simultaneously.

The threat for all of us is the factor of not knowing. Can we know what will happen along the continuum of getting the virus or evading the virus and not becoming unwell? No we cannot. Looking at the examples of nation states like China or Italy, we can observe the effectiveness of what these countries have done. Locking down an entire nation and restricting movement appears to have slowed the infection rates. China as a country is believed to be beyond the worst of the crisis. Italy is approaching the worst experience of the crisis: total numbers of people who were infected dieing from the illness reaching it’s daily/weekly peak. The rest of the world are 2-3 weeks behind Italy..

Rat-a-tat-tat
If we were to contract the virus we would move into the known and unknown boxes. We would know that we could potentially become unwell or seriously unwell. It is the extent of the unwellness that we would not know. The ‘what would happen next’ would also remain unclear. Uncertainty is the point of concern for nation states at the moment. The same concern also extends to families and individuals as of 28th Mar 2020 (date of writing this piece). It is possible that public hysteria, panic and paranoia begin knocking heavily on our rational thoughts door now. If we open this door we could be beset by many many concerns.

Choice
If we open the door and accept the state of unknowing, what then? If we keep the door shut and stay with what we know about the virus, would this for both the short and long term be better?

Here are 2 outcomes from many other possibilities that could cancel out panic hysteria and paranoia. We could learn to accept what is or deny what is.

Lake Matheson – The Unknown?

Managing what can be controlled is moving into the 1st box of known knowns. Which feels comfortable and we are inherently confident with a certain future.

Inhabiting the 2nd 3rd and 4th boxes are unsettling, scary and invite destabilising ideas. These are the boxes of the Known Unknowns, Unknown Knowns and Unknown Unknowns.

All Better Now
Seeking information at this time can be seen as a wise move however there is an avalanche of confusing and conflicting information at this time. Pod Save the World share a new podcast that provides a bi weekly update on the Coronavirus.

If you can, reduce anxiety, reduce social media use, isolate, socially distance yourself when out, eat healthily, keep fluid intake up and aim at maintaining positive virtual connections with friends and family. One thing that is a known known, this experience of War will pass. Our world will change. It has to. Living from then on, in a changed world is a Schrödinger’s cat outcome: lying in the last box of the Unknown Unnowns – Exciting and yet Scary.

Open The Box!

Resources
Brené Brown Podcast FFT’s
Bill Gates – WWIII
Podsave The World Coronavirus Reality
Marios’ Video fwd
Netflix Pandemic
This Day in Esoteric Political History from 99% Invisible – We Have Been Here Before

Images
Title Photo by David East on Unsplash
Lake Matheson Photo by Jingwei Ke on Unsplash

EQ

Emotions

Emotional literacy is a term used to understand ones emotions. In light of the swathe of information in relation to mental health, mental illness and the taboo subjects of psychosis and schizophrenia entering our regular experience. I write to explore a small but significant distance. A gap is beginning to widen in relation to being able to discuss the effects of mental illness and what a person feels. Almost like the dark side of the moon – present but never seen.

Hovering curious

Omnipresent Majesty – Humility

Humble

Luke Roberts was possibly the first person to highlight the willingness commonly witnessed of our public to talk about a mental illness. A few years ago that was unheard of, no one talked about their stuff openly! The gap of not connecting illness with the effects it has on a sufferers/survivors life alongside their emotions appears irrational to me. A sea change has occurred of the willingness to talk about mental illness that has been supported by various well known individuals sharing their stories in a variety of ways: podcasts, radio, television, newspapers, books, blogs. Luke’s point relates to our joint vulnerability in expressing witnessing and accepting that the many they’s are the many us’s. Humility possibly also plays a part here also. We have become inured to the siren and unable to recognise the pain that those who have shared their stories have lived through, or are living with.

Water humbly supporting

Balance on the river Li

Balance

The overall benefit to being open about life’s challenges and the trials one has lived through is encouraging to another who may have similar troubles. By hearing another’s triumph over a personal tragedy, surviving the hurricane of war, another story can be developed like a picture. Showing a story of wonder and banal normalcy.

Precious

Bringing Fresh

Delight of Autumn

There is something sensational about another person expressing their hurts in a public domain that captures attention. Are we looking to empathise with that person’s experience, knowing their story may well support us in avoiding a similar fate happening for us, witnessing another’s horror offers chance to pay attention to the frailty of life?

I think one of the aspects that those who work with others intimately recognise is the strength of vulnerability as well as the beauty in the human experiences of loss, gain, winning, failing, laughing, journeying, pain and healing. It is the promise of alchemy that attracts.

The gleam of joint success and winning and losing and overcoming and moving beyond the hurt to something else…

Knowing

Exposing one’s hurts invites the *witnesser to pay attention to what ails, that can offer chance to review and chance to change. With emotional literacy what is being invited is to recognise what hurts during the conversation. Focusing on the internal world to invite change. The Chimp Paradox is an excellent example of us figuring out what is causing us conflict before it is unfurled and hurts another/others or ourselves. The motive is an understanding that as a human we experienced a number of developments in our life that largely supported our growth.

Inside

Depicting slow

Tranquil Motion

We may recognise that we have an inner child, a surly and impatient teen, an internal parent and a calming adult voice. The tensions that arise by being pulled in a number of different directions by these parts inside of us, cause some emotional pain, in the least invite us to questions such as “Why did I just do that?” “Why can’t I just get over this?” My favourite is “What’s wrong with me?” Invariably nothing is ‘wrong’. What may have happened is you are experiencing the tension between different parts of the self that are in conflict and may have been hi-jacked by an emotion or fear.

Test

As humans we have drives that enable us to navigate through life and learn: seeking safety and warmth, finding a partner, finding food and sustenance. These different drives can throw us against societal norms and personal wants/drives leading to conflict. A great example of this is the marshmallow test. The want to eat for those between the ages of 4 and 7 are so great that some children eat the one marshmallow rather than wait the 3-5 minutes and get to eat 2. Delaying gratification is a skill that is learned over time. As is the ability to be emotionally literate. One can’t run at it like other self-development programmes. Like training oneself for any new skill or ability it is best achieved over time.

‘There will be many failures along the way. Ah, but the successes will carry for longer…’

Talk of the Nation

Two Guys on Your Head Failure

Concert of Chaos

Collusively Clueless

The 4 Horsemen of Marvel’s Apocalypse captivated me reading about the exploits of the X-Men in the mid 90s. An attempt is made here to understand collusion alongside the characters of the four Horsemen.

Collusion

/kəˈl(j)uːʒ(ə)n/

noun

secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others.
“the armed forces were working in collusion with drug traffickers”

synonyms:

conspiracy, connivance, complicity, intrigue, plotting, secret understanding, collaboration, scheming
“there has been collusion between the security forces and paramilitary groups”


The Four Horsemen

War – Conflict, Aggression, Destruction
Pestilence – Disease, Poverty, Bitterness
Famine – Paucity, Lack of growth, Waste
Death – The End?

Collusion = Death

War, Famine, Pestilence, Death,

Transport

The leader – Apocalypse and his battles with the X-Men transported me from the ongoing contests of growing up amongst a landscape that was foreign to me. Recognising that a civil war was being waged and I was an unwilling yet active participant.

Cambridgeshire of the late 80s -brushes with intolerance and parochial identities troubled my big city sensibilities.

I saw the battles of Professor X and the X-Men as great examples of battling their times experiences of misunderstanding, intolerance,  bigotry and ignorance against mutants as similar to my own; facing prejudice, stereotyping and poverty.

Uniformed

They battled the forces of perceived evil valiantly wearing their newly designed uniforms and with powers they were born with or had augmented. Either by chance encounters or deliberately designed by other super beings.

I faced my adversarial experiences with nothing more than dreams, humour, art and staying within my very narrow lane.

War riding

War the 1st of the Four Horsemen

Insight

Not so anymore. The lane has changed to a hyperlinked expessway. I have earned my own superpower. After working at a young people’s cafe as a project manager/youth worker, training as a counsellor, over 10 years being involved with the criminal justice service in London. With insightful observations, purposeful listening and curious person centred questioning, my appreciation of life’s challenges has grown.

I am now able to peer behind the curtain, on a number of levels of human endeavour: including historical legacy and achievement, sociological factors, financial impacts of choice and *philo-psychological matters. Providing a way of perceiving life through lenses that recognise hidden games within games.

Seduced

One game that I recognise is the act of collusion. We may all have been guilty of agreeing to someone or something that would usually be dismissed or flat out refused.

The art of collusion is that it invites individuals to agree with someone that normally would be told No! Ego strength may be low, energy could be zapped from a long hard day, agreeing could be seen as the quickest way to get the person to shut up and leave you alone. Think of the whiney kid asking for sweets or ice cream or the latest console game for the nth time. We know we shouldn’t but to bring halt to the noise we agree and then offer excuses that soothe the guilty consciousness that kicks in with unhelpful comments.

Offering disease

Pestilence of the Four Horsemen

Pact Breaking

Collusion usually holds all in a pact like agreement that usually is unbreakable. Until something significant happens. The event usually piques through defences and invites those in the confused circle to question their motives. These motives and the associated guilt that starts to get stirred up can be enough to disturb the pack. When events are undeniable, disastrous and invite others who are not involved to wince and question the sanity of those involved in the collusive acts, a breakthrough may well be achieved. Think of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the Abu Graib Prison exposé, Guantanamo Bay or your favourite celebrity tv show: TOWIE, Love Island, Celebrity big Brother, The Apprentice, the Great British Bake Off… Are we all participants of collusion by watching and switching off the parts of ourselves that thinks and feels? Saying it’s just a TV show, it’s harmless, it’s just entertainment. Note the defence and the denial…

Ignore

Collusion is a part of our working lives and inserts itself as a part of most companies way of operating. Simply seducing workers to believe that this is a way of getting things done. Think about the last time a person in the organisation was bullied, overstepped, not had their opinions heard or validated by others and a collusive pact formed to not hear any more from that employee. Denying that employee, a colleague, space, time, validity to share their points. Then, that employee labelled a troublemaker, someone not playing ball, a misfit,  a person unwilling to play in the game the company has asserted as the right one to be played.

Following Pestilence taking all

Famine the 3rd Horseman of Apocalypse

Open

The point arrived at is the ‘troublemaker’ has every right to make noise about what they see as wrong or unjust or unethical or not in the best interests of the company or those that the organisation serves. Ultimately a reflective company would attempt to listen to the person with the suggestions/comments and seek to understand what is to be adjusted to make that employee content with the operation, or suggested new ways of doing things.

Inflexible 

A collusive pact does not do this. It destroys the persons that are attempting to better the organisation or the way the company does things. Tarnishing the labelled persons and remaining wrong and strong. Throwing shade rather than accepting other ideas or another way of doing things is a cowardly act. Insidious and spite filled. As Luke Roberts once said, if people or a company are unwilling to recognise and respond to changing environments, they are doomed.

Altered Angel

The Archangel Death the 4th Horseman

Backwards

As a mutant team Apocalypse’s collection of War, Pestilence, Famine and Death brought doom. The 4 Horse Men are a perfect depiction of a company’s attempt to avoid recession, regression, conflict and collapse. Mistrust, illness, en masse staff departure and recruitment of new staff members are often a result of a number of factors happening within an organisation. With the domino effect in motion those involved with the collusive pact attempt to fast fix gaps in the provision of services. Leading to new challenges and difficulties for all. Within an ever diminishing circle of cause effect and reaction and not looking beyond the next crises companies can take a while to reverse the rot.

In order to change direction, first one must stop… The challenge for some is when?

A number of media sources that discuss collusion and integrity.

This American Life – Airport
Serial S3 – You in the Red Shirt
Well-being Ivan Robertson Carey Cooper
TED Talks Radio Hour Quiet

Mental Models

A Hierarchy

Visible Air

Water and Vapor – Mirrored

The theories and understandings that one fashions for oneself can be as relative to living as other more established ideas. We live in a just and fair society, Good things happen to good people and vice versa, Luck is man made, Every Cloud has a Silver Lining, What goes up has to come down. Life is for the living. Thoughts can include “I am a good, bad, fortunate, unlucky, beautiful, weak, faithful, invisible, resilient, conniving… person”. Which may be true some of the time.

Counselling Models
Studying to become a counsellor a number of theories and models were presented for us to learn. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Freud’s Id, Ego and Super Ego, Karpman’s Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer, The Parent Child and Adult, Spheres of influence, Internal locus of control/influence and External locus of Control/Influence, Prochaska and Di-Clemente’s Cycle of change, attachment models by Ainsworth and Bowlby, the transactional relationship and my favourite Petruska Clarkson’s 5 Relationships Model.

Tailor Made 
Clarkson’s model was impactful as it helped me to recognise the similarities and some of the differences had between major schools of thought within psychological and counselling theory. John Nuttall once delivered a lecture on the breadth and life span of psychotherapy and many of it’s twists and developments, on my 2nd year of my counselling course. My work with Laos helped to develop my thinking and practice as an integrative counsellor. Integration has been a useful way of encountering my work. Blending a number of different counselling models together creatively, intuitively enables those that I work with to gain a nuanced and individual experience of working with me no matter the setting – Individually Tailored.

Criminal Justice 
With over 10 years of working with the UK’s criminal justice system there have been a number of realisations made about detention, rehabilitation and being on probation in the community. The experience of being a law breaker appears to carry a life sentence that burdens both the service user and those that they are close to and possibly society as a whole. A triangle of sorts could then exist for us all. Each side or corner being unwilling to carry the weight of blame shame and pain on behalf of the other. In effect pushing it away from one side to another. It returns in ways that are surprising and upsetting: Incidents of break ins, street robbery’s, car theft, mugging, assaults, depression, anxiety, increasing laws for surveillance of the populace. The cause…

Odd Triangle

A Triangle of Sorts

Loss 
The cause I believe is manifold and complex, not that an attempt at explaining or understanding should not be sought. As social beings we live amongst a number of groupings that support our development and perceptions of the world in which we live. Family, culture, gender, race, physical and mental ability, education, class, religion, time, culture and the society one is raised in can support an individuals development. Many from the list can also be attributed to lead someone to have disastrous outcomes – for life’s opportunities to become lost.

Tide reversal 
Were aspects of a person’s life to be out of balance i.e. with limited access to health services, experiences of poverty, early experiences of violence, witnessing substance misuse and experiences thereof, familial education attainment low and un-supportive, petty crime viewed as a survival engagement.

Sun Sea Sparkling

Tides

A person being raised amongst a set of challenges familiar to those involved with forensic backgrounds could find themselves with difficulties that they did not ask for but royally given. Laws, policing, prison, adjudications, societal exclusion are often unlikely to reverse a tide that may have already gone out. Unless…

20 – 60 – 20 
There are groups within groups. A visit to Rochester prison in 2017 helped to define the who could be rehabilitated and who perhaps the tide had gone out permanently for. Within any population or group there are percentages of people that are hardened and will always think that they have a way of working things to their benefit and will never change, perhaps have been jaded and have no good reason to. Then there are a percentage of people who are unsure or ambivalent to change and will give anything a try in a half assed way. The last group are the die-hards who recognise that to have any chance of success, commitment to a new way is the only way to bring change and maintain it.

Hard Change 
The first 20% may have been in the group just below at one time in their lives. They tried to make the necessary steps to achieve success, but were not believed, found to be lacking the stuff to stick with it and ultimately fell foul of persistent negative thinking patterns and negative events. Becoming convinced that no change is coming and that they are content enough. The term throw away the key is often used for people that present themselves as devoid of hope, lacking empathy to engage with others and have walled themselves in to their dark prism. Should we key throw? Is the choice to agree with their view of the world a necessary acquiescence?

Half in Half out 
The 2nd group of 60% are willing to make attempts at change. With successes and positive outcomes change is possible. The challenge is maintaining resilience were things to not happen as quickly, were aspects of success to become failure, were short term gains to turn into losses. Do the 60% group have the ability to keep chipping away? What internal and external supports are they able to draw on to continue on a path that offers a glimmer of something better?

Die Hards 
The 3rd group are those who have recognised that by maintaining themselves well they are further ahead. Achieving life goals and turning their once ambivalent/negative perceptions to more positive ones supports their chances of contributing in a meaningful way to their lives and  the lives of others living fully. These are men and women who have found a purpose, a talent, gift, a way to make sense of all that had occurred and have the capacity to make peace and plot another path beyond, away from and towards.

Panoply 
I realise that I have presented a number of challenging ideas around change for various groups of people. The training and education I have experienced have enabled me to notice plot twists and the art to life. Recognising when and where opportunities for growth change and are possible. When progress stalls or reverses what chance is there to hold on for? A few years ago I developed a way of viewing recidivism in the UK as a collection of interconnected health goals – another model was realised. I discussed the idea with a number of colleagues J Soame, A Willoughby and K Giakoumi as I valued their insight and all helped to develop the model further. Breaking the Cycle was born…

Resources 
A few further thoughts in relation to patterns and models of thinking. 
TED Talks Radio Hour – Hard Wired 
Ear Hustle Podcast – The Row 
Philosophy Bites Podcast – Obligations to the Needy

Ignite

This poem/’call to arms’, is written for a former work colleague.
I promised to hold a conversation with.
Then
I left
The aim of the conversation – to ignite their fire.
The intention also is to inspire another,
Others,
You.

And begin

Dawning Realisations

Above the Clouds

Staying at the office all hours just to make sure that all tasks for everyone else are done.
Seemingly making your tomorrow’s better.
Has that ever worked?
Really?

That life that you said you wanted is waiting.

Withering yet waiting.

The dream of supporting others with therapy, dance, massage, hypnotherapy, aqua yoga, pilates, debating, aromatherapy, law, osteopathy, teaching, climbing, acting, martial arts, physical and mental health training – are drumming fingers on tables and waiting.

There is the you
Doing the justifying thing.
That “this job?”
“This role”,
“This thing is enough.”
But is it.…

Really?

What would it mean to stop?
To re-plan, re-think, replay your path to the role you always wanted?

Those long hours of training.
The exams, the tests, the reviews, the study hours, the midnight vigils, the all-nighters and support given and taken were for you to grow.

Pushing papers, filing, scheduling may be the new fulfillment.
But if it’s not,
What
Are
You
Waiting
For?

When you spoke to your friends you shared the vision of what you would be doing to help and to support change in other people’s worlds.
The light came on in your eyes.
The internal smile that you offered as a signal was undeniably present as you chatted.

Their eyes shone…

Like a million eye shining

Kusama’s Infinity Mirror

Bringing, offering, sharing healing you recognise is reciprocal like a circle.
It is not your cause or reason but a guide, an internal call.
Once, you answered whilst training and learning and now – the line – dormant and dusty is rarely picked.

Those moments whilst fleeting
When a friend, a colleague or family member excites
Your learning and you recall points on charts that support growth – return screaming,
Almost shouting “How could you have forgotten us?”
“Not used your knowledge more and helped others along their way with growth?!”

Glowing partly through gleefully earned pride you shudder at the response and begin re-asserting the mantle you have been carrying of…
‘Not quite ready enough,’
‘Not quite good enough,’
‘The time is not right, ‘
‘The world is not ready.’

Bullshit!

If another were to say that rubbish about themselves
Your will to see them right themselves and their situation
Would not allow you to hold back or permit them lie to themselves any longer.
And you?

No. Tall Trees Fear

Take what steps are necessary!
Read what books are helpful.
Watch what films excite and invite action
Listen to the music and songs that pull
Speak to those that encourage and inspire.
Seek out mentors and those that you can support.

Here – to inspiration – the path lies.

Pinpoint the re-entry rediscovery moment and with no holds barred LAUNCH
Breakaway
Break out
Break the yoke
Break the cycle

Nothing, can get in your way apart from excuses and you.
What are you waiting for?
The thing that you seek lies on the other side of fear.

 

Now

 

Begin

 

Now

A list of my aids and reminders…
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull – Richard Bach
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
The Matrix
The Artists Way – Julia Cameron
The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday

A pdf version of this manifesto is available at www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com under Contact

 

To your success

It’s All in the Hands

With summer at it’s height and the evening’s beginning to draw in, I noted my willingness to bake shoot into overdrive. I was asked by a colleague what got me into baking and said “Baking helps me manage anxiety”. Baking helps to stall the thoughts that build about the improbable future by occupying time and ones hands and ones mind with the act of making something – edible gold.

A Probation Favourite
Potato and Dill Bread

Distraction
In an earlier blog I mentioned that I baked my first savoury bread as a result of not knowing how to begin writing my dissertation for my masters in counselling. In a way baking helped to calm my nerves about the mammoth task ahead of me. Writing a significant piece about my early life and relationship with my mother was an unwelcome challenge. Baking bread helped to transform anxiety and stress into doing something productive and creative.

Transition
My first ever bread was a banana bread which lead on to an attempt at making an Irish Soda bread. The step from the banana bread to the Irish Soda was not too great. Unlike studying at an undergrad level with Interior Design and then studying at a masters level with Therapeutic Counselling. The transition from Banana Bread to Irish Soda was straightforward. With the Irish Soda, I didn’t need to invest in any equipment like a bread mixer or training. Practice and time were the only requirements.

Development
Bread baking has taken me to attempt sour dough’s, brioche’s, fruit loaves and pastries including croissants and pain aux-chocolate. This is not an advert for suggesting a try at the Great British Bake off. Baking relieves me of pent up energy and emotion and relaxes me immensely. GBBO is entirely enjoyable to watch, to be a participant? Not for me. I could see the vision of the master bake ending up in a bin much like a previous contestant were things to go wrong. Baking remains a joy, a simple pleasure. The product of which can cause a rush of excitement and some envy.

The Baking CV
I have brought baked goods into most of the places I have worked:
2004-2007 Salesian College mostly cakes and an Irish Soda Bread
2009 – 2012 Drs Surgery near Camberwell cakes.
2010 -2014 Belmarsh Prison I pushed myself a little and attempted cakes and more complex breads including a quick rye bread.
2014 The University of Kent where I was a student mentor – Breads and cakes. This is where I honed the skill of making the sourdough. A book bought for Christmas that year the handmade loaf by Dan Lepard inspired me.

Smiles
In the 3 years I have worked alongside probation I have brought many breads and baked goods in to offices at Greenwich, Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Southwark. The bread is usually accompanied by cheeses, grapes, butter and jam or a soft spread. My belief is, those that work in the public domain genuinely our unsung heroes and are in need of congratulating and validation by those they serve and look after (Society).

,My offerings were a small testament to an idea: ‘Gift others with something pleasant that would be hard for them to return’. The breads cakes and other items I brought in, usually vanished in a short space of time and put a smile on most people’s faces. For me giving and causing, for a short while, joy was priceless.

Edutainment
Mentioning the GBBO above, stirs my thinking about what Channel 4 will offer us this season? Last year’s departure from BBC1 to Channel 4 did not deter my admiration for the participants or enjoyment of watching the show. It still ticks most of the boxes for good entertainment. A sour faced judge, a fair judge, and 2 comedians bringing levity when things inevitably go wrong. The mini edutainment sections are also in CH4’s edition too. Netflix has all 7 seasons and all episodes. Let the entertainment begin!

2 Artisan Breads
Sundried Tomato, Onion and Cheese Loaf alongside a Caraway and Raisin Bread.


























Appreciation
I baked for my team of Forensic Mental Health Practitioners recently – 3 Dan Lepard Recipes: a classic banana bread, a yoghurt and chive bread, an onion and cheese baguette that has an MO addition of sundried tomatoes. Renamed  as ‘Pizza Bread’ by a colleague at Together. My anxiety about my moving on from Together enabled me to craft 2 wonderful loaves and a cake as a goodbye to a brilliant team.

As a group, the NPS team, have worked diligently and passionately in probation offices across London. Overcoming a number of unforeseen challenges, obstacles and developments within the service. The bread was to say thank you. Also the bread was to say that their efforts have been greatly appreciated by me, Together, Probation and the service users they have supported.

Memories fade like the aroma of a freshly baked bread, I would like to hold on to these memories for a while longer…