Author: Vasilios N. Kiosses
Psychologist- Person-Centred Counsellor
Translator: Valentina Papandroulidaki
Every child, since the day he/she is born, is put into judgement. “Good children don’t behave like that”, or “Good children don’t get angry, aren’t grumpy and don’t complain” or “don’t do anything that causes discontentment”. And these are the benign conditions under which we create an anxiety about how important people around us characterize our thoughts, feelings or actions.
What is the thing that makes a child good or bad? Maybe what needs to be done is to ask ourselves which attitudes or behaviors are part of the one or the other category. We usually tend to connect goodness with compliance and badness with distress.
It is easy for us to criticize anything that is hard to handle or requires more energy. Or even more, something that discomforts us because it touches a neglected wound of our own.
We got confused between goodness and badness, rushed to match our behaviors and feelings, or anything we experience to something that makes sense or has a logical explanation. We started worrying if what we did, felt, thought corresponds to this rigid part, called self. We rushed to catch up with the unexpected effects of our motives, which like stray dogs, never had the chance to fit into a society unfair towards humans, who never fit into it.
We gasped while wondering what on earth is happening whenever a moody face implies all he/she has to say, and we, susceptible as we are, decided that we are to blame.
Think of how much anger lies behind our agony to prove that we are good. So much anger that is capable of speeding up your heartbeat and make your blood boil, as if there is no room for it under your skin. It rises higher and higher until it reaches the head, wishing that nothing would stand in its way during this uncontrollable and yet so liberating journey. How restricting becomes the skin sometimes, like the boundaries we enforce on ourselves. As restricting as any goodness or badness is. It suddenly becomes a flag that follows you, even if you can’t see it. It is so nicely submerged under your skin, that you don’t dare to bother it. It proudly stands like a revolution, but it rather reminds of imprisonment. It burdens the mind and stomach, it becomes a maze with no exit, because the clew has been taken away and every path leads to a dead end. With walls so high, that only if you raise the head you will see the clouds, but even when you try you will see the flag, which will remind you that you are not in control of your moves.
Don’t! Don’t you dare believe that you can do differently from what they taught you, because they will give up on you. But you need to know that you deserve the same, as all the important people around you.
Τhe neck is oscillating because it is worn out. The bones are protesting and the back can’t hold you anymore. How much longer to bear this anxiety of approval? There always has to be someone there in order to approve of what you feel, what you think, what you dare doing. What is allowed and what is not, depending on those conditions which allow you to exist. Conditions which advocate for the others’ ease, and which don’t disrupt their serenity or don’t discomfort them from their seats. Conditions that the people around you have decided beforehand they are ideal for you, without you of course being asked, but in which they forgot to take into account how unique you are or how uniquely you feel. People and circumstances which forgot to remind you of how perfect you are already, without changing a thing. Perfect not for everyone, but for those who are important to you, because you have to start developing yourself with no obstacles on your way. Obstacles that are defined by others and not by the difficulties you face.
All of us are nothing but a guitar. And the strings will break, and it will be necessary for us to tune it up and give it up for a while, and then once again we will take it back when we feel that we have something melodious to say. We forget to remember that even the rough melodies are made from our own guitar and that this is what makes them unique, even if some people try to convince you about the repertoire or the volume that you owe to play. There is no such a thing as a good or bad song. There are melodies that sometimes upset or please us, relax or activate us.
How melodious would the world be, if we tried to let our sounds be heard for a while, without conditions, without a pentagram?
Neville, Β. (2013). Anxiously congruent: congruently anxious. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies. V. 12 (3), 223- 236.