We all need to keep things in perspective
THAT'S MEN:The anxiety we once kept buried is now rampant, writes PADRAIG O'MORAIN
I WAS sitting in a rather depressing public house recently when a rather depressing man began to explain how, well, depressing the future was looking for him personally, the country and the world in general.
As one who has Twitter scrolling down the side of a screen all day, I am well aware of the impending collapse of everything. On the day I wrote this column, Eddie Hobbs tweeted enthusiastically about barter – that’s how bad things are.
Somehow it’s worse when the doom and gloom is coming from a non-virtual human being sitting at the same bar when you have come in off the street in order to escape reality.
This man had bought property in the good times, had lived well, planned to retire imminently and then it all collapsed. I won’t repeat the details because they are fairly commonplace by now.
He now saw the future through a dark lens: no retirement, endless debt and so on. I would have felt sorry for him except that to do so would have dragged my own spirits down with his so I resisted.
That resistance on my part, as well as his own gloom, says something about the psychology of boom and bust.
A psychoanalyst called David Tuckett has written about emotion and the financial markets and both the man at the bar and myself provide real-life examples of what he says, if I understand him correctly.
Start with the human capacity to split one thing from another. Generally speaking, any project has opportunities and risks in it. Ideally we should balance both when considering what to do next.
But we don’t like anxiety and sometimes, especially in a boom when all the stories we hear are positive, we perform a split. We shove the anxiety out of our awareness and see only the exciting opportunities.
When that split happens, we are heading for what we’ve got now.
And when we get to where we are now, we flip the split around. We bury the excitement of opportunity and we see only the anxiety we had previously buried. It comes rushing up at us like Dracula from the grave in one of those old Hammer horror movies.
That’s what had happened to my erstwhile companion in the pub. He had abandoned caution in his rush to enjoy the opportunities of the boom.
That ended badly so now he has jumped to the other side and sees only gloom.
I am as bad as he is. In refusing to empathise with him because to do so would dampen my own spirits, I am trying to shove my own anxiety down into my own mental cellar and keep it locked up there.
What we all need is to restore balance. In other words, we need to see both the optimistic and the cautionary side of our present situation.
But that’s a counsel of perfection – and if we were perfect I don’t suppose we would be in the mess we are in.
You can read Peter Tucketts views at bit.ly/splitemotions
Addendum: Counselling in Ireland, as we know it today, began about 50 years ago and all sorts of anniversaries are happening around this time.
Relationships Ireland, which began as a Church of Ireland marriage counselling service but soon became non-denominational, celebrates its 50th this year.
The Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, now called Accord Marriage Care, had started shortly beforehand. The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy celebrated 30 years last year and the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy marked the tenth anniversary of its journal Inside Out in May.
Where are men in all this? Increasingly men are attending counsellors though most clients are still women.
Increasingly, also, men are training as counsellors. Most men, however, still get their counselling from the women in their lives and women, if I may say so without getting into trouble, are ever willing to dispense counselling to their nearest and dearest.
Padraig O’Morain (email@example.com) is accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His book, Light Mind, Mindfulness for Daily living, is published by Veritas. His mindfulness newsletter is free by email