Earlier on in the day, I’d been at a meeting with eleven other hypnotherapists where a lot of the discussion had centred around the idea that unless the root cause of a problem is at least acknowledged (inwardly or outwardly), then the solution might always be evasive.
In a way, it’s a good thing (for me) that stress continues to ensue in schools – I have had clients who are primary and secondary school teachers, and adult education tutors, coming to me for various stress/work-related issues; and children (usually presenting with an issue that has anxiety as a root cause) again spanning the primary and secondary age range. So, for me, it means more business. But at some point, I feel, the education system has got to sit up and take note of the fact that there needs to be a huge shift in its logic, of some sort. Otherwise people like me will continue to be needed to put sticking plasters on problems whose causes run much, much deeper than an ‘inability to manage workload appropriately.’
And, of course, it’s not just the education system.
It seems that life is no longer there to be lived and enjoyed but instead it’s there so you can ‘achieve the best’ you possibly can. To strive towards goals that constantly move further away, out of your reach. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for ‘doing my best’ and achieving results – being a hypnotherapist, I depend on people getting results and making changes. However, is this really the most important thing, all of the time? After all, there are so many different ways in which we can all be successful.
A recent conversation in one of my mindfulness groups springs to mind. We were talking about the ‘rat-race’. Have you ever sat back and thought “What’s it all for?” You go out to work, to pay the bills, in order for you to be able to live in a nice house, that you rarely get to see, because you’re always out at work, in order to pay the bills, to live in a nice house… It makes you think.
Some authorities think that a lot of illness and disease in today’s world can be traced back to stress and anxiety (suggestions for books on this and other related subjects can be found here). Our bodies were not designed to have stress hormones surging through them on a constant loop. They were equipped to deal with a sudden threat and then recover. In the natural world, some animals shake continually for a few minutes after being chased by a predator to rid themselves of all the stress chemicals. Then they get up and carry on as if nothing had ever happened. Let’s face it, generally speaking the human race isn’t brilliant at dealing with stress. It’s gives itself too much… and then doesn’t know how to deal with it.
I’m constantly aware that, as a teacher of mindfulness and a clinical hypnotherapist, I am often helping people to deal with the stress, anxiety and depression that are, all too often, side effects of today’s ‘modern lifestyle.’ All well and good maybe, from my point of view. But wouldn’t it be good if society, as a whole, and the institutions that act as our society’s backbone, operated in such a way that we were able to be more compassionate with ourselves and with others – so we were not constantly competing against each other, not constantly having to strive to prove our worth and not always having to prove we’d done our best. The human race is naturally competitive – survival of the fittest and all that. But, at some point (and in my opinion) this competitiveness has little worth if there is not, at the same time a good deal of compassion and respect – for self and others.
I caught an episode of Thinking Allowed on Radio 4 the other day – they were discussing the ‘Happiness Industry’ and the ‘Wellness Syndrome.’
The presenter, Laurie Taylor, was interviewing William Davies, author of “The Happiness Industry - How the government and big business sold us health and well-being.” He is also Senior Lecturer in Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. He outlined the fact that:
“It’s far more common for policy makers to turn to the individual and turn to their behaviour and what they can learn by way of behavioural and cognitive tips than it is to actually question some of the institutions which might actually be the source of their unhappiness in the first place.” In other words, the root causes of stress are often ignored and the individual is to blame for ‘not managing their work load properly.’
He goes on to suggest that practices such as mindfulness simply act as that much-needed sticking plaster:
“They are also coping mechanisms which are draped over an institutional logic and a political/economic logic which effectively tells everyone that they are in a race against each other the whole time and they are going to be measured, audited, subjected to what we know are stressful practices by managers and policy makers and then take time out to practice mindfulness or whatever as a way of trying to cope with a whole institutional logic which is generally left unquestioned.”
If you’d like to listen to the whole interview, you can do so here.
“A whole institutional logic that is generally left unquestioned?”
I'm sure, over recent years, those questions have begun to be asked. But then, does anyone have the answers - so that the sticking plasters are no longer needed, because the wound is no longer made in the first place?