It’s a running gag in America that holidays generate emotional conflicts like the Caribbean generates hurricanes. Red/blue political arguments, intoxicated relatives, old family wounds exposed, social obligations grudgingly met, and on and on.
Do you ever feel like there’s a barrier between what you know about how to have a good relationship, and what you actually do? How do you take what we know about the science of relationships, combine it with the wisdom of our hearts and our quest for deeper meaning, and integrate it into something practical?
There is four times the rate of depression now than in 1987. We’ve essentially been doubling the amount of depression in this country for each of the last three generations.
Even considering an increased tendency to diagnose depression now than in previous years, this emerging 21st century culture is clearly not particularly conducive to happy care-free lives.
Who is your closest relationship right now? Do you get along well all the time? Do you fight occasionally? To those who can’t think of a conflict, come on! You must have fought or been irritated at least once! Remember your last fight or disagreement. As you and he or she struggled, were you listening, explaining, making excuses, or attacking? Probably you were doing several of these.
In my book, Waking Up, I maintain that Integral psychotherapists cultivate compassion and depth of consciousness to co-create healing cultures with their clients. Depth of consciousness means understanding people within the many contexts of their lives, including the altitudes they typically inhabit on a variety of developmental lines like the self, interpersonal, parenting, morals, psychosexual, and integration-of-defenses lines. With deeper consciousness in my clients and myself comes felt responsibilities to help all those contexts, but with varying degrees of urgency.