This week, I was meeting with one of my young clients. She was teary as she expressed worries for her older sister who is struggling with depression and self-medicating with substances. Recent events have culminated in an emotional explosion within the family and now she is really stressed. In her mind, the doors to her sister's future are closing.
The "what ifs" consume her. "What if she leaves? What if something happens to her? What if she never speaks to my parents again?"
I talk with her about Kazimierz Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration. I remind her that those deep, dark, miserable lows hold the greatest potential for our individual growth. It is in going low that we are able to truly savor the rise back up.
She is still skeptical. After all, she's gifted. She knows the statistics.
But then I remind her, "Our whole world came together and shut down in a matter of weeks. Did anyone really think that could happen? There are no limits to what is possible."
My client dons her optimism glasses and considers the possibilities.
"What if my sister opens the door to some support? What if she opens the door to learning how to manage her emotions? What if my family opens the door to new ways of supporting her?"
She looks up with a grin. The doors of hope are opening. Session over.
As a believer that we, individuals, are a microcosm of the greater world, it has been easy for me to adapt Dabrowski's concept as a lens with which to view global circumstances.
Still with me?
Our world is currently going through one heckuva rough time. A disintegration of sorts. We can choose to stay in the depths - overcome with the barrage of negative "what ifs." Or we can disintegrate positively; to see this as a time for individual and societal growth, to support ourselves and each other through the muck. Venture with me into the positive "what ifs."
"What if we are transitioning to a more advanced society? What if this re-shaping of our systems will better meet the needs of people and planet? What if we are learning that less is truly more. What if the healing of our planet rests within the healing of ourselves?"
Whoa. I know that's a lot. Bear with me.
The division among us is reflective of that which lies within each of us. We disgust ourselves. We criticize ourselves. And yes, sometimes, we hate ourselves.
In 2020, in efforts to spread a little hope, I started the World Hope Project, an international children's video troupe consisting of kids from 20+ countries. Peruvian educator, Rosa Medina, now co-produces this project with me. Worldwide spikes in anxiety and depression prompted our team to focus our latest video, "Open the Door," on the topic of mental health. We want everyone to know that they are not alone, that it is important to accept all aspects of the self, that self-care is important over all else, and to open the door to let others in when you are struggling.
We realize that opening one door sometimes means closing the door to something else. One door I, myself, am beginning to open is a mindset of "energy conservation" both personally as well as environmentally. This means trying to carpool when I can, saying "no" to things that suck more energy than they provide, and encouraging my children to prioritize their wellbeing over academics.
As we move forward, to what or whom will you open the door?
P.S. [VIDEO BELOW] The World Hope Project kids have set a goal to reach 20,000 people with our message. Please support our efforts by liking, sharing and subscribing.