This I can do
Current events always make their way into the therapy room and tell us much about the one that brings them. They speak to our greatest hopes, fears, how much we trust our own abilities and our ontological sense of safety in the world.
The ever-looming presence of the Climate Crisis, COVID-19 and the fear of future pandemics compounded by the recent war in Ukraine and fear of further escalation have reinforced existential anxiety and, in some cases, a sense of futility.
But what can we offer in the face of catastrophe? What constructive process, what solace? What can we say or do when the person across us feels like their existence is in imminent danger? And how do we help those that feel that the prospect of annihilation, makes the present meaningless and their life futile?
As I sat across my client, whose present was being robbed by their anxiety for what tomorrow would bring, I asked them “what do you want your present to be?”. A question, that had previously stunned and had remained unanswerable, plagued by value centred intellectualizations, seemed to now have a very clear answer, that poured out of them with all the simple truth of all that has ever been meaningful. For the first time, they were able to articulate what really mattered to them. I watched the sense of powerlessness dissipate as they calmly asserted “This I can do…. yes, this I can do.”
Threats to our existence, be it on a personal or global level, can sometimes make what really matters unmistakably clear. We may not have control over our future or that of our world, but we do have control over what we do with our present moment. Spending time with loved ones, doing things that bring joy and fulfilment, can restore our sense of agency that is so easily lost in the face of so much threatening uncertainty.
Yasmeen Frantzola-Hamdy. Psychotherapist | Mental Health Counselor