Life Tasks Archives - Embodied Living

The coronavirus crisis is forcing us to face something which human beings excel at avoiding. Death is the biggest taboo of them all and one which we spend a lifetime denying.

Many are writing about trauma during the COVID-19 crisis. We are in the midst of a trauma and that trauma is being triggered by many everyday things now. But I believe that what is even more important in our response to this crisis is our unconscious fear of death.

Read the full article on LifeLabs.

Many of us, from time to time, question who we really are. We may have moments where we feel we are truly being our ‘self’ and other times where we sense we are putting on a mask or a front. Pesso Boyden System psychotherapy (PBSP) will help you become more true to our self and feel less anxiety and more pleasure and peace in your life.

We hold onto the past

Yet we hold on to feelings and experiences from our past that that limit us. If we can begin to understand that our current reality is woven from the fabric of our past experiences we can realise that we are often ‘trapped’ in living according to an old map. But what if we want to change and truly move forward in our lives?

Pain rather than pleasure as default experience

Many people experience pain rather than pleasure. Frustration instead of satisfaction. Despair as opposed to meaning and alienation not connectedness. Yet all of us in this existence can get to enjoy the bliss and joy of living.

Experience the bliss of living

This is far more accessible to those who have been reared by and have lived according to the demands of our genetic nature where we had our complex developmental needs met at every stage by sensitive and ‘good enough’ parents. Those lucky few! But what of the rest of us? How do we change our minds? This body-based psychotherapy, is one of the most profound personal development modalities you might experience to change your life and become who you truly are.

Here are some key principles of Pesso Boyden body-based psychotherapy for personal development

The Basic Needs

We have five basic needs that are part of our ‘genetic drivers’ or our human operating system. And these needs have to be met in childhood by good enough parenting.

The needs are for:

  • Nurture
  • Support
  • Protection
  • Limits
  • Place

These basic needs have to be met first of all physically in the first 5 years or so of life, then symbolically from years 6 to 10 or so and then we are able to do it for ourselves (we learn this in our teens) and be an autonomous independent adult being. It goes without saying, that all of us, to some degree or other, have gaps in these basic needs.

Memory

Our ‘memories’ consist of a combination of energy (emotions are energy), which leads to action (the aggressive behaviour that comes from the energy of say, anger) and the interaction that results from that (perhaps blame or punishment) and then the resulting meaning that we make of that (anger is bad, therefore I am bad). The negative or traumatic experiences create the old map that we become trapped in and are bound to repeat. Take the numerous men and women who consistently choose abusive partners. Strangely this ‘choice’ of relationship ends up seeing people repeating past traumas in an unconscious attempt to find a solution and an end to it. Whoever we choose as our partner, they will never be able to fulfil basic needs that weren’t met in our childhood, they are never going to be the mummy or daddy that we so desperately wanted to please or satisfy us. Yet we are locked into a constant quest to have these deep needs satisfied.

Microtracking

The mind is often thought to be in the brain but do you realise that we have a brain in the body? The very definition of consciousness is the microtracking of the moment by moment experiences coming from our senses in the here and now. As Damasio says, consciousness itself is the ‘feeling of what happens’. The feeling experiences of our bodies is the definition of consciousness, but we need to become aware or conscious of this felt sense in order to take control of the glorious human show that is uniquely ‘me’. In the Pesso system we say that we need to awaken the observing, executive part of the ego that has the overview of consciousness (the pilot) and which can run the show in a way that gives us more pleasure and fulfilment in life. When you properly learn the ability to microtrack your inner experience states, you come into contact with who you really are in this moment, who you have been for some years. You come home to yourself.

Limits

Who has watched a terribly angry or upset child having a full-blown tantrum turn from being red in the face to almost blue? They need an adult to hold them to help them recover and regulate their high arousal levels: in this contact they get limits. As an adult the person will then have an embodied sense of what it is like to have been held lovingly in a state of high emotional arousal and to trust that emotions like anger or aggression can contained, and are not ‘unlimited’. And ‘good enough’ parents will later teach that boy to express his feelings in words. But if the child has the opposite experience and is punished or blamed for the expression of emotions, instead of being lovingly limited he will have a less healthy relationship with his emotions. Having this experience of ‘loving limits’ in childhood can help people to feel their power and to trust that they can handle it, thereby trusting themselves more.

These principles are some of the foundations from Pesso Boyden system psychomotor and many of them are common sense or somehow intuitive to us. I will write more about the basic needs and our human operating system in another blog.

Read more about PSBP psychotherapy

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That sense of ‘living the life you were born to live’ runs deep in our human psyche. It resounds with all of us, on some level. Have you ever watched ‘The Sound of Music’? I hadn’t until today. I had sat down to write a blog post and got completely absorbed in this wonderful film. One moment of the film touched me in particular: Maria runs back to the abbey to escape the conflict developing in her life and Sister Abbess is giving her some advice about right and wrong, choosing God or love:

“These walls were not meant to shut out problems; you have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live”.

We long for happiness

From the depths of our soul we long to connect with our true self and we hunger to find pleasure, meaning, satisfaction and a sense of connection in our life. Yet many of us experience pain rather than pleasure, frustration not satisfaction, despair as opposed to meaning and alienation not connection. Nevertheless, all of us in this existence can truly live the life we were born to live and enjoy the bliss and joy of living.

This is the goal of all of the effective personal development systems; from yoga to psychotherapy. In Pesso Boyden therapy (PBSP) we have a common sense, accessible model that helps us to understand how people act and behave as they strive to improve their lives. Developed through five decades of working with people in groups, coupled with in-depth study of the psychology of human development, PBSP helps us to understand and change the ways we have learned to limit our lives.

The Five Life Tasks

One of the most important concepts in PBSP is the ‘Five Life Tasks’: these form our basic programming as human beings, almost like genetic drivers, which when attended to and met during our life, lead to the good life.

Here is a short summary of this important underlying concept which, albeit in a different language, applies as much to yogic and other systems as it does to PBSP:

  1. Satisfaction of basic needs

    The basic needs are for: having a rightful sense of place in the world; being nurtured so that we feel fully parented and alive inside; a sense of support that gives us a feeling of security and groundedness: protection to shield us from danger, give us an inner sense of power and control and help us define ourselves; and have a sense of limits, so that we know our own power is not uncontrollable, omnipotent or infinite so that we can be free and spontaneous as an adult without anxiety or a fear of not being in control. When basic needs are satisfied at the appropriate age, by the appropriate kinship figures we feel alive, secure, grounded and are comfortable both with our own power and our vulnerability.

  2. Integration and alignment of the polarities of being

    We are created by seeming opposites: the female egg and gene pool of our mother and the male sperm and gene pool of our father. Parents play a vital role in unifying our inner life by loving and accepting each other and by accepting all parts of us. If our parents don’t like each other and/or their forebears, we are likely to be in conflict with those aspects of them we find in ourselves. Such polarities may express themselves in being ‘lopsided’ in our sense of rational/intellectual vs intuitive or creative; not integrating fully both feminine vs masculine aspects of self; imbalances in either giving (the disease to please) or receiving (receptivity vs reactivity); problems integrating power vs vulnerability with deficits showing as a strong sense of shame; issues with integrating maleness vs femaleness.

  3. Development and expansion of consciousness

    The development of consciousness leads toward the creation of meaning (and as humans we are meaning-making machines!) and is a fundamental goal of human activity. From as early as when we are in the womb, our behavioural interaction with the outer world of people, objects and events registers on our nervous system and is converted into the inner world of consciousness, experience, concepts, meanings, beliefs and thoughts. However for many of us, much of this in outside of our conscious awareness, hence we have little sense of understanding it or being in control. Read my What the Body Knows article for more explanation.

  4. Development of the ‘pilot’

    Good parenting develops the pilot, by this we mean the highest level of our neural assembly (the pre-frontal cortex) , which is the highest level of consciousness and control which humans are capable of exercising. The part that is in ‘charge’ which makes choices and implements those choices in our best interest. It is also the ‘witness mind’ that part of consciousness and experience that has perspective on our experiential states (an objective distance) and, at the same time, lives those states (rather than being dissociated).

  5. To become who we truly are

    Each one of us, on some level, feels a push to become who we are and follow our inner calling. To validate and cultivate our own uniqueness and true potentiality in life and to make our own unique, personal contribution to evolution of existence. We innately sense this drive to self-realisation or self-actualisation. In many ways, those parts of us that have somehow been blocked or repressed from this ‘pushing’ force of genetic realisation, go underground and become our phobias, compulsions, bodily symptoms or dis-eases, fantasies, addictions etc.

Needs are met through ‘good enough’ parents

These tasks are far more likely to have been met in those who have been reared by and had their complex developmental needs met at every stage by sensitive and ‘good enough’ parents. However, given the sheer complexity and long period of dependency that we spend as children or immature adults, this is an unlikely achievement for most of us. Think of it this way: as human beings we spend up to 30 per cent of our life dependent (most of us don’t leave home or a surrogate home (i.e. university) until our early 20s), whereas throughout the rest of the animal kingdom only one per cent of their life is spent as dependent. This is mostly dictated by the longer time it takes the human triune brain to develop – our brains are not fully developed until our late teens/early 20s.

Living more joyously

So any personal development system that focuses on attending to completing the five Life Tasks, will help us to live a better, more joyous and fulfilling life and be the best human being we can be. PBSP is a systematic and highly respectful therapy which helps clients become aware of their internal maps or blueprints for living. Memory is essential to our living a good life, yet some memories keep us entangled in a disempowering history. Unmet needs from the past create problems when we transfer them onto people in the present. And the quality of life in the present can be diminished by the very strategies and defences that helped us survive difficult events in the past.

Becoming who we truly are

The PBSP approach utilises the brain’s capacity for neuroplasticity to provide individuals with new, ‘symbolic memories,’ embedded in the here-and-now experience of their PBSP session (called ‘a structure’). These alternative memories meet the client’s innate genetic expectations of being fully seen and understood. The effect is to lessen the power of trauma or of unmet developmental needs to disrupt present-day life. People can become more fully who they truly are, and consequently experience more pleasure, satisfaction, meaning and connectedness with others in daily life.

For more about PBSP and its approach to helping you live the life you were born to live, contact me.