Psychotherapy, Self and a Snow Day
Why am I writing about case studies, snow days and the self today? Because, if Environment Canada and the other weather folks are right, today will shape up to be the most significant “snow day” we’ve experienced in this part of Canada for a number of years. And even if the weather folks are wrong, there’s a huge number of school and other closures, and people just staying home in anticipation of a huge dump of snow, whether it actually comes or not. Psychotherapy would say that the snow day is a psychological and social reality, even if it turns out not to be a meteorological one.
So what do case studies, psychology and the self, etc. have to do with a snow day? I think it’s this.
Normal Expectations — Shut Down!
With a snow day, suddenly all of our normal expectations for the day just get shut down. Normal routines and expectations of the day are put on hold. There’s no taking the kids to school, and maybe no commute and time in the office. Where we had expected an ordinary working day, filled with the usual frenetic busy-ness, we often get a much quieter day. A day with unexpected elements of “down time” and maybe with significant blocks of empty space.
What do I Notice?
What do I notice in the middle of the unexpected emptiness of a snow day? Potentially, many things. One of them may be a lot of anxiety. The sudden lack of agenda may lead us to feel an unexpected void. Alternately, we might find ourselves feeling a bit “down”. For some people, there may have been a feeling of anticipation of the snow day — “Oh, good, no work!” — which is gradually replaced by a feeling of listlessness that seems to creep in as they are confronted with inactivity. And then, for some folks, there will be a genuine feeling of relief to just have some let up from the pressure of the daily routine in this unexpected way.
Whatever feelings you may confront, they bring an opportunity. In this open space of time, you have the opportunity to learn something about yourself, about relationship, and about your feelings about your own real life. This day, seeming empty, may prove to be a doorway, if you take the opportunity it provides to look within.
Three Psychological Questions to Ask Yourself Today
1. What do I really feel today? Please note: this is not the same question as “What do I think?” or “What do I think I ought to feel?” It’s a question that I ask myself when I’m trying to be as honest as I can about parts of myself to which I may not usually pay attention.
2. What do I really want today? Again, this is not the same as, “What do I think I ought to want?” Without censoring myself, can I be honest about what I’d really like in my life?
3. Is the Life I’m Leading Meeting the Needs of My Inmost Self? If the answer to this question is “No”, or “I’m not sure”, this might be the moment to seek out the help of an experienced and qualified case studies to do some in-depth self-exploration.
More than just “down time”, the open-ness of a snow day can be an opportunity to move into depth.
Wishing you a meaningful snow day — and a genuine encounter with your own dear self, as you move forward on your personal journey to wholeness,
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst
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© 2011 Brian Collinson