Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Brief Reflection on Climate Change

A Brief Reflection on Climate Change

By Payam Ghassemlou Ph.D.



Over twenty years ago when I started my career in mental health, it was rare to have psychotherapy sessions that involved hearing patients’ concerns about tsunamis, hurricanes, storms, and tornados. Today, more people are talking about climate change and its devastating impact on their lives or their loved ones. Many patients have shared with me how watching the horrible images of weather related catastrophes on the news have made them feel sad for the victims and worried about the future of the planet. I share their concerns as well. I am also deeply saddened about the mistreatment of the planet and exploitation of its natural resources which has contributed to the problem of climate change. I understand there are many reasons why we are experiencing more weather related catastrophes including the greenhouse effect which adds to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere. Since not enough work is being done to protect the planet from global warming, we all need to get ready for an unknown future.


In psychotherapy, the concept of dealing with the future and its unknown reality comes up often. We don’t know what the future will bring, but we can learn how to accept change as part of the human existence and have enough humility to learn from it. Many politicians and policy makers who don’t believe in the science of climate change often deny the fact that the frequency and severity of recent extreme weather events is caused by it. We are being warned by many scientists that life as we know it today is changing. Those of us who listen and hear the cry of the Earth cannot ignore the pain that has been inflicted on the planet by greed driven consumerism. Many of us grieve along with the planet and do what we can to help.


No one can predict with certainty what ten years from now is going to look like. There are scientists who believe we are passed the tipping point. Those of us who love and respect the Earth and witness its torment can ask for divine intervention. In a hopeless situation we can look for the light of Truth. Humanity cannot solve the problem of climate change with the same consciousness that created it. We as people need to look deep within our own hearts and look for a new light that can guide us out of such impending doom of climate change. As long as we are distracted by our personal problems, we won’t be able to hear the cry of the Earth. The new born babies deserve a better future, and we owe it to them to make that happen. As the unknown future with climate change unfolds, let’s keep the Earth in our heart during meditation. I hope going within and practicing meditation based on love and kindness with the soul of the planet in our awareness can trigger an awakening of a new healing energy that might provide a brighter future.


http://drpayam1.blogspot.com/2013/11/a-brief-reflection-on-climate-change.html




© Dr. Payam Ghassemlou MFT, Ph.D. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (Psychotherapist), in private practice in West Hollywood, California. www.DrPayam.com



He is the author of Fruit Basket: A Gay Man’s Journey. In his book, Dr. Payam Ghassemlou writes about the psycho-spiritual journey of a gay man named Javid, in which he struggles with homophobia and having a life purpose. Available on Amazon




Saturday, November 9, 2013

Trauma & Healing


Trauma & Healing
By Payam Ghassemlou MFT, Ph.D.



Current or past abuse, neglect, betrayal, and any kind of tragedies or traumas affect everyone differently. When human beings are subject to cruelty especially as children, they often relate to life from their experience of torment and betrayal unless they work on changing that. As Alice Miller, the author of The Drama of the Gifted Child, stated, “All destructive behavior has its roots in the repressed traumas of childhood.”

Some victims of trauma can get lost in the darkness of their victimization and lose touch with their own inner light. In some cases, these people’s hearts can get covered up by debris of the unfairness of what happened to them, and they lose their ability to be compassionate.  They can also lose their ability to be vulnerable again. These wounded individuals began to live in all good or all bad worlds where “you are either with me or against me.” Because of what was done to them, they often feel the world is a dangerous place, and they are ready to strike first. They can never trust anyone easily, and they often imagine the people in their lives will eventually hurt them. In an attempt to protect themselves from ever becoming a victim or humiliated again, they victimize others. Many become a bully or tyrant in order to avoid feeling powerless.  They cannot make a connection between the impacts of their past mistreatment on their current relationships with others. For these individuals not being able to feel safe with anyone is the real loss that can be worse than the tragedy itself. Going through life without a safe and meaningful connection with others can feel like being in solitary confinement. Such individuals can be helped if they are willing to develop compassion and empathy for themselves and others despite their past mistreatment. They need to stop mixing up the past with the present. They additionally need to stop treating everyone as a potential threat. It will take a great deal of psychological labor to learn to love themselves.

There are those individuals who remain the victim of their tragic experiences by putting themselves in one oppressive situation after another. They lose touch with their sense of worth and treat themselves with disrespect. They either keep doing to themselves what was done to them or associate with others who can mistreat them. They tolerate humiliation by others and never say no. These untreated victims of humiliation and abuse live a life void of joy in order to continue the dark legacy of their familiar suffering. The world becomes a fearful place and hiding and not asserting themselves becomes their protection. They can never fully show up and stand up for anything meaningful due to fear of displeasing others. Their sense of worth can come from pleasing others. Not feeling a sense of worth as a person becomes a bigger tragedy than what they endured. Healing is possible for them as long as they are willing to reach out and ask for help. They can learn self respect, setting healthy boundary with others, and assertiveness.

It is important to know that not every victim of mistreatment or trauma is going to mistreat themselves or others. Those victims of tragic life circumstances who recreate their painful past can avoid the above mentioned scenarios by reaching out and getting professional help. Life tragedies or betrayal can become opportunity for growth. People can bring higher meaning to their painful life experiences and relate to them as the dark night of the soul. People can learn to use the pain of their suffering to develop more compassion and empathy for others. Victims of mistreatment and abuse can learn to grieve and consciously feel their feelings of anger, loss, shame, and abandonment. They can learn to provide support and regard for their own emotional pain. These survivors can turn to spirituality and the God of their understanding for comfort. There are countless number of kind and loving people in this world, and they can reach out to them for support. Sharing their torments with those who are caring can be very healing. Eventually, one day at a time, the victim of life tragedies or traumas can learn to love themselves and move beyond them.




© Dr. Payam Ghassemlou MFT, Ph.D. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (Psychotherapist), in private practice in West Hollywood, California. www.DrPayam.com





He is the author of Fruit Basket: A Gay Man’s Journey. In his book, Dr. Payam Ghassemlou writes about the psycho-spiritual journey of a gay man named Javid, in which he struggles with homophobia and having a life purpose. Available on Amazon