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By Joanna Kleovoulou | Clinical psychologist | Founder 

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Image By T. Christie

Image by Phew, what a year it has been! The general theme for many – young and old – coming through our doors this year has been of despair, hopelessness and powerlessness at the outer and inner “conflicts” this year has brought forth. In South Africa many feeling despondent with the failing systems and economic decline, feeling psychologically and physically unsafe too at job insecurity, the brutality, GBV,  the uncertain future, whilst the current war abroad has also sparked terror, increased bitterness and hatred. 

War consciousness has highlighted for me where we are as global citizens and how that manifests on a microlevel for us all too. 

Using language such as, “I need to soldier on,” or “this year has been a battle for me”, or “I need to armour myself”  to actual manifestations of wars in relationships, family conflicts and break-downs, conflicts in the world of work, to global wars, indicates that we are living in a mistrusting and unsafe world where people are “fighting” to “survive”, for basic resources or “competing” to get more or to get to the top. This leads to a mindset and behaviour of scarcity, deprivation and fear leading to further acts of desperate measures to survive or to protect at all costs. In psychology, symptoms of war consciousness shows up in panic disorder, anxieties, clinical depression (a sense of hopelessness, despair, motivation and fatigue), sleep disorders, PTSD, OCD / disordered eating as a need to control the inner our outer environment, whilst physical manifestations could show up as increased heart dis-ease, auto-immune disorders and cancers. 

So I thought it appropriate to end this year’s note with the significance of the advent of Christmas which celebrates the values of faith, hope, love, joy, purity and peace that so many are seeking in their inner and outer world and using the mode of psychotherapy. This may sound so flowery in a brutal world, but now more than ever the return to innocence and pure love is what is required to bring more joy, forgiveness and tolerance for the collective benefit. 

On Hope – extracts from a  poem by Donna Ashworth “Today I hope”

I hope today you see the beauty in the bland today

I hope you laugh until those tears just flow

I hope you let your soul be as it must today

I hope you finally learn to let go

… I hope you see the hero there is you

I hope you’ll write the chapter you deserve today

I hope the happy ending will come true

I hope you know the impact that you have today

I hope you see your light for what it is

I hope you do not pick yourself apart today

I hope you know this life is yours to live…

On Joy: Interestingly, research shows that joy helps minimise the stress of the fight-or-flight reactions that we grow accustomed to because of our traumatic experiences. So despite all the pain and suffering, increasing moments and pockets of joyful moments decreases symptoms of trauma. 

On Faith: the opposite of faith would be uncertainty and not knowing, which often triggers the fear response.If we could reframe uncertainty to bring forth more faith that within uncertainly lies the potential of possibilities and herein lies trust that all will bring hope for a good outcome. Hoping what we want and wishing for and by keeping hope alive through action allows for the gateway for something better to show up. 

On Love:  Christmas symbolizes unconditional love – so when confronted with challenges ask yourself, “What would love say and do” – and in this way extending thoughts, and prayers if you are religious, or do acts of kindness for another. It has been said that a life without love means nothing. 

“Love is patient love is kind, doesn’t dishonour others, it keeps no record of wrongs, always trusts, protects, always perseveres…”, Love also needs to be extended to loving yourself. 

On Peace: Peace is remembering that only LOVE is real. Creating a calm centre creates a calm mind. What are you watching and addicted to that will fuel the adrenaline and the nervous system? This will be imprinted in your mind and heart.  So we need to return to purity to bring more of it to our consciousness. To upgrade our inner and outer reality is to go inward and to the Inner work so that it can be reflected outwardly. We need to be helping our body and our mind through self-care if we seek outward and inner peace.  

As an activity for yourself and maybe your family, find time this December break/ festive season, to create a sanctuary of ornaments that resemble the values of hope, faith, joy, peace and love. Getting coloured candles, stones, images or items from nature that symbolize these values to imprint for 2024 is a wonderful grounding task to embody as a foundation of a peaceful and secure future. 

Myself and the team would love to thank you for making your life matter and for choosing us to facilitate your journey to your fuller self. 

May the last few weeks of 2023 be restorative and healing and may 2024 be an abundant one for all. 

Some exciting news: We would like to welcome a psychiatrist to our team –  lovely Dr Nikki Eklektos – she will be offering her services as from February at PsychMatters. Bookings are open as from 9th January 2024. 

PsychMatters Family Centre is closed and will re-open for bookings on 9 January 2024. 

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