Turn the cor­ner to a new re­al­ity as you age

Hit­ting a dif­fi­cult patch can ac­tu­ally be a cat­a­lyst to change — and it doesn’t mat­ter how old you are, psy­chol­o­gist Dr Dina Glou­ber­man tells Mar­garet Jen­nings

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Ageing With Attitude -

For any of us who feel that we are stuck in life, that we are too old to carve out new be­gin­nings, or are fear­ful that time is run­ning out, psy­chol­o­gist and psy­chother­a­pist Dr Dina Glou­ber­man says: Never give up hope.

“What­ever age you are, there is al­ways a new be­gin­ning; you are not stuck. You are grow­ing and de­vel­op­ing. And if you are in trou­ble and you think ‘That’s the end of things for me’ as I have some­times felt my­self, the trou­ble it­self can be a cat­a­lyst that will get you mov­ing,” she tells Feel­good.

“So whether you are feel­ing good or bad, you are al­ways the same won­der­ful per­son, and you can al­ways keep mov­ing — turn­ing a cor­ner to a new re­al­ity. That to me is youth — that is what life’s about; it keeps you alive at any age.”

Glou­ber­man, now aged 72, has a newly re­leased book, Into the Woods and Out Again: A Me­moir of Love, Mad­ness and Trans

for­ma­tion, which is an en­ter­tain­ing, hon­est and darkly hu­mor­ous jour­ney through the highs and lows of her life.

It ranges from her spell in a psy­chi­atric ward as a young woman, to her es­tab­lish­ment af­ter­wards of the pioneer­ing Sky­ros Holis­tic Hol­i­days in Greece (now cel­e­brat­ing its 40th year), and the cre­ation of a ther­apy and self-help method called Image­work, which has guided her and thou­sands of clients from be­ing stuck, through trans­for­ma­tion and change.

The Image­work tech­nique which she de­scribes in her book as “con­scious work with the in­ner world of the imag­i­na­tion” in­volves a sens­ing of our in­ner wis­dom, rather than sim­ply re­ly­ing on the images of vi­su­al­i­sa­tion.

For those wor­ried about age­ing, for ex­am­ple, she has used it to do an ex­er­cise with them to put them­selves into the fu­ture five years from now or more, and to look at a pos­i­tive fu­ture and a neg­a­tive fu­ture and see how they got there.

“When I do that ex­er­cise — and I’ve done it mil­lions of times with peo­ple, the neg­a­tive fu­ture is al­ways achieved by keep­ing on do­ing what you are do­ing right now. So I say ‘OK, what bit of you wants the neg­a­tive fu­ture’ and they say ‘The bit that says, it’s all fa­mil­iar, I know how to do that, it’s safe.’ So if you keep on do­ing ex­actly what you’re do­ing right now, you will prob­a­bly end up down the slip­pery slope where you don’t want to be.

“And to reach the pos­i­tive fu­ture, they al­ways have to de­cide some­thing and have to dis­ci­pline them­selves around it — it could be ex­ter­nal or in­ter­nal.”

At the same time the ther­a­pist points to the wis­dom of ap­pre­ci­at­ing each present mo­ment and em­brac­ing that cre­atively, for those of us who feel neg­a­tive about time run­ning out.

“For me one of the big ques­tions is ‘What gives me joy?’ ” she says. “Do more of it.

“We have to abol­ish the neg­a­tive per­spec­tive we have on time. We have a bound­ary — this [life] isn’t go­ing to go on for­ever. En­joy it.”

There’s a dif­fer­ence, she says, be­tween the time limit be­ing neg­a­tive — ‘oh well I haven’t got long to go, so I might as well give up’ — and the time limit be­ing pos­i­tive — ‘well there’s bound­aries around ev­ery­thing, so I must live life fully within these bound­aries.’

Stay­ing youth­ful in­volves hav­ing a pur­pose: “I think we all need some­thing cre­ative in our lives — some­thing that you are learn­ing from, es­tab­lish­ing, or work­ing on, that gives you a sense of mas­tery and self es­teem, in­stead of drift­ing in the old way, be­cause then you lose your sharp­ness, your joy.”

A mother of two and grand­mother of three, Glou­ber­man con­tin­ues to work as a ther­a­pist, trainer, and writer and is just start­ing a new cen­tre in South­ern Italy, and says: “My guid­ing prin­ci­ples have been not to miss out on life and to find the truth about my­self and life, so that has kept me go­ing al­ways. And the other thing was, that what­ever I found out I wanted to help other peo­ple find too.”

And she’s in a re­ally good place now: “Set­ting up Sky­ros [Hol­i­days] was the big­gest thing I ever did and that was a young per­son’s thing to do, but for me now I am def­i­nitely hap­pier, I am freer in my­self and more in charge of my life; I have a sta­ble cen­tre. And what you see from the book is how much I was up and down in my life — I was very up and down — so re­ally the best is yet to come. I feel re­ally happy about get­ting old.”

Into the Woods and Out Again: A Me­moir of Love, Mad­ness and Trans­for­ma­tion by Dina Glou­ber­man is avail­able now at €11.39. You can find out more about Dina’s cour­ses and work­shops at her web­site www.di­na­glou­ber­man.com

LET IT GO: We have to abol­ish the neg­a­tive per­spec­tive we have on time, says Dr Dina Glou­ber­man.

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