Posted by Ryan
I must admit that there was something compelling about the royal wedding. Like Kate marrying Wills, and Mary marrying Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Meghan's wedding to Harry was literally the stuff of fairytales! And we all know that fairytales end with "happily ever after." I love a good love story, but are those good love stories we like to read about and see in movies realistic love stories? Let's be honest,"happily ever after" is usually not as simple as it sounds. I think most people would probably agree that the hard truth is that relationships are not without their challenges.
I've recently finished reading Alain de Botton's book The Course of Love. It's a love story, but not as we know it. de Botton sets out to tell a story about what love is really like. He notes that our ideas about love, and indeed our expectations about what a marriage or committed relationship should be like, are often shaped by the illustrations of love that we encounter in art and literature--usually depictions of exciting experiences of courtship and romance. But what comes after those heady early days of love? That part of things often gets left out of the narrative of love. Indeed, although the fairytales end with "happily ever after", they don't offer much in the way of just what that "happily ever after" looks like.
Similarly, de Botton points out that couples are often asked, 'so how did you two meet?" but are seldom asked, "what is it like to have been married for a while?"
Larry David asks someone about their marriage!
In his review of the book, Simon Caterson (Sydney Morning Herald) wrote:
"According to Alain de Botton, we are still labouring under a Romantic delusion when we expect to enter a perfect, everlasting union of body and soul with another person who will find the same in us. He contends that falling in love is just the start of the journey, far from the end. We can be Romantic in privileging love but also realistic and show patience, forbearance and, perhaps hardest of all, forgiveness. The fact that love hurts is the proof it exists.
The lesson the book teaches is that a true understanding of our own flaws, strengths, dignity and vulnerabilities, as well as those of our life partner and/or co-parent, is necessary if we are to stay the course of love. "We should look for ways to accommodate ourselves as gently and kindly as we can to the awkward realities of living alongside another fallen creature," de Botton counsels."
So The Course of Love is a love story which is a rather unexciting tale of a perfectly average marriage, but it normalises for us the challenges inherent in relationships, and reminds us that love is so much more than just the "start" of love. Love can be complex, although at times simple too, it shifts and evolves and unfolds, and at times may feel banal or even painful. And being reminded of this, seeing something familiar reflected back to us in this tale of Kirsten and Rabih and their normal marriage, I think allows us to think deeply about and consider how we can have better, more connected, and more enjoyable relationships, and to find more happiness and fulfilment as we travel along the course of love in our own lives.
Posted by Ryan
When we started Be Psychology & Mental Health, we thought long and hard about what we would call our practice. We threw around a lot of different names. While we knew that what really mattered was not so much the practice name but our commitment to helping our clients as best we could, we nevertheless wanted a name that conveyed something about who we are as psychologists and people, something simple, something that conveyed the very essence of what we understand psychological therapy to be about.
When we first meet clients, they often express some kind of dissatisfaction with how things are going for them at the time. What this tends to boil down to is a sense of not living the sort of life they want to be living, not being the sort of person they want to be, and often feeling stuck and unsure as to how to get closer to that. The idea of "be" captures something really essential about what we all strive for.
When I came across this video for this new song from Josh Radnor and Ben Lee, posting it seemed like a fitting way to kick-off this blog. Not only do the lyrics contemplate this notion of what it means to "be", but the video with its quirky hand dancing (!) is strangely mesmerising.
I also really love what Josh Radnor says about the song: "The song is, on some level, about simplicity, about knowing we have everything we need if we could just get out of our own way." The problem is knowing how to get out of our own way, or indeed recognising that we are in our own way to start with.
In his book, The Gift of Therapy, a manifesto of inspiration and guidance for other psychotherapists, famed psychiatrist/psychotherapist Irvin Yalom shares 85 pieces of sage advice drawn from his experience of half a century of clinical practice. The title of Chapter 1? 'Remove the Obstacles to Growth'. No matter a psychologist's therapeutic approach -- CBT, ACT, psychodynamic psychotherapy, schema therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, DBT etc. etc. (more on all of these therapy approaches in future posts) -- this, I think, sums up what psychological therapy is about. Removing the obstacles to growth so that you are free to be.
We hope that the idea of "be" inspires you as it has us.