Creative despair: the light we must see beyond the malaise

Creative despair: the light we must see beyond the malaise

Creative despair reminds us that sooner or later we must do it: to stop, to face suffering and our reticence.Far from fueling the repertoire of avoidance strategies, this technique invites us to accept reality by assuming the desperation to move forward with it while creating a new road map, a new bright goal where hope is present.

This psychotherapeutic tool is part of the acceptance and commitment therapy.For readers who do not know this approach, we could say that it is part of so-called third generation therapies.

"Learn to dig a tunnel of hope through the mountains of despair that surround you every day"
-Martin Luther King-

It tends to generate positive and transformative changes in people through two very specific keys. In the first place, fight automatic thoughts. In other words, those that make us suffer and often plunge us into a destructive dynamic with which we feed the pain. Secondly,the therapy of acceptance and commitment is characterized by the direct, human proximity. This proximity envelops the patient through a fluid and comfortable dialoguefree from prejudices, and generates changes as well as encouraging more adapted behaviors.

So it is usual to use, to promote such changes, what is known as creative despair. It can bring the patient to find his own values, to reach a state of harmony and inner calm in which he can generatenew opportunities and the ideal state to enjoy.

What is creative despair?

To better understand what is creative despair,we will begin with a short story as an introduction.The story begins with a peasant. A man who is proposed to perform a strange task which he will obtain an excellent benefit. The job is to work a field with the only help of a donkey and a shovel. There is nevertheless a small condition: he backs it blindfolded.

The farmer begins his work following the instructions indicated. He does not know, however, that the field is full of holes. Our protagonist obviously falls into one of them. Not knowing what to do or how to get out, the peasant removes the blindfold from his eyes. He then uses the only thing he has: his shovel. So, and for almost a day, hebegins to dig and open tunnels. He is gradually becoming aware that he is only sinking ever further.

Realizing this, he decides to accept his situation and opts for another strategy. Maybe, should he make another use of this shovel … This small example illustrates with originality the very essence of creative despair.Our own avoidance behaviors often lead us to greater despair. In addition, they intensify the complexity of the original problem.

The goals of creative despair

When a person consults a psychologist, he does not go there alone.With him or with her comes a bag filled with deformed thoughts, defensive barriers, limiting attitudes, erroneous areas, past excesses, a wasted present and a vital anxiety that can be perceived from the first moment.

Getting this patient out of the "a little better" consultation than he has entered is not easy. These are not the main purpose. It is necessary to establish a road map and give hope to this person. But how to achieve it? How to make the patient return home with a little more light … facing so much darkness condensing in his mind? As curious as it may seem to us,creative despair is a good start, a powerful tool at timesLet's see why.

  • The first goal is to bringthe patient to accept the negative experiences that are in him and that he can not control. Far from fighting with them, from fleeing them or from obsessing them, it is time to embrace despair, to walk by one's side and to recognize that this path no longer makes sense. "I accept it to let him go. "
  • After taking care of these painful or distressing facts, the psychologistredirects his patient to other options through dialogue. These are issues with positive reinforcement, purpose, real hope.
  • In addition, the tactful psychologist will consistently show to his patient that what has been left behind, what is hurting, is no longer useful and no longer serves. This desperation can nevertheless act as an impulse, a driver for finding new issues.It's like someone taking two steps backwards to jump higher.

We can conclude by pointing out that creative despair can and must be applied beyond the psycho-therapeutic field.All of us, in a way, have gone through these moments trying to escape something. And almost without knowing how, we end up feeding this same malaise. It's like driving through a city we do not know and end up borrowing the same roundabout indefinitely.

To get out of this gyratory direction, to see the light beyond one's own malaise, implies first of all to understand that it is useless to use the same strategy frequently. It leads us to the same results.We must break the cycle ,. We must stop escaping, accept that we are lost, that we are not moving forward, and therefore look beyond. Raise your head and leave your own trap to discover other paths, other roads healthier and liberating.


Acceptance and commitment therapy: principles and applications

Acceptance therapy and commitment is behavioral and cognitive psychotherapy based on language and human cognition. Learn more
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