“Look into your mind’s eye see what you can see, there’s hundreds of people like you and me”
(Hawkwind; ‘Hurry On Sundown’)
The town I grew up in was renowned for its Friday night street brawls, conspicuous uneven distribution of wealth and availability of illegal drugs. It was once described in a national newspaper, albeit rather sensationally, as ‘The English country town that is a heroin hell’. It was rough, commercial, competitive and garish in town, the absolute embodiment of tacky 1980s dog eat dog Britain. But the surrounding countryside was truly beautiful, so that’s where I chose to spend as much time as I could.
Close to Stonehenge and several disused airfields, the area was naturally adopted as an epicentre of the free festival/rave scene at that point in time. I found myself amongst like-minded revellers during summer months, who had also chosen to turn away from the cold concrete architecture and attitudes, forming a counter culture of tolerance, collaboration and mutual appreciation of humanity and all creation (of hope, love, trust and belief in each other, in other words).
In spite of where we’d come from, no matter what was holding us back, we found a way to peacefully co-exist as the people and the community of our wildest, most blissful imagining.
This joyful communion was expressed through radical new trends in art and music, and the ensuing celebrations were collectively dubbed ‘the second summer of love’.
Thirty years have passed since then. I’m a different person now, because I’ve had to constantly adapt to an ever-changing world. But I’ve kept the aspects of that version of me (and other people, of you even) which have been most useful in pursuit of my hopes for what tomorrow brings.
All human beings, like you and me, truly have an amazing ability to follow their hearts desires and reinvent themselves as necessary, doing whatever comes naturally to them in line with the direction of that reinvention, that preferred identity, no matter what their starting point.
We all carry around hundreds of constructs of the person we can be. Hundreds of possible versions of ourselves (more than hundreds really, countless, but that’s how the song goes!)
More than what we might do, where we might be, it’s who we’ll be in that moment that defines us.
That moment when our hearts desires about the person we can be become our reality.
How would we be ordering a coffee as that version of ourselves?
How would we step out of the car as that version?
What would the people around us notice?
What would be different?
What do you see through your mind’s eye?
There is a relational aspect to this reinvention. That which makes us all ‘like you and me’. Our interactions are integral to our constructs of who we are and who other people are.
People are simply people.
I’ve lived and worked in all sorts of environments with people experiencing all sorts of different problems, and one thing I’ve noticed is that people find a way, regardless of the nature of the obstacles in their path.
Many of my fellow health/psychology professionals, when responding to requests for help with emotional/’mental health’ matters, still seem to think in terms of matching an approach to client presentation, carrying an assumption that there’s a different way to appropriately therapeutically interact with someone struggling with, say, ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ compared to someone with, say, ‘psychosis’ or ‘complex trauma’.
The thing is, no matter what anyone’s struggling with, there exists a common baseline which we all share, which is a concept of how (who) we’d like to be, and it’s evidently achievable no matter what is getting in the way of being that person right now.
So by simply engaging in natural, person to equal person conversation with someone, inviting them to use their ‘mind’s eye’, keeping focused on their recognition of the signs of their reinvention becoming their constructed reality, regardless of current ‘symptoms’, regardless of any pre-conceived ideas about how this might be achieved, the process of bringing about desired change becomes much simpler, and characterised by hope, love, trust and belief.
It makes no difference where someone has come from, how they ‘present’ or how we interpret their words and actions. They have a concept of who they want to be in the life they want to live, even if they might struggle at times to articulate it.
They know. We all know.
And they have the innate human ability to create what they see in their mind’s eye, even if it’s difficult, even if at times it seems impossible.
The first step in this creative process begins with imagining, with dreaming, with a look into the mind’s eye, noticing the differences. Then those same differences can be recognised for what they are as they manifest in tomorrow’s reality.
All we professionals need do is respectfully, politely, with hope, love, trust and belief, invite our clients to take that first step.
So enjoy the summer solstice people, and “hurry on sundown, see what tomorrow brings”.