Notes for Class on Aging
Collected by Luiza Namizov, based on co-counseling theory for reemergence.
False messages from society can stimulate pain and distress from our early experiences when we watch films, advertisements and television programs. What we are left with is the sense that "I'm not okay":
1. I am alone – actually, no one really cares about me, no one sees who I really am, I have no one.
2. I have no power to influence, to make changes.
3. I'm not smart – no one respects me, I'm not enough…
4. I'm not okay, because…I haven't done this or that; I'm not enough, because I don't have this or that, because I don't know this or that…
All of these examples are products of internalized oppression, oppression of the groups we belong to, i.e. men, women, class, ethnic background, age, status…
Why is it important to release ourselves from these negative feelings?
Only people who feel bad about themselves are those who are easily recruited as agents of oppression.
Tim Jackins claims that it is important to be aware that the root of bad feelings we have about ourselves is based in oppression.
Here are a few steps recommended to contradict these messages:
First of all, Reveal the oppression, Discharge (also the internalized oppression and the oppression that society produces – ranging from humiliation to arrogance).
Second, Take a stand against the oppression.
Third, Belong to a community; Practice being an ally to a group who is oppressed.
The truth = seeing the best possible reality and having a vision
1. Each and every one deserves love.
2. Everyone has three basic, legitimate needs: love, security and recognition – these are conditions for rational behavior.
3. Every person is equally important.
4. What is most important is what is best for all people – not in the process, or the bottom line.
5. All of us have magic, logic, natural beauty – we are more alike than different.
6. Our success is dependent upon our being present – we mustn’t leave anyone behind/outside.
7. Any person can bring about meaningful change in the world.
8. Everyone is doing the best he/she can at every given moment.
9. Life is getting better every moment and is changing with the years.
10. Everyone is capable and equipped to be a leader.
11. Doing the right thing is acting through caring and not through fear or the need to please.
12. The truth is: I am okay! And you are too!
13. Crime is a result of an ailing society.
14. People are inherently good!! This is not related to their negative actions.
15. Using discharge is a condition for rational thinking and behavior.
16. In essence, we all are happy to love and to cooperative with others.
17. Free attention and active listening are very valuable resources.
18. Leaders function in their best capacity when they receive support from allies and when their rational needs are met: security, love and recognition.
19. Work that isn't formally recognized, i.e. parenting and learning are extremely important and worthy of compensation.
20. Everyone should have access to jobs doing meaningful work.
21. A lively community is important as it contributes to our sense of belonging.
22. Global cooperation and division of resources around the world is the way to ensure benefits for all.
23. All instances of condescension (by status, race, age, nationality, occupation, gender, sexual preference, skill) is a distress (a result of one being recruited as an agent of oppression), which harms first and foremost, the agent him/herself.
24. Competition always creates distress – there's enough for everyone.
25. There is always hope.
Specific elements on oppression
No one can truly be in a good place if he/she is still affiliated with a group or is a person who oppresses others.
No oppressor truly wants to oppress, since in essence we are all inherently good. Oppressors are only recreating scenes from when they were harmed and haven't yet discharged.
When we come into contact with oppression – we must stop it from harming others and in the same moment remember that the oppressor is inherently good.
I have learned not to be afraid of people and to love men in spite of the oppressive role many of them still take today.
Roles for being worker/co-worker (what to pay attention to):
Write: My life story
List situations where negative emotions arise which are related to my age
List types of people I find it difficult to communicate with - because of their age or my age
List my major worries which are upsetting to me
List the things which are extremely disturbing to me (in my family, with all people, friends, the world)
What is the most threatening thing to me (a thought, an idea, an expectation)
What are irrational behaviors (automatic) what I've identified in myself
Which songs cause me to discharge
What music causes me to discharge
What are the particular sentences related to age that I have said or that were said to me that caused me to discharge
Which people do I search for or avoid their company because of their age
Which topics are important for me to work on: forgetfulness, caring for elderly parents, relationships with adolescent children, operations, pains, fear of death...
Name three things which are most satisfying in my life:
Make a picture (verbal or drawn) of my life as an elderly person: What am I doing, where am I living, friends I have, my sex life, relationships, creativity, children...
2nd Meeting: Class on Aging, Dec. 17, 2009
For Good and New: How have I maintained my commitment to elders or acted as an ally to the elderly?
One of the ways to avoid patterns of distress and pain in our lives is to tell our life story - every 3 months or so. For the worker, the act of speaking is discharge which can encourage a new perspective. It is recommended to tell the story chronologically and afterwards answer the following questions:
1) What were the most difficult moments/periods in your life?
2) What were the most significant events in your life (so far)?
3) What were the sweetest moments?
4) What are your unresolved issues?
5) What are your longings?
6) What is your greatest pain?
7) What traumas have you experienced?
8) What do you understand about your life?
9) What is the meaning of life for you?
10) What are you planning for the rest of your life?
Directions (for the co-worker to say to the worker) You are such a hero! You never gave up.
This is the place and this is the time to grieve over what you didn't have.
What can you offer yourself from what you didn't receive in the past?
The assumption in our society is that physical/emotional pain and their expression is negative. It's better to ignore or to repress it = to get over it.
The way we will look at this now is every pain is a warning sign that one of our needs is not being met, and the pain dissuades us or fulfills a need or to discharge on the past over a need that was not fulfilled - the work/discharge is therapeutic.
Putting the brakes on expressing pain will bring greater pain, and it will find its expression in an unexpected manner.
The pain is meant to call attention to the damage that was caused. When we lose the connection to the pain, we lose the connection to the healing. The main difficulty is the lack of safe attention in order to discharge.
Medical professionals need to be aware of:
It is natural and critical/essential to express pain in order to heal.
In order to give healing attention, one must do one's own discharge on pain in order not to be stimulated by the patients' pain; in addition one must have ample rest.
It is possible to heal from an injury by discharge, even if it's not easy.
In less capitalistic societies, there are ceremonies supporting discharge for healing.
Drugs for pain reduction are used to stop the discharge.
Work on Pain
A good way to work on pain is to pay attention to where it hurts, to complain, to cry, to talk about the pain and to yell out.
It is recommended to do a scan over the body every 2 hours - to ask ourselves: How am I? Where do I feel discomfort/pain in my body?
Work on Chronic Pain
In order to discharge on chronic pain, it is recommended to work on the feelings that have become attached to the pain.
When did the pain become untreatable?
How was it originally treated?
Who was with you?
What scared you?
Discharge may come as yawning.
If one focuses only on the physical side - the pain may return.
As Allies to the elderly, it is recommended to:
Exhibit happiness, recognition, to initiate quality time
Enable them to tell their life story
Show how much they are wanted, tell them how clever and important they are and their opinions too
Enable them to express their pain
Spread light on their strengths, special skills, actions, characteristics
Help them find meaning in their life story
Luiza Namizov - based on co-counseling theory and other sources.