In Martin Seligman’s book, Flourish, the author castigates the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre for his declaration that “hell is other people”. Increasingly the research shows that hell, to the human psyche, is the exact opposite – the absence of people. One of the great conditions of well-being is having a strong and vibrant social network. It is a clear human need that we be connected to others: our health, happiness and well being depends upon it. Regardless of how we express it, we are, as Nicola Diamond put it, ‘relational beings’ and without being understood by others we cannot not accept or know ourselves.
This programme is conducted in a group setting. We seek to maximise the benefits of this by seeking your help in making this a warm, inclusive, interactive, non-judgemental and cohesive entity. There are great benefits to being in a group of this nature. To look at our lives and what we want to do with it is forbiddingly hard to do without some sense of safety, of connection to others.
For further information, contact Gerard Fitzpatrick at 083 3482333, or by e-mail via our contact page.
In this programme, we invite participants to take responsibility for themselves, their lives, to live them as best and fully as they can. We will work to support participants become aware of their needs, strengths and goals – to pursue these and use their time and effort better to enrich their lives. To accept themselves for who and what they are and grow towards being their best selves.
We are alive; it is a finite condition. It’s an enormity to consider life, being alive, being. We really have to slow down to take account of it. And often, we hurtle through our lives, or maybe muddle from one thing to the next, day by day. We don’t get those days back. We don’t, as a rule, take the time to stop and consider the big questions, usually not until we have a problem or a scare. On this programme we stop and take time to look at where we want our life to go, how we want it to be. When we live the life we want and are meant to live we thrive.
In our lives, we inevitably meet struggles, trials and difficulties – we are tested, challenged. We experience success, joy, achievement, love and much else. We strive, strive to be better, to grow, to get on, get ahead, be more confident. We meet setbacks, we fall: we can lie down or we can rise again, try again. It really is the trying, the not giving up, that makes the ultimate difference. We have choice, even in the bleakest places. They may not always be great choices, but they are ours to make – as Auschwitz survivor Victor Frankl said “you can always choose your attitude”.
We live in challenging times. Even the most resilient have periods where they find themselves struggling, tired, frustrated with the seemingly interminable effort of trying to keep it all together.
Life can be great, but it can also be tough and hard to keep going. It is often a struggle and, according to Frankl, we are guaranteed suffering. Sometimes we feel worn out by the struggle, we might lose hope, feel stuck, immobilised. This is why Albert Ellis said we need to cultivate a high tolerance for frustration, because it is something we will experience, and if it sinks us, what do we have then? What we are seeking to do on this programme is look at all the ideas and knowledge that’s out there to see what can we do to become and stay strong, contented, well and enjoy our one and only lives while times are tough and we are challenged. How do we thrive when we’re up against it?
We offer steps and measures you can take to have a better life that have been tried and tested. They come from a wide range of sources, from Freud, Melanie Klein, Carl Jung through Carl Rogers, Perls and Steve de Shazar to the recent publications on the topic of flourishing. These proposals work if they are stuck to, they require that you use the power all humans are endowed with, though not all of us believe it, to make decisions and take action – and to stick with it, to be resilient and tough. We are not offering simple solutions, we are not promoting ‘an easy way’. If you want a better life, if you want a life that is more enjoyable, meaningful, stimulating and absorbing – then it really is up to you – it will take effort and application, resilience. What is offered here is a package of ideas developed from the work of many wise people who have reflected on the idea of happiness, flourishing and well being. You have the choice to test out these ideas, to stick with them, to take action. As William Glasser put it, we can talk all day about a flat tyre, but it doesn’t get our car back on the road.Glasser also said that we can only be responsible for what we can control – it is not wise to put our happiness or well being into someone else’s hands or to take on responsibility for another’s life satisfaction – that is neither good for you nor them.
This programme seeks to be as realistic and grounded as possible. The writers and thinkers referred to present evidence based ideas, there is a rigorousness to their methods. None of them offer effort free nirvana.The interesting thing about sustaining an effort is that it becomes easier – we get good at it, we build stamina, which brings achievement, boosting our confidence, which in turn allows us to take on other things with more self belief.
To live a more satisfying and happier life, we have to get clear what it is we want, we have to reflect, get to know ourselves as well as we can. This is an investment of time – it is hard for most of us to make that space, to reflect and make such big, existential decisions. But it is worth it surely. So we have to actively choose to take the time – coming to this programme is such a choice. According to Ellis, we are at our best when in pursuit of major life goals. Before we make changes we need to look at why we want to change. Do we honestly, deeply believe we can have or deserve a better life? A surprising number of people don’t believe in their own worthiness or their innate capacity. Do you?
As Kierkegaard put it, to venture causes anxiety. There is nearly always resistance to change. We all like security and stability and change can be threatening. It is worth remembering this – yes we grow by changing, but we also benefit from stability and security, they are deep human needs. We are wired from birth to seek stability, which can make change difficult to contemplate or sustain. In fact, many of us will know that our own organism will resist change even if it is clearly for our own good. However, Kierkegaard also said not to venture is to lose ourselves. We have choices to make!
For most of us, our greatest barriers come from within. Why do we do this to ourselves? Can we free ourselves from our own tyrannies? How do we overcome our blocks? These are questions we will be exploring and working together to generate answers, the first of which is developing greater awareness.
Awareness: we need to work to develop deeper awareness – what we can’t see we can’t change. Awareness, as Perls put it, is curative. Once we are aware, then choice enters the picture.
There is much about ourselves that is outside awareness. It is easy to imagine we repress and hide away what we consider to be shameful, but we are just as likely to lock away the greater aspects of ourselves as well. Jung used the term ‘shadow’ to describe this place where we locked away from others, and even ourselves, the parts of ourselves we did not want others to see. He also said that 90% of the shadow was gold. We will be seeking to mine that gold and bring its riches into our lives.
The main themes will be:
Gerard Fitzpatrick has worked as a trainer and group facilitator for twenty years, and has extensive experience of working with the public and private sector. He holds an MA in Group Facilitation, a postgraduate diploma in Training & Development and has trained in Integrative Psychotherapy and Reality Therapy. He also possesses an M.Phil in History. Besides running facilitation and general training groups, Gerard lectures in facilitation, counselling and psychotherapy at third level. He has written a well-received report on his highly successful and innovative work with ex-prisoners which is available for free on this website. He has also published two major, widely reviewed and very well received books on group facilitation.