Monday, 23 September 2013

Why Chasing Rainbows and where's your evidence?

Three weeks to go to publication date. This is both scary and exciting. I'm collecting comments, of all sorts, and will respond to those in another blog.

For this blog I'm doing a 'cut and paste' from the Introduction from 'Are you Chasing Rainbows? A personal and practical insight to emotional maturity and why adults sometimes behave like children.'  

Reading the news over the previous few days, the last paragraph seems especially timely. 

These are my answers to two common questions:

Why ‘chasing rainbows’?

Forty-four-year-old Neil was explaining some behaviour that wasn’t helping a domestic situation. There was something he had said that brought out the following response from me: “You might as well be chasing rainbows!” I explained that he was describing a situation where his goal was in fact an illusion, and he was becoming deluded and emotionally unwell in his attempts to reach it. He understood immediately. “I feel as if I’ve spent my life running backwards and forwards trying to fill a child’s half empty bucket, but it never gets filled.”

What’s my research, and where’s my evidence?

I have two children and four grandchildren. I have experienced some challenging times while growing up, being educated and throughout life – a normal life. I am also a trained nursery nurse with a variety of workplace experiences, including years on maternity units, in private homes, nurseries and playgroups. For most of my professional childcare years I was working with the under-fives.

I spent ten years in retail work and management, and then moved to another part of the country. Agency work as a nursery nurse led to work on an acute unit in a psychiatric hospital. I stayed as a nursing assistant, and after three years decided that there must be a more effective way of helping people and relieving them of their distress.

 I retrained as a psychotherapist, and in 2001 opened a private practice. I worked using a short-term, solution-focused therapy, using a variety of cognitive and behavioural therapeutic interventions. The focus was mainly on the client’s unmet emotional needs and their unused or misused resources (Chapter 1 and 2). I found it a most effective way to help many people experiencing emotional health problems, including depression, stress, addiction, anxiety disorders and trauma.

However, there were some clients where something else appeared to be going on other than just missing adult needs or misusing resources. Using my nursery nursing experience, I realised that I was seeing and hearing about childish behaviour hijacking adult behaviour – repeatedly. Verbally and non-verbally. Sometimes it would appear that the adult morphed into the child in front of me.

Why did they keep repeating such childish behaviour? What was trying to be achieved? The consequences rarely appeared satisfactory, so why did they continue? Did they realise what was going on? I asked my colleagues to look for these signs, and they too reported the same findings, although there has been healthy discussion on exactly what is happening in the mind and body. Even neuroscientists and psychologists don’t have all the answers, as new findings and theories are published frequently.

I have undertaken research using what I have observed, heard and read in the real world and real life. I have also used personal experiences over sixty years. Not a week goes by without a news report or magazine article containing an example of what I have described as ‘chasing rainbows’ behaviour. I have never met anyone who did not recognise exactly what I was talking about – although naturally there have been disagreements about why this is happening.

Family relationships can be fraught with difficulties if the child is not allowed to grow up into an adult. How many times do we hear from adults who are mature in years saying, ‘My parent still treats me like a child?’ I would suggest that we can allow ourselves to be treated like a child by not drawing boundaries of expected behaviour (Chapter 8).

From the feedback I have received when I tell people the subject of the book, it would appear that the workplace can be full of competing ‘mini-mes’. In August 2006, a City bank administrator, Helen Green, won £817,000 because she had been bullied at work – by other women. A group who constantly told her she smelled and blew raspberries at her. This is straight out of the playground. It is not so much juvenile as infantile, with results that can only lead to poorer productivity and increased sickness levels. Barely a month goes by without a political commentator writing that the House of Commons resembles a playground on occasions. The Palace of Westminster is stuffed with people who are intellectually bright – indeed, some are very intelligent – but emotionally mature? That’s another matter.


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