We all form attachments throughout our lives, it is an intrinsic part of human nature. Ryan and Deci in their theory entitled The Self Determination Theory, when referring to three fundamental needs of humans; Relatedness is one of the three along with Competence and Autonomy. These I’ll refer to in further blogs for sure.
This week I have to face the fact that my holistic therapist is going on holiday for five weeks. His treatment has supported me for the last three years. Treatment started with the onset of illness in August 2015 and throughout some of the darkest months which followed both physically and mentally. His treatment continued post-surgery and gave me the initial push to get the clarinet out after 10 weeks bed rest when I did not know whether I would be able to play again. His skilled treatment and sensitivity to my physical wellbeing, with my body having taken a hit from everything, he also helps me to manage my mental anguish. This all combined contributes to make him an important figure. I refer to my life as before and after. In these ‘after’ subsequent three years, my perspective on life is very different which has in turn significantly altered the direction of both my professional and personal life. The old life simply does not fit anymore.
But attachments can be tricky to manage. So I am facing the last session this week and I am filled with dread. No amount of reasoning at this moment is helping to quell the rock sitting in the pit of my stomach and the upset clouding my thoughts. There is no arguing with human science, relatedness is as important to humans as water or sunlight is to plants. Relatedness could be seen as our attachment and connection in our relationship to people or indeed relationship to the places we live and the activities we do. These are the anchors on which we manage ourselves emotionally through our lives. From performance preparation through to performance realisation, anchors in the process of learning are immensely important. I would refer to those anchors as methods and systems; routines and rituals, which I would certainly imagine as in some way consciously or sub-consciously part of everyone’s lives. From my daily early morning 100 length swim (trust me, no better way to start the day!) my weekend running (I’ve become a bit of a fitness freak), to my clarinet and sax warmup routines along with my writing and business commitments as I develop Samek Music. They are part of the fabric of my daily life; a form of relatedness, helping to anchor me as a person and give me a sense of stability as I face uncertainties. Attachment to structure needs to be managed and allow for some flexibility; like when swimming did not open at 6 am when the duty manager overslept, as happened the other week! This is where accommodation and coping comes into the equation. While I view accommodation as potentially a healthy form of flexibility (though I have to admit I’m not always very good at it, being somewhat uncompromising in nature!), I view coping mechanisms as a more short-term fix. In writing this, I am not decrying the importance of coping mechanisms, which with careful and thorough interrogations could develop into long-term healthy and reliable systems. But coping mechanisms can be a reactive response, generating less than healthy behaviour; comparable to a human shield, a barrier in effect, hiding true feelings and the ability to be honest to ourselves and those around us.
As I face five weeks without the support of my holistic therapist, life must go on. I have much work to do and music to learn and through all this I also need to manage myself emotionally and be a reasonable human-being to those around me. Knowing my psychological fragility I am super aware that it is from flexibility and accommodation, not coping that I will manage myself through this summer. Also with my natural propensity to retreat when I face some form of loss and my balance is under threat, that attachments and relatedness like water and sunlight exist if we only know to look and in my case to reach out to those around me, who I must also learn to trust.