Tag Archives: relationships

Thoughtful Thursday – #244 – Stream of Consciousness Writing

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I usually write with stream of consciousness because it’s easy and therapeutic. Here’s an article about several writers who use this method very effectively. From Quiklit.com.

10 WRITERS WHO USE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS BETTER THAN ANYBODY ELSE

By May Huang

A narrative technique that has perplexed and fascinated readers for centuries, the stream of consciousness technique has been used by many writers to trace the seamless (and oft erratic) musings of characters such as Mrs. Dalloway and Stephen Dedalus. Below are 10 writers whose works – ranked amongst the finest in English literature – feature the stream of consciousness technique.

Okay, but what is Stream of Consciousness?

Stream of Consciousness is a type of writing that originated with the works of psychologist William James (Brother of Novelist Emeritus Henry James). Basically, its purpose is to emulate the passage of thought through your mind without any inhibitors. For that reason, sentences become longer, less organized and more sporadic in style. Its lack of structure is not for everybody, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any order. Stream of consciousness permits deeper patterns of order to emerge, ones based on the genuine movement of information in your brain. It also permits writers to simulate different forms of consciousness, such as dreams, comas, drug use and hallucinatory seances.

  1. Dorothy Richardson

Considered the pioneer of the stream-of-consciousness technique, 20th century British author Dorothy Richardson was the first author to publish a full length stream-of-consciousness novel: Pointed Roofs. In fact, it was in reviewing Pointed Roofs that British author May Sinclaire first coined the term ‘stream-of-consciousness’ in April 1918.

On one side was the little grey river, on the other long wet grass repelling and depressing. Not far ahead was the roadway which led, she supposed to the farm where they were to drink new milk. She would have to walk with someone when they came to the road, and talk. She wondered whether this early morning walk would come, now, every day. Her heart sank at the thought.” from Pointed Roofs

  1. William Faulkner

Recipient of both the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, American author William Faulkner used the stream of consciousness technique to great effect in The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, exploring the depths of different characters’ inner conflict through disjointed, unpunctuated narrative. In one short paragraph, the reader is at once exposed to different smells, sounds and movement:

“Nonsense you look like a girl you are lots younger than Candace color in your cheeks like a girl A face reproachful tearful an odor of camphor and of tears a voice weeping steadily and softly beyond the twilit door the twilight-colored smell of honey suckle. Bringing empty trunks down the attic stairs they sounded like coffins […]” – from As I Lay Dying

  1. James Joyce

Dublin born writer James Joyce employed the stream-of-consciousness style in all of his novels, including Finnegans WakeA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and – of course – the 1000-page, 265,000-word long Ulysses. It is easy to get lost in any paragraph in the novel, as the protagonist Stephen Dedalus guides us quickly – and disjointedly – through his thoughts and surroundings. One moment he is asking himself, “Would you go back to then?” and the next he is on Grafton street, pondering whether to buy a pincushion while the “jingle of harnesses” sounds in his ears. Then, out of the blue, he answers himself and concludes that it would be “useless to go back.” Next thing you know, he’s moved on to Duke Street and we’re not quite sure how he – or we – got there.

  1. Virginia Woolf

 

Recognized as the most important feminist writer (and perhaps one of the most important writers in general) of all time, Virginia Woolf used the stream-of-consciousness technique to great significance in her work. Paying scrupulous attention to detail and describing even “the footman’s hand,” “parcels and umbrellas.” Woolf takes readers through different minds, perspectives and surroundings in Mrs. Dalloway. She makes us wonder who is speaking – and about what.

  1. Marcel Proust

French writer Marcel Proust also used the stream-of-consciousness style in his works, notably in the seven-volume long Remembrance of Things Past, in which even the simple childhood memory of eating a petite madeleine plunges one into the “vast structure of recollection.” Reading Proust, one is caught up in the taste and smell of the pastry, “the water-lilies on the Vivonne” and “Sunday mornings at Combray” – all of which are memories that converge in the narrator’s stream of consciousness.

  1. Jack Kerouac

American writer Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is now remembered as one of the defining novels of the Beat Generation – as well as a modern example of stream-of-consciousness writing. Originally written over a course of 3 weeks on one scroll of paper (deemed the ‘original scroll’),On the Road is based on Kerouac’s road trip across America, a journey at times vividly recounted in continuous stream-of-consciousness prose, fusing both description of land and memory:

The brown hills led off towards Nevada; to the South was my legendary Hollywood; to the North the mysterious Shasta country. Down below was everything: the barracks where we stole our tiny box of condiments, where Dostioffski’s tiny face had glared at us […]” from On the Road

  1. José Saramago

Portuguese Nobel Prize Laureate Jose Saramago, like Woolf, also liked to alternative between narratives and use stream-of-consciousness in his writing. In Blindness, Saramago uses long sentences and eschews quotation marks to enhance the seamlessness of his prose, allowing the stream-of-consciousness to run free of interruption:

The very air in the ward seemed to have become heavier, emitting strong lingering odours, with sudden wafts that were simply nauseating, What will this place be like within a week, he asked himself, and it horrified him to think that in a week’s time, they would still be confined here, Assuming there won’t be any problems with food supplies, and who can be sure there isn’t already a shortage, I doubt, for example, whether those outside have any idea from one minute to the next…” – from Blindness

  1. Samuel Backett

The second French writer on this list, Samuel Beckett used the stream of consciousness technique in his Three Novels (Molloy, Malone Dies and the Unnamable) to deliver a stream of observations and musings on time and existence. In fact, Molloy defies conventional grammar and tense rules in order to emphasize the continuity of the narrator’s non-stop train of thought:

What shall I do? What shall I do? now low, a murmur, now precise as the headwaiter’s And to follow? and often rising to a scream. And in the end, or almost, to be abroad alone, by unknown ways, in the gathering night, with a stick.” – from Molloy

  1. Fyodor Dostoevsky

Although Crime and Punishment is Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s best-known work, his 1864 novella Notes from Underground also sits amongst the classics of Russian literature. Throughout the novel, the ‘Underground Man’ expresses his continuous train of thought through long, comma-filled sentences (even in brackets).

If you take, for instance, the antithesis of the normal man, that is, the man of acute consciousness, who has come, of course, not out of the lap of nature but out of a retort (this is almost mysticism, gentlemen, but I suspect this, too), this retort-made man is sometimes so nonplussed in the presence of his antithesis that with all his exaggerated consciousness he genuinely thinks of himself as a mouse and not a man. It may be an acutely conscious mouse, yet it is a mouse, while the other is a man, and therefore, et caetera, et caetera.” – from Notes from Underground

  1. Toni Morrison

83 year old African American author Toni Morrison published several books on slavery, the most compelling of which is undoubtedly Beloved. The story of a ‘ghost baby’ who returns to her family in the form of a grown woman, Beloved is both a harrowing tale about the horrors of slavery as it is a testament to the unrelenting power of memory. Morrison uses stream of consciousness in one of the final chapters to reveal the intermingling of three characters’ thoughts:

Beloved

You are my sister

You are my daughter

You are my face; you are me

I have found you again; you have come back to me

You are my Beloved

You are mine

You are mine

You are mine

I have your milk

I have your smile

I will take care of you

You are my face; I am you. Why did you leave me

who am you?” – from Beloved

 

 

Thoughtful Thursday #226 – Emotional Numbing

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Emotional numbing comes in two forms:

  1. detaching emotionally as a coping method to avoid triggering overwhelming feelings.
  2. detaching emotionally as a form of keeping boundaries and protecting from any psychic trauma.

What does it feel like to be emotionally numb? You feel like a ghost watching and observing others go along in their lives and you feel so invisible that you can’t interact with anyone. This state of mind is very painful. You feel unfocused and ungrounded. Can’t communicate or think straight.

There can be many causes for emotional numbing only you can say how it occurred in your life.

So how do you manage in the meantime.

  1. identify triggers, what caused your initial shutdown.
  2. write it out uncensored on your computer or by hand.
  3. talk to a therapist or trusted friend.
  4. stay busy.
  5. exercise.
  6. eat and sleep well.
  7. remember, the feeling is temporary.

It may take some time to come out of emotional numbness but that is the OK. Mental health is very important and it takes time to understand what is going on in our minds. Is it a linear process, not at all. Healing has its own time table, have patience with yourself and in the meantime take really good care of yourself. You are worth it.

Abandonment

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Here’s a list of what abandonment is from Susan Anderson’s book “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing” Pages 5 and 6. Susan Anderson has a blog with tons of information on the serious subject of “Abandonment”.

What is abandonment?

A feeling

A feeling of isolation within a relationship

An intense feeling of devastation when a relationship ends.

A primal fear – the raw element that makes going through heartbreak, divorce, separation or bereavement cut so deep

An aloneness not by choice

An experience from childhood

A baby left on a doorstep

A divorce

A woman left by her husband of twenty years for another woman

A man being left by his fiancée for some “more successful”

A mother leaving her children

A father leaving his children

A friend feeling deserted by a friend

A child whose pet dies

A little girl grieving over the death of her mother

A little boy wanting his mommy to come pick him up from nursery school

A child who feels replaced by the birth of another sibling

A child feeling restless because of his parents emotional unavailability

A boy realizing that he is gay and anticipating the reaction of his parents

A teenager feeling that her heart is actually broken

A teenage boy afraid to approach the girl he loves

A woman who has raised now grown children feeling empty as if she has been deserted

A child stricken with a serious illness watching his friends play while he must use a wheelchair or remain in bed

A woman who has lost her job and with it her professional identity, financial security and status

A man who has been put out to pasture by his company as if he is obsolete

A dying woman who fears being abandoned by loved one as much as or more that she fears pain and death

Abandonment is all of this and more. It’s wound is at the heart of human experience.

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You could add to the list but I think you get the message, the important thing here is to name what the feeling is.

Abandonment is so very painful, it is a feeling we have all experienced at one time or another. There is a PTSD component to abandonment which leaves it victims with shame, low self-esteem, and fear just to name a few of abandonment influences.

There is hope for survival and recovery, it will not be easy, you will have to do the important work of reaching deep within yourself and uncover the pain that is just below the surface of your awareness. Most of the time this work is not done alone. Counseling, or writing or exercising, read books on the subject, mindfulness and finding some way of getting to  the trauma that abandonment left behind.

You have to help yourself just enough to lift you. You are worth the effort. Don’t give up.

Thoughtful Thursday #207 – Separation

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Many of us have grown up in either mildly dysfunctional or maddeningly dysfunctional family systems. We could have lived through addictions, violence, mental illness, instability, abandonment and the result was trauma. At some point we have to stop seeking validation from those in our family system who can’t even  validate themselves.

It’s time to separate. It’s time to let go of believing that they will change. It’s more probable that toxic people will always let you down and you deserve so much more. It’s time to miss events with those who are emotionally unavailable and toxic. When we separate we can acknowledge our pain and the depth of our family’s broken and unfit system. When we recognise our pain the healing begins.

When the healing begins you will regain your health, sanity, dignity and wholeness with this important and critical self-care. Will it be easy, nope. But so worth the effort.

It’s time to find out who you are in your own wholeness, separate from the trauma, drama and maladaptive idea of who you are.  It’s time for you to go back to the  unbroken and undamaged person you are meant to be, in one piece, peaceful and confident.

You are worth it.

Thoughtful Thursday #206 – Futility

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Futility=Pointlessness and uselessness.

We can recognize futility by an emptiness, hollowness, inside your body. Maybe an action seems meaningless. Sometimes on certain days we may even feel ineffective and worthless.

Wow, that really sounds painful. That is surely true, that is what futility does, makes you feel really hopeless. No one wants to feel that way.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully feeling futile lasts only for a short time. Here are a few suggestions to lighten you up.

  1. These feelings are not permanent.
  2. What is the message futility is telling you, maybe you are feeling suppressed.
  3. Get some rest.
  4. Take some alone time to get back into alignment.
  5. It’s OK to feel sad and frustrated.
  6. Get professional help if you need it.

The more we learn about how we feel the better our lives will be. Take good care of yourself first.

Thoughtful Thursday #200 – Love Yourself First

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Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and many share their love and enthusiasm for our families, lovers, friends.

Let’s not forget to give a big Valentines to ourselves. After all we are very important too. Here’s some helpful ways to love yourself.

  1. Stop calling yourself names. eg. I am such a jerk.
  2. Stop thinking about the worst case scenario. eg. The world will end if I say the wrong thing.
  3. Identify negative beliefs you have about yourself and get rid of them. eg. I am a really bad cook.
  4. Rewrite and reframe your internal dialog. eg. I am a good dancer.
  5. Celebrate yourself. It’s OK to give yourself a reward.
  6. Visit a therapist. Self examination is healing.
  7. Support yourself with positive self talk.

Every day is a chance to take good care of yourself and be your own Valentine.

“Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.”
― Roy T. BennettThe Light in the Heart

 

Thoughtful Thursdays – #196 Examining Our Beliefs

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Ever wonder why you have certain beliefs that you stubbornly refuse to unbelieve? Eg. Only my religion is the right one.

Which ideas do you believe are true? Eg. All electronic equipment is reliable.

How many beliefs fall into the broad generalization category? Eg. All women can sew and all men can fix a car.

Is the belief based on emotion or evidence or did you swallow a second-hand opinion.

Self-examination of our beliefs is one true path to freedom. But be warned. It is not the easiest.

 

Thoughtful Thursdays #188 – Move Closer

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There are some pretty scary emotions that we run from. Our minds race with one disaster after another. Our society almost demands that we let it go and move on from tragedy or trauma. Letting go and moving on is not possible if we smother the very emotions we need to move closer to. Emotions like fear, abandonment, isolation and worthlessness.

Move closer to the parts of you that you exiled. Move closer to the very emotions that scare you. Move closer to approval for all strange events you survived. Move closer to being curious about your behavior. Move closer to the parts that are so hard to accept and love. Move closer to having compassion and kindness for yourself. Move closer to being intimate with our own courage. Move closer to deeply knowing who you are because you can’t help anyone else without helping yourself first.

It won’t be easy but so worth the effort. Your thinking will become more integrated and grounded. And an important perk to this effort is you will become more productive, understanding and confident.

Thoughtful Thursdays #183 – Road Rage

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Road rage is never about the traffic incident, it’s about underlying, unresolved anger that is misplaced.

Over reacting to any situation is usually about unresolved hurt, anger,  oppression or any other uncomfortable feeling of  frustration.

I am not minimizing that a particular event like road rage is not meaningful.

These trigger events are meaningful because they show you where you have been hiding, and not dealing with uncomfortable stuff.

These trigger events are your reminder of where you are not looking to be healed.

These trigger events are your teachers.

These trigger events are monumental in transforming your life.

Look where you are hurting, go to the places that make you uncomfortable, be willing to be curious about what is triggering you.

You may have to change some stuff: do you need to remove yourself from a situation, do you need to protect yourself, do you need to have a difficult conversation. Then by all means do it, it’s going to hurt temporarily, but you will be so much better off in the long run.

Welcome Road Rage and any other Rage into your life. It’s the place you need to change something.

Thoughtful Thursdays #181 – Generosity

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I am not talking about being generous with  huge donations of time and money and goods. I am talking about generosity with the small things that are so meaningful.

Listening with full attention, giving a supportive hug, saying kind and reassuring words, giving of your labor, making time for someone who needs you, holding a door, spend the day being courteous to everyone, in the face of conflict or differing opinions stay calm and don’t react, finding in your heart to do no harm with your words or actions.

These are just a few incognito generous actions you can take. You will end up helping someone else and feeling so much more accomplished as a human being.

Carry on you lovely generous being.