What I like about Gestalt is that it brings together the personal and the professional, the individual and the social. It attends simultaneously to my need for personal freedom and my need for connection with others. Gestalt unfolds at the boundary between self and the world. I am who I am in relation to my environment.
Gestalt as a holistic concept acknowledges the need for completion, the urge to become whole. It is the recognition that natural processes are alive in us. In the same way as a tree, we continuously grow and change. This is our destiny. We cannot force growth or change, nor can we completely stop it. However, we can stun it, block it, in the same way as a plant is blocked from growing if kept in a confined space and in the dark.
To flourish, we need a nurturing environment and we need light. These will support us in our development.
Few of us have had an ideal environment as we grew up, an environment where we experienced safety and support paired with encouragement and the freedom to explore. Whatever we have not yet developed, we need to catch up on.
What is it that we are meant to grow into? Fritz Perls talks about ‘maturation’. It is our destiny to grow up, to fulfil our potential, to become more of who we really are.
“Be real” is one of the catch phrases in Gestalt. Yet, in the same way as other internalised messages – introjects – that prevent us from living our potential right now – this message too can become an introject. I might end up trying really hard to be real and in the process of this pursuit move further and further away from myself and instead trying to live up to a particular image of myself.
The fact is, I am real the way I am, I can’t be more real. All I can improve in is in narrowing the gap between myself and my image of myself, the way I present myself to the world.
In the end, this process is not an action, not a doing, but rather a being, an allowing, a relaxing.
I am gaining more and more ease by relaxing. I would like to describe the process of personal growth to maturation as “relaxing into being myself more fully”. It is not so much a doing like trying hard to be real, but allowing myself to be me, the practice of self-acceptance. This for me is the goal and the process of Gestalt. What helps me on the way is: awareness, being in the present moment and curiosity.
Copyright © 10/2004 by Rumijabu | Originally published in “Partners in Dialogue” October 2004