Psychotherapist Aina Poiša: Exhale frustration and inhale joy

"2020 taught us not to plan anything ahead, but that does not mean that we must not teleport ourselves to the wings of dreams and imagine the opportunities that will come this year and how they will be seized. It is not forbidden for us to dream without getting specific," says the well-known psychotherapist Aina Poiša.
02.01.2021. Santa Raita
THIS TOO SHALL PASS. "May our inner feeling of summer be invincible! Because everything flows and changes. This too shall pass," says psychotherapist Aina Poiša optimistically, and it is with this hope that she also invites us all to look forward to the new year 2021. ©Mārtiņš Zilgalvis/F64

In a conversation with Neatkarīgā, she looks back on the past year, evaluating what she has lost and emphasizing what she has gained, while expressing hope: everything will be fine!

Small eye contact and smile

"When summarizing my last year's balance, I choose as the main criterion whether I have met people who have given me an inviting experience. And that is also what I want to wish to myself in the future - not to miss those episodes when you suddenly meet someone who has not been in your circle of friends and acquaintances so far, but with whom you are on the same frequency. Such contact of souls is a gift. And these accidental meetings, which have probably already been prepared for each of us, if we only open and allow ourselves to experience them, it is important not to miss them," believes Aina Poiša.

Looking back at the past year and what was good about it, she concludes: "There were a lot of restrictions, plans were changed, and we also changed a habit ourselves - while spending time in nature, walking in the woods or along the sea, when we met strangers on the same path, instead of looking at the ground as is typical of Latvians, we looked up, looked at each other, exchanged greetings and smiles. Until now, I had experienced it only outside Latvia, where, for example, when hiking in mountains, the people you meet on the way shout "Hello!" to each other, smile, and wish good luck. Last year I also experienced it here, in Latvia - every accidental meeting with a little "good morning", "goodbye" or just a smile allowed us to unite, not be afraid of each other. Yes, we now have an "official reason" to be afraid of each other, but they cannot forbid us to make a small eye contact and smile. That was the strong point of last year, which I would like to keep in the future," says Aina Poiša.

The parched earth needs rain

What have we lost in 2020? The psychotherapist believes that one of the biggest losses is the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of art outside your home and get inspiration from concerts and theater performances.

"It is a real loss because, in order to maintain a creative spirit, a person cannot feed on himself all the time. It's like how parched earth needs rain. Our inner world, fed only by art online, is slowly starting to dry up. We need that rain, the exchange of energy that only occurs in direct contact when you are connected to actors in the theater hall or performers in music. The loss of that feeling of unity in the world of art and culture is one moment when it is difficult not to fall into resignation and not be angry about the prohibitions caused by the pandemic," says Aina Poiša.

She herself is "on both sides" because her first profession is a director, but her creative CV already has four roles, all on the stage of the theater club Austrumu Robeža (Eastern Border). The latest of them is Kārlis Anitens' production of Sātans Stikla Brunčos (Satan in Glass Skirt), which premiered a year ago, on January 24.

"That's precisely the case - I'm on both sides, and I really lack both the mobility required by the theater and the unity with the audience. We had several ideas for this theater season, and although it was predicted that there would be a second wave of Covid in the autumn, we were full of hope that maybe it would not be so bad. A lot was left on pause and unrealized," says Aina Poiša. That's why she especially thinks about creative people today - how do they feel? Because they need this direct contact even more. It's not about just salaries or benefits, but also the viewers to whom you give it all.

"And then I think: why am I getting so angry, I can work remotely. Of course, everything is smaller and calmer, but I welcome every opportunity, because mental health is as important to a person as physical health,” emphasizes the psychotherapist, urging us to keep our fingers crossed so that our creative people do not lose faith that better times will come. To endure this pause.

Feel gratitude in your heart

Asked what she expects from 2021, she replies that 2020 taught us not to plan anything ahead, but that does not mean that we must not teleport ourselves to the wings of dreams and imagine the opportunities that will come this year and how they will be seized.

"I don't have any plans, because in such an unreal situation, where nothing has limits - no one knows when all this will end - planning something is an unnecessary waste of energy. In addition, you may be disappointed. But it is not forbidden for us to dream without getting specific," says Aina Poiša optimistically, inviting everyone to feed their hope - to talk to their loved ones about what they dream of. Because this will not last forever. As with all things in life.

"All wars have begun and ended sometime. Of course, war does not leave without painful consequences but watching old post-war movies, we also know that people who have gone through the horrors of war are not only happy to survive but also thirsty for love and creative construction, optimistic and enthusiastic to create and re-create something and continue to live. Now it is a pleasure to meet a healthy person, as far as it is possible to meet someone. I'm glad that you're well - this is the most modern slogan today. Maybe we could keep it for the future as well - to enjoy every little bit and feel gratitude in our hearts. Focus more on gratitude than criticism," suggests the psychotherapist. She does not deny that it requires a great deal of concentration, because a wave of frustration breaks over us automatically. "But every cloud has a silver lining, and we have to try to breathe life, seeing in every situation what we can be grateful for. It is the inhale and the deep exhale that the Covid now teaches to those who go through it. We all have to learn it - to inhale the moments of joy, but to put all the frustration and criticism into a long exhale."

A few minutes of light

"Of course, nature is not helping us improve our mood at the moment," says the psychotherapist, while emphasizing that although we have to wait patiently for the sun to return, we can direct our consciousness to the fact that with the winter solstice, the darkest months of the year are thankfully behind us.

"I, too, am as happy as a child: already four in the afternoon, but it is no longer as dark as it was a couple of weeks ago! We've already gotten a few more minutes of light! These are the little joys that we need to be able to see today - that we are approaching spring step by step," urges Aina Poiša.

"It is impossible for people to be just happy or just unhappy. There are moments of weakness for everyone when the melancholy veil is tightened. I have them too, of course! But it is important to learn to accept everything that happens to you and not to panic. Accept it, put a stamp on yourself: I know this sad melancholy feeling in my heart, yes, it's about me. Experience it, but then allow your inner energy to experience change and move forward. And that is already your freedom of choice. Everyone takes responsibility for their own lives, as well as how to get across the river to the other side during this time. Because this time is like a bridge that we all walk on - to understand something deeper and become more aware on the way," thinks the psychotherapist.

Greater compassion and reverence

"I won't be discovering any New World now by saying that it is important to give some spiritual meaning to everything that is happening now. Of course, there is no single answer to the question of why this is happening, everyone has their own thoughts. It is more interesting for me not to talk about the medical aspects, but to look at it as a lesson about the harm to nature - that there are too many of us, that nature can no longer cope with our consumption needs. Something has to disappear and something else has to come instead. And if I have to think about what I would like to come into its place - it is greater compassion and reverence. In relations both with each other and with nature," says Aina Poiša. She would also like those people who, although outwardly mature, are unaware of the seriousness of the situation and are fascinated by various nonsense, who pollute the information space with conspiracy theories, to gain more wisdom in life.

"Life is like a swing - at one point it swings us high in the air, we are complacent and euphoric, because there is peace and everything is cool, but at the moment we lose real interaction with the overall "big system" of which we are a part, we find ourselves on the bottom. This system can no longer deal with everything, in some specific aspects, there is overload. And it is not enough for us to talk only about the numbers that appear every day as the main message to keep up with the reality that is happening to us. That is not enough. At some point, we also have to distance ourselves from it and think deeper," says Aina Poiša.

But for the new year, which has just begun, she invites you to look forward with a sunny hope that everything flows and changes, that this too shall pass. "May our inner feeling of summer be invincible!"