On re-authoring our story
Good morning; I hope this finds you safe and well. I am back from my Easter trip with friends to Budapest, so I will tell you more about it today. I lived in Budapest for eleven years as a student maturing into my first few jobs in tech. I studied and experienced the first social media channels there. It was also in Hungary, a very innovative and tech-friendly country, that I fell in love with what today we call digital wellbeing.
I returned to Budapest after a decade of Brexit trauma, counselling studies and renewed connectedness with Nature. Hence, it was interesting to see how the city has changed and what is the place of tech and nature in it today. In the last decade, Budapest clearly benefited from the EU funding. It grew a new skin of reconstructed architecture, polished-up traffic infrastructure and wonderfully paved and irrigated parks and playparks for children. The run-down parks where we used to meet for a midnight dance and chat are now gone. The facades with traces of revolutions are no longer to be seen. We have seen a stunning reconstruction of the glorious city Budapest used to be in its most iconic times. It’s heartwarming to see such a beautiful city centre.
Nature is present, of course, even though it may still be a little bit hidden in spring. Besides the old socialist rows of concrete planters, the beds in the city centre are stunning, full of colour and immaculately maintained. Hotels try to fill the gorgeous courtyards with bushes and trees, which is a beautiful idea to cool down the places during hot summers. But most of all, I love the city trees of Budapest – witnessing every single wall, street corner and memorable historical building.
In fact, the city is currently planting 10,000 trees in an effort to make the landscape greener (as well as cooler, I would think, considering the number of concrete pavements in the city’s layout and design).
If you pay attention, Nature elements are everywhere, especially in decorations and art so beautifully maintained across the city.
Spring is a perfect time to visit a city where Nature is just waking up. You can still see the architecture with all its impressive, rich details, decorations, and mosaics while also noticing the signs of Mother Earth waking up to life.
Since it was Easter, we have also seen Nature’s role in celebrations:
Budapest is a city of art, so it was lovely to explore museums, current exhibitions, and the 365 photo project exhibited on the lush Duna bank. Many photos stuck with me as stunning, but this one, “The Bride” by Vizor Janos, was my favourite:
Even though our visit was short, for me personally, it was incredibly emotional and grounding. To see the city where I left a big piece of my young heart in such a beautiful, restored state with this fresh sense of re-birth was precisely what I needed for my own journey.
I am on a personal journey of re-authoring. It is a powerful self-growth concept from liberation psychologies where we heal after a severe identity threat or abuse by re-remembering our stories. Since I arrived in the UK, my multicultural identity has been challenged in personal and systemic ways so much that I need to rebalance my path through intentional personal work.
First, I worked on my inner identities and belongings in personal therapy – and I continue to do so. More recently, I have spent a few years re-connecting with my Nature-based agnostic spirituality. And now, I am moving closer to the connection with my heart and body to complete this journey. All of this is done surrounded by kind and compassionate people – it is the only way to liberate ourselves collectively.
Visiting Budapest with incredibly warm, kind and loving friends was exactly the perspective I needed on my current journey and the choices I am facing this year, completing the offering of my business. Going away but also back to my “other hometown” (I was only 18 when I moved to Budapest), where people are so connected and in contact with themselves, reminded me of one core truth: we are social animals, so our healing is relational. No amount of personal work is going to succeed if we surround ourselves with people who deny some or all parts of our identity.
We need our tribes and collectives to hold our pain, witness our healing, and celebrate our thriving. That is true liberation.
I came back excited about the power within me and my tribes to finally start a focussed work on helping people with their digital wellbeing challenges. This month, I am opening the final service Voxel Hub will offer – counselling. And with that, my work is complete, and another path opens up – one on which I can offer my learnings to people who come after me while I still lean on and tap into the collective power of the giants who came before me and walk my path with me.
I am very grateful to my friends who invited me to Budapest and to everyone who is here with me – in person and spirit. Thank you.
Today I invite you to reflect on various parts of your identity to run a quick wellbeing check and identify areas that may need re-authoring:
- Do you actively celebrate and nurture all aspects of your identity?
- Do you sometimes feel that some people quietly or openly ignore some parts of you?
- Do you experience quiet silencing or microaggressions around some aspects of your Self?
- Do you sometimes feel that in your friendships, there is a power imbalance, a pecking order, an accepted and unaccepted way of being – especially around some and not all aspects of your identity? Are your relationships territorial?
- Are you a victim of targeted, ongoing discrimination of some aspects of your identity?
- Do you find yourself code-switching (adjusting your language to the people you are with beyond what feel comfortable) when in certain places or groups or even one relationship? Is there a dominant, only “one way”, accepted way of being?
- Can you be present in spaces and relationships based on your consent – for example speak of topics you wish to speak off etc…Are there topics that are safe and unsafe?
- Can you be present in the room with other(s) as your true, authentic self without a judgement or a felt, embodied sense of lack of safety?
- Do you find yourself overly stressing some parts of your identity that, on reflection, are not accepted by your friends (which can be a defence mechanism)?
- List all your identity challenges, list all your tribes and people and maybe experiment with reflecting on who hinders and who supports your wellbeing. Who needs to be more present in your life, and who needs more boundaries approach? Where do you need to move from and towards in order to feel more liberated and authentic? What parts of your life journey do you need to re-connect with (and how can you do it) to re-author yourself?
- If you struggle with any of the above points, maybe try to move away from emotions and thinking but notice how your body feels in those situations. A lot of discrimination, power imbalance and quiet abuse can be very well rationalised, so it may be easier if you notice your physical reactions too. Please note that if you happen to be in a very unfavourable social positioning and experience open discrimination often, dissociating from your physical reactions is a healthy way of coping with this ongoing trauma. Pay attention to what comes up when you do those reflective exercises, ground yourself and pause if things feel too heavy or too stormy for you.
(I am off to reconnect with my Bristolian Nature and ground myself in the soil of our allotment, spring flowers or our park and the good people I have here who love me and carry me forward. I wish you all a soft Saturday!)
This post was originally posted on Substack in our Syl’s Liberation Psychologies Newsletter.