November 2021 Newsletter

KASAM – some thoughts about coherence

We are coming to the end of November and for some of us it might be a challenging time when days feels shorter, and the weather is getting cold. For others it might be a welcome pause and time for snuggling up by the fire with a cup of tea and a book.

What I do know, is that we seem to tackle challenges differently and me today mentioning the start of the winter season is just an example. Many of us might currently experience both personal and global worries and I’ve been reflecting on what the dynamics around us are that makes it overwhelming for some and not for others.

I get reminded of the concept KASAM . I first learnt about KASAM (which in Swedish means “känsla av sammanhang”) when I did my nurse studies in the early 90ths. The concept Sense of coherence (SOC) originates from Aaron Antonovsky who in 1979 found a way to explain why some people become sick under stress while others stay healthy.
SOC reflects a coping capacity of people to deal with everyday life stressors and consists of three elements; comprehensibility (begriplighet*) , manageability (hanterbarhet*) and meaningfulness (meningsfullhet*) and is also known as the salutogenic concept.
If you are interested in reading more about how this concept today is widely used, for example in different scientific studies, you will find a lot if you “google”.

Dr Viktor E. Frankl, the Holocaust survivor, states in his amazing book Man’s search for meaning, that it’s the ones that finds a meaning and a purpose in waking up every morning that will survive.” Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

For me it helps when I have routine of counting my blessings, when I daily look around and name for myself everything in my life, I’m grateful for. It helps me put my focus closer and remind me what I know in the present moment and what I (think!) I can control. I use a fishing rod as a metaphor when clients sometimes share their worries about the future; I ask them to throw out the line and “catch the worry” ahead and howl it in…

Among the things we can control is our response to what is happening. It has taken me years to owe this one, not to blame anyone, anything, or life. Instead, I practice awareness in my responses, as in the word response plus ability, meaning our ability to respond.

Or like Viktor E Frankl puts it; “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

My wish for you this November day is a sense of coherence wherever you are and whatever you are going through at this moment, and I’ll end with this beautiful poem by Mary Oliver;

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

With gratitude,


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