Blog 27: 13/09/2018 - Emotional intelligence, awareness and regulation - where is yours?

It’s been some time since I wrote my last blog! Sorry if some of you have been waiting a while. I kept clicking on my website to write but I think the sunshine and summer holidays took over 😕, anyhow, I’m back online, the private practice is in full swing and I’m looking forward to the coming months working with the many new faces, challenges and experiences that come my way.

 

So what prompted me to write about emotional intelligence (EI)? Well, I was reading a book by Daniel Goldman, Emotional Intelligence - Why it can matter more than IQ. And it got me thinking about my own EI! With my professional hat on I feel my EI is quite high, manageable and grounded. In my social life I feel my EI is level, again manageable and ok. But on occasions I also feel my EI has been out of control at times, and on reflection these occasions were when I was feeling quite young and valnerable in nature. 

 

We we all have a child within us, along with a parent and adult, (Transactional Analysis model of therapy (T.A)) and within all these parts of us we have different levels of EI. Upon further research into the subject I was surprised to learn that the emotional part of our brain doesn’t actually reach full maturity till we are 25 years old!

 

So how do we increase our EI?

 

I often find myself using T.A in the Counselling room, especially when clients say “this must sound crazy, but I felt like I was a child again,” “it brought back all the memories of my childhood” etc. So, this indicates the child part of us holds many memories, feelings and emotions that we weren’t able to process effectively, as our brain was too immature, but what ever our circumstances we all would have coped as children at the time. Sadly some people’s experiences would have been more difficult than others and this is where EI struggles to move forwards naturally. A little like trying to wear a pair of shoes that are too small....the experience gets painful, irritating and effects your mood. Giving or throwing the shoes away is the solution to the problem....but our emotions and experiences stay with us!

 

If we experiance something that triggers a difficult childhood memory or experience, whether we are aware of it or not, we usually feel young, unable to cope and afraid in some way, hence we react in ways that may not be comfortable, appropriate or understandable. It is only through awareness, processing and reaching some resolution which enables us to identify our EI we are then able to realise what’s going on.

 

Working through childhood issues, or any difficult emotional experience up to the age of 25 could really improve awareness around EI. Whether you decide to do this in Counselling or with people you trust it can really benefit overall well-being, confidence and self-esteem. It frees up space and time to be more present in what ever situation you find yourself in and as the title of the book suggests, it increases IQ naturally as a result.

 

Emotions are powerful, and can take up quite a lot of brain space!

 

 

 

 


Blog 26: 08/06/2018 - Our children are gifts. Are we supporting their understanding of emotions or moulding them?

Recently I was sitting under a tree with my youngest daughter, relaxing on the bank holiday weekend, eating ice-cream and doing a little people watching.....whilst my daughter was glued to her phone 😒.

 

I’ve been studying a Diploma in children and adolescents emotional development, and although it was the weekend and I shouldn’t have been working, I was observing the many different families around us, through my new insights of supporting children linked to their emotional development.

 

One particular family caught my eye, mum pushing a baby, dad carrying a multitude of family essentials, bags, blankets etc and a little boy, maybe 3/4years old struggling behind the family, obviously struggling as he walked up the hill to keep up with his family.

 

I’m very aware not to judge circumstances I know nothing about. It was hot, the family may be rushing to get somewhere or to someone, there may have been tension in the family or this may just be their way of being. But I couldn’t  help but wonder what messages the little boy was receiving as he protested, cried and wanted some help getting up the big hill.

 

Having children myself, I’m aware of the trials parenting presents us all with, and none of us get a manual right! Well we kind of do get a manual, our interpretation of our own up bringing, our parents parenting, their parents and so on through the generations. Do you ever actively assess your parenting? Do you ever wonder what messages your children are receiving?

 

Since embarking of my career I’ve read and experienced a lot of historical stuff, and boy at times I’ve thought back over my own parenting style and cringed 😧😖🤭....swiftly followed by apologies to my children for my mistakes. My mistakes were lack of awareness, none of us intentionally do harm to our children in the moment.

 

As parents we mainly focus on physical elements of our children and ensuring they have fun, are happy and have happy memories of their childhoods. How many of us check in with our children’s emotions? Do any of us help our children identify what they are feeling and why they are feeling a certain way?

 

Children feel a lot of emotions, they just can’t identify with them as their emotional development isn’t mature enough. It might surprise you to know that the emotional part of the human brain doesn’t mature until it’s about 20 to 25 years old! That surprised me, hence the research and this blog.

 

Children’s bodies are developing at a rapid rate, but so are their thoughts, emotions and trying to work all that stuff out is tough. If your child says they feel sad, are crying a lot, having tantrums, protesting, going quiet, changing their behaviour etc, etc that’s a sign they need your interaction on an emotional level.

 

Getting angry, frustrated or making excuses of “their tired, bored, hungry” is denial of what the child is feeling.

 

I wonder if the little boy struggling up the hill was feeling ignored. Maybe he was scared he was going to be left behind. Maybe he felt unimportant for a few moments. Maybe he felt naughty for expressing his feelings, as his parents showed their frustration towards him. He would have learned something from that experience, and if it’s a regular experiance for him it turns into a suppression of his emotion.

 

As I’ve said before, this was purely an observation without knowing the facts. But part of me wonders if the boys emotions were acknowledged and they all stopped for a few moments, with maybe mum sitting on the floor with the little boy, whilst dad went to the car to drop off the stuff then returned to help the little boy if the experience would have created a validation of his emotions instead?

 

Mental health issues in children are at crisis point. Our lives are very full of external demands. Perhaps we should put ourselves in our children’s shoes more often and remember how under developed their emotional ability to understand and work things out is at?


Blog 25: 29/05/2018 - Narcissism. How it’s formed, played out and how to cope with the effects if your unfortunate enough to have one of these characters in your life.

A word or description heard more often now than ever before and one that is presenting itself in therapy too often these days. But do you really know the truth behind the disorder?

 

Narcissium is a difficult disorder to detect in people, and it is a disorder which is very difficult to cure, due to the complications of its creation in childhood and the unconscious level at which it functions in those unfortunate to suffer from it. And they do suffer, despite causing much suffering to those around them.

 

Ok, so how is the disorder formed? Childhood is the root cause and usually it’s because of either neglect or over adoration of the child’s true self. It’s quite technical, so if interested I would encourage you to research further, to all the content of this blog if in doubt....because you will doubt, it’s a common effect of narcissistic personality disorder!

 

The child’s true self/character is ignored, damaged and frozen in time, hence people suffering from narcissism are often childlike and immature in nature, and in order to feel normal they begin to copy, busy themselves and mimic those they are around to gain a normal level of appreciation and respect.

However, because of the very emptiness they feel inside the sufferer needs more and more adoration to feel ok within themselves. By the age of about 28 the full functioning of the disorder is present, and sadly this is when the decline of both the sufferers and those around them begin to feel the uncomfortable wrath of the disorder.

 

The sufferer begins to manipulate, in very subtle ways the kind and caring people around them. Belittling, fear triggering and controlling other people’s behaviours, decision making and thought processes to gain power. Gaining power is a narcissists main priority and need, it’s what they need to feel normal! They surround themselves with agreeable and easygoing people to keep a constant supply going, they will help these people out and be kind and easygoing to maintain the supply, but if anyone steps out of line, says “no”, betrays or tries to get one up on the narcissist their rage will become present very quickly.

 

People around the narcissist learn to behave in the way the narcissist wants them to very quickly and with a degree of unconscious. Often they have seen the anger, unfriendliness, ignoring and discard of those who haven’t behaved as the narcissist wanted, and it wasn’t a pretty sight! I believe many people linked to narcissists have an underlying fear of being push out, therefore are agreeable and stay close. This is often hidden by jovial exchanges and fun times. These types of friends/people are what’s called ‘flying monkeys’ in the psychological word.

 

Anyone romantically involved with a narcissist are at risk of the side effects more than anyone else. The partner is the main source of supply, and although the love bombing, adoration and charm of the narcissist is “everything a relationship should be, right” there is only one outcome the narcissist is aiming for with these actions. Narcissist consume, control, demand, condemn and make crazy their main supply to ensure nobody else gets too close them, the narcissist needs all of their lovers attention! Don’t get me wrong, the narcissist is kind and caring at times in the relationship, but again this is to confuse both the partner and those looking in on the relationship.

 

As the narcissist ages, the loss of looks, charm and stature begins to take its toll. Not only are those around the narcissist becoming more aware of their behaviours and noticing strange elements to their friend, the narcissist needs more admiration than ever to keep the grandiose self image alive. The narcissist behaviour becomes more extreme and the people around them feel the pressure, neediness and demands more and more.

 

In the narcissist mind, it is everyone else’s responsibility if anything goes wrong in life, they are never wrong in their mind. They manipulate situations to ensure the spot light on them, and it will be one of sympathy, care and adoration at all times. If anyone turns their back on the narcissist they will seek to distroy the persons reputation, social network and potential future. Narcissist’s may say they are wrong, but they don’t truly believe they are.....and hope everyone agrees with them.

 

If you are identifying with this blog and you are in a relationship with a narcissist the common advice is to get out of the relationship ASAP. Easier said than done though, as the love bombing, hoovering tactics, smear campaigns and loss of social relationships, property and finances all have a huge effect emotionally, physically and psychologically. I would get some help from a professional who has experience of this type of abuse, as anything you say will not be believed and often increases the crazy feeling you no doubt are feeling already.

 

If this blog is ringing bells linked to a boss, colleague or friend I encourage you to reinforce your own personal boundaries against any internal fear, obligation or manipulation you will experience from this kind of character. Also be aware of taking part in any discarding, smearing or emotional damage to another on behalf of the narcissist.

 

If a narcissist is reading this I encourage you to seek help in changing your internal dialogue so you can begin feeling worthy of yourself in healthy ways.

 

As mentioned above please do research some more on this topic if you feel the need to, there is a wealth of information on the internet to support this blog from many different angles. (great description and explanation of what a narcissist is - even though some of it is spoken in Russian most is English. https://youtu.be/VhFMKtb9Ej0 And a shorter to the point description https://youtu.be/N_KurxHDBLk

Warm wishes to all.


Blog 24: - 18/05/2018 - It’s not all doom and gloom in Counselling! Laughter is a common occurrence in therapy.

It’s taken me a while to decide how to write this blog. I was finding it difficult to work out the right angle in which to approach the subject, as most people come to Counselling because they are struggling with something in their lives and usually don’t feel like laughing at all.

So you reach a point in life where you decide to find yourself a therapist, because everything is all a bit too much, you can’t seem to get your head around an event or feeling you have going on and all the talking, listening, advice giving and apps you’ve down loaded just don’t seem to be getting to the bottom of the issue.

Entering Counselling can seem bewildering, defeating, embarrassing and confusing, but you decide to give it a go. The first few sessions are tough. You are talking about an event or issue which causes distressing feelings in you and what is the counsellor going to think!?

This is where I’d like to reassure you as much as I can. Counsellors are the most nonjudgmental people you will ever come across. Judging, assuming and lack of understanding are some of the most damaging ways of being, especially towards someone struggling to cope with a difficult time.

So once you’ve found yourself a counsellor who you feel comfortable and safe with you begin to work through what it is you went to Counselling for. You’re counsellor gets to know you, understands what you’re struggling with and together you work towards resolving the effects of the event or issue. You find new ways of feeling, thinking and coping with what’s going on or has happened in a safe and structured way. 

As you work together and the problem doesn’t feel so big or heavy, you begin to enjoy the Counselling session, because you are completely heard, understood, supported and free to be completely yourself with your counsellor. This is where the laughter comes in, something which occurs as you move through your process.

We all become more relaxed, freer and more light hearted when our lives are manageable. Counselling provides ways of coping, managing and coming to terms with events and issues we all come across in our lives. Counselling isn’t all doom and gloom, there is a lighter side and although it isn’t present at the beginning of therapy it does become a part of the sessions.

I’ve had many clients express their surprise of their Counselling experience and each one of my clients have left Counselling with a very different view of Counselling as they go on with their lives. There is a stigma attached to Counselling and therapist, but sadly the stigmas are made up of assumptions, judgements and lack of understanding of what Counselling can provide.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Warmest wishes to all.


Blog 23: - 12/04/2018 - Something doesn’t feel right? How to identify psychological and emotional abusive behaviours.

We live in a world which functions on a fair amount of fear based thinking. Those adverts that make us think twice, news bulletins which shock us or grab us with the title, posters with scary pictures of what could be or happen, fear of missing out on something good....all of which have an effect on us emotionally and draw us into profiting certain organisations in some way!

Have you ever come across a person who functions in this way? Someone who makes you doubt yourself, who puts you down or blames you, who creates fear inside you or manipulates you into behaviours which don’t sit easy with you? Someone who feels the need to put you down for their own gain?

You meet someone at work, through friends or start dating someone and everything runs smoothly for a while, then you get that odd feeling something isn’t right, but you just can’t put your finger on what it is and you don’t want to say anything just in case you’ve got it wrong, are thinking too much or don’t want to upset someone?

Has anyone ever said “your over thinking” or “your too sensitive” when you’ve shared a concern? Have you ever felt confused by someone actions or felt uncomfortable around them in some way?

We all meet a multitude of characters throughout our life time, some we love, some we like, others we dislike and the traits we look for when meeting people is a mutual experience of respect, consideration and trust. Relationships which benefit each other and bring happiness into our lives is what most people want. However, there are some characters out there who are slightly or dangerously distorted in some way and I hear about them on occasions whilst helping people recover in my Counselling room.

Some of the most distructive characters are those with Cluster B personality traits. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320508.php?sr 

The distructive patterns of these behaviours cause havoc in people’s lives, as well as the characters own. It is a mental health disorder and there are 4 Cluster B types.

Borderling PD and Histrionic PD, both of which present with high emotional expression, regulation and hypersensitivity. Although both of these personality types can be tricky to handle at times, they usually don’t pose any threat to other people physically, mentally or emotionally.

Antisocial PD and Narcsissitic PD both which present with manipulative behaviours governed by distorted self image and superiority. Both these personalities types can seem normal to a number of people, however they pose a significant threat to some people too.

So what to look out for when you feel your personal boundaries are being chipped away at or you feel your in the presence of someone with a personality disorder. I’ll focus on antisocial and narcissistic PD. These are some traits listed in the DSM 5, and the more of these recognised the higher the possibility of a personality disorder. These traits can either be overtly or covertly seen in the person your slightly confused by or feel overwhelmed by.

Arrogant and domineering behaviours. 

Entitlement behaviours.

Need of attention and admiration.

Exploitation of people and material things. 

No acceptance of responsibility.

Need of power to sustain grandiosity.

Compulsive lies.

No remorse.

Manipulation of the truth.

Smearing people’s characters to avoid focus.

Avoidance of truth.

Childish and deceitful behaviours.

Theses are just some of the behaviours to watch out for, and they can present in mild or strong ways. Watch out for the brush off of “I was only joking” if you pull up any of these behaviours up with someone, it’s a favourite get out clause to turn the focus on you and how “you can’t take a joke!”.

Sadly the character who behaves with these traits is likely to be totally unaware of just how distorted their actions are and will deny all knowledge. All I can advise, as I’m sure you’ll hear repeated on the many sites you research in relation to this Blog, is to exit any kind of relationship, friendship or working enviroment asap, or if this isn’t possible pay close attention to your personal boundaries and halt any breaches by these personality types.

Any attempt to try and make sense of personality disorders is usually fruitless and you only risk putting yourself in danger of psychological attack and manipulation further. It is for the person with the disorder to find the help they need, if they want to.

Pleased be assured you are not crazy, even though you may have felt crazy or been told you are at some point. Surround yourself with people who are able to support and understand what you have been through and rebuild your self-confidence and esteem. 


Blog 22 - 24/03/2018 - Why has my grief resurfaced? Were there interruptions in your grieving process?

The grieving process is a subject many people seek Counselling for and one that I help with on a regular basis. We all know the one thing we have no control over is death, hence so much fear surrounds the subject and it is hardly ever spoken about.

Grieving is inevitable for us all, be it expected or unexpected and it may interest you to know that there are specific stages to the process and many blockages that can occur leading to grief returning in the future unexpectedly.

Experiancing the loss of someone means you enter a stage of complicated emotional functioning, whether expected or unexpected there is a feeling of shock, disbelief and numbness. From my past experiences of loss I could only discribe it as a foggy, dull and heavy feeling....a little like standing still not being able to move and the only normal moments where those few seconds upon waking before remembering the loss again.

Its a confusing time just after you’ve lost someone and most of the world around you is continuing to function normally, making everything feel even more confusing.

This is where the interruptions enter and potentially disrupt your process. There’s the funeral to arrange, notices to put out, paper work to complete, decisions to make, people to consult, flowers or donations to sort....the list seems somewhat endless and us human beings have made death very difficult for ourselves.

Following all the nessesary events following a loss we then continue with our grieving process. We are told “it will get better in time”, occasionally we come across someone who didn’t know and we witness their shock as they are told details, we receive sympathy and kind words and we hear people reliving their grief process experiences. I kind of remember this stage of grief, but it was and still is very foggy to recall.

As the weeks progress we move from shock into potential anger, frustration and anxious feelings as we learn to adjust to someone being missing in our life. Reality looks different now, the family unit has changed shape, there maybe a hierarchy struggles starting with who gets what, who feels they are entitled to x,y,z and confusion turns to irritation as everyone involved all try and come to terms with their loss.

A very important point to remember is that everyone grieves in their own unique way. Everyone had different relationships and meanings linked to the person who has gone, not a single moment will be the same as another’s. Everyone will react in their own way and there is no right or wrong way for each individual to go through their own process.

Some people have simular experiences and others completely opposite and again this is where your grieving process may be interrupted. Getting you head around other people’s reactions in grief can feel confusing and distracting, it can add to the grieving process in ways that take you completely off tract, meaning your process has stopped. This could come in the form of pressure to be over the loss, milestones in your life, new relationships starting, the realisation that someone else is going to die, there’s all sorts of possible interruptions that are possible.

Let’s say it’s a year after the loss. The world looks very different now. Family and friends may have a different structure, the family may have disbanded, you may have experienced some depression, you may have changed all sorts of things in your life to help you come to terms with your grieving process......but have you completed your grieving process? There is no time limit to grieving, it depends on how you have approached it as to if you have completed each stage. If you are struggling with returning to a deep feeling of loss the chances are you missed something or a blockage distracted you in some way, and that’s ok, it’s very common......as a society we just don’t talk about it!

You need to give yourself some time and space. Whether you do this alone, with a family member, a friend or a counsellor it’s ok, as long as you give yourself some time. It can help to write a letter to the person you lost as this may help you identify where you got stuck, or you may just need to visit their resting place a few times. You may need to shed a few more tears too. Be kind to yourself in the grieving process, it’s life changing stuff!


Blog 21 - 19/03/2018 - Is there a younger part of you with too much power in your decisions and thought processes today?

Ever have moments throughout certain days or weeks when you feel quite young for your age? Maybe when you’re worried about something or find yourself in a situation where you feel quite vulnerable? Often when we are caught off guard we move into functioning from a younger part of ourselves, hence the valnerable feeling, and this can raise anxiety levels within us.

 We hear people talking about the “living in the here and now” or “being grounded”, “keeping our feet on the ground” and “being in the moment” and living this way is a great way to be, however it is much easier said than done!

Life is fast paced and constantly changing, we are accessible to everyone and every situations via technology and it can sometimes be almost impossible to live in the moment. A perfect example of this is when your driving from A to B and when you arrive you don’t remember the journey, it happened automatically. The opposite is when you are driving somewhere new and your fully aware, alert and concentrating.....your in the “here and now”.

So what part of ourselves do we function in on a regular basis without even knowing? 

If you find yourself thinking about past events most of the time you are functioning in younger parts of yourself, if you feel quite uncomfortable a majority of the time it’s likely you are functioning from a much younger part of yourself and this could lead to anxiety, and if the anxious feeling is constant, fear usually builds on anxiety then your caught in a distructive cycle.

As children we rely on our cares to help with feeling secure and content, our cares support us if we get something wrong or make a bad decision and we learn from our mistakes with their support. Our reliability changes over time, from leaning on our cares to relying on ourselves, but if we don’t gain this skill it can result in all sorts of different outcomes in our lives.

The outcome of living through our younger selves can result in making mistakes through, decision making, emotional vulnerability, childlike behaviours and communication, lack of forethought in planning, catastrophic thinking, over thinking, distructive risk taking and relationship issues. And yes, while you might come across as a fun loving person to be around.....as you get older you find the gap between your peers, life circumstances and events become more difficult to manage on emotional levels.

So how do we become aware of our younger selves having too much power in our lives today?

Becoming aware is the first step, pause throughout your day and ask yourself how old your feeling? We all feel around 20 to 25, even if your in your 80’s this is true, but look back over your day and ask yourself how old was I emotionally when I was dealing with that situation, did I over think that event, did I second guess the outcome and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be? Did I get caught up in a situation with people functioning in their younger selves too? 

If we reflect on ourselves on a regular basis our awareness automatically shifts us into the “here and now” and the more time we can spend “in the moment” the more we live in the real world, where there is little room for fears from the past and present to exist.

Give it a go for a week and keep a journal of how you are feeling. It can help to use an elastic band loosely around your wrist or something of your choice to help trigger your awareness. I think you’ll be surprised by the results.