Blog 36: 15/09/2019 - Bullying - Knowing it isn’t you who has the problem.

Bullying isn’t only linked to children, sadly there are some adults out there who just can’t control their behaviour in certain stituations. Children are emotionally immature and when they bully someone it is usually because they are testing boundaries and learning what behaviours are acceptable and benefit them personally. However, adults have a responsibility to regulate their behaviour, so it’s often quite ugly to witness an adult bullying someone.

Bullying with covert or intentional comments, meant as put-downs and belittling a person is usually because of some pre-judgement, opinion or belief, and I feel it is coming from a very sad and angry place within the person. Rather child like too.

Adult bullies are usually dissatisfied with an element, or many elements, of themselves, their life circumstances or feel they have missed out on or deserve more than where they find themselves in life. There is usually a hierarchy behaviour in their thought process and they often seem completely blind to these very negative traits within themselves. Someone discribed a bully to me as ”a hornet” once....scary hey!

So how to deal with the often very uncomfortable experience and feelings within yourself when you find yourself in the presents of a bully. Remaining grounded and observing the behaviour is usually the best way to deal with this situation, a little like people watching. Try not to engage in too much conversation with them personally.

But what if the bully is directly talking to you! I’d try to observe and enquire about the person. Ask questions and direct the conversation away from yourself. However, if you find yourself drawn into conversation and disagreeing or rejecting some of what the bully is saying (which is how conversations go sometimes), sadly this can only fuel the bullying, as the bully sees this as their battle ground.

Bullies want to come out feeling on top and if this is what they need to bolster their fragile ego then ‘so be it’ is often the best way to think in the immediate situation. Their behaviour really isn’t about you and this is the best way to view the situation and then move away from the person.

You can reflect on the experience from the view that you wouldn’t behave in that way to anyone and I’d encourage you to know that your sense of self holds good respectful boundaries and have some pride in how you managed the situation overall. You can only do the best you can in the circumstances you find yourself in.

Avoiding or cutting the bully out of your life is a wise move too. It’s likely the behaviour will continue if you have personally experienced at least one time in the past and nobody deserves to be bullied off of the back of someone elses dislike of them self.

Most importantly, reassure yourself, truly know and understand that you did not cause the bulling and you haven’t got anything wrong with you personally. You did not deserve to be treated as you were off of the back of someone elses judgement, view, opinion or interpretation. Keep your sense of self free from negative people lovely people!


Blog 35: 05/09/2019 – Giving yourself time to overcome, heal and change in a world where almost everything is instantly available.

One of the most common things I hear at the beginning of counselling is “when will I feel better?” “what can I do to change it?” “I’ve done everything to change this feeling!”, my reply is usually “how long have you been suffering with this?” To which I usually hear “years!” Or “I think I’ve always felt this way”.

If we have thought a certain way, behaved in a certain way and lived in certain ways for many months or years it’s going to take time, concentration and awareness for you to be able to turn the negative feeling around or come to terms with all the feelings event in our lives trigger. If you have had no self-worth all your life, been in an abusive relationship for years, taken drugs to calm you or to feel ok, or been a people pleaser for a majority of your life, it’s going to take longer than a few weeks for you to think, behave and feel differently.

It’s the same with grieving. If you have lost someone who’s been in your life a long time, maybe you’re whole life, you aren’t going to be over the loss in 6 months. If you’re relationship ended for what ever reason and you were together for 2 years or more, you aren’t going to feel ok and normal after a couple of months. We all need to give ourselves more time when difficult feelings, emotions and behaviours are within us.

There’s a common belief that negative emotions are bad and that life should always be happy, happy, happy! Social media is the perfect reflection of this, with most people only posting happy, perfect and feeling good posts. I believe that in order to live a full life we have to live a life embracing all emotions. If we don’t experience sadness how would we know what happiness feels like?

Our experiences also play a very important role in our decision making and personal growth. If we never make mistakes, we don’t learn lessons to guide ourselves in the future for better outcomes. The trick is to sometimes visit the bad stuff we hold inside, and instead of only feeling the guilt and shame and then suppressing it again, its about seeing the events, behaviours and then building understand and compassion for where we were in our lives and what was going on which lead to the behaviour and emotions.

Almost every person I work with would go back and change the past if they could!...actually I’d say all of us would do that if we could at points in our lives. Feeling remorseful can act as the catalyst for changing the very powerful feelings of guilt and shame and it’s important that we all do this in order to move forward with insight and understanding for ourselves and others.

Suppressing bad experiences and emotions stores the feelings within us, a little like a pressure cooker….there comes a point when the pressure cooker can’t contain the contents any longer! I experience this in counselling by people opening up about information they have kept within them for years and it’s usually all followed by anger, embarrassment, guilt, shame and intense hurt.

Giving yourself the time to revisit difficult times in your life through therapy can bring about huge relief….people say “I do feel lighter just talking about it” and as we work together the understand and compassion people feel relieves and reduces the size of all the emotions.

You wont sink into a pit of despair and depression, as most people worry they will. Chances are you’ll experience a feeling much more positive and liberating than you’ve ever felt before.

Be kind to yourselves, give yourself time to process difficult feelings and use awareness to aid you at this time so you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to change the feeling instantly. Warm wishes to all 😊.


Blog 34: 10/06/2019 - University students need to prepare for the rollercoaster of emotions they experience when they leave home. It’s much harder than most think becoming a responsible adult!

I imagine there are some pretty sore heads out there this morning! With exam season over for uni students, 1st, 2nd and 3rd years will be packing up their stuff, moving houses, heading home, starting summer jobs, looking forward to all the festivals coming up, catching up with old friends and reflecting on their year. Going to uni is a much harder life transition than most people think.

Yes, legally classed as adults, most can drive, have jobs, have successfully completed a wealth of exams and are legally entitled to drink, vote, etc, etc. But in reality most people aren’t ready for the abundance of emotions and feelings which come into their being when they head off into the big wide world of being responsible adults.

I really hope this blog doesn’t offend or come across as patronising, I’m writing it in the hope it will provide some reassurance and guidance to those preparing for their uni experience, and to validate those who remember the struggle, that maybe was their reality, when they reflect on the internal chaos they experienced when they left home on their adventure.

At, roughly, the age of 18yrs we enter our 6th Psychological Developmental Stage, Intimacy vs Isolation. Our adulthood begins and we head out into the world with an eagerness to connect with others and build our lives. Whilst everything seems like an adventure, it’s exciting and scary all at the same time, one thing many people forget is that our childhoods have ended and this can feel like a very anxious time for many people.

Often a form of separation anxiety begins to rumble within us, we feel nervous, unsure and sometimes a little depressed. This is because a grieving period begins, not only within ourselves but often within family members too, especially mothers (Empty nest), and if left unspoken can extend beyond the usual 6mth average grieving period. Our brains are not fully matured either, with the frontal cortex needing another 7yrs to fully reach maturity, we can stay within the child mind set whilst appearing to the world as an adult.

This is where most problems begin. Nobody wants to feel like they can’t cope, feel unsure about what they are doing, remembering everything they need to, whilst looking the part, meeting new people, feeding themselves and attending endless parties, and hoping they will succeed on their chosen path. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! So how best to cope with all the emotions, expectations and anxiety you could be feeling within.

Firstly it’s important to recognise and acknowledge whats going on in you and talk to a trusted friend or family member about how you are feeling. Talking is one of the best methods to decrease the effect of emotions and understand why you are feeling the way you are. If you find there is nobody to talk to who is helping the way you are feeling seek the help of the Uni’s mental health team or access this through the NHS or privately. I’d urge you to really look at your own personal self care.

Are you giving yourself the time and care you need to look after your own psychological well-being? Exhaustion, new environments, nourishment and change in routine can really rock the physical and psychological rhythm within you. Before leaving home our care givers unconsciously help us with our regulation, they do this automatically, something nobody really give a thought to….but now you are in charge of yourself it’s important you become aware of your well-being. Having the above points in your awareness can and will help you take better care of yourself and over time this way of being will become part of your everyday being.

I have a number of students who I see before they embark on their uni life adventure and I offer telephone support during the term times if they feel the need to check in with me for a refresh or maintenance session. Mental and physical health go hand in hand, so it’s important to be aware from the start of adulthood.

 


Blog 33 - 23/05/2019 - Attachment styles and how they can affect how you feel on a daily basis, in relationships and society. 

Attachment theory has been around for many years, developed by John Bowlby (1907-1990), it is one of the major developments in psychoanalysis and is growing in popularity as talking therapy continues to become a popular across society.

Attachment explains our functioning within relationships across our lives, from the moment we are born we form attachments with our parents and care givers in order to survive, and depending on the attachment style and functioning of our main care giver and their care towards us we form either a Secure, Avoidant, Ambivalent or Disorganised attachment style.

”A feature of attachment behaviour of the greatest importance clinically, and present irrespective of the age of the individual concerned, is the intensity of the emotion that accompanies it, the kind of emotion aroused depending on how the relationship between the individual attached and the attachment figure is faring. If it goes well, there is joy and a sense of security. If it is threatened, there is jealousy, anxiety, and anger. If broken, there is grief and depression. Finally there is strong evidence that how attachment behaviour comes to be organised within an individual turns in high degree on the kinds of experience he has in his family origin, or, if he is lucky, out of it.” Bowlby (1988)

Attachment styles go relatively unnoticed within our selves and those around us, it’s not your normal everyday conversation so why would we know. But attachment styles are part of who we are and how we function in our everyday lives, so lets take a look at some of the signs of each one.

Secure attachment is when the child experiences both physical and emotional needs being met through infancy and childhood. Supported, reassured and loved for the unique character they are securely attached individuals grow into grounded and emotionally balanced adults. Being securely attached doesn’t mean life is perfect, there are still the up’s and downs of normal human experience, but these individuals have the blueprint to cope with emotionally regulating themselves in most of their experiences.

Avoidant attachments usually have the experience in early life of all their physical needs being met, but the emotional ones somewhat lacking and often having their unique characters moulded into other family members or environments. These individuals are often quieter as adults and can be described as “aloof”, “stand offish”….hence the avoidance. Through life these types cope well with the up’s and downs of life, however, they can be unsure of how to emotionally regulate themselves at stressful times in life. They are often seen as independant and rarely ask for help.

Ambivalent attachment types experience early life with both physical and emotional needs often being fully available or temperamental in availability. For many reasons their experience had what may feel like a tidal effect. At some points all was ok and at others they may have felt very confused with the world around them. As adults they can be perceived as all or nothing character types, maybe procrastinators or have lots of interest in something and then very little interest. In relationship they can up and down emotionally, depending on the emotional security on the relationship.

Disorganised Attachment types are when the experience in childhood has been one of disorganisation. The care givers of this type of attachment may have had a bad experience in childhood themselves and so the care they provide is often without structure or boundaries. This leads to the experience of the child feeling very unsafe and fearful. As adults there are often out bursts of anger, violence and they can be described as volatile in nature. The fight, flight, freeze response is usually active on a regular basis in the disorganised attachment types. They often feel like the world is against them, therefore, are sensitive to what they perceive as threats to who they are.

I believe the different types of attachment are evenly spread across society, I don’t believe there have been accurate surveys to calculate the percentages, but I did read somewhere that only around 30% of the population have secure attachments today.

With this in mind it can be helpful to asses which attachment style we have so we can become aware of our functioning within our relationships with family, partners and friends. Repairing our attachment functioning is possible and can lead to a happier future. I have studied attachment for the past 4 years and regularly use this within therapy to aid better understanding.

 

References:

Bowlby, J. (1988) ‘Bowlby A Secure Base’. Oxon. Routeldge.  


Blog 32- 02/04/2019 - Finding you’re ‘sense of self’....when you feel lost in yourself and life.

I’ve felt lost in the past, I’ve heard countless people tell me they feel lost and I have no doubt I will continue to hear this statement in the future...and occasionally feel somewhat bewildered and lost again myself too.

One important aspect of life is that we are continuously evolving. Fastest during childhood years, most freely during our late teens/early 20’s and later in life around 45+. If we have been encouraged to be aware of our ‘sense of self’ evolving through life, by paying attention to ourselves and what is right for us, it seems to go by without any blips and I take my hat off to the parents and carers of those who have learnt to be aware.

For a vast majority however, we encounter many blips along the road of life and this is where it can often feel like we are lost. Mainly feeling lost occurs during the age of 25 to 45, the time when life is so busy in partnerships, careers, child rearing and finding the right road for ourselves. There will be occasions where we may think ”is this my life?” then in an instant we’ll be swept up into the next event happening around us, forgetting about the spike in awareness happening.

These spikes in awareness continue though life, and they become stronger when we dont give ourselves enough time to really reflect on ourselves. I’m always aware of the blank responces I get in the counselling room when I ask the question ”What’s you’re passion? What do you love doing?....the things that bring you real joy, almost goosebump feelings?!” Not many people give their passion much thought. Whats yours?

There are a couple of theories in the psychological world that can help in finding our ’sense of self’, they are Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Needs of the Personality developed by Anthony Robbins and although they were developed at very different eras, they are fundamentally the same.

For the purpose of this blog I’m going to focus on Anthony Robbins theory of the six basic human needs of personality. These are certainty, uncertainty, significance, love/connection, growth and contribution.

In order for our ‘sense of self’ to be within our awareness some focus on basic human needs is essential. The meaning of having ‘certainty’ is directly linked to our home life and safety we feel. It is linked to our jobs, finances, food supply, comfort and control of the basics of human exsistance. ’Uncertainty’ is the need within us to have some excitment, unpredictability, challenge and change in our lives, so they dont become boring. However, ’Certainty’ and ’Uncertainty’ need to be in equal balance with one another so not to create either bordom or chaos in our lives.

’Significance’ is so we have meaning and this in turn drives us to take pride in everyday tasks, in ourselves, family and work. To experiance importance to others, feel worthy of love and feel needed affirms our ‘sense of self’. ‘Love and connection’ go hand in hand with ’significance’ linked to family, partners, friends and work collegues. Feeling appreciated, acknowledged and seen for who we are directly links to our ’sense of self’.

Our need for ’Growth’ and ’Contribution’ completes the cycle, as this is where we give beyond ourselves to others. We help others, protect others and care for others in order for their ’sense of self’ cycle to continue to remain present in themselves. This in turn helps our emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs to keep evolving.

Checking out where you’re six basic human needs are is a good place to start when working the ’sence of self’. Do you feel safe? Do you have enough challenge/drive in life? Do you feel appreciated? Do you feel loved and connected with family and friends? Do you help others by showing care and appreciation?

We live in a world that judges too rapidly, in my opinion, labelling people as attention seeking, selfish or too needy is discouraging the cycle of basic human needs being met, which directly affect our ’sense of self’ which is primitively programmed in us as human beings.

If you are feeling lost take a look at the structure around yourself. Are your needs being met? Are you caring for yourself as you would care for others? Are you prioritising your passions, challenging yourself to keep learning and evolving as you grow older? 

The most common time for people to feel stuck is when life becomes stagnant, when people are waiting for something to happen without helping themselves first.


Blog 31: 13/03/2019 - Coercive Control - Do you know the signs to look out for?

Developed by Evan Stark ‘Coercive Control’ is a form of domestic abuse which became part of the law in December 2015. It is described as an act, or pattern of acts, meant to cause humiliation, intimidation, threats, assults or other abuse to harm, punish or frighten their victim. It is pattern of behaviour which seeks to take away the victims liberty or freedom, to strip away the victims sense of self.

Domestic abuse is often only thought of as acts of physical violence, but finally the psychological aspect of abuse has been recognised and is now punishable if you know what to look out for and how to go about collating evidence. In the news over the past few years there have been numberous cases of ex-parteners being harassed, stalked and even murdered and upon researching these I noticed many of these relationships began with subtle signs of Coercive Control (CC).

Now it is not my intention to cause fear in this blog, death because of domestic violence is thankfully relatively low......but CC is an element of domestic violence which often goes undetected in todays society. 

I will break the signs down into 3 levels so its a little easier to idenify with and this kind of abuse usually occurs in romantic relationships, however it can be detected in other kinds of relationships too.

Subtle effects of CC: Usually there will be a monitoring of your time, how long you have been somewhere, how long it has taken you to get home, some questioning of why it took you so long to do x, y, and z and this maybe backed up with comments of ”I’m asking because I miss you and was looking forward to spending time with you”...sweet right!

There may also be an element of distain around the amount of time you spend with your friends and family, even if this time isn’t a lot. Again there maybe statements of ”I wanted to talk to you about something” or ”I think you love them more than me?”.

These behaviours are to make you think twice about what it is you would like to do in your spare time and to put the person saying the triggering statements to you above eveyone and everything else.

They may begin to comment or complain about your work hours, put down your colleagues, friends, family etc, suggesting you spend all your spare time with them.....but it’s all because they “love you so much and cant stand to be without you” right?!

There is an expectation to answer every call, text or you may even notice the person arriving at your work, gym, social gathering because they missed you. All a little too controlling and unusual for me personally.

 

Clearer signs of CC: When you begin to feel like your walking on eggshells and your second guessing all your decisions through fear of disapproval in a relationship is usually a big warning sign that something is wrong.

The feeling you need to seek permission to do something, or there is an argument as a result of you spending time with friends/family, are late home or wearing the wrong clothes are all signs of CC. If your relationship is flip flopping from good to bad on a regular basis you should begin taking mental notes of the behaviour.

You may notice that as long as your partner is happy and you are following all of their instructions, following their advice and asking their permission on a majority of aspects of your life the relationship is ok. This is the onset of programmed behaviour on your part by the mood swings and demands of control by your partner.

You may no longer have control over what you spend, what you eat, how you dress! You may have witnessed your partner punch a wall or door out of anger in an argument, you may feel very isolated from speaking to friends and family about how you feel about the relationship and what exactly is happening through fear of humiliation and ridicule. You may have also been threatened with any personal information being exposed to your close friends and family if you do expose the abuse. Often you feel pressure of everything you do, even down to what time you go to bed.

But, again, all this behaviour is explained away because you are loved so much, they worry about you so much and they are very sorry they lost their temper when they smashed your favourite vase!?

 

Actual CC functioning: So when the CC is funtioning at it’s highest, usually the victim of abuse has been in the relationship for a number of years, but not always. They potentually have no contact with family or friends anymore, and if they do it is minimal and often watched over by their abuser.

Other controlling behaviours include, very little access to finances, control of what you wear and how you look, you may have to eat certain foods or follow a strict diet. There is a high probability you are being verbally abused, being told how worthless you are, how ugly you are, how nothing you do is good enough. If you need to go to any appointments with a doctor or dentist your abuser will usually enter all those appointments with you and you will never find yourself alone in public. Or if you are you’ll be closely monitored and have strict time boundaries to keep to.

The relationship sways between adoration to disgust, on a regular basis, thus confusing the victim and controlling the way they behave overall. 

 

I understand the last level may seem extream, however, sadly there are people out there experiencing the last two levels of abuse. It’s more common for people to feel experience the first two with the abuser being excused as ”he’s/she’s a bit insecure”, but without a doubt these behaviours are wrong and very damaging to the victims mental well-being and sense of self.

If you feel you are experiencing CC its important you keep a note of the behavioues and events. Not only will this provide evidence of the behaviour but it will also help with your sanity if you are very confused and being ‘gaslighted’ by your partner. Any physical violence should be photographed if possible, messages, emails, letters etc kept in a safe place. Friends and family members may have expressed concerns over your relationship to you, and yes you may be feeling very scared, ashamed and embarresed about the whole relationship, but I would really encourage you to accept their support/help if you can.

For futher information and help you can visit www.womensaid.org.uk or www.mankind.org.uk or you contact me personally for recovery support. 


Blog 30: 16/02/2019 - Anxiety. Why we suffer from it and where it may comes from.

Anxiety, a common word we all hear daily it seems! And one I often treat in therapy....more so now than in my whole career.

One common question which is presenting itself is “why am I suffering so badly when I’ve experianced nothing traumatic in my life?”

Anxiety is fear, something that we all need within us to survive and fear is a primitive inbuilt human reaction, ie fight, flight, freeze response, so there is no getting rid of it for good.

But there are ways to manage our fear/anxiety and once we know how, though awareness, understanding and effort it’s almost impossible to not to experience anxiety to the levels you have felt in the past.

So what if you are experiencing anxiety for no reason or without any explanation? Well from experience, both personally and professionally, there will be a reason, you just haven’t discovered it yet. Anxiety doesn’t always come from major traumatic events. It can come from a period in your life where you felt at sorts with the world, within family situations, from relationships going wrong to being bullied at school, work, socially. It can be from the loss of someone special in your life, childhood experiences, life transitional periods.....the list is almost endless when it comes to anxiety and fear based experience. And the reason for this is because all of our back stories are so very unique.

Depending on your experience, I like to call it your ‘blueprint’ in life there may be memories you have that just pop into your head for no reason. These are coming from your Amydala, a tiny part of the brain which remembers stuff it doesn’t want you to forget. Now depending on the experiences stored there and how you felt about the experience at the time, and how you processed the experience....your brain may have forged new pathways, creating a loop effect in remembering...and if unprocessed can create anxiety through lack of understanding and closure.

Many anxiety causing reactions stem from childhood, this is why they can feel baffling, unexplainable and scary and the longer they are left the more powerful the anxiety can become, as your body is experiencing the ‘fight, flight, freeze’ response too often.

One thing I always make very clear in therapy is that one body is to blame. So If you have an amazing relationship with your parents, yet the anxiety stems from something linked to your childhood, it isn’t their fault. Everyone goes through life experiences over their life time, and at points in our lives we all struggle with emotions which effect our functioning, behaviour and mental health. We all have our unique ways of dealing with ‘stuff’ we have going on....that is very important to remember here.

So what happens in therapy is we look at your ‘blueprint’, we explore difficult times and what they meant to you, how you interpreted them, how you think about them now to how you thought about them at the time. We explore what environments trigger the anxiety feelings and we build ways for you to understand how to cope with and reduce the anxiety. It can take time, but it is possible.

Once you have a better sense of self and you’re experiences you’ll find yourself feeling very differently about something which may have baffled you for years.

I wish you all a peaceful weekend and thank you for checking in to the blogs.

 


Blog 29: 05/12/2018 - Is too much media coverage of mental health having a negative effect?

So this one has been a while in the making and this will be the second time I’ve written it as the site required me to log in again and lost the whole content!...and breath.....

So is too much media coverage having a negative effect? Well after a survey on face book it seems most of you think not, you generally think that it helps your mental health to read and hear about the effects as this helps you feel less isolated, worried and it actually reduces the issue too. This is great news and if you continue reading I’ll help you find ways to reduce mental health issues further.

Sadly some of you find mental health coverage actually has a negative effect on how you are feeling and your thoughts around the whole topic, and I agree with you too!

Media coverage sensationalises mental health issues and services by reporting them as an “epidemic” as “in crisis” and linked to treatments we often hear “funding cuts” and none of this is helpful for those worried about themselves or a loved one/friend.

I’d like you to consider the fact that if we look at media coverage linked to everything in our world today it is all pretty depressing....I would refer to some news but I try not to watch it anymore as it triggers too much stress and anxiety in me!

So I did an experiment linked to my own mental health and this is what happened:

Im not on Instagram, I very rarely go on twitter, snapchat or any other social platform other than facebook, so I snoozed all the pages i follow for 30 days, I unliked all the pages I thought affected my thoughts, feelings and mental health, and the results were amazing!

I was seeing much more of my friends post, photos, destinations, food, parties, birthdays, Christmas trees etc, etc, which allowed me to interact with them, show my likes of their stuff and connect with people whos pages I hadn’t seen in a long time!.....but after a couple of days facebook started filling my screen with adverts of people in need linked to Christmas (which I dont mind, but I do my bit volunteering/charity and my purse and conscience isn’t a bottomless pit!), along with an assortment of world crisis charities, water needs, plastic pollution and so on. I was also begining to see all the fear triggering stories that friends were sharing about stolen animals, burglaries, road accident, drink drive accidents, cars ploughing into horses, wanted criminals, missing people, relatives receiving bad news of relatives dying due to drink drive accident in Australia...and so on.

One morning this week by 8.30am I’d witnessed real footage of 4 road accidents in a village local to me, 2 horses being hit by cars and real images of a think bike campaign of someone in hospital with horrific injuries. The emotions and adrenaline I felt in my body really shocked me and I sat and wondered what my body would do to cope with the adrenaline which was present, but which I didnt need as I had no need to be in ‘fight/flight response’!!!

I believe that the content of social media, the dramatisation of stories, news, incidents and the amount of information available to us on a hourly basis, daily and constantly is having a huge effect on our mental health. If adrenaline is released into our bodies because of what we are seeing on social media is a daily occurance our body becomes addicted to the adrenaline and we become hypersensitive and anxious.

The news papers, t.v channels, internet and any form of social media are all in competition with each other to be the most popular and make the most money, so yes they are going to dramatise everything to get to the top. But by doing so I feel they are damaging the nations mental health and emotional ability to regulate themselves.

Ways in which we can reduce the effect of fear triggering stories on our mental health and bodies is to control what we see and expose ourselves too. We need to stabilise our ‘fight/flight’ responses (adrenaline) by choosing to not view events that, without social media, we probably would never see in our lifetime, we need to be aware of the effects the news and dramatisation of everything to make money is having on our mental health and how much fear is being triggered within us. We have to take responsibility over caring for our own mental health to get things back on track.

I would encourage people to unfollow any fear triggering content, people and pages that are likely to affect your daily mood, this includes anything that makes you feel under pressure because you aren’t good enough. Give your minds and bodies a break from the drama and fear my friends and I hope this helps encourage you to do that.


Blog: 28 - 12/10/2018 - PTSD explained and how to recover and manage the side effects.

PTSD. Something we have all hear at some point or another in our lives? And usually a diagnosis linked to war veterans in the past.....but not anymore! PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events which could and has affected many people in their lives. Living with this disorder can have crippling effects on the person suffering from PTSD and how their lives continue forward.

The events which cause PTSD, whether experiencing a natural disaster, car accident, witnessing death, being physically or sexually abused or many other distressing events, create a reaction within the brain which triggers the fight/flight/freeze response. This response is a survival mechanism which every human being has and it’s there to help us survive. When a person is suffering from the effects of PTSD their fight/flight/freeze response is triggered much more frequently and easily too.

I won’t go into all the technical brain functioning stuff linked to PTSD, but it may help to do a little research yourself if you feel this would help you.

So PTSD sufferers experience a traumatic event/events in their life, at the time the fight/flight/freeze response is felt. The emotional trauma is stored in the brain, along with the physical feeling and processing/recovery begin.

This is where PTSD stems from. The processing and recovery of the event is, in many different ways, unsuccessful and the person struggles to overcome the powerful reminders, flashbacks, memories and sadly re-traumatising events. Reliving the event triggers the fight/flight/freeze response over and over and the body and mind become hypersensitive and running high on adrenaline for a majority of the time.

So how do you recover successfully from PTSD? Firstly it’s about recognition that you are suffering from the disorder and recognition of the traumatic event which caused the suffering. I’d advise you do this with a professional individual or group in order to have a supportive place you can really work on the PTSD. Next it’s about Identifying the cycle of PTSD and how the re-experiencing, emotional avoidance, negative thoughts and beliefs add to the hypersensitivity within your mind and body.

PTSD sufferers do not always fully recover, and for some the acceptance of this fact can help them move forward into managing the PTSD symptoms. Key points to work on in managing the effects and moving forward in life are:

1: Setting time aside to work on managing PTSD.

2: Becoming aware of emotions and management of them.

3: Becoming aware of your triggers and symptoms 

4: Making time for new positive activities in your life.

5: Joining a support group.

6: Becoming aware of your physical self-care and well-being.

7: Being committed to management and recovery of PTSD.

8: Giving your self the right amount of time for realistic recovery.

9: Realistic goal setting when you feel ready to take a step forward in life.

10: Continuation of self awareness, power and positivity.

Sometimes it can be about giving yourself permission to recover and move on. We often get stuck in ways of being that don’t work for us as we move through life. Keeping your awareness in the present moment as you go about your day is challenging, but can become normal with practice. Having faith in your body and mind that it’s built and functions to keep you alive and safe is another though to hold on to. But mainly it’s about time, understanding, awareness and care.

 

 


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 - Narcissistic PD. 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.

Please 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.