Relationship Counselling Online Relationship, marriage and individual counselling and psychotherapy online via Zoom, Skype and the phone

Blog Page 2. Vulnerability

21 OCTOBER 2021 - VULNERABILITY - IS IT WEAKNESS? STRENGTH? NEITHER?

Opening up to someone means that you are willing to share yourself and form a deep connection instead of keeping things at a surface level. You allow someone to know your true thoughts and feelings on different subjects knowing that person accepts you for you and that difference can be navigated in your relationship.

There can be many reasons why someone struggles to be vulnerable and open up. For some, it may be to do with upbringing, i.e. you’ve grown up in a household where a stiff upper lip is seen as a sign of strength so vulnerability will not come naturally. It could be you have learnt to shut your feelings down and emotional language as a skill was not learnt. Or if you have had previous experience of being rejected/ abandoned after being vulnerable – either by a partner, family member or friend - you could be cautious about opening up – and that’s totally understandable. Yet not being vulnerable will impact your relationship(s).

A few years back Brene Brown did a TedTalk on the ‘Power of Vulnerability’. She offers the concept of vulnerability being a necessity in long lasting relationships as it brings connection.

My takeaways from her 20 minute TedTalk: -

- believe worthy of love and belonging
- vulnerability takes courage, compassion and connection
- it is about embracing
- the core of not been vulnerable is shame and fear (with the antidote I have learnt being courage)
- vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, joy and love
- in numbing vulnerability feelings are also numbed, i.e. grief, shame, joy, happiness, etc.
- we try to make the 'uncertain certain'
- blame is a way of discharging pain and discomfort
- we can pretend that our actions does not impact others; they do
- to remind ourselves 'I am enough'.

Reflection

What has been experienced in the past can stop relationships forming now through fear of being rejected / abandoned.

If you had no memory of any past experiences, what vulnerability would you have today? And if you were more vulnerable; what would happen?




**************************


Blog Page 2. Time

15 OCTOBER 2021 - ONLY SO MUCH TIME

Recently an email I received from 5 love languages (a tool I encourage couples to make use of) reminded me of how we all only have so much time in a day to experience life and relationship.

24 hours represents 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds and just how quickly that time can get used up / escape.

I then reflectively asked myself if how I use my time has changed over my lifetime..... as a child time seemed to go so slowwwww and now it seems to go scarily fast. Yet the time is the same and we hear ourselves, and others, saying a lot ‘I don’t have the time’ yet, in reality, we don’t make the time and, like what I am doing here, social media is a great time zapper.

So questions to ask around time: -

Do I use my time wisely?

Am I aware of time?

Do I find things to waste time on that don’t benefit me? And, if so, am I avoiding something in my life, i.e. a situation, a person, a feeling, etc. or have I learnt to self-sabotage?

With all the ‘time’ I have taken for something, what have I actually achieved?

i.e. I noticed I spend a lot of time helping others in Facebook groups as I believe that we are here to help one another yet what actually comes back? What do I achieve from this? Or like with this blog, to serve others and give food for thought yet, in reality, do people read? Is it an effective use of my time? So much we can ask ourselves to help us actively use our time better.

Today the world is a lot more fast paced and we are in a ‘more’ society which can make self-care and reflection harder yet the balance of self-care with life is so important so we do not run on empty (look what happened recently with the petrol shortage…. our cars could not run on empty so why do we try to?).

What I realised through reading the email is only I can steal time from myself; only I can self-sabotage me. To be fully present, that is the best way to use my time. If I am emotionally out of balance, i.e. resentful or angry, I am not fully present and using my time well. Today I do not have to be that ‘good obliging girl’ that has to say yes to everything. Today I can say no. Today action is my friend and procrastination my enemy. Today the world IS my oyster. Today I can choose what I do with my time.

Reflection

Today I will choose to slow down and be more aware of my feelings in relation to events in my life.

What will you choose for your time today?


**************************




Blog Page 2. Pandemic

5 OCTOBER 2021 - LIFE AFTER THE PANDEMIC AND RETURNING TO ‘NORMALITY’

This week on the news there has been talk of the rise in traffic on the roads and public transport usage as we all go back to a sense of our ‘new normal’ post-pandemic (if we are post that is with talk of a lockdown in October – not again!). Many of us that were working from home have returned to our place of work or are opting for hybrid working with some companies now opting staff to work from home permanently having seen the benefit of this.

What this means is that we are all in another adjustment period and the reason for writing this blog is because that is when it is important to be aware of our own levels of self-care as, if we are stressed / challenged, this has a huge impact on ourselves, i.e. less tolerance, more use of food/alcohol and on others, e.g. more arguments, more space being needed, etc.

Here are a few suggestions to help your own self-care from an attachment perspective:-

1.Do not avoid talking about how you are feeling.

2.Be aware your partner has needs too and if they are not fulfilled you may feel they need you more and are more and may come into ‘your space’.

3.Take time to slow down and recharge which can mean turning off all social media / devices and ‘being with yourself’ as opposed to distractions.

4.Be aware of your body and your breathing – 7/11 breathing though the nose can be really beneficial as it has a calming impact as it slows the body down and, a benefit of breathing through the nose, is that Nitric Oxide is produced (a known killer for viruses and bacteria). As well as practicing this on your own, you could do 7/11 breathing in unity with your partner and family (if you have either) and discuss your feelings after. (You can find 7/11 breathing on any of the search engines).

5.Ensure you are feeding yourself the right food and vitamins. We all know the importance of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, etc. so ensure you eat a balanced diet as your body and mind is fed in this way.

6.Get to bed on time and wake up at the same time – if you can. This consistency is really important and, as we get darker nights and morning, it is important to get good quality sleep so ‘early to bed, early to rise’ is a great sentence to remember.

7.Be kind to yourself. When you are unkind, or critical, the brain releases stress hormones which has no benefit and can trigger the body’s threat-response. Instead, be self-compassionate as this releases oxytocin (the love hormone) and it is like giving yourself a big hug which, from an attachment perspective, helps you self-soothe from within promoting attachment needs of safety, security and consistency.

Reflection

When I trained we were always told that self-care is not selfish and it is important to state that too.

What number self-care do you need to work on today?



**************************





Blog Page 2. feelings

29 SEPTEMBER 2021 - WHAT ARE FEELINGS?

A feeling is a response to an experience, such as an event, conversation, weather, etc. which happens externally. It is the connection made with the external object that creates the feeling (a physiological reaction) and, dependent what you have learnt to do in your past, you will either experience that feeling or turn it into a more acceptable thought.

Events and people trigger differing emotions for different people due to the differences in life experience, memory, value systems, learnt defences, senses, etc. so it is true that no two people, not even twins, will have totally the same experience.

Becoming more mindful of feelings is important as we all have feelings before, during and after an experience. For example: -

Feelings before could be anxious, lonely, worried, anger, grief, loss, apprehension, excitement, etc. as the experience is still ‘unknown’.

Feelings during can be relief, pleasure, familiarity, comfort, attention, connection, joy, etc. as you settle into something as it becomes more ‘knowing’.

Feelings created on coming away from the experience are dependent on variables such as what your expectation was (i.e. was it fulfilled) and how you feel you connected and interacted as you, i.e. contented, guilt, remorse, happiness, sadness, anger, self-loathing, connection etc. as the experience is now ‘very known’ to you.

It is good to be aware of the change as, sometimes, things that were once healthy for you may no longer be and, equally, things you used to fear you may now enjoy. Humans continually grow.

Good questions to ask yourself to help manage your feelings are: -

Was the event, or meeting, energising for you?
Is it something you wanted to do or felt you ‘should’ do?
Were you acting out to temporarily escape something (or someone)?
If you did the same event / meeting again are you likely to get the same results?
If so, what healthier way could you interact with yourself?
What learning, if any, have you had from this experience?

Reflection

If you become more aware of your feelings then you will increase the empathy for yourself and give yourself more capacity to tolerate more unpleasant emotions within yourself and then with others.

Starting to use a feeling list or feeling wheel to get to know you better is a great way of doing this. Why not give it a go?



**************************




Blog Page 2. Passaggress

23 SEPTEMBER 2021 – PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE; WHAT IS IT? WHAT ARE THE ROOTS OF IT? WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIP? HOW TO CHANGE IT?

What is passive aggressive?

A passive person has not been encouraged to express their emotions or thoughts in an honest, real way and so, often, when feelings are shown they are easily dismissed as they are shared in an apologetic manner. A passive person will allow others to walk over them as they have learnt that their needs are unimportant / secondary compared to others. Feelings are therefore suppressed and then, when the passive person is pushed or ‘back pack full’ with emotions you will see an aggressive side emerge due to the build-up of stress and unprocessed emotions such as anger and resentment. If you think of the saying ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ this will give you an idea of what can happen for a passive aggressive person; one minute they are ‘known’ and ‘familiar’ and the next they are ‘unknown’ and ‘unfamiliar’.

The passive person has learnt to believe that they do not count and so is left feeling like they will be taken advantage of (door mat). The internal message being to appease others. Appeasing avoids unpleasantness and keeps them in relationship, at any cost so they do not have to experience rejection or abandonment which, due to past experience, can be their worst fear. The payoff being selflessness, ‘a good sport’ as others protect and look after them.

This behaviour can create elements of co-dependency and feeling enmeshed in a relationship. Or, as I heard recently, like the echo to a narcissist.

The coping strategies you see a passive aggressive person doing is withdrawal and ‘exiting’ into things such as the TV or games or using alcohol / food to change the way they feel as everything is about ‘keeping the voice down’.

Why might someone be passive-aggressive?

There may be a highly critical parent (or parents) in their past which results in the person fearing they will be judged and so they have a high sensitivity to this.

The person may also have experienced a lot of disappointments in life with, the impact being, that hopes and dreams are restricted as a coping mechanism to help alleviate any future disappointment.

They might be in a relationship with a ‘nagger’ and are highly sensitive to this so suppress feelings having not learnt how to voice (so they come across as a ‘victim’ of life to).

What is the impact on the other person and the relationship?

The passive aggressive person will tend to end up in a relationship with someone who is over-responsible. Now this can work for a while yet, often, the over-responsible person may start to build resentment and then what happens is they get overwhelmed with ‘doing everything’ and then they start to accuse the passive-aggressive partner of being insensitive, lazy and unreliable. What is true that the over-responsible person has, in a different way, learnt that they cannot depend on relationships and must do everything themselves.

As you can ascertain, the passive aggressive person and the over-responsible person can function well initially as ‘ying and yang’ yet, as this relationship continues, there is likely to be resentment on both sides which is unspoken which starts to cause suppressed anger on both sides.

How to change the relationship dynamic?

Interestingly the over-responsible person has to pull back first and stop doing so much. Think of a person doing 90% and the other 10%. What tends to happen in an argument is the over-responsible one that has done 90% stops everything in a tantrum and then expects the passive-aggressive person to do the whole 100% and this is when this method becomes unstuck as the person does not know how to as they have never been shown. So, change is about small movements. The over-functioning person pulls back to 85% and asks the passive-aggressive to do a bit more and then this starts to create new habits whilst discussing the feelings around this, i.e. it may be that the passive aggressive person initially resists through fear of being criticised of ‘getting it wrong’ or it might be that the over-responsible person feels excruciating pain whilst watching and feels helpless (I call this ‘sitting on hands’ as the want is to do).
(worth noting is that the over-responsible person has this role as they probably were not nurtured and appreciated for them and the role was a way of being seen in the past).

The passive person needs to be encouraged to voice what their actual desire is as, chances are, they are suppressing a lot of what they really want in life. To be encouraged to say that it is ok to say ‘no’ and that their wishes will be honoured. This can be hard for the partner as, when they are encouraged to voice, the reality hits of just how they feel. Note: In these conversations it is important that the intention is recognised that honest conversation will bring growth and move to a more balanced relationship.

The over-responsible person needs nurturing so they start to be seen for themselves and not just what they do.

Both to work on being assertive and in voicing what their actual needs are by trusting the safety and security of the current ‘adult to adult’ relationship. And, through this new action, resentment will not build.

Both to accommodate new ways of living and work on new achievable standards in the relationship so neither are set up to fail. With talking, each will get understanding of what the ‘back story’ is to the other and what the feelings are right now (the unprocessed past coming in).

Be aware, there will be uncomfortability on both side as these are ‘learnt positions’ which have kept the person in relationship. When having these conversations, check in with each other and prize one another for voicing and give ‘strokes’ as this is the missing need from the past.

Resistance

The passive-aggressive person can feel very young in years and it may feel that the over-responsible person, who has always been older than their years, has resentment over ‘nurturing’ and encouraging the passive-aggressive to do more. However, look at this as temporary as once each partner is able to do 50% of the relationship, and be 100% responsible for their part only, the whole dynamic will be more loving and more connected.

Reflection
We can change ourselves yet we can only change our reaction to others. What we can do is provide attunement in relationship (safety, security and consistence) to foster ground for growth.

If you were to interact, and react, differently within yourself what do you feel the impact would be? Would you feel more empowered?



**************************



Blog Page 2. Forgiveness

20 SEPTEMBER 2021 - FORGIVENESS: - WHAT IS IT, HOW DO WE DO IT AND WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIP IF WE DON’T?

If you look up the word ‘forgiveness’ in the Oxford Dictionary it directs you to ‘forgive’ which is defined as ‘cease to feel angry or resentful towards; pardon’ or ‘remit or let off’ so why is that some human beings find this action so difficult?

In essence we have all been hurt by others actions or words and we have hurt others. Yet what happens to the psyche if we do not forgive? Past research shows that people that forgive are generally happier and healthier than those who do not which is unsurprising as a resentment is often described as ‘giving the other person poison and drinking it yourself’. In reality, it is the holder of the resentment that has the ill feelings and the other person, or the offender, may be getting on in their life perfectly ok and unaware.

It is important to identify that forgiveness does not mean forgetting as the offending act will always be part of your relationship but what forgiveness can do is take you away from the act of victim (the antidote of which is voicing).

Voicing would look something like: -

1. Stating the incident/event that has happened without emotion.

2. Expressing your feeling in relation to it.

3. Saying what your needs are now.

4. Requesting your need from the other.

What you will note here it all the 4 points are ‘I’ based as we cannot control others and make them apologise, we can only say our own feelings to start / enable forgiveness.

(This is based on Non Violent Communication by Dr Michael Rosenberg).

And the steps to get to being able to voice would look something like:-

1. Identify what the other person did that caused you pain, hurt or a.n.other feeling.

2. Acknowledge the impact on you (i.e. how you felt, your thoughts, the meaning, your value system In relation to the event, etc.)

3. Ask yourself if you have any responsibility in what happened? If so, identify your part.

4. Try to walk in the other person’s shoes….. what was their intention, situation and their history in such matters?

5. Identify if there are aspects of their behaviour that you find unforgiveable.

6. Ask yourself the question; can I forgive? If so, you can instigate a conversation and voice this to the other person (note here: timing is important in agreeing to come together else the resentment could get worse and the amount of forgiveness you need bigger).

What is true is that, all of us, at times, are imperfect, self-centred, time poor or unthinking and even though there is not the intention to hurt others, we do.

As I write this I remember as a child having to say the Lord’s Prayer at assembly every day and the sentence coming to mind is ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’ and why is this so important? Because actions, bearing grudges and not practicing forgiveness can destroy relationships.

Noted here is that forgiveness does not wipe anything out, it does not remove the action, it still has the same wound, i.e. around trust, and it does not always bring reconciliation yet it removes the feeling of ‘being done too’ enabling healthy movement to happen within yourself and, hopefully, in your relationships.

Reflection

Invariably people say ‘I need an apology to forgive’ and this can be unforthcoming as the other person does not see they did anything wrong as, all we have, is our own subjective experience.

To empower yourself, what could you do to shift your own feelings as the only person you are in control of is yourself?




**************************



Blog Page 2. Cat

17 SEPTEMBER 2021 - WHAT IS CURIOSITY?

So I call myself a ‘curious counsellor’ and what does that mean?

People can mistakenly think that curiosity is nosiness and, for me, that is just not the case. It is about learning more, about going beyond the place we currently are, to a deeper level with a view to gaining more understanding of the now and maybe of the past.

Sometimes we get ‘decoys’ in life and think ‘this is what is wrong with us’ and often that is a symptom of a much deeper issue. In therapy being curious enables us to look beneath to what is REALLY happening.

There is a saying ‘curiosity killed the cat’ yet does it really? Why are we so fearful of looking beneath? Is it because there is fear of leaving our comfort zone? Fear of the unknown? Fear of not being in control? Fear of going to what is unfamiliar? Unfamiliar can be uncomfortable yet having curiosity can bring a deeper level of understanding and with that can come comfortability.

A way of being curious is to ask a question such as ‘then what?’ or to be able to, in the moment, catch your feelings or your sensation in relation to something rather than dismissing a new experience with thoughts such as ‘I already know the answer’.

If, in the moment, we can hit a re-set button and act as if we don’t know, we can tell the mind to take a break so we can be curious in this moment, a moment we have never had before. To make space for curiosity is to let go of preconceived ideas and expectations as both can close us off to new experiences, i.e. ‘I have done this before, I know what to expect’ or ‘the last time I asked him/her/them this, they said this, so I will not ask this time’.

Curiosity brings new experiences and with new experiences comes new knowledge which aids growth for us and the relationships around us.

(Photo: - My cat is curious ‘looking through the wood knot’. Every time she comes away so proof that curiosity does not kill the cat).

Reflection

If we are not curious about ourselves and our patterns, we may not learn about ourselves.

Pick one thing to be curious about today and go deeper. Open questions such as ‘and how was that for you?’ or ‘tell me more’ evoke curiosity.




**************************



click
©2021 Relationship Counselling Online is powered by WebHealer
Website Cookies   Privacy Policy   Admin Login