Couples in crisis.

Often relationships can break down for a variety of reasons.  People can find that they stop communicating, that they stop making time for each other and that they begin to take each other for granted.  Sometimes the pressure of work, or of having a family , can place a huge strain on a couple – and people can end of growing apart.

Sometimes one partner may have their own individual issues and this can be impacting a lot on the relationship. This could be something like an addiction – such as alcohol, gambling or drugs.  Or it could be severe lack of self esteem and insecurities which can cause someone to become very low and to get very jealous and at times controlling of their partner.  Perhaps one partner my be suffering from a bereavement, or some form of depression.

Whatever the reason, if one person is struggling, this can have a major impact on a relationship and cause people to get more upset with each other, argue more, or to become more distant.

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Sometimes infidelity can be the cause of problems and issues within a relationship.  One partner may have an affair, or be unfaithful on one occasion.  Either way this can destroy trust and lead to a lot of problems within a relationship.  Infidelity can be physical but it can also be emotional – for example someone may share more of themselves with another person outside of the relationship or talk to someone else about what they are feeling or experiencing.  This can cause intimacy to grow outside of the relationship which can lead a relationship to shut down and cause a  lot of distance / problems within it

Sometimes people decide that the relationship they are in just isn’t working any more. However often people want to try and work on their relationship, and see if they can improve it.  If this is the case then the following can often help –

  • Improving general communication within the relationship
  • Being honest with each other
  • Showing respect for one another
  • Making time for each other
  • Helping and supporting one another
  • Working on intimacy
  • Listening to each other
  • Making one another a priority
  • Talking about where you feel things went wrong

Sometimes people find it really hard to do these things on their own. This is where couples counselling can really help. It is a neutral environment where people can share their feelings and emotions with someone outside of the relationship.  Someone experienced in the area of relationships and someone who will remain unbiased throughout the sessions.

Couples often start counselling when things have got to a really difficult place in their relationship.  Counselling can of course still help at this point.  However it is really useful to start counselling earlier if possible, and to begin the process before things come to a head.  This can really help people.  So if a couple are starting to have problems and their relationship is getting into difficulty, then it is well worth getting in touch and starting some counselling.  It may sound scary but it can really help.

Often people think of couples counselling as the last resort.  But it isn’t like this.  It can be the right place to come and deal with things before their needs to be a last resort.

At your counselling service we work with a lot of couples.  And we offer them flexibility when it comes to appointments – daytime, evenings or weekends.  We recognise that life can be busy and it can be difficult to fit everything in.  So if you or anyone you know would benefit from couples counselling please do get in touch. The testimony below shows how it really helps.

07590 663938 or info@yourcounsellingservice.co.uk

We found Hayley when we were looking for help to deal with some problems that were affecting an otherwise loving relationship. We weren’t sure what to expect from relationship counselling, and our main concern was to find someone who seemed down-to-earth and realistic, and who could connect with us and identify with our problems. This is exactly what we found with Hayley.

She quickly put us at ease, allowing us to talk openly without feeling judged, and as a result we both felt committed to the sessions. At times when things were tense between us, Hayley was great at giving us some perspective and even a bit of humour. She helped us to understand how our up-bringing, previous relationships and day-to-day stresses might be affecting us. One of our big problems was difficulty in communicating when things got stressful; Hayley helped us overcome this and see things from the others perspective. She was also honest with us, so that we didn’t expect things to get better overnight, or everything to always be perfect.

The most valuable things we got from the sessions as a couple were a much better understanding of each other, as well as feeling far more relaxed about talking things through together. Both of these mean that we now feel much better equipped to deal with life’s ups and downs, and much more positive about the future together”. 

Anonymous couple – relationship counselling with hayley.

 

 

Co dependent relationships.

Have you ever found yourself lost in a relationship? Asking yourself who you are? Wondering how you ended up being treated this way?

Have you ever found yourself saying yes all the time? Apologising for everything? And constantly making excuses for someone’s behaviour?

If these questions resonate with you, then we are talking about co-dependency.

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Perhaps you are still in a co-dependent relationship, or maybe you are currently trying to break away from one.  Either way it is an incredibly dark and painful place to be in.  You can end up questioning your own mind and decision making, while feeling that you constantly need approval.  Your identity becomes so wrapped up in making another person happy that you forget that you have needs.

Co dependent relationships are dysfunctional and often one person supports or enables another person’s addiction.  They could also tolerate another person’s poor mental health, immaturity or irresponsibility to a very unhealthy level.

ms2Alcohol and drug addiction are the most common, but addiction can also apply to work, food, exercise or sex for example. When living in a co dependent relationship life can be extremely draining, isolating and soul destroying.

Someone who is codependent will put up with so much more than anyone else. They will allow someone to treat them in a way that they never thought they would, and they can end up feeling totally degraded, dis respected and hurt. It can be a very hard cycle to break, and often people find it so hard to break away from codependent relationships, that they end up staying unhappy for a very long time.

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Being codependent means that you will always put another person’s needs before your own. You won’t know how to ask for what it is that you need – and you will always find yourself apologising for anything and everything. Scared to upset that person or worried about hurting or disappointing them.

It could be something as simple as choosing what you want to eat for dinner one evening, or deciding what film to watch. Or it could be more complex in terms of your career, family, friends or even children.

Living with an addict can be hell.  That person loses and immerses themselves totally in something else.  They don’t see you or hear you, and they don’t know how to relate to you. They prioritise something over you at literally any cost.  As a result you are left feeling not good enough, not attractive enough, not worth being loved etc.  And as a result the codependent cycle gets worse, as you can find yourself desperately trying to make that person happy in any way you can.

The reality is – that will never happen.  Unless a person wants to change, or values themselves enough to make an effort, then they won’t take the time to improve their addiction. And unless they value you and the relationship enough then they won’t take the time or effort to nurture what’s right in front of them.

The sad thing is that person will end up losing everything and will then blame the codependent partner for the relationship break down. It is as this point that being codependent can be even more damaging.  Because everything in you will scream to you about going back, making up for your mistakes, fear of failure, desire to make it better, fear of the unknown, and of what everyone else thinks etc.  It is at this crucial moment that you need to remember the following –

  • You deserve to be loved
  • You deserve to be respected
  • You are worth more than this
  • You have needs and they do deserve to be met
  • True love is about respect and honesty
  • People don’t change unless they truly admit that they have a problem
  • There is another life waiting for you
  • If you work on your own self esteem then you will feel better about who you are
  • Remember to value and respect yourself
  • Remember that you deserve to be happy
  • Remember to never let anyone treat you like this again
  • Believe in yourself and the rest will follow

People become codependent for all kinds of reasons. Often their self-esteem and self-worth is very low.  So they spend their life trying to please others.  That is where therapy can help.  It takes time to learn to truly love you and to allow yourself to be truly loved.  But healing is possible.

Often people that have experienced things like abuse or eating disorders are very codependent.  This is because they have never known how to ask for what it is that they need. So everything comes about external validation and pleasing others.  Again therapy can really help with this.

As can working on yourself.

No matter how hard or painful it is, never give up, and never go back to something that hurt you to the point where you no longer knew who you were.

www.yourcounsellingservice.co.uk

Learning to trust

Trust is such a difficult and complex thing. For many people they wouldn’t question trusting someone and they would be able to take things at face value. But imagine if your trust has been broken. If it has been shattered in a way you never thought possible. Would you then be able to easily take things at face value again???

Relationships are complex and they are fragile. At the heart of any relationship is trust. It is fundamental and it is the primary foundation. Without it people are likely to feel unsafe, insecure, on edge, run down, at times low and even depressed. A lack of trust can leave people feeling anxious, questioning anything and everything. Reading into things that maybe don’t mean what they think they do. It can hugely impact a persons identity and it can leave them feeling very isolated.

Trust applies to all kinds of relationships. To the one we have with our parents, our siblings, our friends, our partners etc. To anyone we allow ourselves to get close to – and to anyone we share who we truly are with.

Trust can be broken in so many ways – for children they depend and rely on their parents – and parental figures. To guide them, to love them, keep them safe and to enable them to feel secure. Children look to the adults in their life to help them to build trust. They are totally dependent on the adults around them for everything. They trust those that look after them and they look to them for security and guidance. Imagine if trust is broken for a child by a parent or parental figure. If this happens then their foundation is completely rocked and they are left feeling unsafe in the world. Wondering who they can turn to and who they can actually trust and rely on. Their are huge implications for this as they grow up and develop future relationships.

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Families are fundamental to our lives and they form a huge part of our foundations. Ironically it is often family members that can let people down. Distance can form between siblings, extended family members can cause divisions in the family, ripples can happen , disputes can occur. And when they do it can shake people to the core. Family is something that people want to be able to rely on. Its something that indiviudals want to have in their life in a positive way. And while it can be for some – this isn’t always the case. And when it isn’t it can leave indivudals feeling insecure, unsafe and mistrusting of others around them.

The same can happen in friendships. The family people choose for themselves. It is often said that there is no greater betrayal then a best friend. Someone who you confide in all the time. Someone you turn to on a regular basis. If that person – that has always been there and shared everything, suddenly lets you down in a huge way or betrays your trust. Then you are left in a position of questioning all friendships, wondering if you can feel safe or get close to anyone. Feeling anxious and insecure, imagining in the end that all friendships will end anyhow. And sometimes pushing people away so much that this is created. Friendship can be so beautiful. It can be the one thing that pulls people through the hardest times in their life. But if its broken in some way it can be so hard to re build or to trust again.

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And then there is trust when it comes to partners. One of the hardest things in the world is fully trusting the person you are in a relationship with. Especially if that trust has been misused or broken in the past. It is not easy at all to give yourself to someone fully. It is hard to open up, to share who you are and to let someone in. And when you did trust really needs to be there. To be able to feel safe in the relationship being able to trust is key. If people have ever let you down – for example been unfaithful, lied , kept secrets, turned out to be someone their not or not been there for you. It then becomes so hard to trust someone else and to not feel anxious or worried that they will do the same thing to you.

These are just a few examples of how fragile trust can be and of how hard it can be to fully trust when life hasn’t shown you how too.

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The really important thing is learning how to trust again. How to let someone else in to your life and begin to feel safe and secure. This is not easy at all. But if you want too and you want to begin to move forward. Then it is possible to heal past wounds. And it is possible to start to have a different way of relating. And to learn that not everyone will treat you the same way. That not everyone will let you down or betray you. And that somewhere along the line other people can show you a different way of relating. One that does have a foundation of trust and one that can enable you to feel safe. Here are some of the ways to try and do this –

  • Openly communicate with those around you
  • Share your feelings with the person you are trying to trust
  • Express when you feel hurt or vulnerable
  • Talk about your insecurities
  • Practice good self care
  • Make some quality time for yourself
  • Think carefully about what you need to feel safe
  • Go for counselling if you find you cant get past things
  • Keep a journal for your thoughts, feelings and insecurities
  • Practice mindfulness when you can
  • Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy
  • Choose some positive mantras for each day
  • Remember that not everyone is the same
  • Remind yourself that when someone broke your trust it wasn’t your fault
  • Work on your own self esteem and self worth
  • Know that real trust takes time – don’t try and rush it
  • Trust yourself – and know that whatever happens in life – you will be ok.

None of the above is easy or said lightly. Putting all of this in to practice takes work and dedication. But once you start making these positive changes – you will see a real difference. Above all – remember how unique and amazing you truly are.

 

The love you deserve.

Relationships are complex. That goes without saying. They all require effort, nurturing and time. Without all of these, they won’t be able to move forward or grow.  Whether it is partners, friends or family members – all relationships need both parties to invest, to care and to give. When its two way, it works really well. But what happens when its one way? And when one person gives so much? What happens when another person withholds or lets someone down? And most importantly – why do people continue to be in a relationship that causes them more pain then joy?

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The main reason people find themselves in a one sided relationship of any kind, is because they don’t truly believe that they deserve more. Perhaps it has never been shown to them. Perhaps the modelling they saw taught them to give and failed to show them how to receive.  Maybe that’s the role they have always taken – to be the one that is there and reliable, the one that it is ok to let down or take for granted. Fundamentally they don’t know that they deserve more.

There are many people who give and give. And there are many who take and take. The combination of these two together can be lethal. The more someone gives to another, the more they will pull away or take that person for granted. And so the cycle will continue. As a result nothing will change. And it will continue – leaving someone feeling that they are worthless, undervalued and not cared about. Constantly seeking validation, affirmation and love – from someone that for whatever reason – is unable to fully give it.

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But what would happen if that person began to realise that they deserved more? That they did deserve to be treated respectfully? That they required thought, care and kindness. That it wasn’t ok to shut them out, to speak to them harshly and that it was never ok to just assume that they would always be there.

Maybe family dynamics would shift? Maybe family members would realise that things can’t be one sided. Perhaps someone would pick up the phone or make an effort that they don’t normally. Friendships could change. Someone could start to see that they can’t just lash out or assume that people will always be there no matter what. Friendships could equally grow and develop – with both parties having full respect for each other. Romantically relationships could evolve and go to a deeper level. Things could feel better, more grounded and calmer. Clarity could be reached and a person’s boundaries would be intact.

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On the other hand things might not change. A shift may not take place – a person who takes could continue to take. Perhaps they won’t recognise the damage that has been caused, or perhaps they are incapable or unwilling to make a change. They may not even fully see the depth of what they have been doing. If this is the case then it is probably time to walk away. Walk away from the friend, family member or partner that is hurting you. Step back. Take some space and time for you. Know that you are worth more and deserve more. Know that you deserve to be loved. Ultimately if you know what you are truly worth then you will attract it.

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It is never ok to be taken for granted. It is never ok to be abused in any way, shape or from. It is never ok to constantly be the one to make contact or effort with someone. It is never ok to keep putting yourself out there just to be hurt again. Know your value. Know your worth. And make a huge effort to never settle for anything less.

The love you deserve.

What does that look like for you?

 

The stressful side of Christmas….

It is the time of year when Christmas is approaching.  Christmas can be a very exciting and happy time for people.  It can be something to look forward to and something that families enjoy and cherish.

However, it can also be an incredibly stressful time for people. The pressure that people often put on themselves can be immense.  This can include things like buying presents, seeing people, hosting or equally isolation and loneliness. Stresses such as money, bringing families together, managing expectations as well as time with loved ones, can all bring about their own difficulties.

As a result people can often feel very run down at this time of year, struggle with sleeping, or perhaps coming down with various illnesses.  It depends how people cope with stress. More extreme versions can even be depression, sadness, anxiety, lack of motivation etc.

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Eating and drinking can also be a very difficult thing for people to manage during this time.  People often find that they can over indulge and this can bring about its own difficulties and emotional ups and downs.  But in addition to this for those in recovery it can be really hard to cope with Christmas.

Imagine if your living with anorexia, and being faced with the prospect of a full Christmas dinner, or if your bulimic and surrounded by loads of food.  Or contemplate what it feels like to be an alcoholic facing so many social functions where alcohol is the focus.  All of this is incredibly challenging.

It can also be a time when people can feel sad, upset  or alone.  If people have lost someone they love, or were close to, then a void is apparent and the pain of the person not being there can be extreme. Sadness can take over the happiness that people feel they ‘should’ be experiencing.

Grief can be really painful during this festive period.  Grief can also apply to relationships that have broken down, or perhaps those that are breaking down.

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It is important to think about how you can support yourself during this period.  Self-care is crucial during this time. Try and put some healthy boundaries in place. This can mean not saying yes to everything, or not putting too much pressure on yourself to keep everyone happy or to be ‘perfect’.

Keep an eye on how much you are doing, and try to slow down when possible. Take some quality time for yourself, when you need to.  Do the things that make you relax.  This is different for everyone. It could include a yoga class, reading a book, going for a walk or taking a hot bath. However you relax, make it happen.

Try to remember the word moderation. Apply this to food, to drink, to sleep, etc.  Aim for a balance in your life.  You don’t want to be exercising every day but then you also don’t want to never exercise.  Work for somewhere in the middle.  It is achievable.

Make sure you don’t bottle everything up.  Speak up and let people know when you are feeling anxious, stressed or when things feel too much.  Other people can help you, and they can support you.  In addition to this, don’t try and do everything by yourself.  You don’t have to do it all, and you certainly don’t have to stress yourself trying to do it all.  Remember how important you are, and value yourself.

Here at your counselling service we recognise the stresses and strains of Christmas time, and so we run our counselling service during this difficult period.  Our counselling doesn’t stop for the holidays.  So if things feel too much and you would like someone to talk to then please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or drop us an e mail. (07590 663938 or info@yourcounsellingservice.co.uk)

December can be a difficult and challenging time, as well as a wonderful and exciting one.  We are hear to help if you need us.

Coping with relapse – Eating disorders

Recovering from an Eating Disorder is all consuming. It is a full time job in itself and takes a lot of commitment and hard work. It can therefore be quite soul destroying when relapse happens.

Relapses are however very common and natural.  The most important thing is being aware of the signs and then being able to deal with what is happening.

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The key signs to look out for are –

  • You have an increased need for control in your life
  • A higher level of perfectionism returns
  • Constant thoughts around food are taking over
  • Higher levels of sadness and hopelessness are happening
  • Avoidance of any get together around food starts to occur
  • Preoccupation with body image and size increases
  • Increased belief that your failing if you are not on a “diet”
  • Weighing yourself becomes more frequent
  • Mood is determined and dictated by weight and food
  • You feel more guilt after eating
  • You feel larger then you actually are
  • Your becoming more dishonest with the closest people in your life
  • You are isolating yourself more
  • Increased time spent looking in the mirror and being critical
  • You start to skip meals, or to purge them
  • You have an increased need to exercise continually

If you or someone close to you starts to display some of the above signs, then relapse is occurring. A relapse in recovery can be very disheartening. Often people can feel that they have failed in some way, and that they have let themselves down.  It can be very disillusioning to feel that you are going backwards in your recovery, or that you are back where you began.

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They key however is to remember that you haven’t gone all the way back. Recovery from an Eating Disorder is not meant to be perfect and having a relapse doesn’t mean failure.  It’s important to remember that all of your recovery is still with you. Be kind to yourself, show yourself some compassion and remember that you still have your therapeutic toolbox. Here are some really useful ways to manage a relapse –

  • Remind yourself that relapse is a natural part of recovery
  • Don’t use your relapse as a way of beating yourself up
  • Try and focus on getting back on track with your recovery
  • Return to therapy if you aren’t currently in it
  • Seek help from your therapist if you are in therapy – be honest about where you are at and what you are doing
  • Start to make some positive changes
  • Begin to keep a journal of your feelings and thoughts
  • Start making a food plan to help your eating to settle down
  • Try and identity what triggered your relapse
  • Look at different ways of handling those triggers next time you are faced with them
  • Start spending time doing the things that you enjoy
  • Make sure you spend time around people that make you feel good
  • Ensure that you are using your support network
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Take time out each day just for you
  • Slow down and stop putting so much pressure on yourself
  • Try your best to talk about what you are feeling
  • Listen to your body and your feelings
  • Try to trust and accept yourself
  • Work towards loving yourself
  • Remember to try and enjoy your life

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When its hard to see in colour.

There are times in life when things feel so dark. When we find ourselves consumed by blackness and not noticing any of the positive things around us. A darkness starts to take over. When it creeps in and begins to eat us up. When we feel so low that the smallest of things become so big. When we feel so confused that the simple things get forgotten, and when we feel so afraid that everything suddenly feels unsafe or scary. Depression sets in. Bleakness takes over. Colour no longer exits.

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Dark thoughts can be scary. They can be overwhelming. Suddenly it becomes hard to sleep, to eat, to focus – people find themselves feeling anxious in places they once found easy to be in. People find themselves feeling overwhelmed with the most basic things. And before you know it energy starts to fade. Moods start to sink. A fragility exists that wasn’t there once before. For other people they find that they cant stop eating, or perhaps they cant stop drinking. Maybe they find themselves wanting to sleep all of the time. All of this behaviour is exiting. Exiting your reality. A reality that feels black and heavy. Avoiding pain and moving more and more in themselves.

The reality is however, that all of this makes everything so much worse. Isolation creeps in. Loneliness takes over. Paranoia starts. Confidence decreases. Suddenly small things feel huge. A person starts to lose their sparkle. And where you once saw an aliveness in someone you now she a deadness. Depression. Its there. And it can take over.

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The key to living with depression is to start by acknowledging that you are going through a very difficult time. Name it. Say it. Own it. Right now. I am really struggling. It doesn’t take the pain away or make everything better. But it can make people feel calmer – and start to allow themselves to feel the way that they feel.

Give yourself permission to be – right here. Right now. However you are feeling. It is ok. And it is natural. Allow your thoughts and feelings to come to the surface. Sit with them. Experience them. Have faith that they will pass. As will this challenging time in your life. But know that it is ok to feel down sometimes. It is ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes. And it’s ok to be who you are. At any given moment.

Fighting depression isn’t easy. Because that darkness is exhausting in itself. You can fight it however. It isn’t easy but its doable. Make sure you start with genuine self care and self love. Be kind to yourself always. Start with the simple things. Make sure you are winding down before bed and getting as much as sleep as you can. Give your body a chance to recover and to deal with things. Eat. Again it sounds simplistic but eat. Try to stick to a basic plan of three meals a day and three snacks in between. Keep in mind moderation – everything is ok when its balanced. You need energy to fight depression off. Not eating makes everything harder.

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Keeping with the theme of moderation. Apply this to other areas of life such as exercise, alcohol , socialising etc. Its easy to turn to extremes when your in a dark place. To find yourself drinking more, or turning to fitness obsessively. Either way both of these things wont help or do you any good. The same goes for going out all of the time and avoiding things or for throwing yourself into work all the time and again avoiding things. The key is creating balance in your life. And ultimately facing up to the things that are pulling you down and challenging you.

That said expressing emotions and dealing with them can really help. Therapy is a great place to do this – counselling has a huge benefit when your feeling low. In addition to this things like yoga can really help the mind to feel calmer too. Talking is a great thing to do. Letting your feelings and emotions out is so therapeutic and positive. So think about your support network. Reach out when you can and talk to people. Never suffer alone or in silence. As hard as it can be. Take that step to ask for help when you need. If people can they will.

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Finally above all say no. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Don’t feel you have to say yes to everything. It is ok to put boundaries in place, and it is ok to say no. If you are exhausted and overwhelmed don’t attend things. Give yourself the time that you need to rest and recover. The people that really love you and care about you will totally understand. Fundamentally it is all about being kind to yourself. So start right now. Do what’s right for you and the rest will follow. You can beat this. Slowly, bit by bit, colour will return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoidance

On a logical level we know that if we avoid something, it always has a way of catching up with us. More often than not in a worse state then when it began. Yet so many people tend to avoid the things that they really find difficult.

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You will often hear people say ‘I don’t want to talk about it’, or ‘I can’t deal with that right now’. At the moment in time they are trying to convince themselves that they can block these thoughts and feelings out. Perhaps they believe that if they don’t say things out loud then they can get past them. You may even hear people say I am too busy or too tired right now. I can’t question that, I don’t have the energy for that or I just can’t think about that right now.

Sometimes people are even less aware of their avoidance. It won’t be the words they speak, but the behaviour they display. Perhaps you will witness people turning to alcohol as a way of numbing feelings or blocking them out. Convincing themselves that they are just having a good time. When in reality they aren’t getting in touch with their own feelings and experiences.

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You may see others turn to exercise and find them obsessively working out. Convincing themselves they are doing something positive for themselves – meanwhile suppressing all the feelings and emotions they need to face.

This type of addictive / compulsive behaviour can be found in all kinds of different areas of life – ranging from work, to cleaning, social media or sex. These are just a few examples of the worlds that people can throw themselves obsessively into as a way of avoiding the things that are causing them stress, anxiety, upset or anger for example.

We struggle to sleep when the heart is at war with the mind. We struggle to focus when we feel lost in some way. We find it hard to keep on top of the things in our life when we are overwhelmed. Anxiety rises when we feel out of control. Eating habits change when we are stressed or upset.

FrogTake a moment – step back. How is the balance in your life?? How is all of the above for you?? If you are struggling in some way then it’s important to really think about what might be going on for you. Is there something you are afraid of? Something you are worried about? Is there something that is stressing you out or upsetting you? If you work hard to ground yourself you may find the things that you could currently be avoiding.

We all know that things become so much more real when we say them out loud. Yet if we don’t say them then we don’t ever identify what is actually going on for us.

A life of avoidance is not a sustainable one. It leads to depression, stress, isolation, anxiety, fear, illness – the list goes on. If you can step back and take some time out for yourself – you will first of all feel so much calmer – and then you will begin to gain some clarity.

There is no denying that this clarity could be scary.  But we don’t grow by staying comfortable. We grow by addressing the things that challenge us. Remaining in a comfort zone – one where we avoid and try to keep functioning – leads to a very detached and empty way of living.

If on the other hand we use this clarity positively we can channel it in the right direction and begin to make some positive active changes to our life. If something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. If something is worrying you then there is probably a reason for that. If you feel concerned about something you are right to listen to your concerns. Slow down. Reflect. Feel and be. Maybe take some time to journal, or to write down the things that are worrying you. Take it one step at a time but start to make plans about how to change these areas. Enlist help and support when you need too. Stop avoiding the things that are causing you upset and stress – start dealing with them.

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Listen to what your heart tells you. Not what others say.

Have you ever noticed how a lot of people think they know what’s best for you???

Whether it’s a job choice, a decision about education, a relationship, moving home or even smaller things like an outfit choice or where to go for a break. Isn’t it interesting how everyone has an opinion and how a lot of people seem to know what’s best for you ??

Have you ever considered that perhaps the expert on your life is you??? It doesn’t matter if you have made mistakes a long the way. We are all human. None of us are perfect. Mistakes are part of life. We learn from them and we grow. Getting stronger all the time.

Fundamentally we are the author of our own book. We hold the pen and we determine where we are going and what we are doing.

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I bet if your truly honest with yourself, deep down, in any situation you have known if it is right or not. Your heart has a way of telling you. Sometimes you just need to stop and listen. Listen carefully.

Everyone has an opinion. Often that opinion is based on their own experiences and the things that have impacted them. Consequently they will advise you to be cautious of something or someone, or perhaps encourage you to stop doing something that worries them. It can even go the other way sometimes, where people try and push you into something that you just know isn’t right for you.

Fundamentally you are the only person that really knows if something is right. Your the only one that can truly tell if something makes you happy. And deep down, if your really honest with yourself, you will find the answers that you seek.

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Of course there are times that we all get a little lost. We lose our way and our direction. We make choices that aren’t good for us. Sometimes things like addiction or mental illness can take over. Sometimes our judgement gets clouded. But if we work hard to ground ourselves. If we take the time to get back on track. Seek the help we need. We can can then learn to truly trust ourselves and to believe in what we are saying and doing.

There is nothing more empowering then making a decision for ourselves. Then doing something we truly believe in. Hold on to that – believe in yourself and what your heart tells you. It will guide you in the right direction.

There is nothing worse then doing something that goes against the core of who you are. If you tune into your body you will recognise when that is happening. If you start to really listen to your heart then you will become aware of when you are listening to someone else rather then yourself.

Start to say no to the things you don’t want to do. Start to speak up if something doesn’t make you happy. Begin to let your feelings out. Learn how to express your needs. Don’t let other people influence your choices. Be sure to choose what makes you happy. It isn’t always easy to do but try to follow the path that’s right for you and the rest will follow.

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Social media has totally changed the world and many think for the better. A way to communicate with friends or family? Especially those that live abroad or far away. A way to share pictures of your life with those close to you. Or a way to share funny quotes or jokes. A way to connect?……

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Maybe??

But what if you are struggling? What if you are in a difficult place in your life and then you see a stream of photos of ‘happiness’.  Not many people post pictures of anything unhappy or even express stress or upset on social media. It is usually a platform to express the positive side of our life. If you think about it really – a lot of it isn’t real. That doesn’t mean those experiences aren’t real – but they certainly aren’t all of life and they can’t be everyone’s day to day reality.

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Social media creates a place for comparison. And comparison is ultimately the thief of joy. Where ever people are in life , they will look around and see what others are doing. This means they can get drawn into thinking they should be doing that too. But really?? We can’t all be the same. And why would we even want to be?? It is ok to be different – to choose a different path and to be proud of that. But social media draws people into the world of ‘I should’.  Fundamentally there is no such thing.

Social media can raise anxiety for people – for a lot of different reasons. It displays and shows when people are ‘on line’. Often people can feel why is this person always on line but not actually communicating with me? Perhaps they haven’t come back about something or responded to something. Meanwhile social media displays and shows them doing something else or simply being active. What does that do to relationships?? How does it fuel insecurities and fears?

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Social media can also raise anxiety for different reasons – comparison can lead to insecurity and it can also trigger depression for many different reasons. Ultimately we all feel better when we truly connect. With people and with the world. All of our relationships develop and grow when quality time is spent together. That cant happen if everything is done on line.

A lot of people can feel low if they see others out having fun and a good time, when they are currently struggling to leave the house or engage with friends. Others can feel insecure about their looks or weight if they see others posting pictures that they think look ‘amazing’. Mental health can really suffer if people spend too much time on social media.

With clients I often talk about taking a break from social media. If you imagine someone is living with an eating disorder for example – how dangerous can social media be? Images, blogs, fitness talk, food talk – you name it. It is all so triggering. The same goes for any kind of addiction really. It is far safer and healthier to stay away from social media when you are in recovery. It doesn’t add to your life – in fact if you think about it – it takes you away from real life.

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In line with that using social media can become addictive – a person can find themselves looking at facebook or Instagram for hours of their day. Thinking it’s only a few minutes here and there. But what does that really do? How does that add value? If you think about it – if anything – it is a form of escapism and a way to disconnect from reality.

This isn’t to say that social media doesn’t have some benefits and can’t be positive in some ways. But it is so important to recognise when it is having a negative impact on your life. If every time you log on you feel worse for it. Then take a break. If there are people on your friends list that bring you down or make you feel low – unfollow them or take them off entirely. You don’t need to have anyone in your life that does that or anyone you feel you ‘should’ be in contact with.

The world of social media can be fun, light hearted and allow people to connect. But it can also be dangerous and bring people down a lot. It isn’t always healthy for any kind of relationship and it can trigger a lot of negative emotions. Take stock. What’s the impact on your life? Next time you are on line, think about it. Do you really need to be there right now?

At the end of the day being present in your life is far more important – and the ability to engage fully in whatever it is you are doing – is far more meaningful. Think about it – take some time out now and then.

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