Learn to sparkle.

 

How much time do you spend worrying about what others think ?

How often do you question yourself?

How often do you wonder if you are doing the right thing?

How often do negative thoughts and feelings to take over?

If you break it down and strip it all back  – does any of the above really matter ?? Is it all truly important or are we simply giving too much of our time away. And more significantly giving it away to the opinions, judgements and viewpoints of others. And actually – what they think of us doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all.

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I love the quote – you were born an original – don’t die a copy. This couldn’t be more powerful. Too much time is spent trying to conform, to please and to be what we feel we ‘should’ be.

 

 

I have learnt a lot over the years personally and professionally and there is one thing I know for sure. There is no such thing as should. Life is too short and too precious to spend it conforming to what everyone else wants or believes in. After all other people always have their own agenda – and it is our path that truly matters in the end.

I do a lot of work with clients around building self esteem and learning about self-worth. Once people have over come many challenges in their therapy and addressed a lot of issues – there is often a theme. A theme of learning self-acceptance. Of learning to value and appreciate themselves. This is part of the journey of therapy – enabling people to grow, to develop and to learn to be ok in their own skin.

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But for me it is bigger than that – it is learning to sparkle. To shine and to know just how amazing they are. Individuality and being unique – it is what make’s people so special. The colours people love, the clothes they embrace and wear as a part of their identity. The music they listen too, the books they read, the hobbies they have. This is all a fundamental part of identity – and when these things get lost – a person feels truly lost. They don’t know who they are any more and then they need to begin to the journey. They journey of finding themselves – and truly learning to sparkle.

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Step back for a moment – look around you. What makes you who you are?? Do you have favourite flowers? Buy them for yourself. Do you have favourite feel good music? Make a playlist. Do you love candles? Light them. Favourite books? Read them. Do you love yoga – make time for it. Do you love pictures? Print some – when di you last frame some of your favourite photos?? Do you like to draw or paint – make it happen?? Do you love writing?? Blog, write, journal – keep that diary! If you are a runner – run again. Enter an event. If you like to kick box then make time for it. Perhaps you’re a swimmer. Go get in the pool. When did you last buy yourself something to wear? Go on – treat yourself. But make sure there is some colour. Colour represents our feelings – get some brightness in your life. But also choose what makes you ‘you’. I could go on – the list is endless. If your friends make you feel good – make plans. See them. Make it happen. Invest time wisely. Give it to who and what makes you feel good. Enjoy your favourite foods and drinks. Stop thinking about the should in life – and go for the sparkle!!!! Find yours. And I promise you will feel so much happier.

Trauma

Trauma.

What do you think when you hear that word???

Something traumatic?? What do you understand by that statement??

Donna in abito bianco pensierosa, solitaria, texture retro Its defined as something disturbing, shocking, upsetting, damaging, horrific, awful, alarming, terrifying – the list goes on.

Ultimately trauma is relative. And it can be different for each one of us. What we as individuals define as traumatic is individual and unique to each of us. We all have different thresholds. We all experience things differently. Some people bounce back from certain events more quickly, while others take a long time to heal. There is no right or wrong. Sometimes people avoid things – while others face them head on. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how you recover or cope. What matters is that you find peace in the end.

The list of traumatic events is endless –

  • Domestic violence
  • Rape
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Natural disaster
  • A serious car accident
  • Sudden death of someone close
  • Bullying
  • Violent attack – mugging, assault etc
  • War
  • Political violence/unrest
  • Divorce
  • Relationship break down
  • Infidelity
  • Redundancy
  • Supporting a loved one with a long-term illness

These are some of the many things that people find traumatic – but realistically there are many more. Even change can sometimes be very traumatic for people.

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There are key signs when someone is traumatised – they may have upsetting or disturbing memories, they may have frightening dreams. Children suffer with these a lot and they may also act out the trauma through play and appear to be experiencing it as though it is happening right now.

People may get very upset or distressed when they hear certain noises, or if they are faced with reminders of certain things. They will naturally also want to stay away from conversation that relates to the trauma and find themselves trying to avoid any feelings associated with it.

Naturally when people are traumatised, they begin to lose interest in the things they once found enjoyable. They isolate themselves more and more. They may show less emotion and not want to be around others. Or at times extreme emotion and go through phases of blaming others or even blaming themselves.

Sleep is one of the first things that can be impacted when someone is traumatised. They may also lose their ability to concentrate and find themselves easily startled, nervous and jumpy at times. Some people often become very reckless and dangerous as they act certain behaviours out and lose a sense of caring about what happens to themselves. Anger can also come out very frequently and often in different directions.

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Children can become more fearful of strangers and seem clingier. They may regress and act younger in their behaviour and often talk about physical complaints such as stomach aches and pains. They may show fear around being separated from a caregiver who they feel safe with. And they may struggle to concentrate and have outbursts regularly. Mood changes will be common – as well changes in appetite.

Once you understand and recognise why a person is acting the way they are – then you can really begin to help them.  Once you see past the behaviour and understand how traumatised they are – then you will be able to see their vulnerability.

You will be able to understand the pain they are experiencing and learn about the things they are doing their best to try and block out and at times suppress. Often people need to experience compassion, kindness, care and understanding. Even when it is hard to do so, and you feel tested and pushed to the limit – it is important to try and remember what a person is going through. To try and understand the place they find themselves in. And in turn to be there for them.

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There are many types of therapy available to help someone that is traumatised. Whether it is cognitive behaviour therapy, play therapy or an analytical approach (to name a few). It can have a positive impact and will help people of all ages.

 

However, there are also things that can be done at home and around someone who is traumatised in order to help them. You can also apply these to yourself if you are the one who has experienced the trauma.

  • Offer a calm and structured environment
  • Develop some important routines
  • Think about expectations and limits – what is reasonable for someone going through this ?
  • Pay attention and listen to someones feelings
  • Remain calm when someone else is anxious
  • For young people plan for any transitions
  • Focus on the hear and now
  • Look at identity and learning about a sense of self
  • Take care of your own needs
  • Be aware of reactions – yours and the person dealing with the trauma
  • Incorporate regular exercise
  • Make time for relaxation
  • Focus on a balanced diet
  • Make sure sleep is a priority
  • Focus on having healthy relationships
  • Aim to manage stress
  • Make sure you talk about your feelings
  • Focus on a good support network
  • Get a doctor and medication involved if you think it’s necessary

None of us can undo the trauma that someone has experienced, and we cannot take away the pain they have endured and continue to overcome.

We can however help them to make life more manageable for them and to learn how to live with the things that have happened to them, without them totally taking over.

All of the above can really help people in moving forward and finding a healthy way of manging and coping with things.  And in time true healing can take place and a brighter future is possible.

 

 

 

 

Letting go.

Without realising it we often hold on to the voices and the experiences of the past. It is after all understandable. If things have had a major impact on us or caused a lot of pain or distress, then they are bound to stay with us. It takes time to fully process things. Holding on to them however – can really hold us back.

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The past doesn’t define us. It contributes to who we are – and fundamentally we learn from it. But if we continue to live in it, or to worry about it, then we will never fully be able to embrace the present or look forward to the future. Anxiety, worries, and negative thought processes – they will continue to repeat and fundamentally, they will continue to hold us back.

If you think about the negative experiences in your life. Whether these relate to family, friends, romantic relationships, jobs, etc – if things haven’t worked out how you imagined and have caused you pain, then it can be easy to believe that these experiences will be repeated. It is understandable to doubt when previous pain has been caused – but if you live in a world of doubt, then you never take a leap of trust and you never embrace the idea of a different possibility.

Pic BlogJust because things happened the way they did in the past, it doesn’t mean that they will happen that way again. It is very scary to trust someone, or to trust something, when pain has been something you have experienced so much before. But if you allow that pain to dictate, then it will hold you back and it will sabotage your present and your future.

Letting go is not easy. Letting go is scary. Letting go can feel overwhelming at times. At other times it can feel liberating, exciting and cathartic. Perhaps it is worth considering that there is always a flip side. Life doesn’t have to follow the same path – change is possible and a different way of being is also possible for any of us.

It is not healthy or good for us to carry around the demons of the past with us. But it is understandable why so many people do. Sometimes we can get trapped in a vicious cycle, or caught up in the negativity that once surrounded us. However taking a leap of faith can open up a world of possibilities and can allow a brighter and better life to happen.

Pic blog 2It does of course involve risk – but if we never take a risk, then we never know.  We may feel safer in our own cocoon and we may feel less anxious with our defences up. But we may also feel trapped, stifled, alone, suppressed and pulled down by a very heavy weight on our shoulders. Isolated in a prison – a prison that can at times feel comforting but that comfort also stops us from truly living.

I often talk to clients in recovery about this – the notion of letting go. It doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships, friendships, jobs, homes, dreams etc. It also applies to eating disorders, addictions and any other forms of self-harming behaviours. To recover and walk away from these is terrifying. The not knowing – the fear of what’s on the other side.

ms2The questions. Will I be ok? How will this be? Who am I without this? Yes of course those questions are all valid. They are real. Change shakes our identity and that is scary. But change is also exciting and liberating. Imagine the freedom of not being stuck in those negative thought processes. Imagine not being dictated to by someone or something. The ability to be you – and all the beauty that is you. How special could that feel?

This process is not easy and it involves a lot of soul searching, an openness and willingness to start to heal and let go. Therapy comes in here and it can be the most healing experience you could have. It offers the chance to begin to move forward – to let the experiences of the past go and to not allow them to define you. It is ok to be you and it is ok to be happy. You don’t have to be dominated by what once was. There is something better and brighter if you can take the chance and trust it.

Hope picTake a leap of faith, begin to let go and learn to trust. It might be scary but all change is, and ultimately it is through change that we truly grow and become the best person we can be.

 

 

Improving life with your partner.

We often end up taking for granted the closest person to us.  It is also common to take things out on that person, not make enough time for them or not make them a priority. This seems pretty ironic when you think about it.  The person we love and care about more then anything, and the person we are closest too – often ends up at the bottom of our priority list.  Here at your counselling service we do a lot of couples work, and we recognise the importance of nurturing a relationship and prioritising your partner.  If you and your partner are struggling then here are some useful tips for improving things –

1. In your busy week organise a ‘date night’ or a ‘date day’.  This is one evening or day that is solely for the two of you. No phones, no interruptions (Including things like television).  If you have children it is worth investing in a baby sitter.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive date. A walk, a drink in the pub, perhaps cooking for one another.  The importance is quality time.

2. Remember to communicate.  It sounds simplistic. But is often the main issue for a lot of couples.  Communication breaks down.  Talk to each other, ask how each other is feeling – and really listen. Pay attention to your partner the same way you would if you were catching up with  friend you haven’t seen for ages.

3. Express love and affection. This can often stop after people have been together for a while. But it is so important.  It can be a kiss, a cuddle, telling each other that you love each other or just reminding a person of how much they mean to you.  Simple ways to do this can be through notes and messages during the day.

4. Respect each other.  You are two different people , with different thoughts, feelings, families and lives. You need to be mindful of this and respect each others differences.  You wont always agree.  But the key is having a healthy discussion instead of an argument.

5. Be honest about your feelings.  So many people don’t tell each other how they really feel.  Yet its so important to be honest about feelings. You may feel sad, insecure, stressed or let down in some way by your partner.  Even if you feel that its illogical you need to tell your partner how your feeling.  If you need something more from them don’t be afraid to ask.  They may not even realise that they are doing something to upset you.

6, Work on intimacy. Having a healthy sex life is very important in a relationship. And something that is unique to each couple. However intimacy isn’t just above having sex. It is about doing other things such as taking a bath together or giving each other a massage etc. Make time for this and learn to ask for what you need from each other. It is so important.

These are just some of the useful things that you can try in order to improve things with your partner.  If you find that you are doing all of these and things aren’t changing then you may wish to come and see someone for couples counselling. If this is the case then please call 07590 663938 or e mail info@yourcounsellingservice.co.uk  We would be really happy to help.

 

When the mirror lies to you.

Many people will often speak negatively about the way that they look. Being critical of our appearance seems to be something that comes far more naturally then speaking positively about ourselves.

But what happens when it becomes something more serious? When it starts to take over a persons life? And when what was once a negative comment turns into a full blown destructive thought process?

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Body dysmorphia. A very serious and debilitating thing to live with. Can you imagine the pain of seeing yourself in the mirror and hating what you see? Day in and day out?? Can you imagine what it feels like to get ready and to actual believe that you are larger then you were the day before? To compare pictures all the time and convince yourself that you have grown in size? To find the smallest flaw in your appearance and to focus on it obsessively? To scrutinise your face in the mirror all the time? To examine photos in depth and always conclude things negatively ? To feel as though your clothes are tighter all the time? To be convinced your stomach, or your thighs, or arms are growing consistently ? To see your face as larger and larger every day ?? Torture. Non stop – the voices whirl around and around in your head.

It makes no sense to everyone else. How can it ???

What your seeing isn’t real. What your feeling isn’t real. Yes – to you it is. Right in that moment – you see yourself exactly that way. It takes over – it pulls you in. You feel like you might break at any moment.

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Yet everyone around you tells you how great you look. How amazing you are. People give you attention and comment on how attractive you are, or how lovely your outfit or hair is. Yet you don’t feel it. Any of it. Deep inside your consumed. Your thought process is raging. Your emotions are taking over. You feel awful. The voice is loud. It’s taking over. And you hate it.

It isn’t easy at all – but remember – that voice – it’s lying to you. It’s putting you down. It’s telling you things that aren’t true. It wants to keep you in a low place. It wants to drag you down and convince you that you aren’t good enough. It wants to point out every slight possible negative thing about you – so that you feel worthless. So that you feel disempowered. So that you hate yourself and feel so low you can’t even begin to start the day.

RBLOG1 It’s like a controlling partner – who wants to dominate your life and to take away your power. Its like an abusive relationship or toxic friendship – where your constantly kept in this vulnerable position – feeling not good enough. Feeling empty, low and worthless. Body dysmorphia – it wants to take you down. It wants to destroy you. Any chance of happiness you might have – it wants to take it away. Anything good – it wants to sabotage. That’s the irony – things might be going well, something positive might happen. You might be feeling happy with something – and there it is – ready to pounce. Ready to destroy. ‘You don’t deserve this’ it whispers. ‘This won’t last’ – it says. ‘You can’t be happy’ it repeats quietly in the background. And instead of allowing these vulnerabilities to be explored, it focuses on the physical – pointing out the negatives and drawing your in to a world of self-hatred.

Its also there when your very stressed, when your run down, tired and overwhelmed. Things might be getting on top of you – you can’t cope with it all. BOOM – there it is. Telling you how awful you look. How massive you are, how disgusting your body and face are. Its ready – it wants to take you down. You feel awful – it wants to make you feel worse.

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Fight back!!!! Try not to listen. Talk about it. It’s so hard. But say it out loud. The voice doesn’t want you too. But say it. Then it loses its power. Tell someone close to you what you are feeling. Articulate your worries and concerns. They can help to reassure you – and while they can’t take it all away, they can focus on grounding you.

Write your feelings down – get them out of your head. Don’t let them take over. You can beat this. You don’t have to listen to every negative thought in there. Your worth more – write and write until you can tell yourself that.

Look after yourself – simplistic but true. Good positive self-care makes it all easier to manage. If you are eating properly, sleeping well, getting enough down time and calm time – then you will feel so much better in general. And the voice won’t have such a chance to take over.

Spend time with those that make you feel calm and at ease. Be around those that make you feel good in yourself. Limit your time with toxic people or those that drain your energy and take from you. There is only so much of you to go around. You need to focus on what is good for you.

And don’t forget – there is also therapy. Counselling can really help when it comes to fighting the battles of body dysmorphia. It helps people to understand the root causes of what is going on and change day to day behaviours. It helps to put coping strategies in place and to move forward in a more positive way.

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When its time to forgive.

It goes without saying – there are certain events that happen in people’s life that they feel are totally unforgiveable. People cannot always find compassion or have understanding for everything that ever takes place.

Life is not about always making things ok – and it is of course ok for any of us to say when something has truly upset or hurt us. We have the right to express every emotion we feel – including anger.

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But what happens when our pain eats us up? When our anger makes us bitter?  And what happens when we hold on to the things that cause us nothing but hurt and upset. There may not always be a place for total forgiveness. But there is a place for healing. There is a place for letting go – and there is a place for moving forward. And to fully be able to do that – we need to be able to say to ourselves – this happened – but I am ok. Its ok. I am moving forward and I am letting go.

If we don’t do this – we remain stuck. You will see it – many times. People get caught in a vicious cycle. One of pain. One of anger. One of bitterness. Sometimes a path that is full of addiction – alcohol, drugs, sex, food, exercise, work – the list is endless. People find many ways to avoid the things they truly feel – and many ways to escape the thoughts in their head.

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Fundamentally however – real healing comes from facing those thoughts. It come from engaging with your own reality. It is the ability to be able to say – yes this happened to me. And yes it really hurt and it has been beyond painful. But if I hold on to it – if I continue to allow it to dominate – then I will never be able to move forward. Sometimes we all have to say – enough is enough.

Letting go is never easy – however it looks and whoever it involves – it is the hardest thing to do. But once you do. Once you truly do – your mind will be so clearer. It will feel so much calmer and the clarity you find will enable you to engage in your life more. To be more present and focused wherever you are and with whatever you are doing.

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Nothing stays the same in life – and that is ok. While change can be so painful at times and cause stress and anxiety. On the flip side it can also bring possibility, new beginnings, excitement and happiness. Sometimes when a door shuts another one opens. And sometimes change can also being relief. Relief that you are not in a certain situation anymore, dealing with something that you found so hard or facing someone that just caused you more pain the happiness.

Even when something or someone has caused you so much pain and hurt, it is ok to look back and acknowledge that good times also existed. Even when letting go of someone is so painful – you can also smile and think of the happy times you once shared. This is called inner peace. Calmness. Let it in if you can. Because when you do – you have healed.

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We can forgive but not invite someone or something back into our lives. We can find empathy and compassion even when it feels impossible and bleak. We can search and find understanding and in that understanding we will feel better in ourselves. But none of this means that we lose our right to be angry about what has happened to us or to someone we love or care about. We just make a healthy choice – to not allow that anger to eat us up. To let that anger go. To forgive perhaps – but not forget.

But then we remember – that difficult situations always teach us something. The lesson isn’t clear at the time – it isn’t always straight forward at the time. But over time we look back and we acknowledge  and see the message that is meant for us. Overall – our aim is to simply let go.

Finally – there is also the important area of forgiving ourselves. None of us are perfect. We are all human. And at some point we all do things that we could easily come down on ourselves about. But no good ever comes from beating ourselves up. We all make the best decision we can in any given situation. And that is what truly matters. Don’t spend time being hard on yourself. Learn to forgive yourself. To trust yourself and to be yourself. Remember you deserve to be happy.

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Believe in yourself

How often do you hear people putting themselves down? Speaking negatively about themselves or expressing self-doubt? It is more common to find people questioning themselves, second guessing themselves or feeling insecure, then it Is to find people speaking highly about themselves, or trusting that they are always doing their best.

Isnt it sad that we live in a world of self doubt. That we are surrounded by critical voices, judgements and opinions. Often ones that people don’t need to hear. Ones that don’t make people feel good about themselves, and ones that do nothing but feed negative thinking.

Of course this isn’t always the case – there are those of us that empower. Those of us that speak highly of others, that compliment people and build others up. And there are those of use that encourage people to do everything they have ever wanted too.

But we do live in a world of comparison. We do live in a world where people place high expectations on others and where they are so quick to form opinions and judgements.

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I often say to clients – it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. What matters if what you think. It doesn’t matter how others view your life – it matters how you feel about your life. You don’t need external validation. You may feel that you do. But you don’t. What truly matters is what’s inside. And what’s really important is your own inner happiness.

It is my belief that we can all achieve anything we put our minds too. We are capable of far more then we really give ourselves credit for. And ultimately we are capable of fulfilling any of our dreams. If we just believe in ourselves.

It sounds simple right – after all believe and you will achieve?

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Of course it is not always that easy. What if a person is very insecure, or if they are living with an addiction, or depression, maybe they are fighting an eating disorder. Or what if someone generally has low self esteem and low self confidence. Perhaps they have been bullied in the past of they have bene in toxic / abusive relationships.

All of these things knock people’s confidence. They shatter hope and destroy dreams. They leave people fighting demons, trying to overcome battles in their head and they result in a lot of self-criticism and a huge amount of not feeling good enough.

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As always there are many things that people can do tRBLOG4o help themselves get into a more positive place.  Things like using a support network. Communicating and expressing feelings more.  And of course there are several changes that can be made in a person’s life to help them feel better about themselves. Things like positive self care, taking time out for themselves, working on stress levels, journal writing etc. Other areas can be looked at – finding a place of moderation when it comes to things like exercise, alcohol etc. Looking at food in a moderate way is also really important. Generally people can work towards re storing balance in their life and incorporating positive mantras so that they begin to feel better about themselves.

All of the above can really help – but sometimes things like depression and anxiety for example. Well they can take over – and they can leave a person feeling very alone, lost and full of self doubt.

That’s where therapy comes in….

Starting the therapeutic process can of course be daunting. But with the right therapist – in a relaxed and calm environment , real healing can begin to take place.

Therapy can really help people to start to challenge the negative voices in their head. It can help them to unpick the critical and punitive scripts that go round and round. And it can work towards replacing them with kinder scripts. With nicer and more respectful words and thoughtful voices. It can teach people the art of being kind to themselves and it can help them to learn how to like and eventually love themselves.

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Of course it isn’t easy – and the journey isn’t quick. But with a lot of work, time and effort – it can happen. So if you want to start believing in yourself. If you want to gain more self confidence. If you want to learn how to like yourself, to respect yourself and be kind to yourself. Then why not give it a try? You will soon see the difference it can make.

The better we feel in ourselves the more we are capable of achieving anything we put our minds too. The more self confidence we have – the more we can shine and sparkle. Go find the best version of yourself. And if you need help doing that – we are right here.

 

A fear of happiness.

A fear of happiness???

It seems ironic…

It doesn’t quite make sense…

There is no rational or logic.

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Surely everyone wants to be happy ???

Right?

But what if you have never known happiness?

What if every time you started to feel happy something changed?

What if you have been let down again and again?

What if life has shown you so much darkness?

What if you have only ever functioned?

What if you have lost the people or things that made you happy?

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Wouldn’t it then become hard to believe in happiness?

It would be understandable that you might not think it exists or even allow yourself to imagine that its out there.

It would be understandable if you always thought that happiness is something that happens to other people.

Who could blame you if you had concluded that happiness is something that isn’t for you.

Maybe you have convinced yourself that you are not a person who will ever be truly happy.

Perhaps you have now become afraid …. Fearful of letting happiness in. In case it goes again. In case it is taken. In case it is destroyed. And so you remain ‘safe’. Protecting yourself and keeping yourself in this bubble. This place where you think you are better off but where you are a prisoner. Trapped in your own negative and unhealthy thoughts. Telling yourself its ok and you don’t need anything else.

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Your fears are holding you back. Your fears are keeping you trapped. Its not safety your feeling, its suffocation. Sure predictability gives a sense of security. And yes if we take a leap outside of our comfort zone then we open ourselves up – we become vulnerable. There is chance we may feel pain. There is a chance we may hurt. But what about the flip side – there is a chance we may actually be happy.

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If you can – allow yourself to be more open to change. Try and take small steps. If we don’t make small changes then nothing will ever change. If we don’t try and adapt then we remain stuck and we remain the same.

 

Perhaps you can try something new today – just something small. Give yourself a chance. You deserve It – take a small step in a positive direction. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.

Why don’t you try and look at things a little bit differently?? Maybe you do deserve to be happy? Perhaps you do deserve a chance? You never know – your happiness could be right around the corner? If you only allow yourself to open up and let it in.

Just because things have been one way it doesn’t mean they will remain that way. Just because something happened before it doesn’t mean it will happen again. Its hard to have faith. It’s hard to trust. Especially when you have been hurt and let down before. But if you never try then you will never know.

Pic Blog Everyone’s definition of happiness is different – it doesn’t ever look the same. You need to focus on what truly makes you happy and how that happiness looks for you. Search deep inside. Make some positive active choices. If you can – take that leap of faith. And remember YOU deserve to be happy.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.

This quote couldn’t be truer. The more time people spend focusing on what others have, the less time they have to appreciate what it is that they have. There is no doubt that comparing leaves people feeling worse, yet why does it happen so often?

We grow up in a competitive world. From a young age we are compared to our peers. Whether it is our social, physical or emotional development – it is all looked at next to our peers. And unfortunately this theme stays with us through to adulthood.

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People often compare themselves to others in a variety of ways – perhaps in terms of looks, success, wealth, status or even in terms of relationships. Social media heightens such comparison. Pictures and posts of how well people are doing in variety of areas only add to others feeling inadequate in some way or not good enough.

Groups that people belong to – whether that be long term friendship, parent groups, colleagues, fitness classes etc. Where ever you go there is a sense of wanting to fit in, wanting to belong and needing to feel accepted.

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If someone is feeling low, or lacking in self-esteem, then the pull towards comparing can be heightened. They are likely to see only the positives in another person’s life, and to create an image that isn’t reality. An image that ends up making them feel so much worse about themselves and their life.

The reality is that people mainly share the positives about their life. Post the things that make them feel better about themselves and display the side of them that they think people want to see. This leads to others tending to do the same thing.

And so it goes on.

The pressure is there – to be good enough. To look good enough. To achieve, to have what others have and to conform to the expectations around us. People end up getting drawn into complying with social norms and losing sight of what it is that makes them truly happy.

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Strip it away for a moment – take a step back.

Does it matter what someone else says? What car they drive? Or what house they live in? Does it matter how someone else looks? Or how they live their life? Is it really an issue if they exercise more or less then you? If they go out more or less then you? Does it truly matter what job they have? Is it important what relationship status someone else has? Or how many children they have or want? Is their opinion on your life really important?

If you are truly honest with yourself – it doesn’t. It really doesn’t matter. Every one of us is totally unique and different. We all approach things in a different way and we are living our lives the way that we would like too. Or at least aiming to do so.

Remember the more you look around you, the less you look in front of you. Just for today, step back and look at what you do have. What makes you happy? What makes you feel good? Who is in your life and what is in your life? I am sure there is a lot of positive, and where there isn’t, there is time for things to change or improve. Life doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s a work a progress. But I promise you one thing. The more you start focusing on you, and the less you focus on others – the better you will feel.

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A negative relationship with alcohol

Do you find yourself thinking about alcohol a lot?

Do you crave having a drink?

Do you see alcohol as a reward when something has gone well?

Do you turn to alcohol when you are stressed?

Do you use alcohol to suppress feelings?

Do you drink when you are upset?

Do you get very down or angry when you drink alcohol?

Do you find that you black out or cant remember things?

Do you spend a lot of your time hungover?

Do you find that your work is suffering due to your alcohol use?

Do you feel lethargic and tired a lot of the time?

Do you find that your day to day life is suffering?

Do you find that you forget things regularly?

Do you feel like things are slipping out of control?

Do you feel as though alcohol is taking over?

If your answer is yes to some or most of these questions, then you have a negative relationship with alcohol.

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Sometimes alcohol can be used socially. Sometimes it can be used when having a good time, or on special occasions. There are times it is associated with fun and laughter.

However, sadly, a  lot of the time, peoples relationship with alcohol can take a very negative turn. And before they know it, it becomes a crux that they lean on. Something they use to get through the day, to manage the week, and to cope with the every day stress of life.

Alcohol can become very addictive – and like any addiction, that cycle is very hard to break. Often when people feel low, stressed, overwhelmed etc – they use alcohol to self-medicate. They numb the things that they are feeling – they block them out. And before they know it they are dependent on it to survive. And the thought of a night off – well it becomes unmanageable.

At first there is a lot of denial – no one ever wants to admit that something is becoming a problem for them. It is hard to be honest with yourself – or with anyone else. It is easier to try and pretend you have it all under control.

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Perhaps you are having a few glasses alone – before you go out or meet up with other people. Perhaps half a bottle has turned into a bottle every night. And before you know it – your opening a second one. Maybe you are drinking at a much faster pace then you ever did before. And your need to keep going is getting stronger. You may be finding it hard to ever stop – ‘one more drink’ or lets have ‘one last round’.  You have become the person that never wants the night to end – you even find your taking a glass to bed with you. Waking up in the morning and wondering what happened last night.

Sometimes alcohol can lead to black outs and forgetting part of the night. People can try to gloss over this – with funny stories of what you did.  You become well equipped at laughing at yourself. And at justifying yourself. There are reasons – you haven’t slept well, you haven’t been out in a while, you didn’t eat enough. The list goes on. But if you were truly honest with yourself and with them. You had already drunk a large amount before they even saw you.

Being that intoxicated also leaves your vulnerable and in dangerous situations. You may be fortunate that you have good friends who will make sure you get home ok – or a partner that ensures you are safely in bed. If someone is looking out for you that helps – but what about looking out for yourself? Taking care of yourself ? And what happens if you lose the people you are with? If you someone spikes your drink or takes you somewhere? You are so vulnerable when you are that drunk. Its not funny anymore – its dangerous.

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There is such dangerous side to this relationship with alcohol – not only can it lead to emotional outbursts – anger, upset, frustration etc. It can be very destructive for relationships. It can also pull you down into a dark place – depression creeps in. You cant sleep. Your exhausted all the time and may fall asleep in front of the tv. But when you go to bed – you are awake all night. Its hard to switch off. The alcohol might knock you out for a bit but before you know it your awake and your feeling horrendous.

On top of that it can have a huge impact on your health – your liver first and foremost. But how about your memory too, your cognition, your skin, your weight, your energy levels. You name it – your physical health suffers as much as your mental wellbeing. And before you know it your looking in a mirror seeing a pale version of yourself. A tired version of yourself. A bloated version of yourself. A depressed version of yourself. You feel low, you feel down and you realise you have been neglecting yourself for quite some time.

I often say to my clients – you have to hit rock bottom before you can climb back up again.  And this really is true. One day you make wake up and be so upset and realise what have I been doing to myself? One day you may think what has happened to me? One day you may go so far and then realise how out of control things have got. And on that day you make a decision – you make a decision to sober up. To take real actual care of yourself and to change things. That’s the hardest decision in the world – putting alcohol down. It means facing up to everything around you – it means dealing with all that stresses you out and addressing it. It means facing up to the things that are hard and it wont be easy. But once you do it – it will be life changing.

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Working towards a healthier lifestyle – physically and mentally. Emotionally getting on a better path – that’s not easy. Not easy at all. But remaining the same is destroying you – you become a shadow of who you once were. The following is a useful list of how to try and change things.

  • Talk to the people closest to you about your feelings
  • Ask them to help you as you work towards changes
  • Find some useful and positive distraction techniques
  • Make time for exercise – in moderation
  • Work on a way of de stressing – breathing techniques, mindfulness practice, yoga etc
  • Improve your self-care – make time for a walk, a bath, a book
  • Keep a journal
  • Get to bed at a decent time each night
  • Try to wind down before going to bed
  • Start seeing a therapist
  • Write a list of all the positives without overusing alcohol
  • Set yourself realistic targets – certain nights off, certain amounts etc
  • Put away the money you were spending on alcohol each day – for something positive
  • Invest in things for you instead of alcohol
  • Find other activities to do that don’t involve alcohol
  • Do things with your friends / partner / family that don’t involve alcohol
  • Realise you are worth so much more
  • Learn to love and respect yourself
  • Work on the relationship you have with yourself
  • Slow down and focus on what’s in front of you