Spring cleaning

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The past couple of weeks – since the weather picked up and it seems spring is finally arriving – I have started clearing out some of my papers, clothes and clutter.

It made me feel good, removing things that I haven’t used, looked at or worn in a long time, and make room for, well, just to have room really! I haven’t replaced anything with anything else, which feels good.

I can’t see myself going minimalist at any point soon but I am minimising many of my things. It makes sense, both space wise and mental health wise.

Other things I’ve reviewed recently:

  • business plan for the next few months – simplified so I am not trying to be everything to everyone and do everything at once… that will never work and I will burn out or give up and I don’t want to do either!
  • Weekly schedule and the amount and length of tasks I assign myself for my life and businesses.
  • Getting ready for new GDPR legislation led to the ridding of paperwork from a few years ago, and things that I don’t really need anymore. Going electronic now with most of my business contracts and communications, so everything is encrypted and password protected and that feels much better.

Anyway, enough about me…


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Spring cleaning relates mainly to cleaning the house, dusting, getting rid of things we don’t use.

But…how can this impact our mental state?

Well, firstly, the fact that we have clutter lying around might be a sign that our mental health is not at its best.

Secondly, the clutter might be causing our mental health to suffer.

Either way, something needs to be done so our physical space matches our mental health in a positive way.


3Clutter might affect

  • Energy levels
  • Concentration levels
  • Motivation levels
  • And lead us to feel overwhelmed or unable to cope with everyday life and other demands
  • It might reminds us of the past, which might lead to depression, or
  • It might make us anxious about the future
  • Which means we are not living in the present.

 

 

 


5Clearing out will have these effects:

  • You will limit the fire hazards, dust and mould accumulating
  • You will be more likely to live in the present rather than in the past or the future.
  • You will feel proud of your surroundings
  • You will know where everything you need is, and have got rid of those things that you really didn’t need.
  • You will create space to, well, create more things in your life, in the here and now.

 

 


When I talk about getting depressed or anxious due to clutter, I am not diminishing anyone’s symptoms of depression or anxiety.

All I’m saying is have a look around, check what stuff is cluttering your physical space that might be having an impact on your mental health.

Some things we keep out of nostalgia, but that nostalgia might not be good for our mental health. It might keep us in the past and not able to see the good in the present and expecting positives in the future.

 See what you need to keep in your life and what you don’t.

4Get rid of stuff and then see how this feels within yourself.

Are you feeling better? Is there a “spring” in your step that wasn’t there before?

Is your energy and motivation coming back?


What has changed for you since decluttering?

Let me know, leave a message in the comments section at the bottom of the page, or the form below.


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Creating and Living a more compassionate life (part2)

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Welcome to this week’s In Therapy post.

Last week we spoke about what compassion is and what it might do for us to develop more self compassion as well as compassion for others.

This week I want to leave you with some helpful tips for developing that compassionate life.


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How can we start practicing compassion for self and others in our daily lives?

Here are some tips on how you can start and get into the habit of living a compassionate life:

  • Develop self-awareness and reflect on your day as it is happening.
    • A therapist might be able to help with this, or find a good self-help book on the topic and make it your own.
    • At the start of the day you can be thankful for what you’ve got, for waking up and having the job, family, friends, food, home that you have.
    • Throughout the day you can think about how something you did for someone might have changed the outlook of their day.
    • You could also think of something someone did for you that made you happier.
    • At the end of the day you could reflect on what went well and what could have been different in regards to self-compassion, compassion for others, or how others are compassionate towards you.

 

  • Change your thinking
    • You don’t have to be perfect
    • Others don’t have to be perfect
    • We are human, mistakes will happen.
      • Be understanding and kind when you and others make mistakes
      • Catch yourself being judgemental and critical and try your best to be more forgiving and kind.
        • Trying is key here. If you are upset with someone, don’t deny those feelings, but find ways to channel that emotion and work through it as well.
        • For more on working through different issues, read my posts on change and others on working through difficult emotions like anger

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  • Consider the person’s story.
        • Maybe they are going through something really difficult and that’s why they said or did that.
        • People don’t exist in a vacuum and we might only know a little bit of their story. Giving the benefit of the doubt – without denying our own emotions about it – is compassionate living.

 

  • Change those negative thoughts you have about yourself
    • Replace them with kindness, forgiveness, understanding.
    • Replace them with more positive ones that you know are true!

 

  • Remember: you are no alone in your suffering.

 

  • Letting others know they are not alone might also help them.

 

  • Us humans have more in common than we have differences.
    • We all suffer with sadness, anger, loss, and others throughout our lives.
    • We might deal with the in slightly different ways but the feelings are the same.

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  • Give to charities or work for one
    • We talked above about alleviating suffering.
    • Giving to charities that help others we can relate to or want to help is a good way of being and showing compassion to others.
    • I give to the A21 campaign which deals with human trafficking and rescues women from very dark situations. I am not working directly with these women (I would love to though!) but I am making a difference with what I send every month.

 

  • It doesn’t all have to be about charities – giving can also be about offering someone a helping hand, smiling at someone, buying lunch for a colleague, or just sitting next to someone who seems in need of company.

 

  • Find a therapist to work through this and develop self-compassion and compassion for others.

 

  • Re-evaluate your values
    • We talked about at the start about how our upbringing can affect how compassionate we can be. Is it time to think about these again?
    • Are the ones you grew up with not helpful to a happy and compassionate life?
    • Replace them with ones that match who you really are and how you want to treat yourself and others.

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  • Tell your inner critic to “shush”
    • If we understand our inner critic better, then we can talk to him/her and make them quieter.
    • We can use the inner critic to our advantage once we’ve got a handle on him/her. It can become our radar for when we need to re-evaluate our thoughts about ourselves and others.

 

  • Self-awareness and understanding of what we have internalised from our parents, teachers, or come up with ourselves growing up can help find our self-compassion.

 

  • Develop a growth mindset.

 

  • Face your challenges and grow from them.

 

  • Find meaning in what’s happening at any moment in time, especially the hard times.

 

  • Find the right levels of generosity – meet your needs first and then see how much of others’ needs you want to meet and how.
    • Keep yourself safe.
    • Set clear and healty boundaries.
    • Give back but also give back to yourself.
    • Have fun doing it.

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Some last thoughts…

  • Practice forgiveness.
  • Express gratitude.
  • Practice empathy.
  • Practice active listening.
  • Agree to disagree.
  • Practice acceptance.
  • Do kind things to self and others.
  • See the whole person not just the present behaviour.
    • People are not their behaviours.
  • Rely on your support system for compassion, understanding and kindness.

    Thoughts? Comments?

    Leave a message below!


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Creating and Living a more Compassionate Life (part 1)

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Welcome to this week’s In Therapy post.

Thanks to those that messaged me about what they might want to see me write about, and here it is.

Do keep the feedback coming as it helps me know what material will be useful to you, my readers.


Let’s get right to it…


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Compassion is a word we hear often, but do we know its real meaning and benefits for our lives?

What is it exactly?

Compassion means to suffer together. It is similar and close to empathy, but it’s not empathy. It’s not altruism either.

Compassion leads us to have empathy and be altruistic.

Compassion is not pity or self-pity (“woe is me”, “I’m the only one struggling with this”, “aww poor you”); it certainly isn’t self-indulgence (“I’m feeling sorry for myself so will curl up in a ball and watch tv all day”).

Compassion is about understanding, giving yourself -and others – a break from judgement and high expectations, or any expectations really.

Forgiveness is a big part of compassion.

Practicing it will lead to increased happiness in your life and relationships.


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Compassion has physical and mental benefits – the release of certain hormones and neurotransmitters increases that “good” feeling in our bodies. (here is an article talking a bit more about this)

Being compassionate will allow us to be kinder to ourselves and others, and therefore change our perspective and thoughts about ourselves to more positive and understanding ones, hence increasing or keeping mental health in a good place.

We are human, we are not perfect and shouldn’t be expected to be – either by ourselves or by others.

Honour, accept and work with this lack of perfection.

Being human comes with a list of disappointments and a list of ‘unpredictables’.


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Nature versus nurture comes into play with compassion, as it does with other learned or innate behaviours.

What were we born with?

Were some of us wired to be more compassionate than others?

How was this affected by our upbringing?

The way we were brought up might allow us to more easily access our self-compassion, or it might make it really difficult for us to even feel a smidge of self-compassion and be critical instead.

Have a think – which side of that coin are you in?

are you more halfway down that spectrum? Has anything changed since you left your family home?

Who has influenced you to be more compassionate to self and others?


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If you find it difficult to turn off the critical voice in your mind, try to think about yourself as a third person and see how you would treat them under similar circumstances…

Would you be more understanding and kind and caring about their predicament or would you judge them critically like you do yourself?

Would your opinion of who they are as a whole person change or stay the same in spite of the current situation?

Would you be able to show forgiveness to them for what’s happened?


There are a lot of topics rolled into one in this post!

Here’s another one…


6What do you do when you are struggling with strong emotions and difficult situations?

Do you tell yourself to get on with it or do you find ways to work through it at your pace instead of rushing through it because we are told or pressured to not dwell on things for too long…

Being kind and understanding of where we are at this particular moment in our lives will allow us to re-think the judgement and the criticism and the punishing thoughts that might come more often than not…more often than thinking of forgiving ourselves or allowing ourselves to miss the mark and be less than perfect.

When we are compassionate with ourselves and others, we are more aware of the suffering that is happening.

We are more likely to embrace what is going on and work at it and work through it in a way that will allow growth and positive change in your life and the life of those you end up helping.

We can empathise with our and others’ suffering and want to do something about it, to relieve it in one way or another, instead of making it worse by judging or being unforgiving or unkind.


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Compassion leads to healthier and a more balanced life and relationships.

Having self-compassion will mean our self-worth comes from within ourselves and not needing others to validate our worth.

Our boundaries – or lack of them – and the way we treat ourselves will show others how they can treat us.

Also, the way we treat ourselves will be reflected in the way we treat others – whether we are critical or kind.

I’d choose the latter.


I hope you have enjoyed reading the first part of this Mini-Series on Compassion.

Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you!


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In Therapy: What can therapy do for you?

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Welcome to this week’s In therapy post.

In past posts, I’ve talked about how therapy can help with specific issues and situations, as well as how to deal with certain things that happen in life – embracing change and societal imperatives.

Today I want to talk about what therapy can do for you in more general terms.


While you are in the therapy room trying to figure out how to work through your feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, grief, and others, other things will be happening at the same time.

These things might include learning to set boundaries, getting to know yourself a bit better or in a different light, and feeling better about your life.

Let’s look at a few of these changes that might happen – organically – while you work on your main reasons for consulting a therapist at this point in your life.


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  1. Sharing your feelings and thoughts with someone impartial, non-judgemental and professional might help process whatever is going on in your life right now.

Your friends might mean well by offering advice and solutions that might work well for them, but that might not work quite the same for you.

A therapist will not tell you what or how to do things, rather they will help you come up with a solution that will work well for you, your personality, your relationships and your life in general.

A problem shared is a problem halved.

So the saying goes…but it’s true!

The relief I see in clients’ faces once they can disclose difficult feelings and thoughts they might have not been able to express to anyone else is amazing.

Knowing that someone else is there, understanding and listening without judgement is a great relief, and the start of working through the problem and healing.


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  1. Increased self-awareness and understanding yourself better

By talking through your current problems, and delving deeper into the issues of the past that might have contributed to your thoughts and feelings about your life now, you will be able to understand yourself better.

You will be able to learn why you react in certain ways and either change that or just be able to explain where your reaction is coming from.

You will know what makes you tick a bit better and learn how to keep yourself safe in situations that are out of your liking or comfort zone.

Knowing what stuff is or was yours in certain situations and what is others’ responsibility, will help you release those burdens you’ve carried that don’t even belong to you.


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3. Learn to set clear boundaries to keep yourself safe and have your needs met

This links well with the last two sentences about knowing what makes you tick and separating what’s your responsibility from what isn’t.

Voicing what your needs are and ensuring they are met – without walking over others of course – is something that I find an important result of therapy.

We are taught to look after others, and that looking after ourselves is selfish. But how can we look after others if we don’t look after ourselves first?

Boundaries will help you be happier and more comfortable in saying “no” when you don’t want to do something – fancy a night in? say no to going out with no guilt. And if people try to guilt you, then it’s their problem not yours, right?


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  1. Understand what is going on in your life, why you behave or think in certain ways – make sense of things

Sometimes we might think that we react a certain way “just because”, but there might be reasons why we get into relationships with certain people or why we say certain things or react in particular ways.

It might be because we learned this behaviour from our parents or other significant adult models in our lives. it might be because it was a useful reaction in the past that helped you get through a particular situation.

There are reasons to our behaviours, and therapy helps uncover what they might be. Some we might not get to the bottom of, but at least we will be aware that we do them.


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  1. Healing past hurts by making sense of them

Psychoanalytic theory says that the unprocessed feelings and situations of the past will remain as if they happened to us recently, unless we process them.

Having a look back at our childhood traumas or hurts with what we know now, will help us process those feelings we might not have understood because we were too young or told to not worry or to “man up”.

Healing past hurts will free up space and energy to focus on the here-and-now and to heal present hurts and move forward in life.


  1. Find and use your inner strengths and resources to cope with life better

We all have strengths and resources within us to help us cope and solve our problems.

We might just have them dormant due to either ourselves or others telling us that they are not good enough or that we shouldn’t use them.

Therapy – with me anyway – will include finding those inner resources and strengths and putting them into practice in the room and in real life.


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  1. Compassion for others and more understanding of them

Therapy will allow us not only to understand ourselves better, but it will also help us understand others and give them the benefit or the doubt.

Thinking that someone is nasty to us because they have struggled in life might help us be more compassionate towards them – which doesn’t mean they won’t upset or anger us because of their behaviour! We can also practice our boundaries and keep them at a distance if we feel it’s better for us.

  1. Improve relationships

Knowing ourselves better will in turn help us voice our opinions, needs and preferences with those around us, and allow us to communicate better in general.

Better communication leads to better interactions and conflict resolution. This will also most likely be practiced in therapy as things arise throughout the sessions.


what can therapy do for you.png


  1. Feel better

Last but not least: the main aim of therapy is to help people feel better in their own skin, in their relationships, in their jobs, in their world.


Have you got any more to add to this list?

What has been your experience of therapy? Which one of these has been impacted the most in your life?

Leave me a message below.


Until next week…


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In Therapy: Embracing change

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Change…

….that word that most of us cringe at or just simply dislike because it means making adjustments that we might not have been ready for.

It might also mean being uncomfortable for a while until we get used to the new environment and everything change brings with it.

It’s ok to feel afraid, uneasy or just angry that changes happen in life.

Some changes come suddenly – an accident, for example – whilst with others we might be able to see them coming and prepare for them – moving to a different job or country in a few months’ time


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The way we deal with change might give us some insight into our past – remote or more recent.

Our parents might have been change averse and taught us that change is bad and scary and to avoid it as much as we can, or they might have embraced change and taught us that it’s ok and even important to acknowledge that we are going through changes constantly in life.

Whichever side we are on, we will react in a similar way to the models we had in the past.

If we are unhappy with how change makes us feel and want to face it in a more positive way, or just a different way altogether, there are ways to achieve this.

It will mean more change is on the way though – change your mindset, change your thought process when things don’t go as they should or need adjusting, change the way you interact with certain people and in certain situations.


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Change brings change.

Some ways our lives can change include events such as:

  • Loss of health
  • Death of a loved one
  • Starting on your first job, Change of job, loss of job
  • Starting your own business
  • Marriage or Divorce
  • Having children or deciding not to have children
  • Moving to a new house or country
  • Leaving school
  • Going to University
  • The list goes on…

Now, as much as we would like to get rid of change or pretend that it isn’t happening, it will keep creeping up on us, or remain a burden until we deal with it.

Change might also lead us to make decisions that we would otherwise have ignored or not made. Some other times change is inevitable and we must face it head on or it might do us more harm than good.


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I leave you with a few tips on how to work through change.

If you have any more suggestions, leave me a message and I will add them to the list.

  • Stop and give yourself time to take in what is changing.
  • Regroup!
    • Give yourself time to understand what is going on.
    • Give yourself time to work through all the feelings and thoughts that are coming up because of the change.
    • Make a plan about how you are going to face this change and move forward with life.
  • Break the situation down into smaller steps that are more manageable and will get you to embrace the change and have an easier time working through everything the change brings with it.
  • Honour your feelings, however difficult they are. Working through them will help you move forward.
  • Remind yourself that this is temporary. It will pass and you will learn and grow from it.
  • Trust your gut feelings about what to do about each situation that brings change to your life.
  • Take responsibility for your part in the change/problem/opportunity.
  • Reassess your priorities, how you do things and how you want to live life.

I believe that after every life changing situation we go through, we can either grow from or get stuck in it. Both will mean we change as individuals. It is up to us to decide whether it’s positive change or if we remain stuck.


Choice and change go hand in hand.

Sometimes one comes before the other, the change we choose is nicer for us – choosing what life changes we make gives us control and encourages us to work towards our goals.

Other times change becomes something we can’t control but that at the same time can bring good things to us, maybe not immediately but eventually. It all depends on how we work through each situation.


Have you got any life situations that you might be struggling with that you want to talk through in a therapeutic environment – online or face to face?

Leave me a message and we can schedule a session.


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In Therapy: Catch up on past posts

NEW BLOG POST (1)


Dear readers,

In this week’s post, I would like to leave a quick link guide to the posts I’ve written so far, both for my In Therapy series and mini-series, and for my Self-Care series.

I hope you enjoy reading or re-reading these. Comments are welcome, I would love to hear from you!


blog series on self care pinSelf care is important, especially in these current times of being busy all the time, switched on to the world on tech all the time, leading us to forget ourselves sometimes.  (If I’m honest, that’s what I’ve been doing since last week – looking after myself due to some health issues).

My series on self-care focuses on the following topics, of course there are lots more and soon I will be completing an ebook with even more self-care ideas, so stay tuned!

***If you want to read the version in Spanish, click here. *** Si quieres leer la serie en Español, haz click aqui. ***



pinterest pins for self care blogsMy In Therapy series came about as an opportunity to support the general public about different mental health conditions, issues and situations, and give some insight and helpful tips into how to work through each of them, including attending therapy with someone like me.

Some topics have been easier to write about than others, as some touch my life personally.  But I’ve enjoyed the journey so far and hope to keep informing you in the following months and years.

So, without further ado, here is the list of my individual and mini-series posts on therapy issues.

***If you want to read the version in Spanish, click here. *** Si quieres leer la serie en Español, haz click aqui. ***


 


What haven’t I written about yet that you’d like to read about?

Leave a message below to let me know!


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In Therapy: What to do with should do-s, have to-s and must do-s.

In Therapy- Working Through...


Welcome to this week’s In Therapy post. Where I discuss a variety of topics that can be worked through in therapy, and also give tips and insight into how you can do something whether you are in therapy or not.

In this post, I want to talk about a peeve of mine – society dictated to-do’s.


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Have you ever wondered why we have certain unspoken rules that society asks us to follow? Examples of these are

  • This is what society expects
    • You are born, go to school, go to university (a gap year is out of the question, why waste time?), get a job and stay in it forever even if you are miserable, get married, buy a house, have children, retire, look after the grandchildren and then die (a hopefully peaceful death).
  • You should be perfect
  • You must achieve high marks in all your exams and courses
  • You should look after others and not be selfish
  • You have to have children

These are called “categorical imperatives”, which are unrealistic and very generalised ideas of how someone should live their lives.


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Well, what about those of us that are naturally inclined to not fit into these societal expectations? What about those of us that want something different than the list I’ve described above?

Does it make her a bad woman because she’s chosen not to have children?

Does it make them less successful because they don’t own their own home?

Does he deserve to struggle in a job he doesn’t enjoy, just because it is the right thing to do to keep a job no matter what?

I am an advocate for rebelling and finding our own paths in life. I have done that with mine, and even though there’s been ups and downs – who doesn’t have ups and down in their lives? – I’ve enjoyed the journey more than I would have settling for a “traditional” job that pays more.

“You could be earning more doing this and that job” was something someone told me once. My answer? “I bet I would be earning more, but I would lose the will to live working in an office, in a job that relates vaguely to what I studied and what I am passionate about.”

“Why don’t you own your own home yet” is something I also hear – well it’s expensive to start with and it’s not really a priority. I like where we live, and when the time comes, we will look into it, but it’s not something I’m going to stress over. I shouldn’t have a home, I shouldn’t have to look into buying a home if I don’t want to!

This brings me to the next point.


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We could rephrase some of those societal imperatives into questions that free us all to make the choice that works best for us, rather than what somebody somewhere in the ether decided was the be-all-and-end all of how-to-live-your-life.

Let’s go with the list above:

Being born – we don’t have much choice, so let’s make the best of life, eh!

Going to school – it’s something we can’t get out of and we should really listen to our parents in this one! It will be worth it in the end, and this is where we make our first friends and have our first social experiences, which could be the only thing some of us get out of school, and that is fine by me!

Going to University – In some countries, going to Uni is a necessity more than a luxury. But even in those cases, there are alternatives, like apprenticeships or learning a trade. Some people might frown at this but this is an important thing to remember:

They are not living your life, so it doesn’t matter if they frown or smile at your decisions!

Don’t even think of a gap year – why the heck not? There’s a lot someone can learn when going away to volunteer or just to travel around the world. It might be the best time to get to know yourself more and to figure out what you want out of life.

Get a job and stay in it forever – why? Why? Why? Whyyyyy!? If I’m not happy, then I won’t do it and plan my exit. Get a new job that suits your life better and give your notice. There’s nothing wrong with following your gut feeling and finding what’s right for you.

And besides, who says you need a job for life? What if you go into entrepreneurship or self-employment like I have? Very non-conventional but oh-so rewarding!


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So when you get that gut-feeling of “oh I don’t like this” or “this isn’t for me” or “I feel pressured to do something I don’t want”, or if your inner critic kicks off and starts judging you and finding fault with everything you do that defies the general rules of society, stop and think why you are doing something and what you really want in relation to it.

Don’t allow guilt or shame to keep you in something that wasn’t meant for you in the first place! Staying in it might lead to mental health and physical health problems, and that’s not good for you or anyone around you!

If you feel you should, must or have to do something. Stop. Let go of the urge or pressure to be or do certain things. Sit with the uncertainty of where to go next, honour where you are in your life right now, and befriend the uncertainty. All of it is temporary and you will find your truth and what you really want through letting go and just being.

What is important to you is what matters, and if you are not affecting yourself or others negatively or in any way, then go with your gut feeling when it comes to the path you want to take in life.


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Be brave. Defy the norm and be yourself at all costs!


Contact me with any comments, questions, or to book

a Counselling or Supervision session.


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In Therapy: Working through anger (part 2)

In Therapy- Working Through...


Welcome to this week’s instalment of In Therapy.

This is part two of the mini-series dedicated to anger, one of the most difficult emotions for some of us to understand, feel and work through.

Last week we looked at what anger is, and how sometimes it is the only response to a person or situation. We also talked about anger as a communication, and how it is OK to express it and work through it.

This week I want to talk about how anger can be a motor for positive outcomes in your life, and how to work through anger.


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Anger can be a motor for many positive things in life. We sometimes have to dig a bit deeper, or spend a bit of time in the angry phase in order to get to the positive outcomes of processing our anger.

Anger gives us energy – that adrenaline boost we get and all the bodily responses we have when we get angry, all are energy emerging from our minds and bodies that help us react to a particular person or situation. In cavemen times, these responses were vital for survival. Nowadays, it’s less important that we react like the caveman would to an imminent threat (a native from a different tribe or a wild animal), but we still carry those innate reactions within us.


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One of the things that anger can do for us is help us be more creative. Here are a few things that working through our anger can help us achieve:

  • Has your manager told you to work harder or not paid enough attention to your work? Use the anger you might feel at this lack of recognition to generate more ideas for your manager
  • Think of creative solutions – problem solve in your job or in your every day life by thinking outside the box (anger can lead us to see the bigger picture as we will be less likely to think in our usual calm manner)
  • Find the motivation to do something new, something different, or something you’ve left on the side for a while.
    • That art project
    • That book you’ve wanted to write
    • That holiday you’ve wanted to take but haven’t yet
    • Apply for a new course or job
    • Make a lifestyle change
  • Find new ways of relating with people or situations that you know will make you angry
    • Use humour
    • Set clear boundaries
    • Remove yourself from some of those things that anger you and are no good for you
    • Keep a distance or get closer

Have you got any more ways in which anger can be helpful? Leave a message below!


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Working through anger can be either easy or difficult, depending on the size of the problem or issue that made us angry in the first place. However, there are some things that might apply to most situations:

  • Acceptance is a first step in many situations, or one of the first steps anyway, to freeing yourself from the burden.
  • Talk to your anger, befriend it. I know, this sounds odd, right? Weren’t we trying to GET RID of it? Well, yes, but we can’t get rid of it unless we understand and give it the airtime it needs. You don’t decide if you want to be friends with someone by avoiding them and not even giving them a chance to present themselves as a potential friend, right?
  • Can you think about what is going on for you right now, at this point in your life when you are feeling angry? Might there be another emotion that is being masked by anger? (Anger is very clever and is good at hiding away other emotions that might be the real causes of your distress).
    • Have you been hurt by someone?
    • Are you feeling afraid about something or someone?
    • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Placing the responsibility where it belongs is important, as it frees up space for you to forgive yourself for your involvement, to forgive others for their involvement and decide whether to continue the relationship or end it, as well as it allows you to work through the anger by pointing it at the right parties.
  • Be angry but also find the space to be compassionate and understanding towards those who have angered you, and even to yourself if you’ve angered yourself! (read my blog post on how I did this after making a mistake).
  • Explore present anger in the present but also in relation to the past – sometimes people or situations might remind us of something we were angry about in the past, and bring up the same or very similar reactions to these. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong for you to feel them, in fact it’s a great opportunity to re-visit them (maybe in the company of a counsellor) and work through any unresolved and unprocessed anger and other emotions from both the past and the present situation.
  • things you can do to work through it
    • writing in a journal
    • doing exercise
    • practice relaxation techniques (Breathing, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, quiet time)
    • talk to a counsellor, we are here to listen and help you work through those difficult feelings and thoughts.

I hope this mini-series has helped you get some more ideas on how to work through anger, how to understand this emotion and also how to channel its effects into positive outcomes for your life.

For more on anger, I recomment Nathan Gould’s blog, which has even more articles on the topic.


Do contact me if you want to schedule a session, or if you want to discuss what you’ve read in this post.


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In therapy: Working Through Anger

In Therapy- Working Through...


Welcome to this week’s instalment of In Therapy.

I have written a mini-series on working through anger, as I find this is an emotion that we as humans find difficult to understand, express and work through.

1Anger needs attention, and not just as the bad or naughty step-sister of the emotional world. There is a lot of positive to be said about anger, and in these two posts I’d like to show you what these things are.

 


What is anger?

The medical dictionary online defines anger as a feeling of tension and hostility, usually caused by anxiety aroused by a perceived threat to one’s self, posessions, rights, or values.

Anger, therefore is a response to a perceived threat. If someone insults us, hits us, breaks our things or something worse, we will probably not be the happiest and react accordingly. This would be understandable and acceptable, depending on how you decide to respond – with aggression or trying to talk to someone after a cooling off period, or taking the matter to the authorities.


2Anger is the emotion that people find the most difficult to manage, express and work through. In my practice, I like (for lack of a better word) to see people get angry when they have been wronged instead of blaming themselves or letting it eat at them from the inside.

It frees up that space and energy that has been taken over by the pent-up and unprocessed anger. It allows them to see things in a different light, and to see themselves and others with more compassion, understanding, and place responsibility where it belongs – whether some of it is theirs’ or totally someone else’s.


Sometimes anger is the only response!


We could be angry because we feel oppressed by an abusive family member or a work situation, or a change in circumstances (there are lots of examples of this – Rent goes up, Brexit, The Rohingha refugee crisis, the list goes on). We could be angry because we are trying to make a point or to ask for our needs to be met and our boundaries respected, and people are just not listening! Or we could be angry because someone cut in front of us in the queue, or there’s too much traffic and you are going to be late!

3Whatever the reason for our anger, it is reassuring to know that we can apply the same rule we apply with other emotions: it is valid and we should honour the presence of anger when it bubbles up.

Anger is telling us something. Yes, it is not a nice feeling but it is not there at random or for no real reason.

In my care job I have learned that behaviour is a communication – especially with non-verbal people and children, but it can be applied to everyone. Sometimes a child will lash out and hit, kick, scream, break things, because they are angry or upset about something and this is the only way they know how to communicate.

Anger works in a similar way to that: it is telling us something that we have no other way of processing. This is the way the discomfort with someone or something is coming out and paying attention to it is important if we want to move on with our day and lives.


4Anger can be scary, especially because of negative models – for example a father that got angry and hit furniture or family members shows a child that anger is a bad thing that is scary and shouldn’t be expressed because it hurts others.

Anger can also scare people because they might feel like they are going to lose control and do something they might regret. Even when there is no proof that this is the case – they’ve never been angry and lost control. In fact quite the opposite or it has just not been as bad as they imagine.

 

 


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It’s ok to express anger. And here are some reasons why:

  • It helps your physical health, in that it prevents a range of medical conditions that could be triggered by anger (heart attacks, high blood pressure, etc.)

  • Expressing anger in a positive way (no aggression or vengeance), talking things through with those who we feel wronged by, will keep our relationships safe and increase the honesty and openness with the person or persons involved.

  • Expressing and figuring out what anger is telling us will help us process those things that aren’t quite right in our lives and relationships.

  • We will not accumulate anger and therefore won’t blow up down the line. Working things out in the here and now allows us to keep revenge and rage at bay.

  • Expressing our anger might allow us to figure out what other emotions anger is actually masking – for example children might seem irritable and angry but they might actually be feeling sad or upset.


In next week’s installment of this mini-series on anger, I want to talk about what channelling our anger can do for us, as well as how to work through our anger when it does show up.


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In Therapy: Working through our feelings when we make a mistake

In Therapy- Working Through...


Welcome to this week’s In Therapy post!

I usually have a clear idea of what I’m going to write about well before I sit down and write (usually a week before I post). This week I wasn’t sure. Until Wednesday morning when I was triggered in a big way by something I did. In summary, I made a mistake, and this led to an array of feelings that I had to work through.


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This is what happened…


Back in December I booked a test and used an ID document that I thought was a valid one for it. I got to the test centre and was told that I would have to re-book as that document wasn’t valid for this test.


I made a mistake, and this led to an array of feelings that I had to work through.


My first feeling when the lady was telling me this was of disappointment in myself as well as embarrassment at such an oversight. As I left, without completing my test and hoping my phone would still have some charge to talk to my husband or facebook peeps for moral support, other feelings started arising inside of me.

So my phone decided to shut down, I was all on my own for at least an hour or so. Alone with my thoughts and feelings….

On the train journey back, I felt depressed and ashamed. It cost me a bit of money and time, so that brought up anger too. I was mentally punishing myself and critiquing myself so strongly, that I caught myself after 20min of sulking and self-deprecating self-talk.


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When I say I caught myself, I mean I realise what I was telling myself with my thoughts and my bodily reactions of anger and general eek-iness. So I told myself what I would tell anyone else, especially my counselling clients, and what I’ve been writing about here: work through it! let those feelings come up and do what they need to do, however awkward and awful they feel.

So, I did. I continued to sulk. Continued to be angry, depressed, ashamed, embarrassed and self-criticising. Another 20 minutes passed and suddenly reason started to kick in. My more rational mind started talking to my emotional – valid – reactions.


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I started telling myself that yes, you made a mistake, but think about it. What’s the worst thing that has come out of it? (apart from feeling all those things I’ve described, of course). So, I thought, ok the worst thing that has actually happened is that I lost the money for the train fare and the test, and will have to pay them again when I re-book and go back to take the test. It delays my application for which I need this test done and dusted, but I’m in no real rush so not a massive problem. Also, it is a pain to have to rebook it and make the journey again, but then I will have done it right and learned from my mistake, and can move on with my life!

What else has happened that’s worth you punishing yourself like this?

Erm, I thought…nothing much actually! Nobody else knows what happened, nobody else needs to know, and if they know surely they will be supportive and understanding – possibly more supportive and understanding than you have been to yourself the last 40 minutes! The lady that told me I’d made the mistake sees so many people every hour that I am a vague memory – if that! – and I don’t think she will remember me next time I come back, and if she does, well I can joke about it with her at the very least!


Then I started thinking what good things I got out of my outing. I was quite happy travelling to the city where my test was booked. It was a little bit of time to myself, self-care of sorts – me with my thoughts and just wandering around a place I hardly go to. Enjoying my surroundings and my own company. Oh! I also found a nice little place – it had a lovely name, and it was a mix of restaurant/pub/cocktail bar which I loved! Had a cuppa there before my test, and I am pretty sure I am going to go back once I pass this test in a couple of weeks for a well-deserved cocktail!


To sum up, my whole day was a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences, some which were enjoyable, some that weren’t but that led me to make the best out of a bad situation.


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I have a reason to be telling you this story, and now I want to tell you what I learned today that I can pass on to you:

  • Honour your feelings – all feelings are valid. Many of them might not be very nice to contend with or endure for long, but working through them will help clear the emotional air and allow you to move forward and see the positives in what might seem like a mostly negative situation at the start of the ordeal.
  • Work through your feelings and get to the other side – getting stuck with feelings that are left unprocessed might make us either mentally or physically ill (our mental energy will want to come out one way or another, and the brain is very clever in negotiating alternatives, like back pain, headaches and other mental or physical ailments)
  • There is at least one positive to every negative situation. Take the time to find it. – I didn’t get to thinking about the positives of my day until after I’d worked through my anger and shame and self-critique.
  • Some situations might take longer than a train journey to work through. It might take a few weeks, or even months, but with the right support – from family, friends or a mental health professional like myself – you will get to the other side and get back to feeling good about yourself and even about the situation itself!
  • Growth comes from unexpected places. – I wasn’t expecting to go through this emotional journey during my train journey home, but here we are, and it will possibly benefit you, my readers.

I hope my story and what I learned will help you when struggling with self-criticism and punishing yourself when you make a mistake, no matter how big or little. If there is anything you want to say about this, you can leave a comment below or you can message me via the contact form.


CollaborationsMy colleague, Josephine Hughes, has written a post on how to identify and soothe our inner critic, which complements what I’ve written above very well. I recommend you head over to her site and read it as well as watching her video on the same topic.

 


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