Blog

Relationship Check Up

dark_pink_roses-wide.jpg

A healthy relationship means that both members of the couple are…

1. Communicating with each other: Talking about problems without screaming and shouting; listening to each other, and respecting their viewpoint; being willing to adapt and to sometimes change their mind.

2. Showing respect for one another: Valuing the other person’s culture, beliefs, viewpoints, opinions and boundaries. Also, treating each other in a kind and caring way.

3. Demonstrating and conveying trust: Each person is trustworthy and trusts the other person – because they have been shown that they are worthy of that trust.

4. Honest with each other: Both are open and honest – but are private as well; and they don’t demand the other person tells them everything.

5. Equals: They make joint decisions and treat each other well. No person calls the shots or determines all the rules.

6. Able to enjoy their own personal space: As well as spending time together, they spend time on their own. They’re respect the fact they’re different, and they need their own life, too.

7. Decisions about sex are discussed, and are consensual: They discuss sex together, including birth control. There’s no one individual sets the rules and standards here.

Signs of an unhealthy relationship

An unhealthy relationship develops where one, or both, of the partners is…

1. Failing to communicate: Problems are ignored, or not talked about at all. One or both don’t really listen, and they rarely compromise.

2. Acting in ways that are disrespectful: One or both are inconsiderate toward the other person; and they don’t behave in ways that send the message that they care.

3. Refusing to trust the other person: One or both is suspicion of their partner’s loyalty. Hence, they make false accusations, or won’t believe the truth.

4. Acting in a way that is dishonest: One or both is deceptive, or they lie and hide the truth.

5. Acting in a controlling way: One person thinks that they should set the one who rules, controls the other person, and say how things should be.

6. Beginning to feel squashed and smothered / cutting themselves off from friends and family: One partner is possessive, or feels threatened and upset, when the other’s with their family or spends time with their friends.

7. Attempting to pressurise the other into sexual activity / refusing to talk openly about birth control: One partner wants the other to participate in sex, or to engage in different practices against that’s person’s will. Or, one of the partners stops using birth control, or expects the other person to “take care of all that.”

Signs of an abusive relationship

An abusive relationship develops when one of the parties…

1. Starts to communicate in ways that are abusive: When arguments occur, one of the partners screams and cusses, or they verbally threaten or attack the other person.

2. Shows disrespect through acting in abusive ways: This is where one of the partners abuse, harms or threatens the physical safety of the other individual.

3. Wrongly accuses their partner of flirting or cheating: One of the partners is convinced – with no real grounds – that their partner is cheating or having an affair. Thus, they lash out verbally, or hurt, the accused partner.

4. Refuses to accept responsibility for the abuse: When they fly into a rage or act in ways that are abusive, they miminise their actions and refuse to accept blame. They may even blame their partner for “causing the abuse.”

5. Starts to control the other partner: One partner has no say as the other sets the rules – and arguing against that simply leads to more abuse.

6. Does what they can to isolate their partner: One partner has control of who the other person sees, the way they spend their time – and, even, clothes they buy and wear. Thus, they start to lose their confidence and personality.

7. Forces sexual activity: The frequency, type and circumstances for sex are determined by one partner – and the other must comply. If they don’t acquiesce it leads to violence or abuse. Also, sometimes violence is included in the sex.

Steps for Letting Go of Painful Memories

water-sunrise-ocean-nature-rocks-hdr-photography-sea-clear-sky-wallpaper-1

Experiences can leave us with some painful memories. They tie us to the past and prevent us moving on. And the only way to freedom is to work on letting go – so these memories don’t haunt us or keep us trapped in pain. Below are some guidelines to help you work on this.

1. Before you can let go, you must face whatever happened and accept that it is part of your past experiences. Suppression doesn’t work as a long-term solution. It can only be a band aid that brings temporary relief. Talk to someone you trust, or write about it in your journal. You need to share what happened, in order to move on.

2. Identify the lessons you have learned from what has happened. There’s always a lesson – so look for what you’ve learned. It doesn’t make it better – but it does lessen its power.

3. Write the lesson down on a piece of paper and repeat it to yourself when you’re hit by old, painful memories. For example, if you’ve been scarred by abuse, then you might write something like: “My experience of abuse does not determine who I am. I’m a stronger person now, and that is not my destiny. I’m choosing my own future, and the person I will be.”

4. Repeat this mantra often so it takes root in your mind. Allow it to be stronger than the bad experience. Say it often, till you mean it, then you’ll start to feel you’re freer. Persevere and keep on fighting when those old memories return.

5. Seek to be a person who’s at peace with themselves. When peace is your focus, old thoughts and memories have much less power over how you think and feel. However, seeking after peace must be a conscious, constant choice.

6. When the past tries to intrude, focus firmly on the present. Ground yourself in what’s happening around you in the room, and try to breathe deeply – and deliberately relax. You are here in this moment; you’re not living in the past.

7. Forgive – for your own sake. Try to heal from what happened – then let resentments go. You don’t want them in your life for they’ll just tie you to the past. It’s not an ease process; it takes work and discipline. But it is worth the daily struggle – as one day you’ll be free.

Relationship Issues: Healthy versus Unhealthy Boundaries

sepia beach

The following comparisons highlight the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries.

1a) Healthy: Being your own person.

1b) Unhealthy: Feeling incomplete without the other person.

2a) Healthy: Accepting responsibility for your own happiness.

2b) Unhealthy: Relying on others (especially your partner) to make you happy.

3a) Healthy: Being able to balance separateness and togetherness.

3b) Unhealthy: Wanting either too much or too little togetherness.

4a) Healthy: Having meaningful friendships outside the partnership.

4b) Unhealthy: Being unable to build and maintain close friendships with others.

5a) Healthy: Being able to see and focus on your own, and your partner’s, good points.

5b) Unhealthy: Always focusing on your partner’s flaws and worst qualities.

6a) Healthy: Achieving intimacy without the use of substances.

6b) Unhealthy: Using substances to reduce your inhibitions and achieve a false sense of intimacy.

7a) Healthy: Accepting transitions and endings

7b) Unhealthy: Being unable to change, let go and move on.

Self Care and Emotional Wellness

nourish your spirit

If you want to boost your emotional health then build the following into your life:

1. Develop a good group of friends. If possible, try and have quite a wide group of friends. That then means if someone moves away, or you change your school, your hobbies and so on, you’ll still a healthy support system in place.

2. Learn to appreciate solitude. Isolation isn’t the same as solitude. Isolation is being cut off from others for negative reasons; solitude is enjoying space and time for yourself – so you can recharge your batteries, and enjoy just being “you”.

3. Invest time in getting fit. People who are fit and healthy generally feel better about themselves. Also, exercise releases feel good hormones so we feel happier, more optimistic and relaxed.

4. Allow yourself to “goof off” and have a laugh – as too much work will drain your energy.

5. Discover your passion and invest time in that. We all have something that brings us alive, and seems to resonate with who we are inside … So investing in your passion is extremely satisfying!

6. Plan for difficulties and problems. We all encounter problems and hard times in this life. Expecting that to happen helps us feel more in control – as we understand it’s normal – so we don’t just fall apart.

7. Work on increasing your self-awareness. As above, we all have blind spots and idiosyncrasies. If we can learn about ourselves, and our natural tendencies, we can learn to master weaknesses, and work to change and grow.

8. Be willing to take risks. Though it’s hard to step out into unknown territory, you’ll find it’s more rewarding to stretch yourself and grow.

9. Watch out for energy vampires. There are plenty of people who will drain your energy so learn how to say “no”, and to set some boundaries.

10. Ask for help when you need it. We all need support and encouragement at times … And offer help to others when things are tough for them.

How our Wrong Beliefs can Stress us Out

don't fill your head with worries 1.JPG

Often the thoughts we carry round in our head – and our basic beliefs about the way things should be – are actually a source of unnecessary stress. So, check out the beliefs that we have listed below and see if there’s something that applies to you:

1. Demand for Approval: This is the belief that others must always treat us well. We must have love or approval all the time, from every single person who matters to us, or else we feel we’re worthless and unloveable.

2. High Self Expectations: This is the belief that we must always succeed, and even excel, in everything we do – or it means that we’re a failure and we don’t have any value.

3. Dependency: This is the belief that we can’t cope on our own. We need to lean on others to help us all the time – and we can’t be independent and just make our own decisions.

4. Helplessness: This is the belief that the events in our past have determined our future and the goals that we can set. That is, we think we’re helpless victims – and that’s why we have these problems.

5. Emotional Control: This where we give control to other people, and say that they’re the ones who make us feel the way we do. If only they were different then we wouldn’t feel this way.

6. Personal Idealism: This is the belief that other people and the world must always be predictable, and fair and just.

7. Problem Avoidance: This is the belief that problems make life hard and should be avoided wherever possible. We don’t believe they central for developing new skills, resilience, perseverance and character.

8. We Must Be Free From Anxiety At All Times (Discomfort Anxiety): This is the belief that we can’t cope with feeling anxious, nervous, worried or uncomfortable. Instead, life should be stress free so I don’t have to have these feelings.

9. Perfectionism: This is the belief that there’s a perfect answer, or that there’s only one solution, to the problems I am facing. Hence, I’m frightened to act in case I make a mistake.

10. Over Caring: This is the belief that I must become upset and show that I care when others are upset – or it means that I am heartless and I lack compassion.

Overdependency in Relationships

love when

Overdependency is:

  • Desperately holding on to other people, places or things in an attempt to find meaning and purpose in your life
  • Letting others do so much for you that it prevents you from developing your own sense of personal autonomy, independence, responsibility and accountability.
  • Being unwilling to let go of others so that you can find your own direction in life.
  • Refusing to formulate your own goals and dreams in case they don’t match those of the people you are dependent on.
  • Having a feeling of emptiness and worthlessness; feeling you “need to be needed” in order to be loved; or having your whole identity wrapped up in someone else.
  • Thinking sympathy and pity are the same thing as love.
  • Having a desperate need for approval; desperately fearing rejection and abandonment by the person you are dependent on; being clingy, possessive and jealous.
  • Lacking a belief in your own competency and ability to cope on your own.
  • Feeling stuck and immobilised because of a fear of failure, or the fear of making the wrong decision.
  • Having a fear of loneliness – which causes you to cling desperately to someone – even when you should let them go.

Overdependency is a control issue because:

  • You are handing control of your life and happiness over to someone else.
  • When you become too dependent on someone, you give them the power to control you.
  • People who are overdependent frequently use manipulation and other subversive control techniques to “hook” others into taking care of them – so that they can rescue, fix or save you. Alternatively, they may use intimidation, threats and coercion.
  • They use the same hooks to prevent the person from detaching and walking away (For example, by threatening suicide)
  • They may use the mask of “helplessness” to get others to take care of them, and do things for them.
  • When forming close relationships, they deliberately look “fixers,” “caretakers” and “rescuers” – that is, they seek out people who are likely to assume responsibility for their wellbeing.

Freedom from overdependency:

  • First, recognise what is going on and be honest with yourself about your patterns and tendencies.
  • Second, recognise that you are a separate person from your partner (or family member). Thus, it’s up to you to assume responsibility for your own choices, decisions and actions (or lack of choosing, deciding and acting). In the same way, stop assume responsibility for, or try to control, the choices and behaviors of others. Don’t speak and act for them, don’t tell them what to do (or how to do it) or redo what they’ve done (as it isn’t the way you would have done it.)
  • Notice your negative feelings – anxiety, fear, and even terror – and learn to face and manage these. This is one of the most powerful things you can do!
  • Next, notice how critical you become when others don’t do things your way, or meet the standards that you set for them. Also, notice how you act in response to these feelings. Do you jump in, try to fix, get angry, pout, withdraw sexually and emotionally? It’s time to get rid of those unhealthy behaviours as they’re part of the pattern of dependency.
  • Consciously work on your self-esteem. Don’t look to others to makyou happy, or to feel you have worth and significance. Healthy self-esteem comes from the inside out.
  • Recognise the value of boundaries – and know where you end and another begins. Learn to establish and enforce your boundaries, and accept that others can choose for themselves – so don’t manipulate to try and get your way.
  • Stop blaming others for making you upset. We have control of how we think and feel. You’re not a helpless victim – you can choose how you will live, and what you will accept in your relationships.
  • Don’t take the flack for, or defend others’ behaviour. Allow them let them to feel the consequences of their actions. Stop defending and enabling them.
  • Get professional help. Being dependent in relationships often has its roots in our early childhood experiences. You may some need help to unravel that, and better understand why you act the way you do.

Some Keys to Successful Relationships

lavender scene

We all want our close relationships to work – and it’s not just a matter of chance or luck. The 6 steps below are designed to assist you in creating successful relationships:

1. Make quality time a priority. You need to carve out some time just for you – without other friends or people around. It’s a time to exclusively focus on each other, and remember the things you both love and enjoy.

2. You both need to feel secure and comfortable. You need to be able to be open and real about the things you enjoy – and the things that bother you. You also need to be able to compromise at times, and to give for the sake of the relationship.

3. Learn how to balance independence and dependence. Remember to share how much you need each other and the ways the other person enriches your life. At the same, don’t be clingy or expect your partner to meet all your needs, or simply be a clone of you. That is, we all need to be free to be our unique selves, and to have other interests and friends as well.

4. Be attentive, listen well, and show an interest in your partner – and the kinds of things that interest him or her. Also, respect their need for silence and some time on their own. This demonstrates respect and true concern for them.

5. Be affirming and warm. Make a conscious effort to make your partner smile, and to send the message that you think that they are great. For at times we all feel bad about some aspect of ourselves – and it can really make a difference if our partner’s on our side.

6. Learn to love (or tolerate!) their little quirks. Those cute little quirks that seemed appealing at first can annoy your later on, and be a source of contention. But all of us have irritating traits and habits, so learn to ignore them as they’re really not important!

How to Recover from a Broken Heart

life is messy

There are few things worse than a broken heart. You desperately want to be free of the pain, and to pick up the pieces and get on with life again. The following suggestions can help you with this.

1) Remember that healing is a long slow process – Breaking up is painful and unleashes strong emotions – anger, hurt, confusion, sadness, loss and emptiness … You may also find you suffer from insomnia, have dreams about your ex and lose all interest in life. If you can hang on in this tough time, and accept the pain it brings, you will find that it will speed up your recovery. So allow yourself to grieve – and don’t expect too much at first – but know that these emotions will pass in time.

2) Accept some relationships are not meant to last – It’s a fact of life that we all want different things, and we’re not always suited to the person we’re dating. It’s not that you’re a failure or an awful person. It’s actually quite normal – even though it feels so sad.

3) Reflect on what you’ve learnt from the relationship – We learn about ourselves and our personality … what we like and don’t like … what we won’t tolerate … and what really matters in relationships. Take the time to process this important information so you grow through your experience … and become more self-aware.

4. Rediscover who you are as a person in your own right – Too often we lose sight of who we are deep down insight – when we’re part of a couple, or a close relationship. But once we’re on our own again, we rediscover who we are – and remember all the dreams and the wishes we once had.

5. Use this time to invest in your interests and passions – Once you start to remember all the things you once enjoyed, and what makes you happy and makes you feel fulfilled, you can start to formulate and work towards new goals. For though it’s good to be in relationships, there’s so much more to us, and so much more to life, than being with one person, and doing things with them

After walking through these steps you will find that you are stronger, and you’ll start to rediscover your true value and worth … and you’ll know that you’ll survive this … and you’ll enjoy life again.

Can Depression be Good for You?

forest

If you’ve ever had, or struggled with, dark periods of depression then it’s likely that your answer here is going to be a “no”. However, the research seems to indicate that there are positives when it comes to coping with and managing depression. Here are a few ways that it is thought to make you stronger:

  1. It makes you a better problem-solver: A symptom of depression is feeling bogged down and stuck when grappling with a problem that seems unsolvable. But in working through the problem you develop crucial skills which you’re able to apply in other areas of life. In particular, often leads to good decision-making skills.
  1. You develop better coping mechanisms: As part of the struggle of dealing with depression you learn more effective ways of dealing with life’s stresses. For example, you learn poor coping choices (such as drinking to forget) compound and worsen problems – so you work on better options.
  1. You tend to have richer relationships: Often those with depression learn to reach out for support, and they learn who to keep, and who to discard from their life. Also, if depression partly stems from relationship concerns, they face and address problems and learn essential skills.
  1. You’re often more sensitive, caring and compassionate: People who have suffered are usually more empathic, compassionate and sensitive to other peoples’ suffering.
  1. You’re more realist: People with depression don’t hide away from the truth. They see the bigger picture and they don’t live in denial. They “call a spade a spade” and don’t pretend that nothing’s wrong. This means that they’re more likely to face and work through problems.
  1. You can sniff out a lie: So many are deceived, and shy away from the truth; but depressed individuals seem be much more astute. They can tell when someone’s lying or are putting on an act. This is an important skill – which helps you to succeed.

7 Questions to Ask When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

white daisy

1.Which of these tasks should I prioritize? Do what’s most important first, and the pressure will subside.

2. Would I achieve more if I got some extra sleep? If you’re too tired to work then you’re usually less productive.

3. Are other people sucking the life out of me? Are there certain individuals who’re demanding too much time?

4. Is there anything at all that I can delegate? Do I have to do it all, or do the whole thing on my own?

5. Have I taken on too much on because “I don’t let people down”, or I’m afraid of saying “no”; or do I fear the negative reactions of others?

6. Is my space full of clutter, and that’s adding to my stress? Do I need to tidy up, or just get rid of some old stuff?

7. Can I withdraw, or take time off to recharge my batteries? Do I really need a break, and need the chance to be refreshed? Would I likely perform better if I made time for self care