Relationship Excellence

Having a great relationship means taking responsibility for YOUR feelings, being vulnerable and open and willing to share what you are thinking / feeling.

Men, if you have a problem or a difficult feeling – Tell her! Perhaps you had a bad day at work or something went wrong.

Use “I feel…” words. She’s not going to solve your problem but she’d love to hear how you really feel and whether you really want her – when you go to your cave (to solve your problem) without explanation she has to second guess which is when women might feel a sense of rejection.

Of course many women know about the “man cave” but we would love to know that our relationship is “OK” so please take time to “check in”, which in turn builds our connection.

Many women also have a “woman cave”, yes, really.  When this happens it may be our time to allow healing from any overwhelm.  If this happens and you’re unsure, take time to appreciate our need for self-care, no need to solve our problems for us.

If you’re stressed at work and have no way of dissolving your feelings, take time to recognise this feeling; don’t take it home with you but if you do, it’s not about who’s done more or less at home – this is displacement and can be provocative energy. Ask her for the space you might need and take a break between responding and reacting. Explain you need some time out to help yourself. “Give me 5 minutes and I’ll be all yours.”

Women, if you have a problem with your man, ask for what you need/want! Examples like: “When you (behaviour) I feel (feeling). What I want is for you (different behaviour). Be clearer about what you want from him; we all make mistakes but if you’re not clear it just tends to drive resentment and can create a divide.

Many women know what they want from their man and sometimes feel they cannot ask; many men feel they have to second guess women’s  needs and desires, just like women feel they have to second guess their man when he goes cave-like to resolve things HIS way.

So you can see how problems can arise!

Women might say “I’m feeling sad today but it’s ok, you don’t need to fix me nor even understand me. I just want you to listen and know that you have heard me”.

Own Your Feelings! Sometimes we need to make those horrible, messy mistakes in order to build a deeper, longer lasting and loving relationship.

In addition – let’s talk about SEX!

Men need sex to feel connected; Women need to feel connected to have sex.

Which becomes more important?

Men may need to take time to build connections with your woman for a strong, connective relationship; woman, it’s OK to say no – if he is genuine and wants to build your relationship he WILL wait.  But be wary if you are avoiding intimacy as that can be detrimental.

As a postscript, this is a generalisation of gender differences in relationships; you may be a man and want to really understand your relationship or where it might be going if a crisis elsewhere in your life has occurred; a woman may “move into her cave” and you may need to step back as she resolves her feelings with those who she can turn to and be heard and she won’t want to hurt you.

Women may want to solve a relationship problem because you have no idea where you stand but you may not be able to do it with your man if he has retreated into a cave, silently OR he is taking part in other displacement activities in order to resolve his own problems with how he feels about you (which may or may not be the case!)  It’s important for a woman to get out and do what makes her happy. You can still Take Charge and tell him what you want.  Is this really how you want to be treated? If he won’t take responsibility, then you can.

We don’t need to UNDERSTAND each other (Ego); we simply need to respect and appreciate each others strengths and differences (Love) and let go of resentment and fear.

We also need transparency about needs and wants; if the relationship is not working now, what guarantees are there for the future?  The future is working itself out in the here and now.

What were your expectations when you started out in your relationship?

Resolving Conflict

The first time we come across someone with a different perspective from us may determine how we go about conflicts in general.

Because we believe our perspective is right, we may try to persuade the other that they need to agree with us, have the same opinion as us and if not, decide that person needs to be out of our life. Perhaps – worst case scenario – dismissing them as toxic, out of order, wrong etc.

But through seeing another’s perspective, through their eyes, can lead to immense personal growth.

OK so that this point you might be thinking – she’s off her rocket, that opinion that so and so had is blatantly wrong (perhaps you can cite some scientific research, figures to back yourself up, to prove your point). And in some ways that might help the bigger picture. But will it help your relationship? Maybe the relationship isn’t all it was cracked up to be which can cause a shedload of rug pulling from underneath you.

Take the example of people who believe vaccination is what has saved the world from disease and those who believe vaccination undermines our immune system. An extreme and much fought over debate “The anti-vaxxers and the pro-vaxxers”. The extreme perspectives lead to people accusing others of having no social responsibility, being uncaring, not looking at current research etc… vaccine damaged children and extensive lawsuits ….

Arguments are extreme in both camps and may be taken as personal attacks at the extreme end of things; scientific research disproving links between the MMR vaccine and autism and parents believing their son or daughter’s autism appeared following the vaccination; whether research has been done into side effects, etc. etc.  The scapegoating or otherwise of eminent doctors – it’s an emotive area.

Both parties are operating from two different but parallel perspectives.

Fear.

Scientists focus for a moment on the emotion rather than the research figures. What scares you most? People are ignoring statistical research figures or a potential return of smallpox and hitherto eradicated diseases due to hygiene and vaccination programmes (many diseases were disappearing prior to vaccination programmes)? For the anti vaxxers, consider that science has a point backed up in research. But so do feelings. Right brain, left brain. Where can the two meet in the middle?

Think about it for a moment.

Now think back to a conflict you’ve experienced and look for the overriding emotion. Is it fear? How does this feeling or being aware of this feeling change things?

What does this opinion / research / evidence speak to you about?
What is the feeling you get when you think about it?
What is it that you want your friend to understand?
What does it mean to you if your friend doesn’t agree with you?

Take another conflict.

Person A is upset by something Person B did.

Person A believes Person B should understand that something they did upset them. Person A then tells Person C that Person B is out of order and should apologise.

Person B doesn’t realise that Person A is upset, nor that they’d done anything wrong but senses an “undercurrent” of something not being quite right. Person B talks to Person D who is part of the picture to a degree, and agrees with Person B that Person A is behaving differently, or there is something of an atmosphere.

You can see that from a bird’s eye perspective that this isn’t going in a particularly helpful direction with more and more people impacted in a scenario that could easily have been handled by two people at the outset. What often happens in this situation is a form of “ganging up” against each other which results in more people being hurt than was necessary.

Rules:
Obtain agreement from all parties that they will:
1. Work to resolve the conflict.
2. Treat each other with respect.
3. Be clear and truthful about what is bothering them and what change they want.
4. Listen to other participants and make an effort to understand the views of others.
5. Be willing to take responsibility for their behaviour.
6. Be willing to compromise.

These rules are not about thinking things like “they didn’t do x, y and z” or “they did x, y and z” which proves they weren’t listening, they had their own agenda. It’s about being really clear as to what outcome you want from the meeting or conflict. What resolution are you actually seeking?

Remember, if you see the perspective that you are both hurt, both feeling small and insignificant in your pain, they probably are as well.

Just for a few moments, imagine what it is like to be the other person(s), and how they might actually be feeling. How do you feel when someone refuses to see your perspective?

Steps – Ideally invite a third party to mediate to enable everyone to be heard.

1. Arrange for all parties to confront the problem.
2. Select a time as soon as all parties have cooled down.
3. Meet at a neutral place.
4. Participants must describe conflict clearly and describe behaviours, feelings and desired changes / outcome.
5. Direct participants to use I, not you, and to focus on specific behaviours and problems, not on people.

i.e. “When you did (x, y and z), I felt” (i.e. not *you* are [descriptive word]. Do you understand?
Other party reflects back exactly what they heard, checks back, “is that correct?”

Ask participants to restate what the others have said.
Summarise the conflict based on what’s been heard, obtain agreement.
Look for solutions.
Ask each participant to offer a solution.
List all of the options presented (either verbally or on flip chart).
Discuss all of the options in a positive manner.
Rule out any options that participants agree are unworkable.
Summarise all possible options for a solution.
Assign further analysis of each option to a participant.
Obtain agreement from all parties on next steps.
Close meeting by having participants shake hands, apologise and thank each other for working to resolve the conflict.

Download this Conflict Resolution Styles Quiz!

Effortless Sleep

Insomnia … a word we associate with lack of sleep.  The inability to get off to sleep, the wakefulness we experience at night when everyone else is sleeping, that concern when we go to sleep that we won’t “get enough sleep” because of an important day ahead.  Sleep deprivation can lead to excessive stress, worry and even weight gain.

Missing out regularly on the recommended 7 to 9 hours sleep may make you feel more than simply groggy and grumpy.  Your mental abilities may feel at a low ebb and can put your overall health at risk. Poor sleep has also been linked to a weakened immune system.

Sleep deprivation is caused by consistent lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep. Your body needs sleep, just as it needs air and food to function at its best. During sleep, your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Your brain forges new connections and helps memory retention.  Without sufficient sleep, your brain and body systems won’t function normally and can also dramatically lower your quality of life.

An organisation based in the USA has many helpful tools to assist with sleep and you can find them here.

If you would like a session to help beat insomnia, contact me today!

365 Days of Gratitude

The practice of daily gratitude has an overwhelming body of evidence to support it.  People who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.  But is gratitude beneficial for people who struggle with mental health concerns?

Personally I started a #40days gratitude “diary” of sorts during lent on my Facebook page. Once in a while I received a comment.  It was beneficial to me as it made me concentrate on the positive events of the day instead of seeing what had gone wrong.  That which we give energy to, grows.  The story of two wolves (an Indian tale) … one is good and one is evil (the narrative inside all of us)… a fight breaks out.. which one wins?  The one you feed.

A study carried out in Berkeley, California set out to study the practice of gratitude.

They compared participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counselling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. So it would seem that practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological therapies carries greater benefits than counselling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief.

Join my facebook group here and watch your life improve day by day!

 

 

Depression in the News

According to the BBC news website, there has been a jump in antidepressant medication.  You can click on that to get the link.

A total of 70.9 million prescriptions for antidepressants were dispensed in England in 2018.  NHS Digital figures show that the number of drugs issued – for conditions like depression and anxiety – went up from 67.5 million in 2017.

As a therapist there is obviously the need to suggest that medication can and does have a place in the treatment of depression. There are also some conditions where medication is absolutely essential and that also goes without saying.

But also as a mental health professional I am bound to suggest that medication can also prevent you from finding your own inner tools for recovery – depending on the severity of the condition. When we become reliant on medication rather than looking at ways in which we can help ourselves we may stay on medication for years and really not feel all that much better.

Putting our faith in our recovery in someone or something other than ourselves may not give you the results you truly desire.

Therapy aims to process and witness with you to help you find the tools for you to help you recover. A good therapist may reflect back to you how they hear what you are saying – give you that safe space to reflect on ways in which you may or may not be helping yourself.

Sometimes you might find it difficult in therapy; sometimes it is not the right therapist for you. Either way it will have given you some food for thought.  Therapy can often be a helpful mirror for you to process your feelings and thoughts.

Try talking therapies. It may just be the best decision of your life.
Book an appointment with Malmesbury Therapies with Kate using SetMore

What to do when you disagree with your Partner

We are confronted by differences of opinion regularly; never more so in the news today at the time of writing given that Brexit is very much in the news basking in the 48 / 52 difference of opinion.  We are arguing with friends and neighbours, all determined that our perspective is right.

What often happens is that in a relationship, the dogma of “rightness” becomes so embedded in our psyche that we may even rally round friends and neighbours who agree with us to lend support to our argument that WE are the right person in all of this.  A belief is hard to shift.  But we need to adopt a birds’ eye perspective.

In a close relationship or marriage this presents us with a different problem.

Are they the person we married?

Are they even right for us?

Arguments can become extremely heated, each of us clinging to OUR opinion because of course it is right.

Reflect for a moment on this fact.  You both have strong opinions, in your eyes you are correct in holding this opinion.

But your beloved disagrees intently.

Take the vaccination argument, and one that has caused me personally problems in the past and with good reason.  I’d met several mums who believed quite fervently their children had been vaccine damaged, I’d read a lot of articles and followed doctors such as Dr Jayne Donegan to name a few.

My husband on the other hand had listened to government articles, and felt that societal guidelines were imperative to follow.

Regardless of the fact that we had seriously different perspectives we were both coming from the same point of reasoning.  Fear.  We both feared our children would suffer either a) if they did get vaccinated and experienced devastating side effects (a point that is open to debate), or b) died from a “serious” childhood illness (also a point open to debate).

Same motives, but different reasonings and objectives.

In new relationships where children are involved there can often be disagreements.  The natural reasoning behind this is that these children may not be yours and at times, you could feel “shut out” of that relationship.  Rather than controlling the situation or asserting your self as the “new” parent which causes more ructions, think about how that child might be feeling.  Express your feelings to your spouse or new partner in terms of how you feel and what outcome you would like.  Criticising the child for doing something that perhaps comes naturally will upset both child and their biological parent.

Other emotive issues may involve affairs.

1 person in the relationship has an affair – perhaps this was an opportunity presenting itself or perhaps there were other (deep seated or otherwise) issues in the original relationship.  The other person is left feeling betrayed, devastated, ignored, overlooked and more.  None of us may know entirely the circumstances behind the affair taking place but we do know that the repercussions can be felt for long into the future.

The unfaithful person may be contrite and not want their original relationship to end, they were simply seeking solace or wanting their partner to understand how much they might have been hurting.  Or they were simply taking advantage of an opportunity and were – in general – someone who couldn’t stay faithful.

The person to whom they have been unfaithful finds it hard to trust the other any more and whilst both parties may seek to hold things together the desire to lash out from both is very strong.  It may result in a relationship breakup –

“I deserve better”
“He/she betrayed me, I can’t get past that”
“If only he/she would listen, it may never have happened”
“That’s just the way he/she is, s/he will never change”
“S/he’s a complete b****”

And so forth.  Finding the common element here again, is FEAR.  We have lost something we thought we had, not had something we thought we wanted, not communicated the importance of a particular element in the relationship (in this case, fidelity).

Deep down neither of the partners’ needs have been met.  Neither of them are a true bitch or bastard (ok, there are some narcissists, controlling people out there but even these people often come from a position of fear).

It’s important for each individual partner to really think and voice what the essential ingredients are in a successful partnership / relationship / marriage.  Yet it is rare for any of us to really think anything through before we feel those thunderbolts of attraction as we fall headlong into a romantic love affair.

If you find you are struggling in your relationships, whether you are currently in one, are having disagreements in one or simply want to ensure your next relationship is one that you really want, then download this Relationship Vision guide and get in touch.

Book an appointment with Malmesbury Therapies with Kate using SetMoreAre you operating out of FEAR or LOVE?
What is more important, to be RIGHT or KIND?
What Outcome do YOU want?

CBD Oil

CBD Oil is gathering traction worldwide and all over the internet.

You may be tempted to find the cheapest possible supply online because you’ve heard it can help with:

Pain relief
Anxiety
Stress
Sleep
Clarity of Mind

And much more.  I take a small drop of CBD oil at night time and sleep well as a result.  Others I know who take it suggest that it helps with clarity of mind and take it first thing in the morning.  Pain relief is also a massive feature in using these oils (I applied some topically and the pain was eased considerably in a matter of minutes.

There are plenty of people out there who have also tried CBD Oil (and the version cited below if you click on the links).  Testimonials are also available if you would like them.  I have no doubt that because of the quality of the products used and the benefits derived from using them, that this particular product is of high quality and will do the job it is intended to do.

HB Naturals – TO BUY CBD products via my website click here

To Join HB Naturals and benefit from discounted products *and* build a team if you want Click here:

Apply for samples here 

HB Naturals has information carefully displayed on their website.

If you want to know more about CBD Oil on Amazon, please click here.

Here’s a youtube clip which discusses benefits that can be experienced with CBD Oil

CBD Oil & Anxiety relief

CBD Oil & Parkinsons 

This said, because CBD Oil is gaining in popularity, there is a LOT of it about.  Did you know that Amazon doesn’t actually allow the sale of CBD oil products?  To that end you may well find that there are fake products being sold by unscrupulous individuals.

People may then be of the opinion that CBD oil doesn’t work because they have purchased a substandard product.  HB Naturals is a reputable company with high quality products.

Rules for selling “drugs” in the UK branch of Amazon are found here.

And a list for restricted products can be found here.

CBD is also not a controlled substance.

If you want to know more about purchasing CBD Oil do check out my links.  You can also sign up for yourself and purchase discounted CBD oil.

Book in for a session if you want to know more!
Book an appointment with Malmesbury Therapies with Kate using SetMore

Self Care

We all need to take care of ourselves – obviously.  But when we’ve experienced a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or a huge change in our personal circumstances, we need to keep ourselves moving and occupied doing things we enjoy.

Anyone who’s experienced therapy with me will probably have heard me asking them “what did you used to do that you’ve stopped doing?”  Frequently when we find ourselves facing fears, loneliness and inabilities to make simple decisions it’s hard to even think about enjoying ourselves, so swamped we may be in what’s happening right now.

So with this in mind I found myself asking the same question. Having given up part time employment and re-starting self employment each and every day would see me at my computer, looking up research articles, finding ways to revamp my website, writing and writing (like this) and my eyes were glazing over.  Headaches, loneliness… was settling in and making themselves feel at home…. NOT!

Out I went, joining a Zumba class.  Last time I did Zumba was around fifteen years ago, so I was a lot younger and probably better looking in terms of my body fitness. I do remember my stomach taking on a dance all of its own however, and struggled in a class where personal space was at a premium.  I lasted about three weeks.

Now I run a couple of times a week.  I walk 4-5 km with my dog every day.  Let’s see how this Zumba thing goes.

I got my best lycra on, did my face and charged up the road for my “first” Zumba gold session (that means I must be old – a) it’s during the day, and b) I’m over 50!)

I must have looked blank and awkward as someone came up to me and asked if I was ok.  Ah yes – this is the right place!

The beats began, we started throwing ourselves around the room (or was that just me), my lower limbs doing one thing and my arms, confused as they might have been, did something different.

I followed our teacher as best I could (given I was at the back of the room, right next to the door – ease of exit access) but still the beat went on and my body was simply bobbing up and down, keeping moving.  Towards the end of the dance we did something of an Irish gig as we circled the room, joining arms.

I still felt stupid but actually a lot happier after the class!

Afterwards a few members traipsed off to the pub for a coffee (no really) and made me feel exceptionally welcome.  So much so I returned for another session!

So what have you stopped doing that you used to do?

Do it!  Click here for more information about Zumba in Malmesbury (on Facebook)!

Fuzzy Boundaries

Do you have fuzzy boundaries? Do you keep in touch with ex’s or permit loved ones to contact you whenever it suits them?

Are you afraid you will lose your relationship if you’re not available 24/7?

Are you concerned that if you’re not in constant contact, the person you contacts you will somehow fail, take drugs, do something silly and you feel you’re the ONLY person who can help them?

With regards to ex’s often people stay in touch for a myriad of reasons.

  • They’re the father / mother of our son / daughter
  • They upset me and I want them to know about it
  • They abused me and I want to teach them a lesson that it’s not ok
  • They left me and I don’t know why and still want to understand
  • We had constant arguments and I want to explain my perspective
  • They had an affair and I want to punish them / understand why / get even

 

And so the list goes on. Obviously I’m not saying you must avoid contact with your ex if you have children and shared arrangements, but keep the conversation about arrangements and the children ONLY. Do not use that as an excuse to open up emotional issues and problems concerning your relationship. You Broke Up, remember? They’re not going to suddenly change nor is your relationship going to immediately improve. Your patterns of relating can only change if you both change.

The only reason for the contact is because you want contact.

Nothing more.

What will the contact actually GIVE you? More frustration? More misunderstanding? More arguments? More hurt? More loneliness that you’re not together any more? Envy of the new partner? Anger / Sadness / Frustration with yourself that YOU / he / she couldn’t make it work?  Will it truly help you understand and work through the pain you may be feeling?

How does this solve anything?

In Susan J Elliot’s book Getting Past Your Breakup: “How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You” she cites a myriad of reasons why people continue to stay in touch with their ex’s. When we think about this from a rational perspective it is simply so that we can avoid facing the pain of the breakup and avoid moving through this process to come out of the other side. It’s not rocket science but often part of the human condition.  It doesn’t mean it’s easy though.

After all, we spent time with this person, we got to know them, we probably spent nights together, shared events and family outings. When we break up with a particular relationship we are saying goodbye to a whole lifestyle. We go to places together. When we break up, visiting those places reminds us of them and what we had. Loneliness and pain are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

When a person dies, there is no turning back. Our visits to shared places hold different meanings and a way to make sense of life on our own again. It is painful but a necessary (at times) part of the grieving process. See Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s book on Grief and Grieving) and the “Five Stages of Grief” below:

But move on we must. A breakup can feel like bereavement without a body, someone once told me. How that stuck with me.

Incidentally although there are “stages” of grief, we don’t simply bounce from one to the next …. like, oh stage 1 is dealt with (feeling numb can also fall into the “denial” category. No, we bounce from one to the other and back again, randomly, at different times when things affect us that were perhaps part of the earlier relationship. Work through it we must. Shut it down, suppress it, and difficult relationships may recur time and again….. till we’ve worked through it, faced the pain and allowed it to be released from gripping us.

A divorce can feel that way too; staying in touch NEEDS to be on a practical / pragmatic level. If financial discussions are proving awkward, use a mediator (cheaper than solicitors) and use text or email ONLY for data exchange such as who is picking up the children and when if you have shared arrangements.

Using text/email to list off a rant of all the problems you’re experiencing – either together or with your new partner is a NO NO. Do not do it! It will not make you feel better because you may get a response that could make you feel a whole lot worse. Do Not Do It. NC (No Contact) is the only way. If you really need to rant and make sense, write a letter that you DON’T send and burn it. Or keep it to remind yourself as to how you felt, although it may not help you in the long run except to see how far you’ve come since the split.

People who stay in touch on a “friendly basis” invariably leads to more uncomfortable feelings … why are they telling you about their life, what has it actually got to do with you? Does this make you feel happy, empowered and in control of your life? Are you having make-up / break-up sex? Is it making you happy?

Ex partners who believe they can come and go as they please are probably right because you’ve enabled them. Why?

I have done this. When we split up we had the keys to each other’s houses for ease of dealing with the situation over our children. After a while I realised how much I hated the fact that he could pop into my house at the drop of a hat (to pick up the children, perhaps). It felt like a violation as time passed. Rather than tackle the subject I eventually changed the locks. I didn’t need to tell him.

Nor did I need to email him over the financial issues we had. After the nth email about why I needed the maintenance I realised I had to stop. Each time he would respond with details about my shortcomings and of course there were plenty of those. From his perspective, anyway.

Fuzzy boundaries isn’t just about ex’s. It’s can be about any close relationships. The more you rescue them and explain why they need to get a grip the less they are taking their own personal responsibility. It doesn’t mean you’re unkind, it just means you need to take care of yourself and learn to heal so you can have the life you desire and deserve. You can point them in the direction of professional help and leave it at that.

It may mean you’re unpopular for a while but ultimately once the dust is settled and they have taken personal responsibility you can begin to rebuild your relationship. This is where therapy can help!

“I hate you, mum” declared my beautiful offspring when I once grounded said offspring for being out of order one evening (I cannot remember the situation anymore, but most of us as parents understand how teenagers can affect us!). I had to lay down boundaries as a single parent. That was hard. Nowadays we reflect on that and she knew that she didn’t really; my love for my children will always be unconditional but we need to have mutual respect.

What boundaries in YOUR life are fuzzy and need looking at?

More recommended reading: “Boundaries and Relationships” by Charles L Whitfield. See an infographic here on Boundaries, taken from his book:

boundaries
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