Still Having The Same Old Arguments?

Whether you’re having the same disagreements with your mother, your partner or a friend, the arguments can become pretty tedious, not to say tiring and repetitive.

So how can you avoid the ‘same old, same old’?

Here are some things to focus on:

  • Listen carefully – when we’re in critical mode, we often don’t take time to reflect on what the other person says. What do you want out of the disagreement, other than the other person to give in completely? Why are you feeling angry? Try to take responsibility for what you’re feeling and then say it out loud in a non-confrontational way.
  • Try to focus on what is working rather than what isn’t going well. Create a list of the good things the other person does for you, whether it’s your mother looking after your child or your cat, your partner filling your car with petrol or your friend going out of her way to give you a lift home. Thank them for these small acts of kindness – they will appreciate it.
  • If you feel hurt because they are not there for you, acknowledge to yourself that there might be a reason for that and rather than saying, for instance, “you’re always going out/doing things for other people”, say “I wish that you were here with me. I know that you can’t be, but that’s what I like and need sometimes”.
  • Stop making sweeping accusations – if you say “You always……” and “You never….” It feels heavy with criticism. Try saying “I’d love it if you could do ……………” because then the other person with know what would please you and has the opportunity to make changes.
  • Try not to shout – whatever the relationship, nothing can blossom when voices are raised. Even if the other person shouts, and there’s then a temptation for you to do the same, try to keep your voice calm and make a conscious effort to keep it low too.

See how you get on with the above – hopefully you’ll find them helpful.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anxiety #familyrelationships #stress #self-esteem #workonyourself

Does Your Relationship Make You Feel Vulnerable?

For most of us, when we’re in a relationship we become more vulnerable because that’s when we allow another person into our hearts and minds – there is more chance of being hurt and let down and for some people it’s a risk they don’t want to take.

However, to allow trust to develop between you there has to be a degree of vulnerability to pull down the walls you may usually surround yourself with and let the other person in. You need to show yourself to the other person and let them into your heart before a true depth of feeling can develop.

Some people spend a lot of time trying to protect themselves to keep others out but that can be very lonely. We can only hope that if we trust people and allow them in, they’ll respect us for being ourselves. However, our fear of ridicule, judgement or scaring the other person away can hold us back but giving a little at a time can help a lot.

Most of us think that we can’t help who we fall in love with and this sort of vulnerability and need for another person sometimes scares us because if we need someone, we are necessarily dependent upon them. But if you love someone in such a way, you have to take some responsibility for it – ultimately, you’re vulnerable because you choose to be vulnerable (hard to believe, I know!) and only you can decide whether you can cope with that and all it entails.  If both people in the relationship do the same, it can be transforming.

The same is true in the therapeutic relationship – it’s the therapist’s responsibility to develop a relationship that helps the client to explore and resolve conflicts and dissatisfactions. Building trust the counselling sessions builds confidence and supports the changes that the client hopes to make.

The one who feels (or thinks they feel) the most vulnerable in the relationship is the one most likely to worry about getting hurt. However, it may be that they’re feeling the same – talking about this is the thing most likely to help.  If your partner is being cool or you feel they’re uncaring, it may not be anything to do with you or your relationship so again, talk to them about what’s going on.

There is always the risk of getting hurt but, unless we live alone without any real human contact, there is always some risk but the larger the risk, hopefully the greater the reward.

If you’ve always seen yourself as ‘strong’, maybe you’ve just discovered your own vulnerability and it seems strange and uncomfortable. However, it’s a good opportunity to learn about another side to yourself so try to step back from being strong for a moment and remember that even superheroes had some weaknesses. For instance, Superman could be rendered powerless when he was exposed to Kryptonite but he learnt to protect himself and find strength outside of that.

Change doesn’t make you less of a person, it can make you more of a person. By giving yourself over to the feeling, change can make you more human and as long as you can reach out to someone, you’re not helpless. It can help to accept your position of vulnerability and move past the negative possibilities that may haunt you. It’s a bit scary but can be exciting too!

The human mind is very powerful but it can be difficult to control and sometimes we can start to think dark thoughts…. it is this sort of thinking that can ruin relationships, so it’s worth trying to control any negativity whilst still allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Try to remain focused on what’s going on and as long as it’s positive, go with it.

If you’re feeling vulnerable, ask yourself “Why am I afraid?”, “What can I do to improve things?” and “Will feeling like this help me?”. By trying to focus on what you can do to improve things, including your own well-being, you will bring more positivity into your life and your relationship. You’ll still feel vulnerable at times but become aware of how to deal with that feeling.

Psychotherapists and counsellors are not just people who give you advice (in fact, that’s rarely the case!) but as the therapy progresses and trust is established, you can use the sessions to bring about real change. It is this relationship that is so important and the self-revealing part of it helps with the healing of who you are.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anxiety #familyrelationships #stress #self-esteem #workonyourself

Are You Being Bullied By Your Own Family?

Bullied by your own family – it sounds almost impossible, doesn’t it?

However, sadly, this happens a lot in families whether it’s a partner or someone in your birth family. This can be a parent, sibling or other family member and it’s often difficult to detect as well as accept that this is happening. Don’t think that only men can be bullies – women can be just as adept at this! One of the worst parts of it is that these people often say how much they love you.

A bully in the family often encourages and manipulates other family members into acting in a certain way whilst fostering a negative view of the target in the minds of other family members, neighbours and friends – it’s achieved by undermining, creating doubts and suspicions and sharing false concerns. Sounds familiar?

The bully may try to establish an exclusive relationship, often based on apparent trust and confidence, with one family member so that they, the bully, are seen as the only really reliable source of information. This can be done by very clever means, perhaps by portraying the target as unstable, uncaring, undependable and untrustworthy. The object of this is to manipulate the family member’s perceptions so that the bully is seen as an honourable person with others’ best interests at heart. If challenged, the bully pretends to be the victim and makes sure that they are seen as the entirely plausible one, turning the focus on themselves to be the centre of attention.

Sounds frightening? It is! The psychological damage done can be very undermining but because there is no physical violence, there are no outward signs, at least at first. Most commonly, there is verbal and emotional abuse including nit-picking, constant fault-finding and criticism but usually when the bully and victim are alone. When other people are present, the bully is often ‘sweetness and light’, leaving others feeling that the bully is a lovely person.

Why does this happen? There are lots of theories including the bully suffering low self-esteem and using tactics to make themselves feel better, having control over other people – again to help them feel more positive about themselves and competitiveness within the family (always wanting to be thought of as better than a sibling).

A lot of people aren’t aware that they’re being bullied within their family, especially if the bullies are their parents and this has been going on since childhood, so it seems normal. Sometimes a sibling can take over from one of the parents and start the scapegoating again. Some signs that you or someone close to you is being bullied are:

  • The bully puts you down, either when you’re alone or in front of others.
  • They criticise you under the guise of helping you.
  • They call you names like ‘useless’ or ‘stupid’.
  • They tell you how to spend your money.
  • They keep score of what they’ve done for you so that they can then say that they’ve done so much for you and either you’re not reciprocating or you’re a disappointment to them.
  • They ask you constant questions about yourself, your life and how you live it.
  • If you complain about their behaviour, they say that you’re “too sensitive” and “take things to heart too much”.
  • They can be silently angry with you and refuse to talk about problems, using silence as a punishment (passive-aggressive). Another tactic is to say that they’re too busy to talk if you try to discuss a particular issue with them – even if they initiated the subject! Once it gets a bit difficult for them, they’ll try to terminate the conversation.

If you’ve ever suffered this as a child, it can have an even bigger effect than it might have done and the bully probably realises this, which is why they use that tactic. Their silence is a way to manipulate you so that you ask what the problem is and try to change something in your life to please them so that they will speak to you again.

So what can you do to deal with this?

  • The first thing is to try to talk to the person/people concerned – they may not realise that what they’re doing is actually bullying. Tell them how it makes you feel and then ask them to stop – if they insist that they’re not doing anything wrong and that you’re being ridiculous/neurotic/over-sensitive at least you will have tried to bring it out into the open and make changes even though the other person isn’t willing to change.
  • The next thing you can do is to set boundaries with the family member whether that is one of your parents, a sibling or a partner. When asked about attending a family party, if you don’t want to stay for most of the day tell everyone that you’re only going to stay for a couple of hours. If someone in the family wants you to do something for them and it’s not convenient, say so with something along the lines of “I wish that I could do that but it’s just not possible this time”. There will be some sort of backlash because you’re refusing to be controlled any longer, but try to remember that your needs and desires are as important as anyone else’s.
  • If someone criticises your parenting style, you can say “I’m bringing the children up according to my values. I’m sorry if you don’t like it but that’s what I’m going to do”.  There is no need to get into an argument about it; just state the facts.
  • Remove yourself from the situation temporarily – you don’t have to stay around to be criticised. During the break, try to step away emotionally as well so that you can see more clearly what’s going on.
  • Keep calm and as unemotional as possible when dealing with a bully – that is your best resistance.
  • Find support elsewhere so that you’re not so dependent on that person or people – once you’re doing other things with friends, you won’t need the bully so much.

If you feel you’re suffering from being bullied within your family or relationship, working on your self-esteem can really help you to cope. Try reading about bullying, look at online forums and try counselling, which can really help you to overcome the unhappiness of being bullied.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anxiety #familyrelationships #stress #self-esteem #workonyourself

Bottling Up Emotions

On 9 March 2021 the comedian Jennifer Saunders spoke about her long marriage to Adrian Edmondson saying “”We are masters of keep it in, get over it, move on”. (see link below).

As a counsellor and psychotherapist, this is not something I’d usually recommend although it certainly seems to work for Jennifer. However, she does go onto say that she often talks to her co-star, Dawn French, who, I quote, “helps me sort out my feelings about things and people’.

But, for a lot of people, talking about their feelings within relationships (whether that’s with a partner, family member or friend) is necessary so that resentments don’t build up and so that they can interact in a healthy way.

So, how to go about creating this emotional intimacy?

First of all, think about what or who has disappointed you, how it’s impacted on you and how you feel. It’s alright to say that you’re not sure about how you feel, that you’re confused and have mixed emotions.

If you’re struggling with talking about deep topics, ask yourself why this is. Maybe it taps into fears of being abandoned or rejected but if one person consistently avoids deeper subjects, anger can escalate or, the other extreme, one person shuts down their underlying emotions to try to keep the peace.

But, it’s the deep emotions that often keep a meaningful connection and it also stops ongoing negative patterns where communication is concerned.

So, how to start the conversation? Well, first of all, don’t say “we need to talk” which can make the other person feel like a five-year old, but instead say “I need to talk”. That shows that you know what you’re going to say is subjective. Following on from that, speak ‘adult to adult’ rather than parent to child. If you feel that you’re getting into a parental role with the other person, who will feel as if they’re being ‘told off’, make a conscious effort to get back to a place where you’re communicating as equals.

Remember, the person you’re interacting doesn’t exist to satisfy your every emotional need. Although your feelings are important, the other person has a right to feel differently and have their own feelings. Sometimes, ultimately you may have to agree to differ, even if that’s very frustrating.

Be patient with each other – differences often mean that you’re both experiencing things differently.

Lastly, don’t underestimate non-verbal communication. A light touch on the arm or a kiss on the cheek shows the other person that ultimately you’re thinking of them in a kind and loving way.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anger #relationships #self-esteem #sexuality #social anxiety

Communication is vital for a lot of couples

Thinking Of Moving Out To The Country?

One thing that’s happened during the Covid pandemic is that people have re-valuated where they live and wondered if moving out of town to a village might be an option for them. Having a garden during restrictions has proved a life-saver for a lot of people and with remote working being more of an option now, there’s often no need to live in town.

Living out in the countryside sounds lovely – doesn’t it? A village location, fields, birds, maybe even a stream running through at the end of the garden. What could be better?

Well, it CAN be, and is, ideal for lots of people but it’s not for everybody. Although the Office for National Statistics showed that life expectancy at birth was improved for people living in rural areas, emotionally it can be hard for those not used to it or people who want to ‘spread their wings’.

If you’re undecided about whether to leave the town or city, try to think about the pitfalls as well as the advantages, before being swept up with the idyll of living in a small rural community. If you’re thinking of re-locating to, say, the East of England, you’ll find large swathes of land with ‘big skies’ which are great in the summer months, but can be depressing in the winter unless you were born in those areas (and even then, they can make some people feel quite low and sad).

So, if you still want to ‘live the dream’ try to take into account some of the following:

  • For every glorious day in the summer there’s a stretch of winter when you might not see many people and the drive into a nearby town is a big effort.
  • If you have a young family and no relatives around, you will probably find childcare quite difficult. Make sure you work out what professional childcare is available before you move.
  • Try to join a local playgroup/toddler group where you’ll meet other young parents as well as local organisations and committees where you’ll hopefully meet like-minded people.
  • Be as pro-active as time allows you to be– if you put your heart and soul into events, you’ll get to know people quickly and they’ll love the fact that you’re putting something into their community. Despite this, make sure you don’t try to ‘take over’ by ‘improving’ the way things have been done so far – people will inevitably resent it.
  • If you’re moving to the country upon retirement, try to get involved in village fetes, swimming clubs and anything appealing where lots of different age-groups mingle.
  • Recognise that things change more slowly in the countryside and that there may not be a multi-cultural community yet. Usually (although not always), things tend to be more traditional than in towns and cities.
  • Realise that you’re going to be pretty dependent upon your car – in most rural areas, there are very few buses and certainly not on Sundays or during the evenings. Your car will almost certainly become more important to you than previously.
  • Recognise that if you have any conflict with someone locally, especially in your village, almost inevitably people will know about it. You are far less anonymous in a country setting.
  • By the same token, you will find that what you think of as charming and people showing an interest, can also have a downside where you might it difficult to have much privacy.
  • Try to make an effort to get into the nearest town or city on a regular basis if only to have a look around and do a bit of shopping – it can actually be refreshing to do this and it enables you to keep some interest in your previous lifestyle.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#resilience #self-esteem #resources #loneliness #relationships