Author Archives: samebutdifferentblogger

About samebutdifferentblogger

Hello. I'm a Counsellor and Psychotherapist with twenty-five years experience of counselling clients from a variety of settings. I've worked as a Counsellor in a GP surgery, as part of a team counselling clients in a local government setting as well as mor recently having my own private practice and seeing clients on a longer-term basis. I've also worked as an Associate Lecturer in Psychology. I have now decided to focus on blogging about the experiences and issues that clients have brought to me over the years. I hope that you find my blogs interesting - please do comment if you would like to do so. I realise that comments might not always be positive, but it's all a learning curve for me!

‘Something’s Gotta Give’

romantic comedy – 2003

Something’s Gotta Give is a 2003 American romantic comedy starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton as a successful 60-something and 50-something, who find love for each other in later life, despite being complete opposites.
The reason that I chose the title for this week’s blog is that although the film is essentially a romcom, (at the beginning of the film, Harry – Nicholson – is a wealthy New York businessman who has a habit of dating women under the age of 30 years although things eventually change – however, if you haven’t seen the film, I don’t want to spoil it for you!), a crucial part of the plot is that Harry has a heart attack and is rushed to hospital. However, he discovers the episode is actually triggered by stress over caring about a woman whose love he can’t have. This realisation forces him to reconsider his identity as a carefree bachelor.

But unrequited love isn’t the essence of this blog, more that stress can induce extreme symptoms, even leading sufferers to think that they’re having a heart attack. It can be hugely frightening and, like Harry, people do end up in hospital if things become overwhelming.

Most of us have felt stressed and stretched every which way, especially during the pandemic, and the thought of adding yet one more thing to our schedules can send us into overdrive. Often, we know things have got to change but are not sure how to go about it, so here are a few ideas to help you on the way:

  • One important step is to recognise that perfectionism is a form of self-sabotage rather than an asset. On some level, perfectionists believe that if they’re not perfect, they’ve failed and this in itself is very stressful. Doing your best is a lot healthier in the long run.
  • If you hold onto ‘mistakes’, noticing what you’ve done wrong rather than what you’ve got right can make anyone anxious so try to focus on the positive changes that you’ve made and remember that no-one gets thing right all of the time.
  • In the same way, whilst accepting your own mistakes, try to give other people a break too. Don’t hold onto grudges and try to see the best in people, rather than focusing on what they’re doing wrong.
  • Try to start each day calmly (easier said than done, I know!) – have a quiet cup of tea before anyone else gets up, or try to have five minutes of meditation – even reading something that’s inspirational can help start your day in a calm way.
  • Delegate (and delegate, delegate…..) – ask your partner to share more of the household stuff, your flatmate to do more of the cleaning if you feel bogged down or ask your colleagues to step up rather than take on even more responsibility yourself.
  • Try to find hope in whatever situation you’re in – it’s harder to see the good in things if you’re feeling overwhelmed so try to find one thing a day to be optimistic about. Hope can help to make things seem so different.
  • Acknowledge how you’re feeling; remaining in denial isn’t healthy and by talking to a friend you can usually get an emotional lift. In the same way, journaling how you’re feeling can help enormously – the written word is very powerful.

So, as the film’s message highlights, something will have to give unless we deal with stress as it happens – hopefully, the above tips will help.

As a nod to the photo at the end of this blog, Something’s Got to Give was also an unfinished American feature film shot in 1962, starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. It was Monroe’s last work, but from the beginning its production was disrupted by her personal troubles, and after her death on August 4, 1962, the film was abandoned.

You can see 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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Marilyn Monroe

Do You Have Rules In Your Relationship?

Sounds a bit rigid, doesn’t it? But maybe we all have unspoken rules in our relationships and, actually, some of them might be very useful…..

Following on from my last blog about possibly ‘future-proofing’ your relationship, made me wonder about whether couples have rules that they sub-consciously keep to.

For instance, if you have a rule for what happens when you disagree, one good rule is to take time out; sticking to the point and not swearing are other ‘rules’ that work for a lot of couples. Basically, it’s about keeping the problem contained to what’s going on right now. although seemingly small arguments about whose turn it was to clean the bathroom can mask much deeper issues like one of you feeling a lot of disappointment and sadness.  Which brings me to another ‘rule’…

The next thing is the oft-repeated one about communication – you may be a talker but maybe your partner is definitely the opposite. It can be really testing but try to keep listening to each other, rather than filling in the blanks or mind-reading. After that, identifying what’s wrong and trying to find a reasonable solution together, can help you overcome a lot of problems.

There’s some evidence to show that life events such as bereavement, job loss and illness can have a huge impact on your relationship. It’s easy to think that as a couple you’ll pull together, but that’s not always the case. People deal with traumas differently – that’s part of being human – but if you can try to reframe situations so that you feel that you’re a team, you’ve made a good start in getting through them together. So maybe another ‘rule’ is trying to pull together when something big happens.

It’s easy to grow apart, even if you started off very much together, so another ‘rule’ to look at is whether one of you has actually changed more than the other. This isn’t always easy to face, but it doesn’t have to break you up. Think about how you can still be happy and make your relationship work, even if you’ve both changed a lot since first meeting – making sure that you still connect as a couple on important issues is crucial.

A sometimes forgotten rule is that of appreciation; most people thrive when thanked for the little things that they do – criticism can chip away at your partner and your relationship. Remember to show your appreciation when your partner does something to please you – as well as little touches like getting you a cup of tea when you’re tired, there’s also things like thanking them (and vice-versa) for working long hours to provide for your home and children if you have them. These things don’t just happen – they take some effort.

Money problems can be the ruin of a lot of relationships and there’s no wrong or right attitude towards finances but if you have different ways of saving and spending, it can be a real source of friction. The biggest thing though is not having enough money to get through the week and, since Covid, a lot more couples are finding the pinch. Arguing about it won’t help but constructive ways of looking for solutions might well be the answer and if you work together to deal with it, hopefully you’ll find that it brings you closer.

Boredom can put a real dampener on a relationship, so one rule might be to periodically try to create a bit more excitement within your relationship by getting out of a rut, joining a club together or taking up an interest that involves both of you and any children that you might have together. Every relationship changes over time but that doesn’t mean that it has to be monotonous – now’s the time to be part of the solution if you’re feeling bored.

Co-parenting children can be a real hassle if you have different parenting styles but these often relate back to our own childhoods and what we assume is the norm. A ‘rule’ here could be some house rules that you agree on as a family and all try to stick to. Children pick up on conflict between their parents and often use it to get what they want from one parent or another so having some basic rules that you both keep to makes sense. Also, you’ll still be a couple when your children have left home so trying to find time for each other now is an investment in your future together.

You can see 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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Can You Really ‘Future-Proof’ Your Relationship?

There are no guarantees in any relationship, however long you’ve been together – that probably doesn’t sound very promising, but things happen, sometimes we have to face challenges we’d never even thought about and the future that looked certain can suddenly seem anything but.

Still, there are ways that we can help things along the road to ‘happy ever after’ and you might already be doing some of them:

  • The first, and almost essential one, is to be honest with yourself and work out what you want to discuss with your partner, what are your own goals and ambitions not only for yourself but for both of you as a couple? Really, it’s about communication and not burying your head in the sand if they’re doing something that really stresses you. I’m not talking leaving the top of the toothpaste either – more along the lines of how you’re equal partners, wanting the same things and working together on whatever those goals are.
  • That brings me onto the next part which is understanding how they communicate – everyone has different ways of saying how they feel and also, how they resolve arguments. Some of that is (I think) partly due to our upbringing, how we saw our parents resolve difficulties – if your father flew off the handle and your mother reacted by crying (or vice-versa), but you weren’t around when they seemed to ‘make up’ you’ll not have a great understanding of how that happened. Or maybe one of them sulked for days and then, eventually, things resolved. Whatever you learned from that, it’s good to find your own way with your partner and accept that people don’t always say sorry but show it in other ways, by cooking a nice dinner or taking out the bins when it’s not usually on their ‘to do’ list. Only you know what works best for both of you as a couple and figuring out how you’d like to resolve friction is a good way forward.
  • Make time to check in on one another – things can get very hectic with work, family, sport and friends. So many commitments, but checking in with your partner about how they’re feeling, is a good way of making sure that you’re both happy with the way things are. It’s also a good opportunity to let your partner know what you’re happy about, the things that you enjoy and your all-round appreciation of what you have.
  • Finally, as we become closer in our relationship, it’s easy to believe that your partner has the same feelings and thoughts as you do but don’t make assumptions. People change and understanding differences whilst respecting their opinions go a long way to making sure that things stay good.

So, there’s no absolute guarantee that you can future-proof your relationship, but hopefully you’ll find that the above go a long way to helping your partnership become, and stay, long-term.

You can see 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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

‘Old Habits Die Hard’

Apparently, the origin of the phrase ‘old habits die hard’ is unknown, but has been in circulation since 1758 when it appeared in an article by Benjamin Franklin. Here ends the history lesson, because we all know what it means, and if you’ve spent the last month try to stick to resolutions and goals, you might be finding some old habits harder to kick than others. So, why is this?

Well, doing too much, too soon, sets us up for failure as you can’t resolve them all at once. So, begin with habits that are easiest to change as this will give you some sense of satisfaction as well as encourage to stick to other goals.

Although we’d like to think that will power alone will be enough, it rarely is (sadly!) but if you can find other ways of dealing with what you’re finding hard to ditch, it could help a lot. For example, if you’re tempted to reach for a glass of wine when stressed, try calling a friend or putting on some relaxing music instead.

Another way to help you through is to set yourself one tiny change each week. If you always find yourself tempted to eat some cake at 4p.m. (a particularly difficult time of day, I find), try to avoid it by always planning a walk at that time or cutting an apple into slices and adding some nuts to the side so that it’s already there when you’re tempted by something more fattening.

Goals are often rather loose too – if you can make them less generalised, that can help. For instance, if losing weight is a goal, try asking yourself how doing so will make you feel and what extra things might you be able to do.

But food, drink and/or cigarettes aren’t the only habits that a lot of people want to change; relationships and their accompanying issues can trigger old habits such as being on your phone all the time, leaving the other person feeling neglected. Maybe they’re doing the same but if you want to change this, it will take a concerted effort. Another habit which is hard to drop is making remarks at your partner’s expense when you’re out. Maybe they laugh outwardly, but inside they feel hurt.

Being passive-aggressive within a relationship is also an easy thing to slide into but try to take a minute to think about what you really want to say instead of going into a sulk or being sarcastic. Criticising your partner’s family is another bad habit, even if what you’re saying is true. Blood ties are often some of the strongest out there and even if your partner agrees with what you’re saying, they might get defensive about their family being attacked.

It’s about spotting your triggers and then trying to avoid them or find healthier substitutes. I know that this isn’t easy but next time you give in to whatever temptation you’re trying to conquer, examine why you gave in……how were you feeling at the time, were you hungry, tired, bored or emotional?

Luckily, you can always learn from any lapses that you might have. Research shows that people who manage to keep to their long-term health goals view their slip-ups look at why that happened and then pick themselves up and start again. Progress isn’t a linear pathway but more a case of trial and error and learning what works for you.

I’m sure that you can think of other ways to stick to your goals – if so, let me know on this page so that other people can see your tips too.

You can see 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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

How Do You Know If You’re With The Right Person?

We all like to think that we have a good relationship but it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that it’s not always perfect. Does that mean that you’re not right together or that you should split up?

Sometimes, questioning what you have together is normal, even healthy, but what about if you’re having thoughts about someone else too? These sort of questions can consume you if you let them but, rest assured, that they’re pretty normal even if you feel guilty and confused about them at times.

It’s inevitable that we find other people attractive at times but whether you act on it or not is a different thing. Sometimes it’s because we think, subconsciously at least, that the other person outside our relationship might fulfil something that isn’t being fulfilled by our partner. This could be affection, love, sex, talking more or shared interests.

Also, something might have happened recently in your relationship that means you feel a disconnection with your partner. This might be the birth of a baby, a new job or a commitment that means you have less time to spend with one another.

If you’re serious about the relationship that you’re in, give yourself time and then try to address what’s been happening. Sometimes though, we just fancy someone else even though we know that taking it further would be disastrous!

But, if you want to continue with your partner ask yourself if you still have fun together, do you spend as much time with one another as you used to and have you been taking one another for granted. If these are things going through your mind, look at how you might improve things between you.

If the other person is someone that you don’t see all that often, try to avoid running into them when possible, tempting though it might be to be around them. If it’s someone at work, or a neighbour (even a cousin or relative of your partner), it’s worth thinking about the changes you need to make, like not seeing them quite as regularly, or avoiding certain communal areas at work. It’s easier to focus on what you have already, if the other person isn’t around so much.

Does this seem rather contrived? Possibly, but as a counsellor and psychotherapist I saw the misery caused by one partner acting on an impulse and ruining their relationship, if not forever, for many months ahead.

However, thinking about someone else endlessly is a signal that something needs to change, either in you or in your relationship so start talking to your partner, even if you’ve tried this before and things stayed the same. It’s an opportunity to make things better.

At the beginning, falling in love was probably easy – it’s a heady feeling and one that enhances our lives hugely. But we don’t have all the information about that person at the start and as time goes on, our partner’s faults are often all too easy to see. You have to balance what you know about them, positives and negatives, against the life you have and what you want. If that’s moving on together, it might need more work but it doesn’t mean that your relationship is doomed by any means. It’s flawed at times, but that’s because we’re all flawed as human beings and every relationship ebbs and flows. Also, lastly, we have a lot more expectations of a partnership now than people appeared to have years ago (some people might refute this!) so it’s hard to get it right all of the time.

What do you think? Let me know if you have any thoughts on this – maybe you’re going through something like this at the moment. Hopefully this blog has helped you sort out some things in your mind.

You can see 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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.                          #loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy