Category Archives: Loneliness

Can You Really Stay Friends With Your Ex?

In theory, it’s possible to stay friendly with your ex and, in some cases, it’s very reasonable – after all, if he or she was someone that you have a lot in common with, have shared different experiences with and hold the same values, why not? If you have children together, it can be especially beneficial as it helps with the flow of information and when you’re managing your different schedules (in theory at least).

But whether it actually works in practice is another thing altogether because sometimes it can make it harder to successfully put that relationship behind you if one of you starts dating other people. In an ideal world, if it’s what you both want, you’ll both find new partners and everyone will get on really well, even holidaying together and spending birthdays and Christmases together in some cases.

So this is when it can work:

  • You’ve both accepted that the relationship is well and truly over.
  • You both understand why you broke up.
  • Your relationship with one another is no longer full of emotion – it feels similar to your other friendships.
  • You can both handle appropriate boundaries and, more importantly, manage any nostalgic feelings that might come up without getting any deeper than that.
  • You’re both comfortable and happy dating other people and it’s what you want for one another.

But, maybe it’s time to cut ties if:

  • One of you is still secretly hoping you’ll get back together.
  • You know that, really, your ex isn’t fully over you.
  • You’re holding onto what you once had because you’re scared to separate your lives and start to live independently of one another.
  • If you’re the one who ended it and you feel guilty about that, sensing that somehow you ‘owe’ them some attention.
  • Your ex actually still occupies a lot of your time, energy and thoughts.
  • The thought of them with someone else makes you feel upset.
  • Being friends with them just doesn’t seem to work.

So, although you might decide that you can’t be friends at the moment, that doesn’t mean that things can’t or won’t change in the future. You might eventually come together in a new sort of friendship but that might take time, whether it be months or years ahead.

A key thing is to set some boundaries if you are hoping to be friends, such as how much information you share about your personal lives, how much time you spend alone together and how you emotionally rely on one another.

So, to sum up, give it time before you hurtle into a friendship that you’re not actually ready for, make sure you’re actually over one other and remember that any friendship will need to be different from the relationship you once had. And, it’s alright if you decide that it’s too emotionally complicated for you and hopefully you can explain that you need more time before you can be true friends. A friendship isn’t always possible and accepting that in itself is a big step forward.

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

Find That You Keep Repeating Mistakes?

It can be overspending so that you get into debt or other issues like always picking unhealthy relationships, whether it be with partners or friends.

Maybe our brains are actually designed to repeat mistakes although this isn’t yet fully understood, but it could be that we tend to focus on what we’ve done wrong (or perceive that we’ve done wrong) rather than looking at what we’ve done right.

For instance, a study that was published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science showed that if you focus on your past spending mistakes, it doesn’t stop you having shopping spree; quite the opposite in fact! But if someone focuses on good future outcomes where spending is concerned, they’re more likely to stop making poor financial choices.

One thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that people who grew up without a lot of boundaries don’t always know how to draw a line in their own adult lives. If you grow up not seeing your parents or care-givers establish limits, whether that’s around food, time-keeping or shouting about the slightest little thing, it’s harder to establish those boundaries yourself. You may disagree with this – after all, some people grow up thinking that above all, they’re going to be different from their parents and they set out to do that as soon as possible. If their parents were bad time-keepers, they always make a point of being punctual – and good for them.

If people are criticised a lot as children, they often grow up doubting themselves and any decisions that they make.

Sadly, any sort of abuse, whether emotional, physical or sexual, leaves children unconsciously believing that they don’t deserve good things and they make decisions as adults that prove that such assumptions are actually correct when that’s not necessarily the case.

So how can you avoid making the same mistakes again and again? Well, it’s not instant and takes some work but here are a few things that will help:

  • Learn goal setting that works. One way of doing this is making your goals achievable – in other words, one step at a time. If things don’t go according to plan, have a back-up that will still help you achieve your goal, maybe by a different route.
  • Focus on the future – as I said above, focussing on what we did wrong makes us more likely to do the same thing again so visualise how you want things to look in the future.
  • Stop beating yourself up if things go wrong – self-compassion is a good route to self-esteem and ultimately helps with decision-making.

As with anything, there will be blips along the way, but if you keep trying to look at your decisions and break any unhealthy patterns, eventually you’ll start having confidence in what you’ve achieved and what’s still left to achieve.

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

Caught Up In Yet Another Family Crisis?

Maybe your family doesn’t have a lot of conflict – in which case, lucky you – but if you often find that there’s friction, falling-out and shouting in your immediate or wider family, read on.

Although it’s normal to disagree with family members at times, if there are often arguments it can become very stressful and sometimes damaging too. Because people have different beliefs and values, it stands to reason that we won’t always agree with other people in the family. But, it’s how we deal with those differences that’s the key to calmer times.

Some families are very good at smoothing over differences and agreeing to differ on certain things, but for others it becomes almost impossible to agree to differ on certain subjects and there are often family members who become intentionally aggressive and hurtful.

It can be quite disconcerting to find that people growing up in the same family have such opposing beliefs and values, especially when it comes to disciplining children, experiencing a health crisis or being redundant. Basically, we want members of our own families to understand us and our needs, but they too have needs that might not be met during difficult times.

So, what can you do if you find this often happens in your family?

Well, one thing is that it’s better not to label people in your family – see my last blog published on 1 June regarding this very subject! If you find yourself saying things like “Well, that’s the way Joe is – he’s always been selfish”, try to think about whether that’s actually true or it’s just a shortcut to glossing over what’s happening.

That’s another point though – some people want to gloss over contentious subjects and not look any deeper into them and sometimes that’s more difficult to deal with than someone who gets into arguments very quickly.

If you can stand back from a situation, it can help enormously – it’s more likely that you’ll find some sort of resolution then. If you take the view “mine’s the right way and yours is the wrong way” it immediately polarises people, as well as irritating them. Of course, we all think that we’re right but trying to understand the other person or people is the first step towards a resolution. To understand, we have to really listen to what they’re saying and even if it sounds preposterous don’t write it off immediately. There’s a reason why they think that, even you feel that it’s an uninformed opinion.

If you find that you’re too angry to listen to them, suggest walking away and cooling down before resuming a conversation. That doesn’t mean ‘sweeping it under the carpet’, but coming back with clearer ideas of what you might say in future discussion. A conversation might begin with “I felt really upset when we talked before, but I really want to understand where you’re coming from. Could you start again and tell me what it is that you like/dislike about this?”

Some stages that families find difficult to negotiate are:

  • Birth of a baby – a reason to celebrate but it’s then that people realise that they have very different ideas about the whole process from breast feeding to education (and a million things in between!).
  • A young person becoming an adult
  • Separation and divorce – a big source of conflict in most families as people tend to ‘take sides’ and feel very strongly about what’s happened.
  • Changes in financial circumstances – other family members often have opinions about what you should do if you’re poorer or wealthier, for whatever reason, than previously. More money can cause envy, less can escalate people into resentments or, if they’re lucky enough not to be in that position, they often have an opinion about the person whose finances have changed. Unfortunately, they often feel the need to express that opinion, even if it’s unasked for!
  • A new job – if this means longer travelling time to work, this in itself can cause conflict as that person may not be so available for family get-togethers or to help out in ways that they used to.

So, the list is endless, but ultimately it comes down to trying to understand what’s happening and then navigating through it.

So, work out if an issue is really worth fighting over and then, if you feel that it is, keep in mind that the idea is to resolve the conflict, not necessarily win the argument.

Then (and this can be a hard one!), remember that other people aren’t obliged to agree with you about everything. They’re allowed their own opinions so try to respect what they’re saying and stick to the topic, not bring in other things from the past that are no longer relevant.

After that, try to find some common ground and work on that rather than the differences but ultimately recognise that you might have to agree to disagree.

If you can find some peace within your family and find some resolutions to any conflict that’s occurred, that’s priceless really – a happy family life is to be treasured, especially when things are particularly hard going.

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

Isn’t It Time That We Stopped Labelling One Another?

Labelling yourself and others

We all do it – dish out labels without always thinking about it and that’s partly because it’s easier for us to comparmentalise certain behaviours. By labelling others, we’re really saying “I’m not like that”.

But people are contradictory and complicated – a mixture of feelings, actions and thoughts and labels don’t allow for this complexity; for instance, we might say “he’s so selfish” but although that person might be very selfish some of the time, at other times they will show kindness and selflessness – to believe that they are made up of that one trait is short-sighted.

In other words, labels are rarely helpful long-term as they blind us to the diversity of life and people. It’s as if, by labelling them, we can then make assumptions about their entire personalities but labels are subjective and your label isn’t any more right than someone else’s.

As a Counsellor and Psychotherapist, I can see how people can change but if we label them, it’s difficult for others to recognise this change. For instance, if they’re seen as ‘a commitment phobe’, they can be judged on that by their friends and jokes will be made about how they can’t commit to a relationship, whereas that person might have looked at why they’ve previously found commitment difficult and looked at ways to turn that around so that, going forward, they’re ready for a different sort of relationship.

Even labelling someone in a positive way isn’t always helpful. If you’re always seen as kind and helpful, never creating waves, it’s hard to then be assertive and say that you’re not happy about something both at work and home. There’s a lot of pressure to always live up to that label and sometimes it’s too much.

Labels can be self-fulfilling too; if you’re always told that you’re stupid and will never do anything with your life, you will end up believing this and not pushing yourself to do better educationally or socially.

Another reason that it’s unhelpful to label people is that you can cut yourself off from those with whom you might get on well, even call friends, but they have a label that you can’t or won’t identify with and you find that scary. If a group is labelled in a negative light, it will affect your view of everyone in that group.

Labels can make us feel superior too; if you label yourself and/or your partner as one thing that you think is good, anyone who doesn’t come under the same label isn’t seen as ‘good’ as you. If you’re home is immaculate, it’s easy to label someone who’s standards aren’t as high as ‘sloppy or lazy’ whereas they may have reasons for different standards which could include tiredness, not enough hours to clean thoroughly or just different priorities. ‘Different’ isn’t necessarily ‘worse’.

So, labels are too simple to be able to describe someone, but they do turn the person into an object, to be viewed with superiority. So, let’s be more flexible with our perceptions about others – it might open up other possibilities and bring new people and interests into our lives that we’ve never explored before.

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

Does Your Partner Often Behave Like A Child?

This blog is about anyone, male or female, who’s living with a partner who often behaves like a child. Does this ring a bell with you? Do you often find that you’re the only one who keeps things on track by showing some emotional maturity? Or that you’re carrying them through life sometimes? If so, read on……..

In this dynamic, you can coast along happily for a while, maybe weekssometimes, but then they get tired, fed-up, bored or simply find it hard to cope with some of the stresses that life throws at them. Small disagreements become huge issues and that leads to explosive episodes of misunderstanding and conflict. Often, this behaviour can be traced back to their childhood where they were either spoilt by one or both parents, not encouraged to take responsibility and, most of all, not made to be accountable for their actions.

Whatever the reason, it can be really exhausting to cope with and you may feel that your efforts are one-sided and all to keep life running as smoothly as possible. There’s often very little compromise and they can become very demanding – they want what they want, when they want (much like a three year old child who hasn’t learnt about other peoples’ needs).

Often, partners like this are very loveable and kind some of the time but that’s not always enough to make up for the episodes of anger and disappointment that they display at other times, which can seemingly come out of nowhere. They may be sorry later on, but won’t take steps to change, saying that it’s just the way they are.

If you find that your partner has no real emotional control, that they lash out verbally whenever something goes wrong, looks to others to make them happy or struggles with a vision for their life before descending into abject misery, how can you deal with it so that you’re not constantly on the alert for the next problem?

  • First of all, try not to take the upsets personally – it has little to do with you and a lot to do with their immaturity. Not taking it to heart is easier said than done, but you have to find a way to brush off the pettiness and sheer nastiness at times.
  • Remember that you cannot change them so you’ll need to adjust and treat their childish behaviour for what it is – childish behaviour. React as you would to a child and when you stop expecting them to respond like an adult, you can start to build in boundaries.
  • Creating these clear-cut lines (boundaries) will protect your own happiness and wellbeing and they need to be prioritised over your partner’s childish behaviour. Communicate these to your partner and be very clear. There’s no point in mincing words – tell them what will and won’t be acceptable, not as an ultimatum, but more of an invitation to your partner to learn how to interact with you.
  • Work out what the consequences will be if they don’t respect these boundaries. It doesn’t have to come to splitting up but whatever you decide (leaving for a few hours or days, refusing to interact with them if they shout and become irrational or going out for a long walk, turning off your phone – only you know which will work best for you). The main thing is to keep to these boundaries, whatever happens.
  • Speak up for yourself – just because they’re immature doesn’t mean that things can slide. If you’ve been hurt, sit them down when they’re calmer and have an adult conversation with them. They have to know that they’ve crossed a line.
  • Think about whether their behaviour triggers something in you from the past – maybe one of your parents or siblings also behaved like this. It’s then tempting to try to replay what’s happened in the past and try to get a happy ending. It’s understandable but frustrating and means that you’re stuck in an endless cycle of trying to make things better. You can’t – only they can do this.
  • Prioritise yourself – you’re not responsible for them, even though it often feels like that and they will tell you that that’s the case, blaming you for whatever is wrong in their lives at that time. But you don’t have to support them through whatever crisis they may have got themselves into, whether that’s at work or home. They have to try to sort things out themselves and often, childish people don’t want a solution (frustrating, I know!).
  • Lastly, remember that you’re not their parent and they’re not your child. You can’t always find solutions for them, so think of your own personal goals and try to focus on those when the going gets tough.

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