Apr
16

Impact of Stress and Anxiety

anxiety physical responseThe physical impact of stress and anxiety on the body is interesting. Many people spend big bucks on trying to find a cure for a physical illness rather than face the reality that the problem might be psychological.

Change the way you think, by using the help I offer on this site and you will notice an improvement in your physical health as well.

Jan
12

Love your Inner Child

chinoI came across this amazing series of photos, “Imagine Finding Me” by the Japanese London – based photographer Chino Otsuka. With incredible skill she digitally inserts herself into old photos, so that she is standing next to her younger self.

The images got me thinking about “the inner child” ...

We were all children, that’s a no-brainer but what most of us are not aware of is that we still have that child living within us.  Whenever you think, feel or behave in a way you did when you were a child, it is your inner child that is acting out. A lack of awareness of your inner child will leave you wondering where so many of your behavioral, emotional and relationship difficulties stem from. Usually they can be traced back to your “inner child” acting out.

Ask yourself…

You’re an adult, but have you really grown up?
Is your unconscious inner child, the emotionally wounded, hurting child, controlling or influencing your adult life, trying to make your adult decisions?

For many it is a hurt, fearful angry little boy or girl (in an adult body) who is making adult decisions.  No wonder our relationships go wrong, and then we feel anxious, insecure and inferior, all the feelings we had as little children when we did something “wrong”.

Can you recognize behavior or reactions that you don’t like, that could possibly stem from an inner child deciding how you should react? What about temper tantrums, sulking or plain irrational behavior. These behaviors might be appropriate for a child, but they’re definitely not appropriate for an adult -your inner child is acting out and having control!

Action Plan

1. Become conscious of your inner child. learn to recognize when the inner child is directing how you behave.
2. You have two ways of reacting to your inner child.

Hate: You can get cross with yourself, with your inner child, just as your parent did to you when you were little and did something wrong. Isn’t it true that we so often hear the reprimands of our parents in our minds. You can carry on hating and blaming your inner child for all your  ills and remain a helpless victim. You can futilely attempt to force others into fulfilling your infantile needs, but this is also doomed to failure.

Love: It is only through loving your inner child that this child will ‘grow up’. Take your inner child seriously, consciously communicate with that little girl or boy within. Listen to how they feel and what they need. Unfortunately for most of us, certain infantile needs were, maliciously or not, unmet by our imperfect parents and they never will be.  A child grows up when it receives proper parental supervision, protection and support. But the only parent who can now do this is YOU, the Adult you.

Visualization: When the inner child reacts badly, reassure your inner child. Close your eyes and visualize yourself holding hands with a little version of yourself. Call that child “Little  ….. (insert your name)” and talk to that child in a loving non-judgemental way eg. “Little John. it’s okay you were trying your best, it didn’t quite work out, but don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you and together we will try again next time… we’ll keep practicing, til together, we get it right….)

The process of healing is a journey and not a quick fix and I wish you well on your recovery. If you want to ask me any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask something in the coment box.

For more on the inner child click here.

To see more of the amazing pictures of the adult Chino Otsuka inserted into the childhood photos of herself click here

Jan
04

Editing your life’s story for a happier ending – Lulu Miller

It was a rainy night in October when my nephew Lewis passed the Frankenstein statue standing in front of a toy store. The 2 1/2-year-old boy didn’t see the monster at first, and when he turned around, he was only inches from Frankenstein’s green face, bloodshot eyes and stitched-up skin.

The power of the pencil: Writing about a troubling event in the past can help recast it in a more positive way.

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

The 4-foot-tall monster terrified my nephew so much that he ran deep into the toy store. And on the way back out, he simply couldn’t face the statue. He jumped into his mother’s arms and had to bury his head in her shoulder.

For hours after the incident, Lewis was stuck. He kept replaying the image of Frankenstein’s face in his mind. “Mom, remember Frankenstein?” he asked over and over again. He and his mom talked about how scary the statue was, how Lewis had to jump into her arms. It was “like a record loop,” my sister said.

But then, suddenly, Lewis’ story completely changed … Read More…

Dec
15

Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013)

nelsonmandela

Nelson Rolihlala Mandela

I spent much of this week watching TV on the life of our beloved Nelson Mandela. What an extraordinary man we had as our President who brought about democracy in South Africa. Humility, forgiveness, empathy and love are some of the many lessons that we can learn from this man who spent 27 years in jail and emerged as a world leader.

When I counsel I often advise people to look at themselves as an actor in their lives. The script for your life is not set in stone. You can change the script! Look at your behavior and weigh up whether the consequences are what you would like. If not… then change the script.

So I was interested to read something along these lines in an obituary written by Mark Gevisser in the Mail and Guardian (December 6-12 2013, page 4).

In prison, Mandela had time away from the spotlight he had time to think about life. Mandela “learned about human sensitivities and how to handle the fears and insecurities of others, including his Afrikaner warders. He was sensitized by his own sense of guilt about the family and friends he had used during his political career. Mandela was racked by remorse about his absence as a husband and a father. By coming to see himself as an actor – a perpetrator, if you like – as well as a victim, he developed his most admirable quality: a capacity for empathy.”

He used this ability to empathize as a strategy to get what he wanted – for himself while in prison, for his people, and for his country. Empathy is the ability to ‘walk in another person’s shoes’ and so even the prison guards were won over. And to empathize you have to be a good listener, which he was, making people feel at ease.

This ability to empathize was the root of his almost inhuman lack of bitterness and forgiveness as well as his desire for reconciliation. Bitterness which leads to anger and a lack of forgiveness would have resulted in a different couse of events in South Africa’s history. Even where goodness wasn’t evident in others, his attitude and respect to others, that is,  his empathy, elicited the goodness he knew was embodied in every person.

He used his humor to help other relax or to disarm them or both, depending on the circumstance. He did not take a step – or do a jig – without calculating the odds. For the Rugby World Cup in 1995, Mandela insisted on keeping the Springbok emblem, which was strongly associated with the white oppressors. Mandela’s bigger purpose was reconcilation and it worked, the white people of South Africa were won over by his action. Mandela thought about the consequences of his actions. He certainly was a leading actor on the world stage.

So often we get bogged down by the small details of our lives, filling them with bitterness and unforgiveness, which ultimately affect how we behave. In Mandela we have a role model who experienced the worst that life could deliver, but his attitude to life and to others meant he reached great heights.

Lessons we can learn

  • Believe that there is good in all people. Even when people appear to be trying to do you harm (like Mandela’s captors) still believe that there is good within them, a goodness that needs to be coaxed out. Empathy is what makes people feel loved and understood. Try to understand others before you try to get them to understand you.
  • Listen well and forgive. Forgiveness is for your own sake as without forgiveness, bitterness takes root which is so destructive to the human spirit.
  • Weigh the consequences of your actions. There is the well known saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” WRONG ADVICE! Change that to: “If at first you don’t succeed, reevaluate what you are doing, form another strategy and then try again.”

Hamba kahle, Tata – Go well, Father!

For excellent advice on learning how to deal with anger by using empathy please click here.

 

Nov
21

Victims attract Rescuers

Pamela Williams

Pamela Williams

I’ve just had the pleasure of reading Full Circle, a collection of South African short stories by Pamela Williams. Her stories are amusing and many of the quirky endings were unexpected and gave me a good laugh.

Many people who struggle with depression fall into the category of ‘victim’ or ‘rescuer’ . Victims attract rescuers. You might even recognize something of yourself in this story. Hope you enjoy it.

Should you wish to purchase a copy of this book, you may do so via my contact form. Thanks Pamela for allowing me to share this delightful story.

CRY POWER by Pamela Williams

Judged by any standard, my sister Julie would not have been numbered among all things bright and beautiful. Neither bright nor beautiful, perhaps, but rendered strangely powerful by the air of helplessness, of defencelessness, which she exuded. Read more…

 

Nov
21

CRY POWER by Pamela Williams

Judged by any standard, my sister Julie would not have been numbered among all things bright and beautiful. Neither bright nor beautiful, perhaps, but rendered strangely powerful by the air of helplessness, of defencelessness, which she exuded.

At thirty-five, her figure had rounded, a roundness accentuated by the fact that she invariably wore white or pink or a combination of the two. One of the women whose husbands she had wheedled away and then married, had, I heard, described her as a marshmallow.

‘Why a marshmallow?’ a friend had enquired, puzzled.

‘Soft, overly sweet and with very little substance,’ had been the somewhat bitter, but startlingly accurate, reply.

Julie’s appearance had changed very little over the years: the large, slightly protuberant, unusually pale blue eyes continued to blink pathos, the unremarkable nose to wrinkle when she was not pleased, the rather slack mouth to settle as easily into a pout when she was crossed, the fair curls, which fell on to her forehead, to curtain a calculating assessment of what she could get people to do for her..

It was not difficult to imagine her in a playpen.

I was eight years old when my parents had their second child, another daughter. They were delighted; I reserved judgement.

My mother had gone back to work when I was two and I had been left first at a crèche, then at a pre-school and then at the after-care of Pinewood Primary School, until she fetched me at five each day.

Perhaps as a result, I had become an independent, self-reliant child. From an early age, I insisted on doing things for myself even if I had to struggle – and taking responsibility for my actions. A characteristic I have carried with me into adulthood.

‘Far too independent,’ my husband often said. ‘Why won’t you let me help you?’

‘Thanks, I’ll manage’ – my usual reply – became a catch phrase in our home. Even today, my children tease me with it. When I telephone and ask Jonathan, on loan to an electronics company in Singapore, whether he has found suitable accommodation, he says, ‘Thanks, I’ll manage.’ When I ask Janet, at present teaching on supply in London, how she will find her way to so many different schools, she replies, ‘Thanks, I’ll manage.’ And, although they are laughing at me, I catch an echo of my own voice in theirs.

Everything changed in my childhood home when Julie was born.

My father had had a significant promotion and so there was no need for my mother to return to work. She was therefore able to devote all her time and attention to the new arrival, who very soon learned to get her own way by either sulking or screaming if her every need – or even desire – were not immediately satisfied.

‘Remember, she’s only a baby,’ I was told when she threw her dummy out of the cot time and time again and I had to pick it up, rinse it and return it to her.

‘Remember, she’s still a baby,’ I was told when, as a toddler, she broke my Barbie doll and scribbled in my books.

‘She’s only a little girl, really,’ I was reminded when, as a five-year-old, she refused to do up her own buttons and I had to interrupt whatever I was doing in order to dress her.

And when she went to school, she interpreted my mother’s request that I help her with her homework as meaning that I was to do it for her.

There is no doubt that she succeeded in manipulating my mother and me to an extent. But it was our father who doted on her – was almost obsessed with her — and she had only to cuddle up and flap her eyelashes at him to have him agreeing to anything she wanted.

Although I looked very much like him, having inherited his dark hair, his rather pointed features, his energy, I was forced reluctantly to accept that I did not give him as much pleasure as my sister did and never had. He probably sensed my disdain of courting other people’s good opinion of me, especially his. If I could not please him as I was . . .

While I took delight in achieving, in setting myself goals, in competing with myself, Julie staggered through school, toppling precariously into the next standard at the end of each year until eventually she had to repeat one.

But she made up in charm and persuasiveness for what she lacked in intellectual capacity. Even when she was in the grades, she had small boys arguing about which of them would have the honour of carrying her small suitcase home for her.

‘My mother really should have bought a lighter one. This one is far too heavy for me,’ she would say with a sigh, and they would come running.

It had not taken her long to discover that victims attract rescuers.

So, when she was eight, her arm suddenly became too sore for her to carry her own chair back to the hall. Or, when she was older, she said she had a blinding headache and had not been able to see the board, would someone please copy out the notes for her? And, when she was a teenager, she let it be known that her bicycle had a puncture and that she really didn’t know how to fix it, nor was she strong enough to pump the tyre. Could someone . . .?

And the ‘someone’ was always male. A male who felt flattered by her need of him.

By the time she left school at nineteen with a very shaky certificate, I was married to Ed and our son and daughter had been born.

Her first job was as an assistant in a delicatessen, one which stayed open until eight in the evenings to provide take-away suppers. The owner’s wife did the early morning shift and Julie took over from her at noon and stayed on until closing time. She told me that she often needed to ask for – and got — assistance in carrying trays from the kitchen and in ringing up the right amount at the till. Looking helpless obviously paid off.

She didn’t like the work – but she did like the owner. The doors closed at eight but, after a time, neither of them left the building until much later than that.

Within a year, the couple were divorced and Julie had become Mrs Delicatessen. But the owner now employed other people to work the morning and afternoon shifts and his new wife stayed at home.

That marriage lasted just over two years. Lasted until she met an old school friend in a coffee shop one morning.

After they had caught up on each other’s news, the friend asked casually, ‘And where do you and Miguel go for your holidays?’

‘Oh, we don’t ever have holidays — he can never leave the business.’

‘Do you think he would mind if you came away with us for a week? We’ve booked a seaside cottage, only Pete will be fishing all day and I’d love to have your company.’

But on that holiday, it was Julie who did the fishing. Attracted to Pete from the start, she lost no opportunity of feigning ignorance or incompetence to enlist his sympathy, of asking him to fasten the clasp of her chain because her hair kept getting in the way when she tried, to dry her back after she had been swimming. The friend certainly noticed, but she said nothing. Said nothing – and wondered, so she told me when, much later, I met her.

Pete was a sales representative for a hardware company and he took to calling in to visit Julie during the day while her husband was at work. Julie, who always had something that needed fixing, a light bulb that need changing, a tap that was leaking. And, of course, she was so visibly grateful for his help, didn’t know what she would have done without him.

Within eighteen months, her friend was her friend no longer and Pete had become Julie’s second husband.

My sister and I had little in common and did not see each other very often – I was busy with my own affairs, acting as PA to an architect, running the home, bringing up the children

And Julie was busy with her affairs, affairs of a different kind. Affairs about which she told me in great detail on the occasions when we did get together, and always with an element of self-satisfaction which was signalled by an innocent blink of those limpid blue eyes – and even, perhaps, with a hint of pity for me because I led such an uneventful life.

Her marriage to Pete lasted longer, a full eight years. At first he thrived on being perceived as  the strong man about the house, the person in charge, the DIY specialist — and ‘do it yourself’ was not part of Julie’s plan for her life. Nor having children.

But her husband, she confided to me after she had been married for some time, seemed to be getting impatient with her, seemed less willing to indulge her every whim, seemed less enamoured of her helplessness, expected her to take some responsibility.

‘He’s so unreasonable,’ she complained to me. ‘He knew when he married me what I was like, that I wasn’t good at practical things, at making decisions on my own. Said then that he loved me for it, that I was his little girl.’

As I had anticipated, the marriage broke up and ‘old Julie’ – as Ed always referred to her –

moved into a second floor flat on the other side of town and muddled along on her own, inveigling men who lived in the same block to mend her electrical equipment, change locks, put up shelves, sort out her income tax . . . all, it seemed, feeling honoured to have been singled out to help..

And then she slipped and broke her ankle.

Once it was in a cast, she could have moved about in the flat quite easily on crutches and could have cooked for herself, but she managed to look so pathetic, to suggest that her suffering was so intense, that her neighbours started bringing her meals.

‘I suppose we’d better do something about old Julie, too,’ said Ed. ‘We are her only family, after all. Shouldn’t we have her here for supper a couple of times a week until she recovers? I could pick her up after work. How would that be?’

Frankly, I was tired at the end of the day and I found Julie exhausting. I remembered the dummy which she had deliberately thrown on to the floor and which had to be rinsed and returned to her, only to have her toss it out again. Remembered a Barbie doll with a missing arm. Precious books defaced. Endless buttons to be done up, laces to be tied. And later, going to her rescue when her car ran out of petrol, fetching duplicate keys when she locked herself out. It had all been going on for a long time. Too long. I had grown weary of being Big Sister.

But I relented. If Ed, who had had very little contact with her over the years, wanted to do her a kindness, how could I, as her only sister, refuse?

‘Alright, Tuesdays and Thursdays, then, but only until she’s mobile.’

It was agreed that Ed would take her home afterwards while I sorted out the dishes and tidied the kitchen. The return journey should take no longer than twenty minutes at the most.

On the first Tuesday, he was back home after half an hour.

‘Had to help old Julie up the stairs and see her safely into the flat, you know. That ankle of hers is still giving her a lot of trouble.’

On the first Thursday, he was back after three-quarters of an hour.

‘ Front door lock was giving a bit of trouble. Stayed to oil it for her. Poor old Julie is so absurdly grateful for any little thing one does for her.’

On the next Tuesday, he was back after an hour and on the next Thursday, after two hours.

He offered no explanation, but his face did.

After that, I issued no more invitations to supper and I stopped seeing Julie.

He didn’t.

And now you will understand how it happened that, in the middle of last year, my ex-husband became my brother-in-law.

Pamela Williams

Nov
18

A Lesson from Geese

Oct
22

Anxiety and love

Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It creates the failures. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” Anais Nin (1903 – 1977) French-born American writer.

Desperate for Love?

I can think of 4 things that people do to get love, that usually end up with rejection.

1. Excessive complimenting

Do you give others excessive compliments and at the same time put yourself down? Saying things like ‘I wish I could be clever like you. I’m just stupid.’ If you’re prone to doing this, you’ll have plenty more examples of your own! Unconsciously you’re hoping that these sorts of compliments will get the other person to love you. It’s more likely going to backfire. Excessive compliments don’t attract people, but make them feel uncomfortable and puts them off. In the end you feel unloved.

2. Testing the relationship

Some people desperate to be loved might test the relationships to the limit until they’re rejected. The rejection confirms their unconscious belief that they were unlovable in the first place and confirms the self image of being unlovable. Sad but true!

3. Stifling the person with attention

Or the person might overwhelm the recipient of their love with so much attention that it becomes stifling for the other person who then bales out of the relationship – confirming the negative, unlovable self-image. Our behavior always matches our self-image.

4. Seeking out ‘unavailable’ people to love

Have you ever sought out people who are ‘not available’ or who are a bit rejecting? The unconscious belief is that there would be something wrong with a person who just accepts you as you are – it does not match your self-image.

Self-love

Self love is actually very attractive to others and will draw others to you. Learn to love yourself. Getting involved in a wider range of interests can certainly help. If you focus on developing less intense relationships with a wider variety of ‘available’ people you won’t feel so desperate to get ‘love’.

We all want someone to love and someone who will also love us. Love is desirable but not a requirement for happiness. That would put our happiness under the control of someone else. And happiness is, after all, determined by our own thoughts, not by any outside event.

Oct
17

Stress Management for Women

woman with glassA young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’… She fooled them all …. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.

She replied , “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.

If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night… Pick them up tomorrow.

Oct
08

Quit begging for love

begging for love

All our behavior is motivated by a need and the Need for Love is a big one.

Who doesn’t want to be loved? But so often when you come across as desperate for love your attempts fail and it actually has the opposite effect – it drives people away and your love tank remains empty.

Quit Begging for LOVE!

STOP begging for love and admiration if your loved one isn’t willing to give it.

How do you beg for love?

  •  You beg when you constantly whine and complain, or in some cases, get upset, when your emotional or physical needs aren’t being met.
  • You beg when you allow that person to send you into depression because you don’t feel attractive or wanted.
  • You beg when you silently cry because you feel they doesn’t love you. (Feelings don’t always represent the truth)
  • You beg when you show your signs of hurt and despair each time you see someone else getting the love that should be reserved for you.

Let’s look at some examples

When you see your partner enjoying another person’s company you get upset. The only possible reason to get upset is because you see this as a sign that they don’t really love you. Can you think of another reason?

When your loved one doesn’t hold your hand or shower you with compliments, or send you flowers you get upset. So you sulk and withdraw expecting them to figure out what they did wrong. How unfair! Nobody is able to mind-read.

Nobody is able to fully meet your need for love … so quit all this trying!

Focus on loving yourself for the truly amazing person that you are.
Compliment yourself on the things you do.
Stop waiting for someone to validate you – it might never come and life will pass you by.

Inner love is very appealing to others and is a sure way of getting others to love you. Basically you’re taking the pressure off the other person. You’re allowing them to be the person that they are meant to be without them having to be hyper-vigilante at doing ‘the right thing’ to keep you happy and feeling loved.

All the things you’d like others to do for you focus on trying to do these very same things for others … You might be surprised at what happens. Make a list so this doesn’t just become a theoretical exercise.

‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets’. Matthew 7:12

If you are in a dating relationship and experiencing these issues, I strongly suggest you re-evaluate your expectations in the relationship. If you find it difficult to accept your partner for exactly who they are before you marry, I assure you it’s not going to get better after you’re married.

If you’re in a committed marriage, re-evaluate your expectations.  When your partner does something that you interpret as a sign that they don’t love you, ask yourself if your interpretation is correct. Your reaction could stem from your great neediness for love.

Two pieces of marriage advice that changed my life.

When I was newly married (36 years ago now) an older friend said to me. “Do not expect your husband to meet all of your needs, just as you won’t be able to meet all of his”. Wow! I thought my role as a wife was to meet all his needs. This insight was truly freeing!

When your partner does something that you interpret as them not loving you, ask yourself: Was my partner intentionally trying to hurt me? Usually the answer is no as we all do or say things that unintentionally hurt others. In this case, let it be, ignore it and move on.

Self love is what you’re aiming for, rather than nagging, complaining and sulking. Self-love is what will ultimately get your need for love met.

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