Posted on Leave a comment

What would you say to your younger self if you had the chance?

walk-1March 8th is International Women’s Day and YouTubers and Twitter users are part of the #DearMe campaign that aims to ‘empower young women everywhere’. Women all over the world are writing and recording messages of advice and wisdom to their younger selves, to drive the message home.

Many psychotherapists offer similar techniques when aiming to empower clients. Having people close their eyes and imagine connecting with a younger part of themselves, then offering support, love or protection to that younger part can be an incredibly empowering and healing intervention.

This is because the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between something real or imagined.

It lacks the power of discernment and will readily accept a new and improved version of an event (it’s a bit more complex than that, but that’s it in a nutshell). The subconscious mind is not time bound so doesn’t really recognise past or future, it just IS. As such, rescuing a hurt inner child and comforting it really does make that part of you feel better.

A lack of self-esteem partly arises from us rejecting ourselves at different points in our lives

If we have ever felt isolated, guilty,  lonely, bullied,  blamed or shamed we  may reject that part of ourselves in an attempt to feel better. By banishing that aspect we aim to feel worthy and more loveable. That may work as a temporary measure but we are likely to feel empty and unloveable as adults unless we heal and empower these parts.

So here’s my challenge to you this week

(Oh and it isn’t just for women since I know I have some male readers too). Sit down with a pen and paper (you know my rule about being creative away from the computer) and write a letter from you now, to your younger self. Offer words of support, love and compassion.

If you really could step back in time and re-write the script and tell yourself not to worry, to recognise your skills and talents what would that letter look and sound like? Give it your best shot, imagine that you really are sitting there with the younger you, who most needs help and encouragement, try asking what that part of you really needs to feel positive and confident then take a few moments to listen, really listen to the inner response from that part. You might be surprised what comes up.

Here’s a clip from my letter to a younger part…” continue to care about others, Sue, that’s a really nice aspect of you, and make sure that you care about yourself just as much too. It’s okay to put yourself first sometimes.”

Let me know how you get on. If you need extra help try Stress Free With Confidence or Super Charge Your Self Esteem from the shop.

Suex 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

How Can I Mend My Relationship? Why hearing is not the same as listening

How can I mend my relationship
I asked Adrian Blake my friend and co-author of our book “I Just Want to be Happy” to share some of his wisdom from his years of experience in counselling couples.

Communication is the golden key to a better relationship. Communication is as much about listening as talking.

And remember, hearing is not the same as listening.

Children with attention deficit disorder, for example, may have very good hearing but their listening capabilities are poor.

They find it difficult to attend to what is really being said, and subsequently communication and relationships are difficult.

Here is an example of an exchange between a couple who are hearing but not listening:

Karen: The house is a mess. Why don’t you ever clean up?
Jamie: You can talk, you left it in a state this morning. There was loads of washing up in the sink. Anyway, what do you think I’ve been doing all day? I have my own work to do.
Karen: That’s not the point. You have more time than I do. It only takes a few minutes just to do a bit to help. You never do anything. It’s typical.
Jamie: I don’t do anything to help? If it wasn’t for me we wouldn’t even be able to live here. Who do you think pays most of the bills?
Karen: The bills! For heaven’s sake don’t talk to me about bills…

Here we see an argument rapidly starting to escalate. In the end, when the shouting stage is reached, one or the other will depart the scene, possibly slamming a door.

There is no conclusion, no resolution to the issue. Instead there is an open wound. Nothing is healed. Neither is really listening to the other because each is too busy thinking what they are going to say in reply.

Both are intent on defending their position at all costs, and launching counter-attacks. It starts off as a skirmish and escalates into warfare.

So how can they get a better result? Let’s replay it, but differently:

Karen: The house is a mess. Why don’t you ever clean up?

Notice how Karen feels angry and is taking one example – ‘the house in a mess’ – and accusing Jamie of not ever cleaning up. Karen wants to be heard but suspects that won’t happen, so is making as big an impact as possible to try to force Jamie to really listen.

Karen wants her feelings acknowledged, to be valued.

Importantly, this does not mean Jamie has to agree Karen is right. But for there to be progress, it does mean that Karen must feel listened to.

Jamie: (different response) It sounds like you feel really upset? Like perhaps you feel I don’t care enough about you or the house?

Here Jamie is reflecting back to Karen what he senses Karen is feeling. By doing this, Jamie is providing evidence that Karen is being listened to. Evidence carries weight. Jamie is saying in effect that he can see Karen’s feelings are real.

Jamie also takes it a stage further by responding with questions. This invites Karen to respond, so Karen gets the message that Jamie really wants to hear what she has to say.

This approach is likely to get a very different response from Karen. Compared to the “That’s not the point. You have more time than I do….” response there is likely to be a calmer, less retaliatory response.

Now that Karen feels listened to, there is less need for her to feel angry or to shout.

So K’s response might now be:

K: Well, yes, I do sometimes feel you don’t care enough about me or what I want.

(Still some anger, but less of it. Being listened to starts to defuse the anger. It starts to open things up. There is the beginning of communication).

So J might now respond:

J: Maybe it’s not just me not doing enough in the house, but it seems to you that I don’t value you enough either?

(Again J reflects back and again by using a question invites a response from K).

There are no accusations so there is no need to defend or counter-attack. We see the beginning of hope for this relationship. It will need practice and support from a third party, e.g. a counsellor, but it can be the start of something different and better.

Bear in mind, most partners do not want vengeance. They want to be heard,  listened to, to be valued, basically to love and be loved. As ex-Labour Minister Claire Short once said: “We’re all searching for love. Some of us are wise enough or lucky enough to find it”.

Posted on Leave a comment

Oh Grow Up! Do you know someone who still behaves like a child?

arthurThe parent, child or adult? Where are you coming from?

In the iconic film ‘Arthur’ starring Dudley Moore, there was a fantastic line where the butler played by the inimitable Sir John Gielgud says to his charge “Oh for heavens sake Arthur, grow up.” Dudley Moore who was around 5ft 2in (1.9m) and plays a spoilt, reckless, playboy drunkenly replies, “that’s alright for you to say, you haven’t got 10 pairs of short trousers hanging in your wardrobe!”

Arthur is a man who has never grown up. His childlike lack of responsibility, whilst endearing, doesn’t bode well for his taking over the family business and its fortunes.

Have you ever had a situation where you think you’re having an honest adult conversation with someone – your spouse, partner, friend or colleague – to have them suddenly turn it around on you and play the victim, the martyr or the child?

Or perhaps they become critical and judgemental, playing the dictator, the bully or the disapproving parent? Do you stay grounded and grown up in the face of this or do you get confused and shrink inwardly into child or morph into some critical, judgemental imitation of  a grumpy parent?

We can probably all recall situations where we have reacted unreasonably or in a way that we don’t quite understand and can’t shake ourselves out of.  Why is that?

In the therapeutic approach of Transactional Analysis, we are encouraged to view the psyche as having 3 main programs, a child part, a parent part and an adult part.

The Child

As a guideline, the child part may be identified more easily by ‘feelings’. As an example, strong feelings of being picked on or bullied,  feeling little and unable to speak out or stand up for  yourself  may manifest as fear  in the body maybe making it difficult to breathe. The feelings can be paralysing to the extent that we are unable to respond in a confident adult manner.

Related: Stop Letting Your Inner Child Rule your Life.

The Parent

Again only as a guideline the parent part could be identified by the word ‘should’ you should do this or that. Parents and teachers spend a lifetime telling children how to behave, so the inner parent part can sometimes translate internally as  quite stern, critical or judgemental.

The parent part maybe a very demanding part constantly wanting more or better from us. So as a marker when you identify the word ‘should’ in your inner chatter, you may have slipped out of an ‘adult’ who actually has a choice.

The Adult

In exploring this model you be forgiven for thinking  ‘I don’t know if I know who my adult part is!’  The adult part is who you really want to be and who you are when you feel more comfortable with yourself and a little  more self-accepting. It’s the you who is comfortable with your truth even if that truth differs from other people’s versions!

So how can we grow up? One way is to learn some assertive skills, read a book, take a course, google it and practise the techniques.

A short cut to assertiveness is to communicate honestly within ourselves first, in order to discover our truth.

Find a quiet moment and ask yourself ‘what do I really want, need or believe in order to totally honour and respect myself first in this situation?” Listen carefully for your answer  then when you’ve worked out  what you need to do,  pick a time to communicate that as openly and honestly to the other people involved. Preface it with the opening lines… “can I be honest with you?”  Let’s face it, it’s unlikely anyone will say, Oh no would you lie please!

Other people are not responsible for how you feel and you are not responsible for other people’s feelings – although naturally it is kind to employ tact, diplomacy and consideration for others.

One of my mentors Liz, always says ‘when we do what is right for ourselves, it is usually what is right for the other person in the situation’. Remembering this tip may help us to remain adult when others around us are behaving irrationally.

Anyhow one things for sure, as you get to know your assertive adult self there sure will be plenty of opportunities for you to practise staying in that state.

Enjoy and remember we love to hear your feedback.

Suex

PS. If you enjoyed that, you might like this: Why do I revert to child-like behaviour?

Recommended Reading & Listening:

Healing your inner child – This short and gentle program will guide you to empower yourself by showing you how to heal your inner child from past wounds.

Can’t Get Your Work Done? Here’s How To Hit Those Deadlines – A look at how your Inner Parent and Child can make getting your work done harder than it needs to be – and some tips on how to deal with it.

HEALING YOUR INNER CHILD

Posted on Leave a comment

These are my essential survival tips for a stress-free family Christmas

How to cope with ChristmasAs Christmas approaches it can be a time of mixed emotions. There’s such a lot of schmaltzy advertising and just about everywhere you look there are images of perfect Christmas scenes.

This is not the reality for many people. Over the years I have worked with clients who dread being thrown together with relations they clash with or can just about tolerate. The struggle for these people is to honour themselves without becoming too accommodating and acquiescent in the process.

Continue reading These are my essential survival tips for a stress-free family Christmas

Posted on

Growing up emotionally. Why childlike behaviour in adults can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Have you ever been around someone seemingly bright and knowledgeable only to notice them behave badly in a childish manner? Chances are something has stopped them growing up emotionally…

heal your inner child - adults behaving like children - Growing up emotionally. Why childlike behaviour in adults can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Emotional Growth

Collectively we still fail to understand the difference between intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence. While we grow up intellectually and chronologically, we do not always grow up emotionally. We can have gaps in our development for all kinds of reasons, but it’s often due to something that happened in childhood. For example, a child — let’s call him John — has has five blissful years on the planet when his father suddenly dies. His mother, in her grief, plummets into a depression that she never really recovers from.

John is effectively orphaned at that point. With neither parent there to attend to his emotional needs. This trauma and loss will likely effect John’s ability to learn. Unless that’s picked up at school, he could remain in that ‘state’ for the rest of his life. His development stunted, much like a scratch on a record, or a rogue program that keeps replaying. Years later, John is unresponsive and unemotional toward his partner, going through the motions but never fully connecting.

Continue reading Growing up emotionally. Why childlike behaviour in adults can be a sign of emotional immaturity.

Posted on Leave a comment

What Would You Achieve If You Knew You Couldn’t Fail?

Zig Ziglar

I frequently get asked by leaders and managers how they can stay motivated. This week, I was talking to a sales director who was asking why he had to constantly motivate his teams and I was reminded of this quote by Zig Ziglar:

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

In these challenging times, motivation is critical for personal, family and business success. Getting and staying motivated — both individually and as a family or team — is essential. People often see motivation as something that happens to you, either you are or you aren’t, but it doesn’t work like that.

Motivated employees produce better results. Motivated teams are more productive. Motivated families feel more content. Getting and staying motivated is something you need to work on consistently. It is something that you need to work on every day, every week and every month.

Finding your why

Individuals can motivate themselves more effectively by better understanding why they do what they do. They already know the ‘what’ of their role and the ‘how’ they do their jobs but what is their core ‘reason’?

What is really essential is to question the ‘why’ or the ‘reason’ you do what you do. Check out this amazing TED talk by Simon Sinek to find out more.

So, start to inspire yourself by setting your goals in writing (journaling your successes gives you a different relationship with your goals, is easy to do and reaps massive rewards) and remember to reward yourself every time you achieve a goal no matter how small. It makes a difference.

The business of happy teams and families

And remember, this is about your personal life as much as your working life. There’s a growing “Family Inc.” movement at the moment: that is, families that are run like businesses. Bruce Feiler recently wrote about the “business of happy families” in the Wall Street Journal and Patrick Lencioni’s “Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family” explores how many business principles can be brought into the home.

Teams and families can be motivated through inspirational meetings, team building exercises and development, to name just three easy methods. Happy teams and families are more productive and feel more valued. In fact, individuals who feel valued at work give around 18% extra discretionary effort.

Whatever strategy you choose it is not something that you can do once and then forget. It’s something you have to work on every day and every week. Regular meetings, updated business plans and goals  (yes, even with your family) will help to keep you on track and identify where further motivation is needed.

What can you do now to improve your and your team or family’s motivation levels today?

Recommended reading:

Change ONE thing in your relationship today. If what you’re doing isn’t working, do anything else at all.

The importance of positive people. Why it’s time to do a friend inventory.

Posted on Leave a comment

How to Lose Your Baggage and Lighten Up: Thought Hack

Lose baggage and lighten up

What lurks in the shadows? All that stuff we put to the back of the mind to look at sometime later – or perhaps never at all…

Back in the early 90s when I first started my practice the subconscious mind or the unconscious mind as it was often called, was also known as the dark side or the shadow.

What lurks in the shadows? Among many things the shadow houses our memories, perceptions, unresolved issues, and parts of ourselves that we are not too comfortable with.

It’s all that stuff we put to the back of the mind to look at sometime later, or perhaps never at all.

Continue reading How to Lose Your Baggage and Lighten Up: Thought Hack

Posted on Leave a comment

The Importance Of Positive People (and why negative friends make you unhappy)

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”― Alice Walker

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”― Alice Walker

Do you surround yourself with “drains” or “radiators”? Positive people who give you energy or negative people who bring you down? Here’s why it’s time to do a “friend inventory”.

The Framingham Heart Study wasn’t set up specifically to study emotions. But with over 5000 inhabitants of Framingham, Massachusetts signed up for the on-going study, scientists have been amassing a wealth of continuous social and medical data since 1948.

It came up with fascinating findings in 2010 that suggest emotions are as infectious as diseases, and (more importantly) that sadness is more infectious than happiness.

They found that having a happy friend increased an individual’s chances of personal happiness by 11 percent, while just one sad friend was needed to double an individual’s chance of becoming unhappy.

Continue reading The Importance Of Positive People (and why negative friends make you unhappy)

Posted on Leave a comment

Stresshacker Challenge: Change one thing in your relationship today

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

What’s the definition of stupidity? Doing the same thing over and over thinking we’ll get a different result. Yet how often do we do this?

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

Break the Pattern in your Relationship

If something happens once, well there you go, when it happens twice it could be a co-incidence, but when it happens three times? That’s a pattern. So you might want to change something. Just tweaking it a bit may well give you a more pleasing outcome. A scientist wouldn’t dream of repeating an ineffective process over and over, just to see if it works the 20th time around!

If what you’re doing isn’t working, do anything else at all!

It never ceases to amaze me how people do the same thing over and over in relationships – whether they are new dates, or long term relationships. It’s like running the same route in a maze over and over, hoping the outcome will be different. The same is true of any area of life – work, play and study.

So here’s our challenge

What one thing could you do differently today – right here now – that would make a positive shift in the way you relate to your partner, (child, mother, sister, brother, or whoever)?

We want you to try something really simple to interrupt the pattern. For example, you could change the tone of your voice when you’re next asking them for something.  If he always walks the dog, you do it. If you always meet in the same bar or restaurant, change the venue.  If one of you always pays, let the other one do it.  Try approaching your next interaction with that person from a position of wondering what you can do for them rather than what they can do for you.

Just tweak something – do it differently. Change is liberating.

Give it a go and then leave me a comment to let me know how you get on! I’d be really interested to hear the results. Did anything change?