Our experiences with our caregivers create within us the means by which we understand the world, ourselves and how relationships work.

One of the greatest lies ever told is that we are ordinary or average. We are never ordinary or average. Each one of us has talents and skills to use to follow a path which will then enrich our lives and those around us.

Shame causes us to overreact to things that happen in our lives as these events trigger painful and shameful memories which can lead to reactions of anger and despair.

Shame is an inner experience. It is a sense of not being wanted, unlovable, and a belief that one is fundamentally bad producing a feeling of not belonging.

By relying on others approval, we sabotage ourselves by placing obstacles in our path and striving for unachievable goals.

The very basic relationship that affects all others is our relationship to ourselves. Need help with loving yourself? StartPoint Counselling is here to help.

While life follows a safe routine day-to-day, and I know what I’m doing and what’s likely to happen, I have a certain degree of security and an idea of who I am. However, life is currently changing, and we are not quite sure where it can end up or indeed, how it is going to look.

Surviving Christmas and the New YearChristmas and New Year seems like a demanding time of year. There are presents to buy, food to organise, the house to prepare for visitors or travel to be with family and so on. There are so many things that you must focus on. With this, all comes the feeling of overwhelm, exhaustion and the inevitable change in your mood.

The key thing to understand at these times is that we are the most powerful when we focus on the least number of things simultaneously. We are most powerful and most productive when we focus on a single task. When we focus on multiple things in a short space of time, we spread our power and risk the feeling of overwhelm and powerlessness.

At various times in our lives, the necessity to focus on multiple things is unavoidable. However, to reduce the overwhelm we need to make sure that we don’t lose focus on ourselves. It is so easy at this time of year to focus on the needs of others, wanting to please everyone else and to for everyone else to have a good time. Unfortunately, when the last piece of energy drains out of us because we haven’t focused on ourselves, we eventually run dry, and that is when the real overwhelm and tiredness sets it.

If you want to survive Christmas and New Year, remember that while focusing on others may be necessary and even beneficial, take the time to also focus on yourself and what you need.

(c) 2018 StartPoint Counselling

The Importance of Self-Care

If you can’t take care of yourself first, then you will have nothing left to give to others or to put it another way, if you don’t have it, you can’t give it.

Self-Care, Cars and Fuel

We go to the petrol station and put petrol in our car then it goes fine until the tank runs empty. When it does, our car has got nothing left to give and stops. To make sure that it doesn’t stop we need to make sure that we keep the car’s tank with some fuel in it. Seems so obvious when you talk about cars and petrol but human beings seem to think that there is some spiritual force which will allow them to break what is a natural law and continue to give without filling their tank.

Difference between Self-Care and Selfish

Self-care is nurturing ourselves, validating ourselves and taking care of the emotional side of ourselves. However, it is common for people to say if you do that then you are selfish because you should be focused on everyone else and not yourself. But selfishness is really about being self-absorbed to the point where everything is about you and is never about anyone else while self-care as a way of topping up out tank is about looking after ourselves so that we can help and focus on other people as well. There is a significant difference.
Another way to look at self-care is that it is an internal emotional tune-up that helps us to function better much like a car runs better after having its electronic/mechanical tune-up.

Self-care sounds great but who the heck’s got time to do it?

We are way too busy, there are way too many demands and seemingly way too little time. So how can we self-care when our time is limited.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of self-care first, just so that we can see how important it is.

• When you give yourself a few minutes per day, you get to know yourself better. Ever want to be authentic then you need to know who you are first
• You can’t take care of others unless you do self-care. If your body is not healthy, your brains had enough, and you feel spent, used up, and burned out, then there is no chance of you helping others
• Want to go from simply existing and feel like you’re living? A little bit of self-care is a difference that you’re looking for
• Ever wonder why you’re here? A little bit of self-care, and getting to know yourself is a great way to start to find out what your purpose in life is
• Want to be empowered? The only person who knows the real you is your inner self, and the only way to connect with the inner self is to take time out for self-care
• Want to get motivated? There is nothing less motivating than being run down and drained. Self-care builds you up, empowers you, refreshes you, and tops up that tank so you can go the distance
• Want to feel validated? Taking the time to focus on yourself and exercise some self-care is the greatest way of saying you matter.

So now you know the importance of self-care let’s now discuss how you can fit self-care into what is for everyone these days is a busy day.

1. Set a specific time-slot in which you were going to do something that you want to do. Now, this doesn’t mean it has to be for an hour or more. It could be 15 minutes; it could be half an hour, it could be longer. It could be as simple as a 30-minute bath.
2. Get some exercise. It does not have to be strenuous. Start by making sure that you walk a little bit more than usual during the day.
3. Make sure you get enough sleep. When we are asleep our brain detoxifies itself.
4. Keep a journal. When I say a journal, I’m talking about on in a brief dot point format. Record what you do during the day I think you’ll be surprised what you do and I think it will boost how you feel about yourself. Keep a journal allows you to see when changes will bring benefits to your life.
5. Make sure you talk to friends and family. Make sure those you choose to talk to are supportive of you. Networking with other people is a great booster.
6. Read a fictional book. Fictional books require us to use our brain to be creative as we imagine the characters and the storylines as we read the book. Great escapism and a great way to exercise your creativity. Reading on a regular basis helps to keep your mind sharp.
7. Listen to a podcast on something with is of interest. It exercises the brain and expands your world.
8. Listen to some music that makes you feel great. Research indicates that listening to music enhances already positive emotions and is a great booster for your mood.
9. Go for a walk outside even if it’s only for a few minutes
10. Reduce stress by being realistic about what is stressing you. There is some research that says stress may be contagious and the more stressed we think we are, the worse it is for us
11. Make sure that you are focusing on the present and not the past and the future. Focusing on the present brings us back to focusing on where we are now and what we are experiencing now. Not spreading your energy over three time frames (past, present, and future) empowers us.
12. Try to be happy. There is research that suggests that feeling happy may affect our health for the better. Apparently, there is a simple way to feel more uplifted, and that is to crack a smile.
13. Try some meditation. Most people say I don’t have time for mediation but click on this link, and you’ll find ten ways to easily and time effectively include meditation into your day-to-day life.
14. Focus on eating better. Fruit and vegetables actively enhance health
15. Look at something cute. Looking at pictures of baby animals is usually an instant mood booster and can boost your productivity.
16. Try decluttering. Clutter can stress us out.
17. Pamper yourself with a massage.
18. Cuddle. Cuddling is good because physical contact reduces stress and releases a hormone that enhances happiness
19. Take a vacation however short.
20. Be assertive. Assertive means standing up for yourself by being tactful, rather than aggressive. Being diplomatic is a good description of assertive. If you’re not assertive, then you risk being passive and risk ending up resentful.
21. Wear clothes that make you feel good
22. Make sure you drink enough water as this hydrates the skin, makes you look better and feel better and flushes toxins out of your body

Summary

• Self-care is essential if you want to have the capacity to give to others
• Self-care and selfish are two very different things
• Self-care has huge benefits
• Self-care can be fit into a busy day (22 ways are listed in this article)

Need help with anything in this article.

Call Tracey on 07 34581725.

© Tracey Janke, StartPoint Counselling 2018
07 3458 1725 / 0409 272 115

Loneliness affects everyone whether it is a loss of a relationship, a partner who is away from home due to work or other commitments or the desire for a relationship that you have not experienced yet.

We experience loneliness because we are social beings who are biologically programmed to be in a relationship. When the relationship aspect is missing, we feel lonely. Loneliness can be debilitating and can lead to depression. We need to be able to manage those times when we feel lonely. The first and most important strategy is to have a plan and to identify the thoughts that are pulling us down.

Have a plan

Identify the times that you are most likely to feel lonely. At these times make plans with friends or family or plan to watch some movies or TV series. Consider joining a class that interests you, reading a book or learn new things.

Identify the thoughts that you have when you are lonely

Write down the thoughts that you have when you are lonely. These thoughts might include

I will always be alone
I must be a loser because I am alone
I can’t stand feeling lonely
These are fairly normal thoughts for people who feel lonely. It is important that you question the validity of these thoughts that pop into your head instead of just accepting them.

For instance, to say that you are always alone is saying that you are never with anyone. That simply is not true. It is probably true to say that you are often lonely.

To believe that you are a loser because you are alone is also questionable because everyone is alone at some point so is everyone a loser? Loneliness is a situation and not a reflection of you.

Not being able to stand to be alone is a strong statement. You may not like to be alone, but you can control the way that you relate to it. You try to repel it by being angry, resentful and depressed or you can realise that you can take action to deal with your feelings and accept that loneliness is a part of life and it comes and goes.

With a plan in place and our thoughts identified it is time to consider some useful strategies.

Coping with loneliness

Laughter

Laughing has been scientifically proven to benefit your health. When you’re lonely laughter is the farthest thing from your mind. Learning to laugh by yourself is empowering. You do not need to rely on others to make you happy.

Watch a funny film or funny clips on Youtube, read a joke book or look at funny pictures. Laughter is great for the release of feel-good endorphins in your brain again.

Take care of yourself, physically and mentally

It is easy to neglect yourself when you are feeling low. Taking care of your body is the beginning of feeling better. Try a nice bath, a massage, listen to uplifting music, watch a good movie or TV series.

Pets are important

If you have a pet, then you don’t live alone. Pets are great companions, and you can talk to them. Even if a cat or dog is out of the question, there other pets like fish. Interaction with a living thing other than yourself will help hold off loneliness.

Try new things

Occupy yourself with things that feel creative and exciting. Master a new skill, take on a new hobby or find other ways to express yourself.

Don’t physically shut off from the world – fight the urge to isolate yourself

Open the house up every day. Create an outdoor space where you can interact with nature. Looking outside or being outside reminds you that you are not alone.

Have people over

Invite people you know over for food and drink or watching a movie.

Be around people

We are social beings who crave the physical, emotional and psychological company of fellow human beings. So if you are feeling lonely, you need to go out and be near people. You can go and sit in a public space and by watching other people as they pass by you can be near them. While this will not fully meet your needs, it will help.

Volunteer and work with others

Get out of your comfort zone and get involved in a common goal with other people. Volunteering is a way to meet new people.

Recognise that being alone can be beneficial

Being alone can be peaceful, quiet, and give you space and the opportunity to connect with your deeper self.

Relate loneliness to your values of connection

Loneliness reminds us of the value of connection, intimacy, and sharing experiences with others.

Consider counselling

Counselling is a proactive way to learn to overcome the self-defeating behaviours that heighten your feeling of loneliness. With the support of a counsellor, you can learn to change your thinking and relationship patterns and improve the way that you view life.

(c) Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2017

07 3458 1725 / 0409 272 115

As human beings, we are biologically programmed to be in a relationship, but we are also programmed for self-protection. In many relationships, a tug-of-war exists between these two programs with self-protection often winning out.

Because we know that not all relationships are beneficial for us, we approach any relationship with one question in mind. This is a question that we are not consciously aware of but one that determines what happens in the relationship.

To evaluate a relationship, we have a question which constantly plays through our head, and that question is “are you there for me?”, or we can modify to “do you have my back?” or “can I trust you?”. If we internally answer that question with a “yes”, then we feel that the relationship is safe, beneficial and worth pursuing. However, if we internally answer that question with a “no”, then a chain of events is put into motion which will ultimately cause issues within the relationship. A “no” answer will cause an emotional response, and that response comes from a part of our brain which stores memories, associated emotions and what we have learnt from them. Recall of memories and associated emotions is extremely quick. We react emotionally to the situation. This emotional reaction is not an overwhelmingly positive one. Depending on one’s life experiences the reaction can be quite severe. For example, if you have been in relationships where you felt you were always betrayed, put down and used, then anything that makes you feel that you are in a similar relationship will elicit a severe negative emotional reaction.

Once the emotional part of the brain is well and truly fired up the thinking part, or rational part of our brain starts to shut down, and we become ruled by the emotional part of our brain. This part of our brain is not thinking things through logically but is reacting based on past experience. If the reaction is severe enough that will trigger our fight-flight syndrome and we will return the perceived attack or remove ourselves from the situation.

In a relationship, we can be easily triggered by innocent statements made by our partners that due to our life experience elicit an emotional response, and we feel that we are being victimised or attacked. An emotional response triggering a fight-flight system may indeed elicit a response from us which will start to build into a heated confrontation. I’m sure many of you if not all of you have experienced this at some point in your relationship. There is nothing logical about arguments. Arguments do not solve anything. They are emotionally driven, and the main point of an argument is to defeat your opponent which in this case is your partner. In an argument, both of you start to allow the emotional part of your brain to run everything. You are only getting hurt. Even if you win, you still feel hurt.

A method that I teach my clients to deal with these situations is simple but takes a bit of practice. If our partners inadvertently say something which fires us up, then we need to ask a question which is “what do I think is happening here?”. The mere asking of this question requires you to re-engage the thinking part of your brain and helps to balance the emotional and thinking processes. If you are not capable of asking yourself that question, then your partner needs to ask you “what do you think is going on?” Once again, you’re forced back into using the thinking part of your brain.

It is important for us to be able to prevent the emotional part of our brain from ruling. Emotions are extremely important in the overall picture of things but if allowed to dictate your actions, you will end up with a way less than optimal result. Many people react to these situations as they deteriorate, in the belief that their partner is deliberately trying to make their lives hell and deliberately trying to hurt them. This is a belief which is based on past experiences.

Unless you take deliberate action to step in and interrupt the process, then you’ll keep getting the same old crappy result. Remember we are always asking the question “are you there for me?” If your belief system is based on a life experience that people let you down, then you will answer that question with a “no” triggering the whole emotional reaction and fight-flight. We can call that process default action which is the action you take without thinking. Only deliberate action (questioning what is really happening) changes the process that is happening in the present moment and with this change you can look forward to getting a different result.

Need some help with this process? Please contact me on 07 34581725.

(c) Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2017