Chat

Therapy session 1 – it’s a process

Sending yourself to therapy, does that make you crazy? Maybe it makes you attention seeking? Like you’re looking for a problem that maybe doesn’t even exist. You’re looking for something or someone to blame all your out of character actions on perhaps?

But your brain is an organ, and just like your liver or your heart it can get sick when it isn’t treated with care, right?

We know all about the things we should and shouldn’t eat, we know how much water to drink, we even know how many steps we should be doing a day and how many times a week we should be hitting the gym. So why do so many of us seem to falter when it comes to looking after out minds, like we don’t know how to care for that part of us or like asking for help from people to give it the care it needs we feel weak and damaged.

Would you call someone who’s constantly suffering from heart attacks that they’re crazy for trying to go to a professional for help? Doubtful. so maybe more of us should shut the f***k up when it comes to giving an opinion on someone and their need to give their minds some more care and attention.

You know what the sad fact is, the people who take themselves to therapy are in most part there to deal with the people in their lives who should be in therapy. Ironic really.

But anyway, how can I be a such a big advocate for something and be out here telling people around me that they’d benefit from going without actually trying it myself. Seemed hypocritical.

All I can say on a verdict on session one is this – we all have issues. Therapy actually takes a lot of mental strength. Most of us go into defence mode when someone points an issue in us, so get ready to battle some demons that you’ve hidden down VERY deep. Get ready to have memories triggered that you didn’t even know existed. And for me, quite possibly the worst part …. get ready to cry in front of a stranger who’s managed to trigger an emotional response in you just by talking about what’s currently happening in your life.

Something no one knows really is this, you’re going to actually feel worse before you feel better. As memories and experiences get dragged up out of the gutter of your subconscious.

If you’re going to therapy to look for other people to blame for your issues, then you’re probably not going for the reasons you should be, and if you come away with a victim mindset, then you’re not ready to do the growth you should be either.

Therapy isn’t there to give you an out for being a shitty person. It’s there to help you understand all the things that go on in your head when you don’t understand them yourself. It’s there to give you valuable tools so you can stop falling into recurring toxic patterns and making the same mistakes.

But above anything. I think the most important thing to understand is this: therapy is not for the weak, it’s for people who want to understand themselves and are ready to stop making the same mistakes they always do.

It takes a lot of mental strength to voluntarily go through a process like this. And I’m still very much a big advocate for it, but only for those who I think have the mental competency to hack the journey it takes you on.

Chat

So tell me, what does love look like to you?

The Journey Church: Marietta OH > Faith...The Battle for Your Heart and Mind

A very key and important question I like to ask anyone who sits in front of me newly in a relationship “What does love look like to you?”

Why is this such an important question you might wonder, well to put it quite simply I like to figure this out because normally the idea of what love is to someone will look and sound totally different in the head of their partner. So if the two of you have different ideas of what love is, how will you know once you’re actually in it? (and by it obviously I mean love)

Even if you’re not with someone right now, it’s still an important question to wrap your head around, because your idea of love that you have in your head might actually look totally different to what you find yourself in in real life.

In your head love could look like grand romantic gestures, passion in abundance and endless amounts of affection. When in reality, the relationship you’ve found yourself in is actually representing love in a calm, supportive and romance in every day small actions kind of vibe ….. so naturally when your built up idea isn’t matching the reality, it will be hard for you to accept that this is in fact love.

If you’re anything like me you grew up idolising your parents relationship, you looked at them and the unit they’d created as if that’s the only version of love you ever want to experience. But then …. well, we grow up. We start noticing that maybe this relationship we idolised isn’t actually as prefect as we first thought. It doesn’t mean there aren’t aspects we still adore about it, but what we can realise is that we probably won’t want to duplicate that kind of love. I like to refer to this as our rose tinted glasses falling off.

As we grow up and start experiencing our own relationships and our own heartbreak, our vision of love will begin to morph into what we know we want our “forever love” to feel or look like, it’s very rare for someone to view love in the same way consistently throughout their lives, I’ve never heard someone say they see love in the same way they did as a teenager vs when they hit their 30’s, unless of course, they haven’t taken any lessons from their relationship experiences!

While searching for lessons in break ups has always tended to be known as a more feminine trait to help us process the heart break, I think it’s very important for anyone going through a break up to sit back and take some time to understand what that relationship has taught them about love so they can take something with them going forward.

When I look back on who I was at the age of 21 and what I wanted from a relationship I can see how much I’ve grown as a person and to me that’s a great sign that I’m moving in the right direction. While at 21 I wanted to be in a relationship consumed by chemistry and a level of sexual attraction that drives two people to act in crazy ways, I’ve actually come to realise that actually what I crave in a relationship above anything else, is a sense of calm. I love knowing that I have someone who will be in my corner no matter what and always be on my side in times of external conflict, but to me that shows I’m ready for a relationship that has longevity rather than short term satisfaction.

So here’s the questions I want you to sit back and ask yourself now:

  1. What does love look like to me in my head?
  2. Do I really really think that idea is something sustainable in a real life relationship?
  3. Have I ever experienced a different kind of love to the one I thought I wanted in my head and how did it make me feel?
  4. What are the core values I bring to a relationship to make sure I give and receive the kind of love I want?
  5. How has my perception of love changed in the last 10 years?
Chat

Confirmation Bias and a serious case of regression

Did you know our brains are there to protect us from things that we register as dangerous? Like it will literally send chemicals around our body when it senses danger.

And you know what we register and scary and dangerous? – the unknown. And what gives us the biggest sense of “the unknown”? Well … a break up.

When a relationship ends we enter into the biggest unknown phase that we’ve been in for a while, so we tend to go into flight or fight mode.

We start going over things in our minds like, what will I do without them, how will I fill my time, what will my future look like. Etc. Etc. But all of these questions open us up to the big scary “unknown

To our brains …. regression is the biggest form of self protection because it’s taking us back into a sense of known behaviour and our brains associate that with being safe. Our brains will literally play neurological tricks on us to make us feel like the sun shines out of someone’s back side and they can do no wrong, just because dating someone new seems too scary.

So wether you’ve just been dumped or you’ve just dumped someone, keeping a good check on your brains need to regress to your former person because they represent safety is something I would definitely recommend.

Before going back to someone you need to ask yourself these questions because another neurological issue we can be facing is falling into a state of confirmation bias.

What is confirmation bias I hear you asking?Well … you know that saying about rose tinted glasses? It’s kind of like that. It’s when our brain goes looking for memories to back up our own views and in the case of a break up, our beliefs are that the person we aren’t with anymore was the best person in the whole entire world because our desired outcome is to believe that we won’t ever find anyone that compares to them.

When we feel ourselves missing someone our brains will literally search for reasons as to why this is true, so suddenly all we can think about are the positives in an ex just so our brains can back itself up for missing them.

So when the need to regress tricks your neurological systems into a state of confirmation bias, remember that everyone has a flaw. Seriously … everyone does and I can guarantee that for every one thing you miss about someone, there will be two things that make you better off without them.

So here are the questions I like to ask myself to make sure I’m not being tricked by my own love confused brain post break up.

1. What did they bring to me that I can’t bring to myself?

2. What was a deal breaker I was happy to overlook while I was with them but not now?

3. Did they do as much for me as I done for them?

4. What traits that they have are actually irreplaceable?

Dig deep when you think about answering these, because I can guarantee that when you really think about it, you’ll see that your brain has probably tricked you into a right f***ed up confirmation bias situation!

Chat

Why verbalising “I love you” seems so damn hard (to me)

The last few weeks have felt very self reflective for me, I tend to direct myself towards the route of self discovery and personal growth when faced with situations that I find emotionally challenging, so it got me thinking …. Why does telling someone I love them feel so unimportant to me, until people around me start asking if I’ve told the person I’m dating that I love them yet, it really doesn’t enter my head.

I really had to delve into my childhood to find an answer to this one, but really it came to me after an off topic conversation with a friend about the importance of understanding a partners love language and what we naturally gravitate towards to express our love for another person.

It suddenly dawned on me that ‘I love you’s’ weren’t something that were thrown around left right and centre as I was growing up, and I’m not saying that’s because there was no love in my family, in fact it was quite the opposite, but we knew we loved each other in different ways rather that constantly telling each other that we love them.

As I was growing up, I was shown continuously that the way someone expresses they care about you or love you is through doing things for you, from cooking you a meal, helping you with homework (one of my parents expressions of love), buying you new things or taking you on days out etc. 

Even when I look at the relationship my parents had (all be it not an ever lasting love affair) but my mum would show she cared about my dad by looking after me and my brother and not asking for help and always making sure she had home cooked meals prepared for him, it was even shown when she supported him throughout a career change. And my dads way of showing love was through financial support, he would ensure we kept a (large) roof over our heads and he would always take us on a lavish family holiday once a year. 

But this proves my point – all of these expressions of love are action based, not word based. And this was what I grew up around.

So now here’s my question I’ve had to ask myself, is this why I have such an issue with verbally expressing how I feel about someone? Quite possibly.

To me, as soon as I start going above and beyond for someone through doing things like booking weekends away, cooking for them, making the bed and making them a coffee when they want one, I’m showing how much I care or that I’m falling in love with them (because trust me, unless I really like you, I will probably always hesitate to do things for you) and it replaces the need for that all be it intimidating (to me) three word eight letter sentence.

I also tend to forget that not everyone will understand this expression of love and will need to hear exactly how I feel about them because doing things isn’t an obvious enough sign if your love language isn’t acts of service. But here’s the funny thing, I don’t want to receive love through acts of service. In fact, I want someone to tell me how they feel about me, I like having viral reassurance which is why words of affirmation is my joint top love language – so although I cant express love this way, I do want to receive it this way, which has some kind of twisted irony to it really!

But here’s the thing, the type of love you grow up around will either do one of two things to you as an adult. You either admire the love you’ve been around as a child and want to replicate that in adulthood, or … you want the total opposite because you crave what you didn’t have.

So although I can’t bring myself to tell someone how much I care about them or how much I love them, I do want them to tell me – talk about hypocritical. But it does make sense because I want the opposite of what I’ve grown up around.

My childhood also wasn’t filled with constant expressions of PDA either between my parents or towards me and my brother from my parents. We weren’t raised by overly ‘huggy‘ parents and yet for me now as an adult, physical touch is the joint top love language I want my partner to express towards me to show that they care.

So here’s the question I’ll pose to you – how did your parents express love to you and your siblings and each other?
And how do you think this has impacted what love actually is to you?

When you actually sit down to think to answer the question of ‘what is love to you’ its initially going to be hard to answer, but a lot of us will form our answer based on what we’ve seen and experienced, either through what we’ve grown up around or from the rom coms we’ve seen at the cinema. But it’s important to be able to answer the question taking out external factors that may have shaped our opinion.

Chat

Here’s how to know if you’re self sabotaging your relationships (and how to stop)

Healthy relationships take a lot of work, and often that can mean taking a good hard look at your own dating behaviours. There are many ways we can screw up our romantic relationships without even realising it. But it’s important to think about how we could be actively sabotaging our relationships.

So how do you know if you’re self sabotaging? If you self-sabotage, you’ll probably tend to put up barriers to intimacy, This might look like being hypercritical, unassertive, picking fights, being overly distrusting or jealous, needing constant reassurance, and so on.

The roots of self-sabotage are often from early negative childhood experiences. Often it results from parents (or other caretakers) who have been either unresponsive, abusive, or inconsistent in their responsiveness and caretaking toward the child. It triggers deep-seated feelings of being unworthy or not good enough. It fosters a negative view of oneself and negative expectations or mistrust toward others.

Are you self-sabotaging your relationships?

You can speak to any expert and they’ll explain this behaviour is really common, and many of us can be guilty of self-sabotaging our relationships without even realising it. So here’s how to know if you’re doing just that.

5 Signs of self sabotage

1. You avoid pain

This is when you allow yourself to get to a certain point in a relationship before pulling back. Maybe you’ve seen too many sad films or really took to heart the saying ‘love hurts’… whatever the reason, avoiding pain is the outcome. This can manifest in a number of ways, from creating ‘bottom line’ issues out of nothing, to convincing yourself that this person isn’t ‘the one’ (if you believe in that in the first place) so you should move on.

2. You live in a fantasy land

So many people manage to avoid falling for someone because they adhere to a strict code. This is a list of ‘must haves,’ usually created in a much younger, more immature psychological state that leads that person to sabotage any and all future relationships – based on the skewed notion that the person they’re with isn’t worthy of their affection. Fantasy land behaviour often occurs within the first six months of a relationship and offers a sense of control and power that might have to be relinquished if you allow yourself to be vulnerable with another person.

3. You listen to your inner critic (waaaay too much)

We all have one, you know that little voice that goes on at you, telling you to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Yup, that’s the one. Well it’s our inner critic that, more often than not, is responsible for self-sabotaging our relationships. Convincing ourselves that we’re ‘not worthy‘ or that ‘it’ll all end in tears anyway so what’s the point?’ is the main reason a lot of relationships can fail. We don’t allow ourselves the chance at happiness because deep down we don’t feel we deserve it.

4. You care too much about what other people think

For some people, the opinions of others far outweigh that of their partners. This can be hugely damaging to a relationship. Sometimes hearing the opinion of other people will impact decisions you make about your relationship more so than anything your partner does/says because you’re trying to find reasons to convince yourself of why it won’t work.

5. You forget that you’re not the same

Expecting your partner to think, feel and act in the same way as you do is another form of self sabotage. Rigid thinking is an unhealthy way to live and can cause great stress and upset to your relationship. Accepting and appreciating that your partner’s experiences, understandings and ultimately the way in which they identify the world are different is the only way you can truly co-exist happily with one another.

3 ways to turn off self-destruct mode

1. Practice introspection

Notice what you’re thinking when a relationship starts to get tough or when you’re trying to take the next step. How do those thoughts connect with experiences you’ve had in the past? Are you recognising the need to pull away as something that’s happened before.

This is a great time to investigate your attachment style and whether there are things you could process so you don’t carry them into future relationships.

Think about your self-esteem level and whether there’s room for improvement. Practice self-compassion as you face fears about being vulnerable with a partner, if you convince yourself you’re not worthy of being loved then this will inadvertently make you push people away who care about you due to the fear of rejection. Especially when you’ve got a lot of feelings for someone.

2. Talk through it with your partner

Whatever you’re feeling, talk it through. While there might be a crazy mix of emotions going on in your head while you’re fighting the need to pull away, it’s a good idea to talk to the person who cares about you.

At the very least, as you examine your history and habits, communicate with your partner about self-sabotaging behaviors and how you’re working to change them. Tell them how you’ve felt like this before and how they can help you overcome it.

3. Add checkpoints to your relationship road map

Once you’re aware of your sabotaging habits, have regular check-ins with yourself and your partner to look for signs of stress in the relationship.

Are you constantly thinking the relationship will end or blow up? or are you always planning an exit strategy? When things are going well, do you do something to create distance? You may notice that you vacillate between idealising your partner and then devaluing them. Commitment and vulnerability are particularly triggering. While you want to be closer to them and build on your bond together. You’re also so scared of doing that, that you end up pushing them away instead of pulling them closer in the moment you actually need them.

Observe the feelings coming up in these moments. It’s often fear and confusion. Slow down and get curious with yourself as to the thoughts, feelings, and typical behaviors connected to those thoughts and feelings and what’s made you suddenly freak out. The more you discuss how you feel with your partner the easier the journey will be because they can help to soothe your worries.

Above all else, just remember that self sabotage happens to a lot of us. And recognising that you’re doing it is the first step in making it better. Communicate to your partner as much as you can and remind yourself that although it’s hard to break a habit. It isn’t impossible.

Chat

Sounds like you’ve got a lot of baggage

Imagine that. Imagine someone who used to claim to love you telling you that no one after them will love you because you now sound like you’ve got ‘baggage

Maybe that should come on the warning label when you date someone with a narcissist personality. Not only will the tear you down when you guys are together, but they will continue to do so once they aren’t even in your life.

Funny thing is, that so called ‘baggage’ they’re claiming makes you unlovable is only from all their unneeded extras they’ve left you with. You know when you get to the airport and realise you need to get rid of a few things you don’t actually want because your suitcase is too heavy, yeah well that’s the crap they left you with.

You were just fine, in fact your suitcase was way under the weight limit, but the stuff they left you with weighed 10x the amount of anything you actually owned yourself.

But it’s ok, because a heavier suitcase just means you need to develop a more keen sense of awareness for what muscles are working to carry this heavier weight.

If we’re speaking metaphorically, the muscle they’ll have left you needing to work on is actually your brain. But god damn will that muscle be toned af for the next person who wants to try and join you at this made up airport (kind of like a terming to jet off to a perfect healthy relationship).

Here’s the part when you can thank your narcissistic piece of s**t ex for leaving you with the weight of your relationship and where it went wrong because all they’ve done is provide you with the ability to sense someone with negative intentions a mile off.

Typically speaking, this kind of ex will normally be the second person you fall in love with. And this is based off of the findings of anthropologist Helen Fisher and according to her we only fall in love three times in our life but our second love, well that’s the hardest one.

It’s the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved.

Our second love will typically become a cycle, often one we keep repeating because we think that somehow the ending will be different than before. Yet, each time we try, it somehow ends worse than before and we focus so much on making it work that we will tend to lose sight of if we actually should be trying to make it work at all.

More often than not, our second love is unhealthy, unbalanced or narcissistic. Most likely there will be high levels of drama. This is exactly what keeps us addicted to this storyline, because it’s the emotional roller coaster of extreme highs and lows and like a junkie trying to get a fix, we stick through the lows with the expectation of the high.

So it’s no surprise really that this love has just us with some ‘baggage’.

However …. what it has done is shown us exactly what we don’t want from a love that we will have forever. It’s also taught us lessons that we would never have learnt if it wasn’t for going through this experience.

So thank your second love, for leaving you with their baggage (and then kindly reminding you of it years later just to make sure you don’t move on from them) because without them, you wouldn’t know what a healthy long lasting relationship is and how to cherish the man/woman that makes you feel safe and respected.

Chat

The importance of love languages

First question, do you know your love language? If you do …. does the person you’re dating know your love language? Because this is weirdly quite important to a relationship and let me explain why.

Your love language is how you like to receive affection from another person, for example if your top love language is words of affirmation, someone telling you how proud of you they are and being there to give you verbal support will be what makes you fall for them, a love language is literally the way you communicate love.

If your love language list looks the same as the person you’re dating (which is quite rare) then thats a pretty easy ride because it means you both want to give and receive love in the same way.

However, if one of you has your top love language of words of affirmation and the other has acts of service, it isn’t necessarily an issue but more of a situation where you can make sure you show your love to them in the way that you know they’ll respond to best.

It’s easy to assume that the person you’re with wants to be loved in the same way that you do, but that’s where things can go wrong.

If you like someone doing things for you and they like someone telling them they’re proud of them once they’ve done things for themselves you can see how this has the potential to go wrong.

There are only five love languages (according to psychology and behavioural science) and of course, just as any behavioural analysis, your love language will have been influenced by your childhood and how your parents displayed love not only to you but also to each other, we grow up on learnt behaviour but influences over the years of old relationships will alps guide your love language and what’s important to you.

So for those of you who are curious and want a quick overview on what the five love languages are, allow me to get into the basics.

1: Words of Affirmation

This love language expresses love with words that build up your partner. Verbal compliments don’t have to be complicated; the shortest and simplest praises can be the most effective.

“That dress looks incredible on you!”

“You always make me laugh.”

“I love your hair today.”

Words mean a lot if your partner has this love language. Compliments and an “I love you” can go a long way. On the other hand, negative or insulting comments can hurt your partner and it could take them longer to forgive than others.

2: Acts of Service

Your partner might have this love language if their motto is “Actions speak louder than words.”

This love language expresses itself by doing things that you know your partner would like. Cooking a meal, doing the laundry, and doing a little job they might not get time to do in a busy day are all acts of service. They require some thought, time, and effort.

All of these things should be done with positivity and with your partner’s ultimate happiness in mind to be considered an expression of love. Actions out of obligation or with a negative tone are something else entirely and if you’re secretly loathing the fact that you’re having to do it …. it’s probably best not to.

3: Receiving Gifts

This love language isn’t necessarily materialistic and I want to stress this partly for my own justification (this comes second on my love language list) It just means that a meaningful or thoughtful gift makes your partner feel loved and appreciated. Something as simple as picking up something during your day that made you think of them can mean a lot, and I’m literally talking anything!

This is different than Acts of Service, where you show affection by performing actions to help your partner.

4: Quality Time

This love language is all about undivided attention. No televisions, no smartphones, or any other distractions. If this is your partner’s primary language, they don’t just want to be included during this period of time, they want to be the center of your attention. They want their partners to look at them and them only.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t curl up on the couch to watch Netflix or HBO; it just means that you need to make sure to dedicate time together without all of the distractions. That will help them feel comforted in the relationship.

Every time you cancel a date, postpone time together or aren’t present during your time together, it can be extremely hurtful to your partner as it can make them feel like you care more about other things or activities than them.

5: Physical Touch

To people with this love language, nothing is more impactful than the physical touch of their partner. They aren’t necessarily into over-the-top PDA, but they do feel more connected and safe in a relationship by holding hands, kissing, hugging, etc.

If Physical Touch is your partner’s primary love language, they will feel unloved without physical contact. All of the words and gifts in the world won’t change that. They want to feel you close by, not just emotionally, but physically.

So there you have it, a quick overview into the love languages and I’m sure you’ve read one that makes you think … “that definitely sounds like me“, but if you fancy putting both you and your partner to the test, you can both find out you love languages here.

Chat

The Three Kinds Of Love

Throughout our life, we keep falling in love and breaking up — sometimes only to get together again. Some people enter our orbit, others go away, making us experience dramatic emotional ups and downs we didn’t even think possible.

But psychologists say that a person can only genuinely fall in love three times. And each such experience, in its own way, is important and even necessary. I have to say …. I’m still waiting to experience the third.

1. The Fairy Tale Love


Quite often, our first love arrives when we are still very young. It seems to us the kind of feeling which we’ve been reading about in fairy tales. So we idealize it and believe that it is for life. At this point, we tend to do things our peers or family members expect us to do. We refuse to pay attention to small problems and are prepared to sacrifice our principles for the sake of our relationship because, deep down, we believe that everything is as it should be. The way our relationship looks on the outside is more important to us than what we really feel. The way our relationship looks on the outside is more important to us than what we really feel.

2. The Complicated love


The second love of our life is the most complicated. Confident that we’ve learned our lesson from previous experiences, we take care to choose a completely different type of partner. Or so we think. We’re likely to be manipulated, lied to, or even hurt. We cling to any opportunity to patch up our relationship, but each new attempt turns into an even bigger failure. It’s a real drama with only occasional moments of happiness. Once again, our true feelings get sidetracked in favor of something else — in this case, endless attempts to save an ailing relationship. Such love teaches us that it is important to be loved in return.

3. The Mature Love


The third love appears in our life when we’ve already given up waiting. It comes uncalled for and doesn’t seem to comply with our idea of what true love should be. It doesn’t appear to be perfect. But it’s a genuine relationship, characterized by a feeling of extraordinary ease — something that cannot be explained with words. At this stage in life, we no longer have any expectations. We don’t waste time thinking up qualities that the love of our life must possess. So we’re finally prepared to accept our partner for what he or she really is. And, just as importantly, our partner perceives us in exactly the same way. Such love teaches us to be real and that a relationship doesn’t need to be perfect.