Coping with heartbreak

It’s one of the hardest things to overcome when you thought you’d be together for the long-term, possibly forever, and then you find that your partner doesn’t want to be with you any longer.  There may not even be another person involved but he/she wants out and there’s no persuading them otherwise.

Here are a few things that may help on a day-to-day basis – they won’t solve the awful feelings of loss that you’re experiencing but they will hopefully get you from day to day until eventually you feel slightly better.

  1. Accept that your feelings of anger, uncertainty, agitation, fear and shock are normal. There’s no right or wrong about feelings and you’ll be on a roller-coaster of emotions for a long time.
  2. Tears are healthy – you may actually feel numb for some time but it’s important to allow yourself to cry too.
  3. Write a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings your partner’s behaviour and why it feels so painful.
  4. It’s still alright to laugh. Try watching a funny film or TV show and, if you can bear it, spend some time with people who make you smile.
  5. Ask all the questions you want to – however, be aware that you may not get the answers you want or even any answers at all. You can’t make someone give you reasons, frustrating though that is.
  6. Do not make any major decisions about how you want things to be – this is the time for reflection and recognising that even though you thought things were okay some things maybe needed to be dealt with.
  7. Your children need to know that you are going to be okay. You can’t hide the fact that you are going through serious stress or trauma. Being honest with your children might be the best approach depending upon their age, but don’t weigh them down with details. Also, don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
  8. Take it one day at a time and try not to look too far into the future.
  9. It takes time to get beyond the pain of having break-up. Don’t expect the mixture of feelings, the sense of confusion and limbo, and the mistrust to go away immediately. There are stages to loss (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and hopefully acceptance at some point) – you can’t fast-forward through these, much as you’d like to.
  10. Think about practical things – look at your finances, housing situation, transportation, etc. Make sure you have thought out where you will live, if you have enough money to pay for your essentials, etc.
  11. Only confide in people that you can trust – it’s good to talk but be careful that you only open your heart to people who can keep things confidentially.
  12. Seek counselling if you’re struggling too much to cope – it can really help to talk to a professional who can listen and give strategies for the future.

 

 

Are you being made redundant?

In today’s climate, redundancy is being talked about and experienced by a lot of people and living through the process and the aftermath can take a huge toll on you emotionally.  You may feel anxious, fearful or angry and there can be a sense of shame for some people whilst others might feel relief.  Even laidback and self-contained people can experience emotions that seem strange and unsettling and a lot of us haven’t had to cope with the emotional stresses and strains of this situation before.  So, learning how to cope with all the emotional stresses and strains that come with letting go of the old and ushering in the new is a big part of rebuilding a new life.

What your job means to you and what it gives you could include:

  • Daily structure/framework
  • Identity
  • Salary
  • Status
  • Standing in community/partner/friends/family
  • Friendships
  • Confidence

It is likely that your job provides you with most, or all, of the above and therefore being made redundant can have a lot of knock-on effects including putting a strain on relationships within the home.  Understanding this process, recognising that it is quite normal, and accepting that it affects everyone can help us to come to terms with this situation.  It also gives us valuable empathy and insight into the feelings of others around us too.

As with any other loss, redundancy means that we often experience similar symptoms to those experienced with a bereavement and because of that, most people need to grieve which can be a useful process – it helps us to recover from events that are too overwhelming to deal with all at once.

There are usually six stages to the process of grief and how quickly we move through the stages will depend upon our individual circumstances but the seven stages are quite distinct. Sometimes these are given slightly different labels but essentially they are: shock, denial, anger/resistance, emotionality, acceptance, exploration and challenge.

We don’t move through these stages in a straight line and it’s quite common to have little relapses just when we think all is going well. A knock back like being rejected for a new job can bruise us all over again, so it’s important to be easy on ourselves.

Stage 1 – Shock In a similar style to a grief reaction, people may take some time to address the reality of what has just occurred.  You can’t really do much at this stage but try to get to grips with what the new situation entails.

Stage 2 – Denial A common reaction may be to deny the impact of the redundancy “This isn’t (or can’t be) happening to me!”  There can be refusal to believe what is being said i.e. ‘you can’t mean it’, ‘after everything I’ve done for this place’.  Questioning of the facts i.e. ‘are you sure it’s me?’, ‘what about that project I’m working on?’  There may be denial or avoidance of uncomfortable facts.

Stage 3 – Anger/Resistance It is important to openly deal with what angers us. “Why did this have to happen to me?”  Anger and resentment can build up because a person may feel that they had seen disaster looming and done their best to prevent this.  However, if their job was lost, in spite of all their efforts to prevent this situation happening, they could feel angry and let down.  It’s natural to feel angry and work needs to done to pass onto a more positive frame of mind.  Anger de-skills us but it can also create a mood of self-preservation.’

Some people will also experience bitterness and there can be thoughts of revenge and ‘getting even’ and these feelings can often arise as a combination of issues.

Step 4 – Feeling very emotional. This can include crying openly, becoming very withdrawn and undergoing mood swings, being up one day and down the next. There is often despair and a sense of loss and inadequacy. The person’s self-esteem often dips and they question their own worth.

Stage 5- Acceptance Eventually, there starts to be some acceptance that the way things are done has indeed changed and that the old ways are in fact gone.  “I suppose if I have to deal with this, I might as well get on with it”  By this time the person has accepted at least one of the facts, faced up to the anger and fear and started missing some of the things that will never be the same again.  This realisation can often bring out new facts which have to be accepted i.e. plans for holidays, children house, etc.  Then the whole process starts again.  This may happen many times before grieving is complete.

 Stage 6 – Exploration This will include a willingness to look at options to move forward from redundancy.  “How do I actually go forward from here?”  This is the point at which you might start to look at re-training, find a new job, thinking of setting up your own business. It will be important to understand how you will support yourself and your family whilst you develop an alternative income stream.  Sorting out your finances is an essential first step as it’s much harder to rebuild your life if you are constantly beset by money worries.

Stage 7 – Challenge. This is where you can actually move forward.  If you are a job hunter, have you prepared a CV that is geared to the kind of job you want and demonstrates to recruiters and employers that you have what it takes to do it well?  If you have that CV written, have you researched/registered with all the employers, recruiters and websites appropriate to the type of new job you are looking for?  Have you networked with friends, family, colleagues, professional associations etc to look for additional leads?  If you have interviews, have you brushed up your interview skills?  Are you taking good care of yourself both mentally and physically because job hunting itself can be pretty hard work?  Are you pursuing your plan rigorously?

If you have been used to the routine of regular work suddenly not having that structure after you have been made redundant can be a mixed blessing. Common reactions can range from panic to paralysis!  During your period of redundancy-driven leisure, providing some structure to your days as soon as possible is vital. Job searching needs to be systematic so have times when you will look for work.  Don’t forget to factor in some time to relax, de-stress and consider options that might take you down a ‘new life route’.  Many people report that engaging in some form of sport or exercise especially running and swimming helps to keep us fit but also to release our ‘feel good’ hormones. It keeps us on the straight and narrow road to recovery, and depression at bay.  Being busy in a constructive way enables the healing process.

All in all, take each day as it comes.  Don’t expect too much, too quickly, from either your partner or yourself. For family and friends, it helps to:

  • Accept the person for how they are feeling
  • Keep listening to them – the person may well repeat the same story again and again. It may get boring but keep listening anyway. This is how people process what’s happened.
  • Be patient and remember that hopefully this is a temporary situation.
  • Don’t be surprised if they’re angry – this can be not only about the job but about almost anything. It’s very common to be irritable.
  • Don’t use humour to avoid the emotions – value the person and do what you can to boost their confidence.
  • Don’t resort to platitudes such as “it could be worse……” or “it happens to a lot of people……” or even “this could be a turning point for you”. Whilst they may all be true, none of them are helpful for the person concerned.

It’s good to talk – sometimes if we can’t or don’t want to talk to people we know about our feelings and anxieties, we need to talk to someone who is independent and that’s where counselling can help. If this is how you’re feeling, please contact me on 07956986693 or e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com.

No-one’s perfect

For some people, the desire to be perfect is so great that it’s a burden to them and often makes them unhappy. Although seeking perfection might seem achievable, it can’t be because we’re all human and as such, we make mistakes at times.

In our culture we move almost relentlessly towards a greater emphasis on achievements, especially where our careers are concerned. This can cause such a lot of stress and stops people living in the moment (something that I wrote about in my Facebook post of 24th May).

Sometimes, the quest for perfection is really a disguise for something else – peoples’ own insecurities. It says “I’m just not good enough as I am” and people start judging themselves because of that. This can sometimes start at school if people are bullied there – the feeling of never being good enough can often start in those circumstances, or in a home where things are very regimented and there’s a ‘right way to do things’ which doesn’t allow for any other way. People in those circumstances often grow up feeling that if they can be perfect, they’ll be beyond reproach.

There is sometimes an element of ‘bargaining’ going on too – believing that bad things will happen if we’re not perfect. This can be particularly pronounced if a child grew up with a parent who was ill and somehow the child felt responsible for the mother or father. There can be an element of ‘if I’m perfect, Mum will get better and everything will be alright’. A lot of perfectionists have their own variation on this theme and try to hang onto some sort of control even in later life.

Love and acceptance are the basic emotional needs of every human being but if these needs weren’t met when you were growing up or you learned that love was conditional upon what you can do for others or upon your performance, then the concept of unconditional love is quite possibly an alien concept for you and you’ll feel that you have to ‘jump through hoops’ to earn love from another person. The impossible task of trying to please everyone leaves people physically and emotionally exhausted and is the basis for anxiety and depression.

So, if this sounds like you and you’re finding it all too much, try the following to help you realise that it’s alright to be you, a complete human being with the same frailties as everyone else.

  • Be more realistic in your thinking – perfectionists are often very critical of themselves. One of the most effective ways to overcome perfectionism is to replace self-critical or perfectionistic thoughts with more realistic statements. Practice them regularly like “even if it’s not exactly how I’d like it, I’ll manage fine”.
  • Tell other people when you’re feeling tired or low (or other feelings that you’d usually consider being ‘weak’). In other words, it’s alright to show some vulnerability.
  • Remember that it’s alright if some people don’t like you – it doesn’t make you a bad person and you may not like them much either! It’s impossible to be liked by everyone and that’s alright.
  • Try more ‘grey’ thinking – if you only see things in black and white, both for yourself and other people, it limits more creative thinking.
  • Look at the bigger picture – people who are perfectionists tend to get bogged down in details and worry about little things that don’t really matter. Ask yourself ‘in a year’s time, how much will this really matter?’.
  • Limit repeating behaviours – if you continually check documents/emails to make sure they’re absolutely correct and perfect, limit yourself to one check and then send it.
  • People who seek perfection are often very sensitive to other peoples’ judgements although sometimes these judgements are imagined. Everyone has an opinion but no-one can be your judge unless you elevate them to that position.
  • Don’t worry if the above take some practice – they won’t come easily at first but over time they will get easier.

Maybe you’re struggling with controlling your worries or other issues in your life at the moment and are considering coming for counselling. If you’d like to discuss this, please contact me by phone on 07956986693 or e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com

 

Have you heard about ‘Mindfulness’?

You may have heard ‘mindfulness’ being spoken about or read about it in a magazine and wondered what it’s really about. Hopefully, this post will explain a bit more about it.

Basically, in this busy world, our minds are constantly pulled from pillar to post, scattering our thoughts and emotions and leaving us feeling stressed, highly-strung and at times quite anxious. Most of us don’t have five minutes to sit down and relax, let alone 30 minutes or more for a meditation session. But it is essential for our wellbeing to take a few minutes each day to cultivate mental spaciousness and achieve a positive mind-body balance.

So if you are running around, finding it hard to cope, try using these simple mindfulness exercises to empty your mind and find some much-needed calm amidst the madness of your hectic day.

Mindful Breathing – this exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. All you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.

Start by breathing in and out slowly. One cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body. Let go of your thoughts for a minute. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. Simply let yourself be still for one minute.

If you are someone who thought they’d never be able to meditate, guess what? You are half way there already! If you enjoyed one minute of this mind-calming exercise, why not try two or three?

Mindful Observation – this exercise is simple but incredibly powerful. It is designed to connect us with the beauty of the natural environment, something that is easily missed when we are rushing around in the car or hopping on and off trains on the way to work.

Choose a natural object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower or an insect, or even the clouds or the moon.

Don’t do anything except notice the thing you are looking at. Simply relax into a harmony for as long as your concentration allows. Look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time.

Mindful Awareness – this exercise is designed to cultivate a heightened awareness and appreciation of simple daily tasks and the results they achieve.

Think of something that happens every day more than once; something you take for granted, like opening a door, for example. These touch point cues don’t have to be physical ones. For example: each time you think a negative thought you might choose to take a moment to stop, label the thought as unhelpful and release the negativity. Or, perhaps each time you smell food, you take a moment to stop and appreciate how lucky you are to have good food to eat and share with your family and friends.

Choose a touch point that resonates with you today. Instead of going through your daily motions on autopilot, take occasional moments to stop and cultivate purposeful awareness of what you are doing and the blessings it brings your life.

Mindful Listening – this exercise is designed to open your ears to sound in a non-judgmental way. Select a piece of music you have never heard before. You may have something in your own collection that you have never listened to, or you might choose to turn the radio dial until something catches your ear.

Close your eyes and put on your headphones. Try not to get drawn into judging the music by its genre, title or artist name before it has begun playing. Instead, ignore any labels and neutrally allow yourself to get lost in the journey of sound for the duration of the song. Allow yourself to explore every aspect of track. Even if the music isn’t to your liking at first, let go of your dislike and give your awareness full permission to climb inside the track and dance among the sound waves.The idea is to just listen, to become fully entwined with the composition without preconception or judgment of the genre, artist, lyrics or instrumentation.

Mindful Immersion – the intention of this exercise is to cultivate contentment in the moment and escape the persistent striving we find ourselves caught up in on a daily basis. Rather than anxiously wanting to finish an everyday routine task in order to get on with doing something else, take that regular routine and fully experience it like never before.

For example: if you are cleaning your house, pay attention to every detail of the activity. Rather than treat this as a regular chore, create an entirely new experience by noticing every aspect of your actions: Feel and become the motion when sweeping the floor, sense the muscles you use when scrubbing the dishes, develop a more efficient way of wiping the windows clean. The idea is to get creative and discover new experiences within a familiar routine task.

Instead of labouring through and constantly thinking about finishing the task, become aware of every step and fully immerse yourself in the progress. Take the activity beyond a routine by aligning yourself with it physically, mentally and spiritually. Who knows, you might even enjoy the cleaning for once!

Mindful Appreciation – in this last exercise, all you have to do is notice 5 things in your day that usually go unappreciated. These things can be objects or people – it’s up to you. Use a notepad to check off 5 by the end of the day.

The point of this exercise is to simply give thanks and appreciate the seemingly insignificant things in life; the things that support our existence but rarely get a second thought amidst our desire for bigger and better things.

For example: electricity powers your kettle, the postman delivers your mail, your clothes provide you warmth, your nose lets you smell the flowers in the park, your ears let you hear the birds in the tree by the bus stop, but…

  • Do you know how these things/processes came to exist, or how they really work?
  • Have you ever properly acknowledged how these things benefit your life and the lives of others?
  • Have you ever thought about what life might be like without these things?
  • Have you ever stopped to notice their finer, more intricate details?
  • Have you ever sat down and thought about the relationships between these things and how together they play an interconnected role in the functioning of the earth?

Once you have identified your 5 things, try to find out everything you can about them and their purpose to truly appreciate the way in which they support your life.

In Summary – the cultivation of moment-by-moment awareness of our surrounding environment is a practice that helps us better cope with the difficult thoughts and feelings that cause us stress and anxiety in everyday life.

With regular practice of mindfulness exercises, rather than being led on auto-pilot by emotions influenced by negative past experiences and fears of future occurrences, we harness the ability to root the mind in the present moment and deal with life’s challenges in a clear-minded, calm, assertive way.

You may be struggling with living in the moment, dwelling on the past and finding the future difficult to look forward to. If that’s the case, counselling may help – if you’d like to discuss this further, please phone me on 07956 986 693 or e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com.

Coping with debt

Finding that you can’t cope financially can be absolutely devastating, especially if you’ve never found yourself in this position before. You may have prided yourself on managing to save money, ‘pay your way’ and probably providing ‘treats’ for your family and friends.

When you realise that things have to change it may be too late – you’re in too deep and things look bad. Actually telling your partner or friends may well be one of the most difficult parts of this. It’s hard to admit that we haven’t been able to manage things as well as we’d hoped. In this financial climate, it’s easier than ever to get into debt and if you’ve been made redundant, this in itself can be devastating. The emotional impact of redundancy is often huge anyway, let alone the financial consequences, even if you’ve received some compensation.

There can be a temptation to spend, spend, spend and not think about the consequences but this is ignoring the issues. A budget needs to be drawn up and this needs to be realistic – rent/mortgage, food and bills need to be paid before anything else. If you have children you may have to explain that you can no longer pay for some of the things they used to have but be positive in the way you tell them – they will take their lead from you and if you can make it seem as if you’re all going to cope and be fine, it’s a good life-lesson. Where you are concerned, it may mean that you can no longer go out for meals with friends or socialise in the same ways. Try to explain to them that things are tight right now and you can only go for a coffee at the moment. They may want to help you but this can make it worse – try to put down some boundaries, say that you’re going to be fine and that a bit of budgeting won’t hurt you.

Regarding the practicalities of debts mounting up, the worst thing you can do is to ignore the problem and hope it will go away on its own – it will not.  Here are some steps to deal with your debt right now:

  • Make a list of how much you owe and whom you owe it to.  Mortgage and rent payments are most important, to avoid eviction so tackle them first.
  • Speak to your lenders – they may agree to you stopping payments for a couple of months if your problem is a temporary one or they could arrange an IVA (Indidual Voluntary Arrangement iva.co.uk to pay off the debt at an affordable rate for you.
  • Find out how else you can make money.  Is there a skill you have that could help you with a second job from home in the evenings?
  • Can other family members lend you money instead of a bank or finance company? If you are able to borrow from within your family or from friends it’s vital to make sure that you agree on a regular method of realistic repayments with an end date for both parties. If you don’t do this resentment can build up and spoil the relationship.
  • Sell possessions to pay off debt.  Online auction sites are a great way to make cash which can then be used to pay off your bills.
  • Bankruptcy is the final straw for those in debt but while it seems an easy way out, those declared bankrupt find it very difficult to get credit afterwards.  You also lose control of your assets, including your home.
  • For advice and help, contact the Citizens Advice Service at www.citizensadvice.org.uk, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service on 0800 1380 1111 or National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.

If you’re struggling with this or other issues, please contact me to discuss counselling. You can phone me on 07956 986 693 or e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com

 

How can you cope with heartbreak?

Young woman thinking, close-up

It’s one of the hardest things to overcome when you thought you’d be together for the long-term, possibly forever, and then you find that your partner doesn’t want to be with you any longer.  There may not even be another person involved but he/she wants out and there’s no persuading them otherwise.

Here are a few things that may help on a day-to-day basis – they won’t solve the awful feelings of loss that you’re experiencing but they will hopefully get you from day to day until eventually you feel slightly better.

  1. Accept that your feelings of anger, uncertainty, agitation, fear and shock are normal. There’s no right or wrong about feelings and you’ll be on a roller-coaster of emotions for a long time.
  2. Tears are healthy – you may actually feel numb for some time but it’s important to allow yourself to cry too.
  3. Write a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings your partner’s behaviour and why it feels so painful.
  4. It’s still alright to laugh. Try watching a funny film or TV show and, if you can bear it, spend some time with people who make you smile.
  5. Ask all the questions you want to – however, be aware that you may not get the answers you want or even any answers at all. You can’t make someone give you reasons, frustrating though that is.
  6. Do not make any major decisions about how you want things to be – this is the time for reflection and recognising that even though you thought things were okay some things maybe needed to be dealt with.
  7. If you have children, they need to know that you are going to be okay. You can’t hide the fact that you are going through serious stress or trauma. Being honest with your children might be the best approach depending upon their age, but don’t weigh them down with details. Also, don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
  8. Take it one day at a time and try not to look too far into the future.
  9. It takes time to get beyond the pain of having break-up. Don’t expect the mixture of feelings, the sense of confusion and limbo, and the mistrust to go away immediately. There are stages to loss (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and hopefully acceptance at some point) – you can’t fast-forward through these, much as you’d like to.
  10. Think about practical things – look at your finances, housing situation, transportation, etc. Make sure you have thought out where you will live, if you have enough money to pay for your essentials, etc.
  11. Only confide in people that you can trust – it’s good to talk but be careful that you only open your heart to people who can keep things confidentially.
  12. Seek counselling if you’re struggling too much to cope – it can really help to talk to a professional who can listen and give strategies for the future.

If you’re struggling with this or another issue that’s making life very hard at the moment, please contact me to discuss counselling. You can phone me on 07956 986 693 or e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com

 

 

Do you have high expectations?

                                                                We all have some expectations about our lives and how we’d like our lives to be. For some people, they just want to be happy but what does that mean to them? If being happy means having a large house, a good standard of living, holidays abroad and a happy relationship that may well be attainable but if it isn’t happening, disappointment can set in.

Those expectations quoted are mostly material things and, providing you have enough money, most of them should be attainable. However, happiness is sometimes elusive and means different things to different people.

Success’ is another expectation for a lot of us – in our society, this usually means a well-paid job/profession and having visible signs that show that your well-paid. We no longer seem to value ‘success’ in the ways that people might have done years ago because we put a lot of emphasis on material things rather than the character a person is and what principles they hold.

Another expectation can be that we believe that the way we treat others will be the way they treat us in return. However, this doesn’t always happen so if you enter into relationships with people don’t have the same values as you, it may feel as if you’re being taken advantage of or are being short-changed. In this particular case, either you need to find people who appreciate you for the person you are or face the challenge of learning to accept people for who they are and lower your expectations of them. Once you recognise that your own expectations won’t change people, the easier life will become. Try to surround yourself with people who accept and love you – that in itself is a route to happiness for a lot of people.

Meanwhile, be aware of the fact that whatever your expectations are, life sometimes throws a curve ball so try to remain positive even when things seem very hard. Disappointment is one of the hardest things to cope with but, despite many hardships which may include ill-health, a lot of people do manage to remain positive and set themselves small goals to achieve on a regular basis. Goals are important for most of us – it may just be getting through the next hour or the next day, but if we’re struggling with anxiety or depression, that’s a big thing to achieve.

Part of this is also about judging yourself less and recognising that you’re doing your best. You’re allowed to be human and whether it’s about losing weight or gaining extra qualifications, give yourself a pat on the back sometimes to acknowledge what you ARE achieving, rather than what you haven’t yet managed.

So, having expectations isn’t necessarily a bad thing but acceptance of some things which come out of the blue can help enormously when life isn’t going exactly to plan.

If you’re struggling with your own expectations or are finding life hard at the moment, talking to a counsellor may help. You can e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com or phone me on 07956 986 693.

Finding a new partner…..

How hard is it to find a new partner, especially if you’ve just come out of a long-term relationship?

If this is what you want (and maybe you don’t at the moment, having decided that it’s fine to be on your own for a while), then you’ll soon notice that things have changed. A lot!

First of all, you need to decide what sort of person you’re looking for. Create a list and be honest. If you don’t want to get together with someone who has children of their own, admit it to yourself from the start. However, if you’re over thirty-five, this will severely decrease the number of people who will come into your sphere.

That brings me onto the need to be flexible which is in contradiction to the previous point but I want you to think about it. If you can be flexible in this and other ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’, you may find that your life opens up no end. If you hate camping, it’s probably better to say so straight away but if caravanning doesn’t produce an anxiety attack, maybe there’s a compromise. The same goes for music and other interests.

You have a choice now whether to register online with a free dating site, pay for a more specialised service or hope that you’ll meet someone through your work or friends. Money will play a big part in this – if you can’t afford a monthly online site, you’ll need to choose one of the other ways. How did people meet one another years ago before computers and the internet? Usually at work or through friends/mutual interests. It worked then and sometimes it still works now.

If you go with the dating online site, you need to become quite savvy – it’s no use being really modest by putting things like “I’m just not used to this and not very good at it” – it’s putting yourself down and sounds really insecure.

However, boasting isn’t very attractive either – “I’m have a high-flying job and a Porsche” sounds pretty arrogant but confidence is fine so you could say “I cook a really good lasagne and am good for a laugh”.

Specific information can be good too – “I like looking at rainbows and one of the best I saw was when I visited Northumberland” gives a clue to the fact that you like travelling around a bit and is more interesting than “I like hanging out with friends”.

Don’t talk about any exes in your profile – it’s a real turn-off. Most people who are looking at your profile will realise that you have a past, as we all do; there’s time to talk about it when you meet face-to-face and preferably not at the first meeting.

Always put a photo on your profile – bite the bullet and make it a recent one as so many people have been disappointed at the first meeting to find the other person uploaded a photo taken twenty years ago!

Remember that playing hard to get doesn’t work any longer – waiting three days to reply may well mean that the other person has found someone else during that time.

If none of the above appeals, you can try the old-fashioned way of finding someone new through a shared interest, preferably where you can see them in the company of other people first. It will show whether they have any social skills, how they interact with people and generally whether they’re fairly likeable. You could find someone in the workplace or connected to your work in some way – there are lots of different scenarios but the old adage of finding love when you least expect it is as true as ever!

If you’re struggling with this or other issues to do with relationships, self-esteem, loss, transgender issues or general anxiety please contact me on 07956 986 693 or e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com.

 

Do you often wish you were more assertive?

First of all, let’s look at the definition of assertiveness – it involves standing up for your personal rights and expressing your thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly, honestly and openly in ways that are respectful of the rights of others. This means that an assertive person acts without undue anxiety or guilt.

Assertive people respect themselves and other people and take responsibility for their actions and choices. They also recognise their own needs and ask openly and directly for what they want. If refused, they may feel saddened, disappointed or inconvenienced, but their self-concept isn’t shattered.

They are not over-reliant on the approval of others, and feel secure and confident within themselves.

Assertive people give the lead to other people as to how they wish to be treated.

If someone is assertive, these are usually the messages that they communicate:

This is what I think

This is how I feel

This is how I see the situation. How about you?

If our needs conflict, I am certainly ready to explore our differences and I may be prepared to compromise

The subconscious thoughts are ‘I won’t allow you to take advantage of me and I won’t attack you for being who you are’.

In counselling and psychotherapy, the goal with assertiveness is to communicate clearly, adult to adult:

There are verbal and non-verbal parts to this and they are:

Receptive listening

Firm, relaxed voice

Direct eye contact

Erect, balanced, open body stance

Voice appropriately loud for the situation

I” statements (“I like”, “I want”, “I don’t like”)

Co-operative phrases (“What are your thoughts on this?”)

Emphatic statements of interest:

  • I would like to……

  • I understand…..

  • However…..

  • I suggest…….

Expressing yourself by:

  • Choosing the right time and place

  • Making notes beforehand – this may help

  • Being concise – do not allow yourself to nag or be sidetracked

  • Taking responsibility by beginning with “I”

  • Choosing your words – be careful not to insult, threaten or denigrate.

  • Be honest and positive but tactful. Criticise actions rather than personality

The following spoil communication:

  • Judging, blaming, criticising

  • Excessive inappropriate questioning – using closed questions

  • Interrupting, finishing sentences

  • Dismissing the other person’s concerns

So, the pay-offs from being assertive are:

The more you stand up for yourself and act in a manner you respect, the higher your self-esteem.

Your chances of getting what you want out of life improve greatly when you let others know what you want and stand up for your own rights and needs.

Expressing yourself directly at the time of negative feelings means that resentment is not allowed to build up.

Being less preoccupied with self-consciousness and anxiety, and less driven by the needs of self-protection and control you can see, hear and love others more easily.

With practice you will gain confidence in being assertive and this can take much of the distress out of life.

However, as with most things, there may well be a price to pay for being assertive and these can be:

That friends, employers or colleagues may have benefited from your non-assertion and may sabotage your newly developed assertion.

You are reshaping your beliefs and re-examining values that have been closely held since childhood. This can be frightening.

There are no ‘tablets of stone’ to guarantee an elegant outcome of your efforts.

There is often pain involved in being assertive.

If you’re struggling with being assertive or any other communication issues, please phone me on 07956 986 693 or e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com

First of all, let’s look at the definition of assertiveness – it involves standing up for your personal rights and expressing your thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly, honestly and openly in ways that are respectful of the rights of others. This means that an assertive person acts without undue anxiety or guilt.

Assertive people respect themselves and other people and take responsibility for their actions and choices. They also recognise their own needs and ask openly and directly for what they want. If refused, they may feel saddened, disappointed or inconvenienced, but their self-concept isn’t shattered. They are not over-reliant on the approval of others, and feel secure and confident within themselves and they give the lead to other people as to how they wish to be treated. If someone is assertive, these are usually the messages that they communicate:

This is what I think

This is how I feel

This is how I see the situation. How about you?

If our needs conflict, I am certainly ready to explore our differences and I may be prepared to compromise

The subconscious thoughts are ‘I won’t allow you to take advantage of me and I won’t attack you for being who you are’.

In counselling and psychotherapy, the goal with assertiveness is to communicate clearly, adult to adult:

There are verbal and non-verbal parts to this and they are:

Receptive listening

Firm, relaxed voice

Direct eye contact

Erect, balanced, open body stance

Voice appropriately loud for the situation

I” statements (“I like”, “I want”, “I don’t like”)

Co-operative phrases (“What are your thoughts on this?”)

Emphatic statements of interest:

  • I would like to……

  • I understand…..

  • However…..

  • I suggest…….

Expressing yourself by:

  • Choosing the right time and place

  • Making notes beforehand – this may help

  • Being concise – do not allow yourself to nag or be sidetracked

  • Taking responsibility by beginning with “I”

  • Choosing your words – be careful not to insult, threaten or denigrate.

  • Be honest and positive but tactful. Criticise actions rather than personality

The following spoil communication:

  • Judging, blaming, criticising

  • Excessive inappropriate questioning – using closed questions

  • Interrupting, finishing sentences

  • Dismissing the other person’s concerns

So, the pay-offs from being assertive are:

The more you stand up for yourself and act in a manner you respect, the higher your self-esteem. Your chances of getting what you want out of life improve greatly when you let others know what you want and stand up for your own rights and needs. Expressing yourself directly at the time of negative feelings means that resentment is not allowed to build up. Being less preoccupied with self-consciousness and anxiety, and less driven by the needs of self-protection and control you can see, hear and love others more easily. With practice you will gain confidence in being assertive and this can take much of the distress out of life.

However, as with most things, there may well be a price to pay for being assertive and these can be:

That friends, employers or colleagues may have benefited from your non-assertion and may sabotage your newly developed assertion.

You are reshaping your beliefs and re-examining values that have been closely held since childhood. This can be frightening.

There are no ‘tablets of stone’ to guarantee an elegant outcome of your efforts.

There is often pain involved in being assertive.

If you’re struggling with being assertive or any other communication issues, please phone me on 07956 986 693 or e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com

Coping with redundancy

 

 

Facing the prospect of redundancy, living through the process and the aftermath can take a huge toll on you emotionally. You may feel anxious, fearful or angry and there can be a sense of shame for some people whilst others might feel relief. Even laidback and self-contained people can experience emotions that seem strange and unsettling and a lot of us haven’t had to cope with the emotional stresses and strains of this situation before. So, learning how to cope with all the emotional stresses and strains that come with letting go of the old and ushering in the new is a big part of rebuilding a new life.

What your job means to you and what it gives you could include:

Daily structure/framework
Identity
Salary
Status
Standing in community/partner/friends/family
Friendships
Confidence

It is likely that your job provides you with most or all of the above and therefore being made redundant can have a lot of knock-on effects including putting a strain on relationships within the home. Understanding this process, recognising that it is quite normal, and accepting that it affects everyone can help us to come to terms with this situation. It also gives us valuable empathy and insight into the feelings of others around us too.

As with any other loss, redundancy means that we often experience similar symptoms to those experienced with a bereavement and because of that, most people need to grieve which can be a useful process – it helps us to recover from events that are too overwhelming to deal with all at once.

There are usually six stages to the process of grief and how quickly we move through the stages will depend upon our individual circumstances but the six stages are quite distinct. Sometimes these are given slightly different labels but essentially they are: shock, denial, anger/resistance, acceptance, exploration and challenge.

We don’t move through these stages in a straight line and it’s quite common to have little relapses just when we think all is going well. A knock back like being rejected for a new job can bruise us all over again, so it’s important to be easy on ourselves.

Stage 1 – Shock In a similar style to a grief reaction, people may take some time to address the reality of what has just occurred. You can’t really do much at this stage but try to get to grips with what the new situation entails.

Stage 2 – Denial A common reaction may be to deny the impact of the redundancy “This isn’t (or can’t be) happening to me!” There can be refusal to believe what is being said i.e. ‘you can’t mean it’, ‘after everything I’ve done for this place’. Questioning of the facts i.e. ‘are you sure it’s me?’, ‘what about that project I’m working on?’ There may be denial or avoidance of uncomfortable facts.

Stage 3 – Anger/Resistance It is important to openly deal with what angers us. “Why did this have to happen to me?” Anger and resentment can build up because a person may feel that they had seen disaster looming and done their best to prevent this. However, if their job was lost, in spite of all their efforts to prevent this situation happening, they could feel angry and let down. It’s natural to feel angry and work needs to done to pass onto a more positive frame of mind. Anger de-skills us but it can also create a mood of self-preservation.’

Some people will also experience bitterness and there can be thoughts of revenge and ‘getting even’ and these feelings can often arise as a combination of issues.

Stage 4 – Acceptance Eventually, there starts to be some acceptance that the way things are done has indeed changed and that the old ways are in fact gone. “I suppose if I have to deal with this, I might as well get on with it” By this time the person has accepted at least one of the facts, faced up to the anger and fear and started missing some of the things that will never be the same again. This realisation can often bring out new facts which have to be accepted i.e. plans for holidays, children house, etc. Then the whole process starts again. This may happen many times before grieving is complete.

Stage 5 – Exploration This will include a willingness to look at options to move forward from redundancy. “How do I actually go forward from here?” This is the point at which you might start to look at re-training, find a new job, thinking of setting up your own business. It will be important to understand how you will support yourself and your family whilst you develop an alternative income stream. Sorting out your finances is an essential first step as it’s much harder to rebuild your life if you are constantly beset by money worries.

Stage 6 – Challenge Actually moving forward. This where it is important that the change process is a catalyst for a positive outlook and not just there as an obstacle to moving on to your new life. If you are a job hunter, have you prepared a CV that is geared to the kind of job you want and demonstrates to recruiters and employers that you have what it takes to do it well? If you have that CV written, have you researched/registered with all the employers, recruiters and websites appropriate to the type of new job you are looking for? Have you networked with friends, family, colleagues, professional associations etc to look for additional leads? If you have interviews, have you brushed up your interview skills? Are you taking good care of yourself both mentally and physically because job hunting itself can be pretty hard work? Are you pursuing your plan rigorously?

Managing your time effectively If you have been used to the routine of regular work suddenly not having that structure after you have been made redundant can be a mixed blessing. Common reactions can range from panic to paralysis! During your period of redundancy-driven leisure, providing some structure to your days as soon as possible is vital. Job searching needs to be systematic so have times when you will look for work. Don’t forget to factor in some time to relax, de-stress and consider options that might take you down a ‘new life route’. Many people report that engaging in some form of sport or exercise especially running and swimming helps to keep us fit but also to release our ‘feel good’ hormones. It keeps us on the straight and narrow road to recovery, and depression at bay. Being busy in a constructive way enables the healing process.

All in all, take each day as it comes. Don’t expect too much, too quickly, from either your partner or yourself.

It’s good to talk – sometimes if we can’t or don’t want to talk to people we know about our feelings and anxieties, we need to talk to someone who is independent. The organisations listed below can, and do, provide a valuable lifeline to thousands of people.

The Samaritans Charitable organisation founded in 1953 by Chad Varah to help those in emotional need in complete confidence, telephone 08457 90 90 90 (local call rate)
Alcoholics Anonymous Helps those in need to deal with alcohol addiction
Drinkline – offers advice, information and support to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s drinkingFreefone 0800 917 8282
National Drugs Helpline 24-hour helpline for drug users, their friends and families Freefone 0800 77 66 00
National Debtline – help for anyone in debt or concerned they may fall into debt Call free on 0808 808 4000

If you are struggling with the prospect or reality of redundancy, or feel anxious about what’s happening in your life at the moment, please contact me on 07956 986 693 or e.mail me at annhogancounselling@gmail.com