WHY LOVE

Why We Should Love More

I wrote this blog article as in counselling it is largely about relationship issues. About being hurt, upset about the way being treated, confused on how to go forward or trying to nut out how to keep a sense of loving thyself. I would be lying if I didn’t say these issues have confronted me also in my life experiences, from my feelings about my parents, family and friends. But hopefully I have learnt along the way about love.

LOVE

We can hold it back, we can divide our love so we love this person more and that person less, we can refuse love or be frightened of it when it is offered, reject it or just take it for granted but love in the end is all we have.

You can’t see it like possessions, you can’t buy it, you can’t add it up or weigh it but you can feel it if you let it in or extend it freely to others.

You can love someone that annoys you as you feel something, you can love the baker, the shop keeper, your work colleagues, your boss. You can love the person you thought your enemy. Hate as the opposite, it does not understand or give. It takes. 

Love is in the mind, it’s not sickly or gooey, it’s proud, it’s strong and resilient when tested. It does not need saying all the time in words. It can be expressed by not saying something, listening says it, it can be said by just being beside someone, a gift of space, a gesture, a present, a card, a text, a thought held. And then there is physical love of touch that releases beautiful mind chemicals of happiness and bonding. Love lives in the mind. It is its home.

Your family and friends need more love despite the differences that sometimes divide and finding new ways to navigate those differences takes courage. Be brave. Trust me on that. Love can still have boundaries and sometimes it needs boundaries to protect it.

Give it freely, accept it with appreciation, hold it and think of it as treasure. As humans on the planet together it is all we have that makes us all the same. There is no rich or poor with love as you can’t buy it. We can all have the same if we want. All we have to do is let it be free to release it in the air. 

And here is why love is so important. 

In the end we all die. 

Gerry North, psychotherapist treating depression, anxiety, addictions, panic attacks and couple relationships. Email: gerrynorthcounsellor@gmail.com

YOUR IDENTITY – WHO ARE YOU

IDENTITY – WHAT HAVE YOU DIGESTED ABOUT YOURSELF

Some clients are working so hard, or worried about their careers, they present not knowing who they are any longer. There is little doubt that working too hard can cause a lot of stress, bad sleep patterns, anxiety and feelings of being disconnected emotionally to others or themselves. They have lost the sense of identity as a broad-spectrum knowledge of who they are.

Let me explain. Who you are is a combination of your inherited genes, passed on family and cultural values and a knowing your own identity. Your identity is what you have comfortably digested about yourself, what you accept.

There are things also that we cannot digest. Imagine a Boa constrictor trying to swallow an elephant. Very visual picture is it not? There was an attempt by the snake to swallow the elephant but it cannot digest it. There are things we cannot digest. It might be the work we do for a living. It might be our own bad behaviour, habits or addictions that contravene our core values. It might be the way we relate to others. It might be how others relate to us.

Identity is about you as a; son or daughter, brother, sister, lover, a husband/wife, partner, gym attendee, golfer, fisher, musician, music lover, artist, cook, friend, uncle, auntie, tennis player, bike rider, motorcyclist, religious person, spiritual seeker, etc, etc. These are the things you are, the things you have digested as acceptable by you. This identity is you. You started to gather these identities as a teenager, rejecting things you gave a go when not confident until you became more mature. Your identity is continually being assessed as you age. You will find things you can’t digest any more and find things you want as part of you.

Some clients need to me reminded to review all these parts of their identities to see they are just not only a worker identity. In doing so they can see the parts of themselves they have ignored. So, I ask clients to write all their identities down in a therapy diary to revisit all the things they are and have digested. Afterwards clients say they feel more surefooted in the world.

There are also other identities to come as we grow. There are passions not yet realised (passions need to be found and don’t just show up) new ideas to explore, new dreams to be had about making life changes.

Have a go writing down all your identities that you have digested. If you pay balanced attention to them you will gain a healthy work/life balance. Maybe you could be a better friend, lover, husband, wife – dog owner. What we desire in the end is mind, body and spirit in unison and we feel this when we know thyself.

Gerry North is a couple counsellor and treats anxiety, depression, panic attacks, addictions and grief and loss. Email: gerrynorthcounsellor@gmail.com

Dream the New Dream

DREAMING A NEW DREAM AFTER THE CORONAVIRUS EPIDEMIC

 

We have all been swamped with negative media stories night and day about the Coronavirus. It is and has been a terrible thing with much human tragedy. The world will be a much different place when things subside into a new normal.

 

Self-isolation is a responsible theme we live by to protect ourselves and others. It has brought about behaviour change in all of us and it has provided a way of us thinking about new ways of being. (So many more bikes have been purchased for exercise, understanding that exercise is essential for wellbeing)

 

A positive element of this crisis is finding new ways to experience life in the future. Maybe work less, exercise more, eat better, communicate more with family and friends, experience life in the now rather than catastrophizing negative outcomes, learning to meditate, planning a more relaxing lifestyle that might mean having less and generally being more connected to the now – existential life.

 

I know that is a lot to think about. Put simply maybe this is a good time to dream the new dream for us personally and for those in relationships that need a good tune up. The three important pillars for a successful relationship are trust, sharing each other’s inner worlds (joys and fears) and having shared dreams for a new way of existing.

 

Having shared dreams is a really positive way of moving forward out of the rut that all relationships get into. Relationships need to wriggle and finding new dreams, both working towards them, bonds a couple towards a new mutual positive force.

 

Sometimes the dreams do not get fulfilled entirely but the journey starts a new way of being and things will happen that were totally unexpected. The rut is now a road – forward.

 

The clients that do well are those that write things down, adopt new skills and take time reviewing progress. Writing it all down is the gift for change. Getting a little diary and writing things down is the way to go.

 

Most of my friends and clients have taken a look at their lives, 3 with the coronavirus, wanting to change their lives when this crisis is over. Can you feel a tap on your shoulder now for a new way of experiencing life?

 

One last thing which I have spoken of before, the St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney runs anxiety and depression online course with a high level of success. They are providing specific courses to handle the Coronavirus situation from a mental health view and they are all free (previously £30) Here is the link

 

Keep well and if you need any help with counselling matters email me at; gerrynorthcounsellor@gmail.com. Skype and telephone counselling with support material on any matter freely available.

 

THE CORONA VIRUS AND HYPER AROUSAL

THE CORONA VIRUS AND HYPER AROUSAL

I wonder is you are observing yourself with your reactions to the corona virus threat. Are you feeling anxious and at what level is it out of 10? It is natural for us to feel concerned for ourselves and others with this virus. The media are in full throttle mode reporting on the virus from a multitude of angles. It is a media frenzy.

If we read every article and watch every media advise about the virus it is to be expected that we are constantly telling our brain to get ready for a fight or flee situation. On top of this we are likely to be catastrophizing many possible outcomes.

What we have now is hyper arousal where there are increased amounts of adrenaline being pumped into our blood streams and we are now also hypervigilant. We are also causing our minds to become stressed and cortisol is also being released causing bodily symptoms of disturbed sleep, irritability, headaches, digestive disorders, general anxiety and panic.

So, we have the corona virus event and we have our reaction to it. These are two separate issues with the former causing psychological distress about an unknown event.

From a mental health perspective there are things you can do to keep you well. The first thing to do is observe your anxiety and take time to investigate the stories behind these feelings. How are these feelings being generated and from where? What are these feelings robbing you of? What behaviours are resulting from these feelings?

We all need to be aware of this virus threat and make plans to handle it. We need to get the information about the virus and make good decisions. But do we need to be continually scaring ourselves with the media onslaught?

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to not totally emerge yourself in all the media stories. By limiting the immersion in the media stories, you will reduce your hypervigilance. This will lead to less fear chemicals being released into your body’s circulatory system. You will have far better mental health if you observe your reactions and with self talk change the behaviour of any media obsession you might have. Try this for one day and observe the difference.

Living in the here and now will greatly reduce anxious catastrophizing, which the latter is about living in an unknown imagined future. You will deal with this virus when you get the right information.

There is the corona virus and there is the reaction to the threat. Stay mentally well by not frightening yourselves. Go for a walk, ring a friend, make sensible plans. Meditation is brilliant for anxiety so is taking deep breaths. See

Gerry North is a couple counsellor and treats anxiety, panic attacks, depressions, addictions and grief/ loss. Email: gerrynorthcounsellor@gmail.com

SHAME – DEALING WITH IT.

SHAME – WHAT IS IT AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT.

When we are small children and do something wrong in front of our primary care givers, usually our parents, we cover our eyes with shame. We do this as adults in front of others too covering our eyes when embarrassed, usually uttering words or self-rapprochement – Oh No!

We all were told off by our parents and teachers at some time and we got over it without creating belief systems that we are not okay in the world. However, if the shame is felt as continual reflections from our parents, teachers, peers and others, we develop ingrained feelings that we are constantly disappointing others – we are not good enough.

Childhood experienced shame can continue throughout adulthood with constant feelings of being disappointing in the world. That word disappointing is very powerful. We also develop adolescent shame about a wide variety of self-disclosures from sexual identity, not meeting parents’ expectations, failing at learning or work and many other personal behaviours that did not meet the expectations of others.

Let’s look at different ages with shame. When we are children, and without any real sense of power in the world, we do not know how to deal with these feelings of disappointing others. When these feelings of shame happen, it goes right to the core of our being where we want to withdraw from the world for not being worthy. We want to cover our face with our hands. But maybe it was totally unfair for others to make us constantly feel this way? Maybe it was in actual fact emotional abuse?

When an adult it is helpful to reflect on that wounded child within and visit him or her and retell the stories of this unfairness. It is through retelling these stories the wounded child within can heal him or herself. If not the stories and cruel messages of being disappointing sit constantly underneath the adult experience.

How do you communicate with the wounded child within? Well you write letters or stories to this wounded child, putting your adult arms around him or her and reflect on the fairness of the judgments of others. Were you actually a child that experienced the world in wonder only to be crushed by unfairness? Maybe you were not an angel but still felt wrong a lot for just being you. Writing it down externalises the experiences by your own self reflection..

I want to talk about the term Agency. Having Agency means shameful feelings can be addressed because of the power of your unspoken voice that says I am not disappointing others; I am only disappointing myself with these feelings -I am not a bad person!

Having Agency means you can talk to that negative inner belief system and heal with more positive thoughts and feelings. We all make mistakes in life as an adult where we experience shame and we can heal these with thoughts on all the good parts of ourselves.

However healing childhood or adolescent shame requires opening up the many stories that created it; to look at the fairness of it, to challenge the right or the authority of those who reflected back those shameful feelings and to visit all the positive stories of things done well and the personal drives to do good things. Were you really disappointing?

Gerry North is a couple counsellor and also treats depression, anxiety, panic attacks, loss and grief plus additions. Email: gerrynorthcounsellor@gmail.com.

WHEN THERE IS MORE THAN ONE MAN IN THE BEDROOM

Many gay couples come for counselling wanting to discuss having sex outside their relationship. Gay men need to negotiate this issue maturely, as having sex with others is a threat to relationship intimacy – but not talking about it is an even a bigger one.

Having a monogamous ideal is fine, but keeping it all in a “not for discussion box” is like trying to keep a lid on the nature as gay men. I am not advocating that couples seek sex outside their relationship. I am merely saying it should be discussed so there is no confusion or deceit.

Sometimes one partner wants to open up the relationship more than the other, who could be struggling with jealousy or fear of losing their partner. However more damage is done if lies and deception are in place. Nothing destroys a relationship more than secrets.

Finding out your partner has been fucking around behind your back when you thought you were in a monogamous relationship will cause huge emotional distress. Also, feeling like a fool for not knowing about it is psychologically damaging, especially when friends have known. With a well-structured sexual agreement in place and understood, this will not happen.

Surprisingly, most gay men deep down believe that other gay men will fuck around but this does not mean their partners can do it behind their backs. When couples come to see me with this issue, I firstly congratulate them for showing respect for their relationship. Gay men are more realistic and honest about this sensitive issue than straight men.

So when is the best time to sit down and negotiate an agreement? For beginning couples I suggest as soon as when they know they are in a committed relationship. You are either having a monogamous relationship or you are not. For long-term couples things change over time, with once a monogamous understanding being replaced by partners willing to open to entertain sex with others.

Once the shock of an open relationship has been dealt, there is now room to reinvent the terms of the sex relationship. It is time to negotiate what is acceptable and agreed to by each person to protect intimacy between the partners. Strict rules of when, how often and under what conditions. Also, the notion that intimacy for each other on so many levels has nothing to do with sex with strangers needs to be fully understood.

Typical Case Study

George and Sam* have been together for eight years and live together – but their sex life has diminished. George wants to open up what has been a monogamous relationship belief. Sam is not happy about this and found sex emails on George’s computer. He also suspects George is having sex when away on business. Sam wants to leave the relationship, as he is hurt and confused. In counselling, George admits he has been having sex while away for the last year and this secret has made him feel dirty and unworthy.

Maybe this is a wake up call and I ask if they see anything positive about it. George says he is relieved to have told Sam about being unfaithful, while Sam says he finally knows and can now plan to leave George. I point out the mind wants that to happen, but does Sam’s heart have a voice? He admits he loves George but does not know how to forgive him. Sam is jealous and scared of losing George, while George says he loves Sam but what can he do when he feels horny and Sam is not into it anymore. George also says it is just sex and he loves his life with Sam.

In the second session, we discuss intimacy and being intimate, and the difference with Sam understanding now that George will not leave him. I point out this is easy to say but they both need a sex agreement. The following session, they come with their own conditions about how often and where it will happen, not to see the person more than once, no texting, full protection, and even the possibility of a threesome if both fancy it.

Sam now feels better and admits his previous monogamous understanding was for the past. I insist they write down their agreement and both sign it. They agree to return for monthly sessions to make sure they are okay emotionally.

A six-month follow-up shows George has had sex three times while away on business and Sam once. They tried a threesome but it was a disaster. Overall, they now feel more connected as before Sam was feeling quite the opposite. We can now talk about ways to improve their own sex lives together, which requires both to get back in the boat.

What is interesting is that some couples, once they have opened up the relationship and try it, decide it is not all they thought it would be. The grass was not a green as they thought on the other side. They now enter a discussion on developing a closer relationship with each other, protecting their intimacy together.

A/ Not real names.

 

IS YOUR NEGATIVE SELF-TALK DOING YOUR HEAD IN?

Just how is your self-talk going? When you think about your life do you think negatively or positively? Do you worry about what others might be saying about you? Do you consider your family upbringing as not being the best and has this made you not the confident person you always wanted to be? Do you have a negative body image?

All self-talk matters affect the way you feel about yourself and your daily happiness. Can we do anything about this? The answer is yes, sir ee! There is no point in dismissing negative childhood experiences, stating them and acknowledging them is all part of the process to stop them doing harm today and right now. I love this old Indian saying – No family can put up a sign saying, “There is nothing to be bothered about in this house.” The truth is the majority of us come from dysfunctional families. There is no Brady Bunch. Opps showing my age!

I also heard a radio interview with an elderly woman the other day outlining 8 tips for a happy life. One of these was a gem, “What other people think about you in none of your business.” Isn’t that a relief? Not spending time worrying about what others think means we can just be ourselves accepting everything about ourselves. Good and bad.

Self-talk that leads to low self-esteem can be corrected. The brain has created a pathway where all that negative thinking rides up and down. It is time to put up a detour sign. Start writing down somewhere, maybe notes around the house or better still a diary, positive things about yourself. The more you do this the more the detour sign stays up and another highway is created in your brain called the, “I love Myself Highway”. We all fail to love ourselves enough.

If you do have a negative body image, write down where all that comes from. Write as many stories about that topic as possible. Who are you competing with? What would you like to change? What genetic considerations do you have to accept? How much should I be worrying about it? What things can I change if I wanted to?

Learning to love your self more is what we all need. Getting rid of negative self-talk is something you can achieve. It just takes practice.

DEFINITIONS FOR GAYCOUNSELLINGLONDON.CO.UK

Definition of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction, to help a person change and overcome problems in desired ways. Psychotherapy aims to improve an individual’s well-being and mental health, to resolve or mitigate troublesome behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts, or emotions, and to improve relationships and social skills

Psychotherapy London

Marriage counselling, also called couples therapy, is a type of psychotherapy. Marriage counseling helps couples of all types recognize and resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. Through marriage counseling, you can make thoughtful decisions about rebuilding your relationship or going your separate ways.

Marriage Counselling London

Relationship Counselling North London

Couples Counselling London

Gay Couples Counselling London

Psychotherapy East London  Psychotherapy Central London

There are over a thousand different psychotherapy techniques, some being minor variations, while others are based on very different conceptions of psychology, ethics (how to live) or techniques. Most involve one-to-one sessions, between client and therapist.

Psychotherapy East London  Psychotherapy Central London

Anxiety is defined as nervousness, apprehension, and self-doubt that may or may not be associated with real-life stressors. Everyone experiences some level of anxiety periodically, but when feelings of dread and worry are unfocused, overwhelming, recurring, and not directly linked to stressful events, anxiety may leave a person severely impaired.

Anxiety London

Depression—a sad or discontented mood—can leave a person feeling lethargic, unmotivated, or hopeless. In some cases, depression can lead to suicidal ideation. Depression may occur in a severe form, as in major depression, or in a more chronic, mild-to-moderate form, as is the case with persistent depressive disorder.

Depression London

depression counselling london

BUSY OR PLEASANTLY FULL – HOW IS YOUR LIFE?

BUSY OR PLEASANTLY FULL – HOW IS YOUR LIFE?

I see many clients who report 12 hour workdays suffering either: stress, anxiety, depression or a breakdown in personal relationships but not wanting to reduce the corporate work commitments. They say they are happy working these hours, as they feel fulfilled. They are actually addicted to doing and not being, well their mind is so addicted.

When they return from a long holiday they experience how their lives have been hijacked by a corporate work ethic. After a few weeks back at work they are again addicted – or their brain is. Are you leading a pleasantly full life or a busy life? Is it time to be mindful or thoughtful about how you are living your life? It is an important question to ask don’t you think?

Peer pressure, public status, wanting glamorous life goods and the push to get as much money as possible are some of the drivers for people developing exhausting busy lives. What is a pleasantly full life is another question and is it naturally different for everyone? I think it is about increasing the connection with the real world – the natural environment and our relationships with family, work colleagues, our communities and friends.

How many internal thoughts have you had about observing people totally disconnected from the real world? The prime example is watching people texting while walking or driving. This embodies this disconnect, especially when witnessed at pedestrian crossings.

It is time to become thoughtful about spending more time with family, friends, taking walks in the country air, sitting outside watching life, cooking slowly, wearing cosy socks, comfortable clothes and reading a good book on the couch with the dog at our feet. Does this seem more nurturing to you and relaxing into life’s joys?

Our real lives of being rather than doing are under ever increasing threat. The fascination with the latest technology, instant entertainment satisfaction, wanting instant online sex, and experiencing a constant feeling of needing to do things faster robs us of a having a thoughtful pleasant life. Mindfulness is being thoughtful about what your true self wants as a life.

To make life changes we first need to acknowledge there is a problem, as we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Can you put technology down, leave your phone at home, stop texting so much, reduce your work hours, date rather than get casual instant sex and generally develop a plan for a new life of being over constant doing.

Having a simpler life might mean moving to a cheaper house, working less hours, doing creative things rather than only financial pursuits and generally slowing it all down and at the same time having a full life of non work activities.

My partner recently decided to take a year off from the corporate world and is experiencing life anew. But his friends insist he get back into the work force. Can you think of reasons why they pressure him to do so? I find the reasons for this peer pressure very interesting!

So maybe have a good think now on what you are doing with your life. Mindfulness will get you there because now you are being thoughtful rather than repeating unconscious busy pursuits.

 

 

 

INTERNALISING HURT WILL MAKE YOU MENTAL

INTERNALISING HURT WILL MAKE YOU MENTAL

We are all guilty of it; internalizing hurts with problems in close relationships. Our mind seems happy to churn things over, day and night, inventing scenarios and stories on who is right or wrong. Exhausting stuff!

Let’s say you have been criticized or put down by someone and you feel very hurt and misunderstood. The resulting emotions are the kindle to get the fire raging in our minds. The problem is, this internal mind churning causes a huge mental imbalance and the longer we engage in churning, the greater the chance of some permanent mental damage.

Neuroscience is the study of how our brain works and the way it works makes us behave in a certain way. There is a part of the brain called the Amygdala that reacts to our emotions and when it gets all fired up the Pre-frontal Cortex, which governs our ability to reason, get shut down a lot. And when this happens we are become unbalanced – we are now crazy mind stuff. Spooky!

So the trick is first to be aware that internalizing upsetting issues is not healthy if we let it go on and on. This awareness should help you have some discipline over your churning mind. Of course the mind will keep trying to get you to create new stories of fairness time and time again. Just tell it to shut the fuck up.

Now what can help greatly is you talk to someone about the whole matter because now you are externalizing it rather than keeping it as you own internal story telling. The more you discuss it the less power it will have over you and slowly the hurt will be diluted as other things take more prominence in your life.

The next best thing is to consider writing it all down in a story. This is also externalizing it, this time onto paper. Once it is written down it becomes history and you can now see it unfolded on the outside of your mind. Maybe burn it.

The human brain is good at internalizing problems in the outside world. We would not have built bridges, developed the motorcar or got to the moon without trying to resolve problems in the real world. But internalizing problems in our human relationships long term will lead only to mental health health issues. What they said, what she said and then what they did, is really useless by hanging onto hurts long term. Let it go!

When an upsetting relationship matter happens, work out why you have these strong feelings and emotions, then consider what you are going to do with these emotions. Maybe let them sit for a while and then discuss the issue with the other party, or talk with friends for support and then write it all down. In doing so you are now externalizing the hurts, preventing them destabilizing you needlessly. Take care.