How To Remove The Cloud Of Low Self-Esteem

Is low self esteem holding you back from living the life you want?

Is low self esteem holding you back from living the life you want?

Low self-esteem is a genuine issue experienced by many people and causes feelings of inadequacy that swamps and distorts our self belief.  

We all have days when we lose confidence and don't feel good about ourselves. But when low self-esteem becomes a long-term problem, it can have a harmful effect on our mental health, work, relationships and our lives.

What is low self esteem?

Self-esteem is the belief we have about ourselves.  When we have healthy self-esteem, we are positive about ourselves and about life in general. It makes us better able to deal with life's ups and downs.

When our self-esteem is low, we can see ourselves and our life in a more negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges life throws at us and anxiety/depression symptoms can take hold.

Put simply, it’s an unhealthily low sense of self-worth. People who suffer with this often think thoughts such as -  ‘I’m no good. I can’t do anything. I’m useless. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I can’t stand in a group of people and have a conversation because they’ll think my ideas are silly.’

All these statements are thoughts that constantly plague people with low self-esteem. The impact of these is that the people who suffer from this unhealthily low sense of self-worth struggle to have any meaningful relationships. They don’t have any joy or peace in their lives. They’re touchy. Their feelings are easily hurt. They feel rejected easily and are highly sensitive to others remarks.

Low self esteem is like a prison and for many, it seems to be a life sentence. However, this is not the case and can be remedied. 

What causes low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem often begins in childhood. Teachers, friends, siblings, parents, and even the media send us messages about ourselves, both positive and negative. For some reason, the message that you aren't good enough is the one that stays with you.

Perhaps you found it difficult to live up to other people's expectations of you, or to your own expectations. Stress and difficult life events, such as serious illness or a bereavement can have a negative effect on self-esteem.

Personality can also play a part. Some people are just more prone to negative thinking, while others set impossibly high standards for themselves. 

People agree that anyone suffering from low self-esteem is missing out on a full and healthy life. They’re in a sense believing a lie that they are not worth anything and miss out on the truth about the wonderful ‘one of’ human beings they really are - this knowledge and understanding does lead to a full, happy, purposeful life.   

We all know people with low self-esteem. We know how debilitating it is. We can see how it robs them of rich and meaningful relationships. This is in no means an easy life to lead and often causes isolation, depression and anxiety in social settings.

Sadly, people who have low self-esteem don’t imagine that their lives could be any different. There is a belief that they will never be able to live without the anguish of low self-esteem.

“Our competitive culture tells us we need to be special and above average to feel good about ourselves, but we can’t all be above average at the same time…There is always someone richer, more attractive, or successful than we are.”

We compare ourselves to people who are more successful, more beautiful, more intelligent. Everything ‘more’ than we could ever be. Facebook portrays the best side of people who never seem to have any problems, look fabulous and portray an exciting life! TV advertisements paint pictures of beautiful people and what success should look like.

We may look at our lives and think, ‘My life doesn’t look like that, my life doesn’t match up with that. Aggggh, I’ll never be that pretty, important or successful.’ These projected images fuel much of the low self-esteem and distorted image issues alive and well today.

However, there is help.  There is hope. There is a rich, full life which can be attained when you begin to change destructive patterns of thinking about yourself and begin to put truthful thoughts and truth into action.

But how can we change these distorted images of ourselves?

A few things can help to address low self-esteem.  The 3 most important to learn and practice are:

1.    Recognising Our Inner Critic

How do we speak to ourselves? Is our self-talk uplifting, honest, life-giving and caring talk or are we cruel and harsh with ourselves? We need to learn to challenge the negative thoughts which bring shame and feeds our low esteem. When we begin to recognise the critical inner voice which fuels our negative self-attacks, we can begin to confront this often cruel voice and see ourselves for who we really are.

2.    Challenging Distorted Thinking

Are the thoughts we are thinking distorted? This type of thinking hurts us and feeds us a barrage of negative thoughts about ourselves and the people around us and it decimates our self esteem.

Thoughts like- “I’m stupid…. I’m fat …. Nobody likes me … Be quiet or you will make a fool of yourself…  I'll never amount to anything .... You’re worthless…”

These are the enemies of healthy self esteem and need to be exposed in order to infiltrate a new way of truthful thinking.

3.    Learning Self Compassion

This is a radical practice of treating yourself like a friend and a wonderful way to build more confidence in yourself. Learning to nurture self compassion leads to a stable attitude of kindness and acceptance towards ourselves. 

Here are 3 quick steps for practicing self-compassion:

1) Recognise and notice your suffering and where it has robbed you of life.

2) Be kind and caring in response to suffering as you would to a dear friend.

3) Remember that imperfection is part of the human experience and something we all share

There are other helpful interventions to add to these to assist you towards successfully dealing with low self-esteem.  

Full Life Therapy is here to help you along the way towards a strong, confident self, based on a true image of who you really are.

 


 

 

 

Healthy Conflict Builds Great Relationships

4.jpg

Avoiding conflict does not make for a great relationship

 

The important thing is to be able to share how you feel in ways that can be understood, respected and honoured.

Avoiding conflict is not the sign of a good relationship. On the contrary, it is an indication there may be larger problems and poor communication. Conflict can  be handled constructively and when it is, the relationship benefits.

Newly married couples may be devastated to experience frustrating conversations that breakdown into emotionally-charged disputes (fights)! It may seem the relationship is in a bad place and that they are doomed for an early divorce.

Generally, we dislike conflict. Like, really, really loathe it. And so, when things aren’t going perfectly well in our relationships, to some people it might feel like failure. Others have a higher tolerance for conflict and don’t feel a need for things to be resolved immediately. Some people never want to go to bed angry, and others believe that going to bed angry is sometimes the best option.

Conflict in marriage is inevitable.

In fact, not only is conflict in marriage inevitable, but it’s also a perfectly normal and natural part of life. Conflict is an unavoidable and very important part of your “happily ever after” – even though it’s not something you see in the movies or on the family Facebook image posts. Happy marriages have conflict.

According to relationship expert John Gottman, “It’s a myth that if you solve your problems you’ll automatically be happy. We need to teach couples that they’ll never solve most of their problems.”

Really? We'll never solve most of our problems? Yep, that’s right. Thankfully, the key to a happy marriage isn’t to eliminate all conflict. Mind-blowing!

“Although we tend to equate a low level of conflict with happiness, a lasting relationship results from a couple’s ability to manage the conflicts that are inevitable in any relationship.”

Conflict is inevitable – no matter who you marry. Please don’t fall for the fallacy that you wouldn’t be dealing with X conflict if you had married Bob, because Bob would have come with his own set of problems. You know it’s true.

Luckily, you can practice the skills and develop the ability to successfully navigate conflict in order to create happiness and harmony in your marriage. So, what are those specific skills that will lead to happiness now, and in your “happily ever after” future?

There are effective skills that can be applied when conflict arises.  Here are 6 techniques to help couples learn how to manage conflict:

1. Practice personal self-soothing
Take a timeout when conflict arises. Go for a walk, take a bath, read a book, do whatever it takes to breathe, calm down, and return to a better frame of mind. How long is the perfect amount of time for a break? At least 20 minutes.

2. Use a softened startup
It’s true that conversations usually end on the same note they began, so start softly. Don’t blame. Check the tone of your voice (don't yell or shout).Use I-statements. Describe what is happening. And be polite. (eg., I felt so unimportant when you ............................ I was really confused by .............................  I feel embarrassed because ....................)

3. Repair and de-escalate
Use workable phrases like, "Let's start over", “Let me try again” and “I want you to hear ... to help you understand what I need right now”. Be quick to offer, "I understand how important this is to you", "I made a mistake" and “I’m sorry” which help de-escalate and begin making repair attempts.

4. Listen to your partner’s underlying feelings and dreams
Perpetual gridlocked problems may hide underlying feelings and dreams that aren’t getting communicated. So, start by thinking about what you really want and how you can communicate that more clearly to you partner. Second, become a better listener and seek to discover your partner’s deepest feelings and dreams. The purpose of this skill is to truly understand where your partner is coming from.

5. Accept Influence
Recognize that your partner has good ideas and important opinions (your way isn’t always the best way or the right way). Show respect for those opinions and find something you can learn from your partner. 

6. Compromise
Compromise in an art. “Compromise never feels perfect. Everyone gains something and everyone loses something… the important thing is feeling understood, respected, and honored in your hopes and dreams.” So work together with your partner to find common ground and compromise that will leave you both feeling valued, respected, and supported. A win/win situation is what is ideal - the win/lose scenario always leaves a sour taste and competition between each other only breeds contempt.

By practicing these six skills and learning to manage conflict in positive and healthy ways, then happily ever after can be yours every day as you recognize conflict for what it is – an opportunity to learn, grow, progress, to live a rich, full and meaningful life now.

(Information in this article has been taken from Aaron & April Jacob from The Gottman Institute)

The Forgiveness Factor

The-weak-can-never-forgive.__quotes-by-Mahatma-Gandhi-50-1024x1024.png

Forgiveness as  a process . . . . 

THE HUMAN DILEMMA

The human race seems to be extremely skilled at causing harm to others - whether it be a family feud, relationship battle, kids in the playground, bullying in the workplace, conflict with a neighbour or warring with another country.  A quick re-visit of world history, family history (the old skeletons in family closets that we could never speak of), church history to name a few - the reality is we have been a people in one conflict or another, in the battlefields fighting or our backs turned in cold war standoffs. (Not fighting physically but ignoring and not communicating with the other country).

ABSURD?  INSANE OR AN ACT OF SELF COMPASSION?

To be forgiving when you have been on the receiving end of an attack from another / others or when we are suffering the consequences of a totally unjust act does seem absurd. We also can often cause harm to ourselves in the causing pain scenario.

Even suggesting forgiving people who have deeply hurt us, our family or friends with harmful words spoken,  physical, emotional or mental violence received, arguing over beliefs-politics finances or cruel abuses dished out causes within us outrage, hurt shock and long-term suffering. The act of applying forgiveness to a gaping, open wound doesn't just  seem absurd but impossible. 

If you have been the victim of childhood trauma or abuse . . .  or

If you have been the parents of a child abused or mistreated . . .  or

If you have been physically attacked and injured by another  . . .

If you have been cheated on by your partner or treated unfairly by your employer and lost your job...  it is hard to consider the factoring in of forgiveness when the sweetness of revenge, resentment or bitterness fuels or consumes our waking moments, conversations and every thought. 

My own issues of unforgiveness regarding paedophilia within the churches globally, the amount of blatant ongoing sexual abuse within some of the most respected organisations has left me reeling, angry and outraged... so I am not theorising here, as forgiveness is a hard pill to swallow when everything within me is imploding regarding these injustices. I am aware of the red hot fire within that has settled somewhat over time, but is smouldering like a fire concealed under ashes.  I know it is there!  

This larger global issue does not include all the little personal outrages that I could allow to consume me either.  But I am a tried and true advocate of the forgiveness process as I have applied it in my life. For me, it really does work towards becoming fully human and fully alive.  

TIMING

This smouldering outrage has caused me to view perhaps a vital piece of unravelling of what forgiveness looks like. For me, a vital part of this process is a 'timing' that needs to be factored into the process.  Because another suite of issues arise if we forgive too quickly.

In order to understand what forgiveness is, lets examine what forgiveness is not.

WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT

Forgiveness does NOT mean that:

-       We will feel like doing it

-       It will be easy

-       We must forgive quickly

-       We forget the hurt/betrayal/ abuse/damage ….

-       We have to trust them again

-       We have to be friendly with them again

-       They have to become part of our lives (it may not be safe or wise to do so)

-       We make light of the hurt – as if it didn’t hurt us

FORGIVENESS DEFINED

Forgiveness is defined as “a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you or loved ones regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.”

Forgiving others is essential for spiritual, emotional and mental growth. Our experience of someone who has hurt us once, is now nothing more than a thought or feeling that we carry around. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that dis-empower us, if we continue to let these thoughts occupy our headspace. If we can release them, we can know more peace.

Forgiving someone does not make us weaker persons. At the same time, it does not mean we have to have that person in our lives. It merely allows us to release the anger, resentment and hurt - as we release a pressure valve that has reached overload. 

Forgiveness is like breaking out of the chains holding us back in the past and sets us free from the heaviness and weight of them. When we are unforgiving and carry animosity, we feed the innermost core of the conflict that keeps our pain alive. If we suffocate our hearts and our underlying being with anger - our dreams actually slowly but certainly die and so will our interior grow hard and cold.  The most authentic and courageous way to allow our innermost being (soul) to freely breathe, is to forgive. Forgiveness is actually a kindness to self in the long run. 

A tremendous example of extreme forgiveness can be seen on this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR-6x3gXYGs

It is a brave, courageous almost paradoxical thing to do - to embark on this forgiveness process.  As time progresses, and we make a decisions to be willing (even if we don't feel like it), our inner-being can fill with a care, understanding or kindness emotion rather than the rage of anger and we can actually move on with our lives unencumbered by hatred, resentment or bitterness. That, my friends is forgiveness! It is like having an extreme make-over for the soul (and far less costly than plastic surgery)!

By eventually taking all our anger and hatred away, that blocks our way to full life enjoyment & freedom and replacing it with love (kindness, care or consideration) is the most healing act a human can ever do. The people of this world do not need more revenge, but in essence, what we all need is love. As it  has been said: "To err is human, to forgive, divine". 

We may need the help of the divine to assist us on our forgiveness journey and telling our story to a trusted 'other' or a spiritual care counsellor can be very beneficial. 

Most importantly,  we need to remember that we can forgive the people or person who has hurt us deeply, but that doesn’t mean they need to stay in our lives.

We also need to follow through on our own need to forgive ourselves for ....... with extended self -compassion or kindness to self. But that is for another blog.... 

Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts and opinions in this article.

Can Trust Be Rebuilt After Betrayal???

FLT IMAGE BETRAYAL.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't fool yourself into thinking that you can repair broken trust with a quick statement of forgiveness and a warm embrace.  

Building Trust (even when it feels impossible)

Relationships flourish when partners trust each other to be honest, faithful, respectful, kind, consistent and open to resolving conflict (among many other things).

Relationships flounder when trust is broken, which, unfortunately, is all too common. Most of us are aware of the obvious trust-breaking situations, such as discovering that your partner has had an affair or has lied about something important.

That said, trust can be broken in far subtler, but nonetheless damaging, ways.

-  What if your partner consistently says he or she will do something and never delivers on the promise?

-  What if you are not informed of partners activities (social, work or finances)?

-  What if your partner is emotionally unavailable to you during a trying time?

These situations may not destroy trust, but they can certainly threaten it.

Depending on the situation, trust can be rebuilt. But the process of building (and rebuilding) trust doesn't just happen. It takes significant inner work on the part of both partners.

Rebuilding Inner Trust

In order to build a stable foundation of trust with another person, your top priority is to firstly become trusting of yourself and your feelings — that whispering inner voice that tries to alert you when something feels out-of-line with your needs.

If you can recall a time that trust was broken in your relationship, think back on what happened leading up to the betrayal.

-  Did your inner voice whisper something to you which you ignored?

Many times I have seen clients who felt betrayed but decided to ignore their instincts, brushing the issue under the rug. I've had multiple clients specifically tell me that they were aware of a financial betrayal in their relationship, but that their partners overcompensated by acting extra-charming.

Often, the disloyal person in the dynamic will anticipate trying to "make up" for his or her behaviour, as it makes it more difficult for the other person to really see it and deal with the conflict.

Other clients who have faced sexual infidelity in their relationship have expressed regret about having been in denial, saying things like, "I could feel the change when she started her affair, but I didn't want to believe it ... so I didn't."

Regardless of the situation, there is one commonality among my clients who have had to deal with broken trust in their relationship:

They did not sufficiently trust their own instincts and ended up sublimating their needs.

Before you can commence to trust your partner again,

  • The first need is to trust yourself — your inner knowledge of what's right and wrong for you. We have all been graced with two sources of knowing — our feelings and the wisdom that pops into our mind from our higher guidance. When you learn to trust your feelings about your partner and learn to trust the wisdom that is always here for you, then you become truly trustworthy of yourself. This means that you stop ignoring that inner whisper and start listening to what you know in your heart and soul.
  • Only then will you be able to discern what is true and what isn't about your partner and the relationship. With self-trust, you will be able to feel — and believe — when he or she is lying or trying to take advantage of you in a way that erodes trust.

Rebuilding Relationship Trust

When trust has been broken in your relationship, both partners need to apply real therapeutic attention to the relationship to rebuild it. There is a two-sided mutual dynamic at play, and the reasons behind the betrayal need to be addressed and healed collaboratively.

Both partners need to learn to love (and trust) themselves enough to be able to approach the relationship from individual places of self-respect and personal integrity.

When you make a commitment to treat yourself with love and compassion and genuinely trust your needs, you will not harm yourself or your partner by lying or cheating. You will listen properly to yourself so you can welcome open and honest communication into the relationship with open arms.

Betrayal can become the opportunity for each person to look candidly inside themselves in order to heal their part of the relationship and understand why trust was severed. Broken trust can be healed, but it takes courageous work. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can repair broken trust with a quick statement of forgiveness and a warm embrace. The underlying causes for betrayal need to be identified, examined and worked on so that betrayal does not resurface again.

Trust is the foundation of a healthy, secure relationship. But in a committed relationship or marriage, that trust may be broken by the actions of a partner, whether through dishonesty, betrayal, unfaithfulness, negligence, or erratic behaviour. Unlike forgiveness, trust is not simply a choice.

Trust is a feeling of safety and security in the relationship. It is a belief that the other values the relationship and is committed to making it a priority. Once trust has been damaged, it is not always easily restored. But it is not impossible to restore.

We often confuse what is difficult with what is impossible. With intentional consistency, commitment, and connection, trust can be rebuilt. It will require more than verbal reassurances. It requires bold, consistent changes in behaviour. If you have damaged your partner’s trust and you are determined to work toward re-establishing a trusting relationship, the following trust-building activities can get you started.

1. Give a sincere thorough apology.

Your apology should be sincere from your heart and include specifically what you did wrong, how it affected your partner, your remorse, how you will make amends, and a commitment not to repeat the offense. Your apology may need to be restated as the effects of your offense continue to arise.

2. Allow your partner to freely express how he has been hurt by your offense without defence or excuses.

Show empathy and understanding, demonstrating that it is safe to talk to you about his feelings.

3. Ask what specific behaviour changes your partner needs from you.

This may include increased accountability throughout the day, limited use of the internet or social media, access to email or texts, cutting off relationships, financial accountability, more date nights or time together, more verbal or physical affection, increased openness about your feelings or desires, professional counselling, etc. It may be helpful for you and your partner to make a list or chart of trust-building behaviours and mark it on a regular basis.

4. Recognize the value of honesty.

White lies, partial truths, and lies of omission will cause further damage. Forthrightness (being honest and direct before being asked) is necessary. Be gentle with your honesty but be completely transparent. The more open you are, the less doubt your partner will have.

5. Be open to answer your partner’s questions.

When you are defensive or holding back, your partner’s insecurities will increase and they may assume guilt. Provide reassurances, alleviate worries, and tell the whole truth.

6. Stop behaviours that break trust.

Do not continue the behaviours that broke trust in the first place, and always be mindful if your actions will build or break down trust. Show your partner that you value her by making intentional decisions with her in mind, big or small.

7. Seek connection. Intimacy and connection are an important part of rebuilding trust.

Look into your partner’s eyes, hold hands, say “I love you.” Ask your partner what makes him feel loved, safe, and cared for, and do those things consistently.

8. Consistently follow through on the details.

If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there. Understand your responsibilities and do them on time every time.

9. Be trustworthy with others.

Your partner will see if you maintain integrity with others in your life and will see that as an indicator of whether it is safe for them to trust you.

10. Be patient with your partner’s insecurities.

Recognize that they will likely have her guard up with you for a while as they determine if you are safe enough to open up to. Trust is the foundation of a relationship, and just like a building, if the foundation is destroyed, it has to be rebuilt from the ground up. This takes time.

Restoring trust is not impossible, and incorporating these trust-promoting behaviors in your relationship can make it stronger than ever. When the offended partner is open to the possibility of trusting again and willing to allow his partner to win back his confidence and stop punishing her for the offense; and when the offending partner is willing to do what it takes to earn back trust, then you are on the road to restoring trust and healing your relationship.

 

Who Am I? The search for our true identity

The monumental question  "Who Am I?" often arises over the course of our lives and we ignore it at our peril.

Flt Images Who am I.png

As simple as it sounds many of us just go along from birth to death without a pause.

This vital question requires our answer.  In fact, if we choose not to pause or reflect and ask this question of ourselves from time to time, we run the risk of becoming adrift.  As simple as it sounds many of us just go along from birth to death without pause and our lives can lack genuine-ness and purpose. 

This 'Who am I?'  is a grounding question (like an anchor to stop us from drifting off into dangerous waters) often arising during pivotal stages of our lives. There is a first inner enquiry, often in our teenage years as we grow out of childhood into transition for adulthood. 

Chances are, we are so busy in adulthood making things happen, that we don't take pause time because our focus has been on - establishing relationships, careers, employment, having kids, earning money to keep ourselves and families afloat. We may have not even considered or been shown how to take time out to pause - to dream, to gain perspective or ask that "Who Am I?" question. 

As explained by participants:

"When I was much younger, wounded and a very sad soul at the time, I realised through much turmoil, that if I was going to survive this life that I needed to find out who I was and what direction I needed to head.  Because I knew if I kept on the course I was going, the consequences would be more of the same and misery and bitterness would define me."
"I learnt that as much as I didn't want to take a step out of the comfy mudhole my life had become,  that no-one else would do it for me. When I finally summoned the courage to call a Counsellor it was the first step out of misery towards a better future.  I didn't realise it at the time, but this one simple action changed the destination of my future for the better.  In this safe space, my counsellor assisted me on the first steps out of 'drifting miserableness' and into choosing a life based on who I was and what I wanted to do with this one life I had to live.  The choice was mine!"
"My adult search for my true ID on my journey of self discovery required time and attention to every aspect of who I was becoming and the most worthwhile of all my human endeavours - body, mind, emotion and spiritual make-up. It was fear that had prevented me exploring my self identity for far too long." 
"For me, it was the spiritual aspect that had been on hold and ignored. It was like gaining wings not only to fly but to soar! " 

Our human make-up is physical as well as mental, emotional and spiritual.  To leave one of these out creates an imbalance. We may need to work on one more than another - only we will know what part needs strengthening and is most out of condition.  

For us, there maybe defining moments wondering- "Who am I or will the real me please stand up?" and we don;t allow time in our busy lives -  to listen and ponder what we want to be, who we want to become and where we want to end up.

If we have never stopped to consider this question or to develop even further - "Who am I becoming?"  - our current position might have us wondering  how did I end up here? Many of us will be confused about what is real. Even though we sense there is something more, we attempt to settle for a reality based on what our culture defines as normal, healthy and therefore real. But does popular culture define who I really am?

Fears can set in- real or imagined and we spend lifetimes stuck - trying our utmost to pretend we have got it all together or following societal culture. We may endure being unfulfilled and even settle for counterfeit ways of being.  The symptoms of which are restlessness, discontent, negativity, unrealistic expectations and often finding fault with others = M I S E R A B L E.

Some of us maybe confused about what is real.  We sense there is something more but cannot seem to get 'there' in spite of our best attempts.  We can drift through our life stages from birth to death without having reached a destination/s. This often causes confusion, bewilderment and anxieties which can be prevented with the help of a simple 'Pause and think on that!' 

Perhaps the struggle is with a relationship that has gone stale,  have become solo again, are now drinking more, looking for love in all the wrong places, kids have left home and now are alone again, never found a lifetime partner, had a long term relationship or have spent years in accountancy and your heart was in agriculture or creative therapies? Sound familiar?

The excellent news is that our search for true identity is an exciting one that is attainable at any moment and worthy of our whole focus and attention. Regardless of our age, it is never too late to get the REAL YOU to stand up and be counted.

 

 

 

 

Simple Steps For Better Listening

FLT Listening.jpg

The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply. 

                 So you realize you have a problem--that your listening abilities are not perfect!. ("Sorry, I didn't catch what you said.")

But... you may ponder how do I improve? In short, the same way you get better at anything. First, recognise the problem. And then use the tools to train yourself to become a better listener:

1. Get Started

If you're like most people, your space is a breeding ground for distractions.

Email, ringing phones, smartphones or kids shouting are exploding all around that prevents your ability to listen.

The next time you need to have an important conversation with leave your busy office or home and meet in a location that's free from distractions. Find a place that enables you to focus all of your energy and attention on the speaker. Maybe walk and talk, a quiet cafe, beach or quieter area.  

2: Explore the "SOLER" system to make immediate improvements:

  • Sit squarely. Move your body so you face the speaker head-on. Don't sit sideways or with your back to the speaker.
  • Open posture. Whether you're sitting or standing, keep your hands open and your arms at your sides. Avoid clenching your body or crossing your arms and legs when listening. This form of body language signals that you're defensive, frustrated or impatient. 
  • Lean toward the person speaking. This posture demonstrates you are interested in what the speaker is saying. Don't slouch in your chair or stand slumped over. Be attentive!
  • (Make) Eye contact. Maintain comfortable eye contact. A good rule of thumb is to maintain eye contact for about five to 10 seconds, gaze away and look back again.
  • Relax. The more relaxed you appear, the more comfortable the speaker will feel.

3. Wait your turn       

If you're the type of person who has the tendency to interrupt the speaker before he or she finishes, you're not alone. One way to improve is by counting to three after the speaker finishes talking before you respond. The more you practice this exercise, the easier it'll be to wait your turn to speak.

4: Show understanding and appreciation

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to talk with someone when all they do is give you blank stares back. One of the keys of effective listening is acknowledging what the speaker says. Here are a few ways you can demonstrate understanding and appreciation for the speaker:

  • When listening, use positive phrases such as, "That's an interesting thought," or, "Thanks for bringing up that point."
  • Put yourself in the speaker's shoes and convey that you understand his or her feelings or ideas after he or she finishes speaking. Saying things like "that must make you feel like..." or sharing similar experiences you've had will make your colleague feel like you understand his or her situation. Even if you may not agree with them - your turn will come to respond. 
  • Paraphrase the speaker's statement by saying, "so what your saying is...?" 
     

5: Ask questions

One of the best ways to improve your listening skills is by asking more questions. Your question can be as simple as "How are things going?" or "How's your job been lately?" In addition, ask your colleagues to speak up when they have issues or concerns and tell them that you'll always be available to listen to them and provide support

Why Doesn't Anybody Listen?

FLT social media image.jpg

When was the last time you were listened to?      Deeply honestly listened to? 

When was the last time that you were listened to?                      Deeply, openly, honestly listened to?                                          When was the last time that you actually listened to someone else?

If you have ever been truly listened to, you will know and remember - the person listening, the place and time of day and how it made you feel.  Chances are many of us will have to think hard.  You may realise it has been quite a while since you were really listened to or really listened to another, maybe even years....  And for some, perhaps never. 

The consequences of 'not listening' is the deterioration of most relationships in all walks of life and forms part of the clientele who pass through our doors. 

To genuinely listen is the most important ingredient in communication with ourselves and others. In the wonderful world of counselling and therapy training we were taught how to listen attentively, read body language and be active in our listening approach. However, before this essential learning process, I am sad to say, I was a poor listener. Had I ever even thought about this as a useful part of my life?  I felt sad about this - especially with my then teenage kids and an ageing mother. It wasn't too late however.   

This sad recognition led to action and putting my new 'listening ears' into practice in my personal daily life as well as my counselling profession. I realised that Listening is an art form which can be learnt and practiced. The difference to the quality of my relationships has been amazing! It is never too late to develop this seemingly forgotten 'art'. 

In our world, social media and the internet in general, has impressively changed the way humans communicate with each other. This electronic connectedness has disrupted traditional perceptions of being together.  But, has it opened new methods of connection or assassinated it altogether? 

There is so much digital communication but rarely is there found a quality of listening to actually hear what another is saying. The sticking point used to be the reading of newspapers and television - a disconnect from communicating with others. 

But people still want to be listened to, to be understood. We want people to know our point of view and to tell our stories. We want to influence and change how people are viewing things, and how we are all interacting with each other. If only someone would just listen. 

A person who has been listened to feels valued, worthwhile and develops more confidence and esteem - even when the communication maybe critical or challenging. 

Your quality of relationship with your loved ones, children, families, workplaces and friendships will all be enriched dramatically with the use of this one simple tool. In fact it would be a different world altogether if listening was the 'norm'.

Who are you listening to?  Who is listening to you?

The next blog will simplify a few steps towards becoming a great listener...it is worth the effort. It is not difficult - it takes time & practice.

 

Alcoholism... I think I have a problem....

Overdoing it on the drink? There is help ...

Take the first step today, towards regaining your life!

Take the first step today, towards regaining your life!

"I was curled up on the bathroom floor, my face against the cool tile.  The stench of sweat and vomit hung heavy in the air.  I was coming down off a three or four day bender, and the withdrawal was hitting me like a freight train.  It was in that desperate moment that I finally admitted what I had known for a long time—alcohol was ruining my life.....Ever since I was nineteen, I’ve been a drinker.  It used to not be a problem." (PM)

Sound familiar? Check out this questionnaire

Rather than being an indication of weakness, alcoholism is a chronic illness that can strike at any stage of life and doesn’t discriminate in terms of race, income or social status.

The word is out that this disease accelerates affecting brain chemistry,  thoughts, behaviour and feelings. The urge to drink is so strong that, without help, it remains out of control. It is also a depressant which adds to this volatile mix.

Other areas of our lives are affected also, from finances to work,  personal relationships and other career prospects.  The range of potential mental and physical health problems that can result from alcohol addiction is staggering, and, for Ireland, the statistics are stark.

Research evidence has found some 1.35 million harmful drinkers in this country, while just over 20% of drinkers binge drink at least weekly. More than 50% (54%) of drinkers aged 18 to 75 were classed as harmful drinkers.  

Yes You Can Overcome Alcohol Addiction

Ireland has an alcoholism problem and you are not alone in this. For most people whose drinking is problematic, stopping without professional help is almost impossible. The good news is that help is at hand.

At Full Life Therapy, professional and experienced care in a non-judgemental environment will minimise the possibility of relapse as the recovery work continues.  We work collaboratively with wider community services as required, for your best outcomes.

We take a 'no bull', realistic, practical solutions approach to alcohol problems (and other addictions) and work with adults from age 17 onwards, who are serious about doing the work required. 

From the first assessment we work out the best way forward for your unique  needs. Whether you need immediate medical assistance, rehabilitation services, have relapsed or just have concerns your alcohol or drug misuse is getting out of hand we are here to help, support and keep focused in your recovery. We provide face to face counselling, online counselling (Skype) and telephone support options with group therapy when required.  

The important thing once you’ve realised that either you, or someone close to you, has an alcohol-related problem is to seek support immediately. So get help today – call us for a confidential assessment appointment or request a call back from us. Take the first step towards full life! 

 

Turn Your Hopes into Achievable Goals

goalsetting

The buzz of Christmas has finished and the weather and quiet allow us time to turn inwards.
Winter slows us down, gives us a chance to reflect and consider our private hopes and wishes for ourselves.

What turns a hope into an achievable goal?

  1. Make it something that you want to do. This sounds like a no brainer, but very often we try to make changes based on how we think we should be, or what we think other people want for us. When a project is personally interesting or meaningful, it will be easier to invest yourself.
     
  2. Stop relying on willpower. Whether it be weight or alcohol control, exercise or completing a course, you can probably talk yourself into doing it for a while. But you are human, and eventually you'll hit a roadblock. Rather than forcing yourself NOT to do something, look at what you GET out of changing your behaviour. Shift the focus to thanking yourself today for taking the steps that will make tomorrow's achievement real.
     
  3. Be specific and know what success looks like. Rather than simply saying “I want to be happier”, drill down on exactly that means to you. Instead of “I want to drink less”, maybe you mean “I want to meet friends for coffee instead of at the pub”.
     
  4. Allow for your off moments. It's natural to have periods where motivation is low, and a blow out is what you need. Acknowledge that, and pick up again working towards your goal as quickly as you can. Hiccups don't mean that you can't do it or don't have it in you. They just mean that you are human. Have compassion for your off days and come back to your goal where you left off.
Tulips.jpg

 

What do you want to plant now to see bloom this Spring?