Vsako delo na sebi se vedno začne individualno. Ko opazimo, da nas določene lastnosti, vedenja, vzorci mišljenja ali čustvovanja motijo v življenju, se odločimo za spremembo le-teh. Dandanes je na voljo ogromno strokovne in poljudne, pop psihološke literature, ki nam lahko pomaga pri začetnih korakih. Nedvomno lahko marsikatero spremembo dosežemo tudi sami in s pomočjo iskrenih prijateljev, ki nam brez zadržkov in olepševanja povedo tisto, česar morda ne želimo slišati. Vendar slej ko prej nastopi trenutek, ko potrebujemo pomoč zunanjega in objektivnega strokovnjaka.
Če si torej lahko pomagamo sami, zakaj bi šli na psihoterapijo? Razlogov je več, najbolj očiten pa je, da imamo vsi tako imenovane slepe pege – lastnosti in vedenja, ki jih ne opazimo. Ker na problem pogosto gledamo iz enega in istega zornega kota, t.j. lastnega, nismo niti sposobni pogledati na situacijo iz druge perspektive. Velikokrat ne iščemo vzrokov in rešitev v širši sliki, ampak se osredotočamo izključno na ozko opredeljeno in izolirano problematiko. Kot pravijo, zaradi dreves ne vidimo gozda. Ko prebiramo literaturo, se osredotočamo na tisto, kar že potrjuje naše teze in prepričanja. Za drugačne interpretacije smo večkrat gluhi, kar je zgolj en vidik kognitivne pristranskosti. Tudi naši dobronamerni prijatelji nam veliko več kot moralne in čustvene podpore, ter nasvetov, ne morejo nuditi. Deloma zato, ker z nami ne želijo biti popolnoma iskreni, saj nas ne želijo še dodatno prizadeti. Večkrat kot ne, prijatelji stopijo na našo stran, se strinjajo z nami, vsi skupaj soglasno jadikujemo, kako grozni so vsi tisti, ki nam povzročajo težave. Vendar na koncu vsi skupaj tulimo v isti rog, ki pa ne prinese vedno ne rešitve ne čustvene odrešitve.
Kdaj torej po pomoč k psihoterapevtu? Če govorimo o zavestni odločitvi, da bomo spremenili svoje življenje in odpravili pretekle moteče vzorce, je najbolje, da čim prej. Proces bo stekel veliko hitreje, pa tudi marsikateri slepi ulici se bomo izognili, čeprav tudi slepe ulice včasih prinesejo terapevtski spoznavni trenutek “aha”, ko nekaj dojamemo, in pa vpogled v problem, ki ga niti nismo primarno reševali. Poleg tega nam psihoterapevt lahko pomaga videti širšo sliko in ponudi tudi psihoedukacijo – poda nam eno ali več od mogočih interpretacij, zakaj se nam določene stvari dogajajo in kako se povezujejo še z drugimi zadevami, na katere sploh ne bi nikoli pomislili. Poleg tega nas bo psihoterapevt konfrontiral, ko bomo vztrajali pri trdno zasidranih prepričanjih, ki nam grenijo življenje, pa se tega niti ne zavedamo.
Kot pri marsičem drugem v življenju se seveda tudi tu pojavi vprašanje, zakaj bi zapravljali denar za psihoterapijo, če lahko ta denar bolje porabimo? Kakršnakoli naložba vase ni nikoli izgubljen denar in psihoterapija nedvomno je naložba vase. Tako kot si privoščimo marsikaj za dušo, bi si morali tudi psihoterapijo. Velikokrat klienti vprašajo, koliko ur je potrebnih za spremembo. Odvisno od posameznika in problemov, s katerimi se srečuje, pa tudi od motivacije za delo. Nekje med 15 in 30 urami bi se že morale kazati konkretne spremembe. Če primerjamo ta strošek s stroški, ki nastajajo, ko se več let ali desetletji borimo s težavami na nezdrav in neučinkovit način, ko zapravljamo za raznorazne proizvode in storitve, ki naj bi nas tolažili in ponudijo zgolj hipen učinek, potem je psihoterapija stroškovno nedvomno bolj učinkovita. Še bolje pa je, če psihoterapija postane del naše osnovne psihohigiene. To ne pomeni, da moramo vsak teden do konca življenja hoditi na terapijo, vendar nikomur od nas ne bi škodilo, če bi se šli vsake toliko pogovoriti o svojih težavah. Pa naj bo to v obliki redne terapije, skupinske terapije, intenzivne vikend ali nekaj tedenske terapije, ali pa samo občasno, kot gremo na primer k frizerju ali kamorkoli, kamor zahajamo po potrebi oziroma navdihu.
Relationships are complex for one very simple reason: people in general are complex beings and when two individuals come together, the complexity increases. Especially if we end up with someone who is completely incompatible with or different from us. But what exactly does it mean to be compatible or incompatible?
In our teens and twenties, even in our early thirties, we don't analyze our relationships much. When we break up with someone, it hurts, and we need to get over it before we give someone new a chance. Unless, of course, we're having a rebound relationship to help us forget the previous relationship. For many young people, being in a relationship means being constantly in what we call the "in love" phase. That is the crazy, stupid, hormonally induced love that often prevents us from seeing our partners as they truly are. We overlook their potential flaws and the little things that slightly annoy us because we're projecting our fantasy onto them. We see our partners through the rose-colored glasses. All we want is to enjoy their company and be fused with them - lust is what drives us and we see ourselves and our partners as one.
Normally, once a relationship develops, the "in love" phase is replaced by the "loving phase" in which lust is replaced by romantic love and attachment as the main driving forces. This is the moment when the fantasy we had begins to conflict with reality. Very often, relationships break-up if we don't manage to adapt to the new reality of the relationship and see our partners for who they are. In general, this is the phase during which the excitement and the thrill fade away and need to be replaced by other things in common. Hence, it is very important that we are compatible with our partners in at least some of the key areas.
It is highly unromantic to be choosing our partners according to a checklist. However, if we have been unsuccessful in many of our intimate relationships, maybe it's time we carefully consider certain elements before committing to someone for life. If you wish to learn what to be mindful of when choosing your next partner, or when trying to improve your current relationship, sign up for the course on "How to choose the right partner?"
I don't know why it's happening exactly now but somehow death seems to be a prominent theme in my life. I absolutely hate it! Since themes in my life often correspond to the issues my clients are dealing with, I wonder how often the topic will be present in our discussions. Regardless of whether we're talking about physical or metaphorical death. Perhaps my thinking is impacted by the solar eclipse and what it portends as well.
There has been an unusual number of deaths and illnesses in my circle of friends lately and it's very disturbing. All so sudden and unexpected. I have considerable difficulties dealing with death. Not so much my own, but that's probably because I've been fairly healthy so far, except for one episode years ago. I was particularly hit by one death during the Covid times. It was so difficult to accept that the person was gone, that we'll never again have a glass of Rioja together or a deep conversation or simply fun toghether.
I don't know what it is but this notion of never ever seeing someone again frightens me. It leaves me frozen. So many things left unsaid, so many memories not made together, so much still left to discuss, and enjoy, even if it is just some quiet time together.
My love's illness too has marked me significantly. It's too soon. I'm not ready. And why is it that the theme of death is so omnipresent in my life now? It is ominous, frightening, unsettling. I know death is a natural part of life but it should not come so soon. I feel like I am being robbed. Something is being taken away from me. Often, there's nothing I can do about it. Stiff upper lip and taking it on the chin, in a very British kind of way. But I'm not British, I'm emotional.
Perhaps it's the fact I'm feeling powerless. Unable to do something, anything.
As a therapist, I have coping mechanisms. I understand the process. I know I will survive. Yet it's still unsettling, horrible, f...ing unbelievable, unacceptable.
Tell them you love them. Tell them everything. Before it's too late.
When we grow older or become more mature, whichever way you prefer to call it, we tend to see ourselves differently than we did when we were younger. This is especially true if we engaged in personal develoment or became more successful or changed our appearance or lost weight or found a perfect partner, or did anything else to get rid of what used to be a source of shame and ridicule in our younger age.
Perhaps this is even more true for those of us who were bullied, excluded from the in-crowd, didn't perform well in school or were simply considered as somehow 'inadequate' by the people with whom we deseperately wanted to be accepted. Teenage years were a frustrating and humiliating experience for many because we were the outsiders who so wanted to fit in but were told very bluntly that there was something wrong with us.
As those painful high-school years went by and we had the oportunity to reinvent ourselves at college, we got the impression that we can finally breathe and be ourselves. Alas, sooner or later we again stumbled upon someone who made us feel less worthy, and again we faced a similar trauma of questioning our self-worth. Ouir self-confidence plummeted again. what else! That made us even more determined to invest in ourselves, to become the best version of ourselves, to achieve whatever was deemed worthy of praise and admiration in other people's eyes.
Many of us started changing our physical appearance or perfecting a skill or working harder at work, driven by the desire to be successful and to earn respect from our colleagues. Many of us actually managed to achieve our goal and on that wave of popularity we felt, for the first time ever, as if we truly fit in. While we strove to gain outside admiration, however, we often forgot that what we were doing was not so much to be true to ourselves but to please others. That's why no matter how successful we have become, the insecure child inside of us has still not left the building. At least not completely. Deep down we were still very much concerned that people would discover that we're nothing but the outsider, the loser, the laughing stock that we used to be. Because in times of distress or lack of success we still believed ourselves to be the kid that wasn't with the in-crowd decades ago.
Hence, the relevance of high-school reunions. When the new, improved, self-confident adult that we are returns to the small town, and sometimes small-minded people, to face the tormentors from the past, that adult returns to the reuion in the child ego state, as we call it. No matter how successful or popular we are today, when we interact with the old crowd that made us feel like shit, we inadvertently fall into that same role. Unless we have truly made progress in our personal growth and are sincerely content with who we have become.
The next time you go to your high-school reunion, or meet someone from your past life when you were a different person, observe how you behave and feel in the situation. If you regress to your old patterns of behaviour, cognition and emotion, then there is more self-development work to do. If you don't, then congratulations! You have reached the stage in your life where you're happy and content with who you are and you no longer care what other people think.
The year is slowly coming to an end. It was one of the most difficult years to be honest, at least for me. I was just reflecting upon the last decade and 2011, 2014, 2016, 2018 were all extremely unpleasant years. I wouldn't want to relive them. Yet they also taught me so much!
We all tend to make new year's resolutions every year even though we often don't stick to many of them. Therefore, I shall not dwell on new year's resolutions. Let me only say that should you decide to make a list of yours, keep it short and don't try to implement them all of at once. Take it one step at a time! You've got a whole year to bring them to life.
What I want to focus on is new beginnings. True, it is so much nicer to start something new when we reach a milestone. New year's, birthdays, important life events are moments when we reflect on what we have achieved, where we are and where we would like to be. December 21 is Winter solstice, a day when the energies support us in making changes, or so they say. Whether you believe it or not, doesn't really matter. The energy is in the air. What matters is that you set an intention to make a change in your life.
Why am I focusing on new beginnings? Because too many people have a very fatalistic view of life. So many believe that it's too late for them to do XYZ. They feel the moment has passed, or that they are too old, or whatever else you might think of, to make a new start. It's almost never too late to start anew. It's only too late to turn a new page in a relationship if the other person has died. And even that can be the start of something new, painful at first, but leading to something beautiful.
So, if you feel you want to make a change, start something new, let go of the past and embrace something or someone new, go for it. You don't have to wait for the stars to collide. When the moment is right, you will know it. Trust your intuition. Embrace the change, even if it scares you. Believe it will all be ok.
I know the new year will bring me a huge loss that I'm not yet sure of how I shall overcome, if ever. But I also trust fate has many positive changes in store for me as well. If not, I will make sure the new year marks a new beginning for me too. Winter solstice is one of those days when the energies support us in our manifestations, so meditate, light a candle, make a wish, and see it come true!
Let me say it clearly from the very outset: I strongly condemn all violence and I will never ever seek any excuses for whoever is violent. Violence, be it verbal, emotional or physical, is where I draw the line that is not to be crossed. Ever!
Why is that important? Well, because I've been approached by several women lately who wanted to do therapy. Not in order to change a life pattern that was troubling them, but because they wanted to change their behaviour so that their partners would be less violent towards them. And, of course, so that they would better cope with violence. Hm, excuse me? You want me to help you become more tolerant of and more resilient with respect to violence? Basically, you want me to collude with the violent person. No, no and no! Never!
It is always painful to see someone hurting and we get a lot of that in therapy. When there is violence involved, the situation is even more difficult. It doesn't mean that therapy is not indicated or suitable for someone who is experiencing violence. Quite the contrary. Therapy can help you understand why you have tolerated violence for so long and give you strength to get out of the toxic situation.
It is impossible to do therapy while you're in a toxic environment as people around you don't support you in your work to become a better version of yourself. It's the opposite really. They don't want you to change so that they can perpetuate their toxic behaviour towards you.
Therefore, if you're in a situation where people are being violent to you, I can support you in getting out of that situation. If, however, you want me to help you change your behaviour so that it will hurt less when other people abuse you, well, then this is not therapy but collusion with the abuser. In which case I suggest you find a different therapist who would be willing to see you every week while you report on the abuse. I don't think there are many who would want to do that.
Therapy can help you get stronger, more self-confident and determined to make a change. It can empower you. But first you need to chart a path out of the toxic situation and stop looking for excuses for the violent person.
Losing a loved one, especially your partner, is painful and life altering. The only thing worse than losing your partner is losing your child. Though we can grieve for the loss of many other people or things in life, nothing affects us so profoundly as the loss of a loved one. How to cope with this deeply transformative life event? Is it even possible to survive such a life shattering moment? Is there life after death? Sadly, there are no universal answers to these questions.
Many objective circumstances can help to mitigate the pain caused by the death of a partner. I'm not sure that knowing your partner will die helps much, but it can definitely better prepare you for the loss. You get the chance and the time to say goodbye, and to make peace with what is inevitably going to happen. Though that by itself doesn't make the loss any less painful. Unexpected death can be much more shocking and paralyzing than an expected one precisely because it also robs you of the opportunity to tie up loose ends and say: 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you'. Little things matter in the process of grieving.
Imagine how you would feel if you had just had an argument with your husband, for example, and he stormed out the house angry with you, and you with him, and then an hour later you got the call that he was killed in a car accident. How much remorse, guilt and shame you would have to deal with, in addition to the loss.
Old age is another mitigating circumstance, though I doubt anyone can calmly accept the death of a loved one just like that. Yes, there are less regrets if you had a long and happy life together, but I'm sure you would still like to spend just one more minute with your partner, have just one more conversation, one more laugh, one more hug.
Nothing can really prepare us for the death of a dear one. We all experience a whole panoply of emotions when it happens. We all face the void in our lives caused by the loss. We all have difficulties imagining how our lives are going to be from that moment on. We all sometimes wish we died together with our partners.
Yet life does go on. It might not go on for us immediately, but eventually it does go on. What can help us in the process of mourning are a solid social network of reliable friends and family, professional psychological help, physical activity and meditation, artistic expression of all kinds, sometimes lying in shavasana and staring at the ceiling. We must allow ourselves enough time to grieve. It's perfectly ok if we behave in strange ways for a certain period of time. It's perfectly ok to cry for days on end if we feel like it. It's perfectly ok to do some crazy stuff if it helps.
However, we must be mindful that we don't fall in the trap of eternal grief. We have the right to move on in life, to meet someone new, to start a new relationship or a family. That doesn't negate our previous relationship, not does it diminish the importance or the value of our experience with the late partner. We're not betraying them in any way when we move on. Because in the end, we owe it to ourselves to make the best of the lives we have.
How many true and reliable friends do you have? You know, people you can count on no matter what. You've probably heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a village, or at least a couple of loyal friends, to make it through life's trials.
I might be very lucky that I have several people I can count on, through thick and thin, through ups and many downs, through crazy times. Human beings are social beings in their essence. That's why it is important to have your own person, or even a crowd. Life partners are just fine, but what you really need is a good social network. Who better to understand what you're going through than a lifelong friend? Someone who gets you. Someone who won't judge you as you try to figure your way out of a messy situation. Who better to support you than the tribe of your peeps? Perhaps it doesn't take a whole village, but it certainly takes at least one or two loyal friends to make your life easier.
No matter what age you are, true friends are important. Different viewpoints, different experiences, different solutions to the same problem. They say that partners, or lovers, come and go, but friends are the ones who stay with you all the way.
In therapy, people who have a good social network make it through trials and tribulations much easier than those who lack a circle of trusted and reliable friends.
It is true that we are born alone and that we die alone. However, don't underestimate the importance of friendship in the time in between. Life is hard and complicated as it is. Try to make it as easy and happy as possible. Open up! Share your fears and feelings - of shame, failure, inadequacy, inferiority, guilt. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and fully accepted as you are, with all your flaws and quirkiness.
You have but one life. Make it count! And if you feel like there's nobody you can trust, give therapy a try. We can be fairly good at getting how you tick and supporting you all the way.
Here's the thing - if you think you need help, or just someone neutral to talk to, then going to see a therapist is a good thing. There is absolutely nothing shameful about that. In fact, once you overcome your shame and the "what will other people think" concerns, you're already taking the first step towards personal growth and empowerment.
You wouldn't believe how many people, in this day and age, still struggle with shame when they first sit on the couch and start telling their personal story. Many believe that seeing a therapist, or asking for help in general, is a sign of a personal defeat. Some kind of weakness of character. Too many confess they feel like losers because they weren't able to resolve their problems by themselves.
Luckily, this feeling soon passes when clients discover that going to a therapist is like going for coffee with a friend. Well, almost. The key difference being, we don't normally drink coffee in sessions, and the therapist is way more objective than your bestie. We see things from a different angle. Also, we have a better understanding in the way people think and react, and why they do it - so we can provide some interpretations and answers to your incessant "why, why, why?". Best friends are usually well-intentioned and try to help the best they can. Unfortunately, they often support us in the "poor me" way of thinking. I frequently say to my clients that seeing a therapist is the same as getting a coach at the gym or a tax adviser to help with taxes. Get help and support from the people who can give it to you. There is absolutely nothing shameful in that! Quite the contrary. People who ask for support are brave and know that they are the ones living their life, hence what other people think or say of it, matters little. People in therapy are those who are seeking a better life for themselves and we can only applaud them for it.
While I'm very much in favour of personal responsibility of each individual for their life, I'm also very much in favour of asking for assistance when we need it. Would it sound better to you if you were doing coaching sessions? Training for a marathon with a coach?
Well, therapists are coaches of some sort. We help you navigate the troubled waters your life has drifted in and we teach you how to do away with the negative patterns that are preventing you from living genuinely and fully. Not to mention that a problem shared is a problem halved. Some problems are really not as difficult as you believe them to be. You just need someone objective and emotionally uninvolved to help you see the issue from a different perspective.
Therapy works, that is a fact. What kind of therapy and which therapists are best? Well, all therapies work, not equally well, but they all work. As for therapists, choose one you feel comfortable sharing your intimate thoughts with. Someone whom you trust and feel like they know what they're doing. In the end, it's you who's doing all the hard work. All the success is yours to have. All you need is a skilled therapist who will know how to guide you to your goal.
Whether you're highly intuitive and attuned to the energies of the world or not, you have surely noticed that change is very much in the air. Many people don't like change and even fear it. It's some kind a collective human trait - we like things to be predictable, stable and constant. We normally regard change as a disruption of our well-established order. Yet, change is inevitable. It is, in fact, the only constant.
Therefore, "be the change you want to see" is not just an empty, meaningless quote, a catchphrase. It is essential for us to obey that rule if we want to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the change that we never wanted in the first place. Observe the environment you're living in and try to figure out where and how it will be changing in the next couple of months or years. Then engage in proper planning so that you can be the change you want to see. You have a lot more control over what is happening in your life than you think! You've just so far never actively engaged in driving the change. Shape the world according to your wishes, to the extent possible. Predict change, implement it, stay on top of it, make it work for you. One of the worst situations is, in my opinion, when we're unprepared for the changes that hit us. Life is already unpredictable enough, so why not focus on things we can predict, steer and control. If we're well prepared, it's much easier to handle even those changes that seriously disrupt our lives. We can then take them as a learning experience instead of as a survival of the fittest test.
Ignorance is bliss, sometimes. But more often than not, it is the main force pushing us into the victim mode. Read, learn, observe, listen, imagine, think, brainstorm, get empowered and equipped with information and knowledge, and then prepare for the future. The best way to do it, is to start creating the life you want to live now, in the present moment, all the while taking into account what might happen next.
“If we want to change the world, we need to talk about the elephant in the room. That is why I love real people who say what they mean and mean what they say. No fluff, no lies and no pretence.”