Not many of us are brought up to talk easily and openly about how we feel. Even acknowledging feelings and emotions can be difficult. Talking about feelings may make us feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, ashamed, or weak, or may be something we simply don’t know how to do. Yet in counselling, experiencing, articulating and exploring feelings is considered very important. Indeed feelings can form the heart of a therapy session. It can be useful to know why.
Emotional neglect is a topic that is rarely discussed, even by psychologists, and most people would not recognise it as a problem. Emotional neglect is so easily misunderstood because, unlike with emotional or physical abuse that features an identifiable negative action, emotional neglect is actually a lack of action. In short, emotional neglect refers to a person’s failure to respond adequately to another’s emotional needs
Are you aware we all have an inner voice, a kind of internal guide that helps us to make the right choices? Sometimes that inner voice is helpful but sometimes it works against us and actually blocks our happiness by affecting our self-confidence. When the inner voice is critical, harsh, and judgemental, we end up feeling depressed and sometimes shamed. We become anxious and doubt ourselves, focusing on our deficiencies.
Couples disagree, couples argue. Disagreement and conflict is unavoidable in an intimate relationship, where feeling emotionally secure and safe in your relationship is of paramount importance. In conflict, do your pursue your partner to tackle the issues? Or do you naturally withdraw and avoid conflict? Are you a pursuer or a withdrawer?
We often think of having sympathy for another person’s difficulties. However, sympathy is not the most helpful approach in an intimate relationship because it is based on seeing the situation through the filter of your own experience, rather than trying to understand the other person’s unique experience.
A father’s influence on a child’s life begins at birth. New research has shown that fathers have an important and distinctive influence on their children’s well-being and that the presence of a nurturing father figure has an impact on every aspect of a child’s development: emotional, social/behavioural, and even cognitive. Infants just a few months old are known to score more highly on cognitive tests when their fathers are heavily engaged in their care
Some might say there are two kinds of people in our world: givers and takers. From this perspective, people pleasers would appear on the surface to be givers. They seem to have only positive qualities: accommodating, kind, generous, thoughtful, etc. However, pleasing can also be a way to manipulate others in order to win approval, acceptance, safety, stability, and love.
Sometimes, even the most centred and calm parent can find their children’s behaviour challenging. It is hard to know how to react appropriately to a frustrating behaviour, and how to rein it in in a way that will maintain your child’s connection with you and motivate better behaviour next time.
An old children's fable says "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me". Sadly, this is not true. Nothing is more damaging to self-esteem than being on the receiving end or a victim of emotional abuse. Unlike physical abuse, which occurs in dramatic outbursts, emotional abuse can be more insidious and elusive. In some cases, neither the abuser nor the victim are fully aware it’s happening. Words are potent, and a stinging assault can have lasting impact.
Those in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner often find themselves in conflict with the partner, or at the very least frustrated or confused. However, few understand what causes such emotional unavailability, much less how to reach out to connect.
Most couples who engage in swinging are otherwise ordinary people, who have made the choice to keep love and sex at least partly separate. Sex, rather than being just an expression of intimate love with their partners, is also a recreational activity. Whilst happy with their partner-relationship, they seek sex with others for variety and novelty. In other words, it is as an addition to their relationship rather than an alternative. When it works, these couples still enjoy intimacy and a close connection with their partners.
Loneliness. Many people at some point have experienced this painful sense of disconnection, emptiness, not belonging or feeling unloved. As a psychotherapist, I see it time and time again, whether clients come for individual therapy or relationship counselling. Yet so many people don’t realise that loneliness is a major contributing factor to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and marital breakdown. Spooning with loneliness is more prevalent than we realise.
Young men are a strange bunch. I’ve worked with them for years in all forms. Sullen, fidgety, monosyllabic and on the other end of the spectrum, depressed, anxious, angry, acting out, drug addicted, violent; you name it. Their worlds are complex, but their ability to navigate their own complexities are greatly limited. I think it’s time to talk about it, and I think it’s time for young men to talk about it with each other. But they’re going to need some help with this.
Do you live your life in pursuit of happiness and sometimes end up feeling an unsatisfied sense of emptiness? Perhaps solely pursing happiness has led to a lack of meaning in your life. A life without meaning has a bearing on your physical and mental health. How can we create meaning? Meaning can be found in our daily lives, in every situation, acts as mundane as housework and even in the adversity we face. It is not the act itself that is important but the meaning we attribute to it…..
These days Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) is often cited as a critical skill for Executives, helping leaders to govern their own behaviour and use influence and relationship-building to achieve performance and results. Furthermore, where IQ is largely a get-what-you’re-given scenario, EQ can be deliberately cultivated. Nevertheless, talking about EQ simply as a technique for building high-performing teams in commercial operations misses the broader and much more significant benefit of emotions, which is that they are an invaluable source of information about you, your experience of the world, your needs.
Looking for emotional attunement without a guide can feel like chasing a mythical beast, only half-glimpsed at twilight. As a phenomenon, emotional attunement is most obvious when absent. We’ve all heard people described as ‘emotionally unavailable’ or ‘emotionally absent,’ and many of us have felt the coldness when an intimate partner or close friend fails to engage with us about our feelings, offering a platitude or changing the subject. It hurts when we take a risk, confide openly with a friend or loved one and somehow we are not met at that place in our vulnerability.
Human are social beings. We are born needing people. As infants, we are dependent on a close relationship or attachment with our primary caregiver for survival. But our need for close attachments does not end here. To be in relationships where we feel safe, close, connected, comforted, acknowledged and cared for is a fundamental human need and we carry these needs from the cradle to the grave. The central idea behind Attachment Theory (and the resulting framework on which we conduct much of our work at All Relationships Matter), is that our first relationship with our primary care-giver teaches us what we can expect from our relationships.
Falling in love can be one of the most profound and exhilarating of all human emotions but long-term partnering can be challenging. In Part 2 of our Attachment Theory series, we will explore how the attachment experiences from early childhood impact later relationships from the partners we choose to what we need from them. We know now that our style of attachment plays a role at every stage of the coupling process, from partner selection to the nature and success of the relationship and to the stressors that may eventually end it. Does your partner avoid conflict, seem emotionally unavailable or absent? Conversely does your partner appear needy, cling and then accuse you of lack of empathy?
Self-love might sound like egotism but in fact it is the foundation of self-esteem and has knock-on effects in areas as diverse as emotional intelligence and resilience. In Part Two, we discussed the impacts that attachment styles have for couples and long-term adult relationships. Today, we will look at how wide-spread the effects are, even to your relationship with yourself. Many research has reported a direct correlation between low self-esteem and people with insecure attachment styles both avoidant and anxious. Both these attachment styles are also predisposed to anxiety (avoidant) and depression (anxious).
Very few of us are unaffected with the Christmas rush and looming new year. Do you feel excitement or dread? Or a little of both? Perhaps unsurprisingly, for Therapists this is the busiest part of our year. Christmas and New Year, for multiple reasons, are times of stress, anxiety, frustration, sadness for many people. At this time of year we often hear stories of the loneliness suffered by people who feel the absence of friends and family particularly keenly when they see others surrounded by loved ones.
You’ve probably heard about the studies and heartbreaking stories of babies who are not touched, cuddled, kissed or given enough human affection. They don’t usually fare as well physically, emotionally or socially as those who are shown genuine love and physical affection. One study that I recently came across found that premature infants who were massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47 percent faster than infants who were left in their incubators and did not receive this level of human contact. Additionally, the nervous system of the massaged infants showed more positive signs of maturing, and these babies were also reportedly more active and responsive. Six months after the study, they continued to thrive at a greater rate and were released from the hospital earlier than those who did not receive that extra physical attention. We all know how important human contact is to babies and children, but what about adults? What happens to that primal need as we get
One afternoon last week, I sat in my office, waiting for my clients to arrive. I had spent more time than usual preparing because I knew this session was going to be a tough one. My clients are professionals; they have four grade school-aged children and what most people would consider a good life. Nevertheless, after months of therapy, they had decided to go their separate ways and today was the day they were telling their children. Caught up in their anger and disappointment at each other, they had told me previously that they had kept their fighting away from their children and that the little ones were unaware that anything dark was looming on the horizon. I knew from my years of experience that this was unlikely. Children often know well before they are told, sometimes before the parents are able to admit it themselves. In fact one of the boys had already started acting out, refusing to go to school and, once there, fighting with his friends.
It is never easy when a relationship ends. No matter who did what or who left who, the breakup of a relationship can turn your world upside down. As humans, we are biologically hard-wired for connection. Just as much as we need food, shelter and clothing, we are designed for close intimate relationships. As babies, our needs for protection, nurturing, safety, soothing and comfort are met by our primary caregiver. But our need for a close attachment with a significant other is not confined to the infancy period. As adults, those same needs are met within couple relationships. So it is not surprising that when a significant relationship ends, people often describe it in life and death terms: ‘When she left, a part of me
If you are often unhappy about the way people treat you, it may be time to take a deeper look at clear boundary setting. Weak or unclear boundaries leave you vulnerable. You are more likely to be taken for granted or experience exploitative relationships. On the other hand, if you often feel anxious around people, misunderstood or have been told you are emotionally unavailable or disconnected, you may be setting boundaries that are so rigid or inflexible that others find it difficult to build a relationship with you. Healthy, clear boundaries protect you while allowing you to connect with yourself and others. Setting healthy boundaries teaches others how to treat you and also allows them to see who you are.
As a Psychotherapist I see many clients who are highly driven to succeed, and there appears to be one common theme for many - they use self-criticism as the ‘vehicle’. Many believe that self-berating ways and thoughts will keep them on their toes, in-line, and focussed on their goals. They have come to believe self-criticism is the way to achieve their goals and dreams. And they also fear that if they stop being really hard on themselves, they are being ‘slack’ and their goals will fall by the wayside. At the same time, others are unaware of their self-criticism, and it exists only as a ‘critical’ inner voice. Only when it is uncovered during therapy sessions do they begin to see what is driving them. But whether or not they are aware of their self-criticism, those who are highly self-critical almost always suffer some unwanted consequences.
Have you been consistentlly grumpy of late? Impatient at work? Yelling at your kids? Or snappy with your partner? Heightened reactions and irritability in your primary and peripheral relationships are the tell-tale signs that stress may be causing damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and quality of life. Studies have confirmed that sustained periods of stress prevent us from relating positively and effectively, in essence, undermining relationships that are important to us
We are absolutely delighted that Mr Michael Leunig has generously and kindly permitted All Relationship Matters to use his work to promote physical, emotional and mental health. Thank you Michael! We at ARM are moved by his work. Michael’s work captures our human condition, evocatively, clearly and relationally. It does so with kindness, warmth, courage, forgiveness and hope. And most importantly, love. We are honoured to share this with you and hope you enjoy them as much we do
Are you or have you been in a relationship where it’s all about your partner and very little about you? And even when it is about you, somehow it diverts back to being about your partner, about what makes him/her look good or feel better? Are you in a relationship with a partner who blames you but admits no faults? Does your partner only care about you when you cater to his needs? Is your partner commitment phobic? Is your partner emotionally detached or unavailable? Is your partner scared of emotional intimacy? Does your partner lack empathy?
Are you in love but insecure and lonely? Are you In a love hate relationship? Do emotions control your and your life? When we meet someone and fall in love there are many factors that contribute to the attraction. Much of this process is unconscious or, at the very least, not well thought out. Sure, on the surface, we may think she or he is attractive, fun, kind, engaging, and affectionate with the potential to be a good life partner. But often, one or both parties bring hidden issues that can cause loneliness, conflict, chaos and instability that adversely affects the relationship
A relationship injury is a hurt in a marriage or intimate relationship that is severe enough to adversely affect the relationship. It occurs when one partner feels abandoned, betrayed or that trust was breached at a critical moment when that partner was particularly vulnerable. A relationship injury can also occur when one partner is unable or unwilling to meet the emotional needs and expectations of the other for safety, comfort, care and accessibility at a time of significant distress. This can occur in parent-child relationships (no matter what age), couple relationships, close friendships, and sometimes in hierarchical work environments
The idea of loneliness within a relationship may seem contradictory since we assume that the lonely people are the single ones. After all, we bond in order to relate and connect, and once we walk up the aisle or settle down together, surely loneliness will become a thing of the past. However, the truth is that relationships don’t always protect us against loneliness, and there are many people who have a partner but still feel lonely. In fact, being in a relationship where there is no real connection can actually increase loneliness.
I remember the time when I was single. I had family, friends – including a few responsive BFFs (Best Friends Forever!) – and lovely work colleagues, but I was without that one special intimate relationship, a partner. I know there are many people out there in the same position. Is it possible, when we don’t have a partner, to still feel fulfilled and to still have the good and necessary things which come from relationships? Is it possible for our deeper relationship needs to be met in ways other than through partnership? Yes. I believe it is, as long we have close ties or bonds in our lives and are willing to spend time and effort nurturing them.
Many couples come to me for relationship Counselling wanting to learn skills to communicate better, resolve conflict, and stop fighting. Issues they fight about are most commonly: money, the kids, sex or the lack thereof, and extended family. Usually, one partner believes the other has to change in order for their relationship to improve. James, looking away says, “If only Susie will stop being so emotional and critical, things will be better.” Susie, in tears, exclaims, “Well, if James will talk to me more, tell me what’s going on and stop walking away, I won’t be as angry.”
To love and be loved is a basic human need. Most of us find love in the relationship we have with our spouse or life partner. This relationship is hugely important to maintain our physical and emotional health and well-being. Within this close bond is where we find comfort, safety, security and – in times of difficulty - a soft place to fall. Close bonds add meaning to our lives and let us know we belong. But maintaining this relationship as a close and intimate bond can be hard. Most couples, at one time or another will experience conflict. In itself, conflict is not uncommon nor necessarily problematic. It is how we understand these conflicts and subsequently resolve and heal them, which writes the history of our relationship and life together.