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Autumn Course: Changing Negative Patterns

Our brain loves patterns and the familiar. Sometimes patterns had to develop to help us deal with difficult situations. However, once those situations have changed the patterns can still remain. This can result in carrying anxiety, guilt and anger from the past into present day. Your worries may have helped motivate you in the past but now they just keep you up at night.

These negative patterns can have a huge effect on your life and happiness levels. Are you tired of feeling negative/guilty/anxious/angry? Do something positive for yourself and participate in this six week course.

Above is an outline of the subjects being covered, from insecurities to how to cope with these difficult emotions. The only person we can change is ourselves and the only things we can control are our reactions. When we are better equipped to understand where these reactions are based we can deal with life in a calmer way.

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Past participants have said:

“Excellent content, very clear, positive and engaging. I would highly recommend this course.”

“I now see within my family that I have to change myself and not allow them to control my life. I need to let them deal with their own issues.”

“I came to this course with one particular problem. The six weeks have enabled me to sort out what was happening and why I felt like this ‘problem’ was running through my head, as if on a loop. Glad to say I am well on way to dealing with this and I know I will get there.”

“It helped me face some difficult situations. Something that I thought was a problem, now doesn’t seem so bad.”

Further Information:

  • When: Tuesday’s beginning October 6th and running for 6 weeks, from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.
  • Where: Siochan Counselling, 9 Fitzwilliam Street Upper, Dublin 2.
  • Cost: €15 a week which includes all supplies, tea, coffee and snacks.

If you are interested in joining please contact me immediately as spaces are limited                           at: 085 133 6644, or by email: adastratherapy@gmail.com

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” – Rick Warren

Draining Energies

Have you ever spent time with a friend or acquaintance and felt exhausted after a visit? Some people in our lives can make us feel energised, while others can make us feel drained. It’s the people that drain us that we need to be weary of.

I have heard the term ‘energy vampire’ in the past. Although a good description of what it feels like to be in the presence of someone like this, it’s not entirely fair. Mainly because a vampires goal is to suck the life from you, for the most part the individuals that drain us are not doing this on purpose. In many cases they are completely unaware. Which is why you need to watch yourself around them.

It’s often this lack of awareness that causes the drain. If you aren’t aware of your own process (journey/struggle/ability to make sense of why you’re here) then you may get stuck in a ‘poor me’ cycle. Where instead of learning the lessons the universe keeps throwing at you, you complain that the same things continue to happen. Often insisting that everything needs to change but not starting with yourself.

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For those of us that are caregivers this type of person can very easily pull us in. They are looking for an outside source to rescue them, while the carer, in turn is looking for someone to rescue.

Are you being drained? Here are some things to note.

  • They are taking more than they are giving: if you feel drained that means the energy is going only one way. Healthy friendships and relationships are a two way street.
  • Some people love to be the victim: there are times in our lives when we are going to be miserable. Grieving, feeling sad/angry/fed-up are all normal parts of life. However, anything can become a pattern, that includes wallowing and feeling victimised. Some people begin to feel they only get attention when being the victim, you don’t have to be a part of that cycle.
  • You choose to give your power away: you have to decide what treatment is okay, that includes how much of yourself you give to others. Boundaries are important in all relationships.

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If you have a friend who’s feeling like a drain these days and just needs extra support than make sure you’ve protected yourself. Follow the steps above and imagine there’s a strong force field that surrounds you before you spend time with them. Imagine it keeps you grounded and protected.

If until this point you had never noticed how you felt around others then start checking in. When you’re with your best friend, partner or work colleagues, take a few slow deep breaths and notice how you feel in your body. You are more than a well of energy for others to take advantage of. The more tuned in you are with yourself the better you will know where there are imbalances in your life.

“You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people.” – Joel Osteen

Pets and Animals

The joy we can get from sharing our space with another is amazing. That same joy can be got from sharing our space with an animal. It may not be until you have a pet of your own that you realise how much love you can have for a furry friend.

There are tons of health benefits from owning a pet. Below I’ll just name a few:

  • Less stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Helps you socialise
  • Improved mood and health

Not to mention the feeling you have knowing you get to care for another living thing. The responsibility of having a pet has literally turned lives around. In a few select prisons inmates were allowed to keep pets. The results were incredible: “Over the course of a year, prisoners on the pet ward were less violent and needed only half the medication of their petless peers, and there were no suicide attempts, compared with eight on the other ward. Another study, at Lorton Correctional Facility in Virginia, found that prisoners on a special pet programme had a recidivism rate less than a quarter of the national average. ”
Those findings are amazing and are directly related to having a pet to care for.

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If you find yourself feeling lonely or down a pet can be a wonderful natural way to raise your mood. Of course only decide to start caring for an animal when you are sure you have the time and ability. Like you they deserve love and affection and since their love is unconditional make sure you treat them right.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France

Do Good, Feel Good

Giving back to the world around you can make you feel better in yourself. It also has added health benefits like lower blood pressure and a longer life. When you aren’t feeling happy in yourself it can be difficult to be motivated to do something for others. Why not do something that you enjoy with the added bonus of helping?

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Foster an animal – If you love animals but maybe don’t feel ready for the commitment of a full time pet, try fostering. Here in Dublin the SPCA is always looking for foster parents for their animals. You get to see what it’s like to have a pet, without feeling obligated to keep it forever.

Volunteer at a charity shop – If you have some spare time or have been out of work and want to ease yourself back into that life, this is a great start. Usually the hours are relatively short and you will also be helping a great cause.

Run for charity – There are tons of fun runs all over the world that need money raised. If you already like to run you are doing something you love while also contributing to the greater good.

Turn hobbies into fundraisers – Maybe you love to bake or have a knack for making decorations. You could set up a table one day and decide that all money raised goes to help a cause you are passionate about.

There are so many benefits to giving and it’s something that is incredibly easy to do. Especially once you realise you don’t even have to go out of your way to do it.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank

Birthdays

Every year we age, change and hopefully grow. However, we don’t usually take the time to reflect on such developments. I feel that’s what birthdays should be for. Used to take the time to ponder the year that has passed and the lessons learned.

It’s interesting to me when people dread birthdays. What’s so terrible about getting another year older? At least you’re here to blow out the candles one more time. Birthdays tie into our feelings about ageing and ageing can be a very scary thing. Especially if they are just a reminder of how you are counting down the days, waiting for your life to truly begin.

In reality you’re in it, it’s begun, this is your life. Getting older can be overwhelming when you feel like you were destined for more. Regret can follow you like a ghost, constantly reminding you about the path you didn’t follow. The negativity can swallow you and make each passing birthday no fun at all.

If you want you feel less overwhelmed on your next birthday there are some simple changes you can start today.

  • Be grateful – make a list of all the things you are grateful for. Begin with the basics, a roof over your head, food in the fridge, good health etc. Gratitude has many positive side effects, try to embrace the good things in your life. It will help make it more difficult to find the bad things.
  • Let go of regrets – It happened, it was a bad choice but it doesn’t have to haunt you or define you. You have to choose how to move on from it. It might mean asking for forgiveness from someone or from yourself. There is no way to know how different life could have been, work on accepting the way it is.
  • What are you afraid of? Ask yourself why you fear getting older. Maybe you lost a loved one at a certain age so that age terrifies you. Maybe ageing only brings up negative emotions or difficult memories. Give yourself space to examine why you feel the way you do to gain a better understanding of yourself.

Many people go through their lives never asking, ‘How could this be better?’ It doesn’t always have to be a struggle. When the next birthday rolls around hopefully you’ll be grateful for the year that has past, appreciating the life you have lived.

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” – Gabriel Garcia Marques

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10 Lessons learned from a 3 year old

I have a beautiful god-daughter who I think is one of the smartest, sweetest, most beautiful kids on the planet.  After minding her I have a further appreciation of sleep and for all parents out there. Kids are wonderful teachers as they can see a world filled with joy and opportunities. I think we could all benefit from having such beliefs.

Below are some things I have learned from her and other children, they are all adding light to an often dark and cynical world.

  1. The world is an amazing place. With fresh eyes we can appreciate so much more around us. Helicopters and airplanes are a marvel. Our imagination is an incredible tool that we rarely use for good. Every morning is a gift and we should all wake up as excited as a child because it means a new day full of possibility.
  2. We rarely check our needs, also known as the: ‘Do you need to wee?’ principle. Kids can get so wrapped up in playing, laughing or watching cartoons that accidents can happen. As you spend your day rushing around do you ever stop and notice your needs or how you’re feeling?  Take a second and close your eyes. Take a slow deep breath through your nose, down into you belly, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Do that a few times then ask yourself: How am I feeling? What do I need? Take note and follow through if you can.
  3. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. This kid only had a few mouthfuls of ice cream then stopped. I repeat, ice cream. Her body told her she was full so she stopped eating. We can get very detached from ourselves, our bodies and what they need. You can change that by trying to eat mindfully (pause between bites and appreciate flavours) then wait at least 10-20 minutes before getting a second helping.
  4. Sometimes a hug and a kiss can make it all better. Life can be difficult at any age. Even more so when we feel alone. A hug won’t make your problems disappear but it can make them feel more manageable. Feeling connected to someone else makes the hard times easier to bear and makes us feel safe. The small child in all of us needs to feel like it will all be okay.
  5. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. From a young age being independent makes us feel strong, capable and in control. But there are times when we can’t do it alone. Try to quiet the judge in your mind, you aren’t weak for needing/wanting help, you’re human.
  6. Bubbles are amazing. No need to elaborate.
  7. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. We want to instil in children that there is nothing wrong with getting it wrong; you will learn and grow. As we get older we forget about that. So many strive for ‘perfection’ feeling that every mis-step is a failure, that we are failures. That simply is not the case. Mistakes are an opportunity for growth. Grieve if you need to, show yourself some compassion then move forward with new knowledge.
  8. Make time to rest when you’re exhausted. Give yourself permission to slow down. Sometimes we all need a nap.
  9. Sharing can be difficult. When we’re young we are taught how important it is to share. As adults with jobs and families we have to once again learn that lesson. Sharing our space and time isn’t easy and we can sometimes feel as though we are stretched too thin. That’s when we refer back to #5 and #8, share with someone your vulnerability and your need for naps.
  10. Love and be loved. Of all the lessons we will ever learn this is of the utmost importance. I believe this is the reason we are here, to learn how to love and how to be loved. Children epitomise this as they love without condition and judgement. They do not question why others love them, they just know it to be true. I think they’re onto something.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu

“Is that normal?”

This is one question that as a therapist I get asked time and time again. Are those thoughts, feelings or behaviours ‘normal’? It ties into the fear that we are not the same as everyone else. The comparisons we can make to friends, family or even strangers can be incredibly damaging as they can make us feel like outsiders.

What is normal?

Personally, like perfection, I do not believe ‘normal’ really exists. Normality is based on cultural, social and personal constructs. Depending on what country you are from, the town you grew up in and family you were raised, normal can look very different. Instead of asking yourself is something normal or not, ask instead, ‘Is this helping me or hurting me?

  • Do you feel the need to drink alcohol when you’re feeling sad? (help or hurt)
  • Do you internalise your anger until you want to explode? (help or hurt)
  • Are you scared of happiness in your life because you are waiting for the other shoe to drop? (help or hurt)

We often go through life one way, not knowing things could be different. It’s okay to feel sad and want to cry. When you are angry you are permitted to express it as long as you aren’t hurting someone else. Feeling happy doesn’t mean fear is waiting around the corner to take it all away.1235048_10151844828924190_420843887_n

Instead of beating yourself up because your thoughts are weird or your dreams seem unrealistic, embrace it! The truth is, we’re all a little weird, which makes weird ‘normal’. We can all have those bizarre imaginings that makes us shake our heads. But isn’t that amazing? As far as we know, we are the only beings on the planet who can create these worlds in our mind.

The only time you should feel concerned is if these imaginings are bringing you down. If you are always worried about how you are stacking up how can you enjoy the weirdness that is you? Today allow your mind to daydream and go easy on yourself. Life can be such a challenge, you don’t need that voice in your head to add to the struggle.

“There is no such thing as a weird human being, It’s just that some people require more understanding than others.”  – Tom Robbins