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As a practising counsellor I feel I want to encourage people to have better conversations about mental health. But the phrase ‘time to talk’ is so well used now that I wonder what we mean by it.
I remember when I first returned to live in England how I had to concentrate on the person I was speaking to figure out when they were genuinely interested in what I was saying and when they were just being polite. The difference between the two and the subtlety with which it is communicated affects us all.
So perhaps we can: –
Decide that – it’s time to talk
Create space – to talk
Choose a time – to talk
Communicate a desire – to talk
Show up, listen, empathise and not judge. The people we connect to will appreciate it.
Most of us spend large parts of our day multitasking; at home, whilst travelling, at work, in meetings, with family and with friends.
What if we could create time to listen to ourselves? Is our self-talk supporting us or hindering us?
We too need the non-judgemental supportive space we create for others.
I also provide such time for myself as often as possible. Whether I am walking between appointments or having a relaxing bath I allow myself space to be mindfully present and listen to what is going on inside me.
Let’s find ways to really talk to each other and to actually listen to ourselves. Each of us deserves to be heard.
(First published in TODAY Magazine, no longer online)
I approach this review with some ambivalence. Like many of you I am exploring ways to live my best life and fulfil my potential. On the other hand, we can ask too much of ourselves and maybe we’re already doing enough. Read this review of The Miracle Morning with your own life in mind so you can take from it what is helpful and leave what is not.
In the free video on his website the author speaks of how the financial crash of 2008 brought him to rock bottom and made him look at his life anew. In an attempt to study the lives of successful people, he stumbled upon their top habits. The book is essentially different ways of sharing these habits alongside research and case studies.
One of the challenges for me is the linking of these habits to early rising. The idea is that you carry out these 6 habits on rising every day, before breakfast, work or taking children to school! For many of us that requires a big shift in mindset and, getting to bed quite early the night before. Certainly, there are studies that show early rising helps us to be more efficient although late risers point to contradictory evidence.
What then are these six habits that you can do every day to help you achieve your potential? The author has chosen the memorable mnemonic S.A.V.E.R.S. The letters stand for Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribing. He believes that doing these daily improves discipline, clarity and personal development. He calls these life savers and they can support physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development.
You may already do some of these. Many successful people exercise daily. Some of us may read from a religious text or another book. Reading is not just about reading on social media but choosing content to help steer our day. Silence can include things such as meditation and prayer. The benefits of scribing – or keeping a journal – is overwhelming and I can explore that another time.
Affirmations and visualisations are probably the least known aspects of these 6 habits although we now know that many successful Olympians use both. Affirmations are about replacing fear and worry with more positive thoughts. Visualisations are imagining the positive outcomes you desire. I came across visualisations on my counselling training and sometimes make use of these in individual and group sessions; they can be powerful.
The miracle morning is a simple idea. The author wants us to know that after a 30-day trial it will become a habit. One of my cheats is listening to audiobooks so I can listen on the move or whilst doing tasks. I know that one of my fellow counsellors sprinkles the habits throughout her day. You can also experiment in doing it for one minute each to total 6 minutes. It’s just another way to make small changes in your life. How does this sound to you?
It is only for people with mental health problems
You may think that there are people who have mental health problems and others who do not, but the truth is that we all have mental health and any one of us could experiences challenges in this area. Mental health is on a continuum and during our lifetime we can be located on different positions as it is not a static thing. Of course, we can build up resilience but sometimes we break because we refuse to bend. Statistics in the U.K show that 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health challenge during our lifetime. If that is not you it will be someone you know.
It is only for those on the verge of a breakdown
Some people think they need to be on the verge of a breakdown to seek help but that is not so. Therapy allows you to explore the shape of the life you live and how that fits with who you feel you are on the inside. The mere fact of exploring this could be preventative and therefore make a breakdown much less likely to occur.
Therapists only look backwards, never forwards
There is a view that therapists are only concerned with the clients’ childhood. Whilst childhood is important in many approaches there are some schools in therapy that create healing through being in the present or by focusing attention on finding solutions to the current problem and so create a better future. I practice an integrative approach which gives space to all of these time phases.
One size fits all
This imagines that all clients are the same and can be worked with in the same way. Yet every professional knows that their clients are different in small and important ways and in order to serve them well we need to be in tune with that diversity. Some clients might be on medication, some might be in support groups and others could be in full-time employment. We could all benefit from taking some time out to reflect on our life choices and consider making beneficial changes.
They’re all the same
People resistant to getting help or those believing they can’t be helped might turn to an experience where they tried to get help and it didn’t work out. This may even be second hand information because they had a friend who was not helped as expected. By imagining that all therapists are the same (not individual humans) they do not need to open themselves up to trying again and possibly finding someone that is a better match to their personality and story. If you choose a therapist in line with your world view, then you’re more likely to find a fit and build the trust required to explore the issues.
Do any of these misconceptions chime with you or do you have a few others not covered here? I’d love to know what you think so please leave a comment below
A well known politician said something similar a while ago and got some stick for it. But I am amazed by how we think we know a lot about people we only see in the media and online. Despite my experience of therapy and being a counsellor I’m always surprised by how much I continue to discover about myself. Often we barely know what’s going on in our own lives let alone the neighbour or the stranger. Yet we are often quick with our opinions, good or bad.
For International Women’s Day in 2016 there are so many global issues that affect women. There are women who have chosen to be mothers, there are women who accidentally became mothers, there are women who for physical or emotional or life reasons have not become mothers. Whether or not we are mothers we’ve all had a mother, whatever her capabilities. Many women mother through adoption, fostering or even mentoring. We are all familiar with the African saying popularised by Hilary Clinton that “it takes a village to raise a child” but in reality the village is hardly ever there.
I am thinking of the women who are separated from their children because of migration, ill health, death and divorce. So many women have been burdened by these difficult circumstances. I think too of refugee children; away from home and living with very little food, shelter care and safety, the basics for a decent human life. Many mothers may be making a huge sacrifice to give their children a better or safer life and that looks different depending on where you are standing.
Others of us are stressed by trying to be great mothers and using our children to demonstrate this. We forget we cannot truly create a person, it is this wonderful alchemy between nature and nurture. Our children, however we came to have them, are a gift from God.
I chose the title because I am amazed how much we can judge each other without knowing the facts. I have two recent examples to share here. First, our son is tall for his age so people tend to assume I have brought him to the wrong group. I keep assuring them that I do know when he starts school. On another occasion I bought my child an ice cream at midday and had an elderly lady looking at me as if to say I was perpetuating the problem with obesity in the world! Little did she know that he’s a great eater who loves to be active. Truth is he hasn’t yet realised that we could have ice cream at home as he only gets it when we’re out visiting museums, galleries, garden centres and play parks.
So what she saw as the whole story was only part of it.
If women are going to continue to make advances in the world then maybe we need to care more about each other’s children, judge less, and speak up more on behalf of those who have no voice. It is time too to be gentle with ourselves. We’re all stretched by modern life, whether struggling or just challenged. And yet we are good enough and we can do well to remember this. Does any of this resonate with you? Let me know what you think/feel?