New Year Resolution – still succeeding?


 
The Edinburgh Healthy Chat Therapist

Reaching your goal can be helped by gaining an objective viewpoint and reframing it within a larger perspective .

Here at my Edinburgh talk therapy clinic, my New Year resolve is to share some of my therapy and counselling ideas and advice on our Healthy Chat blog. So, in timely fashion, here are my thoughts on our great tradition to pledge a new year’s resolution:

What went through your mind as the bells rang in 2017?

Was it by any chance a pledge to give something up? Cigarettes, chocolate, alcohol? Take-away meals?  Retail therapy? TV or computer games? Gambling? Chewing your nails? Perhaps, conversely, it was a pledge to begin something, like running or swimming, singing in a choir or being more sociable, or to gain something, like a fit healthy body, or a six-pack torso, or a healthier bank balance. It might have been to be more assertive at work, or to be nicer to your mother-in-law. Whatever it was, a few weeks down the line, how is it going for you? I shall hazard a guess that those who chose a ‘giving something up’ type of resolution will be struggling more than those who chose to begin something or gain something.

And how’s your New Year resolve bearing up?

Unfortunately, a shift in behaviour can often be short-lived unless a sound plan is in place as to what to do instead of the old and unwanted behaviour, or what is to be gained from the loss. This is because most of us have strong unconscious negative associations with words like ‘losing’ or ‘giving up’ or ‘quitting’: our brains don’t like loss, and don’t like a void where there used to be an activity. Loss is the opposite of gain, and acquisition is a core motivation in humans. Also, we have been (albeit perhaps unwittingly) conditioned to associate giving up with failure. A decision to ‘lose weight’ or ‘give up smoking’ is therefore immediately hindered, or hoist by its own petard, as my father would have said.

 

Another key thing to note here is that our brain is an expectation machine: it wants to be set tasks so that it can pursue and achieve them. The trick is to give our brains a positive goal, not a negative one, as it will pursue each with equal diligence. If you set your mind to not smoking, your brain will focus on smoking, and sooner or later the word ‘not’ will be forgotten. If, however, you set your mind to getting healthier, with cessation of the foul habit of filling your lungs with poison set out as a clear part of your health plan, you will have a much higher chance of success.

 

To take a similar vein with body weight, instead of resolving to lose weight, set out to gain that slim figure that you so desire, or find your waistline (that you know is in there somewhere because you saw it a decade ago!), or become fit and agile. The change in words is so simple it may seem insignificant, but the reframing of the resolution can make all the difference.

 

It’s worth bearing in mind that one session with an effective therapist or coach can help you to set out your goals for maximum effect and the ultimate positive result. Sometimes it’s invaluable to, in effect, “borrow another brain” for an objective perspective on what you are aiming to achieve.

 

One note of caution here is to make sure that the new activity or behaviour is not only positive, achievable and backed by sound reasoning, but is also a behaviour that you want in your life.  I don’t mind admitting that (before I had studied psychotherapy and learned how our brain works) I once pledged to give up red wine, and rather unimaginatively decided to replace it with cranberry juice. By week three I had pretty much developed an allergy to cranberry juice and I subconsciously moved the ‘goalposts’ of my resolution from ‘give up’ to ‘give up for a month’ (another trick our brains are good at). On the first of February I fell upon a bottle of wine as a drowning man would a life raft.

 

Denial can take many forms and, if you go about it the wrong way, ‘giving up’ alcohol or cigarettes or ‘cutting down’ on foods can unnecessarily affect more of your life than you might think. Many folk who may feel they have overindulged over the festive season just choose not to go out because they will not know what to say when somebody offers them a drink or a bag of crisps. If you are ‘on the wagon’ for January then it’s no good floundering around wondering what to say when your friend is at the bar waving a wine glass at you.

 

But it is equally bad to stop going out: your New Year resolution wasn’t to deny yourself a social life.  If ‘losing weight’ is your goal then it might feel easier to just not visit your Granny during January, because you know she will have a plate of leftover mince pies and Christmas cake on offer, and you haven’t the mental energy to turn it down. But not visiting her affects both of you in terms of your connection and attention needs – and you don’t want to abandon your Granny to a month of loneliness. Conversely, giving up computer games or TV is all fine and good unless it causes you to head out to the bar to fill the void with alcohol.

It’s useful here to borrow a technique well known to athletes, politicians and actors: mental rehearsal.

Work out in advance what you will say when someone offers you a cigarette, a beer or a portion of chips. If retail therapy is your poison, have a clear plan in place before those January sales catch your eye. Think it through and rehearse the words. Be absolutely clear in your mind.  Hear yourself saying those words, “no thanks, I don’t smoke” or “no thanks, I’ve switched to a healthy diet this year” or, “let’s go ice skating instead of shopping this weekend”.

 

Conscious rehearsal is great up to a point, but those same athletes, actors and politicians will also be using visualisation to embed the desired mindset into their subconscious. My son can close his eyes and visualise how he wants to swim his race in a certain time. I used to use the same technique to visualise the time it would take me to complete a cross country course, and therefore where I could potentially speed up. Effective speakers take a moment in a quiet corner to visualise the calm, clear, confident authority with which they will deliver their speech. Visualisation makes use of one of the most powerful of our innate resources – our imagination – to generate images of the desired reality.

 

Reframing, visualising and rehearsing your own success are often the keys to achieving what you want, and to making your New Year resolution a permanent behaviour pattern in your life. A good therapist, counsellor or coach can help to kick start the process for you.

 

©Julia Welstead 2017

The Edinburgh Healthy Chat Therapist

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.

 



To conform or to transform


 

10. DiamondRunning businesses that supply therapy in Aberdeen and counselling in Dundee when I’ve spent the last 12 years of my life in London and the previous 10 overseas in Jakarta, Hong Kong and Australia, there’s not much about my life so far where it could be said that ‘she’s a conformist’. It wasn’t always that way though.

 

Brought up in Africa, as a child my first 6 years were mainly spent in the company of my brothers and sister. We had similar values and there were few unknowns. I felt safe. We spent 2 hours every morning being home schooled by my strict mother. And almost every afternoon riding bikes, hunting lizards and swimming in pools and rivers.

 

When my parents returned to the UK to allow us to be schooled formally everything changed. I’d never seen so many children, all dressed in uniform, in one room together doing the same activity. As a shy girl with a stutter, I stressed about how I would ever learn ‘the code’ to fit in. I could already read, write, do numbers, reason, run, swim, catch a ball – it wasn’t the lessons that threw me. It was the playground. How did groups form? Who decided what games to play and who could join in? Who was kind and protective who was to be avoided (I shed some tears learning that one).

 

Fitting in meant learning who followed what rules. Who was clever, sporty, popular and who were the rule-breakers the influencers or the coasters. And it was important to conform in those days because people who were too different were teased, bullied and ostracised.

 

I’m glad to say that now as a parent and having had the experience of 5 different UK schools I can confidently say they are farer, more diverse and more accepting places for our children to become a bigger reflection of who they were born to be. That’s a good thing. Our world is bursting at the seams with 7.3 billion people, none identical. They are held together by differences, similarities, choices, travel, change and progress.

 

It’s a proper stretch for our present leaders of countries, schools, businesses, faith groups and families to let the next generation express themselves in the diverse ways they do. It must be tempting to encourage (or bribe or force) our young (and old) men and women to conform – how much easier to manage, to create policies around, to know outcomes. Too much conformity  though and we’ll lose the ability to find the creative solutions required for our human race to thrive.

 

At the core of both conformity and transformation are the traits of gentleness, tolerance and love. Applying these regardless of gender, faith, ethnicity, riches, poverty, education, self expression, family make up and physical or mental ability is where the breakthroughs lie.

 

It’s uncomfortable to live in this era of unknown quantities. Trust me that you’re not the only one struggling with the little questions (will I have a job next year; will my family stay together; why are my adult children back in my house) or the bigger ones (will there be a burnt up planet for my children’s children; when do I tolerate and when do I speak out; are free will, free speech and free expression always a good idea?).

 

It’s important to find a Healthy Chat, a therapist & a philosophy to up-skill yourself in these fast-changing times. It’s the boldness to ask questions that builds a confidence to both conform and transform; to be anchored as you ascend.

 

 

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.

 



How do you refer a friend for therapy


 

44. FriendHugIt’s a tricky situation this one. When you notice a friend or family member could do with help or support beyond what you’re equipped to give, how do you suggest to them ‘I think you should see a therapist?’ without hearing expletives come back at you?

 

There are lots of reasons why we can spot things about our friends that they can’t see for themselves. You might see:

 

  • A recurring pattern: dating the same type of controlling guy for example. They’re too caught up in the details of ‘but this guy’s different’ to notice that they’re repeating a life lesson
  • An addiction: could be to alcohol, drugs, sex or a personality type – whatever it is it takes a very aware person to acknoweledge that they’re living with a dependence on something (or someone)
  • A sadness: most people get sad sometimes – it’s part of the spectrum of emotions we’re privileged enough to encounter. The frequency and the depth to which we feel sad can differ greatly and when you’re in it it’s possible to say ‘doesn’t everyone feel down sometimes’ without recognising that you’ve been like that for 6 weeks now – your mind needs help to get back its resilience and bounce-back
  • A destruction: self harming and eating disorders can often be hidden from those at work or others in a house hold. Over time though it’s often the case that family or friends will notice a routine forming or a regular oddity (why does she always go to the toilet after dinner; or why does he always wear long sleeves even on a hot  summer’s day). Often just asking the question is enough for the person to share some extra details – but reason on its own (even with the best of intentions) is rarely enough to transform the behaviour
  • A debilitation: with panic attacks or with anxiety or stress, it can be the case that your friend will begin to retreat from socialising (with valid enough sounding excuses), will have increased sick days, will step down from opportunities they may previously have been front of the queue for.

 

To be helpful in all the above situations you would first have to be able to:

  • spot the harmful changes (being drunk as a one off is different than drinking to excess 4nights a week)
  • know how to confront the topic (to come alongside the person we care about and not judge them or offer simplistic solutions)
  • know the limitations of what can be dealt with as a friend and what should be passed to a professional (plus also, could you recommend a great therapist? – Like a personal trainer there are ones who can talk the talk, and those who can get authentic results fast).

So here are 5 ways you could approach a conversation with a friend or family member so they might hear that you care enough to suggest they see a good therapist:

  1. Ask some questions: you can’t show you genuinely care unless you’ve proved your willing to listen. ‘So what’s been going on’; ‘how have you been feeling’; ‘what are you thinking is going to turn this round’; ‘what have you tried’; ‘what are the consequences if you keep going like this’
  2. Plant a seed: do your research well and tell your friend (child, sibling, parent) that you’ve heard of someone (or some therapy type – like for us it’s Human Givens therapy) who gets extraordinary results fast. ‘I can email you the website or the number if you want to check it out’.
  3. Tell a ‘dear John’ story: like if you’d heard that ‘this friend of mine’s daughter’ had an amazing turn around from her addiction after she spoke to this great therapist.
  4. Don’t judge: a friend doesn’t want to hear a judgement about the tough point they’re going through right now. It might seem simple to you from the outside. It’s not simple for them, so if you’re going to say a ‘should’ or an ‘ought’  – stay silent and count to 10!
  5. Care & invest: if you need to go with them on session one, do it. If they need a bit more support getting into a new routine, be there. Encourage, cheer and love. They’d do the same for you.

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.

 



Successful divorce – is it doable?


14. respectful divorce

 

Best together? Best apart? Stay married? Get divorced? These are not assumptions I make when a husband, wife or partner comes to talk to me (either separately or together). Relationships are extraordinarily unique things and two (or more) people can be in one, be committed, yet still have entirely different perspectives about longevity, intimacy, sharing, friendship, ownership, control, roles and contribution within a household.

 

We learn models of what makes a ‘good’ relationship from what we observe when we’re growing up – parents, older family, couples we know from church, school or clubs. Possibly without conscious thought we hear stories and layer assumption after assumption onto ‘marriage’ or ‘living together’ and progress into adult life with those assumptions relatively unchallenged. Rarely do they match up when we get to the point of choosing a partner and moving to co-habiting with them.

 

The concept of ‘forever’ is hugely tied up with a successful relationships. But is that really the case? Or can we put this in a personal choice category along with: quantity of time spent with each other; common interests; matching faiths or philosophies; cultural or socio-economily similar backgrounds. These topics could be highly relevant or not at all – there’s really no right or wrong answer.

 

Some of the most common assumptions I hear are:

  • Yes, they’re happily married – they’ve been together for 30 years
  • They have 4 children and one on the way – they’re so committed
  • She’s his wife – of course she knows how he feels
  • Women are just better at nurturing and raising children
  • They must be happy … they never argue
  • They got divorced – that’s a failed relationships

This list is inexhaustible because no people who choose to live a chapter of their life together can ever fully know how that’s going to play out over the months, years and decades to come. One of the biggest challenges to a partnership that I see is when a person or couple reference their success against other couples, then register dissatisfaction because their relationship isn’t as supportive, happy, exciting or authentic as the couple they ‘think they know’.

 

It’s important to note that:

  • generally couples don’t disclose or dissect  their full experiences with other couples (there perhaps isn’t the time, isn’t the right trust, or there can be a sense of not wanting to be seen to be ‘failing’)
  • most couples are happy to share the fun, special or unusual event or experiences of their relationship – and not the routine, painful or challenging bits
  • often the people we seek advice from (older family members or friends) are having or have had similar challenges within their relationship. They may still together because they’ve developed tolerance (not a bad thing) but perhaps not always a deep understanding. They’re perhaps not fully equipped (or expert) then to offer you a well-thought-through strategy that will turn your relationship around

 

Successful relationships have a life cycle – they might well have ups and downs be destined for ‘forever’. They may equally have ups and downs and reach a point were one or both parties no longer see their futures together. Either way it’s the respect, the hope and the ability to communicate that will ultimately define whether successful divorce follows or whether successful togetherness continues.

 

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.

 



Investing in yourself


Pics - stones

 

My favourite phonecalls are the ones from people who have heard about Healthy Chat or have searched for a coach, a counsellor or a psychotherapist in their area and are taking positive action to change their lives. If a company isn’t paying for their coaching, or an organisation isn’t funding their personal development, or a person’s medical insurance isn’t financing their psychotherpay … it can only mean one thing … the person calling me is committed to investing in themselves.

 

If that’s you I can tell from the outset you’re a motivated, forward thinking, realistic individual who knows that sometimes progress can only be made with some highly-focussed support. That knowledge puts you ahead of 90% of the planet. Much can be learned from parents, teachers, peers, colleagues and books, however sometimes there’s just no faster way of understanding where you want to go and making a clear plan to getting there than working with a coach for a session or two.

 

I hired my first coach when I was 32 years old. I had interviewed 6 in all (each in the US because in the early millenium there was no such thing as an executive coach in the UK!), and ultimately I picked a wise man in his 60s who was calm, intuitive and positive. He’d had 40 years of corporate life, he’d set up his own businesses and he was now semi-retired and living in a lake-view log cabin with his wife and near their children and grandchildren.

 

I selected him over the other coaches partly because of his life and career experience (which I could see myself emulating) and mainly because he hadn’t tried to supply me with suggestions or solutions. He just said – ‘if you think something’s possible, it likely is’.

 

I worked with him for over a year as I grew my first business from a single client to my first hundred clients and beyond. I spent those sessions detailing ‘I want the next part to be like this’ and my coach would ask great questions:

  • what does that feel like when you see yourself signing that contract / serving that team / making a difference to that group of professionals
  • what are you willing to let go in order to achieve that
  • what are you unwilling to sacrifice to get that result
  • how can you add more value and go the extra mile
  • how can you remain authentic as a single mum, a new business owner, a student and a teacher

I stretched way beyond what I was comfortable doing – marketing my coaching services, asking for recommendations, growing my business every month, meeting with CEOs and HR Directors, presenting from a stage, running diversity programs for 100s of people at a time.

 

It wasn’t at all easy. I cried often. I challenged my limiting thoughts and stepped into each fear as it presented itself. I live now with the benefits of all that stretching. And I’m still doing it. I’ve had 8 coaches between that year and now. Each one was valuable for the life chapter I was in. Some were extraordinarily powerful … others I moved on from pretty quickly. And so is life’s journey. A process of visions, trials, stretches, lessons and victories.

 

I’m ready now for a next chapter of change. I’ve selected the coach to partner me with staying clear, motivated and authentic. What about you?

 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.

 



Stress relief


299. CalmnessStress and its side effects are on the increase. The worst-case knock on effect of acute or ongoing stress can be depression, illness and a sense of being out-of-control of your life. So what are the stressors you need to look out for? How do you spot them? Then manage them in order to stay calm?

 

I was at a weekend conference recently and one of the topics was an exploration of how our world and cultures have evolved. Turns out that while you have more choice than every before in history – where you live, what you eat, which relationships you commit to and how your career progresses – you’re actually not always fully equipped to manage the range of choices too far beyond what you’ve been taught are ‘normal’ and ‘right’.

 

So if your parents did a church, white wedding, you’re more likely to want the same regardless of whether you’ve been active in developing your faith up to the point of choosing marriage. Equally if your peers all commit to university as the right next step after high school, you may well be swayed that way even though the best choice for you could be to go straight into work, do an apprenticeship or start up on your own from day one.

 

Each of these compromises, the choices that take you away from where your intuition is guiding you, increases the stressors in your life and impacts your health and sense of wellbeing. So how do you navigate your own path? How do you get to a place where life has success and meaning for you for now and for whenever you view your future?

 

The key is calmness. Keeping an emotional equilibrium allows your brain to filter in the best choices for you at any given time. Investing time in knowing what you want from life will also fast track your decision making and your ability to achieve. So get some clarity around who you most like to spend time with, what your career goals are, where you want to travel, how fit you want to be, how you want to contribute to your community and what activities make you most happy in any given moment.

 

Developing calmness – which leads to awareness – can be done in any number of ways. You can do it through breathing, mindfulness, running, swimming, mediation, prayer, reading, writing, talking, quiet contemplation, exploring, painting … the list is endless. You can work out what’s most effective for the person you are and the lifestyle you lead. Then as you practice integrating conscious calmness into your life you’ll notice that your thoughts remain clearer, your decision making becomes more targeted, your compromising reduces and your sense of self-worth and achievement are daily celebrations.

 

Relief from stress is a positive choice. It’s a necessary part of achieving in today’s increasingly complex world. And it’s your route to opportunity and meaning in a way that only you would resonate with. Your life, your life choices, your calm happiness.

 
 

Jennifer Broadley is the founder of www.HealthyChat.co.uk. Since 2012 she has worked full time delivering therapeutic, life-changing conversations from her private practices in Aberdeen, Dundee and the north of Scotland. She additionally works with UK clients by phone and European clients by skype. In 2002 Jennifer set up an executive coaching company supporting the continued high performance of business leaders and entrepreneurs working for medium and large companies – she is still active in this sector through www.JenniferBroadley.com.

 

Jennifer was brought up in West Africa, educated in Scotland and lived and worked in Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia before returning to a London base in 1997. She and her daughter now live on the UK's east coast, where she continues to coach and write. Jennifer is a writer and a published author. Her first book 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®, is available on www.Amazon.co.uk. For therapy or executive coaching enquiries please email, message or call Jennifer via her websites.