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.

 



The mental & emotional health of our children and young adults


 

54. KidsMentalHealthOver the course of this year, as a counsellor in Aberdeen, and a therapist in Dundee, I’ve treated nearly as many children and young people using Human Given’s psychotherapy as I have adults. Most arrive with anxiety-related symptoms – poor sleep, aggressive, cluster headaches, school refusal, over or under eating. Some are self harming or are suffering from depression. Most have had one if not many conversations with their school medics and their family GP. Some have already had therapy with varying degrees of success.

 

All of the children I see with mental and emotional health issues receive Human Given’s therapy from the first minute of the first session with me. It’s rare to still have a client with me after 4 sessions – although occasionally I’ve see a few for up to 6 sessions.

 

So what is it that Human Given’s therapy supplies to these young people that they’re missing out on elsewhere. Here’s what I think they’re benefitting from in the most part:

 

1. Deep listening: the sort of listening that rarely happens with parents because that’s just not most family designs. And it doesn’t happen with friends and peers because at 13-25 years old they’re simply not equipped with those life skills yet. So for many, the first time they get to sit down, uninterrupted for 60-90 minutes and just voice their thoughts, their ideas, their challenges, is in a therapeutic Healthy Chat. My job as much as is possible is to concentrate hard on the words, the tone, what’s being said, what’s being skated over; reflect back what I think I’ve heard; ask for more.

 

2. Releasing questions: the sort of enquiry that helps that teenager or young adult to recognise where they’re skilled; to link their multiple resources together; to see for themselves that where they’re at right now is not a dead end or a no-hope situation, but a chance to test their intelligence, self-discipline, communication techniques, powers of persuasion and reslience to a whole new level.

 

3. Practical knowledge: most clients, children to adults, who come to see me don’t have a working understanding of their own brains. They understand to some extent what learning and intellect is, but they’re fascinated to hear about the parts of their brain they can control consciously and the parts that control them without their knowledge. Knowing how it works helps to form a strategy on how to use it for the outcome they want.

 

4. Mindset expansion: when we change our approach to something, that thing changes. And if young people have one common trait it’s being creative about what else they could try. Working it out in a safe place, with an unattached-to-the-rest-of-their-life grown-up is mental medicine for most of them. (And reporting back their successes at the next session is mental medicine for me!)

 

5.  Mental & emotional rehearsal: this is the main fast-tracking piece of Human Given’s therapy and most often works because it delivers a speedy confidence lift to a person who, right in that moment, realises ‘I can’. When I take a young person through a process where they can literally see, feel and sense themselves achieving what they’ve talked about, it changes how they perceive themselves – and that’s powerful.

 

African-American social reformer, Fredrick Douglass knew his stuff when he said: “Its easier to build strong children than repair broken men”.

 

Aware parents will keep on researching until they arrive at an answer for their children’s emotional and mental health & wellbeing. If that’s you and you know there’s something more that would benefit your child, niece, nephew or teenager of friends – genuinely consider calling me now at Healthy Chat. It’s what I’m here for.

 

 

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.

 



Human Givens – not all therapies are the same


343. ok-ok

 

If you were to Google ‘Counsellors in Dundee’ or in fact therapists in any city in the UK, you’d be faced with pages of choices. So how do you choose who you’re going to call first? And, more to the point, who can help you get the fastest, most lasting results?

 

At Healthy Chat we use a therapy call Human Givens. It’s called that because it integrates a great range of techniques proven to be effective in getting a person’s innate emotional needs met and thus bringing them back on track to living a fulfilled, happy life.

 

Here’s how the Human Given’s College explains why it gets such strong results fast:

“We are all born with innate knowledge programmed into us from our genes. Throughout life we experience this knowledge as feelings of physical and emotional need.

 

These feelings evolved over millions of years and, whatever our cultural background, are our common biological inheritance. They are the driving force that motivates us to become fully human and succeed in whatever environment we find ourselves in. It is because they are incorporated into our biology at conception that we call them ‘human givens’.

 

Given physical needs: As animals we are born into a material world where we need air to breathe, water, nutritious food and sufficient sleep. These are the paramount physical needs. Without them, we quickly die. In addition we also need the freedom to stimulate our senses and exercise our muscles. We instinctively seek sufficient and secure shelter where we can grow and reproduce ourselves and bring up our young. These physical needs are intimately bound up with our emotional needs — the main focus of human givens psychology.

 

Given emotional needs: Emotions create distinctive psychobiological states in us and drive us to take action. The emotional needs nature has programmed us with are there to connect us to the external world, particularly to other people, and survive in it. They seek their fulfillment through the way we interact with the environment. Consequently, when these needs are not met in the world, nature ensures we suffer considerable distress — anxiety, anger, depression etc. — and our expression of distress, in whatever form it takes, impacts on those around us.

 

People whose emotional needs are met in a balanced way do not suffer mental health problems. When psychotherapists and teachers pay attention to this they are at their most effective.

 

In short, it is by meeting our physical and emotional needs that we survive and develop as individuals and a species.

 

There is widespread agreement as to the nature of our emotional needs. The main ones are listed below.

Emotional needs include:

  • Security — safe territory and an environment which allows us to develop fully
  • Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition
  • Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices
  • Emotional intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”
  • Feeling part of a wider community
  • Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
  • Sense of status within social groupings
  • Sense of competence and achievement
  • Meaning and purpose — which come from being stretched in what we do and think”

 

At Healthy Chat our primary focus in on helping each client get their emotional needs met healthily. Not all therapy is the same. Not all searches for ‘Counsellors in Dundee’ will lead you to Healthy Chat. I hope having read this though, that’s exactly what it does.

 

 

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.

 



Medication – do your research


 

56. medication2One of things I like to get clear on from the outset of working with a client is whether they’re taking medication – and if so, what is it and what effect does it have. Whether they’re emotion suppressants (for depression, grief, overwhelm, complex life change), sleeping tablets (stress & anxiety), pain management (migraines, cancer, post-ops), or nausea drugs (eating disorders or addictions)  – every single one of them has a wider impact on a person’s body than simply the remit it’s being taken for.

 

Some years ago I moved my practice from London to Aberdeenshire. Shortly after that I was introduced socially to a delightful and smart woman who, over a period of about 18 months, went from no medication to an increasingly-complex cocktail of at least 8 different types of pills daily – initially to manage depression, then weight gain, addiction, liver challenges, thrombosis, and on and on – until she died in hospital asking to be taken out of there because ‘ … all of this is too much’ (the drugs … not her life).

 

Go back to the beginning of that chapter, her depression began by not having access to her son because she was in conflict with her ex-husband. They had shared custody, however the husband didn’t always allow her the access she was due at weekends; he wouldn’t show up at court when she tried to hold him accountable through the present family law system; and he would speaking critically of the mum to the son further distancing them. In accumulation, this was the driving force for this woman’s stress, which in turn lead to an appeal for medical help and a first introduction to the anti-depressants and sleeping medication.

 

On many occasions I’ve had first conversations with clients that go a bit like this: ‘I realised it was serious when I went to my doctor and was perscribed with anti-depressants. I’m sitting here staring at them and I don’t want to start down this route … can you help?’. Ordinarily these clients will see me twice, perhaps 3 times, additionally-equipping themselves in each subsequent session, and then they leave and move on confidently with their next life chapter.

 

Most of us have an instinct about whether we really need:

  • a weight loss drug – or some nutritional advice and a tribe to exercise with
  • a sleeping tablet – or a meaningful, professional conversation to reduce our stress and work our best first choices
  • a pain suppressant – or some great physiotherapy and some genuine rest from our work or exercise regime

 

I’m not sitting here as a therapist in Aberdeen or as a counsellor in Dundee saying all medication is evil – far from it. I’m saying that in many cases heading to a doctor for advice is a great first step, and in many other cases it’s worth the time and effort to research whether there are alternatives to a pharmaceutical prescription that may help you more convincingly and faster without impacting your physical body in ways none of us fully understand.

 

Most of us at some point have taken time to understand the general nutritional or calorific content of our meals; how much more important is it that we do at least the same with the chemical content of our medication. Or even better, spend a few hours investigating the benefits a great nutritionist, physiotherapist, counsellor, massage therapist, bio-energy healer, acupuncture professional or chiropractor can offer you.

 

In this Human Givens therapist’s humble opinion, the more responsibility each one of us take for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, the more likely we are to live longer, happier, choice-filled lives.

 

 

 

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.

 



Feeling sad – what you can do about it


 

21. Sad-HappyThere are a remarkable number of people who look happy, hold down jobs, parent their children, do sport and have great friends … and all the time they feel sad.

 

It’s not a flaw in someone’s character, it’s not a thing a person should feel guilty about (which they often do if they have many things in their life to be grateful for), and it’s often not something that needs medication as a ‘fix’.

 

Sadness is on the emotional spectrum like every other feeling. The trick is to learn how to move up or down that spectrum as required and often to learn to observe and accept a particular emotion as being ‘right for now’ without trying to judge it, change it or over think it.

 

From a very young age we are taught to associate certain feelings as being good or bad, right or wrong. So you might have been told that it’s good that you’re happy and bad that you’re sad. Or right to be grateful and wrong to be angry. As our experiences in life get wider and richer, that type of catagorising just doesn’t work for the complexities we start to experience.

 

Think of these situations and possible emotions:

  • first love: happy, energised, confused, scared, jealous, elated, adored
  • bullying partner: nervous, content, on edge, frustrated, angry, self critical, high, low, doubting, questioning
  • high paid, unstimulating job: grateful, compromised, challenged, fearful (stay or go), stuck, glad (of the money & choices), stymied

 

So what can we do about feeling sad? Lots and lots, but here are a first few suggestions:

  • Pay attention: what you think about expands. Pay attention to the thoughts that you’re thinking each part of the day and begin to notice which ones make you feel more uplifted and which ones contribute to you feel deflated. Actively choose the better feeling thoughts. This is a huge skill set – only practice will get results over time.

 

  • Notice your diet: some people can have reactions to certain food groups. Processed sugar (in sweets, fizzy drinks, energy and chocolate bars) can give you a temporary energy high followed by a depressing sugar slump. However there are subtle allergies that our bodies might be reacting to from meats, gluten, dairy or even selected fruits or vegetables. Seek out a great nutritionist. And remember, the high from a night drinking can be paid back with an all-day low (feeling lost, sad, depressed or alone)

 

  • Exercise often: 3-4 times per week minimum if at all possible. Raising your heart rate and releasing uplifting endorphins influences your mind towards positivity. It creates a sense of discipline and control, both of which are life an success affirming

 

  • Edit your friendships: make an assessment of the 5 people you spend most time around. If they live life with traits you find admirable, stick with them; otherwise, dial down the time you spend with them and actively seek out inspiring, positive, encouraging relationships

 

  • Actively up-skill your emotional resourcefulness: lots of adults are trying to achieve happiness in life with an emotional skill-set from their teenage years. Advanced life choices can require advanced communication and navigation skills to be successful. Seek out a mentor, coach or counsellor who has evidenced their results.

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.