Make your relationship better

valentines day

Do you want to make your romantic relationship better? It is possible. Working with couples, helping them to reconnect, here are a few considerations that I believe can make your relationship stronger.

 

Commit to communication.

In all relationships, communication is key. I have clients, considering separation, who can count the words expressed between her and her partner over the course of an evening on less than her 10 fingers. Communicating with each other keeps us connected and is essential when you are in conflict with each other. Rather than focusing on snappy comebacks when you argue, take a moment to reflect back to your partner what you hear them saying, before adding your opinion. Using “I feel” rather than “You did” type of comments helps keep some of the dialogue constructive.

 

Stay engaged and interested.

Remember how you were in the early days of your love, you knew everything about each other’s days. As time goes on, couples can become disconnected and their relationship focused on the fulfilment of a to do list. Take time to spend time understanding your partner’s experience of the day. What was the best thing that happened to them today? Did anything happen today that made them angry? Show up and show your interest.

 

“Be Best”

Give them the best of you, rather than saving it for others. Often, we are kinder to strangers or people we hardly know than people who are closest to us. Ask yourself, “Who gets the “best” of me?” and then ask, “Who gets the worst?”. Are you taking your workplace stress out on your partner? In addition to sharing your kindest and most sincere communication with your life partner, honour the promises you make to them first, before others.

 

Learn the language of love.

The best way to convey your love for your partner is to express your love in the language of love that they prefer. The 5 languages of love include words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, time sharing and acts of service (you can conduct an assessment of your style on the website of author Gary Chapman (www.5lovelanguages.com) . We want to receive love in the matter that we most appreciate. Understanding each other’s preferences is the ultimate form of respect.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day – I hope your romance grows stronger after trying these techniques.

 

About the author: Angela Watkins is a qualified counsellor at RED DOOR Counselling. She conducts couples’ therapy as well as runs collaborative co-parenting programmes.

#reddoor

#valentinesday

#romanticrelationships

#couplecounselling

The year ahead: SHEEP, MONKEY, ROOSTER, DOG.

monkey_sheep_dog_rooster

What is in store for you in the year of the Pig? The year of the Pig begins on Tuesday 5 Feb 2019. The Chinese Lunar New Year indicates changes in the presiding powers, and the luck of people born under the 12 zodiac signs (animals). RED DOOR has summarized the predictions of various Feng Shui experts to provide a summary of your luck, wealth, health, career and relationship forecast for the year. We’ve added a RED DOOR reflection approach for each forecast to help you consider possible psychological adaptions and details that will position you to best optimise the changes of the year ahead.

The zodiac character symbols included here are designed by Hong Kong cartoonist and artist Justin Tan. These characters will soon be launched into a comic series Horoscope High.

Forecast for those born under the sign of the GOAT/ SHEEP

sheepThis year for those born under the sign of the SHEEP/ GOAT  will be a fairly positive year. Steady and conservative growth is possible. Wealth and career luck are positive. You will mostly need to rely on your own efforts in order to make money and progress, rather than expecting other people to make your life easier. Your interpersonal relationships with friends and family will be fairly stable, and your love luck will be good. Involvement in projects that help the community will be advised for you this year. Your health will be maintained if you watch what you eat, and take a moderate approach to indulgences and activities.

RED DOOR Reflection:  Do you believe that you rely on others, or mainly look after yourself? This is a year where your own energy and commitment creates the luck you will attract. How do you judge your motivation to take charge of your life?

 

Forecast for those born under the sign of the MONKEY

monkeyThis year for those born under the sign of the MONKEY might want to take a conservative approach to this year. Investment opportunities exist but be cautious. There will be unexpected costs this year, so do no lend money, and invest in tangible objects rather than investments on paper. The only paper exception will be lottery tickets. The occasional ticket may bring you some minor luck. Invest in further education this year, as this is never a waste, and year will be an ideal investment. Relationships with family and friends may be tried and tested this year, as conflicts and disputes may seek you out. Try to stay positive, and forgive hurts and betrayals. Your reproductive system, and urinary system will be vulnerable this year, so take care of your health.

RED DOOR Reflection: Can you withstand the effect of negative gossip? Under what conditions are you prepared to ignore, or even forgive, the careless actions of others?

 

Forecast for those born under the sign of the ROOSTER

roosterThis year for those born under the sign of the ROOSTER with have not much to cluck about, or to crow about. This year is one of maintained status quo, particularly in romance and personal relationships. Stability will be the theme of the year. There are minor opportunities for investment, but there will also be more expenses than usual this year. This year you will be filled with new ideas and therefore you may feel unsettled at work, so feel a desire to look around. Do more for yourself this year, expand your mind, invest in learning new skills. Your health should be OK this year.

RED DOOR Reflection:  Lots of new ideas coming your way this year, how will you know which ideas to bring to realisation.

 

Forecast for those born under the sign of the DOG

dogThis year for those born under the sign of the DOG contains some legacy elements from last year. Some of the negative energy from the Year of the Dog will linger in the first few months of the Year of the Pig. After the spring (Northern hemisphere only) these disputes should clear. Think positive and stay hopeful. Once you can shake off last year, your wealth luck will be positive. After Easter, buy lottery tickets and take on a job to make some money on the side. Career progress will be slow this year, keep up a steady effort to maintain your social position. Your love and personal relationships will be positive this year. After April you should expand your social activities, as there is an abundance of support available to you this year.

Last year you may have experienced frequent illness, this year should be much better for your health. 

RED DOOR Reflection:  The first three months may feel heavy or negative, how can you work to improve your level of positivity.

 

Good luck for the year ahead. Our next blog will feature the forecasts for the next four zodiac signs. the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake and the Horse.

If you would like more information about RED DOOR or the art of Justin Tan please contact angelaw@reddoor.hk

#yearofthe pig

#reddoor

#chinesenewyear

#horoscopehigh

Forecasts for the New Year: RABBIT, DRAGON, SNAKE, HORSE.

dragon_snake_rabbit_horseWhat is in store for you in the year of the Pig? The year of the Pig begins on Tuesday 5 Feb 2019. The Chinese Lunar New Year indicates changes in the presiding powers, and the luck of people born under the 12 zodiac signs (animals). RED DOOR has summarized the predictions of various Feng Shui experts to provide a summary of your luck, wealth, health, career and relationship forecast for the year. We’ve added a RED DOOR reflection approach for each forecast to help you consider possible psychological adaptions and details that will position you to best optimise the changes of the year ahead.

The zodiac character symbols included here are designed by Hong Kong cartoonist and artist Justin Tan. These characters will soon be launched into a comic series Horoscope High.

 

This year for those born under the sign of the RABBIT.

rabbitA fairly neutral year ahead for those born under the sign of the Rabbit. Whilst you may not feel like working hard, this will be a year when you may have to. Expanding your skill set or business remit is advised. Still you will not experience much career progression this year. Perhaps invest in your skill set or business repertoire, and sit back and watch the market this year. Your health should be good this year. Happiness and contentment at home will support your ability to fight common infections.

Friendships and romance should be stable this year. You won’t be the target of too many disputes or gossip. For the majority of the year your relationship status shouldn’t change, those who are single aren’t likely to find a new love until the last quarter of the lunar year. Those already in a relationship will experience the development of further depth in that relationship.

RED DOOR Reflection: It appears that learning new skills would be helpful for you this year. What skills would help you develop your current or future career?

 

This year for those born under the sign of the DRAGON.

dragonThe year of the Pig attracts an abundance of luck for those born under the sign of the Dragon. You have good luck with investments and money this year. Entrepreneurs will be the luckiest of all Dragons. Career development opportunities will be positive this year.

Dragons may attract love or experience an improved love life, as well as public support from friends, family and colleagues. Your health is going to be ok. You may suffer from minor illnesses and problems attached to your stomach, so be mindful of what you eat and drink.

RED DOOR Reflection: What do you think you would like to achieve this year? Is it time to set some ambitious goals?

 

This year for those born under the sign of the SNAKE.  

snakeIt would be wise for the Snake to invest in future planning, relationship building and adapting to change this year. The Snake does not have exceptional luck with money or their career this year unless they plan to actively expand their network and engage in self-promotion.  You may attract disputes and conflicts with friends so take care, and be patient in these relationships. Slow and careful is a good approach to your health as well. Bad luck with your health will be caused by rushing, so apply caution. In your love relationship invest in your relationship to continue to keep your relationship strong.

RED DOOR Reflection: Your career is dependent on self-promotion and networking, how comfortable are you to promote your skills to a new audience? What is holding you back?

 

This year for those born under the sign of the HORSE

horseThe Horse will find a stable of support this year, especially from friends and family. Others will recognise your talents so this is not the time to hold back on showing these skills and developing further strengths. This may be a year of investing in your future financial and career success, rather than the year that you reap immediate returns.

Your health will be mostly stable this year, but do watch what you eat since you may get the occasional case of stomach upset.

Romance is not the air for the horse this year. This is a time to enjoy green pastures and feel good running around on your own.

RED DOOR Reflection: Are you grateful for your talents? What can you do to improve the skills in which you excel?

 

Good luck for the year ahead. Our next blog will feature the forecasts for the next four zodiac signs. the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake and the Horse.

If you would like more information about RED DOOR or the art of Justin Tan please contact angelaw@reddoor.hk

#yearofthe pig

#reddoor

#chinesenewyear

#horoscopehigh

 

The year ahead: PIG, RAT, OX, TIGER

pig_rat_ox_tigerChinese New Year Forecasts

What is in store for you in the year of the Pig?

The year of the Pig begins on Tuesday 5 Feb. The Chinese Lunar New Year indicates changes in the presiding powers, and the luck of people born under the 12 zodiac signs (animals).

RED DOOR has summarized the predictions of various experts, and with a RED DOOR reflection approach highlights psychological processes and questions which should prepare you for the prediction outlined for your sign. The zodiac character symbols included here are from upcoming cartoon series HOROSCOPE HIGH featuring the cartoon artistry of HK artist Justin Tan. Below are the predictions for the PIG, the Rat, the Ox, and the Tiger. 

 

This year for those born under the sign of the PIG.

pigTypically, as your sign ascends in power you will face a number of personal challenges. Whilst it could be perceived that this may be an unlucky year, a different perspective filter could be applied. Rather see this year as providing opportunity for review, reframing, and reshaping of your future.

Wealth this year will be hard to come by, and expect to have to work quite hard for your salary. Career trajectory may be stiffed this

year, expect to stay put without progress. Your romantic relationships will also experience change, although for those who are single this may mean that you start a new relationship. Personal relationships will also be challenging this year and Pig decedents may find themselves tormented by disputes, conflict and gossip. Watch your health.

RED DOOR Reflection: This year will be bursting with lessons to be learnt, are you open to learning new things about yourself, your friends and your life journey?

 

This year for those born under the sign of the RAT.

ratThe year of the Pig attracts an abundance of episodes of luck for those born under the sign of the Rat. Wealth this year will be hard to come by, and expect to have to work quite hard for your salary. That said, if you are an entrepreneur or paid-by-the-piece you will reap well from your hard work. Career wise you may also find yourself receiving positive attention and recognition, as people around you are more likely to sing your praises and see you in a favourable light.

Rats will attract love, both inside and outside of relationships. Extra marital affairs are a risk, so be careful to keep your ego in check.  Your health will generally be good.

RED DOOR Reflection: Can you get too much of a good thing? If you find that you are the centre of attention from others how do you respond, and can you keep your ego under control?

 

This year for those born under the sign of the OX.

Overall a more luckier year than last year for those born under the sign of the Ox. Career and money luck will come from your own efforts, rather than your relationship with others. You are expected to oxmake money and achieve a promotion. Rather neutral love luck this year, stable relationships will remain stable, but those looking for new love may find they need to wait. Having come of out of challenging year provided by the Dog, this year will feel better in terms of conflicts and disputes with family and friends, simply by the year being more neutral than negative. Health wise watch what you eat, especially around the beginning of the new year when there is a temptation to overindulge.

RED DOOR Reflection: Did you see last year as lucky or unlucky? Since your luck is scheduled to improve this year, ask yourself what would you do if you knew you could not fail?  

 

This year for those born under the sign of the TIGER.

tigerThe year of the Pig attracts an abundance of episodes of luck for those born with the eye of the Tiger. Wealth and Career advancement are contingent on your efforts. If you put some effort into getting activities started you will find you can eventually go with the flow of the good energy you have created at the outset. You will be lucky if you work hard.

Tigers should have stable relationships this year both in matters of love, and with family and friends. Others will be willing to support you, and you are seen as an attractive mate this year. If you have been prone to injuries of the foot, hip or legs, take extra care of these body parts this year.

RED DOOR Reflection: It seems from the prediction that those who provide strong energy to start projects will be rewarded. Do you consider yourself a strong starter of projects? How would you describe your levels of motivation?

 

Good luck for the year ahead. Our next blog will feature the forecasts for the next four zodiac signs. the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake and the Horse.

If you would like more information about RED DOOR or the art of Justin Tan please contact angelaw@reddoor.hk

#yearofthe pig

#reddoor

#chinesenewyear

#horoscopehigh

Let it Go, Let it Grow

let it go

Utilise the new year to Let it go, and as a result, Let it grow. 
Past hurts and old injustices can keep people stuck in old patterns of behaviour and thought traps. Bad memories can be like emotional quicksand, and can contaminate your thoughts taking command of your day-dreams, and leaving you obsessing over perceived or real losses, betrayals, and inequities.

It is possible, and probably beneficial, to give yourself a “time’s up” mandate. Just as you might join a gym in order to support your commitment to new health behaviours, you can also decide that you will stop allowing old hurts to define you, in order to let new hopes, grow.
This can be easier said than done. Part of the reason that “Let it go”, is so hard is that it is a challenging is that it is not satisfying in itself, without a benefit or alternative activity. Replacing one type of thinking with another, is easier to contemplate than simply asking an active mind to STOP. An active mind wants to remain active. In order to let it go, we need also think about alternative thoughts and behaviours to actively replace old tired traps. Hence, I ask you to consider, let it go, to, let it grow.

How to let go of old hurts, thoughts and harmful behaviours. 
Stop magical thinking.

Magical thinking occurs when you assume patterns of reactions that have not previously been in evidence. For example, if you are thinking, “If I do x then y will happen”. For example, “if I get sick, he will come back and feel sorry for me” or, “If I just collect enough evidence of this betrayal, my family will finally realise they have wronged me.” The relationships that you thought you think you should be having are probably quite different from the ones that you are actually experiencing in real life.
Learn to accept that other people’s bad behaviour is (really) not about you.

It is common to become stuck when people have wronged us. Betrayal is often not about you, it’s more about our perceived “betrayers” desire to follow their desires at your expense. Whilst this feels unfair, and may not be what you signed up for in a work or personal relationship, focusing on the betrayal keeps us stuck in the role of victim.
• Challenge your labels.

Are you stuck playing the role of a victim, or as an unappreciated hero? Check if you are continuing to hold onto a role label that really has not benefit for your growth. For example, if your partner was unfaithful and ended your marriage – perhaps be grateful for the end of a marriage that wasn’t working. For example, think to yourself, “He had an affair which ended the ‘not the best ‘marriage. I have been stuck feeling bitter and as a victim because I didn’t cheat (even when I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be). The affair gave us both a way out to the marriage whilst allowing me to be the good guy. I wanted that, but now I want more than just that… “
Challenge your goals.

You may be consumed with a controlling desire to acknowledged as being wronged. It is possible that you will never receive anywhere near the level of acknowledgement you aspire to. Ask yourself, what do you need this acknowledgement for? Will this make you feel whole? If everyone you could list acknowledged that you were wronged, would you feel complete? Why can’t you be complete without the acknowledgement that you crave? Is that real, or perceived?  You set your own value, not another person. Others do not need to acknowledge that you have been treated unfairly in order for that be your reality. This is a trap that many abused people can fall into. Without the abuse being s acknowledged it can be hard to move on, but it isn’t really necessary. People who have been complicit rarely acknowledge that abuse occurred. If you were wronged, this is your fact, and that is enough. Now you can move toward recovery.
Take responsibility for your role in a situationand no more.

Each party in a hurt played their role, including you. Take some responsibility for maintaining, creating, even exacerbating a situation. Make a promise to yourself that this can end, and you will end it.
Acknowledge forgiveness, even if only for yourself.

Whilst forgiveness can feel like you are letting the bad guy off, even potentially endorsing their behaviour, there is some benefit to forgive rather than feel angry. Elizabeth Smart who was held captive for 9 months when she was 14 could have hated her captors forever. Instead she chose to realise that she holding onto the pain and negativity of what had happened to her allowed her captors the opportunity to steal more of her life than they had already dominated. She chose to forgive them and instead focus on her happiness and freedom.
Challenge your rigidity with the power of YET

Thinking rigid thoughts such as “I can’t do that” will keep you trapped. So will thinking “it is not okay for me to move past this hurt. Add the word YET and this changes everything, suddenly you can’t do this yet, you can’t get past this hurt yet.
Write a ‘let it go’ letter

Write a letter to those who you feel hurt by. For example. “You have wronged me. I didn’t deserve the abuse you have wrought. I’ve been angry long enough. I’m letting go of my feelings of anger, resentment, hurt and betrayal because I don’t need to carry those around with me anymore. I choose not to give you any more of my energy”

 

Channel your energy into positive change in 2019. Let new thought patterns grow.
Transform your narrative

Rather than label yourself as wronged, or as a victim, think about who you are in the story of your life. Are you a survivor? Are you working to make yourself a better person? What are your strengths? How can you be more empathetic and realistic in your view of yourself? You are a work in progress, celebrate where you are going and what strengths you have to get yourself there.
Future focus

What is in the future for me? What do I want in my life? What am I CHOOSING FOR MY FUTURE? Do not focus on what you leave behind. Imagine the past is like the border of an old country of hurt, and now you live somewhere else and that border is closed.
Your Diva-mour
Utilise theamour and weapons of a true diva. Being strong, being clever, continuing a struggle, are values within a cloak of amour that you put on. For me, I celebrate being a diva-hustler, (thank you #Michelle Visage #DivaRules). This means I remain determined to build opportunities for myself and take chances. Other people I’ve worked with have found their diva in other self- visualisations (eg Madame Butterfly). The weapons you have to support this Diva-mour are your strengths (your smarts, your friendships, your focus, your commitment, your creativity.)
Write a mantra just for you.

A mantra is a passage that becomes an instrument of the mind. What the mind sets as an intention and belief so that this can to fruition. Phrase this in a positive voice. Celebrate your strengths. Remind yourself of your goals. For example

I am strong, calm, loved and forceful. When I face a challenge, I will draw strength from the people who love and support me, remember all that I have already achieved as a result of my focused activity and my commitment to my family, and myself. I give love, I am loved. I am enough

Pursue Internal love over external anger.

The cure to external anger is internal love. Even if you are still working on accepting yourself, remember that it is OK to be not okay, as long as you are a work in progress. Be kind.
Gratitude

Being grateful reminds us want we  have, rather than focusing on what you perceive may be missing from your life. When we see what we have we learn to that we are more complete than we first realised and have more than enough in life, and even more importantly, we are enough.

 

I hope you find these activities helpful. If you find yourself stuck in old hurts you can consider to consider therapy to help you let go. All of us need help sometimes, and that is okay.

 

#Michelle Visage #DivaRules #Resolutions #Recovery #RedDoor

Death is nothing at all? Learning to grieve well.

deathisnothing3

The Western world has a lot to apologise for when it comes to bereavement. Our approach to dealing with death actually makes it more painful for some people. There is some societal expectation that we can just “get over it”, and that “closure” is our objective. We live in fear of our own deaths, as if death were an option and not a reality. We even fear the corpse – as if it were somehow separate from our once living body, not simply another step in the life cycle.  Is this healthy?

The seminal book, “On Death and Dying” was written by Dr Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. I had the pleasure of attending her workshop on the five stages of grief following death and was changed forever. Dr Kübler-Ross reminds us that since we never know when we or others will die, we should never leave a loved one unsure of our feelings for them, and never let your last words be those filled with malice.

In our counselling practice, clients come to us trapped in their grief over the passing of loved ones, angry at their own impatience that they just can’t get past these feelings.

Dr Kübler-Ross was one of the first researchers to analyse an individual’s response to death. Each person’s grief is unique and depends on their personality, the relationship with the deceased, the quality of death (sudden, long, quiet, violent), the emotional style of the bereaved, their mental health, and the social and cultural perspectives on death and the afterlife.

Your personal experience of grief might be some of the elements that you could address with a counsellor in therapy. In addition to your individual expectations, we would also explore how, as a product of  society and culture, you can experience  bereavement in different ways

The societal and cultural views of death and grief

There are three basic cultural beliefs about death. First, there are those cultures which death is to be defied. They  believing that death can be vanquished and is temporary, such as the beliefs held by ancient Egyptians. Second, there are cultures that accept death, including those of the Pacific region, such as the Fijians, believe that death is simply a stage of life. Death is a stage of life, and therefore discussed openly. Finally, we have a western view – the death denying. We behave as if death can be avoided and that grief should to lead to quick and convenient closure. This approach can exacerbate feelings of shock around the experience of death. Suddenly someone you love is gone, and society expects you to just move on. When we struggle we start to wonder if there is something is wrong with us, rather than the expectations of our society.

 

Rich in rituals

The use of rituals at the time of death may help or hinder the experience of grief. The formal funeral common in the western world is a far cry from the Maori Tangihanga – a three-day grieving ritual with gathering, storytelling, beer and tears a plenty. The same could be said of the Irish tradition of a merry wake. These highly emotive celebrations lament death and mourning as a rite of passage, normalising the expression of pain. It is not sombre, quiet and with restraint. All emotions are explored and experienced.

 

Connecting to the echo

Staying connected to those who have passed helps people to grieve. Celebrating a loved one’s birthday with their favourite food or wine, or enjoying one of their activities, continues to keep you connected to those who have died. In her wonderful book for children, “The Invisible String”, Patrice Karst reminds us that we remain connected to the dead through our shared love and remembrances. Rituals and celebrations are a great way to maintaining connectivity. The Mexican celebration, the Day of the Dead invites the departed to revisit the earth and join their families. The Chinese traditionally improve the afterlives for their loved ones by burning paper objects such as iPads, new clothes and even cars so that their ancestors are nice and comfortable. These rituals keep the departed loved, remembered and, most importantly connected to the living.

I close with the wonderful poem Death is Nothing At All by Henry Scott Holland, who speaks eloquently for the departed.

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without affect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

 

#Bereavement

#CopingwithDeath

If you would like to regularly read our RED DOOR blogs – on a range of topics from death, mental health and wellbeing, relationships, parenting, anxiety, sadness, addiction, and so much more – please like our FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/REDDOORHongKong/

__________________________________________________________________

Angela Watkins is a psychologist and counsellor at RED DOOR Counselling in Hong Kong. Her current clinical work focuses on parenting, family life, parenting SEN children, anxiety, OCD, career change, stress management and divorce.

Dealing with the death of a pet – accepting and managing grief

pet death

Paws to make time for grief.

It is wonderful to have a pet. Unfortunately, like all living things, they die. Sometimes we need to end their suffering; sometimes they pass away from old age. Loss can be particularly traumatic if your pet dies suddenly in an accident.

 

The death of any pet – no matter how small – is painful. It is important that you acknowledge your loss– out of respect for yourself and your pet.

 

Here are 6 recommendations to help heal the hurt:

 

  1. Recognize and respect – the loss of a beloved animal companion is significant. Expect to feel sad. Cry as much as you need. Don’t try to rush through your grief. Ignore those who might say to you, “Get over it – it was just a dog/ cat’’. He or she was a much loved member of your family. Grief comes in waves, high and strong at first, and continues over time. Years later a wave of sadness may suddenly wash over you when you least expect it.

 

  1. Talk about it – don’t keep your feelings to yourself or feel that you shouldn’t trouble others with your loss. This is a time when friends earn their keep. We all experience pain at different times, for different reasons, and we all deserve support. If your friend has lost a pet, even though you may not understand the depth of her or his sorrow, be empathetic.

 

  1. Memorialize – make a small memorial to your pet in the days following his or her passing. Acknowledge the loss and perhaps share your feeling with photos and stories. This will help keep you feel connected to your beloved pet, especially in the painful days that follow the passing.

 

  1. Write a letter – thank them for their love and companionship. I particularly recommend this bereavement technique for children. Writing helps children express their sadness in a creative way. It helps to remind children that, in some way, their pets continue to exist as long as they are remembered. You might also ask them to draw pictures of their pet that you can hang in your home or that they can share with friends. When my young child was struggling with the sudden accidental death of our dog, Milo, I even wrote a letter from Milo back to her, telling her about that his experience in doggie heaven and joking that God had said that he needed that he was a bit overweight and he had to go on a diet.

 

  1. Rituals – we live in Hong Kong and many of us have the chance to travel widely. As such, we have experienced how cultures other than our own commemorate a significant death. The Chinese have a tradition of burning paper objects to improve the afterlives of the departed. They “send” paper models of iPads, new clothes and even cars so that their ancestors are nice and comfortable. I encourage those grieving the death of a pet to do the same. Simply draw the items your pet loved – you don’t need fancy models. For example, in addition to a picture of a toy we knew Milo liked, we sent him a big juicy paper steak – so that he could avoid the diet suggested in the afterlife!  These little rituals help the bereaved stay connected to the departed.

 

  1. Give yourself and your family time to grieve. Rushing to replace your beloved companion with another pet will be tempting, and may confuse small children. Teaching children to get over pain with a replacement policy may inadvertently communicate that grief is a bad emotion that we should avoid. When you think you are ready, sit down and discuss getting a new pet with your family to ensure that everyone can deal with another deep emotional commitment.

 

Losing a pet can be devastating. Nurture yourself and your family during this sensitive time. You have lost a dear friend and an important member of your family. Respect your emotions and honour the love you had for your pet.

#Bereavement

#PetDeath

 

If you would like to regularly read our RED DOOR blogs – on a range of topics from mental health and wellbeing, the experience of bereavement, relationships, parenting, anxiety, sadness, addiction, and so much more – please like our FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/REDDOORHongKong/

__________________________________________________________________

Angela Watkins is a psychologist and counsellor at RED DOOR Counselling in Hong Kong. Her current clinical work focuses on parenting, family life, parenting SEN children, anxiety, OCD, career change, stress management and divorce. 

Start me up – responding to career crisis

 

start me up It happens to almost all of us. One day you realise it’s time to leave your current job. Sometimes you want to, sometimes you are driven by forces beyond your control. When it comes to a career change, getting yourself mentally prepared will help you select a  job that helps address your current dissatisfaction and cover your expenses. You can respond more effectively when you better understand the impact of the catalysts of change (you vs them), and your readiness to respond (engine primed vs engine stalled), on your emotional wellbeing.

 

Responding to the catalysts of change

Change in your career driven by external forces is often beyond your control. This may initially leave you feeling powerless or in a state of disbelief. Your job may be marked for downsizing, your project may fall out of favour with management, or past allegiances may make you a target for future dismissal. Outside of the office, other external factors such as your marital status or health may impact your ability to work the way you have in the past. Change may be required so that you can take care of your child, go to the hospital for specific and timely treatments, or reduce your stress to save yourself from exhaustion.

 

Sometimes the catalyst for change is internal – such as a lack of fulfilment, boredom, or dislike of people or processes within your organisation. You will feel frustrated, demoralised and demotivated.  Do you think it’s time to move on?

 

Readiness to change – the primed vs the reluctant

How much you want to change jobs, and respond to that desire, will influence how successfully you change your career. You may not want that change to happen, but you must cope with change that is going to occur.  Those that are primed for change not only want it, but are looking for the nearest well-lit Exit and a door to something better. Those that are reluctant may be riddled with doubts about their worth and performance. In short, they are scared – right now.

If you get yourself ready for change – and respond to the right catalysts in an optimal fashion, you will gain a sense of control and tame your fear.

 

What to do when you are primed to respond to external catalysts:

If you face external forces and are primed for change you will need to shift from feeling resentful and out of control towards feeling empowered. This is an opportunity for excitement and optimism as you recharge in a new career. To make a positive change, find your passion and move forward with purpose. Identifying your passion sometimes seem quite complicated. Try asking yourself these three questions:

1.   What job would you do for no monetary payment at all?

2.   What role do you need to fulfil in life to feel complete? And, importantly for most;

3.   What can you do to be paid to do what you want to do?

 

What to do when you are reluctant to respond to external catalysts:

If you are reluctant to accept change you may engage in mental cycles, bargaining with yourself: “If I just do xxx, then management will see this situation differently”. Whilst there may be some possibility of accommodating change, this is a very stressful way to survive, with no guarantee of success or peace of mind. Denial and resistance in the workplace will not help you succeed. What can you do? Work on accepting what may be inevitable, protecting yourself and your self-esteem. In these situations, people often blame themselves. Be gentle. Take a kind look at yourself and a harsh look at your circumstances. Company decisions do not reflect on you personally.

Help yourself by recognizing and exploring some of the faulty thinking that may occur. Are you taking too much personal responsibility for events that are out of your control? Are you personalising a situation which really isn’t personal? Do you catastrophise – think that this is the end of the world, rather than the end of a job? Getting past the fear of “breaking up” will allow you to get your head back in the game and focus on finding a job where you will be fulfilled and appreciated. Start collecting yourself step-by-step. Each day remind yourself that life begins at the end of your comfort zone, not in the middle of it. Do one thing every day towards building a new tomorrow for yourself. For more information, read our blog – Career change with courage click here

 

What to do when you are primed and ready to answer internal unrest:

If the force of change is internal, then your thoughts or experiences have left feeling a need to change – whether it’s your responsibilities, management, pay or colleagues. A progressive step may be to conduct a “life audit”. What is working in your life right now, and, more importantly, what isn’t? Are you doing this job because you want to or because you feel you should?

As a counsellor I encounter clients with well-paid, high-powered jobs which they hate but feel obligated to continue. Expand your concept of what constitutes a reward – it takes courage to change a job that pays well in cash, but very little in terms of satisfaction, joy or meaning. Start to think about what you like to do.  A complete change of career is possible.  If you won’t retire for another 10-15 years, wouldn’t you prefer to do something that you love?  If you get stuck, work with a counsellor or executive coach to consider career opportunities. You don’t have to jump ship today, but having a timeline will buoy you through today’s annoyances until you are ready.

 

What to do when you face internal unrest, but are reluctant to change:

It’s hard to live with the pain created by internal unrest while you are reluctant or resistant to change. This echoes the route to insanity – doing the same thing again and again yet every time expecting a different outcome.  This stalemate can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and depression. In order to survive emotionally, if you determine that you will stay in your a job, you need to make peace with your situation. You may be able to create more balance between the elements of your life you like and those that you don’t. Take up a new sport or hobby. Volunteer in the community. If peace does not come easily avoid escapist traps of self-medication through drugs and alcohol, which will only add to your feelings of depression.  If you feel stuck, and are scared, you are not alone. Engage a coach or a counsellor to help you get ready to accept, or to move on.

#CareerChange

#CareerCrisis

 

If you would like to regularly read our RED DOOR blogs – on a range of topics from mental health and wellbeing, resilience, relationships, parenting, anxiety, sadness, addiction, and so much more – please like our FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/REDDOORHongKong/

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Angela Watkins is a psychologist and counsellor at RED DOOR Counselling in Hong Kong. Her current clinical work focuses on adults in the areas of career change, loss of direction, burnout, relationship, depression, OCD, anxiety, perfectionism, the experience of divorce, family challenges,  and parenting special needs children.

 

 

 

Break-Up books: Recommendations from the trenches.

divorce books

Here is some advice from the trenches –6 of the best books are recommended, from the participants of our surviving divorce therapeutic support group, and myself, as their counsellor.

No book can help you completely recover from heartbreak. Each of these books may contribute a step in your learning journey: surviving divorce and becoming a new you, especially when used in collaboration with therapy.

 

1.                 He’s history, you’re not. Erica Manfred

An honest guide to getting through the breakdown of a marriage without it costing you an arm and leg – financially and emotionally. This great book is written from first-hand experience. Recommended for women over 40 years old. hand experience good for women over 40 –especially those left by their partner.

 

2.                 Crazy time. Abigail Trafford

The break-up of a marriage heralds a year of break down inducing confusion. This book uses real life cases to describe the problems inherent in the marriage and challenges you’ll need to overcome. Recommended for anyone going through divorce.

 

3.                 You can heal your heart. Louise Hay and David Kessler.

Grief and loss experts blend affirmations and mindful observations to enable the reader to explore their soul and situation in order to grow and find solace. Recommended if you feel like you’ve lost hope

 

4.                 Leave cheater gain a life. Tracy Schorn

Tracy Schorn, aka the chump lady, provides a wealth of advice amidst heavy doses of humour, to help avoid rookie mistakes, disarm your fears and bounce back. Recommended if you have just recently been dumped.

 

5.                 Runaway husbands. Vicki Stark

This book explores wife abandonment syndrome, sharing the findings of surveys of 400 women worldwide. If you’ve been abandoned, find the way to turn your loss into an opportunity for empowerment with the information and strategies included in this guide. Recommended for those who have lost long term relationships.

 

6.                 The good divorce. Constance Ahrons.

Whilst any divorce is unlikely to be described as “good”, there are some smart decisions you can make, some myths you should abandon, and activities to plan to help your family heal. This book uses the results of longitudinal research and the wealth of knowledge gained as a therapist to help guide the reader through the divorce process. Recommended for parents exploring divorce.

If you are going through a painful break-up, one piece of advice I can share comes from the words of Winston Churchill, “When you are going through hell, keep going”.

 

If you would like to regularly read our RED DOOR blogs – on a range of topics from mental health and wellbeing, resilience, relationships, parenting, anxiety, sadness, addiction, and so much more – please like our FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/REDDOORHongKong/


 

 

Angela Watkins is a psychologist and counsellor at RED DOOR Counselling in Hong Kong. Her current clinical work focuses on adults in the areas of, depression, the experience of divorce, anxiety, perfectionism, career change, loss of direction, burnout, relationship and family challenges, OCD, and parenting special needs children.