Minimizing the impact of Divorce/Parental Split on your Children

DIVORCE PIX

Every year there are a significant number of divorces between couples. For example, there are over 20,000 petitions for divorce a year in Hong Kong, over 90,000 in the UK, and over 780,000 in the USA. For those cases involving children produced within the marriage or a long term relationship, parents are usually concerned about the impact a divorce or splitting up may have on their child. As a counsellor helping individuals responding to divorce, I would like to highlight the following guidelines regarding how to best inform children and how to minimize the impact of your divorce on the mental well-being of your child.

How to tell your children about your decision to divorce.

  • Tell the child together as a couple rather than separately, if possible. Children often fear that divorce may mean that they will lose a parent. Telling the child together reinforces your intention that both parents remain dedicated to the child.
  • Consider telling your child at home rather than outside of the home. Inside their own home children can respond in an authentic and real manner.
  • If possible, tell the child in a neutral area of your home such as the lounge or kitchen. Do not tell the child in their bedroom. That room needs to remain an impartial safe zone where they are entitled to retreat.
  • Tell your child at a time when the household is quite calm, not just before bed, or after a long day out or when they must yet complete their homework.
  • Try to be as calm as you can – explain that the marriage is over, but the family is not. You both remain parents to your child.
  • Remind you child that you love them.
  • Make sure you reinforce that the divorce is not their fault. Do not assume they will know this automatically.
  • Children will undoubtedly have many questions. Answer these as fully as you can. It may be better for you and your partner to discuss, and agree, interim living arrangements, before telling your children.
  • If you cannot answer every question when it is asked, communicate that you will intend to answer that question as soon as you can. Some ambiguity is to be expected. At the time that you are informing children of a potential split, your obligation is to help them see that the future will still be positive.
  • Do not allow emotionally hurtful descriptions to be presented by one partner. For example “Daddy is leaving us”, can heighten the pain of abandonment. If your partner paints the scenario in this way, simply correct without judgement. For example, “Mummy is a bit confused. We are splitting up and I am going to live somewhere else, but I’m still your Dad and I am not leaving you”
  • Offer access to counsellors or support networks to allow your child to express their feelings to other people. Whilst they may have many questions for you, they may not initially feel comfortable asking YOU those questions at the beginning.

Building positive practices whilst the divorce is in progress.

It is not a matter of if your divorce will impact your child, the question is how much it will impact your child. Here are my recommendations as to what you can DO, and DO NOT DO, to best support your child.

  • Do understand divorce from the perspective of your child. From their perspective this is a big change so that there may be feelings of grief and fear, and anger, involved. These feelings come in waves rather than all at once. You may have offered counselling at the time when you announced a split. Offer counselling or support options repeatedly over the next year or two.
  • Don’t fight in front of your kids. The divorce should be the END of their experience of parents fighting in front of them.
  • Collaboratively co-parent – working and agreeing together how to respect, negotiate, organise and stay well boundaried when you split, it a superior model of parenting during a divorce. You may need to utilise a mediator or counsellor to help exercise your arrangements.
  • Build an honesty-based, collaborative relationship that resolves conflict, including managing emotions, showing mutual respect, and entering healthy negotiations
  • Be the best version of a parent that you can be for your child. Your divorce need to both rise to meet the needs of your child. You might consider reading a few books about parenting during divorce or attend a parenting effectiveness course.
  • Remember that a clear structure is important to children. They need to know when they are going to see each parent, and what their weekly schedule might look like. If one of the parents refuses to be transparent about the time that they will turn up for your child, allocate them sometimes and move on. Tell the child of the times that have been offered. If one parent does not turn up, it will hurt. Be mindful of this.
  • Avoid alienating your child from their other parent. There may be deep hurt between the two of you, but your child should not be cut off from their parent because of your reaction to this pain. Limiting their access to a parent that they want to see may backfire on you in the long run as children sometimes grow to resent this parent during teen and later years. Do not set yourself up.
  • Believe in your child. You may fear losing your child’s love. Perhaps your ex-spouse has gone into “super-parenting” practice. You kids might love this. After all who wouldn’t? Let them get all the love they can get. Kids know who looks after them in a crisis.
  • If one parent wants to play Santa-Dad or Santa-Mum let it happen. Most of this behaviour can not be sustained so utilise these moments. If one parent is being very generous, remind your child to ask for that new computer for school, or to ask them to volunteer to run the school bake stall this year. It will not last, so enjoy it.
  • Hold the line on positive healthy practices when the child is with you. Agree on a limit for the ipad, bedtime, and guidelines around junk food. That said,
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. The occasional muffin is not going to kill the child. Have some perspective on when rules could be bent. If rules become habitually bent, then they are no longer rules.
  • Keep your ex in check. If your child is constantly late picking up or returning the child keep a record and take this up with them, either one to one, or with a mediator. This data may help you negotiate subsequent childcare arrangements.
  • Don’t be fooled by labels. Too many times I have encountered parents who are labelled ‘bad parents’ by their ex, when they are clearly not bad parents. Remember judges have seen these cases countless times, they will ask for proof. Your ex’s opinion of you as a parent is not a fact, or proof. Additionally if your ex tells you that experts say “x,y,z” look this up. I have read some painfully misinformed claims – often cited to frighten, or even bully one partner, Get the facts.
  • Do not use your child as a messenger between yourself and your ex. They are not part of your interpersonal conflicts.
  • Do not ask your child to spy on their parent for you. This is extremely destructive.
  • Avoid badmouthing the other parent to your child. Do now harm your child by trying to paint your hurt image of your spouse over their image of their parent. Children often feel that they have to choose sides. Do not encourage this. Over time, applying this pressure, often backfires on the person trying to force the child to choose. .
  • Do not guilt or blame your child for the divorce as a means to manage their behavior. If you could have just gone to bed on time, I would have been less stressed and Dad probably wouldn’t have left us.”

Remember, be kind to yourself, and your kids when you are going through divorce. The process of divorce will undoubtedly reshape you, so make this as positive as possible.

#divorce

#divorceandchildren

#collaborativecoparenting

#reddoor

A guide to the emotional journey of REDUNDANCY

redunancy_overallBeing made redundant is one of the most stressful events you can experience in your career. Many of us count on our professional image not only for financial security, but as a source of identity. When you loose a job, you loose so much more than the salary that went with that post.

It is an emotional journey. As counsellors, we help professionals navigate the journey, helping them adjust and, eventually, re imagine their futures. Here are some outtakes from what we have learnt helping individuals through this process.

redundancy_notadirtywordRedundancy is not a dirty word

There has been a shroud of shame associated with the word redundancy. You may be feeling embarrassed, as if you are not good enough, or that you are not needed. That feeling is not necessary. Most recruiters are familiar with the concept and wide use of redundancy as a common HR  tool during hard times. Redundancy decisions are often financial rather than personal. Being embarrassed or shameful, might prevent you from seeking legal advice when it might be of benefit to you. It is your right to fight for the best exit deal you can get. You may feel shame, but don’t let that let you  stop negotiating the best deal you can

 

redundancy_understandemotionsAcknowledge what you are feeling

Aligned to the experience of shame are many other feelings associated with job loss including shock, grief, depression, fear,  and even anger.  It is healthy to accept those feelings rather than reject them as they are experienced. It is a natural cycle of adjustment to move through these feelings. You might consider writing a journal to work your way through these emotions. This will help you capture if you get particularly stuck feeling a particular way.

 

redundancy_familyprotection

Family focus

Redundancy can put your personal relationships under pressure. If you are the major breadwinner, you may find that your partner becomes fearful about the future and money. Children, as well, may not understand.

Embrace this situation as an opportunity for your partnership and family to learn to confront a problem together. This stress will pass, but in the meantime you may need to tighten your belt, suspend spending on luxury items. Everyone can help, rather than wait. By modelling partnership and leadership within your family during times facing redundancy, you are modeling how your children see the world of work, and learn about emotional resilience through observation.

 

redundancy_rememberTwo important things to remember

Firstly, try to remember that this is a temporary situation. As long as you continue to move forward, any event, including being made redundant, will become simply a page in a chapter of a book.

Secondly, remember that there are two key stages in the progression through redundancy – the first stage is the initial reactive stage. This stage ends when you are able to start accepting what has happened. The second stage is the resolution stage – this is finding a solution to the issue of joblessness and how you are going to approach ending that condition, and when. You don’t have to go backwards, and do the same as you have done before. The future stretches out before you filled with possibility.

 

redundancy_ExploreresponsibilityExplore responsibility

Whilst it is not constructive to blame yourself for what has happened if you have been made redundant, it will benefit you to explore what you are responsible for, and what you are NOT responsible for.

For example could you have done more to make yourself essential to an organisation? Would you have been willing to do that in order to keep your job? Did you make enemies that could maneuver against you during downsizing? Could that be avoided in the future? Can you learn from this experience? Now you have done that, consider the role of your previous organisation in your departure.

How much of the responsibility for your redundancy sits with your (previous) employer? Had they ignored the need to find efficiencies in the past? Did they not believe your function was business essential? What could be learnt from this experience?

 

redundancy_opportunitytoexploreYou can use this opportunity to re-imagine your future

Given the length of your life span, you might consider changing career completely. It would make sense that you have two to three careers over a 50 year work span.

Maybe consider a complete change of career? If not you can use some pen and paper tools to help brainstorm potential futures for you to consider. In coaching sessions we use eight pronged spider diagrams to discuss at least 8 career change options with clients. We use a large number to help people break out of the restrictions they may have put on themselves. For one of the positions I usually ask the client, “What would you do for nothing?” Once the 8 slots are filled we start further information on what clients would like about each of the opportunities, and how they could make money from those activities. Usually two to three of the options start to look more probable or attractive, or something new can be created from combining 2-3 of the items.

Many of the skills you have already are transferable to another industry. Creativity, ability to write, budgeting skills, and project management skills, can be helpful in a number of different careers. Working with a counsellor or a coach will be extremely helpful with these brainstorming activities.

 

redundancy_looatthefutureConsider the future of work

It may have been a few years since you have had to apply for a job. The shape of the world of work is changing, because of mobility, illness and global interactions. You may need to upgrade your tech skills and your attitude towards the physical workplace. Update your view of your occupation so that you are ready for the future of your job.  You might find this blog helpful. https://reddoor.hk/2017/08/09/defeating-fo-fow/

Additionally the job search mechanism has changed. You will be encouraged to network so that your world of contacts becomes bigger. For middle and senior executives I want you to consider your view on recruitment experts – headhunters. There was a time professionals waited to see what jobs headhunters could put in front of them. This model of job search is not the only way. Pitching yourself to an organisation can be framed under the umbrella of ‘market research’. Rather than selecting from offers that a recruiter can, or cannot, put in front of you, make the future happen for you. Employers generally respond to evidence of  responsibility and pro activity in a positive manner.

 

redundancy_networkNetwork

Many people find their next job through their network rather than in response to a job advertisement. Utilizing your network is the way to find the jobs that nobody knows about. If you can apply for the job before it becomes available you have a special advantage. Any meeting of new people may be treated as the first stage of a job interview, so have your ‘elevator pitch’, that is your 2-3 sentence summary of who you are and your differentiation, well practiced. It can be difficult to be positive if your ego has been hurt by your current job frustrations or job loss. It can be tough to be positive. However remember job stress and job loss are not rare or exceptional, just state the facts in a non-emotive manner. You have nothing to be ashamed of – just focus on the positive rather than list your litany of complaints about your previous job.

 

redundancy_AngerWork your way through your anger

It is very common to be resentful and angry if you have been moved out of an organisation. It is really quite possible that you were not treated with respect, or given  a chance. It is not fair. That may keep you angry for a while. I get it. I’ve been there. It is in your long term interest to work your way through your anger. The only person it hurts is you.

It is challenging to have been overlooked, or moved against. write your way through these feelings. At some point in time, you will start to feel, “I’m done”.

 

Seek Helpredundancy_seekadvice

You do not need to work through the journey of redundancy on your own. Sometimes organisations offer counselling as part of their downsizing plans. If offered, consider it. Talking about your feelings and fears will be extremely helpful. Especially if you feel stuck in anger, or fear seek professional advice how to move forward.You may prefer to do this with an independent expert, not attached to your organisation.   A counsellor can help you explore patterns in your past that may have you stuck in your present, and help you move on.

If you want to re imagine your future work with a counsellor or coach who specialises in strategies to expand your career plans. That person needs to understand you, your values and emotional state, your goals and needs, as well as how your strengths can be channeled into new endeavors.

 

Redundancy is unpleasant to be sure. Whilst it is definitely a PAUSE, remember it is not the END.

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#careerchange #resiliency  #futureofwork #stress #redundancy

 

About the author: Angela Watkins. Having worked in corporate life for 20+ Angela is familiar with the stresses and strains of work and family life in Hong Kong. Angela started her career as a psychologist and educator. She was attracted into work for corporates for many years, before return to her psychologist roots, and opening RED DOOR in Hong Kong. RED DOOR is a psychology counselling practice operating in Hong Kong.

 

Life, Interrupted

life interupted

Episode one.

Live under the pandemic of COVID19 is manageable in 2-week chunks. But, the reality may be much longer than a series of 2-week chunks, with an eventual return to normal. Things may be challenging for quite a while.

Breathe before reading this paragraph. …

What is probably going to be the case? According to Dr Marc Lipsitch (1), epidemiologist and leading commentator from the school of Public Health at Harvard University. We are just at the beginning of learning to live with COVID-19. The nature of infectious diseases is to replicate and spread as much as possible. The interim strategy of social distancing has been effective to slow down transmission, but does not work permanently. What we need is the security provided by a immunization, proven treatment regimes and a dearth of recovered cases. We will be living with COVID19 until there is a vaccine -one that is available to everyone. Estimates for a vaccine range from 1 year to 18 months away. In the meantime, we will manage with the range of public health activities that we have been using thus far (hand washing, social distancing, mouth covering) Things are not going ‘back to normal’ for a while (1,2.3)

 

The new ‘normal’.

Over the next year to eighteen months will possibly feature repeated periods of work-from-home scenarios, new models of education, suspension of gathering of large groups, and interruptions in activities – a new normal.

This interrupted life is unsettling. It is created by the progression and regression of a pandemic, that despite our best unattempts, is not completely predictable. Anxiety is a natural reaction to this uncertainty.

Anxiety can be experienced in an acute or chronic form. We experience acute anxiety in a strong concentrated form, possibly escalating into a panic episode. These acute instances are intense, usually one-off episodes attached to a trauma. Anxiety around exams and in response to an accident may be examples of acute anxiety.

Chronic anxiety is more constant. Perpetual. It presents as unregulated feelings of nervousness – often located in the stomach, head and neck. Frequent worries persist. Catastrophic thinking – expecting the worst to happen – becomes more regular. Sleep disturbances, stomach upset, migraines and aches and pains in the body are expressions of this anxiety.

What can you do? Anxiety considerations during the new normal. I will cover actions in a series of episodes.

Episode 1: Anxiety dialogues

Episode 2: Create calm

Episode 3: Body basics

Episode 4:  Untangled

Episode 5: New beginnings

 

Episode 1: Anxiety dialogues

Monitor your feelings of anxiety when you watch the news or spend time on social media. For some people those activities can increase their sense of anxiety, for others it may decrease their anxiety. If you are reacting with increased anxiety, consider to decrease your exposure to news and social media streams.

Given the severe outcomes from COVID-19 you may worry about other tragedies that might befall you, Because of our fight/flight/freeze stress response that we respond to threats, remains over stimulated. We can’t calm down without deliberate activity aimed to do so. Our already heightened anxiety starts to look for additional threats. In the case of our experience of COVID-19 this is not an imagined threat to the human species. We can sometimes overgeneralise the threat of these threats to us specifically.

anxious childYou may have felt that you are powerless over your anxiety. This anxiety dialogue exercise may well help you learn to manage your anxiety during this time.

Your anxiety child: Talk back to your anxiety, as if it is a small child that lives inside you. Help this young child understand the risk. Hold their hand whilst you explain the actions that you are going to undertake to help mitigate your risk of infection. Don’t tell dismiss their worries, by saying that worry is silly. Do not try to simply silence your anxiety. Listen, and talk back. Acknowledge the fear, but explain that you do not need to let worries disable you. Comfort your internal anxious child that you will take care. Thank your anxiety for reminding you that there are threats in the world, and that there is danger.

Dialogues with your anxiety may run as waves lapping at the shore of a beach. Let the anxiety roll in and regress, as if your anxious child, and your adult self are in a dance – make it a waltz.

*****

As always we are open to feedback and questions about the advice that we provide. If  you would like more information on want to provide feedback please contact us at reception@reddoor.hk

#COVID19 #anxiety #newnormal #anxietymanagement #reddoor #chronicanxiety

 

Readings

  1. Kissler, SM; Tedijanto, C; Goldstein, E; Grad, YH; and Lipsitch, M. April 2020. Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the postpandemic period. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/04/14/science.abb5793
  2. Gates, B. Feb 2020. Responding to Covid-19 — A Once-in-a-Century Pandemic? Bill Gates. The New England Journal of Medicine https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmp2003762
  3. Ferguson, NM; Laydon,D; Nedjati-Gilan, G et al. March 2020. Report 9: Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand. Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team https://spiral.imperial.ac.uk/bitstream/10044/1/77482/14/2020-03-16-COVID19-Report-9.pdf

Cohabitation conflict – Relationship tension during a lockdown.

cohabitation conflictEven if you love your partner truly, madly, deeply, you may find that spending time together, in virtual lockdown, has you feeling more well and deeply, truly mad.

The Coronavirus pandemic is challenging relationships and changing family life. The WHO estimates that 1.4 billion children are out of school without access to their regular activities. Parents are under additional pressure to maintain their jobs and employment opportunities, whilst caring for children and conducting or overseeing home schooling. This has serious implications. Evidence indicates that violence and vulnerability increase during periods of health emergency (1,2). The media in Britain has recorded 2 cases of femicide during lockdown. According to the French media, reports of domestic violence have increased by 36% during the lockdown period.

Even without the serious element of violence, conflict between couples appears to be increasing whilst individuals spend more time together during stay at home instructions. There are numerous social media comments indicating that even regular relationships are under renewed pressure because of the siege. According to some news reports, divorce applications in China spiked after their lockdown, and in New York, divorce lawyers claim an increase in calls regarding inquiries regarding divorce.

Perhaps you might be seriously considering divorce, and if you are, I recommend that you read our article on preparing for divorce in the references below (3).

If your desire to split is, perhaps, created by intensive time together and extreme focus on your partner’s habits or behaviours, here are some potential cohabitation conflict busters that might be of help.

 

“What was that?” The power of distraction.

Some of the arguments that you may want to have, or personal shortfalls that you might like to highlight, do not need to happen. Hit “Pause”. Eject the tape. winston c WordsLeave the room. Go for walk. Distract yourself. You don’t need to have a fight that you will possibly regret. The best fight you had, was the one you never had.

 

“Is it me?” Reflections that might help you hit “Pause” when you want to blow up.

If you are feeling particularly frustrated with your partner consider the following 5 questions to help you reflect on your position.

Question 1. Timing: Does this discussion have to happen right at this time? Would there be another time be more constructive to have this discussion? For example, if you don’t like the way your partner is caring for your child, is it better to shout at them at the time that they are conducting child care, or might it be better to wait until later in the evening when such a conversation may be held without the child present, and in terms of shared goals and expectations?

Question 2. Collaborative Partnership: Do you want your relationship to be a partnership? Do you feel that you and your romantic partner collaborative or more as rivals? Does one partner encourage change or demand change of their partner? If you think behaviours of your partner need to change, is this possibly based on your personal preferences rather than real necessity? If you have an irritation that you would like to highlight to your partner, is there a method that you could use that highlights your desire to be seen as a partner that is without judgement or threat?

conflict can not survideQuestion 3. Status You: What is your emotional state right now, and will this be the same way you might feel later? If you are tired, hungry, feeling unwell, or coping with pain, you might feel differently after a nap or a visit to a doctor.

Question 4. The villain: Are you portraying your partner as some type of Disney-villain rather than a person who is a work-in-progress? Are their shortcomings, or issues, a big problem to your life, or rather, a small problem that you have become oversensitive to?

Question 5. Control: Is it possible that you are trying to control your partner rather than simply being irritated by their actions? This might include your response to Covid-19 precautions or to tidiness requirements within your home. Your standards may be different and you might feel that your partner should adhere to your standards, but is this fair?

comflict is inevitableYou may like to journal written responses to these questions. Remember, that whilst conflict may be inevitable during increased time together, combat remains optional.

 

“It’s not me, it’s you”. If you are going to fight, fight fair.

We have a recent article below about the key aspects of fighting fair (4) This includes understanding that people have different values, and this is to be expected, accepted, and respected. Compromise and understanding are the goal or any discussion, rather than winning control over your partner. You need to own and take responsibility for how your feelings. Avoid name calling or threats. Focus on listening to your partner rathe than what you want to say, and waiting for the gap to insert your opinion. If you find yourself using terms such as “always” or “never”, I feel almost certain that you are exaggerating your arguments. Try to be specific. Remember. kindness is king.

 

“It’s not you, or me, its us”. Is it time for you to update your relationship operating system?

Companies regularly explore business continuity exercises in order to navigate possible problems which could derail delivery of their services. Various scenarios are explored, pitfalls identified, and the company responds with temporary or permanent changes in the operation of their business.

Perhaps it time for you to update they way that your marriage operates during this crisis, and potentially beyond.

Zoning: During the Covid pandemic there may be cyclical periods of “work from home” required.

Therefore, I recommend that you might like to zone your house in order to better support your ability to execute your work, and home schooling. Make changes that you can live with for a few months, rather than a few weeks. For more details please refer to your article on creating tension free work environments at home (5).

Your role or mine? It might be time for you to update your home task gender roles to the 2020 world, especially as you are at home more often. Men can cook?kitchen Women do not need to be the only parent supporting home schooling. Even kids, can step up their level of contribution at this time.

House rules: you might want to update your house rules as well. Given the amount of time we might spend on our screens – in zoom meetings, or google hangouts – our tolerance of the amount of permissible screen time may have drifted upward within in the early days of the pandemic. As we acclimatised to the novelty of all this screen time during the day, the use of screens outside of work and school might also need to be reviewed. Within our family I noticed we had become like workers each in our own silo, but all under the same roof. I have asked to reconstruct everyone’s day in order for us to spend more time together, especially around dinner, or exercise, or game time. This can be the same for couples as well as families. Reconnect in positive ways, and, perhaps, conflict can dissipate.

We want to celebrate our differences. But people who have different values and mindsets make conflict inevitable. Regardless combat is not inevitable. Hopefully these thoughts help you create some distraction, allow you to reflect, and perhaps even consider reconstruction, which might support your partnerships at this time. If conflict continues, and you want outside mediation, consider a counsellor.

Be well. Keep Calm. Wash your hands. Love one another.

*************************

Readings

 

 

 

Self-Love First

selflovefirstIn the words of Drag Goddess, Ru Paul Charles, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else?” In counselling I see client after client who is dedicated to demonstrating their love of others, but do not seem to love themselves.

So, this Valentine’s Day, and every day, let’s put Self-Love First.

 

What is self-love?

Practicing self-love means ensuring that you invest enough time and energy in yourself to make sure you have enough love in your life, are kind to yourself, and are grateful for all that you have achieved in life. Sounds easy, right? Now you know this, you can wake up from the trance of unworthiness. Yet it seems so much other to love others ahead of loving ourselves.

 

What prevents us practicing Self-Love?

Ain’t got time for that.

You are in control of your time, so if you think that you don’t have the time for self-love, I would ask you to challenge how you have chosen to spend your time. How is it allocated? Could you give up scrolling the internet in order to create time for self-love? Could you give up your late-night TV watching?

It is important that you create time for your goals, including the goal to love yourself first. Reallocate your time, delegate tasks to others, challenge what you believe are your priorities so that you create time to prioritise yourself. I remember when my first daughter was born. She was my beautiful dolly. Each day I would take great care in the outfits she would wear out. One day my husband needed to look after her instead. He sent me a photo of them at the playground. Was my daughter really out, in public, in her pyjamas? The horror! In reality she was having fun, and he was being a great dad. The outtake was a gift, relax about her wardrobe. It was a priority which, really, wasn’t important.

Putting others, probably everyone else, first.

Running yourself ragged in order to look after everyone else is a recipe for disaster. Burning yourself out, just so you can have a rest, is a little extreme. An audit of your time may raise if you are performing activities only because of other’s expectations rather than for your own benefit. Are you a people pleaser? I want you to challenge this default. You do not need to be class mum. You do not need to pick up other people’s kids. Say no, move on, let go. Remember that in order to take care of others, you need to first take care of yourself.

Why do we do this? This dedication to others is a trap. People want proof of life that they exist. When people call on you, you may feel recognised, required, even, important. In reality your sense of self-worth can only be filled from within. On their deathbed, the dying do not regret completing that last load of dishes, they regret not pursuing their dreams or spending time with people they love. Not doing the to do list set by others.

Self-love is different from being entitled. When a person feels entitled, they believe that something should be theirs, even without effort or merit. This is not the same as recognising and acknowledging your self-worth and setting expectations accordingly.

Oh, the shame!

You may be embarrassed that self-love could be your goal. People tend not to praise other’s self-care achievements. “Look at Claire taking a break – go girl”. “Wow John, good for you that you got yourself a massage to relieve the stress in your shoulders.” Life is too short for you to be concerned with what anyone else thinks.

We are ashamed when we take care of ourselves – this is a trap. Let go of the belief that if you want to take care of yourself that there is something wrong with you. It is important that you preserve and protect the greatest asset that you possess – you.

 

When I love myself enough.

I find one way to tackle the topic of self-love with clients is to ask them to articulate some of the things they would do differently when they love themselves enough. Some of the common elements of self-love include:

Accept that you have goals.

It is important that you accept the types of person that you may need to be in order to achieve your goals. Many women, in the past, have been criticised for being ambitious. Don’t be embarrassed if you have a goal. When we love ourselves enough, we prioritise our development. We follow our dreams and work to free ourselves of the shackles of shame that others may try to impose.

Prioritising your goals.

when I love myself time managementPart of a self-love routine is to set your priorities around your life goals rather than concepts of ‘urgency”. Stephen Covey in this instrumental book, the Seven Habits, outlines a method to help prioritize tasks/activities into quadrants. I have adapted this slightly in the figure on the left. We all understand the concept of urgency. The concept of importance is somewhat trickier to clarify, and you may benefit from talking to a coach our counsellor about this. For a task to be important it needs to help achieve a value for which you want to be recognised. For example, if you want to become a senior leader in your future, you will prioritise those tasks where you have been given the opportunity to shine as a leader over those where you are simply a contributing voice.

Establish a self-care routine.

A well-rounded self-care routine is essential to your wellbeing. This is an essential element of having a positive growth mindset. You deserve care, it is an investment in you. This would probably include eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and watching drug and alcohol consumption. How do you do, even on that short self-care checklist?

Develop an accepting self, not just self-acceptance.

Self -acceptance is saying to yourself, “I like me”. Developing an accepting-self allows us to also allow ourselves to fall down occasionally, and believe this is also okay and acceptable. This attitude of unconditional kindness towards yourself, whatever you may be experiencing helps us grow. You are a work in progress, and that is wonderful.

Add the voices of self-compassion and an inner-cheerleader, to any dialogue with your inner critic.

Our inner -critic is only just a judgemental voice who breaks us down. Sometimes it plays a role similar to a responsible parent, telling us to get out of bed and go to work, get that report completed, pay your taxes! Listening only to your inner-critic can lead to feelings of inadequacy and desire to avoid activities – denying your to do list whilst you glut watch Netflix.

When you add the voice of self-compassion and your inner-cheerleader to the dialogue the script changes significantly. You give yourself the chance to recognise and acknowledge feelings you may have around a challenge. You may produce a report you don’t really feel confident producing. Acknowledge the at many people might feel nervous in that situation. Your inner cheerleader can then add their voice. “You can do this, just give it a go”. This is when your inner critic may help – with practical advice “

Thrive rather than, merely, survive

Many of us have grown up in household with complex emotional environments. Perhaps your parents were too harsh, or not present, or you found it hard to be accepted. Almost all of us have sacrificed parts of ourselves in response to our childhood and adolescence. Perhaps it is time for you to thrive rather than just survive, overcome our box of darkness issues. IF this describes your situation you may find the articles at the end of this blog helpful.

 

When we love ourselves first and foremost.

When we love ourselves first and foremost, we let go of the feeling that something is wrong with us, that we are not good enough. You exist. You matter. You are loved.

 

 

Further reading you might enjoy

Let it go, 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 consume your thoughts taking command of your day-dreams, and leave you feeling obsessed over perceived or real losses, betrayals, and inequities.

https://reddoor.hk/2018/12/31/let-it-go-let-it-grow/

 

The box of darkness: Dealing with painful “gifts”.

The American poet, Mary Oliver wrote of her experience of death in the poem “The Uses of Sorrow”: “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

I must use this quote at least once a week in therapy with clients, especially those who are navigating the painful paths initiated by the actions of a loved one, a spouse who walks out, a broken friendship, the death of someone special. In our moments of shock and grief, it is indeed like we have been given a box of darkness to unpack and cope with. So painful and debilitating, action seems pointless and enormously necessary at the same time.

https://reddoor.hk/2019/03/18/the-box-of-darkness-dealing-with-painful-gifts/

 

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This isn’t what I signed up for! Creating tension free work environments at home.

notwhatisignedupforI’ve written extensively about the epidemic of anxiety resulting from the novel coronavirus. A second mental health challenge is created by the stress of working and living with your partner 24/7. Even if you love your partner to bits, does working and living together all day and night, make you want you pull them to pieces?

Add to this, children off school, and some people may find that their sense of humour has left the building, even though, they are stuck at home.

Here are some coping techniques that might help.

You zone or mine? Create clear work zones for each person. It’s tempting to drift. Allocate zones exclusively for persons or activities, and even for specific activities within specified time periods. For example in our home – the master bedroom is for work calls during 9-6. Not all calls take place in that room, but if you require privacy it is to be respected there. Asking for silence in the lounge is just not realistic.

Celebrate the end of the day: Celebrate the work of the end day with a change of activity. This is now partner time or family time. Go for a walk. Play a game. Talk. Everyone working from home can be stressful, so check how your home-based-workmates are doing.

Remember that experiments are imperfect: We are inadvertently participating in a countrywide “work from home” experiment, for all family members. Even if your organization has a robust business continuity plan to activate, there will be a number of tweaks required within our new reality. In my past life I contributed to various business continuity plans, but at no time did I consider that I would have to build in  a “hands on” parenting aspect that novel coronavirus has introduced.  Your employer is also finding there feet in these uncertain times, evolving how they continue to provide services to their clients, and so their expectations of you may change day to day. Sometimes it seemed that remote work would be impossible, only to find this is not the case at all. 

Schedule flexibily: That said scheduling might help create some order in the chaos within your home. Try to create some structure – who has calls, and when when? Who will take care of shopping or dinner? Which parent will work with the kids, and when? Schedule only one or two days in advance, and remember it can all change. That is okay.

Kindness is king: You may feel anxious because of Covid-19. That is to be expected. It may be inconvenient to have to share your lounge office with your partner. You could become irritated. The situation may be irritating. Regardless you choose how you respond to any situation. Demonstrate kindness, it pays greater dividends in the long run.

Be aspirational: Remember this too will pass, every person encounters challenges in their lives. How we respond to these challenges determines how well we will deal with the next challenge (and there will be one). Think about the values and attributes that you want to be admired for possessing – because this is the time to demonstrating them.

Or just live, day-to-day:  If you are not coping – that’s okay too. We all fall down sometimes. Tomorrow is another day.

Lots of love, Angela

 

If you are overwhelmed or worried about your ability to cope at this time our counsellors are still around during the crisis. Send an SMS to 93785428 or email Angela at reception@reddoor.hk and we will try to help.

Also consider to read (or even re-read) our article on coping with anxiety in the times of pandemic. https://reddoor.hk/2020/02/05/the-ultimate-cure-to-the-current-pandemic/

Anxiety in the time of a pandemic.

panic

Anxiety can be a crippling emotional challenge. As a psychologist and counsellor I work with clients dealing with their anxiety and I want to share some information about this condition and its management.

What spreads the contagion of anxiety?

  • Anxiety is made worse when it is fed. Searching for more information about what was making you anxious will usually increase your anxiety.
  • Rumour and mistruths exacerbate our experience of anxiety.
  • Sharing rumours on social media is the equivalent of sneezing in a crowded restaurant.  It spreads worry.
  • Waiting for normalacy to return is not practical. Pandemics take years to work out so please consider adjusting to a new normal of living with COVID-19 for now.

What cures anxiety in general and COVID 19

  • Challenge all sources of information. Media often include panic inciting headlines and bury calming information.
  • Acknowledge your anxiety – give it a voice, but not a megaphone. Talk to your anxiety as you would a worried child. Accept that it exists, how it might perceive the situation, and offer alternative ways of looking at the issue. Be kind to yourself.
  • Perspective is important. There are some benefits in this situation:When we asked what is positive fans often expressed that they were enjoying aspects of life that are now less hectic –sleeping in, spending time with kids, husbands coming home earlier, commutes taking less time, nice walks with their pets. We have seen the resurgence of cooking and home crafts.
  • Be careful when you share information. Search for facts, not rumours. Do not spread the contagion of panic. At the same time, share facts not opinions – seriously wear a mask.
  •  Panic buying possibly adds to your experience of panic. Sure if you need toilet paper buy a pack. Don’t buy 10 packs “just in case”.
  • Don’t judge those who leave, or those who stay in your area as the number of cases grows. People make the choices that they think are best for their family. In reality they, and you, probably will not contract the virus, and if they do they will survive.
  • Face down myths whenever you get the opportunity (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters)
  • Practice being grateful. Gratitude allows you to stay positive
  • Challenge your thinking. We often employ cognitive filters when we interpret information and this can increase our anxiety. For example, if you tend to catastrophise situations it will possibly lead to exacerbated anxiety. Take a look at the following article which might help. (https://reddoor.hk/2019/03/28/change-the-view-challenging-your-thinking-filters/)

Working actively on your anxiety can help to reduce it. Sometimes talking to a professional might help. If you’d like to tackle your anxiety with Angela, or one of our other therapists, in Hong Kong, contact us at reception@reddoor.hk or SMS to 852-93785428.

Activating the Second Wave – Intervention for teens experiencing learning challenges.

If you are a parent of a child with special educational needs (SEN), I hope that I do not need to convince you about the importance of early intervention with your child. Usually between the age of 2-4 years old you may have noticed that your child does not respond or develop in sync with their same aged peers. Intervention activities aimed to aid physical, cognitive, communicative, self-help, and behavioural development. Early intervention activities start at diagnosis and usually curb off when they child begins regular school, with some training continuing throughout childhood.

You may think that was it. I am here to encourage you to think of the period between 12-17 years old as the, possible,  Second Wave of intervention. At this time your child, typical or atypical, will go through a lot of change, and similarly to early childhood there is significant developments during these years. As parents and professionals working with teens SEN, the second wave provides a new chance to explore the opportunity for change and positive development. Its important that we honour the struggle that all teens face, and support them accordingly. The Second Wave of intervention needs to meet these children at the stage of development that they have now achieved, not as a simple add on to early intervention plans.

Changes during the teen years.

The teen years are a significant developmental period of internal change for an individual. Together with the growth of body and hormones there is significant development in the learning capacity of teens. This is extremely well detailed in Frances Jensen and Amy Ellis Nut’s fantastic book, “The Teenage brain”

From a neurological perspective, the teen brain is seen as only 80 percent mature. The finer connections in the brain are yet to be firmly established, and the brain is a time when it is more open to learning and being excited. The neurons in the brain are well connected at the back of the brain, the centre of sex and excitability, but not well developed for the frontal lobes, the centre for rational thought, self-awareness, generating insight, assessment of risk and danger, abstract thought and planning. Jensen likens the teen brain to a sports car that is all revved up, with nowhere to go.

During this time teens are also expanding their knowledge base. It is a period of great flexibility, with windows for great development of learning. However, the open brain is more open to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel good and drives us into a, “gotta have it” type of state. If you have your teen responding to situations in a FOMO style of anxiety, you know what I’m writing about. Put this all together and you have a teenager – highly excited, easy to learn, find it difficult to explain themselves, difficult to stop an activity, irrational under pressure, and not able to see another person’s view very well. And this is for typical teens!

Adolescents is a period where behavioural and psychiatric issues develop. The general theory is that the onset of such issues may be created with the changes in body chemistry. Therefore, we see issues such as anxiety, depression, self-identify and body image develop during the teen years. Dysregulation of emotion can become common. The atypical teen is as, if not more, susceptible to these mental challenges. Additionally, for some atypical teens conditions, such a epilepsy can suddenly begin in the teen years.

And then there is puberty itself and all that new hormones introduce into and onto the teen: genitals, periods, a desire for physical stimulation (aka masturbation), voice changes, breasts, hair – everywhere – and the new hygiene requirements attached to much of this. You may still think of your teen as a child, but they certainly don’t look like one anymore.

On top of significant internal changes, the atypical teen faces significant changes in their external life. They may be at high school and surrounded by many typical teens, and viewing many behaviours – romantic, personal, oppositional, defiant, illegal – you may have wanted them to avoid. but this is not possible

All of this requires a new intervention plan – one based on their age and the launching pad that the teen years represent. For many children with special educational challenges, they grow into their challenge rather that grow out of it. Rather than trying to change them to fit the world, we have to help them be who they are going to be, but still be able to have a place in the world.

Elements to be considered in the SECOND WAVE of intervention.

The second wave of intervention is different from Early Intervention (ie the first wave) in many ways. Firstly, this wave coincides with the teen years and all the opportunity for growth, and challenge, that those years represent. Secondly, the focus moves away from a deficit model of the child to a strengths model. This is described in detail in another blog from our team , (htps://reddoor.hk/2019/04/02/lost-in-the-language-of-intervention/).

Basically we start to focus away from areas that the child can not keep up with their same age peers, unless those skills are considered essential life skills, and spend a greater proportion of time turning splinter skills into academic success, and hopefully career options.

seond wave graphicLastly, we add specially teen focused training towards new essential behaviours and to revisit some behaviour management issues from the past. These include new and updated behavioural expectations, social and emotional support, relationship advice, academic support, learning about learning, independence and understanding of the self.

Areas of training: There will be some behaviours that were cute when your teen was a child may be perceived extremely negatively now that they look like an adult. For example a young boy’s fascination with girls with blonde hair may seem cute, or even charming, when they are a toddler. When they are 6ft tall, very few people will find amorous fascination acceptable, or cute. We need to help these teens navigate the teen and adult rules of engagement around expected behaviour, conversation topics, expressing themselves, etiquette, personal reputation and dressing appropriately, personal space, and personal hygiene. Many of these topics benefit from some peer-to-peer work, discussion and explicit instruction.

Counselling/Emotional sensitivity: It is extremely important that atypical teens are given the opportunity to learn about and express their emotions. After all their experience in the world is very different from ours, or that of other teens. They are more likely to be ostracized, bullied, or overwhelmed. Yet at the same time like many teens they appraise values such as “independence” and “having friends” as important. So we need to help counsel and guide teens to navigate the world of belonging, the importance of a growth mindset, self-acceptance, mindfulness, self-advocacy, resilience, emotional understanding and regulation.

Relationship navigation:  Friendship is a major need of all teens, although the intensity of relationships may differ. Our kids need to learn the basics of making, and being a good friend to another teen. They also need to be able to distinguish a good influence on them, from a poor. Some atypical teens are being bullied by the very people they consider “friends”. During teen years romantic interest will also be piqued. One needs to learn the expectations and restrictions around interpersonal romantic relationships. This is particularly true for those teens who are poor at reading social cues so may come on a little strong, and risk complete rejection. 

Explicitly learning what doesn’t come naturally: Many teens with special educational needs have difficulty is executive function (learning how to learn, how to think) and theory of mind (understanding how other people see the world differently from you) are sometimes easier to train in the teen years, rather than to children, because of the expectations of all teens are explicit around these topics. Teens passionately learn to express their opinions confidently, and listen to those of others. Performing on tests, and comparison of marks, can be a mixed blessing. Knowing that you didn’t do as well as a classmate on a test can open the door to discussion on your learning practices. Whilst we may have explicitly taught  our kids that, “it’s okay to ask for help”, we may need to update this to include the comment, “but try to do it on your own first”.

Cognitive development: remains important: Some atypical teens may have subjects that they are extremely good at (splinter skills), as well as areas that they perform less well in. As teens age, specialisation allows them to drop some topics that hold no interest or remain too difficult and focus on those skills that may help them form success stories, future studies, or even a career. Some topics – specifically basic math, and English, remain essential skills that require continuous learning within age appropriate contexts. It insults the teen to perform reading comprehension around topics or stories aimed at young children. I encourage children with SEN to take on learning communication training – persuasive text, expression, vocabulary banks, as a lifelong education plan.

Independence: Independence is the reward of the teenage years. All of the teens I have worked with over the years see Independence as a positive trait, even if they are not, yet, capable of many aspects of independence. As the parent of a child with special educational needs I have occasionally found offering independence very challenging – what if she gets lost, what if something bad happens. My own daughter has navigated getting home from school when she lost all her money, dealing with flirtations by weird men, and having to ready herself for an exam which we had recorded on another date. In every challenge she was stressed, but responded. In the exam, she actually passed! Independence can, and must be trained.

I am Me: The last special area that is to be considered within the Second Wave is appreciation of the self. This is not just part of the emotional growth that needs to be undertaken during the teen years, this is understanding your unique position in the world., what you contribute, what you want to contribute and how you are different from others. When our children with disabilities are young children we may focus on trying to fit in. In the teenage years this can change. Their strengths become a pathway to the future. Their quirks may become how they are to be defined. To quote a phrase from the fantastic book about being different, Wonder, “Why try to blend in, when you were born to stand out”?

I hope you found this detail of the Second Wave helpful. If you have any questions about the Second Wave, and your child, feel free to contact us via reception@reddoor.hk to see how our team of psychologists can help frame support for your child.

#specialeducationalneeds #earlyintervention #teens #autism #relationshiptraining #socialskills #reddoor #theoryofmind #executivefunction #splinterskills #secondwave  

Useful books

Frances Jensen and Amy Ellis Nut – The Teenage Brain

John Donvan and Caren Zucker – In a different key

Tony Attwood and Temple Gradin (and others) – Aspergers and Girls

Delia Samuel – Against the odds

Barry Prizant – Uniquely Human: a different way of seeing autism

Tony Attwood – The complete guide to Asperger’s Syndrome.

Blythe Grossberg – Autism and your teen

Liam Dawson – Teens therapy: The mental emotional and physical challenges with teenagers.

Don’t cry for me Margarita: Breaking up from your relationship with alcohol

margarita.jpgHave you ever questioned your relationship with alcohol? Have you ever made rules for yourself in regard to your drinking behaviours (eg, I’ll only drink wine, nothing stronger; I’ll only have 3 drinks max before I go home – no more)? Has anyone close to you asked you about your drinking? Do you ever wonder if your drinking is getting out of your control? Many of us do. You are not alone.

At the beginning of the year it is common to reflect and take stock, and when people do, many choose to take a break from alcohol for a while. Taking a break has numerous benefits including experiencing improved sleep, increased productivity, better mental healths (alleviation of experience of depression and anxiety), better complexion, and potential weight loss. So, it makes sense to take a break.

Perhaps you don’t feel confident to break up, or perhaps you think you really need alcohol in order to be you (ie a co-dependent style relationship). Perhaps you wonder if your relationship with alcohol is unhealthy. Catherine Gray, in the book, the unexpected joy of being sober, suggests that that one third of regular drinkers are worried that they drink too much, but only half of those who worry actually do something about their drinking behaviour.

It isn’t your fault if you are confused or even ashamed about your relationship to alcohol. You have been tricked, entangled, and trapped, in that relationship. Advertising, and society, treat alcohol as a social lubricant when it is more of a social charlatan, hiding the reality of alcohol as silent poisonous killer. The harmful use of alcohol is a global problem as alcohol is a major risk factor in health and social issues such as violence, accidents, child neglect, absenteeism and mental health issues.

If you want to take a break there are a number of options for you to consider – from books, to online resources, to face to face support. There are a number of resources that can help you give up for a week, a month, a year, or forever.

Books

There are a number of books that support breaks from alcohol, of any period. In my opinion the books sharing the experience of the author seem more compelling, and less judgemental than some of the more academic books. I have included both styles of books in the following list. Many of these books are recommended by online support groups. These books can easily be found from online book retailers.

The Naked Mind – Annie Grace 

It is easy to understand why this book is a best-seller. This books is a motivational behaviour change book based on links between the unconscious and conscious mind. These techniques are common in the Allen Carr style of sessions – helping you reframe your relationship to alcohol, so that giving up seems more like  you have regained freedom rather than missing out. I would recommend this as a first book to read if you are considering any kind ofbooks on drinking break.

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

Another popular best-seller, the unexpected joy is a well written memoir with extremely practical advice and insights. Gray provides information to help you staying sober for 30 days, and abstinence beyond . There is a great Facebook page attached to this label online.

Alcohol Lied to Me – Craig Beck 

Craig Beck was a highly functional, “2 bottles of wine a night” drinker. From the outside he looked like he had his drinking under control, but that wasn’t his reality. Craig Beck has written a treasure trove of quit drinking books and has programmes attached to his model. The process starts with exploring misconceptions that we hold about alcohol.

Nothing Good Can Come from This – Kirsti Coulter 

This memoir of one woman’s journey to sober, provides a sometimes funny, and worrying, commentary on women and their problematic love relationship to alcohol

Girl Walks Out of a Bar – Lisa Smith

Another memoir, this book explores cases of individuals who have been successful career wise, but struggled in their relationships with alcohol. Lisa Smith provides a real, emotive take on her experience of recovery

Almost Alcoholic – Robert Doyle & Joseph Nowinski 

A fairly academic book written by clinical psychologists. This book outlines the problematic drinking behaviour which does not reach the level of diagnostic classification, outlining the cost of their drinking and providing practical cessation and limitation guidelines.

 

Online support groups

Online groups and platforms provide support and discussion possibilities. Some are free whilst others are paid for. The most popular groups can be found on Facebook and online. The benefit of these groups is that you can maintain some degree of anonymity but still get some support.

One Year No Beer – http://www.oneyearnobeer.com. 
One Year No Beer is a cessation programme that provides paid for support alcohol-free challenge options for one month, 3 month and 1 year programmes. Boasting over 55,000 members and plenty of tales from successful challenge completers, you can sample OYNB content on their Facebook page first to see if this is a good match for you. Many of the OYNB members take on positive health challenges aligned to their break from drinking, with added potential health benefits.

The alcohol experiment – http://www.alcoholexperiment.com

Attached to the Naked Mind platform, this 30 day free program (beyond that there is some cost) provides groups, mentors and advice how to move away from alcohol. Currently there are 35,000 users, and many success stories.

 

In real life 

If you have a more serious issue with alcohol a face-to-face option may be your best choice. You can also discuss these options with your general practitioner. Some defining questions follow this section to help you frame if it is time for you to consider change.

Support Group – Alcoholics Anonymous http://www.aa-hk.org

With more than 35 meetings a week in Hong Kong, this is the most famous alcohol recovery programme on the planet. This 12 step program includes all the great milestones of change management including support groups, mentoring, personal exploration and no judgement. Some people have reservations about elements of AA, but there is no denying the good that AA tries to do to support people recovering from problems with alcohol.

Recovery/ Rehab – the Cabin HK (and Thailand) . http://www.thecabinhongkong.com.hk

In Thailand, the Cabin runs a private rehabilitation facility aimed at the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse issues (in addition to co-morbid conditions). In Hong Kong the Cabin provides an outpatient treatment programme including counselling.

Face-to-face therapy: Counselling – various 

You may start your exploration of your relationship with alcohol in a relationship with a counsellor. Therapeutic alliance, ie how much you fit with your counsellor, is a major factor in the success of your therapy, so shop around to find the right fit for you. If you’d like some more questions about the RED DOOR offering feel free to contact reception@reddoor.hk.

 

Is your drinking problematic? 

Is it time for you to consider a break-up? The following is NOT a diagnostic test, but includes some of the types of questions that would be used for a formal diagnosis of substance abuse issues. Please answer Yes or No to the following 10 questions.

  1. In the past year have there been times when you have consumed more alcohol, or drank for a longer period, than you had originally intended?
  2.  In the past year, has your drinking interfered with your relationship with friends, family or work colleagues.
  3. In the past year, have you missed work, or key appointments on a few occasions because of alcohol consumption the night before? 
  4. In the past year, have you wanted to cut down your drinking amount or frequency and found yourself unable to do so?
  5. In the past year, have you blacked-out as a consequence from drinking alcohol?
  6. In the past year, have you lost personal items such as your keys, or wallet, whilst you were inebriated?
  7. In the past year, have you missed work, or key appointments on a few occasions because of alcohol consumption the night before?
  8. In the past year, have you noticed that your tolerance to alcohol has increased, and you now need to consume more alcohol in order to feel it’s effects?
  9.  In the past year, have you found yourself in situations where you may have compromised your personal safety, or the safety of others, as a consequence of consuming alcohol
  10. In the past year, have you started to experience some of the symptoms frequently labelled as  alcohol withdrawal, when you are not drinking including shaking, experiencing a racing heart, sweating more than usual, nausea, or trouble sleeping.

 

How many questions did you answer with a “YES” response? If you answered three or more with a YES, then I recommend you consider to break-up with the booze, if only for a short period, but possibly for more. Certainly take a look at the resources listed in this article. You deserve to feel good, and it might be time to start that journey.

#reddoor #alcohol #alcoholdependence #alcoholrecovery #alcholicsanonymous #thecabin #oneyearnobeer #alcoholexperiment #thenakedmind #theunexpectedjoyofbeingsober #alcoholliedtome #girlwalksoutofabar #almostalcoholic #nothinggoodcancomefromthis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New You in the New Year: 5 questions to help you create positive change in the New Year.

new year new you

If you are receptive to the idea of setting New Year’s Resolutions but are undecided which resolutions will contribute real positive change to your life we have outlined 5 questions that we believe frame change that will introduce the most meaningful adaptions into your life in the New Year – creating a New You in the New Year.

startSTART. What one behaviour or habit could you start today that you will be thankful for in two to three years time? Perhaps you might considering undertaking a new area of study. Perhaps start a savings plan for that special vacation that you have been dreaming about. How about trying to eat properly, or commit to an exercise plan. Write down your options and consider which you would be most happy about in a few years time.

stopSTOP. I’m sure there is a at least one behaviour that you would benefit from LESS of in the New Year. Think about it, write about it. Consider something that you might consider to eliminate this year. Some ideas you might consider are to quit drinking, smoking, explore your propensity to explode in anger, feelings of jealousy, comparing yourself to others, procrastinations, over-eating, your addiction to technology, controlling others, or overworking.

Do you believe you CAN stop? If you believe, then what is holding you back? Have you tried to measure the impact your ‘STOP’ behaviour on your life, both in terms of financial implications, but also the repercussion on your personal life, your reputation, or your long-term health.

If you doubt if you can stop, then perhaps it might help to consider help. Sometimes a doctor, a counsellor, or even a good friend can help you brainstorm a way out. Try to visualise what your life might be like, if you can just STOP.

mendMEND. Are you holding onto old hurts or disappointments from the past that disrupt your ability to move forward? Is there a rift in an important relationship in your life that you are grieving?  Ask yourself could you mend some of these rifts or mend some of those hurts? One technique to think your way through these situation is to journal. (https://reddoor.hk/2017/03/22/six-fantastic-benefits-of-writing-a-journal/). Specific journal prompts might help you.

  •  Who or what event do you find it hard to mend in your mind? What wrong was done to you? Can you see this situation differently from a distance?
  •  Would there be a benefit to recover old friendships or relationships? Do you feel safe with that person? Can you better protect yourself in that relationship in the future?
  •  Are you still angry about events that have happened in the past. Write about that anger and other feelings. Why do those events continue to hurt you after all the time that has elapsed.

Some perspective and review may help you feel better. Always be kind to yourself in these evaluations. Also acknowledge some hurts are harder to heal. If you have experienced abuse, the mending to be done may not be of that abusive relationship but rather your relationship to yourself. If you need help, consider a counsellor.

accelerateACCELERATE. What positive practices do you engage in that you could accelerate, to your benefit, this year. If you want to be an artist, what commitment could you make this year that could make your dream become closer to reality. Perhaps you could commit to completing one piece of work a week. If you recently started your own business what key resources will you need to commit to getting this business off the ground. Are you working on this as many hours as it needs? Contemplate what activities bring you new clients – either directly or indirectly – and how can you pump up the volume on those tasks? Ideally, you are probably doing so many positive undertakings on a weekly basis, what could you DO MORE with real benefit to your goals?

leave behind.jpgLEAVE BEHIND. In the tradition of closing one door, so that another can open, consider leaving something, even someone, behind as the old year ends and a new one begins. Are you involved in relationships that are toxic to you or sabotage your achievement of your goals? Review the people and practices in which you engage, do they hinder or help you? What person or practice could you let go of, in order to let yourself really grow?

If you have detailed a behaviour in response to each of these 5 provocative questions, then you have the beginning of a game plan for a New You in the New Year.  Well done for spending this time reflecting about what will be of benefit to you. All the best for working on these behaviours in the next year. You should be proud of you.

#reddoor #newyear #Newyearresolutions #behaviorchange