Archive for self care

People Pleasing – the Pitfalls of being Too Nice

Let’s start by agreeing that there’s nothing wrong with ‘nice’ – although the word can have a slightly saccharine ring to it.

Being a thoughtful and loving or attentive partner, colleague or friend is a Good Thing. We all need to give and receive neighbourliness and creative connection in our lives.

Nice can be a force for good, but there are pitfalls when this tips over into dogged people pleasing.

Anger and resentments are part of the human condition and we all need healthy ways to admit and deal with their underlying causes.

Bottling up anger means that resentments and grievances have to stay hidden. By absorbing these emotions we do ourselves, and others, a disservice.

Hiding behind a permanently sunny and agreeable persona means we are never truly known. This leads us to fear that those negative qualities are never able to be seen as then we fear facing rejection.

Always being seen as The Good Guy equals an inability to be able to value ourselves and our own wants. Constantly pleasing others will mean that personal needs will always have to be pushed away.

This causes hidden resentment as we have to absorb all the negative feelings, swallow them and somehow find them a permanent inner storage space which will need to be suppressed when others can’t attain to our saintly level and reciprocate when the time comes for it to be our turn.

In fact, for the expert People Pleaser there is no turn. ‘After you’ becomes their motto and the rôle is that of always being the noble, needed one. There’s no healthy give and take as it’s all selfless giving.

For all the supposed gratitude that feeds this overbearing kindness, others can view the people pleaser as a bit of a pushover.

So, how to find a healthy balance?

We need to remember that we all have choices and it’s quite OK to say no sometimes. We don’t have to justify or excuse this.

It’s important that we all know the boundaries that are healthy for us and that balancing our own priorities and needs is an important part of self-care. We all have to look after ourselves in a healthy way before we try to look after others.

In couple therapy, we often see clients who are described as ‘conflict averse’ and cannot express their rage or dissatisfaction.

These people often come from families where there was no anger – so they have never seen differences and clashing opinions being safely aired.

Or they may come from families where rage or violence was a destructive force. And these clients understandably grow up to feel that dissent leads to chaotic, unmanageable situations.

Learning to safely confront negative feelings is an important part of good couple life.

Learning to ask for help and not always be seen as the first-aider is a life lesson.

Being able to be the needy one sometimes and not always the needed one is imperative in any relationship.

Friends can be roughly divided into Radiators and Drains. Let go and block those toxic drains, they aren’t an asset to a good relationship, but even a good Radiator will occasionally break down and need to be able to withstand care and TLC from others.

So, you overly nice people, remember it’s OK to sometimes be the leaky one and maybe friends, family and partners will enjoy being the nurse instead of the patient.

Christina Fraser

Self Care – looking after number one

We need to allow clients, whether coming as a couple or individually, the time and space to better understand, and have empathy for, an other whose opinions or outlooks they don’t always share. This can often be can be a real challenge.
One of the primary factors referred by clients as a reason to need therapy is described as ‘bad communication’. And observing them finding new empathy is a rewarding part of the work.
But an often overlooked factor can be how hard it often seems to find this same level of compassion and understanding within ourselves.
It’s a given that on every airline safety procedure, we are asked to put on our own oxygen masks in advance of attending to others.
Before we can look after those around us, we need self care, and it can be tricky to better understand why we can sometimes be so critical or judgemental of our own thoughts and responses.
Self compassion needs to be seen as completely different to self pity which victimises the self. Here, we’re looking at coping strategies to overcome very human feelings of shame and self punishment.
How much easier is it to listen to a good friend, or someone we really care about, and find ways to explain and forgive traits or mistakes that we should dwell on if thinking about them in the context of our own experience.
How often do we reflect on long-gone situations and still feel twinges of shame or embarrassment.
Wikipedia suggests that ‘we need to recognise that suffering and personal failure is part of the shared human experience’
See? It’s not only you….
we can’t eradicate our feelings, thoughts or past actions but we can learn to look at them with a more gentle and thoughtful mindset. Making a bad call on some decision doesn’t make you a bad person. Doing the right thing when you can, and giving yourself permission if you slip sometimes, is key.
Most spiritual beliefs centre around a concept of a universal love.
Self-criticism while being thoughtful towards others outside, makes for false distinctions that can only bring isolation. Buddhist thinking suggests that the way of relating to the self is with kindness – not to be confused with arrogance or conceit which can be an indicator of a lack of self love.
Learn to love ourselves unconditionally isn’t easy but here’s India.Arie doing it her way.

An empty or depressed sense of self will look externally for ways to find validation. Feelings of unworthiness can mean depending on others to fulfil us. Sadly, this is likely to lead to disappointment. We can’t ask another person to complete us – we can only ask that they accept us.
There are tried and tested ways to self nurture. Mindfulness, therapy, and the ability to allow ourselves to be good enough.
Remembering that Excellence is the enemy of the Good.
If we strive for perfection then ‘good’ will never seem enough. Giving ourselves permission to make mistakes at times and understand that others have felt this way too.
Small treats, time outside, space to think and the confidence to explore creativity will all help,
Good, empathetic therapy that can give the time to further explore all this shows a real degree of self compassion.
Take a little time to treat yourself with as much care as you would give to a good friend, partner or child. Support yourself with as much kindness as you would offer a loved one. Compassion for our self is often a forgotten element of our busy lives. Go on – give yourself a hug, no-one is watching.

Christina Fraser

Post holiday blues

September is often seen as a month of nostalgia. The clocks are about to go back, there’s a shiver of winter in the wind and then comes the dreaded return to real life after a welcome break from normality.
Those Post-Holiday Blues can really hit at this time of the year. Here are some tips to get you back on track

CHANGE
One of the depressing factors on returning is that we pick up all the untidy threads we had left behind. We face the same niggles and worries that we avoided for a short time.
Take a look at what can be easily sorted and what might need more consideration. Some small tweaks can really help. Never make drastic alterations straight after a holiday, but give some thought to those areas that seem wearying after a break. What can be altered to reshape some of the issues that feel overwhelming.

NEW CHALLENGES
A fresh location on vacation gives a look at new habits. Are you spending too much time attached to smartphones or watching soporific TV programmes? Think of a challenge that can add to self-esteem instead. Learn a language, take up bread making, buy a sketchbook and some pencils. Remember the excitement of the new autumn term – get cracking. Do something new.

SELF CARE
Many of us sleep more on holiday and eat more fresh and interesting food. Keep these habits where possible. More sunlight makes us feel healthier. Get outside and soak up the last of the vitamin D before winter. Think of adding some healthier ingredients to normal foods. Recreate some of the meals you enjoyed and change the usual repetitive dinner or breakfast rota.

DE-CLUTTER
It’s likely you managed to survive from a suitcase (or two) and getting home can make us aware of the excess of belongings we so easily acquire. Give the local charity shop a treat and blitz those unnecessary possessions and clothes.  We need a tiny proportion of what most of us own. Purging is very cathartic. Space in drawers and cupboards is amazingly restorative.

CONNECT
Without work, routines, and domestic pressure, we are likely to have to make more effort to communicate with each other. Relaxing, sightseeing, or getting involved with sport and exercise gives us new reasons to connect with each other. Doing something different with our time can give topics to exchange as well as the time and energy to enjoy just talking and sharing. Keep up this good habit. Spend some couple and family time, without wifi to distract.

EXPECT A TOUCH OF THE BLUES
Often, a lot of time and hope goes into planning a holiday. If it disappoints in any way, don’t be too hard on yourself or others. Make those problems a signal for a very different trip next time.
If it goes well, it’s hard to have a painless re-entry to everyday life.
Expect those first days back at work to be a tad wearying at first.
Download some photos, change the screensaver and start planning your next break.

 

Christina Fraser