Behind Every Behaviour is a Need
Whether you are snapping at loved ones, reaching for a favourite bad habit like smoking or drinking, seeking affairs, or hiding under the duvet, there is likely to be a need behind the behaviour you wish you could kick.
It can be frustrating partaking in behaviours you regret after and it is too easy to pile on the shame or beat yourself up for it. Shame and regret often leads to worse self esteem, more stress, and a higher chance of repeating the very behaviour you wish to change.
Talking the behaviour through in counselling with someone who isn't going to judge can reduce shame and take the pressure off. Through exploring thoughts, feelings and your past you may just find out why you are really acting in ways you wish you weren't. Making sense of well-buried needs and finding new, healthy ways to meet them can help reduce or cease the urge to partake in your old unwanted patterns leaving you happier and more in control of your life.
How Can Counselling and Psychotherapy Help Me?
Whether you are facing a temporary hurdle and need a safe space to explore how to jump it or are repeating behaviours that do not serve you and think they may have origins in your childhood, counselling and psychotherapy can help.
Sometimes we do not know why we feel 'bad' and struggle to put words to feeling low or empty. Counselling and psychotherapy can help you find those words and make sense of such feelings so if you aren't too sure what you need, please make contact and we can explore this together.
You don't have to suffer in silence just because you don't fully understand your issues. That is what we are here for. There are ways we can work together creatively and with the body that can help with young wounds and complicated emotions.
The Lack of Self Love
Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate romantic love but there is an equally, if not more important love that doesn't have a special day dedicated to it, self love. Just the phrase 'self love' can seem so alien it can make people quite uncomfortable just to hear it, let alone consider practicing it.
Yet, going into a relationship with a lack of self love can deeply impact the health of your relationship and result in unhealthy repeated relationship patterns.
Going for a Swim…
Imagine that not loving yourself is like not learning to swim, and that entering into a relationship is like jumping into the sea.
In the shallows you have fun splashing around together in the waves, but then before you know it you are out of your depth. You can’t swim. So you cling to your partner for dear life and any slight move they make sends you into a fearful spin, they are going to leave you.
They want to have some fun with you in the water, swim off on their own for a bit then come back and tell you all about their swim. But no! This is too scary for you so try to control (perhaps unconsciously) and manipulate. Not because you are a bad person, but because you only feel safe when they are right there, acting in exactly the way you need them too in order to feel safe and stay afloat. This is exhausting for both parties and doesn’t make for a very enjoyable or long-lasting swim.
If you can both swim, then yes, being out of your depth may be a little scary but you can swim! This means you can play, swim away for a bit and enjoy coming back to one another. You are not living in fear, hypervigilant that your life raft might show signs of leaving you.
Maybe sometimes one will need the other to keep them afloat at times because, well, that’s life. But on the whole, learning to swim (love yourself) makes for a far more enjoyable, secure paddle in the sea (relationship).
The Effects of Lack of Self-Love
If you have little in the way of self-love, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy, secure relationship. Expecting your partner to ‘fix’ you, pinning your worth onto them or tasking them with the impossible job to ‘make you happy’ can lead to unhealthy relationship dynamics and downward spiral patterns.
If you love yourself you are less likely to:
Put unrealistic expectations onto your partner
Live in constant fear of abandonment
Experience hurt, anger and blame
Sabotage the relationship
Have heated arguments that escalate and seldom resolve productively
Replay old childhood needs deficits
Feel insecure, clingy or needy
But What is Self-love?
Take a moment to think about what self-love means to you. What does it look like? What ways do you show yourself? What things do you say? What boundaries do you set yourself in the name of self-love? What forgiveness? What expectations are you imposing upon yourself?
Self-love starts with NON-JUDGEMENTAL AWARENESS, coupled with KINDNESS and often is a skill you need to work at, learn, and practise too. I have seen many clients who do not know where to begin so we start with how would you treat a child? If you wouldn’t say the negative, unkind things you say to a child, practise not saying them to yourself. Instead, think of what you would say to a child and say those things to yourself. We usually start with perceived mistakes, short falls and not living up to self-set standards, and take it from there.
Pay attention to the things you say to yourself, the boundaries you set, the things you do. Do they demonstrate self-love? Does self love feel alien and out of your grasp? Do you feel guilty even thinking about the idea of loving yourself? Do you feel worthy of love? Are you allowed to love and be loved or are you getting in your own way?
We tend to think grief can only apply to us if we have just had a recent death of a loved one.
However, you can be suffering from grief related to losses from other less obvious sources too.
*A loss through death that happened years ago
*A loss of relationship, home, job, pet, or health ability….
* The loss of something you never had such as a secure childhood
Grief is a process that we can get stuck in; or be in without realising we are there.
Often we can discount the importance of our losses by comparing them to others, however, loss is loss and comparing yours to somebody else’s doesn’t make your own personal pain any less. You still have the right to process yours no matter what is happening to others in the world.
Below are some of the symptoms that may point to being stuck in the grieving process. Please note this list is not a diagnostic tool and it is not exhaustive.
- Anger, irritability, anxiety
- Low mood or motivation
- Yearning or longing
- Obsessive thoughts about your loss
- Behavioural changes or addictions you don’t feel in control of (drinking, over-eating, self harming)
- Disinterest in things that used to bring you happiness
- Fear of further loss
- Hyper alertness
- Sensitivity to noise
Having space to talk about your personal experience can help you to unravel and make sense of what you are going through and help you feel less isolated in your grief. If you feel stuck in the grief process, talking can help you start to process your inner experience.
Anxiety & Depression - The Energy Slump
Both anxiety and depression can lead to a change in the way you care for yourself. Yet the way you care for yourself can impact on your mood and inner state. This can create a downward spiral and perpetuate feelings of depression and anxiety yet too much pressure to look after yourself can be overwhelming.
So what is the answer?
What you have done in the past 24 hours can impact the way you feel in the present moment. So why not give yourself the best chance of doing just one or some of the things that may help improve your mental state?
Whether you are struggling to wash and dress, eat regularly, (or healthily), get fresh air, or to exercise, get jobs done and connect with others, a ready made chart can be a useful tool for when you wake up feeling low on motivation.
Even ticking off one item when you don't feel like doing anything at all could be one small step in the right direction for you.
Ticking off something you have done can also give your brain a natural hit of dopamine, the feel good hormone, helping you to feel good.
The great thing about a chart is it's right there ready for when you need it, once you have made it. It can also be altered and changed no matter what your goals and wishes are.
Maybe creating a chart, either by hand or on your laptop would be an enjoyable, creative exercise for you? If not, maybe look for examples on the internet or keep it simple and make a list.
Please see below some ideas of what you could put on your chart or tick-list.
What would you add to yours?
Have a bath / shower
Put 1 load of washing on
Tidy my living spac just one room
Get 5 minute of fresh air
Ten minutes of walking or online yoga
Read 5 pages
Reach out to someone in a text
Eat a healthy meal
Eat at regular times
No alcohol today
Less caffeine today
Portion Control on treats
Meditate for 10 minutes
Watch something positive on Youtube
How do you talk to yourself when you make a mistake? What thoughts do you have and what things do you say to yourself?
If you spoke to other people this same way, how would your life change?
a) More people would feel safe around you to learn and grow
b) Nothing would change, you treat yourself the same as others
c) You would lose friends
Paying attention to the things you say to yourself when you have made a mistake can be very insightful. Are you kind to yourself or spiteful? Are you nurturing or berating? The way you speak to yourself at these times can make the difference between adding suffering to your experience, or learning and feeling positive about yourself. It can be useful to ask yourself, would you speak to a child this way? What would a child need after making a mistake? And can you apply this to yourself? If not, why? What is standing in your way? Whose voice is it berating you? Is it a harsh figure from your past? Can you make a new choice today to switch up your inner dialogue to something else?
Can you change the answer to this question from a C to an A? It all starts with noticing and being kind.
If you are suffering right now or struggling in silence, you may want to consider offloading in a safe space with a counsellor in Crawley or online. Talking can lessen the intensity and normalise your experience. Read more Speaking to a trained professional can also help you to come through a difficult time with a new set of tools and a new perspective that may help you in other areas too.
Worried about money? I hold places for low income clients, please ask about these spaces