Category Archives: psychology

13 Danger signs in relationships

 

danger signs relationships

13 Danger signs in relationships

Separate bedrooms

If you are sleeping in separate bedrooms, make sure it is temporary. Long term this spells trouble for any relationship.

Lack of sex

If both partners are happy with a lack of sex, there isn’t a problem. If one partner feels frustrated about not getting enough, this will need to be addressed sooner or later. Don’t sweep it under the carpet and hope the issue goes away – talk about it!

Lack of communication

This is the number one reason for relationships breaking down. As soon as communication is sub par, resentment starts to build, assumptions are made and rot sets in. Make sure you put in the effort to talk to your partner as often as possible. Check in with them and make sure you clear the air regularly. Small issues become big issues if they are ignored.

Living separate lives

It’s healthy to have your own interests and makes the relationship more interesting when you can reunite and discuss your different experiences. The problems begin when you seem to be doing most things separately – seeing your own group of friends, doing your own thing and doing less and less together.

Functioning only a practical level – not connecting emotionally

I see this often in the couples who come to see me seeking help with their failing relationships. They work well together in terms of running the house, paying the bills, getting the kids to school etc but when it comes to their closeness and intimacy as a couple, it can be pretty non existent.

The fun has gone out of the relationship

Do you no longer have any fun together? Make sure you have fun some times otherwise the relationship will become associated with tension and stress and this will most likely lead to the demise of the relationship.

Constant bickering with no resolution

At times, couples get stuck in a rut and they keep repeating the same destructive patterns with each other. No resolution is achieved and communication lessens as both partners begin to feel they are not being heard. Make sure that you listen properly when your partner tries to tell you what is wrong. Do some problem solving around the problem and figure out ways to compromise and restore peace and contentment.

Resentment has built up

Resentment kills love over time. Never sit with resentment for too long. Find ways to talk to your partner and reduce the resentment.This is vital for a happy relationship going forward.

You rarely think of your partner when you aren’t together

Out of sight, out of mind? It may just be that you aren’t a very sentimental person but it could also mean that you no longer have any emotional attachment to your partner. This is a sad state of affairs and needs to be addresses if you want to have the best possible relationship. A good balanced relationship includes emotional, mental and physical intimacy.

You feel relief when your partner goes away

Worse than not missing your partner when they are not around is feeling relief when they are absent. This is a major warning that something is seriously wrong in your relationship. It might even be time for relationship counselling if you want to save your relationship. Don’t put your head in the sand. Deal with the problem – the sooner the better.

You feel alone in the relationship

This is another sign that something is seriously amiss in the relationship. Figure out what is missing and what your partner would need to do (and what you would need to do) to feel connected again.

You feel misunderstood in the relationship

This is easier to resolve than feeling alone in a relationship. It may just be that you are communicating at odds and need to find different ways to get your point across. Don’t give up – be resourceful and creative. Counselling can also help with this one.

Your emotional needs are not being met

When needs aren’t being met, resentment can set in and people will eventually find other ways to meet their needs. If your partner struggles to meet your emotional needs (some people really struggle as their emotional intelligence is low) you can find other ways to meet these needs. Find good friends you can talk to or a therapist. There are ways to work around this one if you love your partner and want to stay in the relationship irrespective of your poorly met emotional needs.

Relationships take work. Think of a relationship as a garden. If you don’t tend to it, weeds will grow. You get out what you put in.

Mandy X

 

 

Is my thinking normal?

 

person thinking photo

Is my thinking normal?

This is a question we all ask ourselves at times. I know I have had moments where I have questioned my sanity and wondered if I have completely lost the plot. This is usually as a result of some overwhelming emotional experience. I find when emotions are involved, my thoughts tend to be far less rational.

If you would like to test out your thoughts, try the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale:

This questionnaire lists different attitudes or beliefs which people sometimes hold. Read each statement carefully and decide how much you agree or disagree with the statement. For each of the attitudes, indicate to the left of the item the number that best describes how you think. Be sure to choose only one answer for each attitude. Because people are different, there is no right answer or wrong answer to these statements.

To decide whether a given attitude is typical of your way of looking at things, simply keep in mind what you are like most of the time.

1 = Totally agree 2 = Agree very much 3 = Agree slightly 4 = Neutral 5 = Disagree slightly 6 = Disagree very much 7 = Totally disagree _____

1. It is difficult to be happy unless one is good looking, intelligent, rich, and creative. _____

2. Happiness is more a matter of my attitude towards myself than the way other people feel about me. _____

3. People will probably think less of me if I make a mistake. _____

4. If I do not do well all the time, people will not respect me. _____

5. Taking even a small risk is foolish because the loss is likely to be a disaster. _____

6. It is possible to gain another person’s respect without being especially talented at anything. _____

7. I cannot be happy unless most people I know admire me. _____

8. If a person asks for help, it is a sign of weakness. _____

9. If I do not do as well as other people, it means I am a weak person. _____

10. If I fail at my work, then I am a failure as a person. _____

11. If you cannot do something well, there is little point in doing it at all. _____

12. Making mistakes is fine because I can learn from them. _____

13. If someone disagrees with me, it probably indicates he does not like me. _____

14. If I fail partly, it is as bad as being a complete failure. _____

15. If other people know what you are really like, they will think less of you. _____

16. I am nothing if a person I love doesn’t love me. _____

17. One can get pleasure from an activity regardless of the end result _____

18. People should have a chance to succeed before doing anything. Revised date (4 October 2006) 56 _____

19. My value as a person depends greatly on what others think of me. _____

20. If I don’t set the highest standards for myself, I am likely to end up a second-rate person. _____

21. If I am to be a worthwhile person, I must be the best in at least one way. _____

22. People who have good ideas are better than those who do not. _____

23. I should be upset if I make a mistake. _____

24. My own opinions of myself are more important than others’ opinions of me. _____

25. To be a good, moral, worthwhile person I must help everyone who needs it. _____

26. If I ask a question, it makes me look stupid. _____

27. It is awful to be put down by people important to you. _____

28. If you don’t have other people to lean on, you are going to be sad. _____

29. I can reach important goals without pushing myself. _____

30. It is possible for a person to be scolded and not get upset. _____

31. I cannot trust other people because they might be cruel to me. _____

32. If others dislike you, you cannot be happy. _____

33. It is best to give up your own interests in order to please other people. _____

34. My happiness depends more on other people than it does on me. _____

35. I do not need the approval of other people in order to be happy. _____

36. If a person avoids problems, the problems tend to go away. _____

37. I can be happy even if I miss out on many of the good things in life. _____

38. What other people think about me is very important. _____

39. Being alone leads to unhappiness. _____

40. I can find happiness without being loved by another person._______

Dysfunctional Attitude Scale (DAS)    Author: Arlene Weissman

The DAS is a 40-item questionnaire that is designed to identify and measure cognitive distortions (irrational thinking), particularly distortions that may relate to or cause depression.

The items contained on the DAS are based on Beck’s cognitive therapy model and present 7 major value systems: Approval, Love, Achievement, Perfectionism, Entitlement, Omnipotence, and Autonomy.

Scoring: Any items that are missing, assign a zero. To obtain the overall score, simply add the score on all items (ranging from 1 to 7). When no items are omitted, scores on the DAS range from 40 to 280. Lower scores represent more adaptive beliefs and fewer cognitive distortions.

The higher your score, the more likely it is that your thinking is working against you and creating anxiety and depression. Be more aware of your thoughts and get into the habit of challenging their validity. Not every thought we think is true or is valid.

Mandy X

 

 

 

Accept anxiety as a part of life

 

accept anxiety

Accept anxiety as a part of life

Anxiety is a part of life unfortunately, yet we all furiously engage in behaviours to try avoid anxiety as much as possible. When you accept anxiety as a part of life it actually becomes easier to manage.

If you are not willing to experience anxiety, you will definitely have anxiety!

When you accept anxiety as something that will always be there, you can then learn ways to deal with it more effectively. Anxiety can be managed but it can’t be removed completely.

Anxiety is caused by two things:

  1. The fact that we overestimate the threat. This could be fear of rejection, humiliation or failure. It could also be fear of losing someone or experiencing shame. There are numerous triggers around us and the more we try to avoid them, the more anxious we become.
  2. The fact that we underestimate our ability to cope. We often cope far better than we anticipate bit the more we avoid situations that might cause anxiety, the fewer opportunities we have to test out our beliefs.

Tips for managing anxiety

Know the difference between a real problem (the car has broken down) and a hypothetical problem. This is a “what if” problem that might never happen. Learn to spend less time agonising over “what if” type problems. Find a solution if possible but then ‘mentally shelve’ the worry.

Don’t spend time overthinking. If you can do something that is solution focused to help towards solving the problem/worry, do it. If you can’t, learn to distract yourself. Count backwards from 100 or do something else but don’t waste mental energy by allowing a problem to go round and round in your mind.

Learn to let thoughts pass without focusing on them. We have between 40 000 – 60 000 thoughts per day. Visualise thoughts as leaves flowing on a river, let the ones that aren’t useful pass by. It is possible to learn to focus your attention on the thoughts that are helpful rather than unhelpful. Examples of unhelpful thoughts: I will never be able to cope. I am useless. It will never work etc

If you really cannot focus elsewhere, try implementing ‘worry time’ Give yourself 30 minutes per day to worry and for the rest of the day, do your best to distract yourself and keep busy.

Ask yourself: what would I tell a friend in this situation? Am I exaggerating the threat? Is there another way to look at this that makes me feel less anxious? (there is always another way to look at something).

Learn mindfulness – be in the moment more rather than living in your head. TO bring yourself back to the present moment, try this:

Look for 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can touch, 1 thing you can taste. The more you engage your 5 senses, the less time your brain has to wander off to your worries.

Anxiety is the body’s way of telling us we are in danger but often the body sends us false alarms. We may feel physical sensations related to anxiety – sweaty palms, heart palpitations etc but tell yourself quietly that you are safe and that you are not in danger.

Try deep breathing to calm yourself and tell yourself “this will pass”.

Make anxiety your friend as much as possible. See it as an early warning system that can prepare you and make you ready for action.

Mandy X

 

How Thinking affects brain chemistry

 

brain photo

How Thinking affects brain chemistry

 

It’s been proven over and over again that just thinking about something causes your brain to release neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that allow it to communicate with parts of itself and your nervous system. Neurotransmitters control virtually all of your body’s functions, from hormones to digestion to feeling happy, sad, or stressed.

Studies have shown that thoughts alone can improve vision, fitness, and strength. The placebo effect, as observed with fake operations and sham drugs for example, works because of the power of thought. Expectancies and learned associations have been shown to change brain chemistry and circuitry which results in real physiological and cognitive outcomes, such as less fatigue, lower immune system reaction, elevated hormone levels, and reduced anxiety.

According to Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom,  humans are evolutionarily wired with a negativity bias. In other words, our minds naturally focus on the bad and discard the good. This is because it was much more important for our ancestors to avoid threats than to collect rewards: An individual who successfully avoided a threat would wake up the next morning and have another opportunity to collect a reward, but an individual who didn’t avoid the threat would have no such opportunity.

Thus, the human brain evolved to focus on threats. Millennials are no stranger to stress and depression, especially when it’s work related—a recent study reported that around 20 percent of Millennials sought out help or advice in the workplace for depression—a higher percentage than any other generation. According to the Status of Women in the States report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Millennial women ages 18-34 report an average of 4.9 days of poor mental health per month, while Millennial men report an average of 3.6 poor mental health days. Our brains are highly attuned to stress, even when such stress is of the mundane variety and not at all life threatening.

“Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intense (e.g., loud, bright) positive ones, Hanson writes on his website. “They are also perceived more easily and quickly. For example, people in studies can identify angry faces faster than happy ones; even if they are shown these images so quickly (just a tenth of a second or so) that they cannot have any conscious recognition of them, the ancient fight-or-flight limbic system of the brain will still get activated by the angry faces.”

Hanson describes the brain as like “Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.” While some individuals may be inherently more optimistic than others, it’s generally true that in order for positive experiences to “stick” in our brains as well as negative ones do, these positive experiences need to be held in our consciousness for a longer period of time.

“The alarm bell of your brain — the amygdala (you’ve got two of these little almond-shaped regions, one on either side of your head) — uses about two-thirds of its neurons to look for bad news: it’s primed to go negative,” writes Hanson. “Once it sounds the alarm, negative events and experiences get quickly stored in memory — in contrast to positive events and experiences, which usually need to be held in awareness for a dozen or more seconds to transfer from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage.”

How negative thinking changes the brain

The more that an individual’s thought patterns trend negative and slip into rumination—continually turning over a situation in one’s mind and focusing on its negative aspects—the easier it becomes to return automatically to these thought patterns.

That’s not so great for our health. According to a blog post on Psychology Today, ruminating can damage the neural structures that regulate emotions, memory, and feelings. Even when our stress and worry is completely hypothetical and not based on any real or current situation, the amygdala and the thalamus (which helps communicate sensory and motor signals) aren’t able to differentiate this hypothetical stress from the kind that actually needs to be listened to.

Cortisol, a stress hormone, breaks down the hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps form new memories. Most people experience a peak of cortisol in the morning, but it can also spike throughout the day in response to stress. The more cortisol that’s released in response to negative experiences and thoughts, the more difficult it can become, over time, to form new positive memories.

In neuroscience, the expression “neurons that fire together, wire together” describes “experience-dependent neuroplasticity”—essentially, the concept that our brains are shaped by our thoughts and experiences. According to Hanson, the synapses in our brains that fire frequently become more sensitive. Our experiences and thoughts can lead to the growth of new synapses and even change our genes, altering the very structure of our brain. Or, as Hanson writes, “the brain takes its shape from what the mind rests upon.”

If you’re prone to negative thinking, this might seem disheartening. It’s easy to assume that we have no control over our thoughts. After all, they often pop up out of nowhere, and when rumination takes hold, it can be difficult to break its grip (I would know, I’m an accomplished ruminator). But the good news—and the basis of much of Hanson’s work—is that it ispossible to change our thought patterns and even “hardwire happiness” into our brains (which is the title of Hanson’s 2013 book).

If I were to put you into an MRI scanner—a huge donut-shaped magnet that can take a video of the neural changes happening in your brain—and flash the word “NO” for less than one second, you’d see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication.

In fact, just seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse, and the more you ruminate on them, the more you can actually damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings, and emotions.[1] You’ll disrupt your sleep, your appetite, and your ability to experience long-termhappiness and satisfaction.

If you vocalize your negativity, or even slightly frown when you say “no,” more stress chemicals will be released, not only in your brain, but in the listener’s brain as well.[2] The listener will experience increased anxiety and irritability, thus undermining cooperation and trust. In fact, just hanging around negative people will make you more prejudiced toward others![3]

Any form of negative rumination—for example, worrying about your financial future or health—will stimulate the release of destructive neurochemicals. And the same holds true for children: the more negative thoughts they have, the more likely they are to experience emotional turmoil.[4] But if you teach them to think positively, you can turn their lives around.[5]

Negative thinking is also self perpetuating, and the more you engage in negative dialogue—at home or at work—the more difficult it becomes to stop.[6] But negative words, spoken with anger, do even more damage. They send alarm messages through the brain, interfering with the decision making centers in the frontal lobe, and this increases a person’s propensity to act irrationally.

Fear-provoking words—like poverty, illness, and death—also stimulate the brain in negative ways.  And even if these fearful thoughts are not real, other parts of your brain (like the thalamus and amygdala) react to negative fantasies as though they were actual threats occurring in the outside world. Curiously, we seem to be hardwired to worry—perhaps an artifact of old memories carried over from ancestral times when there were countless threats to our survival.[7]

In order to interrupt this natural propensity to worry, several steps can be taken. First, ask yourself this question:  “Is the situation really a threat to my personal survival?” Usually it isn’t, and the faster you can interrupt the amygdala’s reaction to an imagined threat, the quicker you can take action to solve the problem. You’ll also reduce the possibility of burning a permanent negative memory into our brain.[8]

After you have identified the negative thought (which often operates just below the level of everyday consciousness), your can reframe it by choosing to focus on positive words and images. The result: anxiety and depression decreases and the number of unconscious negative thoughts decline.

Making the association between thoughts and our brain chemistry is crucial in understanding the link between our thinking and our physical and mental health. Thinking rationally and trying to look for positives has far more benefits that many of us realise, or even really understand.

Mandy X

 

Source/References:

 

How Your Thoughts Change Your Brain, Cells, And Genes

http://www.attn.com/stories/2587/what-negative-thinking-does-your-brain

How to spot a manipulative personality

 

manipulation photo

How to spot a manipulative personality

Do you know the signs of a manipulative personality? Chances are, you have a vague idea but for many of us, manipulation carries on right under our noses. That’s because manipulative personalities are so adept at manipulation that they do it often, without being detected.

A manipulative personality is focused on getting their needs met. They don’t really have the time or inclination to be bothered with your needs, no matter what they are. They are skilled in the art of deflection. Any accusation aimed at them will shift direction, be aimed away from them – most likely back onto you. Example: “It upset me when you left me standing in the rain last night”. Deflection: “Well you should’ve taken an umbrella”. Here, the manipulative personality does not wish to deal with their behaviour and take responsibility so they will deflect that by adding in a new issue to take the ‘heat’ off them = manipulation!

A healthy, rational person would be able to deal with WHY they left someone standing in the rain.

A manipulative personality often lacks assertiveness and has learned to use manipulation as a covert way to get what they want. They will cast doubt on how you see things, even going so far as to poke fun at you or criticise your way of thinking. The more someone lacks self belief and confidence, the easier they will be to manipulate.

A manipulative personality often suffers from low self esteem and often don’t believe that they deserve many of the things they wish for. Instead, if they use manipulation, they can get what they want in an underhanded and subtle manner that avoids them having to ask directly for it.

They will adopt passive-aggressive behaviour and play mind games. They won’t ever want to be backed into a corner and may offer vague explanations for things. They like to be able to chop and change to suit their current mood so you may find it almost impossible to obtain a definitive answer from a manipulative personality.

Manipulative personalities never accept responsibility for their own behaviour, often see themselves as the victim and never accept the blame for anything. They often have low empathy for others and many tend to possess narcissistic tendencies. This is an over-generalisation but there is often an overlap between narcissism, sociopathy and manipulation.

Spotting manipulation can make it easier to withstand. Look out for the signs. When you are with a manipulator, you will often feel you are not being heard and that your needs are going unmet. Take heed and listen to your inner voice. At times, we are so desperate to be loved that we overlook the signs but they will become worse so it’s better to spot them early on!

Mandy X

 

 

Attachment theory and adult relationships

 

attachment theory

Attachment theory and adult relationships

The style of care we receive as infants and children sets up our attachment type for our adult relationships. Attachment theory looks at three types of attachment: anxious, ambivalent and secure. The way our primary care giver treated us teaches us about human interaction. Is the world a safe place? Do we get our needs met consistently? How is it for us when our caregiver leaves us alone?

Secure Attachment as an infant (50% of population)

If our care giver consistently met our needs, picked us up when we cried and helped us feel safe we are more likely to develop a secure attachment and go on to have fairly stable adult relationships built on a strong stable foundation.

Anxious Avoidant Attachment as an infant(25%)

Parents of children with an avoidant/anxious attachment tend to be emotionally unavailable or unresponsive to them a good deal of the time. They disregard or ignore their children’s needs, and can be especially rejecting when their child is hurt or sick. They frequently rationalize their lack of response by saying they are trying not to spoil the child with “too much” affection or attention. These parents also discourage crying and encourage premature independence in their children.

In response, the avoidant/anxiously attached child learns early in life to suppress the natural desire to seek out a parent for comfort when frightened, distressed, or in pain.

Anxious Ambivalent Attachment as an infant(20%)

When parents or caregivers interact with their children in ways that are inconsistent and unpredictable, the children develop ambivalent/anxious attachment patterns. Attachmentresearchers describe the behavior of these adults, noting how at times they are nurturing, attuned and respond effectively to their child’s distress, while at other times they are intrusive, insensitive or emotionally unavailable. For example, they can be neglectful and then later try to make up for it by being overindulgent. When parents vacillate between two very different responses, their children become confused and distrustful, not knowing what kind of treatment to expect

The poet Philip Larkin was not the first or the last to notice that parents, “they fuck you up.”  How you are as a parent makes a huge difference in the neural development of your child for the first four or five years. While John Bowlby is known as the father of attachment, a prodigiously smart psychologist who worked briefly as his researcher, Mary Salter Ainsworth, is the one who brought his theory to life. In 1954, Ainsworth’s husband got a job in Uganda and she accompanied him, determined to set up a research project testing her and Bowlby’s budding theory with real people. After a year of observing Ganda mothers and babies, she noticed that the babies who cried the least had the most attentive mothers. And she saw how “maternal attunement” to babies’ cues seemed to determine these patterns.

Four Adult Attachment Styles

Secure Attachment (low avoidance, low anxiety): If you relate positively to others and yourself, you probably have a secure attachment style. Securely attached people are generally happy in their relationships, feeling that they and others are sensitive and responsive to each other.  They sense that connection can provide comfort and relief in times of need. They also feel that they are good, loved, accepted, and competent people.

Preoccupied Attachment (low avoidance, high anxiety): If you are always worried about what others think of you and don’t really factor in your thoughts and feelings, this style of attachment most likely fits you. People with a preoccupied attachment style feel a powerful need to be close to others, and they show this by clinging. They need a lot of validation and approval. They are concerned that others don’t value them, and they also doubt their own worth in relationships. So, they often worry a lot about their relationships.

Dismissing-Avoidant Style (high avoidance, low anxiety): Although the need for connection is biologically wired in people, those with this style of attachment deny it. They like to see themselves as independent and self-sufficient; and they minimize the importance of relationships. To keep their relationships unimportant, they suppress or hide their feelings. They also often think of other people less positively than they think of themselves. When faced with rejection, they cope with it by distancing themselves.

Fearful-Avoidant Style (high avoidance, high anxiety): People with this style of attachment tend to think of themselves as flawed, dependent, and helpless. And, they think they aren’t worthy of loving or caring responses from their partners. As a result, they don’t trust that others see them positively, and they expect to get hurt. So, although they want to be close to others, they also fear it. Understandably, they often avoid intimacy and suppress their feelings.

Attachment Questionnaire: which style are you?

Try this link if you would like to know more about your attachment style.

http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl

We all need human connection. Understanding our attachment style can help us to feel closer to others and to find ways to counteract our negative limiting behaviours if we do have an anxious or fearful attachment style.

It is only by facing our fears (with baby steps if necessary) that we can learn to minimise fears and overcome our limiting beliefs about relationships and love.

Mandy X

 

Info:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/making-change/201105/learning-your-attachment-style-can-light-your-life

http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl

http://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-change-your-attachment-style/

http://www.psychalive.org/attachment-theory/

How to improve mental resilience

 

mental resilience

How to improve mental resilience

Some people seem to cope better with setbacks than others. Despite life’s challenges they seem to be able to rise above the trouble and emerge stronger. The reason for this is their mental resilience. It is one of the most important skills you can learn to improve your quality of life and reduce stress.

  1. Mental flexibility

People who catastrophise and think up worst case scenarios invite unnecessary stress into their lives. Possessing mental flexibility is one of the most important ways to be mentally resilient. The ability to be able to look at a situation in different ways and think up rational alternatives tends to produce people who are happier in life. Of course, what happens to you in life is important but even more crucial is how you wish to perceive what happens to you. The story you tell yourself about your life. A pessimist might respond to a difficult life situation by saying to themselves, “This is just confirmation of what a loser I am. Nothing ever works out for me”…whereas someone with mental resilience would probably think more along the lines of:

“I’m not happy about this situation but there are things I can try to help the situation”.

Another example:

Situation: You greet someone and they ignore you.

Person without mental resilience “They obviously don’t like me.I must have done something wrong”

Person with mental resilience “They could be tired or stressed about something else. It might have nothing to do with me”.

2. No overthinking

Mental resilience involves awareness of thinking and knowing that thoughts are not facts. The reality of the situation might not be as we think it is. Being aware of types of worry can improve mental resilience. There is real worry and there is hypothetical worry. Real worry can usually be actioned immediately – such as a broken washing machine or a flat tyre. A hypothetical worry is a ‘what if’ worry – it may never happen. The less we preoccupy ourselves with thoughts of possible problems, the more we free up our minds for more productive thinking.

3. Avoidance of irrational thinking

Irrational thinking is something we all do but being aware of the types of irrational thoughts that exist can help us to dismiss these thoughts quicker. There is never obvious clear evidence for irrational thinking – we assume things that may not be true.

Examples:

Mind reading – when we assume that we know what others are thinking

Overgeneralising – assuming one example means all in that category will be the same

Black and white thinking/all or nothing thinking – this type of thinking does not allow for ‘grey’ areas which is unrealistic

Comparing and despairing – looking at other people’s lives and feeling worse off. We don’t know what is really going on behind closed doors

Catastrophising – thinking of the worst possible outcome when faced with a problem

Personalising – self blame when there is no evidence to suggest a person is at fault

4. Tolerating uncertainty

Trying new things regularly is a good way of learning to tolerate uncertainty. Uncertainty is something we all have to face so it’s a good idea to learn acceptance and find a way to cope well with it. Instead of resisting uncertainty by never trying anything – the more you can push yourself out of your comfort zone, the better.

Mental resilience can be learned and improved. Be brave, see life as an experiment and never take your thoughts too seriously. There are  many ways to look at  life, so learn to choose ‘stories’ that serve you well and motivate you rather than frighten you.

Mandy X

 

 

Playing mind games in relationships

 

mind games

Playing mind games in relationships

Any interaction with another person has the potential to involve some type of mind game. In fact, many of us are quite good at playing mind games in relationships. The problems start when the mind games are used for dubious purposes. Unscrupulous people want to be in control and many have learned how to push other people’s buttons and pick up on subtle emotional signals in order to manipulate the other. Mind games involve manipulation, twisting the facts and creating doubt to destabilise another person. Here are some examples of mind games in relationships and tips to counteract them:

The more tumultuous someone’s childhood was, the more likely they are to engage in mind games. As a powerless child faced with unfair and unreasonable parents, children learn ways to manipulate the situation in a subtle passive way in order to cope emotionally. Many take these dysfunctional coping mechanisms into their adult relationships.

Twisting the facts

Playing mind games involves twisting the facts of a situation in order to suit the manipulator’s version of events. They will see the situation their way and will generally lack the empathy to understand another person’s point of view. They will ignore feelings and repeat their version of events, effectively voiding any other point of view of a situation. This can be extremely frustrating for the partner who feels misheard and misunderstood.

Deflecting and dismissing

Someone is definitely playing mind games when they dismiss your feelings. They will say something upsetting and when you react, you are told you are “Too sensitive”. A healthy, carting person will not like upsetting someone else and make a point not to do it again. A person playing mind games will make a mental note of that weakness and keep it as a weapon to be used in the future to control and manipulate. Another tactic is when you try to talk to your partner about their behaviour or about something you don;t like that they do. Instead of listening and communicating, a person playing mind games will merely deflect the conversation and your concerns with a reply such as ” Well you did the same thing last week and that’s why I do it”. There is no acceptance of responsibility – somehow their behaviour gets blamed on something you have done.

Creating self doubt in another

“What are you doing that for?”, “Why are you thinking like that?” etc. A mind game player will do their best to shake the foundations of your beliefs and ideas about the world. The more confusion and self doubt, the easier it is to influence you.

Emotional blackmail

“If you truly cared, you wouldn’t do it” is an example of emotional blackmail. You are made to feel you do not care enough and in this way they control your behaviour.

Subtle erosion of confidence

Over time, mind game players ‘groom’ you into doubting yourself and this undermines confidence. They may also throw in comments like, “You are lucky to have me, no one else will love you like I do” or “You on’t find someone else to love you”. Instead of bringing out the best in you, they chip away at your confidence to keep you feeling unworthy. As a result, you will be less likely to leave the relationship.

If you think you are experiencing mind games in your relationship, you probably are. Second guessing yourself is common in relationships where mind games are rife. Learn to recognise the types of mind games and don’t play the game.

Mandy X