Invest in your life pt. 4: Tribal Relationships

Relationships: Using Tribal Thinking to Develp Greater Purpose and Belonging

Successful relationships at work, home and in all aspects of our lives are essential to our feelings of wellbeing and happiness.

Looking back in time, Homo sapiens became successful  as a group because we learnt that working together and sharing is more efficient and safer than being a lone hunter/killer. Every tribe had its rituals, roles and taboos, which allowed the group to stick together and survive. This way of being has become so deeply ingrained in our psyche that the essentials of relationship-making remain pretty much the same today as they did for our ancestors.

Knowing and participating in your current tribal culture will help you to achieve successful relationships.  Not only that, but you can generate in yourself a deeper sense of purpose and belonging.

Successful Relationships in 3 Parts.

1. Rules

Whilst many of the historical taboos no longer apply, rules and boundaries are essential to emotional security and safety. This means identifying the ground-rules and working out the conditions of each relationship you’re in-with your partner, friends and colleagues, and even with your kids.

What do you need the other person to do or not do? Vague statements don’t help as they are impossible to act on. The meaning of “I need respect,” is different for different people.  “Please can you tell the boss that we worked on this job together” is better. And, if it is important to you that you to know that your partner will be late, you could say, “When you are running more than 5 minutes late, please give me a call on my mobile and leave a message”.

Get to know what others require in your relationships. This sets the boundaries. Can I do this/can I do that? What are my needs and what is acceptable or unacceptable? Is compromise possible? Write down your needs, discuss, and remember to revisit them regularly.

2. Roles: Mammoth for Tea Darling?

Successful hunting and gathering was about everyone in the tribe working together and knowing what their job was.  Perhaps today it doesn’t affect whether we are going to catch mammoth for tea but role clarity does affect both our sense of self and our effectiveness. In your personal relationships are you clear about what each of you do? Step 2 is to have that discussion.

3. Rituals

Rituals and ceremonies help us to define situations. Do you greet: with a kiss or a handshake? Do you do a tea making ceremony? This is the glue that holds all of our relationships together. The make-up rituals after rows and arguments define successful and unsuccessful couples.  Identifying and sticking to your rituals, even when it feels difficult,  is important in keeping your relationships healthy and vibrant.

Relationship Success & Tribal Habits

Thus the recipe for successful relationships boils down to the 3 R’s – observe them, and you will be surrounded by supportive people for the rest of your life.

Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy helps clients to live life fully. We use a range of creative and traditional techniques to help you to sort out issues in your personal and professional lives in an efficient and effective manner. The list is extensive but includes anxiety, addiction, relationships, depression, and all things therapeutic.

Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a range of issues including addictions. He can be contacted through the website: https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk .

Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. You are advised to seek specialist support for treatment for addictions. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Ken McLeish BA DMS MBA MSc MSc Cert Ed UKCP Reg
Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy
Cuthbert House, NE6 5RD
0191 3506415
https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk .

 

Invest in Your Life pt. 2: Seeing Things Differently

Reframing to Get Some Perspective!

This is the second in a series of articles on steps to a better life.

Some years ago I gave a presentation to apprentice footballers at Sheffield United. The first question I asked them was: “Do you get better if you train harder?” They all said, yes this was true.  I disagreed with all of them.

Often the opposite is true: For footballers too much can mean burn-out, injury and lack of form. It is quality not quantity that’s important. For them the answer was  “train Smart”

 “It is not what you do in your life but how you do it.”

How can you “Train Smart”?

One method is contained within the rather famous image below. This was originally drawn by cartoonist  W. E. Hill in 1915.  What do you see? Can you switch between the two images in your mind? The image that you initially see, young woman or old is based upon your connections to old and young women in your mind, your values, and beliefs past and present.

Being able to swap the images of young and old is a skill. And, being able to see ideas and problems from a different perspective is called “reframing”.  Alex Ferguson, the ex-Manchester United football manager used this when he helped his players to explain a poor first half performance as “we couldn’t see each other as we were wearing grey shirts”. The kit was dropped after this game and United won the remaining 5 games to take the title. Whether the players were indeed having difficulty in seeing each other or not was perhaps irrelevant . Alex Ferguson was really interested in helping his players to see their performance from a different angle. This was so successful it helped the players to not only feel better but move on to winning ways.

Not Hard Work but Smart Work

Reframing is a fundamentally helpful technique and we use variations of this method frequently in therapy. It is particularly important if you get stuck in repetitive thinking about a problem. Your answer in this case is to apply a creative approach to your thoughts. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking here?”; “Are there any alternatives ways of thinking about this?”; “What would happen if I carried them out?”.

You will need a bit of practice as this doesn’t come naturally, but the benefits are great.

This article is second in the series, of inward investment, tips to a better life articles. I hope that you enjoyed it and found it useful.

Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy helps clients to live life fully. We use a range of creative and traditional techniques to help you to sort out key issues in your lives in an efficient and effective manner.

Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a range of issues including addictions. He can be contacted through the website: https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk .

Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. You are advised to seek specialist support for treatment for addictions. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Ken McLeish BA DMS MBA MSc MSc Cert Ed UKCP Reg
Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy
Alderman Fenwicks House, NE1 6SQ
0191 5805080
https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk

Invest in Your Life pt. 1: “Training”

This is the first of a series of six short business focused articles that were written for a magazine. They are all centred on a key topic and are designed to be reflective on an important issue that relates to your happiness and fulfillment. Hope that you enjoy it.

Inward Investment: Are you on The Right Track?

Have you set yourself goals in your life? Goals are the currency of business. However, applying business thinking to your private life can cost you. Here the price you pay is to direct your focus to your future at the expense of your present. Considering the metaphor of life’s journey, you focus upon your destination but lose sight of the voyage. This is particularly true when life’s journey is rough, complete with its’ ups and downs, twists and turns. Furthermore, today’s fast pace of life often compounds the problem.

What is it that you could be missing if you focus on your destination? You might well have thought about this. However, many people have not.

Suppose that you have chosen the right track and are now speeding to the right destination. When you arrive, you look around, surprised. You are not where you expected. You have arrived yet, you are somehow incomplete. Equally, you may be on the right track but the environment in which you find yourself is making progress difficult.

Being “in the present” is closely tied into your “quality of life”. Quite simply, taking care of the present improves your life. The following tips will help you to bring into focus elements which affect your “quality of life” and help you to enjoy life’s journey

Life’s Journey in 5 Steps

  1. How do I enjoy the journey?
  2. Who do I want with me when I arrive?
  3. What do I plan to do when I get there?
  4. Where is it that I want to get to?
  5. How do I best navigate the barriers in my way?

Overall, the point is: Taking care of business really starts with the most important investment of all – you.

Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy helps clients to live life fully. We use a range of creative and traditional techniques to help you to sort out key issues in your lives in an efficient and effective manner.

Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a range of issues including addictions. He can be contacted through the website: https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk .

Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. You are advised to seek specialist support for treatment for addictions. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Ken McLeish BA DMS MBA MSc MSc Cert Ed UKCP Reg
Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy
Cuthbert House, NE6 5RD
0191 3506415
https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk .

 

Addictions: Rewiring Brian: pt. 2

Left & Right Brain FunctionsAddictions: Stopping – Rewiring Brian Part.2

If you recall from Stopping Addictions pt 1, which reviewed current research on addictions, your brain has used its thousands of years of evolution to rewire itself  to all of those “rewarding” things that you have been feeding it. Its’ capacity to learn has developed it in a way that is really unhelpful to you leaving you with faulty wiring and a “Brian” instead of a brain. Your brain has developed strong neural connections between brain cells based upon your feelings, thinking and behaviour. It is these patterns that are the basis of your addiction and why it is hard to stop.

One picture that may help is to imagine a sheep track in the hills. Sheep follow the same paths over and over again and, if you look, you can see these deep grooves where the sheep have been walking. It is also true that every now and again a solitary sheep runs off in a different direction but, by and large, they do follow the same paths. Thoughts are like sheep in that they often follow familiar paths in your mind because those paths have been well used.

To get new habits you have to rewire your brain. Because of the depth and strength of the connections of the brain you have unconsciously learnt to respond to triggers – which may be either internal feelings (like sadness or frustration etc.) or things we see/hear/feel. These triggers are linked to your addictive behaviour. You need to help you brain to make new connections.

Reboot Your Brain?

Perhaps the ideal is to go “cold turkey” and to reboot your brain and teach it a new programme. Gambling addiction or pornography addiction seem to respond to “turning the tap off”, stopping and rebooting. Unfortunately, with substance misuse because of physical withdrawal you may well need to taper your addictive behaviour for medical reasons or might need medical supervision in rehab.

Three of the Best

This brings us to some techniques which you can use to help you to rewire.

1. Surf It

The good news is that we cannot maintain the intensity of our feeling for all that long. The first tactic is to surf the feeling. Notice the feeling and identify it and look at it in your mind. What is the specific feeling? Then surf it towards the shore. It will break on the beach if you just hang in there. You cannot maintain an intense feeling for a long period. Try it.

2. Incompatibility

To give you a clear idea of this in practice, if it was smoking go take a shower. Your job is to work out beforehand what the alternative activities are (write a list!) so that you can immediately put the alternative activity in place.

3. Distract Yourself

As above but any activity that you enjoy that takes your mind away from the thoughts of addiction. In order to work effectively, this needs to be something you really enjoy, ideally something which occupies your thoughts/makes you concentrate. You also need to do it immediately. When you have found an activity that works stick to it repetitively.

Distraction tends to be harder than doing something incompatible. Writing a journal, making a favourite snack, playing chess, having a deep conversation are examples. Progressive Muscular Relaxation or meditation are also great but require some practice.

When you first start these alternative activities it will require lots and lots of will power. As you practice turning your attention to these alternatives they will get easier and easier as you begin to “rewire your brain” and your addiction becomes less powerful. The more you do this, the stronger the connections get and the weaker your automatic responses will become. You will, however, still get your addictive cravings/ images or other things for a long time, they do however, change and become easier to manage.

Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a range of issues including addictions. He can be contacted through the website: https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk .

Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. You are advised to seek specialist support for treatment for addictions. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Addiction: What is a Plastic Brian? Part 1

Left & Right Brain FunctionsAddiction: What is a Plastic Brian ?

New research shows that addictive behaviour although initially voluntary can spiral out of control as the brain’s neural circuitry becomes overloaded and then rewires. Your brain control function then becomes weakened and you have difficulty in controlling your urges and your addictive behaviour becomes compulsive.

How does this sorry state of affairs come to pass? After all, we have had thousands of years of evolution to get this sorted. The very problem appears to be with evolution itself as our brain has been designed to be very adept at responding to stimuli. However, our brain wasn’t well prepared for the intense stimulus overload of the modern world.

Plasticity is a function of the ability of your brain to make new connections: As thoughts flow through your brain, networks of neurons join your brain cells together. The more you do something the stronger the connections become. All well and good, until those connections are the wrong ones. So your brain becomes a “Brian” having wired itself up incorrectly.

The brain works by making connections between brain cells and the more these connections are made the stronger they become. Similarly, you could think about patterns of thought as working in the same way, flowing along these connections. So we do something, get a good feeling, and we are more likely to repeat that behaviour which will then result in a release of “feel good potion” /(chemical neurotransmitters) etc. . Addictive behaviour of all types is a learned behaviour. This learned behaviour becomes automatic – so automatic in fact, that we no longer pay it very much conscious attention, it just happens.

Your behaviour will have been learnt well: your brain will have been busy rewiring itself to your addictive habit. It won’t just have learnt the behaviour but will have cleverly made connections to moods, feelings, situations, people, visual cues (triggers) and so on. A simple example is that you might have a trigger of a bookies sign or the paper dropping through the letterbox (racing pages). This complex network of connections is one reason why addictive behaviour is quite difficult to stop.

200 Women before Dawn?

What about if you could get the same fix but twice as intense? Well in today’s society you nearly always can. Food, porn and gambling are particularly problematic as they are all available “on-tap” and are difficult to avoid. Why not get your fix of gambling by betting on televised racing which you can play back later at high speed? Internet porn allows you to have 200 women before breakfast. These activities give a buzz at the time and your behaviour is reinforced. It is easy step to do this to feel the buzz when you feel down or depressed. And it is here that your problems really start as you learn addictive, automatic responses to such things as anxiety, stress, loneliness, boredom and so on.

Unfortunately, your brain adapts to this high level of stimulus and “damps down” its response. You crave more stimulus to get the same fix and you get trapped inside this vicious circle. Not only that, but you end up feeling bad about yourself as you find you cannot get yourself out of this. Which then makes you repeat your addictive behaviour, which makes you feel bad and so on. The changes in brain chemicals bought about by the addictive behaviour also affect the frontal brain and impairs the executive function. This means that you become more impulsive. You neural pathways have created a “Brian”.

Your challenge is to unlearn these maladaptive responses and rewire. See part II which will come as soon as I’ve written it…

 

Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a range of issues including addictions. He can be contacted through the website: https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk .

Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. You are advised to seek specialist support for treatment for addictions. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Do Therapists Need Therapy: 4 Tips to Choosing a Great Therapist

Choosing Counsellors and Therapists Perhaps this a controversial statement?  However, when you’re going to be committing money, time and energy to therapy, it’s certainly something that you need to consider when you’re choosing your therapist. It’s one of the four areas that you should have considered when selecting your counsellor or psychotherapist. The other three are below…

1.       The Therapist’s Own Therapy

When you go to see a therapist, either counsellor or psychotherapist, they all have a sophisticated tool at their disposal that they have invested in – themselves. Whilst much can be learnt through academic study, that really is only part of the story. The primary instrument that the therapist uses is their own personality. Ideally, to help others therapists must have done their own work through their own therapy. Their own therapy will have allowed them to grow, releasing them to develop growth in others. Ask them about their own experiences of therapy. It’s not that it’s impossible to work with others without having looked at your own issues, its just that it makes you more potent if you have done. Make sure that your therapist has worked on their own stuff before they work on yours.

2.       Post Graduate Training

Academic credentials are worth considering:  both universities and specialist psychotherapy training institutions offer post graduate training above degree level (e.g. a Masters qualification (MSc or MA)) and this can be one indication of deeper study or knowledge. Whilst all Counsellors and Therapists are required to demonstrate on-going professional development as part of their registration, the best therapists tend to be devoted to lifelong learning. In this case more is nearly always better.

3.       Professional Body Accreditation

Although this may change in the future, surprisingly, unlike other medical professions, there is no overall government regulating body for Psychotherapy and Counselling who are instead currently regulated by their professional bodies. The two most important bodies are the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

http://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/      http://www.bacp.co.uk/

Both bodies regulate their members and have codes of ethics and practice which are regarded as essential guidelines for responsible  practitioners.

4.       Your Fit with the Counsellor or Psychotherapist

One of the successful markers of effective therapy – therapy that helps you to achieve your goals- is where there is a strong feeling of rapport between client and therapist. The relationship which develops is very important. How do you work this out then? 4 markers are:

  • Do you feel comfortable with the therapist?
  • Does he or she listen carefully?
  • Do you feel that you are able to trust them?
  • What is the overall feeling you had about the therapist?

In summary, the 4 tips to a good Psychotherapist or Counsellor are:  Qualifications, training and experience, Professional Registration, Personal Therapy, and Client “Fit”.  With these in mind you will have a good sense of whether the therapist is right for you.

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