Anxiety Self Help Questions

Questions to ask yourself

What are the facts for my worry ?

What is the evidence for this thought being true ?

Has this been true in the past ?

What are the chances of this happening, or this being true ?

What is the worst thing that could happen ?

Why is that the worst thing, and why so bad ?

What would I do if the worst thing happened ?

Am I looking at the whole picture ?

Am I being objective ?

Are there other ways of looking at this ?

If someone I knew had this thought, what would I say to them ?

What are the alternative thoughts I could have ?

Is there an alternative explanation for my worry ?

Exercise

Make a list of all your positive qualities and strengths, don’t include anything negative
Tell yourself that what you perceive as your weaknesses are all part of human nature. Nobody is perfect
Remember that you and your behaviour are NOT the same thing. Even if you do make a mistake it doesn’t mean you are a bad person
Understand  your Anxiety. Knowledge is POWER, accept that you understand anxiety and  its manifestation for you, you don’t need to be alarmed by it.
Have compassion for yourself. Don’t blame yourself for thinking and feeling the  way you do. This time will pass !!
Challenge your thoughts. Say ‘ I don’t have to accept these thoughts’ they are just      thoughts.
Use Positive Affirmations
Get a better perspective, scale your thoughts 0-10 aim to bring the scale down
Do a cost/ benefit analysis looking at advantages and disadvantages of your thoughts. How does this help me or does it hurt me?
Do some relaxation, a three minute breathing exercise.

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Couples Counselling

Couples Counselling, previously known as marriage guidance, addresses the problems arising from adult sexual or intimate relationships. The relationship, rather than the two individuals, is the ‘client’.
Our very closest relationship: a marriage; co-habitation or civil partnership, is based on intimacy and trust. When it stops working we are affected deeply and our health and happiness suffer. Our sense of identity and self-worth often rests on the strength of our relationships and we can despair when our prime relationship fails.
Pressures of work, family, money and health all take their toll. Suddenly the relationship that once recharged us leaves us drained and disappointed.
Patterns of behaving that we learned as children often re-emerge in our adult relationship. A childhood ‘scapegoat’ may start to feel blamed for everything by the partner who once adored them.
Possible signs you have relationship problems

Communication  breaks down
Sex has ended or causes problems
Arguments continue without resolution
Violence erupts, or emotional abuse is apparent
Depression or other health problems recur
The bond of trust is eroded or broken.

It is normal for relationships to suffer as the pressure and strains of everyday life mount. Love may disappear, and be replaced by resentment and anger. Each partner can view this differently depending on their own experience of family life. One may despair, while the other may view it as a temporary blip.
Where a couple has attached hastily – in response to a passion, pregnancy or other need, disappointments can surface and fester when the excitement subsides. Re-negotiating, with a skilled couple counsellor, can help build a more realistic and deeper relationship.
When is the right time for couple counselling?

There has been a betrayal of trust; an affair, debt or secret.

Talking causes confusion or  unbearable anger.

Separation or Divorce seem like the only option.

Desire has gone or sex is no fun.

Arguments and bickering go on and on.

If possible, attend together unless there is domestic violence or fear. Counselling can be undertaken with one partner if that feels more comfortable.
Being able to manage conflict, arguments and rows is the foundation stone to a good relationship. It is unrealistic to hope that arguments can be avoided.
Two people come with their own values and beliefs and both must feel heard in order to thrive. This may mean developing new skills. Differences need to be acknowledged; otherwise we merge or one partner is unheard. Then one partner may dominate and the other ‘disappears’. Arguments are a healthy and essential part of any relationship and can energise it if carried out skilfully. Indirect anger and domestic violence are destructive.
Counselling can help with understanding the messages about conflict that we may have inherited from our family and offer new skills.
Causes of relationship problems

Lack of  communication or poor communication
Illness or ongoing health problems
Birth of a child
External pressures like finances, work, family or friends
Life changes
Children leaving home

Relationships need solid foundations; two unhappy people with unresolved issues rarely make a long-term happy relationship. It may be tempting to feel that our partner can compensate for earlier pain and loss, but this hope often leads to further disappointment.
Enter a relationship as healthily as possible for the best chance of long-term happiness. The pleasure is in wanting to be with someone rather than the tension of feeling needy and dependent.
Self-respect and liking oneself are the important ingredients for a good relationship. If they are in short supply you may consider counselling to address them.
How can couple counselling help?

Destructive patterns of relating can be recognised and addressed.

Conflict and communication can be improved.

New relationship skills can be learned.

The impact of change and loss can be examined.

Relationships can be more successful.

Abusive relationships and domestic violence can be acknowledged.

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Pre-nuptial Counselling

Pre-nuptial counselling allows a couple to consider their preferred way of being together before they hit a crisis. It is a way for them to contemplate their ‘contract’ of being together and how they might prepare themselves if the relationship gets strained –as it inevitably will do. Although it might seem out of context with modern life – it can save a lot of heartache and might be more realistically looked at as a ‘negotiating or re-negotiating our contract’.
The publicity given to pre-nuptial financial packages is making more couples aware of the good sense of considering the emotional and practical aspects of their relationship contract – and understanding that looking at the realities of a shared life does not undermine romance or love.
Negotiation subjects

Children – do you want children, how would they be brought up?
Finance – who will be responsible for what, is there a financial plan?
Misunderstandings – how might they be resolved?
Conflict – how will it be dealt with?
Loyalties – what part will each other’s family play? How much emphasis will be placed on work,friends, hobbies?
How will chores be divided? Will those be altered if working patterns change?
Sex – what will happen if  problems arise?
Work – what priority is placed on this by each partner?

Symptoms of marriage breakdown
Cultural problems can arise without being noticed by each other as life’s pressures build up and this can cause a couple to disconnect– whether the problems relate to family, childcare, finance, work or friends. All families have inbuilt cultural attitudes – they don’t necessarily have to be from different religions or races – for many couples the differences are much more subtle but still powerful.
A couple is made up of two people from two different backgrounds who bring their values, often taken for granted, with them. Which set of values will predominate or will the couple establish a new set for themselves? A little forethought can save a lot of heartache.

bickering
resentment
withdrawal
divided loyalties
constant conflict
isolation
disappointment
mis-understandings.

When is the right time for pre-nuptial counselling?
Ideally a couple might consider such counselling before they set up home together, whether they choose to marry or not. At this time they can take a less-pressured view of how they would like their relationship to be. Once the stresses of daily living are underway there is a temptation to revert to the blueprints of the family we grew up in – or to reverse them. Pregnancy is another good time for a couple to reflect realistically about how they want to live together.
How can counselling help?
A qualified couple counsellor should have an understanding of the major stages of development in a relationship and be aware of the common stressors in each phase and their impact on the relationship. For example the birth of the first child is often considered the most stressful point in a relationship, with the period of children leaving home a close second. In both these situations the couples contract of being together, whether conscious or unconscious, may need to be thought about or reconsidered to accommodate the enormous changes as they take place. In that way the relationship can be more realistic about the changing expectations and situations of both partners.
A couple counsellor can offer an impartial, non-judgemental position to allow the couple to think out their own position, while remaining realistic about the pressures that each partner is under. When the crisis is over the couple can continue to strengthen their bond without fear they have been undermined by family or friends taking sides or casting value-judgements on one partner or another.
Relationships are continually evolving as people change, develop or encounter set-backs. Considering the ‘relationship contract’ means that such changes can be adapted to without one partner being left behind. Undertaking pre-nuptial counselling, or relationship re-negotiation later on, can establish a healthy way to let each other know how changes might be contemplated and tackled.

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What is separation counselling ?

What is separation counselling?

Separation Counselling offers a chance to:

Consider the practical aspects of separation
Consider the impact on other family members
Resolve and have closure with each other
Establish ways to make decisions about the future.

Divorce or separation counselling offers a chance to examine the relationship with less pressure to ‘fix’ it. This more distant perspective can offer insight into the feelings of despair and unhappiness. At this stage one or both partners might hope for reconciliation. It might also offer a chance to uncover some of the underlying causes.

If a partner is hesitant about their decision to divorce it is an opportunity to unpack some of the problems in a structured and informed way. What do the hesitations mean? In this realistic phase, honesty and openness can often replace blame and anger. When did things turn in their history? What allowed things to become so broken? What earlier patterns of coping with life were re-enacted in this relationship and to what effect? What was the history of relationship, when did things turn? What allowed things to become so broken.

When one partner has decided to leave and the other does not, the work has a ‘Split Agenda’ which requires an experienced couples counsellor. If the decision is made to separate then practical decisions might need to be thought through and channels of communication set up for future contact with children, family and property.

The couple needs closure on their lives together and an ‘ending’ to allow them to assimilate what was good and what was less helpful. This chance to minimise hurt and bitterness can allow a less bitter future

Separation counselling allows the mourning for the loss of what had once held so much promise. Understanding the loss cycle in relation to the union is a valuable way to allow individuals to move on with their lives rather than rolling over the same issues onto new relationships.

How can counselling help with separation?

Minimise harmful effects on children and partners.
Make sense of what has happened.
Allow for change and moving forward.
Help offer perspective and closure.

 

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Relationships and Bad Communication

Couples often ask me what helps to make a successful relationship? There is of course no definitive answer as there are many things that contribute to a happy relationship. However, I do always emphasise the importance of good communication. It is so easy to fall into bad habits. Below are some characteristics of bad communication which you can check if you are guilty of …… it is never too late to do things differently.
Characteristics of Bad Communication
1.    Truth : you insist that you are RIGHT and the other person is WRONG

2.    Blame: you say that the problem is the other person’s fault.

3.    Martyrdom: you claim you are an innocent victim

4.    Put down: you imply the other person is ‘ no good’ because he / she ‘always’ or ‘never’ does certain things.

5.    Hopelessness: you give up and insist there is no point in trying

6.    Demandingness: you say you are entitled to better treatment but you refuse to ask for what you want in a direct , straightforward way. You expect the other person to mind read.

7.    Denial: you insist you don’t feel angry, hurt or sad when you really do.

8.    Passive Aggressive: you sulk or withdraw. You say nothing and storm off or leave the room.

9.    Self blame: instead of dealing with the problem you act as a victim. As though you are an awful person. Poor me.

10.   Helping: instead of hearing how depressed, hurt or angry the other person feels, you try and ‘ solve the problem’ or ‘ help’ him or her.

11.  Sarcasm: your words or tone of voice convey tension or hostility which you aren’t openly acknowledging.

12.  Scapegoating: you suggest that the other person has a ‘problem’ and that you are ok and uninvolved or not responsible in any way for the conflict.
13. Defensiveness: you refuse to admit any wrong doing or imperfection.
14. Counterattack: instead of acknowledging how the other person feels, you respond to their criticism by criticising them.
15. Diversion: instead of dealing with how you both feel in the here and now, you list grievances about past injustices.
Instead of arguing and getting defensive you can express your feelings with ‘ I feel’ statements. This is very simple you just start your sentence with ‘ I feel’ ………. And add a word that describes how you are feeling eg: sad, angry, hurt, annoyed, worried, frustrated and so on.
‘I feel’ statements are in sharp contrast to ‘ YOU’ statements like YOU make me annoyed, angry, upset etc. The YOU statements sound critical, blaming and judgemental. They will always trigger a negative response from your partner.
 Examples of negative feelings are: I feel angry, I feel criticised, I feel put down, I feel frustrated, I feel misunderstood
Examples of vulnerable feelings are: I feel sad, I feel rejected, I feel hurt, I feel unloved, I feel disappointed, I feel ignored, I feel attacked, I feel inadequate.
Avoid getting into who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ this serves NO purpose !!!
Try to use empathy and understand the other persons feeling, put yourself in their shoes.

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Fact or Opinion

At stressful times we are driven by the power and strength of our emotions. Our emotions strengthen our opinion about a situation or person. This can lead to impulsive actions which have longer term implications.
It can be helpful to challenge your emotions and thoughts by asking ourselves whether what you are thinking is FACT or just your OPINION.
If it is a FACT we can make choices about what we can or cannot do about it. If it is just an OPINION , then we can challenge our assumptions and possible faulty thinking.
Realising that many thoughts are just opinions rather than true facts make it less distressing. Then a calmer decision can be made by checking out what action would be best to take.

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Challenging Worries

Write down:

What am I worrying about ?

List my worrisome thought.

Then answer the following questions:-

What am I predicting is going to happen ?
How strongly do I believe this will happen?
What emotions am I feeling?
How intense are these emotions?

Now challenge your worries:-

What is the evidence for my prediction?
What is the evidence against my prediction?
How likely on a scale of 0-100% is what I am predicting likely to happen?
What is the worst that could happen?
What is the best that could happen?
How helpful is it for me to worry about this?
Will I still be worrying about this problem in a week/months time?
If the worst did happen, what would I do to cope?
How else could I view this situation?

Answering the above should engage you with more balanced thinking. What would be a more balanced way of looking at the worry? How can I replace the worry?

Finally:

Re-rate how much you believe the original prediction is true
Re-rate how intense you feel the emotions you had originally

 

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Coping with Stress

Stress is something that is part of normal life, in that it is experienced by everyone from time to time. However, some people suffer from excessive stress which is more frequent and severe. This can affect the quality of their life and relationships.
There are a huge range of everyday stressors that can trigger stressful symptoms. Symptoms of stress vary in degree from person to person. These can include:-

Irritability or moodiness
Poor sleep
Worrying and feeling anxious
Upset stomach
Changes in appetite (increase or decrease)
Chest pains and other physical symptoms

Stress Management Tips

Identify your triggers. Can you manage these better and control some aspects of them differently. Break them down and look carefully at what you can change and control.
Build in regular exercise or mediation. A healthy balanced lifestyle helps create more energy to deal with stress. Eat well and sleep well.
Take time out for family and friends. Recreational activity is important for relaxation.
Use problem solving techniques. Clarify the problem. Put into action one possible solution, listing pros and cons.
Learn calming techniques such as controlled breathing and relaxation. Train your mind and body to become relaxed. Use CD’s to help you practice.
Learn some assertiveness skills. Maybe see a counsellor to help you with these.
Challenge your thinking processes. Are you constantly focusing on the negative? Negative thinking can make us worry more than necessary, increasing stress and generally doesn’t generate positive action.
Practice Mindfulness techniques. ‘Mindfulness’ by Mark Williams & Danny Penman free CD included

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Why Commitment Matters

Commitment is the part of the relationship that provides safety and security, so couples can express their thoughts, feelings, and desires openly.
 With the rise in numbers of couples who live together rather than marry, compounded with the prevalence of divorce, it may seem as though people don’t care about commitment anymore. Yet people acknowledge that lack of commitment is a problem. Recent research found that approximately 85% of divorced couples indicated a lack of commitment to the marriage and to each other as their reason for divorce.
 Why is commitment so important?
Here’s an analogy that may help explain why. The decision to do well at school, get some qualifications and go to university is a commitment to defining your future. You are aware it will take several years and some studying. You are also aware it will take effort on your part to produce assignments and pass exams. But you’re also aware that you are going to have to invest yourself fully in the process in order to ultimately be successful and walk away with a degree. It takes commitment. Without commitment, there is no degree.
Commitment in relationships is no different. Commitment is the dedicated choice to give up other competing choices. According to relationship expert Scott Stanley, couples reporting higher levels of commitment report that they:
 Look at other attractive people less;
 Feel great relationship satisfaction
 Do not experience feeling trapped in the relationship.
Commitment is the part of the relationship that provides safety and security, so couples can express their thoughts, feelings, and desires openly. When they’re committed, they have the confidence that they’ll make it through the day-to-day challenges and life’s stressors that can tear a marriage apart. Commitment offers couples a sense of being part of a team, a desire for a future together and a desire to sacrifice for each other. An individual’s commitment to the marriage makes it a priority. It is vital that the couples understand how their decisions about commitment play a role in their future success. Not being committed carries great consequences, the greatest of which is relationship conflict and failure.

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Are you suffering from social anxiety?

Almost everyone at some point gets a little anxious or self conscious in front of other people. Sometimes though it can become so intense it stops us doing things and can interfere with our life.
Social anxiety is a term used to describe feelings of anxiety or fear that occur in social situations. Do you feel extremely anxious in any of the following situations?

Being the centre of attention
Meeting new people or going to new places
Being watched while doing something
Parties or social gatherings
Talking to people in authority

The above commonly cause distress to people with social anxiety. There are other common symptoms of social anxiety. These might include:-

Worrying about what others think
Focusing on others reactions to you
Self conscious when speaking
Blushing
Dry mouth
Heart palpitations
Avoidance or feeling intense distress during situations you can’t avoid.

If you can relate to these symptoms, then social anxiety might be a problem for you. Talking to a counsellor can help you change your thinking. It can also help you develop strategies to cope better in certain situations that may cause you distress and ease your anxiety.

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