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Many of you have probably heard complaints from your partner about “not feeling connected.” If you have not spent some time considering your own emotional needs, you may have no idea of what s/he is talking about. Here I will address three basic questions: What does it mean to feel connected? How do two people get disconnected? What can be done to minimize the problem of disconnection?
What does it mean to "feel connected"?
Basically, feeling connected means feeling in touch with someone who cares about us. Most people acknowledge that children need to feel a safe attachment to an adult who cares for them. The reality is that adults also need a secure attachment to another adult. Each of us has an innate need to feel safely attached to another person who will be there in our times of physical or emotional need. When we enter into a committed relationship, this need actually intensifies due to the hope that this one special person will consistently be there for us. Specifically, we hope that this one adult will meet our emotional needs in three ways.
1. Can I get your attention when I need it? When I ask for your attention, can you be available to me? Can you listen to what I am saying? Am I a top priority to you? To sum up, are you accessible to me?
2. Can you comfort me when I am anxious, sad, lonely, or afraid? Will you make some effort to comfort me in those situations? In other words, are you responsive to me?
3. Do you care about my well-being even when we are not together? I need to know that you care about my joys, hurts, and fears. Will you care about me consistently and reliably? Are we truly engaged in each other’s lives?
How do two people get disconnected?
Often the offending partner is not even aware of the behaviour that led to a loss of connection or the threat to secure attachment. It is not humanly possible to stay constantly tuned in to your partner’s emotional needs. Even if you are both trying to be attentive, you may miss each other’s signals about sensing detachment.
For example, Susan became accustomed to getting an affectionate hug from Tom every evening before going to sleep. When the hug went missing for several nights in a row, she began to feel a disconnection from him. It seemed to her that he had stopped feeling affection for her, which signalled to her that their attachment was no longer secure. This triggered a deep fear in Susan. Tom missed the signals of her emotional distress and was unable to reassure her of his commitment before they spiralled down into an argument about “how cold and unloving he was.”
All couples have instances of emotional disconnection. Many times, these lead to complaints, defensive reactions, and heated arguments.
What can we do to minimize the distress and the arguments that usually result?
Here are three steps involved in avoiding the arguments that result from disconnection: 1. Become aware of the patterns of your arguments, 2. identify emotional triggers that lead you and your partner to feel the loss of connection, and 3. learn to ask for and to provide comfort.
1. Many arguments fall into recognizable patterns. For example, Susan stops receiving hugs and files a complaint to Tom. She feels disconnected due to the loss of affection, but rather than saying that, she tells him that he is “not affectionate enough.” Tom defends himself; he has been preoccupied lately and caught up in his own thoughts at night. Susan then feels further disconnected because she has filed her complaint and is still not getting what she needs – a sign of his ongoing love for her. Her increased frustration quickly escalates to anger because now she feels “not heard” or “ignored.” Her increased anger leads Tom to shut down emotionally, hoping that somehow her anger will stop if he does not react to it. This strategy fails, of course. It is no more effective (or advised) to ignore a distressed spouse than it is to ignore a distressed child. Both need comfort and reassurance.
It is critical to recognize the pattern of arguments between partners and to see them for what they really are: pleas for a sign that the other person cares.
2. Each of us has emotional triggers that cause our innate fear of abandonment to spike. Partners unintentionally hurt each other’s emotional raw spots. When we learn to identify these sensitivities in ourselves and in each other, we can make an effort to avoid them.
3. The final step sounds simple but may take a lot of practice. We often have misguided ideas about how to get our emotional needs met. Too often, we expect a partner to know what we’re feeling and what type of comfort we need. This is unrealistic. Susan might have simply asked Tom for a hug when she needed some affection from him. A second hurdle to getting through step 3 is the fact that many of us were raised with messages such as “Don’t express feelings,” “Don’t be vulnerable,” or “Don’t let them see you cry.” We may have even been ridiculed for having feelings. These types of messages must be seen as preventing two loving adults from expressing the need for comfort from each other. The better message to tell yourself is: Have courage, and trust that your partner loves you. S/he wants the connection as much as you do. There may be times when the other person's attention is focused upon other matters, but be patient and reach out in a loving way.
I am trained to assist you work through these challenges and experience the joy and happiness of a connected relationship. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website at www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
(Note that the names used for the sample therapy couples are fictional.)
Nadine van Rensburg is a counselling therapist specializing in marriage counselling & coaching, couples counselling and family counselling.
The month of October has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month with the objective of not only educating the public about mental health but also to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people with mental illness are often subjected to.
Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioural, and emotional wellbeing - it is all about how we think, feel, and behave. Mental health can affect daily life, relationships, and even physical health. Mental health also includes a person's ability to enjoy life - to attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.
The World Health Organisation stresses that mental health "is not just the absence of mental disorder." Experts say we all have the potential to develop mental health problems, no matter how old we are, whether we are male or female, rich or poor, or which ethnic group we belong to.
Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and job stress are common, affecting individuals, their families and co-workers, and the broader community. In addition, they have a direct impact on workplaces through increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and increased costs. Very few South Africans seek treatment for their mental disorders. When we experience mental health challenges, all aspects of our life can be affected. If we are experiencing stress at home this will affect our work performance, and if we are stressed at work, we often bring this back home.
Mental health problems are the result of a complex interplay between biological, psychological, social and environmental factors. There are various ways people with mental health problems might receive treatment. It is important to know that what works for one person may not work for another; this is especially the case with mental health. Some strategies or treatments are more successful when combined with others. A patient with a chronic mental disorder may choose different options at different stages in their life.
Treatments can include psychotherapy, medication and self-help strategies.
The great news is that mental illness can be changed into mental health. Once a mental challenge has been identified it can be treated and managed and life can be fulfilling and happy. Too many people go through life without seeking help. Life can be better!
I am trained to assist you work through these issues and experience the joy and happiness of life. Contact me at email@example.com or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website at www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Credit: sadag.org, gov.za, www.medicalnewstoday.com
From violence and sexual abuse to gender pay gaps and restrictive reproductive rights, women and girls continue to face obstacles in achieving equality. Although much progress has been made in the last few years with women’s rights, there are still huge disparities between men and women both in the workplace and at home.
The world over women faces very similar challenges. There is the issue of patriarchy, pay gaps, balancing work and children, access to education, employment opportunities, reproductive health, gender-based violence, genital mutilation and basic gender equality.
Women business owners and working women face certain unique challenges and obstacles that men do not. Working women who have children experience even more demands on time, energy and resources, and women face gender discrimination in business and on the job. But women are not less successful than men, in fact, statistics show that women are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of all other businesses. Women are resourceful, and able to succeed, despite many challenges.
When more women work, economies grow. Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes.
Increasing women’s and girls’ educational attainment contributes to women’s economic empowerment and more inclusive economic growth. Education, upskilling and re-skilling over the life course are critical for women’s and girl’s health and wellbeing, as well as their income-generation opportunities and participation in the formal labour market. But, for most women, significant gains in education have not translated into better labour market outcomes.
Here is some of the challenges women face on a daily basis:
If you experience any of these challenges, let me assist you in building up confidence within yourself and how to address these issues. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Credit: www.globalcitizen.org; soldaderacoffee.com; www.iol.co.za
Divorce is generally a stressful and unsettling event. At minimum, a major relationship is ending, all sorts of routines are upset, and during the stress of transition there are legal hoops to jump through before things can be resolved. Add in the volatile emotions that are frequently associated with divorce and you have a difficult situation indeed.
Divorce can trigger all sorts of unsettling, uncomfortable and frightening feelings, thoughts and emotions, including grief, loneliness, depression, despair, guilt, frustration, anxiety, anger, and devastation, to name a few. There is frequently sadness and grief at the thought of the end of a significant relationship. There can be fear of being single again, possibly for a long time (or even forever), and with having to cope with changed financial, living and social circumstances. There can be anger at a partner's stubborn obstinacy and pettiness, abuse, or outright betrayal. There can be guilt over perceived failures to have made the relationship work. There can be overwhelming depression at the thought of the seeming impossibility of being able to cope with all the changes that are required. Any and all these emotions are enough to make people miserable, and to find them wanting to cry at 3am in the morning.
Painful as they are, these sorts of emotions are generally natural grief-related reactions to a very difficult life-altering situation. Though there is no 'cure' for these feelings, there are some good and healthy ways to cope with them to suffer as little as possible, and to gain in wisdom, compassion and strength from having gone through the experience. The emotional coping process starts with allowing one's self the freedom to grieve and ends with moving on with one's life.
Grief is a natural human reaction to loss. Grief is not a simple emotion itself, but rather is an instinctual emotional process that can invoke all sorts of emotional reactions as it runs its course.
Fighting grief is often counterproductive. Most of the time it is best to allow yourself to grieve in the ways that come naturally to you, at least part of the time. Eventually life comes back to 'normal' and the intensity of loss retreats. Different people take different amounts of time to go through their grief process and express their grief with different intensities of emotion. The amount of time people spend grieving depends on their personalities, and on the nature of their losses.
Contact me to help work through your separation or divorce - email@example.com or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Going through a separation or divorce can be very difficult, no matter the reason for it. It can turn your world upside down and make it hard to get through the workday and stay productive. But there are things you can do to get through this difficult adjustment.
Recognize that it’s OK to have different feelings. It’s normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated and confused—and these feelings can be intense. You also may feel anxious about the future. Accept that reactions like these will lessen over time. Even if the marriage was unhealthy, venturing into the unknown is frightening.
Give yourself a break. Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for a period. You may not be able to be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way you’re accustomed to for a while. Take time to heal, regroup and re-energize.
Don’t go through this alone. Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this period. Consider joining a support group where you can talk to others in similar situations. Don’t be afraid to get outside help if you need it.
Take care of yourself emotionally and physically. Be good to yourself and to your body. Take time out to exercise, eat well and relax. Keep to your normal routines as much as possible. Try to avoid making major decisions or changes in life plans. Don’t use alcohol, drugs or cigarettes to cope; they only lead to more problems.
Avoid power struggles and arguments with your former spouse. If a discussion begins to turn into a fight, calmly suggest that you both try talking again later and either walk away or hang up the phone.
Take time to explore your interests. Reconnect with things you enjoy doing. Have you always wanted to take up painting or play on a sports team? Sign up for a class, invest time in your hobbies, volunteer, and take time to enjoy life and make new friends.
Think positively. Easier said than done, right? Things may not be the same, but finding new activities and friends, and moving forward with reasonable expectations will make this transition easier. Be flexible. Life will get back to normal, although “normal” may be different from what you had originally hoped.
Contact me to help work through your separation or divorce - firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake.” - Francis Bacon Sr.
Isn’t it a shame?
You’ve studied and worked hard to get to where you are.
And you got that job.
But now, it just doesn’t feel right.
So how do you access your courage and do what you love?
Some things to think about:
Choose to live by design instead of by default
Take a step back and look at what kind of life you truly want to live. Does it look like the one you’re living today? Don’t settle for mediocrity or life by default.
Fear regret rather than failure
Failing means you tried and learned something. Regret, on the other hand, comes as a response to what hasn’t happened. It’s an ugly emotion that usually doesn’t show up until it’s already too late.
Let happiness be the key to success
Studies prove that happiness fuels success and performance, not the other way around. Creating a life around what makes you happy is the key to living a truly successful life.
Come back to the present moment
Worrying about the future doesn’t change anything; instead, it hinders you from making the best of this moment. Here and now is all we ever have. It’s the only place where we have control.
Trust that you have a gift to offer
You have something special only you can offer this world.
Connect with like-minded people
Connect with people that are on a similar journey to yours. Build a support network, in person and online.
Take risks for what you will gain long-term
Sometimes we need to take risks and make short-term sacrifices for what will serve us long-term.
Just think about this. Staying in an unfulfilling job means taking a greater risk since you already know it’s not what you want. So, you risk more by not taking risks.
Know that the timing is never right
The time will never come when all the conditions are right.
Trust that the path will unfold
What’s scary in following your dream is that the path is unclear. Stepping off the beaten path means that you can’t see a straight road in sight.
Make uncomfortable the new comfortable
When we want something we don’t have, we must do things we haven’t done before. And that means becoming uncomfortable.
Nurture faith, not fear.
Live by Choice Instead of Chance
Wouldn’t you rather live life by choice instead of chance? Wouldn’t you rather look back and know that you did everything you could to create the life you desire instead of wishing you’d had? Wouldn’t you rather take a chance on faith instead of fear?
Contact me to help you fly –email@example.com or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Since we were kids we've heard, "Don't quit your job until you have a new one!" We've heard it a million times. We learned that you can't just walk off the job one day because you're sick of it or because something unpleasant happens at work.
When you can manage a stealth job search and walk into your boss' office to give notice knowing that you have another job to go to, it's a wonderful thing. Real life doesn't always work out that way, though.
Some people are so burnt out by their jobs that they aren't in shape to job-hunt. They don't have their feet under them. Their mojo is completely gone. It's hard enough to drag yourself into your workplace when you hate your job and hate yourself for being there.
You must listen to your body. Your body is smarter about these things than your mind is!
Think about the issues below related to your current job:
Your safety comes before any other priority. If it's not safe for you to be at your job, you must get out, even if it puts your finances in a terrible spot.
Your health is more important than the continuity of your career history. If your job is making you sick, physically or otherwise, you may have to quit the job before you're strong and collected enough to job-hunt effectively. Some toxic workplaces keep everybody in fear, all the time. You may need to quit the job, take a breather and start your job search later.
When your job is destroying your equilibrium, you may not be able to wait to quit until you have a solid, career-type job lined up. You may jump at anything that looks like a lifeline - or even a life preserver!
Don't let anybody, however well-meaning, tell you to "stick it out" at a job that is harmful to your health. Your body knows best. Mother Nature is in charge, not us! If you can launch a quiet job search and get a new job before you quit the old one, excellent! That's a magnificent plan. If you can't, then don't berate yourself. Your body knows what's best for you. If you need to quit the job you've got in order to remember who you are and take a little time to regroup, do that.
Discuss where you are in your job with me –firstname.lastname@example.org or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Eating disorders are illnesses in which the people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviours and related thoughts and emotions. People with eating disorders typically become pre-occupied with food and their body weight.
In many cases, eating disorders occur together with other psychiatric disorders like anxiety, panic, obsessive compulsive disorder and alcohol and drug abuse problems. New evidence suggests that heredity may play a part in why certain people develop eating disorders, but these disorders also afflict many people who have no prior family history.
Without treatment of both the emotional and physical symptoms of these disorders, malnutrition, heart problems and other potentially fatal conditions can result. Eating disturbances may include inadequate or excessive food intake which can ultimately damage an individual’s well-being. The most common forms of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder and affect both females and males.
Although these conditions are treatable, the symptoms and consequences can be detrimental and deadly if not addressed. Eating Disorders are complex disorders, influenced by a facet of factors. Though the exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, it is generally believed that a combination of biological, psychological, and/or environmental abnormalities contribute to the development of these illnesses.
Examples of biological factors include:
Examples of psychological factors include:
Examples of environmental factors that would contribute to the occurrence of eating disorders are:
A man or woman suffering from an eating disorder may reveal several signs and symptoms, some which are:
Contact me if you think you or a family member or friend is struggling with an eating disorder - email@example.com or on 084 779 4889. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
Credit: www.eatingdisorderhope.com; www. psychiatry.org
Before batteries die, they get drained! Men are as vulnerable to stress as women are, but they are often less likely to recognise it or admit to it. We are socialised to believe that men must not cry, admit to stress, depression or anxiety and be strong all the time. This can often exacerbate levels or stress and prevent men from seeking help when it is needed.
We can think of stress in two ways: eustress, which can be thought of as helpful stress and distress, which can be thought of as unhelpful and damaging stress.
Men are not always good at recognising stress in them, and stress is clearly an individual experience. What one man finds stressful, another will not, and what can be stressful at one time may not cause stress during another time of your life.
Below are some of the physical signs and symptoms of stress experienced in men.
Remember that stress is an individual experience and that symptoms are too:
The psychological signs and symptoms of stress include:
The language of stress is largely borrowed from engineering in which we talk of stress, strain, tolerance, resilience, breaking points, flexibility, elasticity, etc. of materials. Stress is a protector in that it gives us a mechanism for dealing with threats. We have the ability to confront threats or avoid them; the so-called "fight or flight" mechanism.
Stress can be good as well as bad. Without some stress we would not get the adrenaline up to win races, solve problems, take exams and make important changes.
Stress, particularly long-term stress, can be a factor in the onset or worsening of ill health and a shortened lifespan. Stress management is essential to wellbeing and something we should practice every day.
Contact me on 084 779 4889 to help you develop a strategy to manage stress. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
There are many factors in our lives that can cause stress. Things like work deadlines, financial troubles, congested traffic, and arguments can cause stress.
Stress is a natural reaction. Stress can become a problem when these pressures become overwhelming, and in some cases, can be a precursor to anxiety disorders and depression.
Thankfully, stress is very manageable, and a little stress can even help you perform better. There are many ways to deal with stress, and simple techniques practiced frequently can really help.
The body deals with acute stress by releasing chemicals that tell the body that it is in danger, and therefore activates the flight or fight response. This response is a survival mechanism that prepares the body to face danger. Changes seen during this response include increased heart rate, rapid breathing, dry mouth and sweating. Long term exposure to stress, and the exposure of the body to high levels of hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, can lead to increased vulnerability to illnesses, such as depression, obesity, heart disease, among others, and is not a healthy state to be in.
The symptoms of stress can vary between different individuals. The most common symptoms are:
These symptoms, in turn, affect how you deal with the events that cause stress, thereby worsening the stress.
You can learn to manage stress by using various techniques, such as monitoring and challenging the way you think about events, slow breathing, and solving your problems in a structured manner. In addition to this, exercising, cutting down on drug and alcohol use, and doing things you enjoy can help in coping with stress.
We all want to feel healthy and happy, but the reality of life is that there are good times and bad times. Everyone has ups and downs. Even though you may feel as if you are alone you are not. Many people struggle with stress daily, but things do change, and stressful times do pass.
You don’t have to do get through this by yourself. Help is only a phone call away. Contact me on 084 779 4889 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my website on www.nadinetherapy.co.za.
I use a meaning and value based approach to help people conquer their problems, challenges, fears and obstacles for a happier and more fulfilled life.