Thursday, 25 April 2013


Past relationships; for example within the family, in school, with church etc and most importantly parents and carers, will play a powerful role in forming the way you are as a person. You will be the person you are because of the swings and roundabouts from your childhood. Once you are an adult it takes courage and insight to recognise that you are the builder of your own personality, and to own that you are in charge of your own destiny.

However, remember that you are who you are because of what you observed within your family system. You do what you do mainly because you made decisions as a child and these decisions will be about yourself; for example you may have decided that you are ‘stupid’ or that ‘you are not loveable’. You may have decided that other people ‘don’t care about you’ or ‘that others cannot be trusted’. This we call low self esteem. You may have high self esteem in other areas and not in others.
Perhaps you have decided the world is an unsafe place and view life as frightening or dangerous. These decisions will have affected the way you then behave, think and feel in relation to the world around you.  

If in order to get on in lifeyou may have decided it would be best not to let others know aspects of yourself. Hidding your own sense of worthlessness. Finding the inner resources to protect and take care of yourself in all sorts of difficult situations, this is your defence to protect yourself from any future hurt.

The bad news is those decisions made in order to self protect, in the long term could likely be self destructive and damaging to both yourself and your relationships in the here and now. The good news is you can change and you can redecide. You can broaden your view of yourself, change the way you see others and the world around you. In other words you can shift from a limited view of life to a great wide open walkway full of choices.   

In order to improve your relationships with others you must first understand yourself. You must also learn the meaning of love and Intimacy. 

When I considered writing about love and Intimacy in relationships I instinctively linked them together without thinking why. I suppose up until formulating ideas for a book I had unconsciously identified them as the basic concept in any relationship. However there is a difference. Love conjures up some kind of emotional attachment, whereas intimacy is a sharing or a closeness of the mind and spirit.

Love is to have a great attachment to and affection for another. To have a passionate desire, longing and feeling for another. It is an intense longing or emotion; it’s a feeling of warmth, fondness and regard for the other person, place or thing. 

Love is also about compassion, a deep understanding and acceptance, with love we show concern and empathy for whatever the other is experiencing in the moment to moment interaction and it is a sense of belonging and concern in that moment and generally. I see love as an intelligent energy that wants and seeks unity and pulls towards that unity. 

As far as intimacy is concerned it is a close and warm friendship or a deep understanding personal relationship and it is characterised by…

A close or warm personal relationship, a sharing of deep individual and private moments, and it's having a profound and unusual knowledge of the other or sharing something that is intrinsic.

It is also a way for people to come together and express authentic feelings without holding back. Intimacy could be seen as a merging of oneself with the other, not in the engulfing sense but in the contact sense in any moment when two or more people are seeking to share with other/s.

I believe that in order to feel truly close and intimate with someone and to be completely open to love and closeness one needs to be reasonably self aware, that is able to express oneself spontaneously, this does not mean shout out the first thing that comes into your head although that can have a wonderful childlike quality. No it means to overcome the fear of saying what is in your heart. It means no more adapting to please, no more being afraid of saying what you want or what you hope for, just in case the other rejects you.  

Many of us are afraid of intimacy, afraid to love, afraid to be close to another or be dependant upon another. Not merely with other humans but even with pets. I have heard some say they won’t take on a dog or a cat because they have short lives and they wouldn’t want to lose something they have grown to love.

It you have experienced loss and grief you may have decided, that it was so painful you don’t want to go through that again and you are able to justify your reasoning with the idea of it being too painful. So because of grief you may have given up the concept of feeling love and being loved! Being cautious and fearing the inevitable loss of something you might grow to love.

  • Why get into relationships only for them to end?
  • How do I learn to take the risk?
  • Do you hide your feelings about others?
  • Do you experience scare of revealing what you really think?
  • Do you hold back from showing care and loving contact because you are afraid of letting the other know how you are feeling?

All of the above are more likely to be about fearing the closeness, and the love and the intimacy which goes with relationships in case you lose it.

Saturday, 13 April 2013


Even as a very small child I can remember feeling love and recognising its significance. I recall having an overwhelming sense of joy within myself. I have no memory however, of what inspired this feeling but felt confident even then, of its value.  It was Freud that first recognised the three year old child as capable of real love and real rivalry.

For this particular three-year old however I only knew what I felt. A few years later around about the age of eight or nine I heard Nat King Cole singing ‘When I fall in love”. I knew then there was someone out in the big world waiting for me to love and who loved me. A dreamy child, I existed inside myself creating a world in my imagination far better than the world I lived in. I told stories about love, to my dolls and played games about people losing the one they loved and crying. One in particular was about being lost at the railway station, a child looking frantically for its mummy. I was sad, and I think that I was desperate for someone to love and notice me. Of course in retrospect I can see how lonely I was back then and what huge abandonment issues I had because of the way we lived as a dysfunctional family.  My father repeatedly beating up my mother whilst my brother and I were reluctant witnesses, often bundled out in the middle of the night to avoid one of their confrontations in his drunken violence. I would wake up on many a morning staying with this or that relative hearing second hand that my mother and brother had taken off somewhere in the quest to find a job presumably to escape from my father. Because I was so little I was left behind and came eventually to decide that I was a hindrance to her, that she didn’t love me as much as my brother. I also made the decision that if I was a very good girl and didn’t ask for anything she might take me with her in her search for employment. I was twelve years old before she finally made a complete break from my father and I felt fortunate that she remembered to take me with her. However in all of that she didn’t fare much better when the next man she went into a relationship was a compulsive gambler who had no sense of responsibility having already left a wife and daughter of his own behind in order to be with my mother. A major decision I made was that I was of little value and could easily be overlooked.  

The way we lived as children and the relationship behaviours I observed caused me to become distrustful of relationships, it affected my view of men, however the love I had felt so early as that three year old was to hold me in good stead when I did eventually find the healthy relationship after several mishaps.  

I have worked as  counsellor/psychotherapist both with individuals and couples looking at how their histories affect the way they live. Seeking out how the decisions we make about ourselves, others and the rest of the world guides us when these decisions are negative towards destructive relationships, we do this in order to replay our history over and over in the vain hope of finding a healthy ending.
However whether we ever recover from the early rejection is another matter. Maybe what happens we compensate as we become more emotionally literate carrying a little rucksack of defences in order to get through life.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

For many women dieting is a way of life . As a young woman I felt fat even though I wasn't, and so began this lifetime’s battle about needing to be slim because for one reason or another I believed I was, probably due to low self esteem. In retrospect I can see that as a young woman I was quite healthy and shapely. However my mum had a bit of an obsession herself about her wieght and would  use slimming biscuits which were popular in their day,’ Limits’. Some of you may remember them? Eat two ‘Limit’ biscuits with a cuppa as a substitute for a meal, possibly replacing a whole day’s calorific intake with these so called meal replacements. My mum swore by them. Problem was she also wanted me to get used to them, I was fourteen at the time and this became the start of my life and diets.   As the years past I shifted from one diet to another gaining, losing, joining slimming clubs losing weight, regaining it then trying another slimming club. I would attend gyms and run myself ragged on my quest to either stay slim or get slim, trying extreme diets like the eggs and grapefruits every day for two weeks, a most horrifying process. As I have aged I have been easier on myself but realise for health reasons I should be slimmer.

How many of you live life like this? Only someone who had spent their adult life shifting from one diet to another will understand this concept. Many people gain weight on certain occasions in life but lose it and don’t bother again. However, for lifer's the psychological implications are enormous. In society being labelled as obese is a recipe for shame for those who struggle both practically and emotionally with the complex internal battle of weight. Slimming clubs buy into this kind of shame, promising weight loss with support at a price. Of course this works well for many but for some the loss is followed by a gain because the root issue is not addressed.

Feeling ‘out of control’ around food is not uncommon. It is a frightening place and helplessness and panic can take over, there are considerable amounts of shame involved in the awful way obese people are portrayed on the media. Generally seen to be stuffing their faces with oversized burgers or pasties as they walk down the street, or seen in front of a large fry up of carbohydrates. There is a sense of distaste in the portrayal as if overweight people are too often seen as lazy or stupid.  There are those who make simplistic statements like ‘just eat less’ and in truth that is probably right but if it were that simple we wouldn’t be looking at an overweight society.  When it comes to eating disorders most of us know about anorexia and bulimia but the most common condition is compulsive eating.  This is using food to supress what is really going on emotionally for the individual. It becomes a cycle of experience. Until this is addressed, for some the long term weight loss will not be attained.

Where weight is concerned there is a theory that defines an underlying imbalance within the body and personality, it is considered that a physiological and emotional change that is needed. Most slimming clubs tend to lean towards the physiological rather than the psychological and emotional. Maybe to lose weight the individual needs to become more accepting of self, physically, emotionally and spiritually. A big question is for those who want to lose weight, what is the motivation to lose weight? Answers need to be about the internal struggle with food as friend or enemy. This battle with the self and the world in my view is about self-esteem. To be imbalanced means there will be symptoms, for example insomnia, constipation, fatigue and tension headaches. For some there may be indications of slow digestion, lethargy and joint problems. Psychologically there might be issues of self-loathing, anger and hopelessness. Many people lie about the way they feel protesting that they don’t care about being fat but we know deep within we do care. We all know the medical profession say there are risks of cancer, diabetes and stroke but these are not symptoms they are possible implications of obesity. However the scare approach does not work until the inner reality is faced.

It is well documented that the obese struggle against their bodies natural cravings, fighting with an arsenal of weapons for example pills, diet clubs, fibre supplements, diet books and fad diets all used spasmodically throughout life. This way some lose huge amounts of weight but then sadly once they step off this treadmill they regain. To me this does not mean that slimming clubs etc. are successful it means they can help you lose weight but have not found a root cause to the problem. In my experience of this process there is a tendency to applaud the pounds off for each week’s class.  I have been disappointed by the reception my comments bring, whenever I mention the possibility of emotional and psychological problems.  I do think that attending clubs works, mainly because of the camaraderie and the introduction of nutritional information but each of us needs something that cannot be supplied on mass. Each of us needs to look inside and ask ‘what do I need?’ ‘What needs to change in me so that I can continue to eat less, stay sensible and feel less ashamed of who I am?

This article can only touch the surface of this issue and the nation’s problem of obesity; we can applaud diet clubs for their education in relation to healthy eating.  However diet alone will not change the key to self-destruct where we begin quickly to regains what we lost. However for anyone who is willing to seek some of the psychological and emotional issue involved in compulsive eating I invite you to contact me in regards joining a different kind of slimming group. You can speak to me on face book or write in the comments box.


Thursday, 28 March 2013


Should we really speak out when someone we thought could be trusted has hurt us? If they are sorry then that should do shouldn't it?
As a therapist I always believed we should confront when someone has hurt us but as I get older I am not so sure if it helps. I suppose it's possible to think that we are maybe hurting someone every now and again and perhaps they are not saying or maybe just letting it go. I suppose it's all to do with intention, did I intentionally want to hurt someone? No of course not. However if it was intentional then that is different what good would saying sorry be when I intended it.

Normally I am quite an outspoken person and usually speak my mind quite well but I am prone to seeing the other person as right and me as wrong when feelings are involved. Recently someone I thought could be trusted did something that I felt disapointed about and upset, when I asked why she said it was a mistake. A mistake in my book is rectified by an apology then some attempt at putting what ever it is right. However when this mistake occurs a few times then is sorry enough?  When it isn't put right even though it has been indicated it would be then what can one do? Does one still see that relationship as worthy?

When someone says they are sorry but then don't rectify the problem or do it again, how can they have been sorry? I am repeatedly telling myself that I expect too much of people, that I must be wrong it's a really deep issue this one one could say it's a therapy issue. I don't want to see them as wrong so therefore it must be me who is. 
Maybe being born as wrong has something to do with it. That's a whole new issue for another day.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Well on the way to staying on the two steps forward one step back diet plan. Done well for a month or so now stepped back down for a day to give up on diet. Back on today. It's a bit like the tango only with myself and food. Fernando's hiddaway ohla!

Feel better today and started OK but it's Easter and I know that Brian's daughter buys us a Thornton's easter egg with our names on very nice you may say and so it is but when we go on his birthday I will be inundated with chocolate so have to be strong. However I cannot allow him to eat the whole thing himself because he will make it last out for about 2 weeks. That is how much he likes chocolate. For me it could be gone in a day and then the torture is over if you catch my drift.
Problems with losing weight one knows that when one strays from the path of riotiousness one will regain in the blink of an eye.

Hey ho! life is full of ups and downs when one is on a diet. Oh I can hear you saying there are far more worse things to worry about and indeed that is the truth. For now however dieting is my way of life and preventing myself from regaining is on my stupid mind all the time.
When one is a serial dieter it becomes a twelve step program and need to keep busy to keep the mind off food. If I sound slightly hysterical then you would be right.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Life throws up many challenges some minor, maybe all they just seem major. Things that hurt and things that cause a new kind of resilience. I have been thinking a lot about my mother who found it so hard to grow old, now I hear myself saying the things she said. Her little sayings like when ever she looked into the mirror she would groan, "I look as old as God!" Now I say it too because it's true. The face that looks back at me is not the face I remember. Oh it's OK I scrub up well and often don't look old and some would say don't look my age. However first thing in the morning I feel a hundred, stiff body and grey moggy skin, grey hair that looks even greyer at 7am, then I drag myself to the bathroom and emerge reasonably refreshed.  Enough for the dog to do her little dance around as my many layers of clothing go on one by one until with lead in hand and ridiculous bob hat pulled well down, we two venture out in all weathers. Interestingly, if and when I offer the back door open for her to venture outside without me she gives me that pathetic look of, 'er! excuse me, do you think I want to go out in this weather?'  When I am going that is different, she runs around watching and staying close just in case I am going without her. She is older than me in doggy years.
I could do with some of her energy.
Little things bother me nowadays, people who do dirty tricks, people who say one thing and mean another, like I said my mother and the way she led her life troubles me. Recently I went to my niece's wedding, what a beautiful bride and such a happy event but the family dynamics where clear. Both her parents living seperate lives and hundreds of miles apart both physically and emotionally. Father of the bride at one side of the wedding party and mother at the other, no top table and lots and lots of friends acting like family.
A happy day and yet I was witness to lots of hidden sadness but life moves on.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Do I Love My Dog Too Much?

I am feeling sad because my little old dog Lady is getting old and a bit forgetful. She has started doing a bit of wee on the kitchen floor is she gets a bit stressed or is left on her own for long.
Whilst out yesterday I walked past a parked car and saw a dog's nose peeping out from the boot  from under the black cover and thought with horror why would someone shut their dog up in the dark like that. S/he didn't appear distressed at the time and my mind just went into all kinds of reasons why someone would do that. Maybe the dog got worked up if someone went near the car or something like that? But it disturbed me and of late I have become much more distressed about how people treat their pets.
Nowadays we don't leave Lady on her own for more than three hour stretches because she leaks onto the kitchen floor, the vet assures us there is no particular reason for this, she is a very fit old girl. I can only assume that she is confused when we are not around. I even get up at about 5am to let her out so that she doesn't leak mainly because she looks so ashamed.
For most of my life I have projected some of my emotions onto my dogs all my early abondonment issues and I have many, even though I spent x number of years in therapy these emotions seem to be emerging again. Does one ever really cure the past, I think not, we only learn to live with it more easily.
The facts are that dogs are pack animals and when left they are anxious it's a proven fact, it seems they worry about being seperated from their pack and they worry about the other members when they are out of sight. More and more research has shown that dogs do feel similar emotions to humans, fear, anger and sadness. Every time I witness some kind of thoughtlessness toward a pet then I have to ask myself why. Or is it me being over the top?