Connecting Space

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Thought for May 2019

The use of Narrative

 

A personal narrative encompasses all of the thoughts, feelings, experiences, and behaviors that shape our lives. Our habits, the events we’ve been through, and the things we believe become the backbone of our personal stories about who we are. Narrative therapy is based on the idea that people can improve their self-image and empower themselves to take action in their own lives by re-evaluating their personal narratives.

In  noticing that a client has a story that contributes to a negative self-image or poor self-esteem,it is important to challenge that story. Look for gaps in the narrative or events that contradict the client’s current beliefs. Work with the client to create an alternate storyline that emphasizes their positive traits and problem-solving skills.Re-authoring is a powerful tool because it doesn’t involve making up a story out of thin air. Rather, it involves constructing a new, more positive narrative from a client’s own experiences and memories.

Permission has been given to share the following as an example.

As part of our work together the client was asked to consider her narrative and write her own ending rather than the assumed.

Harry Potter and the Sharpened Blade

Yesterday

When I was little, I was given a But. This But was cast by the Stupefy charm. It was meant to keep me safe, to keep me right, so that I wouldn’t fall off the path into the inky realms of the dangerous and unknown.

To be stupefied is to live apart, to be dislocated, even from oneself. An imposter in your own life. The But is immovable. I couldn’t go over it, I couldn’t go under it, I couldn’t go around it. The But told me I was not enough to go through it. I would have to be incredibly good and pretty and courageous and strong and intelligent to do that and I was none of these things. But I knew I was loved and safe and so I stayed behind the But. After But told me these things I put my fingers in my ears and hummed a little tune to stop any more truths getting in. My inside was bruised and sore. Even my Glow. I have this Glow you see. It’s tiny and ever so gentle. It softly shimmers and although I don’t quite know what it is, I am compelled to keep it secure.

I grew to be grown and But came with me wherever I went. I grew to know But. But was familiar. But was always on hand to confirm what I suspected about me, a fakery travelling the cavernous, hammering outside world.

I learned magic. It never occurred to me that I could be magical, but I tried it and it worked. And here is the magic that I can manifest – If I love and take care of – unconditionally, without manipulation or expectation the But gets smaller, so I can hardly hear its constant mewling. Those I loved would tell me I was ok, and it made the Glow smile and stretch out towards me and I would stroke it and ever so gently brush away those dew-drop tears of relief. I wanted people to know Glow and how precious it was; how perfect and right.

But my magic was secretly a curse. But laughed, knowing that this would be the case, it would always be the case because of me. But knew you see, that people only saw the But and how it could help them. Glow confused them because Glow stretched out to them and asked of them. Glow hadn’t ever seen herself fully and needed a mirror to reflect back at her.

And then the magic worked. Those two shiny bright days of perfection. I made little Glows. They were full of Glow. Different, individual Glows. And their Glows and my Glow recognised each-other and they all loved each other wholly, without reservation or judgement. And I was enough and ok and beautiful and strong and courageous and bright in the reflection of their Glow, as they were in mine. I was loved. They were loved. In this I was brilliant.

My Glow grew, But But said there was not enough room, Glow would never be enough. But had kept me safe all this time and if Glow grew anymore how could it keep it so?

But started to bully Glow. But was a churning, sniping maelstrom of discontent about how I’d got everything wrong. I put my fingers in my ears and hummed a tune of addiction to drown it out.

And then one day after all the days of grief Glow and I realised there was a question we needed to ask. And there was an answer to be found. We just needed to go hand in hand and ask one of wisdom. Close eyes, take a breath, lean into it and life will show the way. I don’t know how we knew this, but we did. But had to come too of course, so I had to be brave and take my fingers out of my ears just long enough to find them.

That’s how come we met Professor Dumbledore. Gentle, kind and wise Dumbledore. She recognised us straight away and she didn’t mind and wasn’t appalled. We asked our question and she asked one of her own in return.

Today

We spent some hours together in this state of questioning. I didn’t know where this would lead at first and now, I do.

But, Glow and Me are not separate, rather we are facets of the whole. None of them is an imposter, none of them is bad and none of them is hopeless. Together they make I.

In a moment of perfect clarity, they coalesce iridescently into a rightness.

I have a deep sense of compassion for But and I understand it a lot better today than I did yesterday.

I have work to do and it is time for change. I am aware of But tut-tutting at this concept. But is unwilling and is sulky and wilful.

But is a brick. But is a boulder. But is a mountain I must climb to be free. But needs to be understood.

I heave a knowing sigh. I have one more perilous, vertiginous place to traverse to find the key that will give me the answer I am so desperate to find. And I know there is the gnawing doubt that it will be my undoing.

I look down at my feet. Around each ankle several ropes are tied. At the end of each rope is tied a brick. They’ve always been there. I just haven’t recognised them before. Each one is heavy on its own, but together they make movement almost impossible.

I have the tool to rid myself of the burden, but its blade is blunt. I know to sharpen it will require work and discomfort. But tells me it’s futile. But says bricks are balloons and I will fall without them.

Tomorrow

I figured out how to sharpen the blade.

I tuck Glow safe inside me. My glow knows why; this is a job for the I of us. Glow is safe and happy, But is safe and the act of sharpening has given But contentment. But is quiet.

I raise the knife. There is no moment of sunlight glinting from its blade. It’s pissing down, the clouds are ominously grey, and the wind chews everything as a dog chews the marrow of a bone. No matter. This is not a Marvel adventure, it’s a marvellous adventure.

I pick the two most weighty of bricks, the bricks labelled addiction and I slice the ropes that bound them to me as if they were nothing more than gossamer threads.

And in that undoing the strangest and most magical thing happens.

There is a palpable and simultaneous coming together and falling apart. There is no struggle, no clash, no Titan uprising. There is just an acceptance and a sense of pride and joy. What is not needed just dissipates in the air. Where once was a gargantuan wall can now be swept away as if a cobweb. Where once was a mountain to climb, I find I was just in cloud and the summit is steps away.

And this has a ripple effect through everything, both worldly and perceptive. I am wholly enough.

 

Author: Jill • Filed under: Featured, Narrative Matters • Posted: May 21, 2019 2:05 pm

Spring 2019

When I think of Spring I think of new beginnings, change, possibility.I see things through fresh eyes taking in the world with new perspective ,noticing the detail .

What  change do you want to make this year?

What qualities would you like to grow this year?

In making the change what possibility does this open up for you ?

Could therapy support the changes ?

The way in which we work is directly related to the issues the client brings to therapy, as well as the outcome we contract for. So if someone comes to therapy due to a specific event that has, or is causing him or her difficulties, and they wish to explore how they can resolve this we are likely to consider that the client wants counselling.

If a client comes to therapy with a generalised dissatisfaction with how they experience themselves, others or the world in which they live, we would explore through the contracting process the usefulness of psychotherapy for the client. We would see this particularly indicated if someone wonders why the same unpleasant events repeatedly occur in their lives.

Sometimes clients may come to therapy initially for counselling following an event, and then discover that their own beliefs, behaviours or feelings have contributed to the difficult event occurring in the first place. At this point the client may wish to re-contract for a psychotherapy contract, which not only explores current options but also explores the ways in which they can bring about lasting positive change in themselves.

 

 

 

Author: Jill • Filed under: Featured, Healing Matters • Posted: March 4, 2019 9:41 am

Thought for Sep 2018

The Four Basic Styles of Communication

1. PASSIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals have developed a pattern of avoiding expressing their opinions or feelings, protecting their rights, and identifying and meeting their needs. As a result, passive individuals do not respond overtly to hurtful or anger-inducing situations. Instead, they allow grievances and annoyances to mount, usually unaware of the buildup. But once they have reached their high tolerance threshold for unacceptable behavior, they are prone to explosive outbursts, which are usually out of proportion to the triggering incident. After the outburst, however, they may feel shame, guilt, and confusion, so they return to being passive.

Passive communicators will often:
 fail to assert for themselves
 allow others to deliberately or inadvertently infringe on their rights  fail to express their feelings, needs, or opinions
 tend to speak softly or apologetically
 exhibit poor eye contact and slumped body posture

The impact of a pattern of passive communication is that these individuals:
 often feel anxious because life seems out of their control
 often feel depressed because they feel stuck and hopeless
 often feel resentful (but are unaware of it) because their needs are not being met  often feel confused because they ignore their own feelings

 are unable to mature because real issues are never addressed

A passive communicator will say, believe, or behave like:  “I’m unable to stand up for my rights.”
 “I don’t know what my rights are.”
 “I get stepped on by everyone.”

 “I’m weak and unable to take care of myself.”  “People never consider my feelings.”

2. AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals express their feelings and opinions and advocate for their needs in a way that violates the rights of others. Thus, aggressive communicators are verbally and/or physically abusive.

Aggressive communicators will often:  try to dominate others
 use humiliation to control others  criticize, blame, or attack others  be very impulsive

 have low frustration tolerance
 speak in a loud, demanding, and overbearing voice  act threateningly and rudely
 not listen well
 interrupt frequently
 use “you” statements

This resource is provided by the UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Center

 have an overbearing or intimidating posture
The impact of a pattern of aggressive communication is that these individuals:
 become alienated from others
 alienate others
 generate fear and hatred in others
 always blame others instead of owning their issues, and thus are unable to mature

The aggressive communicator will say, believe, or behave like:  “I’m superior and right and you’re inferior and wrong.”
 “I’m loud, bossy and pushy.”
 “I can dominate and intimidate you.”

 “I can violate your rights.”
 “I’ll get my way no matter what.”  “You’re not worth anything.”
 “It’s all your fault.”
 “I react instantly.”
 “I’m entitled.”
 “You owe me.”
 “I own you.”

3. PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals appear passive on the surface but are really acting out anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind-the-scenes way. People who develop a pattern of passive-aggressive communication usually feel powerless, stuck, and resentful – in other words, they feel incapable of dealing directly with the object of their resentments. Instead, they express their anger by subtly undermining the object (real or imagined) of their resentments.

Passive-Aggressive communicators will often:
 mutter to themselves rather than confront the person or issue
 have difficulty acknowledging their anger
 use facial expressions that don’t match how they feel – i.e., smiling when angry  use sarcasm
 deny there is a problem
 appear cooperative while purposely doing things to annoy and disrupt
 use subtle sabotage to get even

The impact of a pattern of passive-aggressive communication is that these individuals:  become alienated from those around them
 remain stuck in a position of powerlessness (like POWs)
 discharge resentment while real issues are never addressed so they can’t mature

The passive-aggressive communicator will say, believe, or behave like:
 “I’m weak and resentful, so I sabotage, frustrate, and disrupt.”
 “I’m powerless to deal with you head on so I must use guerilla warfare.”  “I will appear cooperative but I’m not.”

This resource is provided by the UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Center

4. ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals clearly state their opinions and feelings, and firmly advocate for their rights and needs without violating the rights of others. These individuals value themselves, their time, and their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs and are strong advocates for themselves while being very respectful of the rights of others.

Assertive communicators will:
 state needs and wants clearly, appropriately, and respectfully  express feelings clearly, appropriately, and respectfully
 use “I” statements
 communicate respect for others
 listen well without interrupting
 feel in control of self
 have good eye contact
 speak in a calm and clear tone of voice
 have a relaxed body posture
 feel connected to others
 feel competent and in control
 not allow others to abuse or manipulate them
 stand up for their rights

The impact of a pattern of assertive communication is that these individuals:
 feel connected to others
 feel in control of their lives
 are able to mature because they address issues and problems as they arise  create a respectful environment for others to grow and mature

The assertive communicator will say, believe, or behave in a way that says:
 “We are equally entitled to express ourselves respectfully to one another.”  “I am confident about who I am.”
 “I realize I have choices in my life and I consider my options.”
 “I speak clearly, honestly, and to the point.”
 “I can’t control others but I can control myself.”
 “I place a high priority on having my rights respected.”
 “I am responsible for getting my needs met in a respectful manner.”
 “I respect the rights of others.”
 “Nobody owes me anything unless they’ve agreed to give it to me.”
 “I’m 100% responsible for my own happiness.”

Assertiveness allows us to take care of ourselves, and is fundamental for good mental health and healthy relationships.

 

 

Author: Jill • Filed under: Featured, Narrative Matters • Posted: September 2, 2018 6:59 pm

Thought for Spring 2018

 

When I think of Spring I think of new beginnings, change, possibility.

What  change do you want to make this year?

What qualities would you like to grow this year?

In making the change what possibility does this open up for you ?

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Jill • Filed under: Featured • Posted: March 12, 2018 11:21 am

Thought for October- intolerable feelings

Most people dislike feeling uncomfortable. There are many different ways that humans can feel uncomfortable…we can be hot, cold, tired, in pain, hungry, unwell, and the list could go on.

I want to say something about  emotional discomfort, or what is often called distress. We may not like it, but experiencing uncomfortable emotions is a natural part of life.

However, there is a difference between disliking unpleasant emotions, but nevertheless accepting that they are an inevitable part of life and hence riding through them, versus experiencing unpleasant emotions as unbearable and needing to get rid of them. Some people tell us that they “can’t face”, “can’t bear”, “can’t stand”, or “can’t tolerate” emotional distress. Being intolerant of experiencing emotional discomfort can actually breed a whole bunch of problems, as it interferes with living a fulfilling life, and can make worse any emotional discomfort we might be experiencing. If difficulty facing your feeling so tolerating distress sounds like you, then here is a resource that you will find useful .

Modules:

  • Module 1: Understanding Distress Intolerance
    This module defines what is meant by distress intolerance, and provides general information about negative emotions.  It considers how our negative beliefs about distress and the methods we use to escape our distress, keep distress intolerance a problem in the long term.  PDF document: 352kb. Updated 8 June 2012.

     

  • Module 2: Accepting Distress
    This module highlights the importance of negative emotions to our survival, and that our emotions are not permanent but are ever changing experiences.  The module focuses on learning to tolerate distress by accepting our negative emotions, which is a skill one can develop via mindfulness practice. PDF document: 277kb. Updated 8 June 2012.

     

  • Module 3: Improving Distress
    This module explores ways you can improve your distress, by acting opposite to your urge to escape the distress, and participating in activities that are either activating or soothing. Guidance on how to solve problems that may be causing distress is also addressed.  PDF document: 332kb. Updated 8 June 2012.

     

  • Module 4: Tolerating Distress
    This final module brings the strategies from this information package together by developing an individualised Distress Tolerance Action Plan.  Ways of regularly applying this plan are reviewed, with the aim of developing a sense of emotional wellbeing. PDF document: 326kb. Updated 8 June 2012.

 

 

Author: Jill • Filed under: Featured • Posted: October 13, 2017 4:09 pm

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