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Don’t Avoid Conflict, Just Behave Well During It

Most people believe that conflict must end in tears, rage or losing out.  This is why so many people avoid it, and either go over-the-top in their aggression (to force and intimidate others) or comply and go underground to manoeuvre others into doing what they want. This is regrettable because neither of the above strategies work well.  They both end in lose-lose outcomes.  This is mainly because people are intelligent and quick to recognise coercion whether it is done brutally or manipulatively – and they dig in, block and resist. Yet resolving conflict is one of the few means we…

Don’t Confuse Anger and Sadness

Many people (including some therapists) tell us to express our anger at the unfairness of life.  Go on, they say, beat those cushions to a pulp and scream out your rage. But this can be very misdirected advice.  It accentuates the anger and sends blood pressure through the roof.  It often ends in repetitive, violent behaviour and it makes the perpetrator more outraged than ever, since they fail to address the real ‘purpose’ of their anger. Let me give you an example.  A man called Tom feels angry that his friend, John  is backing out of their long-term friendship.  John…

The Agitation Flipside of Sedation

In my work at the Smart Therapy Centre I often see people who have been put on medications to sedate or calm them, with the purpose of combating anxiety and other forms of agitation. What many people don’t realise is that we very quickly become tolerant to sedatives and tranquilizers leading us to need more and more to achieve the same result.  This is how many people become dependent or addicted. Worse still, many of these medications are powerful and very short acting, so we can start to withdraw physically from them within a few hours after taking our last…

Take it easy but be tough

In my work as a clinical psychologist I often see things go wrong.  People lose their jobs, relationships break up and people often feel overwhelming anxiety or sadness. Serious things go haywire for everyone and frequently we can’t change that.  What matters hugely is how we respond.    When people have come from difficult backgrounds (such as critical parents or chronic instability), they often learn to feel ‘incompetent’ as children, because they (understandably) struggle to control outcomes in their difficult lives.  This childhood ‘training’ inadvertently causes people over time to adopt the deep-seated assumption that they ‘cannot trust themselves’ to…

How anxiety and poor assertion are connected

When people come to the Smart Therapy Centre for anxiety, I notice that they often find it hard to be assertive in other areas of their lives. For a long time, I wondered why this was the case, but in many ways lacking assertion and being anxious are highly related. Lack of assertion is connected to believing that you are powerless to influence outcomes in others without resorting to the strategies of either aggression (getting impatient, brittle, unfriendly or angry) or compliance (ducking under the radar, being indirect, dishonest, sulky or stubborn), when faced with conflict. Similarly, anxiety is connected…

Time for tears …. but then take charge

We often avoid crying because it makes us feel vulnerable and opens us up to self-reflection and examination of our own behaviours and their consequences.  Many people are terrified (unbeknown to them) of facing their errors and taking proper responsibility for mistakes.  This is because deep down, these people believe they cannot cope with facing their mistakes, as though the distress might never stop and might drag them into a hole from which they cannot escape.  In fact, facing our pain and taking appropriate responsibility for events in our lives can be even more scary than deflecting for months or…

Age Enhances Intimacy

  People often have the mistaken view that great sex only happens in youth and deteriorates with age.  But very often the reverse is true.  Younger people are frequently unsure and frightened of sex – having not had much practice.  They also experience considerable social pressure to rush in and be physically intimate with partners before they have built adequate psychological intimacy.   In my work as a clinical psychologist for 25+ years, I have seen the significant problems that can arise when people get ‘physical’ too early.  For example, it often leads to difficulty with desire, arousal, performance and…

Know Your Vision

    We have to know where we are heading in order to take the right path! In my decades of work as a clinical psychologist at the Smart Therapy Centre, I often see people who have lost their way.  This usually happens because ‘everyday life’ can easily distract us from our bigger goals and before we know it – time has passed and it is too late!    In order to prevent this scenario, it is important to regularly ask yourself where you intend to be in 1, 2, 5 and 10 years.  Write these goals down and keep…

Keeping our dignity with age

  In my work as a clinical psychologist, I’ve noticed that older people get a tough time in our society – especially women!  Over and over older people are portrayed in photographs and media as insipid, stupid and deferential, unable to carry a conversation except with small children. This depiction is contemptuous and deeply prejudicial.  Yet, there are three significant reasons it occurs that need to be addressed.  Firstly, it happens because appearance (especially youthful) is over-valued as an attribute and everyone ages over time.  However, appearance is tremendously over-valued in women who are often socialised to regard their ‘unblemished’…

Re-invent Yourself!

You might think that it’s not easy to re-invent yourself especially with the same DNA!  But in reality, it can be done with some determination and conviction. I’ve found in my 25+ years work as an author, director, developer and clinical psychologists at the Smart Therapy Centre that people often fail to realise that they can change themselves psychologically even at very profound levels. We don’t have to be boxed into old, obsolete categories and versions of ourselves.  In fact, whenever we want to, we can decide who we would most like to be, and this change can be achieved…

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