News Blog

When you leave – you have to take yourself.

I’ve noticed over the decades in my work at the Smart Therapy Centre that people are often very quick to decide to leave a relationship. While there are times where it is definitely right to leave (for example, when there is the slightest inkling of violence), there are also times where people leave normal but difficult relationships prematurely or without sufficient self-reflection. This is probably because when things get hard we are all inclined to want to flee the situation and it is easy to see our partner as the problem that must be escaped. But if we reflect more…

Creating Yourself

People often think they are ready-built.  No changes thank you!  Completed at birth.  Reflecting this thinking, we see that our society is full of clichés like ‘you should love me for who I am’ or ‘I just need to love myself more’ or ‘this is me, if you don’t like it then leave’.  These expressions assume an ‘intrinsic’ self (often claimed to reflect individual genetic difference) that we are born with and which is fixed or unalterable. The problem with this view is that it leaves us powerless to influence both ourselves and others.  You cannot change what is set…

Free me from this prison!

All of us are born into an imperfect world. The brain each of us builds will reflect exactly that imperfect world in which we find ourselves.  Our brains can only build synapses for and learn the things to which we are exposed.  None of us are exposed to all the right knowledge and often what we are exposed to (and learn) is completely wrong. Therefore, we all build an imperfect or incomplete brain, and although we may be reasonably smart we all have our blind spots:  limits to our rationality. Think of it like being in a prison cell –…

Be careful what you wish for

Often aggressive people partner with compliant people, and they think they have it made.  They get to choose their favourite restaurants or movies and they get to behave badly without a quibble of objection.  A toddler’s paradise.  What more could you want? But then the boredom sets in.  Nothing coming back, a bit like being in a relationship with yourself.  Lonely … ☹ What’s more, over time, ‘no limits’ tends to bring out the worst in people.  It often leads to shabby, anti-social and even appalling behaviour. This is not because of being a bad person but because when there’s…

Loss of Connection in Passivity

  People often mistake passivity or being ‘laid back’ for being nice, relaxed and well adjusted.  In my line of work in clinical psychology though, being passive is one of the hardest profiles to ever change and improve. It usually results from being bullied in childhood and then forming some type of an alliance of passivity and compliance with the perpetrator (rather than going into open opposition or warfare against the perpetrator which would result in a more overtly aggressive profile which, BTW, is a much, much easier profile to change). The passive profile is particularly hard to change because…

Get bored with your anxiety

  Often when I see anxious people they are amazed to realise they can simply decide to stop paying attention to their anxiety and then it will slowly go away, as the synapses devoted to their anxiety themes break apart when they are no longer utilized via paying attention. But what is also a surprise to many anxious people is that they do not have to engage in any mighty struggle against their own brains, in order to stop paying attention to their anxiety mentations. In fact, the way to achieve zero attentional focus on anxiety is to show complete…

How to mend a broken heart

  I was at a meeting last week and someone asked me if I had any tips for mending a broken heart. I replied that one aspect that was important was realising that, as humans we all have the capacity to cut-out our emotions when needed.  This is because we have an enormous rational frontal brain and an older, smaller prehistoric ‘alarmist’ brain that we can choose to ignore and over-ride as required. This gives humans huge flexibility – when we are really distressed we can still function effectively, completely ignoring any emotional upset.  When necessary, with our huge frontal…

‘Mental Illness’ or simply paying attention to symptoms?

In my Smart Therapy Centre, I notice that when people get anxious they often pay attention to their anxiety thoughts because they are worried that the dreaded anxiety event might happen if they are not vigilant. For example, if someone is anxious about having a panic attack they will continually pay attention to any sensations, emotions, thoughts, memories or images that might suggest a panic attack could be imminent. Unfortunately, paying attention is the exact opposite of what we should be doing in this situation.  This is because, paying attention tells the brain to do exactly what it has evolved…

GETTING THE RIGHT PARENTING STYLE

  Recently we had an 8-year-old child at our Smart Therapy centre who pushed her mother over onto the floor and was kicking her in the head.  The mother curled up and cowered on the ground. The shocked therapist instructed the child to stop and sit down immediately.  The child then proceeded to tell the therapist that she would tell child protection that she was being abused if any action was taken to curtail her behaviour.  This is not the first time we have seen children like this one.  It is becoming increasingly common. In earlier times this behaviour would…

ASSERTION IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM AGGRESSION

  In previous blogs I have written about how anxiety nearly always arises from stressful life events (SLEs). These SLEs often have their origins in childhood, when we have little control over our lives. In such circumstances, children learn that the way they can best survive is through a combination of compliance, secrecy, deceit and manipulation. As they move into adolescence and become stronger and more capable, these strategies often flip into aggression. This occurs, for example, when there is a severe altercation and the teenager is physically large enough to fight back against an abusive parent.  Under pressure, the…