For a word that didn’t even exist a decade ago, ‘selfies’ have made their way into our everyday, as though a selfie shaped space has been reserved all this time, just for them. Just try getting through a day where you don’t take a selfie, look at a selfie, or practice your selfie face (s’ok – nobody’s gonna judge – we’re all friends here).
If your loved one is fighting addiction or even struggling with mental illness and an addiction, you may be wondering how you can help. You don’t want to become an enabler, as this will only make the addiction worse. Yet it’s an equally scary feeling to cut off your loved one until they get clean. So what can you do?
If only anxiety was the well-worn jacket that could be loosened and thrown to the floor like an unwanted thing when someone was feeling warm enough, brave enough, sure enough and ready enough. People with anxiety are all of these things, but anxiety is persuasive and has a way of convincing the strongest mind otherwise.
In any relationship, whether it’s with a work colleague, friend, partner, parent, sibling, there will often come a time where a hard conversation has to happen. They’re the conversations that need to be handled gently. The anticipation of them can easily have you imagining your relationship gasping for breath in that cold wasteland fed by misunderstandings, too much honesty, not enough honesty, and drunk texting.
Empathy is the heartbeat of healthy relationships. Without it, there is limited scope for connection and understanding – arguments heat up, intimacy cools down, small issues become big ones, and relationships break. New research has made some startling findings in relation to the popular painkiller that reduces empathy.
Toxic relationships will cause monumental breakage to people, families and workplaces, but they aren’t necessarily the territory of the weak, downtrodden or insecure. Strong, healthy, independent people can find themselves in the white-knuckled grip of a toxic relationship. Similarly, relationships that seem to begin strong because ‘omg we’re soooo in love you guys,’ can dissolve into nothing but ash and legal fees that could have bought a castle on the river Seine, if they weren’t being used to divide half your assets more ‘half-ly’.
The power of touch is profound – whether it is an accidental glazing from a stranger, the strong kneading of a professional masseur, a gentle hold from someone close, a reassuring squeeze of the hand, an ‘I see you’ caress, an encouraging touch on the back, a quick kiss on the forehead or one that is slower, more tender and more anticipated.
We have all had toxic people dust us with their poison. Sometimes it’s more like a drenching. Difficult people are drawn to the reasonable ones and all of us have likely had (or have) at least one person in our lives who have us bending around ourselves like barbed wire in endless attempts to please them – only to never really get there.
‘Sorry’ is one of the earliest words we teach our kids but for a while, it can be a woolly concept to understand. Even as adults the meaning can sometimes be lost. Saying sorry doesn’t change whatever has happened and it doesn’t necessarily ease the pain. So what does it do, and how do we encourage a heartfelt one driven by empathy?
If toxic people were an ingestible substance, they would come with a high-powered warning and secure packaging to prevent any chance of accidental contact. Sadly, families are not immune to the poisonous lashings of a toxic relationship.
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If we knew everything - absolutely everything - about each other everything we do would make sense. It doesn’t mean it would be okay, but it would make sense.
Too often though, when our kids do things that aren’t so ‘adorable’ we are quick to judge, either them, ourselves, or both. The truth of it all is that as much as our kids need boundaries, they (and we) need compassion and space to find clarity. If we can look at their behaviour, as wild as it might be, with curious eyes, we’re more likely to be able to give them what they need to move forward. For sure we might be furious or baffled by what they’re doing, but if we could understand everything going on for them it would make sense.
All behaviour is driven by a need, and if we can look at their behaviour with curiosity (and I know how hard this can be sometimes!) we can discover the blind spots that can reveal the need. The need might be connection, attention, stillness, food, a sleep, a cuddle, space, a little power and influence (especially if they’ve been following rules all day at school) - all valid.
Of course we need to talk to them about how to meet the need in ways that don’t end in chaos, but the time for this will come after the storm. If the need isn’t clear, that’s okay. Preserve the connection with them as much as you can by validating what you see and letting them know you’re there. Then, ‘I know if I could understand everything that’s going on for you right now what you’re doing would make sense. Can you help me understand?’ They might not be able to explain if they are in big emotion, but ride the wave with them until the emotion eases and then talk.
Our kids and teens are no different to us. We all do things that dull our shine sometimes. We don’t do these things because we’re bad, we do them most often because we’re feeling bad. When this happens, we don’t need judgement. Nope. We know when we’re being feral, just like our kids have a clue when they are. What we (and they) need is space to find calm and clarity. As their important big person, the space you create in your connection with them is the most healing, calming, insight-making space of all.♥️...