Relationship Trauma. Reliving your parents’ issues.

Witnessing a parent being unfaithful can be deeply traumatic for a child. There can be feelings of betrayal and guilt, and often these feelings can be carried into adulthood, regardless of whether or not the parents reconcile their relationship or go onto divorce. It is likely that issues with trust and trusting manifest and take a toll on long-term committed relationships.

The trauma of witnessing infidelity in your parent’s marriage may have left you with the tendency to project your feelings of blame onto your own spouse or partner. Perhaps you see many of their actions as selfish, perhaps you are suspicious of them without good reason, or perhaps the whole idea of forming a deep attachment fills you with anxiety.  You might even recognise that your behaviour is unreasonable and has no foundation in reality, but still feel powerless to stop it. 

One catch with these behaviours is, that they may generate emotional damage in themselves: The great trouble with the kinds of behaviour associated with trust issues and anxiety around attachments is that they’re self fulfilling. These issues can often cause you to be jealous and untrusting of your spouse or partner and lead to controlling behaviour, or even punishing behaviour. Actions like withholding affection and shutting down communication are common. As a result of this, you alienate your partner and might even push them further away. 

couples acts of kindness

Like so many things, the first step to recreate a secure bond in the marriage is to recognise that a problem is there. Reading this blog is a great indication that you are enquiring into the sources of your dissatisfaction. Once you are aware and acknowledge the underlying feelings, you can begin to move towards healing. Ultimately, you can take ownership of the trauma you faced in your past, and accept that it’s truly in your past. From there, you can allow yourself to experience whatever strong emotions may show up, like jealousy, anxiety, insecurity. They are reflecting on your partner and on your relationship, but they can be dealt with in many more helpful ways.

It’s easy enough to see it written down in a neat paragraph, but making these changes in your own life and your own relationship is often easier said than done. Consider the support of a counsellor to guide you and your partner through the process of rediscovering the trust and happiness in your relationship. We speak with lots of couples struggling with issues surrounding trust, communication and overcoming traumas. Our approach is to help you identify where troubles arise, and overcome challenges together. 

Brexit Yoga: Feel the stretch

Mindful Movement practices allow us to bring awareness to body experience in stillness and in motion. Take a few minutes out of your hectic schedule to indulge in a spot of yoga with a difference. Make sure you work within your limitations. Please decide for yourself how far you can go and step out of the practice if pain becomes overwhelming.

Let me introduce you to Brexit Yoga, an unnervingly accurate summary of the delicate political situation in the UK told through a soothing yoga class. It will make you smile!

Is there a serious message to be learnt? Yes, we think there’s something here that can be applied to our everyday lives. Movement is a wonderful way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Whilst this yoga class was designed with humour and pokes a bit of fun at the current trendiness of yoga, it does demonstrate that by slowing down and moving intentionally, you can bring a calm to any situation.

The ancient practice of yoga aligns breath, body and mind with the movements and poses acting as vehicles to direct attention to inner experience remaining aware of the outside world, taking you deeper into meditation and being more mindful of your actions.

What benefits does yoga and mindfulness have?

Both practices have been linked to a huge range of health benefits, both physical and psychological. As well as the obvious fitness benefits of yoga, like increased core strength and flexibility. Yoga and mindfulness may also help increase levels of serotonin and lower cortisol levels, as shown in a 2014 study at the University of Wisconsin by Richard Davidson, PhD Center for Healthy Minds (Front. Psychol., 24 October 2014). Mindful Movement is part and parcel of the successful standard Mindfulness programs such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Training (MBCT).

So, what does this means for you? You may find yourself feeling happier and dealing with stress better by simply allowing yourself to connect with the present moment. The present holds rich information about what is going on in and around you. In Body, Mind, Emotion and Behaviour.

Ultimately, making time to take a yoga class or a mindful break is making time for self-care. Whether you’re mulling over a serious topic, or worrying about your children, you can use the concept of the Brexit Yoga to slow down your movements, pause and be mindful of you next move, whether that be a yoga pose, a difficult discussion, or making the choice to spend quality time with your family. Whatever it is, you’ll be taking a step in the right direction.

Movie Nature versus Nurture Triplets

Three Identical Strangers – movie tip

The Movie THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS tell the shocking story of three brothers that were born as triplets and separated at birth. In a documentary style it is told how the life of the triplets and unfolds after they reunite as young adults by coincidence and the spellbinding and ethically challenging surprises they are about to find out about their circumstances.

Statistical Data about triplets

A 2010 study by Tandberg et al. published in BJOG from the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen found that there are trends showing since assistive reproductive technologies have an influence on pregnancies. The total triplet incidence rate increased over 40 years. In Norway it has more than doubled. The risk of perinatal death is ten times higher (10x) relative to singletons and has not changed during the period.

The course of the film mainly illustrates the life and destiny of the three men in their personal experience and with retrospectives told by some of their relatives and friends. However, the film also introduces bigger topics of scientific, moral and societal importance. Namely parenting /adoption and the thirst for scientific evidence and progress with regard to heredity of intelligence, character, personality and mental illness.

Was the movie good?

YES. ABSOLUTELY. The story is told throughout in an emotionally captivating manner and leads the viewer through puzzle piece by puzzle piece. The information is prepared and fed to the audience in a way

What was good?

Apart from the impressive and touching storytelling the movie touches on one of the fundamental riddles of life, biology and psychology. The question of nature versus nurture with regard to the development and expression of who we become throughout a lifetime. Are we becoming us due to our genes or do we develop due to our upbringing, parenting and environment?

What was missing?

The narrative pointed at the bigger questions and possible answers without revealing more of that truly fascinating topic. And rightly so. Here the story ends without the full picture of what was actually going on, only guesswork would have been done. Also, the film did well staying aloof of diving deeper into controversial scientific research and thereby turning academic in itself.

Should you watch it?

The movie does cater for several audiences with different interests.

You will benefit from watching it:

1. If you want to be pulled into the dramatic unfolding of the triplets as they were headlining the front pages of their time

2. If you want to engage your mind with ethical and psycho-biological topics and take this film as an opportunity to open up discourses around nature vs. nurture and parenting vs. individual development

traps of life in hong kong

5 most typical psycho-traps for men in Hong Kong

Working for almost a decade with male and female individuals, couples and groups Counselling Psychologist Sebastian Droesler understands the challenges of modern city lives.

With his male clients he typically sees five dangerous traps. To be caught in these traps often leads to unhealthy lifestyles and behavioural patterns that lead to unhappiness, stress, anxiety and bleakness.

1. Fear of Missing Out

FOMO is a state of unrestfulness and often leads to unhealthy, unbalanced and unreasonable choices. So you go out instead of swimming. You stay out too long when you actually wanted to go home. You go to bed late, absorbed in games or surfing the net. You take business trips and events as welcome opportunities to drift and to slip.

2. Bargaining with life

Many men are trying to do what is demanded of them while leering at a future of independence and loosing themselves in the process. They might hold on to a job or a role telling themselves that they just need “to make it through” and then paying the price: loss of pleasure and increased anxiety.

3. Forgetting the inside

Portraying our selfs is often as much a bad habit as it is nowadays a necessity instagated by social media

. For many men authentically showing up is difficult and risky. Showing off is easier and yields some short term gain. Playfulness and manhood often get redirected to no good.

4. Not living fully present

Having a plan is good and needed. Constantly planning the next thing is not good. Men are prone to leap forward any moment in time. Thereby forgetting to be present. Connecting with loved ones and finding people to respect is a choice. If you don’t know what a good day looks like – you might not live it!

5. Knowing but not acting

Many men freeze when change is most needed. The phenomenon of paralysis under stress comes in many shapes and forms and is often expressed in procrastination. Taking action seems to be the obvious and simple recipe to dodge adversity at work, in health and relationships. However, often something deeper and darker stands in the way.

More and more men want to author their own well-being and become a better version of themselves. In order to address the above mentioned challenges Sebastian offers Men’s Groups and Men’s Retreats to enable men to steer clear of the pitfalls of their culture.

Improve your emotional balance in the New Year!

You can improve your emotional balance in the New Year by joining the MBCT program in a boutique group setting.

Pig practice in yoga

There are 2 slots left to join Sebastian’s Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program in February.

This solidly composed program was particularly designed for people who know themselves having periods of depressed mood, downward spirals of anxiety and recurring negative thinking patterns.

Mindfulness-based programs have become more and more popular and are often held in large spaces with a mass atmosphere. However, I will keep the group size below 10 participants for a more boutique-like learning.

Please register asap.

Oh Please!

An interesting new thought was introduced to me the other day. My client declared “I am a people pleaser”. I was curious to hear more and asked her what she meant by that and why she brouhght up the label. It turned out, that she held a rather positive understanding of her behaviour of pleasing the people around her. On many occasions and in many different areas of her life, she would make extra efforts to accomodate others oftentimes in an unneccessarily hasty manner.

For her, the meaning of doing this was control. She stated confidently “I can control situations and people when I’m in charge and can influence the turn of events”. I was puzzled and needed a moment to reflect. “Ok” I said, “give me an example”. She said “For example in the office before Christmas, my boss asked all of us in the team to come up with ideas to plan a dinner event with a group activity afterwards. I quickly got to draft a proposal with 5 restaurants and 5 activities as an online poll and sent out the link for everyone to vote. Took me under 20’ tops!”

“And?” I asked “that seems to be a nice gesture and good team spirit. But where is your element of control here and your influencing the turn of events?” She replied impatiently “Isn’t that obvious? Of course I only proposed restaurants I like and activities I wanted to do. Genius, don’t you think?”. No, I did not think. “Genius” did not occur on the list of things in my mind about her behaviour and her underlying mindset.

I wanted to know how her proposal and online poll was received and she said “I got quite some good feedback – people like it when they don’t have to think”. “And how do you feel about doing all that?” She looked down and said “I think it is great that I help everyone to save time and at the same time be able to do the things I want to do.” Having had known her for a while, I was not so sure about this being her true motivation for acting in such immediate and overpowering manner – pausing all other tasks in her role as a business manager which demanded acting in a timely manner on much more relevant matters.

I was intrigued to enquire more about what she had anticipated the outcome would have been without her “people pleasing”. First we needed to reframe her language a bit: It transpired that “restaurants I like” rather meant “restaurants I feel safe going to” (being very much afraid of food poisoning) and “activities I want to do” more clearly meant “activites that allow me to hide in the crowd without being exposed” (being socially anxious of redicule and judgement by others).

Anxiety and Phobia was the driving force behind her acting. Her immediate and overarching behaviour allowed her to not even get close to experiencing any. She had developed a very sensitve strategy to avoid emotion, physiological symptoms and she made sure early on to not having to deal with any anxious mindgames – the fearful thoughts and images of anticipation leading up to a dreaded event.

Moreover, she managed to deny her strategy of avoidance with a mental self-campaign of “control” and “pleasing people” – as in doing good for others and for herself. Was that really clever? I wondered how much hypersensitivity, effort, tension and sacrifice she must have constantly been putting in, in order to maintain this shield of energy that protected her from experiencing anxiety and fear.

I also wondered if she had ever thought about facing her demons with the same stamina she demonstrated day in day out? I wanted her to be happy and well.

New Year’s Resolutions will fail

5 Reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail

This is the time of year when many of us take time to reflect on the past year. We think about making adjustments to life or to set off to new endeavours. Some of us are sitting on the same list of things to change year after year. We realise that another year has past without significant alterations or growth.

Why is it, that change seems so difficult to implement and what’s more, to make it last?In my work with clients I come across the following five reasons that make change very difficult and often impossible to happen.

1. You are over-promising

We think we found clarity in what we “need” to change, which spurs enthusiasm. Now with this sense of commitment that quic. our drive for action we over-promise. We declare to ourtselves and others that “…from now on, I will hit the gym 5 times a week” or “…will renovate the apartment in one weekend”.

2. You are idealising the big bang

The idealisation is often hidden in a thought pattern that goes like this “If only I have all of such-and-such in place, THEN I can finally pull the trigger and realise the change I aspire”. Does that sound familiar? “In order to write my first novel, I need a quiet office space with a desk and a brand new computer.” Or “If only I could find the perfect support (Yoga studio, Mandarin teacher, Nutritionist, …), then I could finally start living healthier.”

3. You are lacking an understanding of your motivation

I often hear people say “I need to do more workout”, “I should drink less” or “I must go to bed earlier”. Really? Do you? Using this nagging language tends to increase your sense of self-blame. It chore-izes whatever you actually wanted to do. Ask yourself instead: “Do I have to do this or do I want to?

4. You are not managing your time

If your ambition is to take on an MBA, to get some overdue paperwork done or just to declutter your desk, you need to plan for it. The time you need for each task can’t be found in the your days or weeks as you live them. You have to make it. If you fail to make time appropriately, your projects will fail or leed to dissatisfaction in other areas – like lack of sleep, increased stress, weight gain and social isolation.

5. You are being too harsh on yourself

Procrastination feeds on our inner conflict of knowing the waiting task and deferring the doing. In our minds we don’t allow the things to be just the way they are. Instead we constantly want things to be different than they are. With a rigid mindset it seems impossible to give ourselves permission to rest or to do things differently.

In order to make personal growth sustainable it is inevitable to understand the roots of your motivation – the values and preferences for life, that you carry. Furthermore, it is essential to transform and replace bad habits with good ones. In order to do so, we must understand fully what holds us back, what keeps us stuck and what it is inside of us that works against us.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May you be happy and well.

Flow and open awareness – Do we need it?

Does flow equal mindfulness?

Is flow the ultimate mindfulness champion?

Where is the open awareness in flow?

When teaching mindfulness I often come across the question if a very focused mind is the same as a mind in flow experience OR if flow is the advancement of focus?

Flow as perpetual motion machine (Perpetuum Mobile)

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology and Management, Flow is the a state of mind in which we are fully concentrated on the present, that happens outside of everyday reality. It involves knowing of the task at hand and the ability to monitor how well we are doing, knowing that our skills are adequate. It furthermore comes with a sense of serenity and timelessness – no worries and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego. Ultimately, whatever produces flow becomes it’s own reward.

Mindfulness Meditation converges into Flow

Dr. Brewer – see podcast below – says that Mindfulness coverges into Flow like be a progressed state of meditation on the same continuum. Meditative states can have very focused attention – that depends on how you meditate.

Running down a trail can have a very single-pointed attention, but it can also have much broader awareness – taking in and connecting with more detail. Depending on the speed you are going, you simply might not be able to be aware of birds chirping or other things in your environment that you would be easily aware of at a slower pace.

In flow there will be much more clarity of direction and blending in with your surroundings in a sense of oneness.

The Aperture of Awareness in Flow

In a more general view, in flow there is open awareness of whatever is arising. “I am wondering if the aperture narrows or broadens as the conditions dictate – more so than flow being defined as a narrower or broadened state.” Staying in the photography analogy this means that we are naturally losing depth of field the faster paced our flow activity is becoming.

This leads to me understanding FLOW at a higher level. Taking the aperture and depth of field analogy into account, any flow experience then must mean to be an experience with more potent sensors (i.e. higher amount of megapixels, sharper lenses, better image stabilisation, etc.).

Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation then becomes the path to more potent senses altogether – broadening and sharpening the access to our human faculty.

Judson Brewer on Flowstate Podcast

While writing this blog, more questions arose that I intend to address further down the road:

Is flow the same for masculine and feminine energy and polarity?

Are trips on psychedelic drugs flow states?

Is flow the same as purpose in life?

How selfish am I acting while dissolving my self in a flow activity?

ref: https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/tfpp-flowstate-collective/id1049563447?l=en&mt=2&i=1000414046379

Urban Dads or alive

URBAN DADS EVENT

Are you expecting a baby or recently became a Dad?

Do you have questions about labour, birth & the early months with a new baby?

Would you mind discussing your questions over a beer with likeminded men?

Join Sofie Jacobs, qualified Midwife and founder at Urban Hatch for a fun and informative evening where you will discuss the challenges of being an expecting and new Dad.

Expect to walk away with tips on:

  • Supporting your partner pre and post birth
  • Coping with sleep deprivation
  • Managing life and work as an expecting and new Dad

DATE AND TIME

Wed 24 October 2018

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM HKT

LOCATION

Wynd

10/F, Yu Yuet Lai Building

43-55 Wyndham Street, Central

Hong Kong

register via Eventbrite