Your inner dialogue

This is my question to you today: Why would you? We tend to talk about self-care in the context of actions and behaviours. We don't talk enough about the language that we use and the internal dialogue (or narrative) we subject ourselves to. 
The critical inner voice is a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts. It is an internal enemy that utilises negative thoughts, biases and beliefs against you. As a result the voice impacts on your confidence and self-esteem. So perhaps a form of self care this week could be challenging that inner critic. You can do so by : 1. Noticing the words, attitude AND TONE that you use towards yourself. 2. Challenging them, ask yourself; "if this happened to (insert friend/relative) what would I say to them?" 3. Ask yourself why you're not saying those (presumably lovely!) things. 4. Say those (presumably lovely!) things to yourself. Challenging yourself is actually cathartic, therapeutic and a great form of selfcare.

Stopping the cycle of blame

Blame-what need.PNG

Being stuck in the Drama Triangle can be exhausting-breaking the cycle of 'blame and complain' is no easy feat. But using a sentence like this facilitates change-it stops both parties being caught up in the rut. It opens up the possibility of effective communication and encourages you both to step out of the emotional brain and into the rational one.

Self-awareness

IMG_20190424_173617_428.jpg

Self-awareness is a powerful tool to assist you gaining insight into how you feel and think. Being mindful is a valuable tool towards building a better understanding of your self-concept (how you think, feel and perceive yourself). Learning to identify emotions and triggers alone, can massively influence how you can create changes within. Therefore, enabling deeper connection with yourself, others and the world around you

Stealthing

IMG_20190430_164612_060.jpg

TRIGGER WARNING: Stealthing/rape- Two nights ago I asked women to anonymously share times, they had experienced stealthing. An act described as “the practice of one sex partner covertly removing a condom, when sexual consent has only been given by the other sex partner for condom-protected safer sex.” - If you consent to having safe sex and someone you’re intimate with violates what you have only consented to, it is rape. You are a rapist. People still have this idea that someone who rapes is this dodgy looking guy at the bottom of an alley way waiting around during midnight. It isn’t. A guy who slips off a condom without your knowledge is also a rapist. Many people who wrote in or commented on the thread I compiled admitted that they didn’t know there was a name for it (stealthing) and that’s because some don’t recognise it as being dangerous. If a woman consents to safe sex, you respect her wishes instead of risking her sexual health (exposing her to STI’s and unwanted pregnancies) because “it doesn’t feel great” - do not cross her boundaries for your pleasure. To the women who wrote in, thank you for sharing your experiences with me. You didn’t have to, but chose to, allowing me to bring more awareness. If you ever go through this, please contact a rape crisis centre who will be able to try and support you. 

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

IMG_20190515_191235_069.jpg

What causes Erectile Dysfunction? Many people, on occasion will struggle to get or maintain an erection. There are numerous reasons for this, ranging from; stress, tiredness, anxiety (particularly around performance) or too much alcohol. If it happens more often and causing you upset, seek support.
In the first instance I encourage people to attend their GP. Get a full blood test and a physical test carried out. This is to rule out any physiological aspects. Irrespective of the results, Sex Therapists are full qualified to assist you through talking therapy alongside exercises that can be done at home. Erectile issues are nothing to worry or be embarrassed about.

Partnership is about 'our' way, not 'my' way

Screenshot_20190322-144935_Instagram.jpg

Teamwork is vital in relationships, whether it's work, family or friends. It's all about give and take. Most of us have probably been on a team one way or another; being kids on sports teams to our present work teams. However, in intimate relationships we often push back against our partner rather than collaborating, we tend, instead to be focused more on 'my' needs than 'our' needs.

Teamwork requires you to be unselfish and responsive to your spouse’s needs by collaborating, listening and encouraging. True teamwork can bring about a bountiful partnership. It allows you to grow as a person, and as a couple. Take a minute and ask yourself, what are some changes you need to make so ensure that you and your partner operate as a team?

Passive Aggressive behaviour

IMG_20190521_182921_905.jpg

Passive aggressive behaviour takes many forms. Most of us know it by the obvious signs; verbal low-level attacks (criticism, snide comments etc) or indirect behaviours (slamming doors, stomping around). But passive aggressive behaviour may not always be conscious for example; procrastinating or avoiding (eg; being late), chronic forgetting, self-pity, withholding (actions such as sex, or even making a cup of tea), learned helplessness and shifting blame. Ultimately; passive aggressive behaviour is a way of expressing anger covertly or indirectly. This way of resolving issues seems almost unnoticeable. Passive aggressiveness can appear low-key, making it can difficult to identify and admit to. It can push people way with the slow drip-feeding of negativity. In order to change your behaviour, firstly, it's important to connect with the emotion. Often with PA behaviour it stems from not having a good understanding of why you are angry. Before you start addressing your actions start paying attention to what is triggering you. Then give yourself time to make the needed changes, showing yourself compassion as you do. Finally; practice! Practice how to assert yourself before you do, this will hopefully help you feel more confident.

Cervical smears

IMG_20190517_134113_229.jpg

"If we are comfortable enough to undress in front of our beauticians, why are so many of us still too embarrassed to take a potentially life-saving test?" Cervical screening is a at a 20 year low with two lives lost to cervical cancer every day.
Treatwell and Public Health England have teamed up to try and encourage people to attend their screenings through #lifesavingwax . Campaigning in salons through these leaflets to encourage change and conversation.
We take care of our appearance everyday-what about our health?

Negative thoughts effect Erections

InFrame_1551880563168.jpg

How do negative thoughts effect your erections? Just as we are not always conscious of the way we walk or how we drive a car, we are often not aware of our thinking. Some of our thinking is so habitual that it is automatic, and just like driving, when things are automatic, we might not be conscious of them. Negative thoughts perpetuate performance anxiety and therefore sexual dysfunction. It has been researched that men with Erectile Dysfunction present negative automatic thoughts during sexual activities. These thoughts tend to be; “I am not achieving an erection”, “I am not able to keep an erection”. Alongside the fixation of the possibility of disappointing their partner and thoughts around shame. Finally; fear and anxiety about penis size and body image can also play a role in performance anxiety. Capturing and documenting negative thoughts is a great way to start looking at what is happening to you sexually.

Do you know your projections?

20190322_145143.jpg

Projection is a subconscious defence mechanism. It's the tendency to disown the qualities we don’t like about ourselves and attributing them to others. It happens in relationships when we blame others for old or present hurts. Projection holds power when we have the inability to see it. Especially, if there is a high level of intensity, it creates a strong urge to blame.
In relationships, projection hurts our partners by casting them into a false role, and placing your feelings onto them. Its power lies in our inability to see it. Identifying and communicating that your responses are a projection of past relationship incidences, childhood experiences or your own personal issues, is an incredibly courageous act. It provides insight that may be needed to stop your relationship becoming stuck. Projection keeps us from understanding the true source of our pain and being able to tackle it. Blaming your partner keeps you from discovering your part in the dynamic, and it results in an entanglement. To tackle your projections this first thing I suggest is; when you get triggered, stay with the feelings.  Secondly try to ask yourself (in regards to emotions or negative thoughts); "who owns this? Is it mine? Or is it theirs?" This can help give a hand to identifying if this is a projection or the reality. Owning and communicating them is brave and courageous.

Oxytocin and the brain

InFrame_1549893536913.jpg

OXYTOCIN!! You may know it as the 'Love hormone'. It is a neurotransmitter and is produced in the hypothalamus (which sits in the base of the brain). It is my favourite hormone as it brings so much good; it’s even released during childbirth and breastfeeding. Building empathy and trust in relationships. To....of course....being released through sexual activity and orgasms! One way of doing thanks through nipple play. That is for people of all genders! Though women tend to have a higher level. If you're with a partner and seeing a positive physiological and emotional reaction, you are getting that oxytocin moving from their hypothalamus into their blood stream!

Fixing others is not your responsibility

20190322_145154.jpg

Repeat after me; "it's not my responsibility to fix others."
It's is not your responsibility to fix, rescue or save anyone. 
Often this habit has started from early childhood. We took on the role as rescuer as a duty and it became innate. Ingraining itself into our relationships. Perhaps you witnessed the importance of supporting someone as a young child, perhaps you were needed to look after others, or perhaps you were directly told. ▪When we believe that we need to 'fix' or 'save', we are saying "I don't trust you to do it yourself". We are removing that person's power and taking their ability away. ▪ Taking on this responsibility may mean that we can wear ourselves out, become stressed and ill, even build resentment. ▪Finally you can enable their behaviour, by taking on responsibility of their struggles and pain. Relinquishing their accountability.
▪It's always a good idea to reflect back and try to learn where this desire to rescue came from. When did it start? Were there messages you got as a child? Are there certain people I always do it with? What is the fear of not fixing or rescuing-do I think something may happen?

Not all women possess a vulva

InFrame_1549958943354.jpg


"Sometimes I think people interpret those as vagina pants, they call them vulva pants, they call them flowers, but it just represents some parts of some women. There are some women in the video that do not have on the pants, because I don't believe that all women need to possess a vagina to be a woman." Janelle Monae

Challenge the term 'Good in Bed'

20190322_145203.jpg


Movies, TV shows and magazines perpetuate the myth of what being 'good in bed'* means. This burrows into our psyche and puts an incredible amount of pressure on (particularly young) people.
When I wrote this quote I decided to google; 'good in bed'...... I sat with my head in my hands for a while!So I thought I would try bust some of the myths. 
What does being 'good in bed' mean? 
1. Feeling comfortable with your body, including your genitals. This, hopefully, allows you to feel more relaxed and free.
2. Understanding what you enjoy. Therefore being able to communicate them to your partner so that you can both benefit. 
3. Learn about what your partner enjoys. 
4. Sexual give and take! It's not all about one person. 
5. Being respectful. Accepting someones dislikes, or likes without being hurtful or shaming. 
What does being 'good in bed' NOT mean? 
1. Needing a 'perfect' (whatever that means!) body/looks and youth.
2. Knowing every trick and applying them at every opportunity. This reduces sex to a technique. 
3. Lots of past sexual experiences. This may help with your own experience, but everyone is different. What worked with one person, may not work with another. 
4. High sex drive and/or ability to last. These factors don't give sensitivity or knowledge and are part of myths that have perpetuated for years.
5. Not being respectful. You should probably remove yourself from the bed. 
Sexual responses, desires and fantasies are unique and complicated. Assuming someone 'should' know yours, or that you will know theirs probably won't make it very satisfying. Understanding yourself, body, needs and desires alongside your sexual partners. Can ultimately facilitate a satisfying sex life. Being 'good in bed' does not happen like osmosis and takes; consideration, communication and self-understanding.  Feel free to add anything I have missed in the comments below!
▪▪
*I also think we need to get rid of the phrase 'good in bed'! Don't take my using it as an endorsement! Rather an aid to bust myths!

Holly's Pombombs

InFrame_1550683887937.jpg

Walking past the bridge I discovered this beautiful tribute to someone who was clearly adored. Struggling with mental health issues can feel terrifying and isolating. Most of us have either lost someone or known of someone who have ended their lives, or perhaps have contemplated ourselves. It's imperative that we keep the dialogue open, that we challenge stigmas and show compassion. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts @samaritanscharity always has a phone line open (please see my highlights or swipe on this image). Holly's friends and family have done an amazing job raising awareness of the importance of talking in Holly's memory. Nobody is immune to the veil of darkness that is depression. Please know that you are not alone, you are important and it's ok not to be ok.