Do you know your projections?

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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

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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

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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 vulvas

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"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

Holly's Pombombs

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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.

The Drama Triangle

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The Drama Triangle by Stephen Karpman is one of my must commonly used tools with couples. It helps to give insight and understanding to the type of destructive interaction that occurs between people in conflict. I'm a firm believer that in order to understand what is occurring in conflict you must unpick what your role is first, before attempting to blame others. The Drama Triangle, also called the Victim Triangle, is a great starting point. 

Forgiveness

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Recently I have found myself thinking a lot about forgiveness. Partly because of articles I am writing about trauma and partly due to research I have been doing on culture and religion. Forgiveness is intertwined in most religions and indicates holding power.
There is this idea that in order to move forward, we must forgive. That with forgiveness we will find true happiness and freedom. I don't believe this is the case. I am not talking about disagreements or arguments that are had between couples or family members. It's those who have experienced trauma or abuse at the hands of others, individuals who walk into my clinic room, holding pain and suffering. Although the idea of forgiveness seems simple, it can be very emotionally loaded and complex, particularly for trauma survivors.
I understand, of course,  that if a person comes in and finds that the word “forgiveness” resonates, I do not discourage it. Forgiveness is highly personal and individual. You do not need to forgive so you can move on, instead move on in the right way for you.

Healthy relationships

@journey_to_wellness_ uses this lovely image to describe what a healthy relationship should look like. Learning about and valuing what is important to each other is paramount. Knowing and being able to express how you feel, your desires and thoughts facilitates openness which in turn leads to a deeper connection. Healthy relationships bring out the best in BOTH of yo

Intimacy and communication

The most common issue is not that couples are not communicating, its that couples are communicating in ways that push each other's emotional buttons.
In couple therapy you should get support with helping you learn how to communicate more effectively. 
Initially it's to try to get emotion out of the way when you are talking, so you can get to the root of the problems. Understanding yourself and your partner first is key. 

Vulvodynia

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Some #sexeducation for this Friday evening. With #vulvodynia being the todays topic. Vulvodynia means ongoing pain in the vulva  when there is nothing abnormal to see and no known cause for the pain. Whether it is generalised or localised, may be described as provoked, in other words touched, or spontaneous (occurring without touch as a trigger). Many conditions affecting the vulva can be painful (e.g. infections such as thrush or herpes, or eczema). In vulvodynia, pain is felt in the vulva when there is no obvious visible cause for it and other diagnoses have been ruled out by examination and investigation.There is also  localised vulvodynia (also known as Vestibulodynia) which is a term used for pain arising at the entrance of the vagina. This is when any pressure, (touch or friction) is applied. Vulvodynia is not only physically painful but it can disrupt and unhinge intimate relationships and take and emotional and mental toll. In my next post I will be talking about treatment methods for vulvodynia.  

Equality for all

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I have saved so many posts by @theequalityinstitute with the aim of posting them, but I can never decide which one!! They are all vital and powerful. I decided to choose this one for today because I believe that there still much more work to do around debunking stigma around Feminism. Feminism is about equality for ALL womxn. Feminism needs to be intersectional. It is important to to know that intersectional feminism points out that there are multi-layered facets in life that womxn of all backgrounds face.
The whole purpose of intersectional feminism is to listen to different kinds of feminists, not just ones like yourself. In other words; if you don't stand for all womxns rights , you don't stand for any  

Masturbation and the Prefrontal Cortex

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When we’re masturbating, our perception of what is sexually attractive and desirable changes. This all happens through my favourite part of the brain: The Prefrontal Cortex. Its the part of the brain that focuses on personality and creativity. Research has found that heightened sexual arousal achieved through masturbation can make almost anything and anyone seem more sexually appealing. Interestingly enough, these findings tell us that sexual arousal changes our perceptions of the world around us. Which is pretty crazy! 

Understanding your triggers

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Ever been in a situation where somebody is telling you a story and you get a PANG of emotion (fear, rage, anxiety, sadness)?
It may take you by surprise and leave you feeling confused. Thinking that it's disproportionate to what was happening...well you were triggered! Some of us are great at identifying these triggers and some of us need more help.
Triggers can be anything from environmental factors, opinions, certain words or even just people! Triggers also tend to have a physiological reaction: palpitations,dizziness, hot flushes, nausea etc.Identifying triggers is no easy feat but it will certainly serve you. Without becoming aware of triggers you are at the mercy of your emotions manipulating you.

  • Pay attention to your physical reactions. Like the ones I outlined above.

  • Be mindful of any thoughts or words that whizz through your head after the physical response

  • Notice your surroundings: who are you with, what are you doing, what can you see?

  • What were you doing before you were triggered?

  • Keep a journal on your phone or at home. See if you can find a pattern

  • Be patient! This takes practice and time so show yourself some self-care!

Listening skills

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Listening.
REALLY listening. 
We all want to be heard. REALLY heard. We often prioritise that over listening.  My favourite quote is; "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply". How often have you found yourself doing just that? Sitting and listening to what someone is saying, but really thinking about your; emotions or rebuttle - getting geared up to respond. I know I have! That's why with couples that I see, I focus on getting them to listen, REALLY listen. The best exercise I find for this (Couple Therapists if you have good ones too please let me know!) is simple paraphrasing! This exercise is so easy to use and translates to most issues or topics you may be struggling with.

 All you need to do is; one person be the speaker and the other the listener.
Speaker: Discusses how they are feeling or thinking. Listener:Use your own words to communicate what you understand the Speaker to be saying (paraphrase). Don’t just repeat what the Speaker has said. Listener:: Verify, clarify, or modify the Speaker’s paraphrased response. Speaker: Paraphrases what the Listener has said again.
This is intended to help the listener to know that the Speaker is aware of the Listener's perspective and has heard what they have said. Paraphrasing and restating also allows the Speaker to correct any misunderstanding on the part of the Listener.
Side note; when I was 19 I remember seeing a big poster, and it's always stuck with me. It said; We have two ears, two hands and one mouth-to talk less listen more and do most.

Sound Bath Bliss!

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My lovely, talented friend @yattire has started up sound bath classes. I have been blessed enough to experience it! 
Sound Baths are incredibly relaxing and beneficial to mental health. Researchers have found that sound waves can reduce blood pressure as well as enhance sleep and memory. Binaural beats, tones played simultaneously that are close in pitch but not identical, can be found in a sound bath session. Studies show these sounds can reduce anxiety and enhance mood states. Sound has been found to be a useful “brain exerciser”, helping to improve cognitive functioning and help with mental and emotional health. 
I would really recommend having a go if you want a change to mindfulness and experience an escapism that can help heal you at the same time. 

Do you know what consent is?

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Consent is described as: permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.Consent is a vital part of creating a culture and community in which everyone feels safe and comfortable to live in. 
Silence does not permit consent. It is clearly communicated, not negotiated.
An unconscious or intoxicated person under the influence of drugs or alcohol who is unable to knowingly consent cannot legally agree to sexual activity.
Past consent does not guarantee future consent.
A person has every right to change their mind at any point in time, because consent is ongoing.
Finally, even if you're in a long term marriage, consent is still vital. 

Low Libido in Women

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Loss of desire, also known as low libido. Can affect women at certain times of life.

There are many obvious times such as during pregnancy, after having a baby, during menopause. However some women experience most of the time. 

Low libido can have a range of physical or psychological causes, including:

*Stress

*Depression

*Excessive drug use or alcohol.

*Medication side effects

*Hormone issues (drop in testosterone)

*Relationship issues

And many more reasons. If you are struggling with low libido it is worth visiting your GP in the first instance. They can assess for any physiological aspects. If ruled out sex therapy can help assist you in reconnecting with your sexuality and help with any relational issues.