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Archive for the ‘Psych’ Category

Over Easter down at Aireys we spent a few days just the four of us as a family. This is unusual for us, as with two adult children now, they are often doing their own thing. Or, when we are all together, we are lucky enough to have one or both of their partners joining us. However, this weekend we could reminisce about all the family holidays we have had at Aireys, and all the cliff walks with unwilling or willing children in tow, and all the cozy fireside nights.Our conversations ranged from whether Whitecross deserved a game in the Hawthorn team this week, to the mysteries of good relationships. More scope for a good chat in the latter than the former.

Without wanting to stereotype my gender, over the years I have noticed that women can set up little tests for their partners to gauge how much they really care. A common theme in these tests is ‘if you really cared about me, you would understand what makes me happy, and deliver it’ I had a colleague many years ago, who was planning his upcoming honeymoon. He had discussed it with his wife who said ‘surprise me’. His idea of the most romantic honeymoon possible, was the two of them, alone, sailing the Whitsundays in a yacht for a week. It was a disaster. According to his new wife, he had failed the first test of love. If he really cared, he would have understood that she was a five star hotel girl and a week without her hair dryer, using primitive toilets was not her idea of romance.

Some of you may be thinking he wasn’t very observant, however, in fairness, he was working with the only instruction he had been given and put all his mental energy into the surprise. Rather than surprise me, she could have said, surprise me with a five star hotel. There is a mistaken belief among some girls, regardless of their age, that if I tell you what I want, you haven’t passed the love test, because I had to tell you. The love test, is that you guess it perfectly without being given any specific information. I, unfortunately don’t think young, more assertive women, have outgrown this expectation of their male partners.

Being able to ask for what you want, rather than simmering with resentment when someone can’t work it out by themselves, is a habit that I hope my children, male and female will develop in their relationships. I also hope they develop the tools to dispute this expectation if they are being subjected to the guessing game that is the ‘Love Test’

Being aware of the premise behind the Love Test is half the battle. If you can explain to your partner that it is very difficult for someone who has different preferences to put themselves inside someone else’s head, and this does not mean that they love you any less (or yourself, if you’re the one doing the testing) . Instead ‘tell me what works for you, and I’ll remember that when I make decisions,’ should be enough of a demonstration of love.

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Anxiety

Anxiety has been a long term companion in my life. I’ve spent many hours professionally helping people who struggle with their anxiety, some of whom, at points, have been so crippled by it that it seems to define their life. I have also spent many years managing my own tendency to be anxious, learning to understand it, accept it, talk about it, know what works.

Anxiety, like depression, or other things that we struggle with mentally, is something that intuitively we avoid talking about. For nearly everyone who suffers with anxiety there is always an element of personal insecurity- telling ourselves we should be better. So talking about one of our flaws doesn’t seem like a good pathway to feeling better about ourselves.

However, accepting our anxiety, realising it is just a part of us, which will often show up alongside other things that we are doing, and committing ourselves to making decisions about a richer, fuller life, is one of the cornerstones to getting it under control. I’ve noticed this week how anxiety shows up in parents. One parent I heard of who was paying their ten year old child for every goal they score personally in a football game, clearly has lots of anxiety about wanting their children to be successful, motivated winners.

Lots of parents, while driven to try and construct their children’s lives for them, to make sure they are visibly successful, and never dissapointed, angry or upset, probably wouldn’t understand that this was their own anxiety showing up. For me as a parent, I have realised, with the help of my children, that because I value human relationships and the joy of feeling connected to people, my anxiety has shown up over the years in providing them with unnecessary coaching about how to deal with relationships. Nicki helped me realise that being on the other end of this doesnt feel like someone is giving you pearls of wisdom which may prevent you making mistakes, instead it feels like someone doesn’t have confidence that you will make good decisions for yourself.

I suppose like a lot of things, it comes down to self awareness and listening carefully to the important people in our lives about how our behaviour affects them. It’s also about accepting who we are, imperfect, with all our quirks and flaws.

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