Category Archives: Emotional Wellness

Shame, and the impact it has on our wellbeing.

In a world of 24-hour news and celebrity culture, and an environment of constant sharing, with social media showcasing the minutia of everyday life for us to compare ourselves, share ourselves and open our lives to strangers on a global scale, shame is an emotion that we are beginning to see impacting more and more people on an increasingly significant scale.

Shame in itself isn’t necessarily harmful; shame is a natural response, which informs us that something is not quite right.  Without this felt sense, we would have little opportunity to avoid, change or repair whatever it is that ‘feels’ wrong, and we would be more vulnerable to harm or mistakes. But what happens when you are faced with, or feeling, more shame than you are prepared for, or more than you can cope with?

Shame is linked to a feeling deep within our self. A sense of not being ‘good enough’ or of letting ourselves – or worse, others – down. A belief that we are failures, or burdens on those around us, and that we deserve any negative experiences we may have.

Shame evokes a desire to withdraw into ourselves, to diminish our voice, gaze and stature.  Perhaps this is familiar to you, or indeed you may have noticed this behaviour in others?

The commonality of dropping our head and avoiding eye contact is prevalent amongst those who feel embarrassed or ashamed, and can give rise to the physical ‘Flight’ response kicking in, where the individual feels the urge to leave the room and/or situation, or to avoid social environments altogether, becoming isolated and creating a vacuum in which negative thoughts can breed.

In the presence of other people shame can run amok, ensuring that its damaging effects are profoundly felt by the afflicted individual, who cannot help but compare and contrast, and find themselves wanting, or re-hash and re-live a mistake which they feel cannot be overcome.

If this is a feeling or situation you are familiar with, I have some good news:

Because shame thrives on the presence of other people, in order to proffer the profound impact upon an individual, it is necessary to heal shame by interacting with other people. Don’t panic; the caveat for this is that those interactions are controlled by you, the individual feeling shame, and the first interaction which can begin your process of healing is with a therapist or counsellor.

When shame is understood, and acknowledged, by honest conversations with a trusted friend or a therapist, it eases and shrinks away. Shining a light on the feeling, and digging into the root of it, gives a new perspective, and shows shame for the toxic weight it brings.

Shame is powerful, and can have a significant impact on our lives and our day to day activities. In order to diminish its power over us, we need to engage with it, explore its origin and myth bust it, in a supportive and collaborative way that gives you a sense of mastery over such destructive emotions and feelings.

PATIENCE, SUPPORT AND SELF ACCEPTANCE are important when mastering your conscious and subconscious feelings and thoughts around the shame you experience. Shame isn’t a feeling we give to ourselves, it usually comes from external sources, from the way we think we should behave, think or feel, because of the environment which has shaped us.

Happily, those ‘should’ feelings don’t belong to us either – and we can process how we position ourselves in our own minds, in the expectations others have put on our lives, and in the actions we continue to take in order to gain control and acceptance over our own choices. Mastery of our emotional self, mastery over our needs and our identity.

The more you are open to talking about shame, the more power you harness; your old feelings of shame then become powerless over you (this is a FACT!) and the confidence that you feel when you win the battle for control over your self-worth against shame is life changing.

If you are living with shame, weighed down by it, and want to step towards self-acceptance and freedom, you can contact me through this website, through FacebookLinkedIn or email on amandaburbidge-counselling@outlook.com, or call me on 07849 037095 – you can also message or call via WhatsApp on the same number, and I offer video sessions for those who are still unable to meet in person.

You can also read more about the impact that trauma has on a person, and on their ability to form healthy relationships, much of which comes entangled with a sense of shame and low self-worth, in my last article – just click here to read about trauma bonding and PTSD

I can help – you don’t have to struggle alone, and our work together is completely confidential.

The importance of friendship when you’re struggling or isolated

Today – February 11th – is an international awareness day dubbed ‘Make a Friend day’ – and that’s something many of my clients have anxiety around, or negative experiences with. It can be hard to let your guard down with new people and trust that kindness is simply given as intended, with no catch, when we have experienced negative or imbalanced friendships before.

The world we are in right now, however – a world with an extended lockdown, with 12 months of a global pandemic still ongoing, and isolated from our usual routines and the contact we may be used to having with others – means that more of us than ever are feeling the impact of loneliness, of isolation, and the pressure of dealing with the anxiety and worries of that isolation and the pandemic itself, the impact on our work, on our families, on our entire lives means that a lot of people are reluctant to ‘burden’ others with their worries, because they have worries of their own.

The wonderful thing about healthy friendships is that you can love and support people through their struggles without either taking the burden onto your own shoulders or expecting a friend to carry the weight of our own. Sharing problems is a great way to relieve the weight of them, even when no practical action is taken – just speaking about issues, voicing concerns, sharing feelings, all help.

But if you’re isolated, and find that you pass days at a time with absolutely no contact with others, even remotely or virtually, how can you begin to find a new friend, or re-establish contact with an old one? How – when you have friends – can you ensure that your boundaries aren’t crossed, and that the friendship is healthy and balanced so that both parties benefit from the relationship?

Energy levels

Healthy friendships don’t need you to ‘psych yourself up’ for time together. You shouldn’t feel that you need to take some deep breaths and brace yourself before you speak with or spend time with your ‘friend’ – if someone is exhausting to be with, or takes more emotional and mental energy than you feel comfortable giving, there’s an imbalance in the friendship. If someone – knowingly or not – saps you of energy, you aren’t getting what you need from that friendship.

That doesn’t mean you need to end it – it could be remedied with some forthright conversation, and it may just be that the friend is having a hard time and hasn’t considered their impact on you.

It may, however, be that this was a transitory friendship; one which has fulfilled its role in your life – and the time has come for it to fade away. There doesn’t need to be any falling out or grand event – you are allowed to distance yourself from people who don’t fulfil your needs, and who can also benefit from more independence from your support.

A healthy friendship is one where, no matter how bad you were feeling before, time with them or spent speaking to them lifts you. You can talk, cry, laugh, share your experiences and worries, and still find time to make each other smile and reassure each other. Simply unburdening can make life easier – and a good friend isn’t one who is just there for the good times, but who is able to support you when times are hard. A good friend is one who, when you see them, you soak in the energy created between you, and both come away feeling happier and better for shared time.

You are not a burden

 Think about a friend you adore; about a time when they needed you, and had nothing much to give in return, but you love them and knew it was ok to give them what they needed, because it’s a healthy, loving friendship. Do you begrudge what you gave? The energy and love that you so willingly and happily gave, knowing they would benefit? Do you regret sending gifts, cards or messages of love?

Of course you don’t!

So why, in this same friendship, would that person feel resentful of you? Of supporting or listening to your needs? Of helping you or giving you gifts in return?

If you can feel the love and benefit of giving in a friendship, allow your friend that same joy in giving back.

You are not a burden on people – not even when  you ask for help and are struggling – you are simply a human in need – an experience each and every one of us has had.

New friends in difficult times

It isn’t an easy time to go out and meet new people, so if you have found yourself isolated and struggling alone, wanting friends but unsure how to find them in lockdown, there are still opportunities to reach out to people and to find friends.

Many people are making better use of online communication – using their internet access to chat to people, joining groups on Facebook for those with a shared interest in a hobby – there are groups for book clubs, for crafting, for TV or movie fans. There are groups for most towns, villages and cities, even housing estates, where you can chat to those who live very locally, and where you could even arrange to go on a socially distanced walk with someone from the next street!

If you struggle online, or haven’t got access to those kinds of groups, why not leave a message in a local shop or on a bulletin board looking for someone to walk with, or offer to help a neighbour with shopping and extend some help where you can, and make new relationships that way?

Friendships are priceless

None of us can thrive in isolation – we are, at our very inner nature, pack animals, and we need to interact with others and engage in conversation, shared experiences and share our passions in order to feel fulfilled and happy.

Friendships can seem difficult to find, and especially so when we have low self esteem or tend to lean towards alone time, shying away from busy spaces and group activities. But even those of us who thrive in our own company still need time with others, and a small group  who share interest in the things we love.

The health benefits – physically and mentally – of friendships are immense, and no person is unworthy of that interaction and of the benefits which come from having a trusted, loving friend.

There are a great many articles available which offer more advice on making friends in adulthood – I’ll include the links for those below.

If you are struggling with other issues, and anxieties and trauma which have impacted your friendships, leaving you isolated or feeling trapped in unhealthy and imbalanced friendships or relationships, I can help you. I can help you to process those traumas, to discover your inner core strength, to build boundaries and enforce them to protect your emotional wellbeing, and to thrive in healthier, happier friendships forever. You can contact me through my Facebook page, through this website, email me on amandaburbidge-counselling@outlook.com or you can call, message or WhatsApp me on my mobile on 07849 037095

 

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/apr/30/how-to-make-new-friends-adult-lonely-leap-of-faith

https://personalexcellence.co/blog/new-friends/

https://www.scienceofpeople.com/how-to-make-friends/

https://www.oprahmag.com/life/relationships-love/a26962744/how-to-make-friends-as-an-adult/

What are the ways we can boost our emotional wellness?

October is ‘Emotional Wellness Month’ – and you can find a lot more information about that on my ‘Emotional Wellness’ page.

In this post I want to share some of the ways I know can help you to manage your own emotional wellness, and improve your emotional wellness when you are struggling – which a great many of us are right now.

Sources of wellness

Having a purpose

This could be family oriented, it could be an educational programme, a professional environment or a goal you are working towards in some way; having a purpose, a reason to get out of bed and do things each day is hugely rewarding, and it will improve not only your emotional wellness but your overall physical health in the long term too.

Hobbies and stress relieving activities

Having something that you enjoy and which you commit time to and derive pleasure from is incredibly important. Hobbies may be seen as frivolous by some, but they are actually vital in giving our lives some shape, colour and variety, and a series of small achievements which bring you joy. This could be something artistic, an exercise, a class or club, creative pursuits, meditation, even simply meeting friends regularly for a chat and a gossip!

Factoring activities which bring you pleasure, which give you chance to try new things or to meet new people, or which take you outside of your ‘ordinary’ routine are guaranteed to improve your emotional wellness.

Physical activity

This doesn’t mean you should join a gym and start training for a power lifting championship – it depends very much on the lifestyle you already live and your physical health. For some, it does mean running a marathon – for others it means climbing the stairs rather than taking the lift, walking to the corner shop, a bike ride with the children, playing in the park with a dog – but any kind of activity, anything which gets your body moving, raises your heartrate a little, perhaps has you breathing heavier, will not only mean you maintain a higher standard of physical health, it will also release endorphins in your body which give you a mental and emotional boost. It literally makes you happier, because you receive a boost of happy hormones – and exercise outdoors is even better, as it gives you a connection to the outside world, a chance to see some nature and wildlife, all of which increase those endorphins.

Spend time with others

When we are struggling emotionally it is common that we withdraw; we make excuses to avoid friends and gatherings, we stop texting or calling people, and we even stop posting on social media. Sometimes this is simply that we feel too tired or overwhelmed, and sometimes it is because we are comparing how we feel to what we are seeing of other people’s lives on platforms like Instagram or Facebook.

Remember that what you see on social media is a very heavily edited version of someone’s life, and you aren’t getting the full picture – so you can’t compare fairly.

As the pandemic has impacted how much time we can spend with people physically it’s even more important than ever before to reach out by other methods; the connection we have with our friends and family, the communication with loved ones, is proven to be a significant factor in our wellbeing – and when we are struggling it’s easy to feel like we are a burden or weight on them – but remember that your thoughts may not be reflective of the truth, and that people care for you and want to help. Text someone if you don’t feel ready to call, and let someone who loves you know that you are struggling. Remember that if the roles were reversed and you knew that someone you cared for was feeling overwhelmed, you would want to help, and that people won’t want you to struggle alone.

Sleep, rest and heal

Sleep is one of the most powerful ways in which we can heal ourselves, body and mind. Disrupted sleep is a huge indicator of emotional and mental ill health, so try to give yourself a healthy routine for sleep. Perhaps speak to a GP if you have been struggling for some time with poor sleep, but there are ways to help yourself naturally.

Stick to a regular schedule; try to go to bed at a similar time each night and wake at a similar time each morning; your body will come to expect sleep in those times and be ready for it. Avoid caffeine or alcohol, which are stimulants, and for at least an hour before you go to bed avoid any electronic screens – the blue light disrupts sleep patterns. Have a warm drink (herbal tea or your favourite decaf option), perhaps a bath or shower, read a book somewhere dimly lit and comfortable, and if you find yourself getting anxious about anything you need to do, write a list in a notebook beside your bed so that you have an action plan for the morning; there is nothing so urgent that it can’t wait until then.

Meditation

You can see in this image the benefits of meditating – this is another incredibly powerful way to boost your emotional and mental wellness – as well as your physical wellness; stress and anxiety have a physical impact on our bodies – so meditation and mindfulness will limit and reduce the damage that these fears and stress are causing, and help to protect you against them long-term.

There are a great many resources online for guided meditations if you aren’t familiar with the process; YouTube has many videos which are free to access; one of my favourites is ‘Great Meditation’ where you can find a lot of videos for different meditation goals. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN4vyryy6O4GlIXcXTIuZQQ )

Seeking help and support

If you feel that your emotional wellness is struggling at the moment, you don’t need to struggle alone – there are many ways that you can access help and support. I offer talking therapy for people who have suffered trauma or abuse, or who are simply feeling overwhelmed by the weight of what has been a very difficult year. You can contact me to discuss the things you’re struggling with, and I can help you to find coping strategies and protect yourself from the damage that stress and anxiety have on your long term health.

Email me on amandaburbidge-counselling@outlook.com call me or message via WhatsApp on 07849 037095, contact me via this website or chat to me on Facebook