Social anxiety is crippling.

In my case study, Jason’s main issue was social fear coming from fear of abandonment and an insecure attachment to his father. It was his main presenting issue. His narrative shows how utterly disabling it can be, how it encourages avoidance, interferes with normal functioning and interferes with self-care.

“By the time I had reached college, fear had, unknown to me, taken over my life. I did adequately in my Leaving Cert without ever reaching my full potential. The subject I was good at was English, as I had a teacher who took a keen interest in me and really pushed me. I did well in this subject, so it seemed logical to study this further in college. I accepted my place in University College Dublin, with just one other person from school doing the same degree. This was where my problems started. As my brother had gone to college before me, I decided, like him, that it would be a good idea to live with strangers and make new friends. My brother had made a great new group of friends, but unfortunately I only realise now, what was good for my brother might not make me happy. It was, without doubt, the loneliest time of my life. I made one new friend, Darren, out of 200 students following the course. I relied on him heavily and if he wasn’t going to lectures, there was no way I was. I just couldn’t handle the house.
There were three girls and two lads living in the house. They were all nice people and in particular the lads, who had many of the same interests as me. I just couldn’t put myself out there to spend time with them or to socialise with them. I would spend hours locked in my room. I couldn’t even muster the courage to urinate and would often do it in my sink. I was paralysed by the fear of meeting them and I suppose being judged. I never ate or cooked in the house and only very rarely watched television in the sitting room. I would usually only do this when there was nobody around. If I left early in the morning to go to college, I would slip out the door and hope nobody spotted me. I then would often spend hours wandering through the college, putting down time until it was dark and time to go to bed. This could often be as early as 6 o’ clock. I would lock myself in my room and read. Reading would keep my mind from thinking and I grew so dependent on it that I wouldn’t be able sleep without reading. Not even my love of rugby could help me. I was too afraid to try out playing even though I know I was better than some of the players on the team. These were lads with similar interests but I just couldn’t push myself to go to the trials. My only solace was my school friends. I would call down to my school friend, Jimmy, a lot, but as he was studying a different course, he was rarely around. I had friends across city in another college. This was my escape. I would throw some clothes into a bag and head for their place. I could spend days over there, missing huge amounts of college work. I felt comfortable with the lads I knew. We would head out drinking a few nights a week and this was my escape from my college worries. I was getting a bit of a reputation as the guy who loved going out, especially among the older lads from back home. I loved playing up this reputation and when they rang I couldn’t say no. I loved been seen as one of the boys and a ‘right lad,’ but deep down I was really struggling.”

Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
SHAME
I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

Posted in social fear
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Generalised and specific social anxiety

John R. Marshall, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA School of Medicine, is one of the pioneers in using medication to deal with social fear. In his book, Social Phobia. From Shyness to Stage Fright, he divides it into two categories, specific and generalised. Some people fear situations that may involve any type of criticism, including small everyday activities in the presence of others such as shopping, posting a letter, or dining in a café. I have met people who find going for a walk in an urban area a torture, because they feel conspicuous and exposed. They are acutely conscious that people are staring at them and commenting on them and they feel terrified and paralyzed as they walk with head bowed. Even shopping is torturous. They stand dumbly at the counter and are unable to make eye contact with the shop attendant and at the same time are intensely conscious of other shoppers. This hell is generalized social fear, since it pervades most areas of your life, where you strive to be more than human, where you are in the grip of perfectionism to avoid shame, where your boundaries are very defective as you strive to please everyone. You take in the feelings of other people very easily, and fear that the simplest of actions such as asking the price of some item will arouse their hostility and they will judge you as awkward. This generalized social fear is more crippling than the fear of specific circumstances.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
SHAME
I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

Posted in social fear
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Social anxiety.

In my last blog I looked at using a diary to address our thoughts, feelings and behavours in relation to fear of failure and how my own fear of failure was preventing me from applying for a particular job. Yet despite my fears, I found fulfilment in my life as a teacher, a principal and a counsellor. I believe that this was my destiny. In my training as a counsellor I had to undertake fifty hours of personal counselling. This changed my life in the most positive way possible. I regret how my fear prevented me from speaking at the Oireachtas and perhaps arousing the anger of others, but I have let that go. I have accepted that I once had a deep fear. Letting go of regret is important, because those with core fear live in a world of regret, a futile world, a negative place that they wallow in, where the words ‘if only’ predominates. I believe that all of us has a destiny, and it is up to you to find it and banish fear from your world.
I hope these extracts helped you to understand some aspects of fear of failure. Now I want to help you explore a most devastating fear, called social phobia or social anxiety.
Once known as the ‘neglected disorder,’ social fear is now seen as one of the most disabling conditions to beset human beings. There are widely varying statistics about how prevalent it is, but research shows that it affects up to twenty percent of people, making it one of the most common anxiety disorders. At some stage or another we all experience normal social fear. We are apprehensive when we have to make a speech, give a presentation, ask someone out for a date, sing a song or perform in some way in public. It is only when it becomes so distressing that it inhibits us from living happily and interferes with our life that it can be termed pathological and requires treatment.
Social fear is more formally known as social anxiety or social phobia, and is seen as an anxiety disorder that affects both men and women. Psychologists rightly distinguish between fear and anxiety. While they are distinct, they may overlap and the differences are well explained by the Swiss biochemist, Thierry Steimer, in his article ‘The Biology of fear-and anxiety-related behaviors.’ If you are interested in brain function this is an excellent article. Anxiety is a body sensation and has a large number of physical symptoms that arise at a possible or imagined threat. It is, therefore, a generalised response to an unknown danger. Fear is a primitive emotion in the face of real or immediate danger, or what is seen as a danger. Without fear, however, there would be no anxiety, although some psychologists argue that anxiety can be converted into fear. I think the opposite would be closer to the truth. I have never met anyone who had anxiety that was not accompanied by a silent and hidden fear.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
SHAME
I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

Posted in social fear
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Keeping a fear and avoidance diary as a way of dealing with fear of failure

Today I am returning to my usual blog and hope you are all feeling relief and some form of freedom is returning to us to raise our spirits. There may be a negative aftermath to this, but some counselling will help erate that. I had been discussing fear of failure, a debilitating fear that prevents us for fulfilling our dreams. Using your gut helps you to avoid mistakes in what direction you should take in different circumstances, but it does not give you an insight into the extent of your fear of failure. One of the best ways to get an overall view of this is to keep a fear and avoidance diary. This should be as comprehensive as necessary, recording your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Let us take a brief example of how this might look in the context of the lecturing job I once avoided.
Thoughts
That would be a very attractive job. It is highly paid and I need the money badly now, with a large family and a big mortgage. I like history and lecturing does not carry a big workload. I’m also well qualified and am a good writer. I could easily write plenty of articles and a few books, perhaps. But, I would have to give up my profession which I really love. I would have to say good bye to that. I would have to move and sell the nice house I built. I like where I’m living. I like the countryside. I like the voluntary work I am doing. Worse still, I would have to leave all my friends. What would I do if I made a mess of this? After all some of these third-level students will be more intelligent than me. I might be a laughing stock.

Feelings
I feel a bit uneasy about this. I can feel this in the pit of my stomach. I feel worried that something will go wrong and I can feel some element of shame in my body. I am afraid, because I think this is too much. I feel angry that I am so stuck, because this would be a good opportunity for me career-wise. I feel angry that I am like this. What makes me like this? I feel like a child.
Behaviours
I can’t let this opportunity go. I’ll apply for the job, but I’ll outline the difficulties in my way. I’ll tell them that I want the job but I want to remain on here for another year to finish out my Leaving Certificate class.

I would clearly have seen from this diary how I sabotaged my future in the lecturing field. My initial thinking was positive, but then I buried it beneath a morass of negative and irrational thinking. The feelings coming from this thinking are clear – fear, anger and shame. The behaviour is one of subconscious avoidance, one of the most prominent saboteurs attached to fear. I would not have seen this at the time. Fear clouds clear thinking. Writing it down makes for clarity and good judgement.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
SHAME
I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

Posted in fear of failure
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Depression during covid 19 lockdown and aftermath

Depression is a very complex reality, but I will not look at it in all its complexity in such a short blog.
Depression is a painful feeling of ongoing sadness, low mood, no motivation and no sense of joy or happiness. It is a sense of being in a dark hole, powerless and helpless. When we are depressed, especially if it is extreme, we lose pleasure in everything, we feel tired all the time, we would prefer to stay in bed late, and doing small tasks can seem very difficult. It can also affect our appetite either by increasing or decreasing it. One of the most disheartening aspects of depression is a tendency to withdraw from other, being in an internal world of darkness and hopelessness. Sometimes it can make us angry as men, or in the case of women, tearful.
It also affects our thinking processes where concentrating can be difficult. Sometimes, especially with females it brings on rumination (asking questions that have no answer), so that we are on a treadmill of deadness. Sometimes in severe depression, the emotional pain is so great that we consider escaping from it by taking our own lives. Suicidal ideation often accompanies depression.
It can range from mild to extreme and can have a genetic or an environmental aspect or both. When I say environmental, I mean it is caused by adverse or stressful circumstances in our life, particularly if a person had a childhood of neglect or criticism. Generally, depression is an early onset complaint, and people get it in their late teens, but there is a late onset depression, which is rarer and generally stems from hormonal or medical conditions as we age. Early onset depression tends to occur in episodes that generally fade and then recur. Sometimes the time between the episodes lessens and the depressive stress increases.
Clearly, when we consider the lockdowns and restrictions that we are currently suffering during the Covid 19 crisis, it is easy to see how depression can be made much worse. These restrictions are in some cases traumatic, where we, as social beings, have been deprived of human interaction and social contact. When we feel imprisoned, particularly if we live in urban areas, it can quickly lower our mood. We are meant to be free, in a psychological sense, and taking away our freedom can be traumatic for some people. I think there will be a great deal of depression following these relatively long lockdowns, so I want to look at how to deal with it.
It can be very difficult for a person to handle the depression of a partner at the best of times, and during our current ‘imprisonment’ that can be almost impossible. So, people who live with a depressed person should be cognisant of the importance of self-care, as outlined in my last blog. Looking after ourselves in an emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual sense will enable us to cope better with someone who is depressed.
What a depressed person needs is not to be fixed, but a level of empathy from a partner, and certainly not criticism such as ‘snap out of it.’ Empathy is an emotional understanding of the other, a simple statement such as ‘this is very hard for you.’ it shows the depressed person some level of support. Criticism only drives the depression deeper and makes it last longer.
A depressed person needs to be heard, and counselling can be very helpful, where a non-judgemental stranger in a safe place listens and empathises and offers some suggestions if necessary. As well as addressing the inner world of the depressed person, a counsellor will help the person examine the root cause of the depression. Processing them can take the depressive symptoms away. Currently many counsellors are working online. I do not do that, there is nothing like face to face interaction in a safe setting. Counselling is complex and cannot be packaged in a screen, in my opinion, but it may be the only option available at the moment.
As with anxiety, a good diet is essential to ease depression, so plenty of greens, fruits, and lean meat especially fish are useful. There is a myth that nicotine can ease depression. It does not and can keep you on the treadmill, as you may experience a momentary escape from the depression and then back it comes! That is how addictions are created.
A recent study has shown that fresh air on its own can help raise one’s spirits. Combine that with exercise and you have the prescription to ease depression. Exercise is essential. Of course, it can be difficult to drag oneself out of bed and go for a walk or a cycle, but being depressed does not deprive us of choices. A partner can be of great help in this.
Finally, there is the question of medication, of anti-depressants. When my child was killed my doctor prescribed some anti-depressants, but I would have to say that it is best not to take these, unless things become intolerable.
So, during the lockdowns and later on try to get out, force yourself to get up early, have a simple plan for the day, set achievable goals (set small steps), practise positive self-talk and get some therapy.

Posted in depression
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Dealing with Anxiety during the lockdown

Anxiety as a factor of Loss during the Covid 19 emergency

In the last blog I looked at anger as an element of loss during what is a global trauma. Some people may be reasonably contented at being locked down and feel that safety is the most important consideration at the present time. Others, however, may be exposed to the full impact of loss and may be suffering from anxiety at the loss of freedom, income, social contact and possible tension in the home, especially if they have to manage children in this severe lockdown. Other people may have bad anxiety at the prospect of getting sick. This is becoming evident to me from the phone calls I am getting about stress and distress.

Anxiety consists of physical symptoms. When my child died over 30 years ago, I experienced severe anxiety. I remember the skin on my hands peeling, the nauseous feeling in my stomach, the tremors through my body and the headaches. Anxiety has a wide variety of symptoms, too many to be mentioned here, but we can look at how to cope with it.

Bearing in mind that unlike depression, which is a low mood, and difficult to deal with there are many ways to alleviate anxiety. One of the most potent feeders of anxiety is negative thinking, which if indulged in frequently lays down detrimental neural pathways in our brain. There is a good technique called SOS which many people find very useful to dispel negative thinking. S = Stop, O=Observe, S= shift. So, when you are beset by negative thoughts say in your mind the word Stop, then observe what happens when you go into a negative world, and then Shift to more positive thinking.

What happens when we are anxious is that the Sympathetic Nervous system in the brain is active, so it is important to get techniques to access the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which brings about calmness. There are several techniques to achieve this, two of which are abdominal breathing and the Butterfly Hug,

Abdominal breathing is probable one of the best ways to calm the body but it can take a while to learn. Basically, it is about breathing through your stomach. Put a book on your stomach, breathe in through the nose and watch the book rise as your stomach rises. Practise this every day until you have mastered it. You can see examples on U Tube.

There is a very good technique called the Butterfly Hug which quickly brings calmness. This is very simple and you can see it on the interned by simply Googling ‘Butterfly Hug’.
Practising good self-care is essential to limit anxiety. These can include exercise, painting (I purchased some adult tracing books and paints from Amazon for my wife, and it absorbs her and eases her anxiety.

There is ample proof from research that diet is closely linked to anxiety and it is important to look closely at it especially when there is a danger of comfort eating during the lockdown. Sugar is very detrimental to our health, and apart from weight gain it provokes anxiety. Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine also create anxiety, and it it a myth to assume that they calm us. they have the opposite effect.

Self-care is essential to ease anxiety and here is a long list of self-care activities and you might find one or two useful. They are very simple, but a small thing can make a big difference. I compiled these many years ago and some are obviously not feasible during the lockdown,

Physical self-care
• Eat regularly (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
• Eat healthily
• Exercise
• Regular medical care
• Take time off when sick
• Massages
• Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing, other physical activities.
• Take time to meet sexual needs
• Sufficient sleep
• Wear clothes you like
• Vacations (long and mini)
• Make space for time alone without interruptions.
Psychological self-care
• Time for self-reflection
• Personal counselling
• Use a journal
• Read literature that is unrelated to work
• Do something at which you are not expert
• Work on decreasing stress in your life
• Listen to your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and feelings.
• Let others know different aspects of you
• Use your intelligence in new ways e.g. going to art museums, sports events, theatre, etc.
• Be open to receiving from others
• Be curious.
• Say no to extra responsibilities sometimes

Emotional self-care
• Spend time with others whose company you enjoy
• Stay in contact with important people in your life
• Praise and affirm yourself
• Find ways to increase your sense of self-esteem
• Re-read favourite books and re-view favourite films
• Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships, places, and seek them out.
• Allow yourself to feel your feelings and to cry.
• Find ways to make you laugh.
• Play with children
Spiritual self-care
• Make time for reflection
• Spend time with nature
• Find a spiritual connection or community
• Be open to inspiration
• Cherish your optimism and hope
• Be aware of nonmaterial aspects of life
• Try at times not to be in charge or the expert.
• Be open to not knowing
• Identify what is meaningful to you and notice its place in your life
• Meditate
• Pray
• Sing
• Spend time with children
• Experience awe
• Contribute to causes in which you believe.
• Read inspirational literature (talks, music, etc.)

SELF-NURTURING ACTIVITIES.
1. Take a warm bath
2. Have breakfast in bed
3. Take a sauna
4. Get a massage
5. Buy yourself a rose
6. Take a bubble bath
7. Go to a pet store and play with the animals
8. Walk on a scenic path in a park
9. Visit a zoo.
10. Have a manicure of pedicure
11. Stop and smell some flowers
12. Wake up and watch the sunrise
13. Watch the sunset
14. Relax with a good book and/or soothing music
15. Go rent a funny video
16. Play our favourite music and dance to it by yourself
17. Go to bed early
18. Take a ‘mental health day’ off from work
19. Fix a special dinner just for yourself and eat by candlelight
20. Go for a walk
21. Call a good friend – or several good friends
22. Go out to a fine restaurant just with yourself
23. Go to the beach
24. Take a scenic drive
25. Meditate
26. Buy new clothes
27. Browse in a book or record store for as long as you want
28. Buy yourself a cuddly stuffed animal and play with it
29. Write yourself a love letter and mail it.
30. Ask a special person to nurture you (feed, cuddle, and /or read to you)
31. Buy yourself something special that you can afford
32. Go see a good film or show
33. Go to the park and feed the ducks, swing on the swings and so on
34. Visit a museum or another interesting place.
35. Give yourself more time than you need to accomplish whatever you are doing (let yourself dawdle)
36. Work on your favourite puzzle or puzzle book
37. Go into a hot but or Jacuzzi
38. Record an affirmation tape.
39. Write out an ideal scenario concerning a goal and then visualize it.
40. Read an inspirational book
41. Write a letter to an old friend
42. Bake or cook something special
43. Go window shopping
44. Buy a mediation tape.
45. Get a therapist to do a relaxation/visualisation exercise with you
46. Listen to a positive, motivational tape
47. Write a special diary about your accomplishments
48. Apply fragrant lotion all over your body.
49. Exercise,
50. Sit and hold your favourite stuffed animal.

Stress reducers
1. Get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning.
2. Prepare for the morning the evening before (prepare lunches etc.)
3. Use a notebook for reminders of what you have to do.
4. Keep a house key concealed outside.
5. Keep all kitchen and outside equipment maintained on a regular basis.
6. Carry a book in your car so that you can read if your partner is shopping (or you might like to join him or her!)
7. Don’t procrastinate. Do it now.
8. Plan ahead.
9. Don’t keep going with faulty equipment. Get it fixed or get a new one.
10. Allow a quarter of an hour extra to get to appointments. Be there well on time
11. If you attend religious service leave in plenty of time so that you will not arrive in bad humour.
12. Always have a plan B.
13. Don’t put the bar too high. Keep your expectations and standards at a normal level.
14. Count your blessings rather than dwell on the negatives.
15. Do things slowly. Begin by tying your laces slowly.
16. Learn to say ‘no’.
17. Turn off your phone when you are relaxing.
18. Keep things simple.
19. Try and mix with non-worriers if possible.
20. Try and walk around for short periods if you have a sedentary job.
21. Go to bed early and make sure your bedroom is for sleeping (and sex)
22. Try and be neat. Know where everything is.
23. Learn how to do abdominal breathing.
24. Keep a journal
25. Prepare well for any task you have to do (e.g. giving a speech)
26. Talk things out.
27. Have a nice environment to live in. Get comfortable chairs and decorate your house nicely (you deserve it).
28. Live one day at a time
29. Do stuff you enjoy.
30. Thank God for being healthy and having energy.
31. Realise that you have a lot of control over your life.
32. Love people.
33. Have a pet (preferably a dog)
34. Take a shower (or bath) to decrease stress.
35. Help others
36. Try and look well and dress well.
37. Have a good diet and take pleasure in knowing that you are looking after yourself.
38. Don’t cram your day with too much work.
39. Don’t be perfectionistic.
40. Be positive in how you think and eliminate destructive and negative self-talk.
41. Do one thing at a time (unless you are a woman!!!).
42. Take proper breaks during the day.
43. Delegate, delegate, delegate!
44. Forgive. Nobody is perfect.
45. Have an optimistic outlook.

Posted in corona virus
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Dealing with loss during the Covid 19 epidemic. Anger as a feeling of loss
Posted on April 27, 2020 by Jim
Dealing with Loss
Last week I looked at some of the characteristics of loss, which are shock, denial, disbelief, sadness, depression, anger and anxiety and fear.
First of all we all deal differently with loss, because while we may have experienced a similar loss, we grieve differently. We are affected by our childhood, or capacity to feel, our emotional resources, and a whole lot of external factors, such as having friends, a close or not so close family, what we have learned from our parents, our values, our age, gender and so on.
Over a number of weeks I want to look at a number of grieving factors – anger, anxiety/fear and depression. Today I will look at anger.
Anger is one of the biggest feelings of loss. It is a natural reaction to adverse circumstances. It is a good healthy feeling and SHOULD NOT BE SUPPRESSED BUT VENTED IN A SAFE WAY. So we can be angry at the gardai who mount check points to ensure we are staying safe, we can be angry at God for allowing this plague to happen, because we are more or less locked up we can become angry at our partners’ behaviour/habits, whatever. It does not really matter who we are angry with; our task is to distinguish between the feeling of anger and angry behaviour which affects others. There are different types of anger – explosive (blowing up), implosive (blowing up inside), passive aggressive and winding up. Explosive and implosive anger are very dangerous to our health.
It was once thought that expressing anger in a forceful way was the best way to do it, now research shows that expressing it in a more gentle way is the best way to do it. There is a 5 step technique that is very useful, probably the most useful way to vent anger, bearing in mind that we have only about two seconds to deal with it before it takes over. So, the answer is to delay it and so control it. These are the steps –
1. Body cue – where do you feel the anger in your body, your head, chest, stomach hands etc. Note the body cue first
2. Become aware that the body cue is telling you that you are about to get angry. That awareness is vital.
3. Acknowledge that you are angry i.e. the anger has now arrived.
4. Have an internal conversation about it, what is making you angry, think about that for a while. It might be like ‘I’m stuck here. It’s a love day, I want to go out but I can’t. Or, it might be ‘That woman/man is driving me mad. I need to get away.’ The longer this internal conversation is the better.
5. Empathy. This is key to ensuring your anger is properly managed. Empathy in this case means a very small amount of emotional understanding of the person/situation that is causing the anger. For example, you are angry at your husband during the lockdown because he spends a lot of time watching TV and you are trying to cope with managing the children and running the house, so the empathy there might be like ‘well, John is a good worker, now he has no job, that must be hard on him, I guess he is trying to get away from the distress by watching TV. That is just one small example, and it may not be a very good one, but a tiny bit of empathy heals the anger.
When you look at that technique you will see that it prolongs the time before the anger emerges, you can increase the time from two seconds to ten seconds and then you will be able to control the anger rather than have it control you.
There are other ways of anger management, such as abdominal breathing; that however is something you have to learn. It can take several months to learn abdominal breathing.
The best way is the 5 stage way outlined above.
For those who have lost someone during this awful time, the feeling of loss is much greater and correspondingly the feeling of anger is also increased. You can still use the 5 stage anger management technique, but you can use other techniques. Try the breathing, listen to soothing music, listen to water flowing gently (you can listen to that on your computer for some meditation exercises, talk to others even if you can’t visit them, and go for counselling where someone will listen to you in an emphatic way. It is always most distressing to lose a close relative, especially a child or a partner, and in these abnormal times you are without the comfort of others. If you lose someone at this time, there will be days when you feel you are going insane. On Those day you need to hear a friendly, empathic voice. My heart goes out to people experiencing such loss. I know what it is like to feel insane after losing someone I loved.

‹ Being in Lockdown or partial lockdown during the corona virus epidemic

Posted in anger

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Dealing with loss during the Covid 19 epidemic. Anger as a feeling of loss

Dealing with Loss

Last week I looked at some of the characteristics of loss, which are shock, denial, disbelief, sadness, depression, anger and anxiety and fear.
First of all we all deal differently with loss, because while we may have experienced a similar loss, we grieve differently. We are affected by our childhood, or capacity to feel, our emotional resources, and a whole lot of external factors, such as having friends, a close or not so close family, what we have learned from our parents, our values, our age, gender and so on.
Over a number of weeks I want to look at a number of grieving factors – anger, anxiety/fear and depression. Today I will look at anger.
Anger is one of the biggest feelings of loss. It is a natural reaction to adverse circumstances. It is a good healthy feeling and SHOULD NOT BE SUPPRESSED BUT VENTED IN A SAFE WAY. So we can be angry at the gardai who mount check points to ensure we are staying safe, we can be angry at God for allowing this plague to happen, because we are more or less locked up we can become angry at our partners’ behaviour/habits, whatever. It does not really matter who we are angry with; our task is to distinguish between the feeling of anger and angry behaviour which affects others. There are different types of anger – explosive (blowing up), implosive (blowing up inside), passive aggressive and winding up. Explosive and implosive anger are very dangerous to our health.
It was once thought that expressing anger in a forceful way was the best way to do it, now research shows that expressing it in a more gentle way is the best way to do it. There is a 5 step technique that is very useful, probably the most useful way to vent anger, bearing in mind that we have only about two seconds to deal with it before it takes over. So, the answer is to delay it and so control it. These are the steps –
1. Body cue – where do you feel the anger in your body, your head, chest, stomach hands etc. Note the body cue first
2. Become aware that the body cue is telling you that you are about to get angry. That awareness is vital.
3. Acknowledge that you are angry i.e. the anger has now arrived.
4. Have an internal conversation about it, what is making you angry, think about that for a while. It might be like ‘I’m stuck here. It’s a love day, I want to go out but I can’t. Or, it might be ‘That woman/man is driving me mad. I need to get away.’ The longer this internal conversation is the better.
5. Empathy. This is key to ensuring your anger is properly managed. Empathy in this case means a very small amount of emotional understanding of the person/situation that is causing the anger. For example, you are angry at your husband during the lockdown because he spends a lot of time watching TV and you are trying to cope with managing the children and running the house, so the empathy there might be like ‘well, John is a good worker, now he has no job, that must be hard on him, I guess he is trying to get away from the distress by watching TV. That is just one small example, and it may not be a very good one, but a tiny bit of empathy heals the anger.
When you look at that technique you will see that it prolongs the time before the anger emerges, you can increase the time from two seconds to ten seconds and then you will be able to control the anger rather than have it control you.
There are other ways of anger management, such as abdominal breathing; that however is something you have to learn. It can take several months to learn abdominal breathing.
The best way is the 5 stage way outlined above.
For those who have lost someone during this awful time, the feeling of loss is much greater and correspondingly the feeling of anger is also increased. You can still use the 5 stage anger management technique, but you can use other techniques. Try the breathing, listen to soothing music, listen to water flowing gently (you can listen to that on your computer for some meditation exercises, talk to others even if you can’t visit them, and go for counselling where someone will listen to you in an emphatic way. It is always most distressing to lose a close relative, especially a child or a partner, and in these abnormal times you are without the comfort of others. If you lose someone at this time, there will be days when you feel you are going insane. On Those day you need to hear a friendly, empathic voice. My heart goes out to people experiencing such loss. I know what it is like to feel insane after losing someone I loved.

Posted in anger

Being in Lockdown or partial lockdown during the corona virus epidemic

Today I am departing from my usual blog to say that I am thinking of all my readers, who are experiencing the impact of being locked down. My wife and I are in our seventies and are in total lockdown. Counselling is part of essential services so I see some of my clients throughout the week, and it is an escape from the challenges of lockdown, which they call cocooning here in Ireland. I don’t like that word; it is a nice word for something that can be stressful!
Being deprived of freedom (of movement in this case) is a huge loss for all of us. Loss brings about a feeling of being bereaved, which means being robbed. At this time, we are robbed of our freedom, of meeting other people and interacting with them, of going to the pub or a café/restaurant. Young people cannot go to discos, night clubs, be involved in sport. So, there is loss for all of us and it varies from age group to age group.
If we look at what happens during loss, we can make better sense of how we are. When we experience loss, we feel a sense of shock, denial, disbelief, sadness, a depressed feeling and anger, to name but a few. That is why we look forward to an easing of the restrictions, but the impact of what happened will not go away easily and can leave us fearful, anxious and depressed.
The main thing is to remember that your reactions to this loss of freedom is unique and real. It is painful and can bring boredom, irritability and being short tempered. Next week I will have a look at how we might deal with our grief.
Best wishes,
Jim

Posted in corona virus, corona virus
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Your gut is your most important asset. Learn to be in contact with it.

In the last blog we were looking at the different types of intelligence we have. We may be strong in some areas and not so strong in others. I mentioned that emotional intelligence (the capacity to connect emotionally to another) was the most important. After all you would prefer to be married to an emotionally available person than to a genius who is distant and remote! Creativity is part of our human intelligence, and other creatures have enormous creativity. Look at how birds can weave a nest, or the beautiful nests that mice create for their young. It is innate and we all have it. It is how we do things in our unique way.
Part of your creativity is using your gut feeling. Your gut is your best adviser. You will find it a rich source of inspiration, when you become acquainted with it by constantly practising gut communication. This can take some time and effort. It may be true, as some writers claim, that those with fear of failure make poor choices in terms of careers, but they also make poor choices in most areas of their lives because of this debilitating underlying condition. One of the best ways to look at your precise goals, your judgement, and your proposed behaviour is to use your gut. Many people instinctively close it off, probably because they are not used to referring to it or because subconsciously they fear what it will tell them. I have studied the gut from my own experiences and made some important decisions on its response. I will give you an example. I once considered becoming a counselling supervisor. It would not have been difficult and I made enquiries from supervisor trainers. My head said yes. Statistics in my county showed that there were hundreds of counsellors and only a small number of supervisors. My head rightly said that I would make more money than the small amount I make from counselling. I asked my gut, confidently expecting its approval and was surprised when it strongly rejected my plan. The gut usually responds in about five seconds and using it will save you many headaches and prevent poor decisions. I try not to go against my gut, and whenever I do, I create problems. I do not immediately accept the gut’s simple response of yes or no. I like to know the reason for its answer and your gut will tell you, because it knows everything about you. The reasons it gave me was that my job was to sit with people rather than telling counsellors what to do. It also hinted that my health would be under too much strain and that I had sufficient money. The gut is always right, because it knows you. It cannot, however, predict how others will react, but that is not your problem.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
SHAME
I am the author of six books
When a Child Dies. Footsteps of a Grieving Family
Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying
Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
I’ll Meet You at the Roundy O
Priest, Politics and Society in Post Famine Ireland 1850-1891
Prince of Swindlers. John Sadleir MP 1813-1856
I am currently writing a major work on DID (Multiple Personality Disorder)

Posted in gut feeling
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