Does forgiveness mean reconciliation?

“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat……Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behaviour, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established………Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation………Forgiveness does not excuse anything………You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness……”
― William P. Young, The Shack

I am a huge fan of Paul Young’s books but also his presentations on ‘YouTube’ about his life and philosophy.  The quote above cuts to the heart of many conversations I have when I’m counselling clients who have suffered abuse and who feel betrayed by people they trust.

In most cases emotionally broken people tend to inflict their brokenness on others. Many who have been sexually abused become the abusers, those who suffered under parents who are alcoholic often cause their own family to suffer the same fate. Those around us become the recipients of rage because they have unknowingly become the vicarious recipients of transferred rage. We carry others broken pain and blame ourselves, we feel there is something wrong with us. Ordinary observations are often misinterpreted to mean something negative towards us, our emotional pain causing us to suspect wrong motives or evil intent behind other people’s actions, destroying our ability to trust. I have been in situations with clients who 30 years after suffering abuse, flinch if I move too quickly in my chair. This is a virus that we have caught from others and if not cured will not only kill any happy future we could have but also the ones closest to us.

So, what is the cure?  Forgiveness! The pain we suffer at the hands of others is not deserved and should not be carried as guilt, shame or anger, this is not the state of mind we should be in. It stops us from letting genuine friendship, love and gratitude into our lives. We deserve, self-forgiveness! Often, we struggle with the word forgiveness, and rightfully so. We do not want the people who made us feel this way think it is ok. We need to choose not to spread the brokenness they gave us to others and make our own condition worse. Hanging on to the anger and resentment will just be transmitted back into yourself and others around you.

What am I saying? I am saying that we should not carry a burden that is not ours to carry – release yourself and be free from it.

Reconciliation is something different entirely.  Reconciliation is choosing not only to forgive but to take a step further and begin to trust someone again.  It only takes one person to forgive, but it takes two active participants to reconcile. Forgiveness for past wrongs however, does not guarantee a future relationship. Forgiveness does not equal total reconciliation- it is not always wise to let everyone back in.

Sometimes in life, we learn that certain people are toxic to us. Actual reconciliation requires that both parties are actively working for the good of the other person and the good of the relationship. You can forgive people, but you cannot force them to make that effort. And, if you do not feel you can and they won’t, then that is ok and more than likely healthier for us as long as we have forgiven ourselves and not carry all that negative emotion around.

We need to start to value ourselves regardless of the brokenness we have been carrying and are now letting go. Our self-worth is our own point of view. By changing our mindset, we will build self-esteem. Most importantly, know that we deserve to be a confident, happy people. Recognise our progress and be persistent – Permanent change takes time!

We are worth it.

David Lloyd

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Self Destructive Behavior

My Father who raised my brother and I was a heavy smoker and due to his smoking, he was rushed into hospital and needed an operation to remove one of his lungs.  He recovered from his operation determined to stop smoking but before long he was smoking again despite all the warnings! Unfortunately, he passed away about 16 years ago and of course,I still miss him.   Why do we continue to over-eat, smoke, drink excessively, shop compulsively and engage in a variety of other activities that are detrimental to our health and well-being?

Self-destructive behaviour typically starts with a negative belief about yourself. You aren’t happy with the way you look. You don’t think you’re intelligent enough. You don’t feel worthy of love and so on.

These beliefs are often formed during childhood and can be indirectly communicated to us by parents, peers and society. We internalise these messages which begin to affect all of the decisions we make about ourselves and the world around us. We may not be aware of it, we unconsciously seek to punish ourselves for our perceived inadequacies.

Self-destructive behaviour can provide temporary relief from uncomfortable emotions. At first, this does not seem to make sense – Why would you hurting yourself make you feel better?   Take, for example, a woman who was bullied at school. She learned to dislike herself and developed social anxiety and as a way of coping and avoiding certain feelings, she begins smoking. Smoking significantly numbs her, reducing her anxiety and enabling her to deal with daily stressors. Though the cigarettes are damaging to her health, the immediate relief she receives is enough to outweigh any potential long-term negative consequences. Once she has created the habit, smoking becomes not just a way of dealing with anxiety but also a way to celebrate success! All of this can mask the original reason for starting.

What can I do?

Knowing where to begin seems to be the most difficult part – do you change the behaviours first and see what emotions come up or do you explore the root cause of the self-destructive behaviour now and worry about changing the patterns later? Well, the answer is both.  You must address the belief and behaviour simultaneously to affect lasting change.

Though it may be unpleasant, I encourage you to open yourself up. This is more easily done when you apply the principle of “no blame, no praise.” Do not attach positive or negative value to what you discover. Simply allow it to reveal itself to you.

Look back at when the self-destructive behaviours began. See what thoughts and feelings emerge. What was happening at the time? What decisions did you make? Discovering what was there in the past will give you greater ability to make healthier choices in the present.

In childhood, we have a limited way of dealing with negative experiences and emotions. We all did the best we could with the information and resources available to us at the time. As an adult, you now possess greater insight, knowledge and skills. You have the power to choose healthier ways of coping.

One way to change behaviours you don’t like is to find the positive intention behind the behaviour. Assume there was a good reason why the particular behaviour developed. Maybe it helped you avoid feeling anxious. Maybe it allowed you to ignore something you didn’t want to deal with. Maybe it provided you with a sense of power.  After you identify the positive intention behind the behaviour, take a few minutes to brainstorm new, current ways to accomplish the same intention. Make a list of 3-5 things that you can do now, instead of the old behaviour, and pick the one that feels right to you.

You can do this with a therapist or a friend you trust and respect.  The next time you feel yourself slipping into a pattern of self-destructive behaviour, stop! You can consciously choose a new way of being in the world.

What decisions will you make today?

David Lloyd


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Impacts of childhood abuse

As a father of 5, I like all parents think I can protect my children from the predators that are out there but the painful truth is that is not always possible.  The problem is that most abusers are people we would not expect and, in many cases, they do not understand that what they are doing is abuse. The problem is that the serial abuser is extremely good at hiding what they do. The typical stages of grooming are:

  1. Targeting the child
  2. Gaining trust
  3. Filling the need
  4. Isolating the child
  5. Sexualising the relationship
  6. Transfer of responsibility

The above list is calculating, very frightening to us as parents and for the victims, the impacts are long-lasting.   In my work as a Psychotherapist, I have worked with many of my clients who have and are living every day with the impact of childhood abuse.

How can the abuser do that?

This is a question I ask myself every time I hear about childhood abuse on the news or from my clients.  Studies have shown that abusive people find it easier to act on their desires if they have convinced themselves that what they want to do is OK.  They may tell themselves that they are more important than the children they abuse, that the abuse isn’t harmful, that they deserve or are entitled to it, that part of being a man/woman is being sexually dominant, or that the child consented.  Some abusive individuals may have psychological difficulties that contribute, such as problems controlling their emotions, a preoccupation with sex, or impaired abilities to feel for other people or understand social rules. They can also be victims of abuse themselves.  The truth is, it is difficult to understand and justify why this happens but unfortunately the reality is – it does.

What can we do?

Some types of abuse may be prevented by educating ourselves and our children. We need to teach them things like appropriate vs. inappropriate behaviour and how to say no when someone is asking them to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Children more frequently come across an older child or adult (who they most likely already know) that is trying to entice them into an abusive situation, rather than an obviously scary stranger who they know immediately they should avoid. I have not lost sight of the fact that on some occasions the parents may be the abusers, which is when we need the people around the family to raise the alarm.

We should also set rules and boundaries in place when it comes to playdates, sleepovers, parties, babysitting—basically in any situation where your child may be exposed to others, while not constantly in your presence. Also, it is recommended that we never force affection. Children must always be able to choose how they wish to show their affection to others. Make sure to listen closely and validate their concerns. Strive to make them feel that they are in a safe environment and can trust you. This way if an approach or actual abuse does occur, they will feel comfortable coming to you for help. There are many good articles on the internet about prevention. Yes, it is a shame that we as parents have to think about these things, but unfortunately, we do.

What is the impact?

Those suffering from abuse are 25 times more likely to fail at school. Childhood sexual abuse has been correlated with higher levels of depression, guilt, shame, self-blame, eating disorders, somatic concerns, anxiety, dissociative patterns, repression, denial, sexual and relationship problems.

Survivors often experience guilt, shame, and self-blame. It has been shown that survivors frequently take personal responsibility for the abuse. When the sexual abuse is done by an esteemed trusted adult it may be hard for the child to view the perpetrator in a negative light, thus leaving them incapable of seeing what happened as not their fault. This is something that is cultivated by the abuser, as you will see in the grooming stages as the final stage ‘Transfer of reasonability’

Research is starting to show abuse on teenagers results in harmful, physical changes to teens’ brains. Children who had been emotionally or physically abused had less grey matter in their brains than children who were not victims of abuse

The affected area of the brain involves attention, decision-making, emotional and impulse control. Teens who are victims of child abuse experience mental health issues and may be at a greater risk of addiction, suicide, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Adult survivors often live with memories for a long time. Some survivors keep the abuse a secret for many years. They may have tried to tell an adult and were met with resistance or felt there was no one they could trust. For these reasons and many others, the effects of sexual abuse can occur many years after the abuse has ended. Remember that there is no set timeline for dealing with and recovering from this experience.

How can someone start to heal?

Survivors are often troubled by how long and difficult the healing process is. In my experience, the healing process never really stops but it can and does make a huge difference if confronted.  It is important that victims stop being victims and recognize that they are a survivor, that they have managed to make It through what most of us could not imagine and they no longer have to be ruled by the programming of their past.

There is no linier healing process! More than likely, there might be a need to do the same stages again and again. Survivors might spend a number of years dealing with their abuse and feel they are able to cope and can focus on having a “normal” life.  Then a change in their life can reignite unresolved memories and feelings which leads to a focus on healing again.  Each person’s healing is unique, for some, certain stages will be more prominent and require more time and attention than others.

I have abbreviated the potential stages of healing below, however, as I have already stated, these can vary and be in different orders:

  1. The emergency stage: Beginning to deal with memories that have been long-suppressed
  2. Remembering: Many survivors suppress some or all memory of what was done to them. Remembering is the process of getting back both memory and feeling, and understanding the impact abuse has had on their life.
  3. Believing it happened: Survivors often doubt their own memories. Accepting that the abuse happened is a very important part of the healing process.
  4. Breaking silence: Most survivors kept the abuse a secret. Telling a safe person is a powerful healing force that can dispel the shame that often accompanies victimization.
  5. Understanding that it wasn’t your fault.   Adult survivors must learn to place the blame where it belongs—directly on the shoulders of the abusers.
  6. The child within: Many survivors have lost touch with their own innocence and vulnerability. Getting in touch with the child you once were can help you develop compassion for yourself.
  7. Grieving: Most survivors haven’t acknowledged or grieved for their losses. Grieving is an important part of letting go and helping to move forward
  8. Anger: Anger is one of the stages of grief and can give the required energy needed to move through grief, pain, and despair. Directing anger at the abuser and at those who didn’t protect them is part of the healing process.
  9. Disclosures: This is not for everyone, but if appropriate can be empowering and transformative.  Talking about the abuse and its effects with the abuser or with family members can help to let go of pain and fear.
  10. Forgiveness: Those who know me know I’m a big fan of William Paul Young who is the author of ‘The Shack’. Paul himself is a child sex abuse survivor and I would recommend you take a listen to his talks on YouTube.  Paul talks about the difference between, Forgiveness and reconciliation. He talks about forgiveness as forgiving yourself and letting go of limiting emotions you feel towards your abuser. He also goes on to discuss Reconciliation as reconnecting with that abuser and rebuilding trust. I believe this is a good and important definition of forgiveness. The reconciliation part, however, is another thing altogether.
  11. Spirituality: Having the support of a spiritual connection can be a real asset in the healing process. Spirituality is a uniquely personal experience which might be through religion, meditation or nature. The important thing is that it has to make sense to you.
  12. Resolution and moving on: Having done the work and created psychological tools that can help rebuild inner strength and self-esteem it is possible to face the world more trusting and less fearful.

There is always help if you are affected by anything I have written, as they say, “it’s good to talk”

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I have spoken and I herd my Dad’s voice

I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken and herd my Dad’s voice come out.  I think all parents have had this experience.   We are our child’s first teacher, as our parents were ours. They laid the foundation for many of our beliefs, values, attitudes, and parenting practices. We more often than not act on beliefs, values, and experiences from our childhood—without making a conscious decision to do so. I can give you an example from my own programming.  My mother left our home when I was only 5 years old and I have never seen her since.  My Father was a great Dad who raised my brother and I extremely well. My Dad had quite a few relationships during our lives with a lovely woman who would show up and stay for a while and then leave.  I have had a number of relationships though-out my life and been married more than once, of course, I would see the failure of these relationships were for many reasons but not anything to do with my view of relationships. While going through my training as a Physiotherapist it became clear to me that I had gone into any relationship expecting them not to last or to fail so I would never fully commit.  With this realisation and training and therapy, I have completely been able to change my programming and have been happily married for many years.

Parents transfer information through everyday interactions. Children tune in to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages we send, this influence’s how our children think about themselves and the world around them.

Thinking about our own childhood experiences can help us become more aware of the meaning behind our reactions toward our own child:

  • What were the messages we received as children? (intelligence, ability, importance, value?)
  • What influence, do we think these messages have on our parenting today?
  • What ways do we feel our parents had a positive impact on us—that we would like to do with our own child?
  • Was there anything about our parents’ approach to raising us that we don’t want to recreate with our child?
  • Are there any significant events or experiences in our childhood that had an impact on our and that now may be influencing your parenting?

This programming can be hard to change but not impossible.  I believe first we need to become conscious of the beliefs that are shaping our personality. Once we understand them, then we need to dig into our past and understand why we have these beliefs. Formation of beliefs happens unconsciously and that’s why we feel unable to change them. But once we make the unconscious conscious, we start re-gain control.  Identifying the beliefs that you want to change and understanding how we formed them is enough for us to break free from their clutches and not let them control our behaviour. It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. If we can pay attention to the present moment to our thoughts and feelings, and to the world around it can improve our mental wellbeing. You can do this with a therapist, I have helped many through this process which has helped to radically change some of my client’s view of themselves and others.  But we can also do this with someone who is objective and supportive but most important is constructively honest.

It can be frustrated in the beginning, beginnings are hard. We should not get demotivated if we fail from time to time. The new programming can’t always work as we hoped it will. We usually have to rewrite our programming many times to find the one that works best for us.  It’s hard, beginnings are the hardest, but it’s definitely worth it.

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Are we in danger of creating a generation of strangers?

Studies have shown an increase in depression and suicide over the last few years especially in teens, this is especially prevalent in those who spend many hours a day using phones and computers.   Social media allows them to present themselves as their ideal self, the person they would like everyone else to see. People create and link to hundreds and hundreds of ‘friends’, providing a sense of popularity not afforded to them in real life. When many don’t like what they see in the mirror they can alter the lighting to conceal blemishes, choose a flattering angle to hide our multiple chins, until they no longer recognise themselves. Social media allows them to literally present a virtual self to the world.  If they are hiding behind a virtual self who they feel is better than themselves, how do they then go out into the world and be confident to meet, converse and feel comfortable with others? Not only do they present a false physical self but then they create a personality and social world that they feel is needed to attract others.


I have certainly noticed an increase in sleeplessness, worry and anxiety with my clients. Many of them feeling they don’t know who they are, that they are living a false life that is not a true representation of ‘themselves’.  So, when I explore who they think ‘they’ are most can only say “not what the people see or I present “most talk about how tired they are having to maintain this version of themselves.


As a result, I am seeing ideas of social normality or what it is to have relationships becoming confused.  Interrelationships with others takes place in the world of a false, disembodied self, an unreal void begins to exist at the core of their being.  People may be more well-connected, more knowledgeable and moving at a faster pace, but whilst they spend hours staring at a screen they start to lose their ability to learn physical skills, read books, have fun and make real, tangible relationships.   This is why when you put many young adults in a social setting they don’t know how to connect or communicate physically – so they revert back to the virtual world (phone) to connect, even with people in the same room.   There’s no doubt that social media and technology is the future but it is critical that we do not lose sight of the important things that are rooted firmly in reality.

We are in danger of creating an epidemic of agoraphobia which includes fear of wide-open spaces, crowds (social anxiety), or traveling.   Agoraphobia can often be compounded by a fear of social embarrassment, as the agoraphobic fears the onset of a panic attack and appearing distraught in public. My role as a psychotherapist is evolving moreand more to

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Stinking Thinking

I have spoken on many occasions with my clients about “stinking thinking” with the question is often asked how they can get their minds to quiet down.  First it is important to understand that you are not your thinking! thinking is what you do not who you are. We spend over 90% of our time regretting things in the past, ruminating on what we should have done or worrying about what is going to happen in the future by constantly rehearsing the same possible conversation or scenarios we may face. We completely overlook what is happening now and take the time to appreciate the good things right in front of us.

One way that can help is Mindfulness meditation.  You can start with 5 minutes of silent meditation in the morning.  Some people think that if they meditate “properly”, they will have a “blank mind”.  I can tell you that I have never experienced a “blank mind” and I still have “stinking thinking” on a regular basis.

There are mindfulness exercises you can do sitting in your car or waiting for a bus its a matter of being present. As long as you are grounded in an awareness of the present moment, you are meditating. As I have said our ego’s dwell on the future or past, a meditation experience—even a short one—is a sort of ‘vacation’ from Stinking thinking, you might feel that you can’t put a stop to the thoughts.” The skill of meditation is not about shutting out thoughts or shutting down the mind. Rather, it’s about divesting ourselves of thoughts that arise when we need to get away from thinking. This is a practice of noticing the thoughts that arise and then letting them pass by turning your attention to an object like your breathing or imagine your thoughts floating past on a stream. It doesn’t really matter what object of concentration you use. It is important to remember the distinction between thoughts arising and thinking about them, you can let go of the ego’s urge to think about things when they pop up. Practice noticing thoughts arising and intervene by letting them go before you react, don’t let ‘stinking thinking’ of regrets and worries ruins your ability to enjoy life.

Another approach is called Diffusion this is the practice of learning how to avoid becoming “fused” with our thoughts.   Fusion is defined as when our thoughts and whatever we are thinking about become fused together in our minds.  I like to think about it as becoming overly attached to my thoughts, which leads to “stinking thinking”.  You could look at thoughts as “stories” so another way to explain diffusion is the story and the event become “fused” or stuck together.  We start believing that what our thoughts are telling us is the absolute truth.

One important principle of diffusion is to refrain from asking ourselves whether a thought is true and instead to focus on whether a thought is helpful.  If we pay attention to a particular thought is it going to help us to create the kind of life that we desire?  If I notice myself drifting off into worry I can stop and gently say “Is this thought helpful?”

When “Stinking Thinking” stats, stop, observe what you’re thinking, and ask yourself, “Is this true?” You can consider the evidence that it is and weigh that against the evidence that it isn’t, keeping in mind that extreme statements such as “I’ll never…” or “It always happens that…” are almost certainly distortions. Using logic and reason, you can analyze a situation and determine whether you were assuming a worst-case scenario, and consider what the best-case scenario and even the most likely scenario are. If you don’t know whether a particular negative thought is likely to be true, you can explore the possibilities instead of being pessimistic and assuming the worst.

Ideally it is best to work with a mindfulness trainer or a therapist to help figure out specific, remedying thoughts. If this isn’t possible, then write out the replacement thoughts. When you first begin using this remedy of a positive thought, feeling, or sensation, you’re likely to feel resistance, as the old neural pathways in the brain protest, “But this isn’t true!” One way to get around this obstacle is to design remedying thoughts that feel true in the moment. In mindfulness training, you actually teach the mind to create positive thoughts, and in so doing, you reprogram your brain, replacing old neural networks with new ones that foster creativity and optimism.

Once you’ve generated a new positive and healing thought, make a point of saying the words silently or aloud every time you witness yourself thinking negatively. Let’s say you’re experiencing the recurring negative thought, “I’m no good with numbers.” First look back to the source of that belief, examining your past. You may simply need to notice that your mind is creating a negative loop of self-talk, comprised of self-defeating thoughts. By adopting the new, positive thought, “I’m fully capable of learning anything I wish to learn,” your mind flow will begin to shift and travel on a more positive course.

So the next time your mind starts engaging in “stinking thinking” try one of these techniques and see if you find it helpful


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How to Manage your Anger

Anger is a powerful, all-encompassing emotion. Well harnessed, it can drive us to achieve great things. We can use it to fight injustice, increase confidence, and create focus. Anger is also one of the most destructive emotions. It ruins relationships, intimidates co-workers, and creates bad feelings. So it’s surprising that it’s often an overlooked issue.

 At some point,many angry people realise they have to change their tactics. They begin to see how negative anger really is. Weighed against its supposed usefulness, getting mad is unrealistic, impractical, and unhealthy. It’s unrealistic because your anger won’t cause others to change, no matter how strongly you feel they must. It’s impractical because solutions found in anger are very rarely long lasting or practical. It’s unhealthy because the upset you feel after is a state of stress that’s harmful to every cell in your body.

Are You Angry?

Where do you stand on your own anger? Have you turned the corner and seen it for the negative emotion it really is? Anger is rooted in human nature, no doubt. It runs the gamut from a righteous sense of injustice to petty resentment, fantasies of revenge, bullying, and intimidation—all very common human experiences—before escalating to physical violence, crime, and war. Aggression is something we must all confront either as a victim or an assailant.

Follow a process.

Create a process for managing situations that often trigger anger. When someone does something that upsets you, take a deep breath and trust in the process. One process I use to express my feelings calmly is to describe the behavior and explain my emotional response. So, I’d say something like, “When you yell at me, I feel hurt and upset,” or, “When you behave this way, I feel really angry.” It helps identify the problem and my emotions. It also helps me feel in control and prevents me from resorting to useless, blaming behavior.

Tap it out.

Try a little tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is a healing tool that helps reduce deep emotional responses so we can manage our lives more calmly. The whole EFT process includes a tapping routine and a mantra, but you might find a simplified version just as effective. When you feel an intense emotion, just use your first two fingers and tap your collarbone until you feel calmer. If you start tapping quickly and then gradually slow your rhythm, you’ll find yourself calming down.

Canter Yourself

Centering is a super-simple technique that even a child can use. All you do is focus your mind on your belly button, or rather, just a smidge below your belly button. As you focus, tense those muscles and draw your belly button in toward your spine. If you’ve done any Pilates or yoga, you’ll be familiar with these deep abdominal muscles. It puts you in a state of calm control, so you’re less likely to react and lash out.

Practice daily calm.

We can experience anger and frustration almost daily, and the more we experience it, the more it becomes our way of operating. When you commit to practicing daily calm, you counteract the anger. You practice something much more beneficial to your health and well-being. This doesn’t have to be hard. Just spend a moment or two doing nothing, whenever you can. Engaging in meditation is one of the best long-term anger management techniques for adults. Moreover, it not only enables you to have better control of your emotions (especially the negative ones), but can also bring about a deep sense of inner peace and calm. There are several meditation techniques that can be applicable to anger management, but the simplest would be the most straightforward: tell yourself the following meditation mantra: “I control my anger. I control my mind. I am calm, peaceful, and contented. Nothing pierces the sphere of peace that surrounds me.” Regularly practice this little meditation technique a few minutes each day and you’ll eventually notice a significant difference in how well you can catch yourself before you lose your temper.

Get curious. 

The next time you find your anger rising, divert your energy into curiosity. Get really curious about the other person’s perspective. Keep asking questions until you fully understand the other person’s opinion. Once you do, you’ll be in a better position to discover a solution that suits everyone.

Look beneath the anger

Anger is often a secondary emotion that masks the true feelings beneath it. The next time you feel angry, look inside and see if your anger is masking another deeper emotion. Knowing why you’re angry in the first place can work only when you’re not angry—when you’re in the middle of that moment, your mind still white hot and seething, it would be impossible to know. But for the sake of your long-term control of anger, it is of utmost importance to self-analyze the underlying reasons for your anger. Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” This applies well to anger management. Think of the last time you got angry, and try to remember all the elements involved in that situation: what made you angry, what triggered it, how did other people react, and how did you also react to those people’s reactions. Write it down in some journal or notebook, the more detailed the better. Do this self-analysis after each instance that you get angry, and you will learn more about yourself and thereby master your own emotions.

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Dealing with Bereavement

Bereavement is a very distressing but common experience. Sooner or later most of us will suffer the death of someone we love, yet in our everyday life we think and talk about death rarely. When we have to face someone’s death (especially for the first time), we can feel inexperienced in coping with this traumatic event and its aftermath. If you have recently lost a loved one or a close friend, then you will know what it feels like to suffer a bereavement.

It is common in our grief to feel our experience is unlike anyone else’s – to feel abnormal, silly, overemotional or as though we are losing our grip on life. When we lose someone we dearly love, our minds can react and respond in so many unexpected and disturbing ways.  You need to know that these responses/reactions are temporary and they will pass in time.  You may experience:-

  • Disbelief
  • Pre-occupation
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Sensing the presence of the deceased

These reactions are quite natural and you need not worry about having them, no matter how disturbing the may make you feel.  They are all part of the grieving process and recognizing them for what they are can help you gradually come to terms with your loss. There are stages that you must go through when you are grieving a loss what is important to understand is that this is you need to do allow yourself to go though this process to reconcile yourself to the loss. There is no set time that you will experience all or any one of theses stages it can happen quickly or it can take months or in some cases years to move through these stages.


The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain. This can also manifest it self in keeping yourself busy organizing things and helping everyone else around you so that you don’t have to face the reality of your loss.


As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us.


The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–

  • If only we had sought medical attention sooner…
  • If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…
  • If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…
  • Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone or change what has happened what


Two main types of depression are associated with mourning.

  • The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words.
  • The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.


The experience of “depression” is what leads to “acceptance”. Many people mistakenly believe that “acceptance” means we are “cured” or “all right” with the loss. But this isn’t the case at all. The loss will forever be a part of us, though we will feel it more sometimes than others. Acceptance simply means we are ready to try and move on—to accommodate ourselves to this world without our loved one. This process can actually bring us closer to the one we loved as we make sense of how life was and process how we want life now to be.

How do you cope?

Taking one day at a time 

Focusing on one day at a time can help you cope with your feelings and get through the simple everyday tasks that you need to do.

 Keeping busy or taking time out

You may find that keeping busy and throwing yourself into different activities helps.  If this works for you, try to do things even if you don’t feel up to it.  Alternatively, you may find you need to take things more slowly and take time out of your day-to-day life and activities.  You need to do whichever works best for you.

 Recognising your emotions 

Lots of the emotions you might feel when you are grieving have physical symptoms.  If you are feeling stressed, your heart beat may be faster.  If you are angry, you might clench your jaw.  Sometimes those physical symptoms might be a way of helping you to recognise your own emotions.  When you notice them, you just need to make space at that time to feel those emotions, which can help you to cope with them.

 Getting out of the house 

Not only does getting out of the house give you some physical exercise, but it can help you to think differently.  Sometimes, particularly if you are feeling lonely, it can be good to see other people out and about, even if you’re not ready to engage with them.

 Looking after your physical health 

Getting enough sleep and eating properly can help you deal with the different emotions you are feeling.

 Get support from family and friends

It helps if you’ve got support within your own family and friends, as well as from others such as a support group.  This is because friends and family are the people who will be there for you in the long term.

 Talking through your feelings 

It may be enough to talk with family or close friends. Or you may find it helpful to get dedicated bereavement support, either one-to-one or in a group.

Letting others grieve in their own way 

Sometimes different family members may have different ways of grieving.  Perhaps one person wants to talk about and share their feelings, but another person prefers to busy themselves with activities.

You may find that people’s different ways of coping can create tensions and strains within the family.  You need to try to find a way to be sensitive to each other’s needs, while coping with your feelings in your own way.

 Coping with your home

Living in a home you shared together can be particularly hard.  All around you are likely to be reminders of the person, which may trigger your feelings of grief. The home you shared together may feel like a sanctuary.  Or you may find you prefer to spend as little time as possible at home, because that it feels empty.  You may like to keep your home exactly the same, or you may prefer to rearrange it.

It is quite common that when a parent dies grown-up children no longer want to visit. The house often brings back so many memories and feelings of grief for them.  These are all normal feelings, and you need to do what works best for you.

Getting support

Getting help when you need it is sensible, not a sign you have failed.  You may feel that you can’t cope, but you may surprise yourself with what you can actually handle.  However, if you feel you are not coping, or you know that the way you are coping is not good for you – for example if you are drinking alcohol heavily – you should try to think about what help you might need.

Working with an effective counselling professional one-on-one can often be helpful


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Depression Cycle


Throughout my life I have had many ups and downs as most of us have.  When it comes to the downs we can often feel low and sometimes depressed. In the case of bereavement depression is one of the stages we have to go through to come to terms with our loss. The problem comes when we become stuck or unable to come through the other side of the feelings and thinking we inevitably have when in a depressed state.

If we become stuck in this state then we get into a ‘cycle of depression’ that can be difficult to break free of.  The latest studies have shown that depression is not a disease. The physical symptoms are just that, symptoms, and not causes. Being depressed can feel like a physical disorder because you often feel exhausted, experience pain or have changes in appetite. To understand depression we need look at how the exhaustion and the physical effects of depression are caused by the link between emotionally arousing thoughts, dreaming and exhaustion.

If you are, or have been depressed, you may have noticed that your mind gets fixed on negative issues, or worry during those periods. Typically, these thoughts are emotionally-arousing as they are carried out using ‘All or Nothing thinking’ and a negative bias. That is, you have a thought and you feel unpleasant after it – anxious, angry or helpless. The thought creates the emotional reaction (usually anxiety or anger) and that’s it.  What this does is leave an uncompleted ‘loop’ in the brain. Normally, the emotion would be ‘played through’ by action being taken. For example: You think you are threatened you feel anxious, then run away. The cycle has been completed.

When these emotionally arousing thoughts remain incomplete at the onset of sleep then the brain needs to ‘do something’ with the emotional ‘loops’ that have been started.  The brain create scenarios that allow those loops to complete, dreams, dream acts out a situation that will allow the emotional loop to be completed and therefore ‘flushed’ from the brain. In other words, an imaginary experience whose pattern resembles the ‘real life’ one enough to create the same emotional reaction. Normally, this does its job, and everything stays in balance. However, because you do so much more worrying or stress full thinking, when depressed, the brain has to increase the amount of dreaming you do. And before long you are:

  • Spending too much time in dream sleep and missing out on physically-rejuvenating Slow Wave Sleep.
  • Depleting your hormonal system with extended night-time emotional arousal.
  • Exhausting your ‘orientation response’ – a crucial brain activity that allows you to change your focus of attention and so motivate yourself. It is also a key part of concentration.

As far as much of your brain is concerned, your dream is real. So adrenaline and other stress hormones in your system will be active in the body.  This is a double edged sword, because over-dreaming, as well as using up these hormones and energy, is actually making it harder for the body to make more. As you try to flush out the incomplete emotions, you spend more time in REM sleep, and therefore less time in deep sleep, when your body should be recuperating in preparation for producing these hormones for the next day.

Because of the increased tiredness then you increase your all or nothing thinking or depressive thinking style which will tend to cause more negative emotional arousal, and therefore more dreaming. most events are not ‘completely disastrous’ or ‘absolutely wonderful’ but somewhere in between, depression makes people think in absolutes this thought pattern that allows us to generate a “flight or fight” response to danger because all or nothing thinking is emotionally arousing, it causes over-dreaming and maintains depression.  This extra dreaming is to try to ‘clear the brain’ for the next day, but because our negative arousals are excessive when depressed, our natural rhythms find it hard to cope with this “over-dreaming” and then we are in the cycle of depression.

depression cycle

Getting Help with Depression

Antidepressants are shown to be effective in controlling depression in around one third of cases with partial success in another third, but are ineffective in the remaining third.

But where drugs as a treatment for depression really fall down is on the prevention of relapse.  Other, alternative treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy, have been shown to have 70% better success rate at beating depression for good. In other words, they have been shown to prevent relapse in 70% more cases than drugs. But this is obvious! Unless, of course, you consider the cause of depression to be a chemical imbalance. Which is widely accepted is not in the majority of cases

Help for depression varies wildly in terms of what it considers depression to be, how it treats it and therefore ultimately how effective it is.  The idea that depression can simply be treated as a chemical imbalance is rapidly losing ground. Therefore, the first incredibly important stage of getting help for depression is to understand what depression is.   Effective therapy needs to incorporate everything that works in lifting depression. You may be able to help yourself effectively, although often it is useful to get the help of a professional.



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Young Adult (Teenager) Support

As a father of five (5), I understand that living with teenagers can be one of the most exciting periods in a parent’s life. It is exciting to watch our children grow into young adults with different/separate views, hopes and ambitions from ours. I personally find it fascinating and interesting when I meet their friends, observe and get challenged by their ideas and thought process. Their vitality and energy is infectious and many parents enjoy the stimulation of living with teenagers. We sometimes (although with a level of difficultly), accept the moods swings and angry outbursts as part of the whole mixed ‘growing up’ package and more often than not, forget that we have lived through it ourselves.

Balancing the need to be able to support our children constructively and imaginatively, without being sucked into their problems is a challenge. However, for many parents it’s a much rougher ride when our young adults make us feel that we’ve ‘got it all wrong’, and don’t understand…….it can be hurtful and undermining. The most conscientious of parents can lose sight of the good feelings they once had about themselves as parents as some parents get so frightened and overwhelmed by the difficulties of adolescence that they miss out on the good times.

Does your young adult seem completely unmotivated? For parents of young adults, the refrains of, “Whatever,” and “I don’t care,” can become all too familiar. Some of the issues we as parents face include:

  • Lack of direction and self-positioning
  • Confusion – what do I want to do with my life?; what next steps should I take?
  • Lack of motivation
  • Isolation
  • Reliance on the virtual world ‘Video gaming etc’
  • Falling behind at school
  • Learning challenges
  • Lack of concentration and procrastination
  • Substance abuse
  • Anger issues
  • Sloth and self-entitlement
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Bullying

Although good parenting is central and key to a young adult feeling connected and safe, let’s not make this just about the parents! This is certainly a mistake I have made as a parent! While today’s teenagers and young adults are more scheduled and pressured than ever, they are also coming of age in a world where setting aside time to teach and foster healthy human connections, creativity and self-knowledge is low on the priority list.

I sometimes wish someone had sat me down and helped me through challenging teenage times. Seeking answers to questions such as:

  • ‘What do I want to do with my life?’
  • How do I stand out or even just position myself?
  • How do I navigate through the education system to understand what works for me
  • How do I fit in?

It’s not about giving them the answers but more about helping them discover the answers.   Coaching is not meant to be an alternative to parenting; Young adults are developmentally wired to pull away from their parents and it is healthy for them to do so. Where, then, can they go to learn strategies that work for them if they are not talking to their parents? Finding themselves when it’s time to make the transition from secondary school; introduction into the work environment, starting and maintaining relationships – these are all milestones and activities to juggle without a real understanding of how to self-regulate, plan or problem-solve. Coaching provides an opportunity to rebuild this resilience — or grow it from scratch if needed.

Whether a teen / young adult is gifted, an underachiever or someone who is learning challenged, filled with anxiety or anger or just simply trying to find their way, we can help. If they lack motivation, or are simply stuck in a pattern that does not lead to success, we can help. Then there is the question of the young adult who does well at school but are in danger of ending up in a job that does not match their potential upon leaving school or graduating from University.

It is important to empower young adults to:

  1. Find their personal power,
  2. gain the confidence to grow on a day-to-day basis,
  3. learn to achieve their greatest successes by thinking outside of the box and
  4. reduce anxiety that can sometimes lead to addiction in teenagers and/or depression in young adults.

Many teenagers or young adults are suffering from teen depression and/or teen anxiety, and these challenges can lead to depression and anxiety into young adulthood.

It is important to empower our young people to create small daily successes in their lives that encourage them to embrace success from a new perspective. This is all done through a simple daily schedule system that builds on success that may help decrease depression, anxiety and addiction.

What should we as parents do when our teenager/ young adult lacks motivation?

There has to be something within your teenagers and young adults that pushes them past the inconveniences, the shortcomings, and the hiccups that will, without question, arise when they undertake something that’s challenging. So it’s important for them to understand why they want to do something, not just that they have to do it.

If you’re the parent of a teen/ young adult, you know how much they like to debate and question things. Sometimes that’s a pain, but I think it’s actually okay to a point. Here’s something I’ve come to understand from personal experience as a teen: ‘When they finally understand how something benefits them, they will do it long term’. If the reason your teenager/ young adult does something is only because it’s important to you, that is short term motivation and will end. The reason also needs to be important to your teenager/ young adult, not just important to you. If your teenager is doing well at school because they want to make you happy, eventually that’s probably going to stop. They need to have a personal reason ‘WHY’.

It’s very unlikely that you have a teenager that is 100% lazy and unmotivated. What’s more likely is that in a few areas that drive you crazy as a parent, they are lazy and unmotivated. This was true for me. As a teenager, in certain periods of my life, I wasn’t focused on my academics, but I was 100% committed to martial arts and would practice for hours. Clearly I had the ability to be disciplined and to work hard at something – so what I would say is, find an area where your teenager/ young adult is motivated: Where are they committed? Have a conversation with them about that.

It’s okay for your teenager to say, “I hate doing certain things, or I’m not good at this.” Those are fine things to express. And you don’t need to say, “No you don’t.” We all have subjects that we gravitate towards a little more. That’s not what needs to be focus on. What you do need to focus on is “I understand that you don’t like it, but how can you succeed at this?” Again, to them, it’s a valid feeling when they say, “I’m not good at this. This is hard. I hate it.” In my opinion, a good response is, “I have no problem with you hating it, but I do have a problem with you quitting.”

There’s a lot of pressure on a teenager, and many of them get anxious or feel overwhelmed with everything they have to do. To a certain degree, teenagers are not allowed to be teenagers these days. Sometimes they really are overscheduled hence it’s pretty realistic that they feel overwhelmed in some cases. It is important to help teenagers make positive goals and then make sure the things that they are saying yes or no to match up with that.

We are in an age of mass media, generated by marketing, advertising, and technology which means that many teenagers are raised with excessive electronics and lack of community. It’s important that we have a lot of compassion for the fast-paced environment that many of our teenagers/ young adults are growing up in, that is their generation afterall!

This means being very forgiving when our young adults feel that they want to advance and develop quicker than we think is appropriate.

At Lloyds Counselling service we provide teenage/young adult life coaching which provides an independent way for them to get in touch with what they are looking for such as:

  • what do I want?
  • how do I focus on getting things done
  • do I want to go to university?
  • what university should I go to?
  • interviews for jobs
  • CV’s

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential”. Bruce Lee



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