The Demanding, Punitive & Guilt-inducing ‘Parent’ Modes
These parent (or ‘inner critic’) modes are learned thoughts and beliefs (about yourself and others) which are negative in nature. They might sound like this: “I’m ugly, I’ll never get anywhere in life; I’m worthless, I’m not as good as others; no one could love me; I’m useless if I make mistakes; I’m boring, I’m going to stuff it up again, I’m just not good enough, If I don’t put other’s first I’m a selfish person, I’m responsible for other people’s happiness” and all sorts of other harsh and negative or unrealistic words. These are the messages from your inner critics or dysfunctional ‘parent’ modes. It is your voice speaking, your inner dialogue, the words or phrases you say to yourself in a tone and manner that is judgemental, demanding or nasty. But you weren’t born with these thoughts, they were all learned, directly or indirectly from your earlier experiences. These parent modes come from messages you received from parents and other early life events like bullying or other forms of social learning.
We all, depending on our natural temperament, internalised or introjected these ‘messages’ during our formative years and they became woven into the fabric of our evolving personality. That’s why we don’t tend to question them – because by adulthood, they are a fundamental part of our identify.
In schema therapy we divide the inner critic into three types: one is a fear-based part (we call this the “demanding parent” or critic), another is a nasty, mean part (we call this the “punitive parent”) and the third is a ‘guilt-tripping’ part – the guilt inducing parent mode or critic. This distinction is important because in therapy we target these parts in different ways and they can affect a person’s mental health to different degrees.
The Demanding Parent Voice – your inner perfectionist!
The demanding parent mode is fear-driven because it tells you that if you don’t do something or be something, then everything will fall apart. This part is unrelenting in its effort to get you to be better in some way. “Don’t stop studying because if you do you’ll fall behind and then you’ll fail and then you will be unemployable and have no money…….” “You have to look perfect all the time because if you don’t you’ll never meet anyone and you’ll be alone forever!” “Whatever you do don’t make a mistake because if you do others will see that you are an imposter and that you don’t have what it takes!” Basically, if you don’t follow the ‘advice’ of your demanding parent then you are doomed to failure or loneliness or some other sort of misery. People who are very perfectionistic have a strong demanding parent mode. They have huge amounts of anxiety which they manage by attempting to control every outcome with all sorts of coping behaviours (eg, being a ‘workaholic’; a ‘control-freak’; doing all the work and not delegating anything; checking their work excessively and countless more). If you’re a perfectionist you may have already realised that your inner critic never shuts up and you’re always listening in for its updates.
The Punitive Parent Voice – the nasty side!
The punitive parent mode is not fear-driven and it’s not trying to frighten you into doing something because it believes (albeit flawed) you need it. Punitive parent is a nasty voice that is demeaning and tells you that you are worthless, useless or defective in some way. This voice is often formed from direct and blatant verbal/psychological abuse from care-givers or others who hurt you in some way. It can also be formed because you did not receive positive messages about being valued, ‘seen’, respected & loved. It can often come about from a combination of early experiences where the child felt unseen and worthless because their emotional needs were not met. It’s important to remember that we are not born into the world with a sense of self-worth (psychologically speaking). We develop this sense of worth only if we are cared for in a way that makes us feel emotionally understood and validated. We need to be seen as a separate person with our own needs – physical, emotional and social.
Someone with a strong punitive parent mode may believe deep down that they don’t deserve good things, that they are worthless and unworthy of love. The person may feel as though they deserve punishment and they display signs of self-loathing such as self-mutilation and suicidal fantasises. Sometimes the punitive parent voice can be extremely strong and can cause people to hurt themselves or try to take their own lives.
Generally speaking, the louder this voice, the more at risk a person is of suffering from recurrent or persistent depression. It is the presence and strength of the punitive parent voice which often predicts how people cope over time and how much they struggle with persistent low mood. People with chronic or recurrent depression often have a strong punitive parent mode.
The Guilt-Inducing Parent Voice – the, if I win, then you will lose dilemma!
There is also another type of inner critic voice which we call the ‘guilt-inducing’ critic or parent mode. It sounds something like this: “If I ever put myself first, others will suffer”; “If I can’t always help others, then I’m lazy and selfish”; “If I say no to a request, then I’m just being self-centred”; “I am the one that has to help, it has to be me!”; “Disappointing others is unbearable for me, I feel so guilty” and so on, you get the picture!
Basically, this style of inner dialogue usually develops when a child grows up being somehow responsible for one or more of their care-takers or another ‘vulnerable’ person within the family unit. There is usually some type of pattern whereby the parent or parents gave the child a message that they must somehow take care of or protect the parent. These messages can be either direct in nature (eg, direct requests or directions from parents that the child must be responsible or take care of them), or indirect (eg, more subtle messages where the child learns that a parent needs to be taken care of or protected). In this regard one or more parents are very likely to be dependant on the child, either emotionally or physically. The parent does not have to directly make the child feel guilty explicitly, as the guilt is often more gradually and subtly acquired by the child. The ‘guilt-inducing’ voice can also come from experiences where a parent did try and manipulate the child’s emotions and actually make them feel guilty to a greater or lesser degree. This can be a more robust or toxic form of the guilt-inducing parent mode. For example, whenever the child or adolescent attempted to be independent of separate from the parent, the parent may have responded with messages which implied that the child would ‘hurt’ them, it they were to ‘separate’ and attend to their own needs (eg: “I don’t know what I’d do without you, I’d never survive without your help”; “go out with your friends if you like, I’ll just sit at home feeling lonely all night”; “It’s OK you have your own life to live, I’ll manage somehow I suppose”). As you can see, the development of the ‘guilt-inducing’ parent mode can be quite complex and can develop gradually over the years without any apparent parent-child conflict or trauma. If you have a strong ‘guilt-inducing’ parent mode, then you will generally have a lot of trouble setting healthy limits with others and even agonize over letting others down or saying no, even when you have to. Guilt is a very familiar emotion for you!
Your own demanding, punitive or guilt-inducing parent mode can come out and be directed towards other people, like your partner and your own children. If this is happening you need to gain insight into when it happens because ultimately it will destroy relationships. A child who grows up with a demanding or punitive parent will harbour a lot of resentment towards their parent and will have a strong angry child mode that they will have to work on.
In relationships, critic or parent modes can play out with negative consequences. For example, you may feel yourself flip into punitive parent mode if you feel the need to harshly berate your spouse if they have not done something to your standard, or you may say harsh, critical things to your child when you feel they are not listening to you. Afterwards, when you calm down, you might see that you have been excessively harsh or unreasonable and you may regret your words.
Fortunately, we can do something about all these types of inner critics! The goal of working on the demanding parents is to tame it, to dilute it down to an acceptable level where it helps you instead of hindering you. Because the punitive parent voice does not help you in any way, the goal is to override it in therapy with proven strategies. In schema therapy we can use all sorts of creative ways to destabilize the punitive parent, so that it’s ‘presence’ is either fully eradicated or reduced significantly. One of the key antidotes for all forms of inner critics is of course self-compassion. In Schema Therapy we refer to this as the ‘Healthy Adult’ mode. In schema therapy we want to heal the childhood vulnerabilities that believe the negative critical voices and also bolster the self-compassionate part of the person – their ‘Healthy Adult’ mode.
In schema therapy, the therapist can use different experiential methods including chair-work to externalise the inner critics to see how they play out in a client’s life and also how they might hinder progress in therapy. Being able to identify your inner critics and the types of message they express is an important first step towards healing in schema therapy.
How do you move on with your life after losing someone precious to you?
If there is one word that perfectly encapsulates the feeling after someone close to you dies, that would be bereavement. Merriam-Webster defines the term as “the state or fact of being bereaved or deprived of something or someone.”
And although death is one of the grim realities of life, you might find it hard to accept recent events, regardless of whether the death of the person is sudden or expected (due to a lingering illness or old age).
It doesn’t help that most people do not speak about death and the issues usually associated with it. This leaves the people left behind with a vast chasm between what they know and the questions they need answered.
If you are experiencing grief after the loss of a loved one, a registered therapist offers some helpful tips that you can use at this moment of need.
Grief: A Brief Insight
People feel grief after going through a traumatic experience, the end of a relationship, a significant change in one’s life, and the loss of a loved one.
What is crucial to understand is that grieving is normal and a necessary process that you undergo to cope with the passing of a person who is dear to you. However, it is worthwhile to point out that there are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with your loss and grief.
People differ in the manner in which they process their grief, as well as in the length of time they experience this state. Some people can move on in a matter of weeks or months, while others may take longer. Factors like individual personality and how one copes with a loss can influence the length of the grieving process.
Five Stages of Grief
It is crucial to understand that there is no set timeline for the grieving process. There is no way to rush things, and you have to embrace the process in order for healing to take place fully.
Although there is no set timeframe for the grieving process, there are five stages of grief that you need to be aware of. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a psychiatrist, is credited for formulating the concept of these five stages. Initially, the idea was developed as the psychiatrist was studying terminally ill patients and their feelings.
The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is normal to experience all of these feelings. However, not everyone goes through all the stages of grief. Some people even have the ability to move on with their lives without going through the five stages.
It is also worthwhile to mention that a person’s response to a loss will differ from another’s.
You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup
As much as you would want to be the bedrock for your family and friends during this time of mourning, you first have to recognize your own grief before you can help others with theirs.
Instead of putting on a straight face and pretending you are strong, embrace your feelings. Trying to bury the emotions you feel can only complicate matters over the long run. This can lead to mental and physical problems.
Find a way to express your feelings. Consider writing a letter to the person that you lost, or collect his or her photos in a new album.
Resume your routines as soon as you can. Maintaining a sense of normalcy in your life will help you better cope with your loss and your emotions.
Take care of yourself, physically and mentally. Get enough rest and sleep, and make sure that you eat right. Resist the urge to turn to alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings.
Be prepared for situations or occasions that may trigger your grief. These include anniversaries, birthday and other special events. Especially when you are celebrating them for the first time after the passing of your loved one.
Processing Grief Together
After the death of a loved one, you will need to rely on the people close to you for some measure of comfort during this time of need.
As you process your grief, there are a few things that you can do to help your family members and friends as they try to cope with their loss.
The most important thing that you can offer to someone is a listening ear. Encourage your loved ones to share their feelings and talk about the grief they are currently experiencing.
However, resist the temptation to offer the promise that things will get better soon, or to rationalise the demise of the loved one that you lost.
As you and your loved ones are trying to rebuild your lives, even the simplest of things can matter and help. Little things like babysitting little children or helping with chores are invaluable to someone who is grieving.
Helping kids cope with the loss of a loved one can be particularly tricky, especially if it is a parent who passed away.
As much as possible, use simple and concrete words to explain the situation. Be direct, honest, and patient in answering their questions.
Children manifest their grief physically. As such, adults must watch out for these manifestations and provide reassurance and comfort to them.
As with adults, kids can benefit immensely from the restoration of routines. Encourage your young ones to go back to their normal activities as soon as possible.
Seeking Professional Help
Grief and clinical depression are two distinct things that may be difficult to distinguish from each other.
The easiest way to distinguish one from the other is to remember that grieving involves a mixture of emotions. There will be days when you may feel low, as well as days when you begin to experience happiness. A person who is experiencing depression does not undergo the rollercoaster of emotions. He or she sinks into the abyss of despair and emptiness.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, make an appointment with a therapist here at Good Mood Clinic. We can help you during this time of need.
We are here for such a short time. We and everything and everyone we love and hold dear is impermanent. When we can really hear the penny drop and know in our heart of hearts that our life as we know it is so transient, so temporary – we can let go and love ourselves more, without concerns of ‘who we are’, or ‘who we should be’.
Each moment passes and fades in an instant and we change with every experience that passes through us – good and bad. Having a deep appreciation of impermanence can open our hearts and pave the way for greater self-compassion, greater self-acceptance and we can allow ourselves to feel the joy in the smallest of moments.
Knowing that we are impermanent can transform the way we value ourselves and those around us. We are more than what we know, how we act, what we do, how much money we have or who we know. We are amazing creations with endless potential for change, healing, growth, connection and love.
One day in the future we will all have to leave it all behind. We will have to let go of it all, everything we have attached to, owned and possessed, everything we have held on to or used to prop ourselves up. All of it, we will need to give up and let go.
So can we do any of that any sooner? What are you holding on to that no longer serves you? What identify, value or belief are you clinging to that takes more away from you than it gives. What are you not doing that you really want to do? What risks are you not taking due to fear or pride? What are you not saying because it’s been so long since you’ve heard your own real voice that you have forgotten what it sounds like?
Maybe now is the time to make the change, to notice what you have, to be yourself!
It has become a norm in our current society to be a high performer, a perfectionist, to be expected to excel at everyday tasks and to meet high standards in our work and life.
Whilst this can be a positive influence on us it can also be detrimental to our overall mental health, especially when these high standards are difficult to “switch” off from.
So, when do you know if your personal standards of achievement are becoming a problem for you? In a general sense, perfectionist people can often be very hard on themselves, have unrelenting standards that may cover all domains of functioning (work, home, social) and when they are unable to meet their own personal expectations in these areas, there is a deep sense of failure, shame and sadness. You may experience an inability to make simple decisions, you may find yourself procrastinating or struggling with concentration and memory. Further, you may experience physiological signs of distress and panic and experience a low mood or anxious ruminating thoughts. Overall, if you feel a sense that your “normal” functioning or “sense of self” has changed or shifted negatively in recent times, this might be your first sign that you are putting too much pressure on yourself and its time for change.
Some practical guidelines that might help include:
- Stop and pay attention to your triggers. Are there specific situations (at work, home or socially) that are causing you stress and anxiety? What might be happening for you at these moments that make you to feel this way? Become aware of “triggering” situations and mentally prepare yourself on how you might cope in such moments, for example, if you know a certain meeting at work will be difficult,
prepare in advance for how you might manage and cope with it (E.g. practice what you might say in the meeting, take a walk afterwards)
- Identify some of your thoughts around your personal standards or expectations. Could these be leading to you feeling anxious or overwhelmed? Write them down and understand them, highlighting the positive and negatives of such thoughts, with the focus on how to minimize the negative aspects.
- Plan for alternatives. Could your thinking be too self-critical and is there another way you could be looking at things?
- Make a note of your strengths and achievements and take time to celebrate your wins.
- Make a well-being plan. Reach out for support from others, reconnect with your family and friends, plan an exercise regime, and schedule some “down time”. Essentially, allow some mental switch off time and practice being mindful and present in your current life moments rather than worrying about “what’s next”.
- Focus on “what you can control” in difficult, stressful and high-pressure situations and take the time to re-prioritize your areas of worry based on this.
Having high standards in terms of life performance and achievement can be a positive attribute to have, but if these standards become perfectionistic and self-critical, the impact upon your personal well-being and happiness can have a negative consequence and lead to psychological burnout.
Feeling down, unmotivated, fearful or depressed? Here is a list of evidence-based (backed by substantial research) suggestions & behaviours to reduce depression and help relieve nervous tension and anxiety:-
- Movement & physical exercise. Exercise and physical movement, whether it be intense or gentle can help us complete the stress response cycle, activate the relaxation response and is a natural anti-depressant.
- Some form of daily mindfulness practice, meditation or applied relaxation strategy is a must for good mental health. Coping with stress and reducing anxiety levels means that you can reduce their role as contributing factors in depression. If you want to deal with low mood, you have to address how you manage stress first.
- Dietary modifications can absolutely help with reducing symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. The reduction of things like sugar (basically anything that tastes sweet in your mouth), alcohol and other toxins also helps with reducing brain fog & improving mental clarity also.
- Don’t underestimate the power of adequate and good quality deep sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene and go to bed earlier. Getting more hours of sleep before the hand strikes midnight is beneficial to your health and mood. Getting up earlier and getting sunlight in the morning is a mood enhancer.
- Trying dealing with denied or avoided emotions (eg, through therapy, keeping a journal, being more authentic when relating with friends and family members for example). Chronic suppressed emotions serve to create a prolonged stress response in the body, which in turn can lower immune function and also increase the risk for depression.
- Avoid ‘avoiding’ – deal with the things you are avoiding, whether they be emotional, relational, social, medical/health or physical. Procrastination creates stress, which increases anxiety and anxious apprehension. When all you do is ‘avoid’, you never allow yourself to learn new ways to deal with situations and master difficulties.
- Make time to schedule in joyful moments, in a deliberate way (not just decluttering – although that is pretty good!) – like meeting a friend for coffee, going to the movies, having a massage, going for a swim in the ocean – whatever provides a positive mood shift, no matter how small.
- Spend more time in nature. I know we hear this one a lot, but it really works. Activate as many of your senses as possible and try to be mindful to all those sensations.
- Make the effort to connect with others in small, incidental ways (eg, chat with the person making your coffee, make eye contact and smile at a fellow shopper walking by) – especially if you’re not inclined to. Small but regular social contact is highly correlated with enhanced mood and is good for stress control.
- Asks for more hugs. Increase your level of physical contact with others if possible….even very small gestures count and have a mutually supportive effect . Physical touch is important for a sense of connection and nurturance. Perhaps get a massage or some foot reflexology. Obtaining comfort through pleasant sensory sensations is important when someone is experiencing depression. Think about getting a pet and if you have already got one make sure you give them plenty of physical contact. It’s beneficial and therapeutic.
- Take time to stop and breathe. Rest, slow down and reduce those expectations of yourself that might be just too high!
- Notice what you have; see, feel and practice the gratitude. Turn you mind towards the things and people that you have in your life that you appreciate. Take pleasure in small things and small achievements.
- Address unhealed or unresolved issues from the past. Time does not heal all wounds – no matter what the popular belief says. Sometimes we need help from a mental health professional to work with us to identify and address old unhelpful patterns of behaviour or old hurts from the past. It is never too late and you are never too old to deal with psychological injuries and unhelpful beliefs. Help is available.
If you notice a significant change and drop in your mood which you can’t seem to shift and if you notice that your ability to enjoy the things you normal enjoy is reduced, you should speak to your doctor and seek help from a mental health professional. Getting psychological therapy can be very helpful in guiding you to address the psychological factors which have contributed to you becoming depressed. There may also be a role for anti-depressant medication. Combining medication with counselling and therapy is often the best approach.
About 1 in 6 new mothers experience some degree of postnatal depression. Postnatal anxiety is just as common, and many woman experience both anxiety and depression simultaneously. Postnatal anxiety and depression can be worrying and isolating experiences for a new mum as she tries to deal with her own feelings and symptoms at the same time as trying to best care for her baby and deal with all the new changes and challenges confronting her.
Postnatal depression is very different from the “baby blues” which up to 70% of women experience after birth. This is a transient mood shift that occurs a few days after giving birth where a new mum can feel down, teary and overwhelmed with her new situation.
Postnatal depression can vary in severity like any mood disorder, and for some it can be a very serious condition that requires prompt and targeted treatment. It typically occurs within the first four weeks after childbirth (although it can come on gradually after this time) and sufferers can experience the following symptoms:
- Low mood
- Feeling overwhelmed and extremely anxious
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Sleep difficulties (not just due to a disrupted sleep cycle due to night feeds etc)
- Appetite disturbance
- Feelings of hopelessness and being unable to cope
- Loss of confidence and low self-esteem (particularly in perceived ability to be a good mother)
- Extreme indecisiveness, this may also manifest as excessive reassurance seeking from other regarding decisions about caring for baby
- Excessive guilt caused by having transient negative feelings towards the new baby. Typical emotions that women describe as distressing are anger, resentment or hostility.
- Problems with mother-baby attachment
- In more serious cases, suicidal thoughts or urges may be present (a very small percentage of woman experience ‘postnatal psychosis’ – which is a very serious condition requiring immediate medical attention and usually an inpatient stay in a mother-baby mental health unit). However recovery is usually excellent, with no ongoing serious complications.
Causal pathways or “risk factors” for Postnatal Depression
Like all mental health conditions, the causes of postnatal depression are multi-faceted. It is useful to differentiate those risk factors that pre-exist before the arrival of your baby and those that arise after your baby is born.
Risk factors that can be present before the birth of your baby might include:
- A genetic vulnerability to mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder
- A previous history of a mood disorder
- Previous history of an anxiety disorder
- Pre-existing psychological vulnerabilities such as perfectionism (having very high standards and expectations of yourself) or dependence (doubting yourself and your ability to handle things on your own).
- In schema terms, having a very high ‘unrelenting standards’ and/or a ‘incompetence/dependence’ schemas can increase your risk
- Stressful family relationships or relationship breakdown
- Social isolation or financial difficulties
- Physiological stressors such as hormonal changes, fatigue and any physical complications
- A previous history of pregnancy or birth-related difficulties such as miscarriages, terminations, stillbirths, premature birth or the death of a child
- Poor social supports
- Protracted fertility difficulties and IVF treatments
Risk factors that can arise once the baby is born can include:
- A traumatic birth experience (e.g., high intervention births, post-birth surgery)
- The new baby having a serious illness or medical condition
- Prolonged feeding difficulties and disappointments
- Ongoing and serious sleep deprivation
If you recognise any of the antenatal risk factors shown above, you can reduce your risk by intervening early. In particular you can address the psychological risk factors and also plan adaptive coping strategies to put in place after your baby has arrived.
Seeking help before your baby is due can reduce the risk of developing postnatal depression as studies have shown that mood and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy increase the risk of developing post-natal depression.
It is also important to remember that a pregnancy and childbirth can trigger a lot of worries and anxieties as well as old wounds from childhood. If you experienced a childhood which was difficult, neglectful or abusive, having a baby is a major life event which may trigger painful memories and feelings from your own childhood. You may experience difficulties with attaching to your own baby or become at greater risk of developing depression. If you are worried about this, getting help before the arrival of your baby is important.
Also, sleep deprivation alone is enough to cause significant mood disturbance in many mothers. People tend to under-rate the degree to which sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep can affect mood.
At this time you are more vulnerable emotionally due to hormonal fluctuations and therefore pre-existing worries and anxieties are likely to flare up. For example, you may find yourself worrying about all the uncertainty around the birth and your transition into motherhood. You may also be concerned about how your parenting is going to be influence by how you yourself were parented.
A frequent concern is “I don’t want to make the same mistakes my parents did”. This can also fuel a lot of anxiety and worry. There is also increasing pressure for women to find motherhood and pregnancy an amazing and overwhelmingly positive experience. There are certainly many positive and joyful aspects, but there are also difficult ones as well. You may find that you judge yourself harshly e.g., “I don’t know what is wrong with me, everyone thinks I should be so excited”. By addressing any anxieties and worries before or during your pregnancy you can greatly increase your psychological resilience in preparation for the challenges of motherhood.
Things to remember to help you cope during the early months
- Get support – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Once you know who the good people are that you can rely on, make a plan for how they can best help you get through the first 12 weeks and beyond.
- Reconsider your own expectations. Lower them! and then lower them again! Woman who expect themselves to be perfect and have high standards for themselves (their partner and their baby!) are more likely to get depressed and experience high anxiety. If you are holding, nurturing, caring for and bonding with your baby – you are winning! You don’t have to be anyone’s super-mum and you don’t have to be running around pleasing other people and making afternoon tea for Aunt Martha and her friends. Stop, listen to your baby, listen to your body and follow those instructions, rather than anyone else’s. Don’t beat yourself up for staying in your PJs for most of the day and hanging out with your baby enjoying each other and watching the odd movie. When your baby sleeps, you need to sleep or at least rest. Do the absolute minimum of ‘house-work’. Your baby doesn’t care that the house is messy, they only care that their mummy is taking good care of herself!
- Have faith and believe in yourself. Sure, listen to and use advise if it comes from supportive and reliable people or sources. But it’s also good to tune into and sense what your own intuition is telling you. Also, try to put yourself in your baby’s place when thinking about what they need. For example, don’t get unnecessarily hung up on things like ‘routines’. The first 12 weeks of your baby’s life is also referred to as the ‘fourth trimester’ – and for good reason! It takes your baby that long to even figure out that they are no longer a part of you, so to speak. It is therefore normal and natural (not to mention beneficial) that you are as close physically to your baby as possible and that you get as much skin to skin contact as you can.
- Receive psychological and medical help if needed. If you are struggling to have any positive feelings or if you feel disconnected from your baby, then you probably need professional help as soon as possible. There are safe and effective anti-depressant medications that can be used during this period, so don’t delay in speaking with your doctor or a perinatal psychiatrist for expert guidance. Speaking to a psychologist with experience in postnatal depression as well as recruiting practical support from family and friends will be very helpful.
- Go for walks with your baby. It’s important to keep active and get fresh air and exercise. Plenty of sunlight is good for your mood and exercise is also excellent for managing stress and anxiety.
- Listen to uplifting or fun music and dance at home with your baby. Music helps with mood and fatigue and dancing is a great way to get incidental exercise.
- Refrain from comparing yourself to other new mums. Unfortunately, some new mums are preoccupied with wanting to appear flawless and completely sorted! Perhaps they are overly concerned with and worried about appearing like a ‘failure’. They may appear like everything is running smoothing and that they are having a hassle-free time of things. Do yourself a big favour and just accept that this is all BS! Smile politely and concentrate on your own experiences and your own baby’s development one day at a time. It might be helpful to listen to “Buddhism for Mother’s” as an audio book and remind yourself that this time of your life is both short and precious.
- Remember that any difficult time you are going through now will pass. If you are going through a rough time, know that it will get better. All you can do is get whatever help you can and speak to helpful friends or family and to health professionals when you need extra support. Let yourself receive the help that is offered, rather than expecting yourself to do everything. Everything comes and goes in phases, better times will follow. Remember that any problems you experience now will seem more intense and upsetting due to hormonal stresses, sleep deprivation and the steep learning curve you are facing. While its good to welcome helpful support, its also good to encourage yourself for everything you are dealing with and to spend time with encouraging people.
- Find and connect with like-minded new mums and dads. Make sure you go to your local mother and baby group so that you can at least make initial contact with other new mums. As your baby gets a little older it will be important for you to do more things with other mothers and babys so you can experience a sense of shared community and support. Avoid other mums and dads who you find critical, condescending and who only like to talk about themselves. Spend time with other parents who make you feel good, who want a mutually supportive relationship and who are kind and non-judgemental.
- Try not to delay getting extra help and professional or medical help if you need it. Keeping yourself well is paramount!
- Enjoy your baby!
For more information and support go to: https://www.panda.org.au/
Most people have heard of ‘self-esteem’ and believe it is good to
have high self-esteem.
However, most people may not be aware that there are different types of self-esteem and some are more helpful than others.
Researchers have identified that individuals may have high self-esteem,
but if it is strongly tied to their circumstances then their sense of self-
worth is vulnerable to collapsing if those circumstances change. An
example would be a star football player who breaks their leg or when we
experience rejection. This can lead to depression and low mood. Another
effect of having this type of self-esteem – one that is based overly on your
success and achievements- is that it can drive anxiety, perfectionism,
overworking and burnout as we struggle to achieve a sense of worthiness.
So what can we do about it? Thankfully researchers have identified
healthier ways to develop high self-esteem and self-worth that is stable in
the face of life’s challenges. Through my own research I strongly feel that
the concept of ‘Self-Compassion’ provides a lovely road map for developing
this healthy version of self-esteem.
Self-compassion is the ability to meet ourselves with kindness,
caring and acceptance no matter what life throws at us. Through building
our self-compassion, we develop a sense of value and worthiness
irrespective of our achievements. Having high self-compassion liberates us
and provides us with a strong sense of self, and is the foundation for living
an empowered life.
If you would like to learn more about self-compassion and its role in
developing high healthy self-esteem book an appointment with me today.
Affairs may be experienced as traumatic, particularly for the hurt partner, trust becomes seriously damaged and both partners can feel a sense of hopelessness about the future of the relationship and the possibility of recovery. So, how can we begin to understand what an affair means, its impact, how each partner can cope following the discovery of an affair
and whether there is a possibility of healing and repairing the relationship? Here are a few points to consider:
- Affairs may take several forms, when most people think of affairs, they imagine the typical scenario where one partner cheats and has a sexual encounter or relationship with someone else, outside of the relationship. However, affairs may also be solely emotional (involving no sexual or physical contact but where there is a sense of romantic intimacy), or they might involve being on dating apps or talking to other people online. In whatever form, affairs represent a betrayal for many people and damage the secure base of a relationship.
- Depending on the type of affair, how long it has gone on for, what the relationship was like beforehand, the personal histories and previous experiences of each partner and whether either or both partners are willing to try and repair the relationship, the prognosis for recovery will differ.
- Initially, both partners need to decide whether to re-commit to each other and begin the work of healing and repair, or to end the relationship. If they decide to try and work on the relationship, there are several steps that must be taken if this task has a chance at success:
- The affair must end, trying to repair a relationship where there is an affair ongoing will only lead to further hurt and damage to the relationship;
- The partner who had the affair must offer the hurt partner an apology and the hurt partner needs to feel that this is genuine;
- The couple needs to begin to understand why the affair happened and its’ impact on the relationship and each individual;
- Trust needs to be gradually re-built and a new vision for the relationship may ultimately be created.
It is not easy for a couple to recover from an affair, but it is possible. It is recommended that couples seek out therapy in attempting to work through the process which can be painful, frustrating and very triggering for most people. A therapist can help support and guide you through this process and assist you to maintain a sense of hope and facilitate healing and the creation of a new relationship. Esther Perel, a couples’ therapist, writer and presenter says that when an affair occurs within a couple, that relationship is over, however, a new relationship may be re-built following an affair, with the same person.
After an affair, your relationship will not be the same, but that can be a good thing. Some people who do the “work” and recover from the affair say that their new relationship is even better, stronger and more connected than it was previously. The process of recovery requires a lot of patience, understanding and commitment. If, on the other hand you decide not to continue the relationship after an affair, working with a therapist can also help you to cope with, understand and heal from the experience.
Friendship is about mutual affection, shared values and an interpersonal connection. Such qualities are the perfect characteristics for a romantic relationship.
This is why remaining in a close friendship with your partner is important for the longevity of relationships. Knowing your partner, their dreams and values, makes for a good foundation when difficulties arise or conflict occurs in your relationship. Without a friendship dynamic we can become emotionally distant from each other, disengaged and disinterested.
Here are three simple tips to sustaining friendship in your romantic relationship:
- Keep up to date with your partner’s current likes/dislikes and worries. Being engaged in this way will show a mutual respect for each other’s opinions and thoughts. Start from the simple questions (Eg. Do you still like reading fiction? What’s your favourite running route in Sydney?), to the more complex questions (Eg. Is our mortgage still a worry for you?)
- Sharing an interest together and will create a shared experience (Eg. join the gym together, swap reading books and compare thoughts, learn a language together)
- Keep it light – laughter makes you feel good and releases endorphins in your body. By making humour a part of your daily conversations this will naturally generate a fondness towards each other.
Sustaining a healthy friendship with your partner will support not only your relationship but also your own individual mental health and well-being.