Simple tools for Anxiety #1 – ‘Portrait of the Day’

This simple and quick exercise is great for transforming upset and stress.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or upset, perhaps you feel the world is against you or maybe you just feel down and not sure why. If so get yourself a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left list all the bad things that have happened. On the right lists all the good things that have happened and include the smallest things. For example – I enjoyed my lunch, it was sunny, I had a nice conversation, this or that was interesting – anything! Notice how many things you forgot about because of your unwanted internal feelings and notice how you feel after making the lists. Do you still feel the same?

By doing this exercise it is both possible to transform the upset and to perhaps notice how attached you are to feeling upset. In the case of being attached you may draw up the list, feel a bit better and then go straight back to feeling miserable and decide the exercise doesn’t work. If this is the case it isn’t the exercise but just the mind’s determination. Your mind may tell you – if you stop feeling upset you will be taken advantage of or that you don’t deserve to be happy. None of this is true. Your mind is just innocently making these things up because it believes that’s what you want. You can change your mind and the stories it tells you. However, this can take time and effort when particular states of mind and belief systems have been well practiced over time. Don’t worry, all your upset and stress is actually just information that is in fact pointing you towards what needs to happen for things to change. It just take a willingness to get curious and a desire to face the difficulties you’re experiencing.

So, if what I’ve just described is true for you then add to the bottom of the exercise the following – “Right now I am choosing to be upset and I could choose not to be.” Even if you don’t believe these words write them down and keep practicing. Ideally at the end of each day and continue to notice any resistance. Resistance is just information.

If on the other hand you feel much better – identify the main things on the list that shifted the negativity and highlight them. Again, keep practicing.

Practice is important. The more we practice something the better we get and this is the same for negative and upsetting emotions as it is for confident and positive emotional and mental states. It’s absolutely no different than learning something new or going to the gym. However, if we want to think or behave in new ways we have to work at it and appreciate that this can take time.

Practicing this simple list is an exercise in changing your mind so that you’re free to enjoy your life and by doing this you can paint a very different picture of the day. One that is truer than the one you might be struggling and suffering with. We all have a tendency towards seeking negativity and problems – it’s part of our human survival mechanisms – so don’t worry you’re not alone. We just need to establish reminders about how to use these effectively so that our minds serve us and not the other way around. Reminders could be in the form of post-it notes around the home, timed reminders on our phones, a dedicated note book by the side of our bed or set and alarm to go off the same time each evening.

The main point of this exercise is to train our minds to notice the positive aspects of our selves and our lives more and more and by doing this build confidence and improve self-esteem.

“If we look for the negative we will find it and if we look for the positive we will find it – but only every time. This applies to everything and the choice is ours.”

I say all this from experience and the tools that I share with you are ones that I have tried and tested myself and have greatly benefited from.

Please let me know how you get on.

psychotherapy4london.co.uk

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Couples Therapy / Relationship Counselling in Central London

How I work

My Counselling studio is based right in the centre of London, in two locations – Bloomsbury, close to Covent Garden and Shoreditch, within the heart of the city. This makes it easy to reach for most people living and working in and around the city.

The first session is for us to get to know each other and check that I’m the right therapist to suit your needs. It’s important that you both feel comfortable working with me.

In my work with couples I have a coaching approach, which is very different to how I would work with individuals. I see my job as coaching couples into new ways of communicating and expressing themselves that serves both sides equally. No one teaches us how to be in a relationship. We learn most from our parents or carers who may also have struggled. Therefore, couples therapy is partly and educational process in which you can learn new ways in which to relate to one another.

Whilst there are important elements to our work that involves each individual, the focus of our work together is the relationship itself. This, I describe as the invisible space that exists between you, co-created by the two of you and unique to your relationship and I aim to help you understand this space better.

At the heart of my work is addressing a – ‘loss of connection’. Whether this is with each other or with yourself, my work is often about finding ways to reconnect. Part of this is the importance of ‘mirroring’. This simple tool, which I apply in many different ways, facilitates clear expression of thoughts and feelings and, most importantly, active listening. ‘Listening’ and ‘being heard’ are two vital components in getting back into connection and creating a safer relationship space.

All individuals within a couple are encouraged to get a physical journal for the purposes of therapy. This is so that you can write down the various ideas and techniques I’ll be giving you to practice in between sessions. It is also used to write down the content of the sessions afterwards so that you have a record of our work together. It’s also useful to record things like dreams and ideas or incidents that occur between sessions.

I work with both gay and heterosexual couples and I do believe that our relationship, however challenging they may be at times, offer us an opportunity to understand ourselves better and to heal the disappointments of the past. We are all social creatures longing for better and more fulfilling connection and therapy can certainly help facilitate this.