On The Couch


They inform you. They tell the world too.

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Photo by Godisable Jacob from Pexels

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” –Carl Jung

Who are you?

Can you put hand on heart and answer that question fully and truthfully? Or are you still trying to figure it out?

Everyone wants to know themselves better, to Make Sense of Themselves. It’s the key reason people come to therapy.

Often they’ll have a specific problem. But, beyond that, they’ll want to dig down into how they roll in the world: their thoughts, moods, emotions, behaviours, fears, hopes and dreams.

Getting to know yourself is a work in progress — for life. No-one ever gets to shut their personal file and say: “that’s it, job done, I know everything there is to know.” …

But Only When You’re Ready

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Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

“Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.” — Steve Maraboli

It’s over: you’re free of your toxic relationship.

You know your partner was bad for you. You know you’re in a (way) better place. And, yet, it doesn’t feel as good as it should.

You’re still wrestling with anxiety, sadness, shame — anger. Some nights, after a drink or three, you still find your fingers hovering over your phone wanting to text them.

Welcome to the relationship recovery room. It’s a hard place to land. Toxic relationships can trigger feelings of unworthiness, helplessness, fear, anxiety, depression, insecurity, paranoia and shame. And, if it’s your first experience of toxicity, it strips you of your innocence. …

Knowing yourself hugely improves your relationship success and happiness.

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Photo by Analise Benevides on Unsplash

Each of us has an “operating style” with a relationship.

It’s based on how we approach love, how we interact with another, who we are when we’re with someone else.

Our styles — or archetypes — are a mash-up of our biology, temperament, emotional history, experiences and the feedback the world has tossed at us.

And, of course, one size doesn’t fit all. People are not absolute so, while one style tends to dominate, we all spill over the edges into other categories.

But when we understand how we function within relationships, we’re better placed to be in them — and to answer questions…

How to play the Big Game.

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Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

Are you a courageous person?

Not in the swim-with-sharks-paraglide-off-mountains kind of way — although I’m not denying the courage involved in those things.

But in the way you lead your life. In the way you go about your day to day tasks, the approach to you take to the big picture.

What does it mean to have courage?

Courage is the ability to front up to something that frightens you.

In therapy you see examples of courage every day.

  • The schoolboy who tells his parents he wants to live as a female.
  • The woman in her forties who has come out of a 10-year toxic relationship goes on a date.

Even when your circumstances defy it.

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Photo by Loren Joseph on Unsplash

When working in India, I got a free lesson in happiness.

Across the road from my Pune hotel was a run-down urban village. It was overcrowded, the buildings were crumbling, the people had limited access to basic services.

Every morning, the women who lived there were up early, beautifully dressed in colourful saris. They worked all day, cooking and selling food in the streets, alongside their sisters, aunties and friends. Their kids played in the streets.

I knew how little they had, how tough their lives must be, yet they laughed more than most people I knew back home. They seemed able to frame their circumstances to work for them — not against. …

Why is it so hard? And how can I do it with a little grace?

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I was fortunate to be part of a beautiful event recently, Belinda Chang’s Virtual Boozy Brunch. I spoke in a segment on “how to say no” and offered a step-by-step process to help individuals who are burdened by a habit of always saying “yes,” even when an opportunity doesn’t align with their “budget.”

In theory, saying “no” seems simple, right? But it’s not. It’s something many of us struggle with at one time or another. So, why is it so hard to say “no,” but so easy to say, “yes?”

If we look at the science behind it, we say “yes” for three main…

Or at least take (a lot) of time to get to know.

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Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

There’s no such thing as “The One”.

There are lots of people who’d make great partners for us. Of course, finding them (and having them like us) is another matter.

On the flipside there are many people who’re not so good for us: if you doubt this, check out the divorce statistics. Or listen to the stories of people who’re stuck in dead-end relationships.

At the outset — in the throes of love or sex — it’s hard to know who’s a good match, mainly because we’re operating with blinkers on.

We WANT it to work, so we look for the gold — and, even when the big red flags are waving under our noses, we often dismiss them. …

Is it them — or is it you?

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Photo by Hayley Clues on Unsplash

When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”– Donald Miller

“I’m being micromanaged,” is a common workplace complaint.

It’s what people say when they can’t settle to their work — or finish anything — because their boss is hanging over their shoulder, watching, critiquing and controlling.

Or, when they get a day off, their inbox floods with tasks-for-them-to-do-when-they return courtesy of a boss who emails at 1am or whenever anything jumps into their head.

Being treated like this is stressful, because it strips away a person’s autonomony. It can also decrease productivity, sap morale and drain self-confidence — as well as slowly erode mental health. …

Because they know what you’re worth to them.

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

“The quality of your life ultimately depends on the quality of your relationships . . . which are basically a reflection of your sense of decency, your ability to think of others, your generosity.” ― Esther Perel

Are you a loving partner?

We all like to think we’re on the money with this one. But the truth is most of us fall into the “could do better” category.

Perfect doesn’t exist inside relationships — so that’s not the goal. The goal is to be as loving and supportive as you can, and to make an honest contribution to your relationship.

Obviously, that’s easier said than done. …

It’s harder than you think.

“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.”– Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

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Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Yeah, you say. “I’ve got this. I’m a great friend.”

But how do you know for sure? Is there a queue forming for your mate-ship? Have you had the feedback? Or is it just a feeling?

Friendship is an art form. No-one is a brilliant friend consistently. That’s because we’re often busy, forgetful or just too absorbed in our own sh*t.

But being a great friend is a top aspiration. Not just you make someone else’s life better, but because of the goodies you get from encouraging, helping, sharing, crying/laughing with, Being There for someone else. …


On The Couch

Practical psychology for everyday life.

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