COUNSELLING BLOG

Posts tagged mental illness

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Overcoming Feelings of Hopelessness

1. Questions your feelings of hopelessness: If you simply accept your thoughts of hopelessness then they’ll end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, start by accepting your assumptions could be wrong … then use that to experiment with acting differently – as if things might work out, or things might actually go well. For example, go out with your friends even if you’re feeling down and are tempted to just stay at home on your own. It may feel like a battle – but it’s worth a try as you may find you feel better for challenging your thinking.
2. Try something new: Although you might feel you’ve tried everything you can (counselling, therapy, different kinds of medication) it’s likely that there’s something you could still give a try. For example, there are different types of therapy – so try a different one. Have you combined medication with counselling? Have you changed your thought patterns for a period of a month? Have you joined a self help group to increase your support?
3. Identify the things that aren’t totally hopeless: Don’t get stuck by fixating on the things that you can’t change. Start to focus instead on things that you can change. For example, if you’re ex has dumped you and is now with someone else, think about the other things you can now do with your time, and the steps you can take to meet someone completely new. Don’t bang your head against a wall – look for a door that’s swinging open.
4. Realize that no one thing is necessary to be happy: If you find yourself thinking “I can’t live without him” or “if I can’t have x then there’s no point going on”. That clearly not the case as there once was a time in life when you managed pretty well without that person or thing. You can live without them now – and work on having a great life!
5. Learn to appreciate the present: The past has gone and the future isn’t here. So focus on your attention on the present, and this moment. Feel the air touching your body; smell the fragrance in the garden; notice the pattern of your breathing; hear the sounds in the room. Really live this moment … don’t try and rush ahead … and you may also find that the hopelessness subsides.

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The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.
Katherine Hepburn

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How to Cope with Change

1. See it as a process, not a one time event. When you make a change in your life, there are lots of small adaptations to be made. It takes time to process and adjust to those changes – so be patient with yourself.
2. Change the way you think about change. Try to see it in a positive light. Even although there are lots of negatives and challenges, you’re likely to benefit in the end.
3. Face your feelings, and especially the negative ones. If you don’t, they’ll simmer beneath the surface and make it harder for you to cope. Feelings are neither good nor bad. They just are. If you feel bad, you feel bad!
4. Notice any areas where you have control as that will help you to feel less trapped or boxed in.
5. Pay attention to your thoughts and attitudes – and choose to look for the positives, and to frame uncertainties in a hopeful way.
6. Stay in touch with people who care, and can act as a support in this time of change.

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How to Overcome Emotional Detachment

Emotional numbness is where we experience mild to severe feelings of detachment – so it’s hard for us to access normal feelings any more. This includes both negative and positive emotions as you can’t decide to shut just one feeling off. Common causes of emotional numbness include different stresses or traumas … from receiving bad news … to being in an accident … to recovering from the death of someone close … to a relationship breakup … to feeling deeply humiliated or ashamed.

So how do you overcome emotional numbness and live with emotional integrity again?

1. The first thing to do is to choose to respect and allow all emotions – no matter what they are. Also, try and grasp the fact that suppressing your emotions will likely lead to heartache and problems later on (as they’ll possibly resurface at inappropriate times.)

2. Try and understand that feelings and actions are two very different, and unrelated, things. That is, you can still feel angry without becoming violent – so don’t assume your feelings will affect your actions, too.

3. Try to figure out the message behind intense emotions. Are you angry because you’ve been hurt, used or abused? Are you sad because deep down you feel that you’ll never find true love - as you can’t believe that anyone will love you for yourself?

4. Take that risk – and find the courage to ask someone for help. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know that there are those who genuinely love you like – like a true and caring friend. The important thing is not to try and isolate yourself, and to make the extra effort to prioritise self-care. You need other people to help you work through this.

5. Seek professional help if the symptoms persist. There are excellent counsellors and therapists out there who have the training and skills to help you to get free – so you can live a more fulfilling and normal, healthy life.

6. Be patient within yourself. It’s likely to take time – as you will need to learn to trust, and take some barriers down, so you can be yourself again (and that is often hard to do when you’ve experience hurt and pain).

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Dealing with Feelings of Shame and Worthlessness

Shame is a deep-seated feeling and conviction that something is inherently wrong with us. And although this FEELS true it is based on faulty thinking, and is therefore something we can challenge and change. To break free … take one thought (such as I am defective, inferior, worthless or deserve to be rejected) and then ask yourself the following questions:

1. What convinces me this thought it true?
2. What is the evidence against it?
3. Is there one time or occasion when it hasn’t been true?
4. Why was it not true at that time?
5. What would someone who REALLY knew me and loved me say to contradict that negative thought (the thought that I am defective, inferior, worthless or deserve to be rejected)?
6. Who would I be, and what could I achieve, if I let go of that negative thought?
7. What’s the worst that could happen if I let go of that thought?
8. What is the best that could happen if I let go of that thought?

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Learning to Love Yourself

We tend to focus on looking for love, hoping for love, and waiting for love. Yet if we look to others to meet that basic need then we’ll always be empty and unfulfilled.

That is, for others to love us in a healthy way, we must first be able to nurture ourselves … and to love and honour who we truly are. The steps below can help you work towards this goal.

1. Decide to treat others with love and respect: As you seek to bring joy into others’ lives you’ll find that they repay you with kindness and love.

2. Practice random acts of kindness: “Play it forward” by doing random thoughtful things. That will turn you into someone you respect yourself – and you’ll also find that others are more generous to you.

3. Let go of the past: What happened in the past is merely history now. Today is a new day, and you are starting a new page. Let go of disappointments, hurts and any grievances you hold against yourself, other people – or the world!  

4. Forgive yourself: We all make mistakes, or we regret some bad decisions. Don’t ridicule, berate or criticise yourself for that. Instead, forgive whatever happened, and give yourself a break. It simply means you’re human – and are not infallible.

5. Practice positive self-talk: Write down and repeat affirming statements and truths … like “I am gifted” … or “I’m a true and loyal friend”. Post these statements on the mirror and repeat them to yourself.

6. Think through what you really want in life – You can carve out your own path and you choose your own destiny. Your life is a gift and you can choose what you will do.

7. Be persistent: Work wholeheartedly at loving yourself. If you’ve suffered in the past then be compassionate. Be ready to acknowledge and work through your pain. You deserve that respect – and it will help to set you free.

8. Celebrate your accomplishments: It’s easy to ignore or to downplay what we have done – but don’t be blind to your successes and accomplishments. They ought to be acknowledged as they’re part of who you are.

9. Think of someone you want to be like and emulate them: Doing that will build those qualities into your life as well – so it is easier to like, love and accept yourself.

10. Be yourself and trust yourself: Be true to yourself – and don’t care what others think. Learn to trust your instincts and to follow your own heart. Also, learn it’s OK to say “no” and to do your own thing … And you don’t have to feel guilty for not pleasing everyone.

11. Don’t compare yourself to others: Every person on the planet is different and unique. We all have different talents and different histories. Discover who YOU are and then invest in being you!  

 12. Work on receiving love: When someone pays you a compliment or tries to show you love, don’t quickly brush it off – but try and see it as a gift. That is, a gift that shows you’ve value and are loved, and loveable.

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