The people I treasure the most give me the biggest scars.

— Tablo

Respect in a Relationship


 Respect can be hard to quantify and measure. It means recognizing our own value and worth, and the value and worth of the other person. But what does that look like in relationships?

1. Think before you speak. Remember … you can’t take back your words no matter how much you regret them. So, don’t react in anger, and say mean and nasty things.

2. Acknowledge the other person’s contribution. Even when you have frustrations and some justified complaints remember to notice the positives as well. It’s likely that your partner does something right at times. Don’t write them off completely and see them as “all bad”.

3. Respect their personal boundaries. This applies to spending time, and doing things, with other people. Also, respecting their right to have their own views and opinions – without justifying their reasoning to you.

4. Being flexible and willing to compromise. Relationships are based on both give and take. It’s about the needs and preferences of both individuals.

5. Be considerate. Help the other person out; give each other compliments; and generally be thoughtful, kind and understanding.

6. Admit when you are wrong. If you’re secure, confident and have a healthy self-esteem you won’t be threatened by admitting you were wrong.

7. Never compromise the other person’s wellbeing. For example, if your temper’s a problemseek professional help. Also, don’t play with emotions, or attack their character.

8. Be honest and reliable. Be upfront and honest in your relationships. Don’t lie, pretend, play games, or let the other person down. This undermines that basic, and essential, sense of trust. 

How to Overcome Emotional Detachment or Emotional Numbness


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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Platonic Love or Romantic Love: Ways to Tell



Falling in love is probably one of the most mystical phenomena one could ever experience. When you fall in love, you succumb to a gamut of human emotions—joy, sorrow, excitement, and sometimes, even depression. Falling in love becomes a bit more perplexing if you find yourself falling in love with a close friend. Now, this is where denial and rationalization enter the picture. Initially, you become confused as to what you are feeling. Then you ponder whether what you’re feeling is only an extension of the platonic love you feel for a friend.

The key here is self-introspection. There is a need to confront yourself, look in the mirror and ask yourself the following questions. Honest answers, however, are necessary for you to gauge if the platonic feeling you have for a friend is blossoming into something romantic.

1. Have you changed?

Did you suddenly become self-conscious on how you look, what you wear and what you say in front of your friend? Have your feelings changed? Does your friend’s presence suddenly becomes enough to make you feel ecstatic? Do you find yourself putting your friend under a microscopic eye, pondering and extracting meanings on what he or she says or does?

2. Do you think of your friend 24/7?

One always keep a friend in mind; however, thoughts about a friend does not perpetually cross one’s mind every second of the day and every day of the week. If you find yourself thinking of your friend practically all your waking hours and before dozing off to dreamland, then it might be a sign that you are falling in love with your friend.

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Some Facts on Avoidant Personality Disorder


Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) is a serious condition characterised by a pattern of withdrawal, self-loathing and heightened sensitivity to criticism.  According to DSM IV, people who suffer from AVPD display many of the following traits (Note: These must greatly interfere with the individual’s everyday life):

1.  Avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.

2. Is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked.

3. Shows restraint initiating intimate relationships because of the fear of being ashamed, ridiculed, or rejected due to severe low self-worth.

4. Is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations.

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Rules for Living Well


1. When you say you’re going to do something, do it.

2. Don’t lie, don’t exaggerate, don’t withhold information, don’t mislead.

3. Give people your full attention when you’re with them. Listening well is a hard skill to master – but it’s worth it, and enriches relationships.

4. Walk out of movies, stop reading books, leave parties … Basically, don’t waste your time on things you’re not enjoying. You only live once. Your time is valuable.

5. Do the right thing – even if it costs you. This is the mark of true integrity.

6. Do things other people aren’t doing. Be courageous and adventurous. Don’t be afraid of the unknown.

7. Always be learning. It keeps life – and you – interesting.

8. Do your best to stay out of debt.

Want to Improve your Communication Skills?


1. Listen carefully when others are speaking. Keep your mouth shut – and focus totally on them.

2. Never, ever talk over other people. This is disrespectful – and a real turn off.

3. Even if the person leaves an hour between each word, resist the temptation to complete their sentence for them.

4. Don’t interrupt - let the other person finish. Then, acknowledge what they’ve shared before adding your own thoughts.

5. Paraphrase or summarise what’s just been shared. It shows that you have listened – and are keen to understand.

6. Maintain good eye contact as this says you’re interested, and the speaker and their story are important to you.

When you feel all alone …


1. Be honest with yourself about how you really feel. Don’t stifle or ignore the pain you’re struggling with.

2. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself. Make the effort to go places where you have to talk to others. You don’t have to do anything that feels overwhelming – but make yourself go somewhere where you interact people.

3. If possible, find a friend, a family member or a counsellor who you can open up and share your feelings with.  Just being real with someone can help remove the pain.

4. Read about inspiring people who also pushed through loneliness (This is true of many leaders, like Nelson Mandela). Doing that, can inspire you to hang in there and keep going.

5. Try writing or journaling about your feelings. Writing down how you feel can help release the pain you feel.

6. Find a way to volunteer or to help out other people – it takes you outside yourself, and makes a huge difference to them.

7. Try and hang around people who believe in you – and be your own cheerleader – and keep your focus on your strengths.     

What is Emotional Detachment?


1. This is an inability to connect with others in a deep and meaningful way.

2. Thus, although the person may be physically present, they are not emotionally present in the relationship.

3. In fact, sometimes the person will dissociate, or experience emotional numbing.

4. Emotional detachment makes it hard for the individual to empathize with others, to share their own feelings (which they may be unaware of), or to appear emotionally engaged in a conversation or relationship.

5. Often the person will intellectually analyze situations, but they will not be able to identify, understand or share any feelings.

6. In most cases, emotional detachment is related to a psychological trauma in the person’s past – something that occurred in a relationship with someone important to them.  As a result of this trauma, the person (usually unconsciously) has chose to protect themselves from future pain by refusing to allow anything similar to happen again. Hence, they can’t relate on an emotional level.

Some facts on emotional manipulators


1. They can’t be trusted. No matter what you say, they’ll turn the situation round so they seem like they’re a victim, and have been unfairly judged.

2. They leave you feeling crazy, or mixed up and confused. They’ll twist your words and motives so you feel misunderstood - and they rationalize their actions so you seem unreasonable.  

3. They’re great at making you feel guilty or “bad”. Nothing you can do or say is ever right to them. No matter what you try, you know it always will be wrong.

4. They are passive aggressive. They’ll smile to your face and they’ll stab you in the back … and they’ll gladly talk about you … and pass along mean gossip.

5. They have the ability to manipulate the emotional climate in a group. So, if they’re feeling happy, and life is going well, they’re the life of the party and everyone must smile. But when their life is tough then they’ll moan, groan and complain … and they’ll make sure everybody feels miserable as well.

6. They are self-absorbed and a law unto themselves. Life is always by their rules - and everything revolves round them. They’re not accountable - and they will always please themselves.

Psychology and Friendships


The following psychological terms can be used to describe what happens in friendships.

1. Triangles – This is where 2 people strengthen the bond between them, or lessen insecurity and anxiety, by sharing complaints about a friend.

2. Emotional contagion - This is where we pick up the mood of those we are hanging out with. Thus, if they are feeling angry and negative, then we start to feel the same way, too.

3. The exposure effect - This is where people who spend time together find they start to like the same sorts of things (music, food, movies, clothes etc). They also rate each other more highly in terms of how nice or attractive the other person is.

4. The fundamental attribution error - This is where we overestimate the role of character traits and personality factors when someone we know does something wrong or stupid … But we overestimate the role of circumstances when it is us who has done something wrong or stupid!

5. Situation evocation - This refers to the fact that if we act is certain ways, people will respond or react in the same way, which then sets a cycle of “more of the same” in motion. For example, if I joke around, others will start being funny too, and then I’ll reply with something else light hearted and fun … and so on.

How to Successfully Work Through Grief and Loss


It is crucial to remember, as counsellors, that grief is very individual and unique. However, research shows that there are certain common stages and tasks that are shared by most people who are dealing with a loss. One popular construct that describes this hard experience is J. William Worden’s Task Oriented Model. 

Understanding the Model

As the title implies, Worden saw healthy grieving as working through a series of specific, common tasks. These need to be resolved to fully integrate the loss – so the person is able to move on with their life. Worden saw this as empowering and freeing for the client as it helps them to find meaning and new hope again. But the work is often hard – and it is easy to get stuck, or to give up before they have recovered from their loss. This is seen in the following comment by Worden in his book Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy, (2001, p27):

“It is possible for someone to accomplish some of these tasks and not others, and hence have an incomplete adaptation to the loss, just as one might have incomplete healing from a wound”.

Worden also points out that for some individuals, the tasks won’t follow a sequential order. However, the key ingredient for progress is being willing to work – and not being a passive recipient of grief.                    

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Things You Need to Chill Out About


1. The few things that aren’t going right. – When things go wrong, take a moment to be thankful for all the other things that are still going right.  And if you’re struggling to be thankful for what you have, be thankful for what you have escaped.  Sometimes the best gifts in life are the troubles you don’t have. 

2. Trying to label everyone and everything. – Sometimes you’ve just got to take people and situations for what they are, appreciate them, and not try to label them or change them. 

3. Worrying about what everyone else thinks. – The minute you stop overwhelming your mind with caring about what everyone else thinks, and start doing what you feel in your heart is right, is the minute you will finally feel freedom. 

4. Wasting time on the wrong people. – You cannot make someone respect you; all you can do is be someone who can be respected.  No matter how much you care some people just won’t care back.  At some point you have to realize the truth – that they no longer care or never did, and that maybe you’re wasting your time and missing out on someone else who does.

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