Creative Conflict

man-couple-people-woman.jpgConflict is one of those words most people have an instant recoil reaction to which often we avoid at all costs.

Whether because of negative experiences of conflict or just being bewildered by the whole messy concept, we as a general rule really don’t like it.

But what if i told you conflict wasn’t just useful it is absolutely vital to robust relationships and wellbeing?

Firstly lets clarify the concept. Im not talking about the arguments that go no where and get bogged down in stonewalling or defensiveness . Or the passive aggressive round and round of blame with no resolution .

Im talking about creative conflict  (no its not just a made up thing) it is a way of communicating which values differences and sees obstacles as a way to growth. This can be at work with friends ,family or loved ones. It can even be about how you relate to yourself!

In this blog Im going to introduce you to a couple of tools that can help you get the most out of conflict..

1- Agree to disagree.Creative conflict doesn’t mean you have to agree. Its not about who is right or trying to have only one view.You don’t have to agree and neither does the other party ,what is important is finding a solution which can work. Respecting each others unique perspective is key to working with creative conflict.pexels-photo-573238.jpeg

2- The aim is to listen to understand not reply. Do you really get where the other person is coming from and even their motivation or intent? Can you communicate this back to them clearly and most of all CALMLY? By creating understanding we BOND  (our body releases calming and connecting hormones)and when this occurs we are more likely to be receptive to new or difficult conversations.

3- Take the emotional punch out. Most problems arise when we feel attacked or we come from a critical/defensive place. Keeping the “start off” calm and open increases the chances of people being receptive and engaged .No one responds well to being yelled at or intimidated as our fight flight  and adrenaline responses tend to take over. Keeping our voice /tone balanced, maintaining receptive eye contact ( thats right no rolling your eyes) with non threatening body language (no hands on hips) helps create a safe space to voice difficult issues.

A warm approach of ” hey ( insert loving or kind endearment) I have something important to talk with you about .I would like us to be able to work out  some solutions to what might be a tough discussion. When would be a good time?”

Quick tips also include.

  • Only one issue at a time
  • No personal attacks instead  use ” I “statements
  • Take a breather to keep things calm
  • Take turns to talk, listen and recap.
  • Most of all look for options and ways forward .

If you would like to learn more about how to navigate conflict and improve your relationships call  or email Caroline at 

0210706343

therapycaroline@gmail.com

Resources of interest

http://www.georgekohlrieser.com/book-hostage-at-the-table.html

Gottman Institute

 

 

 

When Your Get Up and Go Walks Out The Door

Angel with hearts and gift. Greeting card. Watercolor illustratiI woke up one Monday morning and it dawned on me that my “get up and go” had actually done exactly that. It had got up and slipped off without me realising it had happened. I was shocked and wondered  “was there a moment or conversation which was the crucial point when my motivation just stopped?”. I know I’m not alone in this because it’s a topic which rears its lethargic head  regularly with clients or friends.

Have you ever found yourself waking up in the morning and after you have shuffled out of bed to get your coffee thinking “Oh no here we go again”?
Do you have a list of “things to do today” which was really a list of things to do last month?
Are you finding much of your time is spent “forcing yourself” to do things or trying to enjoy activities?
Often it creeps up on us and slowly but surely we find ourselves just getting by rather than living a life which has meaning and joy at its core. We all have times when we feel that our motivation has somehow drained out of us while we were asleep, or suddenly found ourselves living a life of quiet discontent. Have you ever found yourself waking up in the morning and after you have shuffled out of bed to get your coffee thinking “Oh no here we go again”? Do you have a list of “things to do today” which was really a list of things to do last month? Are you finding much of your time is spent “forcing yourself” to do things or trying to enjoy activities? Often it creeps up on us and slowly but surely we find ou selves just getting by rather than living a life which has meaning and joy at its core.

So how can we change this slow shuffle to the grave and start to re engage with our passion, motivation and joy again? To help create change its important to understand that our thoughts,feelings and behaviours are all interconnected . Habits are  created by our behaviour and thinking in the moment which is reinforced by our feelings,these feelings are often mistaken for fact and override our logical goals and needs.
While we have “control” over what we think how we behave we don’t have this same control over our feelings, often people mistake feelings for being “fact” when actually they are merely just signals to our brain and body to:

  • Interpret the world
  • Warn us of danger
  • Are hard wired to seek lifes “ings” (eating, sexing, drugging, shopping,facebooking, gambling, relationshiping etc)
  • Communicate and understand
  • Prepare us for action/inaction

 

So imagine one of your goals is going to the gym, while logically you know it’s good for you, is in line with your goals and will help you feel more energetic, you lack the feeling of “motivation” and create an unhelpful emotional equation.
 
GYM + NEGATIVE EMOTION +NEGATIVE THINKING = AVOIDANCE
We listen to the “feeling” as being fact and then our thoughts “I never follow through, I will always be unfit etc” and behaviours ( withdrawal, eating comfort food,engaging in pleasurable distractions) follow suit creating a habit which is powerful and very convincing. We then associate “going to the gym” with a negative feeling and negative feelings are powerful demotivators!.  Many people make the mistake of believing feelings are fact, need to be acted on and that they are permanent,often waiting till they feel like doing something before they start.When in reality if we think well,behave well our feelings will generally follow and create a different and more joyful habit.
Steps to Create Change

Break down goals into simple steps using SMART goal settings and keep this some where visible. Your goals should include the strong positive emotional states you are seeking and thoughts kept positive and empowering so you change those unhelpful habits into empowering and ones full of joy!

 

 Here are some useful suggestions to get moving and get out of the rut.

  • Post it notes ,liquid window chalk, quotes,images and reminders in your environment
  • Get a friend to buddy up so you keep each other on track
  • Download phone apps ,10 minute motivators,alarms with motivating messages,goal tracker etc
  • Keep a journal so you can keep track of your progress
  • Challenge negative thinking
  • Gratitude journal, or join on of the many online gratitude/positivity groups so you get positive reinforcing messages.
  • Negativity jar, you write the negative thoughts, behaviours or feelings down and get rid of them in a jar.
  • Positivity jar put all your change in and save for a big treat
  • write down something you are grateful/love/has happened and save them for a day you are struggling to keep on track
  • Be creative!

When Your Get Up and Go Walks Out The Door

I woke up one Monday morning and it dawned on me that my “get up and go” had actually done exactly that. It had got up and slipped off without me realising it had happened. I was shocked and wondered  “was there a moment or conversation which was the crucial point when my motivation just stopped?”. I know I’m not alone in this because it’s a topic which rears its lethargic head  regularly with clients or friends.

Have you ever found yourself waking up in the morning and after you have shuffled out of bed to get your coffee thinking “Oh no here we go again”?
Do you have a list of “things to do today” which was really a list of things to do last month?
Are you finding much of your time is spent “forcing yourself” to do things or trying to enjoy activities?
Often it creeps up on us and slowly but surely we find ourselves just getting by rather than living a life which has meaning and joy at its core. We all have times when we feel that our motivation has somehow drained out of us while we were asleep, or suddenly found ourselves living a life of quiet discontent. Have you ever found yourself waking up in the morning and after you have shuffled out of bed to get your coffee thinking “Oh no here we go again”? Do you have a list of “things to do today” which was really a list of things to do last month? Are you finding much of your time is spent “forcing yourself” to do things or trying to enjoy activities? Often it creeps up on us and slowly but surely we find ou selves just getting by rather than living a life which has meaning and joy at its core.

So how can we change this slow shuffle to the grave and start to re engage with our passion, motivation and joy again? To help create change its important to understand that our thoughts,feelings and behaviours are all interconnected . Habits are  created by our behaviour and thinking in the moment which is reinforced by our feelings,these feelings are often mistaken for fact and override our logical goals and needs.
While we have “control” over what we think how we behave we don’t have this same control over our feelings, often people mistake feelings for being “fact” when actually they are merely just signals to our brain and body to:

  • Interpret the world
  • Warn us of danger
  • Are hard wired to seek lifes “ings” (eating, sexing, drugging, shopping,facebooking, gambling, relationshiping etc)
  • Communicate and understand
  • Prepare us for action/inaction

 

So imagine one of your goals is going to the gym, while logically you know it’s good for you, is in line with your goals and will help you feel more energetic, you lack the feeling of “motivation” and create an unhelpful emotional equation.
 
GYM + NEGATIVE EMOTION +NEGATIVE THINKING = AVOIDANCE
We listen to the “feeling” as being fact and then our thoughts “I never follow through, I will always be unfit etc” and behaviours ( withdrawal, eating comfort food,engaging in pleasurable distractions) follow suit creating a habit which is powerful and very convincing. We then associate “going to the gym” with a negative feeling and negative feelings are powerful demotivators!.  Many people make the mistake of believing feelings are fact, need to be acted on and that they are permanent,often waiting till they feel like doing something before they start.When in reality if we think well,behave well our feelings will generally follow and create a different and more joyful habit.
Steps to Create Change

Break down goals into simple steps using SMART goal settings and keep this some where visible. Your goals should include the strong positive emotional states you are seeking and thoughts kept positive and empowering so you change those unhelpful habits into empowering and ones full of joy!

 

 Here are some useful suggestions to get moving and get out of the rut.

  • Post it notes ,liquid window chalk, quotes,images and reminders in your environment
  • Get a friend to buddy up so you keep each other on track
  • Download phone apps ,10 minute motivators,alarms with motivating messages,goal tracker etc
  • Keep a journal so you can keep track of your progress
  • Challenge negative thinking
  • Gratitude journal, or join on of the many online gratitude/positivity groups so you get positive reinforcing messages.
  • Negativity jar, you write the negative thoughts, behaviours or feelings down and get rid of them in a jar.
  • Positivity jar put all your change in and save for a big treat
  • write down something you are grateful/love/has happened and save them for a day you are struggling to keep on track
  • Be creative!

4 Tips To Reduce Anxiety

 

 

“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you are fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.”  Elizabeth Gilbert 

4 tips anxiety

New Zealand may appear to be the land of beaches and tranquility, but our rates of problematic anxiety are 1 in 4 – with the impact on family, work, health and wellbeing incredibly hard to calculate. But what is anxiety? And what are some simple and effective steps you can learn to reduce the consequences and break free from the cycle? Here I’ve outlined four simple steps you can take to reduce anxiety in your life.


Break Through The Cycle 

Anxiety is one reaction to keep us away from danger, protect us from harm and get us ready for action or in-action. When our body is alerted to danger it automatically gears into an adrenaline response which includes:

  • Racing heart, tight chest, constricted throat ,difficulty breathing
  • Digestive problems, butterflies or nausea
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating. Dizziness fatigue
  • Building worst case scenario’s, replaying worries and fears.
  • Coldness/Numbness or tingling in legs, head and hands
  • Urge to escape or freeze

Observe and Describe 

You have a list of things to do that grows daily – Family life is stressful or you are overworked and just can’t see an end. Sound familiar? Each one of us has stress and issues in their life, but too much of it can lead to excessive worry, dread, loss of sleep, upset stomach, or difficulty breathing. Anxiety, although uncomfortable and at times scary, does pass and paradoxically observing and describing the experience, symptoms and reactions reduces the anxiety. For example, “Ok I’m feeling tense in my chest and my breathing is shallow, I’m noticing that I’m just anxious right now”.


Break The Anxiety Chain

Noticing the anxiety is one step in breaking the chain reaction, but next is learning to self soothe and reduce the effects with 2 proven tips:
Focused Breathing Right now, stop and do a short body check: Are your shoulders tensed or is your breathing shallow? Often the first sign of anxiety is that our breathing becomes erratic, shallow or nonexistent as our body prepares for fight/flight/freeze. By focusing on our breathing, we stop this automatic physical reaction and the increased oxygen tells our body to relax.
Positive Self-talk One of the major problems people experience alongside the physical sensations is “panic talk”. The brain goes into ‘worry mode’ and seems to create a never-ending loop of terrible scenarios and awful consequences, which in turn create more anxiety. By identifying our unhelpful thinking and self-talk we can challenge them or try alternatives.

Some of the common thinking loops and alternatives are:

  • Catastrophizing – the worst possible things will happen
  • Fortune telling – believing we know exactly how terrible the outcome will be
  • Black and white – either good or bad, right or wrong with no options

Alternatives to these thought patterns can include: at are some different ways of looking at this?

  • What would xyz say or do in this situation?
  • Are there some actual things I can do differently now?
  • Is this thinking hindering or helping?

Self Care and Wellbeing

We are more than just our thoughts and feelings, our bodies are complex and we can often be more stressed or become more anxious if our general wellbeing is poor. Sometimes we only need to make small changes to our diet, sleep and exercise regime to gain significant benefits and reduced anxiety.

Sleep Nearly everyone feels a little crabby after a rough night’s sleep. Disrupted sleep is common in many emotional disorders and it’s difficult to know which started first — stress or poor sleep. Try setting a sleep routine with the first step TURN OFF THE COMPUTER/PHONE/TV. Studies have shown that using a device before bed has negative effects on one’s sleep quality. Try reading, a bath or shower and warm non-caffeine/alcohol drink. Stick to a regular bed time. Listen to soothing music or download sleep applications, sound tracks or learn to meditate.

Diet Why is diet important to reduce stress? Cortisol is the “stress /there isn’t enough food to survive hormone” and is produced in higher levels during times of stress. This increased level of cortisol may make people crave foods with high levels of salt, sugar and fat. However, eating these foods (or not eating at all) can actually increase our stress levels. It becomes a vicious cycle. Also, we seek quick fixes such as alcohol or other substances and become caught in a cycle of short term fixes and longer-term anxiety.

Exercise Most of us know that exercise is good for our physical health. For the past few decades, research has suggested that exercise is even more effective than medication and helps our body reduce the impact and occurrence of anxiety. This can range from a walk, yoga to more strenuous exercise but the important thing is to MOVE and be consistent. It’s better to do 20 minutes low level 4 times a week than one intense 2-hour session.