Category Archives: Relationships & Loneliness

Loneliness – no longer a silent epidemic

Loneliness has crept up on us as a silent epidemic and is now regarded as a public health issue affecting our wellbeing and shortening our lives.

Traditionally, we think of loneliness affecting only the elderly or the sick.  Today it is indiscriminate and affects the young, the old, the single, the married, the working, and the retired.  Apparently, we are all increasingly susceptible.

So why are we so lonely?

Loneliness is a feeling of social and emotional disconnection. It is not a direct consequence of being alone. We can feel lonely in a crowd.  It is true that the rise of virtual online relationships, our culture of independence, our frenetic busyness and our increasingly mobile workforce can make us feel more disconnected. But social isolation is not the same as loneliness.

We are often afraid to admit our loneliness because we believe we will be judged as unlovable and unlovely .

How does this cycle of loneliness work?

When we are lonely, we tend to perceive things more negatively and more pessimistically. We make more judgements and more assumptions. These assumptions are often along the lines of everyone else being happier, busier, more popular, more loved, and more sociable than we can ever hope to be.

We become more and more defensive and withdraw rather than engage. Our internal story tells us that ‘everyone else is happy and connected and no one wants to bother with me.’ The story goes round and round in our heads and we end up sabotaging any opportunity for connection by pushing people away.

So what can we do about our loneliness?

We can start by making a connection with ourselves. Notice first how defensiveness feels in your body, notice where it sits, and how it drives you. Name it, describe it and breathe into it. Expand the space around it. Befriend it, it’s ok, it’s yours.

Notice any change when you engage with someone in a shop, or whilst walking the dog. Look for the feeling of opening up and warming up a little. It’s often the smallest incidents that give us the first feelings of change.

Get to know the story in your head. Notice how it drives you further away from others. Notice your negative assumptions. Then by contrast, notice what giving people the benefit of the doubt feels like.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown suggests that when we allow ourselves to be seen, when we share our vulnerabilities, we connect with others. In turn, they feel able to be themselves and connect with us. Her definition of connection is ‘ the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.’
So let’s start by connecting with ourselves. By seeing ourselves, hearing ourselves and valuing ourselves without judgment.  Remember that there are thousands of people experiencing this same feeling at this very moment, you are not alone. Then reach out, from the strength you’ve derived, one small step at a time, to connect with others – chances are, they’ll be hugely grateful.

By: Lisa Stevenson

Tel: 07873 871059 (mobile)

email:  lisa@vitalconnections.co.uk

website:  http://www.vitalconnections.co.uk

The invisible barrier – communication issues in relationships

Jo Turner, our relationship therapist , writes about the communication challenges that can block our intimate relationships:

“We communicate with others in many ways and in intimate relationships, we often use many non-verbal actions to express how we feel. Subtle behavioural changes, slight gestures, our body language, are a few of the ways we try to show our partner how we feel about ourselves and about them.

I am using the term the “invisible barrier”, as the nuances are often subtle, such as, feeling a tension, an atmosphere, or a chronic, underlying unhappiness between us. The invisible is felt and the barrier prevents us from taking action – our emotions are stuck. Open-ness and sharing in the relationship appear lost, exacerbating our feelings of isolation.

Sometimes we cannot find words to describe our invisible barrier – it’s a feeling – often powerful and uncomfortable. The invisible barrier ensures that we maintain a state of gridlock, neither partner able or willing to move towards breaking it down.

Why do we remain in this position of resistance? What purpose does it serve?

There are many reasons why and some of the feelings, for example are – shame, fear, despondency, or low self-esteem.

Connected to these feelings, are behaviours which we display in our relationship, such as – passive aggression, covert power play and control, stubborn-ness, avoidance and withdrawal.

To protect ourselves from painful feelings, we naturally find ways of coping and can often display behaviours to maintain the barrier (which can be conscious and unconscious), keeping others at a distance.

Positioned behind an invisible barrier we can feel lonely and helpless. The presence of the barrier indicates that there is something on either side. We often only feel the effects on our side of the barrier, having no idea that our partner positioned on the other side may feel the same…… lonely and helpless.

Confronting the invisible barrier, bravely taking steps towards it and exploring how it could be dismantled, are actions we can do symbolically within the safe and confidential confines of the counselling/psychotherapy session. The process can provide us with the space to understand our own behavioural positions each side of the invisible barrier, allow us to uncover the source of the resistance and try to make changes.

Talking and sharing together can start to make the barrier visible, giving us something to work with. Breaking the barrier down can help us feel open and available to each other.

Connected.

September 2015

Jo Turner, PG Dip. Mar. Th. MBACP (Accred.) Relationship therapist. http://www.joturner.ukjo.com

Change of season…. revitalising your relationship.

Spring is much in evidence all around us now and it’s at this time when we tend to feel more energetic and able to sort things out in our lives.

Sometimes we put off dealing with our emotional needs in the hope that something might change.   It can be difficult to initiate change for fear of unsettling our lives, even though we intuitively feel that there are unresolved issues.  

Taking time to talk about our thoughts and feelings together ( or separately) in a confidential and safe space is a way of starting to clarify our relationship issues.

What’s love got to do with it?

Jo Turner, our relationship therapist, writes:

Sometimes we feel the pressure of conforming with all things love related… when we actually feel that our relationship is affecting our well being.

Suppressing feelings and thoughts about our partners can sometimes lead to a slow build up of unresolved and unwanted emotions which can turn into resentment. Why do we feel unfulfilled? What do we want from our significant other? What do we want for ourselves?

Making space and time to talk together in a safe, confidential environment can help us to make sense of our relationship.

The quality of your life, is the quality of your relationships – Anthony Robbins.

Jo Turner
Relationship Therapist

Counselling and psychotherapy in West Berkshire and Wiltshire
PG Dip. Mar. Th. MBACP (Accred.)

Valentine blues

Friday 14th February – Valentine’s Day – can bring up difficult feelings for many of us, whether we are on our own or in a relationship. We place a huge amount of importance on our romantic attachments but they can also bring us a great deal of pain. Therapy is an opportunity to reflect on why we are as we are in relationships, what baggage we are bringing from the past and what we really want and need. Talking therapy can also help couples who are struggling to communicate.