Kia ora koutou katoa / Hi everyone,
I’m a clinical psychologist and writer from New Zealand (Aotearoa). Aka a Kiwi from the land of 5 million people, 26 million sheep and jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery.
I’ve been writing on Medium for a while now. Thank you for diving into my stories and for all your feedback and comments — even the critical stuff helps!
My publication is On the Couch — we’re all about practical psychology for everyday life — and we’re always looking for new writers to join us. …
You probably knew you what you were going through.
It’s just that you: (1) denied it, (2) were so confused by it, (3) desperately wanted the relationship to work, (4) kept trying even when you knew it was futile and (5) found it too hard to leave.
Narcissistic abuse is like that. It’s a form of emotional abuse inflicted on you by someone with narcissistic personality traits.
In short, they use words and behaviours to manipulate, control and damage you. Sometimes, they’re not even fully conscious of what they’re doing; it’s just an entrenched part of who they are.
We’ve heard it a million times: Be the best version of who you are.
I get it: People want to be all they can be. People want their kids to be all they can be too.
But who is the best version of yourself, anyway? And why don’t all the other versions matter just as much?
Humans are just people. Which means that the best version of yourself doesn’t always show up. Sometimes, it’s the sad, weepy version. Or the stressed-out one. Or the scared one. Or the lonely one. Or the mean, dark one.
You get my point? All…
You’ve heard of the 7 Heavenly Virtues?
Fine, but this list is not them. This is not an official list. You can’t Google it. You may want to debate it (good). You may want to argue with it (fine, also). I don’t own it, so I don’t mind.
This is just the list I’ve come up with based on working therapeutically with a lot of people — young and old — for a long time, and seeing what helps them most in their lives.
So grab your seat on the couch and let’s dive in.
“One must become as humble…
Four words come up again and again in therapy.
They’re raised in many different contexts, there are (almost) infinite ways they can be applied. They don’t discriminate between people either: They don’t have a favourite gender, race, culture, religion or education status. They certainly don’t have an age limit.
What they do have, though, is the power to define a person’s life. So psychologists are always waiting and watching for them.
Because we don’t think any words should have that much power.
I’m not trying to hold out on you. You know the words I mean, don’t you?
“I’m just lonely,” a woman said, during our session.
“I need to be around other people so I’m really struggling right now.”
She was referring to the loneliness exacerbated by the pandemic and its restrictions. She was single, lived alone, was working from home and her previously active social life had stalled.
It was really playing with her mind. She felt flat and unmotivated; she wasn’t sleeping and rumbling anxiety had become a constant companion.
“I know plenty of people are going through this,” she said. “But that doesn’t make it easier.”
My client was right — loneliness is both…
It’s the silent dream, isn’t it?
To raise That Kid. The one who shines at school, is a natural at sports, is on everyone’s playdate list, who glides effortlessly through life.
To be the parent of That Kid. So that other parents are looking admirably at you and your shining example of offspring and thinking: How’d they do that?
If you are one of those parents — or you hope to be — all power to you. But as well as throwing money into their College education fund, save some for therapy.
Because life gets hard for those kids, too…
You’re running on empty.
You’re fatigued. You’re lethargic. You have things you’d like to do — or you should do — but you can’t get fired up about them. Or anything.
You’ve had low patches before and you’ve always been able to find your way back. But now it feels like you have no resilience left. It’s like the plug’s still in the wall but someone flipped the power switch off.
What to do?
Every therapist hears stories like this, but never more so than during the past 18 months, as we’ve struggled with a global pandemic and its tentacles.
It ended a long time ago.
You’ve moved on. You’re with someone else now. And you’re happy. Or you thought you were. Until you saw your ex again.
Maybe just strolling down the street. Maybe grinning in an unexpected social media post. Your heart skipped. The knot inside you loosened. Like someone pulled a stray thread on your jumper, a gentle tug at first, then a slow unravelling, taking you back to when you were together.
How come — after all this time — they can still do that to you?
Relationship breakups can be torturous. Many people describe clinical…
Are you mentally strong?
Better yet, are you as mentally strong as you could be?
To be fair, those are hard questions. Mental strength is not easily defined or measured. And we usually don’t discover the power of our internal game until life truly tests us.
But one thing we can be sure about. Whoever you are, whatever you do, your ability to survive life’s slings and arrows — and beyond that, thrive — will define the quality of your life.
Mental strength and fitness refers to your internal game; it’s the ability to stay in shape for life: To…