I’ll bundle my cherubs off to kindy and school today, and spend the day chatting with other little cherubs, some who are scared, some who are sad, some who are angry. These innocent, open minds, ready to take on the world. They feel all the feels, and sometimes not being in a good place, they do things that perhaps in hindsight might not have been the best idea. They might hurt someone, they might say something they shouldn’t have, they might act out. But when sitting and chatting, they can often see where they went wrong, we work together to help them feel better about themselves and to move on. When I see these children, I see little dudes and dudettes who have the world at their feet, their eyes bright and wide, excited for what the future holds. I don’t hold their actions against them permanently, I see that they are learning and changing.
Some 20-25 years ago, those bright eyes belonged to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. While hard to fathom for some now, they were once young children, with dreams of a big future ahead of them. We don’t know the reasons how or why they fell into the nasty trade that they did, but I can guarantee you that this current state wasn’t in either of their life plans. As they sit in isolation, taking in their last breaths, running through their final moments. Hands wringing, waiting, wondering, do they think back to those bright eyed times? Maybe they wanted to be firefighters? Or race car drivers? I try to put myself in their position and I can’t. I can’t fathom it. The pure psychological trauma of waiting to die. After being rehabilitated. After a decade of growth and change.
You know that saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” Awwww, so much warm fuzzy. It’s lovely, and a gorgeous sentiment. But you know what? You don’t have to make lemonade. I think sometimes we stress ourselves out by making the lemonade. We struggle with these lemons, grapple with them. Sometimes they have bugger all juice in them, or they’re too tart. We become consumed by the lemons. We start to wonder if we could do something else with them? Could we turn them into a lemon butter? Do we have enough ingredients for any other lemon products? Sometimes our knife is a bit blunt, sometimes we need someone else to come in and help make the lemonade. Making lemonade can get tough sometimes you know? And what if this insistent pressure to make lemonade is all bullshit? Why do we *have* to make something out of these damn lemons?
I am really beating myself up this year so far, throwing guilt around like it’s confetti. Guilt for not posting enough. Guilt for not juggling all my roles well enough. Guilt for struggling to adjust to a new routine. Guilt for being a neglectful friend, a frazzled Mum, a nutty wife. So much cray guilt. And it isn’t doing me any good. I’ve been trying to find the words to say for a while, but nothing is coming to mind. When I was lost in my own head this morning though, I was thinking about all the people I’ve seen over the years, and what I’ve taken away from them. A lot of people coming in to see me for the first time are in a bad way. Much worse than my cray guilt. Lost in their own pain/stress/sadness/worry/grief/anger/confusion. It’s messy. From there though, we work through stuff, they learn strategies, and they turn it around. Not always in a straightforward way, but we get there. Sometimes I need to get my head out of the grind and remind myself of these things. Here’s the take-home messages I’ve noticed through the years:
Holding onto those negative moments is nothing more than a waste of time. It doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t make you feel better, and it’s not fixing the problem.
When you’re in that dark hole, it can seem all-consuming. But the only person that can climb out of it is you. No one can make you see that until you’re ready to take it on board for yourself.
Sometimes things seem worse than what they actually are. And when, in those rare moments, things really do become that bad, you cope with it. Somehow, someway you do. You might not think you can, but you do.
Things get better. They always improve, even if a tiny bit. They may not be perfect, but they get better. You have to watch for the subtleties.
Shutting others out only serves to make it harder. There’s no time for pride or guilt here. Open up. Even if it’s the opposite of what you actually feel like doing.
Know that you have people on your team. You really do. They might get frustrated, they might get annoyed, they might not respond in exactly the manner you want them to, but they ARE there.
Work WITH people, not against them. The world isn’t against you, I promise. More often than not those people want what you want, for things to be working well, and for everyone to be happy and functioning.
Take the help when it’s offered. You know you’d do the same for someone else, so don’t be an idiot and say ‘oh no I’m fine thanks’ when you’re not.
You get out what you put in to life. Be that therapy, friendships, work. You need to put a bit in to get a bit out. And sometimes unfair shit happens, it does, but really, if you give up and get bitter, you’ll get even less.
Stuff takes time. When you’re in pain, it’s not going to go away overnight, or in one quick session.
Take an interest in others. Even when you’re so consumed in your own world. It can help you get out of your funk. Be honest when others ask how you are. Truly answer with what’s in your mind. And in turn, be genuine when you ask how others are feeling. Because I can guarantee others will be feeling the same way as you. And sometimes others’ are going through worse, and it makes you sit back and really think about how things are.
If there was some way I could give this to future clients right as they walk in the door…..I’d probably be sacked right then and there. But really, I mean if I could just let them know these things, it could almost circumnavigate a lot of crap. But, we humans are funny things that don’t really like to take on board such tips, until we’ve gone through the crap, come out the other side and then have been able to reflect and go “ohhhh yeah. All that stuff WAS right after all…..”. Or maybe that’s just me. Because. Stubborn biatch. So there you have it. If you’re in the grind, print out the tips, stick them on your wall/ put them in your wallet/ carry them in your pocket. Because we all need a reminder from time to time.
What’s your top tip when you’re stuck in the grind?
She’s poised, pen held above, staring at the white paper intently. She eyes the blue, then the yellow, before finally settling on a lighter blue. Pen is put to paper, the outline drawn ever-so-carefully. I look away for a second, and turn back to see her scrunching the paper up, crushing it into the tightest ball. She catches my confused look, “I didn’t get the line right Mummy” she explains, very matter-of-fact. And with that, she’s back to square one. And if it happens again and again (as it does) often there’s a quiet “I’m no good at this” muttered under the breath.
This scenario happens round these parts. A lot. Not just with drawings. There’s seat positions in cars, colours, toys needing to be a certain way. Refusing to climb under her bedsheets after making her bed. You know when you wish your cherubs wouldn’t get your worst traits and then BAM! There they are? That. Well, I can’t take full credit. 50/50 gene pool and all.
Ok. Bear with me. Dr. Phil drawl is back in da house. I get asked this question a lot. And also, ‘what’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? (that would be a whole medical degree). Like, can you give me drugs and stuff?’ (buddy, if I had drugs, I wouldn’t be sharing. Soz).
I read an article recently that tried to highlight the difference between psychologists and life coaches, and insinuated that psychologists were only concerned with the past, and most people who went to a psychologist, actually needed a life coach. Give me strength. So NOT the case.
Here we are, another instalment of our back to school (or starting school) marathon. Sick of me yet? I sure as hell am. But, it’s on my brain a lot. And I’m thinking it’s on a lot of people’s brains a lot. And even if you don’t have kids starting school, some of these tips might be helpful for stuff in general. Have I justified myself enough yet?
We looked at how to prepare ourselves and kids for school, but what if your cherub is particularly anxious? And just flat out refusing to go to school? That adds in a whole other dimension of stuff to prepare for.
Seems a little ridic to go from the frivolity of Christmas yesterday to something so heavy today, but there’s many with a lot on our minds, given recent events, and wondering what might lie ahead for those people involved in the Sydney siege. Something on my mind a lot is the fear of the surviving hostages and their loved ones developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s a term a lot of us have heard of, but aren’t too sure of what it entails exactly. So today I’m unpacking it in normal terms. Not the usual wanky psych stuff. Hopefully you’ll never need to really ever know about PTSD, but unfortunately it is something that happens. And not just to war veterans, or victims of crime. It can impact children, adults, the elderly, via a range of incidents.
I think it’s safe to say we’re all in a bit of shock right now. What has gone on in Sydney is heavy. I mean, there’s lots of heavy stuff going on all over the world, but something so brazen, so full on, happening right here. Right now. I was only in Sydney a couple of short months ago, wandering through those same places with my little ladies. It doesn’t seem real.
As with anything of this magnitude, it is alllllll over the media. On every platform. Some of us cope ok with this, in fact we relish the fact we can keep up in such an immediate manner. For others, it can be a bit much. As adults, we tend to be able to switch off for the most part, but what about children who might have seen something on TV? Or heard something on the radio? Little ones process things in a much different manner to us, they’re still in that black and white, concrete stage of understanding the world.
Of course we all know the most important thing to do for young ones is to try and minimise attention to traumatic events. Try to keep the TV off, or have them occupied in other activities. But in this technological day and age, sometimes it’s not always possible. TV’s on in the windows, other children seeing things and talking. So what can we do to manage any fears and trauma that may arise from exposure to such events?
Talk as openly as age appropriate. Allow children to get their fears out. No need for details but something as simple as ‘yes something pretty bad has happened, but the Police have been right onto it and are there to protect us’
Normalise all feelings. Yes, it’s ok to be concerned, to feel worried. But they are ok, you are ok and we will get through.
Show children ways to calm their bodies down if they are getting physically worked up. Calm breathing (or milkshake breathing), muscular relaxation. This helps distract them from being fixated on the traumatic events, and also physically reduces stress levels
Reframe their thoughts. If they’re fixated on ‘baddies’ and ‘people coming to get them’, help them to reframe to ‘there are so many more good, kind, helpful people around and I have lots of people around me who will look after me’.
For little ones, let them draw. Drawing really can help process many feelings that they struggle with. Playing in sand also is a wonderful way for them to work through any issues they may be experiencing.
Just focus on little steps at a time, if they are scared to go outside. Bring them to the here and now. Step outside and feel the warm sun on our faces. Walk to the letterbox, walk to the end of the street. Slowly build them up
Reduce the amount of ‘what if’s’ which they may worry about. Talk instead about ‘what we know’.
Modelling calm behaviour. Our kids look to us on how to cope in such situations.
Unfortunately trauma happens. And not just on our TV’s. When trauma happens, it’s like our brains hit ‘pause’ to cope, and sometimes if we don’t process properly our brains will keep showing flashes and getting caught in a loop. We need to rewind, review and then allow the video (our brain) to keep playing. Same with children.
There’s been some great tips shared by Jo Lamble, and Dr. Justin Coulson, via Sunrise and the Daily Telegraph respectively. And as always, if your child’s anxieties are over and above what you feel is age appropriate, chat with your GP to seek extra support.
Here’s hoping these tips are some you’ll never have to use with your children. xx
…… and have no freaking clue how to sort that shit out.
Here we are again. Back for another round of Thursday tidbits. You’re either really keen, or really desperate for something to read. Either way, hope this is helpful!
It’s been a whole process over the last few weeks- learning about how the mind works (essentially it’s pretty fucked up sometimes and likes to screw with us. But it can be pretty clever at times also), learning that the way we feel is due to how we think about things, not due to external factors. And that the body, the mind and our actions all combine to result in all sorts of things, like anxiety, depression etc. We’ve gained an understanding of the ABC’s and our thinking errors, and that underneath all that shit are core beliefs; locked away deep inside that little chest at the bottom of the ocean (also known as our subconscious. But that can sound a bit wanky, can’t it?).
Yo, we’re back. More tidbits. Because. Thursday. We’re nearing the end of our little ‘find out what the hell is making you feel like shit and change it’ journey. But there are plenty more tidbits after this. I can hear you groaning already. With joy, I know.
Last week we dug down into our core beliefs- those things that we have locked away deep down that really shape our views of ourselves, others and the world around us. So now we’ve uncovered them. Hooray for us. What the hell do we do now? I’m glad you asked, friends. Like any cynic (I encourage healthy cynicism. Keeps us on our toes, yes?), we gotta put it to the test. We have to experiment with the thought- find out if it’s really true or not.