Siblings (April 2007)

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:20
Psychologies April issue 2007 THE SIBLING BOND My sister and I have never really got on. I was born on her sixth birthday, which, I can say with great feeling, was not a good career move for me. She has never forgiven me, and there is nothing I have ever possessed about which she cannot be jealous. A few years ago she was staying with me and discovered that my post arrived at 7.30 in the morning. ‘I have to wait till the afternoon for mine!’ she cried in that familiar tone of “It's not fair!” and I had the equally familiar feeling of anxiety and helplessness. As ever she expected me to make amends. What could I do? Tell the postman not to call? Having to share whatever is on offer, siblings learn to compete. Many say this competition made them stronger. But we tend to overlook just how far it can shape our character. We probably spend more time with our sibling in the first years of life than with almost anyone else. And while our parents may have nurtured and looked after us, it was our sibling who we played with, joked with and argued with –…

Happiness (February 2007)

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:20
Psychologies Magazine February 2007 Happiness Feeling happy is wonderful. We can be busy doing something, often something quite mundane, and suddenly we feel happy. If we ask ourselves, ‘Why do I feel happy right now?’ the answer is that what we’re doing gives us a sense of being part of everything that exists, and that our existence has significance. Ask a gardener or a bird watcher why they do what they do and they are likely to say that these activities give them a sense of general well being and brings them into harmony with nature. It is pointless making happiness our goal in life. It’s not a thing which we can achieve but an emotion which may or may not arise in a particular situation. All our emotions are our interpretations of our situation in terms of whether we see ourselves as a person as being safe (the positive emotions such as feeling happy, contented, satisfied) or whether we see ourselves as being in danger (the negative emotions such as feeling angry, anxious, afraid, guilty, envious). We feel safe when we see our situation as being much as we predicted it would be and one which confirms us as…

When Someone Close to You Has Depression

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:15
February 2006 When Someone Close to You Has Depression ‘I can’t get through to you!’   This is the desperate cry of someone who’s trying to care for a person who’s depressed - a lover, a child, a parent, a friend. The one who’s caring reaches out to hold and comfort the person who’s suffering the torments of depression, and what she finds is the wall, invisible but unyielding and impenetrable, that surrounds the person she loves. Psychiatrists say that depression is an illness, but why should an ill person resist all help and exclude all love?  When we’re physically ill we try to get better. Some people might want to stay ill to get compensation for an injury or to avoid doing something they don’t want to do, but usually we seek help and act on the advice we are given. But try to help a depressed person and you walk straight into a wall. You suggest they see a doctor, and they refuse. You suggest a walk in the sunshine, a nice meal, something to cheer them up, and the person is mute or else proceeds to show you what an idiot you are for suggesting such a…

How Do You Build Self-Confidence?

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:15
May 2006 How Do You Build Self-Confidence? 1. What is self-confidence? What do we mean by it, and why are some people more confident than others? When we say that we have confidence in someone we mean that we trust that person. Self-confidence means being able to trust yourself. Being able to trust yourself means that you can rely upon yourself because you know yourself. Self-confidence is based on self-knowledge. If we know ourselves we have a realistic idea of who we are and what we can achieve. Self-confidence isn’t vanity, because when we are vain we over-value our talents and ignore our weaknesses. When we are self-confident we recognize without false modesty what our strengths are, and we recognize our weaknesses without feeling ashamed and guilty. We accept our limitations without feeling that we have to apologize to others about them. Many women have great difficulty in doing this because they have been told that to be acceptable to others they must always be very modest about their achievements and must apologize for whatever they do. Thus many women prefer to lack self-confidence rather than risk being rejected.    2. Is self-confidence the same as self-esteem? Self-esteem is a…

Don't Be Afraid to Embrace Change

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:14
October 2006 Don’t Be Afraid to Embrace Change With all the self help advice we get now, how is it that we still get stuck in bad relationships, or dreary jobs, live where we don’t want to live, do things we know are bad for us, or just feel generally miserable? I meet a great many people who tell me that they’ve had counselling and they understand much more about themselves but they’re still depressed. Why do we get stuck and why can’t we change?   There are two reasons we stay stuck. The first is that we’re not prepared to give up a reward, and the second is that we’re afraid of change.  Not Wanting to Give Up a Reward.  Whenever we do something that causes us nothing but pain we try never to do that thing again. For instance, when we were a small child we put our hand on something that was extremely hot. We felt total pain, and ever since then we’ve tried to avoid anything that might burn us. At the same time, we might have hated to take the medicine our mother gave us because it was bitter and horrible, but we found that,…