+852 2575 7707 drmelanie@mindmatters.hk

COPING WITH UNCERTAINTY – A Suggestion

Uncertainty

Much has been written about the discomfort of uncertainty accompanied by its worry, stress and anxiety and it’s effects on so many areas of our lives.

For most of us worldwide our lives feel like we are stuck on pause, waiting to return to the illusion of the predictable and the freedom to move about and make plans.

It can feel like we are in quarantine, even if not officially, with challenges at every turn personally and relation-ally. Being alone together is stressful. Navigating the bumpy terrain of closeness and distance, needs and expectations, can be a strain. All the more so with children at home demanding engagement plus space constraints. Add the demands of working at home, social isolation and the ever present fear of a viral infection can exhaust our personal strengths.

Feeling emotionally overwhelmed, tempers are likely to flare easily, it’s consequences lingering, often painfully. Focusing on fearful thoughts can interfere with our ability to relax into the present moment and enjoy even the simple pleasure of a cup of coffee.

With so much uncertainty coping effectively can plummet, with little sense of control and no end in sight.

Although it may have felt that way, your future, through today, was never as predictable as you may have assumed. Instead it is the product of complex causes and conditions, and the often unrecognized power of serendipity – “the potential for random and unexpected events to wreck even the best laid plans.”

The one place uncertainty does not exist is in the present moment. Step into it. Scan your body for sources of stress and pain. Breath slowly into each such area and simply recognize and allow each experience of discomfort to communicate its needs to you. The body keeps the score. Maintain a curious, open mind as you do this exercise, “that’s interesting”. Lying on your back while propping your feet up against the wall for 5 min. as you do this is particularly calming.

Flexibility is a key here. Flexibility can aid in cushioning the impact of the unexpected by expecting the unexpected as much as possible, controlling what you can while appreciating all can continue to change rapidly. That is the value of having plans B, C & D. Just in case plan A gets sideswiped by the unexpected.

Reflect back on this time when so many of your cherished freedoms were curtailed by the virus. Reflect back on how you used your time during the lockup?

Do you feel a sense of satisfaction that you used your free time well, or did you while away the hours watching Netflix and reading far too much news?

There is a difference between being busy and being productive. A sense of accomplishment accompanies being productive, and it pays dividends going forward.

If you felt some regret when you looked back, then consider how to focus some of your current time now in ways that honor your interests and abilities and give you a sense of accomplishment when you reflect back from your future now to today.

In the midst of so many physical, financial and psychological threats, give yourself the gift of presents of mind, focus on what you can change, and deeply enjoy your coffee.

Dr Melanie Bryan
13 April 2020

Building Confidence

Building confidence

Many clients think if they were more confident their career potential would improve greatly and their personal and social life would be far more satisfying and fun.

This may well be true as they would feel far better about themselves and therefore extend themselves more across a variety of situations.

My solution for building confidence is not difficult but also not comfortable; be willing to make mistakes.

Think about it. Whatever you do well now, there was a time when you didn’t. But you persisted until you became confident at it.

If it is something you learned as a child, you were free of exactly the self-conscious concepts that are undoubtably holding you back now.
•Perhaps you are holding some of these commonly held beliefs about making mistakes:
•Mistakes means failing and must be avoided.
•Making mistakes means I am stupid; others will think I am stupid; they will laugh at me
•Making mistakes means I am really a closet idiot, no matter what my position
•I will feel bad about it and must beat myself up for a long time
•I had a bad experience in the past and must protect myself

Actually, a mistake is merely an opportunity to do (whatever) differently next time. Mistakes grow you, shaping your character as you meet challenges with persistence.

When the fearful voice in your head starts playing old tapes about your ‘limitations’, hindering you from focusing away from yourself and onto the present moments activity, change the voice to Donald Duck and get on with the task at hand.

Really, the more mistakes you, the more you will learn, and the more confident you will become.

I hope this has been helpful to you.

Your comments or questions are most welcome.

What is the difference between positive stress and negative stress?

Answer: Interpretation

Really, the ‘stressful’ situation, interaction or occurrence does not come with evaluation or judgment written on it; we supply that.

How we view or evaluate a circumstance triggers a cascade of mental, emotional and physiological responses that influence how we react on multiple levels in the short and medium term.

When we take our rapid interpretations as truth in the universe, we forfeit choices in how we could react if we didn’t respond so quickly. It would be helpful to consider our initial thoughts and feeling responses as a ‘speed bump’, reminding us to slow down and reconsider how else we could react. This does take practice, but is so worth the effort.

We are more likely to accept ‘positive’ stress when it is associated with an outcome we value, such as landing a new job, studying for a difficult exam, planning a wedding, having a baby, or relocating out of choice. Such stress is more likely to be viewed as normal and managed flexibly.

Conversely, we tend to evaluate undesirable outcomes, such as an unexpected job loss, illness, infidelity or divorce as highly undesirable ‘negative’ stress. In such circumstances if we focus only on the fearful, painful or depressing aspects of the situation, our negative beliefs are compounded.

Such types of interpretations leading to emotional stress lasting weeks or more can weaken the immune system, increase blood pressure, generate anxiety, depression and contribute to heart problems. Attributing such undesirable situations or outcomes to deficiencies in ourselves that are relatively fixed will intensify our negative beliefs and sense of powerlessness. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Many situations are indeed difficult and call for thoughtful consideration, emotional balance and creative responses. Accepting our knee-jerk interpretations can severely hamper such adaptive responses.

If you are having difficulty managing trying situations, do consider contacting me on +852 2575 7707 or via this link.

Melt Away Everyday Stress with Rainbow Mediation by Dr Melanie

Rainbow-Meditation

Meditation has significant mental and physical health benefits for both adults and kids.

Both in the corporate world and at schools, short meditations bring a more relaxed and focused state, with improved concentration and ability to cope throughout the day.

Research at Harvard has shown meditation can also increase levels of a key neurotransmitter called serotonin in the brain, as well as growth hormone which repairs cells and tissue.

It has also been shown to lower the heart rate, boost immune function, lower blood pressure and inflammation, increase blood circulation to the body’s tissues, promote emotional balance, and induce a state of calmness.

This link is for PC only it will not work on a Mac.
To download the meditation for a PC click the following link in blue: rainbow_meditation_mindmatters
Then UNZIP the file, and follow the instructions given.

Mac video coming soon!

A Friend Is Not A Therapist

A-Friend-is-Not-a-Therapist

We are powerfully bound to our friends, as their leaving painfully reminds us. Following too many departures, we may be inclined to pull back from further efforts to establish significant friendships.

But denying yourself the companionship and intimacy a friendship offers can be more debilitating to body, mind and spirit then their leave-taking. Our friends are our safety net, acting as a counter when feeling sad, rejected, enraged or crazed. In study after study medical researchers are finding that people who have friends they can turn to for advice and assistance, have lower risks of depression and addictions, and a greater capacity to cope with radical changes and reversals in their lives. Regardless of the hidden agendas that may shadow a friendship, it cannot compare to the complexity of expectations and emotional baggage that are part and parcel of pair-bonding relationships. While adjusting to the idiosyncratic needs, habits, foibles and differences of one’s partner requires steady work, accepting the differences in friends takes little, if any, work.

We need our friends to be simply our friends, not our partners, which frees us to be more our spontaneous selves with them. Friends can also provide emotional support and respect and so can help to reaffirm our self-worth.

But friendship can also be a drag, taking on pathological elements that are emotionally and sometimes physically draining. It may be prudent to terminate a friendship when friends become overly clinging or dependent on you for emotional well-being. Also draining are the friends who seem to get themselves into a never-ending series of crises from which you feel you must rescue them. For friendships to be fulfilling, they should make you feel better, not worse.

A friend is not a therapist. Few friendships can survive the openly honest, often intense and always client-focused work that is the very heart of therapy. Therapy works in part because, unlike friendship, it is not mutual. Within the safety and confidentiality of the therapist’s office, a client is free to explore and reveal their most private selves without risk of judgement or rejection.

When a person is feeling too depressed or overwhelmed or work stressed and challenged to respond with the reciprocity required of friendship, the therapy relationship exists explicitly to support them through their turmoil and assist them in unearthing the sources of their own resources, abilities and potentials.

Co-parenting Mindsets

Co-parenting-Mindsets

 

THE CONFLICTUAL CO-PARENTING MIND SET OF THE COUPLE

 

One or both of the parents believe that the other parent does not have the best interests the children at heart as their primary focus. One or both of the parents disrespects and openly denigrates the other person’s parenting style and parenting opinions. One or both of the parents believes that the other parent has fundamental character flaws, parental deficiencies, a personality disorder, or substance abuse issues that interfere with their parenting ability. They believe that the other parent is detrimental to the children.One or both of the parents believe the other parent should not have an active, supportive relationship with the children because it will damage them. One or both of the parents believe that they need the assistance from mental health professionals and court professionals to help them make child sharing decisions. But once the recommendations or orders have been made, one or both of the parents may actively sabotage the court order and badmouth the professionals who worked on the child sharing plans. One or both parents continues to undermine the other parent’s relationship with the children, believing that they have to protect the children from that parent, by taking away time or getting the courts to determine they are unfit.

THE COOPERATIVE COPARENTING MIND SET OF THE COUPLE

Both of the parents believe that the other parent has the best interests of the children at heart as their primary focus. Both parents believe that the other parent is valuable, worthwhile and important in the children’s life. Both parents believe that the children need to have a relationship with both parents, and they will actively support that relationship. Although the parents may have disagreements with each other about the issues that need to be resolved, they will both work together, (even if it is difficult) in order to reach some kind of parenting decision. Even if it is “parenting by default.” Once the parents have made the parenting decision, they will actively support the decision and each other in that decision. Both parents will do whatever it takes to support the other parent’s relationship with the children. Both parents believe that the other parent is important in the children’s life and will do whatever they can to support the children’s relationship with the other parent.