Are you moving on or running away? : Eight keys to navigate life transitions

Are-you-moving-on-or-running-away

Transitions are never easy. We’re often faced with them after a season of stability and apparent ‘safety’, and this means the idea of rolling the dice on a new adventure, relationship or experience, is terrifying.

Transitions provide us with three options: stay where we are, leap into a new experience, or run away. If you’re a self-doubter like me, you may even sway between two or three of these options, unsure what the next step is. You may doubt your motives, your readiness, or be in complete denial about what the next step in your life should be.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer in transition. Each of us will respond differently when they arise, and the best and healthiest course of action will vary. Often, the answer lies in our ability to recognise whether we are running away from a situation or if we’re naturally moving on to something new.

Are you in a period of transition? I sure am, and these are eight questions I’ve asked myself to assess my best course of action for my future.

  1. Am I afraid of the future?

Sometimes, the fear of the unknown and what may go wrong (or right) keep us from moving into a new phase of life.  We can all take steps to prepare for the future, but there comes a time when we need to take a risk and move forward. Don’t let fear hold you back.

  1. Am I afraid of staying still?

Perpetual transition and the inability to put down roots is the trademark of someone who is afraid to stay still in life. If you’re afraid of what life could be like if you stopped and invested in relationships, a community or a business, then it may be time to stop running and plant yourself for a season.

  1. Am I afraid for the safety of my loved ones or myself?

One of the most common transitions comes when we step out of a relationship. In any long-term or marriage relationship, it’s important you see a counsellor (preferably with your partner) as it’s always preferential that you save a relationship rather than break up.

BUT if you fear for your safety and the emotional wellbeing of yourself and your family, it is time for you to leave. Call it running away or moving on—it makes no difference when your wellbeing is involved.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse or violence, call 1800-RESPECT.

  1. Do I have commitment issues?

If you’re scared of being in a long-term relationship, you’ll consistently run away from anyone that threatens your independence. Sometimes this happens before a relationship can evolve, and other times you’ll casually date or hook up before the other person asks for a commitment and you run for the hills. Don’t be in denial about it. You are allowed to live a single, happy independent life, but if you’re living it out of fear of committing to a single person it’s time to do some work on yourself.

  1. What are my responsibilities?

Whether you’re moving on or running away from responsibility—and whether you should—will largely depend on what they are. Responsibility for your loved ones, especially children, will always come first. Sacred responsibilities like this should never be run from, just nurtured so you feel supported in the process.

However, if your responsibilities are work related, or are tied to unhealthy family or relationship attachments, then a different course of action may be required. Unrealistic expectations that negatively infringe on your health, happiness and the people around you shouldn’t be adhered to.

You need to move on from these responsibilities, either by seeking new employment, gaining external support through a counsellor, or changing your routine so you live a healthier and happier lifestyle.

  1. Am I prepared?

Are you prepared to stand still and fight for your relationship? Are you willing to take a leap of faith and make a new life for yourself with a new job, relationship or community? Are you ready to leave the pain of the past behind?

Preparation isn’t just physical; it’s emotional too. If you’re willing to make an emotional commitment to the next (or current) phase in your life, you’re ready to take the next step.

  1. Who am I doing this for?

Irrespective of whether you stay, run or move on, the people you do it for will determine how healthy the transition is. Committing to a relationship or working on a current one are both risks worth your time—they are about your happiness, and the happiness of the people around you.

However, if you’re basing your next life transition on the unhealthy expectations of others or unrequited love, believing you will be more ‘whole’ if you take this step, you need to stop and reassess. Who you are is enough, and transition is about becoming more ‘you’, not proving yourself to others.

  1. What do I want?

What do you want for your life? Do you want safety, security and a place to belong? Or maybe you want to live an adventurous and exhilarating life, full of unexpected moments and people. How you answer this question will help you determine if you need to stay, take a leap of faith or move on to something new.

Are you going through a life transition? Are you running away from something or need support to save a relationship? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

How to find common ground in your couple relationship

How-to-find-common-ground-in-your-couple-relationship

Do you feel like you’re talking to a brick wall when it comes to conflict with your partner? In this article for Warcry magazine, Colleen tells us how to overcome this tension when we can’t find common ground.

Disagreement is an inevitable part of every relationship, and how we deal with it determines our future health and happiness. So did you know that only 31% of a couple’s major areas of continuing disagreements are about resolvable issues?

The rest of the time, a couple’s conflict will be invested in unresolvable perpetual problems. This was one of the findings of a 35-year longitudinal study of 677 couples conducted by Dr John Gottman.

Is it any wonder then, when describing their attempts to communicate with their partner, a person might describe the experience as ‘speaking to a brick wall’?

When a couple fails to resolve an issue so they repeatedly visit the same conflict (up to 69% of the time), the temptation is to resort to negative coping strategies like this, which Gottman termed ‘stonewalling’. In fact, whilst stonewalling is not entirely territory owned by men, the research tells us that 85% of males tend to use stonewalling as a means of staying safe in conflict.

Given that a significant amount of couple’s disagreements are most likely unresolvable, learning how to navigate these conversations in a mutually satisfying way is essential to the longevity and health of any couple relationship.

This is why one of the important keys for a healthy relationship is the ability to accept the influence of your partner.

In practice, this principle is generally more difficult for men than it is for women, who do this at higher rates. Men are less likely to accept their partner’s influence, choosing instead to emotionally disengage or escalate the conflict using belligerence, contempt or defensiveness. All of these behaviours serve to shut down a partner’s complaint and reinforce gridlock.

Accepting your partner’s influence can be the difference between having a conversation where a conclusion is reached without feeling attacked, criticised or resentful; as opposed to an argument that reinforces our differences and creates a sense of hopelessness around the problems in your relationship.

So what does this look like in a conversation? Accepting influence can be as simple as saying “Good point”, or “I see”. Giving the respect of acknowledging your partner’s opinion is the beginning of negotiation.

Accepting influence is about finding common ground for agreement.

If that rarely happens in your relationship, it may be time to step back and listen to your partner’s thoughts on the subject at hand, instead of responding from a negative, closed position.

“I haven’t thought about it in that way before,” sends the message that you are listening and considering your partner’s opinion. You could respond to your partner, “So you see it a different way. Let’s keep talking about it and see if we can come up with something we can both live with.”

Try accepting the influence of your partner this week, and see how it changes your relationship.

Do you struggle to find common ground with your partner? Would you like to discuss how cultivate a healthy connection?  Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

#MeToo: 5 useful responses to the world-wide movement

metoo

Over the past week, you may have noticed the phrase #MeToo coming up all over your social media. The phrase picked up momentum when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted this in response to the Harvey Weinstein allegations coming to light in Hollywood:

“Me too. Suggested by a friend: “if all women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”

It should be noted that this movement is not new. 10 years ago Tarana Burke coined the phrase and she is credited for creating the campaign that lets women, specifically women of colour, know they are not alone when they have experienced sexual assault.

After Milano tweeted the phrase, women, female-bodied, feminie identifying people and men responded en masse to the call out—many boldly sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault for the first time.

It has signalled a shift in our culture, creating awareness around the prevalence of sexual assault (physically, verbally and emotionally) that many men were in the dark about for so long.

Why? Well, that’s a difficult question to answer. The people who have responded to #MeToo experience this injustice as a regular occurrence. And in Australia, one in four females have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. To say this is widespread is an understatement.

While the global response of #MeToo has been gigantic, it still doesn’t reveal the full extent of this global inequality. Many people have chosen not to share their #MeToo and others have disengaged to protect their health due to the trauma of their own experiences.

So where does that leave us? Or, more pointedly—where does that leave you?

The Watersedge team could write our own response to #MeToo. Each of us have experienced or heard about the reality of sexual violence and assault in different contexts: as ministers, celebrants, therapists and counsellors, social workers, friends, husband and wife, daughter, son, friend, mentor and as a victim.

Due to this, we know that every women, female-bodied or feminine identifying person has their own #MeToo (not to the exclusion of some males).

So instead of sharing our own stories with you, we want to share some of the important responses to the movement. We hope that you will read these and gain a fuller understanding of the movement.

#MeToo: See Beyond The Hashtag by Prof. Susan Thistlethwaite, Huffington Post

After #MeToo Campaign Goes Viral, Men Are Saying #ItWasMe by Samantha Brodsky, Good House Keeping 

The Problem with the #MeToo Campaign by Megan Nolan, Vice

An Open Letter to My Brothers in light of #MeToo by Mike Morrell

#MeToo: How to respond to a friend sharing their story of sexual abuse by Hack

If you can say “me too,” we hope you know you are not alone. We believe you. We see you.

If you have chosen not to share your story, you don’t owe this experience to anyone. Take care of your health and know that we believe you.

If you are a man who has realised they are a perpetrator—intentionally or due to cultural norms that have influenced your values or behaviour, this is your time to stand up, change your behaviour and say #ItWasMe.

And if you are a man who is outraged and saddened by the existence of even one #MeToo story and call yourself a feminist or someone who values equality, then you must speak up. Silence makes us complicit, even when we don’t take part.

Do you have your own #MeToo story? Have you realised #ItWasMe and need support to change your behaviour? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW

Drug Education 101: How drugs affect the body

drug education 101-2

How much do you know about drugs? You may have picked up a few generic tid- bits along the way—in 2017, most of us know that smoking can cause cancer, and we’ve written extensively about the impact alcohol can have on the body. But when it comes to other drugs, like LSD, Shrooms and even Acid, many of us know a lot less.

This fantastic infographic by TrueRecovery.com lists 14 drugs and shows us how they affect the body. From the brain, right down to the stomach and our reproductive system, the short and long-term affects of these substances show how dramatically they can influence the body.

Have you ‘normalised’ any of the side effects of drugs, assuming that you (or a loved one) could come off them any time you want? This infographic shows that it’s not that easy, and using any sort of drug can have life-long repercussions. Let us know what surprises you the most about the infographic in the comment section.

Are you concerned about your use of alcohol or other drugs? Do you have a loved one using that you are concerned about? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW.

Self harm: 9 signs a young person may be at risk

9-signs-a-young-person-may-be-at-risk

As much as we don’t like talking about it, self harm is extremely prevalent in society. It can take many forms, and often carries the stigma that the person doing it is seeking attention. This is not true—self harm of any form is a cry for help, but that doesn’t mean a person struggling with it will automatically tell you they need your support.

So how do we identify the signs that a young person might be engaging in this harmful behaviour? Pretty Powerful Girls recently published a blog written by Colleen for Australia Counselling titled: Self harm: 9 signs a young person may be at risk.*

Take a look, and if you recognise any of these signs in someone you know, approach them gently. Remember, a lot of shame comes with self harm, and acting panicked or aggressive won’t help the situation.

Instead, speak to them about how they are feeling and encourage the person to seek further help. If you struggle with self harm, read this Hope Movement blog for more details on how you can find healing and use safe alternatives to manage your pain.

*Please note: This blog contains language and references to methods of self-harm, which may be triggering to some people.

Are you struggling with self harm? Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here. 

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

Please stay: Suicide Prevention in Australia

Please-Stay-Suicide-Prevention-in-Australia

Following World Suicide Prevention Day and RUOK? Day, we wanted to shine a light on the work being done around suicide prevention in Australia.

Last week we listed nine great resources you can use to learn more about WSPD, and this week we are grateful to share this article published by Warcry magazine.

Please Stay

Do struggle with mental illness, or have you thought about suicide?” As I stood at the back of the school auditorium, hands popped up all over the building. I watched the kids open their eyes, and you could see the shock on their faces—the look when they realised they weren’t the only ones struggling.

I was visiting a group of school students with a mental health organisation, and even though I knew this class of 16-year-olds would reflect the numbers—that one in four of them would experience mental health issues—seeing it firsthand leaves you breathless.

I have encountered this scenario many times, and it never gets any easier. There is no simple solution, but speaking to someone who is struggling always starts with the simple admission, “You are not alone”, and the recognition that God will always meet us in our brokenness.

The process continues by handing over a list of resources—perhaps the number of Lifeline and the details of a local church—and it builds momentum when the brave individual walks through the doorway to a counsellor and enters recovery in a healthy community.

On the ground, this is what it takes to combat the suicide crisis rippling through Australia, and in the last year it has hit the headlines more than ever before. From the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, to the death of Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington, it’s become harder to simply turn the page when headlines like ‘Australia’s Suicide Crisis Has Peaked to a Terrifying New Height’ come up. But that awareness is a good thing. Because, even though the headlines and statistics make your stomach lurch, with them comes a widespread movement to erase suicide—and it has reached Australia.

The World Health Organisation tells us that we lose nearly 800,000 people across the globe each year to suicide (that’s one every 40 seconds). Those numbers may be hard to comprehend, so let’s start at home.

In Australia, an average of 3,000 people die each year by suicide—or eight people a day. It is the leading cause of death in people aged 15–44, making it more likely to take a young person’s life than a motor vehicle accident or skin cancer. And while suicide dramatically impacts our young people, it is not prejudiced—it is the second leading cause of death for people aged 45–54. It is also more likely to occur in people who ex­perience mental illness.

Suicide rates for men are three times higher than women, and we see it peak in women aged 35–49 and men over the age of 85. With it comes a rise in self-harm (not necessarily an attempted suicide), and up to an additional 25 attempts by other individuals for every one death.

It’s also important to note that suicide is most prevalent amongst minority groups and veterans. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, and young people in regional and remote locations, are most at risk. In fact, in many of these areas, youth suicide happens in clusters, and rates are more than double the national average.

Given this, it’s not surprising that the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us suicide rates have reached a 10-year high.

Are you winded yet?

Take a deep breath. The facts are grim. But on World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and RUOK? Day (September 14), we remember this: there is hope. Hope that comes from a healthy church community, and hope that we can share the strength and purpose we find in God.

Just like the group I volunteered with that day, there are many organisations and people across the world that are committed to embodying hope to combat suicide.

On a global scale, non-profit To Write Love On Her Arms is leading the way, and have named their World Suicide Prevention Day campaign ‘Stay. Find what you were made for’. They are using the event to raise funds for suicide prevention and recovery, and have encouraged hundreds of people across the world to share their purpose for existing, using the hashtag #IWasMadeFor.

Nationally we also have many organisations determined to turn the tide. The increase in suicides over the past decade has led experts to push for changes to national mental health policy, including Lifeline CEO Peter Shmigel who said, “While we’re prescribing more medication for mental illness than ever before…we are not doing enough to combat social factors that lead so many to choose death over living.”

In a recent interview with The Australian, child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg also pushed for action from the government to combat youth suicide, saying, “This is a generation that is…really struggling; I’ve never seen anything like it.”

While experts are urging policymakers to change things, the good news is that our nation is at the forefront of researching the health crisis. The Black Dog Institute, which uses research to reduce the incidence of mental illness, associated stigma and suicide, has observed that mental health tools are more effective when they are mobile and accessible 24/7 through technology.

Their Digital Dog research sector develops and creates apps and websites to complement face-to-face treatment. For instance, one of their latest trialled apps is named iBobbly, and it engages Aboriginal people with culturally appropriate art, music and stories to provide mental health care.

While technology can be used to educate people and prevent suicide, it is the relationships that people build with their com­munity that will save lives.

We see this on a local level with Salvo corps (churches) around Australia beginning much-needed conversations about mental illness, and giving people a safe place to heal, receive prayer, find a counsellor and enter recovery.

It also occurs through mental health organisations like the National Youth Mental Health Foundation Headspace, which provides early intervention mental health services for young people aged 12–25. They have more than 100 centres across Australia, and are convoying around the country in the days leading up to RUOK? Day, hosting community events in 20 locations so people can learn how to ask someone if they are at risk of suicide.

It’s impossible to change the statistics overnight, but by approaching this issue one person and one life at a time, we can make a difference. And that starts with us simply opening up the conversation with the words, “Are you okay?”  

Where to find help:

Call
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Help Line 1800 55 18 00
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Chat online
eheadspace.org.au
beyondblue.org.au

Find help near you
headspace.org.au/headspace-centres
beyondblue.org.au/get-support/find-a-professional
hopemovement.com.au/findhelp

twloha.com/findhelp

In an emergency, always call 000

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

Nine tips to find the right counsellor for you

Nine-tips-to-find-the-right-counsellor-for-you

You have decided it is time to see a counsellor—but how do you go about finding the ‘right’ one for you? Beginning the process may seem overwhelming, but by following these nine tips, you’ll be able to locate a professional you ‘click’ with.

  1. Counsellor or psychologist—What’s the difference?

Deciding whether you need a counsellor or psychologist comes down to what approach you want to take in therapy.

Essentially the underlying difference between a counsellor and a psychologist is in the training that each undertakes. A psychologist is trained in the medical model treatment approach; that is to assess, diagnose and implement treatment interventions using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The emphasis is more likely to be upon diagnosis and relief of symptoms.

A counsellor is trained in the therapeutic model, where emphasis is placed upon the counselling relationship and the core principles of empathy, unconditional positive regard and genuineness. In this model, the person is at the centre of the therapy.

  1. Ask your friends

Word of mouth is always a sure way to find the right counselling professional for you. Your friend’s recommendation will be based upon their personal experience and effectiveness of the counselling professional they worked with.

  1. Research the counsellor’s professional affiliations

The counselling profession has strong professional code of ethics and standards that practitioners are expected to adhere to. Every counsellor should, at the very least, be affiliated with an Accredited Professional Association (APA).

In addition to this, in Australia there are two ‘umbrella’ associations for counselling professionals; the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation Association (PACFA) and Australia Counselling Association (ACA).

Alternatively, your counsellor may be affiliated with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) or the Australian Clinical Psychologist Association (ACPA). You will find this information on their web site and/or by asking the counsellor or the organisation they work for.

  1. Research the counsellor’s qualifications and experience

What is the issue you want to address? Counselling professionals are trained in the art of listening and facilitating dialogue that allows you to explore your personal experience and discover the necessary resources to encourage, motivate and empower you. In addition, counsellors will invariably develop an area/s of expertise as they continue to practice and pursue professional growth.

If you want to talk about the anxiety you experience, check that your counsellor has knowledge and experience in the area of mental health. If you are struggling with alcohol dependence or binge drinking, then ensure your counsellor has some education and experience in the area of substance issues. Do you need couple or marriage counselling? This is another area of expertise that you will want to ensure your professional is experienced in.

  1. Check out a counsellor’s website

A counsellor’s website is a great place to get a ‘feel’ for the person behind the content. Their personal and professional background, interests and the things they write about will all inform you about them.

  1. Talk to the counsellor over the phone

A personal conversation establishes so much more than the information you hear. In every conversation, be it on the phone, email or face-to-face, we are continually interpreting data by the nuances in the other’s speech; the pauses, a cough, the tone of voice, the pace of speech. All this information informs us about the person, and we respond in a positive or negative way accordingly.

Take the time to write down the specific questions you want to ask so that you ensure the counsellor is a ‘right fit’ for you and note how this interaction makes you feel.

  1. Gender

This is a personal choice depending on what you are comfortable with.

  1. Location and professional rooms

Location is an important factor not to be overlooked. You will want your counsellor to be readily accessible and feel comfortable in the space in which they work.

  1. Cost

There is a very broad spectrum in regards to the cost of a session, based upon a counsellor’s years of experience, expertise, whether they work privately or represent an organisation for which they are employed, whether they are registered as a Medicare provider or can provide some alternative rebate. These are questions to consider, recognising that the more specialised the field of practice, often impacts the cost of the service.

If you are looking for the counsellor that is ‘right’ for you, why not call us today? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary. 

How to bounce back from life’s curve balls

How-to-bounce-back-from-life-curve-balls

Resilience is essential to our health, happiness and wellbeing. However, it can be eroded when we become overwhelmed by the unpredictable events that intrude into our lives. So how do we survive the events that are beyond our control?

The answer lies in our daily determination to be intentional about cultivating a positive, and therefore more resilient, state of mind. Here are six strategies that, when practised consistently, will help you to build resilience.

Limit your use of social media and news

Social media and other news outlets are often an unrelenting source of bad news, yet we find them addictive. We have a constant need to know what is happening next, and find ourselves going back to the next source for more information.

Our fascination and curiosity makes us a prisoner to the latest news, which can elevate our anxiety. Setting a time limit on how long to use social media and read the news will diminish the impact this has on our resilience.

Stretch each day

Anxiety and stress are stored in our body—tightening muscles, headaches, nausea, stomach-aches, diarrhoea, constipation and indigestion can all be side effects of this.

Whether you choose to do yoga, Pilates or your own set of stretches, the important thing is to keep stretching daily to prevent stress shutting down your body.

Pay attention to nature

Nature is a natural stress reducer, so take the time to absorb colour, pattern, movement and whatever catches your eye. If you live and work in a concrete jungle, look at the sky and observe cloud formations, or an isolated tree or plant. Take the time to breathe in its life-giving energy and recognise how it makes you feel.

Repeat a positive affirmation

By choosing a positive affirmation like “I am worthy” or “I will have a good day” and repeating this to yourself through the day, your mind will begin to believe it. You may not be convinced of the truth of the affirmation immediately, but after a while it will become second nature to you.

Smile

Have you noticed how you feel when someone smiles at you? We feel warmer, less fearful and anxious, and welcomed. On the other hand, a frown sends the message that we are intrusive, irritating or unwelcome. We feel lighter when we smile and also extend this happiness to others by inviting them to smile back. 

Make a grateful journal

At the end of each day write what you are grateful for in a journal, and your resilience will increase. Grateful people are happier and easier to be around. By expressing your gratitude, you focus on what is good and positive in your life. This will only take a couple of minutes each day, and it will reduce your stress and create a positive mindset.

Do you struggle to ‘bounce back’ when life gets tough? Would you like to develop strategies to build your resilience? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary. 

Thanks to Warcry Magazine for publishing this article.

So you’ve finished Dry July. What’s next?

dry-july

If you’re one of the 19,000 people who signed up for Dry July, you’ll be eagerly looking forward to the end of the month and a casual drink. But for those of us who partook and realised there could be more to this dry life style than meet-the-eye, we want to invite you to continue the journey.

Perhaps you felt more clear-headed over the month, saved a lot of money or realised you’re a lot more dependant on alcohol than you think—if you want to explore sobriety, then we have the tools to help you along the way. This may simply be trying another month sober through our 30 Day Challenge, or it could be a complete lifestyle overhaul that we establish through ongoing counselling.

In this article printed in Warcry magazine., Colleen takes people through the next steps to take back control of your life from alcohol dependence. Take a look, and if it resonates with you, sign up for our 30 Day Challenge in the side bar and give us a call.

_________________________________________________________

Discovering Dry July 

Dry July does much more than raise funds for cancer patients and their carers across Australia, it’s also an opportunity for people struggling with alcohol dependence to break free and enter sobriety, writes Colleen Morris.

In its tenth year, Dry July has become a celebrated part of Aussie culture as people abstain from alcohol for a good cause. The phenomenon also shines a light on the less talked about part of our society—the fact that 17% of Aus­sies are classified as ‘lifetime risky drinkers’ by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (meaning they consume at least two standard drinks of alcohol per day).

Alcohol dependence leads to a myriad of problems, from liver poisoning to relationship breakdowns and cancer, so Dry July gives people the kick-start they need to begin the journey to sobriety. But when you struggle with addiction, this path is filled with obstacles.

If you have only recently become sober, then the chance of relapse is very high. Having a structured program to keep you focused and distracted from thoughts of alcohol is essential to recovery. To ensure recovery, it is important that you also get to know yourself better. Here are three steps to help you on your way.

  1. Discover the right counsellor for you
    People frequently put off seeking professional assistance because they have tried counselling before and it was not helpful at the time. This might be due to a variety of reasons:
    • your readiness to change;
    • you did not feel that the counsellor connected with you;
    • the counsellor’s particular style of intervention did not
    work for you.

Don’t be put off. It frequently takes a few different counsellors before you come across the right one for you. Don’t do it alone. You need ongoing professional help to keep you on track, motivated and accountable. 

  1. Discover who you are
    Alcohol robbed you of your identity. You may not have a clue as to why you became so dependent upon alcohol. You may not know what your particular ‘triggers’ are or why you are so vulnerable to those particular triggers. Who are you without a glass of alcohol in your hand?

 Don’t know where to start? Counselling can act as a ‘guide’ to self-discovery. A counsellor is skilled in the art of listening and asking the questions that can help lead you to your true identity.

  1. Discover what you are passionate about
    Do you know what you get excited about when you don’t have a drink in your hand? It is likely that you have not thought about what you are passionate about for a long time. It is passion that will get you out of bed in the morning and motivate you to keep doing the things you need to do to stay sober and focused.

Think about your passions, and discuss them with your loved ones and a counsellor. When you discover them, use these to motivate you on the journey to sobriety and you will live a more fulfilled life.

Have you conquered Dry July and want to continue the journey? Are you concerned about the amount of alcohol you consume? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW.

Ask yourself these questions before you post online

15 years ago, we didn’t know Facebook from Twitter (in fact, Twitter wasn’t even ‘born’ yet), and the concept of sharing every detail of our lives with strangers seemed a bit…weird. Yet today, 1.94 billion of us are on Facebook, and between this and our profiles on Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram, the world knows a lot about us—what we had for dinner, the name of our pet, and how we felt the moment our best friend got married.

Despite our constant use of social media, it snuck up on many of us who signed up believing we’d only use it ‘sometimes’. That means we don’t have a rulebook or guide on what to do—and what not to do, in cyber space. Often, this results in awkward status updates, over-sharing and sometimes, ruined relationships over miscommunication because we used the wrong emoji.

Do these consequences sound familiar to you? By asking yourself these questions before you post online, you will save yourself a lot of heartache and pain.

  1. Would I say this to someone in real life?

If you’re sharing something online that you’d never broach with a close friend, your spouse or a colleague, don’t post it. When you do so, you not only allow the world to invade your privacy, but you’re inadvertently telling the people you love that they are not worthy of your time or trust. If you need to discuss something but fear doing so, talk to a counsellor about developing strategies to do this.

  1. Will this hurt anyone?

Another great phrase for this one is, “Am I being passive-aggressive or ignorant with my post?” Anything that indirectly (or directly) points the finger at someone you know, contains prejudiced language or images, or uses triggering words needs to be edited or not posted at all. You may not set out to hurt anyone, but by simply posting in the public sphere you have great influence over people’s emotions. Be smart and post with clarity and a clear head.

  1. Am I doing this to feel important?

Are you posting selfies everyday? Do you receive a boost when people like your post or gives you a thumbs up? I know I do, which I why I have to constantly ask myself WHY I’m posting content online.

If you’re looking for affirmation and feel deflated when you don’t receive the response you were hoping for, consider stepping back from social media for a while. This habit can also be a symptom for feelings of deep inadequacy, so consider seeing a counsellor or talking about it with people you trust to begin healing.

  1. Does anyone care?

This isn’t an excuse to avoid activism (that’s an entirely different topic); rather it’s about the significance of your content. Do people online really care what you ate for dinner? Do they want to know you went for a walk, worked out or that you had a falling-out with a colleague?

There’s room for superfluous posts—a snap of dinner every once in a while or a work out isn’t going to do any harm, and sharing details is useful if you are actively looking for support and want to keep friends up-to-date. But posting stuff simply to keep yourself busy isn’t healthy. Join a community or catch up with a friend instead. Doing life together (mundane details and all) is much more meaningful in real life.

  1. Am I being too honest?

Social media and blogging are brilliant, because they allow people to be honest about their stories. Countless people have been inspired by what they’ve read on the Internet, and people find healing by telling their story. But there is a fine line between sharing and over-sharing.

Over-sharing often happens when we feel disconnected, afraid and unheard. Sometimes we’re angry, and occasionally we want pity or praise.

When you’re tempted to post something from this negative headspace, write it down on paper instead and show it to a close friend or your counsellor. Alternatively, you could type it out. But instead of posting it immediately, save it to your phone or computer, and re-read it again in 24 hours. Give yourself the chance to reconsider why you’re sharing it. You deserve to be heard and validated, but this doesn’t happen on the Internet, it happens in relationship, so tread carefully.

  1. Does this leave myself, or anyone I know, vulnerable to attack?

Another consequence of over-sharing is the risk of being hurt by people’s responses. If you are in a fragile emotional space or know that you or the people you love may be trolled or harmed due to what you’ve posted, seriously consider why you’re posting it.

We can’t take responsibility for the actions of other people, but we can prepare ourselves for this and even avoid it. Whether it’s a tweet, a blog post or a photo, if you know posting it could unintentionally hurt anyone, talk about it with someone first. Weigh up the pros and cons, and if you post, make sure you have people surrounding you to help with any fall out.

Do you feel anxious or stressed about your online relationships? Would you like to develop strategies to create healthier relationships and care for yourself? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

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