“He’s such a narcissist” – a phrase you’ve most probably heard someone you know say. It is interesting to me how the narcissistic personality has come to symbolise what’s wrong with the modern world. The term has been thrown about a lot more since social media has taken over and it was possibly at its zenith just after Trump was elected. Hot on the lips of so many, but do we really know what it means and how it’s a problem?Read More
I wanted to remind you all that I have a Pinterest account and that along with collecting quotes and writing posts about my dream therapy room, I’m also going to share random things I’m pinning as I go.
And would love to hear about what you’re pinning, too. I know many use Pinterest for inspiration and for creating online mood boards to help them plan projects or gather material to help focus attention etc.
Today I want to share a new board that I just created. I have chose the theme “Inspiration” because I want to remember what inspires me. Sometimes I just need to be reminded about who I am and how I feel about myself, my life and my future. In this way I am actually choosing to be inspired by my own tastes, and my own sensibilities. I hope it inspires you too.
Right now it is the beginning of Autumn in the northern hemisphere and it is becoming colder and the colours will soon fade. So for this reason I have chosen a very colourful palette to inspire me to remember the vibrancy and colour that exists in the world around us. I have also chosen many textures to excite my senses and remind me of the sensual nature of reality. Included in this board is also quotes and other symbols like doors and windows that remind me of possibility, inspiration, and new beginnings.
I’ve also included images of adventuring girls, curly hair, and the things that inspire me the most in everyday life: the sky and the clouds! If you check out my Instagram account you’ll see mostly pictures of the sky.
In addition to some cute quotes I thought of adding a few fun and silly elements because that’s how I see myself and how I want to see the world. I try not to take it all so seriously. This can be hard sometimes but when I look at this board now it fills my heart with a giggly, girly, silly happiness and makes me excited for the future – whatever that may bring!
Now how about you give it a go? Create an inspiration board and leave a comment with the link so we can see how you’re going to inspire yourself. Please share your boards here or connect with me on Pinterest.
If you’d rather connect with me on Instagram then use the hashtag #onthecouchwithcarly to share inspiring quotes and images.
Who said self love shouldn’t be visually pleasing?!
This post was first published in 2o14. Carly’s Couch is currently under construction. Good things will happen soon!
Relationships are hard work. This we know. Dyadic relationships come with their challenges and we often spend a great deal of our energy figuring out how to make them run smoothly – well at least most of the time. But how much do we really think about or focus on our relationship with ourselves? Each one of us is also in constant relationship with our internal world: our thoughts, feelings, ambitions, desires, and disappointments. Our minds are kept quite busy with an internal dialogue, which is sometimes conscious and sometimes not. So if we’re spending so much of the time talking to and relating to ourselves, why is it that it is one of the relationships we most neglect?
If you’ve ever been in love, you will be familiar with that feeling – that preoccupation with the other that absorbs your attention and intrudes in on your thoughts. This involuntary behaviour can be annoyingly time-consuming and yet is cunningly addictive. And it serves a purpose. It primes our attachment systems and gets us ‘ready’ to form a union with the other (the evolutionary perspective would suggest this is for the purpose of procreation I suspect). The danger with this preoccupation, however, is that your efforts are all directed towards enticing and connecting with this other person at the risk of your own well-being and sense of yourself. I’m sure many of you will be familiar with the kind of girl who shifts and changes according to the guy she’s with (you may even be this person). And to a large degree we all do this – like not admitting that you in fact HATE that song he loves or having a sneaky ciggy before a date because you told him you quit smoking and can’t face up to the fact that you caved after the first week. We spend so much of our energy contorting ourselves to make our relationships work, we end up like psychological pretzels , twisted into other versions of ourselves.
The fact is that most relationships don’t last and eventually the breakup hits, leaving us alone with ourselves again. We despair and long for that feeling of connection and resonance with the other. We think back to what went down and dissect every conversation, every argument, every twist and turn. Again, the impetus is to analyse and alter one’s own part in the relationship. Could I have done something different? Was I not good enough? And all the while you’re still manipulating your features to fit in with his, even after he’s gone. But who has been forgotten and denigrated – yourself! Not every person suffers from this affliction and I am sure there are some of you who do not relate to this post-breakup void but for the majority it is a familiar feeling and one which I hope to overcome more often.
The magic elixir that soothes these self-denouncing woes is very simple. Start building a relationship with yourself – a strong, committed, loving and kind one at that. This applies to those in relationships as well. There is no one who cannot benefit from a healthy dose of self-love. In fact, we make better lovers, friends, girlfriends and wives if we are truly happy in our relationship with ourselves. Marianne Williamson’s famous poem states, “…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same” and such it is with self-love. By engaging meaningfully in a relationship with ourselves we will model to our partners how they should treat us, how they should relate to us and if you’re doing it right it will inspire love, kindness and nurturance.
So now we know we need to work on our relationships with ourselves but it isn’t that simple. Some of you may feel at a loss for how to think about or even attempt to do this. That’s okay, just like every other relationship there is unfortunately no rulebook, no how-to guide. Each of us needs to attempt this from our unique vantage point. The truth is you know yourself and if you don’t then the place to start is by getting to know yourself. Here are a few ideas.
Take yourself out on a date
We are social animals and often get caught up in the bustle of social interaction. Some of us may even be afraid to be seen sitting alone in public or may feel uncomfortable taking ourselves to see a movie alone. To this end, we make sure to surround ourselves with other beings in order to not feel alone. While this may be beneficial to our social lives and our relationships with our friends, it does nothing for building our relationship with ourselves. By avoiding being alone we miss out on establishing an intimate connection with our own minds. Don’t be afraid to be alone, it’s the best way of getting to know yourself.
Write down what you want for this relationship
Are you comfortable with expressing your needs? Do you know how to ask for what you want or do you feel anxious around expressing your discontent? Start by writing down everything you want and need from a relationship and then focus it down to the specific things you can provide yourself with. Make another list of the things you cannot provide yourself with. That list is going to remind you that you are not perfect and it is going to help you accept that there are certain needs you cannot meet in yourself. A key thing to remember in all your relationships is that it is pointless going up to a lemon tree and expecting to get peaches. If we ask of ourselves and others only that which we know we can expect then it lessens our disappointment and improves our sense of satisfaction.
Self-love doesn’t always mean self-improvement
Some of us are guilty of doing this in our relationships. We meet someone, fall in love and then slowly start trying to change them into the people we think we want them to be. The problem with this is we end up pushing people away because however admirable our intentions, they are communicated via our behaviour, which is most likely to be construed as controlling and dominating the other. This is really the opposite of love. The best way to get comfortable with yourself is to map out all those things you like and dislike about yourself. Look long and hard at the dislike column and instead of wishing it away, try to focus your energy on loving and accepting those parts of yourself. This does not mean that you should not take action and try and rectify your ‘faults’ or struggles. If you, for example, struggle with your weight – by all means do not hesitate to put into action a diet and exercise plan. What is important though, is the words you use with yourself and the feelings you have towards yourself. Be kind, be generous and forgive yourself for being the imperfect human being that you are. You are worthy of love and acceptance – both of which you are capable of providing for yourself.
Frances, a friend of mine in Berlin, wrote this and I wanted to share it with you because I think it speaks to something we can all relate to. If you would like to share a gratitude story, you can do so by using the Share Your Gratitude Stories page. You don’t even have to provide your name and can stay anonymous. Alternatively, if you have a question for me that you would like answered you can Ask Me Anything. If you wold like to see examples of previous advice I gave, here is the link.
Over to Frances…
I’ve been a lot happier lately (like more than usual)
Everything has changed (and will continue to change). Last year 2014 May, I was graduating university. I had no idea then that I would be living, working, thriving in another country. I am blessed to have this opportunity and the support I have from friends and family.
As of lately, I haven’t just been happy with the way things are going, or with the things I have; rather, I have been extremely proud of who I turned into, who I am now, and I am excited for who I will become.
I am more in love with myself than I have ever been in my past, and I hope that this development of self continues. Let’s be clear, I am far from Enlightenment (like, trillions of miles away), but I love myself enough to accept that in whole.
So much of my perception of life has changed through hard mental work: striving for understanding, dancing with change (instead of resisting), forgiveness of self & for those who have hurt me. (Surprise! I wasn’t born this optimistic, or positive).
Here are some of the important topics of my perception that have changed the most lately:
From my observation, happiness coming from money at the most basic level can be boiled down to two questions:
(a) Do I have enough money to survive? Shelter/Rent, Food, Transportation, Tuition (not counting student loans)
(b) How am I spending my money conducive to my needs and wants?
If (a) is not being met, and/or (b) is not clear, then this leads to the worst type of anxiety.
When I first moved to Berlin, I was faced with a lot of stress concerning funds should I continue living here and how I can support myself. After the anxiety attacks, I finally took a deep breathe and simplified my problems to questions so that I can find a solution. It took months (and I am still working on it!) but I finally feel like I am gaining control over my money and not visa-versa.
(a) Do I have enough money to survive?: YES (Thank The Lord, Praise baby Jesus! *insert praying hands emoji, clap emoji, and crying emoji, and #blessed*)
I have the money to survive. I make enough income per month to pay my rent (~300E), my language school (225E), my textbooks (16.98E), my train ticket (79.99E), & groceries (~20E/wk)
(b) How am I spending my money conductively? By being clear and calculated. By being detailed oriented, you will inevitably become more conscious of what you spend your time/money on.
The first time I reviewed what I spent on my debit card in the US, my jaw dropped how much BULLSHIT I was spending my money on. Did I really spend 70% of my income on going out to eat? Do I even remember what that tasted like? I was spoiled and stupid, unconsciously spending most of money on temporary cravings and desires.
I want to shout out Billy (If you’re reading this, wadddup!) for inspiring meto use EXCEL to track every cent I spend everyday.
I know I spent 34E at that Korean BBQ Spot last month, and .70 cent for a Croissant today. Knowing these details, where I must spend and where I can spend, gives me the power to change my spending. I don’t want to be making statements like “I don’t have enough money,” or “Yes I can spend 190E on these platforms” based on vague assumptions on what my bank account looks like, I know for a fact down to the cent how I much I have, where I can spend, where I should not.
Having the feeling of control removes my anxiety. Even times I break even and after spending my money on (a) my survival, I don’t have to have an anxiety attack because I am not looking for where that money went. I spent it well.
Now spending my leftover money this month in a weekend in Prague or saving it for emergencies?….That’s a decision yet to be decided.
Stop blaming yourself. Stop blaming those who have hurt or seemingly hindered you. Stop blaming your childhood. Just shut the fuck up about it and move forward.
Those who know me well know that my relationship to my parents is not an ideal, loving one. While I probably needed love and encouragement, what I got was unintentional insult, pressure, and a self-created inner voice of self-doubt and negativity. It would be so easy to blame my parents for every shortcoming.
“If my parents didn’t pressure me to go into healthcare, I would’ve followed my initial interests in Human Resources or Communication and maybe finding a career in Berlin would be easier.
If my parents didn’t insult me so much, I wouldn’t have all this self-doubt every time I come across new challenges.
If my parents gave more of fuck about me, I wouldn’t feel so lonely when thinking about family.” Etc.
After 10+years of deep-rooted animosity and angst, I finally forgive my parents for their shortcomings because I know they love me. Fuck what I perceived to be a past bad relationship with my family. In actuality, I have e v e r y t h i n g because of family. This experience, this freedom, this life was granted to me because my parents worked their ass off to give it tome. They are not perfect, and I have hurt them in deeply regrettable ways due to this misunderstanding. Fuck how they treated me sometimes, I would change every bad decision or hateful word I have made/said in the past that had hurt them.
But I can’t change anything that has happened in the past. All I have is this moment. I can be bitter and stagnant, or I can keep moving forward with love and optimism. I forgive myself for being an asshole, and I forgive my parents for not being “perfect” (I mean what is perfect anyway?).
I am beginning to feel like I understand life through the understanding of self more. It’s really not easy and it’s just the beginning of a lifetime of struggles and obstacles I am yet to face (and overcome!).
Honestly, I am really proud I’ve come this far!
Find Frances on Instragram @francesjdae
“How do you reconcile the seeming conflict between psychology and spirituality where the former’s goal is to integrate or mend ‘the Self’ and the latter; to transcend ‘the Self’?”
Thank you for this interesting question. I do not really see a conflict. During our training, we were told to inquire about an individual’s religious or spiritual beliefs in the same way we would inquire about any aspect of their identity. I try and see people from a holistic point of view. We are minds, bodies, souls all rolled into one. Our cultural and social context impacts on all aspects of our identity, including how we engage in relationships to ourselves, those around us, and to that which is beyond our knowing.
In terms of your distinction between psychology (as orientated towards integrating/mending the self) and spirituality (as orientated towards transcending the self) I feel that this is really another situation where a “both and” approach is needed rather than an “either or” one. Both goals are equally useful and can be achieved concurrently or consecutively, depending on the individual in question. I do not personally ascribe to any one system of spirituality but am open to having discussions about the meaning of spirituality, which I think is determined on an individual basis. I see “psychology” and “spirituality” not in opposition to each other but more in terms of different layers of human experience. Like an onion, each layer is separate and yet entirely connected to the other layers as one by one they form the whole.
I’ve always like this question:
“Are we human beings living spiritual lives or are we spiritual beings living human lives?”
I think it is a philosophical conundrum much like the chicken and egg scenario. But what is important for me, is that there is recognition that both versions should result in the acknowledgement that we have the potential to connect with a great mystery or universal (“Godly”) consciousness while at the same time connecting to ourselves as embodied mammals on planet earth where the forces of time, space and gravity take effect.
So to this end, I believe that both psychology and spirituality are needed. Spirituality helps us understand our place in this vast universe, that there are things beyond our brain’s perceptive abilities that we might not ever know with the use of scientific inquiry. And this can be greatly calming and humbling and therefore good for you. In addition it is important to acknowledge that we are also living human lives and that we are all interconnected with other beings sharing this planet, in relationship to one another. Psychology helps us to find our selves within these systems and to do so with greater consciousness and awareness.
You too can ASK ME ANYTHING… go on, give it a go here.