Gillian Moody CounsellingPsychosynthesis Counselling in Woking, Surrey

My Blog. Boundaries

Setting Personal Boundaries.

Here are signs you have not set personal boundaries:
Saying no when you mean yes or yes when you mean no.
Feeling guilty when you do say no.
Acting against your integrity or values in order to please.
Not speaking up when you have something to say.
Adopting another person’s beliefs or ideas so you are accepted.
Not calling out someone who mistreats you.
Accepting physical touch or sex when you don’t want it.
Allowing yourself to be interrupted or distracted to accommodate another person’s immediate wants or needs.
Giving too much just to be perceived as useful.
Becoming overly involved in someone’s problems or difficulties.
Allowing people to say things to you or in front of you that make you uncomfortable.
Not defining and communicating your emotional needs in your closest relationships.
When you have weak personal boundaries, every act of compliance, self-denial, or neediness chips away at your self-respect and the respect that others have for you. You are in a constant state of insecurity

The sad irony is that we set weak boundaries believing our behavior will win the love and respect of others. And other people will certainly take advantage of this willing nature. But their respect for you will diminish over time, undermining the love you hoped to maintain.
So how do you begin to establish personal boundaries? For anyone accustomed to being accommodating and compliant, the process of setting and implementing boundaries may feel threatening and unnatural at first. But as you begin to stand up for yourself and your boundaries, you will feel increasingly empowered and confident. You will like and respect yourself, and others will be attracted to your authenticity and self-confidence. So here’s how to set boundaries:
Mind Shift Begin with the mind shift that having personal boundaries is OK. It doesn’t mean you are selfish or unloving. It is both completely acceptable and absolutely necessary for healthy relationships. Understand that self-worth comes from defining your life as you want it to be, not from the acceptance or identity of others.
Define Sit down and think about how you have been allowing others to take advantage of you and how you might be accepting situations that are really unacceptable to you. Make a list of things that people may no longer do to you, say to you, or do around you. Decide how you need physical and emotional space. Define your values, belief system, and outlook on life so you have a clear picture of who you are and how you want to live. Get very clear on that.
Communicate Sit down with the people involved in crossing your personal boundaries and kindly communicate your mind shift. Let them know you have spent some time thinking about what is important and acceptable to you and what isn’t. Let them know how they have crossed your boundaries in the past, and ask them to respect and support your new boundaries.
Expect Expect that this conversation will feel uncomfortable and difficult, especially if you are a pleaser. There may be some defensiveness and push-back from those involved. That’s OK. They’ll get used to your new boundaries over time. Be aware that some people in your life may fall away as a result of your outlook and demand for respect. But these aren’t people you want in your life anyway. You will find you attract new, supportive, and healthy-minded people in your life. Whatever you do, don’t compromise your values, integrity, and self-respect simply to keep someone in your life. Your soul can’t sustain that.
Reinforce It may take some time to train yourself and others around your new boundaries. Continue to reinforce them so that you are taken seriously and respected. Practice saying no when you are asked to do something you don’t want to do. Create a plan for times when someone crosses your boundaries. Let them know what they are doing. Ask them to stop immediately. Walk away from any push-back or negative comments without acquiescing or getting angry. Over time, you and the other person will realize you are serious.
Reward Be sure to acknowledge and reward those who are supporting and respecting your personal boundaries. Thank them and let them know the positive impact it has had on your life. This will motivate them to continue their behavior.
Reciprocate Remember that respecting boundaries goes two ways. Examine your own behavior and words to see where you might be crossing another person’s boundaries. Work to change those behaviors so that you are reflecting the respect and support you want for yourself.
Stay Flexible There’s a difference between healthy boundaries and rigid boundaries. You don’t want to be a controlling or dictatorial person. That’s not the goal. The goal is a healthy relationship with those close to you, balanced by a sense of understanding, mutual support, and give-and-take. There may be occasions when you choose to bend your boundaries or allow someone to cross the line. When someone is hurt or sad, needs extra support, asks for an exception with respect and kindness — these are times to show flexibility and love. As you gain confidence around your boundaries, you will know when and how to bend them.
Be Patient If you have had weak personal boundaries for years, be aware that this change doesn’t happen overnight. Disengaging from the emotions and beliefs that led you to weak boundaries requires practice, and sometimes it requires the support of a counselor. Begin to recognize and challenge the limiting beliefs that undermine your practice of setting boundaries. Try to require your boundaries are respected even when you feel unsure or uncomfortable.
Believe in yourself and your value as a unique individual who is worthy of love and respect. Trust your instincts and feelings about what you do and don’t want in your life. No one knows better than you who you are and what you desire. Don’t allow others to define that for you. Practice self-confidence and self-love until it feels natural. Setting and requiring boundaries is a great way to practice this.

Making Anxiety more manageable.

What I have noticed more and more, when seeing clients who have anxiety, is that they hate the way they are feeling.
Of course anxiety is not a nice feeling, in fact our natural response is to feel bewildered about our feelings and add more worrying thoughts. This can make the anxiety spiral, sometimes to the point of panic. As we do this the feelings get worse and our sense of control disappears. Rationality flies out the window and our thoughts can become more irrational.
Our bodies feel shaky and tense. Our feelings turn to fear and endless "What if's" enter our mind.

I have given you a picture of what anxiety can be like at it's worst and now I want to give you another picture, that I know is possible to achieve. I know this because I have achieved it myself.
How about learning to make anxiety a friend? "What?" I can hear you shouting. "How can you possible make anxiety a friend?"
Firstly, I want you to put aside all your beliefs that anxiety means you are not like other people, or it means you are weak. We are our own worst judges. Believe it please, when I tell you that anxiety is far more common than you know.
So - (1) Stop beating yourself up. Learn to have some compassion for yourself. Start to tell yourself that it is ok for you to feel the way you do. Your anxiety is usually the result of a lot of building pressure and stress over a period of time.
(2) Give yourself permission to feel this way. It is ok and natures way of telling you to stop and take stock of your life.
(3)Accept that this may be around for a while, but while it is around try not to add more stressful thoughts.
Acceptance is hard, but if you can accept it for now, it will calm slowly. This is far better that fighting it.
(4) Imagine a knock at the door and when you open the door there, standing before you is a big ugly bear, who pushes past you into your home. He intrudes and you don't want him there. The more you put up a fight, the worse it gets. However if you accept that he is going to be around for a while, you might even get around to offering him a cup of tea. Accept and he will leave of his own accord eventually.
(5) you may need some medication to get to this acceptance and that is ok too.
(6) Remember that anxiety is a part of you and just because you have it occasionally, does not mean you are a weak person, it just means that you are a sensitive soul and making friends with it is better that dreading it and I promise you if you can do this, you will learn to be more and more comfortable with it as time goes by.
You will not always suffer with anxiety, but it can pop up from time to time, just like the bear. Remember to invite it in and let it be there for a while but don't add frightening thoughts to it.

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New Relaxing Video - Sounds of the Sea.

Relaxing Sea Sounds. Very good to help you sleep or relax.

This can be good for you to listen to at night in bed or during the day where you can relax.

As you listen to the waves coming in, imagine yourself on a beach where the weather is warm
and feel the warmth of the sand under your feet and between your toes. Imagine finding a spot to lay down on a beach towel with a pillow and just allow yourself to imagine yourself on the beach being lulled by the sound of the sea.

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When someone close to you dies the shock and grief can feel overwhelming. It is important to take care of yourself after bereavement; as the saying goes, you must put your oxygen mask on first before you can begin to help others.

Ensure that you eat well, (even if you don’t feel like it), rest when you can and accept offers of help. You also need to give yourself time and permission to grieve; however, people do this in their own way. You may feel like you want to return to work fairly quickly, whereas someone else would want to take a couple of months off to come to terms with their loss.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve so just go with your feelings.
It is important that you do not turn to drugs or alcohol to help you cope with your grief. Not only can they make you feel worse in the long run, but they can also lead to problems of addiction.

Ensure you do not isolate yourself from others, as those close to you will be looking for any opportunity to support you.

The healing process following bereavement takes time, and you need to give yourself the compassion and support required to get to a point where you feel you can look to the future in a confident, content manner.

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What is Assertiveness?
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines assertiveness as:
“Forthright, positive, insistence on the recognition of one's rights”
In other words:
Assertiveness means standing up for your personal rights - expressing thoughts, feelings and beliefs in direct, honest and appropriate ways.
It is important to note also that:
By being assertive we should always respect the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of other people.
Those who behave assertively always respect the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of other people as well as their own.
Assertiveness concerns being able to express feelings, wishes, wants and desires appropriately and is an important personal and interpersonal skill. In all your interactions with other people, whether at home or at work, with employers, customers or colleagues, assertiveness can help you to express yourself in a clear, open and reasonable way, without undermining your own or others’ rights.
Assertiveness enables individuals to act in their own best interests, to stand up for themselves without undue anxiety, to express honest feelings comfortably and to express personal rights without denying the rights of others.

Passive, Aggressive and Assertive
Assertiveness is often seen as the balance point between passive and aggressive behaviour, but it’s probably easier to think of the three as points of a triangle.

Being Assertive
Being assertive involves taking into consideration your own and other people’s rights, wishes, wants, needs and desires.
Assertiveness means encouraging others to be open and honest about their views, wishes and feelings, so that both parties act appropriately.

Those who struggle to behave assertively may find that they behave either aggressively or passively.

Being Passive
Responding in a passive or non-assertive way tends to mean compliance with the wishes of others and can undermine individual rights and self-confidence.
Many people adopt a passive response because they have a strong need to be liked by others. Such people do not regard themselves as equals because they place greater weight on the rights, wishes and feelings of others. Being passive results in failure to communicate thoughts or feelings and results in people doing things they really do not want to do in the hope that they might please others. This also means that they allow others to take responsibility, to lead and make decisions for them.

A classic passive response is offered by those who say 'yes' to requests when they actually want to say 'no'.
For example:
“Do you think you can find the time to wash the car today?”
A typical passive reply might be:
“Yes, I'll do it after I've done the shopping, made an important telephone call, finished the filing, cleaned the windows and made lunch for the kids!”
A far more appropriate response would have been:
“No, I can't do it today as I've got lots of other things I need to do.”
The person responding passively really does not have the time, but their answer does not convey this message. The second response is assertive as the person has considered the implications of the request in the light of the other tasks they have to do.
Assertiveness is equally important at work as at home.
If you become known as a person who cannot say no, you will be loaded up with tasks by your colleagues and managers, and you could even make yourself ill.

When you respond passively, you present yourself in a less positive light or put yourself down in some way. If you constantly belittle yourself in this way, you will come to feel inferior to others. While the underlying causes of passive behaviour are often poor self-confidence and self-esteem, in itself it can further reduce feelings of self-worth, creating a vicious circle.
See our pages on Building Confidence and What is Self-Esteem? for more information.

Being Aggressive
By being aggressive towards someone else, their rights and self-esteem are undermined.
Aggressive behaviour fails to consider the views or feelings of other individuals. Those behaving aggressively will rarely show praise or appreciation of others and an aggressive response tends to put others down. Aggressive responses encourage the other person to respond in a non-assertive way, either aggressively or passively.

There is a wide range of aggressive behaviours, including rushing someone unnecessarily, telling rather than asking, ignoring someone, or not considering another's feelings.
Good interpersonal skills mean you need to be aware of the different ways of communicating and the different response each approach might provoke. The use of either passive or aggressive behaviour in interpersonal relationships can have undesirable consequences for those you are communicating with and it may well hinder positive moves forward.
It can be a frightening or distressing experience to be spoken to aggressively and the receiver can be left wondering what instigated such behaviour or what he or she has done to deserve the aggression.
If thoughts and feelings are not stated clearly, this can lead to individuals manipulating others into meeting their wishes and desires. Manipulation can be seen as a covert form of aggression whilst humour can also be used aggressively.

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The Art of Loving

From "The Art of Loving" by Erich Fromm

Giving and Love.
For the productive character, giving has an entirely different meaning.
Giving is the highest expression of potency. In the very act of giving.
I experience my strength, my wealth, my power. This experience of heightened vitality and potency fills me with joy. I experience myself as overflowing, spending,
Alive, hence as joyous. Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness.
The most important sphere of giving, however, is not that of material things, but lies in the specifically human realm. What does one person give to another? He gives of himself, of the most precious he has, he gives of his life. This does not necessarily mean that he sacrifices his life for the other – but that he gives that which is alive in him: he gives of his joy , of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humour, of his sadness – of all expressions and manifestations of that which is alive in him.
In thus giving of his life, he enriches the other person, he enhances the others sense of aliveness by enhancing his own sense of aliveness. He does not give in order to receive: giving is in itself exquisite joy. But in giving he cannot help bringing something alive in the other person, and this which is brought to life reflects back to him. In truly giving, he cannot help receiving that which is given back to him. Giving implies to make the other person a giver also and they both share in the joy of what they have brought to life. In the act of giving something is born, and both persons involved are grateful for the life that is born for both of them. Specifically with regard to love this means: love is a power which produces love: impotence is the inability to produce love.
The essence of love is to “labour” for something and to make something grow. Love and Labour are inseparable. One loves that for which one labours, and one labours for that which one loves.
Care and concern imply another aspect of love: that of responsibility. Today responsibility is often meant to denote duty, something imposed upon from the outside. But responsibility, in its true sense, is an entirely voluntary act: it is my response to the needs, expressed or unexpressed, of another human being. To be responsible means to be able and ready to respond.

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Challenging Negative Self Talk

Most people don’t realize it, but as we go about our daily lives we are constantly thinking about and interpreting the situations we find ourselves in. It’s as though we have an internal voice inside our head that determines how we perceive every situation. Psychologists call this inner voice ‘self-talk‘, and it includes our conscious thoughts as well as our unconscious assumptions or beliefs.
Much of our self-talk is reasonable — ‘I’d better do some preparation for that exam’, or ‘I’m really looking forward to that match’. However, some of our self-talk is negative, unrealistic or self-defeating — ‘I’m going to fail for sure’, or ‘I didn’t play well! I’m hopeless’.
Self-talk is often skewed towards the negative, and sometimes it’s just plain wrong. If you are experiencing depression, it is particularly likely that you interpret things negatively. That’s why it’s useful to keep an eye on the things you tell yourself, and challenge some of the negative aspects of your thinking.
You can test, challenge and change your self-talk. You can change some of the negative aspects of your thinking by challenging the irrational parts and replacing them with more reasonable thoughts.
With practice, you can learn to notice your own negative self-talk as it happens, and consciously choose to think about the situation in a more realistic and helpful way.
Challenging the Self-Talk
Disputing your self-talk means challenging the negative or unhelpful aspects. Doing this enables you to feel better and to respond to situations in a more helpful way.
Learning to dispute negative thoughts might take time and practice, but is worth the effort. Once you start looking at it, you’ll probably be surprised by how much of your thinking is inaccurate, exaggerated, or focused on the negatives of the situation.
Whenever you find yourself feeling depressed, angry, anxious or upset, use this as your signal to stop and become aware of your thoughts. Use your feelings as your cue to reflect on your thinking.
A good way to test the accuracy of your perceptions might be to ask yourself some challenging question. These questions will help you to check out your self-talk to see whether your current view is reasonable. This will also help you discover other ways of thinking about your situation.
There are four main types of challenging questions to ask yourself:
1. Reality testing
What is my evidence for and against my thinking?
Are my thoughts factual, or are they just my interpretations?
Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?
2. Look for alternative explanations
Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
What else could this mean?
If I were being positive, how would I perceive this situation?
3. Putting it in perspective
Is this situation as bad as I am making out to be?
What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is it?
What is the best thing that could happen?
What is most likely to happen?
Is there anything good about this situation?
Will this matter in five years time?
When you feel anxious, depressed or stressed-out your self-talk is likely to become extreme, you’ll be more likely to expect the worst and focus on the most negative aspects of your situation. So, it’s helpful to try and put things into their proper perspective.
4. Using goal-directed thinking
Is thinking this way helping me to feel good or to achieve my goals?
What can I do that will help me solve the problem?
Is there something I can learn from this situation, to help me do it better next time?
Recognizing that your current way of thinking might be self-defeating (e.g., it doesn’t make you feel good or help you to get what you want) can sometimes motivate you to look at things from a different perspective.
You can conquer your negative self-talk today by challenging yourself with these questions every time you catch yourself thinking something negative to yourself.


Simple Meditation where we learn to focus on our breathing or a 3 syllable word such as Peace-full-ness, can help eventually quieten the mind. You know what I mean. Those times that our thoughts just go round and around in our head and we cannot seem to turn them off. At times like this it feels like we could not concentrate on anything.
Learning to practice meditation is just a way of learning to focus on one thing. At first when we start to meditate, thought WILL keep coming into the mind. If we practice bringing our focus back when we catch ourselves going off course with our thoughts, what we are learning to do is to FOCUS. Eventually you will find that you can focus at will and maybe 10 minutes will pass where you have felt relaxed and at peace. It just takes practice!
Here is a simple way of meditating using what I have explained above. Watch this video below.

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