Tell it like it is!
Leading on from the discussion below, advice from Health care providers and Doctors is now saying that when we talk to children about their bodies and they ask, inevitably, what is this? We stop using term like winkie or fluffy and use the proper terms, which are penis and vagina.
So, ok, you now feel a bit silly talking like this to your child when maybe you do not talk like that to anyone else! Even your husband or wife! It doesn't trip out of your mouth easily and feels 'wrong'........ You feel uneasy and uncomfortable, why shouldn't the school deal with this?
Well, we don't want to continue the embarrassment that surrounds sex, so why not give it a go, your child will probably just say, oh, ok! You have done it, wasn't as hard as you first thought!
Here is the science bit! Children need clear guidance about sex and sexuality to protect them from harm. If we continue to use incorrect names we could, with out trying, create a confusing situation so others can step in with more knowledge and information. None of us wants that, so a little discomfort from us as parents now, is worth the anguish of them finding out interesting stuff from other adults. We get to keep control of ahat our children learn, in a safe environment. We can also talk about consent, when touching is ok and when it is not. All the interesting stuff that we all wanted to know about and may have found out about in a less caring way. (For me it was older kids at school, not teachers!)
Maybe we can try to change the way we feel about sexuality through safe talks with our children.
I will be telling my children one day about the realities of what it is to be human, how we have sex, who we choose to have sex with and how we identify this. I will also discuss menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth. I have one of each, so I will talk to them together because it is a universal subject rather than boy vs girl!
This type of discussion can fill parents with dread and want to then leave it to the school to do.
I think this is no longer an option, we have to make children the future we want to have which includes acceptance, diversity and compassion.
Most parents want to protect their children, especially from threat. To make our children more aware of how their own bodies are their own we need to first take away any confusion about them. That then leads onto a conversation about consent, the idea that children do not need to know this is outdated. If we arm them with information they will be able to deal with issues around consent, or by the teenage years they will know that if they go on a date it does not automatically mean sex, I know a generation that feels that it does.
Happy New Year!
The new year and January bring lots of marketing slogans about a new you and making resolutions. However, I feel the best way to embrace the new year is to see it as a course of how far you have come over the last year.
So, are you happy with the results you see, this time last year did you feel the same and was it a good feeling? Was it a disgruntled feeling that you wanted to change, do you still feel that way? If this is the case, use January as your marker and goal setting post. This is where it starts, then 6 weeks from now set the target time of achieving your first goal!
Back of the net!
You have a measurable map to follow your progress throughout the year. The goals and achievements should always be realistic and you need to be able to measure progress.
If you goal is weight loss, my first suggestion would be, is your overeating an emotional crutch? Most overeating is a comfort thing and any diets are destined to fail because they take away comfort. If you want to start to control your food intake, look to your emotions and use therapy to find out why you may need comfort from food.
Then the goal of weight loss is realistic because you will have no need to sabotage yourself!
Also include exercise, if you take in more than you burn off you will gain weight.
So, the goal is set, the targets are realistic and the progress is measurable. Go on, what have you got to loose?! Oh yeah, weight!
Hiding hurt feelings is not so easy.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
I remember this phrase, I suppose it would be called a meme now and have a picture of stones and sticks!
The first time I heard it I was a child, in my head I had a picture of a stone hitting a bone and the pain of that! Ouch! The rest did not make much sense to me. I kept on hearing it, from my mother and the teachers at school, and other adults. They spoke it like it was a truth. Mostly it was said to me if I was upset by something someone had said to me, something that had caused me pain. Usually adults were not sure how to deal with my pain, so this phrase made my pain go away, of course it didn't, just for the adults and I went away!
Now I want to revisit it with an adult eye and ear! I am questioning the actual words as they are in the phrase, WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME. This is wrong, of course they will hurt, they hurt emotionally and sometimes really deep. This phrase feels like a warning without an explanation, striking fear in a child or adult with confusion and pain.
Firstly, it makes a real statement that if you hit your bone with a stone it will hurt, however that is fantasy too, your skin is hit first so we have the first part of the set up! Our bones are not exposed, they are covered by muscle, veins, fat and skin, clothes too sometimes protective pads and guards or amour!
The second part suggests that words are not the same as a physical feeling, we know on the flip side that if someone says I LOVE YOU, we feel it physically in our body. We also feel it in our mind and we are in love! So, if someone says I HATE YOU, stands to reason that will hurt. A lot.
We do not have a covering for our emotions, like we do our bones, they can be exposed at all times. Our body can react before we are aware of the feeling we are experiencing, sometimes unexpectedly without any warning. Do we have cover our emotions the same way our bones are? Is hiding our feelings a way of covering our emotions from the exposure we feel? Is denying how we feel a way of pretending to ourselves that we do not feel hurt?
Can it work, does it work? If we show how vulnerable we are to hurt feelings does this make us a weak person and therefore a failure in life? Or does it make us a real person who is genuinely experiencing life.......?
You are too sensitive. Your have an open heart. You wear your heart on your sleeve. Harden up. Don't let them get the better of you. Do not show them how much they have hurt you, they will use it against you. Don't fuss. Your are so emotional. Are you at your time of the month. Is this how you want them to see you, at your worst.
I have heard many of these phrases in my life, none of them have helped me to process my pain and move through it, they mostly confused me and the pain lasted even longer. I ended up hurt and confused.
What do you do with hurt........?
What do we do with emotional pain? If I have physical pain I can take a pain killer, usually Paracetamol, to ease the discomfort. We can also cry, shout Aw! Get angry, be sad, in fact if we get physically hurt we go to our emotions to help us deal with it, as well as drugs!
But what do we do with an emotional pain? Do we recognise it in the same way we do our physical pain, or do we hide from it and pretend it does not hurt. Downplay it, minimize it, deny it, give it to someone else?
If all humans crave comfort from others is one of the easiest ways to deal with emotional pain, to pass it onto someone else?
Alternatively, can we go to the same human reactions we use for physical pain, cry, shout aw! Feel sad or angry? Do we then judge ourselves for being "weak" because we "let them get to us"? If we get hurt by a punch in the mouth and admit to ourselves that it hurts, are we weak, or being honest about how that felt? If someone ignores our text and we admit to ourselves that it hurts to be ignored, are we again weak or expressing an honest feeling? How do we get a remedy if someone has hurt us because they said something that made us feel bad?
We can ask them to say sorry. We need to give them the chance of doing this and also let them know that we got hurt in the first place.
There are three parts to saying sorry that make it work. The first is the word, saying you are sorry and knowing what you did was not right. The second is admitting your mistake and the hurt it caused, the third is asking how can I make it better and make it right? The important part is that we respect ourselves and each other by being aware and confident enough to know that we can cause pain to each other, by mistake, and once we admit it we can address what has happened. Anything else is just toxic!
Are there any other useful ways to deal with our emotional pain? Some people write a journal, others cry at a film (whilst really crying for themselves) some do exercise and some go directly to the cause of their pain and alert them to it!
I think this is a part of human life that is so easily hidden, but the pain is so very real.
Can we see our emotional hurt?
Sometimes we feel meh! Our body may hurt, our muscles are tense, we have a headache and our teeth are sore! Our hands don't move with the usual swiftness that they have and as we walk we may plod along and even stumble. Our face may reflect a deep sadness or anguish only glimpsed as a flash as we move through our day waiting for it to end.
Sometimes we may have experienced our reality being denied to us by a significant other or a person in authority. It can be highly influential in how we interpret our experience. We may reach out to these people for support in moments of hurt or crisis and we can be met with a "it's not that bad" response.
How do you respond, or not, to this when you face a situation that is hard?
Sometimes people can turn the pain inwards to themselves rather than face the vulnerability of being rejected by others, just a small gesture can feel devastating. If we keep our pain in us no-one can hurt us further because we are holding on to it.
Whilst this works for a short time, over time the pain becomes heavy and bigger, by ignoring it we give it weight so it can feel like screaming.
What happens when we don't show our hurt....?
Sometimes people can try to find a way to hide the pain they feel, it can be because the pain they feel expressing their pain is worse than the original pain. Like, when a child is told not to cry so much, or just simply, Don't Cry! Mostly, children believe what they are told by adults, so they probably stop, but tears are a natural way to feel pain or sadness. Hence, the confusion and anguish start! This is something men may have had said to them, boys don't cry!
There is evidence that humans have to have an outlet for emotions, hurt is part of that. We can turn it inwards and start to hurt ourselves with our critical inner voice, or outwards in a rage against the community.
We can also use alcohol or drugs to take the edge off the pain, or to disguise it completely. Addictions can be a way to deal with the emotional pain people feel. These, of course, have their own effect on us, which often need to be dealt with before the hurt.
If your waters break; there is no need to panic and go to the hospital right away. You may have been told that there is an increased risk of infection, but if labour starts within 24 hours, the risk is not increased. If labour is slow and starts 24 hours after the membranes have broken, there is a chance of infection.
It is better to start to relax, have a bath, watch tv or get a good nights sleep. You do not need to be induced or have a vaginal examination, just say "No thank you!" Research says induction can lead to slower labour, more painkillers and Caesaren section.
Sheila Kitzinger, The New Pregnancy and Childbirth.
Pain and labour.........!
Most of us when we think about giving birth we think of pain, many a joke is made out of it. And like most jokes, it is a cover for fear, like gallows humour!
There is a lot of evidence about how fear effects us and our bodies, muscles start to tense and adrenaline starts to be produced. Why is this, well, our primitive brain kicks in when we start to feel frightened, this happens without our knowledge, it is involuntary! Then it is all systems go and we start to prepare for danger, hence muscles tension and adrenaline! Lots of other stuff happens, but the focus today is on this.
Ok, so you go in to labour and feel frightened, your brain thinks it is danger so prepares.........This is where the situation can become painful. During labour you need muscles in the Uterus to be working at there optimum, full of blood and ready for action! If you feel frightened, the brain has focused blood etc to vital 'keep you alive' muscles like the heart! The Uterus is deprived and becomes tense, starting the pain cycle that Grantly Dick-Reid identified:
PAIN - TENSION - FEAR
Take away the fear, with information, relaxations, videos, affirmations and you can birth with less intense pain. The muscles working feels intense, but once that contraction has gone, it will not be back!
Pre term babies and the umbilical cord
Research at Nottingham City Hospital has found that leaving babies who are premature attached to the placenta can help them with more oxygenated blood, and therefore a better chance of survival. The cord is usually cut at 10 seconds after birth, leaving it for longer is a new thing, and also a trust in the body and baby to help themselves!
At Nottingham City Hospital they are leaving it for 2 minutes and the benefits are being felt in that it reduces the chances of a baby dying. Professor Jim Thornton Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Nottingham talks parents through what they are going to do and they mostly agree, in-fact none have objected to the cord being cut quickly.
New borns also can have the cord left after birth, or not, but they are swaying to leave it for longer than the usual rush as the baby is born, which has been seen to have health benefits.
Hypnobirthing and celebrities
If you are pregnant you may have been told, or heard, about this new age thing called hypnobirthing, indeed you may well know that Duchess Kate used it whilst giving birth to all three of her children, including, Louis, her last child. In fact, lots of other celebrities used it to give birth, including Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba and Gisele Bündchen. Gisele said "It wasn't painful, not even a little bit. The whole time, my head was so focused – every contraction, the baby is closer, the baby is closer. So it wasn't like, ‘Oh what pain.' It was, ‘With every contraction, he is getting closer to me.’”
This said, hypnobirthing is about that, becoming so focused on what you are doing that pain does not come into it because the sensations have a purpose, they are delivering your baby to you! There are no strange displays or rituals, no potions or chanting’s! Just you, your partner, the staff and midwife, and your baby! Whether you give birth at home or in hospital, if you have a c-section, you can still use hypnobirthing and not have to rely on drugs.
OK, I know it is ok to say “I want drugs, I am not giving birth without them!!” other women and mums will look on with familiarity and a wry smile of knowingness. A kind of solidarity is made, all mums together, something just for us that the men can’t touch! I have heard new mums talk to new fathers about the suffering of childbirth as if it is good to be in pain and they are much stronger to endure pain.
Just watching an episode of EastEnders with Hayley and Kim, both pregnant, Hayley states; “Give me all the drugs you can!” This made Kim laugh out loud! And, yes, it is funny, but it can be scary. This humour hides a fear and an expectation that it will be painful, that your body will be unable to do it without the use of drugs and medical assistance. However, this is a different pain, one of a kind, more an intense muscle involuntary surge of energy! And, you will meet your baby at the end of it! How good is that?
Yet, this is your body and baby, the midwife will have already told you about the drugs that are available, and the side effects and after effects on you and your baby. With hypnobirthing you can avoid the drugs, or at least hold off for as long as you can!
You may wonder if this is a new thing, it is not, hypnosis isn’t and this is a specialist type of that. In fact, in 1933 Dr Grantley Dick-Reid, an obstetrician, published his book Childbirth Without Fear. He noticed that the one thing that was missing in an easy birth, was fear! If you feel fear your body will divert oxygen and blood to vital organs like the heart and the uterus will have less, therefore, the muscles will be tense and cause pain. Hypnobirthing can allow you to focus on the birth, rather than the pain! Classes are a good way to do this, but you can always find a practitioner and have sessions with them on a one-to-one basis.
Hypnobirthing babies are much calmer and have a higher APGAR score at birth, this is the test that is done at birth and then again at 5 minutes old. It scores the wellness of the baby including; activity, pulse, grimace, appearance, respiration. Basically, muscle movement, pulse rate, reflex movement, pink skin colour and breathing quality.
Why not give it a try, it will not interfere with your baby and it will not stop you from having medical help, if necessary. You have nothing to lose!
Hypnobirthing and historical childbirth.
So celebrities like Hypnobirthing, well does that make us all want to use it, are we persuaded? Would we be more persuaded if we learnt about the roots of our current perceptions of childbirth.
For example, on the whole, bodily functions are not painful. Period pains are muscle contractions and can be intense, but most women manage them quite well. The history of pain in childbirth is quite a surprising one, and can get a little political! The relationship between man and women is at play. Giving life is the purpose of a human, women do it!
I do not see much about the origins of pain in childbirth, because it is a strange situation of control, oppression and humanity at its worse! Childbirth in time has changed dramatically to what it is today, women do not regularly die in labour, for one!
Fear attached to childbirth has been around for centuries, Eves Curse is written in the Bible that childbirth shall be painful, if not excruciating so that a women can pay for the sin of having sex! Is that thinking relevant today?
― Narcotics Anonymous
Chinese sign for listen.
Whilst studying my tutor brought this to my attention, he was also a fellow Carl Rogers fan! The picture is a Chinese character, the Chinese culture is ancient and with this sometimes comes wisdom, I feel this is a wonderful expression of how insightful language can be and how a word can have depth and meaning beyond first glance.
The character translates to our equivalent of to listen. It has five different strands to it, which add depth and intensify the meaning. This is the best way to explain Active Listening, which is what my counselling is about! They are as follows:
Something for us all to live by, or at least, aspire to!
Albert Ellis was a leading American psychologist. He is considered the founder of CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and the second most influential psychologist in history. I quote
The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology or the president. Your realise that you control your own destiny.
Albert ellis has written many books and been awarded Humanist of the Year in 1971. His humanist philosophies, I feel, are to the core of life, we each hold the answers to who we are. We are the experts on ourselves and have the power to change behaviour by influencing thinking. This goes against how most people live their lives, blaming each other and constantly feeling unsettled.
I want to talk about death. This quote by Irvin D Yalom, who is an American Psychotherapist and Author of several books and films, gives an insight into the fear most people feel about death;
This captures how some of us feel about death, that it is the talk that we put off and let slide, for as long as we can which is sometimes forever. When my mother died I was aware that friends avoided me and work colleagues would not talk to me in the same way as before. My mother was old so it was no shock, but was sad and distressing. People were frightened that if they talked about death it would be real, of course it is, but we can fool ourselves into believing that if we don' talk about death it doesn't exist. I felt hurt because people avoided offering condolences through their fear.
That is the part of unlived that Yalom is talking about, not saying stuff or admitting how we feel, or showing up, or believing in ourselves. Do we know how to live our lives the way we want to and find our way through without fearing?
Not living our life contentedly can throw us into turmoil and chaos. This can result in anxiety and depression. We can feel unhappy with life and fear death because it is the end, we look at the time we have left and think that it is up too soon. We need more time to do all want to but we do not know how much we have.
Bronnie Ware is an author, song writer, singer and carer for the dying. She has written a book titled The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying - A life Transformed by the Dearly Departing here are the 5 in essence;
I think these are really important messages , it can be inspiring to live better with more emphasis on ourselves and what makes us happy. Go climb that mountain, swim that channel or learn to be a hairdresser! Through exploration of ourselves we gain clarity of our values and what is important to us and we understand ourselves more. What could be better for a fulfilling life!
Thordis Elva, how wonderful and special you are.
This woman is hugely accomplished in her home of Iceland, but has also written a book and done a TED talk talk about her experience of rape, sexual violence and forgiveness.
The book is titled South of Forgivness and is available to purchase now form her website, follow the link. The book is written with Tom Stranger who was he boyfriend at age 16, and the one who committed the offence. It is a heartfelt, startling, honest, brutal, frightening, wonderful and most of all hopeful book, I feel it is the best book I have ever read!
Sexual violence is a blight on our world, it effects everything we do. Not only is the survivor effected, but those around, close family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, anyone who knew the survivor. If we can understand what happens to the victim and end the shame, we may be able to converse about the wider issues. We need to start a dialogue about this situation.
Maya Angelou had a very hard life, but she also had a great writing talent, which she shared with the world.
― Maya Angelou
She was attacked by her mothers boyfriend when she was just 8 years old. She told her brother and Uncle's about the attack and he was found guilty but only jailed for one day. He was released from prison and then found dead the next day, probably murdered by her brother and uncle's. As a consequence she felt her words had killed her attacker and didn't speak for at lease 5 years.
That was a brutal trauma she suffered, she dealt with it in a way that suited her. We each have our own ways of dealing with problems we encounter, no one way is wrong, we are the master of our universe.
Her most famous book; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiographical account of her early years.