Patience

Isn’t it nice to have things ‘on-demand’? You can Grab a cab, have your food Deliveroo’d or Face-Time someone anywhere in the world. It almost feels like being… quite powerful. Aren’t we all supposed to be empowering ourselves; taking control of situations, technology or language? What could possibly be wrong with that? Am I asking too many questions?

Having a little time to answer may be quite important. Watch a media interview with a high profile figure in any aspect of life and just take note of the pace and nature of the questions. The goal has almost become to deny someone space to answer, or to cajole them into saying what the interviewer wants. It’s very demanding. Maybe the idea of having a life ‘on-demand’ may not be so wonderful after all.   

There used to be a period of time between wanting and getting which was called waiting. It is the realm of excitement, expectation and hope but also the land of frustration, boredom and disappointment. Fewer and fewer of us stray into this place or remain long. We are demanding our way out of it. But is also a place of creativity and idle thought. It breeds reflection, and subsequently development. If we skip or side-step it, we are letting ourselves down. If we don’t bring our children into it occasionally they will fall into accidentally one day, and it will be a shocking place. Waiting – with its benefits and drawbacks – should be experienced, or at least tolerated, since you can learn a lot by doing nothing. More than anything else, it builds patience. 

Most therapeutic approaches available today involve a process of applying the brakes. An outside figure, rather like a police officer, will step in front of your speeding life and raise a big, flat palm to halt you. They may give you concrete directions or question why you are going so fast; they may even get you to change your vehicle, or start walking. What they are doing in some way is introducing an element of patience into your life. To link this idea with my previous blog (’The Power of Attention’), they will direct your attention; ‘…all psychotherapy techniques direct what the clients pay ‘attention-to’.’ (Whittemore 2018, p.28) This process of directing attention is not instantaneous; it will take time.

The idea of things taking time is almost criminal in today’s world. Time must be mastered, or at least managed. In Singapore, you can’t even stand still without soon finding yourself moving along mysteriously on some sort of unnecessary travelator. But time provides space, a space to think, rather like a counselling room. And thinking may not be your enemy. It is in itself is therapeutic and in that way, therapy is in some form the application of patience where it is denied. 

It would be crass to suggest that being patient was all that people needed to do to feel better. But it’s a very good start.

References:
Whittmore, P. ‘The Central Role of Attention in Psychotherapy’, International Journal of Psychotherapy, 22 (1), pp.26-36

by Robert Leveson, 
Psychotherapist & Counsellor,
Children and Families (Reg; TSP, BPC)



The Mindful Switch

In today’s hyperconnected, instantaneous, and constantly evolving world, where we are perennially bombarded with information, emotions, thoughts and judgments, it is our body, and most importantly our mind that bears the brunt. This stress and anxiety of daily life manifests, in physical and mental dimensions, through disrupted sleep cycles, poorer eating habits, lower self-esteem, and more fragile and distant relationships.

Mindfulness is an ancient practice that has gained increasing prominence in the last few years, as a tool to combat and counterbalance the stressors of today’s life. Mindfulness can be described as the ability to pay attention and increase awareness of the current moment, in a curious, open and non-judgmental manner. In doing so, by developing, an approach of mindfulness, one can experience their daily life without either getting too fixated, or too distanced from their immediate experiences.

Mindfulness has been shown to provide multiple benefits in brain functioning and activity, including growth in the prefrontal cortex, and shrinkage in the amygdala [1]. These two changes are especially important when considering their impact on the way we respond to and manage our daily distress. Growth in the prefrontal cortex increases one’s ability to focus and sustain attention, while shrinkage in the amygdala reduces the activation of the “fight-or-flight” fear response. In combination, this reduces symptoms commonly associated increased levels of anxiety and stress.

Mindfulness is all about bringing focus into your present moment. Unlike what is commonly believed, the only way to attain the benefits of mindfulness is not by carving out specific times or routines to practice mindfulness. Although that has shown to be very effective, mindfulness can also be incorporated as a part of daily life. Therefore, one can practice mindfulness just by starting to pay more attention to each of the activities they are performing, such as when they are eating, or taking a walk, or brushing their teeth, or on their commute to work. One needs to pay deeper attention to each of the activities they are doing, by connecting with one’s senses and taking “mini pauses” to absorb the current stimulus. One great way to focus on the moment, is to observe one’s breathing, which brings attention back to the self. There are also several app’s that are now available to help individuals start incorporating short mindful pauses in their daily hectic routines, which can be a great first step towards a more mindful life.  


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/

Written by:
Sukriti Drabu
Psychologist & Counsellor

Emotional Hunger is not Love. How To Tell If Someone Is In Love With You — Or If They’re Just Emotionally Dependent.

“How can we tell whether a partner is in love with us or they’re just emotionally dependent? What red flags should we look for?”

There are numerous red flags to look for and often it is easy to fall prey to these promisful and flattering behaviors. In order to see them, though, we must have done our inner work and successfully have learned how to deeply value and love yourself. The following are some warning signs to be on the lookout for, but definitely this is not a comprehensive list.

● A person that comes on very strong at the beginning of the relationship, wanting to spend a disproportionate amount of time with you.
● Doesn’t respect your limits and rules, such as boundaries on how often you see each other or how often you text or talk on the phone.
● Tries to monopolize your time.
● Can be very charming but doesn’t listen well to you and isn’t tuned in to your feelings.
● May try to make you feel that your feelings or your position is wrong.
● Sexually demanding and attaches their worth to having sex. Needs sex to feel validated.
● Gets angry, withdrawn, or pouty when you don’t do what they want you to do. Not open to learning from relationship conflict.
● You feel their energy that is pulling on you to take responsibility for their feelings. You sense an emptiness in them, like a black hole that pulls on you to fill it up.
● Has an abusive background and has not healed from their past.
● Has abandoned their children.
● Participates in addictions that are unacceptable to you like smoking, drinking, drugs, addictive eating, gambling, TV, and so on.
● They are not truthful, you catch them lie or withholding the truth.
● Has few friends.
● Talks about him-/herself and others in fault-finding ways.
● Is possessive and jealous. Gets upset when you do your own thing.
● Has few interests and hobbies.

Emotional hunger is not love. Basically, emotional hunger is “a feeling of a strong emotional need that is usually brought about by deprivation in childhood”. When a person grows up without love or affection as a child, that manifests itself as a strong need for emotional closeness as an adult. To get this need met, a deprived person may latch onto a romantic partner or even their child. The result is an emotionally draining relationship where the victim is constantly having their emotional energy drained by the deprived person. Emotional hunger can look like love and is often mistaken for it, but it has the opposite effect on the person it is directed toward. Love nurtures, while emotional hunger drains the others and leaves them empty.

Many children grow up in an environment in which they are focused on by a parent, and there are no boundaries. They feel confused, because their parent appears to be “there for them,” but the parent’s focus and intrusion left them insecure and untrusting. Many adults experience romantic relationships in which they feel nothing they do is enough, and that they continually fail to satisfy the needs of their partner. Many people have a parent or partner who they’d describe as overbearing, intrusive, smothering, overprotective, or possessive. Often, these behaviors are the result of the person expressing or experiencing emotional hunger as opposed to real love.

People often mistake emotional hunger for love, because it involves longing and intensity, and, especially at the beginning, it can look the same. A person may seem highly attentive or affectionate to their partner or child, which seems positive. However, emotional hunger differs from love in that the child or other person in the relationship does not feel nurtured as they would by love, but instead, feels drained of vital energy. A child may cling to the parent, because they’re not experiencing a real sense of security or connection. The partner may feel a constant pressure to make their significant other feel good or whole.

It’s not the responsibility of the other person to make us happy. It’s our own job and responsibility to do the emotional work needed to fill us emotionally and work through all of our past emotional and relationship traumas.

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-difference-between-love-and-emotional-dependence
https://www.psychalive.org/pl_resources/psychological-effects-emotional-hunger/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/sg/blog/the-human-experience/200902/emotional-hunger-vs-love

Written by:
Laura Spalvieri
Counsellor