Skip to main content


Counselling & Psychotherapy

Home  Counselling  HSP  Online  Couple  About Me  Fees  Blog  FAQ's  Contact Me  Site Map   
Subscribe to the Blog >  
The Help2Talk Zone 

Welcome!        This is where I'll be identify and discuss topics that may be of interest to you. Please email any comments


June 20, 2015

The Power of Gratitude


“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. 

An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, what did I really see this day?”

~ John O'Donohue,  Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Science has demonstrated through the use of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging that a positive emotion such as gratitude and compassion broadens the minds ability and increases its capacity. (Fredrickson, 2004.) By contrast, negative states are thought to induce the opposing tendency, engendering a more "functionally fixed" narrow mindset This distinction between flexible/broad versus rigid/narrow thinking styles has been found to influence intuitive judgments, decision making, creative problem solving tasks, and industrial negotiations.


Dr Barbara Fredrickson has constructed a test to identify your positivity ratio.


So how do I become more positive?


It is not about changing your life’s circumstance or making big decisions or setting goals for the future. Although these processes may be required later when you are in a better mindset The first step is changing your attitude and focus on what you are grateful for no matter how small or insignificant it might seem.


Movie method


Try this exercise, have a pen and paper at hand.


Sit in a quite space and close your eyes. Take a breath in and breath out slowing. Focus on your day or the day before; watch it like your watching a video of yourself.  Try and see the expression on your face or sense your mood Do this for several minutes.


Jot down on your note pad:


Your immediate reaction to watching yourself.

Which aspects of the day did you enjoy most, did you smile or laugh?

Which aspects of the day did you focus on?  The positive or negative experiences.


Repeat this exercise; watch the video of yourself again this time with the mindset of gratitude. Keep exploring your memory of your day until you can identify 5 aspects that you could be grateful for such as:


  • The bus was on time
  • I enjoyed my cup of coffee
  • I had a nice chat with a friend
  • The day ended
  • I watched my favorite movie


Gratitude is a natural uplifting psychological component to happiness. It will quell negative thinking and direct you to being in the moment. The opposite of gratitude is not selfishness or loneliness it is an emotion “melancholy” (pensive sadness, gloomy character).


Like every behavior if you do it often enough it will develop into a habit. You have the choice to create a habit of thinking of all that is wrong, unfair or not working in your life. Creating an attitude of discontent, despondency and anger.


Alternately you could practice gratitude on a daily basis and train your thoughts to create an attitude of wellbeing.


I realize it’s not that simple!


There are situations in life when we are bereaved, sad, scared, brokenhearted or overwhelmed with life events. There are physical and mental health issues that can disrupt our thinking compass. I am not suggesting that gratitude can prevent emotional pain but in may alter the intensity of the experiencing. However, all of these painful emotions are part of our emotional curriculum and are usually experienced at some time. Often we need to go through and manage these in order to experience and appreciate love, optimism and gratitude.


“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”

~ Alphonse Karr,  A Tour Round My Garden

May 25, 2015

"A Special Weekend for Highly Sensitive People with Elaine Aron" in Stockholm, Sweden. 



Having just returned from an inspiring weekend conference, I thought I’d share some thoughts.


It is a unique experience to be in a room with so many other sensitive people. Sharing an understanding of what it means to be highly sensitive in an awkward and sometimes uncomfortable world.  


HSP’s are becoming more aware of their individual talents and gifts. 

Such as:


  • Deep empathic understanding
  • Intuition
  • Creativity
  • Being able to see the ‘bigger picture’


In my experience of working with highly sensitive clients, many have issues in managing their daily internal dialogue.  They are prone to seeing themselves as different from others, internalise problems leaving them feeling inadequate or generally flawed.  Counselling can help by exploring issues of self esteem and provide some clarity understanding of their inner processes.


Self-care is important for HSP's including with emphasis on:


  • Pacing
  • Sleep
  • Healthy Eating



  "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion,

some compassion, some humour, and some style."


Maya Angelou               




May 5, 2015
Uneasy or Troubled and Don’t Know Why?


You may have lost your sense of personal identity.


Consider Jayne:


She feels grateful for her health, two small children, a successful career and lovely home.

But she not feeling the joy, peace, contentment she expects.

Rather, she finds herself irritable, resentful and at times apathetic.

She feels guilty not being happy; she keeps it a secret so as not to appear selfish or unappreciative.

She is consistently making plans to change, to be a better person.


Jayne is not unusual.


We live with judgement from increasing social and personal expectations, which plays a large role in Jayne’s scenario. There are pressures on:

  • ·         Our behaviour
  • ·         How we parent our children
  • ·         What we wear
  • ·         What and how much we eat
  • ·         What we talk about and what is unacceptable to talk about.
  • ·         Religious or spiritual belief systems
  • ·         Our sexuality
  • ·         Body shape and size


We are immersed in technology, having to do more, quicker and automatically. There is less time to focus and be mindful of our environment. Emotionally there is expectation that we should be ‘up beat’ and perform to our best at all times. There is on-going pressure of what  ‘other people’ think of us. We seem to have forgotten to care or be kind to ourselves. Little credibility given to creative abilities, gifts and talents, unless judged as good or profitable. Hence, creative hobbies performed just for the joy of doing them seem to have become less fashionable.


Stress has become socially acceptable but anxiety and depression is seen as a weakness or something that is shameful. Mental illness is still a taboo topic for many communities.


It is not surprising that we can lose our individual uniqueness and authenticity. It is our diversity that brings interest, beauty, love and passion into our lives.

I suggest that feeling of unease could be a warning that you are not being true to yourself. Your behaviour, thoughts and beliefs need to be in harmony with the uniqueness your soul.


As John O'Donohue states so eloquently,


"Self-compassion is paramount. When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul, which you let guide your life. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny better than you do."



In order to be compassionate with yourself it is essential to get some sense of who you are. You can regain your individuality and sense of self, as it is not gone. Rather overshadowed by the stress in your life. However, we need to let go of judgement or fear of judgement.

I offer the following exercises to identify creative aspects of your unique self that may have been forgotten.

The aim is to begin the process of unearthing the authentic self.

Chose one or both of the exercises to practice on your own or with the support of friends or counsellor/psychotherapist.


Activity 1   -   The Creative Self

Make a list of games, hobbies or things you enjoyed as a child that you may wish to use as a guide to practice something new.

This may be:

  • Building model aeroplanes
  • Playing tennis
  • Knitting
  • Colouring in books. This has become very fashionable for adults in France. You can buy books with beautiful pictures in Waterstones and Amazon 


This is an example from a beautiful book Millie Marotta's Animal Kingdom - A Colouring Book Adventure

By Millie Marotta


Activity 2   -   Pages

Chose a journal or scrapbook that you like.

Decide that this journal is going to describe and represent the true you.

There are no specific guidelines, as the design is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong

If you find the lack of structure difficult, then design your own contents page.


Here are some examples of what you might want to include:


  • Favourite books and movies
  • Self care activities
  • Favourite foods or recipes
  • Quotes
  • Thought
  • Meditations
  • What makes you sad or angry
  • What lifts your mood
  • Clothes, favourite fashion
  • Mentors or people you admire
  • Places to visit
  • Nature walks
  • Hopes and dreams
  • Materials
  • Photos past and present
  • Pictures cut from magazines
  • Images from internet
  • Leaflets
  • Essays
  • Self help exercises
  • Quizzes
  • Pressed flowers
  • Pieces of fabric
  • Drawings


The objective of this activity is to provide you an opportunity to view your life from a different perspective. From a creative and compassionate standpoint, to see life mindfully with purpose and worthiness. It is an on-going project taking weeks, months or years. You could share your pages with a friend or a group could get together to do their pages together. Alternatively, you may wish to keep them private.


Email and let me know how the activities work for you! 

If you have any concerns regarding your emotional health please contact your Doctor.



January 10, 2015

The Highly Sensitive Person 


About 1 in 5 people are highly sensitive -- equal in both sexes

Highly sensitive people are complex in their characteristics. They tend to have been shy, timid children. They are creative, react to the smallest change in their environment, subject to mood fluctuations, organised, hardworking and conscientious and empathic.  

Perhaps the most distinctive trait is their tendency to become overwhelmed  when their senses are overloaded. Such as in crowds of people, social occasions, or with smells and noise or have too much to do in a short time. They then seek solitude and quite to calm themselves.

There is relief in knowing you are highly sensitive. It's a relief to understand why you react the way you do. It's a relief to know there are others like you. It's a relief to better understand yourself and your trait.

So, are you highly sensitive? 

Try the test, it is free and only takes a few minutes. You can access it on the Foundation for Highly Sensitive People website below plus lots of further infomation.

If you would like counselling to help manage your sensitivity or to help a family member, please contact me .
Sign up for The Help2Talk Zone for updates and announcements about events, articles, book releases, blog posts and other news of interest to you.   I will not share your information with anyone else.