Quick Quiz, in terms of goal setting: – 1. What does SMART stand for? Bonus prize for SMARTER. Pretty quick quiz indeed, but I reckon most folk will know most of:
I’m aiming for this to be my shortest post yet, so best not waste words telling you that. It is more of a question than anything else.
The question is; Should the goal be Realistic? one problem is it would mess up a long lived acronym for a start, but lets put that aside.
As a sportsman and previously a PE Teacher and coach I have taught a lot of young and old ones all about SMART goal setting and it remains in most exam papers still. Many years on I feel a tad guilty about that, as my message was, ‘have a goal but reign it in a bit though aye’.
I’m reading a book called ‘Unleashing Greatness’ by David Galbraith. A New Zealand Sport Psychologist that practices based on Pathway 1 (The Pathway of Courage) and isn’t a fan of Pathway 2 (Self doubt or fear of failure). He strongly believes that ‘realistic’ shouldn’t be included, rather an exploration and striving towards a dream is embraced rather than reigned in.
I happen to think that makes perfect sense and agree. Placing a parameter such as realistic puts an instant glass ceiling on the goals you are setting. I understand there are a few justified arguments for keeping realistic in goal setting. However, I definitely favour the opportunity to support others and myself to reach beyond what you ever thought possible or a safe bet. As with this mindset, the sky really is the limit, so reach for it, and refuse to settle or listen to the inner voice and external noise.
An earlier post ‘let it rip’ gave a bit of an insight into where this one may be heading.
I had the good fortune to be in a lovely MRI machine yesterday. Oh, it is a sweet pleasure indeed…maybe not, but it got me ‘pondering’, again.
There was the awkward moment where I misheard the radiologist say “everything except for your boxer shorts”, what I heard was “everything but especially your boxer shorts need to be jettisoned from your fine physique”. Fortunately the radiology gown, some quick movement from me and a lazy eye from the operator saved any embarrassment. Well, until the damn gown kept getting stuck and I was lying with my legs spread directly in the viewing line of the radiographers.
What could I possibly have been pondering at such a magical time I hear you ask?
As a counsellor or with self development, is it best to ‘go to town’, which means really invest in the situation, problem or challenge? Or… look elsewhere to clearer paths and brighter skies in the hope the crap stays in the past if we race forward faster enough?
I was lying in this machine that was about 10 inches from my face. In support of this confined space I was then placed in this helmet thing that offered about an inch of space from my face. I was in this tight space for over an hour with this god awful banging and buzzing throughout the whole thing – and that was just the radio station that they were playing, but the machine made a far louder and definitely more intense acoustic version. All of this had been preceded by lots of information and questions about being claustrophobic. Well, I wasn’t until they asked that many times that I was soon feeling less than happy, as to be asked that many times could only mean that I should be freaking out so therefore perhaps I should oblige.
As a disclaimer my approach is solution focused, CBT, Mindfulness on a firm base of person centered counselling. When I work with trauma I do work along a narrative approach to explore unhelpful or inaccurate scripts before explore where clients need and want to go. There is a very strong emphasis and understanding in counselling that you rock up for a session and keep rehashing the crapness of what is going on and then it will eventually become less crap. An image that keeps coming to mind which possibly offers an insight into the weird and wonderful world of my mind is someone sitting in a bath of shite. So, would I ask that person to sit, savour, smell and taste the brutal and quite disgusting texture and reality that you are sat in a bath of your own shit. If you are made to sit in that bath for an extended period of time then you will continue to add to the mess that you are sat in. This then reinforces a sense of guilt, shame, frustration, anger etc. in yourself. Or, would it be useful for the person to take a moment to acknowledge that, yes they are in fact sat in a pile of shite, before exploring a preference of whether to step out and clean up or to commit further to the exploration of the situation. It’s a timing thing, I believe anyway.
Back to the MRI machine. How I dealt with it is perhaps one strong contender of how to approach ‘stuff’ or being ‘in a bath of shite’. That is, I acknowledged where I was, but I also clarified the whens, whys and hows etc. to reduce anxiousness through eliminating the unknowns. I then reassured myself that there was an end in sight, I simply had to get in and on with it and tap into my coping toolkit. I took my mind elsewhere, it in no part meant that I was running away or in denial of where I was or what I was experiencing. It was investing my energy and effort into where I wanted to go rather than amplifying the crapness and claustrophobia of where I was.
To summarise. This is again the pondering of a lifelong learner and curious mind of a counsellor. Primarily it is the ramblings of someone in pursuit of wellness and what this looks and sounds like for me but also those I interact with professionally and personally.
Like ‘letting it rip’ I do wonder if we absolutely acknowledge where we are and the challenges which we are faced with. I am leaning towards an increased investment in time and energy in exploring where we want to be, and then ‘going to town’ on how we get there, and stay there through developing resilience and an ability to cope along the long journey of life, not just one step at a time. That is not for every person and every challenge, but would certainly relate to a massive majority of my own challenges and the clients I work with.
How? It’s taking a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle with wellbeing at the front, middle and end. Connectedness with self, with others and our environment. It’s diet, exercise, mental health and a positive excitement and optimism about your potential and what that may look and sound like and how it would positively ripple in to the lives of those you care about and anybody else that comes in to contact with your contagious awesomeness.
Knowing what our kids are playing and taking a second to think of the implications, now and later.
Well, I don’t know where to start on this because I don’t know where it would finish or even if it could finish without writing a novel.
‘It’s awesome! If you finish the level quick enough then you can kill the baby when its still sleeping and upgrade your gun!” This came out of the mouth of a six-year-old child I was seeing as a counsellor. I had been called into a school to help improve the behaviour of some challenging wee ones. To give a bit of context, I’d barely sat down and asked how the week had gone so far. The game is called Duck Hunt (search duck hunt horror – if you see the red eyed dog, you have found a version) and he put an impressive amount of energy behind reenacting how to move and shoot with speed and accuracy. Now, my generation will remember that game as one where you shot ducks as they flew across the screen. Its not that one! I didn’t believe what he was telling me at first, so I looked into it and quickly found what he was playing. He was right! It starts quite harmlessly as a basic shoot’em up (birds) game, before it quickly enters a room with a family all sat in a lounge. Depending on which family member you shoot will dictate which gun you upgrade to. The graphics are damned realistic too. This is just a game that this six-year-old fills a bit of time with and far from the worst he plays. The exception, absolutely not!
I am a counsellor working with kids from 5 upwards as well
as the grown-up work I do. I have been doing this for over a decade and
therefore believe I have a pretty fair reflection on what is going on purely
from experience rather than from afar in a research paper. I have seen a direct
correlation with behaviour challenges to the games used. I intentionally didn’t
say technology as that isn’t the case at all. Demands on parents are increasing
and work patterns have changed massively. On my way back from a run or the gym
at about 6.30am day cares are already receiving their first drop offs.
With this increased busyness and kids that by the very fact
that they are kids are a bundle of fun, energy and thirst for time and
entertainment. Digital devices are gold for keeping young ones still and quiet.
They are however, far from safe. Any parent will tell you noise (within reason)
is the norm, but silence – that will get me jumping up to see if the boys have
drawn on the wall or hand fishing in the toilet. It is kind of like that with
kids and games, just because they are out of your hair for 5 mins don’t start
celebrating until you know for sure what they are up to.
Firstly, I am completely pro technology and certainly see
its abundant benefits. Having access to information is invaluable, especially
when in academic land and completing research.
This post is raising a flag on how technology is used by our
kids. It’s a bit of common sense really, but I get how life can result in a few
First, have a think on what your values and
Explore what they may look, and sound like for
you and then your kids.
Then take a look at the games that they have,
regardless of age. You pick what is appropriate for your kids not the games
company or censorship committees. Google the highest-ranking games in the world
right now- well keep tracking back over the last 10 years- it’s the same
result. Every one of the top games is a shoot ‘em up and the graphics are
bloody realistic. Grand Theft Auto is a
cracking example. Pull over, once you have evaded police, and then kill as many
people as possible to get some money. You get even more money depending on how
creative you are in your murder. Not to mention the rewards for killing female
characters. Then ask, how does this look
compared to my image of the values and beliefs I thought of earlier. What is it
normalising and desensitising our children to? As an ex police officer, I have
seen my fair share of the dark side, murder and violence. Maybe that’s why I
might be a tad ‘sensitive’ and ‘overprotective’, or maybe not.
Take a second. You are at a barbeque with some
friends. You see your wee angel playing with a few other wee angels. You listen
and look a bit closer. One of the other kids pretends to shoot your angel in
the head with a gun whilst shouting ‘take that biatch!’. In the meantime, the
other kids want in on the action and pretend to kick the crap out of your
little angel because they too can get some points if they inflict a bit of
damage too. They then turn on one of the other kids shouting, “now you can be
the police” we are gonna f.&k you up! Would you smile and nod to one of
your friends and smile before sharing a “kids aye” moment? I think not.
Fortnite– the latest global phenomena game- is
not unheard of by any means with many of my young and old clients.
Social media and the role in the lives of our young ones is
a beast in itself that I’m sure I’ll talk about at some point. When it comes to
computer games, it is really simple. How does the game look compared to your
own family values and beliefs? We all make our own decisions, and these are my
thoughts. They are however thoughts based on working with young ones for nearly
20 years and the last 10 specifically with child and adolescent mental health. I
absolutely see a direct correlation between behaviours and the types of games
and amount of time spent playing them.
As parents, but as adults and a society we really need to
take as much responsibility of the safety and wellbeing of our children and
future when they are sat in front of screens as we do when they are not. We
can’t be too surprised or p’d off with the kids behaving in a way that is
pretty out there. We need to step up first and then see what happens with
behaviours and some very shaky wellbeing.
With the many weird and wonderful experiences
that are part and parcel of life, you can’t help but ponder stuff. In my case it’s
also professional practice.
Quite often I support and encourage
clients to take quite an ‘assertive’ approach to mental health and dealing to
the challenges to acknowledge and then take control. That is definitely one way
that has proven highly effective for all the clients where we take this approach.
But there are ‘horses for courses’ that need to be picked wisely for the best
outcome. I still see a time and a place for this style but now I’m pondering quite
What if sometimes, for some people, fighting mental health
head on is in fact giving it more power than less. You make it front and centre,
the be all and end all. The worst thing is you can’t see or hear it, so you are
in fact swinging blindly.
I am surrounded by surfers and surf beaches, which is perhaps why approaching stuff like a rip tide, may in fact be a good way to go. For those that don’t know what a rip tide is then perhaps google it. In short (or this will make no sense at all) this one is for kids, which is bang on my level https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJ76XfBVKq0 . In a wonderful world the tide and waves beautifully all lap towards dry land and return surfers and swimmers to terra firma. A rip tide is a sneaky little beggar that bucks the flow and creates an invisible channel that takes you out to the big blue sea. This takes those not familiar to a rip by surprise. Instinct is to swim like your life depends on it -because it does, I suppose- towards land. As you’d expect a swimmer is no match for the immense awesomeness of the sea. This is what got me thinking. Sometimes by investing all attention and effort into fighting the rip tide (mental health) you are in a battle where there is only ever going to be one winner. The swimmer eventually tires and then is in real bother. For the sake of happy endings and a hop, skip and a jump. Hasselhoff or The Rock pluck you out of the sea and holds you in a safe embrace.
The alternative and the best way to deal
with a rip is to stop and as soon as possible take stock and acknowledge that
you are in the shite, well rip tide. This being a metaphor for mental health.
At each point you keep raising your arm high in the air calling for help. Help
being family, friends and better still a trained professional. In the meantime,
simply breathe and know that the calmer you are, the clearer you think and in
the meantime tap into your coping toolkit and resilience to ‘calm your farm’. If
you take it easy and either float out to the back you will eventually come
right, you could end up in some pretty dark blue water, which is a tad unsettling,
especially if you too were traumatised by jaws
and then topped it up with an unhealthy dose of In the Deep. So, this is where tapping into your tool kit comes in.
As, you swim across and parallel to the beach you eventually get out of the rip
tide and back into the waves that are taking you on a fast track back to dry
land. This being a place of relative calm, balance and positive wellbeing.
Finding a good counsellor is all about finding the
right fit for you and a style that will work. As a counsellor it can only be a
positive to be able to change gears and styles to best meet the needs of the
person or people that sit in front of you. So, I’m still pondering when to ‘deal
to it’ and when to take stock and swim across and out of a rip tide. Better
still I will keep looking at refining the skills and resilience that would
enable and empower my clients, friend, family and of course myself to find the
right way at the right time.
Friday 15th March 2019 will go down in history and not only in small, end of the earth New Zealand. One man killed 49 innocent men, women and children as they attended Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand. 40 Others remain in hospital, many of which are critical. This, in a city still getting up from its knees after a significant earthquake, and loss of lives, only a few years earlier.
The terrorist, traveled from Australia specifically and planned meticulously over a two year period a horrendous act of terror. The reasoning; NZ was the only country that was perceived as safe from terrorism, he wanted to change that and ensure fear and hate would reach everywhere.
This post is to remind us all to redirect our attention from the individual and devastation he had achieved. It is to see the police officers that raced in civilian clothes, whether off or on duty, to protect and care for the victims and community. It is to see the father who picked up wounded victims in his vehicle and rushed them to hospital. It is to see the nurses and doctors who responded immediately and continue to care for the victims around the clock. It is to see the flowers that create an endless tapestry outside the mosques and community centres placed by strangers. It is to see the vigils and genuine images of solidarity, love and support from a whole country and internationally. It is to the see the selfless acts of courage, bravery, kindness and generosity. It is to see and celebrate the far more powerful and present goodness that is in our country and world.
Acknowledge the devastation caused by individuals and the breadth of victims that has been left by this event and horrendous individual. It stands in stark contrast to the awesomeness of the masses and the goodness that should drown out the volume of such hatred and darkness.
The loudest part of the question that hit me first was what on earth is going on with ‘the one’. Perhaps the definition of the one has changed… by perhaps I mean I believe it has changed and massively. We want everything and we want it yesterday!
The problem is, perhaps some looking are positioned on a lofty
platform to their potential partner and with such a high bar it is not unlike a
knitted jumper from your gran at Christmas! Well-intentioned but plain
disappointing. A phrase that comes up a lot with all lines of clients is you
get what you look for, well what happens if you are looking for the impossible!
Can’t be overly surprised that you don’t find it and folk keeping falling short
of perfection, if you achieved it how could they not, right?
Dr. Letamendi says
in Time magazine, “Now that we can interact with hundreds – no thousands – of
people simultaneously, we’ve strengthened the impact that others have on our
Everyone and thing is so accessible, and along with a
disposable mentality are we denying ourselves the opportunity to experience
anything other than a swipe left or right for a quick hook up? Heck, for some I
could imagine the glow of a mobile screen lights up a room whilst your having
sex, fed by the driver that you deserve and are entitled to something better
and now, well a couple of minutes from now.
Technology to find a relationship: Why not! Online now all the
initial tick lists have been done, looks, hobbies, interests, profession,
outlook etc. By the time you meet your date for the first time you know what
their friends and family look like and more than likely with some careful
examination of multiple Instagram photo angles you can see where they live,
what they eat and at the very least inside leg measurement.
We have all become busier, society and individuals within it pride
themselves on busyness. It used to be mundane chat about the weather but now
its peacocking about how busy we are. We are busy some of the time and spend
the other half of the time telling other folk how busy we are. Only the other
day I was in a ‘meeting’ at a café with an agent sharing how busy he was for
the first 20 mins. This was quickly followed by summarising a luxurious and
indulgent weekend ahead and suggesting we meet for coffee the next day. Societal
shifts and demands are nothing new. Folk are genuinely time restricted,
unfortunately mainly due to being unfiltered in access to their employers and
others. Holiday clubs, before and after school clubs are doing bloody
outstanding business at the moment as parents put in the hours. Family systems
and general lifestyles are informed by tech and then monitored accordingly.
The reality is technology opens massive potential and access to
heaps and damned quickly. Technology isn’t the problem any more than the bygone
fear that TV was taking us all to hell but at the very least taking our souls
through the glass screen. It’s how we as humans utilise and interact with it,
and ensure it is a tool to facilitate our lives as opposed to it being front
A recent article I read was holding Netflix to account for a sex
famine in western marriages
https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/love-sex/111094985/netflix-is-driving-a-sex-famine-in-western-marriages . Easy sentence? quite possibly, but does it stand alone in terms
of what other factors need to be considered and blamed, heck no! It is a real
issue in all avenues of relationships, whether romantic, family, work
colleagues, kids and everyone else before, after and in between. We celebrate
an increase in connectivity, but we are talking solely about tech connect not a
wonderful human chapter in chirpy good conversation, banter, interaction or
heaven forbid physical touch. The waters in all relationships are muddied,
especially in terms of having an understanding of our sense of self and
identity. We certainly know who we should strive to be like and how far we are
away from a Kardashian or Ryan Reynolds. The benchmark for ‘normal’ has
shifted. This disconnect has also perhaps seen a demise in any sort of rhyme,
reason or any dose of reality to an accurate reflection of self. A culture of
me, myself and I is rife and when you are fully immersed in that limited scope
of cast members then that leaves sweet bugger all space and time for others. Do
we have a hyperinflated view of ourselves and hyper critical view of others,
especially partners? This in part again taps into a whole different world of
social media etc. and the impact on relationships. Heck, just google modern
dating. The first few pages before you get bored are ‘the rules’. Check them
out, they are shocking, me, myself and I and absolute inflated sales pitch of
entitlement without any need to give or try. If you ditch the rules you may
just have a chance.
Sticking to Netflix and Sex. The article does elude to
a raft of other factors that are worthy of a mention just as much as blaming
Netflix or YouTube for diminishing sex lives. Increase connectivity equals
unlimited access to you and your loved one. You’ll be hard stretched to find
anyone that isn’t within inches of their mobile device when they go to bed,
even if it’s to use as an alarm. Our attention is misdirected away from the
very person or people we often love the most and it is shared openly and
willingly with acquaintances, colleagues and bosses in their place. How sexy
and connected to your partner beside you when your boss has just added another
‘small’ task to your already overwhelming workload.
There are a lot of distractions and really important
things that people must fit in to an ever-decreasing window of time. Work,
errands, jobs. Then there are the parents out there. I’d suggest kids would
trump Netflix as the antidote to sex. The loving embrace at the end of the day
isn’t always a precursor to magical sex, but an embrace of utter relief that
you survived another day and nervous anticipation of the morning routine
peering from around the corner.
I did see some words far from wisdom from a social
influencer who was also giving advice which included, dating others and taking
a break. Well everybody has a right to make their own decisions but for what
its worth…don’t follow these, no, no a thousand times no!
Smart Phones function like a relationship wish list (for some). It
gives you everything you need and want, and you just have to plug it in for an
hour a day. It’ll show you pretty much whatever you want no matter how out
there it may seem. You are just left to sit in surprised judgement of yourself
as a ‘random’ inappropriate advertisement pops up thanks to the millions of
cookies running in the background of every click. It’ll turn you on when you
want it too and you can turn it on at the swipe of a finger. It can give you
directions in pretty much any language you want, tell you the time or answer a
question without being a smart ass. It won’t talk back or out of turn unless
Siri is bugging out. There is not much it can’t do and again straight away.
Are we stuck in a game that many would scoff at the very idea of?
With every bleep of the phone a big shot of dopamine rushing through the body,
a feel-good buzz and validation, even if it is from an absolute stranger. I’m not
sure anybody hasn’t at some point heard, behind a false smile suggesting no
direct intent, “but I noticed you didn’t like
it”. It matters! and the chemical blasts of the neurological system maintain
the game and it is oh so very real.
If we pause for a second, are we losing something beautiful,
exciting and organic in the shape of the development of love? Has it been dehumanised
and transformed into something that is a tad cold and artificial, and for who,
surely not everyone? Is it a cognitive process rather than one of the heart? The
pursuit of convenience over anything else. A problem-solving approach is
adopted rather than one of innocent and open enquiry into who is out there and
how they may compliment you warts n’all. You should never stop learning
something new or being open to being blown away and in awe of your partner. It
doesn’t stop and/or start at the first hurdle, but a relationship grows in time
and blossoms. What is our capacity or even willingness to see the highs but
navigate relationship challenges.