Dealing with Toxic Relationships

This weeks blog is an experiment in that I have not directly written it. We used an AI Chat Bot to create it and see what it comes up with and it is very interesting. Perhaps this is what we can all expect in the future in many of the things that we read. I have put my contributions in bracketed italics. 

Title: Nurturing Healthy Connections: Avoiding Toxic Relationships and Recognising Warning Signs


In our journey through life, (our responses to) relationships (and all experiences) play a fundamental role in shaping our experience (of life) and our emotional well-being. While healthy relationships bring joy, support, and growth, toxic relationships can have a detrimental impact on our mental and emotional health. Recognising and avoiding toxic relationships is crucial for our overall happiness and personal development. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies to steer clear of toxic relationships and identify warning signs in certain friendships.

Understanding Toxic Relationships:

Toxic relationships can manifest in various forms, including romantic partnerships, friendships, family connections, or even professional (or business partnerships and) interactions. These relationships are characterised by a pervasive negativity, lack of respect, and an imbalance of power. They drain our energy, diminish our self-esteem, and hinder personal growth. By understanding the common traits of toxic relationships, we can better equip ourselves to avoid them.

(In all of our relationships it is important to understand the ability of the other person to exercise both empathy and insight. Toxic or negative relationships are only changeable if the other person can understand and see what they are doing and have the insight to change their interactions.)

  1. Self-Awareness: (it is important to point out that the fundamental relationships that we all have is with ourself, usually termed our ‘self-esteem’. We can have an internal toxic relationship with ourself that leads to a lack of self belief. If I don’t love me and you tell that you do love me I am likely to think that you must be mad. ‘Why would you want to love me?)
  2. Building healthy relationships starts with self-awareness. (Self love is not arrogance it is healthy) Understanding your values, needs, and boundaries allows you to set the foundation for positive connections. When you have a clear sense of self, you are less likely to compromise your well-being by engaging in toxic relationships. Take the time to reflect on your core values and the qualities you seek in others, and use this knowledge as a guide in your relationships.
  3. Trust Your Intuition: (Intuition often has little value to the western cognitive mind, Yet when we learn to trust our intuition we have instant insight into situations and people. Intuition is often knowing without knowing why or how we know)
  4. One of the most powerful tools we possess in navigating relationships is our intuition. Pay attention to your gut feelings and instincts. If something feels off or causes you discomfort, it is essential to trust those emotions. Intuition often serves as an early warning system, helping us steer clear of toxic relationships before they become deeply ingrained.
  5. Set and Maintain Boundaries: (when you clearly set boundaries you are making the rules and being a doer not a done-to)
  6. Establishing and enforcing boundaries is vital in maintaining healthy relationships. Boundaries define what is acceptable and what is not in your interactions with others. Communicate your boundaries clearly and assertively, and respect the boundaries of those around you. Toxic relationships often involve crossed boundaries and a disregard for personal limits. By maintaining strong boundaries, you can protect yourself from potentially harmful dynamics.

Spotting Warning Signs: (it may that the warning sign is in what you are feeling – intuition – it may make no sense logically but listen to that feeling)

Identifying potential red flags is essential to prevent toxic relationships from taking hold in your life. Here are some common warning signs to be mindful of when evaluating your friendships:

  1. Constant Negativity:
  2. Toxic relationships are often characterised by consistent negativity. If a friend consistently brings you down, criticises your ideas, or makes you feel inferior, it may be a sign of toxicity. Healthy friendships involve mutual support, encouragement, and positivity.
  3. Lack of Respect: (understanding respect often begin with self respect and self love)
  4. Respect is a fundamental aspect of any healthy relationship. If a friend consistently disregards your feelings, boundaries, or needs, it is a warning sign of a toxic dynamic. (If so, are they really a friend at all?) Respect should be present in all interactions, and any persistent disrespect should not be tolerated.
  5. Manipulative Behaviour:
  6. Toxic individuals often employ manipulative tactics to control others. Watch out for signs of manipulation, such as guilt-tripping, gaslighting, or constant demands for attention and validation. Healthy friendships are based on trust, equality, and open communication.
  7. One-Sided Relationships:
  8. Relationships should be a give-and-take, with both parties contributing and benefiting. If you find yourself consistently investing more time, energy, or resources into a friendship without receiving the same in return, it may indicate an unhealthy dynamic. Balanced friendships are built on reciprocity and mutual support.
  9. Emotional and Physical Drain: (Dementors and Vampires)
  10. Toxic relationships can drain us emotionally and even physically. If a friend consistently leaves you feeling exhausted, stressed, or anxious, it may be a sign that the relationship is detrimental to your well-being. Surround yourself with people who uplift and energise you, rather than deplete your resources.


Nurturing healthy relationships is crucial for our personal growth and happiness. By understanding the traits of toxic relationships and being aware of warning signs, we can avoid falling into harmful dynamics. Remember to prioritise self-awareness, trust your intuition, and set and maintain healthy boundaries. Surround yourself with individuals who respect, support, and inspire you to become the best version of yourself. Ultimately, investing in healthy relationships will contribute to your overall well-being and foster a positive and fulfilling life journey.

(The key to all relationships at all levels of society is simply – 

If we all look after each other we will all be okay –

A real friend will have your back and will be looking after you.)

(You will probably know that I was ill last year and had open heart surgery. People around me fell quite clearly into different categories of friendship. The vast majority of people stepped forward to help in whatever way that the could. There were those who allowed their own needs to get in the way of ours and became intrusive and there were even those who were angry with me for being ill and not being there for them. The experience certainly made me look at my relationships and make adjustments to lessen any toxicity effecting me and my recovery. It was an interesting audit and perhaps one that we should all undertake.)

(Remember this – relationships are the basis of society and of our belonging in our society and family. However, the most important relationship that you will ever have will be the one that you have with yourself. Positive self esteem is a good attribute to have and self love is not arrogance it is strength.)

Take care and be happy

Sean x

TSHP489: The Reality of Democracy

What’s Coming This Episode?

Ed has been elected as a local councillor! Wow. The fun starts now. We thought an episode about democracy was in order. What does it mean? How did we end up where we are? Can Ed navigate the ups and downs of local politics?

Enjoy the show, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

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Who Is Allowed To Say What To Whom?

The reality of Democracy 

The word democracy comes from the Greek words “demos”, meaning people, and “kratos” meaning power; so democracy can be thought of as…

 The Power Of People

We can think of this as a way of governing which depends on… 

The Will Of The People

In Britain we could say that it is…

…The Will Of The Majority Of The People 

So what does that mean for the minority? Every minority in any system is subject to the will of the majority of the people unless it is an enlightened society. This is as true for human beings as it is for a troop of monkeys or a herd of sheep. The majority will always hold sway unless the minority arm themselves and scare the crap out of the majority to get their own way. This appears in many human societies as terrorism, jihad, revolution etc. It can also materialise in smaller groups as protesters and demonstrators. These may be an affront to the majority who will do their best to suppress them to maintain their position.

One of the most obvious domination by a minority was when the Nazis in Germany, which was a minority, took control of the majority and then attempted to take over the entire world. Although the majority was very powerful it took then six years of the Second World War to finally defeat the minority. There are lots of parallels in many countries where similar things have taken place.

It seems that we now have a majority that are mistreating the planet in terms of pollution and exhaustion of resources. The minority are taking to the streets to protest about oil, fossil fuels and the animal abuse in farming etc. 

In a democracy, through the ballot box, we assume that the will of the majority of people will be enacted in their best interest. Is this so? There have been many cases when the best interests of our representatives and/or big business have dominated the majority point of view. 

When we, as a country, chose to join the EU the majority voted for it. Then we have a section of society that begins as a minority who are able to use the tricks of the trade in persuasion through social media, general media, advertising etc to change the minds of the majority and dominate them and then the vote is to leave the EU.

It would seem that we are in external conflict between vested self interest, the needs of the individual, the power of the majority and the striving of the minority to be heard. These things are something that you would assume that democracy was meant to overcome. Yet here we are in the thick of it.

Just as an aside, I wonder how many Russian people were, or are, actually in favour of being at war with Ukraine. Was this an act by the powerful minority in power, not dissimilar to the Nazis, to vilify an entire population to justify their act of going to war? 

I have seen the same power politics in many of the organisations that I have covered over the years. I certainly saw it in the NHS and I see it on a regular basis in families.

There seems to be a dilemma how can we ensure that we are all heard that a fairness pervades in the way that we do out business politically, economically and socially? I keep saying it but…

…If we all ,look after each other we will all be okay

The problem as I see it is that whereas in the past descent was expressed through bows and arrows and throwing stones now we have weapons of mass destruction and the ability to destroy each others systems at a cyber level. We are probably more vulnerable now than we have ever been. 

It is real that one wrong move from a egotistical individual or group could destroy or severely damage life on this planet and even bring it to an end.

We have an interesting time ahead when it will be down to those that are awake enough to assist our brothers and sisters who remain deep asleep into the light of increased awareness and then hopefully we will all survive.

This is what would happen as we made the move from the age of Pisces to the age of Aquarius. Fingers crossed. We all need to stay positive and do as much as we can to assist each other or the next thing will be AI taking over….

Hey Ho!

Sean x

RTS – Religious Trauma Syndrome

Occurs when an individual struggles with leaving a religious set of beliefs that has led to their indoctrination. (Could be any set of beliefs, does not have to be religious).

The problem comes about when the person attempts to leave a group or develops a set of ideas or beliefs that are different or desperate from the group. This occurs in any system built around control. It could a religions, a philosophy, a political party, or even a family. Often there is a controlling figure that could be the party leader, a parent or a religious leader. Many leaders, in any situation, often develop Guru-itis and believe in their own wonderment and special-ness. This happens in most cults.

My God Is Better Than Your God

In the world of religion beliefs will often clash together. In Christianity it was taboo for inter marriages between Protestants and Catholics or between Jews and Gentiles. In most cases one person will have to abandon their beliefs and take on the beliefs of their partner for the situation to work. It can be the same in any company or organisation that has two unions that seek to represent the entire workforce. In national situations it’s might be between two nationalities coming together. In the Second World War many women fell in love and decided to marry a German Soldier, the enemy, and were then exclused from their own families.

The same is true of interracial marriages. It is now more common to see mixed race families though in many cultures it is seen as wrong and in some cultures it is not allowed at all.

It is easy to see that the induction into religious groups is a form of shared hypnosis yet we are all hypnotised by the beliefs that we grew up with and unless something occurs to make us question and re-evaluate them they will guide our entire life. Mor importantly we are likely to look down on anyone who decides to move away from our beliefs and change their lives.

Our group is seen as right and important. We have the truth which is often seen as the only truth. We are ‘us’ and anyone outside of our group is one of ‘them’. If ‘we’ are exclusive the ‘we’ will have nothing to do with ‘them’.

The whole of humanity, some would say the whole of creation, is one whole. In that sense we are all one and there is no ‘them’. However, humanity has man aged to breakdown into ever smaller groups to that now there are lots of ‘us’ and ‘them’.

If human being are to grow or even survive it will be because we have come together and become an entire us so that we learn to look after each other.

If We All Look After Each Other We Will All Be Okay!

Take care, be happy and help those around you

Sean x

Love & Marriage

This week our son got married. It was a deeply powerful ceremony packed with meaning and emotion. He and his partner made a life long commitment to be together, to look after each other and to remain honest and true to each other. They exchanged rings symbolically expressing the commitment they had just entered into. In their coming together there was the greater union of two entire families coming together. It was as though the two tribes, with their individual identities had, or were in the process of, becoming one.

It can be easy to assume that relationships are all the same. That all relationships are just like our own. Yet every relationship is different and individual. How would you describe your relationship?

I know from working psychologically and therapeutically with many couples that often what people have and what people want or desire can be a very different thing. I detect that the social norms that have underpinned our society maybe on the move or at least being questioned and challenged.

My son and his partner have made an agreement to be exclusive to each other as a part of our society that generally has settled on a model of monogamy as our social norm. Though most research suggests that a high percentage of people, perhaps as high as 60%, do have affairs though these are, in the main, hidden.

Where did monogamy come from?
‘Gamy’ comes from the Greek gamous meaning marriage. Monogamous means one marriage. In modern terms this would mean one partner. Monogamy in modern relationships also means to be faithful to that one partner. Which in turn means not to have sexual relationships or to be intimate with other people out side of the monogamous relationship.

Monogamy probably has it’s roots in the Abrahamic religions and was probably a socio-economic structure that enabled social organisation and often control. Monogamy, as a social structure, creates social organisation and the development of laws, property rites and inheritance and therefore has a financial element. Once there is a firm social structure the lineage of a family can be traced back to prehistory following either the maternal or paternal line. The fact that we know in the UK who the next monarch will be is because there is a rule of law and a succession of family rites. However, all of the laws based in property and people all have their origin in the monogamous structure of society.

Serial Monogamy is when someone is faithful to an individual relationships while they are in it yet they may choose to end a relationship and begin another one which they will also be faithful to. In our society the I ssues of separation and divorce have raised another whole set of laws and rules to deal with changing rites of all those involved. It is probable that without monogamy and the subsequent social structure there would be no need for solicitors, lawyers and many of our courts.

Polygamy is a marriage with more than one person. Poly being the Greek word for ‘many’. Across the world polygamy is usually one man with several female wives. It is rare to find one woman with several husbands. John Smith of the Mormon faith reputedly had up to 40 wives. In Islam, under both Shia and Sunni law, a man can have up to four wives. A woman having more than one husband is not allowed.

Polyamory, which is described as ‘consensual’ is to have loving, and often sexual relationships, with several people at the same time. This does not mean acting sexually all at once but is having more than one ongoing relationship. In many Polyamorous relationships the various participants my never all meet. However, what occurs is all open and transparent so that all those involved understand what is happening. Those practising polyamory are often in one main relationship and have other relationships within, or around this.

The throuple has three participants whereas a couple has two. Again all the throuples that I have known are one man and two women I not yet come across one woman wit two men.

Open relationship is when members of a main relationship have sexual relationships with other people though it may not have the same transparency as in a clearly polyamorous relationship or a throuple. However it may include sex between three people all at the same time often described as troilism. Some throuples will be troilist. Or in the extreme case in the open relationship there maybe multiple people involved, up to as many as are in an orgy.

Most animal species are polygamous excepting birds who often mate for life. As birds are directly descended from dinosaurs it may be that they were also monogamous and mated for life with the same partner.

Throughput human evolution the commitment of couples has been both a social and political function that has held the fabric of society together. Of then the joining of two people would join two groups of people as one. Feuding families came to peace by joining together. Land disputes and empires were often resolved and built on through mutually beneficial marriages.

Monogamy and reality
Research results vary a little but they indicate that fifty to sixty over cent of people are unfaithful at sometime in their marriage or main relationship. Some genome/ DNA research suggests that up to 30% of children may not belong to the father who is raising them as his own.

The selfish gene was described by Richard Dawkins as the need of the individual to carryon their own genetic line and therefore taking any opportunity on offer to reproduce. As we know that continuous breeding within a population, known as inbreeding, leads to a dilution of the available gene pool that can results in various genetic mutations. This happens in closed communities who for cultural or religious reason only allow for breeding with the limited group. As the strength of a species is dependent on cross fertilisation it would suggest that the selfish gene idea would support what we do know about the process of evolution. We can see in the breeding of dogs that the mongrel is stronger with higher immunity than the thorough bred.

Single sex relationships
Society is more accepting of single sex relationships that, between two men, were illegal only a few years ago. Many churches will now perform single sex marriages and give them the church’s blessing.

Non Binary
To identify as non binary, neither make nor female, gives rise to whole new set of relationships that may manifest as straight, homosexual, lesbian or bisexual. Whatever we call it and however we sexually identify in most cases the relationships remain the joining of two people into a committed relationship. We must also acknowledge that the various forms of more open relationships are faithful to the mutual agreement made between the various participants.

Living alone in a committed relationship
I guess that in looking at relationships we need to also shout our for the singletons. I am aware that there is growing trend for people who do not want to be married but do want to be in a faithful, monogamous relationship with another person who they do not live with. These people, usually termed singletons, maintain their serious ongoing relationship with a permanent partner but choose to have their own house, accommodation or space. As a committed couple they may spend time together in each other’s houses but also choose to be alone in their own place. Also, singletons can, and often do, have children that they parent between them.
If are to take into account the whole gamut of relationships, many of which would have a sexual component, we should acknowledge the world of celibacy. The celibate is the person who chooses not to share themselves sexually with others. Celibates may have all kinds and varieties of relationships with all kinds of people. However they have, at some point, decided that these relationships will be non sexual and platonic. A platonic relationship is purely spiritual and not physical. The celibate person may have a sexual relationship but it would be considered as ‘sex for one’ that does involve orgasmic experiences but alone.

I guess there are many other sorts of relationships that could be added to this lists such as cyber sex and Teledildonics. The issues is that what every type of relationship you might engage in can mostly all be monogamous other than the poly relationships. Over all there is no rule and no book of words that will tell the right from the wrong. It will always come back to ‘does it work for you?’ As long as each person involved agrees to and is happily engaged in what takes place what is the problem?

So, however it works for you enjoy your life and enjoy your relationship and whoever you are with just be caring and be kind. That way we can all be happy.

Take care

Sean x

Does Luck Exist? 

Have you noticed, when you look around, that there are some people who always seem to have good luck. They always win the lotto or win the competition on the TV. At the same time there are those that, whatever they do, never seem to get it right, they never win.

I hear people say “It is their Karma”. So what is karma or ‘What goes around come around’ or ‘Everyone gets theirs in the end’. For me the concept of Karma is that of the consequences of our action. Karma acknowledges that the things that we do have an effect, this is the consequence. Attached to that is our responsibility for what we do and the effect that it has. 

Often karma is mistaken as a law of retribution. But like most laws in the universe karma is neutral it is not concerned whether or not the effects of what we do lead to good things or bad things. Just like gravity, which has a universal effect on all things, karma is always in operation. It is true that if we treat other well then the likelihood is that they will treat us well in turn, this is good karma. If we are treated badly it may be because we have treated others badly, this is bad karma.

So where does luck come into this. It is true that some people do have more success in life while others have more failure. Often this is to do with their attitude and responses. To hear a patient say…

…’you know what? Cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me’…

…is a bit of a shock to hear. However the person who said it was describing how the and the process of their experience had change the way that they looked at their life and the changes made their life so much better.

Gratitude, experience and luck.

The Law Of Attraction, see The Secret, explains that we each have a magnetic effect on the universe of physical, meant and emotional energies. It is saying that we get or experience what we expect to happen. the Secrete suggest that if each night we make entires into a gratitude journal recording all the positive things that happened today we will tune our mind into the positive so that we see more and more positive events around us.

But we have choice. We can focus on the negative to allow to grow or we let the negativity of others to flow by us so that we do not become attached to it. This is letting go of emotional negative attachments. It is the forgiveness that I describe in step one of the Live In The Present book. We have a choice as to whether or not we become involved in other people’s negative karma’s. In this way we are responsible for how we feel bout all that happens to us, even the most horrible and dreadful things.

When  things happen to us rather than seeing them as hurtful or bad things, perhaps we should just view these things as neutral. Or might even see them as useful things from which we might grow.

We don’t have problems we have learning opportunities

Often, when I work with people who are in difficult circumstances, the therapy is about them realising their own responsibility that they have for their situation. Many of us want to blame others for how we are. It will always be true that the things that we experience will have an effect on us, but we do have a responsibility as to what that effect is.

We are never effected by events, it is our response to those events that is the effect

Because of this we are intimately tied up in our own karma and can never really blame others for how we feel or for what has happened. However we can choose to get our own back, get involved in retribution and vendetta. By doing this we feed and build our negative attachments or karmas.

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

We are all the sum total of the habits that we have accumulated since our birth. This is our karma and magically we can change it in the blink of an eye by changing our habits and our responses.

Perhaps you should experiment with this concept of luck just as in the law of attraction in your gratitude journal. The practice is to be grateful for having achieved what ever it is that you want. Let’s say you want to win the lotto. You should not write in your journal ‘I am so happy and grateful now that I will win the Lotto on Saturday’. You should write ‘I am so happy and glad that I won the Lotto on Saturday, thank you, thank you. The point of the law of attraction is that the energy of the universe will respond to the underlying message. So that if I say ‘I will’ I am stating that I have not got it and if I say ‘I have’ than I am confirming to universe that is is mine to have.

Some people that I know have tried using the Law of Attraction and had no results whilst other have had amazing success. 

I suspect that the Law does work. Often the energies in us that it is responding to may be our true inner feelings and not what we are just saying or writing. However all the evidence it that when we repeat something for long enough our thought and feeling will change. For example if I say ‘I love and approve of myself’ even if I don’t, if I say it enough times for long enough I will become it. Just as a child who is continually told that they are a useless idiot will eventually take it on board and become it.

My advice would be to get a gratitude journal and play with what you or what you want to be and see if you can attract it to yourself.

Take care, be happy and let go

Sean x

Time To Talk

Ed and I are recording this podcast on 2nd February which is international Time To Talk Day. I have no problem with the idea and the aim of the need to talk. What I wonder about is why do we need to have a day to encourage us to talk? Why aren’t we doing it anyway?

Everyday now seems be a nation or international day of …., something that we need to be doing for each other. It feeds back into my favourite phrase…

…If we all look after each other we will al be okay!

Time to talk is aimed mainly at men and we could probably accept that men talk about personal and emotional stuff a lot less than women and that even in the current climate males are still brought up in a ‘big boys don’t cry’ culture. There have been some movement. When we describe a male as being in touch with his feminine side we usually mean that he has a higher level of sensitivity and empathy. 

I think that, socially, we the victims of history and advances in technology. Historically we have had two world wars and a depression that put men in a situation where they had to be tough to survive and do what needed to be done. Men coming back from the frontline, even now, do not share or talk about their feelings about what they have just been through. It is true that the sisterhood has been more supportive and able to share than the brotherhood. The detached nature created by dealing with violence and hardship created a society where male violence towards partners and children was an accepted norm. As I write this the song Delilah, sung by Tom Jones, has been band from the rugby terraces because it describes domestic violence leading to a man murdering his partner. 

“Quick before they come to breakdown the door, forgive me Delilah 

I just couldn’t take any more”.  


The second big issue is culture change. We have moved from a social culture of extended families to small nuclear units. In the farming culture we lived in extended groups and families. Either extended families lived in the same house, so that there were different generation all under the same roof or, they lived in close proximity. What that meant was that there was always someone, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, parent or sibling, to talk to. This created an informal stress management system that offered support and did allow people to talk. In the industrial age we no longer live in extended units. Families can now be spread all over the country our all over the world and our natural support mechanisms have gone. Statistically there has been a correlation with the increase in mental illness.

The third issues is technilogicalisation, if such a word exists. Computers and digital technology rather than bringing us together has aa great potential for pushing us further apart. The image that people present on social media often bears little in common with what is taking place. The need that we have to be seen in certain ways can mean that we share even less ands when we do it has been airbrushed to look better than it really is.

So, while I am bemused at why we should need such days and not just talk to each other I so accept that raising the issues does create the opportunity for us to think about what we are and do something about it.

How about everyday we either share, or encourage others to share, something that is meaningful. By the way, it does note have to be a bad thing. There are plenty of good positive things that happen that are never shared.

Remember it is always time to talk. If you need to talk to me you know where I am.

Take care

Sean x 

Happy New Year it’s 2023

Ok, so it is New Year!  

Standing here at the beginning of 2023 you, and I, will now be making choices about how and what this year will be. 2022 was certainly be a year to remember and for many perhaps a year to forget. From Covid, through the Ukrainian war, cost of livening crisis and the NHS backlogs and various strikes, it has been on hell of a year. 

For me there was the added issues my endocarditis and open heart surgery which was a near death experience that effected both me and my darling wife, Rie.

As we ride on into 2023 we continue the joint joys of Covid and subsequent infections, ongoing War, financial crisis and inflation and we still Brexit issues that are not yet resolved. Looking forward into 2023 will create feelings of hope, love, fear, anxiety, joy…whatever it is for you. The point is that what you see ahead, and how you see it will create your experience of 2023…

  you create what happens for you … 

… is all a matter of your choices. it may not feel like it but your world is full of choice. In your present moment in your ‘Now’ you are actively creating the world of your experience through the choices that you make…  

…thoughts becomes things…

all of us, individually and collectively, are choosing what will happen for us in 2023 and how we will respond to it and feel ab out it. We are all doing it though we may not realise it. One thing that I learned in 2022 has been…

…we don’t have problems, we have learning opportunities.

Focus for a moment on the choices before you in this coming year. Do you have any? What are they? Most importantly what is the basis of your choices? When deciding what to do, or what not to do, something It is important to own that deciding not to make a decision is actually a decision. The action of stillness is equally as powerful as the action of motion. However, when you choose to do nothing you are likely to be vulnerable to the choices that everyone else makes around you. In having your own clarity of purpose you are in the flow of your life and, as I said, stillness is a decision as much as an action.

Choice and fear

For many of us the choice for action this year will be limited by fear. Fear of disease, debt, pain, failure, fear itself, the fear of looking stupid, ridiculed, of loss, rejection, abandonment and so on. Fear is the biggest limiting factor for any of us. Fear and anxiety are the destroyers of our happiness and to create fulfilment 

  • those who dare win
  • We all need to step beyond our fears, as Susan Jeffers put it 
  • – feel the fear and do it anyway – 
  • This is a book worth reading.

If you can get hold of that idea that your thoughts become your experience, you are becoming the author of your own life. It is then you will realise that fear is actually a choice. Once you understand that you will realise that the experience of joy is the same thing. Personal joy and duty are often at odds. 

Do you do what you want to do or what you think you should or ought to do?

Choice and duty

Generally in psychotherapy the words “ought, should, must and can’t” are banned. Each of these words are limiters of self expression. The call for duty may be laid upon us by our culture, religion, beliefs, as parents, children, employees, employers and so on. The trick is that if in 2023 there are things that you feel you ‘must’ do then… 

act with a smile on your face.

This is known as Bhakti or, to give service without expecting anything in return. We all need a bit of Bhakti in our lives but it is always damaging when we allow a sense of duty to stunt our own self development after all… 

…we all deserve happiness

Well we all do in my life script. Yet many of us chose to create negative life scripts.

There are many reason that we can find to maintain and justify our own lack of development or fulfilment our feelings of victimisation or misery, unhappiness and moaning about our life and other people that we meet, though there are alternatives. The classic is that we blame other people for how we feel. Common targets are our parents, family, friends, and most commonly partners and so on.

There are alternatives…

Choice and joy

In making your decisions for 2023 you might chose to avoid the ought, should, must and can’t and, think about the lightness of joy in life… 

…focus on what makes you feel happy…

and do more of it. Doing things that make you feel good is never a difficulty and it never feels like work. When you do things that make you feel good, in the end it is you that feels happiness. How many of the things that you do in your life lead to you feeling flat, bored or unhappy. If you do more of what makes you feel good in your life you will feel happier and get better and better…

…happiness is a learned response… 

…sometime we have to practise the art of being happy.

Choice and responsibility

The word responsibility comes from the word to respond “respond-ability”. Being responsible or “respond-able” for what you experience makes you the master of our own destiny. It does not matter from where you begin your journey, whatever your age or state of health. By being responsible for your life and taking ownership of yourself – responsibility is the key-. If I decide to be responsible for myself no one else can ever be responsible for what I think or feel and, ultimately, what I do. There are many examples of people who, against the odds, chose to respond to things positively.

This year some of you will be facing very difficult and tough stuff, emotionally, mentally, financially, physically, socially and so on. These may be things that you cannot avoid and you have no choice other than to face them and deal with them. However, you do have a choice as to how you respond to them…

 none of us are effected by events, 

we are only effected by our response to those events…

living in the present and being positive about your future allows you to create the year in 2023 that you will look back on positively and perhaps with joy. Decide to create your own experience this year. Treat your problems as challenges so whatever 2023 presents you with, smile at it and be positive and, most of all, enjoy it.

Take care and happy New Year

Sean x

Another Happy Christmas?

And, here we are again! The season of goodwill is upon us. Why do we need to wait for Christmas to offer our fellow human beings goodwill? What is the matter with 364 other days of the years that you don’t offer goodwill then? It gives a lot of meaning to the song “I wish it could be Christmas everyday”.

A friend of mine will hold his mother’s funeral on the 23rd. The idea of saying have a happy Christmas seems completely wrong. For so many people Christmas is not a good time. It is a time when people revisit losses and bereavements. Some will be completely alone with not even a Christmas dinner to enjoy and there will be many in the cold on the street with nowhere to be.


Christmas should, for me, be a time of giving. I see the over consumerism that we have developed leading to demands and critical disappointments. We cease to see the love behind the gift and only the gift itself.

But, how is it for you?

Happy time

Is it that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus? Or is it that you recognise the winter solstice and acknowledge the end of the darkness and the change to shorter nights and longer day as the light increases. Is it that you simply see this as time of sharing, perhaps with family and friends. A time of warmth and social connection. Is it that you see this as a time when you get wonderful presents and maybe that you also give wonderful presents, a time of giving and receiving.

Not so good a time

Perhaps this is not such a good time. It might be the first Christmas without someone. Maybe it reminds you of of bad times in the past or negative childhood memories. Some people just want to be on their own at Christmas and get accused of being miserable if they are.

A really bad time

Someone who is homeless is unlikely to be reading this and maybe having the worst time of their lives. There are children in war zones such as the Ukraine, old people living alone, the poor, deprived and the needy. For people who are terminal or coming to the end of their life Christmas might no be a very good time at all. Children in hospitals. Families with nothing or very little money.

Dark depression and suicide

At this time of year there is often an increase in suicide or suicide attempts.

For many people this is not the most wonderful time of the year

Getting the best that you can from Christmas

Whatever Christmas means for you, and whatever your stating point, what is the very best that you can get from it?

All the evidence would point to the physiological and psychological benefits that come from the act of giving. Giving may be to those that are immediately around you. It may be that you are able to contribute in some way to those around you that have so much less. Who in your street or vicinity is living alone and may really appreciate a Christmas dinner, a visit or a little present. It may be too much for you to invite people into your home but you can contribute to the homeless and those that have nothing with food, money, presents or time. If people are coming to you or you have a family to cater for creating a loving and welcome ambiance is a real act of love at this time. 

If you have nothing material to give you always have love and time. The most precious gifts of all.

What about you?

It is important when you look at the ideas of giving and loving this Christmas to look after yourself as well. What are you going to give yourself this Christmas? What are you doing for you this Christmas? The phrase ‘Charity begins at home’ starts with you. None of us can look after other people, whoever they are, if we do not look after ourselves first. 

Time to consider what you want and what you need this Christmas as well as what everyone else wants and what everybody else needs.

Be happy and enjoy it

Take care


Empty Nests

Each year families, especially mothers, go through the issue of letting go of their children as they go off to university or to work and each year I get people coming to talk about it and make sense of their changing role. Coping with the effects of children leaving the home going off to university or off to work or even a new relationship means that the role of the parent is changed forever. 

You spend years developing your family. Your kids have good bits and bad bits. There are times when you could happily strangle them all and times when you love their bones. Then when you have learned to live with the madness that is called ‘family’ hey, they go and leave home. The fact that they have been leaving their junk all around the house, just like a tree wedding leaves in autumn, means nothing, you just want them back. The bird has flown and the nest is empty. Suddenly your role have changed, or maybe even come to an end. This is the time when the answer to the question ‘who are you?’ suddenly changes.

The rites of passage

The senses of the changing role of self happens to us all though it is more so for women. When a woman marries she changes her name and as she normally takes the part as of head of the house, often without the man even realising it, she has changes her role. Then the first child comes along and another set of changes begin and each time the answer to that question ‘who am I?’ changes. As the last child is born, as the last child goes to school, as the last child leaves school, as the last child moves on to university, as the last child leaves home. Each stage presents us with a different sense of who we are. For full-time mums the impact of these changes are much greater.  

We live in odd world. As primates we would be living in extended family groups. When change happened there would have been a natural stress management from the various relatives supporting each other. Even when your won children had grown up there would be new young ones coming through. In our odd little nuclear units of mum, dad and the kids aloneness and isolation can become common place as evidenced in the general rise of depression, stress and anxiety in western society.

Some of our stress comes from the fact that we do not really understand how to act in this new family situation. There is a confusing shift in the roles that we now play. When you have been a full on parent and your child goes off to uni. What contact do we now have with our distanced child? Questions arise..

Who contacts who?

How often do I phone, text, skype?

Do I wait for them to contact me?

Do I offer the money, resources or wait until I am asked?

What do I do with their room?

Do I keep it as a shrine, redecorate it, let’s other people stay in it….?

What about the family dynamic?

One child moving out can upset the dynamic of the entire family. In some case this can create feelings of bereavement and loss. Some families will even go though a period of mourning. Siblings may become withdrawn or upset. It may effect their performance at school. I am not being dramatic I am simply stating that changes effect us all.

Often both parent and child do not fully comprehend the importance of the family unit until it is no longer there. ‘We don’t know what we’ve got ‘til its gone’.

But hold on, we always knew that this would happen, that this day would come it was just that we have chosen to ignore it. Maybe pretend that it will never happen. The awake mindful parent is preparing them self, the family and the child for their departure. Talking obviously helps but it the practical issues and skills that effect a child most. These might include…

Using money

Knowing how to budget and pay bills

Making a shopping list

Basic cookery skills

How to use a washing machine 

The art of ironing

The rules of engagement

Agreeing all the rules of contact and money and doing their washing should all have been discussed prior to the event. As long as they know that they can get you when they need to they will be okay. So what about you?

So who are you now?

If have been a full on parent the chances are that you have lost the sense of who you are, what your own real needs are and what it is that you want to do with your life now.

Many couples caught up in the rush and business of raising a family lose contact with each other. Often in the silence of the empty nest two people stare across the void at each other thinking ‘Who are you?’ For it will have been along time since they really had ‘us’ time and for many this is the chance to get back in touch. Talking, sharing and date nights can help. The question ‘who am I’ extends to ‘who are we’ and ‘where are we going from here?’

I guess that over all empty nest syndrome just like bereavement is not an illness it is a process and the better prepared for it the better we process it when the time comes.

My resource for the podcast was to look ate John Bowlby’s attachment theory. Our ability to deal with endings is dependent on what happened to us when we were young and how we learned to attach and detach in our relationships. What we learned as children is played out in adulthood. The good news is that even if you do not like you current attachment styles you can re learned and re frame them so that they serve you better.

The biggest gift that we can give our children is independence and confidence and to that we have to learn to let go and allow them to live and make mistakes.

Take care and be happy

Sean x