Self-development-3

Battling The Princess Myth: Why You Don’t Need Rescuing

Few words have uglier connotations to me than “princess”; for life ain’t no fairytale and if you are desperately waiting and hoping for a white knight to rescue you, you’re just setting yourself up for misery and disappointment, sister.

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Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo – I call bullshit. Personal power comes from a healthy self-esteem whereby you take responsibility for your life and make positive, empowering life decisions. You and you alone are responsible for your own self-care and happiness. Repeat after me: I am no one’s prize; I am nobody’s princess!

However, the princess myth and Cinderella-worship is so powerful and pervasive in modern-day culture, it’s everywhere we look: it’s rife in movies, women’s magazines, clothes, books and little girl’s fashion accessories, for starters.

And witness the public’s endless fascination with the real-life fairytale of modern-day princesses such as that of Mary Donaldson and her Danish prince and Kate Middleton (pictured at right), aka Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, with the couple recently welcoming their second child, Charlotte, into the world.

princess myth, healthy relationships, kate middleton

I felt a cold stab of fear in my feminist-heart recently when my Cinderella-loving three-year-old daughter announced that she too wanted to “grow up to be a princess.” I allowed myself a small lecture to her about being in charge of her own destiny, before happily handing her her mock diamante tiara from the dress-up drawer and letting her indulge in the age-appropriate fantasy.

So, why is the princess myth so damaging to adult relationships? I turned to Brisbane psychologist Kobie Allison, 31, for her interesting insight into the issue. The psychologist/director of a private practice – which specialises in children, teens and families and acute and complex trauma – says the wish of wanting to be taken care of or “rescued” by another can stem from co-dependency.

“Co-dependency is a learned behaviour which can be detrimental to relationships as it affects an individual’s capacity to have a healthy, balanced mutually satisfying relationship,” Kobie says.

“One symptom of co-dependency is that one partner is generally the caretaker, fixer, rescuer, controller or safeguard. Thus, the partnership is built on “caretaking” instead of a love sharing. A healthy relationship helps each individual grow their self-esteem, self-confidence, sense of self-worth and self-reliance, which are all part of developing a healthy sense of self-love.”

princess myth, healthy relationships, kate middleton

To ensure both you and/or your daughters don’t fall prey to the princess myth, here are the psychologist’s top tips for healthy relationship behaviours.

Top five signs of an co-dependent and/or addictive relationship

  • A feeling of not being able to live without the partner.
  • Loss of self-control and low self-esteem: looking to partner for validation and affirmation of self-worth.
  • Making fewer decisions or plans: waiting for the partner to tell you what to do.
  • Rushing things, like sex or marriage, so as not to lose the partner.
  • Using drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms.

Top five signs of mature love

  • Develops gradually through learning about each other.
  • Sexual attraction is present, but warm affection/friendship is central.
  • Characterised by calm, peacefulness, empathy, support, trust, confidence and tolerance of each other – there are no feelings of being threatened.
  • Is based on reality not a princess fantasy of being “rescued.”
  • Partners have high self-esteem and can make strong, independent decisions; each has a sense of self-worth with or without the partner and feels complete even without the relationship.

Top five important qualities to look for in a prospective partner

  • Is not involved in other love relationships and is open to being in a relationship with you.
  • Is well over heartaches and has not just recently broken up with someone else.
  • Has time to devote to the relationship and is close to you geographically: in your city or state.
  • Has high self-esteem; treats himself and others well, even if they are strangers.
  • Is compatible with you in terms of social values and beliefs.

 Images via theatlantic.com, marissabracke.com, hercampus.com

May 29, 2015

How Are Negative Life Patterns Affecting You?

Do you have a string of bad relationships? Can’t quit smoking, reach that goal weight or feel worthy of that promotion? What about finishing things? Perhaps you have some attainable goal that just seems to keep evading you? All these things are negative life patterns at work. Unconsciously you may be doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome or stuck in a familiar way of doing things.

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Unfortunately life patterns can be much easier to recognise in others than acknowledge in ourselves. For example, we can often see our friends or relatives enter the same types of relationship time after time but never find happiness. The problem is they seem oblivious to what’s right in front of them.

We all experience this in one form or another. For some it’s worse than others, such as people who unintentionally sabotage themselves with unhealthy behaviours or continue to place themselves in violent relationships. It’s only when life patterns are recognised and acknowledged that change can begin.

How life patterns form

Barbara Findeisen, psychotherapist and world renowned expert in pre-and perinatal psychology, believes life patterns form before birth whilst still in the womb. She explains that here we begin learning patterns of trust and security.

This strongly supports the theory that life patterns evolve on a sub-conscious level. For example, knowing that things covered in fur which have four legs are usually animals. We don’t remember when we learn these things, but most of us eventually do.

We also learn what to expect in various situations and from other people. Like if we walk down a dark alley alone at night we’ll probably feel scared, or if we’ve done a good job at work we may receive praise. Combined these things form our unconscious perception of what we know and what we anticipate to happen. If we anticipate a negative or positive outcome we act accordingly.

Remember this happens on a sub-conscious level. Many of us aren’t aware that we intentionally set ourselves up for success or failure, but ironically that’s exactly what happens. The only way to move forward and overcome it is to recognise your life patterns for what they are and make some essential changes.

Negative self-defeating life patterns

If you have a string of bad relationships, can’t finish things, feel stuck in a rut or just can’t seem to meet goals you set for yourself, you may have a self-defeating life pattern. People with this type of life pattern learn a negative perception and often repeatedly behave in a way that supports it. This is called a self-fulfilling prophecy and occurs due to positive feedback between beliefs and behaviour.

For example, they may be attracted to a particular type of person and this is why the relationships they enter into end badly. Maybe they sub-consciously feel they can’t be in a relationship or that they don’t deserve happiness. They will choose partners based on this unconscious perception which supports this belief. When the relationship ends badly it’s familiar and expected, which in turn strengthens this belief.

How to fix negative life patterns

According to Kevin D. Arnold, a psychologist and Board Certified Cognitive & Behavioral Psychologist, there are some simple ways to overcome negative self-defeating behaviours.

1.Know what triggers your self-defeating behaviour

When you know what you want to change, work out the pattern which has lead you to defeat in the past. For example, you might eat when you’re tired rather than hungry. You might have a date with an ideal partner but not answer their call for a second date. Each behaviour has a trigger, so keep a diary and work out what you’ve been doing in the past which has prevented your happiness or success.

2.Control your triggers

This is pretty self explanatory, but pull yourself up on whatever the behaviour is when the trigger presents itself. Recognise it and the best method of control is replacing a negative behaviour with a positive one.

3.Replace Self-defeating habits

We learn every behaviour and most are a reaction to a trigger. The idea is to swap the behaviour for a non-defeating positive behaviour. Identify one which will work and replace the behaviour which is holding you back. It will become a habit over time and far easier to sustain a change.

4.Keep moving forward

We can’t change the past, so focus on the present and future. The idea is to shift your perspective of negative self-belief into positive self-belief. The power of positive thought works equally as well as negative thought, so if you have a choice, why focus on the negative? Over time your new behaviours will change your perception. They will confirm your positive perceptions and new self-fulfilling prophecies will develop.

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February 17, 2015

Women And Self-Pleasure

Women generally aren’t comfortable talking about self-pleasure. Yes, I’m talking about masturbation, but it’s so much more than that. It involves being in control and exploring our own physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and sexual needs. Many women don’t prioritise or give themselves permission to experience it.

Men have this naturally inbuilt and more importantly, self-pleasure is approved and encouraged by society. They participate and watch a range of sports and leisure activities, create private spaces for themselves like “man caves” and are given permission to sexually explore their own bodies and be sexual beings.

Despite women sharing this need most will need to teach themselves. Society has taken a strong position about women experiencing self-pleasure. Our mothers and the generations before them weren’t taught and many never experienced it. Their entire lives were based on the premise that they were born to serve and satisfy others.

Modern women need to learn about self-pleasure and pass this knowledge down to the next generation. We need to encourage them to fully explore themselves and open themselves up to life’s possibilities. Hopefully generations to come will be educated and empowered, encouraging self-pleasure to be approved by society, regardless of gender.

So, to start with, many women neglect self-pleasure by simply not allowing themselves alone or quiet time. This should be an essential part of each day. Concentrate on your breathing and heartbeat, allow thoughts to flow through your mind like clouds being swept away by the wind. Allowing yourself this time steadies, calms and rejuvenates the body, mind and spirit.

Women should also create a space as their our own private sanctuary. When we need alone time we need to give ourselves permission to go there and breathe in the peace and stillness. The experience should be similar to taking a nice, long, uninterrupted bath with no technology or other distractions.

Another element of self -pleasure is doing simple things for yourself. Women are instinctive nurturers and often this takes preference over caring for themselves. To achieve it, it can be as simple as taking time to read or going out into the garden with a cuppa and literally taking time to smell the roses.

Then there’s the element of physical self-pleasure. This includes touch and masturbation. We need to learn about how our bodies and brains work and offer ourselves permission to explore our sexual thoughts, fantasies, wants and desires. We should know what body parts react to what types of touch, what we like and what turns us on. Most importantly, women need to ignore society’s condemnation concerning their sexual and erotic self and lead a charge into a new and improved way of thinking.

This change of mindset is urgently required. Currently, many male partners feel responsible for their ladies sexual pleasure. In reality, they aren’t. Women should know how to bring themselves to orgasm, be fully in control of their sexuality and remove sexual pressure from their partners.

This shift will empower women and take sexual pressure off men to “perform”. Sex should be about experience, not performance. Women should be responsible for their own sexual gratification and self-pleasure will help them achieve this. This will level the equilibrium that women aren’t responsible for their sexual satisfaction and that men’s sexual experience be based on performance.

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January 10, 2015

Is Perfectionism Holding You Back?

As a recovering perfectionist, I know exactly how it feels to spend days and days polishing something you’re working on and never submit it in the end. Or go through mountains of books and research just to find that you already knew the answers you were looking for before you even started. Or fail to apply for a job you really wanted because you couldn’t come up with the right opening sentence for your cover letter. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do the best job you can, but when you want to do a perfect job, you’ve taken on an impossible task.

Here are just some of the ways perfectionism can hold you back:

  • You may be investing too much time in perfecting your work, instead of trying something new, spending time with your family or simply having a break.
  • You could be missing out on opportunities because of your all-or-nothing attitude. If you don’t think you can do something perfectly, you don’t even give yourself a chance.
  • Your perfectionism can cause you a lot of stress and performance anxiety sometimes to the point of making you physically sick.
  • You become less creative. As you’re trying to eliminate mistakes and failure, you choose safety instead of boldness.
  • You give up. At some point you may decide that it’s not even worth trying since you can’t do it perfectly anyway.

Strategies for overcoming perfectionism:

  • Bring in an outside perspective. Share your work in progress with colleagues or friends and ask for their opinion. This can be very hard to do, because perfectionists usually fear judgment, but once you give it a try you’ll realise that you’re your harshest critic and anything anyone else has to say about your work will be a lot kinder. You’ll be surprised to discover that the world is not setting the impossible standards you’re trying to measure yourself up against. You’re setting them up for yourself and you can choose to let them go.
  • Focus on improving your skills instead of the finished work. This will shift your attention from the end result to the process and you will find that you’re enjoying yourself more and stress less.
  • Set some limits for yourself before you start and challenge yourself to stick to them. Give yourself a deadline and whatever you come up with during that time will have to be good enough. Or limit the research you do to three books or articles. Practice on less important tasks first and the more you do it, the easier it’ll get.

Image by indy0333 via pixabay.com

By Tatiana Apostolova

September 22, 2014