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By z4029250730, Oct 3 2017 04:16PM

Ever been hurt? Ever been knocked in the Life School of Hard Knocks? Most people have – to a greater or larger degree. Some terribly so. In my role as a couple, marriage and relationship counsellor in Kettering and as a prison counsellor too (one day a week dealing with men who have been convicted of sexual offences), I see a lot of hurt and pain. A world crying out for healing. And at the drug addict and alcoholic centre I now work at as a volunteer (one day a fortnight) I see and hear of more pain. Terrible. Sometimes too much. Never mind about turning on the news and seeing so many victims of war, ethnic cleansing, famine, etc. Plus my knowledge of the Holocaust and the World Wars etc. because of my interest and degree in Modern History. A world crying out with such terrible pain.

So where does healing come from? Can it come? Is it out there? The answer has to be “Yes – up to a point.” We can’t eliminate all of the pain in the world but we can do our bit to be part of the solution – not part of the problem. And as Jabez cried out to God in the Bible, “…that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.” We can actively, by choice, try and not to increase the pain in the world but to help others get through their’s. We can’t change the whole world. But as Mother Teresa said, “we change the world one person at a time.” Or, as my friend Garry Hare said many years ago, we can try and affect our ‘sphere of influence.’ For me, that is my clients and counsellees, friends and family. For Donald Trump, that can be the world. For you, it’s those you come into contact with that you can affect - for good or for bad.

So, what is compassion and have we got enough inside of us to be able to give some away? A dictionary definition of it is: “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” That sounds alright. Surely we all have a bit of that – with some to spare? And it doesn’t take too much to be able to demonstrate a bit of t.l.c. (tender loving care) to someone who needs it. Or maybe as some others do, to participate in “acts of random kindness.”

I do think that when we have experienced pain ourselves, then we are in a better position to help, empathize and have compassion on others. I think many counsellors have got into counselling after coming from a background of trying to work through their own pain. On a similar level, when I was in Kettering Hosptial Acccident and Emergency Unit early last Saturday morning with a very painful knee that they were giving me painkillers including morphine for, I was VERY empathetic to the pain of others and it gave me a new insight into the ridiculousness and futility of war – when people deliberately try and inflict pain, killing and destruction onto others. I understood and emphasised far better about the physical pain of others. We can also give people comfort and compassion when we ourselves have received and experienced it from others. We know how it works!

And perhaps the world is full of compassion – it’s just that we don’t see or hear of it. It doesn’t make such good news headlines as disaster, pain and terror. In fact there are probably billions of acts of compassion a day – just as there are many bad acts every day. We just have to try and make sure that, for our part, we are involved with the good, loving, kind, compassionate things that happen – not the bad, awful things. As, as Isaiah cried out (like Jabez, also in The Bible), “Comfort, comfort my people.”

If you feel you need some help, compassion and counselling in Kettering – couple, marriage, relationship, individual or family – then do please contact me at Resolve Counselling.

David Woodward

By z4029250730, Apr 6 2017 08:15PM

Why do we need to endure? Why do we need to carry on through all the tests and troubles and trials that life throws at us? Why not just give up, walk away, ‘throw the towel in’ so to speak - and just plain QUIT? Wouldn’t that be a lot easier and simpler than just pushing on through the daily grind of life with all it’s challenges? For goodness sake, life is tough and we can’t just keep going ALL the time can we??

Many of you out there reading this now have often thought about quitting. In its worst case scenario that would be to consider taking your own life – to commit suicide. Or another (lesser) form of self-harming. Many more people than we realise have had thoughts like this – including some of our family and friends. Maybe ourselves. And sometimes people don’t always share until it’s too late. Again - in it’s worst case scenario - that could be a suicide note left behind.

And even when things aren’t that bad, they can still be pretty bad. Kids too much of a handful and you feel you are losing control as a parent. Job going terribly and you are desperate to quit but need the money to pay the bills (that’s even assuming you are fortunate to have a job - many don’t). Struggling in a primary relationship – again! Health issues. Mental and emotional issues. Spiritual issues. Life is tough and comes at us in a never-ending stream. Relentlessly sometimes.

A famous existentialist once said, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” A sombering thought – but true for many. So why do we carry on?

Well, part of the answer is that there is nowhere else to go. We can’t just wave a magic wand and see everything change. If only. As my sister says, “It is as it is.” We have to face the reality of our daily life. Winston Churchill once famously said, “If you feel like you are in Hell, keep going.” He also once stood up and said - even more famously - when he was giving an after-dinner speech, “Never, ever, ever give up.” That was the speech . Five words. And then he sat down again. Some food for thought. Bearing in mind he struggled with manic depression (the “black dog” he called it) and yet led the British Empire to overcome incredible evil and ordeal in the Second World War against the Nazis and Japanese.

And as we look at other tests and trials we have undergone in the course of our lives we can see that we do come through them – although they can be extraordinarily challenging and even seem impossible to deal with at the time. Bereavements, tragedies, relationship breakdowns, redundancies, health traumas and accidents, emotional traumas and meltdowns, etc. We have got through them. Even as you sit and read this, you can acknowledge that yes indeed, you have come through some tragic, very difficult times but - more importantly - you survived them. The fact that you can read this, shows that you have made it this far.

Persevering with endurance can also be a trait in terms of character building - although I don’t say this glibly. As we push on through something in our lives, our character is being transformed and redefined. We are growing, maturing, getting stronger, pushing through, overcoming, etc. For our own good. And for the good of those around us. It can help when we see persistance and perseverance as a joy and delight - rather than as a discipline or daily drudgery.

And sometimes we have to push on through things for the sake of others – specifically our children if we have them when they are young, impressionable and need good role-models. Not that we have to be superhuman. Indeed we can be honest with them and tell them we are struggling. But we can still try and overcome in our strength - and with God’s strength if we have a faith in Him.

So don’t quit if you can keep going. But also remember that no man or woman is ever a failure. We can fail – many times – but that does not make us a failure. And a crucial, crucial word is HOPE. Even when we have little faith that we can get through something, we can still have HOPE – “a confident expectation of something good.” That things will come good sometime and we WILL get through.

A great book to read is “The Power of Positive Thinking,” by Norman Vincent Peale. This book can really engender hope that we can get through. Over 15 million copies of this book have been sold over the years and it is a potentially life-changing read. Buy a second-hand copy on Amazon and see what he suggests. Some truly helpful ideas that have proved themselves successful time and time again for countless numbers of people. I’m reading it and have been really encouraged.

Take care, don’t give up and remember that others have come through many other similar tests and trials that you may be experiencing at this time in your life right now. We CAN overcome. And if you can’t do it in your own strength, then maybe think about asking God for some of His.

And if you would like some help with counselling in Kettering - relationship, couple, marriage, individual or otherwise, then please let me know.

By z4029250730, Dec 17 2016 07:46PM

Try to discipline your mind to think and dwell on what is good and positive every day before you even get out of bed. Do not entertain negative thoughts or any thoughts starting with "what if..." or "if only..."

Let your friends and family know what they mean to you and how much you care about them. Give something out in the way of appreciation, compliments and love rather than wanting to receive or being self-centred. Be a 'Sea of Galilee' rather than a 'Dead Sea' ie. give out rather than just soak up.

Live for today and rejoice in today. Rejoice and be happy that you are alive and have some - if not all - of your five senses.

Forget the past and stop dwelling on it and in it. It is over - you can't change it. You can only - to the best of your ability - deal with now and today.

Find ways to increase the amount of exercise you get even if it's only in small increments. Try and be creative with it and ideally make it fun and sociable with others. See it as something to be enjoyed and benefitted from - rather than just a chore or a task.

Contentment is a decision and a discipline. Train your thinking. Give thanks daily for the blessings you have. Look around and be joyful for the potential of your life still. You have so much more than millions, if not billions, of others.

Think of how you can help and encourage others with some extra acts of kindness. Maybe go the extra mile. Random acts of kindness can have a huge affect on others. Reach out to those that need reaching out to. Encourage, write letters and emails, give some online therapy, befriend and help those in need.

Forget the dreams that have crashed and the places and situations where you imagine that things will be better. Stop thinking that things are better somewhere else. They're not! Embrace and make the most of your present situation rather than trying to run away from it.

Get outside and enjoy the natural world. The 'Great Outdoors' is outdoors - You have to actually go and find it. Leave the T.V., the internet, the magazine, the games console, etc. Go and find and enjoy the beauty of the world around us. Cheer yourself up by looking at the beauty of nature.

Stop allowing anxious thoughts to consume you. Lighten up on the details. Be flexible and patient. Rather than worry about, "What if ...happens," turn it around, and say "If ........happens, I will......" and then write down your answers and solutions.

Look out for your neighbours. Take some time and make an effort to get to know those around you. Try and encourage and befriend those that are easily available on your doorstep. You don't have to go far to make new friends.

Get on and try different options but don't fret if they don't work out as you expected. It's not a big deal. Be flexible. Let go of things and just get on with the next thing in a positive way. Persevere. Don't give up.

Take up a new interest. Preferably something that requires you to step out of your comfort zone and extend yourself mentally, socially and maybe even physically. Learn something new to stimulate the old brain cells and get the neurotransmitters working again.

Stop allowing emotions to toss you around. Take control of them. Call them to attention like soldiers and get them in place and in order - not in undisciplined ranks. You are in control and in charge of them - don't let them order and boss you around. Take control and exercise some authority and self-discipline over yourself.

Take some time to be 'mindful' - to reflect, ponder and think how you are doing each day. Not to be introspective or to go 'navel gazing' but to actively think about what changes you can make in your life each day to enable you - and those around you - to have a better quality of life.

Take your eyes off yourself and your problems. You've spent enough time working through the issues of the past. Move on. Get on and live in the joy and thankfulness of what you do have - rather than being miserable about what you don't.

Make a decision to change something that makes you or others unhappy. Something that you know is not productive in your life. Don't put it off until tomorrow or next week. Start now - this morning, afternoon or evening.

On a daily basis Write down three things that happened that day that were good. Reflect briefly on what they were. Can you make them happen more regularly? Were there others? What positive things can you think on - rather than dwelling on mistakes, frustrations, grievances, etc.

Forgive someone. Release your resentment. Let it go. Let go of the bitterness. Be free to MOVE ON with your life.

Make slight adjustments to your diet and drinking habits. More fresh fruit and vegetables. Less sugary or fatty things. Less junk food. Cut back on drinks containing high sugar or high caffeine. Drink more water to 'detox' and flush out your system. More fibre, sprinkle linseed on your breakfast, etc. Less alcohol. What else do you know that is not good for you that you could cut back on?

Seek out those that can encourage, motivate, challenge, coach, mentor or counsel you. If they are not around, then brainstorm ideas on where to find them. Renew old relationships, visit/join a church, join some clubs, do a distant learning courses, through counseling, etc. Any which way you can - but get some help, support and encouragement.

View yourself holistically ie. body, soul and spirit. Are you addressing all these three areas of your life? If not, what could you do to change things in each area?

By z4029250730, Oct 24 2016 04:48PM

Forgiveness is the sort of thing that we all know (in our heads) sounds a nice, kind, good thing to do but that many of us in fact can struggle with. I mean, who wants to forgive the idiot who almost ran you off the road, the burglar who ransacked your home or the bully that is making your child’s life a misery. Far better to hate them, pound them, judge and despise them. Of course it is. Or is it? Is that really going to help you? Or your kids who you’re (hopefully) trying to role-model life to?

In my role as a private practice counsellor in Kettering, a G.P.’s counsellor in Corby and a prison counsellor at Wellingborough and Littlehey, I have counselled around 1200 people over the last few years. Only one person has ever come to me out of all those people and said, “David, I have a problem with unforgiveness,” and recognised it as such. Only one. And yet I have encountered it, challenged and discussed it dozens - if not hundreds - of times. When you start taking the ‘jam-jar’ lid off people’s lives behind closed doors in a counselling session, then you would be amazed at what can come up. And it can be very deep. Bitterness, anger, rage and judgements, resentments, unforgiveness and hate.

I specialise in couple and marriage counselling in my Kettering counselling practice and I sometimes encounter couples where grievances are held, remembered and even nurtured and then wheeled out when the next shouting match starts. But as someone famous said (I think it was St. Augustine), “Forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” Very astute and absolutely true, because sometimes the person who has wronged us isn’t even remorseful - and in some instances would even do it again if given the chance! So we cannot afford for our forgiveness to rely on other people. It has to rely on OUR choices and responses. As difficult as that is. Otherwise unforgiveness can play havoc on our emotions.

Sometimes forgiveness is a CHOICE. And it certainly isn’t an emotion – as who FEELS like forgiving. It has to be a mental assent – followed by a personal choice of the will. Difficult I know but always worthwhile. Someone else said that in life it is not what happens to us but how we respond that is the most important thing. We can get bitter or better.

In my experience, people can’t always forgive until they have had a chance to ‘work through’ the anger. Otherwise it can be like trying to apply an ‘elastoplast’ of forgiveness to a gaping wound of rage and anger and hate. Forgiveness is like a balm to the wound but the infection needs addressing also. That needs to be looked at and dealt with too. But it is so worthwhile. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said back in South African apartheid days, “Forgiveness is not just a good thing to do. It is is the best form of self-interest.” That makes sense. It certainly does. Forgiving helps our emotional life develop and can take some of the painful sting out of life’s events and traumas.

If you feel you are having a problem forgiving somone and feel that some counselling could help – either face-to-face or via Skype – then please feel free to contact me. I offer a 30 minute free initial consultation at my Kettering counselling room and then you can decide if counselling re. a forgiveness issue is the way forward for you..

By z4029250730, Aug 24 2016 03:03PM

Hi. I wanted to briefly broach the subject of anxiety which is a very relevant issue to many nowadays.

Statistically, anxiety affects approx. 16% of the UK population at any one time and young to middle-aged women are the most prone. Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 2-5% of the UK population but accounts for 30% of the mental health problems in people seen by GP’s. In my work as a GP’s counsellor in Corby at Lakeside Surgery and the two prisons (Wellingborough and Littlehey) where I have counselled, anxiety came up many times. Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental health disorder experienced in the UK and it is estimated that one in four of the British population will experience a mental heath problem along these lines. And in my private Kettering counselling practice, I have encountered many clients battling with these issues.

The dictionary definition of anxiety is “an uncomfortable feeling of nervousness or worry about something that is happening or might happen in the future.”Or “something that causes a feeling of fear or worry.” Does that sound familiar to any of the emotions you or I have experienced in the last two or three months – or weeks – or days – or even hours?

It is very common and people have experienced it since the very beginnings of the human race. And it’s not going to go away. Indeed, it could be a phenomema that affects each of us more and more in the future as we each get older - unless we take steps and are careful to guard our thoughts, attitudes and emotions. For some, their mental lives have become mental battlefields.

It is a ‘hidden disability’ as, like so many other mental afflictions, the sufferer doesn’t necessarily present with the issues on the surface – unlike physical disabilities or even other emotional/mental disabilities that can manifest outwardly. Instead the battle with anxiety takes place in the person’s mind – unseen by others including the sufferer’s friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours, fellow club members, church congregational members, etc. Truly a dark struggle in a dark place. I have battled with it myself at times and it is impossible to really describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it for themselves. So empathy is difficult to find sometimes from those who have not been through it.

Common characteristics of anxiety would be what we call ‘catastrophising’ where the worst case scenario is envisaged or ‘ruminating’ where the topic goes round and round the person’s mind without any resolution - producing depair, negative thoughts, fear, hopelessness, sleeplessness, etc. It can be crippling or debilitating and stops the person functioning normally. And friends and family watching feel powerless to do anything to help.

However, all is not lost and there are many things that can be done in the battle against anxiety. Cognitive Behaviourial Thinking/Renewing the Mind/Positive Thinking/Neuro-linguistic Programming – call it what you like – have all been shown to have significant impact on improving one’s mental state in the area of anxiety and fear. Plus, as I explain to many clients, “where there is a fruit, there is a root” Getting to the root of the fear or anxiety – where it came in in the first place – can be crucial to the long-term healing/theraphy. And that can involve counselling, wisdom, memory-recollections, discernment, etc.

So, there is a way forward. As with most things actually. Despite the bleak outlook and the present-day torment. Things can’t always be “fixed” but they can be healed or moved on significantly. That is what I try and do in my Kettering counselling practice. To try and help people find a way forward in the situations they find themselves in. If you would like help – or know of any freinds, family or work colleagues that do – then please feel free to get in touch with me.