How to make it through the holidays when your family drives you nuts.
Family time can be both a blessing and a curse. While we can love and appreciate our relatives, it’s not unusual for us to be completely driven up the wall by them at times.
Their expectations of us can lead to feelings of anger, disappointment or worthlessness. And differences in political, religious or moral worldviews can be a melting pot for heated discussions or unbridled arguments. So how can we mindfully navigate our group family interactions without pouring wine in our uncle’s face or running off to sob uncontrollably in the bathroom?
We asked Indigo Counsellor & Coach, Danielle Hanrahan for some advice…
How do you endure spending time with family when they make you feel like crap?
Let’s be real – even if you consider yourself to be an enlightened person, you’re likely going to be triggered by your family. It happens to the best of us. So, plan for it to happen. Have an idea of what your family might say or how they might make you feel, and rather than only having your reactions to fall back on, set an alternative plan around how you’re going to respond instead. You can then see this plan as a little awareness experiment. This will help to activate the observing part of the mind. Activating the ‘observer’ helps us start to objectively view our thoughts, feelings, and default reactions, rather than engaging with them. This is key in helping us disrupt our unfavourable reactions/behaviours.
The people who trigger us most are also our greatest teachers in self-awareness.
If we can bring a gentle curiosity to what is triggered in the moment, we automatically bring in the observing part of the mind.
How to navigate differences in worldview/morality in family dinner conversations (religious, political, etc.)?
One word – respect. This is the magic word when it comes to communicating, especially communicating differences. “I want to respect myself by sharing my opinions, ideas and worldview while also respecting that others may see my opinions, ideas and worldview in an entirely different way.”
Know there are multiple ways of seeing something, and if you, or someone you are speaking with, is getting aggravated in discussing differences, this might be reflective of an inferiority/superiority complex. If you are becoming aggravated, notice this and later (if you can’t in the moment) reflect on what’s been activated within you.
If you notice this in someone you are speaking with, bring curiosity to what could be sitting behind their need for dominance or to persuade others to be on their side. By being curious about this, we disrupt the emotions that may arise with confrontation.
A lot of us take things personally but if we depersonalise the reactions or comments of others and see their reactions/responses as a reflection of them, not of us, over time we become less emotionally activated..
But don’t forget respect. Respecting ourselves means acknowledging and voicing what we have to say, while also allowing someone else the space to do the same.
What to do when you and a particular family member really clash.
If there is history behind a clash, then all you can do is take personal responsibility for your actions and allow the other person to do the same.
It’s no secret that feeling out-of-control is not something us humans enjoy feeling, but sometimes that’s exactly what we need to accept. Sometimes situations or people’s behaviour are out of our control.
…But rather than feeling helpless, focus on the immense power you have.
The power to control your responses to a particular family member or to a situation. And again, that magical word from above, r-e-s-p-e-c-t.
If you’re having trouble navigating family relationships, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here at Indigo, we have Psychologists that specialise in helping people manage family issues. Check out a few below or Click + WHAT ARE YOU DEALING WITH (in the top right corner right above the Practioner images) and select ‘Family‘ to see our experts.
Cheesy inspirational quotes that give us tummy aches
The internet loves a cheesy inspirational quote but we’ve found that some of these quotes serve to reinforce outdated or unhelpful mindsets. Check out a few cheesy inspirational quotes that inflamed our psychological sensibilities, and the healthier, dairy-free alternatives we recommend.
Happy Grilled Cheese Day (and Happy Grilled Cashew Nut Cheese Day for our Vegan friends). Now before we start off on the wrong foot – we bloody love us an inspirational quote here at Indigo (I mean, have you seen our Insta feed?)
However, the Internet does run rampant with them and it’s come to our attention that some of these “inspirational” quotes aren’t just cheesy, but serve to reinforce outdated or unhelpful mindsets. When these mindsets are replicated and perpetuated, they become normalized, and can easily endorse unhelpful thoughts & behaviours – thoughts & behaviours that might be restricting us from being the best version of ourselves or build up unreasonable expectations.
So we’ve decided to serve up some cheesy inspirational quotes that have inflamed our psychological sensibilities, and recommended some healthier, dairy-free alternatives.
This is vague and unhelpful and just plain confusing (“dream tomorrow” what does that even mean?) The notion that we have to blindly “cherish” our past can hinder us from learning and growing from it. Daydreaming of tomorrow, and over what we wish our life was like, reinforces a mindset of lack. While dreams are important, they don’t help unless they inspire real action that can help bring those dreams to life.
When proposing a way to look at the past, future and present, we think Maya Angelou said it better when she said…
“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However. the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present. Gratefully.”
Ok, so, this is obviously not going to happen unless your love lasts all of 3 months. It’s a pretty rich promise to make. We can never truly know how love transforms and evolves over the course of our relationships, but we do know that it will transform and evolve. That’s simply the nature of relationships. Glorifying the idea that love will always feel just like it did at the very start is setting us up for disappointment. We prefer this quote, which is a little more real…
“A great relationship doesn’t happen because of the love you had in the beginning, but how well you continue building love until the end.”
The idea that the quest for happiness should be our one and only life purpose needs to get shut. down. Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes in the downs we learn some of life’s most important lessons. A life of eternal happiness might sound pleasant, but how would we know how to truly appreciate our happy moments if we had nothing to compare them to? This one is still super cheesy, but won’t leave you caught in the happiness trap…
“Everyone wants happiness, no one wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”
Another popular myth that gets circulated is that we can find peace or healing through another person. While this is a beautiful and romantic notion, it completely ignores the fact that true healing & growth are personal journeys, that must come from within. You should not seek out someone to help put your “broken pieces” back together (unless that person is a qualified surgeon). Instead of putting your faith and recovery on the shoulders of others, take back the power and recognize your own strength. Be in charge of your own therapeutic journey.
“You are strong enough to face it all, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.”
The best therapy memes & tweets
So meme culture has taken a serve at therapy and we have to say, we are amused. So often, people are turned off the idea of chatting to a therapist because they are under the illusion of what therapy will be like – something heavy, Intense, serious, scary. And sure, sometimes it can be. But other times it can be curious, a bit weird and even funny!
We’ve compiled 12 of the funniest therapy memes & tweets below that might leave you saying “straight up, book me in.”
1. Casually Marie Kondo-ing your mind.
2. We owe so much to Freud’s leather lounge legacy.
3. When social media is life.
4. No hats in the therapy room, pls & thank you.
5. Never stop searching for yourself.
6. Watches ‘Girl Interrupted’ once
7. A+ in achievement motivation
8. Can you use falkor as a coping mechanism?
9. Who would do this to a defenceless child?
10. Whose idea was this?
11. Don’t like it. But i’ll do it.
12. Learning to express feelings like…
We don’t mind laughing at ourselves a little, but the benefits you can gain out of even just a couple of sessions with a therapist are no joke. If you’re curious to learn more about our practitioners, you can find them here.
Experiencing grief and loss can be one of life’s greatest challenges. There is rarely another experience that effects, consumes and transforms you in quite the same way, and you can never go back to being the same exact person you were before.
Often film and television tend to shy away from the discomfort and harsh reality of depicting grief on screen. When a character dies in a TV show or movie, often time is accelerated through the grief, so as not to get swaddled with the responsibility of showing it.
However, Ricky Gervais’ latest series chooses to lean into this discomfort and tell the story of Tony, a small-town newspaper journalist and his struggle with grief and loss following the death of his wife & best friend from Cancer.
Grief is experienced differently by everyone.
Tony’s grief is expressed largely in the form of anger and apathy – emotions that he thrusts indiscriminately on all those around him.
“You’re like a troll on Twitter. Just because you’re upset, everyone has to be upset.”
Grief can often leave you feeling sad, numb, irritable, isolated, relieved, guilty or lonely. It can last for weeks, months, or years – and there is no one way to manage it. Instead of overcoming your grief, experts often say that it’s more likely we grow emotionally to make space for it to exist as part of us.
How to get through grief.
Tony uses some not-uncommon though definitely ill-advised methods in an attempt to deal with his devastating loss and consequent feelings of apathy and purposeless.
“I just want to sleep.”
One of our psychologists, April, specialises in grief & loss and says “It is important to schedule time to confront your grief and sit with the emotions of your grief on a regular basis (depending on the intensity of our grief, this could range from a couple of times a day to once a week/month). This doesn’t need to be long but it is important to do it in a safe environment where you have time to be emotional, if needed.
When you sit with your grief, although incredibly challenging, it’s important to take the time to notice what you’re feeling; pay attention to the emotions sitting in your body and let these come to the surface (rather than pushing them down or distracting yourself). Sit with these uncomfortable emotions and validate and soothe this part of you gently, and compassionately. It’s important to spend enough time here for you to realise that although your suffering may feel insurmountable, you can be an emotional holding container for your own pain.
It can be helpful to pair this with writing to help you process emotional content and attempt to make meaning of your suffering as well as with touch, by placing your hands over your chest and belly to help soothe yourself. Because grief often feels like it controls us, popping up at random and unexpected times, scheduling time to grieve can help us feel more in control of our grief and often has the result of reducing the frequency or intensity of spontaneous/unexpected waves or grief.”
How to help someone going through grief.
In #afterlife, the people in Tony’s life try doing all they can to help distract him or alleviate his suffering, but it can be difficult knowing how to help.
“Open the curtains. Enjoy some sun while you can.”
Ask your friend or loved one how they’re feeling. Listen to understand and don’t feel the need to proffer advice. Sometimes it’s important to make someone feel heard. Ask how you can help – sometimes little things like running a few errands, giving someone a lift or going for a walk can be a huge help to someone suffering. If you feel their grief is harmfully impacting their life without alleviating, it might be worth helping them seek out a professional to chat to.
One of the most important things we can do through our grief process, however long that may be, is to be gentle and compassionate with ourselves. Grief changes us and from that moment, we are no longer the same person. Life will never be the same again; however, we learn in time that our transformation through grief also has many positive elements and although it doesn’t feel like it at the time, we are capable of experiencing joy again.” – April, Indigo Psychologist
#Aboutlife is emotional and poignant. It manages to tap into some real and raw themes that highlight the sometimes sad and painful reality of the human experience, as well as our profound strength, resilience and ability to transform and make new meaning. Also, there is a dog in it.
Six Steps to Smart Self Care
We’re living in an exciting time where self-care is getting some much needed time in the spotlight. Unfortunately, plenty of brands and companies are co-opting it to help sell expensive skincare products and kombucha (which, I won’t argue, is delicious – change my mind.)
While self-care is super important, it can get confusing trying to understand what it truly entails beyond the insta-worthy vignettes of peach bubble baths and curated beachside excursions. While some aspects of self-care can be glamorous and indulgent, others can be confronting and uncomfortable. However, they’re all necessary to keep you on a path towards growth and self-improvement.
Check out our six steps below to find out how you can become a boss at smart self-care (and yes, some of the things you can still do in a hydrating face mask) …
Step 1. Make time to recharge.
Ok, let’s start with the Instagram-friendly one. We all live busy and stressful lives, where demands are being hurled at us all day, every day. Whilst we can tell ourselves we run fine on caffeine and anxiety (spoiler: we don’t) it’s important to give our minds and bodies the chance to relax and unwind. That might mean time spent away from a screen, like a walk in nature or reading a good book. A daily meditation practice is also great in giving your mind and body a few minutes to centre and revitalize
Score a free guided meditation from our head psychologist, Mary, here.
Step 2: Cultivate healthy relationships.
Our relationships give our lives pleasure and purpose, but in order for them to flourish, we need to make time for them. True and meaningful relationships are ones that go beyond the superficial, which sometimes means having to have tough conversations and being vulnerable. It also means being there to support our friends/fam when they aren’t having the best time of it. Working on our communication is key so that we can assertively and compassionately state what we want and need out of our relationships.
Hate having those hard conversations? Check out our worksheet here which shares 7 Steps to Effective Communication!
Step 3: Do good stuff for your body.
As much as we might wish this step involved eating limitless crinkle cut chips and sitting unmoving in front of Netflix for 6+ hours, alas no, it’s that old classic EAT👏HEALTHY 👏EXERCISE 👏SLEEP👏. It’s a damn cliché, but that’s because it works. Your body needs nutrients, movement and sleep to be able to operate at its best. The most helpful advice we can offer here is to try and develop healthy habits around food, fitness and sleep – the more automatic these behaviours become the easier they are to maintain, and the more you’ll recognise the benefits.
Step 4: Learn how to say “No”.
Boundaries are important, and we need to get better at not only recognising when things become too much but being brave and assertive enough to say so. We’re not taking care of ourselves when we’re spreading ourselves too thin and taking on more than we can manage. Learn how to get comfortable with confrontation (when necessary) and understand that sometimes saying “no” might piss people off and we can’t always help that.
If saying “no” gets your anxiety singing loudly into the mic, click here to check out some tools on how to take charge of your anxiety (before it takes charge of you).
Step 5: Get grateful.
Gratitude practices are awesome. They give you the chance to appreciate and acknowledge all that you’ve done, all that you have, and all that you are. When we spend a few moments of each day focusing on things we’re grateful for, we recognize how truly rich our lives are, bursting with accomplishments, privileges, learnings and experiences – things that can often get taken for granted. Try to take some time out every day and write down 5 things you’re grateful for – yes, even on shitty days, when it’s even more important.
Step 6: Fine tune your self talk.
Do you listen to the way you talk to yourself? All the face-masks and bath bombs in the world won’t help you if the dialogue in your head is still one of judgement and criticism. The best way to take good care of yourself is to check your self-talk – is it kind? is it helpful? is it necessary? Sometimes it’s easier to analyse your thoughts as if they were spoken out loud & directed at someone you care deeply about. Bet you wouldn’t stand for some of that. So don’t talk to yourself that way unless you want to continue cultivating a poor self-image.
Getting smart at self-care can be a process. It won’t happen overnight. It’s something we cultivate daily and develop over a lifetime. If you want to put some actionable self-care practices in place and have someone (besides yourself) to hold you accountable, why not book in a session with one of our practitioners?
If you’re new to therapy and want to check us out before you dive in for a one-on-one, why not join us for a course or workshop? They happen every month and cover a range of different themes, but they’ll all leave you with a greater understanding of your mind, body & soul. Check out what’s coming up here.
WTF is the Mental Health Care Plan and how do I get one?
Getting mental help support can be a daunting task. But once you’ve decided that you want to reach out and chat to someone (nice, good call) it can be tricky to know where to start.
Fortunately, in Australia, Medicare does us a solid and offers rebates for 10 individual (or support group) therapy sessions within a year. What this means is, the government will shout $80 – $120 (depending on your therapist’s specialization) towards each therapy session. You just need to cover the rest.
HOW CAN I GET A MENTAL HEALTH PLAN?
Step One: Go see your GP. Tell them about the mental health issues you’ve been having and that you’re keen to get help and talk to someone about it. You’ll likely be asked to complete some questionnaires (like this guy) to give your doctor an idea of the scope of your issues and allow them to provide some written background to your psychologist.
Step Two: Your GP will write you up a referral (just like they would for you to see any kind of specialist, like an orthodontist or a podiatrist). Your GP might have someone they recommend within your area or you can always tell them who you’d like to see. To see one of our practitioners here at Indigo, ask your doctor to make out your Mental Health Plan to The Indigo Project, 33 Foster St, Surry Hills.
And you’re done. Next step from here is to get in touch with your preferred clinic or practitioner (like us!) and book an appointment.
Here at Indigo, we’ll help match you with a practitioner we think will be best suited to you and what you want to work on.
We even have a handy feature on our website, where you can filter our 20+ psychologists based on who specializes in your issue, such as Darren – a senior psych who can help with depression & anxiety, Louise – a clinical psych specializing in stress & complex trauma, or Michael, a practitioner who can help you deal with alcohol & substance issues.
Better yet, if after your first session you don’t think that that practitioner was right for you, we will match you with someone new (and the second session is on us!*)
SO HOW MUCH IS LEFT TO PAY?
The Medicare rebate is only applicable for certain, allied mental health services. When making a booking with your practitioner, be sure to mention you have a mental health care plan and you’d like your rebate to go towards your session. As psychologists generally charge different hourly rates, it’s wise to ask how much the session will be after the rebate, so you know how much you’ll be paying. Handy to note that all our psychologists here at Indigo are registered and eligible for the Medicare rebate.
BUT HEY, WHY WAIT?
You don’t need to have your Mental Health Care Plan in hand in order to book in with us! You can make an appointment in advance and just pick up your Mental Health Care Plan from your GP sometime before your session.
OK, CAN WE CHAT?
Absolutely. Click here to check out our practitioners and book your first session with us online. Don’t know who to choose or want to ask us a few questions? No worries – just email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on +61 2 9212 5469 and we can find a practitioner that will be right for you.
Congrats on taking the first steps to sorting out your head. Your future self will thank you for it.
Department of Health and Ageing (Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS (Better Access initiative))
*T&Cs apply https://www.theindigoproject.com.au/terms-and-conditions/