Posted in Psychotherapy

Our Fear of Freedom

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

I hope everyone being affected by the cold, snowy weather is keeping safe today. I am lucky to just be getting a few bouts of snow, enough to have that childlike wonder and excitement, but not enough to have the adult fear of the consequences of the weather.

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I have been getting back into reading recently and found myself finally picking up Irvin D. Yalom’s Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy. I have been thoroughly enjoying it and have found myself looking into his theories of existential psychotherapy. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, ‘existential psychotherapy is a philosophical method of therapy that operates on the belief that inner conflict within a person is due to the individual’s confrontation with the “givens” of existence’ (Yalom 1980). According to Yalom, these “givens” are the inevitability of death, freedom and its attendant responsibility, existential isolation and meaninglessness. 

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That might all sound like complete gibberish to anyone who doesn’t have an interest in psychotherapy, but I wanted to talk about one aspect of it that I find particularly interesting. The fear of freedom and responsibility is something I think should be talked about more in society as many don’t realise that it is a fear that we all share. We may think we crave freedom, and on some level we do, but it is also a huge fear in our lives because of the responsibility that comes with it.

Have you ever noticed how often we start a sentence with ‘I have to’? I have to do the dishes, I have to go to work, I have to take the kids to school. These statements often end with ‘I have no choice’, but that is where we are wrong. We always have a choice. Yes, if we want money to pay bills we can go to work and earn money, but we don’t have to. We make that choice to go to work to earn money and pay our bills. We make the choice to find employment, to rent or buy a home, to have electricity and internet, to have children, to get married. These are all choices. Now you may say that you don’t have a choice, that if you don’t work you will become homeless and freeze to death. That is a possibility, but you are choosing the other option, the choice of not being homeless when you have the means to achieve an alternative, is still a choice.

We tell ourselves all the time that we don’t have a choice. ‘Oh I’d love to change jobs but I have to put a roof over my kids head so I can’t, I don’t have a choice’. ‘I want to leave my husband but I have no money so I don’t have a choice, I have to stay with him’. ‘I want to move to America but I can’t leave my parents so I have no other choice but to stay’. We all say that the choice, the freedom to choose is out of our own control but it’s not. We shift this responsibility to someone else, or even to the universe itself, because we are afraid of the responsibility for our own lives, our own choices. We want freedom but we are afraid of it because with freedom comes the realisation that we are responsible for our own lives, no one else. No one is forcing us to make the choices we make but we are too afraid to acknowledge this.

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It is a very tough thing to accept, this responsibility for ourselves. We love to blame other people for our circumstances, to shift the responsibility so we feel that it isn’t our fault. You may argue that there are some people who have their choices taken away. You may say for example, what about people who are born into a society that will kill them for being gay? They have no choice but to hide their true selves for fear of their lives. Though that is indeed a cruel and horrible situation, that person still has choices. They can choose to be open about their sexuality and face the consequence, in this case death. They can choose to hide their sexuality and conform to the social norm to avoid death. In many tough and horrendous situations the options are often not good, but they are still options. The choices are still there and the only person who can make that choice for us is us. We fight against this fact of life, against the responsibility for ourselves, to soothe our anxiety over our responsibility for our circumstances.

No one, not even Yalom himself, can truly and fully accept this fact 100% of the time. It is in our nature to deny it, but taking responsibility for the choices we have made and accepting that our circumstances have come from those choices, can be very healing. We all make mistakes, we may think that the choices we have made in the past were not the right ones, but we made them and here we are.

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Accepting our freedom does not mean judging ourselves or critizising ourselves, it means accepting ourselves and our past choices, the good ones and the bad ones. It means accepting where we are now and trying our best to take responsibility for ourselves going forward. It is a difficult thing to do but I think we would all gain a lot by trying it. The only person that can make me happy is me. The only person that can make you happy is you. There is freedom in that responsibility, we just have to choose to accept it.

I hope that wasn’t too deep and head wrecking for you all! Let me know what you think of this topic, I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on it!

Enjoy making snowmen and drinking hot chocolate in the snow!


Posted in Relationships

10 Reasons I Find Online Dating Annoying

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Happy Valentine’s/Singles Awareness Day!

I hope you are all having a great week whether you are loved up in a relationship or, like me, being thankful for being single so you don’t have to rush around trying to shop for heart-themed gifts. In the spirit of the day I thought I would talk about the modern worlds take on dating. So grab some chocolate and be prepared for a bit of a rant!

So with the internet’s successful attempt at world domination, it is no surprise that almost everything we do these days requires us to go online. Though I have previously approved of my newfound ruler due to my love of social media, there is one aspect of this age of technology I find myself struggling to adapt to; online dating.

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I took a break from the dating scene about a year ago for the whole self growth and learning to be happy by myself thing. Though I was on dating sites during that time I wouldn’t say I was actively seeking a relationship and so wasn’t really using them properly. I have been wrestling with the idea of maybe trying to pursue a romantic relationship in 2018, but, the world of online dating is making me consider just becoming a crazy cat lady instead. These days dating apps seem to be the only way to meet a romantic interest. Long gone are the days of a person walking up to someone that they like the look of and starting up a conversation.

I was brought up during a time when online dating was seen as a desperate attempt for middle aged women to find a man, men to have casual sex behind their wives backs, and a way for scammers to trick people into giving them their life savings (thanks Dr. Phil). Though these may be unfair stereotypes, it was what I was brought up believing, so you can forgive me for feeling a bit nervous when the likes of Tinder, eHarmony and OkCupid started to come on the scene. I have been a serial “relationshiper” since my primary school days, when I would date boys and MAYBE hold hands with them if they were lucky. Casual dating has never really appealed to me, so I was very reluctant to go on these dating apps as I thought the majority of people who used them were looking for casual hook ups.  Though that may be true depending on what site you use, I found I was mostly able to sort through those looking for sex and those looking for something a bit more. Needless to say I appreciated sites like Plenty of Fish where you could actually state what type of relationship you are looking for.

I wouldn’t call myself an online dating expert by any means, but I think I have enough experience using these sites to know that I am not a fan online dating. Though I have accepted that I will probably have to keep using these blasted sites, I have also accepted that I will probably never like the experience (though it isn’t really the sites fault, more the process of using it). So here are the ’10 Reasons I Find Online Dating Annoying’

1. Using them makes me feel shallow.

With the way most dating sites are set up, it is very hard not to judge someone completely on their appearance. I know there are probably a load of nice guys with great personalities that I’m swiping no to, simply because I am not instantly attracted to them by the one or two photos they have put up. I could be passing up on a great person because their selfie skills are sub-par!

2. The “Popular” People.

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Image from the movie Mean Girls

This is something I know annoys other people. Your main photo should be of JUST YOU. I don’t have time to spend an extra five minutes trying to figure out which person you are amongst a group of 20 GAA players, or a group photo of you and your 10 closest pals who all look weirdly the same. You have friends, awesome! Throw in a pic of you and your mates as well as some solo pics and I’m sure I’ll be impressed at your social skills, instead of frustrated trying to figure out who I’m talking to.

3. The ‘Lone Photo’ People.

Everyone has that one photo that they think they look a million bucks in. Maybe you are right and you should definitely include it in your profile but don’t let it be your only photo. Sure, I’m guilty of putting up a few photos with a few filters on them but I always make sure to have at least one photo of me as my usual not filtered self, so you have an idea of what you’re actually getting. First dates are awkward enough without showing up and realising your date’s profile photo was probably taken 5 years ago and they have shaved their head and grown a beard down to their knees in the meantime.

4. The people who don’t fill out their bio/profile.

Look, I’m not expecting you to give me your life story but please show some signs that you have a personality! The only thing saving me from my first complaint is the opportunity to read a bit about you. Don’t just put your snapchat ID (I will assume you are looking to send dick pics and want “sexy” pics back) or a one liner that says something along the lines of ‘just ask!’ or ‘not sure what to put here’. I’ll let you in on a secret….NO ONE KNOWS WHAT TO PUT THERE. Just show you put in a little effort and tell me a bit about what you do and what you are interested in. I am waaaaaay more likely to message you if I can talk about something I found interesting on your bio/profile.

5. The Posers.

Yes you have a nice body, maybe even a six pack, good for you. This doesn’t mean your profile pics should just be photos of you half naked and trying to attempt the “smoulder look”. Now if you are just looking for a hook up sure, go right ahead, but if you want something else then put a shirt on, this is not a Twilight film and you are not Taylor Lautner. If I see this I automatically assume you are just looking for something casual.  Being happy in your own skin is a great but maybe show it off in another format….

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Image of Taylor Lautner from the film Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2

6. The ‘Hi/Hey’ People.

So you want to send someone a message, great! I know it takes a lot of courage sometimes to message someone you are attracted to. Your courage will go to waste 9/10 times if all you send is ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’. ‘Hi how are you?’ is slightly better but still not great. Most of the girls I have talked to about this will get at least ten ‘Hi’s’ in a day. Unless we are really attracted to you we are most likely going to ignore it. No effort has been put in. If we have filled out our profile (and shame on us if we haven’t) pick something you find interesting and find a way to work it into your first message. Even something as simple as someone mentioning on their profile that they like rugby, you could say: ‘Hey I really liked your profile, what rugby team do you support?’ or if they mention they like movies you could say ‘Hi I see you like movies, what are your top five? Seen any good ones recently?’ BAM a conversation has begun!

7. Dick Pics EVERYWHERE!

This one is pretty self explanatory. Put it back in your pants.

8. The Rules of the Game.

Don’t reply straight away, talk for a while then disappear for days, only reply as quickly as they reply, don’t let them know you are really interested, since when does dating have so many rules! Ghosting, fishing, whatever you want to call it, it is so annoying! I never liked the fact that some people treat dating like a game, but with the introduction of online dating it seems to have gotten even worse. If you are busy just say so! If you are attracted to the person, tell them! If you want to reply, just reply! I’m all for a bit of a chasing but come on. In my opinion, honesty is the best policy when it comes to relationships so starting one off by abiding by all these rules is a waste of time and silly!

9. The First Date.

Why First Dates & Marketing Are A Lot Alike, Betsy Kent, Be Visible
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As far as I’m aware, no one likes first dates. They are nerve wracking and awkward and can often become a disaster. If you are one of the lucky ones, sparks will fly and it will lead to a second date. A mediocre result is that the date was nice but you didn’t find yourself attracted to the person so you awkwardly part ways and wish each other the best of luck (and maybe make the false promise that you will stay friends). One of the worst outcomes is of course you land up on a date with a psycho but that is a whole other blog. No matter what outcome you get, that first 15-20 minutes can be brutal. The worst part of getting result 2 or 3 is that you know you will have to go through it all over again…….

10. The people who say ‘you are too picky’.

Yes there are lads and ladies out there that have impossible standards when it comes to online dating, but I really don’t think I’m one of them. I have four main things on my checklist for a potential match:


  1. I have to be somewhat physically attracted to them.
  2. We have to have a few things in common.
  3. They have to have a job or be in fulltime education.
  4. They have to want a relationship.


To be honest I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Some might judge me for the third one but I think it is a reasonable request for people in my age group (25-35). As for the others, there is no point in wasting both of our time if I’m not going to be physically attracted to you. If I get on well with someone and am not 100% sure if I’m attracted to them, I’ll at least go on the first date to check as sometimes you need to meet the person to really know.  I think the others are pretty self explanatory.

So those are the things that annoy me about online dating. Do you agree? What annoys you about online dating? Do you love it or hate it? Let me know!






Posted in Children's Mental Health, Uncategorized

Think Before You Speak


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‘Think before you speak’ is something we hear from a young age but it is advice we often ignore.

It is Children’s Mental Health Week in Britain this week and I really wanted to write a blog post about it as it is an area I am very passionate about. Research in the UK has suggested that ‘Three in four mental illnesses start in childhood, with 75% of mental illnesses starting before a child reaches their 18th Birthday’. Furthermore, ‘75% of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment’. (The Guardian 2017) To me this is unacceptable and something needs to be done. There are many topics surrounding this issue that need to be spoken about but I thought I would share one of the biggest things I have come to realise affect our emotional stability as we grow.

I am not an expert in this subject by any means, but I have been fortunate to learn about it through briefly studying Child Psychology and Psychotherapy and I think the more people that are aware of it the better. The area I want to discuss is the language that we use around children.

More and more we are learning that ignoring/repressing our feelings are harming us in very real ways. We often ask ourselves why we do it, why we don’t feel comfortable expressing and talking about our feelings, why we struggle to control our emotions in a healthy way. I think one of the answers to this is that we are told to do so from the moment we are born.

When a newborn child cries, it’s parent’s first reaction is to try and soothe it. One of the most common ways people do this is holding the child and saying something along the lines of ‘shhhh it’s ok, don’t cry‘.

When a toddler throws a tantrum over not getting the toy it wants and hits the other child playing with it, again a parent want’s to calm the child and will often tell them to ‘calm down‘ or they will become angry with the child and say something along the lines of ‘don’t you dare‘, ‘don’t hit your friend‘ or ‘don’t throw a tantrum‘.

When an older child comes home crying from school because someone calls them a name, again, a parent will try to soothe them by saying something like ‘don’t cry‘, ‘you don’t need to be upset‘ or ‘it doesn’t matter‘.

When a teenager is screaming at their parent because they wont let them go to a party, the frustrated parent will often scream back and/or say things like ‘don’t raise your voice at me’, ‘what are you upset for, it’s just a party’ or just ignore them and tell them to ‘go to your room’.

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It may not be immediately obvious but there is a pattern here. Though we don’t mean to, we are dismissing our children’s feelings and emotions, or worse, telling them not to feel that emotion. This blog isn’t meant to make anyone feel like a bad parent, or to tell you to never discipline your kids, it is meant to make you re-think the language you use around your children when they are expressing a feeling.

I took part in group therapy for a while last year and one of the most common themes that came up was that some felt it was unacceptable to show certain feelings around their parents growing up. One participant suffered with anger issues and felt that during his childhood he was always told that expressions of anger such as shouting were “unacceptable”. Another participant felt that crying was a sign of weakness to his parents or even a “woman’s thing to do”. Another person felt they always had to be perfect because they didn’t want to be like their sibling who had tantrums and got into trouble for it a lot.

Though parent’s mean well when soothing or disciplining their child, I think a lot of them don’t realise how much of an effect what they say has on their children’s mental health. Again, I am not here to tell you how to raise your child or to criticize your parenting skills. I simply want to show you how small changes in what you say could have a big difference in your child’s mental development.

The key thing I feel is to never say ‘Don’t feel (emotion)’. By doing this you are unconsciously sending the message to your child not to feel, or that feeling certain emotions is wrong. Instead it is very important that you let them know that the feeling they are having is valid and normal. Take the earlier example of the toddler throwing a tantrum. Instead of saying ‘don’t hit your friend‘ or ‘don’t throw a tantrum‘, try saying something along the lines of ‘I understand that you are angry because you want the toy and that is ok but it is not ok to hurt another person. Why don’t you apologise to your friend and we can talk about why you are angry together.’

I’m not saying that this exact conversation will stop the tantrum or make the toddler forget about the toy. The important thing is that you are acknowledging the feeling, letting them know that having that feeling is ok, and trying to get them to express that feeling verbally with you. You are still making the toddler acknowledge the bad behaviour (the hitting) but not dismissing the feeling that caused the bad behaviour (the anger).

The same thing can be done with the upset child who was called a name. Instead of saying ‘don’t cry‘, ‘you don’t need to be upset‘ or ‘it doesn’t matter‘, you could say something like ‘It is ok to cry when you feel upset, I’m sure what happened hurt your feelings. Why don’t we talk about it and see if we can come up with a solution together‘.

In this example, you are again acknowledging the child’s emotion and letting them know that crying is a valid response to feeling upset. You are also not dismissing the importance of the event to the child by saying that the event doesn’t matter. Instead, you are teaching the child to accept what has happened, talk about it and see if there is something that can be done.

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Image from the See Me Video Campaign

Little adjustments like this in any situation where a child is trying to express an emotion can make a huge difference on how they handle their emotions later in life. Remember, it is important that you as the parent practice what you preach. By seeing a parent deal with emotions in a healthy way, the child can learn by example. If I child sees their Mother or Father trying to hide emotions, it is quite possible that they will copy this behaviour. Children, especially very young children, idolize their parents and will try to copy what they do. It is important to recognize your own reactions to emotions and ask yourself if you are dealing with them in a healthy and constructive way, only then can we successfully teach our children how to handle their feelings properly.

I hope this blog post gave you some ideas to try and help the emotional education of the children in your life. Everyone’s mental health is important so it is imperative that we all try and support each other when we are struggling. Being a parent is the toughest job in the world so remember to check in with yourself and your own mental and physical health. The best way to look after the child in your life is to make sure you are at your best so take of yourself and remember, there is no such thing as the perfect parent.

I have left some links for you to check out if you want more information on children’s mental health. I hope you find them useful.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!






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Posted in Uncategorized

My Favourite CBT Exercise

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The Cognitive Model by

CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) is a popular form of intervention for people who struggle with certain mental health issues. It is generally a short-term form of therapy that deals with a very specific problem you are having. It tries to help you to understand your own thoughts and feelings and how they influence your behaviors. It is often exercise or “homework” based so you can write down and identify some behavioral patterns.

Though the main therapy I receive is not CBT, I have done a few CBT exercises throughout the years, and there is one that has always stuck out to me. I thought I would share it with you since it doesn’t take up a lot of time and you might find it interesting! It is mainly used for people with depression and/or anxiety but anyone can do it. It is quite simple; all you need is a pen and paper.

The Exercise:

  1. Get your piece of paper and draw a line from one side to the other.
  2. Mark the end of the line on the left hand side with the number ‘1’ and the other end of the line on the right hand side with the number ‘10’.
  3. Think about your mood right now and look at the line. With 1 being the most depressed/ anxious you could ever imagine feeling and 10 being the happiest and most fulfilled you could ever imagine being, think about where you would place yourself on the line right now and give it a number.
  4. Once you are happy with the number you have chosen, think of the number above it i.e if you selected the number 4, think of the number 5. Think about what it would take for you to go from your current number to the number above it. What would need to happen for you to get there? Are there people who could help you get there? Can you take any steps today to get yourself there? You can jot down some thoughts in between the numbers.
  5. Once you have done Step 4 look at the number 10 on the far right hand side of the line. What would your life look like if you were there? What would you be doing? Would you have a career? Where would you live? Would you be travelling? What would your relationships with other people be like? Make sure your number 10 is realistic and achievable (time travelling, married to celebrities, ruler of the world type things should be avoided!) Write down some thoughts about what your life would be like at number 10.
  6. Once you have done Step 5, write down what you could do in the next few days to start moving towards the number above the one you are currently at. Then look at what you can do in the next few weeks etc. Write down what you need to do.
  7. When you are happy with your plan to get to the next number, think about your number 10. Write down what you could do in the next week, month, and then the next year etc to get you to your number 10. Make a promise to yourself that you will take at least one step, no matter how small, this week to start moving towards your number 10. Remember you can include talking to someone who you think can help you get there!




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It may not sound like much, but this exercise really helped me to focus and figure out what I wanted out of life. It made me realise the career I wanted and within a week, as I had promised myself, I had taken a small step to work towards that goal.

If you are feeling lost, unmotivated, or hopeless, like I was at the time, I highly suggest giving this a try. It really helps you to find a small bit of direction in your life. Even if you don’t know where you are right now, it should at least help you to find where you want to go and help you to forge a path to get there. Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself when thinking about what you need to do to get to your number 10. Slow and steady wins the race, so try to figure out small daily/weekly steps you can take to make you head in the right direction.

I hope you found this useful or at least a little bit interesting! If you did it, let me know what you thought of it, and if it helped!