Ah, menopause, the rollercoaster ride of hormonal changes that can make even the most composed woman feel like she's in a never-ending heatwave.
One of the most notorious symptoms that women experience during this phase are the dreaded hot flushes. But fear not because I am here to guide you through this hellish inferno with a touch of empathy, a sprinkle of humor, and some counter intuitive advice.
So, grab a fan, sit back, and let's dive into the world of hot flushes!
Understanding the Heatwave: Hot flushes (or hot flashes depending on what side of the pond you reside), are sudden feelings of intense heat (that usually starts in the head) and can spread throughout your body, leaving you sweaty, red-faced, and feeling like you're trapped in a sauna. These episodes can strike at any time, especially when we feel anxious, causing embarrassment, discomfort, and a desperate need to either leave the building or for a personal portable air...
There are a couple of things that fascinate me about my job as a therapist. One is the type of issues that people need fixing and the other is what scenes come up during regression related to that.
I’ll be honest with you, sometimes I get blindsided and I have to think on my feet. I can have an expectation that what I’m going to find is neglect but actually what I find is the opposite.
TOO MUCH ATTENTION.
If, when I ask my client’s inner child “are you happy?” and the response is “yes, I’m so happy, I couldn’t want for anything more, my childhood is perfect, I like it here, I want to stay”…
I see a red flag .
Not that your childhood shouldn’t be safe and affirming, but if you’re coming to me with an issue and you’re telling me your childhood was perfect, I know we need to dig deeper.
Now what I start to look for is something called enmeshment or covert...
Repeat after me: Menopause does NOT have to be miserable!!
Some aspects of the media would have us believe that we need to hunker down, get supplies in and be ready for the s**t storm that is coming…because it’s ominous and it’s going to be, well frankly, terrible.
Without wanting to diminish the hurricane that many women find themselves in (I was one of them), it’s often about how we frame it.
The more we can frame is a powerful metamorphosis instead of a nightmare hormone deficiency, the more likely we are to experience it as such.
This is down to the incredible power of stereotype embodiment.
Stereotype embodiment is the concept that societal stereotypes and cultural beliefs about a particular group of people can influence the health and mindset of individuals belonging to that group. So in the context of menopause, stereotype embodiment suggests that the cultural expectations and stereotypes surrounding menopause can affect...
The growth mindset has dug me out of a few crises, especially recently.
You see, over the last year, I went down a big rabbit hole into systemic oppression, patriarchy….that kind of thing.
I did some major deconstruction of my biases, as a therapist, that's REALLY important.
The idea about 'smashing the patriarchy' found me through the work I do in the menopause space. Before that, I was 100% growth mindset and believed that no matter what the circumstances, ANYONE could make positive changes in their own lives.
At first I found the whole patriarchy thing incredibly validating but after a while it started to depress me. I could only take so much. It’s heavy shit and changes absolutely EVERYTHING you thought you ever knew.
You really need to take a breath and take a moment.
It was completely necessary though and I learnt so much about my privilege, decolonisation, social determinants of health,...
How much of the ageing symptoms that we experience is actually just stereotype embodiment?
Stereotype embodiment refers to the process by which individuals internalize and embody stereotypes that are prevalent in their culture or society. It suggests that stereotypes can influence people's self-perception, behavior, and even their physical and mental health.
When individuals are repeatedly exposed to stereotypes about a particular social group to which they belong, they may begin to internalize those stereotypes and incorporate them into their self-concept. For example, if someone repeatedly hears that older adults are forgetful and frail, they may start to believe and exhibit those characteristics themselves, even if they were not true for them personally.
Stereotype embodiment can operate through various mechanisms. One mechanism is stereotype threat, where individuals are aware of negative stereotypes about their group, which can lead to anxiety and...
Healing from anything is often a time when we come out of the matrix and as a result, our perspective shifts dramatically.
Before we take a look at the paradigms I’m no longer subscribing to (and why), let’s take a look at what exactly a paradigm is.
A paradigm is a framework, model or way of thinking. Essentially it's a lens through which individuals, communities, countries, political parties, organisations and religions interpret the world around them. It's how they define problems and search for solutions.
Paradigms define the scope of enquiry, establish boundaries and set the criteria for what is considered valid and important.
Paradigms are often well established and can be hard to change because they are often accepted as the ‘norms’. However some paradigms are extremely harmful to our mental and emotional wellbeing.
Shifting a paradigm often requires a kind of 'rebellion' as a way of taking our power back.
What happens when you want to connect with others but your nervous system finds connection a threat?
This is a dichotomy that many people face as they long for connection but also find it difficult [enter social anxiety].
Let’s start at the beginning. Why might someone feel this?
If we’ve had adverse relational experiences in childhood or adulthood (either through abuse, neglect or enmeshment) we may find it difficult to trust that others will be able to meet our needs.
Maybe we’ll feel that...
We’ll be judged for who we are.
Our needs won’t beacknowledge.
We’ll be ignored.
We’ll be taken advantage of.
Boundaries will be overstepped.
We’ll be scrutinised and those observations will be used against us.
It's not a co-incidence that we worry about these things. Somewhere in our past we had a very good reason to worry about them.
For many, these concerns are...
Many partners these days spend a lot of time (while together) on social media each being drawn further and further into their own paradigm creating a schism in their relational bubble proving it harder and harder to coexist in real life due to massive differences in thinking (phew that was a long sentence!).
And did you know relational disharmony massively increases feelings of anxiety, so it's worth investing some time in to get right.
Creating harmony in such a relationship can be incredibly challenging unless both parties are willing to actively come out of their paradigms in participate in the paradigm of their relationship on a regular basis (how often needs to be agreed).
It requires: a recognition of what is going on, a willingness to participate in the relationship and the environment of the relationship (ie the home), open communication, mutual respect, and a stretch to understand and appreciate each other's perspectives.
Frankly there’s no point in making the investment in RTT if the changes are not going to stick right?
Short of me living with you and following you around everywhere, you’re going to have to apply some principles by yourself.
Here’s what I recommend [adapted from ACT therapy principles].
Purpose - KNOW the reason WHY you want to continue the change. What are your values? Why are they important to you and how are you going to commit to them? Also, what are the consequences of reverting back to the old way of thinking or the old behaviour?
Practice - Changing thought and behaviour patterns is a PRACTICE. Just like you have to practice golf to get better at golf you have to practice choosing a different thought and...
Have you heard of Absolute Thinking? Some call it rigid thinking. If you get stuck in a state a state of overwhelm, anxiety, depression or procrastination (and you’ve tried everything) it might be because of something called 'absolute thinking'.
Absolute thinking can often pose a problem because it can lead to inflexibility, intolerance, and difficulty in problem-solving. For example, a person who engages in absolute thinking might be unable to consider alternative solutions to a problem because they believe there is no way out.
Examples of absolute thinking are:
"Men/women never listen"
"I never sleep well in the summer"
"I always feel bad during my period"
"Ageing is a curse"
"No one is ever there for me"
Absolute thinking is characterised by the words 'always' and 'never' and denotes psychological inflexibility.
Psychological flexibility, on the other hand, is the ability to adapt and respond effectively to changing situations and challenging...