Archive | Relationships RSS feed for this section

Secret to a good relationship

19 Nov

Good relationships do not just happen. They are usually a combination of hard work, honesty, trust and trying that little bit harder.

So, how to achieve a successful and long lasting relationship?

Well, there are several things to remember and consider…

  • Changes will occur, so be open-minded and accept them as they happen. Try to rise above them, as no matter what, you know you still love each other.
  • Be attentive to each other’s needs and feelings.  Use kind words and give each other emotional support. It really helps, if you can stay polite, even in times of anger. Nobody likes to be found to be in the wrong but you should be able to apologise if necessary.
  • Jealousy is an emotion that almost everyone experiences in a relationship, even a good one. Problems arise when the emotion you are feeling is unhealthy jealousy. It can be a very destructive force and can completely destroy a good relationship. When you are unhealthily jealous you tend to imagine that your partner is interested in another person and twist any information to absolute beliefs, even when there is no real evidence. It is important to accept the things that are within your control and the things that are not. You can control what you believe and what you do. You are not in control of what your partner thinks, feels, imagines or does. If you have concerns about jealousy, you may find our upcoming MasterClass on the subject, of interest.
  • Don’t forget the physical side of a relationship is also very important. Try to stay connected and take times out of your busy day to do even the simplest things, such as holding hands and smiling at each other. If you feel that the physical side of your relationship is suffering, it may be time to undertake some therapy and consult an expert. Do not feel you are alone in having these sorts of problems. This decision needn’t cause embarrassment and anxiety. Therapists are aware of how anxious you might feel and will help set you at ease. Cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy can be particularly helpful and your therapist will have been trained with the knowledge and ability to communicate sensitively and confidently.
  • At times in any relationship, there will be occasions when you experience disappointment. You will feel uncared for and let down. There is no cause for worry as long as you don’t let the disappointment become the unhealthy emotion, hurt. You will need to take responsibility for your emotions and explain your feelings in a balanced way.
  • It is useful to remember we are all fallible human beings and it may be the case at some point that you need to take the responsibility for a transgression. No one is perfect all the time. The remorse you feel is a healthy emotion and enables you to make appropriate amends for your poor behaviour without making excuses. You can forgive yourself and accept that you have made a mistake, learn from it, and move on.

So, good relationships do not just happen, but they can be nurtured and maintained. What are your thoughts on the secrets to a good relationship?



Emotional responsibility and accountability

20 Mar

The headline in today’s Mirror was a quote from Dennis Waterman saying ‘I hit Rula … but clever women make men lash out’ and the inside story had another quote ‘It’s not hard for a woman to make a man hit …’

Denis Waterman with Rula Lenska (Picture from the Mirror Newspaper)

This erroneous belief is at the heart of emotional problems and behavioural problems and indeed at the heart of abusive relationships.  If it was true then the only solution to solving this issue for those men who believe “clever women MAKE men hit them” is for women to be less clever than them.

Is it true that events or people make us do what we do?

Let’s think about what we do and assume that people make us behave as we do.

Example:  A clever woman argues better than a man = Man hits her

If it is true that a clever woman ‘makes’ a man hit her, then every clever woman would experience the same physically abusive behaviour.  It would mean that every man who has relationship with a clever woman would be unable to control himself and would be hitting the woman.

10 Clever women argue better than 10 men = 10 Men hit the 10 women

100 Clever women argue better than 100 men = 100 Men hit the 100 women

1000 Clever women argue better than 1000 men = 1000 Men hit the 1000 women

Does this make sense?

The problem is that people say ‘he made me do it’ or ‘she made me lose my temper’, ‘she made me hit her’.  It is as if they have absolutely no control over how they feel or how they behave.  If we do not have a part to play in how we feel and behave then we would be completely stuck, unable to move forward or do anything useful.  Is this what we see happen to everyone around us?

So who is responsible for your feelings, attitude and behaviour? 

The simple answer is ‘you are’.  You are responsible for your feelings and reactions and they are provoked by your thoughts; the attitudes you’ve formed; the habits and beliefs you no longer question.

This is the principle of Emotional Responsibility:  “You are largely responsible for the way you feel and act”.  Largely does not mean the other person sometimes causes your behaviour.  We just mean that there are some disorders like Manic Depression or Clinical Depression that are organic in nature; meaning it’s do with the person’s biology or genetic makeup.

The principle of emotional responsibility can be difficult for some people to accept, particularly if you are going through a difficult time or have experienced a personal tragedy.  It is natural to feel angry, sad, depressed or hurt in response to accidents, illness and other challenges in life.  It is also natural to experience negative emotions when you find someone challenging, but you can change your reaction.

Different people feel and experience contrasting emotions even when they experience the same challenge or difficulty. Therefore it is not the situation or another person that makes you feel or do.

This quote is conceptualised by one of the main schools of cognitive behaviour therapy called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy’s (REBT) ABC diagram of human disturbance.  It is not the event, but the belief or view you hold about the event, which is at the heart of emotional states and performance.  Emotions, thoughts, behaviours can be healthy and functional or dysfunctional. The event can be something that has happened in the past, something that is happening now or something that could happen in the future.  It can also be real, imaginary or internal or external.  Internal events can be thoughts, images, memories, physical sensations or even emotions.

ABC Event Belief Consequences

ABC - Event, Belie,f Consequences Diagram

ABC – Event, Belief, Consequences Diagram

Beliefs that are unhealthy have at their core explicit or implicit rigid, powerful demands and commands usually expressed  as MUSTs, SHOULDs, HAVE to’s, GOT to’s e.g. I absolutely must not be rejected.  Essentially, unhealthy demands are not based on what is possible in reality.  Therefore, certain unfavourable or undesirable possibilities are not accepted e.g. rejection.

These demands also have powerful derivatives such as “If I am rejected, which I MUST not,

a) It’s awful (i.e. 100% bad)

b) It’s unbearable (i.e. can’t survive, cope or be happy at all)

c) It proves I am a worthless person.

So REBT is about:

  1. Helping      a client understand their emotions, behaviour and goals,
  2. Identify      their unhealthy or unhelpful beliefs that are sabotaging their happiness      and goals,
  3. Challenge      them and replace them with their healthier version in order to become      undisturbed and eventually happy.

So as far as the ‘Clever women make men hit them’, it is simply untrue and does not make any sense.  The B is missing in the ABC.  The A is Clever Woman, the C is Man hitting her but the B is the Man’s unhealthy belief about the clever woman which then leads him to lash out.  His belief is his responsibility and his alone.

Self-esteem, relationships and our happiness

6 Mar

Do you know what things in life make you happy? More often than not, if we sit and think about that question, we often start to wonder what “happiness” really is…But that’s a different blog post.

Two important factors in our happiness are our own self-esteem and our relationships.

Self-esteem and relationships have a massive role in our happiness

Self-esteem and relationships, two factors of your happiness


The Happiness Survey

Measuring your happiness is tough, but that was something the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy and Top Sante magazine attempted to do with a jointly held “happiness survey”.  The results showed that there are many influences on our happiness, but ultimately, we feel how we think. So, when unpleasant things happen or when we experience frustration and difficulty,  we have two sets of beliefs about them. Healthy or rational beliefs about the unpleasant things provoke sadness, annoyance or even regret, while unhealthy ones provoke unhealthy negative feelings anxiety, depression, guilt hurt etc.

You can read more on the Happiness survey here:



Our emotional state can have a big impact on our relationships, if your thoughts or beliefs about your partner are unhealthy, then your relationship will become unhealthy too. When it comes to relationships, we must remember that we are ultimately responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, our behaviours and the types of relationships we tolerate and or enjoy.

You can read more about investing in your relationships here:

Self esteem

There are many factors that play a part in our own self-esteem. In a previous blog post we explored these in more detail, see our post

Our own self-esteem can have a positive impact on other aspects of our lives, such as our relationships and happiness, but a low self-esteem can have equally as powerful negative impact on these areas of our lives.

Throughout life we all need to use different tools to take control and deal with self-esteem issues.  This can be hard, especially if you are the type of person who struggles with low self-esteem. The College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy is running a Master Class in dealing with self-esteem issues (the previous master class was very popular). For more information on this master class and the things and tools you will learn from it, please visit


Feel how you think…

The way in which we think is ultimately the way we feel. If we feel good, then our self-esteem, our relationships and our overall happiness all benefit.

Book Review: Act with Love

2 Feb

Russ Harris, 2009, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland

ACT with Love

ACT with Love

I was looking for new ideas for helping people in the workplace to resolve their interpersonal problems, and  this book was one of those Beverley Harper included in her recommended book list at the end of the CCBH Diploma course.  I very much liked it. I was able to use some ideas to help people sort out their problems with colleagues. However, the book is more useful for improving couples’ lives together. It  is aimed at couples whose relationship is ‘in reasonable shape’ or in ‘bad shape’, people who are not currently in a relationship but want to learn what went wrong in their previous ones, or for therapists looking for ideas how to work with relationship issues.

The volume is divided into three parts. It looks at what goes wrong in relationships, what commitment means if you want to make the relationship work, what kind of partner you want to be and how mindfulness can help you to handle your thoughts and feelings better. The basic principles of ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) are used, and you are taught how to apply them to make relationships work.  LOVE is used as an acronym for ‘Letting go’, ‘Opening up’, ‘Valuing’ and ‘Engaging’.  It encourages you to develop ‘psychological flexibility’, an ability to adapt to a situation with openness, awareness and focus, and to take action guided by your values.

Since reading the book I have been very motivated to help people with relationship issues, but unfortunately haven’t found the right situation to be  able to test out the ideas yet, so cannot tell you if they work! The exercises at the end of each chapter are designed to be used with a partner (‘If your partner is willing’), but also give useful ideas for the therapist for the homework assignments for clients – with or without a partner. I agree with the book’s claim that ‘it gives realistic hope without promising too much or raising false expectations’. The language is easy to read, light hearted but doesn’t  neglect the basic principles of ACT. What I would have liked to see more is the preventative side – how to build a good relationship from the beginning, and be prepared to share your life with someone you love – not waiting for things to go wrong first!  Because of the practical aspects of the book, I think it could also be very useful as a resource with groups.

So thank you, Beverley, for your great booklist!


Lea Clark

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist

Investing in your relationships

1 Feb

Christmas can be a tough time for many people, either triggering problems or highlighting existing problems in relationships, not just with distant family who we may only see at Christmas time, but on our relationships with our close family.  It’s therefore no surprise that January is the most popular time for a couple to file for divorce in the UK – not a great start to the New Year is it?

Invest in your relationships

Invest in your relationships

It’s common for most of us at one point on another to have experienced difficulties or challenges in our personal relationships. While these feelings are common, and on the whole, not an issue, its once they become entrenched or habitual when real issues start to arise, such as experiencing anxiety, irrationality, anger, hurt, depression and unhealthy jealousy. Once we start to experience these feelings, that run in to Christmas can take us to breaking point – hence November being the most popular month for couples to start talking to solicitors…

Divorce Rates

It’s quite well documented that divorce rates are on the rise, and this trend hasn’t changed with 2010 seeing 119,589 divorces in England and Wales, up from 113,949 in 2009. The numbers are highest amongst couples in their early 40s, typically between the age of 40 and 44, with the most popular reason for divorce often given as unreasonable behaviour.

Christmas period

Couples who are struggling find that the onset of the Christmas period really doesn’t help. Everything that comes with the festive season results in increased financial demands being made on couples, as well as having to spend more time together and with the in-laws.

Combine all these facts and feelings with the fact that the festive season provides people with time to reflect and make a final decision on the state of their marriage; it’s perhaps no surprise then that final applications for divorce are made in January.

Financial climate

The current financial climate has a role to play – not only in adding pressure to our daily lives (money matters always adds strain on relationships) but also by influencing our decision about divorce. Many couples feel forced to stick together simply because they cannot afford to get a divorce. This recent trend though is probably set to change, as there seems to be no end of the economic gloom, couples wish to take control back of their lives and are starting to prepare to cut their losses.

How do things get that far?

The majority of couples get married with no fear of a possible end in sight – which is how things should be, however the stresses of modern life, financial pressures and general day to day life make us often forget the more important things in life. It’s normal to face challenges in our relationships, these challenges are common place, and in many ways help us grow as a couple. But challenges that we don’t overcome, or ignore are dangerous. Negative feelings are common place, but once they become entrenched in our daily lives and become the “norm”, then real issues have started to appear with any relationship.

It’s common to experience hurt where you think that your partner’s insensitive behaviour towards you implies lack of care or love. It’s also common to experience guilt regarding your past behaviours and wrong doings. Many individuals may also feel anxiety about a whole host of reasons, ranging from anxiety about irrational jealousy to anxiety about our partner’s anger. So you see there are so many things to deal with when we look at relationships – what’s important is that we deal with these feelings sooner rather than later. For some, divorce may be the only safe and viable option, for others, a little time and investment back into their relationships is all that is needed.

Relationships that are generally successful and work well in the long term tend to have the following ingredients; good communication between the partners, compatibility and shared values and last but not least emotional stability of the partners.  It is more likely than not that love will last in a healthy way this way.

Addressing our emotional state

At the heart of CBT and CBH is a belief that our thoughts and beliefs are the key drivers of our emotional state and cause our behaviours. If your thoughts or beliefs about your partner are unhealthy, then your relationship will become unhealthy. Essentially the message is that we are responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, our behaviours and the types of relationships that we tolerate. When we don’t take responsibility, it will more than likely be projected onto our partner – with you now believing that they are the cause of these feelings.

So some basic techniques from CBT which you may find helpful as a starting point are listed below:

  1. Accept that you are responsible for your own emotions and actions
  2. Communicate without pointing a finger, use expressions like, “I feel angry about…” and not “You made me angry about…”
  3. Accept yourself as a valuable but imperfect human being.  Judge your behaviour rather than your worth, for example, accept you are a fallible person, but you can learn from your mistakes
  4. Be assertive but not aggressive. Communicate thoughts and feelings appropriately and not defensively
  5. Always keep in mind the bigger picture and remember to focus on your partner’s good qualities.