Nicola Hare Counselling & Psychotherapy in Crawley

How to Meet Anxiety

When anxiety comes along, take a moment to notice how you are meeting it. What kinds of things are you saying to yourself? Write them down, would you say them to anyone else when they felt anxious? How do you feel about the words before you? Are they kind? Are they helpful? What could you say instead? 

Consider creating a tool kit for times like this. What might be in it? A calming or invigorating scent to breathe in? A quote or moto? A reminder of a warm memory or a dream you have? Something soft and comforting to touch?

How we meet anxiety has a direct impact on whether we escalate or de-escalate it so it is worth putting some thought into...



Blog. behaviour

Behind Every Behaviour is a Need

Whether you are snapping at loved ones, reaching for a favourite bad habit like smoking or drinking, seeking affairs, or hiding under the duvet, there is likely to be a need behind the behaviour you wish you could kick.

It can be frustrating partaking in behaviours you regret after and it is too easy to pile on the shame or beat yourself up for it. Shame and regret often leads to worse self esteem, more stress, and a higher chance of repeating the very behaviour you wish to change.

Talking the behaviour through in counselling with someone who isn't going to judge can reduce shame and take the pressure off. Through exploring thoughts, feelings and your past you may just find out why you are really acting in ways you wish you weren't. Making sense of well-buried needs and finding new, healthy ways to meet them can help reduce or cease the urge to partake in your old unwanted patterns leaving you happier and more in control of your life.

How Can Counselling and Psychotherapy Help Me?

Whether you are facing a temporary hurdle and need a safe space to explore how to jump it or are repeating behaviours that do not serve you and think they may have origins in your childhood, counselling and psychotherapy can help.

Sometimes we do not know why we feel 'bad' and struggle to put words to feeling low or empty. Counselling and psychotherapy can help you find those words and make sense of such feelings so if you aren't too sure what you need, please make contact and we can explore this together.
You don't have to suffer in silence just because you don't fully understand your issues. That is what we are here for. There are ways we can work together creatively and with the body that can help with young wounds and complicated emotions.

Blog. couples

The Lack of Self Love

Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate romantic love but there is an equally, if not more important love that doesn't have a special day dedicated to it, self love. Just the phrase 'self love' can seem so alien it can make people quite uncomfortable just to hear it, let alone consider practicing it.

Yet, going into a relationship with a lack of self love can deeply impact the health of your relationship and result in unhealthy repeated relationship patterns.

Going for a Swim…

Imagine that not loving yourself is like not learning to swim, and that entering into a relationship is like jumping into the sea.
In the shallows you have fun splashing around together in the waves, but then before you know it you are out of your depth. You can’t swim. So you cling to your partner for dear life and any slight move they make sends you into a fearful spin, they are going to leave you.
They want to have some fun with you in the water, swim off on their own for a bit then come back and tell you all about their swim. But no! This is too scary for you so try to control (perhaps unconsciously) and manipulate. Not because you are a bad person, but because you only feel safe when they are right there, acting in exactly the way you need them too in order to feel safe and stay afloat. This is exhausting for both parties and doesn’t make for a very enjoyable or long-lasting swim.
If you can both swim, then yes, being out of your depth may be a little scary but you can swim! This means you can play, swim away for a bit and enjoy coming back to one another. You are not living in fear, hypervigilant that your life raft might show signs of leaving you.
Maybe sometimes one will need the other to keep them afloat at times because, well, that’s life. But on the whole, learning to swim (love yourself) makes for a far more enjoyable, secure paddle in the sea (relationship).

The Effects of Lack of Self-Love

If you have little in the way of self-love, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy, secure relationship. Expecting your partner to ‘fix’ you, pinning your worth onto them or tasking them with the impossible job to ‘make you happy’ can lead to unhealthy relationship dynamics and downward spiral patterns.
If you love yourself you are less likely to:
Put unrealistic expectations onto your partner
Live in constant fear of abandonment
Experience hurt, anger and blame
Sabotage the relationship
Have heated arguments that escalate and seldom resolve productively
Replay old childhood needs deficits
Feel insecure, clingy or needy
But What is Self-love?

Take a moment to think about what self-love means to you. What does it look like? What ways do you show yourself? What things do you say? What boundaries do you set yourself in the name of self-love? What forgiveness? What expectations are you imposing upon yourself?

Self-love starts with NON-JUDGEMENTAL AWARENESS, coupled with KINDNESS and often is a skill you need to work at, learn, and practise too. I have seen many clients who do not know where to begin so we start with how would you treat a child? If you wouldn’t say the negative, unkind things you say to a child, practise not saying them to yourself. Instead, think of what you would say to a child and say those things to yourself. We usually start with perceived mistakes, short falls and not living up to self-set standards, and take it from there.

Pay attention to the things you say to yourself, the boundaries you set, the things you do. Do they demonstrate self-love? Does self love feel alien and out of your grasp? Do you feel guilty even thinking about the idea of loving yourself? Do you feel worthy of love? Are you allowed to love and be loved or are you getting in your own way?

Blog. Silent grief

Silent Grief

We tend to think grief can only apply to us if we have just had a recent death of a loved one.
However, you can be suffering from grief related to losses from other less obvious sources too.
*A loss through death that happened years ago
*A loss of relationship, home, job, pet, or health ability….
* The loss of something you never had such as a secure childhood
Grief is a process that we can get stuck in; or be in without realising we are there.
Often we can discount the importance of our losses by comparing them to others, however, loss is loss and comparing yours to somebody else’s doesn’t make your own personal pain any less. You still have the right to process yours no matter what is happening to others in the world.

Below are some of the symptoms that may point to being stuck in the grieving process. Please note this list is not a diagnostic tool and it is not exhaustive.

- Anger, irritability, anxiety
- Low mood or motivation
- Yearning or longing
- Obsessive thoughts about your loss
- Behavioural changes or addictions you don’t feel in control of (drinking, over-eating, self harming)
- Disinterest in things that used to bring you happiness
- Fear of further loss
- Hyper alertness
- Sensitivity to noise
- Withdrawal

Having space to talk about your personal experience can help you to unravel and make sense of what you are going through and help you feel less isolated in your grief. If you feel stuck in the grief process, talking can help you start to process your inner experience.

Anxiety & Depression - The Energy Slump

Both anxiety and depression can lead to a change in the way you care for yourself. Yet the way you care for yourself can impact on your mood and inner state. This can create a downward spiral and perpetuate feelings of depression and anxiety yet too much pressure to look after yourself can be overwhelming.

So what is the answer?

What you have done in the past 24 hours can impact the way you feel in the present moment. So why not give yourself the best chance of doing just one or some of the things that may help improve your mental state?

Whether you are struggling to wash and dress, eat regularly, (or healthily), get fresh air, or to exercise, get jobs done and connect with others, a ready made chart can be a useful tool for when you wake up feeling low on motivation.

Even ticking off one item when you don't feel like doing anything at all could be one small step in the right direction for you.
Ticking off something you have done can also give your brain a natural hit of dopamine, the feel good hormone, helping you to feel good.

The great thing about a chart is it's right there ready for when you need it, once you have made it. It can also be altered and changed no matter what your goals and wishes are.
Maybe creating a chart, either by hand or on your laptop would be an enjoyable, creative exercise for you? If not, maybe look for examples on the internet or keep it simple and make a list.
Please see below some ideas of what you could put on your chart or tick-list.
What would you add to yours?

Have a bath / shower
Get dressed
Put 1 load of washing on
Tidy my living spac just one room
Get 5 minute of fresh air
Ten minutes of walking or online yoga
Read 5 pages
Reach out to someone in a text
Eat a healthy meal
Eat at regular times
No alcohol today
Less caffeine today
Portion Control on treats
Meditate for 10 minutes
Watch something positive on Youtube


How do you talk to yourself when you make a mistake? What thoughts do you have and what things do you say to yourself?

If you spoke to other people this same way, how would your life change?

a) More people would feel safe around you to learn and grow
b) Nothing would change, you treat yourself the same as others
c) You would lose friends

Paying attention to the things you say to yourself when you have made a mistake can be very insightful. Are you kind to yourself or spiteful? Are you nurturing or berating? The way you speak to yourself at these times can make the difference between adding suffering to your experience, or learning and feeling positive about yourself. It can be useful to ask yourself, would you speak to a child this way? What would a child need after making a mistake? And can you apply this to yourself? If not, why? What is standing in your way? Whose voice is it berating you? Is it a harsh figure from your past? Can you make a new choice today to switch up your inner dialogue to something else?

Can you change the answer to this question from a C to an A? It all starts with noticing and being kind.

Blog. Anyonecanad

Anyone Can

If you are suffering right now or struggling in silence, you may want to consider offloading in a safe space with a counsellor in Crawley or online. Talking can lessen the intensity and normalise your experience. Read more Speaking to a trained professional can also help you to come through a difficult time with a new set of tools and a new perspective that may help you in other areas too.
Worried about money? I hold places for low income clients, please ask about these spaces.


Is Seven-year-old You Running Your Life?


Many of the ongoing issues that bring people to counselling are not the problem. These issues are often the attempt to deal with the problem. The ‘real problem’ sitting underneath can be either in or out of awareness. As a psycho-therapeutic counsellor I have noticed a common cause underlying so many issues is that you are still trying to live by a set of rules you made for yourself in childhood. Long buried and not questioned again in adulthood, these rules can lead to all sorts of issues from depression to anxiety, to addiction and relationship difficulties.

So why did you need to create these rules to live by in the first place? Underneath the rules you made for yourself sits set of negative self-beliefs that you also formed in childhood. These beliefs can be completely outside of your awareness now and they stem from messages you received from parents / caregivers from birth and throughout childhood. This isn’t a finger pointing parent bashing witch hunt, there can be many reasons why you may have received messages that turned into negative self-beliefs, and we will look at these later. First, let’s move this notion of a younger version of you being in charge and rules and beliefs from a concept to something more tangible:

Example 1

Parents / Carers — Physically absent father, stressed mother who is over worked, under supported and overwhelmed.

Child — Gets snapped at a lot for asking for things.

Possible message received — My needs overwhelm others; I am too much for other people.

Possible negative self-belief formed — I shouldn’t have needs / should put them last. I’m not important.

Possible rules set up to feel OK despite this belief — I can feel important and OK about myself if I please other people all the time and am really helpful while ignoring my own needs.

Possible issues in adulthood — Feeling taken advantage of in relationships. Low self-worth. Trouble setting boundaries. Anxiety due to saying ‘yes’ to everyone and taking too much on. Dissatisfaction, illness, stress, or burnout from not taking care of own needs. Unhealthy, secretive coping mechanisms in an attempt to get own needs met away from other people. Withdrawal from others.

Example 2

Parents — Very successful, working long days a lot of the time, give lots of praise for high grades and doing things really well, critical if they see room for improvement.

Child — Feels ignored unless they are doing something really well and achieving.

Possible message received — I’m only OK around here if I am achieving and I’m the best at what I am doing. My worth is conditional.

Possible negative self-belief formed — I have no or little worth unless I am working really hard, am the best, or achieve very highly.

Possible rules set up to feel OK despite this belief — I don’t feel OK about myself unless everything I do is perfect or I am working really hard.

Possible issues in adulthood — Perfection is a myth so constantly feeling not OK about self when falls short of own expectations. Perfection feels critical to survival. Exhaustion from trying and striving. Inability to switch off and enjoy fun / relaxation / time off / other people. Becoming a workaholic. Missing out on connections with others due to striving for goals. Depression if cannot ‘be perfect’ enough. Berating self for not being good enough leading to persistent lack of motivation. Experiencing futility — ‘I can’t win no matter what I do.’ Turning to substances in an attempt to switch off or block out the pressure to be perfect.

In both these examples, the child formed negative self beliefs and conditions around their sense of worth and ‘OKness’. These conditions becamse rules to live by. The child, then the adult can have worth and feel OK if they *add specific set of rules here*.

The beliefs and rules seldom get revisited in adulthood, they become part of your being. If you have formed these, it is likely you have done so out of awarenes and may not have questioned these belief systems since you were a child! This very much puts child you in the driving seat of how you think, how you feel, what you do, almost every aspect of your life. That’s a lot to put a child in charge of! And what’s more, this little you could be harbouring a lot of sadness, anger, unmet needs and unprocessed grief about what they longed for and didn’t quite get at a child, for whatever reason. Unconsciously, this can cause internal conflict too. Is there a difference in what you want to do and what you end up doing? This could be why. You may have every intention of not eating or drinking too much but child you and it’s beliefs, rules and unmet needs is at odds with your adult good intentions.

So, who am I and why am I suggesting that a child version of you could be in control of your life? I am a psycho-therapeutic counsellor using Transactional Analysis (Berne, E 1961) as my modality. One of the ways I work with clients is to identify unconscious beliefs formed through their experiences from birth to the end of teen years — whether they can remember them or not. By this age a set of beliefs have usually emerged about self that they will then take out into the world and their adult life. By age seven, children have already come up with a set of beliefs and if negative them rules to live by too. They tend to get revisiting in the teen years where they either soften or become more entrenched depending on subsequent experiences.

Out of awareness, these beliefs, rules and unmet needs can rule your life. The good news is that IN AWARENESS, you can process and nurture all of the above and allow adult here-and-now you to spend more time in that proverbial driving seat. In this way, you can come away from the behaviour that is no longer serving you without the need for willpower and without experiencing inner turmoil or feeling deprived. You can start to learn (and really feel and believe) that your worth does not depend on pleasing others, being perfect or working all the time.

Babies start learning about self-concept, worth, love and safety from the moment they are born so you may have had a wonderful childhood as far as you can remember, but other factors could lead to negative self beliefs, trouble trusting others and the need to follow rules you made for yourself in order to feel OK. Were you in hospital for a long time, separated from mum after birth? Were there parental stresses around money or post-natal depression or grief after you were born? It isn’t always abuse and neglect that cause deep negative self-beliefs and the need to set up rules to cope with them. Parental issues with addiction, illness, mental health, disordered anxiety, insecure attachment styles (Bowlby. J 1969), parents attempting to live by their own set of rules out of awareness, relationship issues, chronic stress… The list could go on and on.

It is through love, affection, mirroring facial expressions, through having needs met appropriately, through secure attachments to caregivers that babies / children develop a healthy sense of self. If you are interested in reading more on this, Why Love Matters: How affection shapes the brain, Sue Gerhardt is an informative read.

Here are some of the negative messages you could have received growing up. In Transactional Analysis (TA) we call them injunctions (Goulding & Goulding, 1976). Goulding and Goulding identified twelve different injunctions. In brackets I have given examples of a little more description to help make them more tangible. I have refrained from the use of ‘you’ due to how distressing these parent / caregiver messages can be.) Please note, these messages are often passed down from parents / caregivers out of their awareness and can be verbal or non verbal.

Don’t be / don’t exist (The child’s existence around here is not OK, parents demonstrate they do not want the child around or that they regret having a child. This is the most harmful message to receive.)

Don’t be you (There is something wrong with the child, maybe mum wanted a girl but the child was born male or the child’s personality isn’t enough like the parent and the parent dislikes this)

Don’t be a child (parent finds play to be babyish or a waste of time, perhaps child has younger siblings and is expected to care for them.)

Don’t grow up (Usually the youngest, last born child. Child staying young fulfills a need in the parent. Parent wants them to stay ‘their little baby’. Often out of awareness the parent does everything for child so that the parent can feel needed instead of preparing child for the world by encouraging independence)

Don’t make it (Keep trying and working and struggling, but don’t succeed because then you won’t be striving. Child always must be working towards something. Or, on a regular basis parent connects with child only when working towards something and the end of the project meant the end of time together. Success doesn’t happen in this family, that’s for others, not us.)

Don’t (don’t do anything) (Don’t run there, don’t climb that, don’t say that, don’t go there — the world is unsafe so don’t do anything.)

Don’t be important (parent prioritised other things over child or is task orientated, not connecting with the child in the process of feeding, dressing, walking, homework etc. Parent not being available enough to notice child’s facial expressions or attempts to be noticed. Parent not wanting to interact or wanting child out the way.)

Don’t belong (Child lacks sense of belonging with parents and takes this belief out into the world not feeling they belong anywhere and keeping self on the edges of groups despite a desire to belong.)

Don’t be close (Parents / caregivers demonstrate other people are not safe to be around, little or no affection given, these relationships may have lacked nurturing and intimacy.)

Don’t be well (Child can get nurturing and attention but only when physically ill or acting unstable. ‘Well’pertains to physical and / or mental wellness.)

Don’t think (Child is shut down when attempting to problem solve, their thoughts rejected or ridiculed. Parent is stressed, dismissive, angry, frustrated or overwhelmed when problems arise making challenges and problems feel unsafe for the child. Parent demonstrates annoyance at questions asked at the inquisitive toddler stage or say things like ‘don’t worry your pretty little head’ or ‘she’s the pretty one, her sister is the clever one’.)

Don’t feel (when child shows emotion such as sadness or anger, this is not met appropriately by the parent. Maybe parent is uncomfortable with feelings and doesn’t know what to do. Sometimes sadness / crying is discouraged in boys and anger is discouraged in girls.)

Here are some rules that the child may construct to survive despite the injunctions they carry. In adulthood the beliefs can be so buried that we do not know why we have to behave in the ways we do. In TA we call these rules Driver Behaviours or Drivers. (Kahler, T, 1975).

I have used ‘you’ here to help you to try these on for size and identify which Drivers you may have.

Be Perfect Everything you do must be just so, every detail just right. Your reaction can seem extreme when you perceive something you have done to have fallen short of your own standards. This is because being perfect protects you from your injunction so when it doesn’t work, you do not feel OK in yourself.

Please Others Your needs come last. If someone asks you to do something the ‘yes’ is automatic and ‘no’ is either not an option or feels very uncomfortable. You may worry excessively that the relationships will end, people wont like you or that you have no worth if you are not always pleasing others ahead of your needs.

Be Strong You are tough and just get on with it, you don’t show your emotions to others or even like to register that you have any. You can feel numb in place of feeling. This can be the result of a Don’t Feel injunction or because it doesn’t feel safe to feel your feelings. Can lead to lack of connection to others.

Try Hard You have a lot of enthusiasm for a challenge or project when it is new but get bored halfway through and do not finish. You feel OK when you are striving and trying but you may sabotage succeeding because if you succeed you won’t be trying anymore, and you must keep trying in order to feel OK.

Hurry Up Your parents were always rushing around and hurrying you up with everything you did. They too did everything very quickly. You only feel OK if you are getting your tasks done in double spend and if they take longer than planned, you can feel as though you have failed. You miss out on enjoying the process and feel tired from ignoring yourself in order to get everything done quickly.

Adrienne Lee’s Drowning Person diagram shows how the injunctions are like weights tied to your ankles pulling you under water. To stay afloat you have balloons that you are holding onto so that you do not drown. These balloons are the Drivers you decided upon in childhood.

Maybe you can thank little you for managing to keep you afloat all this time. As you can probably imagine, just stopping driver behaviours (letting go of your balloons) might not be the best idea but working on and reducing those injunctions (the weights) could greatly lessen the need for having driver behaviours in the first place.

In therapy I work with reducing the hold of injunctions which lessens the need for the rules that led to the symptoms my clients walked in with! (You may need to read that twice!)

If you think seven-year-old you might by running your life what can you do about it? Please do not beat them up for giving you the problems you have now. That was not their intention. They did the best with the resources and information available to them at the time. But you are an adult now. This means you have new resources available to you. It means you can explore and get to know your own unique set of Injunctions and work through them. If inner you has them, they are going to need your love, patience, nurturing and attention. If you are not used to being this way with yourself, it can take some time to break old habits and learn to be this way with yourself. So what help is available to you to allow you to go on this journey in order to break free from these exhausting, limiting, outdated and sometimes isolating or dangerous rules?

There is psycho-therapeutic group or individual counselling, but this isn’t the only way. You may feel that joining a mindfulness group is where you want to start or reading up on this academically. Creativity, dance, self-help books are all out there for you too. Maybe writing is for you? Take time to feel out and think about what step is RIGHT FOR YOU RIGHT NOW.

This is potentially a lot of new information. Let it settle in. Allow yourself time to process.

I hope you (and your inner seven-year-old) have got a little something out of what I have shared. If it has brought up anything painful for you, please seek the support you need, whether that is with a friend or loved one, a helpline, a therapist or with your G.P.


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