Depression – Finding your way back to you

 

Depression can creep up on you. It can begin with feeling a little flat, that life seems to have become boring and meaningless. This can then be followed by feeling a real lack of purpose, like ‘what’s the point’. Everything can become a drag, each day can feel like groundhog day; an empty repetition of the day before. You may try doing a few things to help you feel better but you find you just have no motivation to make any real changes. Your relationships begin to suffer as you just don’t feel good about yourself anymore, your self-confidence and your spark have disappeared. 

Does this sound like you?

If so, there are several things you can do 

1. Honest self-reflection – It is important to take time to do some honest self-reflection. Many times you can become depressed as you have been hurt by life because it did not turn out how you expected it to or wanted it to be, or that you have been hurt by someone or a situation. In response to this disappointment or hurt we withdraw in an attempt to protect ourselves from getting hurt again. This never works, in fact it causes further distress. When you contract away from life and not live as your full self you create a space within that feels like emptiness. You are also likely to live very much in your head in an attempt to escape the hurt you carry in your body. This creates a disconnection from the deep, wise and truly intelligent part of yourself, which is actually the most painful part of depression. 

2. Nominate the cause – When you get honest with yourself you are then in a position to nominate the reason you have chosen to withdraw from life and shut down. By nominating the cause this initiates a process of true healing.

3. Seek out true support – When you are ready to deal with the underlying issues it is important to connect with the people that you feel will truly assist you in your self-reflection and nomination and ultimately your own self-healing. This can be a trusted friend, relative or a therapist. It is also a good idea to see your doctor as medication is an applicable support in some cases. 

4. Commit to life – Committing to life, is bringing your all to everything you do, from the most mundane tasks to the things you love. It is about taking responsibility to do those things that you know will support you. It is about knowing how to ‘fill your own cup’. In that way you will begin to experience the joy you have been missing. Instead of withdrawing and shutting down you are now open and ready for what is coming towards you in life. 

5. Reframe your view on life – The way you see life has a huge impact on the way you feel. The fact is we are all students of life, and never arrive at a point of completion. Life is a constant unfolding, offering us situations that will ultimately help us grow, evolve and become more solid in who we are. Sometimes these ‘lessons’ can be difficult, but if you embrace life and what it is offering you, you can begin to move from being a victim of life to one of empowerment and joy. 

For further information there is a great, short video on depression at UniMed Living 

Kate Chorley is a psychotherapist & couples therapist practicing in the Parramatta & Blacktown areas of Western Sydney. She supports her clients in raising their self-awareness to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Contact here or phone 0402134097 to make an appointment. 

How our past hurts impact our relationships

 

As we move through life, people, situations or events that we experience can leave us feeling hurt and traumatised. This unfortunately is a normal part of life as we know life to be today. Getting hurt is not an issue per say if we are able to deal with it, let go and move on, but this is not the norm, with many of us harbouring hurts and resentments for decades. This then taints our view of the world and damages our trust in others and in life. When we are unable to resolve our hurt, we bury it deep in our body and carry it with us everywhere we go. This in turn affects all aspects of our lives. We may think we have moved on, and that the past is behind us, but everything we have ever experienced, positive or negative, stays with us, and makes up how we relate to others and how we see life. 

We then take what we carry into our relationships and this is where the trouble starts. When we have unhealed hurts with us things that people say, or certain situations will trigger us, they will touch on the unhealed part of us, most commonly causing us to react in a negative way. We may see the situation like: ‘you are making me feel like this’, or ‘you are doing this to me’. This leaves us feeling like a victim, creating more hurt. A vicious cycle is then created.

How to break the cycle 

But we can rise above this by looking at ourselves and life a little differently. When we are triggered to react it is an opportunity to reflect on why we may be feeling this way, this requires a lot of honesty to get to the truth. Once we feel the truth we are then in position to begin the process of letting go of old baggage once and for all.

For example, if you felt your mother never showed you love that doesn’t mean a woman will never love you, but this is the message our unconscious mind holds onto, projecting that belief onto every woman you meet. If that woman behaves in a way that is even slightly similar to how your mother was with you, you become triggered and this will then confirm your belief that no woman will ever love you. But by looking deeper and getting more honest with yourself you can feel the old hurt that you carry from your past, the hurt of the inner child part of yourself, and that your reaction was really about the unhealed hurt you were holding onto about your mother not the woman in front of you. Simply by nominating the truth you initiate the process of letting go of the old belief and making way for the real you to shine through.

Just because you had traumatic experiences in your past doesn’t necessarily mean you are doomed, you have the power to heal and rise above your past through honesty and love. 

For further reading on the subject, pop over to Unimed Living where you can read How letting go of the past is true medicine 

Kate Chorley is a psychotherapist & couples therapist practicing in the Parramatta & Blacktown areas of Western Sydney. She supports her clients in raising their self-awareness to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Contact here or phone 0402134097 to make an appointment. 

 

 

Living with a depressed partner

 

Living with a partner that is suffering depression can be a hugely challenging experience that can leave you feeling lost and hopeless. It can feel as though the way they feel is your fault, that if only you could work out exactly what they needed you to do, you would do it so they would feel better. But the reality is, it seems nothing will improve their mood for long. Your partner may have periods of feeling ‘up’ which provides some hope that things may change. Only to find them plummet back down into that dark place. You may be constantly vigilant, making sure they are taking their medication or asking how they are feeling. Yet it may feel like nothing works.

 

So what is the best way to handle this? 

1. Learn to detach  – I know this may seem cold but the fact is, the way they feel is not your responsibility. Their happiness is not your responsibility either. I understand that all you may want to do is help but the truth is they must help themselves. It is up to them to reach out for support when they need it. Then the support will be there. If they are willing to take constructive steps to help themselves you can support them in this but you cannot do it for them. This is where many people slip up. By trying to ‘save’ them this can leave you feeling guilty or with a sense of hopelessness around what to do. 

2. Listen to them – This may sound simple but it is important to really listen to what they are asking for. They may be needing space, or time out, but when you have an agenda of what you think is best for them you don’t really hear them. Honour what they are asking for. 

3. Get Support – When you are in a close relationship it is difficult because you will not be getting your needs met, as your partner will not be in a position to offer you the love and attention you deserve. This is because they are in a state of disconnection and withdrawal which makes it very difficult for them to express their love. It can be very distressing to be around this energy. This means it is vital to get the support you need through other means for a time; via trusted friends, and relatives or finding a great therapist to support you in working through your feelings and giving you strategies work on. 

4. Take threats of suicide seriously – It is vital that every threat of suicide is taken seriously. Ring the mental health line or call an ambulance. I understand that if your partner threatens often this can feel like they may just be seeking attention, but the reality is they actually do need attention. Facts are, most people don’t want to kill themselves but don’t know what to do or what help they actually need or where to go to get it. Mental health services in your area such as Lifeline in Australia can provide an array of facilities that can provide support. 

 

 

 

Divorce Hell – Could there be another way?

 

Divorce is a common occurrence in society today. If our marriage doesn’t work out we have a choice, we can make a decision to break the contract we made with our husband or wife and go on our merry way. Unfortunately it is usually not as simple as that. When the relationship breaks down or has been in turmoil for many years, both partners may be harbouring hurts and resentments that run deep. There could be children and pets involved, and property and assets to divide. For many this process can be a nightmarish tug of war that can cost tens, and sometimes up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in solicitors fees as we struggle to obtain what we feel is rightfully ours. The extreme stress this places on each party and the children can be huge. But could there be another way?

It may seem crazy that once upon a time you loved and cared for each other, exchanged vows of a promise to be there for one another through thick and thin, to then end up at war like worst enemies! But could divorce be an aspect of a relationship that is simply changing for the greater good? Divorce doesn’t need to be more rounds of creating deeper wounds, divorce can be what you want or need it to be for everyone to feel loved and supported. I know this idea may seem utopian or unattainable but it is possible. But how?

1. Heal your hurts together – This is a vital aspect of going through this transition in your relationship. When things are not working or there appears to be a calamity before you, there is always something to learn, it presents an opportunity for personal evolution and growth. There is gold to be discovered that can leave you feeling more whole and empowered if you are prepared to get honest and real about what is not ok, it is about being humble instead of self- righteous. You need to identify and break unhelpful patterns that you may be stuck in. I understand that if your partner has cheated on you or has been abusive in any way it can be hugely distressing but it is important to look at your patterns of behaviour or how your actions have let that behaviour happen or continue. There presents a huge opportunity for you to heal and not unconsciously take these harmful patterns into your next relationship. It is important to make peace with ourselves and each other by owning our part in the situation.

2. Let go of ideals – There are so many ideals and beliefs imposed on us by society about what marriage is and how it is supposed to be, we then enter into a relationship with a picture of what we think our marriage is. This limits us and holds up captive to an ideal which is unattainable, but the truth is our relationship can be more than we ever imagined if we are able to let go of the picture. Every relationship, no matter how fleeting, offers us evolution, an opportunity to grow. Sometimes relationships run their course and need to change form for each partner to remain true to themselves. This may mean divorce, but again divorce doesn’t need to be what we are told it is; a failure, a disaster, a tragedy. Leaving a marriage is part of a cycle, like the seasons, where we are always being offered another opportunity just as winter turns to spring, if we are open to what the universe is offering each of us all the time.

3. Practice Appreciation –  As I mentioned earlier there is always a gift in every seeming calamity. Endevour to be aware of what that particular relationship was offering you. What was it showing you about yourself? This can be difficult to accept at times but the discomfort is worth the rewards of growing as a person and learning more about our patterns of behaviour that are holding us back from who we truly are. Take time to appreciate what your relationship has offered you, your new found awareness, your ability to heal.

4. Be Love – I know this may sound weird but the truth is when we live the above points mentioned then this will feel like a natural thing to do. When you remain respectful and decent towards our ex-partner you feel good about yourself. This may mean having no interaction what so ever with that person again, but being able to move on without harbouring resentment and bitterness towards them is liberating. We are then able to heal and rise above our past and truly let go of what is not working, remaining open and trusting of others and ourselves. Love does not hurt us but ideals, beliefs and harmful patterns of behaviour do. In this way we also role model a true way of being to our children from which they can learn and be able to come through the situation relatively unscathed. 

Why can’t I find Mr Right?

Everywhere around the world women are seeking the elusive Mr Right. I see these women regularly in my clinic rooms. Successful, intelligent women who have all areas of their life sorted except for their relationship. So where are all the men?

They are out there believe me, I meet them almost every day as clients also! Beautiful, gentle men that would make great partners but opportunities to meet ‘the one’ seem to pass them by. So, what is going on?

From when we are very young, ideals and beliefs around what a perfect relationship ‘should be’ is cemented into our psyche. We are governed by a picture based on our idealistic beliefs, it then becomes what we are unconsciously seeking in the world. Something that will match our expectations. But as we know, life isn’t like that. What we think we want and what we actually need can be two very different things.

Take me for example. I had a picture in my mind of my future husband, right down to how he would look, the type of work he would do etc. So, when my Mr Right showed up in my life I was completely blinded to the fact he was right in front of me! We were at college together and in the same classes for around 18 months before I received a call from him asking me out to dinner. Even at this point I was still blatantly unaware of what this may mean! Why would he want to go out to dinner with me?

Anyway, as time went on it became more obvious to me that we would make a great match, our personalities just clicked. He was fun to be around. But there were still things I was in resistance to due to him not matching up to the picture I held, which clashed with his picture. This caused ongoing arguments for quite some time until we began to accept and appreciate what was in front of us and let go of our unrealistic expectations.

But you don’t need to go through the long drawn out and painful process that we did. Take time to reflect and identify the picture you hold around relationships and realise how limiting this can be. The truth is, relationships are about growing together, true intimacy and learning more about yourself through the other. This love you develop between you can then be taken out into the world as a standard of how you are with all others. 

Be aware that this will not necessarily be easy. A true relationship will bring issues to light, it will trigger you. Knowing how to embrace this process can be hugely liberating and empowering, as together you can develop an emotional maturity, respect and deep care for each other that becomes the foundation on which you both stand.

By letting go of your picture you liberate yourself to be open to a true relationship in which you can grow and experience the kind of love that is enduring and ever deepening. A type of relationship we all deserve. 

 

The mystery of the disappearing libido & the sacredness of all women

 

Lack of sexual desire is most common in women, with one third of all adult women expressing that their low libido is a chronic problem that affects the quality of their lives, including half of all premenopausal women aged 30-50 experiencing this issue. This common condition is known clinically as hypoactive sexual desire disorder or HSDD, a term which most of us are unaware of.

Symptoms of HSDD include:

  • lack of sexual thoughts
  • lack of sexual desire that cannot be attributed to any physical or mental condition
  • Distress about the lack of sexual desire and the impact this is having on their intimate relationships.

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When counselling couples this is an issue I hear raised time and time again. It is typical for problems to arise after the birth of their first child with the added responsibilities including also having to work and the maintaining of a household. I have found that many women become highly identified with the ‘mother role’ and in their attempt to live up to an idealised version of what they believe a mother to be, lose touch with the woman they are.

This idealised image of a mother can never be attained or maintained for any length of time, so the woman will generally experience anxiousness in trying to attain it or avoiding feeling the failure of not being ‘all that’. Either way she loses out big time.

Women have taken on the role of ‘doing everything’ in order to try to be or feel ‘better’ then becoming resentful as a result. This resentment is then projected onto their partner and tension arises. Because she can never live up to this ideal, she feels dammed either way and therefore begins to internally give up and withdraw. This is the beginning of depression and chronic dissatisfaction.

Being a ‘good mum’ according to our conditioning does not include being sexual or feeling sexy, it doesn’t fit the picture so there is a loss of connection with their femaleness and sacredness which is physically located in the cervix. Because some women are becoming completely disconnected from ‘down there’, there is little wonder they lose sexual desire.

The same can be attributed to women who have not had children but who are driven to live up to an image in other areas of their lives. Even a woman who is attempting to live up to a temporal ideal of being sexy, is most times disconnected from her true sexiness and operates according to the image they are run by, therefore still experiencing the emptiness of not feeling themselves or that of being truly fulfilled.

An important factor to consider is that men, are not always, but commonly having sex to find a sense of connection they lack with themselves or just for relief instead of truly making love to their partner by honouring where she is at and all that she is. For women this becomes tiresome and an eventual turn off, so we do just that, turn off and shut down. We simply get sick of ‘having sex’ rather than experiencing the depth and healing that truly making love can offer us. 

Honouring the True Woman

Thousands of years ago it was natural for women to honour themselves. In the temples of the ancient world women were revered for for being the living embodiment of sacredness. This was nurtured, and from that way of being these women were able to live the great wisdom they carried,  a wisdom that we all still carry to this day, but for most lays dormant. 

It was from this connection that women would make decisions on how they chose to live and be in the world as opposed to the ideals and beliefs that are imposed upon women from birth in todays society. Instead of connecting to and living from our innate wisdom many of us live from our heads, we are confused, overwhelmed, feel somehow flawed and unworthy. But this of course is a choice, something we have the power to change. 

How? 

  • When we interrupt the constant chatter of the mind and reconnect back to our bodies we have the opportunity to connect deeply to our essence. A great way to initially support this connection is to do a simple Gentle Breath mediation for a few minutes several times a day. This creates a ‘stop and connect’ moment – a moment to realise that the knowingness and wisdom we naturally hold within far surpasses anything that is fed to us. 
  • Honour what your body is telling you. You know that little voice deep down that whispers a ‘no’ when you still find yourself saying yes? Let your inner knowingness guide you towards making more supportive choices in the way you are living. True vitality in the body supports your connection. 
  • Natalie Benhayon founded a dance called Sacred Movement which has been specifically designed to support a return to the connection with our sacredness. Please click the link above to find out more.

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  • Finally, know that it is ok to embrace your true sexiness, your connection, to claim this and live this. Do yourself a favour and everyone around you and hold none of it back. It is time women reclaimed this power within and lived it in full for all. 

 

Grieving the loss of a relationship

 

Grieving any kind of loss can be very difficult at the best of times and can cause feelings of confusion and desperation. If you identified strongly with who you were in the relationship or had your primary focus on your partner then the loss can be quite confronting, leaving you feeling lost and not knowing who you are anymore or where you belong. 

To avoid grief we may stay in unhealthy relationships that are clearly not working to avoid facing the prospect of being alone or experiencing the inevitable feelings of loss. 

What actually is Grief?

Grief is dealing with the loss of attachment. When we form an emotional attachment to another person we naturally invest our time and energy into the relationship, and consciously or unconsciously we are getting our needs met through our partner, to feel loved and needed, to feel worthy. When we are having these needs met through another person we place ourselves in a vulnerable position because if the relationship breaks down, we are then left with feeling the emptiness of what we did not give ourselves. Unless you are extremely evolved, feeling some kind of grief cannot be avoided, but there are things you can do to support yourself into not sinking into the depths of depression if your partner leaves you.

  • Meet your own needs – Whether in a relationship or not it is important that you know what your needs are and meet them yourself. Love and nurture yourself, appreciate who you are and what you bring. Care deeply for the beautiful you. By doing this you are setting a foundation on which you can stand in any given situation. Let that foundation of love be your rock, not your partner.
  • Do not hold back your love – Be as loving as you can be towards others. Many times we grieve not so much for the loss of our partner but for the fact that we did not show them our true selves or that we did not express lovingly with them on a consistent level.
  • Know that your relationship is not your life – The relationship you are in may be amazing, your partner may be amazing and what you have together incredible, but it is amazing because you are, it is how you are within your relationship that makes it what it is. When you live the love that you are and share it with your partner it is a beautiful experience but if they leave or walk away that love does not go because it is something that you are, not something you get from someone else. Love cannot leave you, but you can choose to express it or shut it down, the choice is yours. 
  • Allow yourself to feel your hurt – If your relationship breaks down it hurts. So allow yourself to feel it but be careful not to indulge in these feelings as this will confirm and cement your negative emotional state. Feel it, acknowledge it and get on with being as loving and gentle with yourself as you can.
  • Be gentle with you – Lets face it, drowning your sorrows in a bottle of chardonnay or downing a family sized block of chocolate actually ends up making us feel a whole lot worse! So take time to care for yourself, eat to nourish, hydrate (with water!), exercise, and find a close friend or trusted therapist as a support to share what you are feeling. 

Stages of Grief 

By understanding the process of grief we can make sense of the variety of emotions we may be experiencing. Anyone who has experienced deep grief can relate to the ‘waves’ of emotion that can arise and then subside. Grieving is not linear and each stage may be felt at anytime until the final stage of acceptance is reached and maintained consistently. 

  • Denial – as a response to the initial shock, the protective method of denial comes to the fore to buffer the hurt. We may even isolate ourselves from others to avoid the truth we do not want to face. 
  • Anger – As we get to a point where we can no longer deny the truth, but are not ready to feel our hurt, we use anger to mask the pain we do not want to feel. Anger may be directed at the loved one, at yourself or even at God, especially if your partner has died.  
  • Bargaining – In an attempt to make some semblance of being in control again we can bargain with ourselves, “if only I had been more loving”, or “If I hadn’t ignored him so much he wouldn’t have left me for someone else”, “maybe if I change she will take me back?”. This is our last line of defence before the dropping into the painful reality. 
  • Depression – When we realise we are not able to fight the truth any longer we may simply withdraw from life, there is a sense of defeat or giving up. This withdrawal creates a space within in that is felt as a deep emptiness, which is depression. 
  • Acceptance – In this final stage we begin to accept the truth, that our loved one has gone and will not be returning but realising that there is life after death so to speak. We commit back to life and start to feel ourselves again.

Kate Chorley is an experienced psychotherapist who has supported many of her clients through their grieving process. She practices in the Blacktown and Parramatta areas of Sydney and via Skype. Contact Kate here on or call 0402134097

The Importance of Self-Awareness in Relationships

 

Self awareness provides us with the emotional intelligence to successfully interact with others, the more deeply we know ourselves and why we do what we do, the more we can understand others, and with this understanding we can start to let go of judgement and bring more compassion to situations and therefore be less impacted by life. 

Self awareness is knowing what makes you tick, why you make the choices you do, why you think the way you do and how this impacts your life and that of the people around you. 

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” ―Socrates 

How to become more self-aware.

1. Learn to see yourself objectively – honing the art of self reflection is an important tool to develop self awareness. To do this well it requires honesty and lack of judgement. If you find you are judging others and defending your position, then you are only seeing life from a narrow, one sided point of view where there is no room from personal growth. Take a broad view on life and yourself, take time to feel what is true for you and what is not. You may find you have been unconsciously subscribing to a way of being that does not align with who you truly are. By becoming aware of this, you can begin to let it go. 

2. Reflect with another – Find someone you feel comfortable enough to be completely honest with, someone who will not judge you but provide constructive feedback. Doing this can provide invaluable support in your evolution. A great way to do this is with a therapist or other professional who is practiced at being objective and non judgemental in their response. When you can start to decentralise and see things from another’s point of view it is easier to see how change can be possible in all areas of your life. 

3. Keep a Journal – By keeping a journal you are able to see patterns of behaviour that occur in your life. Being able to see theses trends you can look for triggers or things you do that feed the pattern which opens up an opportunity to make different choices. When you journal things that you do each day; what you eat, whether you exercise or not and can see a link in the behaviour that follows these choices. One of the ways you can do this is by using the OurCycles App, a tool that is designed for both men and women to track your feelings and moods and make notes about your day. It is a great tool for self reflection. 

4. Nominate things you want to address – When you are able to clearly see those choices or ways of being that are not working for you, only then you can begin to truly address them. 

Growth and developing self awareness is an ongoing journey, one where you never truly arrive. So take your time and make it an everyday part of what you do and reap the rich rewards of living a life that is about evolution and personal growth. 

Kate Chorley is a psychotherapist & couples therapist practicing in the Parramatta & Blacktown areas of Western Sydney. She supports her clients in raising their self-awareness to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Contact here or phone 0402134097 to make an appointment. 

4 Steps to Managing Conflict

 

The Gottman Method of Couples Therapy, founded by John Gottman is a series of research based interventions that combines nearly 40 years of studies and clinical practice of more than 3000 couples. This structured and goal-oriented therapy assists couples to develop greater connection, understanding and intimacy in their relationship. 

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a metaphor found in the New Testament depicting the end of time. They represent conquest, war, hunger, and death. The Gottman Method uses this phrase to describe ineffective communication styles that can lead to the demise a relationship. 

To have zero conflict in a relationship is very rare and for the rest of us, having an understanding of what feeds disharmony and what supports harmonious relations is important for us to know if we want a close and loving relationship with our partner. 

So what doesn’t work?  

1. Criticism – Criticism is often very personal and attacks the character of the other person.

“You never take out the garbage, you’re so lazy..”

The offending party is then left feeling assaulted, offended and hurt. This is then likely to result in the person on the receiving end to retaliate in defensiveness, which can create pervasive patterns that can be difficult to break out of. 

Antidote – Simply reframe what you want to say by owning what you feel and ask for what you need without attack or blame, it’s important to express a positive need. 

“I feel annoyed that you haven’t taken the garbage out again tonight, when you do it I feel loved and supported, can you please take out today?” 

2. Defensiveness – When we go into protection by using defensiveness against a perceived attack which is usually criticism, it is corrosive to your relationship.

“I’m always taking the garbage out, and this one time I don’t do it you jump on me, so unfair!”

We can feel unjustly accused and victimised, coming up with a million excuses to protect our position, and why they are wrong, and we are right. This will come across as being dismissive of what our partner is trying to say, of not listening to their needs, which will fuel the situation even more. 

Antidote – The key here is to simply take responsibility for your part of the conflict, own what you have done.

“Yes, I did forget to take it out tonight, I know how important it is to you that I do this, I’m sorry”

3. Contempt – Contempt is when we make statements from a seemingly elevated position of superiority using sarcasm, cynicism, derogatory names, mockery and eye rolling. Once contempt has crept in things are not looking good and it is the greatest predictor of divorce. 

“You idiot, you forgot to take the garbage out AGAIN!” 

Antidote – The best antidote for contempt is to build a consistent appreciation and respect for each other. 

“I really appreciate how you always remember the little things, like taking out the garbage, I love having you around”

4. Stonewalling – Sometimes in an attempt to psychologically self-soothe one party will remove themselves from the argument by going quiet and shutting down. This can incite the other partner further as they may feel shut out and rejected, causing more anxiety and distress. 

Antidote – It is a good thing to disengage if you are emotionally ‘flooded’, but is best to be clear with your partner that you need time out. It takes around 20 minutes for your body to physiologically calm back down. You can then return to the conversation more centred and connected. 

Kate Chorley is trained in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy and is available for sessions at her Blacktown and Parramatta Clinic’s in Sydney. To make an appointment – call 0402134097 or fill out the contact form here. 

When your partner is addicted to porn

 

What is it with watching porn? 

Regularly watching porn and the incidence of porn addiction is a wide spread, social issue in the world today. With the explosion of the internet there has been an unregulated stream of ‘fodder’ for us to choose from.

The statistics on porn use are unsettling:  

  • 1 in 5 internet searches on a mobile device are for pornography.
  • Men in happy relationships are 61% less likely to look at porn.
  • 20% of men admit to viewing pornography at work.
  • 88% of porn scenes contain physical aggression. 49% contain verbal aggression.

According to these statistics it is clear that we love watching porn, but is it actually harmful or just a bit of light relief? 

As Ran Gavrieli shares in the clip above that before he started watching porn, his idea being intimate or making love was born from a foundation of love and care, with intimacy being about sensuality and mutuality, there was a narrative. His definition of love was about the whole person, it was about connection.

Ran goes on to say that after watching porn for a period of time he felt like his mind was invaded by those images, that they had taken the place of his original fantasies of romantic love. He makes a pertinent point when he states:

We should not only be careful about what type of foods we put in our body, but also the nutrition of our minds.

When we watch porn we take on the energy of porn into our bodies, it infiltrates our energetic space, a poison we carry with us long after we stop watching – this energy remains with us when we interact with everyone, including those we love, our partner, our children. 

Pornography is addictive and paralysing, why? Because porn excites our primal tendencies, the part of us that is all about desire, with the primary focus being on ‘self’. It stems from our overwhelming need to be satisfied, to get that ‘rush’. It is the ultimate distraction away from a less than fulfilling life. 

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What Causes Porn Addiction? 

There are many factors that can be precursors to porn addiction, such as a predisposition to impulsivity, emotional dysregulation, high levels of testosterone, childhood environmental factors such as abuse or exposure to sexual content, mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression or personality disorders, rejection in relationships, social isolation, and peer influence.

When we look at these factors more closely we can see that they are underpinned by a basic lack of connection and a lack of intimacy. Not everyone with high testosterone is compelled to watch porn. If we choose to live in a way where we are shut down to others in an attempt to prevent ourselves from getting hurt, to avoid rejection, we just end up feeling isolated and alone. But by allowing ourselves to be open and choosing to let others in we feel a closeness, a connection, a feeling of being met, something many it seems, avoid doing. Could this be what we are actually craving when we view porn?

Watching porn it is usually done in private, we feel safe and protected, we do not have to open up to others and risk rejection, we can have our needs (intimacy and connection) met in a pseudo kind of way, but in truth are we not just medicating the unmet need? 

When a person watches porn it floods the brain with the feel good chemical dopamine, the same chemical that is released when taking drugs. When these ‘surges’ are repeated the brain becomes desensitised and requires more and more extreme type images to get the same rush. Regular sex becomes boring. This widespread problem is now creating a demand for more and more extreme, hard core porn that producers are quick to supply – our behaviour is creating the demand. 

* Newsflash * – Watching Porn shrinks your Brain!

In a 2011 a study was done by German researchers that found the area of the brain called the striatum, that is linked with the reward and motivation response, actually shrank in size the more porn a person watched. 

What to do if your partner is addicted to Porn 

If you are in a relationship and your partner is regularly viewing porn you can feel rejected, alone, and unloved. It may be difficult for your partner to be aroused by everyday sex and ‘making love’, and being tender can become a foreign concept.

There is a seeking of instant gratification which ends up being all about them and what is going to get them there – you no longer seem to factor. 

  • Its important to talk with your partner and be honest about how you feel. Going into judgement or blame is not going to support them, you can’t make them admit they have a problem, it is up to them to take responsibility for themselves. 
  • Take a good look at the current state of your relationship. Look at what role you are playing within it. See if you are in some way enabling their behaviour. When we fail to call out what we are not ok about, it is the same as saying, ‘what you’re doing IS ok’. 
  • Seek professional help for yourself,  so you can begin to open up and make sense of how you feel and look at what you can do to best support yourself. 
  • If your partner is open to it, seek professional support as a couple. This will give you a forum to get honest together about what has been happening and gain a deeper of understanding of why the compulsion is there and look at how to address it. By understanding your partner more deeply it can support you to support them and yourself.
  • Take time to get your partner reacquainted with true intimacy – find ways to open up to each other, look into each others eyes. Lie naked together and hold each other, get used to touching each other again, take things very slowly with no expectations of a certain outcome. Give your partner time to become aroused being with you. If there is pressure to perform or a rush it can push them back into fantasy, so patience is the key. 

Kate Chorley is an experienced psychotherapist and couples counsellor in the Blacktown and Parramatta areas of Sydney.

Kate has worked with many individuals and successfully helped them overcome addictions of all kinds including porn addiction.

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Call Kate today on 0402134097 for a FREE 15 minute phone consultation.