Monthly Archives: December 2015

For Those Less Fortunate This Winter…

Christmas really is my favorite time of year. There’s something about the way the cold crisp air makes everything inside feel cosy inside, the endless roast dinners to die for and the precious time spent with family. It is during these special moments that I often think of those less fortunate than myself, those who desperately need help but don’t have the means to get it.

My aim is for Accessible Psychology to help people create the lives they long for and I believe the work of the International Justice Mission does just this. The work they do in helping rehabilitate children with traumatic childhoods is particularly close to my heart, as is all the work they do to abolish violent oppression. Please continue to read so you can discover for yourself the amazing work this charity does…

IMJ Justice

International Justice Mission is a global organisation that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems. In nearly 20 communities throughout Africa, Latin America, South Asia and Southeast Asia, IJM combats slavery, sex trafficking, sexual violence, police brutality, property grabbing and other forms of violence.


The 10 Key Behaviors That Will Ensure Strong Family Bonds Over the Holidays Part Four

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we examined the key behaviors of being affectionate, thoughtful and quick to apologize. This week we look at the last two key behaviors, being quick to forgive and being willing to compromise.


Behavior Nine – Be Quick to Forgive


If a family member tries to make amends following a conflict, appreciate their sentiment and be quick to forgive. It certainly isn’t easy to accept responsibility for poor behavior, so your willingness to forgive will develop confidence that the relationship is strong enough to bear conflict and build trust that hurt can be healed. If you have difficulty forgiving please read ‘How to liberate yourself by overcoming the three blocks to forgiveness’.


Why displaying affection towards family is important

Not all family’s are as affectionate as mine. We hug, say I love you often and are very open with our affections towards one another. It’s true though that not all family’s are alike when it comes to displaying affection, some are rather more reserved but this doesn’t necessarily mean that all types of affection are therefore inappropriate.


Below I have listed all of the different ways we can be affectionate towards our family as we approach the holiday season, the list begins with the most reserved means of affection and ends with the most openly affectionate gestures.


Why it’s important not to confuse down time with quality time when it comes to family

As I’ve grown older family has become much more important to me. One of the things I’ve noticed is how often most of us, myself included, confuse down time with quality time. I often find myself having a coffee engrossed into my favorite book with family around – but is this really quality time?


Like many things in life there are many shades of grey. To me what constitutes quality time is when we really connect with one another, strengthening the bond we share. So no books or newspapers, unless you are having an interesting discussion about the content. Similarly, if you are simply in each others company but not really doing much or even talking I would argue that this is down time and not really quality time. It’s so important to spend quality time together as opposed to just down time as during quality time we share our interests and passions – strengthening our bond and showing our love for one another on a deeper level.


How giving our attention can transform family relations

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been guilty of taking my family for granted and not giving them my undivided attention. It’s so easy to do – we are often more comfortable with our family than anyone else, anticipating what they are going to say or wondering off into a daydream whilst they are telling us about their day.


Although this doesn’t necessarily lead to conflict (unless you have a old school parent who constantly demands your undivided attention) it can cause family to feel undervalued and they may start to feel like their relationship with you is less close. Ironically, it is because we are so close that we feel comfortable enough to let our minds wonder in the first place, however, this ultimately leads to poorer family relations.


The 10 Key Behaviors That Will Ensure Strong Family Bonds Over the Holidays Part Three

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we explored how empathy, giving your undivided attention and spending quality time together improve family bonds. This week we examine the key behaviors of being affectionate, thoughtful and quick to apologize.


Behavior Six – Be Affectionate


Express to your family how much they mean to you. Vocalize your affection for them. Hug them often. Show them you care in any way you can, as often as possible.


Behavior Seven – Be thoughtful


Being thoughtful will display that you want to make your family members lives the best they can be. If they are down buy them a coffee at a cafe, do the dishes if they are tired, remember the book they were excited about and buy it for them.


How to compromise with family over the holidays

Over the holidays family members can get stressed with all of the expectations of a perfect Christmas. When strong characters clash, tension can arise and conflict can occur. If you would like to eliminate some of the holiday stress please read my article titled ‘Tis the season to be stressed; how to leave stress behind you for good’.


One of the key ways we can reach compromises with family members is to respect the rights of others whilst protecting our own rights by using assertiveness.


In her book ‘A Woman In Your Own Right: Assertiveness And You’ Anne Dickson lists the following as our intrinsic rights:


Why understanding family roles can improve your family dynamics

In 2008 I got married. Nothing could prepare me for how much that little piece of paper would change everything. Suddenly I was consumed by the fact I was now a wife. My identity changed. Everything was colored by what a good wife would do. Immediately I thought about my mother and how amazing a wife she was to my dad and how I should cook my husband meals every night like she did. The only thing was that just wasn’t me – I was a square trying to fit into a round hole – it wasn’t going to work.


Similarly when we become parents we reflect upon what our parents were like, what they did well and how we would do things differently, if at all. Our role and identity in life changes as we enter a new phase. Being a mother, father, big brother or the youngest child completely changes how we interact with the world and our family. Although I firmly believe our self-esteem should not be wrapped up in the roles we inhabit they nevertheless impact our behavior and worldview. So it’s important to acknowledge the roles we inhabit whilst not allowing them to define us, thereby celebrating our individuality.


Realizing the roles we and our family members inhabit does however help us better appreciate where they are coming from. In order to fully understand our family we, somewhat paradoxically, have to both view them as individuals and see them in the context of their role within the family.


Shifting perspectives – how to empathize with family

As a twenty something I always thought my parents were on my case. I’m an only child and I used to view their attentiveness as being overly fussy and too much. Looking back, I hadn’t developed the maturity to effectively empathize and see things from their perspective and I can now appreciate just why they were worried for me (in my twenties I was a binge drinker).


After several years of therapy and having quit drinking I better understand my parents and the concern they had for me all those years ago. What helped me to empathize with my parents most was trying to understand their perspective better. I took into consideration their life experiences, their generations perspective and how it would feel if I were a parent myself. I started seeing my parents as not just mom or dad but people in their own right, doing the very best they could. And I was lucky, my parents cared for me deeply and their concern was born from their love for me.


The 10 Key Behaviors That Will Ensure Strong Family Bonds Over the Holidays Part Two

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we examined the importance of body language and being yourself around your family. This week we explore how empathy, giving your undivided attention and spending quality time together improve family bonds.


Behavior Three – Empathize and Seek to Understand


With different generations and family roles there are different perspectives. Try to imagine what you might think and how you might feel about a situation if you were older or a mother.  Ask questions to better understand other family members like ‘why do you think that?’ or ‘how did that make you feel?’ Once you understand their perspective show them you empathize by saying ‘that must have been really frustrating’ or ‘I imagine that was quite hurtful’. This will show your family you hear what they are saying, understand them and appreciate where they are coming from.


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