• Thistle Counselling

Hello again one and all,

I'm sat here at home with my laptop on my knee and feeling pretty content in my own company at the moment, but that's not always the case for those around us and I thought now was as good a time as any to discuss and explore the idea of loneliness.

Loneliness Awareness Week was launched back in 2017 by The Marmalade Trust, with this year's theme being "Reduce the stigma around loneliness". I've left this blog a bit late given we're most of the way through Loneliness Awareness Week - but let's go with it's a case of "it's better late than never".

What comes to mind when you think of loneliness? A person sat alone? Someone missing the closeness of human contact? I think loneliness can take many forms. You can even feel lonely when you're surrounded by people and that's something I've had people describe to me before and that came as a surprise the first time I heard it because I never considered you could be with people but still lonely and my view on what loneliness could look like has changed in the last couple of years.

Loneliness can become all consuming, like a deep hole it's difficult to climb out of. I think it can and should be everyone's task and duty to be the hand someone can reach out to so someone can get out of that "lonely hole"...What could we do to help?

  • Go and have a cup of tea with a neighbour or invite them over for dinner - a cuppa and a chat can go a long way!

  • Organise a group lunch at work - get to know your colleagues, their work day might be the only time they get to interact with others.

  • Could you volunteer in the local community to visit and help the older generation? There's no denying that as we age, we can end up socially isolated, so keeping people involved, keeping people in contact can make the world of difference.

  • Start a conversation! - When we're out and about, a smile, a nod and a hello might make someone's day and it might start a conversation that could give someone a boost to their happiness levels.

Loneliness is something that is likely to affect us all at some time of our lives, so if we create, foster and nurture those social connections, we can reduce how loneliness affects us and those around us. I know that locally to where I am in Chester, we have some amazing people, groups and communities that inspire and encourage people to get involved, make new connections and I know I've met some fabulous friends from it.

One of the best things you can do to help tackle loneliness with those around you and within your community is to listen and I love this quote from Rachel Naomi Ramen -

"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…."

Thistle's motto is "Reach Out, Speak Up and Share" and this can be applied to combating loneliness in all its forms. Reach Out to an old friend by text, have a chat on the phone, organise to get together for tea and cake or some lunch. Speak Up if you're feeling lonely, it is not shameful to be lonely and you haven't done anything wrong if you are feeling that way. Look at the connections you can make if you can. Share your time and your kindness with others and let's overcome loneliness.

Take care of yourselves and until next time - #ReachOutSpeakUpShare

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  • Thistle Counselling

My goodness, how often have we heard that question as a running joke in sitcoms, in magazines, in life?!

Every nip, tuck, bump, lump, hair, wobble, and crease is magnified to the nth degree leaving many of us feeling utterly unworthy, unloved and unhappy.

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and and the theme for this year is Body Image. Despite the fact I wanted to post this last week, here we are a little late but nonetheless pertinent!

How the world views us is probably something we consider far more often than we might realise and it has been turned into a joke, a bit like the title of today's blog.

Body image is in our face all the time. If it's not a magazine telling us to eat this, do that, wear this, don't be like them then it's products telling us we can be our best, hair free (but just the right length of perfect stubble for the chaps) six packed, dolled up (but still looking fresh and natural) selves if we invest in their wonder cream or whatever it is.

Flipping heck, isn't it just a bit draining?! Alas, all jokes aside, these societal pressures can lead to much deeper running issues for some and we have the risk of developing a negative sense of self - not feeling good enough, not wanting a picture to be taken and maybe even to the degree of taking drastic action on our bodies or choosing to not go out.

It isn't always that easy to hear a compliment and accept it, or believe it in some cases. Ultimately, the best way we learn to accept our bodies and our image is through accepting ourselves. Our imperfections and our uniqueness make us who we are. I'm not saying that's an easy job, lord knows I've put on clothes, stood in a mirror and felt like I didn't look good enough but one of the best things I ever got told was, no matter what is going on, find one thing you like about yourself and give yourself a compliment every day. Instill that positivity, find that love for yourself from within and don't necessarily rely on the acceptance of others to give you the self worth you need.

The theory I'm trained in discusses what's known as internal and external locuses of evaluation. We as person centred counsellors strive to help you go from an external perspective (basically meaning your sense of acceptance comes from those around you and you are dependent on the judgment of others) to an internal one (your sense of worth coming from you and you learning to rely on your own judgment).

It takes time, effort, maybe even repeated attempts. We don't always get it right first time but we get together and try it again. Yet... When this shift happens, it can be monumental and life changing.

Does my bum look big in this? Hell no. Do I care if someone else thinks it does? Hell no! Do I feel fabulous? Yep!

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  • Thistle Counselling

Hi everyone, welcome back to the blog.

Felt inspired to blog because of a book I've started reading recently called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In the book, Gary talks about five different love languages and how sometimes between our partners, we can be speaking totally different languages to one another which brings about conflict, misunderstanding and potentially relationship breakdown.

So what are these five languages?

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Physical Touch


Acts of Service

I saw this quite funny (and delicious!) way of describing how each of these looks in reality...

These languages cover a swathe of ways in which we communicate - do we compliment, do we appreciate a physical touch like a cuddle, do we shower our partner with gifts or give an act of kindness?

What the book looks at is how what language we think is best as it's what suits us may not necessarily be the right language for our partner and to have a look at investigating and finding what is the most ideal way to show our love to our significant others.

I think we may have all been there with one of these - Ever been in a situation where you wished you had spent some more time with your loved one on a weekend? Ever hoped for the occasional bunch of flowers? Or even longed for a compliment or two about how our butt does look good in those jeans? There are such a huge swathe of opportunities and chances we may crave or miss being able to provide our loved ones...But....and it's a big but (not like the one in the jeans!)

What happens when we're not communicating at all? It can happen where these things, these words or acts in our relationships can be so at the bottom of the list because we're not talking and that can be why relationships and marriages break down beyond repair. There are situations around the globe, in a huge amount of homes between many, many couples where the communication has broken down entirely and the language barrier can be like a solid and 100 foot high wall and this is where counselling can help, by finding those ways to help communicate to one another, build bridges instead of walls and find better ways to connect with our partners.

It can be a fact, and a hard one to admit, that it can take more work than seeking a love language to overcome issues. That by no means is a criticism of Gary's work - the fact he's been able to narrow down, categorise and neatly explain 5 clear ways in which our relationships and marriages can be maintained like a beautiful rose garden is outstanding. But I think (as my supervisor would say) it's not always black and white, why don't we look at the grey areas?

Could relationship breakdowns be down to an individual issue that you want to deal with as a team or perhaps a challenge you wish to overcome alone? Could be anything - a self-esteem issue, something that has arisen due to a past relationship or a trauma that requires some sensitive and deeper reflection with someone who isn't your partner. There are any number of reasons why it feels like we're speaking Spanish and our partner is trying to get us to understand Portuguese. It's close, but no cigar!

Could counselling help and how so?

Counselling is all about communication!

When you walk into a therapy room, it's all about you. Sounds scary right? But how often do we take the time to communicate how we're feeling with no interruption, no judgement, no unwarranted and unasked for advice? Don't get me wrong, talking to friends and loved ones can be a huge help, but there are occasionally some things we'd rather talk to someone neutral and outside about. That's where counselling comes in.

If you struggle to find the words to communicate, if you're feeling something in the pit of your stomach or an ache in your temples and you can't quite put the words to it, if you know exactly how you feel and want to get it off your chest or untangle it like a ball of messy wool - counselling could be the place for you to find that space, to find the words, to find the clarity to go forth and create solid and happy relationships - not just with others but with yourself. At the end of the day, the longest relationship you're ever going to have is with you. Treat yourself well.

So my question for you to take away (or questions, I guess because I'm greedy and can't just stick to one - bit like tacos....) - What is your love language? How do you communicate? Are you being heard? Could there be more to do behind the scenes before things improve or change if they do need to?

As ever, you can always #ReachOutSpeakUpShare so feel free to get in touch if you would like to book in a session. More details and ways to get in touch are through the site.

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