The 5 biggest Myths about Sex

 

The 5 biggest Myths about sex, sex therapy

We talk a lot about sex. But what do we really talk about? Maybe about whom we had sex with, what we did, or where. But we rarely talk about the more interesting stuff. Those beliefs we have but we’re afraid to share, or questions we never ask. I think this is because there are still so many taboos around sex.

That’s why I think it’s time to talk about sexual myths. In this article I will explain some of the 5 biggest myths about sex that I see in my sessions.

1. All women can have an orgasm through penetration

This is a widespread belief. However, it is not true. Don’t worry if you’ve never had an orgasm through penetration. Only 30% of all women is able to orgasm through penetration. The rest of women need clitoral stimulation to be able to orgasm. The funny thing is that a vaginal orgasm is actually also a clitoral orgasm. How come?

The clitoris is relatively big. The back of the clitoris reaches the vaginal wand. This is why during penetration you can feel a pleasurable sensation. Logically though, the front part of the clitoris has way more nerve endings than the back part. That’s why it’s easier and more frequent to have a clitoral orgasm.

The 5 biggest Sexual Myths, sex therapy

2. If you love your partner enough, you should know what he/she likes

This is one of those thoughts that we don’t speak about. It is similar to: “good sex should happen magically”.  We usually think that it is stupid not to know how to please our partner. Or that it’s annoying for our partner to hear that he/she could change something. This is why many people struggle to have passionate sex.

But knowing what our partner likes has nothing to do with how much we love him. Sex is like learning a new language. You have to get to know the words to form a phrase. And you have to expand your vocabulary to reach the other person. To know what your partner likes you have to ask him/her and get to know him/her better. Every person is different and every person has different tastes and a different body. And talking about these things can be very exciting. Your partner might be happy you bring up the subject!

3. Men are always in the mood

Many women think that men are always in the mood. However, as for women this is not true. Men, just like women have ups and downs in their sexual desire. That’s why I think it’s time to take away some of the pressure on men. Men can also feel just like hugging or cuddling. And they have feelings too! They can be tired, moody or they might just want to do other things.

Moreover, it’s also possible for women to have a bigger desire than men. I think that the important thing is to discuss your wishes with your partner and try to make it work together.

The 5 biggest Sexual Myths, sex therapy

4. I should give my partner sex

Hearing this phrase makes me feel really bad. I think it parts from so many wrong premises; The fact that sex is not enjoyable for you. The fact that sex is a right. Sex should be enjoyable for the both of you. If you feel like this is something you should give to your partner, you’re definitely not having fun. Also, please remember that your body is yours and yours only.

Though I think it’s important to ask yourself why you’re not enjoying sex right now. Maybe you can make some changes to improve this. For example you could agree with your partner on the things you like or the timing you both prefer. However, if sex hasn’t been good for you for a while, it might be a good idea to see a sex therapist.

What is important to know though, is that sometimes it does work to fake it (your mood that is) until you make it. Sometimes we don’t feel like having sex but when we’re at it for a while, our body and mind respond and we can still have a good time. Try to figure out what is the cause of your lack of desire and try to work on improving it. A sex therapist can help you with this.

5. Coming simultaneously is the best (and only) way to come

This is one of those myths that has been going around forever. In nearly every movie and every book you’ll see the protagonists coming on the same time. This is not reality though. First of all, it is not easy to come on the same time. You would have to plan it carefully. And also, most people differ in the amount of time they need to orgasm. So one of you would have to wait. This could just become a little bit artificial.

Second of all, there is really no benefit to coming together. Trying to come at the same moment takes your attention away from enjoying the moment. I think this is such a shame, and I think we should really ban this myth.

Let’s break the taboos!

The 5 biggest sexual myths

Like I said in the beginning of this article, there are still many taboos around sex. I find it my mission is my mission to talk about them and discuss them openly. I hope you found the article helpful. Feel free to share it!

If you would like to ask questions about sex in a taboo free environment, feel free to call me for a free 15-minute phone consultation on +34 626 653 339, or send an e-mail through the contact form.

 

Expat Problems: When your loved ones don’t want you to go

Expat problems: When your loved ones don't want you to go

Life is full of surprises and there you are: You find yourself with the opportunity to move to another country and become an expat. In the beginning you might have doubted but in the end you decided you liked the idea of a new adventure and you decided to dive in.

But now it comes…

Your family and friends are not happy.

They might be telling you not to go, warning you about how difficult the move might be or they might even become very angry at you.

In this article I’ll explain you how to cope when your loved ones don’t want you to leave.

Expat Problems: How to Deal with friends and family who stay

When you move, it can be difficult for your loved ones to accept this.

When you’re loved ones don’t agree.

So yes, you’ve decided to leave. Maybe you’ve already found a house in your new home town. Maybe you’re already preparing for the big move.

But you’ve noticed that your friends and/or family are not that happy with the idea. They might have made some negative comments like “shame I won’t get to see you anymore” or “why won’t you just stay here, it’s more convenient for all of us”. They might constantly tell you not to do it or to come back. They might have even stopped talking to you.

You find yourself in a difficult situation. Moving is already a big decision and knowing that the home front doesn’t agree makes this so much more difficult.

So what can you do in this situation?

Listen

This the most important thing to do. Ask them why they don’t want you to leave. Is there something they worry about? Maybe they don’t know if the country is safe. Or maybe they are unsure about if they will still see you? It could just be that they are afraid about where you will be living, or if it will be easy for them to visit you.

Take the time to talk about it and explain everything. Answer any questions they might have. Tell them where you will be living. Show them some pictures of your new home town. Most of the time when people don’t want you to do something it’s because they’re insecure.

But what if they’re really angry?

It is not uncommon for family and friends to become angry when their loved one decides to leave. Try to think that they’re not actually angry with you. They are just afraid of losing you and having to miss you. It can help to promise them that you will keep in contact with them on a regular basis. Luckily, with Skype and email this is easier than ever.

Expat problems: When your loved ones don't want you to go

Also, tell them they’re welcome to stay with you and that you will visit them frequently. Furthermore, give them time. They need to be able to see that you keep up with your promises. Most people in the end will accept the fact that you’re living somewhere else. They just need prove that you won’t disappear out of their lives.

They make me doubt

And what if they make me doubt? Of course, they might not be the only ones who have their doubts about you moving. You might have your worries too. What if things go wrong? What if I don’t like my new neighborhood? What if I don’t find any new friends?

These are all relevant questions and it’s important to consider them when you move. However, don’t let other people change your mind.

Think about why you wanted to go in the first place. Talk to some people who support you. There might even be some people around you who want to move themselves!

Also, think that in your new country you won’t be alone. There are probably many other expats. You could try to contact them and ask them about their experience. This way, you will be more prepared when you arrive and you can prevent certain mistakes they might have made.

Expat Problems: When your loved ones don't want you to go

Don’t miss your chance

But most of all don’t get discouraged! The expat life can bring you an awesome experience that you might never have again. Try to take your family and friends on board with your ideas as much as possible and let them know you won’t forget about them. In the end, it’s a decision that everyone needs to adapt to. But it can be one of the most exciting decisions in your life!

If you would like to know more about how to cope with your loved ones not wanting you to go, and you would like to work on this, you can call me for a free 15-minute phone consultation on +34 626 653 339, or send an e-mail through the contact form.

 

Why 1 out of 4 women can’t orgasm and how to overcome this

Why 1 out of 4 women is not able to orgasm and how to overcome thisI think that all women should have the chance to experience an orgasm. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Research shows that at least 25% of all women have an orgasm dysfunction (inability to reach orgasm). I think that’s sad. We all deserve to be able to orgasm!

So how is it that so many women are not able to orgasm? What makes it difficult for them to reach this ultimate pleasure? There are many different causes that can play a role in not being able to orgasm. In this article I’ll share the most common causes with you, and how to overcome them.

  • The myths of masturbation. Many people still think that masturbation is wrong or dirty, or that you can get diseases from it. This is absolutely not true! Masturbation is completely healthy. It can help you to discover your body and find out what you like. This can help you to reach orgasm and to experience greater pleasure during sex. Solo, it can be easier to come since you can control the stimulation and intensity. Also, you can use your masturbation experience to explain your partner what you like. So if you’re trying to reach an orgasm: try to masturbate more often!
  • Focus on the vagina, not clitoris. Many women think they can only get an orgasm through penetration, or that vaginal orgasms are superior to clitoral orgasms. It is important to know that most women are unable to reach orgasm through vaginal stimulation. Clitoral stimulation is way more effective in order to reach orgasm. This is because the clitoris has way more nerve endings than the vaginal wand, and therefore is way more sensitive.
  • Also, vaginal orgasms are actually created by clitoral stimulation. Huh? Yes, the clitoris is rather big and the back of the clitoris can be stimulated from the inside of the vagina. Vaginal orgasms are therefore caused by clitoral stimulation as well. So the short story of this is: if you want to have a bigger chance to get an orgasm; focus on the clitoris!
  • Lack of knowledge. Most women who have problems to reach orgasm have little knowledge about their body and their needs. Do you know where your clitoris is? And your urethra? And does your partner? A good way to gain more knowledge about your body is to check your genitals in a mirror. Try to check the different shapes and parts. You could also touch them to see the differences in sensitivity and pleasure they give you. Take the time to discover yourself. Another question that I hear a lot is: “How do I find my clitoris”?: A good trick to find the clitoris is to draw a line with your finger, from your belly button downwards. When you reach a soft round bump, you’ve found your clitoris!

Why 1 out of 4 women is not able to orgasm and how to overcome this

  • Thinking it is wrong to masturbate in a relationship. Many people think it is wrong to masturbate when you’re in a relationship. However, this is not true. Masturbation is very normal in a relationship. About 85% of men and 45% of women masturbate in a relationship. Some people find it exciting to see their partner masturbate, so it can even be a nice addition to your sex life. Also, masturbation can improve your sexual desire and can be a healthy way to deal with a partner who has a lower desire than you.
  • Thinking more about your partner than about you. Most people think a lot about their partner’s pleasure when they’re having sex. Of course this is great. It’s a great gift to give pleasure to your partner. However, for women it’s very important to focus on themselves in order to get an orgasm. So when you notice you’re getting more excited try to focus completely and utterly on yourself for a while. Just enjoy the sensations and pleasurable feelings. This is not being selfish, it’s enjoying the pleasure your partner is giving you!
  • Pain. This is a really important cause for woman failing to reach orgasm. Many women have or have had sex when they were no physically ready for it. This experience can cause your muscles or vagina to become tense. Also, having pain during sex beats all of its purpose.
  • Foreplay is also an important factor with regard to pain. On average, women need about 20-30 minutes of excitement and foreplay to be wet and swollen enough. This surprises many people, especially men, which is probably why only 22% of the people take their time for foreplay. Wait until you’re ready. Sex shouldn’t be painful, ever! You could also try a lubricant. A lubricant can help to make everything go more smooth, and it can enhance pleasure. If the pain doesn’t go away it’s recommendable to see a gynaecologist.
  • Inability to let go. Many women have the idea that letting go of themselves is “slutty”, or they’re afraid of what their partner might think of them when they let go. Enjoying sex is not in any way slutty. Many partners actually love it when you let go. If you have a partner who comments on this or doesn’t make you feel sexually free, consider to discuss this with him. In order to let go, try to focus on what you’re feeling and doing. Try to enjoy all the sensations and if any negative thoughts comes up try to focus again on what you’re doing.

Why 1 out of 4 women is not able to orgasm and how to overcome this

  • Focus on the genitals and the genitals only. Many men and women only focus on the genitals while trying to make their partners orgasm. Luckily though, there are many more erogenous zones on the body. For many women it is highly pleasurable to be touched/kissed on the thighs, ears, neck, hands, lips, feet, butt, and on the inside of the arms. Being kissed and touched on these other zones of your body can increase your pleasure and tension, and can bring you closer to an orgasm.
  • Not being able to say what you like to your partner. Many people feel afraid of telling their partner what they like. They’re afraid their partner might think they have weird taste or that it “breaks the mood”. But think about it, by not telling your partner what you like, he will just do what he thinks is best! He might miss out on certain spots or he might not stimulate you with the right intensity. Don’t be afraid of telling your partner what you like. Many partners find it helpful when their partner guides them a little bit. There are even partners who find it excited to see a woman who knows what she wants.

In summary:

  • Try to masturbate more often.
  • Focus on your clitoris.
  • Sex shouldn’t be painful, ever!
  • Take your time for foreplay.
  • Take the time to discover yourself.
  • Masturbating in a relationship is normal.
  • Try to let go.
  • Try out all the erogenous zones of the body.

Everyone can orgasm!

Even though it sometimes might seem difficult or impossible to orgasm it’s good to know that everyone is able to. I hope this post has helped you to gain some ideas on the causes and possible solutions to reach orgasm.

If you feel like you’re struggling and you would like to know more, feel free to contact me through the contact page or call me for a free 15 min. phone consultation on: + 34 626 653 339.

How can I Improve my Quality of Sleep?

How can I improve my Quality of Sleep?

Do you ever wake up feeling like you haven’t slept at all? Is your sleep not refreshing? This might indicate that you’re having a problem with your Quality of Sleep. In my recent post: “How to make an end to your Insomnia”, I explained how you can stop the vicious circle of insomnia.

In this post I’ll  cover how to maintain good sleeping habits or “sleep hygiene”.

Even though we sleep one-third of our life, many people don’t know what they have to do to sleep well. In this article I’ll therefore explain how you can improve your Quality of Sleep.

  • Go to bed on the same time of the day, every day. Our body is quite sensitive to changes in schedules, especially with regard to sleeping schedules. Pick a moment on the day in which you are normally sleepy and stick to it. It also helps to  you start your sleeping ritual and go to bed. You will see how your body will prepare you for bedtime, by lowering your body temperature and closing your eyelids more and more.
  • Don’t eat heavy meals before going to bed. Heavy meals take a long time to digest. During digestion, the body spends energy on processing the meal, and moving it forward through the body. This process interferes with our sleep. The fatter and heavier the meal, the longer it takes. If you eat a heavy meal, avoid doing this within two hours of going to bed.
  • Exercise during the day. It has been shown in various scientific studies that exercising during the day improves our sleep. Exercise helps in releasing the stress hormone cortisol from your body, which makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try to exercise at least 3 hours before going to bed, so you avoid having to go to bed excited.
How to improve your Quality of Sleep

Excercising helps to push out the stress hormone cortisol of your body, thereby improving your Quality of Sleep.

  • Make sure you get enough sunlight. We humans are like plants. When we don’t get enough sunlight during the day, we don’t feel well.This is due to a lack of Vitamin D and melatonin. melatonin is especially important for a good night of sleep, since it regulates when you get tired and if you can sleep throughout the night. Your doctor can give you information on vitamin D and melatonin supplements if necessary. Also, if you live in area with a lack of sunlight you can consider buying a day-light therapy lamp.
  • Leave your worries to a journal. When you go to bed with your head full of memories from the past day, it can be difficult to fall asleep. Also, you might dream restlessly. Journaling can be a great way to organise your thoughts and leave your worries behind. When you write something down you have to bring structure to what happened to you. This can already help you to make more sense of it and let it go.
  • Avoid caffeine after 2 pm. Caffeine takes 8 hours to get out of our blood. This means that if you drink a cup of coffee around 8pm, your brain will be more active until 4am at night! This is why drinking caffeine after 2pm is not a good idea if you want to improve your quality of sleep. If you’re a coffee lover, try decaf coffee.
  • Do a relaxing activity before going to sleep. We have a tendency of not stopping nowadays, but your body needs some time to wind off before going to bed. You can read a book, take a bath, get a relaxing massage or do a relaxation exercise.
How to improve your Quality of Sleep

Winding off by doing a relaxing activity like reading can help us to calm down before going to bed.

  • Avoid alcohol as an aid to fall asleep. Drinking alcohol to fall asleep is like putting a band-aid on a flat tire. It might help you temporarily to fall asleep, but during the night you will wake up more frequently and your REM-sleep will be interrupted. Therefore it is important to limit alcohol to one to two drinks per day, or less, and to avoid drinking within three hours of going to bed.
  • Reject sleeping medication. Sleeping medication is highly addictive and has a lot of negative side effects. Sleep medication will leave you drowsy during the day, and it’s not effective in improving your quality of sleep in the long run. If you need sleeping aids, you could discuss melatonin supplements with your doctor. Melatonin supplements can reset your biological clock and can help you to fall asleep. They have no negative side effects, and are part of our natural sleep-wake system.
  • Get pets out of the bedroom. It is very cute to have your pet sleeping on your feet, belly, or back. However, having pets in the bedroom disrupts your sleep, and makes you wake up more often. If you can, try to keep your pets out of the bedroom.
  • Don’t try to fall asleep while listening to music or the television. Even though calming music or the television can help u to calm down, it interferes with your quality of sleep by preventing you to reach the deeper sleep stages. The deepest sleep stages are most important to help us recover during the night. Listening to some soft music before going to bed can be a good idea though.

    How to improve your Quality of Sleep

    Listening to some relaxing soft music before going to bed can be part of your sleeping ritual. Avoid music while going to sleep though

  • Practice a relaxation technique. Relaxation techniques are awesome! They help you to reduce anxiety and stress, and they’re a great help in calming down before going to bed. You can try to take deep and slow abdominal breaths, or do some yoga or meditation exercise.

Quality of sleep can be more important than quantity of sleep. That’s why I wrote this article. I hope you’ll find these tips helpful and that you will notice some improvement in your Quality of Sleep.

Please share the article with your friends and family :)!

Controlling the uncontrollable: Tips to reduce your Anger and Frustration

How to reduce your Anger and Frustration

The STOP Action Plan is a really effective way of controlling your anger and expressing your needs. However, it’s better to prevent anger than to have to control it. Therefore, in what follows I will provide you with tips about how to prevent and reduce your Anger and Frustration.

Tips to reduce your Anger and Frustration

You can see your Anger and Frustration as water in a glass. Your glass can be filled up till a certain amount, until it will finally overflow. And that is when we get angry.

Your glass gets filled up by everything that causes us to be stressed or frustrated.You could see these as faucets. Some people have more faucets than others and are therefore more likely to become angry. In the following tips I’ll explain how to close some of these faucets.

Tips to close some faucets:

  • Learn what your triggers are. Try to find out which things make you angry. When you recognise in which situations you usually get angry, you can stop yourself in time and carry out the STOP Action Plan. Also, you can avoid situations to get out of hand. For example, if you notice you’re more likely to get angry at night because you’re tired, try to avoid discussions about important topics at night. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • When did I become angry? What happened? What did you think and feel in that moment? What did you do? What happened afterwards?
  • Change your expectations of others. Try not to expect others to act or behave in a certain way.We are not perfect, nor are others. It is important to think that other people cannot always meet our expectations. Just because they don’t do things the exact same way we would, or they react in a different way, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They might have learned things another way and to them their behavior is logical or useful.
  • Imagine someone would all of a sudden tell you to change the way to drive your car, or to cook your signature dish. You would probably tell them to get lost. That’s why we can’t expect others to things the same way as we do. It can help to think that the other one is doing its best and that you’re not here to change the other
  • Practice Empathy. When there’s someone you get angry with frequently, try to emphasize with him/her. Put yourself in her/his shoes and try to think why this person is acting this way. Did something happen to him/her today? Try to think about as many alternatives as you can. Not only will you win time before getting angry, you will also reduce your anger by understanding the other person better. You don’t have to agree with the other person, the goal is to understand him/her.
  • Focus on the solution. Sometimes we get so angry that we forget to focus on a solution. Think about what you would like to see different. Ask yourself if this is possible and how. Then, think about how you could come to this solution, and implement the first step if you can. This will probably make you feel more capable and more proud about yourself.

Tips to make some holes in the glass:

  • Practice relaxation as an antidote. Practicing relaxation can help both to reduce your anger in general as in specific situations. Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Abdominal (or Diaphragmatic) Breathing are effective techniques in reducing anger. Also, a warm bath or shower, or singing a song you like, can help to reduce feelings of anger.
  • Exercise to reduce stress. Exercise can help to tire the body and reduce stress. When we’re less stressed we’re less likely to act out on our anger or frustration. Also, exercise is a great mood booster so it will help you to feel better in general. Good exercising activities to reduce anger and frustration include running, cycling, swimming, dancing, and skating.

How to reduce your anger

  • Keep a positive diary. If you are someone who get’s frustrated easily it’s possible that you focus on negative events, or that you have a negative view about yourself. Try to keep a diary of your accomplishments to change your focus on more positive events. Write down a minimum of 3 positive things about yourself or what you did every day.
  • You can write down small things like: “I managed to make that difficult phone call” or “even though the bus arrived late I could stay calm and focus on something else”, as well as big accomplishments like: “I told my friend that it bothered me that she usually arrives late without becoming rude to her” or “I managed to finish this important document at work”. If you keep it up you’ll notice that you’re able to interpret things in a more positive way.
  • Spend time with supportive people. Usually Anger or Frustration is not only the result of a specific situation, but also of a build-up of various frustrating events and stress. We therefore need ways of emptying our glass. What can really help is to share our frustrations with people who are supportive. In Dutch there is a saying that says: “Shared misery is half the misery”. Talking to someone else cannot only help you to feel better  but also to gain a different perspective on things.
How to reduce your anger

Spending time with people who make you feel supported helps to reduce anger

By closing some faucets and making some holes in the glass you’ll get a better grip on your Anger. Also, try to think about things that helped you in the past.

I know that dealing with Anger can be difficult and hope you found this tips helpful. If you liked this article please share it :)!

What is Social Anxiety?

What is Social Anxiety, Social PhobiaFeeling nervous when you meet someone new, sweaty hands when you have to ask your boss something, being afraid to tell others what you really think: these are all examples of Social Anxiety.

Many people might have heard about Social Anxiety, but don’t know what it is exactly.Therefore, in this blog post I’ll explain what Social Anxiety is, how you can recognise it, and in which situations Social Anxiety is most common.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social Anxiety is the fear of being judged negatively by others. If you have Social Anxiety you’re highly self-conscious. This means that you’re constantly thinking about what others might think of you. Also, you prepare thoroughly what you’ll be saying in conversations, in order to cause a good impression. Furthermore you can prepare a meeting with friends for days or weeks.

Also, when you’re around other people you might have physical symptoms like sweating, trembling, blushing, or tightness in the chest. When you’re around other people, you might focus more on their “performance” then on the interaction with the other person. This can cause you to have problems concentrating, and you might actually give a worse impression because of this. If some of these symptoms are common in you, then you might suffer from Social Anxiety.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

If you suffer from Social Anxiety you might recognize the following symptoms:

  • You’re anxious or really nervous when you’re around other people
  • You’re very afraid that other people might judge you and about what they might think of you
  • You’re highly self-conscious in front of other people
  • You’re anxious when you have to perform in front of others
  • You can worry and/or prepare yourself for days or weeks before a social event
  • You stay away from places or events with other people
  • You blush, sweat, tremble, or feel tightness around the chest when you’re with other people
  • You focus so much on your own performance during conversations with others that you have difficulties concentrating.

What happens when you have Social Anxiety?

It is quite common to experience Social Anxiety. Think about having to give a presentation, or introducing yourself to someone you don’t know yet. Most people would at least be a little bit nervous in this situation. If you have Social Anxiety, your presentation might go somewhat like this:

You walk on stage. You check the faces of your colleagues briefly because you’re already feeling overwhelmed. Now they’re still looking interested, but soon they might see what a failure you are. You look closely at your presentation cards, sure that you will forget everything once you open your mouth.

The only thing you can think about is that you’re going to make many mistakes and that everyone will notice. You start sweating and you notice how your hands are trembling. You’re sure that everyone will notice. You’re afraid of getting a blackout and not being able to say anything. Once you introduce yourself, you see that your colleague Karen is not paying you attention.

You say to yourself “you see, no one is interested in your presentation, you should have picked another subject”. When at the end of your presentation everybody’s clapping, you think that they’re only doing this out of pity. They’ve all seen how you were stuttering. The only thing on your mind is that your boss might fire you, because of this horrible presentation…

Social Anxiety can affect you on many levels

Social Anxiety can affect you on many levels

As you can see, Social Anxiety can affect you on many levels:

  • You think that others will criticize you or think of you negatively. Even though others don’t say anything, you already think that they are criticizing you.
  • You don’t belief in your own capability. For example, in this story the main character didn’t belief she could give a good presentation, even though she had properly prepared it.
  • You have physical symptoms and think that everyone will notice. People with Social Anxiety are very worried about other people noticing their physical symptoms. They are afraid that others will see them as weird or strange.
  • You minimize positive feedback. If you get positive feedback you will usually not accept it, because you’re focussing more on your mistakes then on your general performance.
  • You maximize the negative consequences. You think that if you make a mistake, others will react really heavily in response. For example, you might think that they don’t want to see you anymore or as the main character in this story, that you will be fired.

In which situations do people with Social Anxiety feel anxious?

If you have Social Anxiety there are many different situations in which you might feel anxious or nervous. Especially situations in which you can be judged or in which you’ll be evaluated like the following:

  • Meeting new people
  • Being in groups
  • Speaking in public
  • Being the center of attention
  • Asking questions or giving their opinion
  • Talking on the phone
  • Talking to people of authority (professors, boss)
  • Being watched while doing something

Many people with Social Anxiety avoid social situations. They simply don’t go or they invent an excuse like “I’m feeling tired” or “I’m busy”. Sometimes this is not even a conscious decision. They feel that they’re unmotivated, but don’t recognize this feeling as Social Anxiety.

Common thoughts in people with Social Anxiety

  • I don’t match up to him/her. People with Social Anxiety commonly compare themselves to other people. They think that they’re less smart, less beautiful, or les funny than other. These thoughts add to their anxiety.
  • Anything I say will sound stupid. This is a common thought in people with Social Anxiety. They fear, without reason, that they are unable to make a smart or nice comment and that others will see them as stupid or incapable.
  • They won’t like me. People with Social anxiety usually think that others have really high expectations of them. They think that they have to “perform” perfectly, or else they won’t be liked. This perfectness is hardly reached because of their high standards. That’s why these thoughts cause even greater fear in people with Social Anxiety
  • I’ll get nervous and everyone will notice. People who suffer from Social Anxiety have the thought that they’re  transparent to others. That is, they think that others can see if they’re relaxed or nervous. Of course, others can notice when you’re feeling nervous or stressed, but people with Social Anxiety think that everybody will notice and that they will think negatively of them because of this.

How can Social Anxiety be treated?

Social Anxiety can be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or medication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective psychotherapy for Social Anxiety. It helps you to challenge negative thoughts, to change your behaviour and to learn social skills, in order to feel less anxious and more confident. When treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Social Anxiety has a good prognosis.

A psychiatrist can prescribe you medication, like antidepressants (SSRI’S). This can help to reduce the symptoms of you anxiety and to give you more confidence. However, medication can cause you side effects, and after you stop taking them, usually their effect remits.

Social Anxiety is common in most of us.

If you suffer from it, even though it’s just every once in a while, it’s good to know that therapy can help you to feel more confident in social situations.

If you would like to know more about how I can help you to feel more confident, you can contact me through the contact page or call me for a free 15 min. phone consultation on: + 34 626 653 339.

Also, please share your opinion about this post in the comments!

How to deal with Anger and Frustration: The complete guide

Deal with Anger and Frustration

Everyone knows what it feels like to be angry or frustrated. It’s that tension that you can’t shake off. It’s that uncontrollable temptation to let it all out. It can be good to express our anger. It shows others what we care about and it can be a motive for change. Unfortunately, we usually act in the heat of the moment. This causes us to do or say things that we didn’t want to. We hurt the ones we love or take it out on those people who deserve it the least. Afterwards, we feel like we’re a bad person, or we feel ashamed. And the worst part of it, is that our message doesn’t come through.

I know that it can be really difficult to control these feelings. Especially when you’re not feeling your best, it’s easy for anger or frustration to take over. When we’re feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed, it’s more difficult for us to regulate our emotions. We just don’t have that extra patience to protect us from being unnice or irritable. Luckily, you can train yourself to gain more control over your anger. If you want to know how to manage your anger, and express your needs without hurting others, this blog post is for you.

Why do we get angry or frustrated?

We get angry or frustrated when we see that our personal rules get broken. Everyone has its own set of values and rules. This personal rulebook gets established during our life and is based on our experiences. When these rules are rigid or are not very flexible it’s easier for us to become angry.

For example: if I think that everyone should be listening to me all the time, this can become a big source of frustration. Since it’s really hard for people to listen constantly, it’s quite likely that your rule will get broken. Thereby the chances of you getting angry or frustrated increase as well. That’s why our personal rules are an important cause of frustration and anger.

We also get angry when:

  • Other people don’t act the way we want them to. For example, when our personal rule is that after dinner the dishes need to be done, we get pissed-off when our partner/roommate doesn’t do this.
  • Unexpected things happen. We humans function by routine. This helps us to prepare ourselves, and to plan our day. When unexpected things happen we get confused, our plans might be disrupted, or we think that we’re not properly prepared. This is something that no-one likes and therefore causes frustration.
  • Someone hurts us. When someone says or does something that hurts us, our instinctive response is to get angry. Anger is a natural response to situations that threaten us, or our beloved ones. Of course behind this anger or rage lies our vulnerability. Many people don’t see or acknowledge this. However, sometimes we can get better results when we speak from our vulnerability. Later I’ll explain you more about this.
Anger and Frustration, irritability, Angry, Frustrated

Use the STOP Action Plan when you notice that you’re becoming Angry

What to do when you’re getting angry or frustrated: The STOP Action Plan 

  1. STOP! The most important thing to do when you notice you’re getting angry is to stop. When you act in the heat of the moment usually the outcome is not the way we want it to be. So give yourself some time. I know that stopping is more easily  said than done. Some of the following tips might help:
    1. Go to another room (if you’re in a restaurant go to the bathroom).
    2. Ask for a break. If you already started to talk about the topic that makes you angry ask for a break. Tell the other one that you notice you’re getting angry and that you prefer to talk about it when you’re feeling calm again.
    3. Take some deep breaths. Our mind and body are connected. When we relax our body we also get calmer mentally. Try to take some deep abdominal breaths.
  2. Analyze the situation.  It doesn’t end with a time-out. Now we have to analyze the situation. Why am I feeling angry exactly? What causes me to feel hurt or annoyed? Am I seeing things the way they are? What are the facts? Are there any alternative explanations to my interpretation?
  3. Think about your goals. Think about what your goal is in the situation. What is it you want to reach when you express your frustration or anger? Sometimes when we fight we get the opposite result of what we want. For example: if your goal is to spend more quality time with our partner, it’s not a smart idea to start a fight on the household when you’re finally alone with him/her. Instead show that you appreciate this moment by saying something like “I loved our time together today. I would really like to do this more often”. Thinking about your goals can help you to decide on starting the fight or not, and to think what your anger is really about.
  4. Try to be empathic. When other people are involved, being empathic can help us to calm down. By putting ourselves in the other person’s position we get a better understanding of the situation. Why didn’t he/she listen to you? Maybe he’s tired or maybe he had a crappy day. To you this might not seem a good excuse but think about it: How come the other is behaving the way he is? Have you ever felt this way? How did you behave? What did you most need in this moment?
  5. Decide to act or not to act. Now that you’ve reflected on the situation you might have a better idea about what caused you to be frustrated or angry. Also, you might have discovered that the other one might have its reasons for acting the way he does. This information can help you to make a better decision about what to do. Is it worth it to start a fight? Will I be able to express my needs without hurting or offending the other one?
  6. Act. If you decide to act, use the following tips to make sure your message gets along, without hurting the other one. If you decide not to act, try to say this to yourself “I’m not going to fight over this, it won’t get me anywhere”. By saying it you’ll be more likely to control yourself.

How to express your needs without offending others

Express needs, Angry, Frustrated, Anger, Frustration, Fights

Fights can have a positive outcome. Use the following tips to find out how.

  • Bring up one issue at a time. Only talk about the thing that matters to you. For example if you want to talk about the fact that you would like to go out more, don’t start about other issues like: “you’re also extremely lazy, you never do anything”, or “I don’t like the way you behave when we’re at my parents place”. This tends to make the other one angry as well, and you might get to hear all the things he/she doesn’t like about you instead of solving the issue.
  • Be brief and concise. Don’t go on ranting about why you’re angry and how bad it is what the other person has done. Instead be brief and describe exactly what bothers you. You can say something like: “when you do “this” (swear, shout at me, don’t do the groceries, don’t want to watch a movie with me etc.), I feel bad/sad/shocked” etc., or “This is something that bothers me because…”. Then end with “I wanted to talk about this with you and find a solution together.” “What do you think?”.
  • Let the other one respond. Give the other person a moment to respond. He/she can use this moment to explain himself, apologize, or offer a solution. Try to listen to what the other one has to say before you answer.
  • Use I-sentences instead of you-sentences. When we fight we tend to say things like “you’re cold” or “you’re irresponsible”. This makes other people more likely to feel offended. Try to say how the affects YOU instead. For example: “It made ME feel sad when you forgot the appointment with my friends the other day”. By focusing on yourself the other one will be more open to what you have to say.
  • Don’t generalize. Don’t use words like “always” or “never” when you describe the other person’s behavior. No-one always behaves in the same way and by saying this you can make the other person angry. Instead use words like “sometimes”, or “in the weekend” to describe the frequency of the behavior.
  • Use your vulnerability. I know that this rule might sound difficult to many of you but it is one of the most effective tools there is. Try to tell the other one what you need and how you would feel if the other one would do this for you. This can be way more effective then when you blame the other one for not doing something. For example: saying that you would feel happier if your partner would ask you about your day will more likely get a positive response then saying “you never ask me about my day, you’re so uncaring”.
  • Look for a solution. Always try to look for solutions instead of focusing on the issue. Brainstorm about possible solutions with the other one. Try to settle on a compromise you both feel comfortable with. If you don’t find one straight away decide on another moment to talk about it.
  • Say thanks. Thank the other person for listening to you and for being willing to find a solution. This will increase the possibility that the other one will listen to you the next time you want to tell him/her something.

As you can see, anger does not have to control us. We can train ourselves to be calmer and at the same time express our needs without having to “take everything”.

Feel free to share your opinion about the tips and the STOP Action Plan. Also, if you have any questions about dealing with anger and frustration, please share them. I’ll gladly answer them.

If after reading this article you feel like you’re struggling and you would like to work on this, you can call me for a free 15-minute phone consultation on +34 626 653 339, or send an e-mail through the contact form.

How to fight loneliness in your new country

Life as an expat can be difficult. You’re in another country, away from your friends and family and in a new work environment. However the most difficult part of being an expat can be the loneliness. Not having someone at home waiting for you, missing your friends and family, not knowing anyone in your neighbourhood… It can all make you feel disconnected and isolated. But this does not have to be this way. In this blog post I explain how to fight it and how to expand your social circle.

How to fight Loneliness in your new Country, expat problems

 How to fight loneliness and expand your social circle

When you’re feeling lonely your first response might be to think that you might have made the wrong choice moving, or to buy a plane ticket for the next plane home. But don’t worry, even though it might seem tough in the beginning, you can build a social circle again soon by following the next tips:

Accept your feelings of loneliness

It is important to accept your feelings of loneliness. You are in another country, another culture, and without your routine support. It is normal to feel lonely and you’re not the only one who feels this way, so be nice to yourself. Allow yourself to be sad or to feel homesick, and do something you like to cheer yourself up.

Join a group 

The best way to meet people and to start feeling better is to join a group. You can join a group related to your hobbies like running, knitting, hiking, photography, or join a local sports club. But also there are many groups that just gather in order to meet new people. Try to find a group you feel comfortable with and try out several different ones. Good platforms to get to know people with similar interests are:

  • Meetup. An online site where people organize all kinds of activities. If your favorite activity is missing, you can even create your own meetup group.
  • Internations. Internations is an online expat community that organizes monthly events for both locals and expats to meet new people. Also, there are several groups like the salsa dancing group or the local food lovers group that you can join to engage in weekly activities.
  • FaceBook groups. FaceBook groups is a great place to meet people. There are many expat and local FaceBook groups that organize meetings and activities. Just type expat + the name of your new city/country and see what pops up.

Learn the local language

Learning the local language can help to fight loneliness in two ways: first of all when you learn a language at a language school, there are other students. When I moved to Barcelona I got many of my first contacts through the language school and some of them are still very good friends!
Also, learning the language can help you to feel more integrated. By being able to talk to locals, you might not only have more social contact, it might also open doors to unexpected friendships. Many people are scared when they speak in a foreign language, but don’t worry. Locals will appreciate your efforts and lend you a hand when you’re stuck. Also, if you don’t get something feel free to ask, I still learn new words and expressions every day by just asking.

Talk to local store owners

An important part of fighting loneliness is to feel part of the local community. When you start visiting local store owners instead of chain stores, you do not only show good faith to the local community, but also you get to know local people. Having some small talk might not seem crucial now but it can definitely help towards feeling more integrated in the long run. Just the fact of being greeted or smiled at by the baker or newspaper guy can make your day and you might even get great connections out of it.

Meet your neighbours

Many people are scared to meet the neighbors. However, meeting the neighbors does not have to be a scary thing. Why not host an open house day for all the neighbors of your block or flat. Also, you could throw a note through the doors of your neighbors in which you invite them for a coffee. And if you’re really brave you could ring the bell and introduce yourself. Meeting the neighbors can be great, not only for doing activities together. It can also be useful when you have a problem or if you’re going on holidays. And don’t forget, this way your neighbors might feel less lonely too!

Do the things that make you feel at home

It is important that your new country will feel as your home. So take some time to decorate your house with things you like and make you feel comfortable. Take a subscription to your favorite newspaper. Take a pet if you’re a pet lover. all these things might seem trivial but coming home to a house that feels yours, can do a great job in fighting loneliness.

Have a backup plan

Sometimes loneliness will hit you hard even though you’ve done your best to prevent it. Don’t let yourself get surprised by it and make a backup plan.Try to make a list of things to do, ir order to feel better when you’re feeling lonely. Things to include on the list could be the following: calling a friend through Skype that always manages to cheer you up, go outside to take a walk, do your favorite sport or hobby, ask a colleague to have dinner together or any other thing that might make you feel better than you do now.

Summarizing, the expat life can be difficult and lonely but it doesn’t have to be. There are many things you can do to feel better. Please feel free to share your tips and experiences.

If you feel like you’re struggling you can always call me for a free 15 minutes phone consultation or make an appointment through the contact form.

How to make an end to your insomnia

Insomnia is a huge problem for many people. Not sleeping well can really ruin your day. Unfortunately when people have insomnia they usually take the wrong measures. In this blog post therefore I will give you advice on what to do to stop your insomnia and how to improve your sleep quality.

insomnia slep CBT

Insomnia is what keeps us awake at night

Alyssa L. Miller via Compfight

Why do I have insomnia?
Insomnia can have many different causes. Pain, worries, stress and apnea are among the most common ones. Usually what happens is that poor sleep starts a vicious cycle in which: poor sleep leads to worries about sleep, which in turn leads to ineffective measures, which finally leads to poor sleep.

  1. Poor sleep. We all have a bad night of sleep every once in a while. What changes poor sleep into insomnia are the thoughts we have about not being able to sleep.
  2. Worries about sleeping. When you sleep wrong once, it is easy to start worrying that next time you won’t sleep well either. Also, you might worry about how you will feel the next day or about things that might go wrong because of your lack of sleep.These thoughts actually make it more difficult to sleep and raise your anxiety level. This leads many people into taking measures.
  3. Taking ineffective measures.Unfortunately these are usually not the most effective ones. For example, many people start checking the clock to see how much time they have been awake, which makes them even more worried. Others might start taking naps during the day “to make up for the bad night of sleep”, which actually causes them to have more trouble sleeping at night, because they’re not tired anymore. These ineffective measures complete the vicious circle of insomnia since they cause poor sleeping.
Insomnia sleep CBT

The vicious cycle of insomnia

It is important to know that whatever the cause of your insomnia is, you can do something about it:

What can I do when I don’t manage to fall asleep?
If you cannot fall asleep there are several things you can do:

  • Create your own sleeping ritual. It is important to prepare your body for the night and give it a sign that you’re going to bed. So try to create your own ritual before going to bed. You could include brushing your teeth, stretching your body, reading a book. Do this ritual every day before going to bed and you will see your yawns becoming more and more frequent around bed time.
  • Use your bed only for sleeping. This is an advice that many people find logical but hardly anyone complies with. How easy is it to have breakfast in bed, to watch a movie, to read a book… However, all these activities create a wrong association in the brain: they tell our brain that our bed is for staying awake. That’s why it’s extremely important not to use your bed for other activities than sleeping.
  • Use the 15 minutes-technique. The 15 minutes-technique is one of the most effective techniques to stop insomnia. It is based on breaking the connection of bed-awake and changing it into the healthy connection of bed-sleeping. It consists of the following steps:
    1. Try to fall asleep.
    2. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes you get out of bed and you go to another room.
    3. Once you’re in the other room, you engage in a boring activity like reading the dictionary or the encyclopedia until you feel sleepy.
    4. When you feel sleepy you go back to bed. You try to fall asleep.
    5. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, get out of bed and start another (or the same) boring activity. When you feel sleepy you go back to bed.
    6. Repeat the steps until you fall asleep. Most people fall asleep within 1 or two cycles of the 15-minute technique. It’s used in all effective Cognitive Behaviour Therapy programs for insomnia. Try it!
  • Do not check your clock. Most people who suffer from insomnia check the clock all the time to see for how long they’ve been awake and how much time they can still sleep. Don’t do this! Watching the clock activates our brain, (especially the digital clocks) and causes you to stay awake instead of falling asleep.
Time Clock Insomnia Sleep

Do not check your clock when you can’t sleep: it will only make you become more awake!

  • Change your thoughts. When you can’t sleep it’s easy to start thinking about how annoying it is that you’re unable to fall asleep, how crappy you’ll feel tomorrow, and how bad this important meeting will go because of this. At night the frontal part of our brain is less active, which causes our worries to run freely, without control. When this happens try to tell yourself that even though it might feel this way now, tomorrow the world will look different. Also, be a judge of your thoughts and try to think about days that you have been sleepy. Were you really unable to do anything? Was it that horrible?
  • Improve your surroundings. Try to make sure your sleeping conditions are optimal. So make sure your bed is comfortable, your mattress is soft (or tough as you prefer), and your pillow gives you the right support. Make sure the temperature in the room is about 16-18 degrees, warmer or colder makes it difficult to fall asleep. Also, prevent daylight from coming into your room, it causes our body to wake up, even though we don’t want to. And last but not least, make sure you don’t hear noise in your room, wear ear plugs if necessary.

So as you can see, there are many things you can do if you suffer from insomnia.

Please let me know what you think about the tips and which ones work best for you! Also, if you have any tips please share!

How to gain control over your anxiety: 7 useful tips

Many people suffer from Anxiety at some point in life. The most common fears are: getting an illness, loosing your job, hurting or losing the people around you, underperforming at important events or not being liked by the people around us. Luckily, anxiety does not need to control us. In this post you will find 7 useful tips about how to fight anxiety:

  1. Know your anxiety. Knowing what makes us anxious is the first step in reducing our fear. Try to keep a notebook of situations in which you felt nervous or anxious. Write down what happened, when it happened and what you thought. This will help you to find patterns in your anxiety.
  2. Remember that anxiety won’t last forever. Anxiety is the reaction of our body to a situation we perceive as frightening. It prepares us to fight or flight from a dangerous situation. Many people think that if they don’t do anything to stop anxiety, it will go on forever. Fortunately however, our body cannot stay in the “fight-or-flight” mode for a long time. If we stay in the situation long enough our anxiety level will always go down!

    Anxiety curve

    The red line shows how most people think Anxiety works. The blue line shows that our Anxiety always goes down if we stay in the situation long enough.

  3. Expose yourself to your fears. Usually when we´re afraid, we start avoiding the situations we fear. For example someone who’s afraid of getting an illness might avoid sick people,or going to the doctor. When we avoid we tell our brain that something dangerous is really about to happen, and we can never discover if the opposite is true. By exposing ourselves to our fear and staying in the situation long enough, our anxiety will go down.
  4. Schedule worry time. Sometimes it can be difficult to stop worrying. The best thing you can do is to schedule 1 hour during the day in which you have to worry. During the rest of the day write down your worries in a booklet and save them for your worry time. It might sound strange to force yourself to worry but it´s the best way to gain control over our worries.Worry time Anxiety
  5. Tire yourself. Our body can only be anxious when we have the energy for it. One of the best ways to fight anxiety is to engage in exercise. Take the bicycle, go for a run or go skating. The more tired you are, the less anxious you´ll be.
  6. Breathe properly.The way we breathe can greatly affect how we feel. When you feel anxious try to take deep and slow breaths. Try to raise your abdomen with every breath instead of your chest. This will increase the oxygen level in your body and make you feel more relaxed.
  7. Change your diet. Reduce the amount of coffee, tea, energy drinks and cola you consume. They´ll make you more anxious, which is just what we want to prevent.

As you can see there are many things we can do to gain control over our anxiety. For more useful tips check out the tips from the Anxiety and Depression Association. Also, if you have any questions feel free to comment. I’ll answer them gladly :).

I’m curious about your experiences. What do you do when you feel nervous or anxious? Did the tips help you?