Dr David Malkin

Clinical Psychologist Perth | Counsellor Perth

Tel: 0409 227 548

Why Worry So Much ?

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days

Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:

Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,

and one by one back in the Closet lays.'

Omar Khayyam  (RUBAIYAT)

 

Life has a beginning and an ending and obviously what happens between those two points is important. Khayyam attributes destiny as the architect of the moves in the game of life.

However, free will is also important and cultivating mindfulness allows choices and outcomes to be different. Squandering time, energy and opportunity with needless worry is to be avoided as much as possible.

The ' work of worry' does allow planning for various contingencies and is useful and practical. Completion of these processes can lead to a good feeling of accomplishment. By contrast, futile worry is circular, unproductive and does not resolve problems or  provide options for management. This leads nowhere except to uncomfortable feelings, perhaps anxiety and depressed mood.

If we are not absolutely sure that the outcome of a situation is a particularly unwanted and perhaps feared one, it can be useful to repeat the mantra to oneself :  'How do I know this will happen FOR SURE? '. If the outcome does become certain and is unwanted, then it is useful to problem solve the most helpful course of action for management of the problem.

Sometimes this is the least- worst course of action of all the remedies available, if none of them seem desireable. This, though, is positive action and not circular, unproductive worry.

The most usual scenario for worry is when the outcome is not yet certain and an unwanted outcome or 'story' is repeated endlessly in the mind.

This 'story' is like a memory stick plugged into a computer which plays a certain program.The memory stick- like pattern can be changed by an act of conscious willpower -- to a different, also uncertain, story but with a different, happier outcome. These stories or narratives to oneself can be deliberately chosen to produce a more empowered feeling. With practice, stories can be readily and easily interchanged. All may have uncertainty in the world at large until more information comes to light. The facts of a particular outcome can be faced when the outcome IS certain. Until then, free will can be used to facilitate a calmer state of mind with a positive, reassuring narrative. In this way, worry is like a bad habit that can be replaced with a good habit.

Other possibly useful ways of dealing with unwanted worry include distraction towards other tasks or activities including hobbies,socialising or exercise.

Relaxation techniques can be employed and meditation of various types may be useful. Targeted self-reparenting, as described in an earlier blog, can be fundamental in soothing locked in historical worries at the child ego state level.

Anything that relieves stress and anxiety will reduce obsessional thinking and vice-versa. Quick fixes like overuse of alcohol or other drugs do not solve the underlying problem and generally create other problems.

 

If you require the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Self Expression

'Express Yourself

Come and do it

From the heart cause if you wanna start to move up the chart

Then expression is a big part of it.'

 

Dr Dre   (N.W.A.  ' Express  Yourself '   March 27 1989 )

 

The inner Self demands expression. Be it in work or play or creative expression. Art; fashion; wordplay; sports; gardening; cooking; writing; or any hobby or enthusiasm qualifies.

Denying an outlet to the yearnings of the inner Self for expression can lead to a disturbing mental itch which can become a strange sort of mental pain like depression with a sense of futility, hopelessness, meaninglessness, despair, and feeling lost.

Sometimes the craving to take mind numbing drugs or excessive alcohol can be understood as a way to anaesthetise this mental pain. Many recovered drug addicts have found themselves by means of some form of creative Self expression.

Taking anti-depressant medication only may help restore functionality but not necessarily solve any underlying  need to individuate. This type of existential depression can be seen as a sign for action as well as a symptom of some underlying malaise.

The need is to give birth  in the external world to underlying creative potential.

Of course,it could be argued that many artists of various descriptions resort to using alcohol and/or drugs.Sometimes this is an attempt to stimulate the imagination but often is a way of dealing with the frustration of blocked creative flow.

 This blockage can be a result of perfectionism or harsh time deadlines. Self expression needs to be relaxed and playful as far as possible and nurtured within healthy routines.

 

If you require the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Choose Your Defences

We shall fight on the seas and oceans,

...We shall fight on the beaches,

we shall fight on the landing grounds,

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,

we shall fight in the hills;

we shall never surrender...

Winston Churchill (speech to the House of Commons 4 June 1940)

 

Sometimes defence is necessary and vital. As children we learn to defend ourselves in a number of ways against adversities quite automatically. We do not generally consciously choose the type of defence we use and often do not even realise we have moved to a defensive position. Defences help us to survive to adulthood. They become fixed and characteristic in our personality. Different people have different defensive styles. Some people may become jokers; some easily moved to anger, expressed actively and/or passively; some easily moved to tears; some may run away, some may fight; some may trust easily and some with difficulty; some may try to control and others shun control; some set firm boundaries and others loose ones; some may depend excessively and others avoid depending on others if possible; some act charmingly and others threateningly; and so on.

 

Children do not generally have the ability to analyse their defences and adapt and adopt different defensive positions. However, as adults this is what we are required to do. The same defence used as an adult in all problem situations will not lead to optimum outcomes. So, those that don't trust will often limit opportunities or create distance unnecessarily. Those who are always brave and very honest in public will be inclined to expose themseves to wounding crticism when sometimes a more considered diplomatic stance would be wiser. Jokers may find they are not taken seriously. Easily angered or aggressive people may find themselves ostracised by others socially. Avoiding dependency on others routinely may lead instead to dependency expressed in addictive behaviour.

 

The point to be taken is that as adults we need to build a raft of defences appropriate and strategic to each situation. This requires examining and understanding how your characteristic defence operates automatically, often resulting in the same old bad outcome. It may feel risky to experiment with new ways of protecting yourself. For example, if you realise you operate with passive anger and move away or avoid situations, it may be productive to practice a more active assertiveness, problem solving, and conflict resolution process. If you routinely assume a particular category of person is not to be trusted and you act accordingly, it may be more productive in terms of outcome to develop alternative defensive styles e.g. checking the evidence. If you fear attachment and feel isolated, it may be worth experimenting with attachment in the first instance to various group situations that have a safe and respectful style. Compulsive crusaders who feel they are making too many hurtful sacrifices  may consider building self worth and self esteem in other ways with more overall balance. You do not need to fear losing your core defence, it is hard wired. Building a panoply of choices of  response allows protection together with the possibilty of more optimal outcomes.

 

If you require the services of a Perth Psychologist or Perth Counsellor, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Attitudes

' ...You gotta learn to be positive, it's your only chance

You mustn't be so defensive,you gotta join in the dance

But it isn't your dancing that you've gotta improve

Ooh,it's your attitude...'

( The Kinks..."Attitude" )

 It's natural to see the world in a habitual fashion,like wearing glasses with writing on the lenses.You will see this message everywhere.These filters or channels help to configure and reinforce our  attitude or way of experiencing and reacting to the world at large.  Eric Berne, founder of Transactional Analysis, regarded neurotic behaviours as patterns described as different types of 'psychological games' .One of Berne's students ,Stephen Karpman, has suggested  the entry point  to these behaviours is signposted. The characteristic signposts were designated as behavioural patterns seen to be one of three possible positions. The positions are described as 'Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer ' in a dynamic described as the Karpman Drama Triangle.  The positions change from the beginning to the end of a sequence of behaviours or 'psychological games'. The end result is the repetition of a pattern with an attached familiar bad result and familiar bad feeling. Anxiety, depression, fear, anger, relationship or self esteem  difficulties may feature. Generally pre-existing attitudes or beliefs are reinforced in this process.

With reflection and insight these characteristic ' Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer '  patterns may be recognised and modified so that behaviour, in turn, may be modified. This work is one of the elements of a certain type of psychotherapeutic work. Doing this; changing your outdated characteristic , automatic and  compulsive beliefs or ways of seeing the world , may lead  to a change of attitudes. In turn this may radically help you to change the way you structure your life and experience. The resulting possible changes in  negative repetitive patterns may result in better quality relationships and perception of self and others. This is a common goal in counselling or therapy and the work often involves separating past experiences from present day reality testing.

If you are seeking the services of a Perth psychologist or Perth Counsellor,please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Self Esteem

'You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.'

            - Gautama Buddha

 

This is a value judgement. It is not based on anything except a decision to value spiritually equal every being in the universe regardless of persona, status, or ability. Like every grain of sand on the beach being equally important in the inanimate world.

This position seems very hard for many people to experience as status and performance are so highly valued. Even then, many people with lofty rank and great ability and achievement harbour feelings of low self worth.This can lead to a search for perfection, where nothing one achieves feels good enough. It can also lead to approval seeking behaviour, extreme criticism of self or others, and feelings of depression and/or anxiety. It may lead to some people giving up entirely in trying to achieve anything.

This state of affairs may be remedied by understanding the difference between UNCONDITIONAL worth and CONDITIONAL worth.The former is represented in the above quote of Gautama Buddha. It is a spiritual value judgement. This is a deliberate  DECISION not a performance.Unconditional worth can be seen as the cake and conditional worth as the icing on it. Unconditional worth is based on BEING whereas conditional worth is based on DOING. You can decide to value and support yourself no matter what circumstances prevail. This is a cognitive activity of choice not a muscular one. If nobody loves or values you, you CAN decide to love and value yourself anyway.The self parenting strategy outlined in an earlier blog may be a useful way to do this.

It does not mean you are selfish or unable to recognise, reflect on, and react to mistakes, errors of judgement, or inadequacies. It does not mean you can not strive for conditional feelings of worth based on maximising potential. It simply means you can decide on a solid foundation of  one level of equal self/other valuing in your existence no matter what. This knowing must not be lost or covered  with passing feelings of  hurt and disappointment when a performance or outcome has been less than hoped for. Nor lost in the face of exclusion or criticism by others.

The corollary of all this is the ability to also  choose to give others compliments or 'strokes' based on both conditional and/or unconditional regard.

If you are seeking the services of a Psychologist Perth or Counsellor Perth please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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