Dr David Malkin

Clinical Psychologist Perth | Counsellor Perth

Tel: 0409 227 548

Happiness can seem boring

Sometimes people seek happiness by making choices which bring much 'drama' to their lifes with many peaks and troughs.Whereas adrenaline junkies in competitive sports and other adventure activities can be happily well suspended 'in the moment' ,others find their 'dramas' bring them misery.This is particularly so in the realm of personal relationships.Harville Hendrix in his groundbreaking book 'Getting the Love You Want' describes the natural instinct of people to unconsciously seek aspects of their parents in the partners they choose.Hendrix discusses how this is a natural,intuitive attempt to heal childhood wounds as well as to repeat the positive aspects of childhood relationships.Freud and other  psychodynamic therapists would describe this as 'transference'.

Unfortunately,sometimes the negative aspects predominate and people often wonder why they keep 'choosing' partners who seem to have the same frustrating,maybe abusive, characteristics.Often there is excitement around these relationships with their cycles of breakup and makeup.Hendrix describes how the natural unaware urge is to hope even toxic  relationships work and in so doing,apparently make the past better.Hendrix introduces a form of couples therapy called Imago Therapy which is designed to make these patterns more conscious and allow more flexibility between partners.However,when people cannot resolve their conflicts,even with counselling help,the damaging patterns continue with their hurtful consequences.

Sometimes people will say people they DO get on with, are boring and the relationship is boring.Perhaps redefining what seems boring  in a 'working' relationship helps  to escape highly 'exciting' but unacceptably damaging relationship cycles.Hendrix would say it is likely that we are often fascinated most by those who are least likely to want to meet some of our major needs.He would argue the key to success is whether partners can stretch to meet each others needs. It is helpful to be able and willing to do  the psychological work to better understand each others background to understand why each others particular needs exist.This can make each others needs more acceptable when,once,those needs once appeared quirky.Clearly,different people have different capacities to 'stretch'.Perhaps there needs to be some judicious finding of balance between excitement and workability.Healthy relationships allow healthy,predictable, routines which replace chaos with a more level structure.It may be important not to interpret these as boring.

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Enthusiasm

In the 1960's and 1970's Hermann Hesse was all the rage.One of his well known novels was called Narziss and Goldmund.This was a story about two monks seeking for fulfillment in life by taking one of two apparently diametrically opposite paths.One of the monks by temperament was an Apollonian character,or ascetic.The other was Dionysian or ecstatic by nature.In short,the first was withdrawing and the other outgoing.Their habits and practices and lifestyle reflected their different nature and different path to enlightenment.The book poses the puzzle as to which path is best.This is a conundrum like most of the other archetypal polarities of choice in life around a whole range of competing 'opposite' choices.

The resolution of these apparent dilemmas lies in the notion of 'enthusiasm'.Literally the essential meaning of this word can be gleaned from its roots in Greek....'en' meaning 'full of' and 'theo' meaning  'God ' .So,anything that makes YOU enthusiastic has the power to serve you to find  your own particular joy and purpose,your own particular meaning of what the 'good life' is for you.This is where you can  become spellbound and time can stand still like eternity.This is meditation for you and where your happiness can be found.It can be anywhere or in any path or place that can allow you to be truly enthusiastic.

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Relaxation

There are many and varied ways to relax.Some methods appeal to the senses like music.Others may focus on ways to induce calm thoughts and peaceful attitude together with different techniques to relax muscles.Yoga,Tai Chi and various meditations can be taught.One true and trusted method I have used over the years is the Autogenic Relaxation Technique.I have used this for clients in many different settings and generally with excellent results.It is easy to learn and apply and can be done publicly and no-one would know.It can be done in bed and help induce sleep.It can be done with eyes open or shut but probably optimally effective with eyes shut in a peaceful environment.Naturally it is not recommended for use if you are driving or operating machinery. This method is based on Yoga Nidra which is time trusted known in ancient India.The principle is one of distraction and moving the attention to different parts of the body.When taught the instructions given are to be repeated silently by the person relaxing.The instruction is 'my breathing is calm and regular,my breathing is becoming more and more calm and regular'.Repeat twice.Move then then to 'my left arm is heavy and relaxed,my left arm is very heavy and relaxed,my entire left arm and hand is becoming more heavy and relaxed with each breath that I take.'The focus is then progressively moved to the right arm,the left leg and foot,then the right leg and foot.The attention is then moved through the body from gluteal muscles (in the bottom)to lower abdomen,lower back,abdomen,middle back,chest,shoulder blades,space between shoulder blades,shoulders,neck,throat,chin,cheeks,jaw,lips,tongue,roof of mouth,soles of feet,nose,eyes,ears,eyelids,eyebrows,space between eyebrows,forehead,and scalp.The entire body can then be targeted letting go of residual tension.The instructions are regular and methodical.'My.....is becoming heavy and relaxed,my ....is becoming more and more heavy and relaxed with each breath that I take,and repeated.

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Reparenting yourself

I remember reading a book by Sheldon Kopp called 'If you meet the Buddha on the road ,kill him'.This was a book about owning your own power and not externalising it.At the back of the book was an 'eschatological laundry list' which was,in fact,a list of wise aphorisms.One of them sticks in my mind and that is 'learn to forgive yourself again,and again,and again, and again......................But,how to do this practically .Many people find it difficult to empower themselves through personal self support and forgiveness.Inappropriate guilt feellings and other forms of over the top self abuse or self criticism can be hard to shift.Simply talking to oneself as an affirmation may help but many people report lack of success.There is another method that may help and this relies on the ability of people to identify with external objects as can be readily seen with ....football supporters and their team,....their car.....their house.....suburb......clothes.....etc...

It also helps to understand that according to Eric Berne,the founder of Transactional Analysis,that personality is made up of three major 'ego states' or energy systems that interact.The internalised 'Parent' and the inner 'Child' have their characteristic thoughts, feelings,behaviors and defensive actions.These are not always in awareness.The other ego state is the 'Adult' which reality tests,rationalises and mediates between all ego states.According to Berne,the Child ego state is the one which mainly is symtomatic in terms of recurring worries and bad feelings.This ,on its own without support from the inner 'Nurturing Parent' may feel vulnerable,scared,and other abandonment feelings.By taking a photo of yourself as a young child and a soft toy like a teddy bear,it becomes possible to imagine and identify the teddy bear as your young self.Then,it becomes possible to employ all the powers of the potent and nurturing idealised Parent self to care for,dialogue with,and  support and soothe ones own 'Child 'self.Then the active forgiving of self becomes more powerful,more real and more tangibly transactional.It becomes an I-Thou,a compasionate, understanding and relied on relationship.The idealised Nurturing  Parent can be made up,imagined,or modelled on someone you have read about or know.The internal self Critic can be minimised as a competitor by imagining turning down a volume knob on 'the broadcast player' like a radio dial.

It also becomes possible to advocate externally  for ones own 'Child' self.Sometimes it may be helpful to have a big teddy bear at home for hugging and a small one in your pocket or handbag when you are out and about  engaging in challenging activities which may be fearful. The power of touch,such as hugging your teddy bear as a symbol of your child self, is important as is having clear boundaries to identify and separate  the different aspects of self and their contributions to the overall personality.Hugging and talking to your bear at night in bed can be very comforting. Touching your small bear 'child' in your bag or pocket is invisible to others and, hence,non exposing.Personal self  protection becomes more tangible,along with directed internal soothing self talk, then , in dealing with authority and adversity.

This technique is best learned from coaching in a psychotherapy or counselling session.It should not be employed if you have problems with reality testing,or ego stability such as in psychotic or borderline personality issues.Similarly,uncovering major personal trauma from childhood should be approached cautiously and, most safely under supervision by appropriately qualified professional therapists such as counsellors or psychologists with relevant training.

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.

Habits

Many people have problems with habits.Smoking,food,drinking,etc.An effective stategy to consider is to focus on a good habit you wish to replace the unwanted one rather than struggling to control  the latter.If I asked you to stop thinking about a yellow cow you may find it difficult to eliminate this thought .However,if I asked you to consider a white horse instead of a yellow cow ,it may be more likely the latter would disappear.Focus on the habits you want.Most of us live with habits,you might as well have a good one as an unwanted one.Habits can fulfill a useful purpose in our life.

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.

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CLAREMONT
1/40 St Quentin Ave
Claremont WA 6010
(Find at cnr Stirling Rd & Stirling Hwy)



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PO Box 6247
Swanbourne WA 6010

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