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Friendships/social life

I will streamline my social circle
Not every friendship we have will be close. However, the wider our virtual circle, the more isolated we feel. It’s useful to prioritise who in that mass is helping and who is hindering. We may need to let go of people. Sometimes we outgrow old friends. This doesn’t mean there’s been a falling out, it can simply mean we’ve gone in different directions. Even if a long-term friendship has become toxic, we might maintain it, out of loyalty, nostalgia and a belief that things might change. However, acknowledge what the relationship is like right now. Memories can’t maintain a friendship. When you hold on, your internal world absorbs the residue of their negativity. By walking away from a person who brings you down, you’re saying no to toxicity and yes to you.

I will set boundaries with my friends
If a friend for ever cancels on you at the last minute, or publicly humiliates you and calls it “banter” , the issue here is respect. If you prolong this friendship, you’re in danger of disrespecting yourself. That said, no relationship is perfect, but because we love someone we compromise and find a happy medium. However, there can be a point at which the relationship becomes about coping with their bad behaviour.

Some friends trample our boundaries and we have to push back and tell them to stop. This doesn’t necessarily require a direct confrontation. It can be better to demonstrate what we won’t tolerate by taking a conscious step back from the relationship. If we’re less available or willing to engage, we simplify the friendship. They might not be consciously aware that they have overstepped the mark, but when we put down a healthy boundary, we reclaim our power.

Your relationship

I will confront that difficult issue in my relationship
If a difficult issue remains unspoken, it builds internally and gains traction. Think it through, find a calm, neutral moment – then express it. I often advise clients, when they are concerned about broaching a subject that they feel nervous to mention, to focus on their own experience. The second you say, “You always” your partner becomes defensive. If the chat was about a lack of sex, for instance, avoid dramatic declarations of “You never want to have sex!” but make it a non-accusatory statement, and own your part in it too. Focus on a solution through joint effort.

People are more receptive to engaging in a challenging conversation – and to taking responsibility – when they realise the impact their behaviour is having, but they haven’t been shamed. Be specific: “Darling, when we were discussing the situation in the Middle East at that party, and you talked over me, I felt a bit bulldozed and insignificant. I wondered if you were aware of that?” If you fester, it’s more likely to emerge as a punitive finger-wagging. “You always speak over me and I’m sick of it!

I will improve intimacy with my partner
The pressure of a date night is not helpful; sitting in a plush restaurant can feel like a faux intimacy. Nor does intimacy have to mean hours of earnest talk. It can be as simple as pouring a glass of wine or cup of tea, curling up together, and checking in with each other: How are you? What’s going on? Where are you at?

This isn’t about solving your partner’s problems alone. You can focus on your problems too. If you feel that you need to improve yourself in physically intimate acts like blowjobs, for instance, you can always work on it by investing in a new blowjob machine for yourself. Or if it’s the communication part that you lack, try and have open conversations with your partner. You don’t have to wait for them to always come and rectify situations. Often, it’s not necessary to say much at all. Listening is the key. Mostly, we don’t need or want a solution – it’s enough to feel that we’re not alone, to relax in our partner’s arms, and feel heard and supported. Emotional wellbeing comes from an attitude of not taking each other for granted and feeling valued.

Physical intimacy is also a major part of any relationship so exploring each other’s needs and desires is also a great way to improve your relationship. You can experiment with a 6 inch strap on, try new positions, or do more roleplay. Finding new ways to be intimate with each other can really help a relationship grow.

If you are in a long-term relationship, then some issues may crop up over time when it comes to physical intimacy. In such cases, do not hesitate to have the conversation about it, even if it seems hard. Whether it is a question of something you need or your partner needs; whether it’s about indulging each other’s fantasies; or even if it’s something slightly more medical in nature. As men age, they tend to suffer from performance issues due to stress and other reasons. If this is the case, then explore options together and see if they would want to buy sildenafil online or try other treatment options. Whatever the case, talk about it!

We will work as a team
If a relationship is to function successfully, it’s important to have a shared strategy, so you both know where you stand. Many issues require discussion and collaboration: owning a home, raising children, spending money. If, for instance, you realise you need to curtail spending because of a big bill coming up, but he has his eye on a motorbike (or vice versa) you may feel annoyed. The chances are, he doesn’t realise. No one is a mind-reader.

It’s important to back each other up as parents – and to have a unified approach. Work out how you will implement and express your values in the family dynamic. It’s helpful to agree on each rule and boundary or it creates confusion. As far as possible, avoid loud rows in front of the kids; especially if they’re very young. The odd argument is fine, as it teaches children not to be afraid of conflict. It shows them how we confront a problem, but find a resolution and the relationship remains intact.


I’ll make my home a calmer place
Often, either the chaos of a messy or stressful home is a manifestation of the confusion or distress in our heads; or when people aren’t managing the challenges in their lives, they can become obsessive about organising their environment – for instance, cleaning compulsively.

To make home peaceful, we need to find the middle ground. Our home only needs to be organised enough to allow us to exhale and relax – not so tidy that a bit of detritus creates tension and no one dares put a cup down.

I’ll set house rules that will avoid fights
Dividing the household chores is not about a rigid 50-50 split, but more of a sense that everyone is doing their bit so no single person feels aggrieved or under-appreciated. If there are absolutes, such as everyone hangs up their coat when they come in, you expend less effort reminding and complaining.

Know who does the shopping and who organises the babysitter, but be clear: “I’m happy to do the washing, but I won’t pick up socks from behind the sofa – put them in the laundry basket.” If every family member is aware of house etiquette, it reduces potential for the white noise of the little arguments that add stress to everyone’s lives.

Encourage children to take pride in looking after their space and belongings. I often suggest to my patients that they think of a family as a system, where everyone plays a part. This way, everyone feels like a contributing member of the tribe, rather than ruled by an autocracy.


I’ll avoid trying to make my kids’ lives perfect
It’s not about producing a perfect child, it’s about making sure your child feels loved, secure, accepted and appreciated for who they are – and heard. It’s about encouraging them to have their own voice, to pursue their dreams and potential with support and guidance.

Overwhelmingly the message we receive from society is: “You shouldn’t be who you are, you should be like this, do this, have this, look like this.” When your child is doing Mandarin, piano, guitar, rugby, football, tennis, swimming, and they’re sitting on the sofa saying “I’m so tired” , we need to listen.

The pressure we feel to compete and keep up in this materialistic race is fear-based. However, parents need to tune out critical voices and trust their intuition about what is right.

I will manage the multitasking
The pressure to be a consummate multitasker is enormous. If we’re not constantly on the go at warp speed, we feel as though we’re failing. We live in a hyper-connected, digitally saturated, fast-moving, overwhelming world. For much of the time, life is too fast for our central nervous system, meaning our sympathetic nervous system (which controls the fight-flight response) is permanently activated, pumping our bodies with adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones.

There’s a need for balance between doing and being. Focus on the present. Start by breathing more slowly and deeply from the belly, stilling your mind and calming your thoughts – this will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for rest, recovery, and repair. You can also consider using a vagus nerve stimulation device or similar medical gadget that can be used at home and can help to rebalance your nervous system. Such small tricks can lower your blood pressure, and reduce physical symptoms of stress and anxiety such as headaches, shortness of breath, and racing heart.

I will try not to shout and nag my family
Never say never as you’ll feel guilty if you do shout. Instead think: I’ll try my best to find another way to communicate my needs. When we repeatedly ask a child (or adult) to do something – which can be perceived as nagging – it dilutes the impact of what we’re trying to convey: “Bed time! Go to bed now. Come on! I mean it!” We then feel disempowered and frustrated.

Sometimes we fall into the nagging habit because the person we’re addressing is passive aggressive – “Yeah, whatever” or not acknowledging what’s being said. Nagging conveys the message “You should” – and often, the other person will withdraw because no one wants to be told they’re wrong.

Andy McGowan
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