Augusta Wolff Counselling and Psychotherapy
in Hampstead Garden Suburb

Time to switch off and re-boot
February 2020

Invariably there comes a time with my mobile phone or my laptop when they aren’t working. Whatever I try to do has no effect. They are frozen, unresponsive and I’m getting increasingly frustrated.

I find myself repeating the same procedure, but it’s no help. I want to throw the wretched device out of the window!

Almost always it takes a member of my “technical support team” to remind me to switch it off and wait a few minutes and try again. When I switch it back on, my phone or my laptop springs back into life with renewed vigour and what was an intractable problem has cured itself.

I came across this quotation recently, "Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you." (Anne Lammott, Almost Everything - notes on hope, p67)

Have you noticed how keeping on and on puzzling over a problem yields no results, whereas taking a break, even just for a few minutes, and then coming back to it refreshed makes all the difference? I find this is true for all sorts of knotty problems. Somehow giving my brain a rest and doing something else to focus on that is relaxing means I come back refreshed and able to resolve the issue more easily.

How often do we switch off and give ourselves some time to re-boot?

Often simple things can help: a walk in nature, or a bath and a good night’s sleep.

Getting a fresh perspective by talking to a therapist can help as well. Don’t struggle on your own!

Welcome to 2020!
January 2020

It’s January. It’s dark and cold. The excitement of Christmas is over and there’s not a lot to look forward to apart from the arrival of the next credit card bill. Unsurprisingly, it’s a time of year when psychotherapists (and divorce lawyers) often receive a lot of enquiries from people who have had a chance to look long and hard at themselves and their relationships and want to do something about it.

Magazines are full of articles about New Year resolutions: January 2020 will be the month when, if only you can summon up enough will power, you will finally be able to make fundamental changes to your behaviour. You will be able to change the habits of many years and make 2020 the year when you succeed in stopping smoking / losing weight / start saving money etc etc.

In my experience it’s rare for my New Year resolutions - even the ones I really, really want - to last until the middle of January, let alone translate into lasting changes. What’s going on to make it so difficult to make such profound changes?

One way of thinking about this cycle is to look at the different internal messages that are competing for our attention. The part of us that is fed up with the gloom of winter often needs a bit of warmth, nurturing and kindness, but a much harsher part takes over, controlling or punishing with a whole range of restrictions and deprivations. For a time we go along with the new regime and feel a lot of satisfaction in having kicked old habits. But it all takes a lot of effort and it’s not long before the rebellion breaks out and it’s time for a cigarette(s) or a chocolate bar(s) or a spending spree and all our best efforts get wiped out. Then we feel bad, and really ought to go back on the diet and the cycle continues ad infinitum.

There’s no easy solution, but simply recognising the cycle is an important first step. A great question to ask is, ‘What do I really need right now and what options are available to me?’ The answer may be as simple as needing to stop for a cup of tea. Or it might be about accepting that the time has come to find the right sort of help to tackle more deeply rooted problems.

Happy New Year.

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