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Welcome to this podcast episode.

I'm super excited to have on special guest, Trisha Mchale again, who I always absolutely love having on the show.

We're going to chat today about how to take care of yourself specifically how to look after your mental health over the Christmas Period.

Trisha is a psychotherapist and supervisor working in private practice in Galway.

Since 2006.

In 2019, she went into partnership with mind and body works who operate three psychotherapy and counseling centers in Dublin Wood Quay in Galway and Dominic Street in Galway.

They have a team of over 50 psychotherapists and psychologists who offer counseling to adults, couples, adolescents and Children.

They offer a wide range of therapies including C BT E MD R and art therapy.

They also operate a low cost counseling service which is provided by mature trainee therapists in their final degree or masters year of training.

They are supervised by accredited and experienced therapists to ensure they work ethically and professionally.

You can contact mind and body works at 091725750 or go to mind and body works.

com, that's mind and body works.

com.

And I'll put all this information in the show notes, Trisha, you're really welcome.

And I'm super excited to have you back on the podcast.

As always Jessica, you're such a special guest.

I love having you on and I always feel so much better after chatting to you.

You're so kind.

Thank you.

So, a timely podcast episode because we're going to chat about how to take care of yourself over Christmas.

Um And I did a little bit of uh advanced study for this podcast episode and just asked um what people are having the most struggle with over Christmas time.

So shall we just get stuck in?

So, what I would love to do is just chat to you.

First of all about um anxiety worsening over Christmas time and all the horrible stuff that comes with that and then throwing in the fact that this is, you know, a podcast for women over 40.

So dealing with menopause and perimenopause and all that comes with that, throw it, throw Christmas on top of that, it can be a really challenging time.

One bit of challenging.

One thing that's really challenging over Christmas time is toxic family members.

And I read something today that I thought was really interesting.

It was all about how Christmas time for some people, you can spend 360 days of the year.

Um looking for your peace and your calm away from toxic members and then on these couple of days around Christmas time, it can be so triggering for people because it's like my God, everybody get on really well.

Um So I want to know your take on this, how to deal with toxic family members that you're going to be around if you're somebody that likes to keep peace and doesn't want to have full blown rounds of rows over Christmas time.

So how would you want to tackle this first of all?

Uh Yeah, I mean, I think it's a really Christmas for us in, in, in the kind of the therapy centers after Christmas is the most uh our busiest period.

And that is usually because of everything that is triggered over Christmas for, for people.

And so you have the whole lead up to Christmas.

You have all the stress and anxiety about money worries.

A lot of people have money worries, um overwhelm pressure and then a lot of kind of uh gatherings with family members.

So whether that's family members coming back together and having Christmas in somebody's house or the usual meetups that people have to have over Christmas.

And for some people that can be very joyous and joyful and for some people that can be a real, real struggle.

And I think what happens generally to us over Christmas or any time of the year, but particularly over Christmas because a lot of times it may mean traveling from one part of the country to the other.

So actually staying over spending more time than you generally would.

Um with your family members, it throws us mostly right back into the family dynamic and I guess where we were when we were younger.

And um so, you know, that's the most interesting thing I guess about family of origin and that we can carry on in our lives, we can end up in our relationships and having our own Children and grandchildren or whatever.

But once we go back into the family of origin, the sibling group and the parent group, we just, and seem to get transported back right into the middle of a family dynamic.

And if you're a person who's grown up in a family, um wherever your place was in the family, eldest, middle, youngest, or the the unfortunates in between, we all end up back in that place of straight back into the role um that a lot of us had to adopt or a lot of us were given when we were growing up.

So, um and if you have parents that are still alive and involved in the family and parents can automatically and do automatically go back to treating family members and the exact same way as they were, they put them right back into the same place as they were when they were younger as do siblings.

So people deferring to the older sibling, the peacemaker kind of coming into the middle of it trying to make sure that everybody is ok.

Um And generally in, in, in most of our families, we have one what parents might have called the black sheep or what we might call the scapegoat.

So if we're, if we're a family that I guess have acted in certain ways throughout the years, there might be one person in the family who ends up holding a lot of anger, resentment, acting out.

So there may be other family members who are kind of um keeping the peace.

So, so there may be a person in the family who ends up by default, and a lot of the time, uh maybe that was their way of getting attention when they were younger.

Maybe that was um due to, you know, maybe less resilience, maybe not coping as well with life, maybe feeling resentful, sometimes adult siblings that end up living at home with your parents and haven't moved on.

Um So I'm not naming that person is saying that that person may be the toxic family member, but I'm just saying that the dynamics that build are usually generally around.

How do I keep the peace?

Um when there's going to be and once alcohol is involved for a lot of people, it can really exacerbate.

It's the worst time of the year for uh domestic abuse.

Um any heightened situations where there's a lot of alcohol involved.

And uh so, you know, I I in terms of what we call toxicity, we can be as toxic to by our silence, we can be as toxic to by our compliance because we can be toxic to ourselves.

So, you know, it can be, the toxicity can go back inwards where we feel like resentful, silenced without a voice and um carrying a lot of anger.

Then when we leave the situation and home to our own families or in on ourselves, that is so interesting.

I love to chat about that.

I can completely relate to that.

I can spend all year finding my peace and calm, unraveling the censoring and silencing to all of a sudden feel after spending time with family that I completely censored and silence myself.

And that all that does is make you feel so bad about yourself and that you learned nothing.

So I'd say so many people can relate to that.

What can we do about that?

I think that like anything starting off with awareness is the key.

Ok?

Because everything is around choice.

Ok.

So we're making conscious choices constantly all year, like you say, to try and you know, unravel all of those pieces, not be silenced, finding your voice, asserting yourself and finding an inner calm that doesn't get triggered and doesn't um either become aggressive or become completely silenced.

So the awareness of it is the first step.

So awareness around how do I choose to be and what, what do I choose in myself?

A lot of time.

Um I would have done a lot of kind of uh you know, in my own, in my own family being the middle child.

So would always have been the felt that I was the um trying to keep uh calm, trying to break, always moving in to break the tension, moving in to break the the if there's an awkward moment, if there's a, you know, so very hyper aware around 10 tense situations, very hyper vigilant when I go into a room to, to see what's happening and then automatically move into automatic mode of bringing in the cheer trying to be happy, trying to, you know, talk to people, you know, over extending and exhausting.

Um And again, if seeing any tensions that are brewing, trying to kind of constantly calm the tension and in, you know, doing a complete disservice to myself and then becoming exhausted and then going home and rerunning it over my head.

Why did I do this?

Why did I act in that way?

Why did I uh why, why do I always and then you know, so like, you know, I was saying the toxicity in on yourself.

So the awareness of starting out before you go into any family situation is is it OK to just be?

And a lot of times what I used to say to clients as well, it's talking to that inner child first and just saying to that inner child inside yourself, it's OK.

I'm going to mind you.

We're not going to have to do anything that we don't want to do today.

So I'm going to mind you and it'll be fine.

So it is becoming the adult to that child that gets triggered because it's generally the child in us that gets triggered once we go home in a very automatic kind of way.

So once I step into my adult self, I can choose to talk if I want to talk to, not talk, if I don't want to talk, to engage with people, to remove myself from situations to decide the time limit that I'm going to spend making all of those adult decisions.

This is really, really, really powerful stuff and it sounds so simple.

It is so powerful to allowing yourself to be.

I've noticed for years that I would be arriving up to my family and I would be thinking, ok, ok, so I'm going to be really courageous, I'm going to be really brave.

And then somebody said to me a while ago, would you ever think about just letting yourself be?

Because I think sometimes if, if, if you, if you, if you're learning how to take care of yourself, you can go the other way.

So then you're still like, OK, well, how will I be, how that lovely powerful thing you said about just allowing yourself to be is actually huge and has just amazing benefits and yet we don't do it because I think the expectations on ourselves are so high.

I think that that expectation.

So it is not OK to, you know, so now I'm not a people pleaser or now I'm not the person who's trying to make things calm.

So I must now step into this completely other part of myself and say actually guys, this is not on, you know, I, you know, we we, you know, so it's, it's that middle ground that says I actually don't have to do anything.

I have to create anything here.

I don't have to smooth anything.

I don't, I can actually allow myself to sit back and just let myself be but let others be, you know, nothing, nothing happens really without engagement.

So we can get very triggered by engagement.

You know, your mother might make a remark about how you're looking or how your Children are or how and you may suddenly go straight into engagement straight into this regulation.

And you know, and that trigger that automatic feeling of being criticized or feeling of being not good enough or feeling by being whatever way in the family that can come very, very automatically.

So it is about choosing to just be in the space and engage if you want to and not engage those people that are toxic.

I mean, there's probably no one answer but you just feel like saying to them sometimes that's not very nice.

I think that there's no, absolutely no harm in saying to somebody that's not very nice.

The problem is I can say to you now that's not very nice.

If, if, if I hear something as a real criticism that this regulation in me might make me engage in a very passive, aggressive or aggressive manner, which is the engagement that the other person wants or needs so that they can start to engage with you on that level.

So, you know, how many times have we said to ourselves?

Just don't, don't, don't.

And then you go in and then within two minutes you're back in that space and you're back in this kind of belittling, kind of passive aggressive.

You know, you don't have to be outwardly aggressive to be aggressive towards somebody.

You can say horrible things in the most, uh, pleasant mean, you know, sounding way you can, you can cut people.

And I, and I guess a lot of family dynamics are like that where you feel somebody is after stabbing you, but it wasn't a direct one and you can't say I know what you did there.

Absolutely.

So you've got so many layers going on.

So I think for every situation it is important to remember, we can only control our own behavior, we cannot control the others behavior and by trying to in whatever way, by trying to calm things down by trying to be all, you know, cheerful and Joe, we, we, we still are trying to control the situation.

We're trying to bring the situation down so that we can feel more comfortable inside and that's fair enough.

But that takes a lot of work.

So what about if we just let ourselves be and let the others be um you know, and find strategies of moving out of rooms or, you know, going out?

Yeah.

You know, but I think that that, you know, those two pieces are important.

I can let myself be, but I can also let them be.

Yeah, I don't have to do anything here to, I'm going to have to mind this child in myself, who gets very uncomfortable, who gets frightened, maybe who gets hurt, who starts feeling anxious?

Who gets angry, who gets this regulated?

That's the only person I'm responsible for over here.

Yeah, the way I am.

But also allowing them to be, we can't change anybody else's behavior and it isn't our job to change anybody else's behavior and as well.

Do you think, like, I know it sounds obvious but like, not, not giving yourself permission to not even act like let's say, you know, you've done all this work on yourself.

You don't have to show people like you don't even have to act happy.

You know, those horrible toxic people that can like make you think that you have to show them how happy you are and actually you can just sit there and let your face be the way you want it to be and let yourself be the way you want it to be.

I think that's worth noting too.

Yes, you're absolutely right.

You know, I guess society expects a lot of masks and we expect a lot of masks from ourselves.

So um and we live in an Instagram society where everything is about looking like things are a particular way.

Um And sometimes the passive aggressive part of us will want to feel like I'm going to go home and show them.

I'm in a great space.

My life is amazing.

You know, I'm having a wonderful time and sorry about all of you, you're all, you know, really unhappy.

And I'm so, again, that part about, um, that's another mask, you know, because it's kind of saying I need to show you all, but I'm truly happy, but I'm truly content with myself.

I can just be the way I am and that's just so authentic.

Yeah, absolutely.

That's just so, and it's easy to be a, like, it's a simple strategy to be authentic.

It can be difficult to like it requires.

Yeah.

You know what I mean?

It does.

I mean, none of this is easy.

We're all a work in progress.

Everything can be going fantastic.

You know, for some, for some people, it can be going back to the family of origin for some people and it can be adult Children coming home to share your space, do you know?

So it doesn't like and negotiating adult Children coming back into the space and negotiating the expectation from adult Children that um we're back home now.

So mother just carries on as always and makes all the food and cleans up after.

And um you know, and they just presume you're absolutely delighted.

Absolutely and mines the grandchildren as well.

And maybe, you know, mind some Stevens day while we're all gone out to the pub or something.

So, so there's a lot of negotiation.

Yeah, family of origin, but also our own adult Children and you know, trying to, to, to find the part in yourself that, um, gives without resentment can be very difficult to, for all of us feel the need and the pressure all around Christmas, the expectation that you have to do everything and you have to do this and you have to do that, you have to do that and so much expectation, um, from all around on ourselves and by other people.

And so finding that regulated ground can be very difficult.

You know, it's like that build up to this one day in the year.

You know, it is a bizarre thing if you're, if you're out in the community at the moment and see the amount of noise and consumerism and, and busy, busy, busy, busy and it automatically escalates all of us to that.

Jesus.

Did I get this?

And did I get enough presents?

And did I do this?

And did I, um, so we're already in that heightened place so that one day arrives.

Yeah.

And we can really start attacking our appearances as well.

Like, oh my God, am I going to look ok on this day, this day?

What am I going to wear on that day that day?

Do I have enough makeup?

Is my hair going to be ok?

And then the rest of the time we're all good.

Like I like it's Christmas.

So we have to go out and buy something with a load of glitter and sequins on it.

Just like something I'm never going to wear it again just because it's like a lot of internal expectations.

I noticed myself doing it yesterday.

I was in Galway, in Galway getting my lovely, I love like the Nars tinted moisturizer and they didn't have my exact shade.

So I was like, oh my God, what am I going to do?

And then I realized what I was doing, you know, I was just like, what is wrong with you, Jessica?

You don't have your, they don't have your shade and the tinted, I blame brown Thomas for that Jessica.

No, but it's true.

It just, it comes in unconsciously and comparison is the thief of joy.

So you start looking around and thinking, oh God, look at they're going out now and are they going to wear that glittery thing?

And I only have that thing I had last year.

That's no good.

Even though wore it once last year, it starts early and then it builds up and it builds up.

So by the time you get to Christmas Day, you're exhausted by the whole thing.

So when we go back to what we were talking about at the beginning, it's very hard to have good defenses.

By the time Christmas Day comes around because you spent a month of running around, you know, and you know, trying to get the perfect present for people who, you know, may not appreciate it and may make the same face when you give them the present and yet we're still triggered into, I'm going to get the right present, you know, disappointed.

All of that kind of, yeah, my dad is so grumpy.

So I started giving him jumpers every year.

Just jumper for marks and Spencer's.

Here you go.

Here you go until he had the cheek two years ago to say, oh, please don't get me jumpers again.

Even though you can't get him like anything else.

It's just so rude and, and it is, and it's that kind of feeling about um we put all of that on ourselves and then we just think my God, the expectation, expectation.

Yeah, I used to, I used to spend a lot of time shopping and looking for the ideal gift and yeah, now I just go in and pick up the first thing that I see that feels like that might be the thing and let it be to the disapproval.

That's what I'm always trying to say, you know, to clients and to myself.

Can you tolerate the disapproval?

Oh, I love that.

Yeah, I love that.

So that's so if you can sit with tolerating it, so the reaction may be disapproval.

Can I tolerate that?

Yes, I can.

It's not gonna kill me to be disapproved of.

It's not going to do anything to me.

They don't, they're not happy.

That's just the way it is.

Can I tolerate it?

Can I learn how to tolerate?

And then you know, it makes things a lot easier.

So, rather than trying to make somebody happy and then feeling resentful that they're not happy.

It's just, do you think all the ruminating afterwards comes from just not understanding how people can be so horrible and feeling like you need to set them straight, but it's not fair to set people straight and what we were chatting about about letting people be, let us let yourself be.

But you just want to right the wrongs, don't you though?

At the same time?

And I think that's what can make you so.

Absolutely.

Absolutely.

But I think everything is about trying to control situations to make ourselves feel ok.

And so, you know, if we like because we're doing it every day in life, you know, you're, you're, you're minding your Children, you're trying to make your Children look presentable.

So nobody will think that you're a bad mother.

You're trying to, you know, make your house look lovely and clean it up, run around cleaning before people come.

So people will not think badly of you.

So everything is about trying to control situations so that the other is not looking in and having an opinion.

So all of our life is spent trying to control the opinion of the other and that carries on and carries on.

We do it unconsciously every single day.

So of course, you're going to do it at Christmas.

You're going to to be trying to move into that space of just saying, do you not realize how unfair this is?

To me?

You are making me feel bad by your reaction to me.

So it is, you know, that, that feeling of engagement with us is a trying to control the other's behavior and we cannot control the others behavior and that can lead us to terrible upset.

Why didn't I just say this to them?

Why didn't I just say that when he said he didn't like that jumper, why didn't I just say, you know, I'm never buying you another present again.

Fuck off whatever.

Like and it's ruminating then about what I could have said what I could have done differently, what I'm going to do differently.

But you know, you're going to show I'm going to show them what a good person is.

Fuck you.

I hate you.

You're horrible.

You need to know next year.

I'm going to do it differently, you know, and if you're listening to Kiera around the mindfulness piece, the living in the now is just saying, let it be, let whatever happens, happens and move on from it.

And do you think the best thing to sorry, sorry, Jessica.

Go ahead.

Do you think the best thing to do is just to think they have their own pain and suffering and that's why the way they are like for people listening and they're like, OK, well, I really want to not go into that rumination um of being so angry I just want to live and let live.

Is that possible?

Can you live and let live?

Can you forgive you just think?

Oh, they must be suffering terribly.

If my mom is so nasty, she must be suffering so bad.

She has to be a good person inside.

Yeah, you can get to that place.

But the most important place to get to is it within yourself?

Am I ok the way I am, we don't become critical of others.

If we're, if we've ceased to be critical of ourselves, if we start to love ourselves a little bit more, the impact is lessened by how people respond to us.

If we start to respect ourselves a little bit more, we start to approve of ourselves a bit more.

We stop looking from that for that approval from the outside and I think automatically it goes along then to understanding.

Yeah, I think my mother has had a very tough life, things have been hard for her.

She's tolerated, maybe my father all her life or, you know, grown up siblings or whatever and things must be tough for her.

I don't have to sort that out for her.

I don't have to solve it.

I don't have to react to it.

I am approving of myself.

Um and the work is within myself and it does make you less critical of other people when you have have that kind of, you're not waiting for your mother to be a different person and say, Jess, you look amazing today and your Children are amazing.

Your husband is amazing.

Your father is in great form.

Everything is beautiful.

Sit, you know what I mean?

If you're not waiting constantly for things to change and constantly moving into expectations of others, so if you keep bringing it back to ourselves, what do I expect of myself today?

I expect me to mind the child within me, to be good to the child within me, to let everybody be and let myself be.

I really love that Trisha and an awful, an awful lot of what you're saying makes me keep thinking of the word acceptance like it used to make me so sad to think of getting to death.

I know this sounds very depressing.

But getting to a place where your mom could die or you could die and the way it is is just the way it is and, but that's the way it is when you accept yourself.

And I think anyway, and then, and that's so sad, but then, then you accept that sadness and then that's exactly it.

And that's why look internal work is not easy.

You know, you'll see so many surface things, you know, on Instagram and I'm working on myself and I'm doing this like internal work is not easy.

It isn't because there is a lot of sadness and a lot of loss and a lot of grief with acceptance.

I have to accept my parents the way they are.

I have to accept my siblings the way they are.

I have to accept my partner the way he is or she is.

But I also have to accept myself the way I am like.

So, so that work is not easy.

You know, people talk about, I love myself.

I love myself.

It takes a long, long time for us to get to a place where we love ourselves just saying it isn't feeling it.

So, so moving from, from thoughts to feelings, takes a long time.

There's a big dropping down process, you know, in therapy, we say drop, you know, dropping down into yourself before you can get to a place and like, show me the person who has gotten there.

Do you know what I mean?

Like, you know, the Buddhist talk about, you know, transcending, transcending, transcending.

We're kind of constantly trying to transcend and transcend.

Like I'm just happy to be at this halfway place, you know, mainly things are, you know, good and then sometimes I do get triggered and I do get really angry and I do get really annoyed and, you know, using your voice and speaking your truth has a lot of cost.

People don't like it, they don't like it, they don't like you to change.

They don't like you to be different.

Change is not easy if it was, we'd all be doing it, you know.

So, you know, it is about acceptance within yourself.

I'm going to try this for today, just for Christmas Day, be in myself, try and maintain myself.

If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

There's always next year.

But I think it's important just to say I am, I have the choice.

I have the choice.

I don't automatically have to slip back into the role.

I have choices.

I'm an adult.

I can mind the child that left this house very confused and frightened and unsure of themselves.

And I can still mind that part of me and be in my adult self the way I want to be.

R thank you so much.

That is just so, so, so powerful.

I'm so excited to share this episode with everybody.

I know you're one of our most popular guests that was so powerful and moving and inspiring.

Thank you so much.

Thank you for having me as always, Jessica.

Thank you and for those of you that want to get in touch with Trisha.

Um You can go to mind and body works.

com that's mind and body works.

com or contact Trisha on 091725750.

Is there anything else you'd like to add to that?

No.

Can I just ask you quickly?

We're going to go now um for women listening in mostly women over 40.

Um Why, why when would they go to mind and body works?

I know that's a very big question, but for example, like C BT E MD or art therapy, counseling, psychotherapy, they're listening in, they're like, you know what?

Actually I'd love a bit of health.

What are the steps like what happens?

Um So I know the people that ring me often say the website can be very bamboozling because you see so many different therapists on the website and uh all of their profiles and their photos are up there.

I am always on hand to chat to anybody about what they want, what they need.

And I know all the therapists personally, I interview them all when they come to work in the service.

So I know them and I, I have a good idea of who might be suitable for people.

Um just in terms of what they're looking for as a therapist myself.

Um So it's a very easy step to just give me a call and I can chat through anything what I mostly great.

So they can just give you a call like no obligation, no obligation, no onus, just a chat, what I try and say and it is particularly women our age.

Like don't, you don't have to wait for crisis to look for a bit of help.

You don't have to wait until you are feeling rock bottom therapy can be a really good stabilizer, it can help, it can be supportive to you and it can just be another self care part of your life.

And we have the two services.

We have a low cost service and we have a full cost therapy.

But, um, my favorite part of my job is trying to match people up with people who I think would be suitable for them and finding the right person.

You know, it is not a one size fits all games.

So, that's my favorite part.

Trying to, yeah, trying to find people, you know who I feel.

Yeah.

And sometimes the name just pops into my head and I'm going, yeah, that's the person for that person.

So exciting, so much.

What an exciting journey that people can go on and I love that they can contact you and chat through it with you and you can get them on the right path.

That's amazing.

Yeah.

And if anybody is from Dublin as well or, or other parts of the country, I can also put them in contact with therapists online or therapists in Dublin.

So that would be much appreciated.

Not just for Galway, my business partner works in the centers in Dublin.

So anybody that needs any advice or help on anybody in Dublin or any online therapies as well, I can put them in touch.

Thank you.

That is so amazing.

That is 09172575091725750.

Or go to my email galway at mind and body works.

com, email Galway at mind and body works.

com and you'll get directly through to Trisha.

Thank you so much as always for being such a wonderful guest.

Thanks a million all my love.

Bye.

Thanks for listening to another episode of the Jessica Cook podcast.

Did that go by way too quickly or is it just me if you want more, you can head on over to Jessica Cook dot ie forward slash playlist.

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About the author 

Jessica Cooke

I love drinking coffee, and my favourite thing in life (apart from my family) is to help women to get fit, healthy and learn how to love themselves again. (oh, and also I love playing with my two Miniature Schnauzers, Buster and Ozzy)

I’ve coached more than 6,140 women over 14 years get fit, healthy and learn how to love themselves again.

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