Passion, excitement, and a wee dose of imagination

Passion, excitement, and a wee dose of imagination

Simon Niblock, Therapy for Men, Couples & Families.jpg

What happens to our intimate relationships when we find ourselves in a continuous loop of routine and familiarity?

Many of the couples that I meet and talk to in both social environments and in therapy say that they feel extremely grateful for all that they have. A loving partner, loving children, meaningful careers or enough money to live comfortably. However, some individuals have an inner dialogue that niggles at them. Something's missing in their day to day routine and it's often hard to pinpoint what that might be.

Individuals who are able to express this yearning, describe an unfulfilled expectation or hope. Some are overtly clear that there is a distinct lack of joy or passion in their lives. What on earth creates this conflict? Where does this contradiction of needs (routine & security) and expectations for something new and exciting (novelty) come from? 

Let's explore this idea.

If you can recall when you first met your partner, you were most probably in a haze of desire. Your world may have been tipped upside down. Everything was new and exciting. There was a sense of adventure, and you recognized that here was someone unique in this world. You simply couldn't get enough of each other.

You may have experienced this the first time that you traveled somewhere. The sights, the sensations, everything was brilliantly new. Every fiber in your body was on high alert and you soaked in every new and extraordinary experience. Your mind was stimulated and countless moments were etched into your memory. Eventually, the whirlwind escape came to an end and you boarded your flight home.

Each of these stories describes an instance where we have an exotic or novel experience. Participating and sharing novel experiences has the potential of growing or developing ourselves through new and stimulating experiences. When we create and share new and unique experiences with our partner, it improves our connection with each other. The level of commitment between each other is heightened.

A recent article in the New York Times describes research being conducted on the nature of ‘self-expansion'. According to Dr. Arthur Aron the concept of self-expansion is the desire to grow and change and it is considered critical to boosting a couple's level of commitment towards each other.

Self-expansion within a relationship is defined by seeing your partner as a source of exciting experiences, a support for becoming a better person, or a way to expand your own capabilities. As a result, the bond between a couple is enriched. The desire to participate in novel experience is inherently human. We all experience this desire.

The relationship therapist and acclaimed public speaker, Esther Perel emphasizes that "men and women equally have a need for adventure, for novelty, for mystery, for risk, for danger, for the unknown, for the unexpected, for a surprise, for a journey, for travel.”

In her Ted Talk presentation titled ‘The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship' Esther offers a contemporary and realistic perspective on creating and maintaining a passionate marriage or relationship.

 Click banner for Ted Talk: The Secret to Desire in a Long Term Relationship.

Click banner for Ted Talk: The Secret to Desire in a Long Term Relationship.

Esther explains that we all crave adventure and excitement to counterbalance the repetitive routine of our daily life. The irony is that we often place unrealistic expectations on our partner to be the sole provider of excitement throughout our life and that there is tremendous value for the health of our relationships in finding a balance between our need for security and passion.

Balance is created by being aware that life occurs in ebbs and flows and that imagination, playfulness, novelty, curiosity and mystery can create new and exciting experiences for ourselves and our partner.

If you and your partner feel like you're stuck in a rut, or struggle to create meaningful experiences that bring you together, then let's talk. Call me on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

Cheers, Simon

Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships.

Call Simon on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment today.


Who Cares? Overcoming the Barriers to Self-Care

Who Cares? Overcoming the Barriers to Self-Care

Simon Niblock - Self-Care.jpg

Did you know that over ten billion dollars is spent on self-help literature each year?

Surely with all the wonderful wisdom and knowledge, our relationships, our health, our careers and finances should be in a state of tip-top, polished condition. Similarly, at the beginning of each New Year, we frequently pledge to ourselves to quit smoking, reduce the amount of time we spend on social media, and call our Mum’s more often. Yet, despite our momentary resolve to make a change for the better, we struggle to see the results of our intentions. We stumble, trip and fail to put things into action. Equally frustrating is that we start and struggle to keep the momentum going.

So why does this happen?

Why, when we have all the information and the best of intentions, are our best-laid plans for self-care constantly thwarted? It’s because taking care of ourselves is challenging and there are some legitimate barriers that stop us from moving forward. Firstly, it requires a significant amount of mental and emotional effort to implement change. Secondly, taking care of ourselves before others elicits feelings about ourselves that can be difficult to face. Finally, it can reveal thoughts or beliefs about ourselves that we may be trying to avoid. In essence, it’s more about our relationship with ourselves rather than the self-care action that we want to undertake.

Before we explore the various barriers that thwart our self-care plans, let’s define it.

What actually is self-care? Well, it’s more than pouring ourselves a delicious bubble bath at the end of a long tiring day (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Self-care is the practice of purposeful and self-initiated actions and attitudes that contribute to the establishment and maintenance of life, health, well-being and personal development. It often means doing the things that we know are good for us but aren’t always the easiest. Just like flossing each day or stepping away from our desk to have lunch. These things are necessary for us to be fully capable of fulfilling our needs associated to our mind, body and spirit.

What are some of the common barriers to self-care?

It’s not unusual to hear someone say that they struggle making a choice of what self-care practice to start (ambivalence), or that they don’t believe that they deserve to care for themselves before someone else (negative self-belief). Some people say that their family tend to discourage them when starting a new healthy habit (negative social, relational and cultural influences). In some instances, it’s impossible to imagine ourselves in the future having lost that extra weight or not smoking (emotional disconnect from our future selves). Essentially many barriers relate to three simple, but very important factors: 1. The relationship that we have with ourselves, 2. Our relationship to our self-care intentions, and 3. The availability to necessary resources.

In order to create a self-care practice that is achievable and sustainable, we need to evolve these ‘relationships’. To help us develop healthy relationships with our self-care practices, we need to ensure that we have an appropriate sense of agency, that our motives are congruent with who we are as a person, and that we have the ability to create action. Here’s a simple formula to explain:


Agency + Motive + Ability = Desired Action/Behavior


Agency is described as the capacity of an individual to act independently and to shape their experiences and life trajectories. By exploring our sense of agency, we can examine our relationship with the potential of a self-care strategy into action and maintaining it. The components that form individual agency include belief (self-worth, self-esteem, trust, faith, confidence, effect), Desires (motivation, wants, longing), Intention/choice (awareness, willingness, commitment, intention).

Here are some important questions to ask yourself as they relate to your sense of agency.

  • Do I believe that I am worthy of my self-care intention?
  • Am I confident that I can achieve my goal? Am I being selfish by putting my needs before others?
  • Am I doing this out of a sense of obligation or personal free-will?
  • What do I really want from this action? Is this desire congruent with me as a person?
  • What will I learn about myself if I undertake this action?

Motives are the instrumental forces that drive and direct our behavior and are based on a series of intrinsic and tacit beliefs that we have about ourselves. If our motives are misaligned with our sense of self, then we are more likely to experience disruption, resistance, or inaction. It is important to examine our motives to determine whether our relationship with our intention is congruent with our sense of self. As with our sense of agency, here are some questions to ask yourself as they relate to your motives.

  • Why am I considering a particular self-care action?
  • What really, truly motivates me?
  • Am I motivated by personal needs like being inspired to be a better ‘me’, or my needs to feel included or connected with others?
  • What’s my relationship with my self-care practice?
  • Why did I honesty connect with this self-care practice?

We can be motivated, and ready to implement self-care, but sometimes our lack of ability may hinder us. Ability is the power, capacity or competence to carry out an intentional action. There are three components that form ability. Our knowledge, the ability to evaluate and the psychological and material resources to take the necessary action steps. If one or more of these components is missing, then we may struggle to develop the ability to achieve a desired action or established behavior. We may have the intention or willingness to change, but our inability (capability) to act may hinder us.

Here’s some important questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I aware of all the available self-care options open to me?
  • What works, what doesn’t? Is there evidence that supports my choice?
  • What self-care options do I prefer?
  • How do I make a decision that best suits my needs?
  • Do I have the means to fulfill my self-care needs?
  • What do I need to do to acquire the right resources if I don’t currently have them?
  • Do I control the use of my own resources?

Adopting a meaningful and congruent self-care practice requires asking yourself a few important questions as they relate to our sense of agency, our motives and the resources that we have available. When we take time to ask these questions and answer them honestly, then we can be more triumphant in adopting and sustaining self-care practices that fulfill our needs as they relate to our mind, body and spirit.

A Town Called Resilience - Part One

A Town Called Resilience - Part One

It was a day like any other day for the seaside township called Resilience. It was an idyllic, sunny, late spring day. Kids went to class, adults busied themselves at work and friends caught up for coffee and chatted. Fishing boats navigated their way through the tricky harbor heads in search of their daily catch and slow heavy freight trains trundled past the outskirts of town with loads of coal. All while the little island volcano forty kilometers off-shore puffed away as it reliably did. Not much was different about this particular day.

What was unique about the seaside township of Resilience was that it sat right on top of a tectonic fault line that ran right through the countryside. In actual fact, the main high street where all the folks comfortably sitting in cafés enjoyed their mid-afternoon lattes and scones was build right on top. It wasn’t a secret. Everyone who lived there, knew it existed right beneath their feet, that it traveled passed the public library, alongside the town hall, through the movie theater and pretty much everything else. It was just part of the landscape, part of the agreement of living in this picturesque, quaint seaside township. That was until 3.15PM.

At first it started with a few distant rumbles, followed closely by a couple of sharp jolts. Windows rattled and coffee cups toppled. Then a pause. People looked up from what they were doing to confirm with a friend that it wasn’t simply a big truck that had rumbled past. Then it hit. The ground shook with such an incredible force that it had folks scrambling for cover. Items fell from shelves, furniture toppled and people dived under tables and stood between doorframes to protect themselves. No sooner had people caught their breath, then another wave of rumbles came, immediately followed by a series of jolts that threw people to the ground.

By the time the third earthquake had passed, many people who had earlier been peacefully going about their day, found themselves surrounded by debris and chaos. Buildings had collapsed, windows were shattered, and cracks big enough to drive a truck through had appeared in the ground. Water pipes had burst, spot fires flared up and tsunami sirens blared away. People were disorientated and shocked. The world had literary been thrown up in the air and landed with an almighty crash. Then, as evening started to set in, it started to rain. A heavy rain that continued for three consecutive days that mixed in with the dust and rubble.

Resilience dug deep to pick itself up from the mess. Neighbors pitched in to offer beds and meals for those less fortunate. Friends gathered to clean up the debris. Businesses pitched in to offer their services for free and grocery stores gave perishable food away to those in need and car park BBQ’s sprung up everywhere. Despite the overwhelming chaos, the community of Resilience willingly rallied to support each other. People rolled up their sleeves and got stuck into the muck. As a result, they quickly developed a strong sense of resolve while even managing to crack the odd joke to keep things light when it got tough.

Despite numerous aftershocks over the proceeding weeks, the township of Resilience eventually recovered. For many it was a catastrophe beyond anything that they had ever encountered. A simple loud noise would make someone jump and they would relive their experience. It left people feeling vulnerable and traumatized. Nevertheless, over time, lives and homes were eventually rebuilt. They grew as a community while adjusting to the uncertainty of another earthquake occurring again without warning. Even though many had experienced loss, grief and misfortune, the township of Resilience found the spirit to recover. This was their seaside home and they wanted to remain true to their namesake.

Cedric and the Black Dog - Part Two

Cedric and the Black Dog - Part Two

Black Dog 2

Cedric and his black dog is a vignette that describes the experience that a lot of blokes have with depression.

Often guys say that they are followed by a black dog, or they feel like they are at the bottom of a dark bottomless shaft, or that they are an actor trying to play themselves. These descriptions highlight that depression is a very individual, subjective experience. It’s impact or severity and how long the experience might last can vary. Yet, it is pervasive, sometimes debilitating, and its symptoms can affect your thoughts, your emotions, how you act and behave, as well as your relationships. However, with the right knowledge and support, overcoming depression is very possible.

The underlying cause of depression is not completely known. However, what is understood is that it’s not necessarily a single event or experience that causes depression, rather it is the combination of a number of contributing factors that lead to its development. Other contributing personal factors such as biological or genetic vulnerability, chronic stress, medical problems, and medications, social, lifestyle and relationship challenges may also trigger depression.

Research shows that women often experience depression more than men, however, men are less adept at recognizing symptoms. Often men underplay what’s happening to them, resulting in attempts to ignore feelings of sadness, shame, hopelessness or guilt. Typically, men will allow the underlying causes of the problem to develop over a prolonged period of time, until it becomes chronic. Often, men will attempt to mask the problem via masculine behaviors of aggression, anger, and loss of control.

Men also respond to the experience of depression through increased substance use such as drinking or drug use or engaging in high-risk activities such as drink driving. Men also isolate themselves more than women when depressed, and will immerse themselves into their work or interests. Subsequently, their relationships with loved ones, friends and colleagues start to deteriorate. The unfortunate irony with this behavior is that these relationships are often critical in overcoming the problem that they are experiencing.

Over prolonged periods of struggling with depression, men begin to experience physical and neurological symptoms. Depression is associated with cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke. “Many men were not aware that physical problems such as headaches, stomach problems, and chronic pain might actually be symptoms of depression.” Chronically recurring depressive episodes also impact the formation and regulation of emotions and memory due to neuroanatomical abnormalities. This includes the areas of the brain responsible for attention/working memory, executive function, and memory recall. Brain structure actually changes because of depression.

The greatest risk for men in relation to depression is the impact of suicide. Untreated chronic depression can sometimes lead to suicidal ideation and acts of self-harm. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men die by suicide three and a half times more often than women. A contributing factor to this number is due to the extreme methods in which men choose to take their lives. In the US, firearms account for almost 50% of all suicides. White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides and the rate of suicide is highest in middle age, white men in particular.

However, due to the greater social awareness surrounding depression and its treatment, men are nowadays more open to the idea of reaching out. They are open to the feedback from friends, loved-ones, and colleagues that they are not alone and that professional help is available. While men’s willingness to help themselves has started changing, more needs to be done. Continuing research into men’s physiology, interpersonal and intrapersonal psychology to identify effective gender specific treatment options is required. Such options will drastically help men cope emotionally and physically with chronic stress or acute adverse experiences.

The potential of decreasing the likelihood of developing depression involves proactively improving the quality of lifestyle factors. These factors include good sleep patterns, healthy eating, and nutrition, as well as regular exercise and self-care habits. Improved relationship connections, such as intimate or romantic, family, social or occupational are the foundation of reducing the likelihood of developing depression. Finally, further social advocacy is needed to facilitate men seeking help and to teach everyone to recognize the signs of depression in men.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, then consider connecting with a trained, licensed mental health care professional and start a conversation.

  • A desire to withdraw;
  • Losing interest in friends and activities you used to enjoy;
  • Difficulty concentrating on things;
  • Feeling down or irritated most of the day, nearly every day;
  • Significant change in weight or change in appetite;
  • Changes in sleep patterns;
  • Changes in activity, such as speech, thinking, movement;
  • Feeling jumpy or physically agitated;
  • Fatigue or loss of energy;
  • Negative and unrealistic thoughts about guilt or feeling worthlessness; and
  • Having thoughts of death, or suicide or have a plan for suicide.

If you are struggling with any of these experiences, or are concerned about someone who is, then I invite you to have a conversation. Call me on (512) 470-6976 or schedule a free 20 min consultation to explore your options for help.

- Simon

Information and Resources on Men's depression:

Heads Up Guys:

Help Guide:

Beyond Blue:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

Cedric and the Black Dog – Part One

Cedric and the Black Dog – Part One

Black Dog 1.jpg

My name is Cedric and I have a black dog that follows me everywhere.

It’s not my dog. I don’t know where it came from, but it plodded its way into my house years ago, unannounced, uninvited, and the damn thing won’t leave. I’m not a dog person, so I don’t know why he chose me. In fact, I don’t like pets at all, but I’m sadly getting used to its presence. I refuse to give it a name, because I don’t want us to become friends. My hope is if I ignore it, it will wander off and find a new owner.

This dog accompanies throughout my entire day. It’s sitting there at the edge of my bed when I wake each morning. As much as I want to stay here under the covers in the hope that it will wander off, I know the moment I wake, it will be there staring at me with its dark black sullen eyes. It’s not a friendly dog. There’s no wagging tail, no lapping tongue here. It’s no fun. It doesn’t want to play, or go outside. It doesn’t like to do anything, other than mope around. This sad creature just nuzzles at me, constantly vying for attention, which I feel compelled to offer. What on earth does this useless, pathetic creature want?

This black dog is very territorial. It doesn’t like any of my friends or my family, and it certainly doesn’t get along with my boss. Keeping this a secret at work is causing me to drop the ball constantly. Occasionally, it growls at those around me with its deep throaty, guttural sound. I’ve seen it raise its hackles, and snare its sharp teeth to protect me. From time to time, it destroys my furniture and chews up my possessions. I don’t know where it acquired a taste for that. I know it means business and I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t have any intention of putting up with anyone’s shit.

It’s odd that no one has mentioned that they’ve seen me with this dog, well, at least I don’t think they have. I’m pretty sure that my family doesn’t realize that this thing constantly accompanies us, even when we take the kids to the movies. When the family’s around, it curls its tail under and sits in the corner of the room. I know, because I can see it sitting there in the corner of my eye. It’s distracting. When they leave, this black dog returns to my side. I’ve even woken from a nap, with it sitting on my chest. Do you know how hard it is to breath with a massive dog sitting on you? I thought I was going to have a damn heart attack.

I know that it’s just a matter of time until someone’s going to complain. I find myself staying at work longer, so that it can hide undetected in my office. When I’m at home, I stay alone in the garage with it for hours at end. My family shouldn’t have to put up with this uninvited guest the way I do. Sadly, that makes me feel guilty. I’ll sit there surrounded by my yard equipment, and I’ll put back a few quiet beers. When this happens, the big black dog wanders off for a while, no doubt to pester someone else. When I wake up in the morning, the damn thing’s back.

I’m not sure what to do. I honestly have no clue and I’m pretty sure that this black dog is getting bigger. Maybe I’m paying too much attention to it, but it’s presence is starting to worry me. I’m concerned that I’ll be caught out harboring this unwanted guest, before I can figure something out. I’d like to talk to someone, anyone, however I have responsibilities and I can’t let my family down. The sight of this creature makes me sick to my stomach and as a result, I can’t think straight. I can tell that this dog finds all the things that I used to enjoy doing, well, boring and dull. I look forward to those peaceful moments at night, when everyone’s asleep. I just sit there, wide awake, thinking. Thoughts just rolling around without any resolution. Just me and this this damn black dog. Someone must have trained it well.

Cedric and the Black Dog - Part Two

What the hell am I going to call this? The nature of Ambivalence.

What the hell am I going to call this? The nature of Ambivalence.

Simon Niblock, Men Couples & Family Therapy

We’ve all experienced that moment where we find ourselves at a crossroads. Which direction do we go? We weigh the options, pros and cons when faced with this choice, struggling to make a decision.

Our normal decision-making process just doesn’t seem to accommodate the situation that we face. We wax and wane, we procrastinate and on occasions, we avoid making a decision altogether. What’s even more confusing and anxiety provoking is when we notice that the way we’re behaving doesn’t align with the way that we think, our values, or our desired intentions.

We know that it’s in our best interest to do something different, but for the life of us, we cannot figure out what it is. Things simply feel discombobulated, and it begins to gnaw at us. This confusion ripples out and affects the way we interact with the world around us, including our relationships. This internal struggle, this confused state is best described as ambivalence, and it is a universal human condition.

Ambivalence is a state of simultaneous, conflicting values, needs, beliefs or feelings towards a particular scenario, person or object. It is a natural human trait to experience ambivalence. Whether it’s buying a new car or trying to determine what to wear to a job interview, a certain amount of ambivalence in our everyday life is healthy. We experience these moments simply because we are creatures of deliberation, critique, and exploration. Ambivalence is the experience that lends to our need to critically evaluate the benefits and consequences of given predicament.

We relate to ambivalence in a wide spectrum of experiences. For some individuals, identifying a source of internal conflict is relatively easy, and are able to articulate the struggles without too much difficulty. Others may simply sense that something feels misaligned, yet it can be troublesome, and right down confusing connecting with an underlying cause. Some experiences of ambivalence can be inherently unconscious. We just feel like something’s misaligned, and we can’t work out how to move forward. The effects of ambivalence can vary widely across individuals and situations.

What is important to distinguish is ambivalence is not the same as indifference. Indifference is described as a lack of sympathy, interest or concern. When it comes to forming a decision or making a choice, indifference can be mistaken as ambivalence. Just because someone is struggling to go to the gym to exercise, doesn’t mean they don’t care about their health. An individual may struggle to reach a meaningful conclusion, yet this suspension does not insinuate an indifference or a lack of desire to do something different.

The challenge with ambivalence is when it becomes chronic. Similar to being bogged down in cement, chronic ambivalence interferes with our ability to move forward, make decisions and implement change, resulting in feelings of fear, confusion, frustration, and anger. It is often experienced as familiar, repeated pattern and cycle of internal conflict, never realizing a true sense of resolution or reaching a natural conclusion. Chronic ambivalence can feel like a very real psychological obstacle.

Ambivalence leads to inconsistency in our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors which causes a disruption of congruence. Internal incongruence is experienced as stress, tension and uncertainty. ‘Psychologically uncomfortable ambivalence, also known as cognitive dissonance, can lead to avoidance, procrastination, or to deliberate attempts to resolve the ambivalence’ (Heregeld, Pligt, de Liver, 2009). This is often represented as thinking or saying one thing and then behaving in a completely conflicting manner.

Ambivalence may present itself within a relationship when opposing values, needs, beliefs or feelings are not effectively expressed or negotiated. While the foundation of most relationships consists of contrasting personal differences, discomfort may be experienced when ambivalence is avoided or unresolved. Couples often describe a lack of communication or conflict are in fact referencing an underlying cause of ambivalence. Furthermore, the discomfort or conflict that ambivalence creates is often exacerbated when an impasse occurs or an ultimatum is presented as a reaction between partners.

Overcoming ambivalence within ourselves or within our relationships is very possible. The challenge however that we often face when exploring our sense of ambivalence is the thought that we may have to, at some stage, make a deliberate conscious choice. Yes, it’s all about weighing the options and making a choice. Making a decision can represent a true dilemma for some individuals, as the act of making a choice implies that we then limit ourselves to the option which we have selected, thereby renouncing all other possibilities.

Often it is the fear of consequence, the unknown or the path least taken, that causes chronic ambivalence. We often reprimand ourselves by attempting to construe an ideal choice. Despite our intellectual debates, logical arguments and practical motives behind our decisions, the fear of making an incorrect decision and the fear of harboring regret, stop us from making any positive forward movement. Yet, by not making a decision, we remain stationary, never appreciate the potential of change or realizing the potential of an opportunity.

Focusing on resolving ambivalence requires deliberate and conscious self-exploration. Acknowledging what conflicting values, needs, beliefs or feelings are present is an ideal starting point. Understanding that no decision will ever be ideal and that every option will have its challenges and benefits. Next is to identify what fear we associate with the consequences of both the conflicting arguments, as well as the choice of maintaining the status quo. Yes, not doing anything is an active choice.

Recognizing and acknowledging our personal traits that can help overcome ambivalence is important. Personal traits or characteristics may include resourcefulness, adaptability, optimism, confidence, risk-taking, tolerance for ambiguity and initiative. ‘Research shows that certain personality traits may impact an individual’s likelihood of experiencing [or managing] ambivalence’ (Heregeld, Pligt, de Liver, 2009). These personality traits form the foundation of readiness for change.

It is often a matter of determining which value, need, belief or feeling that we find ourselves prioritizing above its counterpart, that allows us to make a decision. In decision making, regardless of what compass we adopt (think matters of the heart versus the mind), when we choose according in a manner that is congruent within ourselves, then the effects of our ambivalence are diminished.

Most importantly, take your time in making a decision. Seek counsel if you feel it is necessary, especially if you experience confusion, ongoing procrastination or even risky behavior. Offer yourself some self-compassion by recognizing that your ambivalence serves a valid and important purpose. It serves as a sign. Explore the possibility that fear may be associated with your experiences and recognize that your choices, both perfect or flawed are the most valuable lessons that you can make for yourselves.

Here are some options on how to overcome ambivalence.

1.     Set some time aside for yourself to explore your dilemma. Journal your ambivalent feelings, thoughts or fears and the various scenarios in which they occur.

2.     Remind yourself that no situation is absolutely perfect and that all potential scenarios have strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledge and honor your ambivalent feelings. Be compassionate towards yourself.

3.     Take your time to make a decision. Seek guidance if needed. Remind yourself that no situation is 100% perfect and that all potential scenarios have their strengths and weaknesses.

4.     Determine your readiness for change. Identify and connect with your personal traits that support positive, well-defined change.

5.     Make a choice that is congruent with yourself and stand behind your decision.

6.     Assess your progress. Make changes if your choices no longer serve you, or if ambivalence ensues.

Cheers, Simon


Engle, D.E., Arkowitz, H. (2006). “Ambivalence in psychotherapy. Facilitating readiness to change” Guilford Publications Inc. New York, NY.

Hersh, T.R. (2017) Ambivalence. Retrieved from:

Leslie, I. (2017) Ambivalence is awesome. Retrieved from

Van Heregeld, F., van der Plight, J., de Liver, Y. (2009). "The agony of ambivalence and ways to resolve it: Introducing the MAID model". Personality and Social Psychology Review. 13 (1): 45–61. PMID 19144904. doi:10.1177/10888683083245

Why Do Some Friendships Last A Lifetime?

Why Do Some Friendships Last A Lifetime?

Have you ever stopped to consider why some friendships transcend space and time and can last a lifetime, yet others seem to have an expiry date and fizzle out?

Friendship is an incredibly rich experience that connects us with the world around us. The connection that friendship fosters, allows us to grow and evolve as we travel through all stages of our lives. Our friends influence us, and we influence them - hopefully in positive, fruitful and meaningful ways.

From the second that we step foot onto the playground on our first day of school, we learn the importance of establishing friendships. Our friendships often hold more significance in our lives, sometimes, on occasions, more than our own biological families.

We absorb everything from our friends - our language, our mannerisms, ideas, values, and principles, as well as the odd questionable fashion decision. As we grow much of our personality builds from the characteristics and qualities of our friendships.

In terms of cognitive and social development, it is considered that much of our personality throughout all stages of our life is mirrored, and absorbed from our compadres. “Smarter friends make us smarter; more social friends make us more outgoing; healthy friends make us more health conscious. Who they are [our friends] becomes part of us” (Fishman, 2015).

Friendship offers frequent boosts of happiness and joy, as well enhancing your sense of purpose and belonging. Positive friendships reduce stress and anxiety and improve your feelings of strength and self-esteem. When times are tough, they help cope with trauma and loss, while decreasing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

How we establish a friendship is often as unique as the person we connect with. As eloquently stated by C.S Lewis, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!” What is equally unique is the nature in which relationships evolve or dissolve over time.

So, if we’re able to experience such a significant connection with a friend in the beginning, then why do some relationships continue to enrich our lives, while others slowly fizzle out?

Unlike our relationships with parents or siblings, our friendships are especially unique because they are completely voluntary in nature. Nothing binds us within a friendship and we make an active, conscious choice to establish them.

However, as we are drawn to a friendship because of the lack of formal structure that we experience in family or romantic relationships, the ‘voluntary nature of friendship makes it subject to life's whims in a way other relationships aren't’ (Beck, 2015).

Like any other relationship, friendships need active, conscious effort to keep them flourishing. “Whether people hold onto their old friends or grow apart seems to come down to dedication and communication” (Beck, 2015). When mutual reciprocation of needs and expectations are offered in a friendship, it is very possible for it to thrive, even when time and distance is present.

Research has found that people need to feel like they are getting as much out of the friendship as they are putting in, and that that equity can predict a friendship’s continued success. This means that if the right conditions are fostered, ‘long distance’ or ‘time challenged’ relationships can pick up where they left off with incredible fluidity.

These are the moments when, after years of not seeing each other in person, your able to enjoy a four-hour marathon meal, with accompanying conversation (as well as decent wine) and feel like only an hour and a half has past.

Yet, life dramatically shapes and tests our friendships. From our adolescent years where friendships are the core of our universe, across the lifespan to our retirement years, our ability to establish and preserve friends changes dramatically. The number of friends that we have starts to decline around the age of twenty-five.

There are a plethora of reasons why friendships fizzle out, some key reasons include various life events that distract us as well as failing to nurture our relationships. Other influences include changes in personal values or worldviews over time that challenge the compatibility and subsequent reciprocation between friends.

So, I invite you to take a moment to reflect on the friendships that you have in your life. Some friendships might be chugging along happily on their path, others might need some tender love and attention, others might need to start a new chapter. Determine what’s required to foster their continued success? What’s necessary for them to survive life’s varied chapters, or even transcend space and time itself?

- Simon


Fishman, T. (2015). Don't underestimate the power of friendship. Retrieved from

Beck, J. (2015). How Friendships Change in Adulthood. Retrieved from:

Bhattacharya, K., Ghosh, A., Minivans, D., Dunbar, R. I. M., & Kaski, K. (2016). Sex differences in social focus across the life cycle in humans. Royal Society Open Science, 3(4), 160097.