Kate Middleton Went to Family Therapy to Support Her Brother, James

Family therapy can serve individuals, couples and families. As the article below states- not everyone needs to be there all the time, – people can attend in ones and twos, but it can open up conversations that really go a long way towards recovery.


  • In a new interview with The Telegraph, James Middleton opened up about his struggles with depression and his personal road to recovery.
  • His entire family—including Kate Middleton—took part in family therapy sessions with him to show their support.

Kate Middleton’s brother, James Middleton, is opening up his struggles with depression—and how his sister, the Duchess of Cambridge, dropped everything to help with his recovery.

In a new interview with The Telegraph, James described his personal battle with depression, which he, like many people, kept to himself for a long time. When James realized he needed help, however, he went to a private psychiatric hospital, where he voiced the fact that he was dealing with suicidal thoughts for the first time.

“I remember thinking, ‘I might have to answer this one truthfully, because I want them to help me,'” he explained of confronting the doctor’s questions about suicidal ideation. “So I said, ‘Well, actually, yes, but I don’t think I’ll ever action it.’ In my report it said I had suicidal thoughts but wasn’t a threat to myself.”

Once James reached out and made a point to be honest about what he was going through, his journey to recovery (which included nearly a year of cognitive behavioral therapy) could begin.

“Before I started it I was completely lost,” he said, describing therapy as like, “sitting in a chair with a ball of wool made up of eight different colors, and then a therapist is sitting opposite you with a needle untangling it. When we started mapping everything out, and it was on a page, it was absolute chaos.”

Kate Middleton Arrives At The Concert For Diana

Kate and James Middleton arriving at a concert in 2007.


James didn’t have to tackle the recovery process alone though. His entire family—including his very famous (and very busy) sister, Kate—joined him in family therapy sessions to support him.

“All of them,” he said, confirming that Kate took part in the therapy process with him. “Not necessarily at the same time, but either individually and [sometimes] together. And that was so important because that helped them understand me and how my mind was working. And I think the way the therapy helped me was that I didn’t need my family to say, ‘What can we do?’ The only thing they could do was just come to some of the therapy sessions to start to understand.”






Our son stole from us to fund his cocaine habit

IRISH TIMES 7th August 2019

Tell me about it: We cleared his debt and he promised to stop taking drugs but now he is partying again

PROBLEM: We were always very proud of our son. He is 24 years of age and still lives at home. He is our only child and up until recently treated us with great respect. We always knew he was fairly bright, but he struggled academically and, unlike his cousins and peers, did not go to college directly. We were never really concerned as he has a gregarious personality and we were confident he would make his own way in life.

After school, he managed to talk his way into a sales job and undertook a few short courses. Two years ago, he secured employment in a large, fast-paced firm where everything is focused on deadlines and commission. Initially, he seemed very happy and delighted to be working as part of a team and has had amazing travel opportunities. About six months ago, my wife noticed he was partying more than normal and often with different people. She also thought he was not as happy as usual and starting to be dismissive of both of us.

Since he became an adult, we had never minded him bringing girls home, but recently there have been a number of strangers at our breakfast table, which can be uncomfortable. About a month ago, things came to a head when he took my credit card and withdrew a large sum of money. He has used my card in the past but never without permission. It was the first time I had ever been really angry with him.

He broke down crying, saying he had started using a bit of cocaine to help him keep up with his workload, but that he was now in debt. We gave him €600 to clear his debt with the understanding that he would stop using drugs. He agreed. However, the partying restarted very soon after he got the money. My wife is anxious we don’t confront him as she is fearful we will lose him as she thinks we are more likely to keep a handle on things if we keep him close. I am not sure that this will work.

ADVICE: I wonder if your son were misbehaving and he was 12, would you be quite so hands-off? It is very clear to parents that they need to put corrections in place for younger children as they know it will serve their child well as they grow up. We want our children to learn about consequences, about self-discipline and making amends with others so they can go on to live happy and successful lives. The difference is that your son is now 24 and an adult but he is behaving like a child, with his parents fixing his problems and not dealing with any consequences.

Your son needs help and a crisis is often the best opportunity for someone to change their pattern and face up to what is happening. It is fairly clear that another crisis is imminent as nothing has changed, so you and your wife should be ready to deal with it differently. Your son is clearly loved and cosseted, but his behaviour is not acceptable, and he is treating you both with disrespect. As adult children live for longer times at home with parents, leeway must be given them in terms of bringing partners home, but this comes with dual responsibility – he must also behave as an adult if he wishes to be treated as one and this entails taking on his share of the household load. Contributing financially and physically to the household chores is part of sharing as a grown-up and you will be doing him no favours by not insisting on this. His future family will need him to manage himself, his spending and his duty to others if he is to be happy in his life and relationships.

However, it seems your son may have issues of insecurity that need addressing: he did not go to college and may be feeling inadequate in the team he is in. Cocaine is a drug that masks insecurity as it allows the taker to feel omnipotent for short periods of time so perhaps the drug taking is a way of coping with the demands of his life that he feels unequal to.

Loving your son now requires that you challenge him and indeed this may come as a relief to him as he continues to struggle. He needs professional help, as giving up cocaine is not a simple or easy task. If he is going to continue living at home, you will all need help and support to change the patterns that are currently allowing his behaviour to flourish. Your local Citizen’s Advice centre will have information on HSE drug assessment and treatment and this will include skills development in the areas of confidence-building and self-awareness. Your son is still very young and has an opportunity to look at his life and make changes that will stand to him for decades to come.

At 24, he is eligible to apply to colleges as a mature student and this has different entry requirements, so he may be open to seeing this as an option for the future. However, the big issue is that as parents, you must be firm and clear that he addresses his problems now. As this is a very difficult stance for you to take, it may be worth while consulting with a family therapist for a couple of sessions to help you develop your strategy.

A 2019 Resolution: Go Off Script

Psychology Today 6 January 2019

Emily Green Psy.D.
There Is Always Another Part
A 2019 Resolution: Go Off Script
This year, let’s challenge the rigid life narratives that keep us stuck.
If you had told me five years ago that this holiday season I would be wearing a Christmas sweater with a cat in a Santa hat on it, while proudly proclaiming myself a “cat mom,” I would have told you that you had lost it.
I was a dog person. I am a dog person. But as it turns out, as I discovered after stumbling upon and eventually taking in a meowing, underfed creature in my closed-in courtyard in Brooklyn one day in May of 2015, I am also a cat person.
I won’t lie, my insistence on my “dog person” identity probably almost stopped me from taking the plunge and welcoming a cat into my life. To do so would be to go against the narrative that I had written for myself, the collections of stories and beliefs and experiences that make up “who I am”. And had I stuck to the script- I’m a dog person, I can’t have a cat- I would have missed out on exploring an entirely different part of myself, a chance to flesh out a range of interests, emotions, and interpersonal connections that had been previously untapped. Now I buy Christmas sweaters with cats on them and have 491 photos of my own cat on my phone.
I tell this story as a suggestion to us all – and a reminder to myself- to make 2019 the year of shedding our attachment to the rigid narratives we spin for ourselves, particularly the ones that keep us from growing and expanding our lives. We all have a narrative about ourselves, who we are, who we expect to be, what we expect we will do going forward. For some of us, it’s based around our profession: I am a psychologist, I am a lawyer, etc. Sometimes our narrative is built around beliefs about ourselves: I am weak, I am strong, I am a Victim, I am a Survivor. We also write our story based on our feelings and experiences: I am anxious, I am shy, I am optimistic. Our narrative can extend to our future, as well: I will never be happy, I will always figure it out. And while it is of course important to have a framework with which we work from to know and describe ourselves to ourselves and to others, over-attachment to these descriptors can be more harmful than helpful.
Say, for example, an individual who defines themselves by their career as a police officer is permanently disabled and no longer able to work in law enforcement. For this individual, not being able to be a police officer becomes a deeper, more confusing cut- If I’m not a police officer, who/ what am I? We want to hold our self-descriptions lightly enough that they can adapt around the twists and turns that life throws at us. This means making room for positive twists as well. There are those who, likely based on difficult or abusive experiences throughout their development, may see the theme of their life story as “I am alone”/ “I have no one”. A rigid attachment to this theme makes it difficult to integrate experiences that counter that concept into one’s life. Perhaps you make a new friend or a family member is there for you in a time of need. We must work towards making space in our narrative for new and potentially contradicting experiences, because thus is life. There is always another part, and sometimes that part does not fit neatly into the picture you have already painted. Not allowing for these other parts to integrate keeps us stuck in the same storyline, not moving our plot forward.
Being more flexible with our life narrative does not just allow us to account for the detours that life hands to us; it also allows us to discover new roads of our own choosing, to actively explore paths that may not necessarily fit into a strictly defined self-description. The individual who describes themselves as “shy” may not go after an opportunity that requires them to be outgoing and sociable. Perhaps it is an opportunity that interests or intrigues them, that may open them up to other opportunities or allow them to move in the direction of important life values. Perhaps there is a part of them that wants to explore this path, but its incongruence with a rigid “who I am” story creates enough cognitive dissonance that they may abandon this intriguing opportunity for the comfort and familiarity of the old narrative.
Herein lies the struggle we must face with pushing ourselves to challenge the rigidity of our narrative; it is inherently uncomfortable to do so. Our narrative, while expanded upon and reinforced over time, is often written starting from a young age, a touchstone to which we return to in an attempt to make sense of and categorize our life experiences. Yet as we move through life, this touchstone tends to stay fixed even as the circumstances of our life, and our own emotional and psychological makeup, grow, expand, or change course. Like any other shortcut for categorization (stereotypes, heuristics, etc), what at times makes for quick and broadly accurate description in other contexts leaves us distorting or manipulating reality to get the narrative and our experiences to jive when they in fact no longer fit. Our narrative soon become akin to an old sweater, now too small, filled with holes, worn thin and no longer keeping us warm, but so difficult to let go of as it reminds us of a time when it kept us safe and comfortable.
The truth is that the stories we write for ourselves starting early in our life may always pop up, tempting us to stick stringently to the script. Sometimes it’s hard to throw that sweater away. But maybe we don’t have to. To try to rewrite our story completely is unrealistic, impractical, and perhaps not entirely possible. Instead, let us make an effort this year to simply hold our story more lightly. Let us try to put that sweater in the closet every once in a while, acknowledge that while it might always be there, our insistence on it being the only sweater we wear, despite the fact that it doesn’t work or fit the way it used to, might be keeping us stuck. To do this will likely be uncomfortable. In 2019, let us challenge ourselves to tolerate that discomfort. Let us push ourselves through the anxiety of a more fluid, flexible “who I am” story. To tolerate that discomfort is to open the door to the full reach of our personality, capabilities, and interests, and those are certainly achievements worth fighting for.

About the Author

Emily Green, Psy.D. is an early career clinical psychologist. She works at the Metropolitan Police Employee Assistance Program in D.C., providing psychotherapy to law enforcement officers.

A 2019 Resolution Go Off Script

Shane Carthy: ‘I was two years wearing that mask, but internally I was crumbling’

Dublin footballer on the challenges of tackling his mental health issues
Irish Times Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 06:00
Ian O’Riordan

The last thing Shane Carthy wants or expects right now is to walk back on to the Dublin panel.
Not with his utterly changed perspective on life and football and everything else in between. Or indeed his heightened sense of what exactly constitutes success.
What he does want, and expects of himself, is to give it his best shot, and whether that’s good enough time will tell.
In the meantime the telling of his story, his crippling and at times terrifying experience with depression in the aftermath of Dublin’s All-Ireland winning success of 2013, to breaking point a year later, aged only 19 and the rising star of the county under-21 team, has been proving both therapeutic and rewarding.
It has been the latter in helping him realise how fortunate he’s been to come through it all, including the good and bad days with Dublin football.

Six days before Christmas, in a lengthy online blog, Carthy wrote frankly and eloquently about his journey over the last four and a half years.
It detailed, without overdramatising, the downward spiral which, days after producing a man-of-the-match display in Dublin’s 2014 Leinster under-21 final win over Meath, saw him wake up in St Patrick’s Mental Hospital.
Only then did he begin to face up to “the inner demons I had kept away from for many years”.
Under the very deliberate headline ‘I’m No Longer Surviving, I’m Living!’, Carthy also explains what ultimately brought him back to where he is now, just turned 24 and more determined to ever to revive his football career with Dublin.
“The first intention with the blog was to busy myself, to give something back to myself, positively, and maybe further afield in the sporting community,” says Carthy, who in November completed a Sports Science degree in DCU, and is currently on a year out.
“I’d already done some talks on mental health and depression in schools and clubs, but they’re limited to those present, whereas with the blog people could read and maybe relate to it at any time.

Sought help
It completely surpassed that, in terms of what I expected, the scale of the response and reaction I really can’t believe. And in such a good way.
“I’m absolutely touched by all the messages and well wishes, and more importantly to hear of someone who has gone out and sought help now, on the back of it, or just something that might have resonated from the blog. I also wanted people to know there’s lot of people out there that depression touches.”
Carthy will, along with distance runner Kevin Dooney and ironman triathlete Gerard Prendergast, also be part of a three-person panel discussion this Saturday as part of the First Fortnight festival, the charity organisation aimed at challenging mental health prejudice through the creative arts and spoken word.
Carthy will further outline some of the mental health issues specific to sport, especially for any athlete or player seemingly at the top of the game, which for the male in particular can sometimes be more difficult to face up to.
From the outside, Carthy had it all in 2014.
Playing with Naomh Mearnóg club, in north Dublin, already an All-Ireland minor winner with Dublin, in 2012, he was called into Jim Gavin’s senior panel in 2013 and that year playing scintillating football for the Dublin’s U-21s at centre forward.
The team that featured Jack McCaffrey, Brian Fenton, Paul Mannion, John Small, Cormac Costello, amongst others, went on to win that 2014 All-Ireland U-21 title in his absence.
“I was two years wearing that mask, but internally I was crumbling,” he says. “Football was the only thing covering it up, as long as I was training, playing.
“And it relates to where I’m at right now, because for the last few years, I’ve been in and out of Dublin championship panels, and that in itself can be a huge low.
But because I’m educated now in how my minds works, and the emotions naturally attached to this, I’m able to control it, whereas before, I didn’t know how to handle those emotions, couldn’t handle them.
“It became an ever worsening situation, whereas now I know how to put a positive spin on it, something I can deal with. It was hard to accept that at the time, when the lows were very low, but I’ve come out the other side now, better and stronger for it. From sporting, academic, and personal points of view.”

Difficult moments
He no longer fears the highs or the lows, as long as he feels he can control them. Carthy was invited back onto the Dublin panel in early 2018, featuring in four league games, only be to be dropped again for summer. Instead of letting that get him down, he spent what he felt was an overdue summer in America, playing football for a club in San Francisco, and that gave his fresh perspective again.
“I was involved again for the 2018 league, and again let go, and these are difficult moments for everyone. Football has given me so much, and I’m thankful for that, and playing football in the US last summer was a great experience. That negative turned positive straightaway.
And football definitely is still a big motivation for me, I always strive to be the best I can be, whether I get back there or not, I’ll never stop. This year it may have to be at club level, but I want Jim Gavin to know that if or when that call might come, I’ll be ready, and I’m staying ready.
“I enjoy the training, and that motivation to get back involved is a part of it as well, to be a part of the huge success the lads have had over the last number of years. But that’s not the sole focus of why I do it. It’s the feeling as well of accomplishing something at training. Everyone can relate to that.
“From a physical standpoint, I’m absolutely on top of that, and for this time of year, January, I’m training as hard as I can, I’ve a huge goal to make it back into Jim’s plans. I’m doing everything I can, but outside of football as well, just going to the Phoenix Park for a run or a cycle, because exercise in general has been huge in my recovery, and still is.”
And after surviving, he says, the critical part now is to focus on the living again. “And I was just surviving, by the skin of my teeth actually, and wasn’t living. Only now after I’ve got the help I needed do I feel like I’m living again, and that’s why I feel I’m in a good position to impact people.
“There is also that sense ‘if I knew then what I know now’. And I’m still seeing a psychologist, spaced out now to about once a month, and that’s the path we’re taking, to be the more independent, make it my own recovery. I’m not putting any pressure on myself either.
“It could take six months, or six years, but eventually I will get that independence back, to go on, and there will be things in the way, because that’s life. But I want to strive for excellence in mental health as well. It may not be 100 per cent every day, but I won’t stop striving for it.”
Shane Carthy’s blog can be read here –
Corinthian: Sports and Mental Health panel discussion takes place this Saturday, at 2.0 in The Sugar Club: for more information see www.firstfortnight.ie

Shane Carthy

How to lose your clinical balance, while holding on to your therapeutic bearings, and other ideas on working therapeutically with a ‘treatment resistant’ client diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder

How to lose your clinical balance, while holding on to your therapeutic bearings, and other ideas on working therapeutically with a ‘treatment resistant’ client diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder

Don Boardman

Click below for full article

Don Boardman Article

How to lose your clinical balance, while holding on to your therapeutic bearings, and other ideas on working therapeutically with a ‘treatment resistant’ client diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder by Don Boardman

How to lose your clinical balance, while holding on to your therapeutic bearings, and other ideas on working therapeutically with a ‘treatment resistant’ client diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder

by Don Boardman

Click below for full article

Don Boardman Article


I love you, you’re perfect, now change


I love you, you’re perfect, now change


It’s that time of year when that rosy-cheeked, potbellied, bow strung Valentine’s cherub reappears. As you weave your way through heaving Hallmark stands I invite you to consider the question raised by the old tunesmith: ‘what is that thing called love?’ There are few things harder to prove than what love is but we sure know what it is when we feel it… or do we?

The title of this opinion piece is taken from a play that ran about 15 years ago in the now defunct Andrews Lane theatre. My wife Ruth and I went to see this comedy and the one thing that remained with us was the title. It has become a get-out-of-jail card in our relationship when we hit a speed bump. Some of you may find, like we have (and others whom I have shared this idea with in my work as a family therapist) that this can be quite a life saver. It helps to offer relief when you are dangerously digging a bigger hole through saying or doing something which you may regret when the dust settles.

In these moments of relationship ‘farce’, Ruth or I will often play our ace. One of us will operatically sing with exaggerated feeling ‘I love you your perfect now change!’ The person being serenaded usually starts to laugh and certainly begins to take themselves a little less seriously. Once humour starts to flow the issue begins to shrink.

I would like to offer some ideas which have the capacity to turn your relationship world upside down. Henning Mankell said that ‘sometimes the truth needs to be turned on its head to see its correct structure’.  Surrounded by so many half baked notions is it any wonder (like the band Foreigner) we struggle to know what love is?

The first idea I would like to describe is the ‘compatibility myth’. Oh if I had a penny… when as a therapist I heard someone say ‘the problem is we are just not compatible anymore’. To those who have entertained this notion I reply: ‘Hallelujah and welcome to my world… the good news is that no couple is compatible’. This is greeted with relief as I describe how every couple has to find a way to manage incompatibility and explain that the ones who make their relationship look easy have usually put in the most work.

So if it’s a given that you will not agree on everything (or anything!) with your partner, you can take the ‘compatibility’ pressure off yourself. Freed from the performance anxiety to always get along with each other, you will ironically find yourself more capable of getting on. Where did the idea come from that you must agree on everything with each other anyway? Instead of taking offence, why not give grace? Who cares if there were seventy people at the party or merely fifty? Does it matter if the wallpaper is more orange than yellow? What’s at stake is far more than who’s right or wrong – what’s at stake is the perception we start to shape in our imagination that we can manage our incompatibility.

The second idea I’d like to share is the ‘arrival fallacy’. This is the belief that when you get that home, car, promotion or have children then and only then, can you really start living. It has been well said that ‘it’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive’. Couples are often so busy building a future for themselves that they steal away the joy of the present, which is actually all you really have. How can you say with confidence that when you arrive at a point in time in your life you will know for certain how you will react? Do any of us know ourselves that well?

Why not challenge the perceived wisdom that external things should govern your internal state? How can you start to invest in your relationship today, not tomorrow? Remember, small differences create great change. Acts of kindness expressed to each other along with taking the time for perhaps 15 minutes per day to talk to each other about how you are doing, can go a huge way in conveying the importance of the relationship in a meaningful practical way.

We all know what it’s like to feel that we are living off the scraps in a relationship. If everything else gets the steak and the relationship is asked to survive on what’s left, the relationship will either limp along or collapse. If as a couple you place all your eggs into any external basket, don’t be surprised when you arrive at your destination to find you built pyrite foundations.

The third idea for your consideration is to imagine what it would be like if you were married to you? How much fun would that be? Perish the thought! Even the vainest egotist will, concede that ‘it can’t be easy being married to me’. Relationships are full of contradictions. This is why the one we love can hurt us the most and why best friends can become sworn enemies. You may remember the Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas starred movie the War of the Roses? This movie highlights how a loved up couple go from walking down the aisle to literally trying to kill each other. Here we see, beautifully enacted, where the pursuit of heaven ends up in hell.

You might believe that ‘if I could only iron out my partners creases then all would be well’. However not a single one of us has a monopoly on the truth or can see through every issue clearly. Many couples avoid trying to resolve issues because when they tried previously they ended up going round in circles. The art of compromise involves reaching a joint decision which both partners fully support, often in spite of neither person getting everything they desire.

What about the old chestnut which we often hold on to and rarely express directly, ‘Why can’t you just be more like me?’ Consider for a moment, when as part of a couple relationship, you feel you are not getting what you want. Is it not invariably so that your partner feels the same? How often have you thought ‘Oh if only s/he could see things my way, then all would be well’.

From this perspective of righteous indignation you can feel like the guy, who having broken through one wall with his head asked himself ‘what do I do now in the neighbouring cell?’ Of course you can choose to rally against the injustice of it all or emphasise how misunderstood you feel, yet all the while love will feel even more elusive. Or instead you can remind yourself that no one sees the full picture and your partner’s viewpoint matters to them as much as yours does to you. In relationships an issue for one party is an issue for both, wise is the man or woman who acts on this basis.

I would now like to offer a brief thought on the role of managing emotions in relationships. As emotional beings sometimes when we get what we want we feel that it’s not what we want anymore.Our emotions change like Irish weather. You have a choice: you either allow emotion to control you or learn to control your emotion. If emotion is the tail that wags the dog in your relationship then strap yourself in for a rollercoaster ride. Love is not a feeling it is an act of the will. Emotional maturity involves choosing to act lovingly even (or particularly) when you don’t feel like it. If that sounds trite, try it on for size to experience how much you control your emotion or how much it controls you.

Intimate relationships can be fantastically invigorating and at times extremely hard work.  Think of how you can shift between these two states in a heartbeat. In relationships you can use each issue as an opportunity to confirm your belief that you are just not compatible and pull that parachute cord. Alternatively, you can inject some imagination into proceedings. Simply accept the invitation to creatively manage the inevitable incompatibilities which will arise. Resist the temptation to defer hope until you arrive, remember it’s the journey not the arrival. What’s the point of a relationship if we don’t pause en route to smell the roses? Lastly, if even you can admit it would be little fun if you were married to you, spare a thought for your long suffering partner. Rest assured the thought has crossed their mind too!

DON BOARDMAN: Don is a Senior Family Therapist/Supervisor. He has worked in Hesed House Psychotherapy service since June 2009 as a Family Therapist. Since becoming a supervisor in 2011.  Don has continued to supervise individuals and groups of both systemically trained and non-systemic professionals. 

At the start of 2011 Don began to collaborate with Padraic Gibson, Director of Hesed House in researching the efficacy of an Advanced Brief Strategic Therapy model. This research on OCD has been published in the British Medical Journal. Don and Padraic were invited by Imelda McCarthy and Gail Simon to contribute a chapter to their 2016 book ‘Systemic Therapy as Transformative Practice’.

Don is particularly inspired by the early pioneers in the systemic field and feels a particular affinity to the work of Paul Watzlawick. Through his research and practice Don endeavours to channel the same spirit of creativity and adventure which early systemic practice was immersed in. He also seeks to ground his systemic practice within a scientific method, namely looking for what works in helping clients to resolve their difficulties as quickly as possible.


Valentine’s Day Article – Don Boardman





GET REAL: This season, give yourself the gift of authenticity

Get real: This season, give yourself the gift of authenticity

Being true to yourself is good for your mental health. Here’s our guide to being authentic

Anne McCormack

Irish Times 13th December 2016


There has been a lot of talk lately, at a national, local and personal level, about the importance of putting mental health front and centre. Therefore, as the Christmas season approaches, during this time of gift-giving, we have an opportunity to focus on what we can gift to ourselves, in order to impact in a positive way on our mental health.

Living life authentically, getting in tune with our true sense of how we wish to be in this world, is one of the most positive things we can do to enhance our overall wellbeing.

Research carried out by Abigail Mengers in 2014 looked at how, as humans, we each have a desire to be authentic and when we are, even if it sets us up to be different from others, it still correlates with increased levels of joy and wellbeing.

We have many social duties to fulfil, many roles to play and tasks to complete. Often, living life authentically is something that can get drowned out in the daily grind but it is worth carving out time to look at how to live authentically. It is worth doing because our mental health is worth enhancing.

Realising your own needs, and not being held back by fear of what others might think or say, matters.

Here are five ways to move towards living life more authentically.

  1. Check in with yourself about how authentically you are living

To be authentic simply means to be real, to not be a copy, to be yourself. So if you spend time trying to do what you think others expect of you, if you’re often trying to be as good as someone else – as rich , as beautiful, as powerful – then you will likely feel anxiety. Society places all kinds of pressures on people and inadvertently tells us all the time that in so many ways we are not enough. It’s good to step away from that mantra and focus on being yourself and going with your own intuition more.

  1. Set the intention to be genuine

If you set the intention to be genuine, you are on a path to embracing imperfections. Perfection is a toxic notion and it can make people feel they need to “be more” or “do more” all the time. Being genuine does not mean you cannot strive for things and be ambitious. What it does mean, though, is that the only person you’re interested in comparing yourself to is you.

  1. Know yourself well

Being alive means being in flux, so as we grow, our values and our dreams can change. When life is hectic, these dreams and values often remain dormant because there is no time to spend acknowledging their presence.

Making time for self-reflection can change this – and plugging out from devices can help create space for this.

Shift from ingesting information from an outside source to tuning in to what is going on inside. New ideas have a chance to emerge and when they do, if you feel called to consider a big life decision, allow yourself permission to consider that. It’s easy to get caught up in a “doing, producing, getting more information” mentality but it’s not always mentally healthy. It is worth tuning in more to yourself.

  1. Tune into a story that aligns with how you wish to live

It can be hard not to be sucked into narratives and stories about what it means to be successful and powerful in the world today. Stories such as “success means wealth” and “power means power over others” are no more true than any other story, but because certain “stories” become dominant, we tend to absorb them as truth.

Give space to stories that align with your authentic self. Is success for you more aligned with a sense of living life the way you want to, having time to spend with the people you care about? Is your story of power about having power over your mind? Own your own truth.

  1. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable

Everyone needs to feel emotionally safe when it comes to relationships with other people, and spilling your heart out to everyone you meet might make a person feel somewhat exposed. But there is value in allowing yourself to be vulnerable and, according to David Brendel ( Harvard Business Review, July 2014), it can fuel growth and success. Expressing vulnerability bears witness to strength as the person expressing it is not allowing fear to hold them back.

We all feel vulnerable sometimes and to express it creates transparency. The ability to be transparent is part of what makes people authentic. Anyone can look deep within to uncover barriers that might be holding you back from being real as you go about your day. Give yourself a gift this Christmas: dismantle the barriers.

Anne McCormack is a family psychotherapist registered with ICP and FTAI.