Q: My friend keeps letting their cheating ex back, how can I help them?
A: I can understand why you're worried and want to help. It's not okay, and maybe even abusive, but leaving relationships that are abusive is hard - even when we know the behaviour is "wrong".
The problem is, telling the person to leave doesn't work.
Because despite the cheating they're still attached. And attachments take time to break down, even when they're toxic.
Love isn't an objective thing - love is individual, shaped by our experiences, and our expectations. There are many reasons why your friend may be in love with someone that isn't trustworthy and behaves like this, and while it's clear the cheating is "the problem", ultimately your friend needs to build themselves up to leave.
So support them, walk alongside them. Be patient, loving and kind. Help them to see and feel they deserve better and accept it may take time. They may need you to be there every step of the way - that's what love is.
Q: I lost my mother recently, and I'm struggling - should I just put the grief out of my mind?
A: Grief is hard - no one wants to feel it. But to heal, grieve and move forward we need to feel it - but not all the time, that would be unbearable.
My number one piece of advice for anyone experiencing grief is to make space for whatever feelings come up. Sadness, anger, fear, guilt, relief - there is no wrong way to feel. But making space for it doesn't mean we can't also distract from it at times too.
Over time, we need to distract because life goes on. And getting that balance right, between experiencing the feelings and distracting, is always a challenge - but if we keep listening in an open and compassionate way to our feelings they will tell us if they need space.
And, of course, if possible, don't do it on your own - grief can be isolating but make sure you're getting support, from friends, family or a counsellor if you need to.
Q: I procrastinate all the time with simple work tasks, any tips?
A: We all procrastinate at times, putting things off because we're tired, overwhelmed or the task itself is unappealing. But it can help to define procrastination.
It's avoidance, and over time we can train ourselves into it, even with seemingly simple or straightforward tasks. Usually, it means we've overthought the task, built up the feelings of anxiety, dread and resistance in our mind and then when we decide to put it off, we experience a moment of relief - this is the "reward" that trains us into continuing to put things off.
So two things to do instead. First, focus on not spending too much time, or even any, overthinking it beforehand - keep bringing your mind back to the present. And second, start with the hardest task first, then the rest of the day will be a downhill run and the reward becomes the sense of satisfaction of tasks completed.
Q: Even though my life hasn't changed much as a result of Covid, I still feel exhausted and even after taking time off over summer am going back to work tired, is this normal?
A: Not only is it normal, but psychologists worldwide are recognising that "emotional exhaustion" is a growing response to the unrelenting stress and change caused by the pandemic.
And while in New Zealand we've been insulated from much of it, we are still required to pay attention to things we never have before. Quite apart from the impact of paying attention to what's going on overseas.
If you remember level 4 - it was common to find normal tasks exhausting - living through the uncertainty of a pandemic is terrifying and overwhelming.
That was the acute version. "Emotional exhaustion" is the chronic version. The dragging, inescapable ongoing impact of having to change the way we live.
Much has been written about how to cope by many, including myself. In short: keep it simple and don't give yourself a hard time for feeling this way. It will pass, and we will get through this - together.