IMAGO Relationship Coach and Clinical Counsellor / Merle Lifson-Dettori
61 Main Road
Shop 1, Woodpecker Mall, Main Street
49 Main Service Rd, Sedgefield
6 egret street
Karatara Rd, Knysna
Lake Avenue, Hoogekraal, Sedgefield
Nearby health & beauty businesses
14 Blue Gill Street, Sedgefield
61 Main Road
PORTION 41 OF FARM 203 EILANDSKRAAL
119 bitou street smutsville sedgefield, George
Nearby gyms & sports facilities
52 Uil Road
6 egret street
17 Milkwood Ridge, Pacific Close
Dr Malan St
A lot of kisses
IMAGO RELATIONSHIP THERAPY
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person, perfectly.”
In 2005 I completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Counselling graduating with Distinction. I then went about setting up my own Private Practice in Wynberg, Cape Town and then moved to Sedgefield where I have been happily practicing for fifteen years as a Registered Clinical Counsellor and IMAGO Relationship Coach. I married late in life, at the tender age of forty-six for the first (and only) time an
In order to empathize with someone's experience you must be willing to believe them as they see it and not how you imagine their experience to be.
- Brene Brown -
"If it’s hard to identify a key resource for a challenge, no worries. In one form or another, try love."
Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
"Thankfulness is simply about appreciating what is true, such as flowers and sunlight, paperclips and fresh water, the kindness of others, easy access to knowledge and wisdom, and light at the flick of a switch."
Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
"Compassion, sense of perspective, seeing the whole person, letting go, wiping the slate clean: can you give these things as generously to yourself as you give them to others?"
Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
"Compassion for yourself is fundamental, since if you don’t care how you feel and want to do something about it, it’s hard to make an effort to become happier and more resilient."
Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
Do you believe in love?
The Practice: Dr Rick Hanson Ph.D
Trust in Love.
Take a breath right now, and notice how abundant the air is, full of life-giving oxygen offered freely by trees and other green growing things. You can't see air, but it's always available for you.
Love is a lot like the air. It may be hard to see – but it's in you and all around you.
In the press of life – dealing with hassles in personal relationships and bombarded with news of war and other conflicts – it's easy to lose sight of love, and feel you can't place your faith in it. But in fact, to summarize a comment from Gandhi, daily life is saturated with moments of cooperation and generosity – between complete strangers! Let alone with one's friends and family.
Love is woven into your day because it's woven into your DNA: as our ancestors evolved over the last several million years, many scientists believe that love, broadly defined, has been the primary driving force behind the evolution of the brain. Bands of early humans that were particularly good at understanding and caring for each other out-competed less cooperative and loving bands, and thereby passed on the genes of empathy, bonding, friendship, altruism, romance, compassion, and kindness – the genes, in a word, of love.
Nonetheless, even though the resting state of your brain – its "home base" when you are not stressed, in pain, or feeling threatened – is grounded in love, it's all too easy to be driven from home by something as small as a critical comment in a business meeting or a frown across a dinner table. Then we go off to a kind of inner homelessness, exiled for a time from our natural abode, caught up in the fear or anger that makes love seem like a mostly-forgotten dream. After a while, this can become the new normal, so we call homelessness home – like becoming habituated to breathing shallowly and forgetting the richness of air that would be available if we would only breathe deeply.
So we need to come home to love. To recognize and have confidence in the love in your own heart – which will energize and protect you, even when you must also be assertive with others. To see and have faith in the love in others – even when it is veiled or it comes out in problematic ways. To trust in love that's as present as air, to trust in loving that's as natural as breathing.
Take a breath. Notice how available air is, how you can trust in it. Notice the feeling of being able to rely on the air.
Bring to mind someone who loves you. Feel the fact of this love – even if it is, to paraphrase John Welwood, a perfect love flowing through an imperfect person. Can you feel your breath and body relaxing, as you trust in this person's love for you? Can you feel your thoughts calming, your mood improving, and your heart opening to others? Let it sink in, that trusting in love feels good and refuels you. Then if you like, do this same reflection with other people who love you.
Bring to mind someone you love. Feel the reality of your love; know that you are loving. As in the paragraph just above, absorb the benefits of recognizing and trusting in your love. Try this with others whom you love.
Scan back over your life and notice some of the many times when there was love in your heart – expressed one way or another, including generosity, kindness, patience, teamwork, self-restraint, affection, and caring. Appreciate as well that there have been many times when you wanted to love, were looking for someone or something to love (friends and good causes, too, not just romantic partners), or longed for more love in your life. These are facts, and you can trust in them – trusting in the lovingness of your heart.
In situations, open to your own lovingness. Privately ask yourself questions like: As a loving person, what is important to me here? Trusting in love, what seems right to do? Remember that you can be strong – and if need be, create consequences for others – while staying centered in love or one of its many expressions (e.g., empathy, fair play, goodwill). What happens when you assert yourself from a loving place?
Tune into the lovingness in others, no matter how obscured by their own homelessness, their own fear or anger – like seeing a distant campfire through the trees. Sense the longing in people to be at peace in their relationships, and to give and get love. What happens in a challenging relationship when you stay in touch with this lovingness inside the other person? Notice that you can both feel the lovingness in others and be tough as nails about your own rights and needs.
Don't sentimentalize love or be naïve about it. Trusting in love does not mean assuming that someone will love you. It means confidence in the fundamentally loving nature of every person, and in the wholesome power of your own lovingness to protect you and touch the heart of others. It means coming home – home by the hearth of love.
Calling On Friends
When we include our friends in the full story of our life, we build authentic relationships in which we can be who we truly are.
When we are going through a difficult time, we may hesitate to call even our best friends because we don't want to burden them with our troubles. This can be especially true if we've been going through a series of challenges, and we're starting to feel as if we sound like a broken record. It is important to remember that at times like these our friends sincerely want to be there for us whenever they can. We can always check with them to make sure it's a good time for them before we start talking, and if it's not a good time, we can call back at another time, or call another friend.
We know for ourselves that when we have a good friend, we don't want them to suffer alone when we are just a phone call away. We want them to call us and share their sorrows with us, as well as their joys, because this is what sharing a life through friendship is about. It is at our lowest points that we really need to rely on our friends without worrying that we are a burden. If you are feeling self-conscious about having a tough time, you can bring this fact into the conversation by acknowledging it. Chances are your friend will reassure you that she is happy to be there for you. In fact, rather than feeling taxed, most of us feel better when we have helped a friend simply by listening empathically while they share their feelings.
Without our friends, we would be hard pressed to get through the tough times and celebrate the good ones. If we leave our friends out of our process when the going gets tough, our friendships can begin to feel shallow. On the other hand, when we include our friends in the full story of our life -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- we build authentic relationships in which we can be who we truly are. When we do this, we invite our friends to bring their whole selves to the relationship as well.
- Daily Om -
"As you grow inner strengths and become more resilient, you will feel less anxiety, loneliness, hurt, and resentment. And when the waves of life come at you, you’ll meet them with more peace, contentment, and love in the core of your being."
Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
Our soul and our psyche know how to do grief. We don’t need to learn it. It’s not a technique. What we need to learn is not to avoid it.
- David Kessler -
"In meditation, make room for emotionally positive experiences, such as feeling peaceful, loving, or happy. This will help to weave them into your nervous system while also steadying your mind."
Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
"Relationships require trust, and trust comes from reliability. You have a legitimate need to find out what you can count on from others."
Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
"Has your relationship lost the spark? I don’t know anything that has the potential of reigniting a smoldering relationship faster than learning the love language of your partner and speaking it on a regular basis. If you learn to speak the love language of the other person, and start doing it consistently, you touch their heart and cause them to think, “What’s going on here? You’re responding differently to me.” Then they begin to respond differently to you. This is how the spark is kindled."
- Dr Gary Chapman -
“To be uncertain is uncomfortable. But to be certain is ridiculous” - Unknown. Attributed to many
"Patients, like everyone else, profit most from a truth they themselves discover" - existential psychiatrist Irvin Yalom
I am not an illness.
My symptoms are not who I am.
No single failure is my entire biography.
Mistakes are moments, not nameplates.
Pain is an experience, not an identity.
That which suffers is not me.
Thoughts are just thoughts.
Fears are just fears.
Pain is transient.
The past is over.
Buddhists say that attachment is the source of all suffering in this world. This is especially true of attachment to suffering. Whatever you identify with you attract more of. Thus, when you identify with suffering you attract more suffering – not because you like it but because it feels familiar. Even worse, the fear of wellness sets in. In other words, you are so attached to suffering that there is no room at the inn for something beautiful, something new, something magnificent.
Shift happens when you let go of attachment to suffering. I have learned that problems are not fixed; they are simply outgrown. You leave them behind. Thus, to experience healing and wholeness you have to be willing to give up your attachment to the self ….
That has made mistakes
That has experienced failure
That has suffered illness
That messed up
That has been abused
That was betrayed
That was once unpopular
That has been victimized
That grew up poor
That was rejected
That was wrongly accused
That did not get the love
Take time today to honour all your experiences. Smile, and let each one go. Your experiences are simply exercises. They are not you. Above all, you are not your illness, you are not made of pain, and you are not your mistakes. You are far too beautiful for that.
A Morning Offering
I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
Steve Aitchison: “Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if it’s first brought out into the open.”
If you have a favorite sports team, it’s natural to want them to win. The opposition is considered the enemy, and when your team plays hard and secures a victory, it’s likely you celebrate. Winners and losers can be fun when it comes to sports, but not so much when it comes to relationships.
When we “win” relational conflicts, it isn’t much cause for celebration. Why? Because in the process, we’ve inadvertently created a loser. And if one person is a loser, we both lose—intimacy, togetherness, empathy, and more.
Healthy relationships focus on finding a solution, not on declaring a winner. Resolving conflict calls for respecting each other’s ideas and then seeking a solution that will affirm the honor, respect, and—depending on the relationship—love for the other person. The best solutions are ones where both parties involved feel positive about the outcome. In other words, a healthy relationship is the win!
Dr Gary Chapman. The 5 Love Languages.
Being Gentle with Ourselves
So often we are sabotaging ourselves by being in our own way without even knowing we are doing so.
During those times when our lives are filled with what seems to be constant change and growth, it is important to remember that we need to be gentle with ourselves. Since it can be easy to use our energy to keep up with the momentum of our lives, we may not be aware of the fact that we are much more likely to run ourselves down. When things seem to be moving quickly, it is especially essential that we make a point to slow down and be gentle with ourselves.
It might be difficult to notice what is happening to us for we may be so caught up in the whirlwind of our lives that we lose sight of the direction in which things are heading. Being gentle with ourselves doesn't mean that we don't accomplish things. Instead it means that we honor ourselves on an ongoing basis and take care of the needs of our bodies.
This means different things to different people. For instance, it could mean having a session with a healer; taking a remedy, herbs, or vitamins; or getting extra sleep. Putting our energy into ourselves in this way helps create space for a more positive, loving, and accepting view of our lives. By setting the intention to do so, we will be more cognizant of our energy levels on a daily basis and more able to replenish them as needed.
The more we are able to treat our bodies with gentleness, the more tenderness and compassion we will call forth into our lives. Learning to understand and pay attention to what our self needs will in turn allow us to fill our lives with unlimited loving and healing energy and to truly take care of the things that mean the most to us.
IMAGO Therapy is not about the content. The therapy is about the quality of the interaction between partners as they talk about it.
ASK RICK HANSON Ph.D :
I recently lost my partner, and every time I come across one of your references to 'loving relationships,' a deep sense of loss stops me in my tracks. How can I move forward, and keep getting value from your work?
With respect, my suggestions would be to:
• Keep doing your already fruitful practices of taking in the good in general.
• Knowing that you have had a challenge (putting it mildly) to your needs for "connection" (as given in my model in Hardwiring Happiness), look in general for opportunities to internalize experiences of feeling included, seen, appreciated, liked, and loved, without specific reference to your partner.
• Skip over passages in books, or sections of the Foundations of Well-Being program (or similar things) that just re-trigger your sense of loss and add little or no value to you.
Take it easy on yourself for months and even years to come in this regard.
Then when the wound of the loss is not so raw and tender, and it is alright for you, you could take in the good of experiences of feeling loved that are more like those you experienced with the person you lost (obviously not replacing them in any way; experiences such as the felt memory of their caring for you, or a loving non-romantic closeness with a partner, or even perhaps when the time comes the feeling that a person you respect is attracted to you).
You could also use the Link step of HEAL to hold in awareness at the same time both feelings of being loved today and your sense of grief.
TODAYS REFLECTION IN AN INNOVATIVE STYLE
POOH WOKE UP THAT MORNING AND FOR REASONS THAT HE DIDN’T ENTIRELY UNDERSTAND, COULD’NT STOP THE TEARS COMING. HE SAT THERE IN BED, HIS LITTLE BODY SHAKING, AND HE CRIED, AND CRIED, AND CRIED.
AMIDST HIS SOBS, THE PHONE RANG.
IT WAS PIGLET
“OH PIGLET”, SAID POOH, BETWEEN SOBS, IN RESPONSE TO HIS FRIEND’S GENTLE ENQUIRY AS TO HOW HE WAS DOING. “I JUST FEEL SO SAD. SO, SO, SAD, ALMOST LIKE I MIGHT NOT EVER BE HAPPY AGAIN AND I KNOW I SHOULD’NT BE FEELING LIKE THIS. I KNOW THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE IT WORSE OFF THAN ME, AND SO I REALLY HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE CRYING, WITH MY LOVELY HOUSE, AND MY LOVELY GARDEN, AND THE LOVELY WOODS AND BEACHES ALL AROUND ME. BUT OH, PIGLET, I AM JUST SO SAD.
PIGLET WAS SILENT FOR A WHILE, AS POOH’S RAGGED SOBBING FILLED THE SPACE BETWEEN THEM. THEN AS THE SOBS TURNED TO GASPS HE SAID KINDLY. “YOU KNOW, IT ISN’T A COMPETITION.
“WHAT ISN’T A COMPETITION?” ASKED A CONFUSED SOUNDING POOH.
“SADNESS, FEAR, GRIEF,” SAID PIGLET. “IT’S A MISTAKE WE OFTEN MAKE, ALL OF US. TO THINK THAT BECAUSE THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE WORSE OFF THAN US, THAT THAT SOMEHOW INVALIDATES HOW WE ARE FEELING. BUT THAT SIMPLY ISN’T TRUE. YOU HAVE AS MUCH RIGHT TO FEEL UNHAPPY AS THE NEXT PERSON, AND, POOH, - AND THIS IS THE RELLY IMPORTANT BIT, YOU ALSO HAVE JUST AS MUCH RIGHT TO GET THE HELP YOU NEED”.
“HELP? WHAT HELP?” ASKED POOH . I DON’T NEED HELP, PIGLET.
POOH AND PIGLET TALKED FOR A LONG TIME, AND PIGLET SUGGESTED TO POOH SOME PEOPLE HE MIGHT BE ABLE TO CALL TO TALK TO, BECAUSE WHEN YOU ARE FEELING SAD, ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANY THINGS IS NOT TO LET ALL OF THE SAD BECOME TRAPPED INSIDE YOU, BUT INSTEAD TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP YOU, WHO CAN TALK THROUGH WITH YOU HOW THE SAD IS MAKING YOU FEELING, AND SOME OF THE THINGS THAT MIGHT BE ABLE TO BE DONE TO SUPPORT YOU WITH THAT.
WHAT’S MORE, PIGLET REMINDED POOH THAT THIS SUPPORT IS THERE FOR ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE, THAT THERE ISN’T A MINIMUM LEVEL OF SAD THAT YOU HAVE TO BE FEELING BEFORE YOU QUALIFY TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE.
FINALLY, PIGLET ASKED POOH TO OPEN HIS WINDOW AND LOOK UP AT THE SKY, AND POOH DID SO.
“YOU SEE THAT SKY?” PIGLET ASKED HIS FRIEND. “DO YOU SEE THE BLUES AND THE GOLDS AND THAT BIG FLUFFY CLOUD THAT LOOKED LIKE A SHEEP EATING A CARROT.
“YOU AND I “, CONTINUED PIGLET, “WE ARE BOTH UNDER THE SAME SKY. AND SO, WHENEVER THE SAD COMES, I WANT YOU TO LOOK UP AT THAT SKY, AND KNOW THAT, HOWEVER FAR APART WE MIGHT BE PHYSICALLY… WE ARE ALSO, AT THE SAME TIME, TOGETHER. PERHAPS MORE TOGETHER THAN WE HAVE EVER BEEN BEFORE.
“DO YO THINK THIS WILL EVER END”? ASKED POOH IN A SMALL VOICE.
“THIS TOO SHALL PASS”, CONFIRMED PIGLET. “AND I PROMISE YOU, ONE DAY YOU AND I SHALL ONCE AGAIN SIT TOGETHER, CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH, SHARING A LITTLE SMACKEREL OF SOMETHING… UNDER THAT BLUE GOLD SKY.
IN THESE TROUBLED AND CHALLENGING TIMES , I HOPE YOU HAVE A PIGLET TO CALL AND SHARE A SOB WITH.
"During the many years that our human and hominid ancestors lived in small bands, being abandoned was a primal threat – so today, feeling cared about can increase your sense of safety."
Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
"Most of what we call 'compassion' is abstract and doesn't include tenderness in the heart. 'Radical compassion' is embodied – we're fully here to be touched by the suffering of others. Plus it includes an activity of engaged caring."
- Tara Brach, Ph.D.
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49 Main Service Rd, Sedgefield
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