Relationships, Happiness, Living the Life You Want

Amrita Tripathi interviews psychotherapist, radio host and the author of
HAPPY RELATIONSHIPS: At Home, Work and Play (Fingerprint Rs 250), Lucy Beresford. 

1) You host a Sex and Relationships show on radio… Can you tell us some of the common themes/ questions that come up?

The most common themes tend to be (from men) erectile dysfunction and (from women) how to cope after discovering an affair, but to be honest I get calls about every sexual or relationship subject under the sun. Nothing is taboo on the show, and because we can keep people anonymous callers know they can talk about their most intimate worries – often for the first time, which can be a really healing experience. I also get tons of calls from people in their twenties being messed around by Apps in the world of dating. People of all sexual orientations are finding it hard to commit when they sense the other person is keeping their options open to a degree that simply wasn’t possible 5-10 years ago.

1a) What are, say, 4/5 things you wish everyone knew?

My mission is to help everyone see that they can have the life they have always dreamed of so long as they believe in their heart it will happen.
It’s important to remember that:

  • Communication is crucial in relationships, so take time to speak fully and respectfully
  • Painful times will pass and your time for joy will come again
  • Trust is hard won and yet can be quickly lost; think twice before you act in a manner which will break trust
  • Size doesn’t matter! Sexually, it doesn’t matter so much what you look like, but what your personality is like

2) You’ve been to India, where there is still some hesitation in speaking about issues — like sex, certainly — but also when it comes to mental health. Conversations have started happening, and there’s an improvement, we hear, but there are also several challenges. How important is it to be comfortable to speak about mental health issues/ experiences?

In the past 10 years I’ve had three clinical sabbaticals in New Delhi working at the Delhi Psychiatry Centre. There have been huge developments in terms of people in India feeling more comfortable talking about their emotions – I think celebrities have helped, in talking about their mental health issues or relationship problems – but a related issue is that government funding has been reduced so it’s harder for people to get professional help.

3) We are trying to create a safe space for people to share their stories. Any comments on this? Or on the need for this… 

I think it’s absolutely vital to be able to speak out about mental health issues and experiences. Talking enables you to feel heard, get help or feel supported. Deepika Padukone has blazed a trail speaking about her experiences. And I’m shooting a documentary at the moment in India, about how important it is for people to focus less on what we all look like, the colour of our skin, thickness of hair etc, and to see that what unites us is greater than what divides us.

4) As a psychotherapist, what would be your advice to people —  again, slightly generically but a key take-away from your experience? That could be helpful?

Wearing my psychotherapy hat, I’d love people to respect themselves more. Reach for the life you want to have and also have the courage to walk away from people who hurt you.

Also Read: The Importance of Being Kind to Yourself

5) What is The Kindness Club? And what led you to set it up? What have some of the reactions been to it?

I set up The Kindness Club to encourage more random acts of kindness around the world. In my view, we are all made up of columns of kindness within, and there is always room for more acts of kindness throughout the world. One of the initiatives I set up was helping prisoners in a prison do kind things in their outside community, which was really well received. And another initiative which is ongoing, is where people send me women’s and children’s books that I then pass on to shelters looking after women and kids affected by domestic violence. People love sending me a copy of their favourite book, with perhaps a note attached about why the book means so much for them. It’s a simple and easy way for people to feel they are making a difference – which they are!

6) We have a post here on the importance of being kind to yourself as well. Would you have any comments on this?

I love Ratna’s post on being kind to yourself, it’s got some great advice, especially about not isolating yourself in case you spiral downwards. I think being kind to yourself and practising self-compassion is an absolutely vital life-skill to learn, as it will help you in so many situations. Rather than relying on other people or external forces to maintain that emotional stability It’s about taking responsibility for yourself, your wellbeing and ultimately your contentment in life.

Views expressed are Personal. Material on The Health Collective cannot substitute for professional mental health advice from a trained professional. 

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