What is it about smooth stones, weathered over centuries by the constant tumbling and jostling of the waves and currents, that we seem to find so attractive? As stormy and turbulent waters persistently knock randomly shaped rocks into one another, their sharp edges chip away and once jagged stones become smooth, even soft to the touch. Their vast array of colours become brilliantly displayed.  Many of us collect these beautiful stones… some collected for a later project or purpose.

Ever wonder why all the stresses and struggles in life exist? What is it that we are supposed to learn from the difficult times, frustrating moments with family, friends and colleagues? What is the reason people are hurtful toward one another, to themselves or, as is often the case, to both? Some questions seem to defy clear, unequivocal answers.

These are spiritual questions we may ponder in our quest for meaning and insight into our very existence here on earth. Other such questions, defying clear explanations from scientific inquiry, may include; “Why am I alive?”, “Who am I?”, and “What happens when I die?”.

Perhaps these questions and the struggles and storms we face in life are shaping us. As we are knocked around by the multitude, the people, elements and issues we face, maybe we too are being shaped, smoothed out and formed into something beautiful. Who knows for sure… one day we may also be collected for some great project or purpose?

Finding ways to view the knocks and struggles in life positively is an art. Cognitive shifting or restructuring can be taught, learned and practiced. Be patient. It takes time to develop this skill, a skill that can be developed more readily with constant reading/learning, collaboration and mentoring.

What are your birthday celebrations like? Do you feel special and appreciate the day you were born? How about others? Do they contact you, text, email, post on your wall or call? Are your birthdays marked by traditions such as being woken with the Happy Birthday song, maybe combined with the number of spanks and a “pinch to grow an inch”? Is the food served the same or does it depend on your selection each year? And cake… mmmmm… cake lit up with just the right number of candles or perhaps you have some other yummy dessert? Happiness and joy with friends and family to celebrate another great year of life.

Too many questions? Please just a few more. Are you worried about your age… too young or too old? Do you worry about who will call if anyone? Are you even able to afford a good meal? Is it just plain embarrassing to have another birthday in the condition you’re in? Yes this may be the reality for far too many; birthdays that are not times of celebration but moments of deep sorrow, reminders of the day-to-day struggles facing them; living in poverty, in abusive relationships and wrestling with challenges with mental, physical and spiritual health. Some grieving the recent loss of a loved one or the deterioration of their marriage will certainly find it difficult to “celebrate” their birthday.

It is important for us to be sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of others. We may be better off lamenting with a friend or grieving with a family member on their birthday or other special occasion. Although it may not be fun or comfortable for us, sharing in the pain of another can go along way to comfort them. Ancient texts tell of friends sitting with the grieving person silently for days to support them, pointing out there is a time for everything under the sun. Times to celebrate, party and feast and still other times for mourning, silence and sorrowful companionship.

Some birthdays invoke sadness and painful memories. This is not “wrong”, “crazy” or “weird”, but simply part of being fully human and having complete access to the full range of emotional experience.

Whatever experience you are having on your birthday…  on this “your special day” remember you are wonderfully made and the day you were given the gift of life is worth celebrating.

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People express emotions and concerns so many different ways. Some lean toward expressing themselves verbally and others more nonverbally. Most draw upon one style or the other to a greater or lesser extent. Some vent softly and quietly while others shout out and bellow. Still others may choose to use art and music to express thoughts and feelings.

The picture above is one sixteen year old’s self portrait of her pain and sorrow, sketched out onto a plain piece of paper during a meeting. Sadness, depression, pain, sorrow and grief are a few emotions that we might think are bad or negative, however, all emotions are valuable. How we express these feelings, and indeed all emotions, can be either positive or negative; helpful or hurtful.

We may witness how other people express themselves and, at times, compare or even judge.  Are they “over dramatizing”, “coping well”, “too emotional” or “holding in too much”?  How should somebody react to abuse? What is the proper way to show emotions after the death of a loved one, the loss of a precious pet or after hearing the news your spouse or romantic partner is leaving you?

Could it be we are simply so uncomfortable with the expression of certain emotions, like sadness, depression, pain, sorrow and grief, we are also unsure how to react when others express these feelings? Emotions are valuable tools that signal us when something is wrong, alert us to the safety levels in various situations. They remind us of the quality and qualities in our relationships, point to areas for personal improvement and even refine and accentuate our communication.

There is a time and place for every emotion. Discovering how to express ourselves more fully and effectively is an art. Validating the expressions of others and providing an empathetic response is also an art requiring study (e.g. mentoring, coaching, observation and reading) and practice.  With time and effort we can develop and improve the art of expressing ourselves fully.

I’m quite tired now and becoming more uncertain about this post. Guess I’d better get some rest.

Managing life as a teenager, student/employee, parent, and all other roles we may play in our lives, is extremely difficult when we have overwhelming feelings of worry, uncertainty, stress, and fear.

One person describes his anxiety like this:

“I am a person on a totally different planet. I am very unhappy and unaware of my current environment. I become a person who is not me.”

The central component of anxiety is heightened fear. Fear of your environment, fear of social settings, fear of being judged, and fear of your own thoughts. As a result of this fear, many people do not seek help for their anxiety. However, seeking help reduces your fear and will help to reduce your anxiety.

With therapy, we may assist you in creating effective strategies to cope with your anxiety symptoms. Counselling may also help you identify the underlying factors (thoughts, feelings, and behaviours) associated with your anxiety.

Contact us today – Beat your fears! Beat your anxiety!

Loss of a loved one, whether a grandparent, parent, child, sibling, friend or another close to you can be quite painful and heart-wrenching.  Initial shock and disbelief are often quickly replaced by feelings of sorrow, grief, confusion and even anger. These emotional responses are quite normal…uncomfortable, yet normal.

Can you imagine getting close to another person, sharing special times, stories, events and situations, some very intimate and challenging and others exciting, joyful and exhilarating… then suddenly they are gone and you felt normal, unaffected? That would be strange wouldn’t it?  

Significant loss is supposed to impact us, change us and even throw us off our normal routines. The greater the love, the greater the loss, the greater the impact. In ancient times, those who lost a loved one may display their grief by tearing their clothes, covering themselves in ashes and mourning for months and even years.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote two of the best books to help people grieving the loss of a loved one; On Death & Dying” and “On Grief & Grieving. These fine works help those grieving with the journey, finding new meaning, restoring faith and adjusting to a life without their special loved one.

Sometimes the struggle after loss can seem simply too much to handle, too hard to face on your own and maybe even too difficult for surviving family and friends to help you with.  This is not a flaw or weakness. It may simply be the loss is so great extra assistance and supports may be required.

If you should find the loss of a loved one is just too much, fueling overwhelming emotions (e.g. excessive crying and anger) and increasingly troubling behaviours, please reach out and to get the supports available. You may even Contact us today

We are really impressed to see more elderly parents seeking help for their adult children (whether in their 20s, 30s, or 40s). Parenting never ends. As long as you are around, you want to be able to still provide the best for your children, either by providing them with guidance or strategies to help them cope, or encouragement to seek help from their community for various struggles that they may be facing.

Parents are privileged to help their adult children with a car, home, financial goals, or even buying them a vacation. Parents especially want to be an outlet when their children are struggling in their relationships and having mental health problems.

It must be very difficult for a parent to figure out whether they are being intrusive, getting in their face too much, or crossing a boundary. So it is very tricky to know when and how to help.

Jeff Packer & Associates encourage parents to attend an assessment session, to first find out if the issue pertaining to their child requires intervention. We also assist parents in creating the best way to encourage their child to seek counselling support.

If you’re a concerned parent wondering how you can help your adult child improve their lives, counselling is the key.  Counselling services can definitely help solve a lot of interpersonal relationship issues (with friends, family, marriages, and parenting struggles).

Call today and find out more information about how you can help your adult children live a happy and healthy life.