Learning To Express Anger Well

Growing up, I used to think some feelings are bad and some are good. We are supposed to have a whole wide range of emotions. While it may be common to believe some are better than others, all emotions are essential to our human experience. How we express emotions is key. Depending on our manner, our expression of feelings can either be good or bad, hurtful or helpful.

“Emotions serve an important role in human learning and development, guiding us toward and away from actions and situations. Our emotional system might be thought of like the GPS is to driving. I like to call our emotional system our EGS: Emotional Guidance System.

Research suggests most of us tend to describe our emotional experience using around five to seven feeling words… like: happy, sad, angry, love, excited and maybe even “blah”. We really have quite a vast array of emotions. Improving our understanding of these builds emotional intelligence, awareness and “expression ability”, qualities that improve our way of relating to others.

Many counselling and community resources tend to focus programs on anger management, due in part to the destructive and hurtful actions that can accompany this emotion. The poorest and most unbridled expressions of anger have resulted in abusive, aggressive and even violent behaviours, literally contributing to millions of “broken” relationships.  Learning how to express our emotions well is a skill that most of us develop over time, usually from experiencing a multitude of negative consequences from poorer expression.

As we mature, it becomes clear that our choice of thought drives feelings and actions. When we put little effort and time into self-reflection and introspection, we can easily be unaware, or under aware, of the actual thoughts fueling our anger and hostility. An examined life and mindfulness helps us choose healthier, more positive viewpoints, however it is rather easy to just unconsciously and unthoughtfully follow negative thoughts or “stinkin thinkin”.

Some examples might include;

“How could he/she do this to us?”,  “I can’t ever forgive that!”, “We will not put up with that.”, “This is absolute @!%!**$ !  , “He never…”, She always …” , or “I can’t believe he/she could betray me like that after all we’ve been through.” 

Holding onto these negative thoughts and repeating them in our heads over and over again, we can actually feel our heartbeat racing, our blood pressure rising and knots in our stomach. We may even start to sweat and feel like we are about to “freak out” or “lose it”! This can be the source of extreme “potty mouth”… quite embarrassing to say the least. When we feel these sensations, and experience poor behaviour, our body has likely moved into “fight or flight” mode. Solution #1 is…

                                        … breathe, breathe and breathe again

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Management of our emotions begins with management of our bodies, our faces and the tone in our voice. Oxygen is essential. Once calm, we can move into a process of learning to better understand ourselves and others, finding ways to better cope with troubling situations and feelings.

Our core beliefs also have an immense impact upon the outcome: values that involve concepts like forgiveness, love, equality, acceptance and empathy. When faced with stressful, difficult and frustrating situations, when the actions of others seem to be overwhelming and uncaring, when the pain and hurt caused feels unbearable, we must strive to express value in those hurting us, displaying a loving, compassionate and forgiving spirit and moving closer to them rather than farther apart.

Getting training, support and coaching as well as practicing the new skills learned can really help you more readily access a calm and assertive approach when under fire. Such an approach is indeed a developing skill, an art if you will. Are you ready to get the support and coaching to better manage your emotions and move forward in relationships/life?  Call us today!

Perhaps This Is Normal

In life we are faced with many challenges and obstacles to overcome. At these difficult times and during trying situations, it is imperative to have people to assist us, to provide support and guidance and to encourage our efforts to improve. In our families, at least ideally, we hope that we can come together and support each other through the tough times. This is not always the case, however, as our family members may also be struggling and, thus, are less able or unable to help. Of course, the stress we carry can be brought into the family and our loved ones can certainly add stress to our lives.

Family members may become more negative;

  • “We can’t cope as a family.”
  • “No one respects anyone else.”
  • “If I don’t raise my voice no one will listen.”
  • “We are a failure.”
  • “My parents could not possibly understand what I’m going through.”
  • “I have no power as a parent.”

Stress is a normal part of living and of any family experience. Life is hard on this planet and families constantly face a multitude of difficulties or stressors. How we handle stressful moments is the key to healthier and happier outcomes and relationships. When a family is in crisis, it is very difficult to get to a positive resolution without getting professional help.

Reading materials, joining community or on-line training courses and using counselling can provide the guidance and support families require. Registered, professional family therapists (“coaches”) can help identify areas for change together with the family and incorporate a wide variety of strategies to help families achieve their goals.

“Family counselling can be done in a lighthearted way, with an accepting and encouraging style that helps all family members feel accepted and valued.”

Additionally, drawing upon family members’ current strengths and resources, the counsellor can fairly quickly help the family improve teamwork, re-negotiate roles, expectations and boundaries, making it easier to resolve issues and function well.  Knowledge bases used include cognitive-behavioural, developmental, attachment, family structure, narrative, and family systems theory. Bringing these tools into the family arena allows for better clarity, communication and compassion through a more understanding and accepting view.

New strategies are introduced, in these “coaching” sessions, to overcome some of the negativity or “Stinkin Thinkin” that has developed and recover from past hurt. Through the therapeutic process, families can grow closer and develop more satisfying relations with each other. They redefine goals, assess and clarify shared values and beliefs and develop new ways to love, support and care for each other.

For more information on family “coaching”, call us today!

 

A friend of mine explains his life like this:

“My relationship is up and down, I have serious demons that have gone untreated for years, I am expecting a child, and all of it makes me unhappy. I don’t do anything with my days; watch television aimlessly, sleep, or feed my addiction with the temptations that surround me. And my eating? Well it’s not a nutritional plan that’s for sure. I am lucky to fit in two proper meals a day; otherwise it’s cereal, crackers and cheese, or canned tuna. I try to think about my life…I just go through the seconds, minutes, and hours of each day. If a subtle reminder of my previous life becomes present, I get really upset.”

It is easy for outsiders to simplistically say, “Well if you’re not happy, then make a change!” It may come easy for some of us to read this and assume this person is lazy and child-like. Some of this person’s family members or friends might become more argumentative because they have tried for years to provide support, advice, and resources for my friend to seek help. When it seems like your family and loved ones are giving up on you, it can make it even more difficult to make changes.

Nonetheless changes need to be made. This person is not alone. Many of us have had times when we are unhappy with some, many or all aspects of our lives. Changing things, situations, or the people in our lives, factors that fuel our unhappy thoughts, is difficult to do. So difficult sometimes that giving up or not trying at all seems like the better options.

What about just changing ourselves? Changing our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours can be the best approach to create happiness in our lives. What if we didn’t have to worry about other people, other situations, or our environment and just focused on ourselves; our attitudes and our actions? The possibilities of what this looks like and also what opportunities can arise for us can and WILL be life changing. As we change ourselves, our thoughts, how we handle situations, deciding positive shifts we want for our lives, the people, situations, and events in our lives will also shift.

To speed up the positve and developmental work on YOURSELF, call us today.

 

Possible and Impossible are Both Possible?

The outcome depends on our thinking. When lies and betrayal have consumed a relationship, it is common and normal for couples to want to end their relationship. Sometimes the decision to separate is not because there is a lack of love. Most times, it is because the automatic negative thought (ANT) is “It’s over”. Second, it might be that couples have little to no idea how to resolve the difficulties and challenges involved. Of course, few of us are really taught, by parents or school, how to resolve such circumstances or even how to have a great romance.

Once an affair has happened, the deep feelings associated with adultery can feel much like open wounds. The couple is in a crisis state and will often act or react based on how they feel in the moment. Communication can fluctuate between over and under talking about pain, sorrow and grief which make resolutions and healing even more difficult. This is not a great time to make big decisions nor will most of us make good decisions in this type of crisis. Many professional counsellors are trained to assist couples or individuals with the journey ahead, regardless of whether that is to dissolve or resolve the relationship.

So how does a couple get back on track if they decide this is what they want? Is it actually possible for a couple that experience lying, hurt, and betrayal to overcome such hardships and continue a healthy, loving life together? It may seem to be impossible, however it is possible to overcome these challenges, rebuild the relationship and even create a better, healthier relationship than you and your partner had previously. Judith Spring’s book “After the Affair” can also assist and guide couples in their healing and recovery process.

Being in a romantic relationship. of course, is not all roses and butterflies. A true romance is quite likely one of the most magnificent relationships we can have yet, it is also potentially one of the most volatile or painful too when infidelity occurs. Couples face many different obstacles (work-related stress, family conflict, extended family pressures, financial strain, and parenting concerns to name a few). As we move through life’s challenges together, we learn that our core values and morals are quite important in working together and supporting one another through struggles.

Clarifying foundational beliefs are essential for couples who want to successfully recover from adultery. A recovering couple must work together, re-assessing values, facing reality and disclosing and discussing difficult truths, feelings, and experiences that may never have been shared before. Overcoming adultery in a relationship may be one of the hardest obstacles to work through, however, it is possible. Once effectively reconciled, these courageous couples can actually have one of the strongest and most resilient romances on earth.

Before making rash and simplistic decisions based on hurt feelings, call us today to consider your options and find solutions together.

Medication: One Possible Tool For Your Arsenal?

Many may be hesitant to take medication for depression; it is sometimes incorrectly perceived as a personal weakness. When we sprain an ankle or dislocate an arm, we require crutches or braces for support so that our bodies can heal. One may consider a similar attitude about the use of antidepressant medication.

It is very important to research the various types of medications that can be prescribed for depression, discuss these with your doctor and pharmacist and ask about side effects from various medications. Some side effects may include, yet are not limited to the following: nausea, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, anxiety, decreased sex drive, weight gain, constipation, and headaches. Ultimately, it is your choice whether to use medications and for how long, however, it is important to work closely with your doctor to most effectively and safely use antidepressants.

A holistic approach to depression has shown to be the most effective treatment plan. Antipsychotic medications do not cure depression; they may reduce or eliminate symptoms which can help people address problematic areas of life. Pairing a medication plan with nutrition, exercise and counselling can help individuals suffering better cope with depression or possibly overcome depressive symptoms entiretly.

Counselling addresses factors medication cannot; helping people improve current relationships, heal past wounds, set healthy boundaries, reduce feeling overwhelmed by stress, and learn to cope with life’s challenges in a healthier and more effective manner.

As medication may improve the biochemistry factors associated with depression, counselling helps people resolve the psychosocial influences that heighten depressive symptoms. Essential life changes such as exercise, proper nutrition and healthy sleeping habits have shown to improve a person’s emotional state. Making significant lifestyle changes may be almost impossible without assistance, behavioural coaching and cognitive training. Cognitive-behavioural therapy, a well researched and evidence-based counselling approach, has been shown to be quite effective with helping those suffering from depression.

For effective assistance Book an appointment with us today!

They know the latest Apple application to download. Their profiles on Instagram and Facebook are always up to date. They score really high on games like COD (Call of Duty), Mindcraft and FIFA. Schools even have online computer applications for students who have “misplaced their agendas.” So why is my pre-teen and teenager still waiting the last minute to complete projects? Why do I have to repeatedly ask them to complete chores when I get home from work? When are they just going to “get it!”

Some may even believe that technology impedes the development of children. Studies show adults and children are spending an average of seven to nine hours per day screen time (includes phone, gaming devices, TV and computers). For us “old school” parents, who were not privileged with smart phones, laptops and social media, we may find it challenging to discipline effectively.

Many parents rely too heavily on taking their technology stuff away as a consequence. Taking things away and removal of privileges, especially after about age 10, is actually a fairly ineffective and frustrating method of discipline. Disciplining effectively is less about the “toys” available to our children, taking stuff away or grounding and more about teaching and time.

For those of us who knew how to obey, to respect and to do our chores (without being asked too much) regularly, we quite likely had positive guidance, good role models and a valued relationship with those caring for us. That’s how we learned responsibility. There are parenting manuals out there for parents… “I’m too busy”… “I shouldn’t have to read”… “They should just listen”… “Parenting comes naturally”………… ALL Stinkin Thinkin!

We want our kids to read and learn then… it is equally important to find ways to learn creative, effective, efficient and loving disciplinary strategies. Many families are opting to remove tech from the dinner table, preferring to enjoy meal time with talking and sharing the important events in their day.

Parent-focused counseling can help parents vent their concerning experiences, identify strengths both they and their child(ren) have as well as increase positive parenting strategies. One such example is to learn the skills of negotiating, developing, adjusting and maintaining healthy expectations or boundaries for all family members.  To learn more, call us today!

or… Post-Traumatic Stress “Reaction” (PTSR)

“The anger, the rage, the hurt, and the cold loneliness that separates you from your family, friends, and society’s normal daily routine are so powerful that the option of destroying yourself is both real and attractive….It appears, it grows, it invades and it overpowers you….You cannot put these things behind you…And the more people advise you to do so, the more you get mad because you know these things will not disappear. Time does not help,” (from Lt-Gen. Dallaire; Davison, Neale, Blankstein & Flett, 2002, p. 197).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is commonly known to be experienced by those who have fought in wars and experienced combat stress; however, it may also occur to individuals exposed to prolonged abuse, trauma, and victimization at home, school, work and in other social situations. Personal tragedy, natural disasters, or overwhelming life experiences also contribute to suffering and potentially being diagnosed with PTSD. The term “reaction” has been used increasingly over more recent years with symptoms following after trauma.

When we are exposed to difficult situations, it can sometimes feel unbearable to cope with. Excessive memory loss, increased doubt and insecurity, thoughts that bad things are inevitable, trouble sleeping and eating are just a few symptoms of excessive stress. At times, our family and friends may develop unrealistic expectations that we are “strong enough” to overcome life’s challenges. This may inhibit sufferers of PTSD from seeking help and being able to move forward. Living with untreated or under-treated PTSD, people may subsequently, over time, “experience problems with anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, substance abuse (as a means of self-medicating), marital problems, poor physical health, and occupational impairment” (Blankstein, et al.).

Feeling stuck in this dark place, as Lt-Gen. Dallaire describes above, can make us feel like there is no way out. We may be reliving traumatic experiences on a daily basis and not realize that there are ways to overcome the situation differently—ways to cope, ways to feel loved and supported (not shameful or guilty).

One-to-one therapy can help address the specific needs of an individual with PTSD. Group therapy may create a space of support for those also suffering with PTSD; being in the “same boat” with others who are able to relate to similar symptoms and experiences. Together, both individual counselling and support groups can help individuals overcome the symptoms and impact of severe trauma and regain a positive perspective on life. Call us today for an appointment and additional resources to assist you.