Keep Relationships by Managing Emotions

Here is a brief book review on a book by an excellent author, Gary Chapman, who also wrote The Five Love Languages for couple to improve communication, understanding and their expression of another very powerful emotion.

Thank you to one lady for her reference and review:

Very good read, nicely laid out.   Especially liked how he distinguished between “distorted anger” (the angry person may have been frustrated or disappointed, but the other person may not have actually done anything wrong) and “definitive anger” (there may actually gave been a wrong committed, eg, stealing). Each chapter ends with “quick takes” and I would highly recommend it. It’s a book you can go back to for refreshers when needed.”


There are many approaches and strategies to better handle intense emotions as well as the situations that can trigger these.

Deep breathing properly and frequently is one of the amazingly simple ways yet is quite often not done or not done well. With what we like to call Box Breathing”, you will visualize a box and breathe in slowly for five seconds (up the right side), hold your breath for seven seconds (over the top of the box), exhale very slowly out your mouth (down the left side of the box) and then pause three seconds along the bottom of the imaginary box.  You can actually adjust your physiological systems, balancing your body’s energy and regain clarity of thought, relaxed muscles (especially the shoulders) and improve eating and sleeping quite significantly just by using deep breathing. Yes, it actually works, when done well, for *almost all bodies on the planet.

*challenging to do for those who suffer from a respiratory ailment/ condition

There are many other strategies to go along with this once we have learned to calm our own body well.

For counselling assistance to better manage emotional expression  Contact us today!

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Online Consideration: A Developing Art

With the advance of online chat, social media presence and virtual relationships, there seems to be an increase in discussion about the pros and cons our virtual interaction has on health and upon our social lives in general.

Are we giving up too much, lagging in social skill development, to gain the appearance of anonymity, a level of apparent safety as we hide behind firewalls and masked IP addresses? What cost to social health and wellness exists from online interactions and virtual relations which are all too often void of facial expression, tones and clarity of emotional context… no… emoticons don’t quite cut it 🙂 ? 

Are we exposing too much, “wink wink”, while revealing too little. What impact on our integrity and honesty does this relatively newer technology actually have? Imagine developing a relationship with someone with the following qualities. How well do you think it would go? You be the judge…

Potential Online Presentation of Self  (vs. Face-to-Face) 

Less inhibited – less restricted, freer to speak up?

Talk more, more open and opinionated online?

Revealing parts of self perhaps more impulsively?

Less protective or more protected?

Speech & tone absent or limited?

Harmful… risk factor?

Confused privacy boundaries?

Less or more accountability?

Can possibly be creeped, harassed, bothered more easily?

Cut out or cut off quickly, even immediately?

Hectic, rushed and more or less emotionally charged?

Missing much expression via face and tone?

Of course, many of us have heard stories of relationships developing online and those who have met one another, at least initially, with success. Steps can be taken to safeguard online activity beginning with limiting children to an hour or so per day. Additional time can be rewarded for additional involvement in other socially rewarding activities. These may include playing with friends, completion of homework, household chores or various hobbies such as sports, music, art etc..

Additional screen time may also be given in return for extracurricular reading and writing, math or whatever skill you feel your child requires extra effort in.  The formula may be one to two, so for fifteen more minutes of piano or English homework your child gets thirty more minutes online time whether gaming or accessing social media. This approach is best viewed as a “win-win”.

Getting children and adults involved in activities “offline” seems to require effort and I feel somewhat hypocritical as I sit here writing this blog post… lol 🙂 . Suffice it to say that attention to healthy child and family development requires a regular review of our online involvement, presentation and the development of integrity even in, perhaps especially in our “virtual world”.

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Probably one of the most important interpersonal skills we have is listening. But, wait a minute, don’t most of us have ears so aren’t we listening all the time? Apparently not, according to the post below submitted by a frustrated and tired woman, wife and mother.

I am a middle-aged married woman whose adult son lives with us. Do you find that when you come home, everyone is waiting for you at the door (including the cats) wanting your attention or something from you right away and you don’t even get through the door? Why is it that I get so irritated by the habits of others around me? When I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed, these habits can drive me crazy!!! No matter how often I say to my husband or son, “Please pick up after yourselves” or “Don’t tell me how to drive”, these annoying habits always occur and make us have arguments. In our day to day lives, we are so busy just trying to keep a clean house and worrying about what to have for supper again. Most of us work out of the home at one, sometimes two jobs. Life can get overwhelming and when you are dealing with difficult people, it can sometimes be stressful to the point of wanting to run away. This is how I feel sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family but I have a tendency to want to run away to recharge. I need some “Me” time.

Above is an excellent example of a few common problems or challenges in families.

First, her complaint is loud and clear yet those living in the home don’t appear to hear or a least respond to it. This may be due to poor communication practice in the home. Turning a complaint (what we don’t want) into a request (what we do want) is an amazing difference in communication and a “game-changer” in others’ ability to meet our needs. Rather than complaining and telling others what to do, perhaps this woman can clarify her expectations of others, by calmly making clear requests, and then await an acknowledgement that she has been heard.

Second, on their part, those not following through with chores or tasks are likely listening and not hearing. This is a common dilemma in families. Truly hearing requires an action that confirms receipt of the information “picking up after yourselves”, versus listening and then failing to respond.  It is critical, in healthy communication, to both acknowledge and validate the speaker or the person making the request. What better way is there to do this than by actually doing what is asked, either right then or fairly soon afterward. This is LOVE.

It is far too easy to say “I Love You” thinking it is only an emotion. Love is a verb as well! It takes real strength and fortitude to follow through with behavioural requests from our loved ones: to set aside our desires, our plans and our wants in order to satisfy and please our loved ones.

Finally, “me time” is important to recharge and renew, however, it is a serious problem if it is used to “run away” from a bad situation. After all, isn’t that precisely what people say about drinking, drugs and affairs; that it was to escape the negative reality of their day-to-day lives.  Rather than running, we are much better off sticking around to resolve our issues, negotiate new patterns, roles and communication strategies and, then, heading out for some truly relaxing “me time”.

If all this sounds too difficult to accomplish on your own, there are professional and confidential counsellors (books as well) to assist you and your loved ones to listen better, negotiate more effectively and to resolve the challenges you are facing.  Contact one of our registered therapists for your confidential consultation today.

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The Family Social System

“A family is far more than a collection of individuals sharing a specific physical and physiological space. While families occur in a diversity of forms and complexities, each may be considered a natural sustained social system—one that has evolved a set of rules, is replete with assigned and ascribed roles for its members, has an organized power structure, has developed intricate overt and covert forms of communication, and has elaborated ways of negotiating and problem solving that permit various tasks to be performed effectively” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008).

Part of the process of living within our family social system, is to develop our own individual identities. To function successfully, members need to adapt to the changing needs and demands of one another, including changing and adjusting to expectations. What would a family be like with no structure, rules or expectations at all?. Sometimes, families become depleted as a result of resistance to change… implosion. Alternately, too many changes, both external and internal stressors, can lead to the family breaking apart… explosions.

Most, if not all, families cannot expect to avoid exposure to some stress, loss, or traumatic events at various points in their lives. Unfortunately, these challenges are not always handled the same way. Some families may have a difficult time managing. Nonetheless, managing and coping effectively as a family system is necessary and possible.

Family resilience, the ability to thrive and maintain stable psychological and physical functioning after aversive experiences, is essential for a family system to succeed in life. We should consider our level of family resilience in our homes. Consistent conflicts and energy depleting relationships will be an indication that the systems we have in place are no longer too effective and we require adjustments.

Some key family processes to attain family resilience are as follows:

  • Does your family have a consistent and positive belief system? Does your family view disruptions as milestones? Does your family resist assigning blame and focus on a crisis as a manageable resource?
  • Are you and your family members utilizing resources when confronted with stress? Are all members open to change and connecting with one another?
  • Are effective family communication and problem solving strategies set in place? Is mutual trust between all members secure? Are expressions from all members accepted and encouraged?

Some families can be (temporarily) shattered by crises. Feelings of hurt, hostility, and resentment may pile up and be unresolved. This makes it very difficult for a family to resort to their processes of family resilience. Family counselling is a good opportunity to address how a family is functioning. In a non-judgmental environment, all aspects of the family may be addressed and goals may be reestablished and achieved. Call us today to get your family through crisis.

What About God?

For some of us, we are raised in a family that follows a specific religious denomination. The practices, followings, and teachings are supposedly instilled in us so that we too may follow the exact same practices, the exact same teachings. We, at times, felt that our parents’ or grandparents’ way of reaching their Higher Power was too strict to follow. Or, we had no parental influences that a Higher Power may exist. As a result, we may tell ourselves that this isn’t for us and religion isn’t real, isn’t needed or isn’t even useful. For many of us, this thought pattern marks the beginning of neglecting our spiritual development and putting road blocks in our spiritual journey.

As we slowly adopt this stinkin’ thinkin’, we become less open to the possibility that a Higher Power exists. How could He exist, when we face so many difficult obstacles? How can some “Being” watch us suffer, feel depressed, go through numerous failed relationships, or have communities deprived of food and shelter?

These questions run through our minds, especially when we are faced with life challenges. However, deep inside us, we still talk to this “Being.” We still have some spec of hope that a Higher Power will see us out of our troubles. This is what we call FAITH. If we were able to change our thoughts based on our faith in a Higher Power, imagine the possibilities that can open up for us.

“I asked for strength, and

God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom, and

God gave me brawn and brain to work.

I asked for courage, and

God gave me dangers to overcome.

I asked for love, and

God gave me troubled people to help.

I asked for favors, and

God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted.
I received everything I needed.

My prayers were answered.”

[from Rabbi Irwin Katsof’s How to Get Your Prayers Answered]

We know very well, at least usually, the parts of ourselves needing work. All too often, however, the physical aspects of living take priority over our spiritual development. Being guided to restore and build up our spiritual strengths can help us restore our relationship with our Higher Power. Spiritual strength enhances our relationships with ourselves and others. It helps us cope more effectively with life’s challenges. Prayer has been clinically proven to improve our health and well being.

To get assistance with your spiritual journey, reach out for counselling contact us today