Do You Feel You’re Not Getting Anywhere?

How often do we feel frustrated and alone, like no matter what we try life doesn’t seem to get any better. We might change this or that behaviour, for at least a short while, only to end up back in the same situation. We can gradually or not so gradually get more down, hopeless and tried as we seem to return to the same ‘rut’. I heard once the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth?

The poem below, written by Portia Nelson, conveys these very sentiments and walks the reader through five ‘chapters’ in order to signal a flicker of hope somewhere on the road of life.

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk (five chapters)

                     1

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

3

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

4

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

5

I walk down another street.”
Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

I think most of us want to believe we can change, that things will improve, and that one day we will reach that illusive better place? While there are certainly no guarantees and we really don’t know anything for sure about the future, what is life without hope? How do we, in the face of severe difficulties, loss, pain and grief, manage to hold onto hope? What can we do to regain a sense of hope we may have one had?

These and other questions strike a nerve in our spiritual being. Who am I? Why be good to myself and others? What does the end of life really mean? Almost all people will contemplate questions like these, pondering issues that do not seem to be answerable by science; at least not yet anyway. This is both a frustrating and exciting element of human life. This is where faith and one’s belief system becomes essential. Our task is to examine our hearts and minds, our emotional selves and seek to discover an improved understanding of ourselves and the amazingly contradictory world we live in.

A journey that doesn’t include the unknown is not really much of a journey at all. Imagine a trip with no surprises, no unexpected discoveries, whether this is an actual holiday or the challenging journey in a close relationship. As we said to our children in preparation for our adventures, “let’s find a way to look forward to and enjoy the journey”.   Rather than being a burden, this attitude seemed to improve our ‘getting along’ and each leg of the trip a more enjoyable and exciting adventure.

Cognitive shifting can help us see situations a bit more positively and in a way that helps us achieve a more balanced emotional state. We can change our thought patterns about almost any event or situation when we are determined to stop falling into the holes in the sidewalk.

 

 

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Oshawa therapist, durham region counseling

“Have a Snickers” as a decision maker?

There are often times when we make rash or quick decisions and when we look back on them we say, “Why did I do that?”or “Why did I eat that?”
Sometimes its because we’re bored, other times its because we are looking to fill a void or find a purpose. Life seems to be out of control sometimes and there is little we can do to influence world events but we can manage parts of our own life with a few tools.
There have been many times in my own life that I’d wished I had something to help me avoid my impulsive decisions that sometimes have had long lasting effects.

Often these regrets or poor choices can be avoided or managed better when we learn to  HALT. As we unpack the acronym HALT its easier to see how to effectively use this rather simple tool.

HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

Usually when we make poor choices or decisions its because of one of these four triggers. It seems simplistic but there is some real wisdom in this small word HALT. By taking the time to figure out the reason we’re about to do something, we can usually avoid poorer choices.

Not every situation can be remedied by these four triggers but they are a great place to start. Taking the time to stop and think about these things before acting is an expansion of the “Count to 10” model. Using an acronym like HALT helps us to take a few seconds and try to identify the triggers for our behaviours.

Sometimes the slogan “Have a Snickers” (and many other ads too) actually works to get us to act and, at times, act quickly without thinking. Food is a great motivator and a great reward sometimes.  The Snicker bar slogan appeals to the fact that energy and nutrients in our system need to be replenished so our brains function properly.

Simply asking ourselves to use HALT as a checklist is an excellent tool. Ask yourself “Am I hungry (yes/no), angry (yes/no), lonely (yes/no), tired (yes/no)?”

If ‘hungry’ maybe something to eat or a simple glass of water can do wonders, ‘angry’ maybe stepping away from the situation to get a fuller perspective, ‘lonely’ maybe call a friend or help a neighbour, ‘tired’ maybe go to bed earlier or have a rest/nap.

Rather than being reactive, using new tools and existing ones, we can become more proactive at handling the inevitable challenges of life.  Consider how you may adapt this strategy for other challenging areas in your life? Play around with this acronym a little? Or, you may use the STOP one… Stop, (breathe) Think, Observe then Proceed?

Adding HALT to our ’emotional toolbox’ can better prepare us for a world that is unpredictable everyday.

Now you have read this… it is in your “tool box” or “on your hard drive”  🙂

For more assistance contact one of our counsellors today!

 

submitted by EB

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Sorting Socks Too Difficult? It May Be Work Related?

Whether it is meeting a deadline, getting along with colleagues, dealing with a work crisis, managing a big deal, catching up on reports or supervising staff—work-related stress can become overwhelming.

Sometimes all we want to do is leave work at work, get out and forget about it. We want to reach our homes and provide our families with all of our energy to help around the house, whether with helping kids with their homework, preparing meals or any of the numerous other tasks around home. When we are overly stressed, time we want to spend with our families may feel like a burden, added things to do on a seemingly never-ending list of daunting duties.

Excessive stress can lead to the failure of our usually effective coping strategies and significantly impair daily functioning. Things like humour, relaxation, music and other coping methods no longer seem to work. We may then appear to be ‘trying’ to do all these tasks and functions with our families, yet not really meeting the mark and finding we feel adaquate in our role.

If we could step outside of our bodies for a moment and watch ourselves try to do it all, what would we look like?

Are we snappy when our kids ask for help? Do the simple requests from our spouses annoy us? Is sleep being disrupted by racing thoughts or tension? Would you see yourself struggling to get to sleep, waking at night or simply feeling unrested in the morning? Do you find it hard to sit down and enjoy a meal? Is it becoming more difficult to show family that we genuinely enjoy time with them?

When we are unable to effectively cope with work-related stress (or other stressors), it resides within us and enters our homes as we do. We may like to think we have a handle on things but our relationships with our families can tell us differently. Others may also become quick to anger, less open to hearing our concerns and feelings and may become more tired and drained. Unmanaged stress can be very draining on energy levels and, of course, get in the way of sleep, intimacy, eating and overall quality of life.

Often, when under too much stress, we can easily turn to less healthy coping strategies such as drinking, smoking, over or under eating and arguing and fighting in an attempt to resolve matters.

Seeking counseling for work-related concerns can help us sort through work challenges and create strategies to potentially resolve some issues and find new ways to cope with stress in a healthy and effective manner.

When we identify our difficulties at work, and home, and talk through them we can find solutions that lead to increased peace and contentment. We can also be more engaging with our loved ones. If you would like assistance  Contact us today!

 

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Welcome, Bienvenido, 欢迎, आपका स्वागत है, Fogadtatás

  • Canadian Birth Rate Low, Immigration To Thank For Growth
  • Canada’s birth rate is currently hovering around 1.67 children per woman, well below the minimum of 2.0 needed for natural population replacement.
  • For Canada, expanding our numbers means depending on immigration, which accounts for two-thirds of population expansion. About 250,000 immigrants, most of them from China, India, Pakistan and the Philippines, are accepted into the country each year.
  • “Some come from countries where economic, cultural and religious traditions have made larger families common”, said Jeffrey Reitz, a professor of ethnic and immigration studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.
  • At the current rate, if nothing changes, immigration — currently responsible for 67 per cent of Canada’s population growth — could account for 80 per cent of growth within the next 20 years, and nearly 100 per cent by the year 2061, Statistics Canada says.
  • I don’t see it really looking a lot different in the future than what it looks now,” McDaniel said. As older immigrants age and die, they will be replaced by new immigrants, changing and enriching the threads that make up the country’s multicultural fabric.

Between 2006 and 2011, around 1,162,900 foreign-born people immigrated to Canada.

Coming to a new country can be an overwhelming and challenging experience.

Why is it so stressful?

  • Feelings of loss
  • Parting from family
  • Language difficulties
  • Finding employment, housing, and education
  • Culture Shock
  • Enduring abuse, domestic violence and discrimination
  • Lack of understanding of healthcare system

Acculturative stress: My daughter is becoming too “Canadian”! I can no
longer relate to her!
Trauma: “I left my country at a time of war. Some of those thoughts still
haunt me” (Reena Hamid)
Discrimination: “My father left a great job back home. He now drives a taxi
in Toronto. I see how badly people treat him because his English is poor”
(Vivek Pratak)

Adjusting to a new culture and language is difficult as it is. Discrimination and multiple traumas (such as war and other types of violence in countries of origin) makes it even tougher. These challenges can weaken and challenge immigrants’ mental well-being. As a result, immigrants and their children can profit greatly from suitable psychological and social understanding and support.

Incorporating one’s culture of origin into one’s culture of new home is known as successful acculturation.

Our professional therapeutic approaches can help you and your children achieve successful acculturation by working with you on the following:

Learning to live with change

Understanding Canadian family law 

Separation from family

PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder or “reaction”

Solving issues within the family

Communicating with partners and children as well as coworkers 

Disciplining styles with children

Handling stress and burdens 

Welcome! At Jeff Packer MSW & Associates Inc., we use effective and culturally valid diagnostic tools sensitive and inclusive enough to account for cultural variability. If you’re looking for confidential and non-judgmental counselling services, book an appointment today.


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Below is a well written testimony from one courageous person who decided to experiment with change, health and personal growth.

         What C.P.R. Means To Me

It has been almost a month since I quit smoking marijuana! I had been a daily user for about twelve years, with the occasional attempt to quit; the longest quitting period being about one year in 2005. I had attempted to quit a couple times in the last three years, but always relapsed after a couple of weeks. So, this time I decided to seek help.

Previous quitting attempts always consisted of going cold turkey and using willpower.  I could stick to it for a few weeks, but then would have a smoke with a friend and return to using every day. In 2005, I told myself that I could not have any weed in the house and would still allow myself to smoke socially if someone had it. This worked for almost a year until I had a stressful situation occur, and went back to smoking every day. Therefore, this time I wanted to quit and stay a non-smoker, but how?

I considered going to rehab, but did not want to leave my surroundings. So I googled “how to quit marijuana” and found a self-help program. It was an online program for $50 that included a manual, videos, audio sessions and a detox book. After previewing the material, I decided to go for it.  After I bought the program and began my reading, I was still smoking but that was okay.  The program talked about setting a quit date when I was ready. I watched the videos and listened to the audio sessions for about two weeks before I set my quit date.

Through the program, I discovered that willpower would not be enough to sustain a smoke free life.  I would need to re-focus my thoughts and the direction I wanted my life to go in.  This was very scary at first. But the more I read the manual and listened to the videos, the less scary it seemed.  I began to realize that all the benefits that I thought the weed was giving me were actually the opposite. That’s what the weed does to your mind. It made me think that I needed it for so many things in life. I thought it gave me more energy, made me a more creative person, made me better at sports, made me funnier, made sex better, made food taste better, reduced stress and anxiety and helped with depression.

So I thought, give it up and see what happens.  Will I feel better or worse? I made a quitting contract with myself that included a quit date and the reasons I want to quit. The program prepared me for the withdrawal period, which was toughest the first week and ended around the second week. Wow, I could really feel the difference without the weed. I had gotten so used to feeling good that it’s hard to remember how bad I was feeling on the weed.

I can tell you this though, my energy is way, way higher than ever before. I feel present, in the moment and just happier than I have in a long time. I dream again, and can remember most dreams, and they are very vivid. I have been keeping a dream journal as the program has instructed. Your dreams are a way for your subconscious to give you direction in life and writing them down as soon as you wake will give you the ability to figure out what they represent.

Two days after quitting, I dreamt that I was giving a friend C.P.R. but I did not recognize this friend. I went to my therapist a few days later and was discussing the dream as I was having trouble deciphering the meaning.  He suggested that maybe I was giving C.P.R. to myself; that in a way, I was saving myself from my addiction. He asked me to use C.P.R. as an acronym for quitting weed. I thought about this for a short while and decided it means Clear, Present and Responsive. Since quitting weed, this is how I am focusing on living my life, and that is what C.P.R. now means to me.

Job Fair

How can I pursue my dreams if I’m stuck doing this job instead?

“Do you dread running into acquaintances from your past, like I do, because of the questions they may ask about your life successes? You know they are really looking to dive into your failures, right?  At family gatherings, relatives may inquire if you’ve put any your academic credentials to any good use, in hopes you are doing something ‘worthwhile’; asking “Have you found a job in your field yet?”

The ugly truth is that life has been difficult. We have credentials that make us qualified. We have personalities to blow our future employers away. However the calls aren’t coming in and interviews aren’t taking place. The phrase “looking for a job is like having a full time job” just doesn’t cut it for us. Sometimes we have to put those “dream career aspirations” on hold because we have other responsibilities to take care of: family, bills, mortgage/rent payments, and OSAP/line of credit loans to name a few. As much as we are thankful to be able to meet our basic needs at the temporary job, we are not happy, and it is difficult to view our dream career as remotely within our reach.

So what do we do?

The first thing is to shift our thoughts in order to believe in our full potential pushing away from thoughts like; “I’m not good enough!”, ” I can’t do this”, I’ll never get there or amount to anything”… Sound familiar? Where did these negative sayings come from?  How did it get into our minds? At what point was it whispered or even yelled at us (by strangers, our peers, from media or even by members of our family)?

Counselling helps us discover thoughts and thinking patterns (schemata) that have contributed to feelings of low self-worth, incompetence and insecurity. Further, professional counsellors can assist with developing an understanding about the events and life situations that may have contributed to negative self perceptions. Of course, discovering how we got into a particular problem can both help us avoid it in the future and help us find solutions to get “unstuck”.

Gaining insight into ourselves helps develop more positive and affirming attitudes that fuel increased energy and productivity. When we adopt new, more optimistic thought patterns, self-worth and confidence rise, positive emotional states emerge and then behaviours change positively as well. These proactive behaviour changes are necessary to keep our dreams alive and to takes the steps required to achieve them.

Get started today? Call our registered, confidential counsellors to book your appointment!


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Many of the resources available for Autism and other developmental disabilities focus on children to the age of eighteen. Very few social service programs are geared to support people over the age of eighteen. So what about these young adults?

What career development assistance is available? What are the goals of formal career or vocational development planning? When should career planning begin? What are the life choices that an individual with Autism should explore?

Person-centered planning  (PCP) can help answer these questions.  PCP “takes a longer-term perspective, exploring how the individual, family, community, and funded supports can work together to achieve the individual’s goals,” (Northeast Alberta Community Board for Persons with Development Disabilities, 2006).

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This sets a plan of action in place. It is very important to plan ahead and be prepared for the transition into early adulthood to foster the best chance of a satisfying and productive life for young adults with autism.

Here are some strategies that may be set in place to prepare your young adult for his/her future (Autism Calgary Association, 2009):

  • A personal inventory/profile clarifies the strengths, challenges, and necessary supports that the individual requires. It also provides the individual’s unique characteristics and attributes.
  • A career profile lists the individual’s personal strengths, skills, abilities, and interests. It may also include: evaluation reports (IEPs), cognitive testing results, additional assessments (e.g. neuropsychological), functional vocational assessments, and resume and work samples.
  • A psycho-educational assessment is a standardized test (like an I.Q. test), of the individual’s cognitive ability. It provides further information of the person’s intellectual strengths and areas of weakness.

The key to remember is to plan ahead and to use available resources and people to develop the best plan possible. When this is done, possibilities and opportunities are increased for the young adult.