Resiliency – Perseverance 

Going into the New Year, I find myself again reflecting on all the ups and downs over this past year. Every year it amazes me to watch not only myself but others go through so much in a year and to keep pushing on. Through all the ups and the downs, I am always amazed at the strength I and others all have to keep moving forward time and time again, even after experiencing a year of hardships.

I love the concept of resilience and it has been something I have always taken a fascination too. Resilience is the process of adapting in the face of adversity. I know throughout my life, it has given me a lot of strength and hope. I have been through some really difficult times in my life and struggles and knowing that I have gotten through tough times in the past, with help of course, always gives me some hope that I will be able to get through tough times in the future, whatever life throws my way.

I learn a lot about human resilience not just from myself and my own experiences in life but a lot from others and the world around me. I think it can be really easy to focus on all the negatives in our world and around us, as so much negativity is focused on throughout media, but I like to seek out the positives, light out of the darkness, silver lining etc..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me, seeing and hearing stories of resilience is a way to get a small glimpse into the vast array of positives in the world. This has a way of lightening up my heart, my thought life and even my soul or spirit. Hearing peoples stories of resilience and their strength always makes me reflect on just how strong we can be in the face of adversity, even within those dark moments when life itself often hangs in the balance. There is also a hint of humility and of my own mortality when hearing about the really terrible things that people around the world experience, manage and overcome.

I encourage others, like I do myself, to seek out and share stories of resiliency… including our own. It is easy and even natural to focus on negatives (for survival), to sink into negativity during tough times, dwelling on the times we failed at something, the times we could have done more and those times we could have done or said less. It is naturally and socially more challenging to see and recognize the amazing capacity, strengths and courage we all have in these moments and the resilience and perseverance adversity has built into our character.

Many of the most difficult and painful moments in my life have taught me my most cherished lessons for living – such as lessons about human relationships, honesty, compassion, trust, grieving and loss, kindness, forgiveness and love.

Moving soon into this New Year, I hope to continue to strive daily to see the strength and courage within myself, through both the difficult and the good times no matter what comes my way. I know that it is not always easy to see these positive, colourful and beautiful things clearly, in oneself and in others. I also know that it is quite often a struggle in life, yet, through every struggle I know there is a story of resilience to be told when we are open to accepting help and willing to persevere.

 

Submitted By: Mallory (masters in counselling student)
photos by J. Packer

 

 
  
Photo credit: MGDboston from morguefile.com

Prescription For Improved Mental Health:

  1. Help Others – 2 to 5 times a week or as often as you can, preferably do this anonymously
  2. Activity – 10 to 30 minutes of healthy activity each day to create positive energy and release those “happy hormones”… endorphins that trigger happy feelings
  3. Cook – 2 to 3 times a week or as often as you would like, especially for others as you can feel better by helping others be healthier too
  4. Clean – do up to 4 chores per week, i.e. dishes, vacuuming, purge items and give items away. This gives energy and helps keep a cleaner, healthier place to live
  5. Vocation – while still at school or working, keep searching for your dream full time job, upgrade your education, learn more to reach your goals
  6. Social – get together or connect with friends/family a couple of times per week. Constructing healthy relationships requires consistent work over time
  7. Self-Care – do a few things each week (if not daily) that you enjoy. Also engage in positive self-talk… coaching yourself as if encouraging a 5 or 6 year old you.

Over the coming month, apply these gradually, yet more and more consistently in your life. Track the results. You will likely be very surprised at how a few little adjustments in your routine, small shifts in behaviour, can have such a positive and profound impact on your mental health and quality of life.

Happy New Year !


Photo credit: anitapeppers from morguefile.com

Parenting Our Children & Parenting Ourselves

Promoting mental health involves building awareness, reducing the stigma often attached with the term and, of course, developing strategies to improve our overall mental health. Just as we strive to improve our physical health, we are wise to learn more about our mind, mind-body connection and find ways to strengthen the health of our minds.

One of our local school boards has recently taken steps to do just that.  The Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) has developed a strategy called “Together For Mental Health 2014-2017”. In a recent newsletter they lay out a guide for parents, however, we might all benefit from following these principles;

10 Strategies for Parents to Foster Positive Mental Health”  

1. Create a sense of belonging – build strong, positive relationships

2. Encourage good physical health, including adequate sleep, healthy eating and exercise

3. Make time for regular family meals

4. Encourage creative outlets

5. Develop your [inner] child’s competencies

6. Keep the lines of communication open

7. Model good mental and physical health habits [hang with people that do]

8. Have a predictable routine

9. Foster volunteering and helpfulness

10.Bring fun and playfulness into you and your [loved ones’] lives

Adapted from DCDSB newsletter outlining their mental health and addictions strategy

 

Change Starts With Our Attitude

As this video depicts, domestic violence does happen to anyone –men and women, children and seniors. The “automatic” or “socialized” response we have, given the gender of the “victim” and “perpetrator”, needs serious revision. When we see or hear about domestic violence, we may either over or underreact, either one being potentially hurtful to both the person whose rights are being violated and to the person behaving in a violent manner. In fact, our thinking about and approach to domestic violence can perpetuate violence itself when we inadvertently convey narrow and misguided perspectives about this important social issue to our loved ones, our children, friends and colleagues.

Physical violence is the intentional use of force against a person without that person’s consent. *** It includes, yet is not limited to, hitting, slapping, spitting on, pinching, punching, hair pulling, kicking, cutting, pushing, shoving as well as sexually aggressive acts.

All sexual contact without consent is a crime!

Psychological abuse (also known as emotional abuse) is often overlooked. Although this form of abuse is not considered a criminal act, it can be as destructive as and, at times, even more destructive than physical abuse. Behaviours associated with emotional abuse may include: yelling, name-calling, shaming, blaming, intimidation, isolation, lude and rude comments, withholding the necessities of life and other hurtful and controlling behaviours.

The initial step to ending an abusive relationship is acknowledging that it exists. Sometimes this is very difficult to do, especially for those who have been suffering in this kind of relationship for so long. The following examples can help clarify;

It is still considered family violence when . . .

▪    The incidents of violence seem minor when compared to those you have read about, seen on television or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a “better” or “worse” form of physical violence; you can be severely injured as a result of being pushed, for example.

▪    The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely it will continue and even get worse.

▪    The physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!

▪    There has not been any physical violence. Many women are emotionally and verbally assaulted. This can be equally as frightening and is often more confusing to try to understand making it difficult to reach out for support and find resolutions.

Source: Adapted from Breaking the Silence: a Handbook for Victims of Violence in Nebraska (helpguide.org)

A professional counsellor can provide a safe environment for you to identify the severity of abuse and/or violence in your relationship, assess whether you require other supports to develop a safety plan and explore steps to help you move into a safe and secure living situation. Counselling sessions also provide you with the time to consider how to adjust and move forward, how to cope with stress and change and how to create healthier and more satisfying intimate relationships.

Counselling provides you with the hope that you can overcome the impact of domestic violence and abuse. You can learn more about yourself and regain your confidence. You can find the support to help you rebuild your life and enhance your well-being. Call us today!

*** For more information on family violence, please follow the Government of Canada link at:

http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/fv-vf/about-apropos.html

 

Faces-nevit

Why Do I Feel So Worthless?

Breaking up from a romance or going through separation and divorce knocks us down emotionally. These tough times can even increase negative self-talk, lowering our self-esteem. We invested so much of ourselves that when the relationship ends, we can feel a sense of loss of identity and a tarnished self-concept.

“I feel so worthless I can’t even get out of bed this morning. I know of no reason for doing anything today. I just want to be little and stay in bed until I can find a reason why I should get up. No one will even miss me, so what’s the use of getting up,” (Fisher & Alberti, 2000).

Sometimes, we can have the best support systems, loving family and friends who are there for us, yet still have a difficult time believing in ourselves and maintaining a positive self view. When we are having difficulty connecting with our identity, seeing our worth and having confidence in our absolute amazingness, it may be a good time to reach out for confidential and professional counselling. A few “coaching” sessions with a counsellor you connect with can help a lot and quite quickly too. A counselling environment helps decipher thoughts that have been generated from past experiences. Whether it be our upbringing, relationships with our parents and friends and our history of love relationships, all experiences significantly influence our self-perception. The key is to consider which thoughts seem to dominate negative self-perceptions, “catch them” so to speak and then intentionally shift or reframe thoughts into more positive ones. This approach improves our emotional state and behaviours also improve with practice. Counselling helps us objectively examine the inner most regions of our thinking, exploring the way we perceive ourselves and the core values we have as human beings. In a trusting therapeutic relationship, we can safely identify “Stinkin Thinkin”, those negative and incorrect perceptions that drag us down. We can re-establish how we want to think and feel about ourselves and develop the steps required to gain a healthier perspective. To improve your self-perception, contact us today…because YOU ARE WORTH IT!

 
Photo credit: GaborfromHungary from morguefile.com

 Photo credit: snowbear from morguefile.com

Some of us will say “Absolutely!” Some of us will say “Not for me!” And others may be too confused to decide. The reality is that sex plays a significant role in love relationships. While it promises so much joy and satisfaction, it can also be the deciding factor that destroys very loving relationships.

When we first choose to be in a romance or “fall into” a loving relationship, most of us are so infatuated with our partners. The sex drive is amazing… even through the roof (thanks dopamine). We can barely take our hands off each other. It’s exciting, engaging, enchanting and we just seem to connect on a level that we assume will last forever. So often we dive into a romance head first (Or is it “heart first”?) and the commitment to be together opens up new expectations and responsibilities, many unforeseen and under-discussed… “love is blind”.

Well not really yet it can certainly feel that way.  Diving in head first quickly becoming more committed than our understanding of one another can handle. As the expectations and assumptions increase, the pressure can overwhelm healthy relationship development. When certain steps are missed in almost any project, task or adventure something will usually falter.

Cracks in the relationship appear and couples can be found scrambling to save or salvage what wasn’t really well established in the first place. Many separated couples state that the connection “just isn’t there anymore”. The passion and excitement that was there when they first met is said to have “faded” until they felt like they were just friends, or worse, “roommates”.

Couples often agree that life and children and work get into the way of romance, however, isn’t this denying ownership and personal choice?  After all, who’s making the decisions? It’s about finding the strategy and skill set to balance our lives in such a way that are able to meet all our needs, not perfectly but sufficiently and satisfactorily for both partners.

Separated couples also share, retrospectively, that they become frustrated, disgruntled and then turn away from their spouse.  Gradually withdrawing to other distractions, many find other potential partners and their sexuality becomes sparked elsewhere. Relationship abandonment is frequently preceded by minimal effort, money and energy being invested into reading and seeking help to “tune-up” their run down relationship; finding ways to become new and adventurous in the apparently no longer “forever” relationship.

When couples seek counselling, many find it is often too late which is statistically supported. One or both have already “checked out” of the relationship and are thinking of lives without one another. What contributes to the decisions to give up on what was once a committed relationship, find another partner and go through the same thing all over again? Many factors can be draining on romance so it is important to have a thorough assessment.

Once we find ourselves moving toward a committed relationship, it is imperative to decide to invest time, energy and significant effort toward the ongoing improvement of intimacy skills; communication, sexuality, problem-solving, conflict resolution, assertiveness, moral and spiritual foundations and healthy family values and beliefs.

Don’t be a statistic. When you and your partner want to enhance ALL aspects of your relationship, contact us for a confidential and professional assessment / consultation.

 


Photo credit: DarrenHester from morguefile.com

Goal setting may be, for some, quite a daunting task that is simply just too hard to do alone. Perhaps limited experience in childhood with setting clearly defined goals is the reason. Others may have had negative experiences associated with failing to reach goals. Some people may have been coached on this skill, achieved success, thus, finding goal setting to be a pleasurable experience. Creating a list of things to accomplish can make them already feel a sense of accomplishment.

So what gets in the way of setting clear goals? (creating them and writing them down or making up a motivation chart)

  • Time and energy?
  • Fear of failure… or success? (yes this is also a concern for many)
  • Not feeling good enough/low self-esteem?
  • Distractions and difficulty focusing?
  • Worry and anxiety about the future?

When we can identify the obstacles (real or imagined) then it becomes a little bit easier to begin setting smaller goals to overcome these roadblocks to our success. Facing our fears head on, with help as required, opens possibilities, builds confidence and increases our chance of success.

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals is a great first goal!

It also helps to identify our strengths, resources along with areas we struggle with or that require improvement so goal achievement is more likely to occur. Drawing upon our inner and outer resources is essential to our success so being clear about these aspects greatly improves our ability to set SMART goals.

Once we create our goals, what’s next?  When we set a goal to improve our marriage, get a promotion at work or perhaps even run our first Boston Marathon, we are then well advised to consider the small, incremental steps that need to happen for this big accomplishment to take place?

Sometimes, when we create our goals, write them in our notebooks or post them on our walls, we assume things will fall into place on their own.  However, two important elements need to be in the mix in order for goals to be accomplished:  intentional effort and accountability.

Intentional effort:  Making your goals present in your day-to-day life.  We may set a goal to fulfill a year from now but we need to be consciously doing our diligence each day.  The promotion we seek, the improved marriage or the goal of running a marathon requires thoughtful consideration and consistent attention in order to carry out the multitude of “baby steps” or objectives along the way.

Accountability: When we create goals, it is important to speak them, sharing these with others. Research shows that the more people you share your goals with, the greater chance you have to accomplish them.  Why?  People will ask, encourage, remind and even hold us accountable. Most will do so in a loving and supportive way.  When people hold us accountable, they believe we can accomplish what we have set out to do. This spurs us on to run a great race toward the prize.

For more information on goal setting and self-development, book an appointment with us today.