Whatever You Think

Before summer ends and as you are gearing up for back to work and school details, take the opportunity to do some personal inquiry into the unique ways of relating to yourself and others. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself: the understanding and questioning you have about your thoughts, and the usual themes that you believe are true.

Do you believe what you think about? People have thousands of thoughts daily so to pose the question, “Is this really true?” to each notion that comes through your mind would be a daunting task. Yet some form of self-discernment is helpful in discovering the beliefs that are creating the issues in your interactions. Common thoughts such as: “That was stupid of me, or “She doesn’t like me, or “I don’t have what it takes to do this,” are usually not questioned for their validity. This may leave you feeling inadequate or disgruntled with yourself. If you believe your stressful thoughts, you create more stress in your life.

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The Art of Living an Empowered Life – Part 1

Thousands of people suffer from self-doubt, fears of inadequacy, feelings of worthlessness and unhealthy self-criticism. Each time we are faced with a difficult situation and we judge ourselves with inner dialogue, such as: ‘what’s wrong with me! I am a…. (loser, joke, stupid, useless)’, we are experiencing a drop in our self-esteem, defeating our sense of worthiness.

The journey is to gain a new perspective of ourselves through changing the way that we look at and speak to ourselves and by choosing behaviours that we respect.

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Healthy Individuals, Couples and Families for All Seasons

As we enter the fall months and we are aware of the approach of winter, most of us experience a shift in feelings. Some individuals become sad, anxious or disappointed. Perhaps their perception of the shorter days, going back to school or night school, spending more time indoors and less outside in nature, getting back into more work oriented activities and routines, and watching the beauty of the flowers begin to wane, is experienced as a loss.

Others may experience autumn as the beginning of a new year, a time to shift gears, pull off the cobwebs, roll up their sleeves and get focused. They may look forward to a more scheduled set of routines and so they feel energized, enjoy their more formal clothes and the cooler temperatures, greeting the change with exuberance, and a happy sense of purpose.

Imagine the increase in stress as couples and families begin the transition from summer to fall and get back into the new routines, under the influence of their unique perceptions and feelings about the change. The tension may be more pronounced if couples experience the transition in an opposing manner. There may be an increase in bickering, resentments and misunderstandings. We know that it is natural for children to feel either anxious or excited about going back to school and getting them settled into new routines may stretch parents’ patience. The same dynamic occurs for adults, too, so there is ample opportunity to experience more confusion and conflict.

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The Stressed Super Hero Unmasked

Are you a super man, woman, mom, dad, colleague, boss, friend? Do you categorize yourself as someone who likes to be everything to everybody? Many women and men today exhibit symptoms of chronic stress and burn out from the effort expended believing the myth that they can do it all! Our brains may convince us that we can over-achieve; however, our hearts are breaking down from the valiant attempts to keep up with the exaggerated expectations of our thoughts and ideas. In his fascinating book, The Heart’s Code, Dr. Paul Pearsall helps us to understand that the over active brain can be a cause of heart disease. Also, the late Harriet Braiker in her book, The Type E Woman, urged women to stop holding themselves to impossibly high standards in many or all areas of their lives.

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Women’s Challenges Today

Did you see the recent stats in the Toronto Star about women? According to the article, women are going to be more alone in their future lifestyles. This will be the result of the rising divorce rate, male medical fatalities and women who are choosing to be on their own.

A disturbing statistic was the increase in female stroke and heart disease. As women take on more and more responsibility as single parents, caring for aging parents, and more senior positions in the workplace, stress and burn out symptoms increase and require a change in attitude and lifestyle.

In my professional work, there are some predictable patterns and issues that many women, and of course some men, present.

Women tend to be more ‘others’ focused, which means that they are more likely to know their families’ and friends’ needs more than their own. I believe that as women, from our past programming, we are connection, and relationship oriented. Our role models mostly taught us to focus on others, especially significant others, which has resulted in not giving ourselves enough nurturing and little acceptance of our own needs and wants.

Another issue that many women, and men struggle with, is the fear of being alone. While this fear can create much difficulty within a relationship, it becomes huge when individuals have to face life on their own.

Let’s look more deeply into these two challenges: self-nurturing and being alone.

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On A Happy Note! Understanding Happiness – How to Change Your Life

When children are given three wishes, they often wish for a new game-boy or a new toy that is being widely advertised.

Even as adults, if we were given the same three wishes, many of us would ask for toys and lots of money, right? Then we might consider health and other choices, expecting that lots of money will bring the happiness we imagine that it provides. Surprisingly, research indicates that money does not provide happiness on its own and that there are a number of other influences involved.

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When It’s Time to Hit the Reset Button

Are you aware that when you experience stress for prolonged periods of time that it takes a toll on your well-being? This summer I was grateful to spend three weeks at my cottage where the loudest sounds were the distant chainsaw and lawnmower noises or the scolding of two hummingbirds that wouldn’t share the same feeder!

Driving home, I was very surprised by my unusual level of anxiety driving down the 401. I was so aware of the noise of the trucks, the amount of traffic and focus required to be cautious. And on my first night home it seemed that I heard every airplane that took off and landed! I realized first hand the stressors we experience each day in our lives that we take for granted as normal. Yet my body was very aware of the stress in our daily environment.

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The Causes of Our Discontent

Why Do Couples Seek Counselling?

There are several common themes that I, as a therapist, hear when couples call for an appointment. Probably the most prevalent one is “ I have lost my feelings for my spouse”. Most often only one person feels this way and the other is unaware of this change in her partner. Sometimes she has a sense that something is wrong but doesn’t know how to change it and unconsciously decides to ignore the signs of problems. As the problem continues the discontent festers and becomes much greater than if it had been addressed when one of the individuals first became aware of it. Often one or both think, “ It will just go away if I ignore it.” And they convince themselves, temporarily, that ‘it’s not so bad’. But under stress the feelings about the value of the relationship re-surface and it is often at this time, when it is most difficult to think and act rationally, that one person will reveal how he has been feeling. The person who is unaware or who has not wanted to acknowledge that there’s a problem will feel that her spouse’s desire to separate has come ‘out of the blue’.

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Will the Real You Please Stand up!

Who is the real you?

Do you find yourself having conflicting inner dialogues with yourself?

Do you feel confused or disappointed by some of your actions?

Do you get bogged down in feelings of guilt and self-judgment?

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Feeling Wired Up But Melting Down? Managing Energy for Life Satisfaction

The Challenges of Today’s Lifestyle

Our complex, fast-paced world creates unrelenting pressure at work, and in our personal lives. Multitasking, distress and exhaustion flourish in a society where we perceive there is not enough “time” to experience quality interactions and to successfully meet our daily obligations.

If our goal is only to manage our time efficiently, we may not muster enough energy to stay present, patient, positive and lively! Everything that we do requires energy, from a loving talk with our children about household duties, being emotionally and physically intimate with our partner, to negotiating and problem solving with family members, work associates and clients.

Traditional methods of time management are breaking down by bytes and bites. There are 168 hours each week, and we know that we cannot sustain a 24/7 lifestyle! When we try to beat the clock, we feel frustration, anxiety, exhaustion and we question ourselves, “How can I finish all of this?” or “When does it ever end?” or even worse, “Will there ever be time for my needs?”

Now imagine a different picture. Instead of trying to control time we create a lifestyle that focuses on managing our energy . We learn how to expand our energies, by making changes that promote balance and increase the possibility of the positive quality, rather than quantity of our daily output.

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