Returning to wholeness

Women Returning to Wholeness

Do you limit how good you feel? Your first response may be “Of course not, why would I do that?”

Might it be possible that you do this unconsciously because this is what you were taught?

Sometimes what we have learned  becomes so much part of what we do and who we are that we don’t think about it. It is part of our “normal.”

For instance, I don’t imagine you spend a lot of time thinking about how you walk. You learned how to walk a long time Happiness coaching and stress and anxiety management Burnabyago and now you just get up and move. Most likely it would only be if you were in unfamiliar terrain, or if you had been injured and needed to relearn how to walk that you became more aware of your gait.

As a therapist who is passionate about supporting women return to wholeness, I am committed to  doing my own personal healing and growth work.  So it was an interesting process for me to ponder a question a colleague asked me the other day.

You see, I have been experiencing a “mysterious” pain in my body for the last few months. Doctors haven’t been able to figure out so far what is causing it. All we know  is that I am pretty healthy. All tests have come back negative. And yet, here I am, often feeling exhausted from being in pain at random times.

So when my friend casually threw out “Who would you be without this pain?” it made me pause and ponder. Well… life is pretty good. I love having family close by. I love the work I do. I love where I live. Every day my heart is filled with a long list of things that I am grateful for or that I appreciate.

So without the pain, I would have more energy and feel more expanded than I do. And that is where I had an “aha” moment.

how to heal trauma and cope with low self-esteem, counselling for women BurnabyPerhaps I am coming up against old speed limits. Growing up, the focus in my family was placed on performance, hard work, duty, doing one’s best. I was a pretty lively child and my grandparents who raised me were probably overwhelmed by all my energy. So I often heard “Don’t be so excited!” or “Settle down.” For various reasons my environment wasn’t very tolerant of my exuberance.

So I became quite a serious little girl. I learned to focus on doing it right. In fact that has become so much part of my nature, that a beloved partner once gave me the nickname “Ernestine.”

While there wasn’t a very high tolerance for fun and mischief, laughter and play or happiness in my family, there was a very high level of acceptance around anger, victimhood and the motto “life is hard.”

What were the emotional speed limits in your family of origin?

I invite you to take a moment and identify, on a scale of 1-10 your comfort level with

  • joy and happiness
  • feeling good about yourself
  • making mistakes
  • receiving gifts – receiving love
  • feeling and expressing excitement
  • feeling and expressing love and affection
  • anger
  • sorrow
  • pain
  • confusion

Of course we come from the place that our parents loved us. They did the best they could with who they were, what they had been taught and what was available to them at the time.

Sometimes you receive contrasting messages. Maybe the speed limit around feeling good about yourself was high in your family but changed when you went to church, or school or were with your peers.

Either way, you internalize how comfortable you are with feeling good and expanded, and it becomes your “normal.”

But your ability to feel happiness and love and joy is limitless. It is not something you have to work at – it is something you have to ALLOW.

The other day I was listening to Barbara De Angelis’s new book “A Choice for Love.” I love the mantra that she offers to help us shift  from the perception of limited well being to one of expansion and joy.

Positive Psychology and Somatic Psychotherapy for Women in Burnaby“I open myself to the presence of love within me.” 

What that implies of course is that the love, the joy, the good feelings are  already there.

Imagine a plant. Even though you may “train” that plant to grow a certain way to suit you and the environment you would like to enjoy it in, you cannot change its essence. You can do a lot to contain it’s growth and expansion, but once the restraints are removed and it is ALLOWED to grow freely it will find it’s own balance.

What “restraints” do you need to remove? What old thought patterns are you ready to let go of?  Where in your life would you like to expand beyond the limits you have internalized or that are being set for you?

Because remember, there is nothing you need do or change or fix. You are already good enough. All you need to do is  allow the good feelings to surface.

I invite you to take some time and explore these thoughts and questions in your journal.

And then stay tuned for Part 2 of “Expanding your levels of well-being” where we look at what might get in the way of this process and how to overcome your speed limits.

February is often considered “the month of love” or “ Heart” month. This may be a time when you think more about relationship than usual. Whether you have a partner or not, I want to invite you to  make February the month where you fall in love again… with YOU.

When you’re falling in love with someone, you’re  not only excited to spend time with them, but you’re also focused on wanting to express how you feel about them and make them feel wanted. Are you familiar with the languages of love?  In 1995, Dr. Gary Chapman identified that we can  use five channels to express  love. Most of us  have one or two predominant languages that we use and that make us feel special.  Today I want to invite you to explore and utilize these languages as you rekindle your love affair with YOU.

Counselling for women Burnaby and North Vancouver love affairOne of the love languages is words. Do you speak nicely to yourself or is your inner critic alive and well? What would it be like if you made a point of not judging yourself? What would it be like if you practiced self compassion? How might you feel if your inner narrative was patient, kind and loving?

A great way to change your narrative is by shifting focus.

Exercise: between now and the end of the month start your day by looking into the mirror and saying “I love you.”End  your day by writing down five things about yourself that you appreciate, that you are excited about or that you are proud of.

Another love language is touch.  Do you receive  enough loving touch in your life? Do you offer loving and sensual touch to your body or do you tend to engage with your body in a more “functional” or perhaps even critical way?Sex Therapy and intimacy counselling for women Burnaby and North Vancouver

Exercise: between now and the end of the month, I invite you to focus on a mindful engagement of your senses. Treat yourself to a special cream or body wash.  Get a massage.   Slow down when you eat and truly enjoy your food. Luxuriate in the feeling of fresh sheets or special lingerie against your skin.  When you put cream on your face (or your body), touch your skin with love and mindfulness. Honour this body of yours  with its scars, stretch marks and fat rolls. It is carrying you thru life. 

The third and fourth love languages are “acts of service” and “time.” Do you tend to put your own needs at the bottom of the list?Do you have a long list of things that you “should” be doing? (If you have done the 21 day practice of “Letting go of “I should” you have probably shifted that dynamic in your life 🙂 )  When is the last time that you just spent time being rather than doing?

Exercise: Make a list of things you love to do but haven’t done for a while. Whether it is reading a book, going thru you closet and letting go of all the things you don’t love anymore, meeting with a good friend or just “hanging”…write down at least 12 things that make you feel good. Between now and the end of the month,  plan your next day on the evening before. Schedule and prioritize one of the things from your list. 

Finally, the fifth language of love is “gifts.” If you had just met this amazing person that totally stole your heart, you would probably delight in spoiling them with small gifts here and there. Whether it was that specialty coffee you know they loved or something else. Gifts don’t have to be expensive.

Exercise: between now and the end of the month, extend that delight, love and care in gifting something to yourself. Find at least 5 opportunities to make yourself feel special with a treat.

As you read this article, did you have any thoughts about being too busy or too tired to do any of these things? Busyness and fatigue or often a place of resistance. If you close your eyes for a moment and go back to a time when you had just fallen in love and connect to that energy in your body – would you have felt too busy or tired to do any of the special things suggested today? Would you have thought that this person you loved didn’t need all that fuss, that there shouldn’t be so much focus on them or that they weren’t good enough yet? I’m sure the answer is NO 🙂

I hope you enjoy the journey of falling in love again…with YOU because it is the most important relationship of all for you to nurture and care about.Counselling for Depression and anxiety relief Burnaby and North Vancouver

Nip Holiday Stress in the bud with these 3 Mantras Ideally the Holiday Season is a time of fun, celebration and connection. Unfortunately for many of us it becomes also a time of increased stress.

Before you continue reading, I’d like you to mentally or, even better, physically write down the three top stressors for you when you think about the time between now and Christmas.

 

Okay, now read them and check off which category they fall into:

Feeling overwhelmed – for example

  • having too much to do (and not enough time)
  • by the crowds and the busyness everywhere
  • relapsing into an addictive behaviour

Worrying about expectations – for example

  • disappointing others and/ or being disappointed
  • not doing it right
  • not being good enough
  • lack of harmony with family members

Money – for example

  • overspending
  • going into debt

Weight gain

  • Worrying about how to navigate your relationship with food and your body with all the extra parties and tantalizing food

Here are three mantras / mind shifts to help you manage and significantly reduce  stress not only over the next few weeks but in general.

  1. I will not abandon myself when I most need my own supportHow to Manage anxiety and stress during the Holidays

It is so easy, and often an ingrained habit and what were taught as women, to put  our own needs at the bottom of the list. Every time you do something that you think you should, you’re most likely abandoning yourself. 

Every time you’re saying yes when you want to say no, you’re abandoning yourself. Especially during the holidays, if it’s not fun don’t do it. 

A good way to identify whether you’re caught up in a “should” is to stop and check in with your body. Typically when you’re honoring your own needs, when you’re trusting your inner voice, your body will feel more open and relaxed. When you’re doing something because you think you “should” your body will be contracted or tense in some way, you’re probably attached to the outcome, and you’re somehow trying to convince yourself that this is a good thing.  Whenever you’re caught up in a “should” there’s some sort of expectation attached to it. Which leads us to the second mantra or mind shift.

2) I am not responsible for nor do I have the power or control over other people’s thoughts and feelings

When you’re worrying about disappointing others, not meeting expectations and trying to avoid Let go of co-dependent behavior conflict, you’re typically caught up in the myth that somehow you can control the outcome.

But you have to remember that people are going to have their own thoughts and interpretations, independently of what you do. We all choose the thoughts we think and nobody can control that.

We’re all responding to a story we’re creating in our mind based on something that happened in the past or that we anticipate in the future.

If you can truly accept that you can only do your best, while coming from a place of love and you let go of the outcome, you will be able to shift  into a lot more spaciousness in your life.

3) This is not a crisis 

Most of the things that we get stressed out about are not a crisis.

If you stay in the present moment only moment, and take a deep breath and reframe, most likely Stress and anxiety management for womennothing terrible is happening right now.

All the things you’re getting stressed out about are happening in the future and in your mind.

If you are going to honor your budget and buy less expensive gifts for others and for some reason they interpret that as a lack of love on your behalf, that is a choice and a consequence you have no control over.

If you’re stuck in traffic or in a lineup and you’re freaking out about your to do list and the time schedule, most likely many of the things on your list are not essential to life and survival. Less is more 🙂 Take a breath and use the time creatively. Listen to an audiobook, call a friend…

If you do allow yourself to indulge in dessert and you gain 3 pounds, trust your body and trust that you will self regulate especially if you’re learning to listen to your body. (email info@goddessrevealed.ca me for a free set of eating guidelines that will help you thru the holidays)

When stress sets in we tend to do upper chest and shallow breathing. So instead of getting caught up in the stress and putting yourself last, increase your level of self-care. Take mindfulness breaks during the day that nurture you. Make a point of regularly taking five big breaths into your belly to get grounded and reconnect to yourself and the present moment.

Repeat the three mantras to yourself as often as needed and remember that you are not alone, we are all connected to Source energy and the Divine. Focus on having positive thoughts and trust that everything is always working out for you.

I wish you serene and stress-free Holidays.

Stop feeling shame with Burnaby Sex TherapyWhy do I feel sad and angry when I listen to women talk about feeling inadequate in bed during  Sex Therapy and Intimacy Counselling? Usually these feelings of not measuring up are accompanied by shame and hurting self esteem, and very often they originate because of what is displayed in public media. Especially pornography has created an expectation for men and women regarding foreplay, arousal, capacity to orgasm and what or what “should” be enjoyable for women when we have sex. I feel sad and angry when I witness the consequences for  both men and women who have bought into what is being presented as “normal.” I don’t think it is acceptable that you may feel afraid to ask for what you want or need when having sex because you don’t want to be “difficult.”

When we have sex we are on many levels at our most intimate and most vulnerable. Feelings of shame or inadequacy can turn an wonderful experience into a nightmare.

Can you relate to Claire?

Claire came to my office because she wasn’t enjoying sex very much with her boyfriend. Even though in a previous relationship there hadn’t been any “problems”, with this particular partner she was experiencing pain during penetration. She also seemed to “need” more foreplay these days. What frustrated her the most about her own body was that it was always changing. If one day she enjoyed her nipples being stimulated with more vigor, another day that same stimulation felt uncomfortable if not painful.

She didn’t want to hurt her boyfriends feelings or make him feel like he wasn’t a good lover. Some previous requests about changing positions had been met with some defensiveness. This had left Claire feeling awkward and like she “was being difficult.” Her current solution to the problem was to “praise” the things that her lover was doing which felt good in the hopes that he would catch on…and to suffer in silence when she was experiencing pain. However after having felt pain during lovemaking she would often feel disconnected and sad. Then her inner critic would kick in and she would feel inadequate and ashamed.

Let’s dispel 3 major myths:

1. Your body should respond to similar stimulation in similar fashion at different times. 

Our bodies change thru the monthly cycle as hormones fluctuate. What may have felt fantastic 3 days ago may not feel so great today. Educate your partner and clarify that this is not about him (or her) doing something wrong. This is about you honouring the changing sensitivity of your body and inviting your lover to do the same.

2. You should be lubricated and “ready to go” in about 5 minutes otherwise there is something wrong with you.

When Glamour did a survey about how much foreplay and sex women were actually having over 50% reported a time span of approx 5 minutes. Let’s get real. There are those days where you are horny, for whatever reason, and most likely don’t need a lot of foreplay. But 90% of the time, between fatigue, lack of time, multitasking, stress and anxiety, your body needs foreplay and  a little time to slow down. You need time to connect and not only open your pelvis but open your heart space. As you relax and enjoy, your body responds naturally. But if you are worried about “taking up too much time” or BORING!!! your lover, then you will actually need more time. It is

3. If you don’t get wet, you’re not turned on.

I have listened to countless women express their frustration and embarrassment because even though they felt aroused, their vulva and vagina were not very lubricated. There can be a number of reasons from hormonal changes to stress that could be contributing to lack of lubrication. Remember – our bodies are not machines that respond in some logical and predefined way. But most of all – stop feeling inadequate or settle for painful sex. Use lubricants! They are not an indication of there being something wrong with you (or your partner for that matter). Here in the greater Vancouver area we have many good sex shops. One that I recommend in particular is Womyn’s Ware. You will be able to sample different lubricants and get knowledgable  and matter of fact advice from staff.

stop feeling inadequate and start feeling sexyStop feeling inadequate or ashamed of the beautiful body you have. No matter what size, what shape or what particular sensitivities it may have, it is yours for this lifetime. Every body is beautiful and a gift so we may go out and experience life every day. Asking for what you need sexually is an act of self care and self-respect. Practicing excellent self-care is a gift to your lover, because it will mean that you can show up, stay present and be authentic, which will lead to a deeper intimate connection. 

Has the idea of sex with your boyfriend or partner lost its luster? Are you wondering if there is something wrong or you need help with your libido because North Vancouver Intimacy counsellor and sex therapist can helpyour sexual attraction to him has waned?

As a sex therapist who specializes in counselling for women and relationship therapy, I sometimes hear women wonder why they don’t find their partner that sexy anymore. Upon further discussion we often identify that over time, the power dynamic in the relationship has had significant impact on the sexual attraction factor.

5 questions to help you identify if the “power dynamic” in your relationship is the underlying cause for decreased desire:

  1. Has your partner come to rely on you to make all the decisions at home – from what meals you’re going to eat to what type of new clothes he needs to buy?
  2. Are you doing all the “housework” while he is enjoying screen time (such as video gaming) and then you call him for dinner?
  3. Are you always “reminding” him to pick up his laundry, help with the dishes, contribute around the house?
  4. Is he willing to contribute with chores but always waits until you tell him what and how things need to get done?
  5. Do you take care of his personal belongings by tidying them up, fixing them, finding them for him ecc?

Burnaby Sex therapy for women can helpIf you have answered yes to at least 3 of the above questions, you are no doubt a very supportive partner. And while that is lovely, there is a fine line between being supportive and care taking. Ask yourself – do you sometimes feel like you are taking care or “mothering” a child or teenager? Does your partner’s behavior make you smile but also irritate you on some level because secretly you wish “he would grow up”?

There is nothing sexy about mothering your boyfriend or spouse. It creates learned helplessness. It breeds resentment that slowly grows over time. It often sets up an “unwritten” contract between the two of you which backfires. Because rather than loving you and making you feel special and courting you, most likely your partner has accused you of nagging all the time. He feels frustrated because he can’t figure out what he is doing wrong. After all – you only need to tell him what to do and he will eventually do it.

And you feel frustrated because he is not taking the initiative. He is not acting like an independent, strong man who can take care of himself. (of course he can…but your loving support is dialing the clock backwards). Some women start feeling like the “house slave” and that doesn’t feel very sexy either, right?

If any of the above resonates with you, I invite you to become very clear on what your part is in this dynamic. And then talk to your partner. Share your experience – rather than fingerpointing at all the things he is or isn’t doing. Talk about how you feel and what you value or desire. Discuss together how you can shift out of the particular flavor of the role you have stepped into. Focus on your shared goal of wanting to find each other sexy and attractive and what a fulfilling sexual connection would look like for each one of you.