Returning to wholeness

Women Returning to Wholeness

awareness

About 50% of women come to see me for Sexual Healing Therapy or Sex Therapy Relationship counselling, because they are driven by an underlying feeling of inadequacy and/or their partner having expressed dissatisfaction about their shared sex life.

At the beginning of healing work, 80% of my clients are initially somewhat disconnected from their bodies and their sexual energy. Sadly, for some this is linked to previous trauma such as sexual abuse.

Burnaby Sex and marriage counselling can help you define your sexualityBut for many this stems from having consciously or unconsciously internalized intergenerational, cultural and societal messages that define

  • what it means to be sexy and what sexy should look like
  • how a woman should act during sex
  • what gives a woman pleasure and how much pleasure women should experience during sex
  • how often a “good” wife or girlfriend is willing to have sex

this list could go on…

In the past, Religion and financial power have often kept women in a place of accepting that their sexual needs or desires were not as important as those of their male partners. Today, women are less dependent on men for survival. But now we are confronted with images from media and pornography, that create an entirely different set of expectations to live up to.

 

As Kacey Musgraves says so eloquently in her song “Follow your Arrow”:

If you save yourself for marriage
You’re a bore
If you don’t save yourself for marriage
You’re a whore-able person
If you won’t have a drink
Then you’re a prude
But they’ll call you a drunk
As soon as you down the first one

If you can’t lose the weight
Then you’re just fat
But if you lose too much
Then you’re on crack
You’re damned if you do
And you’re damned if you don’t
So you might as well just do
Whatever you want

Change how you feel with Burnaby Self esteem counselling for women But here is the crucial question… what do you want? What do you like? Can you connect to your body and sexual energy and lovingly accept your unique self? Can you  let go of all the should’s and all the judgment and give yourself permission to explore what turns you on… and then ask for it?

Or are you too busy inventing who you should be, pretending to be and feel things you think others expect and want from you… so you can avoid all your doubts and low self-esteem?

The first step to sexual healing and to enjoying sex is connection… and the most important connection you need to cultivate is the connection to yourself. 

Sometimes you first need to peel away some layers before you can connect to what is; before you can connect to and celebrate who you are sexually.

I invite you to do the following exercises to connect to yourself:

Stand naked in front of the mirror… and listen to your internal monologue… write down everything you think and Body image counselling and self esteem counselling can improve your sex lifetake a look at all the negative comments. Identify where those comments come from…when did you start to think thoughts such as your breasts being too small or your belly too big? Did it start with the voice of  your mother who told you to suck in your stomach in or all the other girls in high school developing more quickly than you?

Strip away all these external constructs and see what is left. Can you embrace your body and love it? Can you not only love it but appreciate this vessel that allows you to do life every day? Can you forgive yourself for perhaps having neglected to take good care of your body? Can you let go of the notion that parts of your body are dirty or weird looking? Can you welcome the sensations in your body when you touch yourself without feeling guilty or wanting them to be different?

Now take a moment to write down everything you have learned or heard about sex and sexuality…from the comments your grandmother made… to what your first boyfriend said to what you have seen in movies… read thru all these messages and eliminate what you don’t like, what isn’t yours…and expand on what feels like a fit.

Remember that sexual energy is connected to your second chakra and this is also your center of creativity. Sexual energy is passion and creation. 

Sexual empowerment therapy North Vancouver Be creative courageous and define as well as design your sexuality… which is uniquely yours… yours to be proud of, to embrace and celebrate.

 

Depression and anxiety therapy can increase your sense of joyPractical steps for increasing your Happiness quotient.

In part 1 of how to increase your Happiness quotient, I talked about the importance of increasing the average of positive thoughts and verbal expressions in order to achieve a ratio of at least 3:1. Incidentally, if you’d like to test your happiness quotient, try this online quiz to give you an idea of how happy you tend to be in everyday life.

So how can you shift from negativity to YES?

 

Step one: Become mindful of your thoughts, your verbal expressions and what you tend to focus your energy on.

Mindful thinking could be compared to meditation. When you meditate and try to quiet the mind, you  most likely notice how your mind drifts off before you bring it back to your breath or some other point of focus. Maintaining a steady awareness of negative self-talk, judgments, defeatist thinking and negative verbiage means raising your level of consciousness and presence with yourself and your mental and emotional state. You could compare this process to being the Quality Control supervisor at a chocolate factory (or any other merchandise) where you are observing the chocolates traveling on a conveyer belt past your vigilant gaze before being packaged. It is your job to pick out and remove any chocolate that is dented, broken, moldy or not up to the highest standards of satisfaction before they are packaged and shipped.   You can create an awareness of your thoughts and language in similar fashion. Outgoing and Incoming images, ideas and thoughts are examined and eliminated or replaced if found to be negative.

Step two: Translate -ve thoughts

Burnaby counselling help for depressionOnce you have identified the negative thoughts and expressions, translate them into positive expressions and affirmations.   Remember that your unconscious mind cannot differentiate between the present or the future. It also doesn’t hear “not.” Example: I don’t want to smoke to cope with stress.  – your mind hears what you want …so I don’t want to smoke is translated into “I want to smoke”…   Affirmations need to be formulated in the present tense. A good way to create positive affirmations is to start with a list of negative thoughts. Take a moment and write down some of the more common and repetitive negative thoughts, ideas and judgments that are on “autoplay” in your head. List these thoughts on the left hand side of a page… think about choosing YES, and replace them with an affirmation that starts with YES on the right side. Here are some examples:

I am never going to lose weight. C H O O S E   Y E S Yes I can! I can influence my body weight thru healthy food choices and exercise.
I feel so guilty, I’m a terrible parent. Yes I am! I forgive myself for the mistakes I make and appreciate that I try to be the best parent I can be.
I hate rain. It’s going to be another crappy day. Yes I do! I appreciate all the good things in this day and focus on being positive.
Nobody ever helps me around here. I always have to do everything. Yes I can! I can ask for help and delegate tasks. I deserve to take breaks and have energy left at the end of the day.

Of course it takes practice and regular effort to slowly shift from negative to YES. 

Step three: Shift your focus in the world.

You have heard about the glass being half empty or half full. Remember that you choose the thoughts you think. You also choose the lens and filter thru which you experience the world. You can either focus on the silver lining, the benefits, the things you can be grateful for… or you can get stuck in seeing everything thru the grey lens of disappointment and disgruntlement.

Step four: Think about the purpose of your negative thought habits

North Vancouver counselling therapy for depression and stress reliefIf you are finding it difficult to implement mindfulness and to shift to YES, ask yourself what would change in your life if you practiced a more positive mindset. What would happen if you lived your life with more joy and contentment?   Sometimes we develop patterns because that is what we were taught. Often we maintain patterns because they represent some sort of security for us.

If you think back to your family of origin… what would you say was the “speed limit” for happiness in your family? Were your parents optimistic, joyful and content? Or was your mother a bit of a martyr or your father often angry? Perhaps you grew up with the chaos of addiction or the low vibrational energy of depression and anxiety. Perhaps your family had an intergenerational belief that life is about hard work and happiness was not the purpose of life. Maybe religion played a role in what you were taught or witnessed and feeling too good about yourself or life meant that you were straying of the righteous path of obedience and sacrifice. As you examine the beliefs about joy and happiness of your childhood and how they are still affecting you today, remember that you can make different choices at any given moment.

If you are finding it difficult to sustain joy and positive energy in your mind and body, if you need help to cope with depression Get help for depression and anxiety with Burnaby certified Body psychotherapistand anxiety, consider working with a counsellor such as myself who has a somatic (body-mind) approach. Integrative Body Psychotherapy  can help you repattern your thoughts and release negative holding patterns in your body. Hypnotherapy, EMDT or EFT are all useful tools to help you overcome depression and anxiety and shift from no to YES so you can raise your Happiness Quotient.

Do you want to raise your Happiness Quotient? North Vancouver counselling for women offers positive psychology therapy

Some of my clients seek counselling help for anxiety or depression because they have realized that they struggle sustaining a feeling of joy, well-being and happiness in their mind and body.
On a daily basis, all of us deal with a number of challenges which can start conversations either in our head or with others. Stop for a moment and think – if, without you being aware, someone recorded an hour of your internal dialogue or 3 random conversations you had with friends…what would this verbiage sound like?

counselling for low self esteem can shift your negative thinkingDo you think it would have repetitive snippets that sounded like this:

Why is my belly so fat today, I’m never going to meet that deadline, there goes money, I never have enough money, I hate this job, why is traffic so slow, I can’t stand him/her, no matter what I do – it’s never enough, there is just no pleasing people, I’m so tired, this is boring, omg what if…., I still can’t get over the fact that…, it’s probably not going to work out, I don’t know why I even bother, another rainy day grrr, nobody cares anyways, why does s/he keep doing this to me, things will never change….

We live in a society where negativity is an accepted part of our day. When you talk to your friends you might spend a good part of the conversation “venting” about something negative. When you turn on any media device and listen to the news… 95% of the content is negative.

Is it any wonder if you struggle sustaining a feeling of joy, well-being and happiness in your mind and body? If we live immersed in negativity, is it any wonder that a large percentage of our population turns to mind numbing activities like surfing the internet, video gaming, pot smoking, drinking or eating to get some relief?

But with a few adjustments it is possible to shift this anxiety provoking, stressful and depressing energy and raise your happiness quotient.

All you have to do is say YES! instead of no.Burnaby counselling for depression and anxiety
Say: YES, I can! Yes, I have! Yes, I AM!!

Research has shown, that the word NO and the negative thoughts associated with the state of NO interrupt the healthy functioning of your brain. Negativity affects memory, reason, language and communication. In fact it has such a strong impact on our entire organism that it can disrupt sleep and appetite as well as your ability to experience long- term happiness and satisfaction. Negative thinking is self-perpetuating… the more you do it the more difficult it becomes to shift that energy.

relief from anxiety and stress with anxiety counselling BurnabyNegative thoughts that provoke fear and anxiety stimulate your brain to release stress hormones. Reverse this downward spiral, with saying YES.
But since “yes”, is not a word that evokes threat or danger, initially our brain has a very neutral response. Barbara Fredrickson, one of the founders of Positive Psychology, discovered that we need to generate at least 3 positive thoughts and feelings for each expression of negativity.
If you are unable to retain a consistent ratio of 3:1 of positive expression vs. negativity, you will soon notice the impact on your personal and business relationships. This supports the findings of John Gottman’s research with married couples.

What do you think you need to do to shift from no to YES in your thoughts, words and actions? Stay tuned for Part 2 of how to increase your HQ where I discuss the specific steps that will take you from no to YES.

Are you a perfectionist? You might be nodding your head vigorously and saying “Yes, that me. It’s what has gotten me to where I am today.” Or you might think that you’re so laid back and relaxed, perfectionism plays no role in your life whatsoever.

No matter what your stance, perfectionism can be a double-edged sword because it can lead to counter-productive behaviors.

Marketing and advertising strategies tend to exploit the image of “the perfect woman.” What’s wrong with doing and looking your best, you may ask? After all, many would concur that being a high achiever is what makes you successful.

As a perfectionist you may be familiar with  certain behaviours that are actually counter-productive to your desired outcome.

We all know the quote “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” One might think that perfectionists would be the first ones to put this into action.

Yet a common behavior for perfectionists to engage in, is procrastination. You see, what we haven’t really talked about yet, is that perfectionism is connected to anxiety. The anxiety or the fear of not being good enough, of being rejected, of being a failure or displeasing someone.

Let’s take the example of Susan. Susan is a successfully self-employed interior decorator. Recently her business coach suggested that she should start blogging to establish herself as an expert and connect more frequently with her clients. On Friday, when Susan had planned to blog, she found herself very busy. She caught up on all her filing, she did her invoicing and she cleared her desk. Because her office is located in her home, Susan then decided she should bake some muffins as an afternoon snack for the children. Susan got a lot accomplished on that Friday, except the one thing that was on her schedule: write the blog post.

When Susan and I talked about what happened, she realized that her procrastination was connected to anxiety. She was worried that her writing wouldn’t be good enough. She agonized that people reading her blog post would think she was stupid or was passing on irrelevant information. She was a hostage of perfectionism, which in turn made her feel vulnerable and afraid to fail.

 Do you ever find yourself putting off a task because you’re not good at it or you’re worried about the outcome?

While procrastination is actually a way to self soothe your feelings of anxiety, in the long run it makes things worse. Anxiety lives in the body, so one way for you to move forward is to literally move your body forward. Grounding breathing techniques such as belly breathing, visualizing a positive outcome, and repeating positive affirmations can help.

You can also break down the task at hand into small steps so it feels less overwhelming. Progress comes with awareness. Once you have identified that you’re procrastinating and why, you can do something about it. Journaling and exploring worst-case scenarios can be useful to dispel the story in your head.

Because it is a story, a story that you’ve been telling yourself or that you have bought into. And just like you can change your thoughts, you can choose and learn to change the story. Are you ready to let go of your need to do it perfectly?

 

Does the way you eat reflect how your family ate when you were growing up?
Naturally thin individuals are more in tune with their bodies when it comes to food consumption than others who struggle with weight issues and dieting.

When you are in tune with your body, you can interpret the message from your brain “I’ve eaten enough” in a timely fashion. Research shows that, it takes longer for food signals from the stomach to reach the brain as a person becomes heavier.

If you are a “fast” eater, you most likely consume more food than your body actually needs to satisfy hunger.
Now there is a new gadget on the market to help people lose weight by getting them to eat more slowly.

Maclean’s published an article called “Eat Like a Snail” in their April 12th 2010 issue, which discusses the merits of “SMARTBITE”, an oral device which forces the wearer to only eat small bites and chew the food thoroughly before being able to swallow.

In my work with clients who struggle with Emotional Eating and bingeing, bringing awareness to the process of eating is the first step towards change.
Changing Emotional Eating does not mean to never have a piece of chocolate when your sad or stressed again….it does not mean continuous deprivation of all your favourite foods because you are on “a diet”.
It does mean savouring your choice of food. Involving all your senses.

As a child you most likely heard “don’t play with your food”. Perhaps you’re also familiar with phrases like “Finish what’s on your plate”. “If you don’t eat your vegetables, you can’t have any desert”.
Naturally thin people are able to tune into their bodies because they most likely never had to learn to ignore their body’s messages.
Recapturing the signal our body sends us takes practice and mindfulness.

The next time you eat… engage all your senses. Pay attention to your environment. You cannot tune into your body if your mind is absorbed by the TV, the newspaper, unpleasant discussions, or when you are eating on the run.

Bring your awareness to the texture of what you’re eating, the aroma, the temperature. Enjoy the colors, the presentation. Take small bites. Chew thoroughly. You may find out that some foods (primarily fast food) does not taste that great when you chew it more than 4 or 5 times… all of a sudden it’s greasy, too sweet, etc. You may discover that less is more.

When less is more, you might be able to afford higher quality of food. As you rediscover the dialogue between your brain and your body, you might make different food choices… based on the nutritional desires of your body.

As you tune in, you might also ask yourself…what do I really need or want right now? Food? Or do you need a hug, a time out, a walk in the park, some reassurance from a friend?