Returning to wholeness

Women Returning to Wholeness

depression

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.

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 wondering if you are a perfectionist?  Take a look and see if you can relate to these statements: how true are they on a scale of 1 to 10?

  • Nothing good comes from making mistakes
  • I must do things right the first time
  • I must do everything well, not just the things I know I’m good at
  • If I can’t do something perfectly then there’s no point even in trying
  • I rarely give myself credit when I do well because there’s always something more that I could do
  • Sometimes I’m so concerned about getting one task done perfectly that I haven’t have time to complete the rest of my work

If your total score is higher than 32, your life is undoubtedly being affected by perfectionism.

As a perfectionist you’re every employers dream. You’re usually willing and ready to work overtime and always go the extra mile. Your colleagues come and hand you projects they don’t have time for because they know you will take them on… even though your own to do list is stretched to the max.

You would think that with all this extra effort you would be particularly appreciated. Instead your boss has grown to expect you to be always available and the promotion went to Jane in accounting. Furthermore, your boyfriend, partner or family is not impressed. What is wrong with this picture you wonder?

As a perfectionist you’re also every employee’s nightmare. You can’t relinquish control over anything and your stance is: why bother delegating to get the job done with mediocrity when you can do it yourself perfectly the first time. Your team is used to receiving mostly criticism rather than praise and everybody has long stopped to come up with innovative ideas.

At home you wonder why you always have to do everything yourself. The truth is that others just don’t do it well enough for you. Because, didn’t you know, there is a right way and a wrong way to stack the dishwasher…

Perfectionists can be in the habit of engaging in a number of unhelpful behaviors to make sure that they continue to meet the incredibly high standards they set for themselves.

 

Difficulty in making decisions is one of these unhelpful behaviours that you might be engaging in if you have perfectionistic tendencies.

Let’s say you’ve had a long day at work and all you really want to do is have a quiet evening in front of the TV. The voice in your head however is of a different opinion. It is suggesting that really you should be going to the gym because otherwise you’re going to gain weight. Or, you should work for another hour on that report you have to present tomorrow. Or, you should have sex tonight because that’s what your boyfriend or partner has been hoping for. When you have all these shoulds going on, it can become very confusing and feel overwhelming.

In the end you don’t know what you really want to do. All you do know is, that you want to do the right thing, you don’t want to upset anyone and you don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Every should has a whole chorus of voices advocating its validity.

So here you are, struggling to make a decision.

If the should virus has taken over your life and your trying to figure out what you really want to do, you need to go back to the body. Remember, while all the voices in your head are competing for your attention, your body already knows the truth.

 So the next time you’re undecided, take a moment and close your eyes. Take a few breaths to become calm and grounded. Then visualize each of the options proposed by the should voice. Finally visualize your original thought of what you wanted to do.

Notice how your body feels with each image that you produce in your mind. When your body feels open or relaxed, you have connected to what you really want to do and ironically what you should do.

The short-term benefits of allowing your inner truth to be your compass are authenticity and an increased ability to be fully present with what you’re doing.

Confronting the double edged sword of perfectionism isn’t always easy. It requires courage and a certain willingness to feel vulnerable as you show up in the world as your authentic self. The long-term benefits of this act of courage and of letting go of perfectionism are deeper connections with others and yourself.

 

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?

 

When you stand in front of the closet and feel like you’ve got nothing to wear, it can trigger negative self-talk and feelings of frustration or resignation.

Often how we choose to present ourselves in the world changes over time. Clothes offer us the wonderful option of experimenting with new styles, looks and why not, a different personality. If the “failures” of such experiments have remained a part of your wardrobe, read on about how you can use closet challenge no 3 as a transformational tool of personal growth.

#3 You’ve got nothing to wear because your closet is
filled with “mistakes”

Do you own things that still have the price tag attached or you’ve worn once but never again because they were “mistakes”? Are there clothes you bought based on your mood of that day when you indulged in a little retail therapy or when a sale convinced you that the lime green skirt would be a good buy?

Or perhaps you own a collection of impulse buys that you never really intended to wear. Those outrageous golden sandals that kill your feet within 5 minutes, the sequined bolero or the ultra-funky jacket and skirt ensemble…all items that evoke a certain image or feeling or speak to a certain longing.

The cool thing about clothes is that you can change your appearance at will. You can create a look and invent a personality to go with it. Let’s face it, most of us, at some point or other have wished we were different. It’s like having naturally curly hair and envying naturally straight hair and vice versa. The thought of feeling less shy or being seen as more assertive or sexier has made us reach for garments we usually wouldn’t buy or wear.

I know I have often wanted to look less “classic casual” and more funky, which I equate with fun and lightheartedness. So I’ve gone out and come home with some country style blouse or funky skirt. Did I wear them? Yes, maybe once or twice. Did I feel comfortable in my skin? Not really. Have I donated those items? With reluctance… after all, I spend good money on them.

Learning to love yourself, just the way you are sounds simple. But if you combine  media messages, the desire to fit in or stand out, peer pressure and internalized negative self-talk from when you were growing up, it makes sense that it’s only too easy to end up with items in your closet that represent the longing to be different.

So take a good look and be ruthless. Is it really worth keeping that mini skirt which was supposed to make you feel sexy but leaves you feeling uncomfortable and fidgety when you’re out?

Try on every impulse buy and identify – why are you not wearing it? Why did you buy it in the first place? What would be the middle ground?

How can you love and accept yourself just the way you are and allow room for playfulness and fun while remaining authentic?

It’s ok to experiment and “make mistakes.” However an important second step is to “forgive” yourself and let it go…even if you did spend good money.

Finally there’s the case of those impulse buys actually representing an aspect of your personality that’s been trying to “come out of the closet.”

Remember, what other people think about you, is none of your business.

You have no way of controlling what is going on in someone else’s head, even if you like to think you do. So you might as well go for it. Be who you are and want to be. Show up in the world from a place of authenticity and feeling good about all parts of you…. because you’re beautiful and already good enough.

I hope that you’re feeling inspired to love your closet. It can be the springboard towards loving your life and a transformational process, celebrating who you are and supporting you in showing up in the world feeling fabulous.

 

 

Do you listen to “I’m too fat FM”? Over the years of counselling women I have discovered that perfectionism and low self-esteem or poor body image are often connected.

Being synchronized to “I’m too fat FM” is a painful experience with ripple effect.

Many women pretend that they don’t listen to this station by putting on an air of self-confidence when they go out into the world.

Only closest friends and partners become privy to the painful internal struggle that gets triggered with every glance in the mirror. What happens is that once in a while, “I’m too fat FM” gets interrupted by spontaneous broadcasts of messages from “Maybe I’m ok FM”.

In these moments, the woman usually turns to her spouse or friend asking for reassurance. What follows is a dialogue which, repeated often enough,
leaves both parties frustrated and / or annoyed.

Can you relate to this scenario?

“Honey, do you think I look ok in this dress?”
“You look great babe! How many times have I told you that I think you’re sexy and I love your body?”
“Oh, you just say that because you love me. I guess I wouldn’t look too bad, if only I didn’t have ____________ (choose from these options – this big belly, such bad skin, fat thighs, bigger breasts ecc).”
“That’s nonsense! I’m telling you, you look great!”
“You don’t really understand. Like I said, you love me so of course you think I’m ok.”
“If you don’t believe me, why do you even ask?”

 While listening to “I’m too fat FM” or “I’m not good enough FM” maybe a habit you’ve picked up during childhood, today, as an adult, you have a choice to choose a different radio station.

You have a choice regarding the thoughts you think. Perhaps you feel  that changing these thoughts is difficult if not impossible.

If you can’t seem to break the habit of negative self-talk, ask yourself these questions:

What is the benefit of negative self-talk or keeping yourself small?

Here are some answers I have heard while counselling women for anxiety and depression: It makes me work harder and always strive to be better, it allows me to see nice things in other people, it makes me a good friend,

What is the cost of negative self-talk?

Answers women have shared: Depression, anxiety, I don’t go out and do things I want, I hide my body, I’m inhibited in bed, I become obsessed about being perfect in other areas, I obsess about my body and weight loss, I’m unhappy

What would be the benefits of listening to “I’m perfect just the way I am FM”?

Answers women have shared: I would have more freedom, I would have more energy, I would feel great about myself, I would do more things, I would have more fun, I would dress differently and wear what I want, I would initiate sex and feel less inhibited

 What would be the (imagined) costs of stopping negative self-talk?

Answers women have shared: Having to step out of my comfort zone, people thinking I’m conceited or arrogant, losing friends, conflict with partner or family, realizing that I want to live my life differently,

Here are 4 tips to help you stop negative self-talk and shift low self-esteem / poor body image:

1) Do mirror work: Many of my clients resist this exercise, but mirror work is very powerful. To avoid getting distracted by your body, start with a hand mirror and look into your eyes when you say the following:

I love you. It’s not what you do but who you are that I love. You are perfect just the way you are. You are special to me. I have confidence in you.

Start with one of these messages. Take a couple of minutes in the morning after you wake up and in the evening before going to sleep to connect with yourself. Breathe into these messages. Notice any voices in your head that disagree and just let them go. You may choose to journal about what the voices in your head are saying.

2) Practice gratitude: Thanks to your amazing body, you get to experience life. You get to enjoy the beauty of nature, taste good food, touch the people you love, hear beautiful sounds, do the work you do. You might think you’re thighs are too fat… but imagine missing a leg. You might worry about your breasts being too small but imagine losing them to illness.

3) Start a daily practice of writing and saying positive affirmations to yourself. There are lots of great books that you can use to inspire you.

4) Start doing some of the things you now don’t allow yourself to do because you imagine everybody is looking at you and thinking horrible thoughts. Learn anxiety management techniques such as EFT and thought stopping to help you cope.

You don’t have to be a hostage of your inner critic and “I’m too fat FM.” You can and you deserve to own your greatness.

Do you have questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you.

Ina Stockhausen is a psychotherapist in Burnaby and North Vancouver, specializing in counselling women for anxiety, depression and stress management. She offers solution focused counselling and helps women navigate life transitions.

If you have ever struggled with depression you can probably relate to feeling stuck and/or overwhelmed. When I am counselling clients for depression, most often in our sessions we address a combination of four  mind states:

  1. Grief and loss:
    – trying to come to terms with change and grieving what once was or could have been
  2. Low self-esteem:
    – being caught up in not feeling good enough
    –  self-blame / inability to love and accept yourself where you’re at
  3. Lack of hope:
    – an inability to formulate or connect with a new inspiring vision for the future
    – feeling overwhelmed trying to imagine the energy needed to surface from the layers
    of depression
  4. Feeling shut down to cope with anxiety and overwhelm

As I was sitting down the other day to write a condolence card for a dear friend who has lost her partner of 40 years, I pondered the cycle of life. The term cycle reminded me of movement.

I thought about the delight and happiness we experience when a child is born. Usually there is lots of excitement connected to witnessing every new step of development and growth.

Watching someone we love grow old and slowly lose more and more of their vitality tends not to be a joyful process. Having to say good bye to a loved one is painful.

 Joy and happiness, grief and loss these are two sides of a coin.

Help for overcoming depression and anxiety / counselling BurnabyOnly seeing one side of the coin means the coin has stopped spinning. When you stop moving thru emotions,  you can get stuck in between “spin cycles.”

We live in a society where we tend to focus on the “bright side of life.” Little time is afforded to not feeling good. Great efforts are made and products are offered to make you feel better quickly.

I believe that in this process we have lost our ability to  dig deep and connect with our inner strength.

We have internalized a message that we need external means to help us move thru “negative” emotions as quickly as possible. If we don’t get over our grief and loss there is something wrong with us. Our environment is uncomfortable witnessing despair for extended periods of time.

As a collective we have lost touch with our place of trust and hope and acceptance. Acceptance of the cyclical nature of life.

There is a difference between acceptance and resignation. There is a difference between supporting and holding space for someone who is grieving and seeing their grief and trying to hurry them along to be happy again. In order to appreciate and be able to see the bright side of life, we have to be willing to dwell in the darkness.

When you suppress how you really feel and put on a bright face for the world to see, when you abandon yourself by neglecting to get your needs met at the benefit of making sure the needs of others are met, you pay a price.

This price can come in the form of depression, which is really a place of shutting down.

 Burnaby counselling for women and depressionSometimes, you need a helping hand to dig deep when you’re depressed, sad and unhappy.
You need someone who is willing to keep you company in the dark places.

When you open the door to a dark room, some light enters. With the light, comes an awareness of other things that have gotten lost in the darkness and thus temporarily invisible.

When you’re depressed it’s only too easy to move from low self-esteem and despair to a place of shame. Sharing how you really feel and being seen and heard can be a very vulnerable place.

Finding the courage to allow yourself to be seen however is also an empowering place and the first step towards getting the coin to spin again.

If you’re struggling with depression, I invite you to give yourself permission to love and accept yourself exactly where you’re at.

Dig deep within yourself to connect to your place of faith; trust that this too shall pass.

Carefully select someone who you can trust  to help you stay in touch with your own courage and hope. Choose someone you can trust to see and hear you without having to fix and change you.

 This is what you don’t want to have happen:

  • Rather than expressing empathy, your friend feels sorry for you thus reinforcing your shame and feelings of hopelessness
  • Your friend gets triggered and takes on your problems and you end up having to take care of him or her
  • Your friend has a need to fix and rushes in with solutions rather than just hearing you
  • Your friend has a habit of one-upmanship and proceeds to tell you how her problems are much worse than yours

Burnaby counselling / psycho therapy for depressionConsider getting professional counselling support for depression if you don’t have someone in your life who has sufficiently strong boundaries and the emotional resilience to come and connect with you in the darkness when you need company.

Finally, continue to engage in movement. Continue to breathe. It literally takes energy to keep the coin spinning. Get help  to keep yourself moving physically.

It is difficult to remain stuck mentally when your body is in movement. If activities like swimming, dancing or walking seem overwhelming, start small. Connect to the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe.

Take several moments each day to breathe with awareness. Taking in air and life force, letting go of tension.

Connect to gratitude. There is always something to feel grateful for. Use gratitude and the good feeling associated as a stepping place to climb the ladder towards feeling good.

As always I welcome your comments and feedback.

Smiles,

Ina

You might be tempted to do so  if you happen to watch the latest Nabisco Cookie commercial for the “Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey Cookies”  because… “they are crammed with joy.” In my counselling practice for women, I specialize helping clients overcome emotional eating and address the root causes of depression.

Burnaby counselling for women helps you stop emotional eatingIn these times of stress many individuals struggle with increased depression and anxiety. As you may know, when you’re depressed, your serotonin levels are low. Low serotonin levels in turn trigger cravings for refined carbohydrates like cookies or chocolate.

When advertising helps instill the belief that a cookie is “crammed with joy” is it any wonder that the rate of emotional eating related weight gain is also on the rise?

Let’s not forget that children watch TV as well.
(The cookie commercial is geared towards children)  Between the age of 4 to 10, children develop  their ability to think. How many of us think to point out to a 6 year old that a cookie is actually not crammed with joy? To the average adult it is just advertising that we tune out. But somewhere in our brain and somewhere in the developing brain of our children this message gets logged.

So let me repeat my earlier question. Is it any wonder that emotional eating, Food Addiction and obesity are on the rise?

If we take another look at the connection between serotonin levels and cravings we also need to remember that low serotonin levels affect how you feel about yourself. Anyone who has ever felt depressed will recall that they weren’t exactly bursting with self-esteem at the time.

One of the most common grievances accompanying low self-esteem that clients share with me is their fear of weight gain and feeling too fat.

It is a dilemma. Sugar does raise serotonin levels momentarily, so it would appear that the Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey cookies are indeed “crammed with joy”.

Personally I think I would like the ad better if it ended with one of those rapid monotonous voices we recognize from drug commercials which could say “Some side effects may apply. Eat with caution when depressed. The intense flavor may trigger binge eating, overeating or continuous grazing until the box is empty. After effects may include and are not restricted to weight gain, self-loathing, feelings of powerlessness”.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with Chewy Gooey cookies. As I always say to my clients:
There are no forbidden foods as long as you eat mindfully. So the next time you have a cookie, do enjoy and savor the smooth creamy fudge in the middle.

Then consciously take a breath, connect with your body and check in to see if you really want another cookie. Perhaps you do. If you find yourself eating  more than a whole handful, ask yourself what you are really hungry for in this moment.

Get help for depression and anxiety with Burnaby counsellingIt may well be that you are looking for a little bit of joy. And that is ok. But remember that you can make a choice. You can eat more cookies, or take another breath, put down the cookies and take a moment to remember what else gives you joy. Maybe you like to hug your pet, kiss your child, play a game, do some gardening…

Now check in again with your body. What is truly going to meet your need for joy in this moment?

No matter what choice you end up making, be present with yourself and give yourself permission to truly savor the moment and your chosen activity.