Returning to wholeness

Women Returning to Wholeness

Joy

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

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.

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.

 

 

Summer is coming to an end, temperatures are dropping and you’re most likely rearranging your closet for the upcoming fall/winter season. Do you love your closet?

Is it a place of affirmation of who you are? Is it filled with beautiful colours that enhance your skin tone and make you look great? Is it easy for you to put together an outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks?

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “How you do anything, is how you do everything.”

Often the relationship with your closet and the clothes you own is quite revealing about how you live your life and feel about yourself.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the classic and frustrating situation of gazing at the array of garments we own only to conclude “I’ve got nothing to wear!”

Did you know that, according to fashion experts, most women wear only 20 per cent of their wardrobe 80 per cent of the time?

Let’s examine three typical “closet situations” that can be a springboard for personal awareness and positive change. In part 1 of this 3 part series let’s look at

# 1: You’ve got nothing to wear because your size has changed and /or your wardrobe is outdated.

If your closet is filled with a number of garments that don’t fit or are no longer appropriate for your current stage of life? Ask yourself…how long has it been since they were a fit? Months, a season or has it been years? Why haven’t you given them away? Is it a budget question or is there more to it?

A survey conducted in the UK at the beginning of the year found that eight out of ten women – that amounts to 20million across the UK – are hoarding millions of pieces of clothing that they can never wear.

Two thirds admitted of keeping the clothes in the misguided hope they will one day be able to wear them again. I’m sure that women on this side of the ocean can relate.

When you hold on to clothes that are too small (most likely you aren’t keeping a sexy dress you want to grow into) it can be symbolic of a general struggle to let go of things in your life. Keeping clothes that were appropriate when you just got out of high school or were still a student can also indicate that you haven’t fully moved forward and stepped into your current life or life style.

Sometimes there is an emotional connection to once favorite items of clothing because they remind you of happy times in your life. There is nothing wrong with keeping things for sentimental reasons. But they shouldn’t be part of your everyday wardrobe because rather than evoking positive memories, they risk triggering negative self-talk and stress in those moments when you’re trying to find something to wear.

 If you’re struggling with giving away what’s no longer a fit because a part of you longs to feel like you did “back then”, if you associate feeling good about yourself with being different from how or who you are today, try the following exercise:

Divide a piece of paper into two columns. In the first column make a list describing all the positive things you associate with the woman who wore the clothes that used to fit. In the second column, write down all the things you value and celebrate about who you are today.

Now compare the two. What stands out for you? Are there any items in the first column that you want to integrate into your life today? For example, if you used to feel sexier or more carefree, what can you do to welcome those feelings back into your current life? Perhaps you could take a belly dancing class. Maybe you could join toastmasters.  If you’re feeling really stuck, counselling can help you come to a place of greater self-love and acceptance as well as cope with the inevitable grief that comes with change. There are many options to help you change.

The only limits to being who you want to be, are the limiting thoughts you have bought into.

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.

When you’re stressed or anxious your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol makes you crave sugary and high calorie foods like chocolate, ice cream, donuts or pizza, just to name a few.

When you eat these foods your body responds by producing a hormone called serotonin.

Serotonin can be considered a “happy” hormone, as it greatly influences an overall sense of well-being.

Essentially wanting to eat certain foods is your body’s way to stop producing stress hormones and start producing pleasure hormones.

Here are 3 stress management and wellness tips to stop stress eating

1)  Take a deep breath

and another one and another one. Often when you’re stressed your breathing is very shallow and your body contracts. Neither one of these things feel good. By focusing on taking deep breaths right into your belly, you bring oxygen into your system and your body automatically relaxes. You can increase the calming effect by soothing yourself with a reassuring phrase like “It’s going to be ok.”, “I can do this.”, “I am safe.”.

2) Laugh

Laughing is often the best anxiety and stress help. Being able to laugh at yourself can heal you of any emotions that you are going through.

And remember the stress hormone cortisol? Well, laughter releases certain cells that suppress cortisol…. so no wonder it feels good and is good for you. Start an emergency laughter kit. Watch funny movies. Read funny stories.

3) Get your body moving

Take a brisk walk, do some stretching, play some music and do a jig. Exercise helps lower cortisol and other stress hormones in your body. The key is to do something you enjoy. So tune into your body and let it tell you how it would like to move.

Learning how to cope with stress differently and tapping into other resources will help you stop emotional eating. If you have come to a place in your life where you need to lose weight because you have diabetes or other health concerns and you need anxiety and stress help, or if you’re simply tired of yo-yo dieting this Coaching Program can help you.

 

How do you feel about ageing? If you are reading this and you haven’t hit your 40s yet, you might not spend any time thinking about ageing at this point in your life.

But if you have passed the 40 or 50 mark then you might have spent some time reviewing your life:

  • Where has it led you so far?
  • Are you being the woman or man you want to be?
  • Are you living the life you have always wanted to live?

For many of us, change or transition is part of the “mid-life” period. Children grow up and leave the nest, parents age and caregiving roles become reversed, marriages fall apart due to “mid-life crisis.

It is natural to re-evaluate goals, dreams and challenges when you are faced with transitions in your life. Life-transition counselling can help you navigate this exciting period which is often overshadowed with “heavier” feelings such as loss or grief.

We live in an era that cultivates and approaches life with a very different mindset compared to the beliefs our grandparents grew up with. Many of us, particularly if we have the privilege of living in a civilized, peaceful and affluent part of the globe have started to embrace the notion that we create our own reality.

In our consumer and industry driven part of the world, what that reality looks like is heavily influenced by the media and ultimately by politics.

Ageing or better said “preserving youthfulness” is a multi-billion industry that encompasses everything from cosmetics to supplements. While different messages about the benefits or drawbacks of ageing compete for our attention, our cultural heritage and family values continue to have a large impact on our attitudes and beliefs.

Hence, your mindset and your internalized beliefs will influence the ease with which you might navigate life transition periods or why you might seek life transition counselling.

This is good news! Why? Because you can choose the thoughts you think.

Fascinating studies from people like Ellen Langer at Harvard, show that the belief system someone has by the age of nine determines what they believe about aging. Those who believe that as you age you become wise and that there are positive things associated with aging, add seven years to their life.

If you didn’t grow up with a positive belief system about aging, it’s not too late to shift your way of  thinking. Dr. Christian Northrup’s response to the question of how women can overcome guilt and other self-perpetuating abuse, is to switch focus.

Switch your focus from everything that can go wrong to everything that can go right.

Therefore, when you are navigating a transition period in your life connected to mid-life change and the prospects of aging, think positive thoughts, think about the things you love and focus on living the life of your dreams… it might just extend your life span and will certainly help you make positive life changes.