Returning to wholeness

Women Returning to Wholeness

positive affirmations

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

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.

You don’t expect your counsellor to talk about your closet. However, how you do anything in life is how you do everything. In this series, we’re taking a look at how loving your closet can be a springboard towards the transformational journey of self-love and acceptance.

In part one we looked at how keeping clothes that don’t fit can contribute to that feeling of standing in front of your closet and saying “I’ve got nothing to wear!”

In part two, let’s take a look at

You’ve got nothing to wear because your closet and clothes need some TLC

Are you chaotically messy or does your closet house a random collection of things that don’t belong; such as gum wrappers, old tissues, broken shoes, books, ecc.? Are all your accessories thrown in a drawer or are they nicely organized?

Do you have a mix and match of hangers and piles of clothes that need serious mending, torn off buttons and stains that didn’t come out in the wash?

While a busy schedule may create a temporary backlog of things to attend to, a permanent lack of TLC for your clothes and accessories points to a general attitude about your self-care.

Remember we said that how you do anything is how you do everything? Do you have unfinished situations in your life which need “cleaning up” or “mending”? Do details bore you or simply cost too much energy? Do you tend to “fly by the seat of your pants” and generally don’t like to spend too much time planning ahead?

When you store little value in taking care of your clothes, there’s often an underlying theme of less than stellar self-care or self-esteem. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to feel like a million bucks in the clothes you wear. You do have to cultivate an attitude of deserving positive attention and good feelings about yourself.

To help you shift to a stance of valuing and loving yourself, evaluate what you would like to repair and mend in your life and in your closet….and what would you finally like to throw out.

Perhaps the time has come to trash the shirt with the stain and the tear just like it’s time to say good bye to that friend who keeps letting you down and whose toxic energy has left a stain in your heart.

 

Stay tuned for part 3, the closet full of “mistakes.”

 

 

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.

How many of us look in the mirror every morning and say to ourselves, “I am the perfection of Life.  Today I will take time to laugh and play.”?

This video offers lots of positive affirmations and is a beautiful invitation to slow down and enjoy life every day.