“I Don’t Care What You Think”

Is often the sentiment when a difference of opinion gets to a heated place. We may not say that (or maybe we will) but either way, the point of the conflict has moved to one of having to prove that we are right; an indignant, inflexible place. Lost to our own anger, we are fueled to feel justified in our belief until it reaches the point of conviction, both parties becoming stuck in an unyielding pigeonhole of wanting to get your own way.

I always tell clients that “there is no point in arguing with an angry person or a drunk one; either case will get you nowhere.” As soon as anger rises in contention, you move into defensiveness and denial and there is no space left for solution. It is always best at this point to take a time out, agreeing to come back to resolution when everyone’s jets have cooled.

But how do you do this when you know you’re right? 🙂 Well, I suppose two things can help:

  1. Approach the problem with a healthier aim; one in which the focus becomes to find a win-win solution to the issue. This helps in creating an open-minded, curious position.
  2. Focus on the notion that listening to another person’s opinion may not be about changing your mind, but rather about developing your thinking.

Approaching conflict in this manner helps to move us to a more receptive position; one whose focus is of a deeper sentiment of care and benevolence. (As a side note, these tips work great with teenagers too!)

Photo credit: http://Photo by Victor Benard on Unsplash

“The Three M’s”

I am borrowing this one from my friend and colleague, Darlene Denis-Friske. It is a strategy she likes to call the “three m’s” and it is related to our call to action when we are in a highly emotional state. If you recall from previous posts, emotion will trump reason every time and the more heightened you feel while caught up in that whirlwind of emotion, the more likely you are to succumb to saying or doing something you will regret after your emotional state returns to a calmer place.

If we can catch ourselves before we move to action (yes, it is possible; take a deep breath to start), we give ourselves permission to slow down, to give some space to it so as to allow our rational brain to have a say in how we want to handle ourselves. This is where the “three m’s” come into play, as we can ask ourselves “is my response mature, measured and matter-of-fact?” 

The beauty of these three words is that they carry a lot of weight. Your response is now developed, practical and sound; and with less emotion, you increase the probability of results. Further to this and regardless of the outcome, what is of even greater consideration is that by choosing the “three m’s” you have moved into the position of “I am important and so are you;” allowing yourself to have a voice while respecting the other. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Christian Kaindl on Unsplash

Balance for Well-Being

Building on yesterday’s topic about well-being, there are five areas of our life that help contribute to our overall level of satisfaction; our work, our intimate/family relationships, our spiritual life, our sense of self and our social life. If we are able to achieve a good sense of balance, and feel as though these areas are for the most part in our control, we feel more secure in our sense of well-being.

There are times however, when we feel out of balance and perhaps one or two of the areas are not in our control as much as we’d like them to be which will require some inquiry and some re-shifting of priorities. A good exercise in exploration is to write down each of these areas and jot down the things you are doing to nourish them; focusing as well on the goals you would like to have in each one. Questions that can also help are ones such as: “Am I putting more into my work than I am into my partner or family? Am I connecting with friends as often as I should? How am I feeding my soul? Am I getting enough exercise? Time outside? Am I finding time to have fun? To laugh?”

Understanding and making conscious decisions in these areas of our lives creates a greater sense of agency and a feeling of simplicity; for it is in our appreciation of stability and equilibrium that our well-being rests and is most content.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


In the Driver’s Seat

When we think about our sense of psychological well-being, what often comes to mind is how we rate the general satisfaction of our lives. How good do we feel about our lives in general? How content are we?

If we sat and thought about the elements that contribute to either a valued sense of well-being or a poor one, we would most likely come up with many factors such as the strength of our support system, our job satisfaction, our financial state, the condition of our health and so forth. Interestingly enough, while all of these factors can certainly affect our sense of well-being, what comes up as the number one reason we feel good about our lives is the amount of personal control we have within them.

It becomes about a feeling that despite the challenges that come our way, of which are often not in our control, we can still have a sense of agency in our own lives. Knowing that we have some ability to make decisions and have choices within the confines of our difficulty, allows us to move to a place of feeling more settled again in our sense of who we are; giving us the courage perhaps to say “Move over please, I’m driving.”

Photo credit: http://Photo by Logan Fisher on Unsplash


Depression Fact #3

Persistent irritability can be a symptom of depression. Typically when we think of depression we tend to consider first the classic symptoms of depression such as low mood and motivation, changes to our sleeping and eating habits, etc., yet irritability can be an indication that you are depressed; especially if it is persistent.  This can be especially true for men, who may not show the visible signs of emotion linked to depression; the same goes for children or adolescents who may act out behaviourally as an indication that something is wrong.  In any case, if depressive symptoms are interfering with the day-to-day functioning of your life, a proper diagnosis is important.

For more information about the symptoms and treatment of depression: http://depressionhurts.ca/en/

Photo credit: http://Photo by FuYong Hua on Unsplash

Emotion Defined

The definition of emotion in my Webster’s dictionary is as follows: a strong feeling (such as wonder, love, sorrow, shame) often accompanied by a physical reaction (e.g. blushing or trembling).  In my Dictionary of Emotions by Patrick Michael Ryan, he states, “Emotions are subjective. Emotions help define our internal and external condition and experience.” 

Two rather interesting definitions of emotion that I found online at Urban Dictionary (a website where people upload their own definitions of words) was 1. by Mareena who stated “emotion: something that should be locked up in drawers, or simply kept in your pockets and 2. by RockandRollbabe who states “an inexplicable thing that makes you do stupid stuff that you will regret for the rest of your life.” Both appear to have originated from experience 🙂

And yet another definition is the Latin root word for emotion which is “to move.” The notion that no matter what you are feeling, there is an element of motion to it, a stirring up, a responsive sensation to an event or experience. Perhaps the idea we can take from this is in giving ourselves permission to allow for the flow of emotion, to simply accept our emotions as they come and go and not as a definition of who we are.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Brynden on Unsplash


A Poem About Growth

A little poem that caught my attention by Rudy Franciso:

Of all the things I could’ve been,

I am so glad to be this.

Thank God I didn’t actually become who I pretended to be

Back when I had no idea who I was. 

What a lovely thought about growth and giving ourselves permission to “just be.” Sometimes it is the expectations that society places on us that get in the way, other times it is our own reckoning about what it means to be successful, and sometimes the messages we get from others help put us into the mode of pretending and we end up living a life that can feel misrepresented to some degree. It is the process of self-reflection, through experience, that allows us to move towards a more genuine place, both with ourselves and others; ultimately bringing with it a courage to be who we are. 

Photo credit: http://Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash


“Just Say No”

Is not something you say to a people-pleaser. The thought of “just saying no” tends to work against every grain of their reinforced and automatic response of saying yes. That being said, when we always say yes, we put ourselves in a position of not being important; we have negated our own needs and the flexibility required in order to honour what works for us.

Ultimately, in order to move to a healthier position, we need to give ourselves permission to reflect on whether or not it works within our schedule and energy level to say yes.  An example would be “I will have to get back to you about this; I have to check on a few things.” This will give you the space to decide whether or not it works for you. If it does, great! But if you feel that you are sacrificing at your own expense by saying yes, you can move to “I’m sorry, but I can’t say yes this time.” Saying no gently is a good alternative because you are tempering the no; it doesn’t feel so rigid and final. Saying no may not feel natural or comfortable at first but that is okay; you will have begun the process of reinforcing a healthier position for yourself in the long run.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash


Happiness Revisited

In a recent article entitled “How I Stopped Chasing Happiness and Started Enjoying My Imperfect Life” by Mai Pham, featured on tinybuddha, Mai explores the assumption that achievement equals happiness. She talks about her own experience of having set goals, often driven to perfection, and upon achieving those goals felt ordinary when she expected to feel extraordinary. She noted “I blamed my achievements for my dissatisfaction—that they were not tremendous enough for me to feel happy. So I thought I had to do more. I found a new goal, and I fell into the trap again.”

She makes an interesting observation that in the process of trying to achieve success in order to find happiness, she lost sight of the most important goal of all which was to enjoy her life.

Very often, we are pulled into a frenetic pace, lulled into the dull belief that

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The Rational Brain

When I was a little girl I can remember being very fascinated by the moon. If we were traveling home anytime at night, I believed the moon was following me home. I even recall telling my mom that once and although she kindly told me that it “just felt that way”, I can also distinctly remember thinking that she was wrong. 🙂

When we are children we have a lot of magical thinking; it is why we can tell our kids that a big, jolly man comes down the chimney at Christmas and leaves presents by the fireplace. Our four year old may, in fact, question how Santa comes down the chimney, but because the rational part of their brain (before the age of seven) is very underdeveloped, all we have to tell them is that “Santa uses reindeer dust” and they are wondrously back to believing in the magic of Christmas.

Our rational brain is found in the prefrontal cortex and is involved in planning complex cognitive behavior, decision making, and mitigating social behaviour. It is not fully formed until we are in our early twenties. This is important

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