3 Essential Feelings for Our Well-Being: Post 1

There are three feelings, that when present, help to build and create a strong sense of well-being. A feeling of security, a feeling of love and a feeling of joy are essential to not only the foundation of our sense of self, but also to its maintenance. Today we will look at the feeling of security.

Rooted in attachment, feeling secure is a cornerstone to our sense of self. When we are consistently parented, in a way that is both stable and attuned to our needs, we are given the chance to explore. Essentially, we are given the gift of being able to learn the fundamental process of being dependent in order to achieve independence. Secure attachment creates a foundation for an intact sense of self; something that we can rely on in making decisions, being able to cope with life’s challenges, and helping our own children and loved ones feel secure in their relationships to us.

The good news is that attachment is a life long process – we are capable of attaching to others at any time in our life; this is important if you weren’t granted secure attachment from childhood. Self-reflective work and practice will help vulnerability move in from being protected, allowing yourself to be open to giving and receiving secure attachment from people in your life.

A feeling of security works as a container for both love and joy. Tomorrow we will look at the feeling of love.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Leonard von Bibra on Unsplash

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A Little Reminder About Our Internal Voice

I came across this little quote that reminded me of how we often come to our own internal voices:

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” – Peggy O’Mara

When we are criticized, we learn to criticize ourselves. When we are praised, we learn to be proud of ourselves. When we are ignored, we learn that we are not important. When we are effectively responded to, we learn that we are important. The way we talk to our children matters.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

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A Colour On Your Calendar

I sat with a new mom in session. Her baby was about 4 months old; into a nice routine and able to start bringing her to baby-oriented activities in the community. She was happy to be a new mom, and yet also experiencing some adjustments – including some inner resentment she was feeling towards her husband who was starting his hockey night out every week and was due soon to go hunting for a few days. She noted that she didn’t want to have these feelings.

When we become a new mom, we add that to who we are in terms of our self-identity. And in the first few months of the baby’s life, there is little room for anything else. The baby’s needs take primacy and we quickly realize that our schedule has now been trumped. And that is a necessary reality in the first few months.

Our roles as parents; however,  are not meant to be all-or-nothing in terms of our identity – the goal, rather, is to integrate who we are as parents into who we are as people. Now that the baby was four months old, and a tad more predictable, this couple was making sure to have a date night once a month, she was beginning to attend baby groups a couple of times a week, and her husband had resumed some of his interests. And so I asked her “Where is your colour on the calendar?”

Part of the answer to that question will likely come from guilt – I think “Mommy guilt” comes built in – part of it will also come from feeling protective of the baby. All natural feelings, it is still okay to give ourselves permission to have our own space on the calendar. To set some time aside for ourselves, leaving our baby in capable hands, so that we attend our yoga class, have coffee with a friend, plan some girl-time.

Doing so will help to alleviate built up feelings, provide some re-charge time, integrate self-care into our new role and create some healthy habits along the way. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by The Honest Company on Unsplash

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Nature Comes Through Again

Whenever an article comes along about nature, it piques my interest. Not only from a professional perspective, but a personal one as well. I like to say that I do my best thinking when I am walking through the woods.

In “Nature’s Role in Mental Illness: Prevention or Treatment” by Susan McQuillan and featured on Psychology Today, we read about how researchers at the University of Utah conducted a systematic review of research papers in order to examine the overall effects of nature on mental health:

“More than 80% of the relevant research papers reviewed for this study reported at least one association between outdoor activities and positive mental health outcomes, while none reported a single negative mental health outcome. The most common positive benefits seen were significant reductions in stress and anxiety after time spent in nature, as well as increased positive affect, or elevated mood. The overall positive effects documented in these studies were often described using terms such as “psychological healing,” “increased sense of well-being,” and “restorative.””

Restorative – a lovely word. The idea that we can restore a calmer state, clarity, a sense of feeling grounded, or just an overall good feeling gives us all the more reason to get outside. 🙂

To read the full article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cravings/201909/nature-s-role-in-mental-illness-prevention-or-treatment

Photo credit: http://Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

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Self Reflection Question 6

Today’s question deals with our past:

“Am I holding onto something I need to let go of?”

Past hurts, resentments, feelings towards someone. Past failures, regrets, mistakes. Emotional ties to an ex, emotional ties to someone that has hurt or mistreated us or a loved one. We all have instances in our past in which we are given the opportunity to hold onto things. The bigger question is “Have we allowed them to stew?”

Ultimately this self-reflective question is not about the process piece that is necessary right after we have experienced a hurt. The feelings that we need to go through are necessary and will be a part of our healing journey. Nor is it about the emotions and skills we need to manage trauma. Rather, it is about checking in with ourselves to see if we are holding too much anger, bitterness or sadness in our hearts.

We are better served to work through the emotions; to incorporate the feelings into the overall experience in order to find some inner peace. That might be in therapy or through journal writing. It may be through the words of an author who focuses on residual anger or grief. It is never too late to begin the process of working through what we have inevitably held on to. Healing brings the calm 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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After a Break Up: The Benefit to Being Alone

It is often a well-intentioned notion that after a significant break up, we spend some time alone. At least 6 months, relationship free. Well-intentioned, as we need time to heal, and yet difficult to achieve. Landing instead into another relationship fairly quickly, getting right back into the dating world, re-establishing connections with past partners. If you are engaging in any type of relationship/intimate behaviours, you are not alone.

It is difficult because we are a relationship species and driven to attach; being with someone is where we feel most secure. It is difficult because we are vulnerable and hurt; the attention we get from others can be validating and brings comfort, although temporarily so. If we are engaged in a new relationship, we automatically bring our unresolved issues and feelings with us – and it affects the experience.

Why then, is it important to have that time? If we are meant to be in relationship, then it would make sense to find a new one. So I guess the deeper question becomes do you want to be in a healthy relationship? It is not independence that we ultimately seek – it is interdependence. A healthy relationship will be reciprocal; with both partners invested and contributing to the health of the relationship. In a healthy relationship, we trust to put ourselves in their keeping.

And so, we are much better served to commit ourselves to some time. To allow our focus to solely be on self, our family and friends. Build your time, balance the blues with activity, go to therapy, read self-help books, listen to enlightening podcasts. Find time for the tears, get yourself out in nature, exercise, make sure daily self-care gets attention on your calendar. Pray, journal, be reflective. Find opportunities to laugh. Be the third wheel. When we can be content alone, we learn the value of independence of relationship; setting us up quite nicely for interdependence.

Sounds like a good plan to me 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Alvin Balemesa on Unsplash

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A Poem About Faith

I am reminded by Morgan Harper Nichols that faith in what is to be is an important part of the growing process:

“The sun is still shining,
the wind is still blowing,
and out in the wild
you are growing.
Days may go by
without change
you can feel,
but what’s happening here
is most certainly real:
You are becoming
what you were meant
to become
out in the wild
in the arms of the sun.”
― Morgan Harper Nichols, Storyteller: 100 Poem Letters

On days when we experience limbo, let the sun and wind remind us that movement is forever a necessary part of life.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Stephan Herb on Unsplash

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P.A.C. – Before You Act

Sometimes we need to press the pause button. Our feelings can move us into an action urge, that if acted upon, may come with regret, feeling guilty, and the consequential need for repair. We are much better served to slow things down. I came across this acronym which allows us to work with the power of the pause:

P: Pause – take a deep breath; that usually gives us a few moments to say to ourselves “Okay, slow down.”

A: Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Jot them down if it further slows down the process for you; ask yourself, “How is this situation making me feel? What are my thoughts about it? How do I want to react?”

C: Clear your mind. Going through the above process will help you to gain more clarity about the situation. From this point, exploring solutions will move you towards healthier, more productive choices.

When our emotions are in a heightened state, we can use PAC to slow ourselves down, bringing rationality as an informing component to our actions. This will lead to greater emotional intelligence as well as healthier relationships.

PAC was found in the following article: https://www.6seconds.org/2018/03/28/emotional-intelligence-tips-choice/

Photo credit:http://Photo by Verena Yunita Yapi on Unsplash

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Self-Care Ideas for the Fall

One word that always comes to mind in the midst of the Fall season is cozy. One of the things that is a part of my self-care routine is carving out time to read….in the summer, I love my three season porch as it allows me to feel the evening breeze and hear the sounds of outside. In the fall, I find myself curled up in my armchair, with the fireplace on – cozy. 🙂

Self-care is something to aspire to every day, all year round. As we immerse ourselves into the beauty of this season, here are some specific Fall self-care ideas:

  • – Go through your summer wardrobe. If you didn’t wear it, donate it to charity.
  • – Write down some things about this season that you are grateful for.
  • – Cook some traditional fall dishes; bake with pumpkin and spice.
  •  Enjoy a walk outside with Fall colours.
  •  Visit an apple orchard or a pumpkin farm.
  •  Light a fall scented candle.
  • Pull out the Fall scented hand creams.
  • Go for a drive in the mountains.
  • Take a Fall crafting class.
  • Enjoy a pumpkin latte with a friend.
  • Buy yourself a cozy new sweater or blanket.
  • Write down a “Fall Bucket List.”
  • Create some positive affirmations about the changing of the seasons.
  • Read a book by the cozy fireplace.

As you can see, there are many ways that we can incorporate Fall self-care ideas into this season. Have any others? Feel free to share by way of commenting!

Photo credit: http://Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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Don’t Kid Yourself, It Takes Work

People generally come into therapy because they have an issue that has become too big for them. Once an understanding through exploration has been reached, the next step is usually acceptance, and then change. Some people welcome change and they leap into the process; for others the movement is slower, with smaller, more cautious steps.

At times, there is resistance; generated perhaps by core beliefs, perhaps by fear, perhaps by engrained patterning or rigid thinking. The therapy then shifts its focus to work through it.

In any case, therapy requires work. At some point in the process, we have to get to application; we have to roll up our sleeves and get going. Try new skills, try reacting a different way, exchange old thoughts for new ones.

The same goes when we are not in therapy. If we are in the process of self-reflection as a way to achieve continued growth and we are learning valuable things about ourselves, we require action. Small steps count just as much as big ones do. Success comes with consistency, perserverance, and a willingness to do the work. As this Japanese proverb points out:

“Life without endeavour is like entering a jewel mine and coming out with empty hands.” 

Let’s set about to do the work 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

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