Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

Anchor Your Day

Thank you for visiting! The purpose of this blog is to provide short, daily counsel on a variety of topics and interesting facts about mental health. We all live busy lives which is why the focus of this blog is to have something relatively quick to read; it can act as an “anchor to your day” so to speak. If you would like to have this blog sent to your email directly on a daily basis, please follow the link below (you can unsubscribe at any time) and join me on the path to self-care. 

The Difference Between Guilt and Shame

Guilt is one of our healthy emotions; if we manage our feelings of guilt in a way as to help us repair, it can strengthen our relationships and help contribute to a sound regulation of our emotions. Although there is a belief that shame is an extension of guilt, that is a misconception. Shame may share some characteristics with guilt; they are both self-conscious and fall into the class of “moral” emotions; however, shame differs from guilt as it is tied to self-worth.

When we feel guilty, we did something bad; when we feel shame, we are bad. Guilt will make us feel regret; shame will make us feel small. When we feel guilty, we desire to apologize; when shame strikes, we desire to hide.

People who struggle with shame often have experienced childhoods that planted the seed of worthlessness. Trauma, attachment injuries, abuse or being made to feel shameful can all apply. Although the working through of shame does often require therapy, it is important to remember that if you or a loved one struggles with shame, experiencing a shameful act or being made to carry the weight of shame by a parent does not make you a shameful person. You may have been affected by the experience, but you are most definitely not defined by it.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

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A Quote by April Green

I came across this little quote by April Green:

that’s the beautiful 

thing about self love – 

you wear it like a dress

and it becomes more and more

exquisite 

with time.

When we afford the same love and care to ourselves that we afford to others, we begin to wear it. People can see it in our smile, in our mannerisms, in our nature. What we feel within, shines outside of us. Make sure you write yourself a love note today 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash

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The Wisdom of Dr. Phil

The year after I was first separated, the year I was “alone,” I was also working on getting myself to a place where I would be ready to date again. It was important to me that I reflect upon what I wanted in a future relationship, and so naturally I turned to Dr. Phil 🙂 Actually, I was sitting in my colleague Gurlie’s office and noticed the book “Love Smart” by Dr. Phil McGraw so I asked if I could borrow it.

One of the exercises that I resonated with was one in which Dr. Phil had the reader write down all of the qualities that they wanted to have in an ideal mate; he wanted the page filled and recommended that you write down characteristics, values, physical qualities, ideals about money, sex, religion, politics…essentially anything that was important to you. He also wanted you to write down deal breakers; those things that would make you leave or decide against a relationship.

So I busily went about making the list; “My Ideal Mate!” After I filled the page, Dr. Phil’s advice was this….(paraphrasing) “Keep this page handy when you begin dating. If someone falls into the deal breaker category; end it. Don’t assume that the suspected addiction will go away or their lack of employment is temporary. If you meet someone who passes the deal breaker category and is hitting 80% of your list, they are a potential keeper. The other 20% you work with; you will never find someone who hits 100% of your list.”  And guess what? It worked 🙂

80% ideal, 20% we work with. Pretty sound advice for all relationships and a worthy goal for getting back out there.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Désirée Fawn on Unsplash

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Little Bits of Self-Care

Sometimes I have to send an attachment email from my home account to my work account. In the text portion of the email, I greet myself with “Hello Beautiful!” I kind of forget I do it, and then I am greeted with a lovely sentiment when I open the email 🙂

When we think of self-care, our first thoughts often go to a day at the spa, or an afternoon off. Although that is a necessary part of our regime of self-care and acts as a healthy escape, we can also have bits of self-care that add up during our day:

  •  listening to music when making a meal
  • taking a 10 minute walk at lunch outside
  • pay it forward at the drive through
  • unplugging for your first 30 minutes home (you won’t miss it!)
  • dancing in the kitchen with your kids
  • plan a lunch with a colleague
  • listening to a funny podcast when driving
  • snuggles on the couch with your pet
  • jotting down a gratitude thought
  • holding hands with your spouse when you are both falling asleep
  • leaving yourself a love note 🙂

When we consciously focus on our comfort system in little ways, we feel better supported. Our tanks have less of a tendency to reach their tipping point and those bits of self-care help to bridge us over to our next day at the spa 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

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Anxiety and it’s Toll on Relationships

In a recent article entitled “How Anxiety Destroys Relationships (And How to Stop It) by Kristine Tye and featured on Good Therapy, Tye talks about the ways that anxiety can take it’s toll on relationships. Two of the points I found especially relevant:

  • “Anxiety breaks down trust and connection. Anxiety causes fear or worry that can make you less aware of your true needs in a given moment. It can also make you less attuned to the needs of your partner. If you’re worried about what could be happening, it’s difficult to pay attention to what is happening. When you feel overwhelmed, your partner may feel as though you aren’t present.”
  • “Anxiety is the opposite of acceptance. Unhealthy levels of anxiety make you feel as though an emotional “rock” is in your stomach almost all the time. Anxiety causes you to reject things that are not dangerous and avoid things that might benefit you. It also can stop you from taking healthy action to change things in your life that are hurting you because it makes you feel hopeless or stuck.”

Tye also notes that challenging your anxiety by focusing on the present and being okay with the feeling of discomfort are ways that you can counteract anxiety and the subsequent strain it may be putting on your relationships.

There is never a doubt that living with mental illness of any form can be taxing, to not only the individual experiencing it, but to their loved ones as well. Working towards coping strategies and leaning into healthier choices are ways that we can help counteract the after effects of emotional struggles, whether they are our own or those of whom we care about.

To read the full article (she has three more points!): https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/how-anxiety-destroys-relationships-and-how-to-stop-it-0622155

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

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The Weight of Flexibility

We all have our moments when we adamantly believe that we are right. It may lean into our values, our morals, or because “it’s always been done that way.” Our convictions are a valuable part of us, they help to define who we are and often govern how we see the world. The significance of our opinions are often driven by our emotions, but where do our thoughts fit in?

If we lean into our opinions with adamant rigidity, we risk falling down into the rabbit hole of judgement; sometimes to the point of hypocrisy. We leave our loved ones feeling misunderstood and we risk their emotional withdrawal. We are better served to find flexibility to help carry the weight of the exchange. 

Being flexible doesn’t require that we give up our convictions; it simply means that we are open to listening; to understanding another’s position. When we can include flexibility, we validate our loved ones, opening up the space for healthier communication and the consequent strengthening of the relationship.

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

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A Memoir Worth Reading

I recently finished the memoir “educated” by Tara Westover and it was a fascinating example of childhood conditioning and the subsequent creation of core beliefs that followed and plagued Tara throughout her young adult life. A quote in the book that I resonated with takes place between Tara and a professor who was instrumental in getting her accepted into a study abroad program at Cambridge in London (of which Tara does not feel worthy):

“You are not fool’s gold, shining only under a particular light. Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were. It was always in you. Not in Cambridge. In you. You are gold. And returning to BYU (Brigham Young University), or even to that mountain that you came from, will not change who you are. It may change how others see you, it may even change how you see yourself – even gold appears dull in some lighting – but that is illusion. And it always was.”

It takes Tara years to break away from the tenacious bonds of her upbringing and find a place for herself in the world. Educated by Tara Westover is a worthy read.

Photo credit: Me!

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A Poem about Love

I have been working with a client recently who has come to counselling to get help processing her emotions as she cares for her mother in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. As part of her healing, she has begun writing again and this week she brought in this beautiful poem; she has given me written consent to share it:

WHEN YOU MOTHERED ME

I go down for my visit with you every day, and we spend time alone, you and me

And I cuddle, and care for, and remind you you’re loved,

Just like you did, when you mothered me.

 

I rub cream on the fragile skin of your hands, and put cream on your face tenderly

And you look at me like I’m the light of your world,

Just like I did, when you mothered me.

 

I read fun little stories and we sing nursery rhymes,

And it has us both laughing with glee;

And I think of those Sunday night stories in bed

Do you remember when you mothered me?

 

I sit here and hide all my feelings of loss, since Alzheimer’s took you from me

And I yearn for your comforting words and advice,

But that was back then, when you mothered me.

 

And you cry when I tell you that I have to go, I say “I’ll be here tomorrow, you’ll see”

And you cling like a child, holding tight to my hand,

Just like I did, when you mothered me.

 

I sit home every night wishing I had you back, I could call you when I was in need

You’d be here in a flash and I’d lean on your strength

Oh, how I wish you could still mother me.

 

But I’ll go down tomorrow and the day after that, and I’ll nurture and see to your needs

And I’ll love you and treat you with all my respect

Because that was how you mothered me

Sue Diotte, Jan. 2019

An important aside: As this is an original writing, I had to give some thought as to whether or not to share it; I was concerned about identifying a client but also of risking that a poem be published without the true author’s name. I brought up my concerns to Sue and she noted that she wanted the poem published with her name and was aware that it would identify her as one of my clients, of which she felt comfortable. I feel grateful to her for the wisdom found in this poem and the ability it will carry in helping others who are experiencing a similar story. Thank you, Sue 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

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Keep Blooming

I have come to really appreciate the work of Morgan Harper Nichols:

Because no matter the amount of times you have felt lost

in a sea of a thousand things to do, in a range of roles and responsibilities

and the many ways that others see you, all along you have still been you.

You have been blooming everyday, and no amount of feeling 

unnoticed can pull you away from this truth. 

-Morgan Harper Nichols

There are times in life when we may feel unappreciated; perhaps in the busyness of our days we have put ourselves on the back burner. I believe that any work we have done on ourselves is never lost; the progress has still been achieved. It is perhaps a re-shifting of our needs that simply requires our attention to bring us back to our bloom 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Polychrome Creative on Unsplash

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3 Tips to Making Decisions

We can all struggle sometimes in making decisions. Sometimes this comes from our experiences growing up; being overprotected for example, can lead us to not feeling secure in our decision making skills. Perhaps we had a controlling parent who made our decisions for us; perhaps we had to make too many decisions as a child and it left us feeling uncomfortable with the process as an adult.

In our every day life we are faced with many choices, to varying degrees. Sometimes, we may wrestle with bigger issues such as whether to take a new job; other times we defer to someone else for something as simple as what movie to go see or what to have for dinner. In any case, the ability to make decisions is an empowering process; one that allows us to feel in control over our own choices, giving us a sense of agency. Here are three tips that can help in making decisions:

  1. Make a pros and cons list. This seems self-explanatory but the important bit here is to actually write it down. It allows you to gather information (making an informed decision makes us feel more confident), without spending copious amounts of time on it – we don’t want to lean into avoidance. Writing it down also allows us to use both sides of our brain; bringing both emotions and logic to the process.
  2. Bounce it off a friend. Friends are probably the most objective person outside of a therapist as they truly have your best interests at heart.  Grab a cup of coffee, your pros and cons list and chat away!
  3. Back up your instincts. Let’s face it, once we have gone through both a pros and cons list, and talked to a friend, we usually come to the same conclusion that we had in the very immediate moments of having to make up our mind. Our instincts are a valuable tool in helping us make decisions; challenging our self-doubts and creating positive affirmations about our instincts can help.

The art of making decisions is like anything else; sometimes we just need a sense of direction and practice. The end result is a sense of self-efficacy and confidence in our ability to work out the kinks, big or small.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

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