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. 

Emotional Intelligence; Post 1

When we possess emotional intelligence, we tend to have a good understanding of our emotions. We are aware of how we feel, are able to control our emotions when necessary, and can express our emotions to others. A strong EI (also called EQ) tends to make us good listeners, as we apply the same awareness of emotions to others as we do to ourselves.

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and author of the 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence.” He created five components of EI that help to define emotional intelligence. We will explore each one in the next five posts, with the first being Self-Awareness.

A key ingredient to self-awareness is being able to recognize our emotions. This may seem simple, but think about the number of times that your emotions may have led you to a certain thought or action that you later questioned. Lack of emotional self-awareness can lead to anger management issues, acting defensively when constructively criticized, the feeling of ‘shutting down,’ feeling constantly overwhelmed by emotion, and/or a lack of trust in your own emotions.

How do we begin to build emotional self-awareness? Here are some good places to start:

  • Simply observe. This is probably one of the simplest ways to begin to recognize our emotions. It is the voice that helps us to begin to understand what we are feeling in any given situation. “This makes me feel sad.” “I am feeling so good inside right now.” “I can feel my anger beginning to rise.” “I have this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.” Simply observing what is happening by way of emotion allows us to not place a judgement or action on them. They simply are.
  • Ask others.When you really want to know how you react to situations, ask your loved ones. Sometimes the perspective of others can help to either confirm what we suspected, or give us a greater understanding of how we react to anger, sadness, guilt and so forth.
  • Build mindfulness skills. Through guided meditation, deep breathing or mindfulness exercises, we begin to appreciate the ‘here and now’ of the present moment. This can often help in the self-reflection of our emotions as well.
  • Journal. Jot down how certain situations in your day made you feel; not with intention to figure out direction but simply how you felt at the beginning, middle and end of the interchange and any emotional reaction you may still be having at end of day. This can become a great tool in recognizing our emotions.

Goleman notes that self-awareness of our emotions is foundational to the rest of the components of EI. Self-awareness allows us to become more insightful, creating the path for Self-Regulation: the second component of EI and topic for tomorrow’s post.

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Some Hopeful News Ahead about Youth and Mental Health

In a recent article entitled “Lanark first in Canada to adopt Icelandic model for reducing teen social harm” by Elizabeth Payne and featured in the Ottawa Citizen, we read about a group in Lanark called Planet Youth Lanark who have signed a five year agreement with the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis. The article features some interesting facts about Iceland’s program to reduce substance abuse among their youth:

  • after the induction of the program in the 90’s, Iceland’s substance abuse among youth fell from 48% to 5%.
  • Iceland’s program is a primary prevention program that is based on data from the student’s themselves.
  • Surveys given to youth include alcohol and cannabis use as well as issues such as vaping, screen time, body image and mental well-being.
  • Iceland’s program includes proactive measures designed to create environments that promote healthy growth and development and include such things as increased parental involvement, curfews, and the introduction of numerous activities, including sports and music.

Data from the surveys conducted in Lanark and Smith Falls, will then be studied by Icelandic officials with subsequent reports that will highlight how the communities can develop proactive strategies.

What an encouraging news story! As we continue to worry about the rising rates of anxiety and depression in our youth population, this program has the potential to grow in numbers across our province and nation.

To read the full article: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/a-good-news-story-lanark-becomes-first-in-canada-to-adopt-icelandic-model-for-reducing-teen-social-harm

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A Little Poem About Growth

I came across this quote that reminded me that sometimes, this is exactly the place that growth will bring us:

“And then it happens… One day you wake up and you’re in this place.

You’re in this place where everything feels right.

Your heart is calm. Your soul is lit. Your thoughts are positive.

Your vision is clear.

You’re at peace. At peace with where you’ve been,

at peace with what you’ve been through and

at peace with where you’re headed.”

– Anonymous

And that is a lovely feeling. We sometimes need to remind ourselves to have faith that we will get there. That the stepping stones we take to achieve our goals will get us to a better place. Small steps work too 🙂

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Olga Filonenko on Unsplash

 

Giving Up or Acceptance – What’s the Difference?

In yesterday’s post we looked at the danger of complacency in relationships; today’s post features the question about the difference between giving up and acceptance.

When we are faced with an issue in our lives, I like to say that our choices are one of three – change it, accept it or leave it. Most people will attempt to change it first, and if that doesn’t occur, the process begins of exploring whether to accept it or to leave it. When this comes to the issue of complacency in relationships, there tends to be a lot of gray in that decision. Is complacency enough to leave a relationship? Some might say a definitive yes; others will look at the variables that need to be considered with such a decision such as whether or not there are children involved, the age of the kids, financial considerations, the strength of an external support system and so forth.

When we decide to stay but we have “given up,” it tends to be with resignation and underlying resentment. Feeling forever unsatisfied with our partner’s indifference, we can end up feeling trapped, lonely and pervasively sad about the relationship (hence further contributing to the complacency).

When we decide to stay but our decision is one of acceptance, it is with a different focus. There is some grief to go through, as the sense of loss to a full, healthy relationship is felt. There is a shift to self-care as the understanding grows that what you can’t get from your partner, you must give to yourself – planned outings with friends, an increase in hobbies or interests, continued quality time with the kids. There is the decision that despite the complacency, you will not shut off completely from the relationship; this may seem counterproductive, however we can lean into our own sense of values to continue to be kind.

When we decide to stay and give up, we are choosing self-defeat. When we decide to stay and accept, we are choosing self-growth. There is a big difference 🙂

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The Danger of Complacency in Relationship

Sometimes we can become complacent in our relationships; without realizing it, we can end up underappreciating our loved ones or taking our partner for granted. The honeymoon phase may be over, but rather than the relationship falling into an easy exchange of healthy bids and affection towards each other, the relationship begins to feel empty or stuck.

Knowing what causes complacency is a good place to start in trying to address it:

  1. Indifference. This one is a silent killer of relationships. Sometimes it comes from having an Avoidant Attachment Style, sometimes it comes from lacking true appreciation for the power of a healthy support system – it can also come from the tendency to lean into narcissistic traits. When one person is indifferent to the relationship, there is often very little the person on the receiving end of that indifference can do. The indifferent person must undertake some much-needed soul searching to get to the deeper layers of why they are using indifference as a way to protect themselves.
  2. Being too comfortable.  Being comfortable in a relationship is a good thing – it means we feel settled and secure. Being too comfortable means we are not giving enough thought into keeping that relationship in good working order. In order to keep complacency at bay, we need to keep reciprocity at the forefront of our minds, making sure that we continue to feed the health of the relationship by initiating time spent together, affection, words of endearment, and acts of kindness.
  3. Giving up. Sometimes when we give up in a relationship it is due to the change we wish to see but never do. It is a way of acceptance that the other person is not going to change, and that ‘giving up’ is the only thing left to do. This doesn’t always mean that the relationship ends, but rather elements of the partnership shift; sometimes the act of giving up will inadvertently feed complacency.
  4. Anger. If we use anger as a  go-to emotion, we run the risk of using it instead of trying to deal with more vulnerable emotions such as sadness, guilt or fear. Anger prevents us from truly understanding our loved one’s feelings; over time, the anger reinforces denial and defensiveness which feeds complacency.

When we understand complacency, we can begin to also see the danger it carries along with it. The goal of investment helps us to keep our relationships in a healthy place; ones in which our security and safety is being supported by a deeper, more satisfying love.

Tomorrow’s post will explore a bit more in depth the difference between giving up and acceptance in a relationship we choose to stay in.

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The Wisdom of Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, a British actress and humanitarian, worked tirelessly to help children in need. Here are three favourite quotes from this iconic actress:

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Audrey Hepburn

“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.” – Audrey Hepburn

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” – Audrey Hepburn

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Forgiveness is a Choice

We have all heard the phrase “Time heals all wounds.” And perhaps in some instances, it does. Perhaps the passing of time helps move us farther away from what brought us heartache or loss.

When it comes to forgiveness; however, time tends to just pass along. When someone has betrayed us, the hurt has the potential to sit weighted. The bitterness and anger that comes as a result of the betrayal has nowhere to go, so it rolls around inside us, settling down as stones in our heart.

The decision to forgive someone is a choice that we make. It doesn’t happen automatically – the emotions tied up to the act of betrayal will keep you in an angry place to protect you. The decision to forgive someone is a choice that once decided, works away at those stones until your heart feels less heavy, lighter, and free of bitterness. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse what happened. And if the betrayal was such that it ended the relationship, forgiveness doesn’t need to change that either. Forgiveness is a choice you make for yourself.

As Bernard Meltzer stated:

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” – Bernard Meltzer

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Stepping Into Our Potential

I really like this phrase. Not only does it convey that we all have potential, it also provides a nice image. Like the seas standing in front of us, all we need to do to experience its vast promise, is to step forward; to get our feet wet.

We all have potential – to be kinder, to be more knowledgeable, to be healthier, to be dedicated, to be thankful – to work towards the goals we have set out for ourselves. But what, ultimately, helps us achieve our potential? What is the one thing that will help us take that step?

Productivity. Our potential lies in our productivity; it finds itself linked to the actions we take to get to our goals. We can have written them down, figured out how we are going to proceed, but until we take action, they are just ideas and words on paper. Willpower won’t do it; it is tied too much to emotion and if we are feeling blue or unmotivated, our willpower takes a nap along side of us. Procrastination is potential’s greatest enemy, as it pushes for delay and neglect.

What we need to achieve our full potential is productivity. Schedule your actionable items into your calendar, build your time – including rewards!

Step into your potential – after all, it is patiently waiting 🙂

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What it Means to be in a Codependent Relationship

People often think about the word ‘addiction’ when the phrase codependent relationship comes up. And although issues with addiction can create such a relationship, the codependency dynamic can exist at any time that one person is supporting another person in an unhealthy way.

Generally speaking, the partner who is in the caretaking role is providing emotional, financial or physical support; putting someone else’s needs above their own. And the partner on the receiving end, lets them – pulls at them even, creating the space for poor boundaries and the need for the caretaking partner to feel overprotective of their loved one.

When we are in a codependent relationship, we can often recognize that what we are doing for our partner is unhealthy, but our struggle is in letting them struggle. As a result, we begin to eventually feel resentful; feeling weighed down by the responsibility, with little of our own needs being met.

Recognizing the signs of codependency is the first step; creating much needed boundaries while beginning to honour your own needs through self-care are good follow ups. Creating change in a codependent relationship can be very difficult, as the dynamic can create a strong hold. Very often, professional help is required, and sometimes it may mean ending the relationship.  Codependency threatens the very nature of a healthy relationship which is our ultimate goal; one in which we feel generally satisfied and support is reciprocated.

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A Little Reminder to Be Kind

I love this quote by Leo F. Buscaglia:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a
listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all
of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo F. Buscaglia

We don’t always know how our acts of kindness can affect someone. Recently, Kurt and I were eating breakfast at our favourite diner in town, and a young man came in and ordered breakfast. He was seated alone and although we did not know him, he looked like a kid who had perhaps been given a few hard knocks in his life.

When the waitress came over to ask us if we were all finished up, Kurt asked for the bill and requested that the waitress put the young man’s bill on ours. What a lovely act of kindness – the young man probably won’t remember who was seated two tables over, and we can only have faith that he was touched by Kurt’s generosity.

A small act of caring carries with it a lot of potential. 🙂

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