Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

Being Mindful of Appreciating the Present Moment

I have always liked this little quote by Winnie the Pooh and Piglet:

“What day is it?”

“Today” said Piglet.

“Ah,” said Pooh, “my favourite day.”

-Winnie the Pooh

We all too often think about our week, our month, what is coming up in the year to come. We fret about what happened yesterday and can get caught up in past events.

It may be a natural part of the way we process the world as our past informs us and our future motivates us; nonetheless, it is important to also recognise the beauty of today. To make sure we slow down long enough to appreciate the sunrise, or the sound of birds in the air. To be thankful for laughter at the dinner table or a hug before bed. To be able to rest, go for a walk, chat with a friend.

When we give today attention, we find balance.

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Being an Ally to the LGBTQ2+ Community

This is what Frommer’s had to say about travelling to Jamaica if you’re gay:

“Jamaica is the most homophobic island in the Caribbean, with harsh anti-gay laws, even though there’s a large local gay population. If you’re desiring a trip to get some sun,  forget Jamaica unless you want to stay deep in the closet.”

I would never had known this had we not researched gay-friendly Caribbean locations last year when planning a family vacation. This is why being an ally to the LGBT community is important; it helps to bring awareness and understanding to a community that often experiences discrimination and harassment.

Here are some tips for being an ally to the LGBTQ2+ community:

  • Educate yourself as to the challenges and needs of the community. Look up statistics; do the research.
  • Listen. If you don’t understand something, or wish to know an issue facing the LGBT community, ask…and then listen to understand.
  • Be supportive and loving.
  • Confront your own privilege. If you’re straight, you are afforded privileges that gay people aren’t. Understand that that can impact the LGBT community in ways that you may not understand.
  • Be mindful of language. Words and tone matter; make sure to use politically correct terms and stop using the words associated to the community in a derogatory manner.
  • Be welcoming.
  • Speak up. If you see an injustice, say something; even when its uncomfortable. I can guarantee you it’s not going to feel nearly as hurtful as the person on the receiving end of being discriminated against.

Being an ally to the LGBT community means being a friend; it is aligning with others so as to promote fairness, kindness and equality. 🙂

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The Difference between Forgiveness and Redemption

We are naturally drawn to forgive. It is a part of the emotional process that we possess that strives for us to live in peace. There are times, however, when it seems impossible to forgive as residual emotions stand in the way of truly feeling peace in our hearts. Yesterday’s post explored three essential understandings of the process of forgiveness; today we look at the difference between forgiveness and redemption.

We are also naturally drawn to wanting to be forgiven. Redemption is the act of working towards someone’s forgiveness and when both forgiveness and redemption are working to heal the relationship, our journey to being able to accept someone’s wrongdoing is greatly supported. There are times when a relationship can be repaired through this joint process and reconciliation becomes the goal. It may also be that even with the joint process, it changes the relationship, and knowing that is okay.

Sometimes, we are not afforded the gift of redemption. Through denial or avoidance, the person who has wronged us does not take responsibility for their actions and choices. Although this can slow down the process of being able to forgive, it does not need to impede it. For it is our goal to forgive, so as not to live with the weight of a stone in our heart. 

Sometimes we need therapy to process our emotions in order to forgive; we can read books on forgiveness, repeat positive affirmations when feeling especially resentful, we can pray or journal, we can talk to others about how they found forgiveness. No matter our chosen way to achieve it, forgiveness is nothing short of an active process.

We are naturally driven to live with peace; forgiveness is possible.

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Some Thoughts on Forgiveness

To forgive someone of a hurt they have done to us is not an easy task. Fraught with many emotions – sadness, anger, fear, betrayal, loss – we are thrown into an existential place of trying to understand why it happened and how it has changed us. Sometimes, we deal with the effects of cumulative wrongdoings in a relationship that is unhealthy and we struggle to forgive those who continually act towards us in ways that are dismissive or unkind.

In either case, we bear the act of forgiveness. It is only ourselves that can truly find peace through the grace of being able to come to release the stone from our heart. Understanding that, is the first step in starting a journey of forgiveness to someone who has hurt us.

Perhaps the second greatest understanding is that in which we can give ourselves permission to forgive while also making decisions about where the relationship shall go. We can forgive and decide that although we hold peace in our hearts, we cannot have a relationship as it was with that person.

And the last of our understanding lies in knowing that thinking of the act that hurt us can still bring back feelings of betrayal and loss. The memories will remain, as will a resurgence of feelings. That does not mean we have not forgiven – it means simply that the triggered memory is tied to feelings; once we have recognized and processed them, we settle back into feeling peaceful.

Tomorrow’s post will look at the difference between forgiveness and redemption.

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Hug it Out; the Benefits of a Hug

In the article “Science of Kindness Shows Just How Important Hugging is for Our Mental and Physical Health” by David Fryburg and featured on goodnews network, we read about some of the benefits of hugging. What I found most interesting were these facts:

  • physical contact is critical for brain development in children.
  • hugging can increase our immunity to infection.
  • hugging is highly associated to lowering blood pressure.
  • receiving a hug increases our levels of oxytocin, the “love” hormone.
  • after receiving a hug, people report feeling less pain.
  • even after observing people hug, significant changes in EEG readings are noted.

Sometimes we simply forget how important a simple act of hugging can be. We are much better served to begin consciously hugging our loved ones during points of connection – leaving or coming home, before going to bed or upon waking, or just when the mood strikes. It will do the body good 🙂

To read the full article (it is worth the extra time!):

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Fake it Til You Make it; a Worthwhile Strategy

Fake it until you make it; this is often a concept we explore in therapy when someone comes in feeling depressed. Depression likes to both isolate and kill effort and sometimes we have to just do things anyway. Accept the invitation, get up and take a shower, walk to the store to pick up a few things.

This strategy; however, can be used other times too. Sometimes we want to change an old habit or create a new one; we realize that we are engaging in poor choices, or leaning into coping strategies that aren’t healthy. The reason that it often works is based on the fact that changes in our behaviours often proceeds internal change.  

Habits tend to form neural pathways in our brain; both good and bad ones. We tend to lean into the same routines and structure; we find comfort in familiarity. It may feel natural to simply do things a certain way, but perhaps it is not the healthiest choice. First, we find an alternative – and then “fake it til you make it.” Eventually, a new habit forms, new neural pathways are created, and the changes get accepted into your routine and internal structure, creating a healthier you 🙂

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A Little Quote About Fortitude

I came across this quote:

“Fortitude……it means fixity of purpose. It means endurance. It means having the strength to live with what constrains you.” – Hilary Mantel

Fixity of purpose – what an interesting phrase. It lends us to believe that we have some control over our ability to find strength. Perhaps that process happens slowly, with both time and attention paid to getting through what challenges us. A “one day at a time” type deal, where we gather both strength and courage with each step.

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3 Essential Feelings for Our Well-Being: Post 3

In our third and final post on this topic, we explore the feeling of joy as an essential feeling for our well-being.

We often strive to “be happy.” But happiness in this context can mean many different things; for some it comes in achievements or financial success. For others, it might be found in spending time with loved ones, being out in nature, playing sports. For some, happiness comes in moments, for others, it is an underlying feeling. Happiness is often a mix of both internal and external influences.

Joy is distinguished from happiness as it tends to be linked more to our internal process. When we feel joy, it comes with a sense of peace. Joy grounds us, it warms our insides, it reminds us of our blessings. When we feel joyful, we feel soulful and connected. In therapy we learn that happiness can be too big of a word, instead, let us strive for contentment. Once we begin to feel more content, we have opened up room for joy.

A solid well-being relies on feeling grounded; in control of the overall areas of our lives. The feelings of security, love and joy help to keep our well-being intact, providing protection from the storm. We are best served to strive to focus on creating relationships and experiences that create and maintain those feelings in our daily lives. Our well-being will thank us 🙂

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3 Essential Feelings for Our Well-Being; Post 2

Yesterday we looked at the importance of the feeling of security for our sense of well-being; today we look at the feeling of love. Love comes in many forms – the love we have for our children, our spouse, for our friends and family. Romantic love, committed love, the love we have for our pets, for our departed loved ones. We can often feel love as almost a swelling of our heart.

The essence of love; however, is dedication. When we purposefully and intentionally commit ourselves to another person, we are letting them know that they are part of our inner circle. We support the feeling of love with acts of kindness, with appreciation, with thoughtful intentions and a willingness to help.

To love is just as important as to be loved; to know intuitively that “I can count on you” feeds our sense of security and our overall sense of worth and well being.

As Lao Tzu so wisely reminds us:

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu

Photo credit: http://Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

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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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