Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

A Way to Look at Purpose

We are all at times perplexed by the question of “What is my purpose?” It seems big; it feels like somehow it should be attached to something obvious. We are also led to believe that once we have discovered our purpose, complete and ultimate fulfillment and meaning will be ours.

Perhaps purpose isn’t fixed. Perhaps it isn’t meant to be so obvious. Perhaps we find it in all different stages of our lives, perhaps it is in the every day. Perhaps it is how we choose to live.

I find my purpose in the work I do as a therapist. Not because of the years of service behind me, or the amount of people I have helped, but by my intention to make a person’s experience matter in that moment. 

I find my purpose in being a mother. Some days that involved story time on the couch, other times it was found in the tucking in of bed. It is found in thoughtful intention.

I can find purpose when I hold a door open for someone, or smile at a stranger as we cross paths on the sidewalk. I can find purpose in my prayers, my aim to be kind, my aim to be inclusive, my aim to forgive.

Purpose needn’t be fixed. It can be effective, it can be free flowing, it can be intentional.

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A Thought from the Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama and spiritual leader of Tibet has said:

“When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.” – Dalai Lama

How many times are we quick to perceive that someone or something is to blame for our misfortune? How many times are we quick to make a judgement about someone else, especially in our perception of that person in relation to us? How many times do we linger in our suffering, or treasure a wound?

It is in our nature to focus on these things because of our negative bias. In order to keep ourselves safe from danger, we catalogue the wrong doings, the painful experiences; we are attuned to the hurt so as to avoid them again in the future.

Yet it is also in our nature to seek peace. We desire to feel calm, content. We have an inherent pull to forgive; to let go of the suffering and feel its release from the weighted space it has taken up in our hearts.

If we understand the Dalai Lama’s wise words, we recognize that we can hang on to the hurt and linger in our misery as to what has wronged us or we can move towards peace through forgiveness. The choice is ours. 🙂

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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 🙂

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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.

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Chasing Happiness

Ever met someone who likes to blame the world for their troubles? Who often attributes luck as a contributing factor in their lives? Someone who tends to chase happiness; looking for that one thing that is going to make them feel satisfied? You may be interacting with someone with an external locus of control.

We know that when we have an overall sense of control over our lives, we have an increased sense of well-being; we have an influence over the direction of our lives. Our perception of where control lies, however, can have an impact on our behaviours, our experiences, the people in our lives and our environment. If we attribute our success or failures to outside influences, we lean towards having an external locus of control. We often feel helpless in the face of challenges and have a hard time giving ourselves credit for a job well done.

If we have an internal locus of control, we tend to have a stronger sense of self-efficacy, feel more confident when challenges come our way and are more likely to take responsibility for our behaviours.  As with everything, locus of control exists on a continnum; defining your locus of control is self-reflective and it provides us with the opportunity to challenge some of the ways we view our ability to have a sense of control over our lives. Moving us from chasing happiness to creating it.  

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Should I Get Diagnosed?

That is always a question that clients wrestle with at times. As a Registered Psychotherapist, I am not qualified to diagnose, yet I am able to recognize symptoms that are often indicative of an underlying mental illness. It is part of my job to suggest to the client the option of referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist for diagnosis as a potential part of their treatment plan.

Getting diagnosed for some clients is validating; they finally have a name to what they have been experiencing and can recognize themselves in the listed symptoms. It can be an empowering process as they begin to read about their diagnosis, join support groups online and have an avenue to express their own struggle with it. Suddenly, it just all makes sense.

Other clients have experienced a diagnosis as a label they can’t shake. They can feel stigmatized and defined by their mental illness, becoming even more burdened by its mark.

Getting diagnosed is a choice afforded to a client; in either case, therapy’s greater aim is to treat the person. That includes their symptoms, but it also includes their competencies and strengths, their core beliefs, patterns, interests, what they are passionate about, their self-care regime, their coping strategies, their support system, their history, their story. As a therapist, I am ever mindful that with or without the diagnosis, It is the relationship that heals.

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The Benefits of Laughter

In an article entitled, “Give Your Body a Boost — With Laughter” and featured on WedMD, author R. Morgan Griffin writes about the physiological benefits of laughter:

  • We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.
  • When laughing, blood vessels expand and contract more easily.
  • Using humour may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells.
  • A study of people with diabetes demonstrated that laughter lowered blood sugar levels.

Griffin goes on to say that the science of laughter is early in its stages, with more studies needed in order to back up its true effects.

Until then, perhaps we can rely on the way laughter makes us feel as our own proof that it does our body good. Laughter opens up the face, produces a warm and welcoming smile; we feel lighter, brighter, connected to others and more relaxed. Sounds like a great prescription to me 🙂

To read the full article: https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter#1

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A Quote by perry poetry

I came across this quote the other day:

Never fall for a heart that doesn’t beat as loudly as you do for it.  – perry poetry

I suppose we all, to some degree, have let this happen. It may have been in an intimate relationship, a friendship, or even a colleague at work. In any context, in order for a relationship to be healthy, reciprocity is an essential ingredient. Of course, there are times when we may carry the weight of the relationship, and we do so lovingly and with understanding. When we reach a point in the relationship; however, where we hesitantly admit that we are consistently doing more of the work, this is where the relationship has become unbalanced.

Perhaps we move towards trying to change it, perhaps we accept it, all the while turning our focus inward with some self-care, perhaps we make the tougher decision to leave it. In any case, creating some space to explore it, is an important piece to gaining a greater understanding of the symbiotic beating of hearts, and the healthiness that lies therein 🙂

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Helping with the Meltdowns

We all know what it feels like when we are overwhelmed. There are some days where our emotions get the best of us and our rational brain doesn’t have much room in our decision making.

Imagine then, what it feels like for children; when their already emotional space gets flooded, their every frustration building with the crescendo of a crashing wave. Here are 5 tips to help with the meltdowns;

  • Be the calm. Matching their emotions with a bigger version will only increase the stimulation. Managing your own emotions while holding space for your child’s helps to validate, diffuse and comfort.
  • Re-direct. As adults, we have learned to be comfortable with the discomfort by using distraction. The same thing can work with our children; when we suggest an alternative, it often helps in creating a sense of control for the child.
  • Listen. Get down to their eye level; let them tell you what is wrong. Label and agree with their feelings. We can both validate and maintain boundaries which allows for teaching moments about behaviours.
  • Problem solve. When the meltdown is over, and calm has returned, that is when we can look at solving the problem – whether that is immediate or for ‘next time.’
  • Guide, not control. Sometimes our own fears about being the perfect parent will get in the way of what is happening in the moment which can lead us to needing to control. We can temper this by seeing ourselves instead as a guide, helping our littles navigate the emotional road.

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A Thought About Healing from the Inside Out

Dr. Will Cole is an American functional-medicine expert who specializes in the underlying factors that cause chronic disease, autoimmune conditions, and the like. In a podcast episode I was listening to, he made two very enlightening comments about our intention to heal. He noted that:

“You can’t heal a body you hate.”

“You can’t shame your way to wellness.”

Isn’t it so true that when we think about our bodies or our appearance, we often focus on the things we don’t like? We walk past a mirror, and we immediately focus in on the part we wished looked somehow different, thinner, better? By doing so, we immediately shame ourselves – reinforcing what we have perceived to not be ideal or perfect for us.

We can begin to recognize that, in order to heal, we must do so from the inside out. That may include the foods we put into our body and the movement we increase to optimize our body’s ability to function well – but it can also include how we speak to ourselves. We can add to our gratitude list that we are thankful for the beating of our heart, the ability our bodies have to eliminate toxins, the miraculous system that is our physical self. We can also stop by that mirror and admire the things we love about our appearance; we can thank our body for serving us well, we can reinforce our commitment to it – that we will endeavor to heal ourselves from the inside out. 🙂

To visit Dr. Will Cole’s website: https://drwillcole.com/

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