Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

Gaslighting; the Ins and Outs

I have had a few clients lately ask me what gaslighting is. The definition of gaslighting is: to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. Essentially, it is a rewriting of events to convince someone they happened a certain way.

The term comes from  a 1938 stage play called Gaslight (and two film adaptations), in which a husband attempts to convince his wife of her own insanity by dimming the lights in their home (powered by gas), then denies that the lights change when the wife asks him about them. This was just a number of tricks he used in order to have her question her own perceptions.

As you can deduce from this definition, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse and a way to gain control in the relationship. It includes these characteristics:

  • Outright lies followed by denial of actions or words; even with proof.
  • Accusing the other of being “too sensitive or dramatic.” Using words such as “unstable or crazy.”
  • Questioning your memory of events; “It didn’t happen that way last time either; you’re forgetting.”
  • Gaslighters will mock the other for their “misperceptions.”
  • An emphasis placed on their own needs, and trivializing the other’s needs as not being important.
  • A ‘blocking’ of the real issue by way of projection – “You are so cold hearted,” “You overreact all the time.”
  • Being convinced that everyone else is lying to you.

Gaslighting, as with everything, can happen on a continuum. As with all forms of abusive behaviour, professional help is needed – in order to change it (if acknowledged and wishing it to change) or to gain the strength to leave the relationship.

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Nature to the Rescue Again

The following passage was found on a post from Youth Mental Health Canada:

“Hello, my name is Jack Linklater Jr. I live in Attawapiskat, Ontario. I am Cree and proud to be. I live along the James Bay shorelines, the lowlands of the Mushkegowuk territory.

My message to you if you’re having a hard time: Look to the tree, as it shows you to stand tall and proud. Look to the rock, as it shows you the strength you need. Look to the river as it shows you to keep moving forward in life, as it flows and to never give up. To the flowers, as it shows you the love you need, the colours. The grass, as it teaches you forgiveness, as it always grows and grows no matter if you keep stepping on it. It’s there to show you to forgive.

We matter. Every living thing matters. The trees, the rocks, the flowers. You matter. Stay Strong.” – Jack Linklater Jr. 

To visit the Youth Mental Health Canada website: https://ymhc.ngo/

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The Importance of Movement

Staying home during the pandemic can potentially lead to increased sedentary time. Despite our natural inclination to cuddle up on the couch with Netflix, it is also important to keep the importance of movement in mind:

  • Movement is ‘meditation in motion.’ I don’t remember where I heard that phrase, but it is so true. My daily walks with Cricket are my thinking time; I do my best processing out on the trail.
  • Exercise increases improved focusing. Images of the brain before and after exercise indicate a greater ability to process information and a heightened attention to detail.
  • Movement helps with circulation. Little walking breaks, do a few stretches, take a few deep breaths outside.
  • Exercise helps to boost our mood. Natural endorphins, decreased cortisol = happier state overall.
  • Any type of movement helps. Exercise in any form will get our bodies moving; gardening, cleaning, dancing.
  • Movement helps increase our self esteem and confidence. When we purposefully make our physical and mental health a priority by making time for some form of exercise, our sense of accomplishment helps to build our self-identity.

Keeping movement in mind for our daily and weekly goals is a fairly simple way to keep ourselves on track when it comes to our emotional health. Perhaps it is time for some meditation in motion.

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Why We Need to Keep Our Negative Thoughts in Check

It really isn’t difficult to have negative thoughts. We all have a negative bias based on our survival brain, we have core beliefs from childhood, and depending on our circumstances, we may be feeling crummy which can lead to bleak or defeatist thoughts.

By why is it so important to keep them in check? Because when we give negative thoughts too much attention, we run the risk of misperceiving ourselves and our loved ones. 

Our core beliefs fight for space; they ultimately want more attention than our healthy parts. Negative thinking will feed that core belief until you have yourself convinced of its validity. Misperception. Caution: may lead to self-sabotaging behaviours.

You are feeling blue, crummy, crabby. Your friend tells you she can’t make the coffee date. Negative thinking will have you assuming the worst. Misperception. Caution: may lead you to say something you regret.

You have a fight with your teenager; anger prevails, feelings are hurt and negative thoughts ensue. Soon, you have yourself convinced that you are the worst parent in the world and there is no hope for your teenager. Misperception. Caution: may get in the way of being able to move in for repair and compromise.

We are much better served to not give those negative thoughts too much attention. We want objectivity to come in and allow us to see the situation in a more realistic light; guiding us to stay on track and as a result, feeling grounded and confident in our choices.

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The Importance of Bids for Connection

If you are a regular reader of my blog, by now you have heard me say many times that we are a relationship species. We also thrive on healthy connections with our loved ones; our sense of security is directly linked to those connections.

Dr. John Gottman has coined the term bids for connection as ‘turning towards’ your partner. When we make an emotional bid to our loved ones, we are attempting to connect. Both giving and accepting the bid fills our emotional bank account. We can also ‘turn away’ from the emotional bid, creating distance and potential conflict in the relationship. Although Dr. Gottman speaks primarily of this in marital relationships, it can be applied to any relationship in which we reciprocally work to keep it healthy.

Here are some examples of some bids for connection:

  • Verbal statements: these are any type of bids that include words. Terms of endearment, asking how someone’s day was. It can also be a blanket statement such as “Something happened today that is really bugging me.” Bids can also include compliments, or requests – “Do you mind getting me a soda when you’re up?” They can include statements of appreciation – “Supper was really good, honey,” – or a feeling statement – “I’m kind of feeling sad today.”
  • Non verbal statements: these are the bids that include affection – a hug, kiss, arm around a shoulder. It can be kind gestures such as cooking for someone, completing a chore for them, buying them a small gift. Bids can also include facial gestures such as a nod, smiling or a wink.

When we turn towards the emotional bids, we are responsive; we let our loved one know that they can count on us. The turning towards builds trust. When we remain unresponsive by ignoring or dismissing a bid, it wears away at the relationship.

If we are invested in a relationship, it is important to keep emotional bids as part of our strategy to keep the connection healthy – both in creating them and recognizing when one is being offered. The turning towards of one another will help to build and keep the relationship strong.

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Wise Words to Get Us Through Tough Times

When life begins to feel like its dragging its heels, when we are faced with a challenge, we can often lean into the negative feelings that come with those types of situations. Although we need to be able to be comfortable with discomfort, we always run the risk of following those negative thoughts down the rabbit hole. Here are some wise words from Marianne Williamson on the process of finding light in the dark:

“The darkness is an invitation to light, calling forth the spirit in all of us. Every problem implies a question: Are you ready to embody what you believe? Can you reach within yourself for enough clarity, strength, forgiveness, serenity, love, patience and faith to turn this around? That’s the spiritual meaning of every situation: not what happens to us, but what we do with what happens to us. The only real failure is the failure to grow from what we go through.”

– Marianne Williamson, The Gift of Change

We can lean into our values when difficult times arise. They will help us find the light. 🙂

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The Experience of Shared Laughter

During the time of my marital separation, I stumbled across a self-care strategy that proved to be quite instrumental in the starting of my day. As part of my morning routine (when the kids were still in bed), I would watch an episode of Three’s Company. One of my all time favourite shows, it brought about good, cozy feelings –  as it reminded me of my childhood – and it would bring a chuckle to the beginning of my day, starting it off on a good note.

We know, scientically, that laughter is good for us. The research behind laughter indicates that a good belly laugh can improve mood and help to moderate stress hormones (hello endorphins, goodbye cortisol!) In hindsight, this makes sense to me now as I realize that I was helping to relax and regulate my body with laughter.

But what about the process of shared laughter? We are a relationship species and thrive on connection. Shared experience becomes a very important part of that process. Shared laughter, then, combines the benefits of both and helps to physiologically soothe us.

Kurt and I always tend to have a show on the go; sometimes a detective show or something action oriented. Lately, we have been tuning into a comedy; watching two episodes in the evening while we sit side by side on the couch (sharing it with our Great Dane of course!) And when I get up from watching those shows, I can feel the effects of shared laughter. A little more relaxed, a little more connected, ending my day on a good note. 🙂

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Money and Emotions; Post 5

In our wrap up post about money and emotions, today we explore the money script (Klontz & Klontz) of Money Vigilance. Those who ascribe to this script put a lot of emphasis on saving money and tend to have their financial affairs in order. The money vigilant are less likely to buy on credit and are discrete about their financial status with others.

“The Money Vigilant are alert, watchful, and concerned about their financial health. While Money Vigilance encourages saving and frugality, it can also lead to excessive wariness or anxiety that can prevent one from enjoying the benefits and sense of security that money can provide.”

Although the money vigilant tend not to sabotage their own financial status, sometimes their fears and subsequent miserly habits can affect the relationship they have with their loved ones.  It can also prevent them from enjoying the fruits of their labour.  Klontz suggests that they create a “fun-money budget” that will allow them to recognize that creating space in your life to enjoy a well earned vacation or a ‘toy,’ can emphasize feeling joyful. Checking in with a trusted advisor on a regular basis will also help with tempering the fears associated with money vigilance.

After reading about money scripts, I can definitely see that my Dad ascribed to money vigilance. I also see some of the same tendencies in myself; especially when it comes to my feelings around debt (that will keep me up at night!) Thankfully, I also learned that when we can afford some luxuries – that includes travel for me – then we should spend without guilt or fear as it is much deserved.

This concludes our series about money and emotions. Information for this post was found at “Your Mental Wealth” and if you wish to discover your own money script, at the bottom of the article, you will find a link: https://www.yourmentalwealthadvisors.com/money-scripts

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Money and Emotions; Post 4

So far in our series about money scripts (Klontz & Klontz), we have explored Money Avoidance and Money Worship; today we look at Money Status. 

We have all heard of the expression “keeping up with the Jones’s” – this is where  Money Status comes to light, as people who ascribe to this money script often associate their self-worth to their net worth. Pulled to show off their wealth to others and wanting to impress, can sometimes lead these individuals into going into debt to keep up appearances.

“Money status seekers may prioritize outward displays of wealth, and as a result can be at risk of overspending. They may believe that if they live a virtuous life, the universe will take care of their financial needs. Those that score higher in the area of Money Status are more likely to overspend, gamble excessively, be financially dependent on others, and hide expenditures from their spouses.”

It is important to note that although some money status seekers are quite financially successful, it can also come at a cost of workaholism as they are driven to secure their social status and will make that a priority over family time.

When we recognize that we may have fallen into the Money Status seeker category, we can begin to challenge some of those core beliefs by recognizing that although our net worth can contribute to our self-identity, it doesn’t have to take up too much space. Focusing on your financial situation with a spouse or financial advisor on a regular basis can keep you on track, as well as slowing down your decision to purchase something by exploring just what is driving that decision.

Tomorrow we will explore the last money script, Money Vigilance.

Information for this post came from Klontz’s website, Your Mental Wealthhttps://www.yourmentalwealthadvisors.com/money-scripts

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Money and Emotions; Post 3

Moving right along in our exploration of money scripts (Klontz & Klontz), today we take a look at Money Worship.

Money Worship is the belief that having more money will be the answer to your troubles and will make you happy. People who ascribe to this script also believe that you can never have enough money and tend to never quite be satisfied with the amount that they have.

“Money Worshipers are prone to buying things in an attempt to achieve happiness. They are also more likely to put work ahead of family and give or loan money to others even though they can’t afford to do so.”

In a study conducted by Klontz et al, it was discovered that despite the societal belief that more money equals happiness, there is no significant correlation between money and happiness once household incomes are above $75 000 per year and that increases in income have been found to also increase distrust and depression.

We are much better served to see that money really doesn’t buy happiness. In order to temper this money script, Klontz suggests that we can avoid buyer’s remorse by putting some thought into the purchase versus simply following the impulse to shop; this brings in the rational process needed to help with the emotional drive to spend money.

Because money worshipers can have the tendency to work a lot, a slow down and spending time with family and loved ones will help to remind ourselves that we need to attach our money to values or it loses its lustre. Klontz also notes that another way to temper money worship is to give with intention. When we are able to give budgeted money to charitable organizations that we take an interest in, we can reinforce the value of money without chasing it.

Tomorrow’s post will look at Money Status.

Information for this post was found in the following article found at Your Mental Wealth (love the clever name!): https://www.yourmentalwealthadvisors.com/money-scripts

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