Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

Two Factors to Longevity in Relationships

When we think about the longevity and sustainability of relationships, two factors play a big role:

  1. Compatibility. Do you share the same type of values with your partner? Are you similar in how you like to spend your time? Enjoy a lot of the same activities? Are you in agreement as to how to discipline children? Do you share a semblance of work ethic and ambition? Although we can certainly appreciate the differences that two people bring to a relationship, and can work with an opposite-attracts type of union, compatibility tends to rank higher in the ability to maintain a strong emotional bond. For established relationships, working towards common goals and values can help to strengthen compatibility factors and for anyone in the dating world, keeping the goal of a well-matched union will often lead to a healthier choice with less potential conflict.
  2. Unity. Very often our values and goals line up to create a team-like approach to our relationship, giving each other the feeling that we are joined “as a whole” so to speak. This does not mean that we are not individuals within the relationship, but rather it is the inherent feeling of consistency and integration in our movement forward as a couple.

Compatibility and unity are factors, invariably, that lead to a greater strengthening of our attachment system. Just the sound of those words together brings about feelings of security, and the notion of a safe space to land in. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Benjamin Bortels on Unsplash

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Marianne Williamson Quote; An All-Time Favourite

I am a quote person; I love jotting down little bits of wisdom from books or movies. My  favourite quote of all time (so far!) is one that I first heard on the movie “Akeelah and the Bee;” a scene in which Dr. Larabee (Lawrence Fishburn) is helping to coach a young girl (Keke Palmer) for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  Although it was edited for the movie, I will quote it in its entirety:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

This quote for me encapsulates the very concept of movement and growth. It is about self-reflection; an inherent need to understand who we are and to allow our true nature to shine, regardless of the lessons we may have been taught about ourselves as a child.  It is a quote about giving ourselves permission to find our way; allowing humility and love for ourselves to create an avenue of growth for others.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Josh Boot on Unsplash

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Depression Fact #5

Alcohol and marijuana are depressants. As much as we want to lean into the argument that having a glass of wine relaxes us or that marijuana has beneficial effects, it can’t take away the fact that both alcohol and marijuana depress the brain. Seems pretty counter intuitive when dealing with depression doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, self-medicating is not going to get you well; you are much better served to talk to your doctor about medication therapy, seek counselling, and get outside into nature on a daily basis.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

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Parenting Through the Tough Times

In a recent article entitled “The Most Valuable Thing a Parent Can Do For Their Kids” by Glennon Doyle Melton and featured on Oprah.com, Melton talks about the challenge we face as parents when hardship strikes. Speaking candidly about how separating from her husband led her to feelings of failure as a parent, she came to realize some valuable insight about how to best guide our children through difficult times:

“What if it has never been our job—or our right—to protect our children from every incoming bump and bruise? What if, instead, our obligation is to point them directly toward life’s inevitable trials and tribulations and say, ‘Honey, that challenge was made for you. It might hurt, but it will also nurture wisdom, courage, and character. I can see what you’re going through, and it’s big. But I can also see your strength, and that’s even bigger. This won’t be easy, but we can do hard things.” 

If we have done our best to help protect our children by shouldering as much as we can when it comes to the tough stuff, then it is also okay to give ourselves permission to see that struggle can also bring to the experience some valuable lessons, not only for ourselves but for our children as well.

To read the full article: http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/glennon-doyle-melton-parenting-children-of-divorce

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

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Challenging Negative Core Beliefs

Building on our post from yesterday, today we will look at how to begin to challenge our negative core beliefs. The first step, and often what brings people to therapy, is to identify them. Usually, the messages we received consistently are often found in the “unspoken rules in the family,” and can be tied to what role we play in the family. Examples that I have heard from clients:

  • “As long as we were there to work, we were valued.”
  • “I have never felt good enough in her eyes.”
  • “It was all about achievement. If I got a 90, it was why didn’t you get a 95?”
  • “I was the caregiver in the family.”
  • “I was the black sheep.”

Once you have identified the message that has led to a core belief, the next step is to ask yourself, “Does it have to be this way? Whose voice am I really listening to?” 

The third step is to replace the message with one that is more accurate; reflective of what you would have wanted to hear instead. Example: “I may have been the caregiver, but I deserve to be taken care of too.” Replacing the new message, every time you hear the old one, is the key to creating a new pathway in your brain, putting out that torch once and for all. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash

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How We Carry the Torch

When we are little, we have a very blurred line between need and want. As part of our attachment system, and the inherent knowledge that we can’t survive without our caregivers, we are quite egocentric as children. As our rational brain develops, we begin to think of ourselves outside of others and by adulthood, have a much clearer delineation between what we need and what we want (or at least we hope so!)

As a result of our egocentricity, we internalize everything as children. This includes messages that get repeated to us, both spoken and unspoken; resulting in core beliefs that can often define who we are. If for example, the message we consistently received is “you can do this; try your best,” we learn with time that we have the power within us to achieve our goals; a good core belief to have. If, however, the message we have received is “nothing you do is good enough,” that also follows us as we navigate through life.

When we are children, we are powerless to change core beliefs; they become an ingrained part of our self-identity and as a result feel very real. Once we bridge over into adulthood, we often “carry the torch,” unbeknownst to us that we have the ability to influence and change our negative core beliefs. Our rational brain certainly has the capacity to begin to question how we identify ourselves, but very often, we lean into what we feel to be true, creating a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way; forever imprisoned by our negative core beliefs. Tomorrow’s post will address how to begin the process of challenging those very messages that affect the decisions we make in life.

Photo credit: http://Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash

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Anxiety Fact #6

Anxiety can become a problem. This is when people usually seek therapy as their anxiety has reached a disruptive place in their life. If your body is reacting in alarm when there is in fact no danger, it creates a distressful cycle as we try to manage our worries and fears physiologically. Our body produces symptoms based on our fearful thoughts, but without any real danger, our body then has no signals that “Everything is okay. We got this.”

If anxiety reaches a level that has become disruptive, it really is okay to ask ourselves, “Does it have to be this way?” Reducing stress levels as well as actively reducing worry can help.

“Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.” – W. Clement Stone

Photo credit:http://Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

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The Memory of Smell

Walking into a bakery instantly brings me back to my childhood and the memory of visiting Pilon’s bakery in Vankleek Hill. The smell of the ocean reminds me of Long Sands Beach in York, Maine; my mother instructing us to roll down our windows so as to smell “that fresh, ocean air.” Stick my nose in a hard cover book and I am roaming between the shelves of our small town library. The smell of coffee in the morning I associate with the start of a new day.

Unfortunately, for anyone who has suffered trauma, smells can also produce an instant and visceral reaction that can trigger their fear response; bringing them back instantly by way of flashback to the experience. It is important when this happens to take some deep breaths; reminding yourself that it is a flashback, that you are safe, and that you are in control of your surroundings.

Though often underestimated by way of our senses, smell plays an important role in our psychological system; instantly warning us of potential danger or bringing us back to a memory that nurtures our comfort system. Smell is our only sense with links directly to the parts of our brain that are responsible for emotion and memory; explaining how a smell can trigger an instant reaction.

As you have read this post, you most likely thought of your own favourite smells associated with memories. Please feel free to share in the comments section 🙂

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

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On the Eve of a New Year

Typically sung when the clock strikes midnight, the traditional Scottish song “Auld Lang Syne,” literally means “old long since,” or in layman’s terms, “days gone by.” There is a particular line in the song that I especially resonate with:

“For auld lang syne my dear, for auld lang syne, we’ll take a cup of kindess yet, for auld lang syne.”

It is at this time of year that we often reflect upon the year past. It may have held memorable moments, ones that brought joy as well as ones that brought sadness. We may have achieved some important goals in our life, or struggled in feeling lost.  We may have felt fulfilled in our relationships, or contended at times with loneliness. Regardless of the type of year we had, the thought that we can take a cup of kindness for the year gone past is a gracious act. It is saying thank you; for both the gifts and the lessons that this year has brought; encompassing gratitude for the experience.

It is also at this time of year that we often put to mind resolutions for the year to come; it is a time to begin again. Perhaps in our reflection of what we wish to improve in the new year, we can take a second cup of kindness; this one as a reminder to be gentle to ourselves. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Sarthak Navjivan on Unsplash

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“I’ll Just Do it Myself”

I came across this cute meme the other day that struck a chord with me. It went as follows:

Me: I need some help around here

Also me: No, not like that, here I’ll do it. 

I can remember when I first began asking my youngest daughter to take the laundry in off the clothesline, I would remark to myself how she certainly did not fold them like I did. And I also have to admit, that in the beginning, I would refold them. Tsk. Tsk.

Routine and developed patterns are a part of our comfort system. We have certain ways of doing things that are right for us; and soon become the only way to do it. Affecting us both at home and at work, we soon have too much work on our hands; landing us in the unyielding territory of rigid thought and expectation.

Perhaps at this point, we can move to readjustment; being more flexible in both our expectations of others and our ownership of task. Not only does it allow us to lighten our load, it also teaches a most valuable lesson; one that encapsulates effort, acknowledges the emotional bid and builds the healthier option of flexible thought.

In other words, no more refolding of laundry for me. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

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