Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

Dr. Phil Podcast; Living by Design Series

You either love Dr. Phil or you don’t. He is a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is therapist and the reason I like him is because it’s authentically him. If someone is going to tell you the truth about your life, you want it to come from a genuine source.

My colleague Darlene directed me towards a Dr. Phil podcast series called “Living By Design.” First off, love the name; it implies that we can make conscious choices to achieve our goals and live a purposeful life. Dr. Phil uses humour, common sense and his own personal stories to create this podcast. As an aside, he tells this fantastic story about his life-law “You either get it or you don’t” when, as a teenager, he and four friends get caught speeding by a Southern, “don’t-take-any-guff” cop – it was absolutely priceless!

In Part I, Dr. Phil explores the concept of internal dialogue.  He says “What is your personal truth? You need to turn your ear inward and ask yourself – what is your internal dialogue? How do you label yourself? What do you say to yourself? Because if all through the day, you’re putting yourself down – until you change that internal dialogue, you’re never going to get the results you truly deserve.” 

He also talks about 4 criteria for rational thought which I consider to be very thought provoking:

In order for a thought to be rational or not:

  1. It has to be grounded in objective fact, not opinion
  2. It has to be in your best interest
  3. It has to protect and prolong your life
  4. It has to get you closer to the healthy goals you have in your life

Dr. Phil’s “Living By Design: Part I” is worth listening to.

To listen to the full podcast:

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The Wisdom of Robin Williams

No one could make us laugh like Robin Williams did. His comedic genius masked inner conflict; although he was quite honest about his mental health struggles, it was easy to forget about that after seeing him on stage or in a move like “Mrs. Doubtfire”. Today I feature three of my favourite quotes from a man who could always make me get to the belly laughs:

  • “You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”
  • “I always thought that the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself.”
  • “But if there’s love dear, those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart forever. All my love to you poppet, you’re going to be alright.” – Mrs. Doubtfire

Photo credit: http://Photo by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash

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What Anxiety and Anger Have in Common

You’re running late, feeling keyed up about not being on time; no one seems to be co-operating and the littlest one is starting to have a meltdown because she can’t find her favourite hat. Before you know it, you are yelling at the kids and yanking the closet door practically off of its hinges.

How did you go from anxious to angry so easily? Simply answered, our bodies set us up for it. When we are anxious, our body’s muscles tense up, our blood pressure rises, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes more shallow and our attention narrows. The same thing happens when we are angry. Both our anxiety and our anger activate what is called the sympathetic nervous system which gets us ready for action. It becomes very easy when feeling stressed, to simply shift into anger because our bodies are already there.

It is our parasympathetic system that gets us back to a relaxed state. Eventually, whether anxious or angry, built in mechanisms eventually bring us back to calmness (picture driving to work after having dropped off the kids, coffee purchased and music playing). In the midst of feeling stressed, we can help that process along and allow it to get us there sooner by taking some deep breaths.

Focusing on slowing down our breathing pushes the reset button on both our physiological state and our mindset. We are much better served to stop, take some deep breaths and state to ourselves “It’s okay, like every other morning, we’ll get there.” Leaving everyone less rattled and the door still on its hinges 🙂

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

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Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis; great read!

A client recently recommended the book “Girl Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. In it, Rachel addresses 20 lies that women typically tell themselves; her job is to debunk those myths and she uses her own story and humour to do it. Here are just a few of her musings:

  • I surround myself with positivity. I cringe even writing that because it sounds like a poster you’d see taped to the wall of your eighth grade gym class – but cheesy or not, it’s gospel. You become who you surround yourself with. You become what you consume. If you find yourself in a slump or feel as though you’re living in a negative space, take a good hard look at who and what you see every day.
  • This was her message to new moms or soon-to-be-mamas: A new mother’s daily list of goals should boil down to: a) Take care of the baby, b) Take care of yourself. Boom. The End.
  • Set goals, not time limits. I love goals. They can help you become your best self….but big dreams shouldn’t have expiration dates. As long as you’re working toward the things you hope to accomplish, it shouldn’t matter if it takes you a month or a decade. 

An important note: The Lie: I Will Never Get Past This, is a wonderful chapter on how to get past the traumatic experiences we have had in our lives.

“Girl Wash Your Face” is a worthy read.

Photo credit: Me!

Five Fun Facts About Laughter

Consciously keeping laughter as part of our daily routine is a great self-care strategy! Here are five fun facts about the importance of keeping yourself amused:

  • Laughter is contagious. People are 30 times more likely to laugh when in the company of others.
  • Laughter has bonding qualities; when couples tackle stressful situations with humour, they are more likely to report higher levels of satisfaction with their relationship.
  • The average person laughs around 13 times per day; spontaneous laughter bringing about more instances of belly laughs.
  • Whole-hearted laughter boosts our immune system, working against harmful illness.
  • In an average day, children tend to laugh 3 times more than adults.

What do these facts tell us about the importance of laughter? They all tend to focus on the importance of working towards adopting a carefree attitude to our daily stresses; using laughter as a way to counter some of the challenges we may face in our busy lives.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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A Mother’s Love

Today my mom would have turned 74. In honour of her birthday, I share this quote:

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood 

is greater than natural laws.”

-Barbara Kingsolver

The strength of my mother is where I find peace. I see it in her smile when I look at pictures, I pray to her on my walks, I feel it when a funny memory brings about laughter. I see it in the way I parent, I feel it when my girls hug me, I am reminded of it in my sister. The strength of my mother is where I find peace 🙂

Photo: I’m the one in her arms 🙂 Always a mama’s girl…haha!

Stuck at a Crossroad? Try these 3 things!

People often come to therapy because they have reached a crossroads in their lives. Unsure of which way to go, they end up standing at the crossroads, struggling to make a decision and feeling stuck.

A job presents itself but is accompanied by change, a relationship has reached a point of being unhealthy, a bad habit is beginning to feel dysfunctional, past trauma is affecting your current experience. In any case, the impasse represents our comfort zone; choosing a path is frightening. Turning back is always an option but most likely not a good one and standing in the same place puts you directly in the absence of growth.

Three things can help begin the process of choosing:

  • Find your direction. If you were lost, you would google map it. Get informed; find out as much as you can about what it would look like to take the paths in front of you. Curiousity is always one of the best ways to temper fear.
  • Ask for help. If you were standing there and a fellow wanderer came down the path, you may ask them about the best way to reach your destination. Use your loved ones as sounding boards; seek therapy.
  • Use your instincts. Let’s face it; you wouldn’t be at the crossroads unless something in your gut was niggling at you and telling you that some form of change was necessary to feel a difference.

Standing at a crossroads needs to be a temporary, not permanent position. The choice, ultimately is ours and being proactive and involved in the decision making will give us a sense of relief and confidence in having stepped towards a path.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Truth – Post 7

In our last of a series of posts celebrating the Seven Grandfather Teachings of First Nations People, we add Truth to the core values of wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty and humility:

Truth: is to know all of these things. It is said that in the beginning, when the Creator made man and gave him the seven sacred laws, the Grandmother Turtle was present to ensure that the laws would never be lost or forgotten. On the back of a Turtle are the 13 moons, each representing the truth of one cycle of the Earth’s rotations around the sun. The 28 markings on her back represent the cycle of the moon and of a woman’s body. The shell of the Turtle represents the body real events as created by the Higher Power, and serves as a reminder of the Creator’s will and teachings.”

The first step towards healing is to speak your truth. In order to achieve growth and movement, we must be first able to acknowledge what is holding us back. It is only then that we open up the avenue to understand how our patterns or core beliefs have affected our relationships, influenced our actions, or hindered our ability to be emotionally healthy. Being able to incorporate the seven sacred teachings into our lives even in small ways can greatly influence our capacity to feel whole; moving towards a feeling of peace in who we are and how we treat both ourselves and our loved ones.

Thank you for joining me on this series; I hope you enjoyed it!

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Randall Ruiz on Unsplash



Seven Sacred Teachings: Humility – Post 6

Today we add humility to our Seven Sacred Teachings of the First Nations People:

Humility: Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of the Creation. Symbolized by the wolf, humility is about being humble and not arrogant. The expression of this humility is manifested through the consideration of others before ourselves. In this way, the Wolf became the teacher of this lesson. He bows his head in the presence of others out of deference, and once hunted, will not take of the food until it can be shared with the pack. His lack of arrogance and respect for his community is a hard lesson, but integral in the Aboriginal way.”

Humility is a core value that we can often struggle with as it tends to lend itself to the idea of submission or being meek. I suppose where true humility comes into play is to know when to defer; if you don’t know something, you are much better served to say so than to pretend as though you do. It is about not allowing your pride to get in the way of true growth, working towards inclusiveness versus self-importance, it is to know the strength of power and to use it wisely. To know true humility is to know peace.

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Michael LaRosa on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Honesty – Post 5

The fifth core value that the First Nations People speak about in the Seven Grandfather Teachings is Honesty:

Honesty: Honesty also means “righteousness”, be honest first with yourself – in word and action. Long ago, there was a giant called Kitch-Sabe. Kitch-Sabe walked among the people to remind them to be honest to the laws of the creator and honest to each other. The highest honor that could be bestowed upon an individual was the saying “There walks an honest man. He can be trusted.” To be truly honest was to keep the promises one made to the Creator, to others and to oneself. The Elders would say, “Never try to be someone else; live true to your spirit, be honest to yourself and accept who you are the way the Creator made you.”

How lovely is that? To live in such a way that it would capture the attention of a giant. Being honest with ourselves is not always an easy task; when we are rigid in our beliefs, sometimes honesty gets set aside for needing to be right. To aspire to honesty is to value sincerity and trustworthiness. It is about striving to be authentic, not only in word but in action; it is to be ourselves.

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Sakkarin Kaewsukho on Unsplash

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