Make it Okay: Resource

I recently came across an organization named “Make it OK;” it’s aim: to educate the public about mental illness and to help put an end to the stigma that tends to be a concurrent issue for people who are brave enough to speak their truth. On the interactive website, you will find information about mental illness; did you know for example, that one in four people will develop a mental illness in their life time? They have quizzes to see if you recognize mental illness stigma and describe the tangibles of it such as “Exclusion. Telling someone to toughen up or snap out of it. Calling someone crazy. Treating mental illness as a fallacy for the lazy or attention starved.”

One part that I especially appreciate is the section that share people’s stories; you can watch videos or read about someone’s own experience with mental illness. Like Jess who spiraled into a depression and PTSD after the sudden death of her sister. When asked her advice as to how to help others, she stated, “Asking for help is hard but the stigma is reduced every time you speak out. You’re loved, you’re not alone, and it’s ok to show your emotions and be honest about how you’re doing. In fact, it’s imperative for you to be honest about that (for everyone who is struggling).”

Make it Ok gives out tips for generating conversation about mental illness; it even has a toolkit that can be downloaded that can help promote the message of their campaign.  To check out this great organization: https://makeitok.org/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

 

“The Three M’s”

I am borrowing this one from my friend and colleague, Darlene Denis-Friske. It is a strategy she likes to call the “three m’s” and it is related to our call to action when we are in a highly emotional state. If you recall from previous posts, emotion will trump reason every time and the more heightened you feel while caught up in that whirlwind of emotion, the more likely you are to succumb to saying or doing something you will regret after your emotional state returns to a calmer place.

If we can catch ourselves before we move to action (yes, it is possible; take a deep breath to start), we give ourselves permission to slow down, to give some space to it so as to allow our rational brain to have a say in how we want to handle ourselves. This is where the “three m’s” come into play, as we can ask ourselves “is my response mature, measured and matter-of-fact?” 

The beauty of these three words is that they carry a lot of weight. Your response is now developed, practical and sound; and with less emotion, you increase the probability of results. Further to this and regardless of the outcome, what is of even greater consideration is that by choosing the “three m’s” you have moved into the position of “I am important and so are you;” allowing yourself to have a voice while respecting the other. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Christian Kaindl on Unsplash

“Just Say No”

Is not something you say to a people-pleaser. The thought of “just saying no” tends to work against every grain of their reinforced and automatic response of saying yes. That being said, when we always say yes, we put ourselves in a position of not being important; we have negated our own needs and the flexibility required in order to honour what works for us.

Ultimately, in order to move to a healthier position, we need to give ourselves permission to reflect on whether or not it works within our schedule and energy level to say yes.  An example would be “I will have to get back to you about this; I have to check on a few things.” This will give you the space to decide whether or not it works for you. If it does, great! But if you feel that you are sacrificing at your own expense by saying yes, you can move to “I’m sorry, but I can’t say yes this time.” Saying no gently is a good alternative because you are tempering the no; it doesn’t feel so rigid and final. Saying no may not feel natural or comfortable at first but that is okay; you will have begun the process of reinforcing a healthier position for yourself in the long run.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

 

Change it, Accept it or Leave It

Often times when a client is faced with an issue that they are struggling with, we will explore the concept of “Can I change it, accept it or leave it?” Many people have trouble accepting what they are unhappy with (which is often what has led them to therapy in the first place) and so they are bound somewhere in the process of trying to change it.

I have come to learn that out of those three choices, it tends to be in our human nature to try to change something first.  Very often, we will attempt to change someone else’s behaviour as this appears to be the most logical solution (sometimes pointing out or telling someone how we feel may be enough to want them to change.)  Unfortunately as many of us learn

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Nature’s Soul

When my sister and I were kids we spent hours outside; we had snow forts in the winter, tree forts in the summer and had nicknames for all of the places we would choose to play in; “the big rock, the little pond, the big pond, the tracks.” There was no limit to time when we were fully immersed in the games we were playing and we came home with a freshness to our cheeks and grass stains on our jeans (or massive snow balls on our mitts and hats!)

There is something about being outside that just feels good and it is the best known remedy for clearing our head. How many times has “fresh air” been the perfect solution after having been cooped up inside with the flu (same advice goes for a hangover); or sending the kids outside to burn off some energy?

I often talk about the remnants of a “survival brain” from our days of living on the plains but what about our soul? Could it be possible that it is also distantly connected to those days when we lived off the land; respectful of it’s harsh conditions but also appreciative of it’s reverent beauty? I like to think that perhaps the reason we feel so at peace when in nature is about being inherently bonded to a part of ourselves perhaps long disappeared but not forgotten; a little bit of us, that when outside, feels at home 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Michal Janek on Unsplash

“I Yam What I Yam”

My father used to love the expression “I yam what I yam,” quoting from the infamous Popeye. He would often say it in jest, and looking back, I suppose I inferred that it was sort of a “what you see is what you get” type of saying.

Our past; our childhood and lifetime experiences shape us; it will bring to us a very individualized way of processing the world that is unique to us. I suppose we can look at this saying in two ways. When we apply it to ourselves, we have a greater ability to say “Well, while it is true that I am what I am, there are times when perhaps I am doing something that is no longer in my best interest or can be hurtful to others.”  If we become aware of these behaviours and move to change them, we can shift from the expression of “I am what I am,” to more of “I am what I choose to become” and we are not so bound to our past.

We can also apply this saying to others in that they really “are what they are.”  And because of this, we at times will need to remind ourselves of two things: that people show you who they are early on and that we cannot change another person, only ourselves.  A valuable lesson to learn at any age 🙂

 

Nature Unplugged

I am an early riser; as part of my own “anchor to my day”, I like to take a daily walk with my dog. This is often quite early in the morning, “dawn’s first light” type of early, and I am pretty good about ignoring the phone in my pocket. I have come to observe over the years that my walk is always where I do my best thinking and I notice things that I would not have paid attention to had I been plugged in. In the spring for example, the predominant noise in the air are the birds, vocalizing their praises to the warmer sun, and yet this time of year, all I can hear are the crickets. Curious as to why, I googled “what is the meaning of crickets chirping?” and I have now learned that it is only the males who chirp as a mating ritual. I guess they are expecting a long, hard winter. 🙂

There are times when my day seems overwhelming in front of me and so beyond my better judgement,  I pull that darn phone out of my pocket and fire off some texts or answer some emails. I can’t recall a time when I didn’t regret that decision as I come back from my walk much preoccupied and far from feeling peaceful. And so, I have pledged to myself to “be in nature unplugged,” to give myself the gift of contentedness, and reflective thought to begin my day. At the very minimum, I can at least give those crickets the audience they deserve.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash