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What are you struggling with?
Cancer, chronic pain, diabetes, chronic fatigue, lupus, or migraines? Maybe your illness is yet unnamed but just as life-changing?
Pain that persists and twists your world changes who you are, how you operate, and how you relate. Regardless of your condition’s name, the struggle to adjust is real and, often, the reality hurts.
Still, you can cope. Just because life hurts, doesn’t mean life is over.
To move forward, let’s consider the following strategies for coping with chronic illness:
Become an Advocate for Yourself
Doctors and specialists are likely a part of your life for the foreseeable future. Recognising your need for self-advocacy will be important. Being ill doesn’t mean you lose the right to receive information or make decisions as you see fit.
However, maintaining your ability to speak up and retain your confidence when you’re hurting isn’t easy. Facing the experts and well-meaning service providers requires thorough self-education and communication tools that may be uncomfortable for you at first.
Consider work with a counsellor to ensure you come up with a game plan that ensures your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met.
Set Reasonable Expectations
No matter how tempted you are to deny it, ignore it, or rage against it, your chronic illness is not just an illness, it is your new normal.
To live well will require acceptance and the willingness to rethink your expectations of yourself. There is no shame in acknowledging how your thoughts, emotions, and behaviour have been affected. It’s okay to feel and be different now. It’s okay to live your life differently according to new values and standards.
Change is part of this process. Uncertainty needn’t drive you toward depression or drive wedges in your relationships. Working with a counsellor to help set expectations and limits (for yourself and others) is crucial. Accepting and facing your life situation honestly is healthy, not an admission of defeat.
Prioritise Superior Self-care
Your self-care is no longer the option or back-burner activity it may have been in the past. You’ll find that self-care is both meaningful and mandatory.
Be sure to adhere to your treatment plan. Protect your emotional state with therapy sessions, journaling, or a similar practice of introspection and self-expression. Also, seek peace with prayer, meditation, and stress management exercises.
Your priority is not to do too much or push too hard. Instead, cope by being intentional with your energy. Use the days you need to rest for renewal without guilt or apology.
You are the final word on what matters and makes you feel good. Furthermore, keep in mind that many chronically ill people find that their illness facilitates a more focused, purposeful period in their lives.
Resist the Urge to Deny Yourself Support
You will endure the gamut of tough times throughout your chronic illness. Having your team hold you up, push you forward, or just be there will make all the difference.
Don’t let pain, shame, or anger isolate you.
When you release the idea that you must face this illness independently and embrace support, you may find your burdens aren’t as heavy as you once thought. Ask for help. Allow space for the generosity of your community. Relax, breathe, and receive kindness. Doing so can boost your mental resilience and soothe you physically.
Take the Next Step
You may be chronically ill but your life is still yours. You may not be able to change or erase your condition, but you can cope. You can even thrive.
Finally, remember that you are not chronically alone. Please seek out the people and resources that will help you through. Talk to someone who can hear you and empathise. Professional guidance can help temper the overwhelm.
If you determine that you need help managing the impact of your diagnosis on your life and relationships, please contact me soon. Together, we can work through some useful strategies to navigate the challenges of chronic illness.
To schedule an appointment call 32825453 or email email@example.com
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Addiction typically revolves around some type of harmful substance.
Yet, the most toxic part of addiction is equally as harmful as any substance—shame.
Commonly mistaken for guilt, shame is what can keep a person locked into addiction. In other words, it’s the nefarious force at work to keep you stuck—an arm’s length away from the reprieve of recovery.
Still, many people approach the topic of shame with a cavalier attitude. But it’s not an emotion to be ignored. Moreover, shame is nearly impossible to casually reckon with. In fact, running from, ignoring, or allowing shame to devour you only strengthens its negative impact on your life.
But you can change all that and open the door to recovery by developing resilience. Here’s how.
Uncovering the Harmful Depths of Shame
To build mental toughness, it’s important to know what shame really is. Although many theories about shame exist, the paramount focus should be the present. To put it plainly, shame is utterly debilitating to a person’s psyche.
Imagine a fishing boat constantly and mercilessly pummeled by the sea. For a few years, it may still function. Yet, if ill-maintained, one day the water will win and the boat will either sink or be bound to the land.
Shame is like the sea; you are the boat.
Unlike other emotions, shame can make you feel unworthy, innately defective, and as though you’ll never be enough. And that’s just for starters.
You may struggle with guilt, people pleasing, low self-esteem, and perfectionism as well. The negative emotions trickling down from shame tend to cause unhealthy habits to develop.
How Shame Impacts Addiction Recovery
Shame has one goal—to make you feel as low and unlovable as you possibly can. Once in the clench of this toxic emotion, it’s not always “you” at the helm anymore. More than likely, it’s a version of you simply trying to keep your head above water.
In essence, to recoup what shame stripped from you, it’s easy to fall into addictive patterns. Really, running from shame is simply often running into the arms of addiction.
But the pseudo boost of internal positivity substance use provides is temporary—a fierce rush of relief. However, it feels so good to rid yourself of shame—even for just a moment—that you keep returning to your addiction again and again. Shame is that powerful!
For this reason, recovering from addiction also means building shame resilience.
How to Develop Shame Resilience
To spring back from negative emotions, you will need to be strategic. It’s not impossible. But building resilience requires deliberate thoughts and actions.
Firstly, it’s vital for you to be in a place where you feel safe and secure. Surround yourself with people who support you, even in your lowest moments. Separate yourself from toxic people—those who either bring you down or simply fail to uplift you.
Next, and possibly most importantly, you have to “show up.” Meaning, in this safe place, commit yourself to vulnerability with the people you trust. Open up and be seen. This is the boldest stance you can ever take against shame.
As a Certified Facilitator for The Daring Way, I encourage people to show up, be seen, and live brave. Which, coincidentally, is motto of The Daring Way.
To delve into the Daring Way stream a bit: the reason vulnerability is so powerful is that it encourages you to express, acknowledge, and accept yourself for who you are. Furthermore, it gives you the opportunity to receive acceptance as well as practice empathy toward yourself.
If you’re ready to be free from the clutches of shame, please contact me today (07) 32825453. I can help you develop skills to aid in addiction recovery, empowering you to truly live the life you want.
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Divorce can be a particularly difficult time for any family, and a child’s reaction can vary depending on age, personality and circumstances of the separation. The prospect of mum and dad separating is often challenging for children and can elicit feelings of sadness, confusion, anger and sometimes, guilt, shame and responsibility.
While it is very normal to grieve the breakup of a family, there are many ways in which parents can help children cope with the change:
- Protect your children from parental conflict and avoid blaming or talking negative of the other parent.
- Humans are creatures of comfort and change can be daunting; try to maintain existing routines.
- Acknowledge that some things will be different, and discuss these changes with your child.
- While we recognise that this time can be difficult for parents, and in the midst of things we can forget to make time for each other; spending quality time with your children is a must! Letting them know that your love towards them has not changed can be a very powerful message.
- Understanding and expressing emotions can be difficult for everyone, especially children. Kids can sometimes express difficult emotions through bad behaviour. Avoid the urge to punish them – try and incorporate this PACE model when communicating with your kids.
Playfulness – Children express through play, have an air of lightness when talking with your children.
Acceptance – Understand that everybody’s experience will be different and all are equally valid. Let them know that their experience is not good or bad, right or wrong.
Curiosity – Ask questions to understand why your child might be acting this way.
Empathy – We all know what it feels like to be sad or angry, let your child know that you know how it feels and that you love them and you’ll always be there for them when they need you.
- And don’t forget about you! You cannot pour from an empty cup. If you feel like you are running on empty take some time to look after yourself. You will be a better parent to your child if you are feeling good.
What is play therapy?
If your child is struggling to cope with the divorce, research suggests that play therapy is an effective way to equip children with the tools they need to resolve emotions and cope with change. Play is the natural way that children learn about themselves, their relationships and the world around them. Harnessing the power of play is effective in building confidence, emotional intelligence and resilience.
If you feel that play therapy would be suitable for you child and you would like to book an appointment visit www.counsellingaustralia.com.au
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Circulating in today’s society is a term known as emotional intelligence.
This concept has not only proven to improve all sorts of relationships—friendships, professional, romantic—but it helps people find true joy as well.
For this reason, many of us strive for it without really pegging a title on our pursuit.
Although the idea of emotional intelligence may sound incredibly sophisticated and complex (and possibly even unachievable), it’s more doable than you might realize. Basically, it really boils down to being more self-aware. And this simple shift in your approach can be invaluable to your relationship.
Here’s why self-awareness and emotional maturity are so important.
Effectively Managing “Triggers”
A sign of emotional maturity is not allowing another person to negatively impact your mood and behaviour. Yet, I don’t need to tell you how difficult this can be.
Regardless of all the “nobody can dictate your feelings” memes, it’s normal to let others impact how we feel. And we do this by being unaware of our own triggers.
Knowing what sets you off can save your relationship from an unnecessary conflict (many, in fact). After all, your emotional triggers may not have anything to do with your partner. And yet, it’s often your partner who may still take the brunt of your negative emotions.
Additionally, once you identify your own triggers, you can explore strategies to help manage your emotions and responses when you’ve been triggered.
Identifying Negative Patterns
In the same way that self-awareness helps you to spot your emotional triggers, it can also work to pinpoint destructive patterns in your life. These patterns may revolve around your communication style, personal boundary setting, self-esteem, etc. It’s not uncommon for negative patterns to drive two people apart.
Becoming more emotionally intelligent means realizing any negative patterns at work in your life and relationship.
As a tip, journaling is an effective way to pinpoint your patterns—just a few sentences a day to help locate your emotional state. Soon, you’ll have enough history to map your patterns and make adjustments.
Fostering a Deeper Connection
According to marriage expert Dr John Gottman, a significant indicator in relationship success is where partners turn—toward or away from each other. For example, when you feel out of sorts or need some type of support, do you communicate that to your partner?
As you may have imagined, the more self-aware you are the closer you and your partner become. Mostly, this connectivity is due to your ability to reach out for your partner rather than turning away.
Developing a heartfelt understanding of each other, the two of you begin to lean on one another more for support. Which also serves to foster a deeper connection.
Encouraging True Healing and Joy
Developing emotional maturity also helps to remind yourself of your highest goals and values. Thus, helping you to align your life pursuits with them.
When you believe that your life has a deep meaning, it conditions you to experience joy, gratitude, and happiness. As a result, these positive emotions overflow onto your relationship. It’s a funny thing but, yes, as you experience true joy, your mind often connects that positive vibe to your relationship too.
Plus, emotional maturity encourages vulnerability, empathy, and a profound openness to healing. Unsurprisingly, being vulnerable is necessary for a successful relationship.
Creating thriving romantic relationships is one of the most difficult endeavours of mankind. After all, most of us have seen our share of failed romances.
But your relationship doesn’t have to end up making the “over” list. Reach out to me today if you’re ready to build up your emotional maturity and improve your relationship. To schedule an appointment with me call (07) 32825453.
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Romantic relationships tend to be a bit scattershot—going with the flow.
Yet, creating a successful relationship requires more deliberate action than most people assume. Rather than to simply rely on love or passion to lead the way, couples who set relationship goals often find the most long-term success.
To begin, it’s vital to know the results you want to create in the relationship. Then, develop a game plan to actually get you to that point.
But this approach can seem a bit too “big picture” for most couples to grasp. For this reason, here’s a breakdown of how to create a good relationship by identifying the results you want.
Develop a Vision for Your Relationship
It’s important to examine your current relationship so that you can pinpoint areas that need change. Also, this will allow you the space to spot the positives in the relationship as well.
Start off by asking yourself what you want your relationship to look like. Furthermore, dig deep and find out what you want to feel or experience in the relationship. This could mean different things to different people. For example, some partners need adventure while others need security.
It’s during this pondering that you’ll figure out what you need more of or want less of in the relationship to get what you actually want out of it. Knowing yourself well will help you develop a vision for your relationship.
Use Your Values to Guide You
As with any serious part of life, your values will guide you even when you don’t realize it. But it’s even more helpful to know these values and let them guide you as you set relationship goals.
Grab a pen and paper (or a smartphone!) and make a list of your values. Keep in mind that a value is something that is truly important to you.
Of course, you could just jot down something like “I don’t ever want to be late on the electric bill.” However, listing financial security as an overall value will serve to guide you better as it covers a wider range of situations.
Taking this exercise a step further, compare your list of values to your partner’s. Do you have overlapping values? If any of your values align with one another, do you want to move forward together? What about if very few of your values align?
Locate Your Purpose
When you know for certain what your values are, you can then locate your purpose in life.
Plenty of people are on the hunt for their purpose and highest intent in life. Most of the time, however, you don’t run into your purpose like you would a brick wall. Rather, your purpose bubbles up from inside of you. This goes for relationship purposes as well.
Focusing on your list of values together will motivate your purpose to surface. Also, it will reveal your core beliefs so that you can align your purpose with them.
Locating your purpose in the relationship is really writing a compelling future together. Ask yourself how and what you want to contribute to your relationship story.
Take Action to Find Happiness
Some couples work diligently on their relationships only to wind up feeling unsatisfied or unhappy. If this sounds all too familiar, it’s time to take action.
Granted, working on your relationship already requires loads of action. But aim to be more specific with your partner. For example, figure out what has to happen in your relationship for you to know you have a good relationship. Go as far as naming three things that your partner needs to do or say that will make you happy.
It’s amazing how writing these three things down can help you both to identify areas that need work. Give it a go and see where it takes you. Most likely, this exercise will help you steer in the right direction.
For more support creating the relationship you want, please contact me today (07) 32825453 . I would like to help you write the love story you truly desire.
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Have you ever noticed that it’s often the most important people in our lives that we tend to treat the worst?
There are hundreds of things we could blame for this. Yet, most of the time it’s simply that we fall in a rut of familiarity. Plus, in the midst of our daily routines, we can easily get stuck in a pattern of negative communication habits.
These habits impact our lives in a big way, especially our relationships.
If you’ve ever felt that you keep going in circles in your relationships, it’s likely because there’s some kind of a hang-up in your communication efforts. Through awareness and observation, however, you can spot where your communication skills fall short.
Here are nine ways to improve.
Improving Communication Skills in Your Relationships
According to marital expert John Gottman, how you start a difficult discussion is the most accurate indicator of how the discussion will end. But how do you actually communicate effectively from the beginning to the end of a discussion?
1. Let Your Partner Influence You
To maintain a positive perspective on your relationship, it’s vital to let your partner influence you. This means allowing yourself to be moldable, flexible, and changeable.
Always sticking to your guns, or to your way of doing things, isn’t conducive to effective communication. In fact, it can create a gap between you and your partner by building up defensive walls.
2. Know Your Outcome Before You Start
What is the purpose of the conversation? To reach a goal—whether running a marathon, sailing the seas, or having a productive conversation—you must first identify your targeted outcome.
Before you start the conversation, ask yourself what you want to get out of this talk in the first place. With a focused aim, scattershot complaining or blame-casting isn’t likely to happen.
3. Use a Soft Approach
A soft approach, especially when dealing with a sensitive topic, is a meaningful way to connect with your partner. It also encourages a less defensive response from them.
Essentially, to implement a soft approach, use “I” statements opposed to unintentionally casting blame. For example, “I feel upset doing the dishes alone after you offered to help,” rather than, “You always promise to help me and never do.”
4. Weather the Storm
Every relationship has its own unique ebb and flow. In a long-term relationship, it’s important to ride out the waves—for better or worse.
Even in the midst of an intense discussion or even a full-blown argument, remember your team colours. Stay dedicated to weathering the storms of life together, safeguarding your intimate connection. In short, choose words that will help you stay afloat.
5. Avoid Being Defensive
Let’s be real, being defensive is really easy. It takes about two seconds for a person’s “walls” to shoot up toward the sky. Harsh words can dart out from an emotional fortress about as speedy as an arrow. After all, we’re human and protecting ourselves is an innate trait.
With that said, you shouldn’t need to protect yourself from your partner. One communication skill to develop is simply to avoid being defensive. Remember, keep your guard down and your tongue in check.
6. Commit to Vulnerability
Along those same lines of avoiding defensiveness, commit to vulnerability. Strong relationships contain plenty of vulnerable moments. Think of open-mindedness and soft-heartedness like glue, sticking you two together.
Being vulnerable in conversation means listening to each other and taking the time to truly understand one another. Furthermore, it’s validating your partner’s thoughts and feelings too.
7. Only Hold Yourself Accountable
The dynamics of an intimate relationship aren’t exactly like having a gym buddy. When your partner “fails,” it’s not productive to call them out on it.
In a relationship, you only hold yourself accountable. Don’t hold your partner accountable.
8. Acknowledge That There’s Always a Choice
We all make choices every day. Sometimes, however, it may seem that other people don’t give us a choice about how we respond. But, the fact is, we always have a choice.
Even with our significant other, we make the choice on how we respond—words, tone, gestures, etc. Thus, to improve communication skills in your relationship, empower yourself with decision-making skills focused on finding a solution.
9. Give It Another Go
Great inventions, accomplishments, or ventures rarely happen on the first try. The same goes with relationships, especially when it comes to building communication skills. So, keep trying. Practice acceptance and forgiveness, keep asking for forgiveness and try to talk it out.
If the outlook seems blurry, change your lens, so to speak. Most importantly, give it another go.
For support in building communication skills in your relationship, contact me today (07) 32825453 . Counselling can help you navigate through any roadblocks you may be experiencing.
Perfectionism / resilience / Shame
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It’s only natural to feel a bit of worry about what others think of you. Especially when you’ve possibly got a snag of broccoli sticking out of your teeth or you forgot to wash your jeans before casual Friday at work.
Yet, aside from mouth-invading vegetation and dirty pants, this sort of worry should be few and far between.
Except that, for many people, it’s not.
Excessive worries about what others think of you can easily overwhelm your life—even stop your dreams, goals, and pursuits.
However, there is a fine line between this debilitating worry and a healthy striving for excellence. Here’s how you walk that line.
What Perfectionism Feels Like
Worrying obsessively about what people think of you is a form of anxiety. This type of worry is the lovechild of social anxiety and perfectionism, in terms of the family tree.
But let’s back up and talk about perfectionism for a moment because this little monster can cause a big ruckus in your life.
Perfectionism presses down on you in a similar manner as anxiety. It feels like you’re dragging around a few thousand kilograms of dead weight. Plus, those struggling with perfectionism face intense feelings of never being good enough… at anything. As a result, they strive for excellence to the point of dangerous exhaustion.
If you deal with being a perfectionist, you may feel the impact in many (if not all) areas of your life.
How Perfectionism Impacts Your Life
As mentioned, social anxiety plays a big part in why you may worry about what others think of you so much.
To sum up social anxiety, it’s a debilitating fear that you will somehow “mess up,” causing people to dislike you. And this “messing up” could include various actions—saying the wrong thing, spilling something on the table, embarrassing yourself, etc.
Unsurprisingly, then, perfectionism can negatively impact your life as well.
You might avoid social events or making new friends. Professionally speaking, you could be too afraid of failing to actually go for a promotion. And in your romantic relationships, you might always keep your partner at arm’s length to avoid being vulnerable.
Keys to Stop Worrying About What Others Think
Despite worry and anxiety taking the helm of your ship far too often, a few practical changes will help you stop worrying so much.
Firstly, get to know yourself on a deeper level. Keeping a journal, talking with a counsellor, or even some time alone in self-reflection can accomplish this task.
The better you know yourself—strengths, weaknesses, goals, values—the more confident you will feel. And self-confidence tends to make connecting with others much easier.
Focus on Others
In a nutshell, people are typically thinking about themselves—not you.
With that in mind, do yourself a favour and think about other people, too. When you’re trying to connect with someone, be genuinely interested. This approach helps to decrease feelings of self-consciousness as well.
Practice Deep Breathing
Deep belly breathing works wonders for overcoming anxiety. When you find yourself worrying about what others think about you, stop and practice breathing techniques.
Deep breathing communicates to your autonomic nervous system to calm down, supporting a more relaxed state of body and mind. In turn, this relaxed state helps you to stop worrying and start connecting with others.
Reclaim Your Power
All types of anxiety make you feel small, crushable, and weak. To battle this powerless feeling, do a few power poses.
The Archer pose (Yoga Akarna Dhanurasana) is a favourite. Or simply stand with your arms up and hands behind head. You could also stretch your arms out and up as far as you can reach.
Strangely enough, this infuses “I am powerful. I am enough.” into your entire being.
Know Your Limits
The memes and quotes are partly right about finding success outside of your comfort zone. But here’s the thing, you don’t have to go to the edge of the cliff to “be perfect.”
Find your middle ground between the cliff’s edge and a defeated retreat. There you will successfully overcome worry while still supporting personal growth.
How to Strive for Excellence (the Healthy Way)
Striving for excellence involves several things including:
- Practising the keys to stop excessive worry.
- Pushing your limits on your middle ground.
- Taking care of yourself (and not being shy about it!)
- Rediscovering your values; aligning your goals with those values.
- Knowing exactly why you are doing something.
- Failing; becoming comfortable with feeling uncomfortable at times.
- Celebrating both the big and little wins.
If you struggle with worrying too much about what others think or doing things perfectly, you’re probably also a dreamer and doer. When you effectively silence the worrisome and perfectionistic thoughts, you’ll be amazed at the natural progression of personal growth.
For more help to stop your excessive worrying about what others think and strive for excellence the healthy way, please contact me today.
Telephone: (07) 32825453
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Some emotions such as joy or inspiration are wonderful to experience. We usually welcome them with open arms.
Conversely, we often meet emotions such as sadness or frustration with a large “please leave now” sign.
These feelings can quickly drag us down into the pits of despair, impacting our bodies and outlook on life. When these intense depression symptoms take hold, overcoming them can be incredibly challenging.
Unsurprisingly, millions of people around the world struggle with depression.
If you’re facing your own battle against depression, it’s important to know that there are tools available to empower you in your struggle.
Here are four practical tips that you can start applying today to help you overcome depression.
1. Harness the Power of Your Body
Far too many times, people underestimate the significance of the body-mind connection. Yet, your body can have a profound impact on your mind—boosting your mood, changing your outlook on life, and improving your overall mental health.
And you have the ability to harness this incredible power!
With a couple of physical adjustments, you can instantly improve the way you feel. Start by noticing how you’re currently holding your body.
Are you slumped over? Or is your mouth turned down, by any chance?
Gravity is a strong force. So is depression. To battle both, try raising your chest bone a bit. Pull your shoulders back and keep your chin parallel with the ground as well.
This will encourage a feeling of strength, confidence, and being in control of your life.
2. Embrace Structure
Depression is the nemesis of routine, robbing your life of any type of a structure. Causing you to feel as though you can’t do this or accomplish that, depression often weighs you down.
A way to fight this heavy feeling is to establish a solid routine in your life. It may sound odd to fight the enemy of structure with structure, but it really works.
For example, along with a healthy self-care routine, create a daily routine that you really enjoy. As a result, you’ll feel more secure when things don’t go your way.
This daily depression-fighting routine will look different for each person, of course. For some, it may be dedicating an hour to yoga and meditation. Others may thrive on a daily three-mile jog or walk.
Whatever you insert into your routine that makes you feel good, stick with it. There’s even a hashtag trend #DoItAnyway, helping people to stay committed to a healthy daily routine.
3. Use Empowering Language
As you’re probably well aware, depression has a filthy mouth. Not only does it attempt to cripple your mind and body but it also tries to stifle your emotions as well.
Often, depression uses your own tongue to do its dirty work through negative self-talk. In fact, even your choice of words to describe an experience can impact the way you store that memory. Thus, influencing the way that you perceive the world around you.
To help you control your emotions, choose your words carefully.
For example, instead of saying that you were “crushed” when a friend failed to return your phone call, use the word “disappointed.”
Although it seems like a minor shift, it’s amazing how much of a difference such a small change can make.
4. Unplug for a Day (or More)
In an attempt to connect the corners of this big wide world, social media has actually done its part to push us further back into our cave.
Of course, social media does have its place in our lives. It can be a great resource to maintain long-distance relationships or to stay current on local new and events. With that said, social media can also increase feelings of depression.
To effectively deal with depression, face-to-face interactions are your best bet. And that’s just for starters.
To take “IRL” (in real life) experiences to another level, go for a walk in the park or sit in the sunshine for 20 minutes. These organic experiences do wonders for boosting your mood and fighting depression.
For more support in your struggle with depression, please reach out to me today. I would like to help. Counselling can empower you to use the skills and tools you already possess to overcome depression.
Grief and loss
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Trudy Jacobsen | Grief and loss
If you’re like many people, you’re okay letting the shoulder of your shirt get tear-soaked.
You’re a good person, and being that “rock” is honourable. You’re willing to love and care for those who are facing a loss, even without knowing exactly how.
Yet, when that same bereaved person stops sniffling and begins to speak, you may start to feel really uncertain about how to respond. Not knowing what to say or do can make people feel very uncomfortable.
It’s normal to feel uncertain, grief comes in all forms. So, you may wonder, how do you deal with another person’s pain? What’s your role in their grieving? How do you show your love beyond providing a shoulder to cry on?
Understand the Problem
Feeling uncomfortable with grief, you may be at a loss for what to say to someone dealing with a loss. So, you may say nothing at all. Until, suddenly, months have gone by and you now feel like a terrible friend rather than anything remotely honourable.
Or not knowing what to say, you may constantly fill each moment with distracting small talk. In addition to the meaningless chatter, you may also shy away from mentioning the deceased. After all, you don’t want to be the one to cause more pain.
Believing you’ve effectively “fixed” the bereaved person’s problems, the circle of avoidance and distraction continues. And your mission of being a good support system silently crumbles.
5 Practical Ways to Support Someone Who Is Facing a Loss
The thing to remember about grief is that it’s okay not to be okay. It really is! And you are an incredibly good friend for caring so deeply for your bereaved friend or family member.
So, here are five ways you can express your care in a way that your loved one truly feels it and benefits from it.
1. Normalise Grief
Although grief is uncomfortable and often doesn’t make complete sense, it’s a normal part of life. For that reason, it’s important to view it as such.
Normalising grief will help ease your anxious feelings about being a proper support system. Also, it will make your loved one a bit more comfortable with their own emotions as well.
2. Accept Your Response as Normal
As well as normalising grief itself, be sure to accept your response to it as normal. This is a difficult situation, full of complexities. Wanting to avoid those twists and turns is understandable.
One way to accept your response as normal is simply to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your feelings of wanting to avoid the uncertainty of not knowing exactly the right thing to say.
You don’t have to pretend like you have all the answers. Who actually does? Be honest with your loved one, telling them you’re there for them even though you may stumble a bit.
3. Offer Encouragement
Coping with the loss of a loved one is a huge challenge. As you may know, there are days when a bereaved person feels as though their insides have taken a beating. Such things as upset stomachs, headaches, and insomnia can all be a normal part of grief.
Most importantly, listen to your loved one and validate their feelings. Encourage them to see that they can cope with these problems. Simply hearing that they’ll get through this can offer them a great deal of hope.
And, then, encourage yourself, too. A little positive self-talk goes a long way.
4. Ask Questions
No one expects you to be a mindreader. So, don’t try to be. Remember, grief can be difficult for others to see and understand. What you may think is normal behaviour, your loved one may view as grieving.
It’s important to ask them questions, such as:
- How can I help you?
- What do you need today?
- How are you feeling?
- Is there anything specific I can do for you? I would like to help. Perhaps I could…
Whether your loved one needs you to sit quietly with them to look through old photo albums, talk to an insurance agent, or handle some arrangements, be there. Listen to them and ask questions about how you can best support them.
5. Give Up on Timeframes
Grief works at its own pace. Giving up on any sort of timeframe is a good idea. Although there may be distinguishable phases as your loved one grieves, people tend to go back and forth.
To best support your loved one, just let them repeat a phase or feel that emotion again, or whatever they need.
One last tip—possibly the most overlooked—is simply look after yourself. Grieving and loving someone who is grieving is exhausting. Don’t forget that you need to conserve your energy and fill up the emotional tank while you’re being there for someone else.
If you’re supporting someone who is facing a loss, please reach out. I would really like to help.
Marriage Counselling / Relationship Counselling
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Being in a successful relationship takes purposeful work.
Sometimes connecting with each other comes more naturally. Other days, it may be very hard to find a path to your partner.
For this reason, it’s important to make a conscious effort to understand your partner’s needs. Doing so makes connecting possible.
But first, it’s important to understand what “connecting” really is.
Most people assume it simply means having a conversation. While talking is a big part of it, there can be so much more to communication than simply passing on information.
Connecting with your partner means you are present, not just physically!. You listen to, understand and validate their needs. It also means finding ways to fill those needs.
Here’s how to make it happen in your own relationship.
How to Understand What Your Partner Needs
According to motivational author and speaker Tony Robbins, humans have six fundamental needs. To figure out what is most important to your partner in the relationship, consider these six pillars as a starting point.
Avoiding pain and seeking out pleasure, certainty surrounds the idea of security.
An idea to help you understand your partner’s needs is to talk to your partner about how secure or certain they feel in the relationship. Do they feel as though your love is a gamble? And what can make them feel more secure?
Humans thrive on variety. In other words, exciting and even unexpected challenges motivate us, it builds character and increases our abilities.
In your relationship, do you have enough healthy challenges with which to nurture a strong connection? If not, you may want to give the idea of adding variety some thought.
How important does your partner feel to you? In a relationship, feeling important is invaluable.
It’s vital, therefore, that you find ways to let your partner know you need them (and not just a partner). But don’t just restrict yourself to words, think about what you can do each day to show they are important to you.
4. Connection and Love
Humans are social animals, thriving on social interaction. We each need to feel that sense of love and connectivity in our lives.
Ask yourself, does your partner feel loved? Identify how you show your love—holding hands, helping with household chores, etc. Again, this encompasses much more than simply verbal affirmations.
The human experience is one of motion, stopping means withering away. And on this path, people constantly evolve and change.
In your relationship, are you growing as a couple? How do you support your partner as they change and grow?
6. Contribution and Giving
What we contribute to the world becomes our legacy. You may give your time, undivided attention, or even your undying support to your partner.
Think about it: What do you contribute to your relationship? In what ways would your partner see you contribute?
What It Means to Listen to Your Partner
From these six fundamental human needs, you can begin to determine what your partner’s core values are. Effectively, what is truly important to your partner?
Once identified, you can begin to connect with your partner on that level. But, how do you figure out their core values in the first place? You listen.
Listening is probably more involved than you may realise. It’s more than simply waiting for your turn to talk, for example. Rather, listening involves a great deal of observation as well. To make a conscious effort to understand your partner’s needs, it’s necessary to know them.
Watch your partner. Take note of things to which they respond—physical touch, spending time together, having a conversation, gifts, etc.
Listening to your partner is key to connecting with them. Without listening, it’s nearly impossible to truly know them, let alone connect with them.
Why It’s Vital to Break Certain Patterns
To take your conscious effort a step further, make it a point to spot negative communication patterns in your relationship. For example, take a step back when you’re in a conflict and observe what’s really going on. Are you shouting, criticising, waving your arms about, pointing your finger, or playing the blame game?
These negative habits do nothing to help you connect with each other. Instead, they will quickly push you apart.
In making a conscious effort to fill your partner’s needs, have the wherewithal to stop negative patterns. This literally means stopping right in the middle of a heated battle and saying, “Honey, I love you, and I don’t want to fight like this. I’m sorry. Can we start over, please?”
You may be surprised about the impact of such a bold and loving action.
For more ways to discover your partner’s needs as well as unique ways to fill them, please contact me. I would like to help you feel more connected in your relationship. Together, we can make that happen.