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Relationship Issues: Let Your Guard Down

One of the most common relationship issues is not being able to let your guard down. We become defensive when we don’t want to expose our feelings or ‘true self’. It’s time to be vulnerable and stop pushing people away! How? Read the following tips to being more open and stop shutting out opportunities!

1. Find the right people to trust

Have people let you down in the past? Chances are, this will prevent you from opening up to new people now and in the future. However, the harsh reality is: not everyone is like that, and there are other great people you can rely on… if you let them get to know you. That ‘if’ is key. Communication is key to building relationships and trust. Start looking for those people to build the relationship you want!

 2. Identify your comfort zone… and get out of it

There is comfort and security in keeping to yourself, but now it’s time to experiment by taking risks. Slowly, start exposing yourself by doing things you would not normally do. Introduce yourself to someone that looks friendly. The first step is not easy. Chances are, the other person will be glad you did!

3. Let your feelings show

Don’t be afraid of sharing your feelings with your friends and family. Letting them know what you are feeling and thinking can be a great release, and they can give you valuable advice. This doesn’t mean saying every single thing that’s on your mind – just let go of those worries and stresses you really don’t need to hold onto! Relationship issues often stem from not sharing or communicating enough, even with friends and family. 

4. Stop avoiding being vulnerable

Building a ‘tough’ appearance by holding everything in can be exhausting. You can be fiercely independent and full of emotions. You don’t always have to be on your toes. Stop equating expression of emotions as weak and helpless. Most people see and feel strength in showing vulnerability.

5. Be forward

There is no better way to let your guard down than by just being straightforward with others about your feelings and intentions. Try it – it really is quite liberating! After spending so much hiding your emotions, being straightforward with yourself and others can be very rewarding.

6. Stop being pessimistic and critical

One of the main reasons why many people put up walls is because they are afraid of getting hurt and used by people. This becomes a pattern where we make assumptions and form false perceptions of people who might be honest and sincere. People aren’t always selfish – they are often genuinely interested in you. Let others get to know you on another level – let yourself connect!

7. Give people a chance

Why not take risks and give people a chance? Let them in! It might be hard to do and you might get hurt at some point, but you can also reassure yourself that expressing your feelings or emotions with others is worth it. Risks are meant to be made, and all relationships have some element of risk!

Whether it is at work, in a romantic relationship, or with family and friends, let your guard down! Stop experiencing the same relationship issues when you are the one with the simple fix!

To learn more about relationship counselling and how to work on letting your guard down in specific relationships, visit https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/relationship-counselling-etobicoke/ , call Carly at 647-961-9669, or email carlyclifton@gmail.com

 

Relationship Issues: Does Your Partner Know the Real You?

Often, the cause of many relationship issues, is lack of communication. A main reason this happens is because we are worried about or ashamed of what the other person will think if we say what is actually on our mind. This is when we hold back and don’t necessarily show or express our values and beliefs to our partner. So what does it mean to be the ‘real you’ with your partner?

– Would you rather show your partner a ‘false you’ and keep a perfect image? Or would you accept your partner knowing the real, imperfect you, not having the most favourable at all times? If you turn the tables, what do you think your partner would want?

– Would you rather remain guarded and difficult to read? Or would you rather let yourself be vulnerable to your partner? What do you think your partner would want?

It can be intimidating to think deeply about these questions. Being your true self is risky: it opens up the door to rejection. But, ask yourself this: if you haven’t shared your inner feelings or been totally honest, then has your partner accepted a ‘false you’? Honesty and authenticity makes it possible to have a deep connection, supported by acceptance and understanding. Chances are, if you take the risk, your partner will, too. It takes courage to do so, but you will experience relief and a deeper sense of intimacy once you take the plunge.

Being yourself is associated with higher self-esteem and satisfaction in relationships. It is not only associated with benefits for yourself, but also for your relationship. While it is important to make a conscious effort to share more with your partner, it is equally important for you to encourage them to share more with you. Exposing your ‘true self’ to your partner leads to increased trust over time. If you worry about trust or have relationship issues related to it, then consider this as a step to gaining a more secure attachment. Trust drives overall relationship satisfaction and commitment.

Building a relationship in which you can comfortably be yourself may be a great start to a satisfying partnership. Communicate with each other, take a risk, and be yourself.

If you feel stuck and unsure of how to approach sharing this part of you with your partner, relationship counselling with a professional can be extremely beneficial.

 

Rise Above Stigma! Mental Health Awareness

Rise Above Stigma! Bell Let’s Talk Day: Wednesday, January 28, 2015!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 is an important reminder of how we should think about, talk about, act, and treat others with mental illness. Not just today, but every day.

WHY? Most people cannot afford treatment to or are on a wait list for months.

MESSAGE:

If you are currently experiencing concerns about your own mental health, having difficulty managing emotions, or having trouble creating or maintaining healthy relationships, please act now. Remember that it takes courage and strength to reach out for help from loved ones or a mental health professional. This help is one difficult, yet life-changing step away. Help yourself and get help from people who care about you (and want to help you)!

We all struggle in life from time to time in our own ways. Take the time to assess your own self-esteem and emotional well-being, noticing any negative changes in your usual behaviours. Awareness of such changes, a strong desire for the suffering to end, and a willingness to help others is that next step you need toward reestablishing more meaning and positivity.

TAKE ACTION:

Take care of yourself, first and foremost. Practice mental wellness. Do what it takes to make you happy. Actively set aside that extra time in a day, week, and month to focus on you and how you can continually contribute to your overall wellbeing.
-Spend less on takeout, and more on pampering yourself.

Refrain from judging or criticizing those who have been labelled with or who have symptoms of a mental health disorder.
-Be conscious to avoid derogatory or hurtful terms that may offend those suffering with a disease.

Talk about therapy and encourage those around you to go. Never judge or criticize those who are seeking treatment for mental illness.
-Why don’t question medication for physical illness?

Listen to those around you with mental illness and ask questions.
-Learn about what they are going through and how you can help them, or how you can help prevent others from experiencing the negative effects of a similar disease.

Educate yourself on how you can help to spread awareness of the life-threatening effects of a mental health disorder (and how it impacts you or loved ones).

FAQS

– Mental health problems and illnesses also account for more than $6 billion in lost productivity costs due to absenteeism and presenteeism. (The Mental Health Commission of Canada)

– 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life. (Canadian Institute of Health Research)

– At this very moment, some 3 million Canadians are suffering from depression. (CMHA)

MOTIVATION TO END STIGMA:

**Make the choice to rise above stigma and be more aware of your acceptance and non-judgment, toward yourself, those around you, and society in general.

**We need to make mental healthcare more accessible, affordable, and acceptable. You, as members in society, as a collective, have the power to influence that. Start by taking care of ‘you’ and others around you!

Here is more information on how psychotherapy or counselling can benefit you or those around you: https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/etobicoke-psychotherapy-counselling/

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is unfortunately commonly misconceptualized in our society. People often think of people who binge as ‘lazy overeaters’ who do not actually have a problem. This comes with the assumption that people with BED possibly ‘eat for the joy of eating’. This is not the case and is a significant underestimate of the issues someone with BED is dealing with. The typical patient with BED may or may not look different than typical patients struggling with eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Patients with Binge Eating Disorder may actually have a thin appearance, where their physical representation would not automatically indicate they are struggling with BED. Here are some important facts to consider when understanding Binge Eating Disorder, or BED. It is important not to stereotype and to consider that it is not always obvious who may be suffering from this disorder.

– Just because someone is overweight does not mean he or she binges or overeats.

– Likewise, just because someone is underweight or of normal weight does not mean they don’t binge or overeat. In other words, you do not have to be overweight to be diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder.

– As with other eating disorders, people who binge or compulsively overeat, tend to eat very restricted diets during the day, leaving them vulnerable to binging at night.

– Most binge and compulsive eaters feel shame and anxiety when eating in front of others. Similar to anorexics, they feel that everyone is watching and evaluating their food intake.

– As with anorexia and bulimia, overcoming Binge Eating Disorder is not about learning more discipline or self-control. This is the most common misconception when treating this disorder. Instead, healing is about understanding how the person has come to use food (or lack of food) as a mechanism of emotional survival.

– Binge eaters are no more or less “out of control” than anorexics, bulimics or those struggling with other addictions. Individuals with BED are often associated with ‘extremist’ ideologies or with unattractive or ‘gross’ qualities.

– Binge and compulsive eaters- overweight or not- are not lazy. In fact, like with anorexia, binge and compulsive eaters tend to be perfectionists and work non-stop. This is normally the trigger, which makes them more susceptible to binging and overeating. The management of binge eating (or any eating disorder) can be extremely hard work.

– Binge and compulsive eaters tend feel a great deal of shame about their behaviors and their bodies. Many state that they feel damaged and inferior. If you have judged or inflicted criticism upon someone like this, they have already thought the same, or worse.

– As with any eating disorder, criticism, lectures and “pep talks” focusing on what binge eaters should and should not do, do not motivate permanent change. Binge eaters know what they should and should not do. Long lasting results come from compassion and deeper insight into the function of the disorder. Commenting on their food and exercise choices does NOT help.

– Eating-disordered behaviors including binging or overeating cause the brain to release dopamine (the pleasure neurotransmitter) and opioids (the active ingredient in heroin, cocaine and other narcotics). This chemical release makes disordered eating literally addictive

Fore more information on Binge Eating Disorder (BED), or other eating disorders, https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/eating-disorder-counselling-etobicoke/.

Alternatively, please email Carly at carlyclifton@gmail.com, or call to speak to her 647-961-9669.

 

How to Form Good Habits

A habit is a shortcut that makes your life easier because you don’t have to spend energy choosing to do it. It’s mentally exhausting thinking about every action and every behaviour. Time management involves having set ways to do things in the most efficient manner. Stop wasting energy by trying to do tasks more than one way. Take the opportunity to learn the best way and make a habit of it. If there are some things you have been meaning to do or incorporate into your daily routine, make a point of ‘just doing it’ over and over again.

Try and think of your day or weekly agenda in terms of three items: appointments, to-do lists, and habits. An appointment is a commitment with yourself or with another person. Your to-do list consists of tasks you would like to get done, but are not set to be completed in/by a certain time frame. Habits are part of our day that we do not really think about doing, but that have become routine and automatic. Habits may include organizing your briefcase or backpack before bed, brushing your teeth when you wake up, or walking your dog before dinner.

Habits are sometimes the most productive or important parts of our day, which take time to develop as an automatic routine. We find a strategy or way to most efficiently conquer a task or priority, and then we create a time or space for this new task. Once we create a regular time for this task, and we practice it, it becomes a habit.

Take the New Year as a time to reflect on new habits that you would like to create and/ or continue to develop. If a task seems daunting, split it into smaller tasks that seem more manageable. If we constantly work at and continually remind ourselves about this new idea when we first work at it, then we will gradually see how it naturally and effortlessly can become part of our everyday life.

 

Be a happier ‘you’ this holiday season!

Down in the dumps? Holiday blues? A lot of us feel more down in the winter season, especially around the holiday season. This time of year is naturally more stressful. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the general feeling in the air revolves around financial stress, what gifts to buy or will we be able to buy, or planning get togethers with people we do or do not usually see. That being said, why not take those extra steps to be happier and reduce stress as much as possible. Here is a list of tips to help bring about a happier mood.

Enjoy the moment. Look around your environment and take note of one thing that you need to appreciate more, and maybe that you do take for granted. Bring mindful attention and awareness to it. Notice the positive feelings and associations that go with it.

Practice non-judgmental awareness of yourself and others. Take the time to notice when you are and are not judging yourself or others around you. We often do it without noticing, even if it is just a mental note when someone walks by. If someone is short with you, don’t follow suit. Just remember when you are having a bad day, and accept that this person may be experiencing a loss (job, person) or some other negative event in their life.

Connect with others. Since this is a stressful time of year, positive influences can only help. Think about some positive people in your life that you have been procrastinating to see. Connect with them. Even if you feel down, you will most likely feel happier after reconnecting. There is at least one person who makes you feel good and who you know you enjoy spending time with.

Resolve conflicts. This time of year can be emotional and upsetting for a lot of people, especially if ties have been broken or relationships have ended. Take the time to repair these relationships. Be the bigger person: forgive someone or apologize to someone that hurt you in the past. Chances are, they are feeling the same way.

Make your health a priority. Exercise, eat healthy when you can, sleep at least 7 hours per night, be kind to yourself, and develop good boundaries. If you’ve been meaning to get to the gym, and keep procrastinating, just do it! Take little steps. Whether it’s a 5 minute workout or a 30 minute workout, something is better than nothing! (And you’ll probably stay for longer than you thought you would, once you get your gear on).

Be thankful and express your love. Make a phone call, meet with someone, or write them a nice letter. Show your appreciation for others. Why not brighten someone else’s day?

Focus on the good. If you find yourself to be more down than usual, write down or take pictures of 2-3 good things that happen each day. This will remind you to think more positively, and consequently, to be happier!

Have fun and laugh. Stop being so serious! Laughter has many physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. Whether it is watching a movie, talking to someone that makes you laugh, or just reminiscing about a funny memory, laughing will increase your happiness.

Simplify. Too many things, too many to do lists, and too many unattainable goals lead to a very complex life. Complex lives mean stress and unhappiness. Try to simplify your life by having more realistic expectations and standards for yourself, your job performance, and in your relationships.

Live an authentic and meaningful life. Be true to yourself and live in line with your values. Don’t fall accustom to someone else’s values and someone else’s way of living. You define and create your own happiness!

 

Steps to Build Your Confidence

We tend to get down on ourselves at certain times of the year, and the winter can be one of them. Take this as a healthy reminder to always work on yourself – there really is always room for self-improvement. It’s important to keep in mind that there are steps to build your confidence, rather than wallowing in self-created misery. Please read the following tips that are helpful to you or anyone around you. You create your own happiness, and you can increase your confidence with these simple suggestions.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Trying to live up to or compete with someone else’s personal standards is a losing game. Instead, focus on being the best YOU that you can be.

Compliment yourself regularly, either by looking in the mirror and noting something you like about yourself, writing it in a journal or cell phone note. Don’t tell me you can’t think of one thing every so often. It’s great to compliment others on their success, as long as we make sure to do the same for ourselves.

Exercise consistently, at least 30 minutes of exercise several times a week, to strengthen your body, to burn calories, and to relieve stress. Exercising also provides a sense of empowerment that can positively enhance your self-esteem.

Simply smile. The mere act of smiling changes blood flow to the brain and can actually makes you feel happier and relieve tension and stress. A smile sets off chemical and physical reactions within your mind and body, releasing endorphins that boost your mood and increase confidence.

Focus on your accomplishments. Forgive yourself for mistakes, let go of guilt, and focus on the positive by celebrating your victories. Consider writing down your accomplishments, so you can review them when you’re feeling down. This will help to renew or revive your confidence.

Get the support you need to succeed. Take steps, rather than procrastinating, to accomplish your wellness goals. For example, join a gym class, where fellow members will help keep you motivated.

Make a list of your positive qualities. Write down at least ten positive qualities about yourself and return to this list as often as needed to boost your confidence.

Find something special in each day. Even if it’s in a small way, do something pleasant and rewarding, like catching up on your favorite television show, calling a friend to catch up, or indulging in a bubble bath.

Eat better. Pay attention to your food choices and nourish your body. Buy healthier foods and prepare well-balanced meals that will help give you energy and feel like your best self. If you eat poorly and/or overeat, your mood and confidence will reflect this negativity.

Finally and most often forgotten: explore a passion. Whether it’s a side job, hobby, or volunteer work, any small effort can lead to a sense of purpose and significantly improve your overall happiness and quality of life.

For more information on self-esteem counselling and ways to improve your confidence, call 647-961-9669, email carlyclifton@gmail.com, or visit:  https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/self-esteem-counselling-etobicoke/

 

Ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem

Are you struggling with your confidence lately? Do you find your self-esteem is lower than usual? It could be someone’s comments, or a certain event that made you feel this way. At times, self-esteem decreases due to certain triggers. Whether your self-esteem is still going strong, fading, or feels like it has disappeared, it is important for us all to take steps to maintain and increase our confidence. Here are some things to keep in mind.

– Recognize and embrace your positive qualities. Make a list of all your assets including skills, experiences, talents, and anything else that makes you feel good about yourself. Make sure to include compliments that others have given you as well (even if you don’t agree with them).

– Accept yourself as a whole package, rather than focusing on the little parts. Accept that you are not perfect, and don’t let anyone make you think otherwise. Remind yourself of the positive characteristics that define you and have made you succeed, even in the littlest ways.

– Trust that you are competent, and remind yourself of all the problems you have faced and come through. Find ways to learn new skills if you feel defeated or unsure of how to deal with a certain problem. Take the steps necessary to do so. Take on new challenges, acknowledge accomplishments, and make note of when you go that extra mile and how it made you feel.

– Believe in your own worth, and make yourself a priority some of the time. Think of something you want to do and do it. Be selfish when you need to be – it’s exhausting trying to be selfless all the time.

– Think about your mistakes, or perceived mistakes, in a positive way. See them as opportunities to learn, and change your ways accordingly. This is your chance to move forward – not to feel guilty or embarrassed.

Need help learning ways to increase YOUR confidence and self-esteem? Want to learn the tools and skills to achieving a happier way of being?

For more information on how to increase your self-esteem or confidence, please see https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/self-esteem-counselling-etobicoke/, or call 647-961-9669/ email carlyclifton@gmail.com

Does Your Partner Have Difficulty Expressing Emotions?

When partners aren’t able to express their emotions, it can unfortunately cause stress and tension in the relationship. The key to understanding our partner’s feelings, needs, and desires are emotions. Having a strong emotional connection means enhanced trust, security, and intimacy in a relationship.

If a partner isn’t communicating when their partner upsets them, this usually means they tend to avoid conflict. This can lead to resentment overtime and unexpected outbursts or explosions in the future as a buildup. We need to remember that individuals displaying emotions or expressing our feelings is not a sign of weakness or submission. In fact, we gain more self-control and balance in a relationship by doing so.

When someone isn’t used to showing their feelings, and they finally do, it can be overwhelming. You may worry about being vulnerable and exposing aspects of yourself that you do not normally share. Your partner is the person you should feel most comfortable with and with whom you should not feel ashamed. It is important to deal with emotions as they come, and not to suppress feelings or concerns. Emotions are meant to be experienced in waves, not to be obstructed or built up and then released all at once. It is much more harmful to the relationship to have this explosion of harnessed emotions than to deal with them one by one.

Understanding and communicating emotions in a straightforward manner is difficult for most people, especially at times of major anger or sadness. Emotions provide valuable information and lead to that desire we all have for our partner to just ‘get’ us.

So what can you do to help your partner express their emotions? The only way that your partner will want to share their emotions with you is if you create a nonjudgmental and supportive space for them to feel comfortable doing so. If it is difficult for your partner to initiate conversations like this, then it may be helpful for you to ask them how they are feeling. Part of creating a welcoming space for partners is not judging their feelings when they finally express them. Avoid making statements like “How could you be sad about that?” or “You shouldn’t feel that way!” Judging your partner’s emotions will only make them defensive and on guard.

Finally, pay attention to your reactions to your partner’s attempts to share their feelings with you. Like judging your partner’s emotions, your other reactions may shut down the conversation. If you find yourself getting defensive, angry or upset, acknowledging it to your partner can help.

Think about situations in which you have expressed your emotions and the gains you made in the interaction. Although many emotions may rise from initiating a discussion like this, you will only learn more about you partner and build a stronger connection.

Some couples may find it difficult to communicate emotions on their own. For more information on relationship counselling or couples counselling, please view: https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/relationship-counselling-etobicoke/ , email carlyclifton@gmail.com, or call 647-961-9669.