Abandoning Versus Accepting Emotions

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Many people come to me for counselling to deal with fear in their lives. Susan was one such client (her real name is protected for confidentiality). Susan suffered from fear of rejection, a feeling she tried her best to keep tucked away where no one could see. She experienced so much fear around her sense of abandonment that she would freeze whenever she tried to talk about it. If she was interested in a relationship, she pretended not to be and talked herself out of pursuing it any further.

As a result, Susan never understood her fear. Instead, she developed a core belief that her fear of rejection and abandonment was too painful and scary, and thus best left hidden and unattended.

 

Why We Ignore Negative Emotions 

Most of us will agree that we ignore our less comfortable emotions out of fear. We’re afraid we’ll be stuck with the unpleasant emotion forever unless we ignore it. We imagine once we uncover a deeply hidden emotion, it might swallow us whole.

A common misconception most people have about emotions is that they’re static, which means addressing them will get us stuck in them. But the truth about our emotions is the exact opposite!

Emotions are fluid. They come, go, and evolve.

 

Let me give you an example. Your sadness can evolve into a deep sense of loss, bitterness, or anger if it is ignored and bottled up. Alternatively, it can develop into relief, comfort, and even springs of renewed joy.jeremy-wong-298986

Yes, that’s right! You don’t have to get stuck in your sadness. You can influence its transformation into something either more positive or more negative. Let me explain how you are actively involved in the process.

 

 

Transforming Your Emotions Through Acceptance

You can influence your emotions in a more positive direction by allowing them to come and go without judging them. In other words, you don’t have to label your emotions as “wrong,” “shameful,” or “unacceptable.” Instead, you can warmly invite them to come and stay with you, like you would a good friend.

What’s the benefit? Your difficult emotions will most likely melt into something soft as you learn to befriend them.

Abandoning vs Accepting Infographic

Two Ways to Handle Difficult Emotions

Let’s contrast two different ways of dealing with our emotion: abandoning versus accepting.

Let’s imagine sadness comes to visit you. You have a choice to ignore your sadness or to welcome it. Imagine what would happen to your sadness in each scenario. Depending on how your sadness is being met and attended to, you’d find that your sadness evolves into something different, becoming either lighter or more hardened.

Abandoning our emotions allows them to fester; accepting them transforms them into something more bearable, and eventually we reach an equilibrium.entrepreneur-593358_1280

In my sessions with her, Susan learned to accept her emotions by inviting her feelings of fear and allowing them to have a voice. She was encouraged to stay with her fear, like a good friend would, and let it express itself. She was then able to listen to her fear and gained a better understanding of what her fear needed: protection, assurance, and safety. As she gained a better understanding of how to care for her fear, she noticed the size and intensity of her fear began to shrink.

 

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Author Bio 

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Bonnie Kim is a Registered Psychotherapist at Tyndale Family Life Centre. Bonnie has always taken a special interest in working with teens, young adults, and young couples, helping them to be deeply rooted in who they are and fully confident in their ability to cultivate healthy relationships and lifestyles. Ultimately, Bonnie desires to help people be restored as the people who God created them to be. Bonnie Kim can be reached at bkim@tyndale.ca.

 

Amy Francis

Amy Francis is a freelance writer and contributor to the Family Life Centre blog. www.amyhopefrancis.com

 

If you or someone you know is interested in counselling contact us at flc@tyndale.ca Or visit our website www.tyndaleflc.ca

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On Befriending Your Emotions

photo-1451156351305-d4f9bff58036“Come on, don’t be a sissy.” “Stop crying!” “Shake it off and move on.”

Society constantly teaches us to suppress our emotions, especially if they are negative in nature. You’ve probably noticed that being emotional is treated as an undesirable quality, particularly if you’re a man. The old saying, “boys don’t cry,” reflects this taboo.

The truth is, many people come to believe emotion is a troublemaker, and avoiding it is the best way to fend off drama. As we grow older, we learn to cope with our fear, sadness, anger, disappointment, and other emotions that have been labelled as negative, by ignoring them, shaking them off, bottling them up, judging them, or numbing ourselves to them.

 

But Is It Working?

Most of us have trained long and hard to master the art of suppressing our negative emotions. We push them down, neglect them, and try to forget them in hopes they won’t bother us anymore.

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Have we really gotten rid of them?

I think not. In my experience as a therapist, I have never met someone who could solve their problems or heal from woundedness by suppressing their emotions. Here’s why society’s method of dealing with emotions doesn’t work.

 

The Cost of Ignoring Our Emotions

Eventually, we will be faced with something that doesn’t sit well with us, and we’ll be forced to wrestle with new emotions. Or, new problems will bring to the surface some buried emotions from the past. The more life throws at us, the more we will have to stuff down.

beth-tate-188119As we pay close attention, we notice that as we become numb to our negative emotions, we also lose touch with our positive emotions. As a result, our life feels quite dry, dull, and emotionless.

In other cases, the struggle to contain and numb ourselves to our emotions becomes too overwhelming. This results in one of three things: we explode, we close up, or we simply lose touch with ourselves.

What we have to recognize here is that emotion itself is not the problem. It is how we attend to our emotion that can become problematic.

 

How to Befriend Your Emotions

It may seem ironic, but negative emotions don’t lose their power over our well-being until we let them come to the surface and hold them in our awareness.

So, the next time you experience uneasy emotions, try this: invite your emotions to your awareness and see what they’re trying to say. The following are steps you can practise to begin to befriend your emotions and actually benefit from them:

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  1. When emotion arises, invite it in and allow it to express itself (let your sadness be sad, let your happiness be happy, etc.)
  2. Listen to understand your emotion without judging or censoring
  3. Let it come and go, or stay with you as long as it needs
  4. Be a comforting presence for it
  5. Observe how it evolves
  6. Know that you are not your emotion. You are one who invites your emotion to be in your warm presence

 

One of the common misconceptions we have about our emotion is that difficult emotions are permanent and never change their nature. The truth is, emotion is never static. Emotion comes and goes and it evolves depending on how it is attended. What’s the benefit of attending to your emotion, then? Your raw, intense emotion will shrink and soften as you befriend it.

 

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Author Bios Bonnie_cropped_final

Bonnie Kim is a Registered Psychotherapist at Tyndale Family Life Centre. Bonnie has always taken a special interest in working with teens, young adults, and young couples, helping them to be deeply rooted in who they are and fully confident in their ability to cultivate healthy relationships and lifestyles. Ultimately, Bonnie desires to help people be restored as the people who God created them to be. Bonnie Kim can be reached at bkim@tyndale.ca.

Amy Francis

Amy Francis is a freelance writer and contributor at the Family Life Centre blog. www.amyhopefrancis.com

Caring for Our Aging Loved Ones

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What do we do if those who once took care of us can no longer look after themselves? When they start to lose their independence, it can put a lot of new responsibility and anxiety on our shoulders. If you worry about you and they will handle this unsettling transition, you are not alone.

Role Reversal

According to a Stats Canada report from 2007, 75% of eldercare was provided by adults between 45 and 64 years of age. In addition, approximately one in four of those caring for the elderly, had senior status themselves.  Many Boomers, on top of the changes brought on by retirement, have their own health concerns to be concerned about, even as they are helping to raise their grandkids, even while perhaps living with their grown-up children.

Caring for the increasing needs of an aging family member is a challenging undertaking, involving often disorienting role-reversal and potentially conflicted attempts at collaboration with siblings.

Adjusting to A New Parent-Child Relationship

A notable sense of increased vulnerability and decreased ability to be able to cope could be triggered by an unexpected occurrence such as an accident, death of a spouse, or an emergent lapse in physical or cognitive abilities. Caring for an aging loved one is complicated, and becomes even more complex when medical, financial, and care-giving decisions must be made as a team amongst siblings and in-laws.

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Facilitating Decision-Making Among Siblings 

Determining how best to care for a family member often becomes a family affair, and every member brings a different perspective on how best to provide that care. That means decisions are rarely clear-cut or conflict free.

This is why it’s a good idea to arrange an in-person meeting with your siblings and other pertinent family members in order to process difficult thoughts and feelings and to establish collaboration by asking questions like:

  1. To what degree can we include our loved one in decision making about their care?
  2. Who will research support programs to assist with elder care?
  3. Who is going to be responsible for what?
  4. Who will speak with and report back from meetings with medical personnel?
  5. How will expenses be paid and costs shared?
  6. Who wants to be kept informed on a regular basis?
  7. Who wants to be involved in decision-making from the beginning? Who wants to defer decisions to others?

 

It’s always a good idea come prepared with questions, and a notepad to record important points.iStock_000031635814_Double.jpg

 

Knowing and Setting Boundaries

Frequent visits, check-ins, running of errands, and bearing the brunt of our parent’s frustrations all take their toll on our physical and emotional energy. Due to feelings of guilt and a sense of duty, it may be hard for us to admit our exhaustion at first and we may not be aware of our options.

The first step to prepare well for this new caregiving role is to ask the right questions. So, it’s important to take the time to set expectations with your aging loved one and determine their exact needs. Here are some suggestions of conversation-starting questions:

 

  1. How much involvement do your parents expect from their children?
  2. How often will they want visits? Phone calls?
  3. Will your parent(s) feel comfortable asking for help?
  4. Will they need help getting groceries? Making meals?
  5. How do they feel about having support staff assist them rather than family members?
  6. Do your parents understand that you will need a break from time to time and that caregiving tasks will be shared among the siblings?
  7. Can you expect financial support from your parent(s)?

 

In addition to setting expectations with your loved one, make sure you are taking time to tend to your own health and well-being. That includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, engaging in regular spiritual nurture, and seeking moral support from others..

When is the best, most effective and respectful time to get involved to help with the needs of someone that you love as they age? Watch for the following signs from Canada.com to help you to know when to step in:huy-phan-100866

  • Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Forgetfulness or confusion about familiar things
  • Sudden mood changes or irritability
  • Signs of depression
  • Unpaid bills

 

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time adjusting to their new role as care giver or if you have a loved one that is having trouble adjusting to their new life style and role we want to help.

Contact us at flc@tyndale.ca and we can provide a counsellor to help walk you or someone you love through this transition.

 

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Amy FrancisAuthor Bio

Amy Francis is a freelance writer and contributor at the Family Life Centre blog. www.amyhopefrancis.com

6 Ways to Get Through a Big Life Transition

 

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Autumn reminds us that transition can be both beautiful and hard. While the fall brings us breathtaking scenery as the leaves change colour, not everyone is excited about the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter. Life transitions are like that, too.

Whether it’s moving to a new city, or adult children moving out; a promotion that presents a new set of responsibilities, or the loss of a job; big changes can take their toll on our minds, emotions, energy level, and relationships.

The good news is, there are resources to handle these challenging times in our lives. Here are six that can help anyone going through a major transition.

 1. Expect to feel unsettled and uncertain at first

Most change comes with a sense of loss if not actual loss. To move into something new, we had to leave some things behind, including a sense of security we get from a situation that is familiar. Grieving for the good aspects of what we left behind is a normal part of any major transition in life.

When left unchecked, our feelings of uncertainty and discomfort can affect the way we handle relationships and responsibilities in our lives. We might lose some sleep thinking about things, or snap at our kids, coworkers, or a loved one. Being aware of how the stress of transition is affecting our mind and mood can go a long way towards keeping our emotions in view and in check.

2. Accept and embrace the change

ross-findon-303091This is a new chapter of your life and that’s a big deal! As such, it probably feels a little scary. Even though some aspects of this new season are uncomfortable right now, we can still learn to accept our situation and acknowledge its reality. Embracing change can help us see things more clearly, preventing us from getting into a mental rut over what we wish would happen or think should happen.

3. Be curious and comforted about how God will work through this time of transition 

With every change comes a fresh start, and a new opportunity to see God’s hand in the midst of it all. This is also a chance to re-frame the transition. How do you see God’s comfort, guidance, or affirmation through this experience? What are you learning as SONY DSCGod walks with you?

4. Be patient with yourself

Change can be stressful, which means you may find yourself in an up-and-down state of mind. You will have some days where you feel affirmed in the new change and others when you regret a decision, or miss the way things were. That’s okay. It’s a natural part of the process of chance.

And change is a process. Usually, it takes longer than we expect or want before we reach a state of stability or normalcy (e.g. to feel confident in a new job, make new friends, or feel at home in a new place).

5. Take time for self care 

It can be easy to stay in action or planning mode all the time. But pressing pause on all activity will ease stress while bringing about clarity and comfort. So, schedule some time throughout the week to shut off email, work, or the phone lines. Get out in nature, spend quiet time in prayer and meditation, grab lunch with a good friend. Engage in activities that make you feel centered and grounded.

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6. Reach Out for Support

That support could come from a friend or loved one, a small group, or a professional counsellor or therapist. Find someone who will be there to listen, encourage, and provide the perspective of someone on the outside looking in.

A professional counsellor here at the Family Life Centre, Elizabeth Boom, put it this way:

“In some cases, when we’re struggling or feel overwhelmed, it helps to have supportive people around us to cheer us on in our successes and to help us find new ways to look at our situation. Counselling is a place where you can find help to grow, cope with transitions, and create strategies in finding new ways to think and live, and celebrate each new step.”

 

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Author Bio

Amy Francis

 

Amy Francis is a freelance writer and contributor at the Family Life Centre blog. www.amyhopefrancis.com

A Snapshot of Mental Health in the Canadian Workplace

eloise-ambursley-355862Imagine it’s Monday morning, and you find yourself nauseous, too weak to get out of bed, and running a high temperature. You call your workplace to explain you’ve got the flu and will be taking the next couple days off. But instead of affirming your choice to prioritize your health and ending the call, your supervisor says this:

“Everyone has their off days. You just need to push through it.”

It might sound crazy, but this is often how people with mental health problems or illnesses are treated by their coworkers, colleagues, and bosses.

The Stigma Around Workplace Mental Health

October 10 is World Mental Health Day and the theme of this year is “Mental Health in the Workplace.”

If you’ve been following the Family Life Centre for any length of time, then you’ve probably heard us talk about ending the stigma around mental health. We host certification courses twice a year that teach people how to respond to a mental health crisis or problem in youth and adults. And for good reasons.paul-bence-395888

For example, did you know:

  • Canada spends more than $50 billion annually on addressing mental health problems.
  • Mental health problems or illnesses account for roughly 30% of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada.
  • According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), mental health problems and illnesses cost Canadian employees more than $6 billion in lost productivity from absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover in 2011.

 

In a recent study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 38% of workers say they would not tell their manager if they were diagnosed with a mental health issue. Among this percentage, more than half of people worried that telling their employer would negatively affect their careers.

A major factor contributing to the stigma around mental health seems to be organizational culture. The MHCC states that 70% of Canadian employees are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace. 14% don’t think their workplace is healthy or safe at all.

 

What You Can Do to Support Mental Health in the Workplacerawpixel-com-330233

Since most adult Canadians spend the majority of their waking hours at work, addressing issues of mental health in the workplace is of vital importance for individual health and our economy.

The MHCC has training tools for individuals and work teams wanting to be equipped to handle mental health problems and crises in the workplace. The Family Life Centre hosts these training courses twice a year:

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) helps employees and managers increase their awareness of the signs and symptoms of the most common mental health problems. It also gives participants the know-how to help if a colleague begins to experience a mental health problem or crisis.

Our next training session is happening  Friday and Saturday November 17th & 18th 2017. We are offering training for adults who interact with adults and you can sign up right now for the courses by going to our event page, here.

 

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Author Bio

 Amy Francis

Amy Francis is a freelance writer and contributor at the Family Life Centre blog. www.amyhopefrancis.com

Healthy Aging 101: 7 Things You Can Do to Stay Strong, Alert, and Engaged

55+As Baby Boomers get older, the commitment to ensuring healthy aging has become a hot topic. We believe the path to healthy aging is through healthy living. In other words, it’s not a matter of quick fixes or anti-aging fads, but of lifestyle enrichment and improvement.
In this post, you’ll find foundational advice for aging well so that you can continue to thrive after the age of 55

1. Eat Healthy

Combined with exercise, eating enough nutrients in the right amounts can help prevent heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Did you know: When we get older, our bodies need fewer calories, but just as many nutrients.

Look for nutrient-dense foods to give your body the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it needs with fewer calories. Avoid foods that contain “empty calories,” like sugary drinks and desserts, white breads and white rice, pastas made from refined grains, and foods containing high amounts of butter or shortening. Although sugars, fats, and salts in food hold tremendous attraction, what we ingest can go a long way to either achieving or sabotaging our quality of life and longevity.

Useful tips: Add these nutrient-dense foods to your diet:katie-smith-104748

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables (e.g. leafy greens, berries, oranges, eggplant, broccoli, red bell pepper)
  • Lean meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs
  • Beans, nuts, and seeds
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, soy or rice milk that is fortified with vitamin D
  • Whole grains (e.g. oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, brown rice

2. Stay Physically Active

Exercise keeps us energized, sharpens our memory, and boosts our mood. It can also keep us healthier, for longer.

Did you know: Doing regular physical activity that you enjoy can help you get better quality sleep, reduce stress, and avoid falls.

To get started, begin with an activity you find enjoyable and start slowly. Work your way up to a goal you’ve set for yourself. For example, you might start with a 10 minute walk the first week. Then, gradually increase your speed, length of time, or add hand-held weights.

Useful tips: Remember these practices for your best and safest exercise experience.clem-onojeghuo-189250

  • Take time to warm up and cool down
  • Invest in a supportive, custom-fit pair of shoes
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stop if you experience pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath
  • Need a little extra help? Consider engaging a trainer, a workout buddy or friend who can help to keep you motivated. Be sure to choose someone who is sensitive and informed about achieving personal fitness at your age and stage of life

3. Quit Smoking

Contrary to what most people think, it’s never – ever – too late to quit. In fact, our bodies will begin to heal and reverse the health risks associated with smoking within 30 minutes of finishing our last cigarette.

Did you know: Smoking is linked to bone fractures, erectile dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, macular degeneration, colorectal cancer, and many other severe health problems in seniors.
Quitting takes planning, commitment, and determination. But the effort you put in will pay major dividends toward your health and longevity.

Useful tips: Follow these tried-and-tested recommendations to help you quit

  • Stay away from triggers (i.e. certain people, places, or situations where you’d normally smoke)
  • Surround yourself with support (i.e. people who serve as reminders for why you’re trying to quit)
  • Bring a snack for when you feel a craving (e.g. your favourite candy, gum, or healthy snack)
  • Take up a hobby that can distract you from the cravings
  • Take it one day at a time – not everyone can quit cold turkey

4. Prevent Injuries

As we get older, our risk of falling increases. Changes to our vision, hearing, medications, health issues, or simply normal aging can increase our risk of a tumble. For some older adults, everyday activities such as taking a shower or walking down the front steps may require additional support to prevent a fall.

Did you know: People who walk barefoot fall more frequently. Wearing shoes with good support reduces the risk of foot and ankle injuries and falls.
Keep doing the things you enjoy, and take some precautionary steps to reduce your risks of being off balance and at risk of a fall and related injury.

Useful tips: Some precautions to prevent injury in your homenick-karvounis-381270

  • Remove or tape down loose carpet and throw rugs
  • Use nightlights in the halls and bathrooms
  • Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom next to toilet and shower or bathtub
  • Use nonslip mats in showers and bathtubs

5. Keep on Top of Oral Health

Oral issues that affected us when we were younger can increase or worsen with age. Oral infections have been linked to bigger health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. After the age of 55, regular dental check-ups are important for preventative, reparative and maintenance regarding good oral health. Plan to see your dentist regularly.

Did you know: About 75 percent of people aged 60 and over have only some of their natural teeth.
Poor dental health impacts overall health, which means regular care of our teeth and gums can help prevent health problems down the road.

Useful tips: Keep brushing and flossing daily and get checkups every six months.

6. Check Your Eyesight Regularly

We experience changes to our vision as well as hearing loss as we age. Common eye problems include cataracts and glaucoma. Vision loss can also increase our risk of falling.

Did you know: Most people notice changes to their vision, including a gradual decline in their ability to read small print or focus on close objects, by age 50.

Useful tips: You can take good care of your eyes by taking care of your overall healthwonho-sung-91804

  • Get a good night’s sleep to give your eyes a chance to clean out dust and allergens
  • Give your eyes the blood circulation and oxygen intake they need with regular exercise
  • Have your eyes screened regularly for health issues
  • If you wear glasses, you should have your prescription checked every year to accommodate any changes.

7. Socialize

As human beings we all have three primal needs: to be accepted, connected, and loved. Socializing leads to a better quality of life for everyone, particularly older adults. Time spent with friends, children, and grandchildren help us feel connected, especially if we have mobility issues.

Did you know: Medical researchers at the University of Rochester found socializing is key to keeping our brains sharp as we age.
Building relationships with the people around us is also known to increase self-esteem, reduce stress, and even improve physical health.

Useful tips: Here are some common ways to build interpersonal relationships

  • Volunteer with a local organization
  • Get involved in a church group
  • Join a gym or club
  • Attend a senior living community for activities
  • Visit friends or family
  • Start your own shared interest group (e.g. walking, knitting, golfing, zuma, card playing)

Were these tips helpful?
Whether you’re concerned about chronic diseases, mobility, or mental health, the key to healthy aging is a healthy lifestyle. For more articles and helpful resources on aging well, visit our Aging Well 55+ page: http://www.tyndale.ca/family-life/services/aging-well

 

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Author Bio

Amy Francis

 

Amy Francis is a freelance writer and contributor at the Family Life Centre blog. www.amyhopefrancis.com