How To Know If Therapy Is Right For You – Part 2

People come to therapy at different times, for different reasons. In Part 1 of this series (you can read it here) , we explored three great reasons why someone would seek counseling:

  • Your life has somehow changed recently
  • You can’t quite seem to cope with the change adequately
  • You feel overwhelmed


This week, we’re going to talk about three more ways you can tell if therapy might be the right choice for you:

  • You want to maintain your well-being
  • You want to get to know yourself
  • You think there’s a chance therapy could help

Read on to go a little deeper into each reason:

You want to maintain your well-being

Do you feel safe, content, and balanced?

There’s no wrong way to answer, but this question might give you a peek into where your well-being is today.
Well-being is a state of general contentment with life and the way things are. If you’re able to put the rough days in perspective, and feel connected to people, purpose and community, you’re experiencing well-being!

It might sound strange for us to suggest therapy if you’re already feeling pretty good about things. We want to normalize going to therapy before things get out of balance. While therapy is useful in times of crisis and extra stress, you can absolutely go to therapy without having a major life problem or unbearable distress./

You want to get to know yourself

Have you ever thought about why you do the things you do? Or maybe why you react to certain events or people in confusing ways? We’ve all had the experience of saying something unexpected, and immediately we think, “Whoa – where did that come from?!”


In therapy, your counselor can help you learn about … you! They’re trained to (nonjudgmentally) spot patterns that you might not have noticed before. In some cases, you might even find that things you haven’t thought much about before – such as your family or past events – have a huge impact on your “right now.” As therapist Nedra Tawwab says, “Therapy is a space to learn more about yourself, your relationships, and how your life experiences impact you.”

An important part of any relationship is getting to know someone. It’s a lot easier to be present with another person when you’ve had practice being present and understanding with yourself. Just remember to be as kind and forgiving to yourself as you would be to a new friend.

You think there’s a chance therapy can help

You’re reading these blog posts for a reason!

If you’re reading this, we want you to know it’s never too early or too late to seek counseling.


Many people come to therapy with issues that are difficult to face alone. Maybe you’ve already tried to bring yourself back into alignment. You might even have participated in different therapies in the past (such as talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc). Sometimes, professionals and their clients just don’t “click” or their specialty isn’t right for what you’re carrying.

Everyone’s situation is unique, because people are unique. Reach out to us to learn more, and see how we can help support you!

Read More

3 Easy Ways to Practice Meditation for Reduced Stress For Beginners

It can seem like meditation can be a difficult thing to practice. Being still and being quiet doesn’t come naturally to all of us!

But the benefits of meditation are undeniable. It can reduce your levels of stress, make you feel more grounded, and help you focus! It can help you sleep, help you fight addiction, and even decrease your blood pressure.

So, it’s a habit worth cultivating. And lucky for you, it’s easy and free to do that!

Meditation requires nothing from you besides your time. You don’t need special equipment or clothes. Just a quiet space and a few free minutes!

Here are the simplest ways to practice meditation:

  • Start small.
  • Start consistently.
  • Start compassionately.

Let’s learn just how easy it is to start a meditation practice!

Start small.

No one – absolutely no one – expects you to meditate for hours on end. When you’re first starting out, find a quiet place to sit for just one minute.

That’s right – just one minute. You don’t have to go anything beyond that if you don’t feel like it.

Starting with just a small amount of time is a great way to set yourself up for success. Baby steps can contribute to much larger ones later.

So go easy on yourself. Expect just one minute of quiet time from yourself, and don’t push yourself to go further if you’re just not feeling it. 

What do I do when I sit?

You just sit quietly, with yourself and your breathing, for 1 minute. You don’t do anything except breathe in and out. You might like to say something silently to yourself along the lines of, “Breathing in – I’m aware that I’m breathing in. Breathing out, I’m aware that I’m breathing out. In, Out.” This is only a suggestion, though. There’s no “wrong” way to practice meditation.

Start consistently.

Set aside just one minute to practice consistently. It can be in the morning, afternoon, or evening. The only rule is that it has to work for you. You don’t even necessarily need to practice at the same time every day! Finding what works for you will help you build a routine. (Pro tip: find a buddy who will commit to a one minute meditation session for the next seven days. Accountability will help you stick to it, even when it’s hard!)

Start compassionately.

Be kind to yourself. Learning a new habit takes time. It’s completely normal (and expected!) for your mind to wander, or for you to find it difficult to sit still. (Jay, our client care coordinator, has a teacher who says that the point of meditation is to notice that your mind has wandered, and gently bring it back to your breathing.)

This is all a part of the learning process. Without these challenges, you wouldn’t be able to progress!

Difficulties and challenges are your friend. Everyone has them – especially when they’re learning something new!

Start with having compassion with yourself – and don’t stop!

Meditation is easier to start than you think!

If you remember to start small, consistently, and compassionately, you’ll be well on your way to practicing meditation – and reducing your stress levels along the way!

Want to talk to someone? We work with people every day just like you to find mental health, peace and freedom. We’d love to talk to you, too – why not get in touch? 

Read More

How to know if therapy is right for you – Part 1

Maybe you’re feeling down today. You may be wrestling with a personal or professional problem. You might not know if anyone can or should help.

You may feel like it’s not really a big deal, or if you should draw this much attention to something so silly.

If you feel this might be you, read on. Your concerns are valid, and you are worth being heard.

By the end of this article, you’ll know how to evaluate whether therapy is right for you.

You should find a therapist if:

  • Your life has somehow changed recently
  • You can’t quite seem to cope with the change adequately
  • You feel overwhelmed
  • You want to maintain your well-being
  • You want to get to know yourself
  • You think there’s a chance therapy could help

Today, we’ll talk about the first three. (Part 2 will cover the last three).

Your life has somehow changed recently

Maybe you chose for your life to change. Maybe you took a new step forward in your career. Maybe you chose to leave a long-time partner. Maybe you chose to move to a new apartment.

Or, maybe something happened to you that caused your life to change. Maybe a romantic partner moved on. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you remembered a moment of abuse.

Any of these changes can trigger feelings of anxiety, stress and resentment. You may feel overwhelmed, or simply don’t know what to do with the new circumstances life has brought you.

All of these reactions are completely normal.

If you feel you may need help, you have every right to reach out for it. You don’t need to justify it to yourself or anybody else. (You can always reach out to us here!)

One of the best things you can do for yourself is reach out for help. An experienced counselor will help you navigate this time of change and come through the other side more aware of yourself and more empowered to advocate for yourself.

You can’t quite seem to cope with the change adequately.

Every single person you’ve ever met has coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Some coping mechanisms are:

  • Taking deep breaths
  • Going for a walk
  • Having a glass of wine
  • Eating too much
  • Using sex to numb feelings of inadequacy
  • Lashing out at others
  • Pretending the stress doesn’t exist
  • Getting a furry companion

Obviously, some of these coping mechanisms are healthier than others! Taking deep breaths, going for a walk, and even having a glass of wine can all be great ways to cope with less severe stress, changes, or anxiety.

We all need healthy coping mechanisms to mediate stress and anxiety in our lives. But sometimes, even healthy coping mechanisms can fail us. We may still feel worked up after going for a walk. We may wake up after having too many drinks and remember the feelings of shame or fear.

And the less healthy coping mechanisms will tend to let you down.

If you find yourself unable to cope with change in a healthy way, it may be time to get in touch with a counselor.

You feel overwhelmed

If your feelings of fear, anxiety, or shame are interfering with your ability to focus or think clearly, it’s likely time to go see a counselor.

If you just can’t seem to right the ship, so to speak, and move on with your life, this is an indication that you need to reach out for help.

You may find yourself less able to concentrate at work. You may find yourself less creative, less spontaneous, and less positive. You may go into hyper-activity, in order to escape your feelings. You may become sedentary, overwhelmed by the weight of them.

It’s absolutely okay to feel these things. Counselors are trained professionals who can help you see a way out.

Conclusion

In sum, you likely need to go to therapy if your life has changed recently, if you can’t seem to cope, and you feel overwhelmed.

Feeling like you might need a counselor is enough of a reason to reach out for help. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Feel free to reach out to us and schedule an appointment at your convenience. We’re always here, ready to help.

Read More

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Therapy

Therapy is a commitment. You invest your time and money into it, so you should probably make sure you get a return on your investment, right?

There are 3 things you should do to make sure you get the most out of your therapy experience.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to identify your purpose for going
  • How to carefully research a therapist
  • How to prepare yourself for each therapy session

Following these steps will help you meet your goals for therapy – and make sure you’re on the path to freedom and peace.

How to identify why you should go to therapy

Before you reach out to a therapist, you first need to identify why you want to go to counseling. Ask yourself:

  1. What do I need help doing?
  2. What do I want to accomplish?
  3. What issue do I feel I need help on?

The answers to these questions will help you determine what issue you want a therapist to help you resolve.

It’s important to note that you don’t need to know what kind of help you need. You don’t need to know what exactly you think will help you – that’s what your therapist is there for! All you need to do is take the first next step.

How to carefully research a therapist

After you have identified why you want to go to therapy, you can take the next steps to find a therapist who can help with your concern.

If your concern is trauma from your past, you may want to find a therapist who specializes in PTSD. If you want to talk about overwhelming thoughts, someone who specializes in anxiety could be a great fit for you. If you struggle with a healthy body image, you can likewise narrow your search to a counselor who has experience in identity issues.

This may surprise you, but the best way to find a therapist may not be Google. It may be by asking a trusted friend or family member. Someone who comes personally recommended by people who love you may be exactly what you’re looking for!

That said, googling therapists in your area is the next best way to find a compatible therapist. You can likely search by speciality. Psychology Today is an excellent resource for those looking for a local resource.

Keep in mind that many therapists are still meeting with clients remotely, so you may not need to be limited by location!

Carefully look through a possible therapist’s profile or website. Do they sound like someone you could “click” with? Do they have experience addressing your topic of concern? Trust is the foundation of every counseling relationship, so you’ll want to find someone you feel you can connect with.

Come up with a few options and reach out to each of them to find out about their availability.

How to prepare yourself for each therapy session

First, write down a few realistic goals you have for your session. Make sure to share these with your counselor. Having a clear idea about what you want from the beginning will set you up for success. Additionally, it will be easier to see if your therapist can help you get there.

Understand that healing of any kind takes time, and that’s okay! Keep in mind that the first few counseling sessions could be difficult. It’s completely natural to feel out of your element and unsure of yourself, especially if you are delving into topics that are challenging or difficult for you.

Be gentle with yourself, and make sure to extend that same kindness to your therapist. It can take time to make the kind of progress you want to see.

(Want more great tips on how to make the most of your time?)

Celebrate yourself!

Remember to congratulate yourself, while you’re at it! You’re being so kind to yourself by reaching out for support, and it’s something worth celebrating!

If you’re looking for support, you can contact us here! We would love to help you on your personal journey to peace and freedom.


Read More

Anger: What No One Will Tell You – Part 2

Has anyone ever told you that your anger can be a friend?

Probably not.

It’s easy to stigmatize anger because of its effects. We have all seen some of the hurt and resentment caused by unhealthy expressions of anger. Many of us know first hand the effects we have caused by things we have done or said in our anger.

But we can’t undermine the importance of anger and its healthy expression. Without anger, it would be difficult to find the motivation to do something about injustice. In fact, without anger, it could be difficult to know when our personal boundaries are crossed!

Anger is a complicated feeling, and it’s important to know why we feel it and how we can manage it.

In this article, we’re going to do exactly that. You’ll learn:

  • What your anger is telling you
  • The secret need your anger is pointing to
  • What you can do to help regulate or manage your anger

Your anger is speaking – are you listening?

Your anger is almost always the result of something you’ve experienced internally or externally. As such, it can be a critical self-examination tool.

When, how, and where you become angry can tell you some important things about yourself. It can tell you what you’re afraid of and what you love.

Suppose you are passed over for a big promotion. You feel sadness, and perhaps a sense of shame. But you also likely feel deep anger. You worked hard for your company, and you felt you deserved this promotion. It makes no sense to be rejected!

As you realize your feelings, you may want to take a step back and ask, “Why am I feeling so upset about this?” The answer may surprise you. Maybe you wanted to surprise your family with a vacation that this promotion would have allowed you to afford. Maybe you wanted your colleagues to be impressed by you. Maybe you wanted to be able to afford a better lifestyle.

And on a deeper level, maybe you realize that you wanted to make your family happy because you feel guilty about how much time you’ve spent at the office. Or maybe you realize that your main source of identity has become success at your job. Or maybe you didn’t grow up with a lot of money, and you want to feel safe against hardship.

Not getting the promotion may make you feel disrespected, unvalued, worthless, unsafe, or not worthy of love.

Your anger often points to a threatened value. Learning to recognize this is a critical step towards managing your anger.

Your anger is asking you for something

Your anger may also point to a needed change. Perhaps someone has insulted you repeatedly – you may need to set boundaries or terminate the relationship.

Perhaps you feel emotionally short-changed by your partner, and you need to have a conversation with them about how their actions hurt you and your relationship.

Or, on a different scale, your anger may ask you to work towards political or economic change. Maybe you need to take action by signing a petition, calling your congressman, or joining an organization that supports your cause.

In all of these examples, your anger is asking you to do something. It’s an indication that action should be taken so that the status quo is changed. This can result in a healthier relationship with yourself, with others in your life, and with the political landscape you live in.

Anger can also be a response to unprocessed trauma. When we experience something traumatic, it can be so uncomfortable that our body and mind can’t or won’t make sense of it. When we experience something similar to the trauma-inducing moment, we can be re-triggered. We may be irrationally afraid. And we may become angry as a result.

(This is one reason why we do what we do! It can be a challenge to learn and connect with yourself and your anger, so professional guidance can be a real help.)

Manage your anger by practicing

Changing can be difficult. Perhaps you realize how your anger has hurt others or yourself. Or maybe you’re understanding that you need to change how you relate to a toxic or out of control person.

Start by envisioning the kind of relationship you want with yourself or with those around you. Is it peaceful? More productive? Less fearful?

Then, take steps to achieve that goal.

If you have realized your own anger is an issue, you may want to:

  • Create a list of triggers and review them frequently. This will help you be more self-aware.
  • Avoid the trigger altogether. Does traffic make you infuriated? Try leaving earlier for work.
  • If you can’t avoid a trigger, make a plan. What will you do to recognize your anger? What will you do calm down in the moment?

One easy way to practice managing your anger is to make deep breathing a habit. Twice a day, take a one-minute break from what you’re doing and sit quietly in a chair. Inhale through your mouth as slowly as you can. Then exhale through your nose as slowly as you can. Do this several times over until your minute is up.

Remember, oxygen is an anxiety-killer! Breathing may be able to help you more than you think.

Making peace with your anger

Your anger is an indication of a deeper value or need. If you learn how to listen to it, you’ll be able to know yourself better and thus manage your anger better!

Practicing breathing exercises can help you feel in control when you feel angry, and it can help put you in touch with yourself.

Want to get reliable expertise about your anger? Reach out to us. We would love to help you find freedom and peace.

Read More

Anger: What No One Will Tell You – Part 1

Anger is a universal human emotion. We all experience it, but the way we experience it can be unique to each individual person. Some of us experience anger by our rapid heart rate. Some of us feel our face get hot. Some of us sweat!

Despite the fact that all of us have felt anger at one time or another, it tends to get a bad rap. It’s easy to conflate the effects of uncontrolled anger and the experience of anger. People tend to judge others when their anger results in physical violence or cutting words. After all, when anger controls anyone the resulting behaviour rarely results in a positive outcome for anyone involved!)

It’s easy to look at the effects of anger and decide that anger itself is the problem. But it’s not.

But we should be cautious of confusing the effects of anger with the experience of anger. It’s not wrong to be angry! But it’s also not okay to be controlled by your anger.

In this article, you’ll learn how to reframe your perspective on anger. When understood properly, it can be a wonderful tool for you to understand yourself and your fears.

We’ll cover:

  • What anger is
  • Conventional signs of anger
  • Signs of out-of-control anger

In this blog, we’ll cover some of the basics of anger before we dive into deeper issues. (Next time, we’ll talk about how your anger is a symptom of a deeper emotion and what you can do about your anger.)

What is anger?

The American Psychological Association defines anger as “an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.”

Anger is a feeling. Feelings are important to listen to, but it’s critical to realize that feelings are not facts. You have every right to feel what you feel. But your feelings may not accurately reflect reality.

Anger can occur as the result of an injustice, whether real or perceived. Or, you may feel anger over something that has happened to something else.

Anger results when something that should never happen, happens. We’re angry when we see innocent people put in jail, or when we hear of peaceful protestors being beaten. You may feel it when you are cut off when you are driving on the highway.

Anger can also occur when something that we feel should have happened doesn’t happen. You may feel anger when a waiter or waitress gets your order wrong. You may feel anger when you are passed over for a promotion.

What are some signs of anger?

Every one of us is unique, and so it shouldn’t surprise us that we exhibit anger differently.

Some of us suppress our anger, or try to minimize it. While it’s wise to manage your anger, it’s unhealthy to suppress it. Suppressing it usually backfires. Your emotions are like a stream: if you dam them up, they aren’t going to go away. They’re just going to become more powerful.

Others of us have no issue realizing we are angry and expressing it. We may notice these physical signs of anger:

  • Clenching your jaws
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Your face and neck become flushed
  • Shaking
  • Pain in your head or stomach

We may feel:

  • Like you need to run away
  • Sad or depressed
  • Guilty
  • Annoyed
  • Fearful
  • Resentful

It’s important to note that some of us may not ever feel anger. We may feel passive in the face of wrongs that happen to us, simply accepting poor behaviour from others or the world around you. If you suspect this is you, do reach out to us. Feeling anger isn’t wrong – in fact, sometimes it’s necessary! We can help you connect with yourself in this area.

Signs of out-of-control anger

We all do many different things when we’re angry. When some of us are angry, we may raise our voices, or say things we regret. We may feel the need to punch something or someone!

It’s important to know the difference between unhealthy and healthy expressions of anger.

Healthy anger expresses itself by:

  • Not blaming others for frustrations or triggers
  • Being honest about feelings of anger without using it as a power play
  • Encouraging collaboration to solve the issue
  • Acknowledging responsibility and/or contributions to the argument or conflict
  • Confronting others with gentleness

Unhealthy anger expresses itself by:

  • Sulking and pouting
  • Using sarcasm
  • Avoiding the problem
  • Avoiding personal responsibility
  • Being too forceful or direct
  • Becoming loud and/or abrasive in speech
  • Throwing things
  • Being physically intimidating
  • Hitting or pushing

Again, these are the physical manifestations of an internal emotion that is neither right nor wrong. The feeling itself is not a problem – it’s what you do with that feeling that is ultimately harmful or beneficial to yourself and those around you.

Making Peace with Your Anger

Your anger is an emotional response that can manifest in many ways physically and emotionally. Anger itself is not a problem – but the expression of it can be healthy or unhealthy.

In part 2 of this series, we’ll dig deeper into the roots of anger and discover what you can do about it. 

Want to get reliable expertise about your anger? Reach out to us.We would love to help you find freedom and peace.

Read More

5 Ways to Be Friends with Yourself

We all know friends are critical to your emotional well-being. But when was the last time you thought about being friends with yourself?

Most of us have a complicated relationship with ourselves. Some of us may not like the way we look, or the way we laugh. We may wish we were better at professional networking, or better at reading people. We may wish we were more confident and less prone to put our foot in our mouths!

But many of us struggle to accept and be grateful for exactly who we are. It’s okay to seek growth and improvement – it’s a mark of maturity! But we need to be balanced in how we treat ourselves. We can accept our faults and be gentle with ourselves while understanding there is room for growth.

For most of us, we spend more time criticizing ourselves than being accepting. We nitpick, we over-analyze events, and sometimes we’re even embarrassed by ourselves!

To that end, let’s talk about some practical ways we can befriend ourselves today. Let’s talk about:

  1. Knowing and accepting your perceived “faults”
  2. Practicing gratitude for your body
  3. Journaling to know yourself
  4. Owning responsibility for your choices
  5. Make time to get to know yourself

The more you get to know yourself and chose acceptance, the easier it will be for you to simply be yourself. You can gain confidence in who you are, and you can have assurance that you are a worthwhile person – because you like you!

Let’s dive into each of these topics.

Knowing and Accepting Your Perceived “Faults”

If I asked you to, you likely give me a list of things you wish were different about yourself. These things could be physical, emotional, or mental, but they’re likely things that consistently bother you.

If you have ten minutes today, write your top three “faults.” Let yourself react to them. How do you feel when your brain tells you that you need to lose weight, or that you don’t really know what you’re doing at your job, or that you aren’t capable of handling responsibility?

Record your feelings. Let yourself feel them. Do you feel sad, hurt, or disturbed by these thoughts? Sit with your feelings for a little bit, and listen to them.

Then take a moment to objectively evaluate your feelings. How would you feel if you said these things to a beloved friend or parent? Would you ever talk to anyone else besides yourself this way? Would your friend or parent want anyone to talk to you that way? Do these feelings and thoughts reflect what is the most true things about you – that you are loveable and valued regardless of what you do?

Then for each perceived fault, turn it into an affirmation. State your value, and then say something you love about yourself. Here are some examples to get your creative juices flowing:

“I am worthwhile regardless of whether I lose weight. I love that I make people laugh!”
“I can rest secure in the knowledge that I am capable. I love that I like to take on challenges, even when they scare me”
“I can trust myself because I am careful to keep myself safe. I love that I am learning how to handle responsibility and take care of myself.”

Reflect on this process and write down any insights you have about your feelings and what’s really true about you.

Practicing Gratitude For Your Body

One of the most common insecurities people have is about their body. But it’s important to voice gratitude for it, even if there are things you wish were different. Let’s practice changing how we think about our bodies.

Think of one thing you wish you could change about your body. (Write it down, if this is helpful to you.)

Now, think of one thing you can be grateful for about that exact aspect. You may wish your thighs don’t jiggle, but isn’t it wonderful you have two working legs that have carried you through every day of your life? Your body is so strong!

You may wish your face was more symmetrical, but isn’t it great that you can use your face to smile at other people and show kindness to them? Your face can bring other people joy – and it can bring you joy to see it!

You may wish your eyes were a different color, but isn’t it wonderful that you have the gift of sight? You have seen things that have brought you joy, and you have seen beautiful things: nature, movies, sunsets, etc.

You may feel a little self-conscious during this exercise, but taking time to be grateful for your body can give you a more balanced perspective on it. And this can help you feel better about yourself! 

Journaling To Know Yourself

For the next three days, take just a little bit of time and get to know yourself by journaling. Think of one thing that happened yesterday that made you happy and journal about your feelings about it. Or, if it’s helpful to you, simply journal as a way to release any pent-up fears or worries you have. Sometimes just getting them on paper can be cathartic!

After the three days are complete, look over what you’ve read. Be mindful to be grateful. You may wish that you had written some things differently, or that you had focused on different topics, but try to be accepting of what you have read.

Observe some positive things about what you’ve written. What do you notice about yourself and the way you observe the world around you? What can you be grateful for?

Owning Responsibility For Your Choices

Getting an outside opinion about an important decision can be a good idea, but not when it’s at the expense of your true thoughts or feelings.

When you make any decision this week, make a habit of checking in with yourself. What is it your feelings are telling you? What is it you really want in this situation? Is there a difference between what your feelings are telling you and what is true about the situation?

Practice listening to yourself and making choices that are in your best interest. Learn to trust your gut and your instincts by making small choices, like where to eat or what to eat. Practicing in small ways can help you have confidence in your outlook on life, and can help you get a better sense of what is truly important to you.

Make Time To Get To Know Yourself

One of the best things you can do for yourself is spend time alone with yourself, accepting and observing whatever thoughts come to you, and releasing them.

Carve out just a few minutes in the morning or evening to check in with yourself and listen. What is your body telling you about today? What is your mind telling you? If you have extra time, record your observations and then affirm yourself. Here are some examples:

  • I feel mentally spent, but not exhausted. I must have balanced my day well today! I’m so proud of myself for growing this way.
  • I’m sore from that walk I took today during lunch, but I’m not in pain. I did a great job showing care to my body by not pushing myself too hard.
  • I feel too wound up and it’s hard to relax this evening. I need to take some time to work through what I can and can’t control so I can relax and go to sleep.

Knowing yourself is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

Knowing and accepting yourself can lead to a deep sense of security in who you and what you truly want. Nurture yourself today by:

  1. Knowing and accepting your perceived “faults”
  2. Practicing gratitude for your body
  3. Journaling to know yourself
  4. Owning responsibility for your choices
  5. Make time to get to know yourself

We’re here for you to support your growth in this area. Would you like to talk? Simply schedule a consult with us today.

Read More

3 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries in Any Relationship

Setting boundaries can seem intimidating and uncomfortable. But today, right now, I’d invite you to reframe how you think about boundaries.

Instead of fearing boundaries, let’s think of boundaries as tools. They’re tools we can use that will help us feel more secure in our healthy relationships and more at ease with ourselves.

Boundaries can lead to a sense of freedom!

Here are three ways to set boundaries in any relationship:

  1. Check in with yourself.
  2. Learn to say no.
  3. Seek support.

Doing these three things will help you decide what boundaries should be set, how they should be set, and how to protect your boundaries.

But before we dive into each of these, let’s define some terms and discuss why setting boundaries can benefit you.

How to Set Boundaries: Check In With Yourself.

Are you feeling trapped, belittled, or controlled? People who struggle to set personal boundaries with others can have trouble feeling confident in saying what they really need. They can feel like they don’t have enough space, or that the world can’t handle their true emotional, physical, or mental needs.

If you find yourself feeling any of the emotions described above, you may have trouble setting boundaries.

Is there a person in your life that makes you feel trapped, belittled, or simply less than? Or someone who just makes you feel uneasy?

The next time you’re around them and you start feeling negative or unhappy, check in with yourself. How does this person make you feel? What is it they’re doing or saying that makes you uncomfortable?

If you’ve been in a relationship with this person for a long time, it can be difficult to know what you feel and why you’re feeling it. It may help you to journal about your thoughts and feelings. This way, you can take a step back and analyze what may be bothering you.

Be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling. You are allowed to feel uncomfortable, uneasy, or afraid. You are allowed to feel angry, upset, embarrassed or disturbed. Your feelings are telling you something, and it’s important to listen carefully.

Learn To Say No.

 

Saying no will take some practice, and you may not always get it quite right. This is perfectly normal for someone who is practicing boundary setting. And it is just that – a practice, or a skill.

It will take a bit of effort, but learning how to protect yourself with boundaries is well worth the effort.

Saying “no” will look different based on whatever situation or person you are dealing with. You may say “no” to a potential roommate, a potential new boss, or an after work activity.

Consider if any of the following responses may be right for you. Note that while not all actually use the word “no,” they all express some variation of its meaning.

  • “No, I don’t have the time to commit to this project. But I may have time in the next week/month/quarter, so we can revisit this then if you’d prefer.”
  • “No, I think our lifestyles are too different for us to be compatible roommates.”
  • “No, I’m not comfortable being touched there.”
  • “I need you to give me some space.”
  • “No, I’ve made other plans this weekend.”
  • “I think I’m going to need more time to make this decision. Can I get back to you next week?”

Our clinical director, Adam Rahman, frequently encourages his clients to use one or more of the following mantras as they learn to set healthy boundaries:

  • It’s not my job to fix others
  • It’s okay to say no
  • It’s not my job to take responsibility for others
  • I don’t have to anticipate the needs of others
  • Nobody has to agree with me
  • I am responsible for my own feelings
  • I have the right to express my needs honestly
  • I am enough

Seek Support.

It can be easier to set healthy boundaries when you are fully supported by those you trust. Consider telling a close friend, colleague, or family member that you know you can rely on. Ask them to support you in setting healthy boundaries, and be as specific as you can about what the situation may entail and why it’s difficult for you.

No situation that lacks boundaries is uncomplicated, but some are more serious than others. If you are afraid for your physical safety, please get in touch with your local authorities. If you are being abused or controlled, reach out to a local shelter or hotline. There are people who can help you.

Here at Social House, we help people from all walks of life set boundaries. As trained counselors, we have the tools and resources you may need to set and protect healthy boundaries in the relationships in your life. We love helping our clients listen to themselves and find ways of rebuilding their sense of self. Would you like to get in touch? We’d love to schedule a session with you.

Read More

How to Tell the Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Boundaries

Imagine a baseball field without an outfield. Or a country without a border.

Boundaries help define identity. If we don’t know where the US starts and Canada ends, for instance, that could lead to some major diplomatic issues! The same is true in interpersonal relationships. Your area of responsibility and another’s need to have definite starting and endpoints.

Boundaries can mean the difference between having thriving relationships, and feeling defeated. Having them can help you feel free and fully capable of evaluating and choosing what is right for yourself. Not having them can contribute to confusion and disappointment in your relationships.

So it’s critical to learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries.

What Healthy Boundaries in Relationships Are

A healthy boundary is a limit you set with another person (or yourself) so that you can thrive emotionally, mentally, and/or physically.

Boundaries allow you to ask for the time or space you need to make a decision. Boundaries help you have a better sense of self. They allow you to say no to an activity that makes you feel uncomfortable or ill at ease. They help you cultivate a sense of self: “I will do this, but not this.”

Healthy boundaries are one of the best forms of self-respect because they acknowledge your real needs in any given situation.

But what do healthy boundaries look like? Here are just a few examples:

  1. Some professionals, like teachers and counselors, choose not to talk about some details of their personal life: “I like to keep my private life private.”
  2. A busy lawyer may keep an unscheduled personal call short if they are working towards a deadline: “I’m right in the middle of something, can I call you back tomorrow?”
  3. A new mom may ask her partner for additional support so that she can take a break, eat a snack, or get some sleep: “I’m absolutely exhausted. Can you help me by watching the baby for the next two hours?”
  4. A man may ask his new partner for one night to himself so he can have alone time: “I love being with you, but I need to have Thursday nights to myself so I can recharge alone.”

Most of us have some practice making boundaries. They may look like some of the examples above, but they may not. Your boundaries may protect your time, your mental energy, or your physical needs.

In the past, you may have asked your child to knock before entering your bedroom. You may have chosen to unfriend a toxic person on social media. Or you may have chosen to leave a job due to a toxic environment.

In their very simplest form, boundaries are a way to say “no” or “yes” to what happens to you.

If you have asked someone to respect your personal space or emotional space, you’ve made a boundary. Let this be an encouragement to you! Boundaries may take courage to put into place, but you likely already have some practice setting them.

What Unhealthy Boundaries Are

Unhealthy boundaries do not protect your mental, emotional, or physical wellbeing. Unhealthy boundaries do not respect:

  1. Your real feelings or needs
  2. Your privacy
  3. Your time

Unhealthy boundaries are, in reality, a lack of boundaries. They don’t protect your best interests and they don’t give you the mental, emotional, or physical space you deserve and need.

Some examples of unhealthy boundaries are:

  1. When a parent dictates how their adult child should spend their free time or money.
  2. When one partner consistently discourages the other from spending any amount of time with their family or friends.
  3. When one friend frequently disparages the other’s appearance or personality

Lack of boundaries can result in feeling trapped, belittled, or controlled. People who struggle to set personal boundaries with others can have trouble feeling confident in saying what they really need. They can feel like they don’t have enough space, or that the world can’t handle their true emotional, physical, or mental needs.

Next week, we’ll look at how to set healthy boundaries. But in the meantime, if you are struggling to set boundaries with others please reach out to us. We would love to support and empower you to reach your relationship goals.

Read More

Anxiety Isn’t Your Enemy – What It’s Telling You, and What You Can Do About It

It may sound strange to many of you to say “Anxiety Isn’t Your Enemy” – especially when fighting it can seem like such an exhausting battle!

But in this blog, you’ll learn how to reframe the way you think about anxiety. What if it’s something you can learn from? What if it’s telling you something you need to know? What anxiety isn’t an enemy, but a teacher?

By reframing how you respond to anxiety, your experience of it can change. (Of course, this post can’t negate the need for medication or therapy. But it can give you some helpful pointers on how to cope!)

What Anxiety is Telling You – And How to Listen

You may feel your anxiety is telling you that you can’t cope with life. It may be telling you that you should feel afraid about something you can’t quite pin down. You may feel overwhelmed and overshadowed by fears.

You may find it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks, like washing dishes or making your bed. You may find social interactions difficult, or downright impossible!

But not everything anxiety is telling you is actually helpful – or true. It may feel like no one loves you, or that you’ll always be lonely. It may feel like all your worst worries are going to come true.
Yet none of these things may actually happen, despite what you feel.

One of the best ways to cope with anxiety is to examine your feelings with curiosity, then to remind yourself about what actually is true. Some may find that journaling about what they’re feeling helps them.

Try answering the following questions:

What am I feeling?

Are these negative or positive feelings?

What are my feelings telling me about myself?

Should I listen to these feelings?

Over time, it can be easier to “change the channels;” to remember your real, lived experience, versus what your feelings are telling you. It may not happen overnight, but it can help you to practice being present with your anxiety and mediating your emotions, especially when they feel overwhelming.

But anxiety can tell you something important about yourself. It can be an effect of:

  • Unprocessed trauma
  • A different underlying mental issue
  • A physical illness

Anxiety, in other words, is worth listening to. It may be something your body is using to get your attention. Anxiety can be a helpful signal that something’s not quite right.

When should I go see someone about my anxiety?

If you routinely feel anxious, you should find a counselor who can guide you and give you hope. (We’d love to be a listening ear for you! Book a consult today.)

Anxiety can make some people feel terribly isolated and lonely. This sense of loneliness can lead to avoidance of human connection for fear of being rejected or embarrassed. But therapy can be a wonderful, safe space to get help and hope. It can foster a nurturing sense of connection while helping you address your fears.

What can I do when I feel anxious?

  • First, know that you’re not alone. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 18% of Americans have anxiety.
  • Second, be encouraged! There are so many great resources for those who suffer from anxiety. Below, we’ve listed several ways you can address how you’re feeling. Just pick your favorite. Or, you can choose multiple sources if you’d prefer.
  • Do a social media clean up. Snooze or unfollow groups or pages that don’t actually add positivity to your life. Follow social media accounts for those with anxiety. Follow accounts that show nature pictures and practice deep breathing while you scroll. Follow accounts that make you laugh.
  • Try journaling when you feel anxious. Practice sitting with your anxiety and listening to it, then review what is really true.

  • Start meditating and/or doing yoga. Commit to practicing it for just one minute a day, and see where that takes you. Be proud of any practice you do – making one small positive change for your health means you’re taking great strides toward your overall well-being.

Read More