How To Keep it Together – Even When You’re Really Pissed Off.

anger

Anger is quite a powerful little 5 letter word that means very different things to different people.

For some, especially women, it is an emotion that is rejected or avoided at all cost and understood as evil, bad, or unacceptable. For others it is all too present and readily available to use to hurt, damage, or destroy – sometimes irreparably so.

But anger is just an emotion. And like any emotion, it’s not really right or wrong, but what we do with it can either be used for either good or evil.

For good, anger can help motivate us to take a stand against injustice, oppression, and discrimination. For bad, it can cause us to be unjust, oppressive, and discriminatory.

Anger is powerful. And in the process of understanding ourselves better anger is an absolutely invaluable resource if we can learn how to use it to our advantage.

We can use anger as a clear warning sign that there’s something deeper going on inside of us. When we react with anger, often it’s because something vulnerable has been poked, injured, or threatened. Like the intense fear felt by a cornered wild animal who responds with violence and aggression. The aggressive anger protects the fear and vulnerability.

And because of this, anger is often referred to as a secondary emotion – an overt reaction serving to protect something a little deeper.

It works like this: Next time you find yourself getting angry at someone, stop and take a second to check in and ask yourself “What is this anger protecting? If I take a closer look, what am I feeling beneath the anger? What’s really going on?” and this will give you some insight into what you’re really feeling. Usually it’s something like hurt, sadness, loneliness, guilt, or fear.

By taking a second to check in with ourselves in this way we can use this insight to make a more informed (read: less knee-jerk) decision on how we want to respond.

And THIS will help to prevent us from verbally assaulting our (often unaware) perpetrator with our anger, thereby preventing injury to the relationship AND saving us from having to deal with the emotional mess of our own guilt and shame.

Take a step back, do a check in, figure out what’s really going on and decide if you can express yourself immediately in a calm, assertive, and non-aggressive way, or if you need some time to cool off before you can talk about how you’re really feeling. Often, in my experience, the latter works much better.

Easy to say, difficult to do. And like most things worth anything it takes patience, practice, and persistence.

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Why Trying to be Fiercely Independent Will Leave You Wildly Unhappy.

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The other day on CBC Radio One they were talking about teen depression and how it’s on the rise in North America. Some stats say that approximately 20% of all teens will experience a major depressive episode before they reach their adult years.

I find this information quite off-putting and disturbing and it’s made me reflect on the why of it all.

Why, in a nation where the majority of us have way more than anyone could ever want, let alone, need? Where we have freedom, food, and fresh water? Where we have education, elected government, and employment? Where we have safety, social services, and supermarkets? Where we have so much. so. much. Why are we becoming less and less satisfied, less and less fulfilled, and less and less happy? 

Because we are becoming more wealthy, more independent, and more self-sufficient. Because we no longer have to rely on one another to meet our basic human needs.

And because we don’t need to rely on others as much for the practical, we have deluded ourselves into thinking we don’t need one another for the emotional or psychological. And THAT is one of the biggest and most tragic fallacies of our time.

When did it become a badge of honour to be seen as totally independent, and self-sufficient? When did it start being seen as a flaw or a sign of weakness to ask for help or support?

Alfred Adler, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology believed, preached, and propagated that human social connection… real connection… real interdependent relationships… are as essential to human survival as oxygen, food, and water.  

In our frantic race to have it all, do it all, and be it all, we have little or no time left for each other. And as research shows time and time again, healthy relationships are one of the main things that actually do have a significant effect on our happiness – NOT the superficial things many people spend the majority of our time on.

As wealthy westerners we are actually on a relational regression, and are finally starting to overtly see and experience the significant emotional and psychological consequences.

How many of us know our neighbours well? Just a little while ago, before moving in to an intentionally community focused condo building, I had told my husband that I wanted to invite the neighbours in our building over for a little open house in order to get to know them better and build some community… his response was that he didn’t feel comfortable inviting a bunch of strangers into our home. Strangers.

Since when do we have no time left to get to know our neighbours? Since when have our neighbours, who we literally share walls or fences with, become strangers to us?

Since when have we become so busy with bustling around thinking we are doing things that matter only to then find ourselves having to book time to get together with some of our closest friends days, or even sometimes weeks in advance?

This is a serious issue. And things like chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and significant feelings of sadness and loneliness are only going to become more and more pervasive, prevalent, and persistent if we insist on keeping to the delusion that our independence, self-sufficiency, and frivolous  busy-ness is providing us some kind of superior quality of life.

Stay in touch with Julia Kristina here on Facebook and Twitter

CBT May Not Actually Be What You Think It Is.

 

Here I talk about what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is and why, contrary to popular belief, it is NOT the Power of Positive Thinking.

Have a Mental Health or Personal Wellness Topic you’d like me to cover in a video? Feel free to leave your suggestions or questions in the comments section below

 

5 Things I Wish I’d Known in High School (but am glad I know now).

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I’m not a big fan of living in the past, regretting the past or punishing myself incessantly for things I may have done or not done in the past. But there are certain things that would have been nice to know (or to have really understood) back in high school.

I think if I had, I probably could have saved myself from a lot of self-doubt, hurt, and frustration.

But the good news is we can know these things now. And be grateful we are learning and applying them today instead of 10 years from today. It also means we can immediately begin to bask in all the splendor, joy and emotional freedom each of these understandings has to offer.

1. People don’t have as much time as we think they do to judge us.

Well, maybe they did have more time for this unbecoming activity in high school. But even so, research has been done with high school students showing that when they felt like they were being watched and judged for every little move or misstep they made, those doing the judging were doing so with far less severity than anticipated.

To add to that, think about it this way: if we are all spending so much of our time, energy and effort thinking about and worrying about how others are judging us, who has any time left over to actually be doing all of this harsh judging? 

I know it may not have been quite as relevant a realization in high school as it is in adulthood: but it reflects more poorly on the character of the person doing the judging than the person being judged.

2. Much of who I am is the result of the choices I make.

If I want to be a respected and honourable person with humility and integrity, the choices I make need to fall in line with those things.

We are faced with a whole heap of choices each and every day and often times the choices we may be more drawn to are not always the one conducive to flourishing as individuals. Sometimes it’s the tough and inconvenient choice that is ultimately the right or best one for our own well-being and the well-being of those important to us.

3. Mean girls (and boys) are mean because they feel bad inside and are trying to boost themselves up by putting someone else down.

Only hurt people hurt people. But that’s not an excuse for bad behaviour. Just because they are going through their own pain it doesn’t give them carte blanche to treat everyone else however they please. But perhaps knowing this may help us become less reactive and even a little empathic and understanding toward them and their apparent struggle.

Because really, it’s not about us, it’s about them. And instead being bitter toward them for having been mean, maybe we can have just a tiny bit of compassion.

I was the target of a mean girl once. And because of her dynamic, magnetic, and charismatic personality she was able to turn the majority of my friends against me one fine fall day in grade 8.

I’m still not sure why she chose me, or if there even was a specific reason, but I did learn later that at the same time as all of this was happening her parents were going through a messy divorce.

Having this information helped me to extend a little compassion toward this girl while working through this painful incident as an adult, and it really did help in my healing process.

4. You’re parents are not trying to make your life difficult on purpose:

But in high school it like totally feels like it!

While I thought my parents were giving me rules, boundaries, guidelines and consequences in order to ruin my life and spoil all my fun, I realize now they were actually trying to keep me safe and prevent me from making choices that could have had a negative impact on me for years to come.

Parents love their children, and most of the time actually do want what’s best for them (well, hopefully anyway). Parenting is a tough job and I wish I’d been able to recognize and appreciate this in high school so I could have maybe cut my folks a bit more slack.

5. Learning is never a waste:

You know when you had to take that class that seemed totally useless and made you ask yourself “When am I EVER going to use this crap in real life?!?” Thus leading you to expend all kinds of energy trying to avoid or justify why you shouldn’t be required to take said mandatory class?

But the thing is, no matter what we’re learning or where we’re learning, it all brings more knowledge and understanding. And it also serves to expand and grow our minds in ways we might not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience.

And although we might not think something we’re learning is going to end up being useful or relevant, you never know and you might actually be surprised. I know I have been.

What do you know now as an adult that you wish you’d known in high school?

You can connect with Julia Kristina Counselling on Facebook and Twitter

Why Having High Standards May Be Holding You Back.

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It donned on me part way through the day that because this past Wednesday was Canada day, the work week seemed to just slop by before I realized I had yet to write my weekly Good for Me article.

Now of course no one is forcing me to write one post each and every week – and I’m sure those of you who are waiting with baited breath for the moment I push the publish button are few and far between, but I made an unspoken commitment to myself to post one original article per week and it’s important for me to keep that commitment.

And I could give myself the excuse of “Well, you haven’t really had the time to do a whole lot of research and really think about and reflect on what you’re going to write this week, which means it likely won’t be that great, so you probably shouldn’t even bother.” And then I could just not do it. But would I rather not do it and let myself down? Or do it and just lower my expectation.

No, this article is not going to be anything ultra profound or revolutionary. But who says it needs to be? Many of us often mistakenly tell ourselves we have to Go Big or Go Home. And in its attempt to motivate and inspire this phrase can actually backfire and cause us to be much less effective, productive, and successful.

What if it’s better to sometimes just go medium? What if it’s okay to sit down and write, read, or study for only an hour if you don’t have the whole day available to do so? What if it’s okay to just go for a slow 30 minute jog instead letting the overwhelming idea of a full on boot camp power hour prevent you from working out at all? What if it’s okay to bring your partner home a smoothie or cookie every few times you grocery shop instead of a a big fancy and expensive present only once a year? What if it’s okay to give a somewhat interesting and informative presentation instead of pressuring yourself with the idea that you need to blow your colleagues away? What if it’s okay to invite friends over for take-out instead of not getting together at all because the idea of throwing a world-class dinner party feels to overwhelming? What if it’s okay to sometimes just let things be okay?

If we want to both reach our goals, be more engaged with our lives, and grow as individuals it’s important we allow ourselves to just do okay sometimes, and not think everything we do needs to be amazing or it doesn’t count.

If we expect ourselves to be outstanding and perfect in everything we can literally paralyze ourselves in to inaction with all kinds of excuses about why we shouldn’t even bother.

But it is worth the bother. Doing something is far better than doing nothing. Doing nothing does nothing in your pursuit to build your career, strengthen your relationships, or grow as an individual.

And you might be thinking: if it’s not perfect why make any effort at all? But to that I ask: Will you feel better if you do nothing or if you at least do a little something?

Now it might seem silly – no one is holding my fist to the flame and forcing me to fulfill my commitment to write one article per week, but it is something that is important to me and I don’t want excuses to think they are welcome to just show up and take over whenever they please.

I didn’t say each post had to be ground breaking – and I’m quite sure this one is not, but I’m okay with just being okay… for this week anyway.

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What Are You Weird About?

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I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m weird about sleep.

And have been as long as I can remember. I think this is partly because as a child, I’ve been told, for some reason I had difficulties falling asleep and this must have carried on more-or-less in to adulthood.

Now I’m not sure if this issues is a case of the chicken or the egg. I don’t know if I have problems falling asleep because I’m worried about whether or not I’m going to get enough sleep, or if it just takes me longer than average to fall asleep which then gives my brain plenty of time to fret about not being able to fall asleep.

In all fairness, I did used to be a lot more uptight about the whole sleep thing – that was until I had 2 kids, both of whom are currently under 2 and a half. And if you have small children, you know your days of 9 straight hours in bed are looooonnnng gone (I’m secretly excited about the teenage years when they refuse to get out of bed so I can again too!)

But back to the topic at hand. Me and sleep. Or sleep and I. Whatever.

Getting a good amount of sleep is important to me. And not just because it isn’t fun to feel tired all the time – actually I sometimes wish my only consequence for not getting enough sleep would be simple sleepiness – but for me sleep deprivation can have a noticeable impact on my emotional well-being .

When I’m tired I’m more irritable, less patient with my children, and have a harder time feeling like the happy and optimistic person I normally am.  And because of this, I’m quite motivated to try as hard as I might to get the zzzz’s I need in order to be my best self.

Being weird about something usually means it’s pretty important to you. And that’s a good thing. 

Sometimes I’m given a bit of a hard time about the whole need-for-sleep thing from some members of my family who can survive on little sleep, but I don’t want to just survive. I want to thrive.

So I keep sleep sacred.

It’s important we keep the key things that have a significant impact on our mental health and well-being sacred. Even if people criticise you for it. They may not understand why it might be especially meaningful and important for you, but you do. And that’s all that really matters here.

What are you weird about? Or in other words, what is sacred to you? Your daily exercise? Taking time to pray or meditate (or both) every morning? Having lunch with a good friend a few times a week? Getting to Yoga Class after work? Being out in nature on the weekend? Going for sunset walks on the beach? Taking your dog out to the park to play? Having story time with your children each night? Eating healthy food on a regular basis? Getting to church on Sunday? Taking long drives with your partner? Having some quiet alone-time right when you get home from work? It doesn’t really matter what it is.

And sometimes it might be hard to make this one thing a priority or you may have to go to more extreme measures to keep it sacred, but it will be worth it. Or should I say, YOU are worth it.

When we don’t take care of ourselves and the key things we may need in order to thrive, we are less productive, less creative, less inspired, less motivated, less happy, more lethargic, more irritable, don’t feel as good about ourselves and are also likely far less pleasant to be around.

Lucky for me, my husband totally gets, respects and supports my need for sleep (in part, I think, because it makes both of our lives much happier and more enjoyable when I am rested). He takes our toddler and infant in the morning on the weekends and lets me go back to sleep, and in the morning when he gets up earlier than me he looks after the kids while he gets ready for work and I go back to sleep for an hour until he leaves.

God bless this man. But if he wasn’t so gracious, understanding, and generous in this realm I think I would be tempted to hire a nanny to come in a few mornings a week so mama could sleep. This is how much I value how good I feel when I am rested.

What is the most important thing that makes a big impact on you feeling like your best self? And are you letting anything get in the way of ensuring it’s kept sacred?

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