6 Essential Habits Of Emotionally Healthy People.

myra

We all want to feel good and be emotionally healthy – no surprise there! And often times feeling satisfied with who we are is simply the result of how we choose to act and react in any of the situations we face on a daily basis.

In the years I’ve been in practice as a mental health therapist I’ve worked with many men and woman in their healing, growth, and personal development process, and what I’ve found is there are a few key things many of them learn to do through our work together that really makes a positive impact on their personal happiness and well being.

There really is no secret to feeling good – just some key habits all of us can start doing.

So here are 6 Essential Things Emotionally Healthy People Make a Habit of Doing:

1. The Let Themselves Feel What they are Feeling – Without Judgment. 

Often what makes us feel worse when we’re already feeling bad is telling ourselves we’re not allowed to feel what we’re feeling. Yes, sometimes we need to pull up our socks and give ourselves a bit of a pep talk and keep going, and sometimes we just need to let ourselves feel what we’re feeling – and feel it good before trying to “do” anything about it.

2. They Face their fears:

By avoiding the things that make us unnecessarily uncomfortable we reinforce the idea that we can’t handle discomfort. And the truth is, we are a lot more resilient and resourceful than we might think.

One of the most important things you can do is prove to yourself that you can handle and get through uncomfortable situations without anything truly bad actually happening.

Don’t like making small talk in social situations? Do it. Have an awkward conversation. What’s the worst that could happen? That person doesn’t want to be your bestie? Oh well, there are 6 billion other people in the world so likely someone else will.

Get anxious when flying? Yes, a lot of people do. But the more you avoid it, the harder it will be when you actually HAVE to get on a plane.

Don’t like giving presentations at work? Most people are in the same boat. But what’s the worst that could happen? Your colleagues could think “hmm… that wasn’t the best presentation ever.” Well, so what – they probably wouldn’t be able to do much better.

3. They Deal when Things Come Up in Their Relationships:

Yes, people piss us off. Yes, we piss people off. And it’s way easier to blame, deny responsibility or justify our own behaviour when someone tells us we’ve hurt or offended them in some way. But if we’re never willing to acknowledge that we may have done or said something hurtful we prevent ourselves from actually having close relationships because as we all know, people can’t feel close to us if they can’t talk to us.

4. They Allow Themselves to be Vulnerable:

Perfectionism tells us we need to feel, think, and behave in the utmost of mature and controlled ways all the time.

It tells us that if we ever feel out of control, uncertain or uncomfortable there’s something wrong with us, and we need to make sure no one else sees this side of us.

IF we always prevent ourselves from being vulnerable, yes, we may not ever fail, be rejected or feel embarrassed, but let me tell you, there are many things in life that are worth taking the risk for.

Perhaps things won’t turn out how you had hoped, but I’m pretty sure you’ll get through it. And hey, don’t forget there have been times (probably quite a few) when you have put yourself out there and things have actually worked out just fine.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” — Nelson Mandela

 5. They are Compassionate with Themselves:

Letting yourself say something silly, make a mistake, or mess up a little bit is normal. Emotionally healthy people know this and sometimes they reflect on and think about how they can prevent the blunder from happening again in the future, and sometimes they just allow themselves to laugh and say “oops, oh well” and move onwithout beating themselves up for not getting it right every time.

 6. They Allow Themselves to Ask for Help:

You don’t get a medal or a cookie for getting through a major challenge all alone. And contrary to what you might be telling yourself (falsely) it’s not the weak ones who ask for help, it’s the strong ones.

As a therapist and person who sees her own therapist I KNOW how much courage it takes to say “I can’t (and am not meant to) do this alone. I need some help and support right now.” Ever wonder why there are 6 billion other people in the world?

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Why Dancing Around Like An Idiot Will Make You A Better Person.

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Whenever I get the chance (which is pretty rare with 2 small children) I head over to my neighbourhood Yoga Studio for my favourite Kundalini yoga class. It’s the one exercise class I never have to talk myself in to going to and this is why: It’s basically a full-on dance party in the dark.

Picture it: 100 + men and women in stretchy pants dancing completely sober on their yoga mats. And the best part of it all is because it’s a late evening class and all the lights are turned out you can only see shadows and outlines of the people around you.

So if you like to dance to blaring pop music on a week night, and do it like no one’s watching this is the place for it, AND because even if someone is watching, they can’t really see you, so who cares.

Because I just had a baby a couple of months ago I haven’t been to one of said classes in a little while, but just this past week I was given the opportunity to go so I literally jumped at it and went.

But a funny thing happened mid-class when it came time for the teacher to put on a loud and bouncy beat and tell everyone to start moving to the music.

I guess I’d never attended a class in the late spring before, so at about 8:00 pm when the dancing part of the class began I suddenly realized that although all the studio lights were turned off, because it was the month of May and the sun was still shining outside I could literally see the actual faces of the other yogi’s in the room, and they, mine. So much for my anonymity.

It was in that moment I found myself in a bit of a pickle.

I had come to the class to go into my own little world and have my own little anonymous dance party, but now that everyone could see one another I would not have the protection and comfort of the darkness I had come to rely on to allow me to literally go for it and dance my face off.

I could have just walked out right then and there, but that would have felt like such a waste of money and very coveted self-care time.

So I decided to tough it out, and just dance. Lit face and all.

For the first few seconds I took it easy and just kind of stepped side to side on my mat. But then it occurred to me – what am I so worried about? Why am I being so silly and thinking that other people might have nothing better to do than stand around and judge me for enjoying myself for doing the exact same thing they are doing? Absolutely ridiculous Julia.

So this is what happened next – I danced. Let me tell you, I danced. No shame and no second thoughts.

And you know what? Nothing bad happened. I actually had the best time, and although I probably looked pretty ridiculous at times to anyone who cared to notice, what did it matter?

The worst possible thing that could have actually happened is someone could have thought to themselves “Wow, she sure is a terrible dancer.” But a). I would never know because I can’t read their mind, and b). what would it matter anyway if some person didn’t like my groovy moves?

If the people around you have nothing better to do than sit around and criticize or judge you for living your life and being yourself, that says something embarrassing about their character, not yours.

Every day we are faced with choices about whether we are going to let things like the fear of embarrassment, shame, or judgment get in the way doing things that bring us happiness, joy, and fulfillment.

Feeling good about who we are just naturally happens on its own when we chose to do the things that fear may try to prevent us from doing. And the more we stand up to fear, the more we learn to trust, believe in, and feel good about ourselves.

Being confident is not about waiting until we become something or someone else before we can feel good. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Being self-confident is about allowing ourselves to just be exactly who we are. Right now. Imperfections, ridiculous dance moves, and all.

And the more opportunities we take to allow ourselves to just be who we are, the more we realize that who we are is not so bad after all – and dare I say we’ll start to see that we might actually be pretty great?

I’d say that’s worth dancing around like a nut in a room full of strangers for.

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9 Things You Can Do To Feel Great Today, and Everyday.

erin

1. Make Yourself a Priority.

No, it’s not ALL about you, but No it’s not NEVER about you. Your needs matter and other people’s needs matter. But remember when I said your needs matter?

It’s up to you to value yourself, take care of yourself and, set your own healthy boundaries for yourself – it’s not anyone else’s responsibility. And if you don’t consider yourself in any of the equations, you’ll likely find yourself feeling exhausted, run down, bitter and frustrated – and that’s no good.

I’ll use one of my favourite metaphors to illustrate this quite appropriately here: when you’re on a plane and travelling with a child, you are absolutely required to put your own mask on first before helping the child because if you don’t take care and put your mask on first, you will be no good to anyone.

2. Start Being Yourself.

And do it Con Mucho Gusto (with a lot of gusto)! Trying to be someone else is a waste of who you are.

As much as you may think you need to become someone else to be worthwhile, happy, content, acceptable etcetera etcetera… if you can make it your intention to accept, embrace, and just be exactly who you are I guarantee you will start to feel worthwhile, happy, content and acceptable in no time.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who are Good for You.

Believe it or not we are ALL very influenced by the people we choose to surround ourselves with.

If you surround yourself with people who bring you joy, encouragement, acceptance and love you can’t help but feel really good. Conversely, if you chose to spend your time with those who are always negative, judgemental, or critical… well, you guessed it.

4. Value Your Mistakes.

I think it’s safe to say there is no such thing as having great success without failing at least once, or more realistically, dozens of times. There’s no such thing as doing it right the first time, every time – for anyone. Mistakes and failures are the best way you can learn and grow.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” — Nelson Mandela

The first time I wrote the Graduate Requisite Exam (similar to the GMAT or LSAT) to get in to grad school I did not get the score I needed to for my application. And let me tell you, I. Was. Devastated.

I had studied for months and months and months and was SO nervous going in to the exam, but did manage to persevere and get through the timed exam in the half day it took to write it. And after all that I found out my score wasn’t good enough and I literally fell to pieces right then and there, and thought I might actually decompose on the spot.

But after a good cry and an impressive pity party I realized I had 2 choices: I could give up right now and not fulfill my dream of becoming a therapist OR I could pull up my socks, take my sorry bum to the library to check out another stack of exam prep study books and get back to work. You can guess which choice I made.

5. Start Enjoying and Appreciating the Things You Have.

Did you know that even the wealthiest people in the world have been surveyed about their financial satisfaction and most of them have stated that they will be happy once they have just 10% more?

Do you think having ‘more’ will REALLY make you happier? For the moment, maybe, but not for the long run.

If you live in a perpetual state of “When – Then” i.e. “WHEN I have, achieve, or am this, this, or this, THEN I’ll be happy, content and satisfied with myself and my life.”

But do you know what? The THEN never actually comes because there’s always more to want or a higher status to achieve. And in the meantime you’re missing out on the now, and the now is really the only thing we have that is guaranteed.

6. Look for Opportunities to Help Others.

“Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” — Mother Teresa

I’ve talked about this one before, and one of the biggest things any of us can do for our genuine personal happiness is to give our time, energy, effort, and money to help others.

It can be little things like opening the door for someone, or letting someone go in front of you in line at the grocery store. Or it can be bigger things like volunteering for a non-profit organization on a regular basis. It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it’s something selfless and thoughtful you’re doing for someone else.

7. Accept Yourself and Others as Less than Perfect.

Breaking News: You will never be perfect, no matter how hard you try. I’m sorry. And neither will anyone else.

And insisting that you, and those around you, must be perfect will only leave you feeling disappointed, discouraged, frustrated, and let-down.

Grace, acceptance, and fair expectations for both yourself and others will do wonders in helping you feel much happier and much more content.

8. Do what Needs to Get Done Even if You Don’t Feel Like It in the Moment

The difference between successful people and people who wish they were successful is successful people get stuff done and things tick off their to-do lists even if, or more aptly, especially when, they don’t really feel like it.

As annoying, overused, and outdated as the circa 1990’s quote is, stop coming up with excuses of why you­­ don’t want to, or shouldn’t have to, and Just Do It.

You’ll feel great when, and because, you did.  

9. Start Noticing How Wealthy You are Now.

Even when things are not quite going how you want them to, or feel tougher than you’d like, you actually have quite a lot and you do have many things to be grateful for.

If you went to bed with a roof over your head and a warm blanket on top of your body, or can get food from the fridge whenever you’re hungry, or have clean drinking water at the turn of a tap, or have access to healthcare, education and whichever religion you choose, you are wealthy.

I’m not saying you don’t have the right to ever feel bad because there’s always someone who has it worse, but I am saying that in spite of sometimes feeling like you got the short end of the stick in some way or another, there are times when it’s good for us to reflect on the things we have to be grateful for.

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6 Irritating Behaviours That Push People Away.

milk

The truth is, we all behave in ways that are less than becoming from time to time and sometimes we’re aware of our unflattering behaviours and sometimes we’re not. No one’s perfect and that’s okay. But there is a line between having the oddmoment, and being a down right unappealing person to be around.

And if you want others to really enjoy your company and like being around you as much as possible here are 6 behaviours you may not want to exceed your quota on too often.

Constantly Criticising Others

Picking people apart, judging them, putting them down (even in subtle ways), or having something to say about people you know that’s not uplifting or flattering is not nice. And although putting someone else down might make you feel better about yourself in the moment, it doesn’t take long before those you are venting to start to wonder about what you say about them behind their back if you speak about so and so like this when they’re not around.

If you have something critical or judgmental to say about someone else, that’s fine. But just keep it to yourself. Because really, what good can ever come from publicly putting someone else down?

Acting Like A Victim

People who complain all the time about why life isn’t fair, or things are so hard for them, or nothing ever goes their way are really draining to be around. The truth is, life is hard – for everyone. Sometimes less so than others, but none of us were ever promised it would be easy, so feeling as though you are the only one who is hard done by is pointless.

The world isn’t out to get you. Other people are not trying to make your life miserable (unless you’re pretty miserable to be around), and everyone goes through challenges.

It’s okay to feel down, sad, discouraged or frustrated sometimes. Of course it is. We all do, and we need to. But letting ourselves get stuck in a constant “woe is me” state of mind and continuously expressing it to others gets old fast.

Taking Your Sh*t Out On Others

No one likes to have a co-worker make a mistake on a group project, wait in line at the grocery store, come home to a messy kitchen, or have their child draw on the wall, but going in to a flaming rage or yelling or snapping or freaking out over the small stuff is not a useful way to deal.

It’s okay to feel upset. Anger is not a taboo emotion. It’s what we do with it though that can either be useful or totally toxic. There’s a difference between expressing your anger with “I’m feeling angry or frustrated because I worked really hard on my part of the project and it seems like you weren’t taking it as seriously,” and “YOU IDIOT, HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID AND IRRESPONSIBLE!!”

That said, if you find yourself getting set off quite regularly at relatively small annoyances, it’s a pretty clear sign that something deeper is going on inside and it might be helpful to go and speak to a professional about it.

Taking Everything Personally

Believe it or not, most of us don’t have the time or energy to plot and conspire about ways to hurt and belittle those around us. And if you do have time for such things, I’m sorry – it must be awful to live that way. So chances are, if someone does something that feels hurtful or offensive, it’s either a misunderstanding or they are just being rotten.

It goes both ways: if you have a problem with someone, it’s your problem – not theirs. And likewise, if someone has a problem with you, it’s their problem, not yours.

So if a person does or says something that feels mean spirited, unkind, or even cruel, it’s because they are unhappy in some way. So it’s really not about you. Think about it – happy, well balanced, emotionally healthy people don’t do or say mean things in order to hurt or offend others. They don’t need to put other people down to make themselves feel better.

And in the off chance that it actually is personal, it’s probably because you’re doing some of the things on this list a little too often.

Dwelling On The Negative

These people are notorious for the Yes, but. Which is actually just a fancy way of saying No. These people always have a reason why something is no good, won’t work, or is a bad idea.

And chances are they do have a lot of evidence to back their claims because of the ever present self-fulfilling prophesy: if you think things will turn out badly, chances are, they will.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you know I’m the first promote No as a perfectly acceptable word to have in our vocabulary. That said, people who always dwell on the negatives only allow themselves to see things from one perspective, and it’s a pretty miserable one – for them and those in their company.

Needing to be Right All the Time

My brother told me a great quote recently: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”

People who HAVE to be right all the time and are constantly trying to prove others wrong are really irritating to be around. Sometimes (read: rarely) there is actually a RIGHT answer, but quite often there is not. In most cases it’s simply a matter of youropinion, experience, or perspective. So as much as you want people to allow you to have yours, you also then need to allow them to have theirs.

Even if at the end of the day you CAN prove how right you really are, so what?

The good news in all of this is that many of these are just bad habits. And by becoming more aware of them you can easily start working on extinguishing these ones and adopting new, more personally and relationally uplifting ones.

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5 Things You Can Do To Become An Exceptional Listener.

chris

“We have two ears and one mouth. This is so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” –Aboriginal Wisdom

Ahh communication. When we hear the word communication, the first word that usually comes to mind is ‘talking’. But that’s only the half of it. The other half is listening and that part often gets forgotten.

And believe it or not, being a good listener is often more crucial to being an excellent communicator than talking. Most people can talk relatively well, but very few actually listen well.

If you really want to stand out, you need to learn how to really listen.

The thing is, many of us think we are good listeners, but the truth is most of us aren’t so good at all.

It’s not our faults though – last time I checked, “Learn How To Listen Properly” was not a course offered in elementary school, high school OR even in undergrad.

It’s not unless you decide you actually want to become a professional listener by going to grad school to become a therapist that you can even access courses specifically tailored to this topic.

But the funny thing is, listening is such an important piece in both in making both our professional and personal relationships successful.

Poor listening skills often contribute to why many people may not be as far in their careers as they were hoping to be, and also don’t have the blissful, connected, and harmonious relationships they were hoping for.

Some, however, are better listeners by nature, and some of have taken it upon themselves to learn to become better listeners, and some would like to be better, but are not just sure how.

Believe it or not, being a good and effective listener is not always as instinctive as you might think (which is probably why so many aren’t so good at it). It typically takes knowledge and practice.

And that said, here are 5 things you can start doing right now in order to ensure those who are doing the talking are genuinely feeling that you are doing the listening. Try to use them in this order.

1. Pay Attention.

First and foremost, you’ll need to actually stop what you’re doing and look at the person who is talking (Obviously Julia. But you might be surprised with how often we are only half listening and half checking our email, Facebook, Instagram, stock prices… whatever).

In order to actually pay attention to what the person is trying to communicate, we need to actually stop whatever else we’re doing and pay attention.

You might think you can really listen to someone while being actively engaged in some other activity, but you can’t. 

2. Use Minimal Encouragers.

These are things like “mm hmmm” or “okay” or “oh” or simply a head nod. I personally really like using and receiving minimal encouragers.

I find these one most affirming when I’m giving a talk or presentation and there are a few people in the audience nodding their heads and uttering an “mm hmm” from time to time. It really makes me feel like the people I am talking to are right with me.

3. Paraphrase what they are saying.

This one’s easy, but not intuitive. It’s simply saying back to the person what they’ve just said to you. You can use their exact words, or you can tell them what you heard in your own words.

The simplest way to do this is to start the sentence with “I hear you saying….” Easy, right? And you’ll be surprised at how far this one goes in showing the other person you really listening to what they’re saying.

4. Check In With the Feeling.

Given what they are telling you, this one is just stating what you think they might have been feeling if they are telling you a story about something that happened to them in the past, or what they are feeling right now if they are talking about something happening between you.

You can say something like: “I imagine that must have been really hurtful for you!” or “It sounds like that was a really frustrating conversation.” Or “I hear you saying you’re feeling pretty disappointed with me right now.” Or “It seems like you felt really loved by your partner when they took the time to genuinely listen to what you were telling them.”

5. Ask Questions.

Instead of jumping in with your own similar experience (which is not actually listening – it’s just waiting for them to stop talking so you can start), keep your attention focused on what they are saying instead of thinking about what you want to say.

Ask questions to get them to elaborate and give you more detail. This shows the person you are interested and want to understand more about them and what they are telling you.

And that’s it! Although pretty simple and straight forward, unless you know, how would you know this is what you need to do to be a great listener?

If you decide you want to do these on a regular basis I will almost guarantee your partner, children, coworkers and boss will both like and appreciate you more.

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