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Calm Anxiety And Boost Confidence with Body Language

Have you been looking in the wrong places to calm anxiety and boost confidence? You’re not alone.

Our feelings and thoughts are constantly being communicated whether we’re aware of it or not because most of what we’re saying is expressed through our body language not just our words.

Your body speaks, mainly, in these ways.

1) Internally through emotions and feelings.

2)Externally to the world through your body language and postures.

3)Outwardly through spoken words.

Out of those, 80% of what others are receiving is through our body language. That’s a lot!! Only a small portion is words and tone of voice, the rest is appearance, movements, gestures and facial expressions. Meaning people take in more with their eyes than with their ears.

It contradicts what we’ve believed  for so long that words are the most powerful tool. People often come to counselling looking to learn new words to use when it’s really their emotions and thoughts that are doing most of the communicating.

No matter what you’re job or situation is, communicating effectively is important. To maintain the message you want to get across you need awareness of your body’s emotions and signs. So much time is spent in our heads thinking, worrying and figuring out life that we don’t pay attention to our bodies. Give your brain a break…for your health and happiness’ sake.

Try these exercises anytime to Raise energy, Boost confidence and Calm Anxiety:

RAISE your energy level and your mood.

Before you reach for another coffee to stimulate you try this. Stand up and do five or six jumping jacks, jog on the spot or swing your arms around for 2 minutes. Do something to get your blood flowing. How does that feel? Is your heart beating faster, breathing deeper, is your body warmer with a flow of energy? Your mood will often change as well as you bring oxygen into your brain and body.

CALM your stress and anxiety

. When you’re tense before an important meeting or interview do this quick check in to calm you down.

Close your eyes and let all the air out of your lungs. Take a deep breath into your belly feeling your belly then your chest expand. Hold the breath for 4 counts then exhale and hold the exhale for 4 counts. Repeat this 5 times. Return to your regular breathing pattern. With your eyes closed give your body a quick scan. Feel your feet on the ground, notice your legs and back touching the seat. Move up and around your body with your inner eyes. Are your shoulders tense? How is your chest feeling.. open? tight? move into your belly and feel around like it’s a container. Use your awareness and inner eyes to move over the sides of the container. Notice any pain, tension or lightness anywhere in your body. Breath into whatever you experience. Take one more deep breath and open your eyes.                                   If you were able to relax then you should be feeling calm and grounded. The bonus to this breathing exercise is it increases your insight, clarity and health as well.

BOOST confidence. Another exercise to do before a big meeting or interview is to stand in what social psychologist Amy Cuddy calls the high power pose for 2 minutes. Research proved that by doing this your testosterone level goes up which effects your ability to handle stress and feel assertive, confident and comfortable. Watch her full TED talk here

Your body is speaking are you paying attention?

Like just changing the words you use helps only in the short term if you have a persistent pattern or behaviour in your life contact me for a consultation to see how counselling can help.

Anxiety and Depression: Is Medication the Answer?

Taking medication for anxiety and depression seems to be the accepted treatment but in my experience and my client’s the side effects can be as bad or worse. So often the overall physical and mental health of the person isn’t even considered before recommending medication.

My experience of being put on Paxil when I was younger was it did make me feel happier after a couple of weeks but I took myself off them right away. It just wasn’t a ‘normal’ happy and I didn’t like being chemically altered. I felt it had done it’s job and I didn’t need them. If I’d trusted my doctor’s warnings though I would have continued.

The truth of my situation was I was working night shifts at a casino. I call it my dark ages. Ding ding sleep disruption. How many of us don’t know that lack of sleep or sleep pattern disruption causes a change in moods? Was medication the best option for my situation? How about my diet? My overall physical health and mental health and my ability to cope with emotions?

These are all important when dealing with someone who’s experiencing anxiety and/or depression but often ignored as in my case.

What to do?

If you or someone you know is just starting to experience anxiety or depression or is on medications here are tips to get the whole picture and create a holistic approach to treatment.

1. Get allergy tested for any food allergies or intolerances that could be affecting your mood. Change to a healthier, less-processed diet.

..eating whole or nutrient-dense foods, and avoiding refined sugar, gluten, pasteurized dairy products, and processed factory foods like Fritos and Oreos. I also recommend taking fish oil supplements, vitamins B-12 and D, a multi-vitamin, and a multi-mineral.

2. Ask your doctor for thyroid testing.

I would have your doctor run a full thyroid panel that should include TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and Thyroid Antibodies. Test for deficiencies in vitamin D, B-12, ferritin, and iron.

3. Check sleep patterns. Meds can cause disruptions in sleep but studies show sleep problems can be the cause of mood disorders.

4. Exercise! Moving your body and the deep breathing that goes with that energizes and oxygenates the body and  brain leading to numerous benefits both physically and mentally.

5. Talk to a Counsellor or Psychologist. Anxiety and Depression can also be a symptom of poor emotional coping skills that can be shifted once they’re identified.

Let go of the thoughts and stories that are holding you back

Get Out of Your Way!

Part 1: Recognizing Self Limiting Beliefs

I can be impatient when I drive. It’s not something I like to admit but there it is. I’m often thinking or saying “get out of my way”! But if I’ve only learned one thing in the last decade of becoming and being a counsellor it’s that I’m the one in my way. If I want to be happy this is what I recognize in each moment.

That brings me to Self Limiting Beliefs, also known as, Non-Supportive Stories or as I learned them, Suspicions of Self.

Recognizing your own limiting beliefs takes awareness, paying attention to your thoughts. That doesn’t mean you need to meditate it just means you notice what you’re thinking. Your thoughts are the creators of your behaviour so if there’s an area of your life that you’re not happy with the chances are you’ve got some thoughts that are creating your behaviour which is adding to your experience. Underneath those thoughts will be a lurking Self Limiting Belief (SLB).

Here’s an example. I was driving down the road one day and I saw a woman who was slim and beautiful. And a thought went through my mind so fast that I almost missed it. But I stopped and backed up (my thoughts) to repeat it. “life would be easy if I was skinny” What? Is that what I’m believing? Now considering I’d always had an issue with my weight and discomfort being in my own body it wasn’t a huge surprise but I’d never consciously thought or said that statement. I’d done a couple years of my counsellor training by then so I knew that thought was connected to a deeper belief that was really running the show. A Suspicion of Self (SOS) or SLB that was creating the unhappy body (state of mind) I seemed to always be in.  This is where the name for my business The Spaces Between had it’s first toehold. I thought, these are the beliefs that pop up in the spaces between the stories of our conscious mind on a daily basis. But only if we’re paying attention.

What are the areas of your life that you feel stuck in or have a repeating pattern? How do you explain the issue? Here are some of the more common non-supportive stories.

  • If I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees
  • If I don’t look good no one will be attracted to me
  • Dreaming is a waste of time
  • All men are…. Or All women are….
  • Life is … (too short, difficult, all work and no play)
  • I can’t … (sing, give a speech, run a business, etc)
  • I’m too ….(fat, loud, shy, etc)
  • I’m not ……(skinny, smart, funny etc) enough

Do you recognize any of these as familiar or similar to things you say?

Pick one area of your life that you’re not satisfied with and write down all your beliefs or things you say about it. Then start to notice each time you say a non-supportive statement about something you wish you were better at, was different or is lacking in your life and add it to your list.

I know it may be tempting to start changing your words to sound more positive but that isn’t the way to heal an SLB or SOS. It’s only a Band-Aid. So for now recognize you’re not your thoughts and pay attention what you’re saying.

Stay tuned for Part 2 when I’ll have you test these assumptions. SLBs are often all or nothing thinking. And we’ll look at where they come from.

Get Rid of Negative People?

We’ve all heard someone say. .I need to get away from negative people. You may have said it yourself and I know I’d said it in my pre counselling life. ‘In order for me to thrive and be happy I need to stay away from certain people’.

The hidden miracle and truth that’s hiding in plain sight is… It’s more about you than it is about them.

If you’re often taking other people’s views or behaviors personally? this topic is for you. If you’re often disappointed with other’s ability to follow through or be relied on? This topic is for you. If you’re often left feeling resentful or used because of how others are treating you? This topic is for you. …..

Give yourself and everyone a break. I’m going to give you 3 1/2 words that will help you get clear. … Are you ready?

It’s not them!!!!!

Right now you’re either coming up with a bunch of reasons I’m wrong and why the others are to blame or you’ve just written me off as a quack. Some of you, hopefully, will see that realizing “it’s not them” feels exciting and empowering. Possibly a little scary too. Means being emotionally responsible.

You know that trying to change other people is impossible even though we all try REALLY hard to make it so. “Maybe just this time it will work.” It might work a little but imposing rules and boundaries on others to make us feel better always comes back on us. We either are never satisfied or the tug of war with the other’s rightful space and freedom will become too much. Or worse you start to feel disrespect for the other person for giving in to you and not standing up for themselves.

So try something different to get a different result and turn your focus back to yourself.

The other person is just triggering an upset that’s already within you they aren’t creating a whole new feeling you haven’t felt before. The story may look different but the trigger and feeling are the same.

What’s your trigger about? What are you feeling underneath that trigger?

Somewhere in your early life ‘ something happened’ big or small and you made it mean something about you, others or the world. That’s what’s bring triggered.

It’s actually calling for healing.

Give it your attention.

Ask for help if you need it.

The pay off is worth it.

Don’t let Tradition Ruin your Holiday Cheer

Now don’t get me wrong I LOVE traditions. They are comforting and a beautiful connection to the people of the past as well as the present.

But things start to turn bad when traditions go from how I get to celebrate with others to having to meet expectations of those traditions. AAAH!

Don’t let this happen to you!

How you ask?

By staying in the present. I know you hear that all the time but here’s how it can make a big difference to your holiday celebrations.

Like with all the things we do in our life picking up the kids, working, driving or even running for the bus it’s our choice of how we want to think of it or what we make it mean about us. You can choose to see things as what you ‘get’ to do in life or look at it as what you ‘have’ to do. And to remember that requires being in the moment, recognizing what you love, value and cherish like family and traditions. It’s widening your focus to the bigger picture. When usually we’re focused on a fraction of that bigger picture stressing about the things you need to do in the future or worrying about what you’ve done in the past.

Step back and hold a bigger frame up to your life that includes more than your fleeting, momentary emotions and incorporates all of who you are.

So when you’re running around shopping for gifts and food to create that perfect traditional family Christmas, hiding in your room to get away from the chaos or cleaning up after guests staying for the holidays, before you let someone have a piece of your mind remember why you’re doing this. The bigger why. Because giving from our heart feels good, no one and nothing is EVER perfect and having connections with family and friends is what keeps us going.

What have you got to lose?

Picture source: link

Anger Management and Communication in Relationship with Liz Coleman RTC

Change Your View of Fighting in Relationships

Fighting and conflict in relationships can feel horrible.

So it’s not surprising that most couples feel like it’s a set back to their progress. It’s such a common way of looking at it because, really, it seems to shake the stability and safety we rely on. Even though ‘needs’ seem to be a bad word in our society the truth is we NEED our relationships. (I mean all relationships here but especially intimate ones)

Interdependence

Our confidence and safety in the world depends on the stability of our relationships not in a dependent way but an interdependent way. It’s possible to love and be close to someone without giving parts of yourself away. As well it’s possible to be independent without losing the relationship. If you want to understand healthy needs in relationship read Dr Sue Johnson’s book Love Sense it’s brilliant.

Getting a different perspective with curiousity and questions

After having a big fight our perspective is often very narrow and influenced by the hurt or anger we’re feeling. Even if we’re talking about the other we’re seeing them through the filter of our emotions. In other words we’re very personally focused. But I encourage you to take a broader view and get curious.

You may be tempted to answer the following questions for your partner or focus on their behaviour or perceived needs. We think we know what they’re thinking but stick to your own feelings, behaviour and needs to get the best results. (otherwise it’s mind-reading and that’s a whole other blog)

Questions for after a big fight

1)What was the fight really about? Not the content and words but the underlying needs and wants. For example, Were you feeling unimportant and wanting to be seen, heard or respected? Were you feeling worried and needing reassurance from your partner? Or were you feeling overwhelmed and needing acceptance or help?

2)Was this something that may have built up? Often couple’s will let the ‘little’ things go because they don’t seem important and they don’t want to dampen the good mood but these moments can start piling up like little resentments stones until they burst.

3)What have I been hiding, avoiding or not sharing in order to ‘keep the peace’?

4)How can we work together? What can each of us do? This could feel challenging so make it easy and do-able for you. And taking a broader perspective will always see the situation as a possibility for growth and improvement. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or set back it just means you’ve reached a place where to grow more you both need to learn something and gain awareness.

Getting closer to someone means constantly facing and removing the blocks to love you’ve set up for yourself that at one time protected you but are now blocking you from experiencing the love you want.

The Truth about Addiction

All of us are addicted in some way .. whether it’s work, wine, sex, relationship, internet, tv or shopping. Our smart phones have become the latest addiction. We pick them up whenever we get a second of down time. Yet the action in itself isn’t the problem. Anything can become an addiction because it’s not the behaviour but why we’re doing it.

Why? Addiction, no matter what it is, is a way to self soothe. It’s a symptom of the ache, guilt, anxiety or emptiness we don’t want to feel so we push it away. For the moment at least. But it doesn’t go away simply because we’re not feeling it, it’s just muted, waiting for the next second of down time. It’s as if there’s an alarm going off and we cover it with a blanket to mute the noise instead of checking to see what set it off. (And of course the blanket is fun, shiny and colourful) But the attempt to escape from the pain is what ends up creating more pain and often adds suffering.

Ekhart Tolle put it so well, “addiction starts with pain and ends with pain”.

Drugs, alcohol and Medication all do the same thing..they’re pain killers.

And surprisingly our brain doesn’t know the difference between emotional pain or physical pain it activates in the same area. So when someone says being betrayed is like being stabbed in the heart it’s true.

What to do?… It’s simple but also difficult…be with the pain rather than run from it.
We all know very well how to look for instant relief, quick satisfaction or distraction. Advil! But all the pills and shiny objects we’ve developed to distract us only quell the symptoms they don’t get to the real issues which more often than not is emotional trauma, loss or neglect.

Healing the pain.. to be able to be with the pain you need to reach out and get support. Find someone you trust. Feeling another’s compassion makes the idea of facing the pain more bearable and you’re more willing to stay with the distress knowing someone is there with you.
Only when you find a way to be with your pain can you start to learn what it’s really all about. Then you can turn off the alarm and start the healing.

Are You On Track to Meet Your Goals?

We often hear ‘stay on track with your goal’ or ‘Don’t stray from your goal’ but how do you discern whether you’re on track or not?

Here’s 2 quick steps to help you out.

Step 1: Understand Your Values.

Your values are what determine the direction or goal.

What’s most important to you in life? Family? Love? Honesty? Authenticity? Health? Peace? Giving? Faith? Growth? Responsibility? Loyalty? Trust? Expressiveness? Freedom? Reliability? Teamwork? Financial Independence? Grace? Gratitude? Fun? Happiness? Balance? Harmony? Curiosity? Integrity? Self Awareness? Joy? Mindfulness? Openness? Patience? Respect? Spirituality? Timeliness? Tradition? etc…

In some aspects of your life your values may change but having a few values that are constant throughout is key to success. For example when I’m about to give a speech my constant values are Authenticity, growth and being the change I want to see but for the speech I’ll add in Calmness and Trust. For business it’s still Authenticity but I’ll check to make sure I’m following my Passion, Trusting and taking Responsibility. You probably have quite a few values that are important but pick a few that mean the most to you.

Think of your values as your own built-in GPS system. When you’re feeling stuck or you have a decision to make check in with what’s most important to you. “Am I following my values here?” If not make a correction. Knowing your values brings clarity and focus for any situation.

Step 2: Discern Where You’re Facing.

Feelings are the gauge for discerning whether you’re still heading in the right direction of your finish line. When life is flowing and you’re happy you’re living congruent to your values and you’re on track. When you’re feeling stuck, frustrated or lost you’re off the path and you’ve forgotten your values. Check in with your GPS to find the path again.

When I’m struggling with work saying “it’s so difficult” I stop and re evaluate, “what am I feeling and what are my values here?” Am I being authentic? No I’m doubting myself but pretending it’s okay. I’m feeling a lack and instead of focusing on my Value of Giving and what I have I’m focusing on the money. That’s why I’m struggling. So I remember my passion… take responsibility for my experience and remind myself that I’m learning to run my own business, it’s okay to not know everything. Back on track.

“Values dictate your finish line and feelings show where you’re heading”

Your Goal of Happiness Starts Now

Moving from FEAR to Excitement

The Fear of failure can stop you in all areas of your life. Career, dating, exercising and connections with family, partners and friends.

Fear is a powerful emotion that controls our behaviour regardless of what you say you want – It can make you Hide, Shake, Freeze or Scream.

What are we so afraid of? The 5 Basic Fears

  • The Fear of Death or Ceasing to Exist
  • The Fear of Mutilation – physical pain or needles
  • The Loss of Autonomy- emotionally smothering in a relationship or feeling claustrophobic
  • The Fear of Separation – rejection, abandonment and loss of connection
  • The Fear of Ego Death – loss of Identity like a job, humiliation and shame

Our fears are either basic survival values or learned reflexes from memories of past traumas. It’s the memories of past traumas that get us in to trouble and stop us from achieving our goals.

What happens? We experience fear as thoughts and physical reaction at the same time. Our body is reacting to these thoughts by releasing adrenaline and chemicals that were originally meant to help us defend ourselves by either fight, flight or freeze. But the body doesn’t know the difference between an actual threat of imminent danger in front of you or merely the thought of failure. It reacts the same way with stress and anxiety.

Imagine.. You’re asked to speak in front of 200 people and you have no way out. If you are like most people you’ll feel a flutter and wave of fear in your stomach or tension and panic in your chest. It’s instantaneous; and seemingly without thought. FEAR!! On the surface it appears we’re only reacting to the thought of speaking in public… but the fear of failure has just kicked in. And with it your thoughts are flooded with insecurities and beliefs about yourself and others based on experiences from your past. Thoughts like – I can’t do this – I’m not a good speaker – No one will want to hear me – I’m not smart. For me the biggest fear is freezing and forgetting my words. Your body is reacting to the fearful thoughts as if it’s happening RIGHT NOW!! Stress!! Anxiety!!

So what do we do? By default we believe these thoughts. They are the ego, our protector, trying to keep us safe after all. Safe from separation, humiliation and shame which could lead to rejection. So we choose not to participate to stay safe. We’re being driven by the fear of Ego Death and Separation. But in staying safe we’re cutting ourselves off from expressing, participating and connecting with others. See the loop? Our instinct to hide for fear of separation and rejection actually creates the separation and disconnection we’re fearing. But we do this because it feels familiar and comfortable. After awhile though familiar and comfortable can lead to a lonely, indifferent, uneventful, unexciting, dull, uninspiring life.

When we challenge our fears however we feel alive and connected. And It can be exhilarating. Because fear isn’t weakness it takes courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. And courage can look like taking a step outside your door if you’re agoraphobic or smiling at the cute stranger. Little steps can be life changing.

One of my favorite quotes is “Fear is Excitement without the Breath”. I don’t know who wrote it but …Wow. How true.

How to start turning your fear into excitement. By breathing, getting curious and becoming aware of your thoughts. By changing them from expecting to fail to imagining what we want from a situation and expecting to feel exhilarated. So you may be invited to a party but are afraid of groups, or you’re putting off seeing the doctor because you’re worried about the results or you’re asked out for coffee and you think you don’t have anything to say…. When that feeling of impending danger and insecurities start to well up I ask you to get curious and think of it as information. That’s all it is it’s just a thought. A thought about the future based on the past. It’s all just information.

Take the step. The more we understand our fears the more we can be calm and talk about them and learn where they come from. When we have more understanding we have more choice and fear has less control over us and our behaviours.

Express Emotions Responsibly

What good are our emotions anyway.. do we really need them?

Emotions feel out of control
Use emotions with control to feel happier

Do you wish you could get rid of your emotions?

It does seem as if life would be easier without emotions sometimes. They make life messy and out of control when often we prefer tidy and controlled.

Of course it’s not that simple…. Getting rid of ‘negative’ emotions means giving up the ‘positive’ aspects as well.. they’re connected. You know how close laughing and crying can be?… it’s a very fine line. One second you’re laughing and the next you’re crying or better yet the other way around. It’s how we’re wired. You can’t have one without the other.

If you’re interested in finding out about the body’s reaction to emotions the late Candace Pert did a lot of research and wrote a book The Molecules of Emotions. Candacepert.com Her research is also featured in the movie ‘What the Bleep Do we Know’

Are you willing to give up your joy and passion to get rid of anger and sadness?

A lot of times in my clients first sessions they apologize for crying and I can see them trying to ‘compose’ themselves and hold back the tears. It looks so difficult. There’s nothing wrong with crying. It’s a release of pressure like laughing can be and it’s a connection to a deeper sense of yourself. From there we can explore how they control themselves and they gain awareness of conscious or sub conscious beliefs they have about emotional expression. It’s a good start.

It’s not about getting rid of emotions but expressing them responsibly

Letting our emotions release brings a sense of relief and hope. Like revealing a secret we didn’t know we were holding onto for a long time. Because the other option is expending a lot of energy to control them and hold them in. (people wonder why they’re so tired) It can feel a bit scary as if they’ll never stop because if you’ve held tears in for so long the pressure has built up like a water toy being held under water. If you hold it under lightly it just bobs up to the surface when you let it go. No big deal. If you push it down deeper and keep pushing it explodes out of the water when you let it go. ERUPTION. Just like emotions. And usually not at appropriate times.

The urge to distract and hide emotions

Where do you think your emotions go when you push them away? It seems like they disappear for the moment but they don’t. And then you experience those moments when you’re overreacting to a situation. Or maybe you find you’re upsetting the people close to you because your anger is leaking out indirectly as passive aggressive behaviour. The common belief there is that expressing anger is bad and so you project your anger onto others. You can read more about that here.

 

So yes we really need our emotions, we couldn’t get rid of them if we wanted to although we still try. They are our bodies signals to us that something important is going on and it needs some attention. So show yourself some self compassion because opening to and sitting with your emotions can unravel to reveal love. A love for yourself and others. A love that’s been mistakenly obscured by fear.

Call or email me to find out more or to book a session.

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