Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

info@positivelifechanges.ca
778-558-8207

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.

change

One of the most common “complaints” I hear from couples when they make an appointment for couple’s counselling or relationship therapy is how fed up they are  with all the negativity between them.

stop blaming with couples counselling in Burnaby and North VancouverAre you tired of bickering all the time? Are you a nag?

Does it feel like conflict erupts out of nowhere… one minute things seem to be fine and the next minute you’re arguing? Would you agree that those types of arguments rarely lead to resolving the real underlying issue?  Instead you’re both most likely walking away feeling frustrated, annoyed or disappointed?

I’m going to invite you to take a moment and think back over your last few conflicts.

Do your arguments often start with one of you complaining, blaming or criticizing?

In other words, did one of you start pointing a finger and talking about something you didn’t like the other person was doing?

If that is  indeed the case, most likely you ended up arguing about who was right or wrong, one of you got defensive or started explaining and you got stuck  in that place where both of you want to be right.

How can you get out of this repetitive cycle? Grab a cushion and work with the three fingers!

Let me explain:)

Often when you get irritated you step into “trigger – reaction” mode. You point a finger at your Relationship Therapy North Vancouver can help you communicate betterpartner and start telling them what is wrong with them or what you don’t like about them and their actions.

But every time you point a finger at someone – three fingers are pointing back to you. 

I know that it can be really hard sometimes to bring our attention back to ourselves. It is very easy and tempting to get stuck in the energy of: “If you didn’t always ‘fill in the blank’ – then I wouldn’t have to feel this way.”

But remember, this is YOUR trigger and these are YOUR feelings that have developed from the thoughts that you are choosing and the story that you are creating.

Wayne Dyer used the metaphor of the orange to paint a picture of this dynamic. When someone squeezes an orange, juice will flow out of the orange. No matter who or what squeezes the orange – the juice is always orange juice. It doesn’t change flavour or contain pieces of the person who is doing the squeezing.

Relationship counselling Burnaby can help you increase your ability for reflection and accountabilityIn order to reduce conflict and increase connection you need to be able to step out of reactive mode into reflective mode. This is where the “cushion” comes in. Connecting with yourself and identifying what is going on for you requires calming down just like you would  if you sat on a cushion to meditate.

Some tips:

Calming down your body will help calm down the mind. Bring your awareness to your belly and take 3 or 4 breaths into the belly. (This activates the para-sympathetic nervous system which calms the body.)

Asking yourself the following questions can help you identify your trigger and your part in the conflict:

  • What is familiar about this conflict? How does this remind me of my childhood or growing up years?
    Sometimes you will find that the trigger is part of an old  “theme” such as for example “No matter what I do, it’s never good enough,” or “I do so much to make others happy but it never really gets appreciated,”  or “Nobody wants me.”
  • What story have I created in my head – what filter have I used to interpret what has happened?

    Two predominant filters that create conflict are judgment about the other person, or judging yourself, i.e. you either assign a value to the other person because they’re not doing what you would do in a given situation or you put yourself down because you believe that you are the cause of the conflict.

You might choose to write down your insights so you can mull them over and potentially share them with your partner.

Deepen your intimate connection and rekindle appreciation with Marriage TherapyAs you both take increased ownership for your part of the conflict and share your triggers with each other you will  remember that this person is not “the enemy” but rather the love of your life. Building a culture of accountability will deepen your intimate connection and will allow you to make a “repair attempt” more easily. 

If you find that you can’t calm yourself down easily, that you both experience difficulty listening to each other or you have the tendency to take things personally you might consider connecting with an experienced marriage counsellor or relationship therapist like myself who can help you with boundaries and communication tools.

In her Monday’s brief, Arianna Huffington wrote „For Voters to Believe Obama’s Second Term Will Bring About Change, He Needs to Acknowledge What Needs to Change in Himself”.

How is that connected to transforming your marriage and love relationship from frustrating or disappointing to the relationship of your dreams?

All relationships begin with the honeymoon phase. For most couples this stage lasts approx. 18 months. For some the experience of finding our partner fascinating and thinking we have found the love of our life can last up to three years.

When the honeymoon phase ends, it is part of normal development to move into the power struggle stage. What does that look like? For example, if before you loved his sense of humor, now it drives you crazy. And if once upon a time you liked how organized she is and how well she plans everything, now you think she’s a control freak.

Because every day we have to deal with life stress of some sort such as child rearing, money concerns, problems at work and/ or health issues, we tend to look toward our relationship as a source of comfort and joy.

We hope that our partner will see and hear us, reassure us, soothe away our anxiety and make us forget about the challenges of life. He or she will not try to fix us or change us but love us just the way we are.

When your relationship isn’t meeting your needs and you want it to change, it’s common to focus on what’s wrong with your partner and how he /she should change. You start to think that “If only he /she would be different…if only he /she would change this or that behavior then things would improve.”

President Obama’s reelection campaign focuses on change. The feedback he is receiving is clear. If he wants to win this campaign he will need to do more than focus on change. He will have to consider what changes he is willing to make. Hence his theme is “It begins with us“.

If you want to move from relationship survival to thrival you need to consider the changes you’re willing to make.

Are you willing to make your marriage a priority?
Are you willing to be authentic in your communication?
Do you want to assume ownership for how you contribute to conflicts?

Here are some tips:

  • The key factors in relationship growth are emotional safety and passion. The most powerful change that you can make to contribute to and create this safety (which automatically fosters and creates passion) is changing how you communicate.
  • Be willing to love, hear and see your partner just the way he /she is. Stay present and connected to your own boundary, get in touch with and assume ownership for your needs and feelings.
  • Stop placing the blame for your unhappiness on your partner’s shoulders. Don’t make assumptions about the other’s thoughts or motivations. Instead believe in each other’s good intentions and unpack the source of contention through talking it out.
  • Learn to communicate clearly focusing on how you feel rather than on what you think your partner is doing (to you). Make requests explaining your needs (which are based on your feelings) rather than telling your partner what he / she is doing wrong.

This way of communicating is called non-violent communication – conversing with intentional love and self-awareness. You can find more information here.

Change takes effort and practice.

Your willingness to be the change you want to see in your relationship is your first step in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

We live in financially unstable times. If you have invested in the stock market you probably feel somewhat powerless regarding the outcome of your investments. You can only hope that, as usual, with time things will stabilize again. Your losses will recuperate and become profits.

When you struggle with depression, anxiety or addiction you might want to consider taking a look at the distribution of your funds on the emotional stock market.

How are your investments faring? I once attended a lecture by Carolyn Myss where she shared a metaphor about emotional currency. Her comparison resonated with me and I use it regularly in my work counselling North Vancouver and Burnaby.

Imagine that every day the Universe (i.e. Life, God) gifts you $100 of emotional currency.

How are you using that $100?

Very few of us actually use our “daily emotional currency” which is comprised of our thoughts, our energy and our feelings to live and enjoy the gift of another day of life.
How about you?

Here is an example of what “diverse” emotional investments often look like:

You use $50 to finance the past. That means, you spend 50% of your mental and psychic time and energy thinking about the past.

You accomplish that by beating yourself up about a mistake you made or by being angry with someone else.

Rather than enjoying the present, you spend time grieving and longing for things that are over.

Now you take $40 to finance the future. This is done by worrying about all the What if’s. What if this goes wrong, what if that doesn’t happen, what if I lose my job, what if…

So now you have a mixed portfolio with $10 left to invest in the present moment.

The emotional stock market is similar to the financial one. If you want to go with absolute no risk then you invest in things that will not change. In return you will have very slow growth.

The past my friend is over and it will not change.

If you’re not well informed and have money to spare or perhaps you have a gambling nature, then you might dabble.
You try a bit of this and a bit of that. You invest in obscure companies that will probably not succeed. You buy stocks that have extreme fluctuations with very little predictability.

In return your growth is hit and miss.

You can hit the jackpot  but  more often you walk away with nothing.

You have no control over the future, no matter how much time you spend worrying about it.

When you spend your emotional currency in the past, you’re in a familiar place. Worrying or dreaming about the future can also become a familiar place. But these investments do not offer a return of joy and connection. Rather they fill your coffers with depression and anxiety.

If you want to make the most of your “daily $100”, then I encourage you to invest as much as possible in the present moment.
Be fully present when your child, spouse or friend talks to you rather than multitasking and thinking about the future. Be emotionally available to participate in your life with mindfulness.

You have no control over the past or the future. You do have control over the thoughts you think in the present moment.

Yes, not every moment in the present is filled with joy and happiness. But that is the cycle of life.
When you don’t give away your resources to the past or the future, you have a lot more strength for the NOW.

You can find the courage to trust that you will be ok, you will survive to manage the joy AND the pain.

Just like with finances, sometimes it is useful to turn to an expert who can help you balance out your portfolio. If you struggle with depression and anxiety, consider getting some support. There are many resources available ranging from self-help groups to counselling for depression and anxiety.

As usual, I would love to hear your feedback and comments to this post.

To your health,

Ina

Ina Stockhausen, Marriage Counsellor Vancouver BC

 

Change can sneak up on you. When I work with clients who are seeing me for life transition counselling, most of the time we identify the presence of precursors indicating that things had been changing already for quite a while.

Change can be a wonderful thing; a catalyst for positive shifts in your life. But whether planned, expected or not, most of us resist change because with it comes the “unknown.”
Oprah once said “When we feel the ground beneath us shifting, we panic. We forget everything we know and allow fear to freeze us. Just the thought of what could happen is enough to throw us off balance.”

Again, most of the time the ground doesn’t shift all at once.
What stops you from noticing and addressing “mini-shifts”?

In my experience there are three major “thought processes” that hinder you from embracing change: 

Denial: You don’t trust your inner voice. Example: You get a sense that your partner isn’t as affectionate as he/she used to be, your sex life seems to have lost its spark. Your gut is telling you something is off. But that thought feels scary. So instead you put it down to stress, and find different excuses that allow you to ignore what your inner voice is telling you.

Worrying about the feelings of others: You don’t want to upset or hurt someone else’s feelings. Example: Lately you haven’t enjoyed meeting with your friend because all she seems to talk about these days are her problems with her kids. You feel like you never get equal “air time” but you are hesitating to say anything because you don’t want to hurt her feelings. Plus you feel like you’re not a good friend if you do.

Being caught between the past and the future: All the “should’ve, could’ve, would’ves” compete with the “what ifs” in your thoughts. Example: Returning to the scenario of your sex life as a couple having lost its spark you reprimand yourself that you should have bought sexy lingerie more often and if you would have lost weight like you planned your partner would be more interested. At the same time you worry about “what if he/she likes someone else….what if this is the beginning of the end?”

 How can you be more attuned to change in your life and how can you deal with it productively?

  • Trust you inner voice
  • Connect with your boundaries… you are not responsible for the feelings of others
  • Stay in the present… present moment only moment.

The “emptying out” exercise can be a useful tool.

I recommend you do this in your journal, because being able to go back and read your thoughts helps you identify patterns and can support the process of trusting your inner voice.

At the end of the day, jot down any niggles, any processes that are still sitting with you or came up for you during the day. Identify what needs of yours where met and which ones weren’t. Notice what contributed to your needs not being met and how you can change that.

Remember that you have no control over the past or the future. Acknowledge your feelings of sadness or loss as well as your fear of the “what ifs”. Giving yourself permission to grieve or be afraid and then moving on is important and different than suppressing these feelings or getting bogged down in this place.

Breathe, connect to your boundary and to the present moment.

 If you allow yourself to stay present and grounded, then change will not sneak up on you and it can be a catalyst for something positive…such as a closer and more authentic connection with your partner or friends.