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.

counselling

One of the most basic needs that humans  have is to be heard and seen.

Being heard and seen by someone  you love creates joy and well-being.

What do I mean when I talk about hearing and seeing someone? I’m talking about attunement and boundaries. When I start working with new counselling clients, our first session is always a boundary session. We explore how boundaries have been experienced in the past and how that manifests is showing up in the client’s life now.

Whether it is marriage counselling or helping someone cope with addiction recovery, boundary work is essential to communicating true needs and feelings and managing your own emotions.

Truly hearing and seeing someone and being heard and seen in return finally becomes possible when you are connected to and grounded in your boundary.

In order to make what can be an abstract concept, a felt sense in the body, I use string during the boundary exercise. At the end of the exercise I will say the following:

“I want you to know that I can see your boundary. During our work together, I am going to be right here with you, with my boundary. I am not going to invade your space, nor am I going to leave.”

What is often the most important sentence for clients to hear is this last sentence:
“You don’t have to worry wondering how what you’re sharing is landing for me. I will take care of myself.”

What is the greatest obstacle to either being heard and seen or to being fully present with someone you love?

Our Ego and poor boundary management are at the top of the list. Our ego likes to drive our internal monologue.
Here are some examples of what can happen when you’re listening to someone:
Notice that you may or you may NOT be aware that this is what you’re doing.

  • You get distracted because you’re busy or bored and start thinking about something in your own life – i.e. a part of you leaves and you pretend to listen
  • You start having opinions or judgments regarding what you’re hearing and you can’t wait to share those… so you stop listening or eagerly wait for an opportunity to interrupt
  • What you’re hearing brings up feelings for you – either regarding the well-being of the other person or your own anxiety, sadness, anger ecc. When it’s your turn to talk, you jump in trying to change how the other person is feeling or all of a sudden the conversation becomes  about you and your feelings.
  • You feel the need to fix things and start giving advice or telling the other person what they should be doing or thinking.

How many times have you shared something with a spouse or parent but “adjusted” the what, how and when of your communication because you wanted to

  • avoid conflict
  •  not upset the other person
  •  minimize your anxiety
  •  protect yourself from feeling vulnerable

 

About 12 years ago I was part of a closed group of therapist practicing dance movement therapy. For 2 years we met for 7 days twice a year. And in those 7 days, every day we repeated a particular exercise. It entailed one person being in front of the group (there were 30 of us) sharing an experience. Those watching had to be witnesses.

There were only two rules:
In silence, we were supposed to be fully present with the person in front of us and hear and see them.
The moment we noticed that we were no longer fully present because we got distracted, triggered, had gone off on a tangent, were in judgment mode ecc. we had to get up and stand in a marked area to the side.

If we were in “the box” our job was to now be fully present with ourselves; to truly hear and see what was going on for us. Once we had attended to our own issues and were ready to be fully present with someone else, we returned to the witness area.

It was an incredibly powerful exercise for both the witnesses and for the person in front of the group. We learned that as a collective, there were certain things that triggered us or we weren’t able or willing to hear.

As individuals, we were really able to get in touch with how easy it is to get caught up in how others respond to us. (It’s not easy to share something with a group and have half the people get up and stand over on the side.)

Mindfulness and good boundaries are 2 key ingredients for relationship thrival

because the promote an emotional connection where you can feel heard and seen.

How fully we are willing and able to be heard and seen is determined by the amount of emotional safety present in a relationship. I invite you to ponder the following questions and identify your challenges.

  • How safe is it for you to be authentic?
  • Can you share with your partner that you’re distracted or busy right now but you’re willing to listen later?
  • Can you set a boundary and share that what you’re hearing is bringing up feelings for you and that you’re now in your own world?
  • Are you willing to trust your partner to cope with whatever feelings might come up for them in the conversation?
  •  Are you able to let go of trying to “fix” whatever is going on for your spouse?
  •  Can you stay connected to your own boundary and soothe any anxiety present for you, when you share something you know the other person isn’t going to like?
  •  Are you able to not get defensive and lovingly own your own truth?
  • Can you refrain from criticizing what you’re hearing or asking WHY your partner feels this way?

Take some time to journal about what comes up for you and compare notes with your partner. You might be surprised about some assumptions have been making or how you individually experience your communication.

Often in our desire to be fully present with another, we stop being present with ourselves.
Learn the difference between being present WITH someone and being present FOR someone and how the latter can have some very negative consequences in Part 2 coming soon.

Ina Stockhausen, R .P.C. is a marriage therapist offering counselling services for Burnaby, the Tri-Cities area and greater Vancouver.

When I am couples counselling I often hear couples complain that they end up in an argument with their spouse while trying to express how they feel about something. Usually this happens because one partner uses questions to indirectly get a message across rather than speaking directly about what is going on. Take a look at this video to discover how eliminating the “Why” question can make a huge change in your communication and connection.

In my couples counselling sessions, a common issue that surfaces is how much time the couple spends bickering or arguing. Upon closer inspection we usually discover that discussions or arguments could be more succinct and clear if each individual was in the habit of regular introspection. Arguments often ensue because Partner A says or does (or doesn’t say or do)  something which triggers Partner B.

Often Partner B simply reacts without having gained any clarity about why he or she is upset, i.e. what is he or she feeling and  needing right now. Rather than being able to hear and see each other, couples end up discussing who is right or wrong. One partner likely becomes defensive or feels hurt and things drag on with both parties feeling unsatisfied and/ or exhausted.

Using this journaling technique helps you get in touch with your feelings regularly. Clearly identifying for yourself, whether something in your relationship or out in the world is creating stress and anxiety will help you get back to feeling grounded and connected much  more quickly.

Becoming a caregiver can activate a lot of emotions. Particularly when women become responsible for the care of a parent, I have noticed how easy it is to get caught in the perfectionism trap.   It becomes important to do a perfect job, to be a perfect caregiver…adding an extra layer of stress.

I have yet to meet a woman who isn’t familiar, at least to some extent, with the notion of not feeling good enough.

Today I’d like to share a story of how the need to do it right  can contribute to overstepping boundaries.

In the last little while I’ve been counselling and supporting women who are navigating that life transition piece of becoming a caregiver.

The story of Joan (name has been changed) illustrates how perfectionism, or  “extremely high standards” can be driven by the need for approval of others.

Joan’s mother is a widow in her late 70s. In the months, she’s been struggling with vision loss and recently she broke her ankle.  Because mother hasn’t felt very safe to go out on the streets alone or to do her shopping, Joan has stepped in and has been taking care of providing her with groceries.  Now that mother is fairly immobilized with a broken ankle, Joan has taken over the cleaning of her apartment as well.

When Joan came to see me she was feeling very frustrated.  Her mother was complaining to everybody that all she was doing was cleaning.  Here I am trying so hard and all my mother does is complain, Joan shared with a mixture of sadness, anger and confusion.

Then the other day Joan and mother had a big fight about mother’s housecoat. In her efforts to keep everything clean and tidy, Joan had also decided to wash mother’s robe. It was then that she noticed that the robe was starting to look a little worn and ratty.

She told mother that she thought she needed a new housecoat.  But mother didn’t agree. Not only did she love that housecoat – it had been a gift from Joan’s father. She  thought it was still good enough. Joan spent about 30 min. arguing but couldn’t sway mother.

So she decided to take matters into her own hands. The next time she visited, she replaced the housecoat with a new robe and took the old one with her for disposal. Instead of being grateful and pleased about the gift, Joan’s mother was furious and Joan felt very unappreciated.

As we worked together, Joan was able to identify what had happened. She’d been afraid that someone would come and visit her mother and see her old worn-out robe and decide that Joan was neglecting her parent.

Her cleaning frenzies had been motivated by the same fear. So rather than enjoying time with mother and keeping her company, she’d been driving herself crazy cleaning the apartment from top to bottom… even though her mother had asked her to stop.

Have you ever experienced anything similar?

Have you felt embarrassed by the behavior or circumstances of someone close to you because you felt it was a direct reflection on you?

Perhaps you worried about being judged a poor parent, an incompetent pet owner or a “not good enough” daughter or son. While this is a good example of how the desire for approval can activate perfectionism, it also illustrates the loss of boundaries.

The next time you feel an urge to step in and fix something or somebody, or take care of something for somebody that isn’t really your responsibility, stop and take a deep breath.

In fact take several deep breaths. Then connect with this mantra or truth:

“I don’t have the power over, control of, or responsibility for other people’s lives. I was taught that I had these powers. This is a lie I now tell myself.”

Of course you are responsible if you’re caring for an infant or child. But as the child grows and becomes more independent or when you deal with adults who have full mental capacity you are no longer responsible for their well-being, appearance or feelings.

While you may mean well when you step in and fix something, as the story of Joan illustrates, you’re not really doing the person a favour. Furthermore while it may look like it’s all about them, upon closer examination, you will most likely discover that you’re meeting a need of your own.

 If you’d like to ease the stress that perfectionism can create, I invite you to check out my new tele-seminar series about “Embracing the gifts of imperfection and letting go of perfectionism” in the Events section.

As always I welcome your comments and feedback to this blog post.

You might wonder how breathing can alleviate stress… it’s not as if you weren’t breathing the last time you were stressed or anxious. But if you think about how you tend to breathe when you’re tense, you will most likely realize that your breathing is quite shallow.

I’d like to thank North Vancouver Kinesiologist Raina Croner who facilitates Corrective Exercise Therapy & Personal Health Training at www.inspiringmovement.com (604-760-1205) for generously contributing this guest blog post and sharing some of her knowledge about breathing.

This is what she writes:

You can breathe through anything…I truly believe this for all of our life experiences and activities.  As babies, we are born with the natural and healthy ability to breath from our bellies.  With age, most people shift from this healthy abdominal breathing to shallow chest breathing.  Breathing is the one bodily function we can do either unconsciously or consciously.

Practitioners of Yoga have known for centuries about the importance of guided breathing, and Western cultures are now embracing the benefits of breathing correctly. We develop unhealthy habits without being aware of it, such as: poor posture and being sedentary with diminishes lung capacity, daily responsibilities are demanding and we forget to breathe, and also muscle tension resulting in faster and shallower breathes.  This shallow, quick breathing:

  • Decreases oxygen intake and carbon dioxide elimination.
  • Can decrease our lung function
  • Decrease oxygen leads to reduced vitality, premature ageing, poor immune system function… just to name a few!

We have created this shallow, quick breathing because we are in too much of a hurry most of the time, have an increase in stress and therefore have developed a reactive negative response to our environment – easily excitable, angry and anxiety.  These all affect our rate of breathing.  Keeping us in a constant state of “fight”!

Yogis believe that the nose functions to absorb Prana (the Sanskrit word for “vital life”; one of the five organs of vitality prana “breath” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prana), therefore if you breathe through your mouth and NOT your nose you are missing all the vital energy (prana).  They also say that this is a major factor in our lowered resistance to disease and impairment of our vital glands and nervous system.  Therefore, Yoga proves to have beneficial effects on the body if done with proper breathing.

You don’t have to be a yogi to practice good breathing, here is a simple technique that you can implement into your day with ease.  You can start with just spending a few minutes a day practicing, practice at times of acute stress or just add to your morning/bedtime routines.  Before long you will breathe easier and experience amazing improvements in your life.

How to breathe deeply

How many times have you heard the expressions “take a deep breath” and “breathe through your diaphragm”? If you’re not really sure how to, try this exercise:

  1. Start by lying on the floor on your back. (This will make it easier to develop the proper deep breathing technique the first couple of times.)
  2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly just above your waist.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose. You should feel the hand on your belly rise.
  4. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. The hand on your belly should gradually lower.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times, then focus on allowing your ribcage to expand and widen as your belly moves out, so that you are filling up your entire lungs, from bottom to top.

Because as a counsellor I specialize in Somatic Psychotherapy, clients who work with me in my counselling office in Burnaby or on the North Shore will tell you that among other things, we focus on breathing.

Whether it is Addiction Counselling or Divorce Counselling… all our work together usually addresses anxiety, stress, trauma and /or some form of depression.

Breathing techniques are a great resource to self-soothe in every situation. Best of all, influencing our emotions and the tension in our body thru breath is free, healthy and always available to us.

When you were a baby you had no problem making your needs and desires known.
You weren’t plagued with self- doubts! What changed?

Many of my clients often seek counselling help for depression, relief from anxiety, or counselling support thru grief and loss.

As we sift thru the layers, all problems usually have one underlying theme. Even in my work as marriage counsellor the same topic emerges over and over again.

This theme is called “I’m not good enough.” How come you’re no longer good enough?

What happened to the perfect baby that you were?

When you were a baby, you had no sense that there was anything wrong with you. You had no thoughts that you should be different. You didn’t think that you were too short, too fat, too thin, too ugly, too dumb, too difficult or too ______________

Today, do you ever hear a voice in your head say some version of the following to you?

  • What’s wrong with you?
  • What’s the matter with you?
  • When are you going to get it right?

This kind of self-criticism is the result of having internalized messages you heard people say to you when growing up. Praise, the absence of praise or even punishment can create a mindset of needing to do better, of not being good enough.

A mindset of striving to be “perfect.”

Striving for perfectionism creates a well-developed inner critic; who then interferes with you loving yourself. Limiting the love you have for yourself results in having less respect and esteem for who you are. Low self-esteem erodes your confidence.

Here are some examples of what lack of love for self and lack of self-esteem can look like in every day life:

  • You get caught up in trying to please others
  • You take care of others but neglect your own self-care
  • You put your own needs last – you don’t ask for what you want
  • You procrastinate doing things that would be good for you
  • You get caught up in anxiety worrying about the “should haves”
  • You don’t ask for the raise you deserve
  • You don’t charge enough money for your services
  • You mistreat your body with food, alcohol, lack of sleep or lack of exercise
  • You allow your partner or others to belittle you
  • You minimize your accomplishments

How can you make positive changes in your life?

It starts with loving yourself. We are all our own harshest critics. One excellent way to change your negative self-talk is doing mirror work.

Try looking into your eyes and saying
“I love and accept you just the way you are”

Add your name, for example
“I love you Sally, I love and accept you just the way you are.”

Notice what thoughts surface.

Pay special attention to negative thoughts such as

  • Yea, right… but if you’re so great how come…
  • Who do you think you are?…
  • Who are you kidding?…

Using a journal to jot down what surfaces, can help you identify where that thought comes from and what it is really about.

Babies are not afraid to ask for what they want. Babies feel free to express their emotions.

Learn from the genuine expression of babies. Connect to staying in the present, rather than worrying about mistakes you made in the past or things you might do “wrong” in the future.

 

As you work on your inner dialogue, practice giving yourself permission to be authentic… like a baby.

Choose one area in your life for loosening up your unrelenting high standards and reducing your perfectionistic behaviours.

Strategies to help you cope with change include giving yourself permission to make mistakes, reminding yourself of the consequences of your perfectionism, learning to laugh, and rewarding yourself often for the small steps you make towards change.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Many years ago, when I was training in Dance Movement Therapy and Ritual Theater, at some point during the exercises I would find myself overwhelmed with feelings. At the time, that felt scary and “not good enough” and a typical reaction was to tell myself that I had to “get a grip.”

How often do you tell someone in your life…yourself perhaps… to get a grip?  To get it together?

Other versions of this are “What’s the matter with you?”

Because really and truly, what is the matter with you? Why are you unhappy or depressed or feeling anxious? Why are you unsatisfied with your life? You have no reason. You have a good life, a good partner, a job and a roof over your head. Think about all the people on this planet who are so much worse off than you are.

It doesn’t make sense!!

If this type of inner dialogue sounds familiar, then you also know that these kinds of thoughts and feelings are very unsettling. If like many, you manage uncomfortable or painful feelings thru emotional eating, you might find yourself standing in front of the fridge or cupboard looking for that special treat which will make you feel better.

But what if it did make sense? What if there was NO thing wrong with you?

What if you were able to stop, breathe and stop censuring yourself?

If you were to allow yourself to sit in authenticity, your feelings surfacing without judgment?

What would happen?

You could find a gateway to your true self. You would be able to still the longings that have somehow gotten on the “forbidden” list.

You would not have to go looking for food again and again until you decide to punish yourself with a diet.

Three things are needed for the process of “allowing it to make sense.”

You need to let go of shame and find your courage so you can cultivate self-compassion.

If you can embody who you already are rather than trying to be something you’re not, you’re on your way to uncovering compassion.

Be present with yourself and trust your knowing.
Accept the awareness of your feelings and allow them to be good enough, to be perfect just the way they are.

That is your first step towards letting go of shame and practicing self-compassion.

Initially, this place of authenticity can be scary and uncomfortable, because the old voices in your head telling you that your feelings don’t make sense and you should “get a grip” do not disappear quietly. However, a practice of mindfulness and loving kindness towards what defines you in this moment will allow you to linger more often and for longer periods of time in your place of truthfulness.

Remember, authenticity is not a quality, it is a collection of choices that you make every day and every moment. The more you can love yourself and who you are, the less you will need to turn to food to stuff down how you really feel.

 

This in turn will allow you to heal your relationship with food and your body and break free from the pursuit of weight loss thru yo-yo dieting.

I leave you with a quote from Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

“What if the question is not why I am so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?”
Warmly,

Ina

Eating Disorders Therapist North Vancouver, Counselling Burnaby

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

 

If you have ever struggled with depression you can probably relate to feeling stuck and/or overwhelmed. When I am counselling clients for depression, most often in our sessions we address a combination of three mind states:

  1. Grief and loss:
    – trying to come to terms with change and grieving what once was or could have been
  2. Low self-esteem:
    – being caught up in not feeling good enough
    –  self-blame / inability to love and accept yourself where you’re at
  3. Lack of hope:
    – an inability to formulate or connect with a new inspiring vision for the future
    – feeling overwhelmed trying to imagine the energy needed to surface from the layers
    of depression

As I was sitting down the other day to write a condolence card for a dear friend who has lost her partner of 40 years, I pondered the cycle of life. The term cycle reminded me of movement.

I thought about the delight and happiness we experience when a child is born. Usually there is lots of excitement connected to witnessing every new step of development and growth.

Watching someone we love grow old and slowly lose more and more of their vitality tends not to be a joyful process. Having to say good bye to a loved one is painful.

 Joy and happiness, grief and loss these are two sides of a coin.

Only seeing one side of the coin means the coin has stopped spinning. When you stop moving thru emotions, the you can get stuck in between “spin cycles.”

We live in a society where we tend to focus on the “bright side of life.” Little time is afforded to not feeling good. Great efforts are made and products are offered to make you feel better quickly.

I believe that in this process we have lost our ability to  dig deep and connect with our inner strength.

We have internalized a message that we need external means to help us move thru “negative” emotions as quickly as possible. If we don’t get over our grief and loss there is something wrong with us. Our environment is uncomfortable witnessing despair for extended periods of time.

As a collective we have lost touch with our place of trust and hope and acceptance. Acceptance of the cyclical nature of life.

There is a difference between acceptance and resignation. There is a difference between supporting and holding space for someone who is grieving and seeing their grief and trying to hurry them along to be happy again. In order to appreciate and be able to see the bright side of life, we have to be willing to dwell in the darkness.

When you suppress how you really feel and put on a bright face for the world to see, when you abandon yourself by neglecting to get your needs met at the benefit of making sure the needs of others are met, you pay a price.

This price can come in the form of depression, which is really a place of shutting down.

 Sometimes, you need a helping hand to dig deep when you’re depressed, sad and unhappy.
You need someone who is willing to keep you company in the dark places.

When you open the door to a dark room, some light enters. With the light, comes an awareness of other things that have gotten lost in the darkness and thus temporarily invisible.

When you’re depressed it’s only too easy to move from low self-esteem and despair to a place of shame. Sharing how you really feel and being seen and heard can be a very vulnerable place.

Finding the courage to allow yourself to be seen however is also an empowering place and the first step towards getting the coin to spin again.

If you’re struggling with depression, I invite you to give yourself permission to love and accept yourself exactly where you’re at.

Dig deep within yourself to connect to your place of faith; trust that this too shall pass.

Carefully select someone who you can trust  to help you stay in touch with your own courage and hope. Choose someone you can trust to see and hear you without having to fix and change you.

 This is what you don’t want to have happen:

  • Rather than expressing empathy, your friend feels sorry for you thus reinforcing your shame and feelings of hopelessness
  • Your friend gets triggered and takes on your problems and you end up having to take care of him or her
  • Your friend has a need to fix and rushes in with solutions rather than just hearing you
  • Your friend has a habit of one-upmanship and proceeds to tell you how her problems are much worse than yours

Consider getting professional counselling support for depression if you don’t have someone in your life who has sufficiently strong boundaries and the emotional resilience to come and join you in the darkness when you need company.

Finally, continue to engage in movement. Continue to breathe. It literally takes energy to keep the coin spinning. Get help  to keep yourself moving physically.

It is difficult to remain stuck mentally when your body is in movement. If activities like swimming, dancing or walking seem overwhelming, start small. Connect to the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe.

Take several moments each day to breathe with awareness. Taking in air and life force, letting go of tension.

As always I welcome your comments and feedback.

Smiles,

Ina