September 11, 2018

Putting Social Media into Perspective

I wonder how we all survived the years before the Internet. Early this summer I was at a “pottery event”. I met old friends, fired some Raku, and generally had a good time – even though at that point I was still struggling with my grief over the loss of my father in April. And also to note, despite that loss, I still posted to the “My Daily Dose” project – meant to share how I get through the tough times by exercising, being creative, communing with nature and so on. Please note – I’m sharing the tool to feel better, not the challenging state I’m in on any given day. During the clay day, the wife of one of […]
August 14, 2018

Creating the habit to thrive

“The habits you created to survive will no longer serve you when its time to thrive.” Ebonee Davis Do you have memories from your childhood about how you coped? How you coped when you saw your parents arguing? When you felt threatened or overwhelmed or sad? When things felt chaotic? When you had feelings but weren’t supported in expressing them? As I write this I realize I am using adult language, adult thinking, to look back at what we might have experienced in childhood. As children though, we never had the vocabulary to say, “I feel threatened”, or “I’m confused”. So, being the resilient creatures we are, we, as children, developed habits to deal with our environment. So many times clients […]
July 4, 2018

The things we believe

I am not sure where I read it but I learned a while ago – that we all behave in ways and make choices that reinforce unconscious beliefs we have about ourselves. We need to think about the ramifications of that. Oprah Winfrey grew up believing in her child’s magical thinking mind – that God, yes the God, the big guy, was her father. If you grow up thinking that God is your father, and that He has your back, and the He is benevolent and good and loving – then you must grow up thinking you can handle pretty much anything. You must grow up thinking that you don’t really need to be afraid of too much. Now I’m sure that Oprah […]
June 20, 2018

This Week at Work …

It never ceases to amaze me how on certain weeks most of my clients come in with the same “story”. And it’s not so much that each of their stories is the same, but our conversations are the same, there’s a running “theme”. 18 out of 20 people this past week talked about narratives we have inherited from our family of origin! That’s more than just coincidence no? I get I am the common factor in all these discussions, but I don’t necessarily direct the traffic in our sessions and I find this fascinating. As I mentioned, this week’s theme was about how we sometimes get caught up in our family of origin narratives. By this I mean most of […]
May 28, 2018

The Hard Work of Couple Life ..

Sometimes couple life can get downright hard and ugly. We can spiral down to a place it seems we will never get out of. We find ourselves angry, hurt, and disconnected and it’s lonely. Partners in a distressed couple sometimes describe how they walk on eggshells. When doing so, I am not bringing my full self to the relationship, out of fear. So I hold back in an attempt to manage or maybe even control your behavior. But that never feels good or right, and it never provides satisfactory results in the long term. When we work harder at trying to mitigate a partner’s behavior rather than our own, we know we are in trouble. Some of us use shaming […]
May 7, 2018

The New Dating Game…

It’s an understatement to say that much has changed in one generation. There are memes going around on social media showing how my generation played differently – outside, without much supervision, drinking from hoses, romping around till the park lights came on – the sign we needed to go home for dinner. We were safe because we were in numbers, with the other neighborhood kids. Many of us went to Sunday school, or Brownies, or Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Church, played Little League Baseball, and the list goes on. It’s in those places we did the big job of learning how to meet, engage, and get connected with each other. As we got older, we met people in school, at […]
April 11, 2018

Confessions…

All right. Time to come clean. I deeply believe one of the reasons I’m relatively successful is because I aim to walk my talk. I don’t hold any belief that I am any better than anyone else, especially my clients. I am human and struggle too. Which leads me too .. So I don’t know how many of you follow My Daily Dose. It’s a daily reporting of what I am doing to not fall into the grips of either anxiety or depression. It’s also about how to stay healthy and somewhat focused, or strengthen my inner resources so that when times get hard I have them to lean on. That’s what my daily dose is all about really. And […]
March 29, 2018

An Epidemic of One

There is an epidemic going on that is finally starting to get some kind of attention in the media. That epidemic is loneliness. Many people are showing up for service and after a few meetings it’s clear that they are too isolated in their lives. Isolation and loneliness are creating a significant amount of distress in the population. A blog or two ago, I wrote about Johann Hari’s book Lost Connections, where he espouses a theory that it’s the loss of meaningful connection to a number of things – not the least of which is other relationships – that is at the root of depression.  The headline article of the April 2018 edition of Psychology Today is also focused on […]
March 15, 2018

The Invisible Elderly

Recently, I had the sad misfortune.. wait let me correct that, my father had the sad misfortune of coming down with the flu and needing to be hospitalized. When I arrived at the hospital, it seemed there were a disproportionate number of elderly suffering from dementia there – apparently also with a flu bug. It’s been epidemic this winter. My father suffers from vascular dementia. He has been on a steady decline for well over fifteen years now. I feel compelled to say I’m lucky because my father is compliant, easy to care for, not moody or aggressive, does not wander, yet, and in general has been more or less stable. He lives in a residence for like-afflicted folk who […]
February 27, 2018

Expanding our view of Depression

This post comes on the heels of reading Johann Hari’s brilliant book “Lost Connections: Uncovering the real causes of depression – and the unexpected solutions“.  Hari, J. (2018). Lost Connections: Uncovering the real causes of depression – and the unexpected solutions. London, Bloomsbury. Here’s a link to it at Amazon.ca   And here’s the link if you use Chapters/Indigio. In the book Hari delves into the many causes of depression – veering away from the medical/pharmaceutical model, and into, finally (for me), a much more systemic model. He posits nine causes of depression and anxiety – all around the axis of disconnection: Disconnection from meaningful work, other people, meaningful values, childhood trauma, status and respect, the natural world, a hopeful and secure […]
February 20, 2018

Opposites attract .. right?

There’s a lot of truth in the old idiom that opposites attract.  Back in the day, there were huge evolutionary advantages to having a partner with skills that you didn’t have. This way we covered all the bases in our project of surviving.  But if opposites really do attract, why do so many couples, spend so much time, trying to make the other think/feel/act more like themselves? I often meet couples (and can reflect on my own experience too!!) who like to  complain that their partner “just doesn’t do it the way I want it done” or “why can’t they make a decision the way that I do?”  When couples argue they often say “I just don’t see it the […]
February 14, 2018

Sandboxes and stones

Often in my work, as many therapists do, I use metaphor to help clients access and articulate emotions that otherwise they could not express. Recently, I came across one that I found moving – it was the metaphor of a sandbox, and how a partner, the boy, could not get in to the same sandbox with the girl – who was sadly, instead, throwing stones and keeping him out. I found that powerful. It spoke to me of child-like longing for connection (on both sides!). It spoke to me of loneliness – I saw this boy wanting to play, wanting to join his love in the sandbox – but being prevented from doing so out of a need to protect […]
January 30, 2018

The Power and Freedom of Choice

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Dr. Viktor Frankl I love this quote by Dr. Frankl. It speaks to me of the great power we all inherit to determine how we deal with the world. When we feel helpless in the face of someone’s behavior, we can remember Dr. Frankl’s words and take solace. We are not victims to our reactions. We are not powerless in determining the outcome of an exchange. We can in fact choose, specifically, and deliberately how we will engage with someone – regardless of their behavior.  I was told a story by a […]
January 16, 2018

Projection and us…

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection) I have a sneaking suspicion that if many of us understood more about projection – and its use as a defence by the person in front of us, we would be a lot happier, and communication would be a lot easier. And the thing that we need to hang on to about projection, is it’s the root of why different people see you in a different way .. because most of what they are seeing is a reflection or aspect of THEMSELVES. As therapists, we are taught about […]
January 7, 2018

Some important information about depression and medication

As a psychologist, I was trained to think systemically. This means, that no matter what a client presents with – depression, anxiety, mood struggles, relationship difficulties, –  you have to understand the context from which they come, the context of the family they grew up in, what their lives mean to them on a day to day, who are the important relationships in their lives …… and so much more. Depression, just like anxiety actually, is often a very appropriate response to something going on in your life. If all we do is treat the symptom (which is NOT a systemic way of working) – i.e. the depression – with medication, then we stand a huge chance that this “symptom” […]
January 1, 2018

A New Year’s Wish .. Honour the Small Things…

Hello and Happy New Year Dear Reader. I hope January 1, 2018 finds you happy, excited about all the possibilities before you, and surrounded by those that encourage you to bring the best of yourself forward. At this time of year, I think all of us are tempted to consider great changes in our life, the turning of a new page onto which we project all the wishes we have for ourselves – how we might be better, wealthier, stronger, thinner, happier, more industrious .. God knows the list goes on. I find many of us have a tendency to overwhelm ourselves with the grandness of the change we are seeking …. probably why a lot of that initial energy […]
December 18, 2017

Getting through the holiday season …

Holiday seasons are tough on a lot of people. Those of us with “special” families have our share of Christmas horror stories …. too much drinking, too much drama, too much expectation. The media doesn’t help. We are bombarded from mid November on with the expectation that this is a time to be happy, to be connected to family which is supposed to be in and of itself a good thing, that we should buy, buy, buy, … Little wonder why the Help hotlines are overwhelmed at this time of year.  Those of us with out of step families feel, well, out of step. We ask ourselves how is it that we don’t have the pie in the oven, the […]
December 4, 2017

Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression and feeling down …

I want to take some time to talk about the change of season and what we can expect, how to potentially help ourselves, what is it exactly that is going on. In the more Northernly hemisphere where we live here in Canada, November is a tough month for many of us. The shorter daylight, the colder temperatures, the oncoming holiday season, the long road before Spring that follows… can make it tough for some of us to feel good. In yoga class some years ago, we always talked about November as the time for turning inward, for slowing down. It is of course the time of the great hibernation for some animals. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s easy to feel […]
November 21, 2017

The Seduction of Stress…..

It’s standard practice for any doctor to ask what level of stress a patient is under. I have begun to wonder how people might come to understand the answer to that question. Most of us work hard, have kids, busy lives, complicated families, difficult co-workers and the list goes on. Add to that – many of us live in noisy, crowded cities with lots of traffic, construction and pollution. We are bombarded daily by television, email, advertising, pressure to spend, save, buy, advance, get educated, get richer, parent better, be a better partner and the list goes on… feeling stressed yet? The funny thing is many of us experience all of the above, on any given day, and do NOT […]
November 8, 2017

What Love Looks Like..

What did love look like when it first came to you? Was it anxious? Was it cool and remote? Was it warm, protective and soothing? Was it chaotic? Was it overwhelming? I have been pondering of late what happens to us as we grow up with our different models of love. Do we seek out the same? If the love that you received as a child was wrapped up in anxiety, do you recognize that in your adult love relationships? Is your present day love interest aloof – like your caretaker in your youth may have been? Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships in our adulthood that are “comfortable”. Sometimes we say we “click” with someone, it’s like an old […]