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Dreams Part 5: Dying in your dreams can be a good thing.

Dreams - death rebirth

To dream of yourself or someone else dying in your dreams can be disturbing.  But dying in a dream is often, meant metaphorically, not literally.

Nightmare:  My daughter died!

Sandy, a mom with two children, was thinking about going back to work.  Growing up, her mother when back to work when she was 10.  She was the eldest of 5 children and had to be responsible for her siblings when mom was not there.  It was too much for her.  As a mom, she was determined not to do that to her own children.

When her youngest daughter entered school full time, Sandy’s life changed.  She had much more time.  She thought about going back to work.  She’d loved her job as an elementary school teacher. Yet she was concerned about how her going back to work would impact each of her children, especially her eldest child.  She struggled with the decision.

One night she had a nightmare that her youngest child died.  She woke up in distress.  While thinking about the dream she realized that the dream was not about her daughter, but an aspect of herself.  Her youngest daughter had been so excited to go to school and was enjoying it immensely.  Sandy wanted to get back to school again and the nightmare was telling her if she did not go back to work, a part of her would ‘die’.  Her youngest daughter represented that part of herself  that was keen to go to school, that is, get back to work.  Sandy solved her dilemma by taking a position of Teacher-on-Call so she could work if she was called in, yet decline if she needed to stay at home with her children.

Personal Experience:  Death of a relationship.

Years ago I wanted a better relationship with one of my brothers.  We were adults and I wanted more of a connection with him.  For many years, I kept trying to make that happen between us whenever we were together.   One evening we went out to dinner.  As usual I was trying to get more of a connection with him.  That night I dreamed that he died.

That was years ago and my brother is still very much alive today.  What died in the dream was my belief that we could have a more connected relationship.  My dream was telling me to give up; it was not going to happen.  So I stopped trying.  We have had a relationship all these years, it is not the relationship I longed for, but it’s OK. I accept it as it is.

Personal Experience:  Death/Rebirth

In my 30’s I did major work on myself through intensive therapy.  Much of the therapy centered on my dreams.  I kept a dream log during this time.  One time I  read through a series of dreams and identified a recurring symbol in them.   As dreams can have recurring themes they can also have recurring symbols.

The symbol I notice was a retaining wall.  Sometimes the retaining wall was made of wood, sometimes stone, sometimes high, sometimes low etc.  When I talk about this dream I always put my hand on my chest, just over my heart.

Here are the last two dreams I remember having about a retaining wall:

Dream:  I’m going to die!

I dream I’m in the ocean.  I’m at the base of a sheer rock cliff.  The waves are dashing me against the cliff.  I say, “If this continues, I’m going to die.”  Suddenly, there are metal rungs on the cliff wall forming a ladder.  I climb up out of the water to the top of the cliff.  The dream ends with me chatting to a woman who is sun tanning on a lawn chair.

Dream:  I die, yet I live.

In this dream, the retaining wall has water on both sides of it.  I’m in a powerboat and I’m traveling toward the retaining wall.  I’m trying to go over it in the boat.  Why?  I don’t know.  I’m just going to do it.  As I approach the wall, the boat goes up, in my mind’s eye there is a big wall of green water, and in my chest there is terror.  My boat crashes on the wall and I die.  But I do not wake up.  I say to myself, “No. No.  It’s not supposed to be like this.”

I start to do a replay.  I’m in the powerboat again.  I’m heading toward the retaining wall again.  I’m determined to get over it.  As I approach the wall, my boat goes up, the same wall of green water in my mind’s eye, and same terror in my chest.  This time I make it over.  The dream ends with me driving my boat slowly on a peaceful ocean; there are other boats around me.  In my chest, where the terror was, I felt a deep sense of peace.  The next day, I found myself doing things without thinking about them and saying things without thinking about them.  I became more spontaneous in a positive way.  That has never stopped.

The retaining wall represented the part of me that held myself back. Growing up, I learned to keep myself safe by holding myself back.  In order to come fully into myself, that part of me needed to die.  With all the therapy I had had up to this point I had arrived at the place where I could risk letting that part of me go.  It was difficult to let go of a way of being that helped me survive childhood, and some of my adulthood, but it was time and I was ready for it.  I know that I would never have done the things I have done if that part of me had not died.  I would never have gotten a Master’s degree, Doctorate, become a psychologist, written a book and other things, if that part of me had not died.

It was like a death and rebirth.   I had to let go of one way of being in the world so I could develop another way, a healthier way.  I have never forgotten this dream and how it changed my life for the better.

When trying to understand your dreams, remember – they are often metaphorical.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams Part 4: Dreams can be literal and metaphorical.

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Dreams can be literal.

 Example 1:   The dryer burst in to flames.

Once I bought a new clothes dryer.  About a week after I bought it, I dreamed that it burst into flames.  I woke up with a start.  I instantly knew what the dream was about.  The filter on the new dryer was in a different place and I had forgotten to clean it.  “Bursting into flames”  was my fear of what I believed could happen.  The dream was simply my mind’s way of reminding me to clean the filter.

In many cases of interpreting dreams you need to consider several factors.

It is possible to detect malfunctions in machines and vehicles through your senses, such as sight, hearing, smell, and touch.  Because we live busy lives we may not be aware consciously that we picked up information, yet our dreams may let us know while we sleep.

 Example 2:  I am driving up a steep hill and at the top of the hill the engine falls out of the car.  Nothing else happens, no accident, no one is hurt.

When I woke up, I remembered sitting in my car the night before, waiting for my son to come out of his karate class.  While waiting, I was off in my mind thinking about lots of things.  The weather was cold and I remember seeing steam rising up from the hood of the car.  So when I next drove my car, I looked at the engine gauge. The engine was getting too hot too fast.  I took it to the garage and learned there was a hole in a hose.

Dreams can be Metaphors:

Example 1: Marlene dreamed that two of her co-workers were in bed together.

During work, Marlene had detected something was going on between two of her co-workers but she did not register it consciously.  Their connection with each other came to her at night in her dream.

Their being in bed together could mean they are sexually involved with each other and keeping it secret, or it could mean they are conspiring with each other about work and it has nothing to do with sex.  Being in bed together can be a metaphor for secretly allying with each other in the work (or other) situation.

Now that this has been brought to Marlene’s attention, she can figure out consciously whether their alliance is sexual or conspiratorial.

 Example 2:  My good friend from university was pregnant.

Many years ago, before I had children, I had this dream.  Curious, I decided to phone her and catch up with her.  It turns out she was, in fact, pregnant.  I could not have known about it, as I had not had any contact with her for several years.  She lived in Eastern Canada and I lived on the West Coast.

When we dream about people from the past what it means depends on whether that person is in our life currently or not.  If they are, the meaning may be about the real person.  When they are not in your current life, it means they represent something to you.

My friend was married in university, had had one child and got pregnant with her second child when I knew her.  While the dream was about her, I believe the dream stemmed more from my own strong desire at the time to have children of my own.  Dreaming that she was pregnant, and it turning out to be true, was probably more a coincidence than intuition.  She represented fertility and family to me, which I longed for myself at the time.

People too often take dreams literally when they are metaphors for what is going on in one’s current life.  While they may be literal, consider the possibility they may be metaphorical or symbolic when interpreting your dreams.

 

With care and concern,

 

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams Part 3: Learning to Interpret Your Dreams.

perls

Dreams have meaning even if we cannot figure out what the meaning is.  Interpreting our own dreams is difficult because we are so close to ourselves it’s hard to get perspective.  Yet it can be done.

Dreams deal with our current life and what is going on in it.

If you dream of someone from our past, whom you have not seen in years, it means that person represents something for you and relates to your current life.  For example, you dream of the girl in high school who was considered a sexpot (she is not in your current life); it means she symbolizes something about sex for you which somehow does relate to your current life.  If she is also in your current life, it may mean something about the real person and your relationship to her or someone else that relates to sex.

If you dream of something in the future, such as becoming rich, it relates to the present and what is motivating your current behaviors.

Meaning is based in context.

We all have shared meaning of words and expressions.  But we also have idiosyncratic or personal meanings, which are significant when interpreting dreams. For instance, we all have a common meaning for the word ‘bridge’.   However, a person, whose brother attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge, will have an additional high-charged meaning to the word ‘bridge’.

Example:

Roberta and Stan each dream of a woman with a string of pearls.

Roberta had a loving grandmother who always wore a string of pearls.  She adored her grandmother and had a very close relationship to her.  For Roberta, the string of pearls was symbolic of all the good times they had together.  She frequently wore a string of pearls herself.

Stan had a nasty great aunt whom he hated.  She always wore a string of pearls. Every time she visited their home, she made his life miserable.  She disliked boys and seemed to dislike him in particular.  The string of pearls was symbolic of all the times he had to endure her visits.  He tended to be wary of women who wore pearls.

Association can give the meaning.

Since your brain created the dream, in some ways, you are every part of the dream.  You are the producer, director, actors, creatures, setting, furniture, vegetation, sky, ground, colors, sounds, actions, words and storyline.

To find out what meaning the people, objects, creatures, and places, have for you, explore the associations you have with each one.

Example:

Joey dreams of an old man floating in a leaky boat way out at sea. The feeling tone to the dream is dread.

When Joey thought of the ‘old man’, he immediately thought of his grandfather who lived on the West Coast.  His grandfather was not doing well financially. When he thought this, he had the sudden realization that he had a ‘sinking feeling’ about his future.  He did not want to end up poor like his grandfather.

Try it yourself: To get the meaning of elements in your dream take each significant element and  associate to it.  Allow for whatever thoughts to pop into your mind. Write them down as you do it. When you find the meaning it has you will resonate with it.

Become the element.

Example: 

Sara tended to overwork.  Her husband was always worried about how she was going to wear herself out.  Sara too wondered if she was doing too much.

Sara dreamed of a cat sleeping curled up in a wicker basket. Feeling tone to the dream is peaceful.

To try to get the meaning of the dream Sara talked as if she was the cat (another way to associate).  I am a fluffy orange cat.  I’m an older cat.  I’m sleeping peacefully.  I’m getting rest.

As Sara said this she realized she is not getting worn out.  She is just fine.  Like the cat she can rest, get restored and jump up and happily work some more.  She just likes to work.  Her next realization was  – her husband is not getting enough time with her.  She decided to address that issue with him instead of talking about her getting worn out.

Often the meaning of dreams is hidden in the metaphors of the dreams, such as leaky boat and rested cat.  By associating to the significant elements in the dream you can get insight into what the meaning of the dream is for you.

Have fun with this method of exploring your dreams.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Dreams Part 2: What is the Most Common Dream Theme Amongst all Cultures?

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The most common theme amongst all people is the Chase or Attack Theme.  This is a bad dream or nightmare in which someone or something is chasing the dreamer.  The dreamer may escape sometimes and other times may get caught with disastrous results. The following example shows how a client’s Chase dreams can change in a positive way during effective therapy.

TAMING the MONSTER

When I started working with Andy (Caucasian male) he was suffering from ongoing nightmares.  In the first nightmare he reported, he was frozen in terror. Nightmare:  I’m standing at the end of a large culvert.  There is a giant monster at the other end of the culvert growling and baring his teeth at me.  I’m terrified, so terrified I cannot move.  I jolt awake with my heart pounding.  

As we worked together in therapy the nightmares started shifting.  In the next series of nightmares, he is no longer paralyzed in fear.  He is able to move.  The monsters have gone.  Now an alien chases him. Nightmare:  I’m crossing a bridge trying to get away from an alien that is chasing me.  I’m running and running.  The alien is catching up to me.  I startle awake in terror.

After more sessions, the nightmares continued to shift.  In the nightmares he is still able to move.  The alien disappears and now he is chased by several vicious dogs. Nightmare:  I’m running along a dark street.  There is no one around. The buildings are all dark and empty.  I’m alone.  Vicious dogs are chasing me.  I get away from them.  I wake up feeling relief.

Weeks later the nightmares become less terrifying.  The creatures chasing him are no longer aliens or dogs, but humans, albeit, criminals.  He does not know if they are dangerous or not.  He is no longer isolated. The woman in the dream is an indication he is starting to connect to humans who are not threatening. Bad dream:  I’m running through a city at night.  There are several criminals chasing me.  I don’t know what they want from me.  I run past a place. There is a woman inside looking after a baby.  I keep running.  I wake up scared, but not too scared.

Last stages of therapy:  He is no longer being chased.  He is working with a foreign man and engaged in a joint venture of which he is in charge. Dream:  I’m at an airport.  I’ve hired an Asian helicopter pilot to take me up for a tour over the city.  He is going to show me significant areas of the city, which I want to learn about.

After nine months of therapy, Andy decided to end therapy.  He felt good about himself.  The part of himself he had disowned is now re-owned.  It is still a foreign part of himself, but he has made an alliance with it. He felt in control of himself and his life.

Interpretation:

At the beginning of therapy Andy has disowned his own power.  The monster represents his power, which is so distorted that it is not even human or animal at this point.  Through the work in therapy, he begins to own his power.  It gradually shifts –  from monster to alien –  to dogs – to criminals –  to a foreign business partner.  At the end of therapy he has a working alliance with his power even though this part of himself is still foreign to him.  He now feels in charge of himself and is able access the resources of this foreign part of himself.  The city represents life as he is living it.  By going up in a helicopter he will get a better perception of the life as he is living it. The woman in the dream represents, me, the therapist.  The baby indicates a new sense of self is emerging, which he has not yet fully owned, as a result of his owning his own power and her care.

CHASE DREAMS:

In chase dreams, the dreamer is avoiding something in his or her life.  The recurring theme indicates the dreamer is constantly bothered by what they are avoiding and they have to keep working to avoid whatever it is they fear will happen if they face it. Whether the danger is real or imaginary, it is helpful to know what the danger is so you can most effectively deal with it.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Dreams Part 1: Understanding Dreams and Dreaming.

sleep 1

Every night people dream.  They may or may not remember the dreams.  In a normal night sleep, people have four to five 90 minute cycles.  With each cycle there is a period of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.  During this stage of sleep people are having vivid dreams.  Their eyes can be seen going rapidly back and forth under the eyelids.  If someone wakes them up they will report a vivid dream.  This has been proven in sleep labs.  Over the night the length of the REM dreaming gets longer in each cycle, with the longest one occurring just before we wake up in the morning.

REM sleep/dreaming is essential to our physical and mental well-being.  If for some reason we are unable to or are prevented from REM dreaming, we become emotionally and physically ill.  If a fisherman goes out alone to fish for 48 hours and must stay awake to man his boat, he will have more periods of REM sleep than usual when he returns.

Very simply stated, one part of the brain goes to sleep while another part of the brain goes to work processing our daily life in dreams.  When awake the left-brain is focusing on doing life, and all the while the right-brain is picking up information through all of the senses (hearing, sight, taste, smell, touch and others).  During dreaming the right-brain synthesizes the tremendous amount of information it takes in, with the information and factual data from the left-brain.

What is the function of dreaming?

Dreaming helps people sort things out (whether they remember their dreams or not).  It helps people make sense of their experiences.

It is common for people to wake up in the morning, without remembering their dreams, with a decision made or problem solved.   People often say when asked to make a decision, “Let me sleep on it, and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”

The dreaming brain is highly creative because it lets go of logic.  Many new ideas, concepts, inventions, changes, art, and breakthroughs come from dreams.

Sarah McLaughlin was preparing to go into the studio to record an album.  The morning she was to do the recording, she woke up with a song in her mind,  Fly Like a Bird.  She recorded the new song along with the others she was doing that day.

Recurring dreams are significant.  They can be positive or negative.

Many athletes recall from an early age, dreams of winning an Olympic medal, standing on the podium and hearing their national anthem.  When people want something, they work hard in the daytime to perform the skills and they dream about it at night.  Their dreams are likely to come true because through their dreams they figure out how to achieve their goal.

When people are afraid they frequently dream about whatever it is that they fear – a person, an experience, an event.  Recurring nightmares or bad dreams indicate that a person has an ongoing problem in his life, which he is unable to solve.

Example:  Cindy, an adult, told a recurring nightmare she had for most of her childhood.  She was one of five children. Both her parents were verbally and emotionally abusive.  They were also physically abusive, grabbing anything at hand to hit the children with or throw at them.  In the recurring nightmare, they were chasing her.  She found, if she concentrated hard enough she could float up into the air and be out of their reach, although she could feel them grabbing at her feet.  Some nights she couldn’t get high enough and they caught her.  The nightmare stopped when she moved out of the home.

Through the next series of posts, I’m going to teach you about dreams and dreaming so you can use the knowledge to help you with your life.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triangulation Part 4: An Affair to Forget

triangulation 4

Elizabeth was in her late 20s.  She came to therapy because she was married and having an affair for 5 years.  She wanted to have children, but knew she couldn’t until she resolved her current dilemma.  It went against her own standards and values to be having an affair.  She had tried to stop it, but she had not been able to.  She was conflicted about leaving her marriage.  During Two-You Work around her conflict, an early recollection emerged.  At age 4, she remembers attending her younger sister’s funeral.  Across the graveside, she could see the pain etched on her father’s face.  Her father had accidentally backed over her sister with the car and killed her.  Somehow, as a 4 year old,  she decided not to have children because if ever she lost one, the pain would be too great.  By having the affair she was in effect blocking her natural desire to have children of her own.  Once this early recollection was brought to her awareness and was processed, Elizabeth was able to make changes in her life.  She left her husband and explored a permanent relationship with her lover. This did not work out.  She and her husband reconciled.  When Elizabeth quit therapy she was pregnant and happily expecting her first child.

An affair is often the result of triangulation.  In Elizabeth’s case, she triangulated a lover to unconsciously prevent her from having children.  Her injunction about not having children resulted from a repressed trauma at age 4.  She had never healed from the trauma and operated out of her awareness.  She could not do anything about what she did not know.

This example shows how important it is to access and heal traumas from the past.  This can be done in part by talking about the past.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

Triangulation Part 1: Understanding Family Dynamics

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Gladys hear the familiar voices.  They were getting louder and Louder.  This was nothing new. It happened all the time.  “I wonder what it is about this time”, she asked herself.  She wandered towards the sounds making sure she wasn’t making any noise. Then she heard another familiar voice – her brother’s. As usual he was coming to his mother defense.  He’d been doing this for as long as she could remember.  She watched as they all argued.  There was no point in her doing anything because they never listened to her. She slipped away back to her room.  They didn’t even notice she had been there.

What happened is triangulation.

When there is tension between two family members, a third family member is often drawn into the issue. When one child gets involved, the other children often feel “off the hook”, and they remain passive or just ignore their parents.  The function of triangulation is to diffuse the tension between the two who are stressed with each other.  The downside is that the dynamics between family members can become unhealthy for all members of a family.

In healthy families parents avoid triangulating the children when they are stressed with each other.  They tell their child that the issue is between them, and they will take care of it. Parents would remove themselves from the children’s earshot, or they would tell the children to go to their rooms or go outside and stay out of it. They would work it out themselves if possible. By the parents keeping their differences between themselves, the family dynamic remains healthy. The parents are a unit and the children know it.

Sometimes triangulation happens between parent and child and the other parent is drawn in.

Example:

Arlie and her son were arguing about his playing rugby.  She didn’t want him to play because she was afraid he’d get injured.  Stan intervened on behalf of his son and all three argued. Mom felt unsupported and angry at dad. The issue shifted from playing rugby to who was going to have their way.

A better approach (avoiding triangulation):

Stan lets his wife and son have their conversation. Later, when they are alone, Stan discusses the issue with his wife. The issue remains about playing rugby and mom’s concerns about her son getting injured. It does not become about the dynamics of their relationship with each other.

When is it NOT triangulation?

Family members can have a discussion about an issue without triangulation if the discussion remains about the topic and does not become about the dynamics between them, such as who is right/who is wrong or who is allied with whom.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Communication Skill 5: Talk with Me not at Me

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Dialogues, in which the conversation flows back and forth, create connection between people.

As I was packing up my gear from my tennis lesson today the fellow who had next session came into the court. We’d met before. To be friendly and make a bid for connection, I said to him, “It’s sure great weather for tennis.” He started talking at me about how he had solved the weather question. He kept going on and on about why people should not even bother commenting about the weather. I continued to put my tennis racquet away, thinking to myself – I was just being friendly. I grabbed my jacket and towel, found a moment when he took a breath, then remarked, “That’s how people make bids for connection” (I couldn’t resist even though I didn’t think he would get it.)  He continued to go on mentioning that the French had figured it out. By this time, I no longer knew what he was talking about, nor did I care, because I had tuned him out. It was not the first time that he greeted me with a monologue on a topic that I did not relate to. I thanked my tennis instructor, waved good-bye and left. I thought to myself, I have no interest in connecting to him if he is going to talk AT me.

Earlier, during my tennis lesson, my instructor and I had had a very engaging talk about the rivalry between, Federer and Nadal, the top two men in tennis. Federer had just beaten Nadal in Madrid, and the French Open was just about to start. We were both interested in the topic and what each other thought about it. The conversation went back and forth as we responded to each other and expressed our thoughts. It was an engaging conversation. What a different experience!

Talking AT is a monologue. It is a one-way conversation, even if there is an exchange with others.

When people are talking AT you they are telling you about their opinions, their points of view, what they think you should do or not do, their knowledge and expertise. They want you to hear and believe them. They want to influence you to do, or not do, what they want. They do not want your input – they only want you to ask them about what they think.

How can you tell if someone is talking AT you?

You tend to experience boredom, annoyance or restlessness. You tend to tune out the talker and think your own thoughts about what’s going on. You feel separate and detached from the talker. You easily get distracted. You might want to find an excuse to exit. You might also feel disrespected and put down.

Talking WITH is a dialogue. It is a shared conversational exchange about a topic or situation.

When people are talking WITH you they are sharing a conversation with you. They are open to your response(s) and want your input. They are engaged with you, and the conversation is mutually satisfactory or relevant. This holds true even if the dialogue is difficult.

How do you tell if someone is talking WITH you?

You experience involvement with the other person. You feel a connection to them. You feel paid attention to. You are usually interested in and focused on the topic or situation. You feel your input is wanted and welcomed. You feel respected and valued no matter what age you are.

Do you talk AT people or WITH them?

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Communication Skill 3: How to Handle Mixed Messages

Mixed messages

Mixed messages cause lots of communication problems in intimate relationships and in relationships in general.

A mixed message (or double message) is communication that sends conflicting information, verbally and/or non-verbally.

First of all, you need to know when you are receiving a mixed message. The way you know is by your feelings (confused) and your thoughts (puzzled). These feelings and thoughts are your cues to guide what you say and do in response.

When messages do not match they are incongruent and come in various forms:

  • 1. What a person says conflicts with what they said previously.
  • 2. What a person does conflicts with what they did previously.
  • 3. What a person says conflicts with what they do.
  • 4. What a person says conflicts with their body language.

How to respond

When you receive a mixed message, without expectation or demand for change, send both messages back to the sender. Share your confusion of thoughts and feelings. Report what was said, what was observed and describe behaviors. When you communicate in this way, the sender is more likely to respond in a positive, reasonable way. If you respond in an attacking, blaming, contemptuous or sarcastic manner, the sender is most likely to be hurt, angry and defensive.

You cannot control how the sender receives your feedback; you can only control how you deliver it.

Examples:

WHEN WORDS DO NOT MATCH WORDS:

  • 1. I’m puzzled.  Last week you said you think mothers should stay home with their babies (words), and now you’re saying mothers should work outside the home to be good role models for their children (words). I’m wondering which you believe or if you believe both.
  • 2. I’m having trouble figuring this out. You just told me you love me very much (words), and now you’re saying you need some space from me (words).

WHEN WORD DO NOT MATCH BEHAVIOURS:

  • 1. I don’t get it. You complain about me not helping (words), yet you re-do everything I do (behaviors).
  • 2. I’m not sure what to do. You say you want me to be affectionate (words), yet when I touch you, you push me away (behaviors).
  • 3. I’m confused. You said you would help me (words), but now you’re going to the store.
  • 4. I’m puzzled. You said you wanted to spend more time with your kids (words), but when they are here, you spend a lot of time on your phone (behaviors).

WHEN WORDS DO NOT MATCH BODY LANGUAGE:

  • 1.  You say you’re fine (words), yet you look sad (body language).
  • 2. I’m not sure what to believe. You said you like my plans for Saturday night (words), yet the tone of your voice has an angry edge to it (body language).
  • 3. You say you’re listening to me (words), but you have not looked at me (body language), so I’m not sure.

You cannot stop or prevent others from sending you mixed messages. What you can do is change how you respond to them. By telling the other person about your confusion, you are letting them know the impact of their behavior on you. This has the potential to improve connection.

When the other knows they are sending mixed messages, they can clarify. It could be that they are not really conflicted and don’t realize they are sounding or acting like they are.

If the sender is truly conflicted, however, your feedback brings their incongruence to their attention. It’s like holding a mirror up to them so that they can more clearly see themselves. Now, if they want, they can address it. This too, has the potential to improve connection.

Experiment with this skill and see how communication and connection shifts.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

Communication Skill 2: After the Fact

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It is not always possible to think of what to say or do in the moment. Sometimes people are distracted with something or someone else. When people are anxious they often cannot think, so they say or do nothing. Or, they may blurt out something they don’t mean or something that is not even relevant. Sometimes people laugh nervously in situations which are tense which can be awkward or embarrassing, and the laughter is usually misunderstood.

People often do not realize they can clarify or change what they said, what they agreed to, or simply change their minds. They act as if what they said and did was etched in stone. The good new is that it is easy to set things straight by speaking up after the fact.

This communication skill can be used with anyone: family, friends, bosses, co-workers, children, grocery clerks and others.

Examples:

  • a) Parent to child:  You know yesterday when I got upset with you when you told me you’d broken you grandmother’s china plate.  Well, I want you to know that it was great that you told me the truth and did not try to hide it.  It took courage for you to tell me.  I want you to be able to tell me the truth even though it may be hard.
  • b) Employee to Boss:  I told you this morning I’d have the project finished by today, but I want to let you know now I won’t get the information I need until tomorrow afternoon.
  • c) Friend to friend:  Last year we  put this trip together, and I bailed at the last minute.  I’m sorry about doing that.  I want to plan it again this year, and this time for sure I won’t cancel.

 

The After the Fact communication skill is one of the many communication skills that I teach couples. It is a very useful skill that facilitates connection between partners.

Many couples tell me that during a discussion, argument or fight they often cannot think of what to say in the moment but then later, they come up with what they could have or should have said. They find this very frustrating.  For some reason, spouses often think if they missed out saying or doing something in the moment, that nothing can be done. So they do nothing. Often they stew or ruminate about it, but it does not occur to them that they could possibly remedy the situation.  In ongoing relationships it is always possible to bring up an issue later. Later can be minutes, hours, days or even years. This keeps the lines of communication open and strengthens the connection between couples.

Examples:

  • a) A while ago you said… to me. I was surprised and didn’t know what to say. Well, now that I’ve had a chance to think about it…
  • b) You know yesterday when we were talking about… I kind of blurted out… I didn’t mean it. What I wished I’d said to you was…
  • c) I’ve been thinking about what we talked about last week, you know, about you agreeing to take on that 3 months  project overseas. I want to add that I’ve talked to my boss and he is open to letting me pick up extra hours so that we do not feel so strapped for cash. This could be an alternative to you leaving. I want to let you know that it’s important to me that we discuss financial opportunities together before making decisions that affect our family.
  • d) It’s been a month since we had that fight about you not wanting to have my parents over for the holidays. It is still bothering me. Let’s talk about it again.
  • e) When we married, 10 years ago, you said you never wanted to have kids. I want to know if that is still true for you.

When people use the After the Fact communication skill frequently, the time between the incident and the delayed communication tends to shorten. Gradually, the time becomes so short that partners are better able to think of what they want to say or do what they want to do in the moment. It’s not essential to occur in the moment, After the Fact is just fine.

The After the Fact skill is extremely helpful to keep a couple emotionally connected with positive feedback and behaviors.

Examples:

  • a) I really had a good time last night. (One partner to another about making love.)
  • b) You know, last week when we went to the concert I was so focused on getting there on time I didn’t tell you how great you looked.
  • c) The last time my parents were over you treated them really well. I appreciate how welcome you made them feel.

The more you use the After the Fact communication skill, the better you get at it.  This practice helps you become better at saying what you need to say and do, right in the moment.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

Communication Skill 1: Put the Inside Outside

communication1

Put the Inside Outside is a communication skill that I teach clients in both individual and couples sessions.

When people talk to each other they often think thoughts or have feelings that they do not reveal to others. Most of the time this is perfectly OK. It certainly would not be appropriate to say everything one is thinking or feeling. Yet often, when more information is given there are fewer misunderstandings and a greater connection.

It can be as simple as letting others know you are feeling pressured for time. In a session with client(s) if I’m running late, I often start to speak faster and may interrupt my clients, especially when working with couples. When I notice myself doing that I will say to clients, “The session is almost over and I’m feeling pressured for time to complete what we’re doing.” This helps them understand what is going on with me, and lets them know that I’m not impatient with them. They experience how it feels to be informed and usually want to cooperate. I am also teaching them the skill of Put the Inside Outside by modeling it.

When working with couples, I often find that partners do not let each other know what is going on inside of them, positive or negative. They do not give each other feedback.  It leaves each partner guessing and hoping that the impact of what they said is what they meant.

Example: In a couple’s session.

  • Wife to husband: I appreciate how you help with the kids when you get home.
  • Husband: Well I always do that.
  • Dr. Bea: Your wife just told you something that she appreciated about you. What was that like?
  • Husband: What do you mean?
  • Dr. Bea: Well, did you like her telling you that?
  • Husband: Yeah, it felt good.
  • Dr. Bea: Let her know.
  • Husband to wife: It felt good to hear you appreciate what I do.
  • Dr. Bea to wife: What was it like to hear that from him.
  • Wife: It felt really good.
  • We all laugh.

Often it is the simple things that people communicate to each other that can make a big difference to their connection with each other.

Other examples:

a) I want to tell you something, but I’m afraid of hurting your feelings.

b) It’s hard for me to let you know how much I like you.

c) I just imagined kissing you, and I’m hesitant to act on it.

d) I’m confused, I’m not sure if I should take you seriously.

e) I’m finding it very difficult to take in your compliment, but I’m working on it.

Sharing your inner thoughts and feelings is more likely to create to a stronger connection.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea Mackay

6 Steps to Enhancing Your Self-Esteem

self esteem - happy1

There are many things in life that we have to accept because we can do nothing about them.  The one thing we can change is how we relate to ourselves.

As said in previous posts (Understanding Self-Estseem and How it Develops, How early experience shape one’s relationship with one’s self and Self-Esteem – a by-product of how you treat yourself) we first have to realize we have developed a style over time.  We need to become aware of what our style is.  We may even develop different styles with different people and in different situations.  The styles may be healthy or unhealthy.  If a style is positive, such as, respecting oneself, it does not need changing (other than to enhance what is already done).  This can last a lifetime.

The styles that need changing are the ones which are unhealthy, such as not respecting, disparaging,  negating, hurting or judging oneself harshly.  Many people have harsh inner critics, treating themselves in ways they would never treat another human being.

STEPS TO CHANGE:

1: Become aware of your own personal styles.

2: Build a solid foundation.  Identify the positive interactions within yourself and choose to do them more often.

Scenario: Wenda likes to try new things even though she gets anxious. The risks she takes are reasonable and safe.  She encourages herself to keep taking risks by saying to herself.  ” I can do this.”  Afterwards she gives herself credit.  When it turns out well she says to herself, “Good for me.  I did it.”   If it goes badly, she says to herself, “OK, that did not go well, but I learned from it. At least I tried it.”

3: Change what needs changing.  Identify the negative interactions and target them for change.

Scenario: Wenda would not allow herself to accept compliments.  She would dismiss, ignore or deny them.
She decided she wanted to receive compliments.  She knew if she could take them in, she would feel better about herself.

4: Figure out new behaviours to replace the old ones.

This takes planning and experimentation. You cannot operate in a void.  You need to replace the old way with a new way.

Scenario: Wenda decided on 4 new ways she would respond when someone complemented her:

  • Thank you.
  • I’m glad you think so.
  • It’s good to hear that.
  • I appreciate your saying that.

5: The Choice Point.

This is the point at which you are aware you are (or are about to) treat yourself badly, and you mindfully decide to continue to do it, or you decide to do something different.

Scenario: Wenda’s friend complimented her on her hair.  Wenda, without thinking, replied sarcastically, “Oh yeah, right.”  Suddenly, Wenda realized she had just done her old thing.  She looked at her friend and said, “I mean, thank you.”

6:  Practice, practice, practice.

Experimenting means that sometimes what you try will go badly.  Expect those times to happen.  Do your best to laugh them off, dismiss them, and learn from them.  Encourage and support yourself to try again.  Gradually, you’ll replace a bad habit with a good habit, an unhealthy habit with a healthy habit.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Self-Esteem is a by-product of how you treat yourself.

self esteem girl

Everyone has a relationship with him or her self.  It is the quality of that relationship that determines the level of one’s self-esteem.

If you listen to people when they talk, you can detect whether they value themselves or not:

  • I’m mad at myself for forgetting to ……..
  • I’m pleased with myself.  I figured out how to do it on my own.
  • I’m such a coward.  I can’t face………
  • What do I know, I’m just a silly old woman.
  • I feel really good about myself for sticking to my exercise program.
  • I’m such a loser!
  • I feel more confident now that I have completed my course.
  • I can be really hard on myself.
  • I have a difficult time accepting positive feedback.

Self-esteem can also be observed in body language:

  • Sue wraps her arms around herself when she’s scared.
  • Jack slaps the top of his head when he’s annoyed with himself.
  • Jaime soothes herself by stroking her hair.
  • Andrew twists the hair on the top of his head when he is nervous.
  • Sam calms himself by stroking his beard.

We are so close to ourselves it is hard to have clear perspective on ourselves. It is easier to see how others treat themselves than it is to be aware of how we treat ourselves.  Our relationship happens in our heads with words and images and in our bodies with sensations. Hold the palm of your hand an inch from your nose.  You can see your hand, but it is a blur. Gradually pull your hand away until your hand comes into focus. Now you can see your hand in clear detail.

This is what happens with your relationship with yourself. To be aware of the quality of your relationship with yourself, it helps to gain some perspective.  You may know that you are hard on yourself or that you feel guilty a lot of the time, but you may not realize how you make that happen inside your head.

AWARENESS IS THE KEY TO CHANGE

To increase your awareness of how you treat yourself start by noticing:

  • What you say about yourself (your choice of words and the metaphors you use).
  • How you say it (the tone of voice, body language).
  • What  images you see.

That’s it for now,   Just notice.

Next post:  What to do next.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

How early experience shape one’s relationship with one’s self.

hand on head

 

Children need their parents’ love, attention, acceptance, and guidance as a plant needs water.  If they do not get it growing up, as adult they may spend their whole lives trying to get it from their parents.  They may also try to get it from bosses, friends, teachers, coaches,and neighbours as well.

Children tend to treat themselves how they are treated by their parents.  If both parents treated them well, children are likely to internalized this style, and treat themselves well.  This is also true if their parents treated them badly; they are likely to internalize that style and treat themselves badly.  Children’s self-esteem is also affected by how their parents treat each other.

It’s not that simple though.  Families are complicated.  There are so many factors influencing children’s self-esteem as they grow:  birth order, extended family, religious affiliations, talents, energy level, school and others.  Sometimes parents and grandparents (even other family members and teachers) prefer one gender to another.  Perhaps one parent prefers boys and the other prefers girls.  How people treat each gender impacts the children’s self-esteem positively or negatively.  Witnessing one’s siblings being favored or unflavored also influences his or her own self-esteem.

My father was the eldest of 10.  I don’t know why, but he did not like boys.  Growing up I was unaware of this, so I did not notice how he treated my brothers.  Perhaps it was because my father had 7 brothers and 2 sisters.  I was lucky.  I was born a girl in this family.  I felt adored by my father and I enjoyed his attention.  I liked being a girl.

It is common knowledge that parents, who treat their children badly, harm their children’s self-esteem.  It is also possible to harm a child’s self-esteem by excessive and undeserved praise.

Scenario

From the time Cercy was born, she was praised excessively by both parents, but mostly her mother.  Her self-esteem was extremely high.  She thought she was marvellous in every way.  When she went to school, she got a reality check.  She was not nearly as competent and capable as she had been led to believe.  It shook her confidence to the core.  She began to doubt herself.  She would dismiss praise or any positive feedback she received.

At the core of self-esteem is one’s relationship to one’s self.  What a child experiences in their family of origin, extended family, the neighbourhood, school, and other childhood experiences, heavily influences how a child treats himself.

This pattern, established in childhood, goes into the subconscious and operates out of awareness.  When the relationship with self is positive, no problem is created so it may work well for a lifetime.  If it’s not, it needs to be revised.  But how?

Next post will discuss how.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I Please have Another Helping of Self-Esteem? Understanding Self-Estseem and How it Develops

self-esteem mirroe

 

People tend to think of self-esteem almost as if it is a product you can buy. Perhaps it is because of all the advertising which shows people smiling and feeling good when they use the products. Or, they think of it as a condition, like needing more iron in their diet or getting more rest.

Self-esteem is the result or outcome of one’s relationship with one’s self.  It is a by-product of how a person treats him or herself.

 

How do people develop a relationship with self?

Children are not born having a relationship with self.  It starts with their relationship with others.  Parents do things to them and with them.  Babies and toddlers respond and react to the ways in which they are handled and cared for.  Over time they develop a relationship with self from how they are treated by others. The quality of those interactions is a major factor in determining the quality of relationship a child develops with himself.

Children are not born loving themselves.  They learn they are loveable (or not) by the experiences of being loved by those that look after them.  At first, love comes externally. If they feel loveable, over time children internalize the love they experience and in this way they learn to love themselves.

 How do children determine whether they are loved and valued or not?

Scenario:

Billy knew he was loved.  As a baby, his mother’s eyes lit-up when she saw him.  She talked to him a lot.  She was always affectionate with him and took very good care of him.

His father smiled at him frequently.  He spent time with him: playing roughhousing, sports and games.  He taught him many things about the world and the way it worked.  If Billy had any questions or problems, he knew he could always go to either parent. They stood up for him whenever they thought he needed support and gave him constant guidance. His parents did not have much money, yet they created a safe fun environment.

Billy felt loved, valued, understood, protected, and accepted.  He felt cherished, just because he existed. He felt he belonged in his family. He felt good about himself, confident in himself and his abilities.  To him, the world was an amazing place.

Scenario 2

Sammy was not sure if he was loved or not.  He had a sad mother. She took care of him, but she rarely smiled at him. She often did not look at him directly as she cared for him.  She was impatient, yelling a lot. She was seldom affectionate, and she seemed to resent the time she spent with him.  She read a lot.  Sometimes she was okay, even telling him she loved him. But Sammy did not feel loved.

Dad was away half the time, and when he was home he was tired and distracted.  He did not have time or energy for Sammy.  When he heard his parents arguing, it was always about him.  He felt like it was his fault, that he was bad, but he wasn’t sure how. The family had money, and it seemed to Sammy that money is what mattered, not him.

Sammy did not feel loved or valued. He felt he was a burden on his mother and father.  He tried to be as good as he could to please his parents, but it rarely worked.  He didn’t really feel he belonged to this family, more like he was visiting and it would soon end.  He did not feel good about himself.   He was unsure of how to be and how to act.  The world was a scary place that he had to figure out on his own.

Each child comes to conclusions about themselves from their experiences of interactions with parents and others in their childhood. These conclusions may be accurate or inaccurate. Children do not even realize they come to conclusions; they are just living their lives. Some adults report specific memories of decisions they deliberately made as a young child. But most of the time, these conclusions are made without realizing it, get buried in the subconscious and operate out of awareness.

When a child has felt loved, valued and connected to the significant people in his life, he is more likely to love and value himself, that is, he is more likely to have high self- esteem. Conversely, when a child experiences lack of love and belonging, he is less likely to love and value himself, that is, he is more likely to have low self-esteem.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Safety First: How to Reduce Kids Fighting when Driving in the Car.

driving

 

Safety is first and foremost when driving a vehicle.

Fighting and goofing around are distracting to the driver.  It is also dangerous for the drivers to be upset and yelling at their passengers.  The best thing to do is develop a strategy for safe driving.

When my kids were young, we spent a lot of time driving from one activity to another.  We lived several miles from most activities so there was lots of time spent in the car.  When they would fight or noisily goof around, I found it distracting.  Yelling didn’t work, and besides I hated yelling and nagging at them.

I decided to stop trying to make them stop.  I developing a strategy.  I told them it was not safe for me to drive when there is fighting going on.  I told them I would pull over to the side of the road as soon as it was safe to do so and wait until they stopped.  They didn’t believe me, but I knew they wouldn’t until I followed through on what I had said I’d do.

So I began to do it.  At first it happened quite a lot.  I kept my word – I pulled over as soon as it was safe to do so and waited until they quieted down.  In the beginning it seemed like a game to them.  I was careful to keep my body language neutral and matter-of-fact, no eye rolling, no heavy sighs, no tense clipped speech.  One time, they took a particularly long time to quiet down.  So instead of “losing it” I stepped out of the vehicle and stood beside it.  I never left the boys alone in the vehicle.  When they finally quieted down, I got back in the car and without saying a word, started driving again.  They didn’t like just sitting in the car and not getting where they were going whether it was school, soccer or home.  So they started quieting down sooner.  Eventually, when they realized I was slowing down to pull off to the side of the road, they would quickly quiet down.  Without saying a word, I would pull back onto the road and speed up.

Somewhere along the way, it became a non-issue, without anyone discussing it.  Being noisy in the car just seemed to hardly happen at all.

This was accomplished without me yelling, getting upset, reasoning, pleading, nagging, threatening, guilt-tripping, being impatient or getting angry.  Having a strategy really helped me remain calm.  I felt in control of the situation in a way that was positive for the boys.

NOTE:

Consistency when carrying out a strategy is imperative to its success.

It may take some time for the plan to take effect so be prepared to be patient.  The plan may even have to be tweaked a bit.

The attitude used to implement the strategy is also key to a successful outcome.

The same strategy used with an angry negative delivery could turn into a power struggle.  This could make the dynamics between all persons involved worse.

 

Strategies on positively influencing others’ tardiness by changing your own behaviour .

 

look at watch

When getting along with others, there are times when things do not go well.  You address the person(s) involved with the hope and expectation of coming to a mutually satisfying resolution.  Lots of time this works.   An example is choosing a designated driver when drinking and driving is involved.

However, sometimes it does not work, or works for a while and then reverts back.  When the situation is ongoing, a different approach is needed.  Developing strategies is one way to address the situation.

Strategy Development:

The goal of the strategy is to change the relationship in a way that enhances the relationship (win-win).

The strategy is to provide a reasonable consequence that motivates positive change.

The person(s) developing the strategy choose behaviours that are congruent with who she or he is.

Consistency is imperative to success.  You need to be consistent (in this case leave after 30 minutes) in carrying out the strategy to avoid giving mixed messages to the other person.

NOTE:  How the strategy is carried out is critical to its effectiveness.  The delivery and the intent needs to be in a warmly matter-of-fact attitude with the genuine goal of enhancing the relationship(s). If it is carried out with anger or a negative “I’ll show you.” attitude, the consequence intended turns into punishment. This will backfire and likely destroy relationships.

Developing a strategy for lateness:

Occasional lateness is not a problem.  Life is life and sometimes tardiness cannot be helped or people just mess up.  The problem occurs when someone is consistently late and will not respond positively to complaints about it.  Usually they dismiss or discount the complaints with accusations of over-reacting and over sensitivity.

Cynthia’s friend Rhonda is chronically late.  Cynthia decides how long she is willing to wait past the agreed upon time without getting resentful. She decides on 30 minutes.  For example, if they agree to meet at 6:30 pm, Cynthia is willing to wait until 7:00 pm without being resentful.  After that, if Rhonda has still not come, she is going to carry out her Plan B for the evening.

The next time Cynthia and Rhonda agree to meet up, Cynthia tells her in a friendly manor that she is OK with waiting up to 30 minutes longer than the time they agree on.  If Rhonda arrives within that time frame Cynthia expresses her appreciation.  If Rhonda is longer than 30 minutes, Cynthia leaves and carries out her plans on her own.  Cynthia is to carry on her relationship with Rhonda as usual.  She is not to complain or explain to Rhonda.  If Rhonda asks her what happened, Cynthia is to say in a friendly manner she waited the 30 minutes,and then left because she was not sure Rhonda would come.  If Rhonda is angry, Cynthia is not to get caught up in her anger.  Cynthia can again express that their relationship is important to her.  Cynthia has let Rhonda know she will act on her word.  Cynthia no longer feels powerless; she is no longer resentful.

How Rhonda responds or reacts lets Cynthia know if Rhonda values their relationship as much as she does.  If Rhonda values their relationship and wants to be sure she meets up with Cynthia, she will be there within the 30-minute window, maybe even on time.  If Rhonda continues to be too late, Cynthia will realize that Rhonda does not value their relationship.  She may choose not to be friends any more.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

Do you have a need to be right?

 

guide

It is OK to want to be right.  It is OK to like to be right.  It is a problem to need to be right.

Scenario:

Cynthia was upset.  She was disappointed in her friend, Rhonda, because last night for the umpteenth time, Rhonda had kept her waiting for over an hour before finally showing up.  Cynthia called her friend, Brenda, to talk about her frustration and hurt.  She told Brenda that she has talked to Rhonda about her always being late but it has made no difference.  Each time Rhonda would accuse Cynthia of over-reacting and making a big deal over nothing. Rhonda believed she was doing nothing wrong.  Cynthia felt disrespected.  Brenda suggested that she stop trying to explain and reason with Rhonda and change what she is doing.  But Cynthia said she believed that talking things through was the right thing to do so she saw no reason to change since she was doing nothing wrong.  Brenda agreed that talking things through was the right thing to do, however, that was clearly not working for Cynthia.  Brenda asked Cynthia if she had a need to be right?  Cynthia said, “No, but I have a need to be respected”.  Brenda suggested that instead of talking to Rhonda, Cynthia develop a strategy for the next time they meet.  Together, Brenda and Cynthia developed a strategy with Cynthia standing up for herself while maintaining and enhancing the relationship.  Example of strategy:http://decisionquiz.com/blog/2013/01/28/strategies-on-positively-influencing-others-tardiness-by-changing-your-own-behaviour/

How do you know if you have a need to be right?

  • You feel threatened.
  • You are rigid.
  • You feel like you’re in a battle and you need to win.
  • You back up your position with authority.  (My religious leader agrees with me.  We always did it this way in our family, My mother/father says I’m right. My therapist says I’m right. Your best friend thinks I’m right. The Bible/Koran says it is so. etc)
  • You accuse the other person(s) of needing to be right and you want to prove them wrong.

 

How do you know if you do not have a need to be right?

  • You do not feel threatened.
  • You are flexible.
  • You stay focused on the issue without any argument or hassle, just the discussion (could be a heated discussion).
  • For you, who is right or wrong is a non issue.  Addressing the issue is the focus for you.
  • You recognize other(s) have a need to be right and it does not bother you.  You can let them be right.  It is no way makes you feel unimportant or wrong.
  • You focus on the issue and find a way that works for you.  They feel they are right and that is perfectly OK for you.
  • You use their need to be right to get a mutually satisfactory resolution.
  • You do not need to back up your position with authority figures or symbols.
  • You think in different terms than right or wrong. Such as, whether this is working or not.
  • You say things like “You might be right, yet your solution does not work for me.  Let’s find a solution that works for both of us.

 

Think of rules as guidelines that are flexible and not carved in stone.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

 

Letting go of Thinking in Terms of Right or Wrong

wrong way

 

Many people want to do the right thing. Perhaps even more people focus on trying not to do the wrong thing.

The problem is, it is not always easy to know what the right thing is.  People disagree on what is right and what is wrong.  What is right in one culture is wrong in another culture.  For example in some cultures it is considered disrespectful to be late and in others it is considered rude to be on time. What is right for one person may not not be right for another. Times change. What is right at one point in time may not be right at another point in time. Frequently, we get new information that teaches us what we used to think was right is now proven to be wrong.

Also, being in the right is not always a good thing. For example, if you’re on the highway and get injured or killed in an accident, it does you no good if you are in the right and the other driver is in the wrong.

If you’re not going to think in terms of what is right and what is wrong, then how do you think?

Instead of asking if this is right or wrong, ask different questions,

Is this productive or not productive?
Is this healthy or unhealthy?
Is this helpful or unhelpful?
Will this make me happy or unhappy?
Is what I’m doing working or not working?
Is this constructive or not constructive?
Will this make things better or make things worse?
Is this respectful or disrespectful?

and others.

By asking different questions, it becomes clearer what to do or not do.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Sent from my iPad ebooks

Getting started in Yoga

 

yoga

For years I knew of yoga but I did not learn about it.  I thought it was just about stretching and nothing more.  I like action so it had no appeal for me.  About five years ago I decided to try it.  There was a yoga studio below my office and it couldn’t be more convenient.

The first few sessions I found very tedious.  I kept looking at the clock on the wall –  only 5 minutes have gone by.  My mind was full of chatter.  I continued and looked at the clock again – only two minutes had gone by.  However, I kept paying attention to the instructor, listening to her voice directing me to my body.

It took about five sessions of listening to the instructor and paying attention to my body before something happened.  Then, unexpectedly, in one session I felt a shift.  I started to yawn and continued to yawn throughout the session.  I experienced time differently.  Time seemed to expand, and yet go by quickly.  Time ceased to matter.  The chatter in my mind stopped. My body was the focus in a way I’d never experienced before.  At the end of the session I fell asleep and the instructor woke me up by gently shaking my leg.  I felt refreshed and restored.

Now when I do yoga I know that to get the experience of yoga, I focus on my body.  Sometimes it takes me longer than others to make the shift.  But I know when it happens because I start to yawn and the sense of time changes.

I realized from this experience that yoga is a state of being.  By focusing on my body in the moment, I shifted from one part of my brain (thinking brain) to a different part (sensing brain).  I achieved the state of yoga through my body.  Once I experienced this state of being, I gained a whole new understanding and respect for yoga.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

Let the signals your body sends you be your guide to action.

ExhaustionPeople tend to think what they experience, positive or negative, comes “out of the blue”.  But usually there are signals along the way that they do not recognize.

The first time I ever experienced exhaustion was after having my first baby.  I had no idea what exhaustion felt like.  I had had a difficult birth, spent 8 days in the hospital, and when I got home I just expected myself to carry on as I had before the birth.  One afternoon a neighbour came over to visit and see the new baby.  She asked me how I was, and I responded that I was fine.  We talked some more, and she asked me again how I was.  Again, I responded that I was fine.  The third time she asked me I started to cry and couldn’t stop.  I had no idea what was wrong with me.  I got her to leave, and then I thought I’d go grocery shopping because I knew that out in public I’d stop crying.  Well, I had difficulty paying the cashier for the groceries because the tears were rolling down my face and I could not talk.  She couldn’t give me my change fast enough.  Once I got home I had to acknowledge that something was wrong with me, and it took me a while to realize it was exhaustion.

Because of that experience, I learned that my body gives me signals about my level of fatigue.  But because I had never been exhausted before, I did not recognize the signals.  Even if I had noticed them, I would not have known what to do about it.

What I learned about myself.  When I’m somewhat tired my left eyelid twitches, and when I’m very tired, I get a specific type of nausea.  These two signals now guide me on when I need to rest.  The eyelid twitch is a ‘heads-up’ to plan to get some rest soon, and the nausea is strong message I need to rest ASAP.  I have learned to respect these signals and act on them.  It prevents me from getting to the state of exhaustion again.

Pay attention to the sensations in your body and learn what they mean.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

I’m back! Time for me to continue blogging.

It’s been awhile. Let me explain my absence. I’d written a manual for therapists on how to work with client’s who are conflicted with self or others. In February 2011, I found a publisher, Gerda Wever, founder of Writeroompress Press. Once we agreed to work together, the work began in ernest.

I already had two workshop proposals, based upon the material of my manual, accepted for the World Congress of Psychotherapy to be held in Sydney, Australia in August, 2011. Gerda believed we could have the book published in time for me to take with me to the conference. I really liked having a deadline.

There was still editing to be done on the manual. I continued to work with my editor whom I’d been working with prior to finding Gerda. I was working full time yet had to spend a lot of time editing and re-writing the manual. I worked late nights and went to work in the days. I had done this when I was at university and didn’t think I’d be able to do it again. But having a deadline is very motivating, so I was up for it. I really wanted to have the book to take with me to the conference. I was working on right up to the time I left on the plane.

I was so busy that something had to go. It was blogging that I put on hold.

Next post, why it took me so long to get back.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea