How to Resolve Conflicts and Communicate Successfully

Have you ever felt like others misunderstand your words and intentions? Do you find yourself getting in similar conflicts over and over? Do you find it hard communicating with certain persons? If you’re finding yourself in these statements, you’re not alone feeling like this. Whether you’re experiencing conflicts in your workplace, with your family or romantic partner, it’s extremely stressful.

A Way To Learn to Better Communicate and Resolve Conflicts

Alan Sharland, according to his webpage, has spent over 18 years as a Mediator and Trainer in Conflict management skills. As such, helped thousands of people to resolve conflicts successfully.

In his e-book, he writes about helping people create more effective ways of communicating. For example, as conflict can bring about emotional difficulties, he writes about helping people find more creative ways of responding within their conflicts. What Alan shares is what to consider and become aware of when communicating with others, whether the conflict gets resolved or not, so that we can continue on enjoying what relationships should bring to our lives.

How do you feel about conflicts in your life? Have you read Alan’s e-book? It might be useful for you, check it out.

If you would like to learn more about conflicts and successful communication, you might want to take a look at our article: “Disagreeing but Staying Cool”. You’ll find 3 strategies to disagreeing on certain issues while still maintaining a good connection with the person you’re disagreeing with.

stress management counselling mississauga

Stress Management

The term “stress” may be considered and felt by an individual when a situation or event is perceived by a person as being overwhelming, beyond their abilities to cope, and threatening to their well-being.

The results of stress can leave individuals feeling exhausted, fatigued, and depressed. Thus, health problems can arise, such as headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Additionally, stress can affect the person in many other ways and areas, including their work, relationships, school performance, social relationships, etc.

Why Does Stress Happen?

Stress is a natural response to a threatening situation, or, at least, something we consider threatening, even if, in reality, it’s not. This is what is called a Fight or Flight Response – when our body goes into hyperarousal, a physiological reaction occurs in response to a perceived attack, harmful event, or threat to our survival.

External Sources of Stress

Physical environment: noises, confined spaces, temperature, comfort

Social: conflict, confrontation, sensitizing

Organizational: changes, transitions, mergers, downsizing, deadlines, regulations, enforcement’s, rules, strict authority

Major life events: promotion, moving into a new home, new baby, death of a relative, wedding, divorce

Daily hassles: mindlessness, commuting, crowds, misplaced things, running errands


Internal Sources of Stress

Negative self-talk: criticalness towards self, over-analyzing, negativity, pessimistic thinking/attitude

Lifestyle: lack of sleep, overloaded schedule, caffeine, unhealthy diet, alcohol, drugs

Personality traits: perfectionism, workaholic, pleaser, difficulty setting healthy boundaries

Cognitive: all or nothing thinking, mind reading, unrealistic expectations, taking things personally, exaggerating, rigid thinking


How to Decrease Stress

  • Introduce healthy lifestyle habits (day-by-day)
  • Decrease (or eliminate) caffeine (coffee, tea, pop, chocolate)
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Decrease the consumption of junk food
  • Engage in social activities, as well as leisure activities
  • Practice relaxation, meditation, yoga, mindfulness therapy (like online hypnotherapy), or CBT.
  • Enhance money and time management skills
  • Learn to be assertive
  • Increase coping skills
  • Practice effective problem-solving skills
  • Change your thinking
  • Keep healthy expectations (realistic)
  • Enjoy a sense of humour!
  • Have a support system around you
mississauga counselling

Life Choices

As we transition into Autumn here in Ontario, I find myself reflective about my own life choices as well as about some of the stories my clients have shared with me.

One of the beautiful things about life is that we have an abundance of choice around us. Have you walked down the aisle’s of your grocery store lately? What about exploring the department store? Let’s not even talk about the ways to express yourself through social media!

These choices are great; they provide us with options, allow us to feel empowered and abundant. However, sometimes perhaps these choices can lead to a “road block”, where we have TOO many choices and are left feeling stumped.

From what I’ve observed, making choices about certain transitions or changes in your life can sometimes feel overwhelming. Let’s face it, when we think about the big, “life-impacting” decisions we have around us, they are just that, “life-impacting”! So, how do you make these decisions with clear eyes and open hearts?

The important piece to this, in my opinion, is to make your decision based on your values, and what you want for YOU. It’s your life to live. So, without prevail, embrace what you really want, with logic, and with a smile.

insecurity-in-a-relationship

How to Overcome Insecurity in a Relationship

Let’s face it – feeling insecure is draining! Insecurity in a relationship can be the main cause of jealousy, accusing, a constant need for validation, misunderstandings, and fights. In order to make your relationship work, you need to overcome uncertainties about yourself. Enjoying more of life and your partner will empower you with positive feelings.

What Can Help Me to Overcome Insecurity in a Relationship?

Insecurities can happen as a result of a rocky childhood, a relationship that went sour, or people with low self-esteem. No one is perfect, but we really don’t have to be. This article, by uncommonhelp.me, outlines quite nicely how to overcome insecurities in a relationship. Here’s the link to read more: http://www.uncommonhelp.me/articles/overcoming-insecurity-in-relationships/

Insecurities in a relationship can ruin even the happiest moments. Thus, discovering where your insecurities come from is important for resolving some issues you might have with your partner. Maybe your insecurities are coming from the type of attachment you developed throughout your life. Read our article: “How Attached are you?” to find out more.

What do you do to improve your self-esteem? Moreover, did you tell yourself you’re gorgeous today? Because you are!

A New Perspective On Your Environment

We wake up each morning, thankful for the opportunity to see the beautiful day ahead of us. What’s the forecast for the day? Maybe there are clouds rolling through the sky, or perhaps the sun is shining down on you, filling your body with warmth, Vitamin D, and rays of love. As the day progresses, you start your day’s activities – take a shower, eat breakfast, go to work. As it gets later in the day, you don’t often realize how fast time has gone by, and how much life is happening all around you.

So often we consume ourselves with tasks – keeping busy makes us feel productive, “fulfilled”, and satisfied thinking that we are doing something we “should” be doing. Have you ever stopped yourself in the moment and thought, “Wow, where did today go?” or “Why is time going by so slow?”  We’ve been conditioned by our culture in Canada to keep at it, to work hard at our jobs and to give our company’s overtime: but at what cost?

I’ve spent the past year focused on being more mindful. Mindfulness is a state of focusing actively on the present, without judgment towards your feelings or thoughts. When you’re more mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without criticizing or judging them as good or bad. I like to imagine it as seeing your thoughts and feelings on a cloud in the sky. You see them there, but you just observe them as they float on by.

Taking a New Perspective Through Mindfulness

From my experience, practicing mindfulness takes time and patience. For the newbie, the concept of actively focusing on the present can seem difficult, or even daunting! “How do I observe my thoughts? I’m thinking about all of my day’s activities, troubles, concerns…it’s so hard for me to NOT think about them!” Well, it is true. It is hard for those just starting out. But, let me reinforce how valuable this technique is, the more you practice, and the more you integrate it into your life.

I heard an analogy once about learning something new. I think it relates very nicely to mindfulness, or even other techniques in personal development. In Canada, we drive on the right-hand side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the left-hand side of the car. Now, imagine you’re in Antigua, where they drive and sit on the opposite side. In this situation, we’re assuming you already know how to drive. But, you don’t have experience with driving in this type of environment. So how will you learn this new skill? Well, you’ll probably learn the rules and patterns of this different style of driving, and then get real experience behind the wheel. While driving, all of your focus will be on paying attention to the details around you (as it really should be when you’re driving!). After time, and practice, you’ll start to get the hang of things, and this new skill won’t seem as difficult.

So, as you’re going about your day-to-day business and activities, start to notice what in your life is on autopilot. Are you noticing your actions? Are you consciously aware of your activities and surroundings? If you’ve answered no to any of these then stop for a moment, and notice the sounds around you. Maybe the humming of a fan, or the sound of the breeze against the leaves, or the dogs barking in the distance. Next, stimulate your eyes! Tune in to the colours around you; let your eyes soak in life’s beauty.

As they say, “stop and smell the roses.”

 

mindfulness mississauga ontario

3 Tips for a Family Day

Today here in Ontario we are celebrating “Family Day”. Family Day was passed by Dalton McGuinty in 2007, and the first one was observed in 2008.

People can define family in many ways; a group of people affiliated by consanguinity (by recognized birth), affinity (by marriage), or co-residence/shared consumption (see Nurture kinship). Members of the immediate family may include a spouse, parent, brother and sister, and son and daughter. Close friends can also be considered family, as well as close-knit communities you live in.

What Does Family Day Mean to You?

Understanding your own values (even going through an exercise of reciting your values is helpful), and knowing why you keep in touch, why you connect, and why you hold these relationships dear to you can provide insight to your motives of keeping family around.

Here are some tips for Family Day:

1) Spend time with people you like. People that help you thrive, people that help you grow, and people that make you smile. Remember, you can choose who these are.

2) Do something fun! Life is sweet! Spend some quality time getting to know your family more.

3) Embrace some traditions, but make some new ones as well! Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

4) If family history and heritage interests you, why not find a website and start searching? Learning about your family’s past can be super-interesting!

 

Happy Family Day!

Book Review – How To Get Free Accommodation Around The World

 The “Professional Hobo”, aka Nora Dunn, provides readers concise, real-life examples of how to creatively find resources for free accommodation while traveling.

I came across Nora’s website after doing some research on those who have traded in their “rat-race” lifestyle for more “lifestyle design”, as Tim Ferris would put it. I’ve been intrigued lately with the psychology of-

1) letting go of materialistic possessions (living more of a minimalistic life), and

2) escaping the 9-5 and living a more stress-free life.

Many of the clients I see in therapy talk to me about how much pressure and stress they’re under. Working 50+ hours/week while trying to pay their bills, meeting their individual and family needs (they say there are never enough hours in the day), and complain about how many hours a day they spend commuting. Sometimes, I think, “there has to be more to life than this!”

After reading a bit about Nora’s exotic locations, seeing her pictures of paradise, and “care-free” smile on her face, I decided to change something. What inspired me to reach out to her specifically is that she’s an Ontario born-and-raised lady as well. Nora’s bio (in brief): in 2006 she sold her lucrative financial-advising practice, got rid of most belongings, and decided to set sail on an excursion most dream about.

Nora’s Tricks for Those Who Like to Travel and Get Free Accommodation Around the World

In, How To Get Free Accommodation Around The World, Nora walks through 5 areas you can realistically use along your travels to get free accommodation. At first, I was a little skeptical about some of the suggestions Nora points out. However, after some double-checking on the Internet, I found out that lots of other people do it too! What I liked most about this resource is that Nora provides specific examples of how and where you can come across free accommodation. I was curious about most, so I checked out a few of them…

and…

after looking, I actually signed up for some of her suggestions for my travels. Nora also shares hers, or other travelers’ experiences with the suggestions she provides. Don’t most of us look for some type of “testimonial” when embracing something new?

This book, by far, is a comprehensive resource guide for those who are thinking about ditching the traditional lifestyle. It’s also immensely useful for those who already started with it and try to find smart ways to save money. Nora’s bubbly personality is seen throughout the book, and, of course, her personal website: The Professional Hobo.

10 Things You Can Do To Increase Your Happiness

If you ask people what is the purpose of life, what is the one thing they strive to achieve in life, the majority of them will probably respond with one thing:

“To be happy.”

Happiness is the most important desire people have, something everybody wants in their lives. However, for different individuals, happiness means different things. Some find happiness in hanging out with friends and socializing while others enjoy little pleasures by themselves, such as a warm bath or a good book, more. All in all, everybody wants to achieve this state, and many don’t know how.

Buffer.com has shared a great article, backed by science, on 10 things you can do to increase your happiness. Here they are:

1. Exercise More

Scientific research showed that exercising daily can help you to relax, increase your brain power and even improve your body image, even if you don’t lose any weight. Additionally, it exercise is proven to be an effective tool in battling depression.

2. Sleep more

We know that sleep helps our bodies to recover from the day and repair themselves and that it helps us focus and be more productive. Well, scientists found out it’s also important for our happiness. How well we sleep affects our productivity, as well as our sensitivity to negative emotions.

3. Move closer to work

Research shows that commute to work affects our happiness, even more than having a big house. Seriously! On the other hand, when you think about it, commuting is something we do twice a day, five times a week; it’s no surprise it has such a dramatic negative impact on our happiness.

4. Spend time with friends and family

Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the top five regrets of the dying. But it can also instantly increase your happiness, even if you’re an introvert. Among numerous other studies, The Terman study found that relationships and how we help others were important factors in living long, happy lives.

5. Go outside

Making time to go outside on a nice day can improve your happiness drastically. One study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, but broadened thinking and improved working memory.

6. Help others

Helping others actually makes you happier and more satisfied with your life. For example, spending money on other people makes us happier than buying stuff for ourselves. Also, volunteering is another way to make other people lives better, but also to improve your own.

7. Practice smiling

Smiling itself can help us feel better, but it has even more powerful effect when backed up with positive thoughts. Even forcing a smile when we don’t feel like it is enough to lift our mood slightly.

8. Plan a trip

You certainly know that excitement when you think about your future holiday. Well, it turns out that planning your vacation actually makes you feel happier. One study showed that the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks!

9. Meditate

Meditation clears your mind, calms you down, and makes you feel more relaxed. But it’s also been often proven to be the single most effective way to live a happier life. We can literally “rewire” our brain for happiness with meditation.

10. Practice gratitude

Expressing gratitude can increase your happiness dramatically. Additionally, you’ll be more satisfied with your life in general.

 

Take a look at the whole article on this link: http://blog.bufferapp.com/10-scientifically-proven-ways-to-make-yourself-happier

 

What have you tried today to increase your happiness?

 

motivation

A Fresh Re-Start

So you’ve been slacking on your new year’s resolution; who hasn’t? The question now is: are you going to make the necessary changes to achieve your goals? Remember, a positive mindset is required with the ambition to do more. Here, we will work on the times when doubt creeps into your mind and you find yourself loosing your motivation, slacking again. So even as the snow thaws out and the flowers start to bloom, note if your new year’s resolutions are starting to dwindle in your mind. Let’s take this post to reflect on the reasons why we chose those goals and how we can stick to achieving them in the coming months.

How Do You Speak About your Goals?

Let’s first look at how you articulated our goals to others. Did you scream it from the rooftop after too much champagne? Or maybe you scribbled it in the sand before the tide came in? Either way, you found some way to tell others what your goals are for this year. But after that night, did you write them out somewhere? A place you know you would read them? Because something as simple as writing on a blank page and posting it on the wall can go a long way toward helping you reach that goal, one day at a time.

Another effective method, that puts more accountability on your actions, is using an agenda. Did you reach your milestones in the time you allotted yourself?

Whichever method you decide to use, just make sure you stay aware of both: where you want to be and when you want to be there. Try to repeat the goal over and over to yourself, take the time to listen to what you are saying. This technique can up your stakes on your goals, by helping you dig deep and finding the real motivators behind them.

 

How to Motivate Yourself

Visualizing what you want to accomplish is important for motivation. Did you want to exercise to fit into those skinny jeans? Or did you want to give your doctor less concern about cholesterol levels? Take a few days to really listen to what the foundation is for your goals. Something you can do to help determine motivation is weighing the pros and cons of your thought process on making these changes: What am I gaining? What am I avoiding?

Motivating factors can be described as:

1      Fear: “If you don’t do the dishes you’re not going out tonight!”

2      Incentive: “If you meet your sales quota this month you’ll get a $1000 bonus on your paycheck”

3      Intrinsic (attitude/internal): “I complete this 5km run because doing so gives me a sense of accomplishment – and I know it’s good for my physical and mental health.”

By now you should start getting a clearer picture of where your goals are being formulated. Have you found something you’re passionate about? Is there something you know you have been putting off for years? Use this awareness to embracing your purpose for this year. I am not trying to make you uncomfortable by overwhelming you with an overarching reason for your actions, but rather trying to draw out some accountability about how you act towards your goal. As these actions are rooted in how your goals are presented to you, both internally and externally.

Internal (intrinsic) vs. External (extrinsic) Motivation:

●    Internal motivation comes from the fulfillment of self-gratification

●    External motivation comes from outside the learner in the forms of tangible rewards and punishments such as competition, grades, awards, promotion, pay, etc.

 Where to begin?

If you’d like to inquire about goal setting and motivation treatment and help in Mississauga or Bradford Ontario at Real Life Counselling, don’t hesitate to call us at 289-231-8479.

 

 

References

Taylor, J. (2013). Personal Growth: Motivation: The Drive to Change. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201201/personal-growth-motivation-the-drive-change

N.A. (2013) NALD: BDAA. Canada’s Literacy and Essential Skills Network. Retrieved from: www.nald.ca/adultlearningcourse/glossary.htm

Ham, V., Davey, R., Fenaughty, J. (2013). Proceedings from the 16th International Conference on Thinking (ICOT). International Conference on Thinking. Retrieved from: http://icot2013.core-ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Proceedings-ICOT-2013.pdf#page=181

 

Finding The Person For You

Finding the person for you can turn out to be pretty frustrating. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. If you are single and looking for a long-term relationship or marriage but are having trouble finding a partner or spouse, here are some suggestions for you – and they don’t involve an Internet site.

Specify What Kind of Person You’re Looking For

What qualities do you value in a mate, and how do you judge whether a person has those qualities?
Do you have a clear picture of what your relationship with your partner will be like, including how you will treat each other, how you will deal with conflict, what your social life will look like? You see, the clearer your values are and the clearer your picture of the kind of person you are looking for, the likelier it is that you will end up with what you want.

Are You Allowing Yourself to Be Happy?

Do you have issues with your family of origin or other relationships that might prevent you from enjoying this kind of happiness?  Would some counseling or group support help eliminate these obstacles?

Are You the Right Person for What You’re Searching For?

Finally, do you live in a way that is consistent with what you want in a relationship? Because in the end, it is far more important to be the right person than it is to find the right person.

 

You can’t attract anyone who is better or more successful or kinder than you are comfortable with, or believe in your heart of hearts you deserve. If you work on your mental pictures and your growth as an individual first, you will recognize and be ready for the right person when that person comes along.