Conquering Fears in Relationships

shutterstock_105933593  Fear. It can take over your thoughts, and in turn you can build up so many walls and blocks that you end up feeling alone and misunderstood. So many of us long for a meaningful relationship to another person, but it is fear that gets in the way. Fear of rejection, fear of judgement, fear of abandonment and fear of trust are just a few of the many fears that we must overcome in order to gain a meaningful relationship.

Fear of rejection is all about self-confidence and self esteem. It stops us from chasing after our dreams because we do not want to be turned down or fall. Every no we receive brings us closer to the door with the possibility of a yes, that is why it is so important to work through your fear of rejection and learn to cope rather than avoid.

shutterstock_123809797Fear of judgement stems from not having fully accepted ourselves. We are our own harshest critics. Full self-love and acceptance can change that, although we can never be 100% of anything 100% of the time. It does not mean that everyone thinks the way you do about yourself. People’s judgements on others have very little to do with the person being judged. It has much more to do with the person doing the judging. Their own insecurities come out against others. People will judge no matter what situation you are in, but it should matter not what they think, but what you think about yourself.

A fear of abandonment is within all of us, but the severity is based solely on our personal experiences in the past. With some it is much closer to the surface. A fear of abandonment can manifest in several different ways, the most apparent of which is the need to be clingy and demanding. Another way people cope with the fear of abandonment is rejecting their partner before they themselves are rejected, running away from relationships before they have reached their full potential. And finally, there are those who will change their whole entire person to become the “perfect” partner for the person that they are interested in. These coping skills are poor and maladaptive, which can cause train-wreck relationships to become normal. This is where being able to develop trust in your partner is so important.shutterstock_107413730

The fear of trust is a big deal in relationships, romantic or otherwise. It is a pretty common occurrence. We have all been hurt by someone we trusted, someone who decided that what they wanted was more important than our trust. But we have to keep in mind that we cannot punish everyone else for that person’s mistakes, especially when seeking out new relationships. It is perfectly normal to have a period of trust building and cautiousness in the beginning of a relationship. However, at some point we have to decide whether or not we can trust the other person. Trust is the foundation of every good relationship, and without it, you don’t really have a relationship at all.

But how do we overcome these fears? Well, it is a daily struggle. It takes a lot of reflection and deep inner work to break through these defenses. We have not only the outside opinions to combat with, but the internal ones as well. Our brain is pretty good at talking us out of things, but sometimes we just have to ignore it and take a leap of faith. Relationships, especially romantic ones, carry a lot of risk which is reasonable to be unsure of. But if we are unwilling to accept that risk, we may just lose out on having someone wonderful in our lives.

Pornography: Addiction and Communication

shutterstock_71881093  Pornography is something that many people avoid conversation about. The truth is, many of us have watched/saw porn at some point in our lives, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. It is perfectly normal in this day in age, with pornography being just a mouse-click away. Pornography is being used for a way to find our sexual selves, explore fetishes and situations which we may not experience in our own lives. Pornography is also being used as a way to enhance our sexual pleasure.

Pornography is very much a double-edge sword. On one hand, it is a great way to spice up your sex life, enhance your solo sessions, and allow you to explore your sexuality in a way which might not otherwise be possible. On the other hand, many of the women/men give an unrealistic goal for your sexual partners, both in their technique and their physicality. In reality, there are not many women other than adult actresses that look, dress, and act like they do in pornography. For men, this can definitely be a problem.

With unrealistic expectations due to the adult film industry, men are often left unsatisfied with their sex life. There are many men who can watch pornography and still have great sex, however, there are also those who seek out more “pornography-style” sex with partners. Not many women are willing to participate in the kind of sex these men are looking for, and this is where pornography becomes the prefershutterstock_68280889ence for these men.

Pornography addiction is a real and serious problem. There are men who will sit and watch pornography for hours on end, finding satisfaction in that aspect of their sex life rather than in a partner that can reciprocate. Pornography addiction can make it difficult to become aroused by a partner in real life, leading to more sexual dysfunction which can cause the person to distance themselves even further from real-life sex.

Pornography can cause a lot of problems in a marriage if there is not an open line of communication between both parties. Let’s expand upon this using an example.

Frank and Louise have been married for 13 years. They have 2 children, 12 and 10. Frank says their sex life died pretty quickly after Louise gave birth to their second child, and admits that he watches porn frequently. He says that he is still very much attracted to Louise, but just finds that she is often “too tired” or just disinterested. Frank states that he enjoys having sex with Louise, but he would enjoy it if it happened more frequently. Louise says she misses being intimate with Frank, as they once had a very active sex life. Louise, however, has trouble initiating because she finds that Frank does not seem that interested in her. Louise knows that Frank enjoys porn, but does not know how to talk to him about it because he gets defensive and shuts down. Both are adamant about loving the other, they just long for intimacy.

Основные RGBNow this is a classic case of lack of communication. Because the lines of communication are closed between Frank and Louise, they don’t know that they both want the same thing- a healthy sex life. Frank is clearly uncomfortable speaking to Louise about watching pornography. Louise doesn’t seem to have a problem with Frank watching porn. She does however have a problem that it is done in secret. She also feels intimidated by the adult actresses because her body does not match theirs after having two children. Frank’s obsession with the porn is the easy way out for him. He doesn’t have to engage in a conversation about porn with Louise if they don’t talk at all.  If Frank and Louise could have an open and honest conversation about porn and their sex life, they may just find their spark again.

When pornography goes from watching to addiction, it can cause some serious social, spiritual, and emotional problems for the person that is addicted. We need to keep in mind that the men and women in porn do not experience real sexual intimacy like you do with your partner. This sexual intimacy is coupled with a willingness to be vulnerable and honest. Shame often keeps us from having open and honest discussions with ourselves and others, but watching porn is nothing to be ashamed of. It is perfectly normal to engage in a behaviour that fills a primal need. Pornography is like most things in life- good in moderation, but potentially dangerous when abused.

The Codependent Relationship: Mother and Child

shutterstock_135236594  The bond between mother and child is something that no other relationship can quite match. When addiction is involved in this relationship, it is seriously damaging to the healthy functioning of all relationships.

Codependency, described simply, is when both parties are dependent on one another in order for the relationship to function. Codependency is unique between a mother and child because of the nature of the relationship. Mothers are meant to be nurturing and caring individuals. But when their child is addicted to drugs, their caring and nurturing may be doing more harm than good.

Mothers of those addicted will often times go above and beyond to make sure that their child has everything that they need. Buying food, clothes, paying rent, and giving them shutterstock_70611019money. Some go as far as buying the drugs for their child. In their eyes, they are doing well by their child, making sure that they are able to keep on living. These mothers struggle to focus on themselves in any way at all. They will put their lives aside to make sure that their child will continue to come back to them for what they need.

The child will manipulate in order to get what they want. They will say hateful and hurtful things in order to break their mother down. They will be deceptive and lie in order to get more money. The child is trying to stay sick, and they know that their mother will do anything to keep them happy and alive.

shutterstock_9303223This relationship is extremely toxic and allows for the addiction to continue. So what are some way to recover from codependency?

  • Attend family recovery programs with the addicted

  • Learn to put your interests and needs before others

  • Become aware of the signs of codependent behaviour

  • Develop strong boundaries

With these strategies and professional help, codependency is something that you and your family can recover from.

Where is My Life Going?: Planning for the Future You

shutterstock_7704406 Finding direction in your life can be a large task for anyone to take on, especially if you are switching careers. There are many things that you can do to make your choice easier. Listed and explained below are a few strategies to try.

Make short-term goals and long-term goals. Making goals that you can achieve in a short amount of time will allow you to be more productive in the goals you set for yourself in the long run. Small successes can motivate you to continue to achieve your goals. It is also important to set short-term goals that are in line with your long-term goals. Your short-term goals may help you achieve your long term goals.shutterstock_101575579

Ask for advice from people you trust. If you want advice, ask people that you trust. Ask questions about what got them to where they are in life. Ask all of the questions that they are willing to answer. They may be able to give you advice that you might not have gotten otherwise.

Explore all of your options. If you are interested in more than one direction, make sure that you explore all of your options. Research, ask questions, and above all else, make sure you know what you are getting into.

Try as many new things as you can. Explore new things that you might not have considered before. Take advantage of every new opportunity that you can. The more that you try, the easier that it may be to narrow down your choices.

Redirecting your life is not an easy task. Choosing a new career path can drastically change the structure of your life. It is important to explore all options and make the transition to your new life as easy as possible. Do what you can to prepare for living the life that you want to live.

Experimenting During the Teen Years: Substance Abuse in Youth

shutterstock_107588312Adolescence is a time in a child’s life in which many changes are occurring. It can be an extremely confusing and trying time for them, as well as their parents. As their parents, it is important that you educate your children about drugs, alcohol, sex, and what it means to be “peer pressured”. Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child is essential in order to be in the loop of what is going on in their lives.

Your child may decide to experiment with any combination of the above listed, however, there comes a time when drug/alcohol use shifts to drug/alcohol abuse. How honest they are, if they come home intoxicated regularly, if they spend a lot of spare time at parties, and the friends that they choose to surround themselves bullyingwith are all great indicators of substance abuse.

Lying or hiding things may be an indication that your child is using or abusing substances. This is not true in all cases. It is normal for them to want their space and private life. However, when they are lying about large things (where they are, where they are going, what they are doing) it can be cause for concern. If you and your child have a healthy and functioning relationship in which they are comfortable communicating with you, they shouldn’t feel the need to hide from you. It is important to approach them from a loving and caring place, avoiding accusatory statements. Give them the opportunity to open up to you.

If your child is coming home intoxicated on a regular basis, it could be an indication that they are abusing substances. Using substances may be a way for your child to escape the emotional turmoil they are experiencing. However, using substances as a coping strategy is not healthy. This is another reason it is very important that you keep an open line of communication with your child.shutterstock_70611019

Older adolescents are fairly likely to attend parties. It is naïve to not think that at some (if not all) of these parties alcohol will be served and drugs will be offered, especially if there is not appropriate supervision. Your child may opt to spend more time than not a parties. It is important that you educate your child about the dangers of participating in underage drinking as well as drug use of any kind.

The friends that your child chooses to spend their time with is a good indicator as to whether or not they will be pressured to try alcohol and/or drugs. Now it is impossible to judge a book by its cover, however, it is important to know the other children your child associates with. Knowing who they are and what they are like will give you a good indication of the likelihood that they consume alcohol/use drugs. Again, it is extremely important to educate your child about peer pressure and the dangers of consuming alcohol/drugs.

It is impossible to completely protect your child from being exposed to alcohol and/or drugs. With the normalization of alcohol and/or drug use during adolescence, it is becoming harder and harder for parents to make their children understand the risks and repercussions that their activities can have on their lives as well as the lives of others. The best thing that you can do is give them the facts, and encourage them to make good choices.

Committing to Each Other: Things You Might Not Have Considered Before Getting Married

shutterstock_59837878 Getting married is a huge step in any relationship. Proposing, planning, and celebrating the marriage are all exciting and stressful times. During this time, you and your future spouse need to be having some important conversations. There are many things that you may not have realised that you didn’t know about the other person. There are many opinions that they may hold that you didn’t know about. Some of these can be deal-breakers in many marriages. The following is a list of things that you and your spouse might want to talk about before making a decision to get married.shutterstock_32536009

  1. Do you want children? Well it is a conversation that many people will have after they are married, having the conversation before getting married is important. If you do not know that your partner is someone that does not want children at all and you really want children, this will pose a problem. While it is possible for someone to change their mind, it is still important to have this conversation. This helps both people to come to an understanding about expectations and goals.

  2. Who is responsible for household chores? If you have been living together for a while, there may already be an established routine that works well for you. But what happens if one of you loses your job? What happens if/when you have children? This is an important conversation to have. Often times one or both people in a relationship will start “keeping score” on who does what around the house. This is guaranteed to start arguments and lead to resentment as well as hurt feelings. It is also important to make sure that your partner feels appreciated. A simple thank you for a doing dishes can make a huge difference.

  3. Who is going to be responsible for the finances? This decision is a crucial one. You both may be bringing money into the relationship, however, how you handle the finances in your marriage can prevent fights. Having an understanding about big purchases and budgeting, is a great way to prevent arguments. Making sure that both partners understand the expectations of the other is an important thing. Money is often the start of major fights in relationships. It is much easier to have a plan when it comes to paying bills and balancing the checkbook.

  4. Where are you going to live? There needs to be agreement on where you and your spouse are going to be living (city, neighbourhood, close to family, far from family, etc.). Your spouse may want to live in a specific area. Are you going to be willing to compromise if that is not exactly what you want? You also have to discuss what will happen if one of you receives a job in another area. Will your spouse (and possible children) move with you? Are you going to commute? All of these questions are essential to finding a safe and stable place to build a family.

  5. Where are you going to spend the holidays? This can be a point for contention whether you realise it or not. Determining beforehand which relatives you are going to visit during the holidays/on which holidays and if you are going to be staying with relatives, can save arguments during an already stressful time. Your spouse may not get along with your family or visa versa. Making sure that you and your spouse can enjoy your holidays together is the end goal.Basic RGB

  6. Life Insurance/Will? You and your partner should discuss your life insurance (if you are going to have any) early on. The amount you are going to spend, what policy you are going to go with, and who is going to be the beneficiary/what the money will be used for in the event of your death is important. Developing a will (especially if you have children) can protect you and your loved ones.

 

Combining two previously separate lives is a large task. Often times couples don’t have the conversations that they need to have in order to function as a happy and cohesive unit. By having the important conversations ahead of time, you can avoid a lot of arguments and enjoy all the joys a marriage can bring.shutterstock_87748405

Transform-Motivate-Awaken: What is Recovery and How Do I Know That I Am Ready?

There are many different definitions for recovery. In a general sense, recovery is a lifelong process in which you abstain from using/abusing your drug of choice. Lapses/relapses are also considered part of this process. They are a chance for growth and making a plan with which you can succeed.shutterstock_107588312

When suffering from an addiction, it is hard to see yourself that you have a problem. Often times the consequences will not stop you from feeding your addiction. So how do you know that you are ready to start the recovery process?

Everyone is different. Maybe your family has given you an intervention. Maybe you have some serious health consequences because of your addiction. Or maybe you are just sick and tired of chasing your fix. Whatever the reason is, you need to want to make the change for yourself. No one else can force you into recovery. You need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to work hard and stay clean.

A good indicator of readiness for recovery is a commitment to change. If you want to change and are sincerely willing to do whatever it will take to get there, you may be ready for recovery. Another good indicator is a reduction in use. Maybe you are skipping out on getting high and trying to keep yourself preoccupied. Maybe you are just choosing to abstain from use, despite withdrawal symptoms. If this is the case, you may be ready for recovery.

Now maybe you are just thinking about changing. You want to reach out for help but you aren’t sure if sober living is for you just yet. The best thing that you can do is explore your options and keep your mind open. Seeking support not only within your family and friends, but from trained professionals and agencies is a great idea to explore your options.

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Recovery is ultimately your decision. It is something that you have to be prepared and committed to. You have to want to recover for yourself, not just because you feel that other people want you to. Recovery is not easy, and it takes a lot of hard work and self-discovery to have a successful recovery. Transform, Motivate, and Awaken. Live the life that you want, addiction free.

Astrology

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For as long as man has been on this earth, we have looked to the skies for answers. Whether it is looking to God or looking to the stars, we have often wondered how far it reaches and if there are answers that can be drawn from what lies above us. Astrology began as an account of meaning derived from what appeared in the night sky. Ancient civilizations used astrology to map out seasons as well as lunar patterns and influences.

Throughout the decades, astrology developed into the interpretation of signs from the stars. Reading star patterns/movement and making predictions about life patterns based upon these readings became an important part of aristocratic life. Astrologers were not only giving advice about love and money, but about the best time to make a journey and harvest, as well as diagnosing and treating mental illness.

Presently astrology serves as a link between man and the stars, linking us with the movements and giving predictions and advice based on the stars.  Western astrology focuses mainly on the zodiac signs and their relative placement to each other for predictions, taking into account the alignment of planets.  Horoscopes are also a large part of Western astrology.

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Time and time again people ask how much truth there is to horoscopes.  Horoscope comes from the Greek word horoskopos, meaning a look at the hours. This is what a horoscope is about; looking at the planets and constellations, determining their relative position to each other and basing a prediction of life events on this positioning. Horoscopes are meant to be a general guideline, not a specific and exact prediction of the day/month/year that it is written for.  Astrological signs and the planets can also be used to chart relationship compatibility and longevity.  Like the other aspects that astrology can be used with, it is more meant to be a general guideline rather than a specific and exact prediction.  The following is a general idea of how the planets are used to make these connections:

As with many practices like astrology, much is left up to interpretation.  As mentioned above, astrological predictions are meant more as a general guideline.  With this in mind the choice is ultimately yours on what is truth and what is fiction based upon your own experiences. There are many that fraud innocent people saying that their predictions are 100% accurate and will change your life.  It is important to do your research if you are choosing to see an astrologer, in order to choose the best one suited for you and your needs.  Looking to the stars for answers is a natural part of life experience and history. However, it is important to take joy in the beauty and blessings that surround our everyday lives, even when we are not expecting them.

Bullying

What seems like harmless teasing usually isn’t just harmless teasing. Bullying is something that has been an ever growing concern in the past 10 years. With the invention of social media forums like Facebook and Twitter, bullies are taking their leave from the school yard and becoming predators to their classmates online. But where has this come from? What is bullying, and what can we as parents and caregivers do to stop it and prevent it from happening again? By answering these questions, as well as a number of others, we can begin to understand bullying and how we can help our kids.

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Bullying is when someone hurts or intimidates another person on purpose. The person being hurt and/or intimated also has a hard time defending themselves. There are many ways that young children/adolescents can bully each other, even if they don’t realize that they are hurting the other person at the time. Some forms of bullying include:

  • Punching, shoving and other acts that hurt people physically.

  • Spreading bad rumours about people (whether it is online or in person).

  • Keeping certain people out of a group.

  • Teasing people in a mean way (name calling, sarcasm, teasing,).

  • Getting certain people to “gang up” on others.

  • Threatening and racism.

  • Using the internet/text messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours, or make fun of another.

  • Sexual interference.

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Whether or not the bully knows that they are bullying, any of the above listed behaviours are not acceptable. It is actions like these that can drive children into a depression. It can bring on loneliness, unhappiness, and fear. It can make the child feel unsure and unsafe about going to school. Bullying, in the most extreme forms, has been known to drive some adolescents to suicide. There is absolutely no reason for any child to feel this helpless and alone. There is also no reason for any child to feel that they are unsafe going to school or that they are going to be punished by their peers. As parents and caregivers it can be near impossible to identify if your child is being bullied. However, it is very important to maintain an open line of communication so that your child can feel comfortable coming to you about being bullied.

So what can we do? As mentioned before it is important to keep the lines of communication open with your child so that they can feel comfortable coming to you when they are being bullied. In schools a zero-tolerance for bullying behaviours has been adapted. This has proven successful in the reduction of bullying but there are more things that educators can do. By developing programs for bullying awareness and interventions in bullying situations, schools can better protect and help those students that may fall victim to bullying.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Other Compulsive Behaviours: Part 2

Picture this.

A house, filled with everything that has ever meant something to you. A memory attached to every item. When you have to get rid of something, you feel like you are losing a little piece of yourself. This in the end makes you unwilling to get rid of anything at all. Slowly but surely, the house starts to fill until one day you can’t see the floor. But that is okay. As long as you have your things, you will be okay. You are ashamed of letting others see how you live, so you hide it. You stay in your home, rarely going out unless it is absolutely needed. One day you get a surprise visit from a loved one. You are sleeping somewhere among the piles so you don’t hear them enter the house. They see what is going on and confront you. Your defenses go up. You become angry and aggressive because they have violated your privacy. You tell them to leave you alone, that you are just fine with how things are and that you don’t need their help. Your cover has been blown, soon everyone will know your secret. But where do you go from here?

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Compulsive hoarding is just that. A compulsive need to collect things, and the unwillingness or inability to give those things up. These items take over rooms, apartments, and full houses, causing unsafe living conditions, posing severe health risks, and damaging relationships. This disorder is separate from OCD, however, like OCD many of those suffering are well aware of their irrational behaviors.

People will often collect things that other people would find not useful or of little value. Things like junk mail, newspapers, clothes that “might” fit one day, broken things and garbage. They will place high value on them, and this is likely the reason that it is so hard for them to try and give them up. People can also collect animals, becoming deeply attached to a large number of animals that they can not properly care/provide for.

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There is no one cause to this disorder. Like many disorders, the causes are multiple and vary from person to person. These causes can include:

  • Trauma

  • Anxiety

  • Another pre-existing disorder

  • Family History

Whatever the cause, compulsive hoarding wreaks havoc on an individual’s livelihood, and is an extremely difficult disorder to receive the proper treatment and support for.

Management and treatments for compulsive hoarding vary from individual to individual, depending on their situation. Behavioural therapy has often times been found to be effective. There are many processes that a therapist can walk a client through to come to terms with why the behaviour exists and develop a plan of action on how to approach treatment in a way that will make the client most comfortable. Often times the first thing that is needed is a gradual exposure to the anxiety experienced when trying to get rid of things. This will allow the client to begin to formulate a plan as to how they are going to get their living place cleaned up so that is habitable (if this is at all possible). Therapy to address the behaviours and anxiety is an ongoing process throughout treatment. Depending on the case, the client may be prescribed medication to treat any underlying disorders in order to be able to participate fully and cohesively in treatment.

Recovery and treatment are possible. It is a long and tough process, but with the right supports and treatment plan, anyone can go on to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Listed below are resources for OCD and other compulsive behaviours.