Social Media

So many of us are attached to our social media accounts. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram, many people are either checking or posting throughout the day. Photos, milestones, and our thoughts are the marks we leave on social media, but what kind of mark does it leave on us?facebook-addiction-590x202

Social media has a huge impact on many of our everyday interactions. Nowadays, it is hard to find someone who doesn’t engage with their friends and loved ones via some form of social media. It has become the go-to forum for expressing opinions, and sharing our lives with those around us. What we share sends a message to the world about who we are and what we are all about, defining us through our posts. This is why it is so important to be careful about what you share and who you share it with. It is helpful to take a second and think before posting. What would a future employer say about what he/she sees on your Facebook? What would a future partner say about you tweets? We don’t always consider the consequences of our actions on the internet, but it is much more important than it might initially seem.

Too often we see breakups and drama brought to the forefront of forums like Facebook and Twitter. Hurtful messages spewed out for the entire world to see. The unfortunate part is that often times the things that are being said would have never been said if it was a face-to-face conversation. It is hard for people to hold back from behind the keyboard, and it makes many people forget that there is a real person on the other iStock_000016401115XSmallend. There have been so many cases of destroyed relationships because of what has been said online, and much of it could have been prevented.

And what about the younger generations? They are growing up with social media as a central part of their lives. What impact is this going to have on the way that they interact with their peers? We are seeing younger and younger children logging onto places like Facebook, choosing to spend their time socializing with their friends via the internet rather than face-to-face. This also opens up the field to bullies and tormentors alike. Adolescence is such a trying time for any child, and it can be made harder by social media. We hear more and more about adolescents viciously attacking each other on social media, spreading rumours and hateful comments. Educating the younger generations about responsibly using social media is a great way to work on issues like bullying.

Facebook addictionSocial media is a very useful tool when used properly. It is great for networking and keeping in touch with those that may not be as close to us. But it is also a very powerful tool. It can make or break us in many important situations. We need to think about being respectful and sharing appropriately. It takes not more than a few moments to consider how our words could hurt someone on the other side. Remembering to treat those around us with love, respect and understanding, is an easy way to make social media more enjoyable for everyone.  

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Sub-Personalities

Sometimes it may feel like a different person takes over us when we are in need of protection. Sub-personalities, not to be confused with multiple personality disorder, are this “other person” that works to keep us safe and secure. We use these sub-personalities to have a variety of needs met. So what is a sub-personality and which one do you use?

Sub-personalities are fragments of a whole. They are the parts of us that we use to meet our needs, as well as protect ourselves. We use these personalities to adapt to different situations, to tailor our reactions in order to get the desired response from others. These personalities come in several combinations and take different forms in each person.  Each of us has between four and eight sub-personalities, which I have listed below:

1) Abuser/Bully multiple_personality_disorder_by_blacksheepart-d60w6xu
2) Addict
3) Approval Seeker
4) Caretaker
5) Chronic Crier
6) Comedian
7) Controller
8) Inner Critic
9) Fixer/ rescuer
10) Judge
11) Lost Child
12) Martyr
13) Over Achiever
14) People Pleaser
15) Perfectionist
16) Pillar of strength
17) Rebel
18) Spiritualist
19) Teacher
20) Victim 

In my office I often see this combination amongst other combinations that I will write about in future blogs.  These three often pair together and have much in common; “The Inner Critic”, the “Judge”, and the “Perfectionist”. Each of these sub personalities and those above will transform to meet the needs of the situation and those that we are interacting with. Knowing these sub-personalities and how they affect your reactions is important so that you can see when they are doing more harm than good.

299779_237911279591395_412890649_nThe inner critic is that little voice that attempts to keep us safe, that little flashing warning sign that goes off when something doesn’t feel quite right. It is a collection of the judgments and criticisms that we have received our entire lives (both positive and negative) that is meant to keep us on track. This little voice can often manifest itself in a negative way, especially when coupled with the judge. This sub-personality is like a built in security system, meant to keep us in check with reality. In order for this sub-personality to do more good than harm we need to learn to communicate with it. By making choices independent of the criticisms, assessing the validity of those criticisms, and changing the negative into positive, we can use the inner critic to take a more whole look at situations.

The judge often comes paired with the inner critic. This sub-personality projects poor self-image in order to defend and protect. It is based in shame from previous criticisms and has a strong hold within our fear of rejection. It will attempt to control the situation 557233_379170868798768_1066134704_nby pointing to others’ flaws and shortcomings instead of allowing us to come to terms with our own. The judge is often decisive and observant, but is also intolerant and far too judgmental of others and ourselves. In order to combat the judge in us we need to learn to face our fear of rejection, accepting that we will not always be accepted. We also need to do inner work on self-image and the basis of the shame in our lives. By stopping the negative behaviour and addressing the inner messages we are receiving, we can learn to see the bigger picture and be more accepting of ourselves and of others.

The perfectionist is another shame-based sub personality. This shame is based in past failures. The perfectionist causes us to be more expectant of others than ourselves, in the fear that we may fail them before they will fail us. The perfectionist will attempt to control the situation by making us perfect, or what they deem to be perfect. But despite all of this talk about perfection, the perfectionist is very aware of the shortcomings and causes a lack of confidence. While the perfectionist is often times responsible and will give everything their best, they will often times be very rigid and cause conflict when it is not necessary. In order to come to terms with the perfectionist we must accept the fact that we are only human. Mistakes will happen, but that is okay. Vulnerability and fears should not rule our lives, and neither should shame. By setting appropriate and achievable goals, and learning to treat ourselves with the love and respect that we deserve, there is hope to have a more positive perfectionist.

Sub-personalities may only be fragments of the whole, but they are essential to who we are. Keeping them in check is a very important part of maintaining healthy relationships and boundaries. Letting these sub-personalities go unchecked is going to cause unnecessary turmoil and stress. With inner work, we can develop a better understanding of our sub-personalities, and use them in positive ways in our day-to-day lives.

Expectations in Therapy

shutterstock_114450547  The reasons why people seek help in therapy varies widely, but the expectations are the same; change and insight. So why does it sometimes feel like there is little to no change? Why do we feel worse, and not always better? Why do we feel like we are still stuck in the same place as when we started therapy? These are all frequently asked questions for those in therapy. This comes from a misunderstanding of the role of the therapist in therapy, as well as a misunderstanding of the client’s role in the relationship. Let’s take a look at the therapeutic relationship, and the roles of both the counsellor and client to better understand it.

The therapeutic relationship seems simple at first glance. It is a relationship that involves a deep trust and understanding, however these are two things that are very hard to develop with a stranger. Feeling unsure of how much to reveal about yourself is completely normal early on in the therapeutic relationship, but going forward it is important that the trust level is increased. Not being able to open up to your therapist slows down or brings the process to a hault. A lack of trust will lead to a lack of open communication, and expecting to get help without taking a look at yourself is completely impossible. It is fair to expect your therapist to facilitate a space in which you feel safe and secure, but it is your responsibility to open up.

Therapists are equipped with tools and strategies to help you work through just about shutterstock_117868852anything, but not every therapist is equipped to handle everything. Depending on their style of therapy and training, one may be well-suited for your needs and another may not be. This is why it is important to be clear about what you are hoping to get out of therapy. This will let your therapist know if they will be able to meet your expectations, or if they will need to refer you to another clinician. Do not take a referral as a sign of a therapist giving up on you. Take it for what it is, their attempt to put the help that you require within your reach.

One assumption about your therapist that may not be a conscious one, is that they are going to be able to solve all of your problems. This could not be any further from the truth. In person-centred therapy (which is what the majority of therapy is), your therapist acts as a guide. Your therapist will ask you questions in an attempt to reach your deeper feelings and thoughts, and guide you to the realization of these thoughts and feelings. Your therapist does not have all of the answers. Inside you are the answers that you are looking for, your therapist just helps to shed a different light on these answers.

shutterstock_120187948So what is your role as the client in all of this? Well, put simply, your role is to put in the work that is required in order for you to move forward. This means learning to trust your therapist, having open honest conversations with them (and yourself), and doing the homework that they ask you to do. In order for your therapy to be successful, you need to be open to the experience and willing to take a good hard look at who you are. It is important to keep in mind that your life will not improve instantaneously, and neither will your mood. Often times bringing up the past can be very painful and difficult to deal with. This pain should not be discouraging. It is an important part of the entire process.

A really good question to ask yourself is, what are my goals?  Write them down and work with your therapist towards your goals without any expectations of a time frame.  Failed expectations bring disappointment.  Better to allow the therapeutic process to happen organically rather then trying to control the outcome.

Therapy is challenging, but it is a good way to help you sort yourself out. A therapist can be a good foundation of support and well-being in your life that you may not have otherwise. When discouraged by the process, remember this: it is not the path we take that matters, but the things we learn about ourselves.

Sexuality: Exploring and Understanding Sexual Orientation

Sexuality is such a broad term that many have a hard time understanding exactly what it means and encompasses. There are many new terms that are being used to describe differences in sexuality, many of which can be confusing unless you identify with them. I hope that this blog will take out some of the grey areas in understanding sexuality.

Sexuality is your ability to have an erotic experience or response. This can be tied to your sexual orientation.

shutterstock_68280889Sexual orientation refers to your inclination to feel romantic or sexual attraction (or a combination of the two) towards persons of the opposite sex/gender identity, or persons of the same sex/gender identity, or to both sexes/more than one gender identity. Sexual orientation is a narrow term that is used to identify a vast amount of inclinations. The typical categories under sexual orientation are often heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and asexual.

Heterosexuality describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of the opposite sex/gender identity. Slang terms often used for this orientation are hetero or straight.

Homosexuality describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of the same sex/gender identity. A slang term often used to identify this orientation is gay.

Bisexuality describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of both sexes/gendershutterstock_117274108 identities. There are many misconceptions that come along with those who identify as bisexual. They are often not accepted by homosexual and heterosexual individuals alike because they are seen as not having “chosen a side”, that is to say to pick being homosexuality or heterosexuality. The misconception that they “choose” to be bisexual is the same as anyone else saying that you choose your sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is not something that we choose, it is something that is born to us, which is something that is often stated in response to those who oppose homosexuality and can be equally applied to bisexuality.

Asexuality describes a lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or a low/absent interest in sexual activity. Asexuality differs from abstinence or celibacy in that asexuality is not driven by personal or religious beliefs/values. Asexuality is not a choice, but an inclination just like other orientations.

shutterstock_66080008There are other orientations which have become more in the public eye due to more research and a rising awareness of prevalence of these orientations.

Polysexuality describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of some sexes/gender identities, but not all. This is not to be confused with pansexuality or polyamory (the desire to have intimately involved with more than one person at the same time).

   describes the inclination to be attracted to persons of all sexes/gender identities. A slang term often used to identify this orientation is gender-blind. Pansexuals are open to relationships with anyone, including those who do not necessarily identify as a specific gender or biological sex.

Sexuality is a topic that many people feel uncomfortable discussing. With open and honest conversations, sexuality can be better understood. Sexuality greatly affects a person’s confidence level and body image, as does their sexual orientation and how they are perceived by others because of their sexual orientation. Those who have yet to “come out” as something other than heterosexual often experience great anxiety and fear at revealing their true self to the world that surrounds them because of the great deal of negativity that may have been experienced by those before them. It is important to remember that sexual orientation does not define who a person is or what they are capable of. Sexual orientation is merely a part of the whole, not the sole defining characteristic of a person, and should not have bearing on how a person is treated.

This of course is in an idealistic world. However, there is much discrimination and hatred to those who are not heterosexual. Much of this stems from misunderstanding and fear. That is why education geared towards fair treatment and understanding is so important. You cannot choose who you are, but you can choose how you react to those who surround you. Be the friend, the family member, the support, to all of those who need it.

Learning Disabilities

It is hard to watch someone you love struggle. It is especially hard to watch someone you love struggle with something that many others find easy. A learning disability is something that will last a life time, however, with the right interventions and assistance it does not have to be debilitating.

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So what is a learning disability? A learning disability is a classification that covers severe learning problems. These include: Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia.

It is difficult to produce the exact number of cases of those with learning disabilities as some cases go undiagnosed for several years. An undiagnosed learning disability can present in more than one way. It can include:

·         Being unable to adequately participate in class

·         Being unable to adequately complete assignments

·         Frustration with reading and/or writing

·         Difficulties completing specific tasks

·         Inadequate development of language, speech, and other academic skills

It is important that these are not always tell-tale signs that a learning disability is present. It is important that a correct diagnosis is made by a professional. It is also important to keep in mind that no two cases are the same. So how it presents in your loved one may be completely different from another person.

Those who struggle with a learning disability often times also struggle with another co-occurring disorder. These disorders include (but are not limited to) ADHD, anxiety, as well as depression.  It is important that your loved one also receives treatment and support for these disorders as well.

So what can we do? Well, often times there is support for those who are struggling with a learning disability. Checking in with your child’s school may be a good place to start. It could give you a better idea of what kind of resources their school has and what kind of resources you will have to seek out on your own.

There are so many different things that you can do as a parent to help your child succeed. Keeping them goal-focused is so important. Making sure that they know they are loved and supported will allow them to feel confident and thrive. Educating them about their learning disability and helping them accept it is an important step in the right direction. And making sure that they are prepared with the right tools to cope emotionally with their learning disability in a healthy way is essential to molding  a successful young person.shutterstock_112519676

Many parents and educators struggle with the stigma that is attached to a learning disability. Keep in mind that the attitude you model will affect how the young minds around you model their attitude. Positivity and acceptance are the keys to learning and living with a learning disability.

Self Image

What does it mean to love yourself and approve of yourself unconditionally? Self image is something that is important to most of us. Presenting our ideal selves to the world is not always possible. But learning to love yourself the way that you are, and striving towards being the best you that you can be, makes what we want to see and what we do see one in the same.

So how can we learn to love ourselves? There are different ways that we can work on self image. Different strategies work for different people. The end game is always the same. We want to learn to accept the things that we can change and come to terms with the fact that there are just some things that we cannot change. Loving yourself is an important part of self image building. If we can accept our strengths and weaknesses with humility and understanding, we can love ourselves. Feeling satisfied and fulfilled with who we are and how we look can greatly boost our love for ourselves.shutterstock_100264808

Approving of ourselves unconditionally means that we know we are good, and look good, and feel good. It means we know we are making positive and right choices for ourselves, content that the only approval we are considering is the approval of ourselves. Having faith in your own choices and direction boost confidence, that in turn, boosts self-approval. With all of this positive self talk and confidence, self image will follow right along.

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Loving ourselves and approving of ourselves go hand in hand. These concepts are not only applicable to our outer selves but our inner selves as well. Being happy and feeling fulfilled within our chosen path can make us feel more comfortable and confident with our inner selves. knowing that we are loved and accepted by our peers plays an important role in our perceived self image and can boost your positive regard for yourself.

So why is a positive self image important? A negative self image can lead to a negative mood overall. This can lead to depression, self-injurious behaviours, and other significant and troubling diagnosis.These illnesses can cause long term and persistent symptoms that may interfere with everyday functioning. It is important to nip that negative self image in the bud. Work on loving yourself and the rest will come, with a bit of hard work and dedication.  shutterstock_111393362