Energy

Give Yourself the Gift of Self Compassion This Holiday Season

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In case you haven’t heard Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friends spinning tunes on the radio or seen the decked out evergreen firs around town yet, the holiday season is upon us. While the holidays are often a time when people are encouraged to spread joy and be generous to others, the intense pressure of “giving enough” and showing up for our families can really amount for a lousy holiday if we forget about our own self-care. Here are a few tips to help you toast to a healthy holiday season!

  1. It is perfectly okay if you don’t feel like being joyful this time of year. Maybe the holiday season reminds you of a painful event in your life or you don't have any family nearby to celebrate with — there’s no reason you should have to take a ride on the holly jolly trolly if you aren’t feeling up to it. Instead, spend some time nourishing you and doing something cathartic like reading a book, meeting a friend for coffee, going ice skating or watching a new movie.

  2. If you are purchasing holiday gifts, stick to a budget that makes sense for you and do not spend more than you can afford. Spending extra now when you truly cannot afford it may lead to resentment and financial hardship later. Consider giving the gift of your time, a heartfelt card or experiences that can be financed over time like concert tickets. By following a strict budget for holiday shopping, you can walk into the new year feeling more financially stable and confident!

  3. Holiday travel can be hectic. If you are traveling this holiday season — be gentle to yourself and come prepared with calming essentials. Calming essentials are go-to items that will help you stay calm and bring you peace amidst chaotic circumstances. Not sure where to start? Now is the time to start packing. Some recommendations may include: your water bottle, tea or hot chocolate mix, positively energizing tunes, essential oils, hand salve/lotion, a cozy scarf or blanket, a favorite photo album (electronic may be best for traveling), a you-approved selection of podcasts/audiobooks/books, and don’t forget your favorite snacks!

  4. Prioritize YOU-time. So often, we are expected to show up to holiday parties to socialize and be “on” which can be draining, even for extroverts. If you have a lot of social events that you anticipate will zap your energy, take some time to plan lots of YOU-time before and afterwards to recharge and recover. While it may sound trivial to schedule YOU-time, you will thank yourself later and be glad you did. When we push ourselves too hard while running on empty, we are more prone to experience stress. Take the time this holiday season to get the rest you need and take care of you. That way, you’ll be more fun to be around later when you rejoin the group!

  5. Know what would be absolutely perfection this holiday seasons? Letting go of perfection. It is far too easy to get caught up in a holiday headspace that is populated by Pinterest, but it’s less easy to actually create in real life. Instead of trying to make your holiday table look exactly like the one you pinned and have been admiring for weeks, try to focus on one element that feels special for you. Maybe making your grandmother’s recipe or hanging an heirloom ornament on the tree is really important or perhaps spending time with family or going to the movies is your thing. Instead of focusing on ‘having it all’, try to consider which aspect will bring you the most meaning and aim to make that one thing possible. Remember #managingexpectations makes for a better-than-perfect holiday!

No matter where you find yourself this holiday season, remember to give yourself the gift of self-compassion - YOU deserve it!

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Forget your resolutions...Here's how to live your best life in 2018

New Years resolutions are not for everyone. Historically, New Years resolutions have been a catalyst for excitement and inspiration that are eventually followed by defeat and disappointment. Most often because many resolutions tend to be drastic changes or overly ambitious. It is no surprise that statistics show that only 9% of people report feeling successful in achieving their resolutions. Then there's the attitude shift. When we focus on creating a 'resolution',  sometimes that implies that we are doing something wrong already and the attitude puts a damper on the experience. While the intention of New Years resolutions is often self-improvement, the process feels difficult to grasp at times. Here's another suggestion... ready? Back away from the resolution-making. Instead, redirect your energy towards reflection about your innermost passions and desires! Our passions and desires are important to us and we don't often think about them while we are wrapped up in holiday shopping or office parties, so the New Year brings us quite the invitation.

What are you passionate about discovering in 2018?

How do you wish to spend this year ahead?

If you value family time, perhaps consider what opportunities you can create in the year ahead to fill up your cup. Or, maybe you truly want to travel on an international adventure and explore Eastern Asia... why not start planning now?

Living your best life in 2018 is all about living your life the way you want to, which happens when you follow your passions and desires. So grab a pen and maybe a cup of tea and get to reflecting! I hope you live your best life yet!

 

Dear Boomers, Please Stop the Pressure. Love, Millennials

As a psychotherapist working with individuals and couples across the lifespan, I often notice situations where people are in distress due to a conflict caused by generational influence. Lately, I have come to notice an association between stress amongst the millennial generation as it relates to generational attitudes. Millennials, individuals born between the years 1977-1995 (a.k.a. Generation Y), report experiencing significant pressure about how to speed up their lives, in particular in their relationships. When exploring the source of such pressure, parents and familial influence were identified as strong influences. Parents of millennials are likely to be a part of the baby boomer generation, individuals born between the years of 1946-1964. As every generation brings with them their experiences of critical events in history, they also have their own contemporary attitudes. It is not uncommon for parents to use their perspectives to teach their children how to navigate life’s challenges. Whether these challenges include acquiring jobs, commitment in relationships, significant purchases, building a family, etc., parents’ teachings are inherently based upon their own experiences and attitudes. This can become particularly challenging when there is a discrepancy between parents and their (adult) children. One millennial shares their understanding of the difference between generations…

“I think millennials feel the most pressure. It (the future) is on us because we want change. We stray from the boomer mindset of one for ourselves and think more openly about the collective. We’ve learned from the boomers, who really lead the way!”

Tasha, 30

Some believe their parents have good intentions yet separate motivations for building success…

“I think boomer parents try to pressure millennial children into the boxes they put themselves in to succeed…like the idea that you have to work for a corporation. Boomers saw jobs as security for their families whereas millennials don’t see money as the be-all end-all. We care about what we work for and want fulfillment in our daily jobs. The hardest part of our generation is the balance between security and personal fulfillment.”

Sarah, 30

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Others share that they feel pressured to take their parents’ preference into account in making major decisions…

“We all want our parent’s approval, especially when it comes to the people we date. I think that family and other adults have put on pressure on me to date within the religion I was brought up in. Also, being someone in a relationship for over 3 years now, a lot of adults start to ask about engagements, marriage and kids just because it seems like a logical next step. I want to get my feet off the ground, I want to travel, gain a little life experience before settling down. It’s a different generation; the baby boomers were all married with kids before 30, I just don’t see the millennial generation going in that same trend. I think it’s important that you really know yourself and are truly ready before you commit to marriage or children.”

Danielle, 22

Another shares that they accept their parents’ attitudes are different than their own and have a mutual understanding of approaching life differently…

“My parents try to influence my dating decisions but it doesn't necessarily work. I understand that they're from a different time. They got engaged in college, married at 23 and had two kids by my age. They don't really understand our generation’s trepidation for marrying early, and that's okay. Would they prefer I settled down earlier? Of course. Are they happy I've taken my time to find the right person to eventually settle down with? Absolutely.”

Thomas, 28

How do you believe generational patterns influence you? Feel free to contribute your ideas and comment below.

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**All participants’ names have been changed to protect their privacy in their quotes above.

The Beginner's Guide to Energetic Love

Energetic Love has the capability to transform our relationships. This stems from understanding that love is not simply a noun - a product of something we create, but also a verb. Love is an ongoing and evolving process. Energetic love is the act of loving (with energy).

We energize our love by increasing our awareness of ourselves and our partners and through this insight, we are able to love more intentionally and authentically. Energetic love also implies that loving itself requires energy, which is true. Love is an active process and one that does require our body, mind and spirit. If we love without energy, it may not be as sustainable or meaningful.

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So, how does one practice Energetic Love?

Balancing individual and interpersonal awareness with proactivity. Examine what is going on internally and externally in your relationship:

  • Consider your own understandings of love; think about this as your love template. How do you feel loved? If you have a partner, how do they make you feel loved? How do you express love to others or a partner? What ways does your partner feel love and express love? Gary Chapman's book, Love Languages is an excellent resource for understanding how we "love" one another and receive love ourselves.

  • Fill in the blank. When we understand that our partner feels loved by _____ we can use this information as an opportunity to speak their language in the way that we act (using energy).

  • Embrace imperfection. We are human and cannot possibly do everything right all of the time, no matter how nice that would be. When we make mistakes such as forgetting an important date or to unload the dishwasher, it is important to acknowledge these moments and use them as learning opportunities. Consider saying to yourself or your partner, "I am not perfect, but I will try to ________ in the future".

  • Forgiveness. We do not always show up in our relationship the way that we hope to and our partners do not always show up for us the way we hope they will. When these moments occur, embrace the disappointment, sadness or uncertainty that follows and direct your energy into a conversation on how to be more on target next time.

There is great wisdom that can come from our interpersonal awareness of how we love and experience love. When we are not getting something from our partners that we need in order to feel loved, we ought to communicate that in a benevolent way. When we are not loving our partner in the way that they need, we can use this information to channel our energy into more productive and meaningful loving.

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How do you practice Energetic Love? Feel free to share your ideas below!