Why I Talk About Myself in Therapy

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A therapy session with me may look a bit different than you expected. Different than therapy you’ve had before, or than what you thought therapy would be like. While this is true for most therapists, one big difference many of my clients notice is that I share stories about myself. I am a very open person, and I bring that openness into my work with clients.

There are a lot of mixed feelings in my profession about “self-disclosure” by therapists. When I was training at Ryerson, we were warned against it. Self-disclosure, my professors argued, can take away time from clients, center the focus of therapy on the therapist, and disrupt the alliance between therapist and client. When done in an uncontrolled way, self-disclosure can damage important boundaries between therapist and client, and lead to role-reversals where the client becomes the therapist. These are valid concerns.

So why do I do it, then?

For starters, I don’t do it recklessly, or without thought. I hold the cautions I’ve learned close to my heart as I engage in storytelling about myself. I don’t share everything with everyone – I choose carefully what I share, and why. And I carefully gauge how much time I spend sharing, to prevent shifting the focus of the session to me.

I also believe that sharing about myself is a valuable tool for the type of therapy I do – the kind that centers on human connection, empathy, validation, and the ability to grow and discover your value, your strengths, and your voice – together.

Another interesting thing I was taught about sharing personal information is that it leaves the therapist vulnerable; that it can break down the perception of the therapist as “expert,” and can level the playing field between clients and therapists. That started me wondering – was the warning about sharing our stories really to protect our clients? Or was it to protect ourselves – to allow ourselves to remain distant, uninvested – to allow us to judge and pathologize the “other” in the room?

I want to break that perception of the therapist as a powerful, invulnerable expert – because it isn’t true.

None of us are perfect, none of us know everything, and none of us are robots.

We are feeling, flawed humans just like you – and I think there is value in seeing your therapist as someone who has suffered, too. Suffered, struggled, and come out on the other side.

It helps to break the stigma – the idea that we are divided into two uneven camps: the “suffering,” and the “rescuers.” Yet both things – the experience of pain and suffering, and the desire to help, support, teach, and be there for others – are human, and something we are all capable of doing, together.

This does not mean, in any way, that I expect our therapy to be therapy for me. Your time in therapy is for you, and when I share a story about myself, it is always in service of that goal. It is something I do to connect to your experience, to increase your comfort, to offer insight into a problem we’ve both faced – to help you feel less alone, less “abnormal,” or less hopeless about the future.

It is my hope that, in knowing a little about me, we can deepen our discoveries about you.

What I Learned From Snowboarding Lessons

Now that spring is upon us, I am at a nice, comfortable distance from the new skill that I tried to pick up over the winter months; snowboarding! 

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I have never been a fan of winter, a fan of being outside in the cold, or a fan of throwing myself down a hill at high speeds. Yet, there I was at the start of January, strapping into a snowboard for my first ever snowboarding lesson.

For eight weeks, I would show up at my lesson vacillating between fear, frustration, and the occasional glimpse of fun. Here are some of the things that I learned (or was reminded of again and again!):

  1. When you’re anxious, do some deep breathing. As anxiety increases, our bodies tense up and our breathing becomes more shallow. By consciously switching to deep breathing, our bodies begin to relax. I would notice that I would be holding my breath as I was going down the hill and would have to remind myself to breathe. Now when I’m at the top of the hill, I begin by doing some deep breathing.
  2. Visualize yourself doing a new skill or doing something that creates anxiety. By being able to practice in your mind, you begin to feel a bit more comfortable. Elite athletes use visualization as a way to mentally prepare for an event. This can be used before any activity, whether physical, giving a presentation at work, or even something like a medical procedure.
  3. Set small goals. Frustration is more likely to build if you have set goals that are unrealistic or too big given your starting point. Set goals that you feel 90-95% confident that you will be able to meet. Once you’ve met the goal, celebrate and set a new goal!
  4. Be okay with making mistakes and failing (and falling!). One of my biggest fears was falling and injuring my tailbone (due to multiple horror stories that were shared with me about falling and injuring tailbones.) Sure enough, on my first run without my instructor, I fell and hurt my tailbone. I made my way down the hill, unstrapped my board and mentally quit. I was done. However, after a few hours, I acknowledged that this was part of the process. I would fall, I would even hurt myself, but that was part of the process.
  5. Look to others for support and encouragement. I had amazing cheerleaders during my learning process; my instructors, my family, my friends and even random strangers on the chair lift who would notice my apprehension. I’m sure that I would have given up on my first day if it wasn’t the kind words of someone reminding me that what I was doing was challenging and that I would eventually get it.

Now that the snow has melted, my board is stored away and I am a good 9-10 months away from the next snowboarding season, I am so grateful that I had this opportunity. It gave me the chance to practice what I preach. Regardless of whether it’s learning to snowboard, or coping with the struggles of being a new mom, working through relationship difficulties or being away from home at school for the first time, these lessons are universal!

 

 

 

Routines; Not Just for Babies!

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When I work with new moms, one of the hot topics of conversation is routines; naps, feeding, bedtime.  While the focus of the routines is usually baby, it is a good reminder that we all need routines, regardless of age.

While you may have routines that are tied to external factors and schedules, such as work, school and daycare drop offs, extracurricular actives, etc., it is critical to create your own routines throughout your day that fill up your coping tank.

One of the best things that I have done for my own emotional well-being in the last year is establishing a morning routine. I wake up early in the morning to spend an hour in quiet; I have my tea, read, journal, plan for the day and set the stage for a successful day.

While the initial days of waking up early were tough, the benefits have been incredibly positive. When I go off my routine, I can feel it. I feel more overwhelmed, that I am more reactive than intentional and just crankier in general.

Just like for babies, routines give us structure in our day, provide a level of predictability, usually make us feel good and allow us to maintain healthy habits. Despite these benefits, we may not consciously create routines and live reactively (and hope that we “find” time to do things that we want to do.)

Some of the most important part of establishing a routine is picking something that: 

  1. You enjoy 
  2. Provides a benefit to you
  3. Is doable given your current routine and stage of life. I would not have tolerated a morning routine well while having newborns!

Attempts at routine building are often unsuccessful because they are unrealistic. You may have tried to establish a new routine because you feel that you should. While I love my morning routine, I don’t think they are for everyone. It may go against your natural night owl rhythm. Pick a routine that you can envision yourself doing.

When establishing a new routine, ask yourself why your want to start the routine. Is it because you are feeling stressed out? Is it because you have a certain goal and establishing a routine will help you reach it? 

Routines are easier to create and maintain when they feel connected to a bigger picture goal. Starting routines because you happened to read about the amazing power of meditation in your Facebook feed is unlikely to stick. Personalize your routines to what you value and what is important in your current life.

Start small with your routine and pair it with something that is already naturally re-enforcing. When I began my morning routine, I knew that I wanted to a) journal and b) stay off my phone first thing in the morning! I decided to pairing journalling while making a tea. As I waited for the water to boil and tea to steep, rather than grabbing my phone, I now grab my journal. It’s a small behaviour change that has made a big impact.

Some possible routines that you may want to try are a bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time for bed, a mindful walk over your lunch break, reading a book when you normally read your phone, going to an exercise class the same time every week. The more consistent you are with your routine, the more established and easy it will become!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from the flu: The Mind-Body Connection

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A few weeks I was struck down by the flu.

Real. Honest to goodness. Flu.

I started coughing on Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning I was a feverish, achy, can’t get out of bed, hot (and chilled) mess.

As the days dragged on with minimal improvement, my mood began to plummet. I hated feeling stuck in my own miserable body, feeling completely out of control, and isolated from the rest of the world. 

I even started using Facebook as a way to share my misery (my apologies to my friends for that ;)

I’m not ashamed to admit that I would break down sobbing a few times a day (usually coincided with being able to feel my temperature rocketing into the stratosphere yet again.)

After a week, as I began to climb out of my flu fog, my mood improved. I believed that I would eventually feel better and be able to function out in the world. It was amazing the impact that my physical body had on my emotional well-being!

This shouldn’t be a huge surprise though. The connection between our minds, bodies and emotions cannot be over stated. It is pretty much impossible to feel healthy emotionally if you are feeling ill physically.

It is critical that we take care of our physical bodies as part of our emotional self-care. Here are some basic ways to take care of both our physical and emotional selves.

  • Get enough sleep. This one cannot be overstated. If sleep is not going well, nothing else can go well. Go to bed at the same time, develop a bedtime routine that signals that it is time for sleep, and get up at the same time. Sleep routines aren’t just for babies!
  • Move your body. Sitting at your computer all day will result in stiff muscles, a sore neck and overall crankiness. You don’t need to run a marathon, a few simple stretches are good enough!
  • Get outside (and don’t bring your phone!). Being in nature gives our brain a chance to reset. Get some fresh air, pay attention to your surroundings and keep distractions to a minimum. Think of it as a mini retreat!
  • Know what types of food and drink make you feel good. If that third cup of coffee will make you feel jittery, maybe step away from the Keurig. If you’re infamous for getting “hangry”, try not to skip meals. 
  • Incorporate rest and downtime into your regular schedule. While all illnesses cannot be prevented, ensuring that your body is well rested is a good first step in ensuring that your immune system can do its job. While I’m usually pretty good at scheduling downtime, the week prior to getting the flu, I was a lot busier that I typically like to be. My body put on the brakes in a big way.

Our minds and bodies are intricately connected, so take care of both. 

How to Treat Your Relationship Like a Car: Regular Maintenance Habits to Ensure a Smooth Ride

While not a very romantic notion, your romantic relationship is a lot like a car.

At the start, it is all bright, shiny and new. You may have taken out others for a test drive before deciding that this was the right one for you. It’s exciting. Every time you see it, you get a a jolt of happiness and can’t believe that it’s actually yours.

It smells really good.

After some time, that initial excitement wears off a bit. It’s comfortable, it’s dependable, it meets most of your needs. 

After even after more time, you’ve become totally used to it. That thrill has been replaced with annoyance at times. There are things you wish it had. There are changes you would make to it. You may even find that newer models catch your eye, but you are committed. 

Sometimes, a bit of neglect may even set in. You know you should spend a bit more time on it, but there’s always something else that needs your attention. You may even take it for granted.

Unlike relationships though, no matter how messy your car may get, you do regular maintenance on it. The oil gets changed. It gets gas on a regular basis. After a certain age, it even gets forced check ups to ensure that its not spewing too many harmful gases into the atmosphere.

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Our relationships need maintenance too, but these can often go neglected for far too long. Here are a few suggestions on how to maintain your relationship to prevent it from breaking down during the long haul;

  • Do a regular relationship check-in. How are you each feeling? Does anything need to be addressed? Don’t let the small rust spot become a gigantic hole.
  • Spend time together, just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be complex or fancy. Decide that one evening a week is booked for just the two of you to hang out, chat and reconnect.
  • Reminisce about the beginning of your relationships. After years together, it can be hard to connect to why you picked this person as your partner. Stroll down memory lane about when you first met, your first trip together, a memorable date. Triggering those old feelings can give your relationship a boost!
  • Reconnect physically. Just like hitting the open road in your previously beloved car can re-spark your appreciation for your vehicle, connecting on a physical level can re-spark feelings for each other. Even holding hands can help to reconnect
  • Make plans for the future together. Talk about a trip you would like to take together. Plan out your next date. Envision what like will look like in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. Get excited about the experiences that you will have together.

With regular maintenance, both your romantic relationship and your car, can last for years, through many season changes and help you get to where you need to go. Although that new car smell eventually wears off, it can still excite you in different ways.

Looking for a Great Valentine’s Gift: How About Couple’s Counselling?

Valentine’s Day often feels like a very loaded occasion. It is the time to show our partner how much we love them, appreciate them and pick just the perfect gift.

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Or it’s a time to feel disappointed, let down and wondering why you’re in this relationship to begin with (or at least the current version of the relationship as it used to be great!).

By the time you’re chucking wilted roses into the garbage can or eating the last chocolate from the heart shaped box, the relationship falls back down on the priority list and you can ignore those feelings until next year.

Or you can really shake things up and suggest that rather than expensive gifts that you don’t need anyway, the best thing you and your partner can do is go to therapy!

I know, that probably sounds a bit extreme. While you’re not super blissed out in your relationship, it doesn’t feel bad enough to go to therapy. You’re not thinking of leaving or having blow out fights everyday. Isn’t couples counselling only for people who are on the brink of separating?

Nope.

It is true that many couples do wait until they are on the verge of splitting (research suggests that couples wait an average of SEVEN years before they seek counselling after they actually need it). Many couples who show up in our office do see relationship counselling as the last ditch effort before calling it quits.

However, that does not mean that couples counselling is only for those in extreme distress. Therapy for couples can actually be much more constructive when you’re coming in more less serious issues and there is not years’ worth of resentment and anger to first dig through.

Couples therapy can be helpful in reconnecting during big transitions (such as becoming parents or when the kids leave the nest). Counselling can be helpful in making big life decision such as making career changes or deciding whether to make a big move and you’re not quite on the same page together.

Couples counselling can even be helpful during times when things are fine on the surface, you still love each other, but you find it hard to talk about things other than the day to day workings of everyday life. You want to connect on a deeper level with your partner but aren’t sure how to have existential conversations as you’re cleaning up after dinner.

So, regardless of where you’re at in your relationship, couples counselling can be a safe place to reconnect, work through underlying issues and be excited to spend Valentine’s Day with the person that you feel connected to, safe with and who truly understands who you are.

Contact us today to set up an appointment. We work with couples at all stages of relationships, with various presenting issues and with members of the LGBTQ community

 

 

Finding Work-Life Balance in 2018

A few weeks ago, I hopped over to our Facebook page and asked for suggestions for future blog posts. I was thrilled when I was asked to write about work-life balance. I love this topic so much, but probably not for the reason you think.  I love talking about work-life balance and calling it out for what it is;

A LIE.

A MYTH.

A HORRIBLE CREATION TO MAKE YOU FEEL BAD.

Seriously, whoever came up with the concept of work/life balance needs a good talking to about setting unrealistic expectations.  The truth is that life is complex. You have multiple obligations, responsibility, desires, interests and they will conflict with each other.

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Think of work/life balance as multiple spheres of activities, interests, roles and responsibilities. Depending on stage of life, deadlines and other extraneous factors, these spheres will change in size. New parents will relate to the idea that in those first few months of your baby’s life, the parent sphere is massive, while all of the other spheres are mere specks.

You likely feel out of balance because one sphere is way bigger than the other spheres. Sometimes, that is just the way it is. After the arrival of a child, it is unlikely to equally balance the health sphere, as your sleep is completely dependent on the sleep of your child.  However, we can exert some level of control, even when many of the factors are external. So how do you identify and influence your own life spheres?

First, identify your spheres. They may be parenthood, romantic relationships, work, health, friendships, personal development, self-care, etc.  Map out how large each sphere is right now. This will likely demonstrate why you feel out of balance.

Now that you’ve identified the size of your spheres, identify some factors as to why they are that size. You may be focusing on a project at work with a looming deadline, which is why the professional sphere is front and centre.

However, there may be choices that you have made, either consciously or unconsciously that have resulted in the sizes of your spheres. Your romantic relationship sphere may be smaller than you like, because you spend most of your evenings bonding with Netflix rather than with your partner. Your health sphere might be a dot because creating time for exercise, sleep and nutrition has not been on your radar in years (other than when setting your New Year’s resolutions!). 

While you do need to acknowledge the external factors that impact your spheres, you also need to acknowledge your role in determining their size. Have you neglected parts of your life or overly prioritized things?

Now that you’ve identified what your spheres are and their size, what would you like your spheres to look like? Do you want to add some? Do you want to remove some?

The most important thing when planning out your spheres is a) they do not all have to be the same size (nor should they, as some things should be more of a priority) and b) your spheres will need to be flexible; they will grow and shrink depending on what it is going on in life.

  • What do you need to do in order to adjust your current spheres to your ideal spheres?
  • Maybe you need to start leaving the office earlier so that you can spend time with your family?
  • Maybe you need to block out time to grab coffee with a friend at least once a month to feed your friendship sphere? 

Your sphere assessment is not something you do only once. Regularly check in with your spheres and how they are working for you. Make adjustments as both external and internal factors change. This is not a template for the rest of your life, but rather a living, breathing map for your life and what matters to you.

So let’s all agree to toss the goal of striving for more balance; strive to identify what parts of your life need more attention, while stepping away from other parts. Also, give yourself a break when one sphere is essentially PacMan eating all of the other spheres at times. This is just life.

If you have a suggestion for a blog post topic, please hop over to our Facebook page and send us a message! We love to hear from you and create useful content!

 

Ditch the Resolutions: Change How You Make Changes

As I was scrolling through Facebook over the last few days, I noticed a pattern.  All of the Facebook ads that were presented to me were about weight loss, exercise and how I could build a six pack.

Oh yeah, New Year.

Resolutions.

*deep sigh*

’Tis the time to sign up for a gym membership, vow to only eat “clean”, start meditating at least 30 minutes a day, do yoga everyday for the next 30 days, ditch all social media and pick up a new language or two.

I probably don’t have to tell you, that come the end of January, these resolutions have already long been given up on and have been added to the pile of “reasons why I suck and can’t stick to anything.” I have so been there and am guessing that you so have you.

New Year’s resolutions do not work for most people.

That’s not because there is something wrong with us, but rather we go about trying to change ourselves in ways that will essentially doom us to fail. We set goals that are too dramatic, too big and often that come from a place of criticizing and punishing ourselves. However, we are not doomed. It is possible to make changes. However, we need to change how we make changes (how meta!).

Ditch the Resolutions

Here are a few ways to create sustainable, lasting change that does not make you feel like a failure:

  • Start from a place of self-acceptance. I know...this one probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. You usually set goals because you feel there is a part of you that needs fixing or improving. However, starting from a place of “I’m already awesome” allows you to show yourself self-compassion and setting goals that feel nurturing rather than punishing. Starting from a place of acceptance allows you to roll with the setbacks that are inherent in changing, rather than quitting in frustration.
  • Identify the why behind your goal. You may have set goals in the past because you feel like you should set those particular goals. However, if there is no passion or meaning behind those goals, you are unlikely to meet them. If your goal is to reduce sugar in your diet because your neighbour is also doing it, that does not have a lot of inherent meaning. On the other hand, if you decide to reduce sugar intake because you notice too much sugar makes you feel jittery; upsets your stomach and triggers migraines; that changes the goal’s meaning. Now the reduction of sugar is tied to your own feelings and circumstances.
  • Set better goals. Many goals suck. They are too broad, too undefined and are not measurable in any way. Take the goal “I want to be more active.” Does that mean taking the stairs at work rather than the elevator, or does it mean run a triathlon by the end of the year? Personalize your goals to your life, desires, circumstances and starting point. Make your goals concrete, with a specific action plan to go along with it. If you are finding it challenging to stick with the change, alter the course. One of the biggest misconceptions about change is that it is a straight, linear process. Nope! Change is a bumpy process with many set-backs along the way. These set-backs provide information. If your goal was to meditate and you haven’t had success trying to meditate in the evening, that doesn’t mean you will never meditate. Maybe the evening isn’t the best time for you. Try the morning.
  • Start small. Like super, duper, teeny, weenie, why am I even bothering to do this, small. Change needs to happen in small, incremental steps. You want to feel 90% confident that you will be able to meet the goal. Every long-lasting change starts with small steps.
  • Have fun with your goals! Most goal setting fails because you are not enjoying what you are doing. Since many goals are set from a critical place, they are usually tedious, difficult and not reinforcing for us. They feel like a drag. Setting goals that are fun is a whole different ballgame! Imagine looking forward to a goal rather than apprehension, dread and already making excuses about why you can’t start for another week. Recently, I strapped on a pair of skates for the first time in 20 years and I was surprised to find that it was actually really fun! I am now looking forward to adding skating into my activity plan rather than glaring at the dust covered gym equipment that I’ve accumulated over the years.

It is possible to make changes, but we need to change our approach. Most importantly though, is accepting ourselves already where we are. You are already enough and you are already worthy.

Trust in the Age of Social Media

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Have you ever snuck a glance at your partner’s phone? 

Took a peek at their e-mail when their computer is unattended? 

Looked through their friend list on Facebook for any unfamiliar faces?

You’re not alone. 

Giving our trust in romantic partnerships can be a challenge. We all have different levels of comfort with offering our trust to others. With some, trust may seem easy, and with others, difficult. Past actions play into this, too, and once our trust is injured, it can be difficult to recover. 

Trust injuries can be caused by something as small as openly admiring another person’s appearance or a text from an old flame, or as large as having multiple secret affairs.

For some, trust might be broken via online conversations, friendships outside the relationship, or pornography.

For others, emotional and physical partnerships outside the relationship may be welcome so long as open communication and honesty is part of the arrangement. It all depends on your shared definition of fidelity, and your individual expectations in your romantic partnerships. 

But trust is one of those slippery, hard-to-define things (just like love!). In contemporary culture, with an influx of data and technology at our fingertips, many of us have become scientific investigators in our relationships. Things like trust, love, and fidelity seem almost measurable. Social media has made this process even easier – our social lives and relationships are visible, traceable, and very public. 

We now have the tools to approach trust as a scientific question – “how much evidence do I need to be certain that my trust is well-placed?” 

I have seen friends and clients alike struggle with this question. Feelings of inadequacy (with our bodies, our sexuality, our personal qualities, our careers) and past betrayals (our own, or those we’ve watched our friends and family endure) are just a couple reasons why we might fear losing our partners, and struggle to trust them.

The temptation to turn to surveillance to reassure ourselves of our partners’ fidelity can be powerful. Social media, email, and text messages leave nearly all our conversations traceable. Browsers and apps that save passwords make searching a partner’s smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer quick and easy. And many people’s first reaction to worry is to seek reassurance that the worst-case scenario is not true. 

But there is a fatal problem with this process: It is very hard to prove an absence of a trust breaking activity.

Failing to find evidence of an event does not prove it doesn’t exist. 

You set out seeking reassurance, but you can never answer that question by searching emails, social media, or text message histories. There could always be deleted emails or photos, hidden chat conversations, or secret rendezvous. There could always be something you missed

So you keep looking. 

And looking. 

And looking a little bit more. 

This cycle can quickly become an obsessive loop, because the search may provide temporary reassurance or relief, but the doubt and worry will always return, leading to another search. 

Meanwhile, your anxiety and preoccupation increase. You search more and more often, and the more time you spend searching and questioning your partner’s fidelity, the greater your doubt grows. 

The more time you spend combing your partner’s social media for evidence of fidelity, the greater your chances of finding false “evidence” that they are cheating. An innocent text message from an ex, a buried photo of an old flame they never bothered deleting, a new “friend” you don’t recognize, an ambiguous comment by a peer on their Facebook wall….the possibilities are endless. 

And with each one, your doubts and insecurities grow, and your anxiety and checking behaviours increase. 

We cannot “investigate” our way out of this loop. A simpler way out is to re-frame our idea of trust. 

A helpful way to understand trust is as an act of radical faith, rather than a consequence of proof. Faith is choosing to extend our belief without proof, because the process of believing is more valuable to us than objective fact, or being right. 

Thus, when we think of trust as faith, we can offer it to our partners as a gift, not as a commodity. We can choose to give it up front, with the hope that they will treat it well (rather than requiring them to earn it via the impossible process of elimination I described above).

Faith can be a scary process, because it opens us to the possibility of making a mistake, or being wrong, or being seen as a “fool.” Many clients I’ve spoken with have revealed fears of being “duped,” or “tricked,” by a romantic partner, and admitted that this fear (combined with fear of loss) drives much of their effort to establish their partner’s fidelity. There is a stigma attached to being cheated on, as if this makes the cheat-ee “stupid” or “naïve” or “oblivious.” 

But does it? People are very bad at detecting lies. Even highly trained social experts, like police detectives, private investigators, judges, and psychologists perform no better than chance at detecting deceit. We all have a “truth bias,” or a tendency to assume people are telling us the truth unless we find direct evidence they are lying. This is not a human failing, it is one of our greatest strengths as a species – it fosters cohesion, cooperation, and survival. 

So consider - if a police officer or psychologist can’t tell if someone is lying to them, why do we expect ourselves to know? Why is it our job to protect ourselves from being lied to or betrayed, when we are not good at knowing when it is happening? Why is it a source of shame to be lied to, when the wrongdoing was committed by the liar, and when violated trust threatens the very social glue that allows our species to survive? 

If you give someone a thoughtful gift because you love them, is it your fault if they smash it and throw it out the window? Does it mean you were foolish or wrong in giving the gift? Does it mean it was a mistake to love them in the first place? 

Or does it reflect their character, and their worthiness?

Consider also the meaning of giving something as a gift, versus trading it as a commodity. Which do you feel has more value in a relationship, and why? 

The answers to these questions may lead to a shifting understanding of trust.  

Comparison: The Thief of Joy

Let's get this out of the way first; we all compare ourselves to other people. It's part of human nature.

Sometimes we compare so that we can feel better about ourselves and our situations and sometimes we compare so that we feel worse about ourselves.

We all do it, there is nothing wrong with you that you compare yourself, you're not a bad person.

Now that's out of the way, let's talk about why comparing can be faulty and ends up making ourselves feel crappy either way.

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First, we usually compare things that others make public. You see that your neighbour is always well-dressed, impeccably groomed, with fancy coffee in hand at all time. You look down at our tattered active wear (that is actually your "I can't be bothered to put on real pants today" wear) and feel less than.

What you don't see is the anxiety and perfectionism that is driving that glossy sheen. Or maybe your neighbour is actually super happy and her appearance just matches that happiness. You don't know. All you can see is the outside.

Comparing your inner mess to someone's pristine exterior is setting you up to lose.

Another problem with comparison is that you may make the incorrect assumption that what someone else is doing is right, so you must be wrong. However, unfortunately, people are making unhealthy choices all the time so you may be using a dysfunctional benchmark.

Just because your fancy neighbour thinks that it's important to only eat food that is the colour green, doesn't mean she's necessarily right. 

Finally, comparisons often don't take into consideration your own priorities, experiences, goals and values.

You may feel bad that you don't throw your kids the most epic Pinterest-influenced kid parties, but do you truly care? Is that what is important to you or do you feel pressure because your glossy neighbour is also an amazing party thrower?

When you do find yourself comparing yourself, take a deep breath and become aware of the comparison and how you feel about it?