Author Archives: gftadmin

Importance of Sleep

We continuously hear about how important sleep is to our overall well-being. It’s great to acknowledge its importance but also important to develop a plan of action of practical ways to enhance the experience to avoid defeating yourself. Somethings to consider in developing your Sleep Routine: Time windows and Setting expectations/“stories of three”

Bedtime—- Setting the same window of time daily to be physically in bed (only rare social exceptions to this). This window of time should be only 30 minutes —i.e. 9-9:30pm.
*What three things are you required to do just prior to getting into bed? While keeping in mind that, ideally you haven’t touched a screen for 2 hours prior to bed, however even going with 15-30 minutes would be a huge start. Is this: brushing your teeth, having some sips of water, reading some of a book, journaling (it’s ideal to get out all the stressful thoughts and place them somewhere prior to sleep), etc.

Wake time—- Set an alarm everyday for the same time window. This should also be a 30-minute range as well for the weekdays and try to only shift by increasing to a 60-minute time window on weekends.
*What three things are required prior to you touching a screen? Not including shutting off your alarm. Is this: brushing your teeth, showering, 5 min stretches, 5 min mediation, work-out, gratitude acknowledgments, etc.

When in sleep mode some things to consider: Redirect mind when negative/ intrusive thoughts come in. Acknowledge the thought, validate it (all thoughts are a story—- not all rooted in fact or truth, and all have a beginning and end), if it’s a thought of a task that needs to be addressed/task completed have a paper and pen (not your phone) next to the bed to quickly write it down for you to address at a future date. A lot of our intrusive thoughts will get more powerful due to their fear you won’t remember to do the task/thought. Therefore, the brain kicks it into a survival response (and engages the amygdala), creating a new priority level and you can’t let it go.

Codependency Loops—-

One of the aspects of the experience of codependency is connected to the attempts of trying to gain control over something (or the entire relationship) as it feels unhealthy, and up to you to “fix it.” It becomes the narrative “if they’d just listen to me, if they’d just get help, etc.” the idea of everything would be better comes to the forefront. This aspect often starts from a place of trying to show love and fix the circumstances. That is however a false narrative.

Melody Beattie in her book ‘Codependent No More’ says it beautifully: “We cannot change people. Any attempts to control them are a delusion as well as an illusion.”

The places where control is being attempted in the relationship, are the areas you are feeling most out of control. Those are the areas where boundaries are needed to be set.

It starts with dealing with your emotions, including your fear of losing control. This will allow you to tap into your control over your self. You set the other person free to be the person they are showing you that they are and letting yourself become the person you are trying to be through them.

Often a helpful first step in the processing work is writing it all out. This opens your perspective and starts pulling you into your logic—processing mind. Why are you feeling out of control? When were you last feeling in control of your own circumstance? What would it look like to not control the next event with your partner? How can you establish safety in this?

Understanding Our Expectations

Expectations can hold us hostage in our own circumstance.

Allowing ourselves to name expectations of the moment, day, and the event is key. Knowing what our minds are focusing on both consciously and unconsciously are key methods to setting the stage for our needs to be acknowledged, met, and wants identified.

Holding unchecked expectations is the breeding ground for disconnection. Our expectations that are not communicated or fact checked lead us to resentment and pulling away from positive relationships.

An example to show importance of checking expectations: If we go into a situation that we have planned as a celebration for another person. We need to check what our expectations are for the event and for the persons reaction. We can not hold expectations for how another person reacts/or responds to something we have done for them—- we need to recognize that in doing that, it sets ourselves up for failure. We need to be able to name our intentions—- watch for the impact they have and hold good conversations for openness and transparency on both sides of the event.

Creating Solid Routines—- Build into Positive Habits: It Starts with Sleep

Building a routine specific to your needs and mindset is a key strategy. If we can associate positive thoughts (benefits) to the tasks we are attempting to build into habits we have more success of accepting them versus consequences that are punish focused. Positive rewards work!

Using the method of: Stories of Three. We need to associate 3 items to your evening routine that you are already doing every single day. This builds a strategy for success and intentionality of a routine.

Starting with the least resistance is key. So pulling three items you are already doing or doing more often than not, is important. This ensures we avoid initiating your central nervous system— and activating your stress response. Looking for positive reinforcement not punishment.

Options of items of what you are already doing might be: making your lunch for tomorrow, setting out clothes for tomorrow, brushing your teeth, washing your face, showering or having a bath, reading, completing a mediation, journaling, naming things you’re focusing on for tomorrow, etc.

Setting it into routine to allow for habits to form:
1. What three things are you requiring you complete prior to getting into bed?
2. What order are you wanting to do them in?
3. Be physically in bed every day within the same window of time (only rare social exceptions to this). This window of time should be only 30 mins —ex:- 9-9:30pm.
4. Another key consideration is that you haven’t touched a screen (ipad, phone, TV, etc) for 2 hours prior to getting into bed—- if this seems like too big of step start with 15-20 minutes.

Understanding our emotional selves…

Being able to label our heavy (often perceived as negative) emotions is key to be able to understand our triggers. By being able to label the emotion we are experiencing we are getting ahead of our subconscious’ attempt to self sabotage. Our subconscious is often pushing us into a survival (or trauma response) unless we pull awareness into our consciousness to understand what’s happening within our emotional state (name the emotion, give ourselves a chance to feel it, validate it and move through it) and notice that emotion being stored in our bodies.

Within the book: The Mountain is You—- Written by Brianna West “Embedded within each self-sabotaging behaviour is actually the key to unlock it, if only we can understand it first.”

1. Label the behaviour,
2. Label the emotional states (name the emotion, feel it, validate it and move through it),
3. Understanding the purpose, the behaviour is having (protective, survival, familiarity, safety etc).

This process ultimately gives you the chance to respond and change the behaviour. This is key to setting new pathways and not letting our past behaviours predict each future opportunity.

Understanding What is Underneath Self Sabotage…

Getting out of our own way is required to heal from the instinct and behaviour of Self Sabotage!

Self sabotage can be a way we attempt to protect ourselves from further despair or hurt. When in reality we end up creating increased amounts of pain and suffering for ourselves to miss out on opportunities or experiences. This is often due to fear of the unknown (and the idea of something that feels out of our control).

We need to understand the underlying reason (the unmet need) that exists for why the self sabotage exists in the first place.

Awareness: What is your ambivalence? —What are you being pushed and pulled from?

Challenging yourself: What are you trying to protect yourself from? —- What part of you is active in fear?—- What is preventing you from feeling safe in the uncomfortable?

Equitable Households…

The idea of living life with a partner where you are both doing 50-50 in all aspects is not realistic. That can be a harsh statement to read and feel seen in. You may be stressed and overwhelmed currently (or have been for some time) and have had continuous conversations with your partner of needing help or have been unsure how to start the conversation and ask for what you are needing (could also be coming from a place of unsure of what you are needing).

What I am meaning by 50-50 being unrealistic is that equal is not the goal, having an equitable household is. However, one partner doing 90-100 % of the household management isn’t realistic for a long-term healthy family dynamic. Establishing balance and understanding is key.

A great resource/book ‘Fair Play’ by Eve Rodsky speaks to the rebalancing of the household cards/tasks we hold within our family units (with or without kids). This can be a helpful learning experience and game to get to know your partner on a different level. It speaks to understanding the core values you each have and what the full task of each household responsibility needs to look like.

This game forces and guides us to have the conversations we may not have the words to start. It gives ques to understand what’s important to you and why, as well as your partner’s priorities.

The Bitter and The Sweet…

This time of year —-January is known as the longest, darkest, and often coldest month of the year within Canada. Sometimes within the darkness it’s hard to hold space for the appreciation of the quiet, freshness, and stillness.

The theme of ‘bittersweetness’ can be such an important and helpful reminder for our state of mind. If we go through life only acknowledging the dark, the heavy, and uncomfortable we live in that state alone. If we see the dark and the light, the heavy and the effortless, and the uncomfortable and the comfortable we regain connectedness. We need to see both sides in order to fully experience life. We seek out the positive and often don’t realize what the other side has to offer us.

We need both sides; the positive with the negative.

Take a moment today and see both. The darkness and light. The heavy and effortless. The uncomfortable and the comfort.

“Everything that you love, you will eventually lose. But in the end, love will return in a different form.”— Susan Cain, Bittersweet.

The Impacts of Our Automatic Responses—

We all have a hard-wiring within our brains that has been written from our development, genetics, experiences, and knowledge base. These four areas shape our understanding and create an automatic response that occurs prior to our brain even registering a reaction (our defaults). Understanding and noticing these automatic responses to situations allows us to further understand our thinking patterns and emotional comprehension. This ultimately allows us to connect both with ourselves and others.

Let’s challenge ourselves to notice these automatic responses (especially when this time of year brings increase stress levels within our environment—- even though some of the added stress that comes with the holidays is a positive our bodies automatic response can get in the way of our understanding of the excitement vs negative stress, which results in us falsely seeing something as a threat).

1. Take frequent pauses prior to social situations beginning to understand what your expectations of the event are.
2. What is my internal judgement (and fears) of the individuals that will be present?
3. What are my needs; to remain safe in this social situation (knowing the exists, giving myself a script for certain questions I worry that will be asked, etc)?

Taking the time to “check-in” with ourselves in these intentional ways gives us the ability to notice our automatic responses. This allows us to course correct to an alternate response that better suits our needs based upon the different situations.