Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion

Clients come to see me for a various reasons, however, a pattern that I often see is difficulty with emotions, especially anger. People often try suppressing anger by shoving it down or trying to rid themselves of it, only to find themselves exploding at inappropriate times or boiling over for minor infractions. This situation then reinforces their belief that they need to get rid of their anger. Anger turned inward can have a detrimental affect on an individual. If individuals feel that it’s too dangerous to express or feel angry towards a situation or person, they may turn it inwards, berating their self for feeling the emotion in the first place: “Don’t overreact.” or “You’re being silly.” This self-criticism leaves them feeling shameful and deflated. Holding your anger in can prevent you from accessing your needs. By not accessing it, you avoid making clear statements of what you need, want, or think. People often avoid accessing this emotion because they are afraid that if they express what they truly feel, they will hurt those around them, or create a conflict that they feel is unmanageable. Unfortunately, this over-control can lead to resentment and bitterness. People also experience physiological stress if they over-control their anger. By tightening the jaw and muscles, stifling a shout, or holding your breath, stress occurs. This type of stress reaction from constriction of emotion can contribute to health problems such as stomach ulcers, high blood pressure or tension headaches. Sometimes we use anger to avoid the feelings underneath that anger, such as hurt at being criticized, rejected, or low self-esteem. Rather than feeling sad and...

How Loud is Your Critical Voice?

Everyone has a critical voice. It’s that nagging voice inside our mind that comments on our behaviours, feelings, and thoughts. Your critical voice may be manageable—you may be able to consider what it is saying, but then evaluate whether it’s useful for you. Or, it may be unmanageable and a large contributing factor to feeling depressed, incompetent, and less worthy. If the latter is true, it’s important to do some work on your critical voice. Two types of self-criticism seem to be most prevalent: dismissive and punitive. If our critical voice is dismissive, any time we have an emotional response, we tell ourselves “don’t feel that way” or “get over it.” We downplay our feelings and tend not to consider them valid. We have these unacknowledged feelings inside of us that are suppressed. This suppression can lead to depression and feeling disconnected. It can also cause an inappropriate delayed reaction or erupt out of context. If our critical voice is punitive, we place excessive demands on ourselves, and find it difficult to allow for any mistakes. This type of voice is very harsh and often tells us, “you should have done better,” or “you failed.” The critical voice leaves us feeling incompetent and worthless. It’s important to become more aware of your critical voice. Start observing how often it tells you that your emotions are not valid or criticises your every move. Notice how you feel after your critical voice has been very loud or punitive. Do you feel lethargic? Irritated? Overwhelmed? The critical voice is often related to other significant messages that we heard when we were younger....

It's Christmas… ready, set, go!!

Christmas is a time of giving and receiving. We give presents to family and friends and usually receive some in return. We give our time to others by baking cookies for school or hosting Christmas dinner at our house. But how much do you give to yourself? We often get caught up in the hectic pace of Christmas. We end up feeling that we MUST buy presents for this person and that person. We take on too much responsibility because we believe family and friends expect it of us. In the end, we feel exhausted and lose the “true” spirit of Christmas. What would happen if you didn’t do it at all? What would happen if you slowed down a bit and took the time to “be” rather than constantly “do”? What would happen if you said “no” this time instead of taking on one more thing? People often cite that they are afraid of the consequence of saying “no”. Someone might be disappointed in them if they don’t fulfill an expectation. Before committing to something, take some time to think about this expectation that is being set for you. First, is this a real demand or a perceived demand? Sometimes we believe that other people expect something of us, but often it is just a perception rather than reality. Second, what would be the outcome if you didn’t fulfill it? Someone may be disappointed. Is it your responsibility to make sure other people live without disappointment? Sometimes we do things so that other people don’t feel let down. But is this disappointment valid? Should we do things just...

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