Turning off

Take a minute to figure out what happens when your mind has an opportunity to wander, like when you are driving, folding laundry or doing the dishes! What occupies your mind? Is there constant chatter happening in your head, and are you full of “shoulds”, or unkind to yourself? Your inner mind “speak” can reflect your well-being and is often a a compass of how you feel about yourself and others around you. Think about how much time you spend doing things that don’t require purposeful thought. How you want your mind to be occupied during those times? If you are stuck in a chattering mind that is negative and hurtful, turn it off and replace these thoughts with something else that makes you feel good. You aren’t ignoring your worries, but choosing not to be occupied by them all the time.

Anxiety woes

Maybe it’s just that I’m attuned to the word “anxiety” at the moment, but it seems like there is a constant buzz about this “condition”, online, on the air waves and in many of my general conversations. What is anxiety? And are we supposed to feel anxious? Is it good to have a measure of anxiety in our lives, or should we be referring to this level of aggitation as “stress”? 

My own belief is that we do need some stres in our lives to keep things meaningful, i.e., to have the yin/yang experience of the opposite of stress, or calm-ness, that can only be appreciated if we notice it. For some of us, we can only recognize an absence of stress rather than a deep sense of calm. Mindfulness training, another “buzz” word found everywhere these days, does teach us to create more calm in our lives and can be a welcome antidote to all of the mind-chatter that needs turning off at times. 

But I view “stress” and “anxiety” differently. For me, anxiety is a generalized sense of unease with the world and often presents itself as a feeling that hinders our ability to live fully, preventing us from doing the things in our lives that we wish we could do. Not much of a definition, I know, but this is how I view anxiety because I don’t like to get caught up in all of the symptoms or stories behind the problem. What makes more sense to me is to view the issue with a forward-focused lens. So, I might ask, “what does anxiety prevent you from”? or, “what purpose is anxiety serving for you right now”? Once we uncover the purpose of our anxiety responses, we can re-learn better ways to deal with problems. Although our brains are obviously complex systems, where anxiety is concerned there are a few simple facts that brain science has taught us (thank-you to all of those researchers out there) – that our anxiety is based on learned responses that we thought were useful at one time, but it turns out that most of the time, we don’t need our fight/fligh/freeze response nearly as much as our bodies think we do! In fact, we can re-train our minds and bodies to respond in ways that are more helpful so that we can do the things that we want to do. This isn’t very complicated, but it’s also not easy. This kind of re-training takes commitment and perseverence. Most of the work is done by the client, not the counsellor, but it can be helpful to find a counsellor who can guide you through such a process. There are also lots of literature and self-help guides out there related to anxiety. The good news is that we can all make changes to lessen the impact of anxiety in our lives.     

What do I need?

You may need things from your partner that s/he isn’t giving you. This doesn’t mean that they can’t, but sometimes they don’t know how. Asking for what you need takes practice and a bit of courage too because this is about being vulnerable, and the topic can stir up feelings of shame. It gets easier once you have some support to figure out how to ask for what you need. Therapeutic relationships can provide that support, to help sort out the complex feelings and troubling communication that is so common when asking for needs to be met in your relationship.

small acts

Taking small steps requires awareness, which is one of the most powerful tools for change. If you have done something small, it means that you are aware, and you are capable. You can use that small act as a template, to continue moving toward other areas of your life that aren’t working for you. Build a new understanding of yourself through these unique small acts.

Mad about you

Ever wondered what happened to that “mad about you” feeling? When your relationship turns from being madly in love to just plain mad, you know that something needs to change. Being mad at your partner is a pretty typical emotion, but when it seems that you are mad more often than not, it’s time to make some decisions. Have you ever considered taking a break from being angry? This means making a conscious decision to put your anger aside for a time. This allows you to move out of your angry thoughts and feelings and give yourself an opportunity to have a good time, which can remind you of the things that you enjoy about your partner. It can also stimulate your positive brain chemicals, giving you a bit of a boost of positivity in your life. Try it, you can always reinvite your anger back after your break, but you may find that this won’t be necessary as you learn to let go of some of the smaller things that make you angry.


If you are in crisis:

A few interesting websites:



“Every joy is gain. And gain is gain, however small.”
- Robert Browning


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
- Albert Einstein

2018 Allison Clarke | Counsellor, Squamish BC