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How to Make New Friends

How to Make New Friends

Unlike our family, we can choose our friends. So in a way, friends are our “chosen family”. It’s important that we choose wisely and surround ourselves with supporting and loving people. Happy International Friendship Day!

Are you finding yourself lonely during your summer away from campus? Look no further!

Here are the top 3 places to check out to meet new peeps!

1. Meetup.com

This is a great website to meet people who share similar interests to you. Sign up on the website, choose the categories that interest you, i.e. sports, nature, movies, etc., and then get out there!

2. Bumble BFF

Yes, you read that correctly. Bumble⁠—best known for its dating app⁠—also has an app to meet your future bestie. Add a few photos of you in your element, write a brief bio and then start swiping!

4. Eventbrite

You’ve probably bought tickets on Eventbrite before (maybe even for a Shift event!) but did you know it’s also considered the “new” meetup.com. Perfectly Search by date, location, cost and category to find the perfect event to mingle with like-minded folks.

How to Face Your Parents

How to Face Your Parents

I recently made a surprise trip to see my parents in Michigan for my Mom’s birthday. Before I committed to it, I had to check in with myself about the decision because, while my relationship with my parents has always been complex, this year the struggle has been especially real. I had to hold both of them accountable for some tough and painful stuff. There was heartbreak on both sides. I stepped away and took time to process it all before I reconnected with them. 

I’ve made a concerted effort in my relationships with both of them to show up out of a desire to connect instead of out of obligation or any narrative of what daughters are “supposed” to do. After checking in with myself and deciding that visiting them felt right for me, I hopped in the car and made my way. It wasn’t a long visit but at one point, as I was walking out to the car from their home, I caught a glimpse of a chalkboard hanging on the wall. On the chalkboard was a long list to track donations my parents had recently made: Ocean Conservancy, Planned Parenthood, The Audubon Society, Doctors Without Borders, the ACLU, and more.

As soon as it caught my eye, a feeling of warmth spread through my body and sank into my bones. It was a beautiful reminder of one of the things my parents have done remarkably well: they seamlessly and effortlessly imparted to my siblings and me what an absolutely non-negotiable responsibility we have as citizens of this earth to give back in some capacity. 

Parenting is the hardest job on the planet on a good day. The caregiver-child relationship is unique and lays the groundwork for every person’s future intimate attachments. Parenthood often brings up our parents’ own childhood trauma and difficult experiences. The work of a lifetime comes in understanding our parents as people versus our parents as caregivers. We are allowed to say that our parents are good people but were inadequate caregivers. It’s okay to say that the parents we got were not the parents we needed. It’s okay to love them in spite of it or to distance ourselves because of it. 

My parents had a tough time as caregivers. But I can tell you as humans, they remain two of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever known. They wove kindness and generosity into the fabric of our family so effortlessly that I barely noticed until I reached a place where I could look back and see it in completion. It was as if, all of a sudden, a beautiful tapestry appeared out of thin air. 

The list of donations on the wall was a beautiful reminder of one of the things about my parents that I’m grateful for. But I was only able to get there because I gave myself the time, space and permission to heal and rage by any means necessary. 

We get so many social messages that say we need to love and support our family unconditionally and I’m here to tell you otherwise. Everyone has a different process and comfort level but if you are struggling with guilt because you don’t want to be around your family or talk to them, I want to reassure you that it is okay. It’s okay to prioritize your healing over your family members’ feelings. It’s okay to feel how you feel in its fullness. Maybe you’ll get to gratitude, maybe you won’t. But you can’t skip over the hurt and the pain on the road to healing. 

If you do find it comfortable to feel gratitude for your parents, don’t use it to rationalize cancelling out the hurt, anger, and pain you feel. We can feel opposing and conflicting feelings at the same time without having to cancel any out. Our relationships with our parents are the most complex of our lives. To view them only as black and white does a disservice to our healing process.  If you cover up the hurt with gratitude, you’ll only get so far. Your healing will reach a ceiling. 

There’s almost always some good stuff about our parents. But those things aren’t our first stops on the path to healing. They aren’t what needs to be seen and heard first. There is room for all of it but don’t be afraid of the darkness in the tunnel. If you’re courageous enough to move through it, you will find the light at the end. 

Online Dating: Knowing You’re Enough

Online Dating: Knowing You’re Enough

It seems like it’s become harder and harder to date. Dating articles range from “why did they ghost me?” to “why are they all hot and cold?” These behaviours are all marvels that are becoming more common as a result of the online dating and app world.

In this day and age, not only do we have multiple options, we also have to search through those multiple profiles, go on multiple dates, have multiple chats and potential connections, and possibly go through multiple break-ups in order to get to be with someone (that is, if monogamy and serious relationships are your thing).

“Just thinking about all of this and typing it makes me exhausted!

So, how on earth can we make sense of this messy online dating and app scene? Think about the following, always with your own needs as your true compass:

  • What do I want when it comes to dating? Do you want something casual, to see how things develop, a serious relationship, marriage?
  • What do I want in a relationship? Would you be okay with long distance, for example?
  • What do I need from a partner? For example: kind, thoughtful, considerate, attentive, etc.
  • What are my boundaries? What behaviours am I not okay with?
  • What is my gut saying about what’s going on? If it doesn’t feel right, check it out. If it still doesn’t feel right, consider saying no to this relationship.

“At the end of the day, only you will know what works for you. By being your authentic self, others who appreciate who you really are will take notice. It’s more than enough to give.

If you have questions on how to further explore and understand your relationships, it can also be helpful to explore this with a therapist

The 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages

Here’s a quick story that might sound familiar:

Jordan and Asa are partners. This past week Jordan picked up Asa from the airport and then cooked up a nice dinner while Asa unpacked. Afterwards, Jordan ran out to do the groceries for the week to give Asa some space to settle in and relax. That night before bed, Asa complained to Jordan, “You barely showed me any affection! Did you even miss me at all?” Asa even questioned whether Jordan wanted to be in a relationship. Jordan felt confused and upset. Everything Jordan had done that day was meant to welcome Asa home. How did Asa not even notice?

What’s going on here? Does Jordan not really care for Asa? Does Asa have unreasonable expectations? What do you think? Do you relate more to Asa or Jordan here?

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the book The 5 Love Languages, there are five different ways we can express love to a partner. But we don’t all communicate with the same languages equally. We typically develop our love language based on how our primary caregiver showed love to us as we grew up. From this we form a perception of what love looks like.

The 5 love languages are:

  1. Acts of service: Doing things for the other person.
  2. Physical touch: Showing affection.
  3. Quality time: Spending quality time with one another.
  4. Receiving gifts: Buying a thoughtful gift for the other person.
  5. Words of affirmation: Expressing terms of endearment.

If we look again at the story above, it seems Jordan’s way of welcoming Asa home was with acts of service, but Asa wanted affection and touch. For Jordan, doing something for a partner is a way of saying I love you. Chapman calls these kinds of actions, “bids of connection.” Asa perceives love through physical touch and affection, thus Jordan’s bids of connection went unnoticed. You could say Jordan and Asa are speaking different languages. What can they do about it?

Learning what love language your partner “speaks” can help to build connection because you’ll start to notice when your partner is showing their love. The next time Jordan does something for Asa, Asa could pay more attention to these gestures and recognize them as the way that Jordan shows love. Conversely, if you and your partner have different love languages it can be helpful to know in order to shift your behaviour to better fulfill your partners needs. For example, if we know our partner’s love language is physical touch, we can make an effort to hold our partner’s hand the next time we are walking down the street, or give them a hug when we arrive home.

As a helpful tool, you and your partner can take this love language quiz to find out each other’s love language.

How to Set Boundaries and Say No

How to Set Boundaries and Say No

Do you sometimes have trouble saying “no”, or expressing what you really want? Don’t worry—you’re definitely not alone.

Many people struggle to communicate their needs and express personal limits with others. Setting boundaries sounds so simple yet it can be quite challenging to execute if you’re not accustomed to doing so.

If you do have difficulty setting boundaries, you might find yourself either drained from not being able to say no or feeling isolated because you haven’t shared what you need from others. Also, if you tend to be inconsistent with your boundaries (sometimes it’s “yes,” sometimes it’s “no”), then you’re likely sending mixed messages and leaving those around you confused about how to treat you.

Boundaries teach others how to treat us and communicate what we find to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. In some ways, setting boundaries is also about honouring the relationships around you, whether it is with family members, friends, partners or coworkers. Rather than expecting the people in your life to read your mind (and then feeling resentful because you’ve pushed your needs aside), tell the person how you feel.

How to set boundaries

First, identify the behaviour or action that has affected you, and briefly describe how you feel about it; then outline what boundary you want to put in place.

1. Share how you feel with “I” Statements:

“When you _______ (identify the behaviour), I feel _______ (name the emotion)”

Examples:

“When you speak negatively about me in public, I feel disrespected.”

“When you look through my phone without my consent, I feel violated.”

“When you start working on your laptop during the kids bedtime routine, I feel alone and more stressed.”

“When you talk to the client before telling me, I feel caught off guard.”

2. Outline the boundary or make a request:

“I need you to…“

Example: “I need you to stop making comments about my weight”, “I need you to respect my privacy”

or “Could you please_________”

Example: “Could you please keep negative comments to yourself?”, “Could you please help me with the kids every night before you start working on your laptop?”)

or “I would appreciate it if _____________”

Example: “I would appreciate if you could ask me how long it would take before setting the deadline with the client.”

3. In some situations, you may need to state a consequence:

“If you continue to ______ (the behaviour), I will ______________ (your plan to protect the boundary)”

Example: “If you continue to speak negatively about me in public, I will remove myself and leave the room.”

Things to keep in mind when setting boundaries

  • Be short but specific when describing the behaviour, leaving little room for interpretation. Use simple language and don’t over-explain yourself.
  • Use a neutral, respectful, and firm tone
  • Avoid blaming or criticizing statements (“You” statements)
  • You are not responsible for how others react towards your boundaries
  • If there is an unpleasant reaction, remind yourself the other person is entitled to how they feel and try not to take it personally
  • Follow through with your boundaries and back up your words with action; if you are not feeling ready to act on a consequence, don’t put it out there until you are
  • Expect that you will have to reinforce your boundaries and be prepared for pushback
  • If you’re not sure about what your boundaries are in the first place, you may need to work on building self-awareness and understanding your priorities. Connecting with a therapist can help. They will help you gain clarity on what your limits are and why and get support in strengthening your boundary criteria for different areas of your life.

How to say no

Sometimes we just need to say no in simple terms, without identifying the emotion. Here are 6 ways to do it.

1. Polite refusal: Be gracious yet firm

Example: “No thank you. I prefer not to.”

2. Insistence: Emphasize your position with strength

Example: “No, I feel really strongly about changing the direction of this project.”

3. Be a Broken Record: Repeat the same sentence over and over.

Example: “No, thank you, I won’t be joining you all tonight”; “No, thanks, I won’t be joining you tonight”; “No thanks, have fun, I won’t be joining you all tonight…”

4. Partial honesty. If you don’t feel safe enough to be fully assertive, provide a version of the truth

Example: “I’m not able to come out tonight because I made other plans.”

5. Full honesty: Be 100% direct

Example: “No, I’m not interested.”

6. Buy yourself time: If you’re unsure of your position and don’t want to answer yet, ask for time.

Example: “I’ll have to think about that one and get back to you tomorrow.”

At the end of the day, setting boundaries is really about taking care of yourself and honouring your self-worth. You deserve to be heard!

How to Date Confidently

How to Date Confidently

It seems like it’s become harder and harder to date. Dating articles range from “why did they ghost me?” to “why are they all hot and cold?” These behaviours are all marvels that are becoming more common as a result of the online dating and app world.

In this day and age, not only do we have multiple options, we also have to search through those multiple profiles, go on multiple dates, have multiple chats and potential connections, and possibly go through multiple break-ups in order to get to be with someone (that is, if monogamy and serious relationships are your thing). Just thinking about all of this and typing it makes me exhausted!

So, how on earth can we make sense of this messy online dating and app scene?

Think about the following, always with your own needs as your true compass:

  • What do I want when it comes to dating? Do you want something casual, to see how things develop, a serious relationship, marriage?
  • What do I want in a relationship? Would you be okay with long distance, for example?
  • What do I need from a partner? For example: kind, thoughtful, considerate, attentive, etc.
  • What are my boundaries? What behaviours am I not okay with?
  • What is my gut saying about what’s going on? If it doesn’t feel right, check it out. If it still doesn’t feel right, consider saying no to this relationship.

At the end of the day, only you will know what works for you. By being your authentic self, others who appreciate who you really are will take notice. It’s more than enough to give.

If you have questions on how to further explore and understand your relationships, it can also be helpful to explore this with a therapist.

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