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Signs You Might Be Afraid of Intimacy

Signs You Might Be Afraid of Intimacy

Do you fear intimacy? Below are some quick things to look out for to see whether or not you might be afraid of getting too close in a relationship.

1. You keep attracting emotionally unavailable people. If you notice this pattern in your dating history, this is a tell-tale sign that you are afraid of intimacy.

2. You are overly critical of the other person for small things. Do you find yourself questioning your interest in your dating partner because you didn’t understand the joke they told or because their teeth are a little crooked? In these moments, you might want to ask yourself whether these things really matter to you in the long run. Instead, you might want to focus more of your attention on whether your partner shares similar values to you, for example, do the two of you share similar views on monogamy and desires for the relationship?

3. You feel bored when the other person does everything right. When you’re used to feelings of abandonment, anxiety, and uncertainty, being with someone who doesn’t trigger these things will likely feel ‘boring’. Sometimes we tend to associate anxiety with chemistry when, in fact, these are two completely different things. You might want to ask yourself: Am I writing this person off because they genuinely aren’t the right fit for me? Or is it that I fear developing an authentic connection with this human being?

4. You tend to feel intensely about the person right away. Relationships take time. When you find yourself having intense feelings for the other person early on in the relationship/dating experience, you are actually projecting your own feelings onto them. This is a red flag that should signal to you that you are not allowing yourself to connect on a deep level with this person.

The good news is that once you become aware of your patterns, you can choose to work on them and make conscious choices to do things differently. Being able to talk this out with a therapist can help tremendously. Your therapist can assist you in reflecting your unhealthy patterns in your dating life and work with you to make changes that reflect your true desires and values.

How to Overcome Perfectionism

How to Overcome Perfectionism

Be honest. Do you always want to be perceived positively by others?

Or are you afraid of failure? Do you struggle with not feeling good enough, no matter what you do? Are your expectations of yourself or others unrealistically high?If you can relate to these, you might be a perfectionist. And you’re far from alone.

Perfectionism is something I struggle with from time-to-time, so I wanted to create a list of some strategies that work for me and share it in hopes of helping others.

1. Instead of focusing on the end goal, try and enjoy the process.
I’m all too familiar with the highs I get from the sense of accomplishment for achieving something I’ve been focused on getting to.  However, this high is often short-lived because it comes at the expense of the “low”: the pain I put myself through to getting to a goal. One of the most effective strategies I’ve found to allow myself to embrace and appreciate the process of getting to a goal is actually making this process something I enjoy, and the focal point of my journey to growth.  I also find this takes the pressure off the result and makes the process itself feel worthwhile to go through.  I believe the key to this is being curious and excited about the things you can learn about yourself in the process of moving towards something that’s important to you. I find this helps remind me that things are worth doing, regardless of the result.

2. Practice self-compassion.
As a recovering perfectionist, I sometimes notice my inner critic coming out and shaming me for my perceived flaws and shortcomings.  Because my inner critic expects perfection (which is unattainable), no matter what I do, it will find something to pick on, making me feel inadequate and unmotivated.  What helps me when this happens is reminding myself that I am human, and as humans, we all struggle with imperfections.  Being able to catch myself in a “not-good-enough” shaming moment, identifying the negative thought, and then offering the thought loving kindness through compassion can be really helpful.  You can offer loving kindness by providing yourself the same compassion you would show to a loved one, through kind words and actions.

3. Re-evaluate your expectations and set more realistic ones.
Sometimes I don’t even realize how unrealistic the expectations I set for myself or others are.  It’s no surprise then that I am bound to feel disappointed and lose motivation because the expectations I have are completely unattainable.  A great strategy for this is to exchange those high expectations with more realistic ones, which are those that you and others can reasonably meet, taking into consideration what is and is not in your control.  If you’re noticing yourself constantly feeling upset or frustrated, it might be because you are holding onto unreasonable expectations.  It might help to talk this out with a friend or family member, who can help you reassess your expectations and look at ways to make them more attainable and realistic.  

4. Love yourself not in spite of, but for your imperfections. 
Embrace your flaws.  They make you, you. Once I was able to see that my striving to reach some unattainable standard to prove my own worth to others and myself was what was actually making me feel unworthy and unlovable, I was able to accept myself as I am and just be. This ability to be, helped lead me to a place of whole-hearted acceptance. Now, when I strive to make changes in my life, it comes from a place of wholeness vs not feeling good enough, and, regardless of the outcome, I still feel deserving, whole and complete.  This also helps with enjoying the process instead of being outcome focused.

5. Set boundaries and honour your needs.  
Often times what comes with being a perfectionist is wanting to people-please.  There’s nothing wrong with having the desire to make others happy but when it comes at the expense of your needs and your truth, you are not doing anyone any favours.  I sometimes have to stop and ask myself, “Am I being true to myself right now or am I saying or doing this to gain approval from the other person?”  I remember when I initially went through this process, it was challenging to know the difference because I had neglected my own needs for so long to instead prioritize the needs of others by saying or doing things so they would like me. I felt I lost myself and didn’t really know who I was anymore. I wasn’t speaking or living my truth. I wasn’t being authentic. 

Being able to slow down and reflect on what you are feeling in any given moment while also reflecting on what your values are or what’s really important to you can be a good way to help determine what your needs are and any boundaries that need to be set.  You might find that as you begin to express who you are and what your needs are, the people that stay around are really there for you as a person and not for what you can give them.  You begin to learn how to tolerate the discomfort that comes from realizing that not everyone likes you.  Being you and honouring your truth becomes more important than being liked or gaining someone’s approval.

Overcoming perfectionism is a process. Choosing to let go of perfectionism is choosing to love and accept yourself by choosing to let go of the need to prove your worth. 

You will notice that over time, as you become more and more kinder to yourself, you will begin to really see and feel that you are good enough exactly as you are!

6 Ways To Stop Your Brain From Overthinking

6 Ways To Stop Your Brain From Overthinking

Believe me, I know all too well how it feels to go into monkey-mind mode. You know, those times when you literally cannot get out of your head and it feels like you are spiraling deep into a rabbit hole.

How do we stop overthinking? Here are my top 6 go-to strategies for overthinking, that I use to loosen the grip my thoughts have and help get me back into the present moment.

1. The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique.  

Being able to connect yourself back into your body is important to do when you notice yourself getting stuck in your head. When you are thinking, you are no longer in the present moment. A great mindfulness technique to help you reconnect to the present moment is by using all of the 5 senses of your human body. You can do this simply by:

Naming 5 things you can see.

Naming 4 things you can feel.

Naming 3 things you can hear.

Naming 2 things you can smell.

Naming 1 thing you can taste.

2. Deep Breathing.

Deep breathing is another helpful tool to combat anxious thinking. As soon as you become aware that you are stuck in your head, take 3 conscious deep belly breaths. I love this one especially because you literally cannot think and take a deep inhale at the same time! It’s also a simple strategy for overthinking that you can do anywhere.

3. Worry time

How do we better manage worrying? A helpful technique for worrying is to give yourself a boundary for worrying and only allow yourself to worry during a specific time. Set a timer for 5 minutes and use this time to think, worry, and analyze. Then set another timer for 10 minutes and use this time to write down on a piece of paper all the things that stress you out and give you anxiety. When the timer goes off, rip up the piece of paper and do something pleasurable for yourself. This is a very helpful strategy for managing overanalyzing.

4. Write a Gratitude List.

Sometimes when I get into an over-thinking mode I spend so much of my time and energy focusing on the negative. I find taking the time to reflect on the things that are actually going ‘right’ in my life as a great way to re-shift my focus in the moment to more loving thoughts.

5. The STOP Technique.

This one is one of my personal favorite strategies to help me combat my negative thoughts, especially the ones that lead me spiralling. What I do when I notice I’m totally in my head (and after I make sure no one is around) is literally yell as loud as I can, “STOP!” This is a great way to release some tension and reset yourself. A modification to this one (especially if you are around others) is to imagine a humongous STOP sign and use that imagery to anchor yourself back into the present moment.

6. Mirror Talk.

When you notice you are battling with yourself in your head, turn to a mirror and have a conversation with yourself, preferably out loud. I do this when I am especially critical or angry with myself. There is something about looking into the mirror directly into my eyes and telling myself exactly how I feel, that allows me to access the loving-kind part of me. I almost always end my mirror talks with a heart-to-heart conversation with myself, leaving me feeling really nourished.

Try experimenting with these techniques and see which ones resonate with you the most. We’d love to learn what you notice. We’d also love to hear some of the strategies that you use!

5 Tips For Healthy Self-Care

5 Tips For Healthy Self-Care

We’re often told to prioritize our own self-care, but what the heck does that even mean?  If you’ve ever wondered what self-care means beyond a day at the spa, believe me, you are not alone.  

Check out this quick list to help you make sense of what self-care actually is.

1. Self-care is making yourself a priority
There is a reason why they say if you’re on an airplane and something happens, you first have to make sure you put on your own oxygen mask before you can help someone; if you don’t take care of your needs first, you cannot effectively help others.  Making yourself Numero Uno and honouring your own needs first and foremost is one of the most important aspects of a healthy self-care practice!

2. Self-care means setting boundaries
Being able to set limits around your commitments and other people is important.  Sometimes this might mean saying “no” and that is perfectly ok. 

3. Self-care always feels nourishing
Self-care requires us to let go of feelings of guilt or the belief that we are not deserving.  A great way to determine whether something you are doing is a healthy self-care practice is to notice how you physically feel afterwards.  To help determine how nourishing something is, ask yourself, if your body feels depleted or more full and recharged afterwards.

4. Healthy self-care is proactive versus reactive
To prevent burn-out and running on empty, it’s really important to set time aside daily to engage in nourishing activities that make your needs a priority.  Note: this does not have to be time-consuming.  It can mean doing something as simple as taking a warm bath instead of a shower or starting off your day with a 3-minute meditation.

5. Self-care includes seeking therapy
If you find yourself reading this and wondering whether you struggle with self-care, perhaps because you feel guilty for making time for yourself or feel unsure about how to practice self-care, seeking out someone who specializes in mental health can be the very self-care practice you need!  Someone like a clinical therapist can help you learn more about yourself and understand the patterns of behaviours that might be getting in the way of making yourself a priority!

How to Nourish Intimacy in Your Life

How to Nourish Intimacy in Your Life

Intimacy is a key component to feeling connected to others. As human beings, we all have an innate desire to feel like we matter, to feel that we belong, and feel like we are really seen.

When’s the last time you really allowed yourself to feel seen?

There are 5 types of intimacy that are important to nurture in our lives, to help us thrive and feel whole and balanced.

1. Emotional Intimacy 

Emotional intimacy involves sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with someone.  Your capacity to be vulnerable is key to establishing emotional intimacy.  You can nourish this type of intimacy by opening up to someone you care about and trust.  Sharing with another human being the last thing that made you laugh so hard that it hurt or the thing that caused you to cry last is a great way to start up an emotionally intimate conversation.

2. Physical Intimacy

This level of intimacy involves physical touch like hugging, cuddling, holding hands, and kissing.  This type of intimacy can include sexual intimacy but can also include platonic forms of touch.  It can be deepened by communicating to your friend or partner on the types of physical affection you find nourishes you.

3. Intellectual Intimacy

Intellectual intimacy involves sharing ideas and thoughts about the things that you care about and matter to you.  You can strengthen your intellectual intimacy with someone by sharing with them your favorite music, poem, or book.  Organizing or joining a book club is also a great way to deepen this level of intimacy!

4. Spiritual Intimacy

This type of intimacy involves sharing awe-inspired moments with someone else.  Examples of ways to enhance your spiritual intimacy include taking a walk in nature with someone, engaging in prayer with a loved one, or joining a yoga or meditation class.

5. Experiential Intimacy 

Being able to share experiences with others is a great way to deepen your connection with another person.  Some fun activities you can share with others include trying a new restaurant with a friend, going on a movie date, and even taking a solo trip and meeting new friends along the way!In order to feel balanced and whole, it is important to cultivate each type of intimacy with the people in our lives.  Not every relationship will allow for each type of intimacy to exist. In fact, it is unrealistic to expect that a relationship with one person will include all of them.

Each person needs different levels of each type of intimacy.  If you notice yourself feeling a lack of connection in your life, it may be helpful to examine which types of intimacy the people around you provide and what is missing.

Warning: Taking the time to reflect on this will likely result in more connection in your life!

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