Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saying "NO"- Can Save a Life

Recovery and mental health is about having healthy boundaries. Sure we can all be emotionally impacted by the people we spend time with and the moods of others. It is a problem when you feel helpless, hijacked and taken over by the requests and moods of others.

Here are some signs of NOT so healthy boundaries-

1. Having one’s self-esteem and mood decreased and negatively affected by other’s anxieties and worries

2. Measuring self-worth by outside validation.

3. Being controlled by thoughts such as: “What will they think? Am I doing it right? Do they like me?”

4. Reacting (often unconsciously) out of childhood conditioning/teachings/trauma: sudden, unexplainded flashes of intense hurt, anger resentment, shame.

5. Fear that is unequal to current reality. Fear of “hurting other’s feelings” by sharing truth.

6. Seeing the world/people as “doing it me” rather than seeing our part and exercising our power.

7. Constantly needing to soothe others, or needing others to constantly soothe you.

We need boundaries for every part of our lives. Yet when you attempt to set a boundary for the first time it can feel quite uncomfortable. You may even feel a bit ashamed or afraid to hurt someone else’s feelings when setting boundaries.

Do it anyways! Why? Because often times the people around us have no idea that they are trespassing on your feelings, thoughts, core beliefs, personal space or even your big toe unless you say something.

When a stranger bumps into you most often they will say, “Excuse me.” Why? Because they recognize that they have stepped over the limit, they have touched you without asking permission. That’s someone recognizing that they have crossed your boundary.

Often times the people who are closest to us, may not recognize or even know what your boundaries are so it’s important for you to share that with them. Otherwise you may find yourself feeling used, resentful, angry or hurt.

Did you know that nobody respects a person whom they can use? People use people they can use, and respect people they can’t use. So, setting boundaries means letting people know what your limits are so that they don’t end up accidentally or purposefully using you. It becomes win-win and a satisfying relationship for you both. Both of you will experience a sense of personal worth, value, respect and trust as you now communicate your needs more honestly and directly.

Saying "NO"- can save a life.
Find out how this mom learned to say "no" to her drug abusing son and not only saved his life, but their family as well...

This week take time to pay attention and think about and practice setting boundaries with people in your life. Start by simply learning how to honour your needs by saying NO, rather than yes every time someone asks something of you. Write them down, jot down your feelings about setting boundaries and why it’s important for you to do so. Practice this until it becomes a more natural and comfortable feeling.

Best health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski

-Saving and transforming lives and families 24/7

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Boundary is Like Your Skin- Don't Leave Home Without It!

People will often experience stress, depression, anxiety and/or addiction as a result of what’s going on in their relationships. Often this is due to a lack of a healthy boundary between ourselves and our own needs and the needs and expectations of others. Poor boundaries will often lead to unhealthy relationships, stress, depression, anxiety and addiction, not to mention poor self esteem!

So, what is a boundary? The simplest and most common analogy that clarifies what a boundary is and the importance of having boundaries …is one of the most obvious and easy to remember….your skin!

Our skin is a boundary. It keeps our insides protected from the outside environment. Imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have any skin? Life would be quite difficult if all of our internal parts were exposed to our external environment, the scorching heat, cold frost, prickly plants or our pets jumping on our bodies … ouch! Imagine what life would be like without that boundary.

Having boundaries is key to living a healthy and happy life. Think about it, even though our skin is a boundary for our internal tissue, we protect our skin by shielding it with clothing, protective sunscreen or other protective cover to ensure that our skin is able to do its job which is to protect our insides. If we didn’t have this protection, we would start to feel pretty exposed, burned, cold and perhaps feel violated both literally and figuratively.

Did you know that nobody respects a person who they can use? People use people they can use, and respect people they can’t use. What are your needs? Perhaps it starts with the need of setting a limit asserting yourself by saying “No” to what you don’t want anymore.

We want to make a difference during these tough economic times so until July 29, 2009 we are offering a "Pay What You Can" option.

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What would your friend say about you? Words of a friend or your own worst enemy?

It helps to externalize and address your core thoughts, attitudes and beliefs about your self and the world by writing them down. Writing down your thoughts slows down the process and gives you greater success in catching yourself when you start beating yourself up and challenging some of those not so encouraging core beliefs. It is often the way you “Should” yourself, the way you put yourself down with harsh words. Stop “Shoud-ing” yourself! Harsh words lead to harsh actions which also become fuel for the fire of depression, anxiety and addiction.

Some people say, “So I put myself down a lot… so what?” and then I might say as their therapist “Is that in your highest interest?” or “In what way can you now motivate yourself that is more gentle, versus being brutal?" which is just blah, blah, blah to some folks.

Then I might ask “What would you do if your (so called) best friend spoke to you in that way?” What if your “best friend” who you spent most of your time with kept beating you up emotionally, putting you down, taking every opportunity to take a strip off of you, leading you to feel pretty bad about yourself. Is this the behaviour of a best friend? This is more the behaviour of your worst foe than your best friend. You would probably leave and fire your friend?!?

Then I might ask, what would you say to your most beloved child or grandchild, niece, nephew etc. who is just learning to walk for the first time? Would you do everything you could to encourage this precious being? Or, would you prefer if you or someone else did everything they could to trip them up to hit the floor where they would never want to take the chance of learning to walk again???

Being gentle is not the only way... but it is one of the better ways. Recovery is like learning to stand on your own two feet and begin your journey. It takes courage and encouragement to go day by day. Find ways and folks who do encourage you to take those bold strides. You are doing it!!! Keep going and the walk does become easier, especially with a little encouragement.

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Loving Yourself No Matter What!

Today I’d like to talk about something that most of us want more of …i.e. self-esteem. Whether you are struggling with stress, or an addiction, a mental health issue, trauma etc. many people including some of the wealthiest, attractive and most famous people often struggle with poor self esteem or poor self image.

Self-esteem is a term we’ve all heard of, yet often times it’s referred to as that thing that we feel we either don’t have at all, or, don’t have enough of. The truth is, we all have some measure of self esteem. However our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and core beliefs can impact it on an hourly, daily and life long basis. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to look after yourself, nurture and affirm yourself and not let yourself get away with “beating yourself up” through the influence of negative thoughts, people and statements.

If you were to rate your self-esteem on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 meaning extremely high, where would you rate? Often times we use to soothe by over eating, shopping, gambling or resorting to alcohol, smoking or drugs to try to shut out our negative feelings about ourselves. However, using doesn’t change how we feel, it merely masks it and often times results in us feeling ten times worse later on i.e. increased shame and guilt. And guess what, the higher the shame, the lower the self-esteem.

Self Esteem is not about perfection! It’s about self-acceptance.

Some people have low self esteem because they have made an ongoing habit of beating themselves up for something they did or perhaps didn’t do ie “It was my fault I got into that car accident that killed my partner” or “I should have never let my child’s addiction get so out of hand”. Often folks put themselves in a Penalty Box for these kinds of things. Giving themselves a time out and more so beating themselves up for some past “crime”.

In any sport where there is something akin to a penalty box, it is imposed for only a certain time. How long are you going to keep yourself in your penalty box? What is it going to take to get yourself out? The longer you stay in one, the more damage it usually ends up doing (to self esteem etc) and the more it often keeps people stuck in an addictive and self destructive process.

The media has influenced culture, our families, friends, acquaintances, all of us, and every one of these has an effect on how we feel about ourselves. Everybody battles negative feelings about physical appearance and whether or not we’re loved, liked or disliked at some point. Even famous celebrities like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and the late Michael Jackson seemed to fall prey to the "expectation of perfection”.

Every day is a journey towards self-discovery and self-acceptance.

If your life is spent trying to be someone that you are not, in looks, finances, weight, social circle etc… you will find yourself falling back into coping with the disappointment of imperfection or a shattered past by using to soothe your pain.

However, the key to improved self-esteem, confidence and joy, is, … self-acceptance. And it starts by consciously making a decision to choose to build yourself up, surround yourself with healthy positive supportive people and activities as well as accepting the things that you cannot change and change the things that you can.

Do something different. Take the time to “risk” exploring what’s going on inside of you so that you can gain control of your thoughts feelings and actions, which ultimately improves self-confidence and self-esteem.

Self Esteem and health is about choice. So, what choices can you make with your life today?

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski