Question: What does it mean when I start crying after being in my therapist’s office for only two minutes?
Answer: It is not at all uncommon for me to have a client open the floodgates after our initial greetings have been exchanged. Most clients are embarrassed – but I simply reassure them it is a sign that you have waited too long to come in. All that emotion is pent up inside just waiting for someone to give them permission to let it out; or perhaps feel safe to let it out. I will never stop someone from crying in my office. It is never healthy to not let energy move through your body. Energy is not meant to be stuck within you. It is simple physics. Energy must flow. If you don’t have regular access to a therapist, writing often allows for the same cathartic value. Also, better to write than type. Writing slows down the process and your thoughts, allowing for better reflection and evaluation of thoughts.
Question: Why do children cut?
Answer: There are likely many philosophies surrounding why people cut, and I will be honest and admit this is not a topic that I have researched thoroughly in the psychiatric literature. I can only speak through experience of what my clients have shared with me. The primary reason seems to be cutting shifts their emotional hurt to physical hurt. It takes them from thoughts of the past or future to the present. It allows them to step away from rumination, even if just briefly. The physical pain from the cutting is the quickest, ‘easiest’ and most effective means of doing so. If you know someone who you suspect is cutting, please help them to connect to a therapist that can help them move through the emotional pain in a much healthier way.
Question: Adrenal fatigue or overload
Part 1: Is it possible to become addicted to a constant adrenal rush or overload? I know when I was with my ex still way back… I had to always be alert and ready for whatever might happen again. And that now I am alone, I struggle to shut down and relax properly.
Answer: As odd as it might seem, this is totally normal. You have created a habit just as you did when you started to brush your teeth each day. This time however, it is driven by the need to ‘be prepared’ or ‘good enough’. The thought habit you have created is one of ‘unless I am doing – I am lesser than’. You managed to run that brain circuitry over and over to a point that you have made it YOUR normal. But is it normal? No, it is not. We are not machines. Unless you start making small changes towards winding down earlier, it will always remain. My suggestions would be to tuck your phone away from 7-8 pm onward, take a nice walk each evening, start reading pleasure books again, take a long bath each night, introduce prayer or meditation into your life, etc. Create more boundaries for yourself. Small changes matter.
Part 2: I use things like cleaning, pleasing people, and working after hours as a means of escaping my thoughts. If I don’t keep busy, I start to overthink a lot of things… which in turn stress me out again.
Answer: Notice that when I suggested incorporation of small changes or behaviour into your regular routine, I added ‘putting your phone away, walks, prayer or meditation’. I suggested this for that very reason. We are not allowing free-flowing ideas or thoughts to enter our head because we fear our own thoughts. You must remember, thoughts are neutral. They are neither bad nor good. The only reason you might view them as bad is because you have a past meaning attached to that thought. You perceive that thought as stressful, but is it really? What is stressful for one person is not for the other. The only reason it is stressful for you is because you have attached fear to that thought. Not good enough? Judgement? Shame? Rather than avoid it, sit with it. If you begin to challenge the thought using the phrase ‘Is that really true?’ you will discover it is not. Now rather than perseverating on that thought – you have eradicated the thought. Hence, there is no need to distract yourself from it anymore.
Question: Intermittent Fasting Friend or Foe?
Hi Luella, I wanted to know your view on Intermittent Fasting. Is this actually a good habit to incorporate daily?
Great question. And as with many trendy topics we are all quick to try (especially if it surrounds weight loss) it might not be the best for you. It is very individualistic, and this AMA won’t allow me to get into the reeds as to why. However, it can be very healthy for the right person, and this is why. Our brains, gut, heart, liver, kidneys as well as just about every organ in our body requires some R&R. Technology, 24-hour grocery stores and gyms make us feel rest is for the wicked. The opposite is true. Resting slows down the aging process and it makes us smarter and skinnier. It allows our mitochondria to regenerate and our cells to heal from oxidative stress. However, because women have a more intricate and delicate system, they need to be especially careful. In summary, if done right, it can be very powerful. But like everything in life, it is very individualistic. Are you already a fat-burner or is glucose still your main fuel source? One simple way of knowing is by asking yourself if you feel dizzy and weak if you skip a meal? If the answer is yes, your preferred fuel choice is glucose and jumping into intermittent fasting is not a good choice for you.
If interested in learning more, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to write up a blog post or individualize your plan.
Question: I can’t stop thinking about BLANK and how I shouldn’t of BLANK.
I can’t stop thinking about BLANK and how I shouldn’t of BLANK. I am constantly in the past. I feel so guilty. I wish I wouldn’t of BLANK. How do I refocus and move ahead in my life?
Hi L. Sometimes when I feel a lot of emotion come up in me I like to ask myself ‘ why do I have this feeling’ or ‘what’s the purpose of the emotion?’. When it comes to guilt and shame, I personally feel they have little purpose in an adult’s life. Or, another way of stating this is that ‘it has a short shelf life’. Guilt and shame are not meant to last a long time. Their birth and existence become much more purposeful as a child, adolescent and young adult. These emotions kept our hands out of the cookie jar and yearning for spirituality in our adult lives. It is keeps us aligned to our virtues and values. It is our integrity meter. Thus, thank goodness we have it!! My point is…feel it, centre yourself again, and move on. Jump into the present with both feet. Thank the emotion for helping you get back there. To have learned, grown and becoming a better person moving because of it. To love yourself again. That is what will empower you moving forward. To trust and love yourself again. Now, carry on young grasshopper. Enjoy your life and all the beauty that comes with it. Believe in yourself and you will experience all the joys life has to offer you.
Question: Luella, why do I continue to attract ‘emotional leeches’ into my life?!
Dear Luella: Luella, why do I continue to attract ‘emotional leeches’ into my life?! Over the last year and a half of post-separation dating, I have dated three men. All initially present as ‘kind’, loving, confident, & well established, etc. – quickly turns into a selfish, insecure, life-sucking leech, draining me of my joy, time and emotional energy. They abuse my compassion and waste my ability to love.
It’s exhausting. It’s depressing. It makes me doubtful and hesitant of humankind, while I add more bricks and mortar to ‘my wall’.
I feel like I unconsciously attract these personalities. What can I do to protect myself, and still BE myself? L.
It is hard being ‘yourself’ when life seems to be sending you strong messages that yourSELF is not someone you should be in order to lead a happy and fulfilling life. I want to let you know first off, that it is not you or your inherent SELF that needs to change. Rather, it is the thoughts you have about yourself.
Let me explain. If you truly loved yourself – you wouldn’t be wallowing in despair as you are when you sent me this question. You would be upset with this fella, but it wouldn’t have you guessing ‘who you are’ or ‘why this happens to you’. You are creating all this pain – not him. You are the one that has the finger on the trigger at all times, not him. In other words, it is the thoughts that you believe about yourself, that causes the pain.
So, L, it is time to turn this around. Did X do this TO you? Did he really do this TO you. Or are you making this about YOU. Are you telling yourself THEY are _____ or is it YOUR expectations of them and how they need to treat YOU, that is bringing you down? If you truly had your finger on the trigger, if you truly had more respect for yourself, if you truly had more esteem for yourself, you would not be finding yourself feeling like this. Your thoughts would be ‘another one bites the dust’ and onward and upward you would go.
To read more about how to love yourself, check out my latest blog post.
Question: What do I do or say when someone pulls the victim card on me?
Dear Luella: What do I do or say when someone pulls the victim card on me. He really is a good guy and my personality does not often allow me to fake my feelings. My Irish roots tell me to ‘say it like it is’ but it is met with self-criticism on his end and the cycle of self-pity begins. Sincerely, J
Yes, this is a common occurrence when two different personalities ‘collide’ rather than ‘two ships that pass in the night’, leaving you wishing the damn ships would have just passed! Well, you need to do your best to support each other. It is rare that romantic partners have the same personalities. You know that J. In this situation, you need to support him in a way that empowers him, so that he doesn’t feel hopeless and helpless. So rather than criticize him for being ‘at fault’ and pointing out his flaws, try to use statements such as ‘I feel’ rather than ‘You do this to me.’ And ‘Could we figure out a way to stop this from occurring?’ When it comes from a place of we not I, your partner will feel the support and likely want to change. Try this for the next couple of weeks and let me know how it goes.
One more thing. Pay attention to the thoughts inside your head that are causing you to have ‘tone’ in your voice. Challenge these thoughts somewhat by asking yourself ‘Is this really true?’ Example: ‘He completely ignored what I asked him to do.’ Can you honestly, 100% absolutely know, without any exception whatsoever know that this is true?
Question: Where is the line between settling for less than you're worth, and working hard to improve things in a relationship?
Dear Luella: Where is the line between settling for less than you’re worth, and working hard to improve things in a relationship? I can never tell if I’m setting good boundaries and not compromising on those by walking away, or if I’m giving up too easily on what could be really solid relationships. CB
Answer: Hello C. Good question. If I understand, your question is ‘how do I know when to stand up for what I think it the right thing to do and when to comply with what I am being ‘told’ what the right thing is?’ I am guessing you are asking about whether or not to follow your gut instinct or not. Furthermore, I believe you are inquiring about aligning to your core values. So, if your partner is constantly lying to you, and honesty is a core value for you, then you need to walk away. This displays to him/her your integrity as a person. One’s core values rarely waiver. You will feel immense pain, hurt or guilt when not aligning to your core values. That is when you know for sure it is a core value to you. You must ‘draw your line’ in the sand, especially in the early months or years of a relationship.
Question: I feel like I don’t know how to express anger openly to people.
Dear Luella: I feel like I don’t know how to express anger openly to people. I can be angry alone, but not with other people. It’s like all my anger turns into sadness. Is that normal? E.
It is normal for anger to turn into sadness when you are having a hard time sourcing the anger. In the moment of anger, ask yourself “why am I feeling angry”. Let’s say it is due to the feeling of under-appreciation. You feel like you are underappreciated in your relationships. You must also feel that you are unable to communicate this feeling because after all, engagement brings clarity and connection. If this sounds right, then you need to push through the fear and jump in with both feet. Ask for words of appreciation. Do not remain silent. Silence will keep you feeling lonely and hurt. Realize that your words matter. Believe in yourself and speak from a place of confidence. Your feelings are there for a reason. Please check out this previous blog post to know more about how to express your feelings. The body is a highly well-tuned machine that is always communicating with you. However, your mind needs to be quiet in order to hear it. If you feel this helped you – let me know.
Signing off as your Winnipeg therapist, Dr. Jonk.
Question: I should be...I could be... During Covid-19.
Dear Luella: I have never walked for any length of time, I am not, nor ever have been a reader, I have done a bit of yoga in my life….. However, it goes around and around in my mind, I should/could be doing more as preventative “medicine” for my health, well being? I think it would be amongst the 1st time I did something outside of my comfort zone!
Answer: So you are haunted with thoughts of “I should be…I could be…” and yet you do nothing. In other words you are experiencing feelings of guilt and shame surrounding your stagnancy. My question to you then is “Why are you feeling guilty? Who is telling you to do these actions?” If you have been given doctor’s orders to walk or do yoga because of a disease progression, then we can discuss this emotional block a bit more. However, if it is social media posts or societal messaging that are causing the ‘shoulds/coulds’ then I suggest you ignore those messages. Those actions might be the cat’s meow for one person – but obviously it is not for you. Your movement and pleasure may come from cleaning the house, cooking, organizing your husband’s golf shirts and alphabetizing your spice cupboard… Only you know the answer. To sum it up – if ‘it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ You be You.
Question: I am having trouble regulating my emotions.
Dear Luella: I am having trouble regulating my emotions. I’m feeling angry and irritable more often. I have little patience with those around me. What to do? P.S. Please don’t tell me to breathe.
Answer: Yes. I get it. I feel it too. But telling you it is normal and that everyone is done with Covid-19 will not help you, nor reminding you there is so much for you to be grateful does very little. Although I don’t have a simple answer for you – I can tell you what I do which seems to work well for me. I do breathe deeply and sometimes that just sounds like a sigh. Then let that wise voice from the past enter your head and tell yourself ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’. Save it for another time when you are calm.
Secondly, for the day to day living in Covid-19 piece, I try to immerse myself in something that I love more often. For me that is writing and/or researching and learning. It is easy to lose yourself when you are doing something you love. If your passion has been removed because of the pandemic, then pivot and become curious to try something similar, yet different. You may not feel as productive as you would normally ‘doing something you love’ but maybe that is okay. It is called self-care, and that is okay too. Now, use my favorite mantra: ‘This is temporary’ and scurry yourself along into the present.
Anxiety, Depression, Relationships, Addictions, Self-Esteem
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