Author Archives: Kelly Pritchard

About Kelly Pritchard

Kelly Pritchard is a therapist-in-training at Transformational Arts College. She focuses on the best of many healing traditions to offer time-tested, self-empowerment strategies that anyone with a sincere commitment can master. She provides non-judgmental, caring support to enable clients to embrace their strengths and weaknesses. She empowers clients to discover the inner resources that will enable them to live the lives of their choosing – and inspire others to do the same. Kelly practices client-centred, holistic psychotherapy which guides clients to work with their bodies, emotions, minds, and spirits in order to achieve their highest human potential. If you are interested in learning more about Kelly or her services, you may contact her at [email protected]

Why There’s no Room for Normal in Your Life

Health Wealth Happiness signpostOne question I get asked a lot by clients is: “Am I normal?” Who doesn’t, consciously or subconsciously, consider this question sometimes? If you’re like me and have been dealing with social anxiety for a good chunk of your life, it’s likely this is something you’ve obsessed over a lot.

Psychological assessments and diagnostic manuals aside, the word normal is flat out one of the most dangerous words that can be used in the process of personal transformation. I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I can’t comment with any degree of authority on the correlation between prescribed treatment models and symptom reduction. Yet one thing that I am sure of, is that there is no handbook out there that can match the power of our innate intelligence to direct us to the most optimal outcomes for our lives.

In other words, no book, no online quiz, no expert – no matter how educated and helpful they may be – can paint a reliable picture of who you should strive to be. And if they can’t, your friends, family, and colleagues most certainly can’t.

Whether its bliss or simply peace of mind you’re after, at some point you will need to part ways with whatever roadmaps you’ve acquired. What we most strive for as human beings are the most intangible and ephemeral experiences that life has to offer. Happiness belongs to an invisible world that can’t be put into words, let alone be scientifically defined. If you truly want to experience it, at some point you’re going to have to take a leap into the unknown.

When we are physically sick we have to turn to prescribed treatments for resolution. But not even modern medicine is foolproof. In many cases, it’s only because we’ve dulled ourselves to our own innate intelligence that the body needs to resort to physical cues that something is wrong. When we are open to it, we receive abundant signals that something is no longer working. And when we pay attention to these cues – some people refer to them as intuition, but they are quite simply your feelings – we may even be able to prevent physical issues from occurring in the first place (check out the emerging literature linking stress and disease if you want an example of what I’m talking about).

If you truly value happiness, then you need to reframe your approach. Instead of approaching everyday situations from the mindset of “what’s normal?”, ask yourself, “what’s healthy?” And as you consider the options before you, tune into what’s actually happening for you in the here and now – not what you overheard or were taught would happen if you chose A instead of B.

We are so conditioned to the cult of normal that this may feel like taking a leap across a canyon at first. But the more you cultivate an attitude of healthfulness, the sturdier you will become. Soon, even the most giant leap will feel like a stroll in the park. And then peace of mind will no longer be conditional on what’s happening in the media, your social circles, or anywhere else in the world. It will simply be your way of life.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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Kelly Pritchard is a therapist-in-training at Transformational Arts College. She focuses on the best of many healing traditions to offer time-tested, self-empowerment strategies that anyone with a sincere commitment can master. She provides non-judgmental, caring support to enable clients to embrace their strengths and weaknesses. She empowers clients to discover the inner resources that will enable them to live the lives of their choosing – and inspire others to do the same. Kelly practices client-centred, holistic psychotherapy which guides clients to work with their bodies, emotions, minds, and spirits in order to achieve their highest human potential. If you are interested in learning more about Kelly or her services, you may contact her at [email protected]

 

How to give your life purpose – and stick with it!

Confusing paths Fotolia fresh ideaI have a pretty controversial take on this, so before I tell you about the most reliable way to achieve your life’s purpose, I have to say I really do believe there is a time and place for almost every approach out there. However, we live in a goal obsessed, left-brain dominated society, so I’m going to assume that most of you are already aware of the benefits of creating a plan and sticking to it.

Plans are helpful ways to orient our thoughts and actions and create emotional allegiance to our goals. However, the likelihood of falling short of our well-laid plans can be enough to deter all but the most ardent over-achiever from actually staying the course. And the entire usefulness of a plan depends on having a solid picture of what it is we want to accomplish. This may work fine for large corporations that are intent on increasing their market share. However, personal happiness is a much more intricate thing.

Planning works best when it is based on clearly delineated, black and white options. However, the reality in which our plans unfold is uncertain, cyclical, dynamic, and influenced by about seven billion other people who happen to share the planet with us, not to mention countless celestial bodies, intergalactic forces and so on. The idea that our individual life purpose is the one constant amidst the chaos is enticing, but quite inconsistent with the rest of reality. And it’s also a great way for us to constantly hold a mirror up in front of ourselves and punish ourselves for not being better, faster, more adept at achieving our purpose etc.

I propose that you free yourself from the burden of finding your purpose. Decide today that you will no longer require a purpose to give your life meaning. I can almost assure you that in the process you will begin to live your actual purpose much more effortlessly and effectively than you did when you were busy thinking about it.

In place of a purpose, consider the concept of inspired action. Inspired action means something like this: remaining in constant conscious contact with the source of prana, chi, or life force energy inside you, and letting that energy flow through you in as unobstructed a way as possible in each and every moment. We’re talking about the same energy that causes flowers to bloom, babies to grow, and new galaxies to be birthed – all fairly remarkable accomplishments when you think about it.

To live a life of inspired action means to have endless eureka moments about your purpose. It means to live in alignment with that which nourishes your heart and body most fully in one moment, and to be open to that changing completely in the next. If that idea, that concept, is no longer the best current expression of your limitless potential, be open to changing it to fit your potential. Your mind’s role in this process is to give fresh life to the fountain of wisdom inside you. It is to recognize that there is a time and a place for everything, and to be completely evolutionary, expansive, and free in the vision it creates for your life.

From this starting point, you are free to have a plan one week, if that feels right for you, and set it aside the following week, if something else feels more right. You might resuscitate your plan the following week or you might never look at it again. What’s important is learning to recognize when the thoughts you’re entertaining are supporting your well-being, and when they are not. I can assure you that you will not fall down, you will not lose your way, and your life will not fall apart when you decide to live this way. Flowers don’t forget how to bloom, babies don’t forget how to grow, and the earth doesn’t forget how to orbit around the sun. Rather, left unobstructed, every part of creation has a built in impulse to become uniquely and beautifully itself.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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Kelly Pritchard is a therapist-in-training at Transformational Arts College. She focuses on the best of many healing traditions to offer time-tested, self-empowerment strategies that anyone with a sincere commitment can master. She provides non-judgmental, caring support to enable clients to embrace their strengths and weaknesses. She empowers clients to discover the inner resources that will enable them to live the lives of their choosing – and inspire others to do the same. Kelly practices client-centred, holistic psychotherapy which guides clients to work with their bodies, emotions, minds, and spirits in order to achieve their highest human potential. If you are interested in learning more about Kelly or her services, you may contact her at [email protected]

Coping with Change

change-good-now-how-get-employeesOne of my teachers in college taught me that everything we do as psychotherapists can be summarized as follows: pinpoint what change our clients are resisting in their lives and help them stop resisting it.

In Buddhist meditation traditions change or “impermanence” is considered one of the three irrefutable characteristics of reality, the awareness of which is a critical marker on the path to enlightenment.

It would appear that change, or more accurately our relationship to it, is a driving force behind much of our psycho-spiritual aspiration as a society. Why is this? And how can we reconcile ourselves to this ever-present force?

On the one hand we are ravenous for change. We crave bigger paychecks, more harmonious relationships, and healthier bodies. However, when that challenging work assignment comes our way, when our partner invites us to shake things up, or when it comes time to combat our cravings, we often wind up in a state of inner turmoil. The insistence of our conscience meets the uncertainty of the unfamiliar.

So often we block ourselves from experiencing the changes we seek because hardly ever does what we want arrive on a silver platter. Far more often than not we must push ourselves outside our comfort zones to achieve it, or worse yet, face the effects of uninvited change. Our job is pulled out from under our feet, the person we love leaves us, or we receive an unwanted medical diagnosis.

The truth is our minds aren’t very good at contending with new variables. And rightfully so – we don’t know what we don’t yet know. So they will always try to steer us towards what’s worked in the past, or what others have told us will work.  This is why change typically either happens incrementally or gets foisted upon us by outside forces. And this is why it can feel so agonizing – we don’t yet have the evidence we need at our finger tips to assure us that everything’s going to be okay.

The fact of the matter is that we cannot rely on our minds to get us through the most difficult periods of change in our lives. The most natural temptation when things start to fall apart is to try to put them back together again. This strategy may work for a while, but it’s akin to putting all our eggs into one basket. If we don’t allow ourselves to ride the change wave, at least for a little bit, we will never achieve the evidence we need to help us keep moving towards our goals. That familiarity that we cling to will become a rut that we cannot climb out of. Sooner or later change will strike, and we will wish that we had begun to explore outside our box much sooner.

It’s definitely best in times of change to remind our minds that they need to hand over the lead role every once and awhile so that we can allow life to show us more of what’s available to us. Meditation techniques that cultivate a cessation of mental activity can be an amazing tool to assist with this. So can speaking with people who have gone through the type of change that we are experiencing firsthand, or at the very least can hold a completely impartial outlook about our experience. Trained mental health professionals or spiritual teachers can provide a safe space for you to talk about and explore the changes that are unfolding in your life, while helping you stay open to the possibilities that change can hold.

Whatever approach you take, remember that change is a natural part of life. And chances are we’ve asked for it by focusing on the outcomes we would like to experience. So it’s imperative that we relinquish the urge to mentally control it, and instead learn to move with it.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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The Journey of Personal Transformation

moving-on-from-a-cheating-partnerPersonal transformation is probably the single most challenging and rewarding activity we as humans can ever take on. If you’ve ever found yourself riding the high of freedom from a lifelong concern, only to wake up the next day in the midst of an emotional crisis, then you will have some idea of what I’m talking about.

 

People wind up on the path of personal transformation for different reasons. Some can no longer stand to live with the pain of childhood trauma. Others live for many years with an inkling there is more to life than what meets the eye. Just like everyone, those “on the path” of transformation are motivated by the desire to live happier, more empowered and meaningful lives. However, those who walk the path of personal transformation have consciously chosen to acknowledge the inner obstacles to happiness. They have chosen to turn their relationships with themselves upside down until they’ve come to peace with every last part – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

During the process of personal transformation, step-by-step we trade the old, outworn cocoon of the personality we inherited from our parents, siblings, babysitters, teachers, authority figures etc. for our unique and irresistible authentic selves. As the process unfolds we experience a continual stream of new possibilities for meeting the challenges and opportunities of life, which are accompanied by a rush of excitement and renewed sense of purpose. We begin to catch glimpses of peace, joy, and bliss more alluring and gratifying than any we’ve ever experienced, and as time goes on we experience these states more and more.

Sounds amazing, right? It is, except for all the personality traits that make up our old cocoons. Make no mistake. We have invested a lot of energy and time – several decades in some cases – in pumping up these parts of ourselves in order to get by in life. We have become so reliant on these parts or our personality that whenever they want something we bend over backwards to give it to them. And since our relationship to these parts is more intimate than any other, they know how to hit us where it hurts the most every time.

The good news is, we are free to choose change in every moment, no matter how slowly it seems to occur sometimes. And by surrounding ourselves with an environment that supports us on the path of transformation, the old parts of us can gradually come to see that they no longer have to work so hard to ensure our security. In the meantime, it helps to remind yourself of the wise adage “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself”. And give yourself permission to sit back and enjoy the ride.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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Workplace Confict II: Addressing the Problem

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This article is the second in our workplace conflict series. It outlines effective assertion skills that you can use to address problematic behaviour by co-workers, which can be detrimental to your mental and emotional health, and interfere with your ability to do your job. The previous article can help you determine whether asserting yourself is appropriate in a given situation.

There are three rules of thumb to keep in mind when crafting an effective assertion. The first is clarity. Conflict thrives on misunderstanding. Therefore, stick to the situation in question, and do not embellish the details! Give the other person as close of a play-by-play of the situation as possible to minimize room for interpretation.

Next comes the “I statement”. Notice the difference between “when you interrupted me I felt irritated” and “it was very rude of you to interrupt me”. You are the sole expert on your feelings, but it’s very difficult to accurately pinpoint where another person is coming from. So keep your comments about you to ensure that your assertion doesn’t inadvertently put the other person on the defensive.

Thirdly, you want the other person to know how their behaviour has impacted you. This shows them that there are reasonable grounds for your response, and reminds them that there are consequences to their actions. Drawing on the above example, our complete assertion looks like this “when you interrupted me I felt irritated because I didn’t have an opportunity to get my main point across.”

The example we’re using here is a pretty basic one. If you’re dealing with more complex situations, it’s a good idea to also approach the conversation equipped with a possible solution. But just as you are hoping the other person will be open to seeing the situation from your point of view, be prepared to do the same for them if they come up with an alternative solution that seems like a step in the right direction. That said, know what you are and are not willing to compromise. And if an effective solution can’t be reached, don’t be afraid to let the other person know that you will be addressing the matter with your manager.

Follow these easy steps and you’ll be handling workplace conflict like a pro in no time!

By: Kelly Pritchard

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Workplace Conflict I: Assessing the Problem

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At one point or another we all encounter difficult relationships on the job. Taking a proactive approach to on-the-job conflict is essential to our emotional and mental health, in addition to our performance. Due to modern technology and around the clock work demands, today’s workplaces are already stressful enough without having to deal with uninvited conflict. The good news is, there are easy steps anyone can take to nip workplace conflict in the bud.

The number one thing to remember when a co-worker is getting under your skin is not to take it personally. How people show up in one area of their life is usually how they show up in all areas of their life – so you can bet you are not the first to encounter the behaviour in question. By not making the behaviour about you, you will be in a much more balanced state to address the situation than if you were to interpret it as a personal insult.

Next it’s important to keep things in perspective. Is this the first time the person has done something like this? Are one or both of you having a particularly stressful day? Is your preferred outcome a “need-to-have” or is it more of a “nice-to-have”? Or, on the flip side of the equation, is this behaviour that you have already addressed repeatedly, and shows no signs of going away? Egos are at their strongest in the workplace, so it can be difficult not to rush in to correct a perceived injustice. However, the more we can hold off on reacting, the more we can prevent ourselves from getting “hooked” into responding in kind, and saying or doing something we may regret later.

If you’re not sure whether a particular situation requires you to take action, then give yourself some time to reflect on it. Find a way to clear your head – exercise, meditate, or if all else fails, sleep on it. They key is to approach the situation from a balanced frame of mind. And then trust your instincts to point you in the right direction. If you’re still not sure about what to do, then talk to a trusted mentor. And always remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So as hard as it may seem, trust that there is a benefit to taking the time to contemplate your best course of action.

If you are confident that intervention on your part is required, then you’ll likely want to assert yourself. Stay tuned for the next installment in our workplace conflict series, which provides easy tips for how to confront co-workers while maintaining amicable professional relationships.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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