Tag Archives: work

How to Deal with Bullying

Unfortunately, many of us have been or will be bullied at some point in your lives. This can take a serious toll on your mental health and self-esteem.

Bullying happens when a person abuses their position of power or authority, physical strength or position in life to hurt someone else, whether that is emotionally or physically. This is done due to a need to boost their ego for personal satisfaction or even to impress someone else. The truth is that a bully has personal issues that they refuse to deal with head on, so they use relieve their frustration by taking it out on others.

So what can you do to stop or avoid being bullied?

It all depends on your situation.

In most cases, the best thing to do is nothing. This shows the bully that you are not affected by their actions. Bullies thrive off of making you uncomfortable and putting you down. So showing that you are not affected by their antics actually makes them lose their interest because they also lose a sense of accomplishment. Most bullies are acting out to get attention, so if they are not getting a rise out of you, they are likely to move on and leave you alone. It is also important to have someone that you love and trust to talk to for support while all of this is going on.

In other cases, it may be necessary to have a parent, counselor, or teacher get involved. You will know that this is the right thing to do if the bullying has gone beyond the limits of your ability to cope with it on your own.

People often think that if you remove what makes you different and if you conform to the norms of society, that you will reduce the chances of being bullied. But we must realize that those things that make us different and unique are also what makes us special and can take us far in life. So go forward boldly and unapologetically because the world needs you just as you are, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

Procrastination: Tips to Stop Waiting and Start Doing!

Infinity time spiral 15267876“I”ll do it later.” – the anthem of the procrastinator. Too often later never comes around or we wait so long that we have to scramble to get things done. Procrastination can be the monkey on your back that you feel you just can’t shake off. The best thing to do is to understand why you are procrastinating and work from there.

There can be numerous reasons for procrastination. One may feel as though they do not have the skills or tools needed to complete the task, so it is put off. The task could also seem unimportant, thus lacking the motivational qualities for you to start working on it. Another common reason for procrastination is a fear of the outcome. You may have been in the same situation before and things turned out poorly, so, you are avoiding the outcome by avoiding the task. On the other hand, it may be that you have no clue what the end result will be, thus you are steering away from the potentially perilous unknown. What is important here is to note that the act of procrastination varies between tasks and people. We don’t procrastinate on everything and we don’t always procrastinate on the same thing in the same way. So how can you decrease the possibility of procrastination? Know yourself.

One of the best things to do is to NOT label yourself a procrastinator. We tend to act in self-confirming ways. So if you think you’re a procrastinator, you will procrastinate. The second thing to do is to recognize why you are procrastinating and correct the issue. If you think the task is too boring, find meaning in it. Yes, the 12 page essay on cyberbullying may be tedious, but consider all of the information you will gain that will help you keep your future children protected from it. If you feel like you are lacking a skill, see this as an alarm to spring into action and find the proper resources to solve that issue.

By changing your perspective of procrastination so that it is an alert rather that a barrier, you can change your slacker ways into proactive ones.

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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Achieve Your Goals! Tips for Goal Setting

ladder 1When there is a big enough discrepancy between what a person is and what a person wants to be, we tend to set goals in order to get to that ideal state. Unfortunately, we often don’t know where to start or how to go about setting up a plan that will lead us to attaining those goals.  Here are a few things to think about when goal setting.

We need to consider the level of difficulty and the specificity of our goals.  The difficulty of a goal is what energizes our behaviour. We need to make sure that our goals are difficult enough that we know it will make us exert effort, otherwise, let the procrastination begin.  Nothing worth doing is easy. We also need to be specific in terms of what we have to do and how we will do it. This directs our behaviour and decreases ambiguity. If we know exactly what we have to do, we are more likely to do it because it removes any guessing; like following a recipe.

And like a recipe, we need to follow small steps in order to get to the desired result. Set small goals that will help you get to your final goal. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

We need to remember that this is a dynamic process. Too often we sit down, create a plan, and when things don’t go as we expected, we see it as a failure. This is not the case! Things happen and we have to adjust our plans accordingly, rather than giving up.

Feedback! It is essential to document your actions in order to make goal setting effective.  You can use the record to make sure you are keeping on track. Also, by having something to look at to see your progress, you create emotional importance for yourself in relation to your goals.  If your performance is greater or at par with what you expected, it creates a sense of satisfaction which can lead to you creating new, more difficult goals. If your performance is less than expected, it can motivate you to increase your effort in order for you to reach your goal.

Setting goals is something we all do, but we don’t all do well. By creating small, specific and difficult goals, we can create a ladder that will raise us up to where we want to be. And by taking note of out progress we can properly adjust our plan to make sure we achieve our goal.

Practising Mindfulness in Everyday Life

mindfulness-imageIt’s easy to live our lives on autopilot, going through the motions without ever being fully present in our experiences. We can find ourselves always waiting for what’s next and never fully appreciating the here and now. For example, we may find ourselves always waiting for our meeting to be over or waiting for the end of the day. When we are not living fully in the present, we miss the magic in the simple moments. If we do this for long enough, we miss our entire lives. After all, life is made up of moments.

When we think of mindfulness, we often think of yoga or meditation. While these can be wonderful ways of incorporating mindfulness into our lives, we can also be mindful in the simple moments.

First Thing in the Morning

When we are mindful, we purposefully ‘tune in’ to the present moment. Take some time when you first wake up to notice your surroundings, along with the infinite potential that your day holds. Notice the softness of your sheets, the sun shining through your window or the gentle patter of raindrops on your windowsill.

Commuting to Work

Notice the colour and smell of the flowers, the crunch of newly fallen snow under your feet or the way your boots splash in the puddles as you walk. If you drive or take transit, notice how the steering wheel feels in your hands or the shape of the clouds in the sky.

Mealtimes

Meals are a prime time to practice mindfulness. There are numerous benefits to mindful eating, so take a moment to truly savour the colour, texture and flavour of your food.

Conversations

When you’re speaking with someone, instead of being focused on how you’re going to respond or the meeting you need to be at in five minutes, really focus on what the other person is saying. What emotions are being conveyed, what is their body language telling you?

Doing the Dishes

Some people say they find doing the dishes to be therapeutic, and it really can be! When you’re cleaning up after dinner, notice how the warm water feels on your hands and the gentle scent of the soap bubbles.

These are just some examples of how we can incorporate mindfulness into our everyday lives. None of the above may be particularly extraordinary in and of themselves, but through mindfulness ordinary moments can begin to feel purposeful and special – as opposed to only “exciting” or “extraordinary” events being meaningful. The more we incorporate mindfulness into the simple moments, the more we open ourselves up to experiencing the beauty and magic that exists in even the most ordinary of moments.

By: Jenny Gomez

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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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How to Make a GREAT First Impression

Handshake“First impressions are everything!”

We’ve all heard this, and although it may be a bit of an exaggeration, it does hit the point that first impressions have a lasting effect on relationships, regardless of their type. We tend to make up our mind about someone within the first 15 seconds of meeting them, meaning how we initially present ourselves can be crucial. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, whether you’re going on a first date or a job interview.

Be aware of yourself.

In first meetings our anxiety can to take over and we can lose ourselves, sometimes not even remembering what we said. Stop and take a breath. Be aware of your body and speech. Make sure you’re sitting up straight and avoid jittering. Also, be sure you’re not talking too fast. Be calm and make eye contact, both of which will radiate confidence.

Don’t forget to ask questions. People love talking about themselves, but remember that this is an opportunity to not only to present yourself, but also to get to know someone else. If at a job interview, make sure you have read up on the company, and have a couple questions ready. Being inquisitive will show initiative.

Be your best self.

A first encounter is an opportunity to put your best self forward and show off what you are, rather than lying or covering up what you’re not. It is all about putting your best foot forward. This is where dressing well plays a role. Dress for the job you want. If you think you shouldn’t wear it, you probably shouldn’t. Also, keep in mind that mood is temporary. So if you are in a bad one, it would be best to set it aside and allow for your best self to shine through!

Remember to relax.

Who knows you better than you? A positive first impression is perfectly attainable if you remember that there is no need to be nervous! At the end of the day you are presenting yourself and you are an expert on you. And if you can’t quiet the butterflies, use them! They just mean that you care about the result, which shows you that you’re in the right place. Just prepare the main points you would like to talk about, and stay cool, calm and collected. If you do feel like you may have been less of yourself, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it! We all have off days, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your first impression seems to be a bit out of your norm.

First impressions are important, but they are not everything.

Surviving a Quarter Life Crisis

2009-09-cover-puzzle_tcm7-84442The first years of adulthood or “real life” is often a time of excitement and thrill. We are trying to become established and individuated. We are making big life decisions. We are out on our own for the first time. These are supposedly the best years of our lives, but what often gets overlooked is just how difficult this period of time can be for a lot of people. Alongside the thrill and excitement are often feelings of inadequacy, confusion, and anxiety as we move through the transitory phase. Rest assured, if you feel this way you are not alone. Many twenty and thirty-somethings will face this quarter-life crisis where there is a seeming disconnect between what is happening in our lives and what we want to be happening in our lives. Here are some tips to help survive this transitory phase:

Create Your Own Path and Stop Comparing Your Life to Other People

We develop ideas about the type of relationships we have, the stage of our career we should be in, and the commitments we should make based on societal pressure and norms that have been developed in our family and social circles. It may seem that everyone around you is excelling in their career, falling in love, and utterly satisfied with their lives but that doesn’t mean you need to be in the same place. If these are goals that you have then by all means strive for them, but try not to let the accomplishments of others be injurious to your own self-esteem. Life is not a competition. It’s okay to feel unsettled and unclear on what you want. Clarify your own hopes, dreams, and needs. Decide what will make YOU happy, and go for it.

Set Goals and Make and Action Plan

Set goals for yourself relating to all areas of your life (career, personal, relationships, etc.) and break them down into specific ambitions for short, medium, and long term (think – 1, 5, 10 years from now). Ask yourself what specific actions need to be taken in order to reach each goal. By making small sub-goals you can make things manageable and stop you from feeling overwhelmed. Creating an action plan will make you feel proactive in control, and accomplished. BUT…

Don’t Get TOO Caught up On a Timeline

We face a lot of pressure to accomplish things in our lives within a certain time frame and when we miss that “deadline” we are left feeling like we have somehow failed. We need to make plans for the future in order to stay motivated and excited about our lives but it’s important not to get too focused on time. You may have decided that you want to be set in your career, own a home, and be married by the time you’re 30, but if you’re too rigid in that timeline you’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t work out that way. Or worse, you may make decisions that are consistent with the timeline but not necessarily consistent with what truly makes you happy in life. Draft a personal and reasonable timeline for the goals that you have but be flexible if you encounter bumps it the road. You don’t need to have your whole life figured out by the time you’re 30 (and in all honesty, you probably won’t). Things will happen as they are meant to happen.

Talk it Out

It’s common to feel alone during this transition phase of your life so make use of the connections you have to other people. Opening up to friends, family, or a mentor about your struggles and you may find they’ve experienced similar crises in their lives.  It’s okay to have doubts or be dissatisfied with this period of your life. But it’s important to figure out what isn’t working for you in order to make positive changes in your life. Sharing your problems with others may lead to a wealth of advice and support in a time where guidance can be paramount to success. If you’re feeling really lost, it may be helpful to speak to a therapist to help you establish what you want out of life.

Define Success in Your Own Terms

Many of us have come to equate success with status and money. Instead of letting that be the sole definer of success, think about all the ways you can measure your own success. Perhaps it’s the feedback you receive from peers and colleagues, the difference you make in the lives of others, or the fact that you live a well-balanced life. Your definition of success should be reflective of all of your values rather than just financial gains. Acknowledge all of your achievements, past and present, to remember you have a number of things to be proud of.

By: Catherine Kamel

counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapy

How to Find Direction When You’re Unhappy at Work

Family, Counselling, Therapy, Couch, Talking, Step-parents

Most of us spend a significant portion of our days at work so it’s no surprise that a lot of people also find themselves dissatisfied, bored, or in the worst cases, miserable at work.  Of course, there are those who are fortunate to truly love what they do and enjoy every second of it.  While quitting and finding something new is the easiest way to deal with an unpleasant work situation, it’s also not always the most rational choice.

If you find yourself unhappy in the workplace and aren’t sure what to do – here are a few tips to help you better understand what it is that’s bothering you and how to cope with your discontent.

Determine Why you are Unhappy

First and foremost, it’s important to understand what about the job is hard to cope with.  Sometimes it is as clear as a difficult boss, long hours, or unchallenging work.  However, it becomes more complicated if it feels like perhaps you are in the wrong field.  Assess your values when it comes to work and whether or not they are being met in your current position. It’s also important to figure out whether aspects of the problem can be changed.  For example, if you are under or overworked, a simple conversation with your superior may be beneficial. Try to be proactive and take control of things that you have the power to change. If the field itself is feeling uncomfortable, it might be time to explore your other interests and strengths as they apply to work.

Assess Your Work Values

Often, we are unhappy when we are not acting in accordance to our values.  This is true of both our personal and our professional lives.  Clarifying your work values can help you to understand why you are unhappy at work and make better decisions regarding your future career path.  Work values can be both intrinsic, relating to the actual work you do and the meaning you derive from it, as well as extrinsic, which relates more to the rewards or recognition that may be associated with it. Some examples of values are: opportunity for autonomy, helping others, monetary gain, sense of achievement, collaboration, creativity, challenge, and so forth.  Take the time to assess your work values and prioritize them.  Determine which ones are being actualized and which are being neglected in order to better understand your unhappiness and make changes wherever possible.

Be Flexible and Realistic with your Expectations

Remind yourself that no job is permanent if you don’t want it to be.  The stage you’re at in your career may dictate the amount of flexibility you have in your position.  It’s important to keep an open mind if you’re able to see that the position you are in now may lead to better opportunities in the future. Take the time to assess the expectations you have when it comes to work, determine which ones are “deal-breakers”, and which ones you are willing to compromise for the sake of experience and strong connections.

Try to Find (and Maximize) the Positives

Identify the things about your job that you do enjoy and do whatever you can to increase the frequency of them.  Perhaps you like your coworkers.  If that’s the case, try your best to create opportunities to work with them more frequently or plan work-related activities. Or, maybe you’re gaining experience to build your resume and create strong networking connections. It is difficult to find the perfect job but try to focus on the aspects that you do like and it will be easier to get through the day. Remind yourself that whatever the position is, there is something to be gained even if it is only patience and tolerance!

Create a Rich Life Outside of Work

One way to buffer the negative effects of a workplace you aren’t particularly happy with is to create a rich and meaningful life outside of work.  Create balance between your work and personal lives whenever possible so that you aren’t consumed with the negativity of your position. Make time to nourish the different parts of yourself and don’t let a bad day at work taint your evening at home (and vice versa!)

Actively Job Hunt and Seek Professional Help if Necessary

Set job-searching goals for yourself.  Explore interests and possible careers paths that may be enticing and exciting to you.  It’s important to understand the job market and potential options before making any drastic changes.  A career counsellor can be extremely helpful in helping you to explore and understand your career preferences.

A Final Thought

A bad work position can be incredibly overwhelming.  It can be demoralizing and discouraging, but don’t give up! The best way to cope is to have a vision that extends beyond the work day. This means creating plans for your future and figuring out how your current position may help you get there.

 By: Catherine Kamel

counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapy