• Spiritual Direction Calgary: The Heart of Grief Counselling.
    Spiritual Direction Calgary: The Heart of Grief Counselling.
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    “So, just what is Spiritual Direction?” Calgary clients (quite unlike the majority of peoples around the world) have usually never even heard of it – and that’s the first question that comes out of their mouths…

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  • Is your life constantly in chaos?
    Is your life constantly in chaos?
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    Of all of the eccentric, odd and sometimes down-right dubious characters who are regarded as founding fathers in the field of psychology, the award for weirdest among them definitely goes to Freud.

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  • Breaking the power of resentment
    Breaking the power of resentment
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    Watch any Remembrance/Memorial day service or the yearly September 11th events and, over and over again, you hear the publicly repeated vows to never forget the atrocities of terrorism that has sparked so many wars.

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  • How to raise a victim of childhood sexual abuse
    How to raise a victim of childhood sexual abuse
    1 Comment on How to raise a victim of childhood sexual abuse

    Just for a moment, let’s completely ignore the tragic cascade of underage child abuse victims themselves acting out the same behaviours on other minor family members or peers where the perpetrator really is as much a victim as the the one being abused.

    Have you ever tried, even for just a few seconds, to step inside the mind of the most hardened adult sexual offenders and imagine what they need to see in a child to begin taking steps towards victimizing him or her? Is there a pattern? Why would they target one child and completely ignore another?

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  • How to fight FOR your marriage.
    How to fight FOR your marriage.
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    Contrary to the delusions of most starry-eyed newlyweds, there’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. We’d all like to believe we have married the perfect source of emotional and sexual satisfaction embodied in a person who will grant us the freedom to be ourselves, expect little of us, support us in every way and demonstrate utter maturity and competency in every area of life – that, in addition to exuding stunning physical perfection.

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  • I just have no idea what I am feeling…
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    Our emotions are powerful, born of countless unknowable forces and planted by childhood events we may never consciously recall. For many of us, they exist as shrouded mysterious urges we mostly focus on managing and suppressing.

    But, it doesn’t have to be that way. They are in us for a reason: to be a dashboard which displays the state of our entire being. Learning to listen to and name the read-outs on that dashboard is essential to caring for ourselves and loving other people.

    Here is a guided path towards understanding what our hearts are telling us:

    How to identify what kind of emotion you are feeling in seven easy steps.


    Tune into the prompting event that caused the emotion and consider what sort of an event it is.

    The nature of an event is a powerful clue as to the impact it may be having on you — though other factors could cause you to respond in a completely different way.

    Next, note your interpretation of the event.

    Are you seeing it as others around you are or are you looking at it through very different lenses? If different, then how and why?

    Note any physical sensations you encountered during the event.

    Did you shake, get hot, feel flushed, have trouble looking at the other person, experience a change in sexual response, feel your heart race, experience your body relaxing? Our bodies can sometimes tell us what we are feeling even before our minds can apprehend such. What do those physiological responses tell you?

    Note your body language.

    Did you find yourself clenching your fists, hugging yourself, crossing your arms, turning your body towards/away, find yourself looking down/away/glaring at the other or standing erect/slumping? What do those physical actions tell you that you were unconsciously trying to accomplish?

    Next, attend to any sort of action urge you experienced during the event.

    Did you want to run away or hide, hit the other person, explode and yell, hurt the other person, hug the other person or want to make love to/have sex with the other person? What sort of internal dynamics do those urges imply?

    Examine any action you actually took.

    Was it the same or different from #5? (If it was the same, this step is likely redundant. If it was different, then is there an ambivalence or two conflictual emotions present?)

    Now, based on previous items above, use the below chart to precisely identify the emotion name(s) you are experiencing.

    The sooner we figure out what we are feeling, the earlier into an interaction we are able to draw from the wisdom our hearts have to bring to any interchange.

    If that wisdom becomes effectively blended with our mind and our other senses, we gain the ability to choose how we engage others instead of finding ourselves driven in irrational ways.

    And, sometimes, we then gain the ability to put our responses aside for a moment, step out of ourselves and then experience what the other person is experiencing.

    That’s where compassion and empathy start and senseless wars end.

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  • Giving hugs later doesn’t help…
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    Science Daily

    “If you believe that you can shake your children or slap them across the face and then smooth things over gradually by smothering them with love, you are mistaken,” wrote lead researcher Jennifer E. Lansford on the Child and Family Blog. Lansford is a research professor at the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University. “Being very warm with a child whom you hit in this manner rarely makes things better. It can make a child more, not less, anxious.”

    The blog is a joint project of the Future of Children at Princeton University and the Applied Developmental Psychology Research Group at the University of Cambridge.

    Lansford calls it “one of many worrying findings” in the multicenter research about corporal punishment. They interviewed more than 1,000 children and their mothers, from eight different countries, asking about levels of physical punishment and also about anxiety and aggressive behavior on the part of the children.

    They found that while maternal warmth can lessen the impact of “low levels of corporal punishment” among children ages 8 to 10, both anxiety and aggression still remain — just not quite as much. It doesn’t typically diminish the negative impact of high levels of physical punishment. Lansford said countries with a more authoritarian parenting style, like Kenya and Colombia, see less effect on the children than other countries.

    “Generally, childhood anxiety actually gets worse when parents are very loving alongside using corporate punishment,” she wrote. The researchers aren’t sure why, but she said it might be “simply too confusing and unnerving for a child to be hit hard and loved warmly all in the same home.”

    There is truth here — and a rather clear example of simple ideological spin…

    The truth part of it is that the majority of the discipline tactics taught within the hallowed halls of fundamentalism are, in fact, child abuse and no amount of good intention or loving acts after, “Giving you a slap across that filthy mouth,” is going to lessen the impact of such. The hold of aggression and anxiety will remain the same and the abuse will only increase the chances of the same behavior occurring again.

    The spin?

    Note how the wording above changes from slapping kids across the face to corporal punishment. Because those are one and the same?


    Yet, you read nearly any writing on corporal punishment and you see this exact error replicated nearly constantly.

    Two obvious facts remain:

    (1). Corporal punishment is still in huge use around the world and across North America by people who, plainly, think these researchers are idiots.

    (2). We definitively KNOW that corporal punishment is largely ineffective and, at best, a short term solution.

    People still really do trust science and can be persuaded — by scientists that they see as having no axe to grind and no willingness to warp their language to accomplish such.

    We need more then a few of them in this field or people are forever going to read, “Spare the rod,” (Which was the expensive and fragile hooked tool used to steer and rescue sheep,) as, “Spare the staff.” (The straight fighting weapon used to violently defend sheep from marauding agents.)

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  • Are you really so sure you, “Clearly remember???”
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    The new study proves for the first time what psychologists have long suspected: that manipulative questioning tactics used by police can induce false memories — and produce false confessions.

    Published in January in the journal Psychological Science by Julia Shaw of Britain’s University of Bedfordshire and Stephen Porter, a forensic psychologist who studies the role of memory in the legal system at the University of British Columbia, the study holds striking implications for the justice system.

    “The human mind is very vulnerable to certain tactics in interviews,? Porter told the Star in an interview.

    Shaw and Porter recruited 70 students at a Canadian university who had never committed a crime, and told them they’d be taking part in a study about how well people could remember their childhoods. They asked students’ past caregivers for details about a vivid event that had taken place in the students’ lives between ages 11 and 14, such as an accident or an emotional first day at school. Caregivers and students agreed not to communicate about the experiment while it was ongoing.

    Researchers questioned the students for three sessions of about 40 minutes each. They asked them to recall two events in their past: the true event and an added false one, both of which they said the caregivers had told them about. The false event was described in as general terms as possible — simply “an assault? or “an incident where you were in contact with the police.?

    If subjects said they couldn’t remember the false event, questioners reassured them they would be able to retrieve their “lost memories? if they tried hard enough. If they began to “remember,? experimenters asked for more detail. Do you recall any images? How did you feel? Visualize what it might have been like, they said, and the memory will come back to you.

    By the end of the third interview, more than 70 per cent of subjects came to believe they had committed a crime just five or so years in the past. They didn’t merely agree they had done what the experimenters suggested — they generated all the details of the crime themselves, recalling vivid sensory memories and often becoming emotional and guilt-ridden.

    Some subjects persisted in believing they were guilty after they had been told the “crime? had been invented. “A few people argued with the experimenter and said, ‘Well no, I know this happened,’ ? says Porter.

    Think that’s scary? The psychologists did.

    “We ended the study prematurely,? says Porter. Once he and Shaw had interviewed 60 of the students and realized the proportion of them generating false memories was high enough to support their hypothesis, they decided to spare the remaining 10 subjects the unnecessary upheaval.

    If you really think the line, “The suspect later confessed during police interrogation,” means ANYTHING at all, you should probably read the full article.

    And, really, it means only somewhat less then another line: “I uncovered memories of my childhood ________ abuse during therapy.”

    The problem is, guilty people sometimes do finally crack under pressure and tell the truth — as also do innocent people admit to completely false things. People can partially or, in incredibly rare cases, completely repress memories only recovering them (sometimes in therapy) years later — but those memories can also be therapist created and implanted.

    Both the police and the therapeutic community would like to believe (or at least act like) the above abuses are difficult to accomplish and so rare they are nearly unheard of.

    Sadly, they’re not.

    There’s a reason the courts have forced the police to inform suspects of their right to have an attorney present — who nearly always ends the interrogation instantly. (Perhaps, so called, recovered memory therapists or trauma memory specialists should have the same in their therapy offices…)

    But, even more importantly, when a research group is ethically forced to end a study early because it is TOO EASY to implant false memories, perhaps no one should ever again be quite as sure that they, “Clearly remember…”

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  • Perhaps you need a really good fight?
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    For some people, this is a truly radical idea: There is no need to fight with your partner. Ever. Accusations, recriminations, character assassination, threats, name-calling, and cursing, whether delivered at top volume or with a quiet sarcastic sneer, damage a relationship, often irrevocably. Nobody needs to be a monster or to be treated monstrously. Nobody who yells will ever be heard. In the heat of a moment, it is always a choice whether to go for a run or run your partner down.

    On the other hand, no two people in the world, no matter how made for each other they feel, will ever agree about everything at all times. (It would be quite boring if they did.) Couples do need to be able to negotiate differences. They do need to have room for constructive criticism. They do need a way to assert opinions and to disagree. And they do need to have a way to express intense feelings (that the other person may not understand or support) without feeling that they will be judged as lacking for doing so.

    A healthy relationship requires knowing the skills necessary for “friendly fighting? — dealing with conflict respectfully and working together to find a workable solution. Friendly fighting means working out differences that matter. It means engaging passionately about things we feel passionate about, without resorting to hurting one another. It helps us let off steam without getting burned. Friendly fighting lets us “fight? and still stay friends.

    Embrace conflict.

    Go after the issue, not each other.

    Listen respectfully.

    Talk softly.

    Get curious, not defensive.

    Ask for specifics.

    Find points of agreement.

    Look for options.

    Make concessions.

    Make peace.

    Follow the above link for the full details.

    So many couples end up divorcing for reasons of how they handle conflict rather then actual issues over which there may be conflict. In other words, they divorce because of how they fight rather then what they happen to be fighting over this particular weekend.

    Pair that with the implicit assumption that conflict is destined to end the marriage and you have a recipe for ignoring things until they explode into utter manageability and then ending the relationship because of such.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. Research repeatedly demonstrates that conflict, properly handled, is the most effective way to improve your relationship and protect it from things that COULD end it.

    But, that requires calm, under-control people addressing specific issues in the right context with a willingness to be wrong and apologize and work towards compromise — not just to try and score points.

    Sometimes getting there requires help…

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  • Here’s how to make difficult conversations easy
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    Someone is screaming in your face at the top of their lungs. Or ranting angrily and you can’t get a word in edgewise. Or maybe they’re sobbing so hard you can barely understand what they’re saying.

    We’ve all been there. These situations don’t happen a lot (thank god) but we all feel helpless when they do. And because they’re rare we don’t ever seem to get better at handling them.

    Problem is, these moments are often critical because they’re usually with people we care about.

    What’s the best way to handle these difficult conversations? What works?

    Sum Up

    Here are Al’s tips for turning difficult conversations into easy ones:

    *   Keep calm. Don’t turn it into Godzilla vs. Rodan. (Samurai secrets of staying calm are here.)

    *   Treat’em like a child. You can’t talk them out of emotional outbursts and getting angry over it does nothing good.

    *   Say “Please speak more slowly. I’d like to help.? Slow it down. Don’t come off like you’re fighting back.

    *   Ask “What would you like me to do?? You gotta make’em start thinking in order turn off the rage machine.

    *   Don’t make statements. Ask questions. Explaining is veiled dominance. Questions get them thinking.

    *   Start sentences with “I’d like…? not “You are…? If you start with “I? it’s hard to be seen as attacking.

    *   Let them have the last word. Don’t let your ego blow it at the last minute.

    So what does Al say is the single most important thing to do when dealing with people?

    When they speak, ask yourself why they’re saying what they’re saying. Think about what’s going on in their head, not yours. This leads away from judging and toward understanding and compassion.

    Yes, it’s probably a little late — you already went through the war at home over Christmas…


    But, it’s still worth learning for next year — or maybe the next phone call.

    And, if that doesn’t work, you can always upgrade to the complete guide to hostage negotiation

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