From darkness comes light.

“Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.”482817-Strength-through-adversity_banner

No matter what happens today, know that in the end everything works out.

Trust me. I speak from experience.

My smile comes equally from a place of darkness and a place of light.

How would I ever know how good I have it today — if I hadn’t lived a life of challenge and adversity.

And the best part is that I get to revisit my twenties every single day.

A time where many of my life lessons were born.

Listening and learning with my psychology students on campus.

And staying in touch for years to come.

I will always be grateful for the tough times in my life — for this is where my strength lies.

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I believe the same for you.

You are a diamond in the making.

This I know for sure. 💞💎

Related: I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past.

This blog post was written for all the students around the world writing final exams this week. Cheering them on! Encouraging them to not give up. This post is also meant for you – My Fellow Student of Life.

Set a time limit on negativity.

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

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The timer principle can also be applied to how often we are negative vs. positive throughout the course of a day.

Negativity is the easy (automatic) route. So we need to be conscious of where our mind flows.

Venting feels good in the moment, but when it goes on too long, the costs outweigh the benefits.

Joy needs room to breathe.

Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge has passed. Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.

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Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time. Even (especially) when life gets tough.

Balance is key.

Negativity is to be expected. It’s part of the human experience.

The question is – how long will you stay there.

Share your challenges. Share your obstacles. Share your difficulties.

But also leave room for what’s good in your life.

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Joy needs room to breathe.

And so do you. ♥

▪️Reblogged from October 2016▪️

The Paradox of Strength.

Some lessons happen over a lifetime. Others happen in an instant.

Either way, the paradox of strength is that it develops though pain.

Each misfortune cultivates a renewed appreciation.

Each obstacle fosters a new level of perseverance.

Each sadness teaches a greater depth of compassion.

Each challenge harvests a new field of possibilities.

We must fall down to rise up.

Again and again and again.

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Related Post: I've never met a strong person with an easy past.

WHY change NOW?

The first question I ask clients wanting to make a change is “Why Now?”

For there is no doubt that they (and you and I) have been wanting to transform an aspect of our lives for a very long time.

But the intrinsic motivation just isn’t quite there. The kind of motivation that is essential for lasting change.

Unfortunately too many people wait for something bad to happen in their lives before making positive changes.

This is a universal truth.

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How do we “change” how we change?

We take two steps back before moving one step forward.

We pause. We slow down. We notice.

We open our eyes to all the possibilities.

We write our dreams down.

We take photos of what inspires us to bloom.

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We ask for honest feedback from people we trust.

We acknowledge what gets in the way of our potential. Big and small.

We compile all the reasons why our best lives shouldn’t wait another day.

And we have fun doing it! Positivity has power too. 🦋

Why change now?

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Watch My CBC-TV Interview:
5 Ways to Embrace Change

Encouraging someone through life’s challenges.

How do we bridge the gap between expectations and reality?

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The idea we have for our life rarely, if ever, matches up with the life we end up with.

Which is often a blessing in disguise.

Yet something we seldom realize in the thick of difficulty.

Success is not a straight line. 

When dreams fall apart, feelings of failure and helplessness often set in.

This is the exact time when we need others to hold the light for us. To be an encourager. To show us the way.

STRATEGIES FOR EMPOWERING OTHERS

 Dreams ↔ Failure ↔ Destiny

1. Encourage people by sharing your own stories of difficulty and overcoming.

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This helps others understand that no one begins their success journey at the top of the mountain. And that each failure is an opportunity to rise up. Again and again.

2. Hold a safe space for loved ones to ‘not be ok’ when overwhelmed.

Rushing anyone through difficult emotions will prolong feelings of fear, threat, and danger.

Instead, we can flip the switch by leaning into “the overwhelm” and asking: “What are you trying to teach me?”

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3. The ultimate encouragement strategy is to believe in someone, especially when they don’t. 

This helps shift their mindset from not enough to overflowing. Creating a new heightened vision for life’s unexpected bumps and detours.

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You got this!”💥

The stories we tell ourselves.

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Flooded with helplessness.

A friend of mine recently returned home from vacation to find his newly constructed house flooded.

The feelings of helplessness that followed were magnified by the story he was telling himself on repeat. That he was an idiot. Naive. A loser. Stupid for not knowing better.

 Loss of control.

This was something completely beyond his control. Yet there he was battling Mother Nature head on.

Making himself entirely responsible for the deluge of rain. All powerful. Yet completely powerless. Imprisoned by his thoughts alone.

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He and his wife had only lived in their new home for 18 months. A dream house built for retirement.

Every aspect of the design painstakingly conceived. Which only amplified his despair.

Infinite Rumination.

But in that moment, the story in his mind was filled with self-accusation and punishment. Second guessing on repeat.

The loop in his head based on the assumption that he was all-mighty. At the epicentre of the universe. Fully in charge of Mother Nature and her actions.

This is what happens when we lose control of external circumstances. We attempt to control it internally.

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Overcome by emotion.

Logically, he knew that it was not the end of the world. That there were far worse things that could have happened and have happened in his life.

But in times of panic, our emotional brain (the amygdala) hijacks our thinking brain and we can no longer think rationally.

And that’s ok. Because in order to heal, we must first bear witness to our pain. Only then can we move on and beyond.

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Breathing space.

It has been four days since the flood and thank goodness the overwhelming feelings of helplessness have subsided for my friend.

Time heals. And so does a wife’s love. The support of neighbours. And a mom’s embrace.

It happened. He is strengthened. He will thrive.

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Change the story.

Now when he passes the construction zone in his house, instead of chastising himself, he thinks of how lucky he is to have a basement renovation just 18 months after moving in. Same basement. Different narrative.

This story makes him smile. 

From Stress to Strength.

Challenge can be difficult. Adversity overwhelming. Growth painful. I agree!

Instead of seeing obstacles and stressors as taking you down.

Try perceiving challenges as taking you UP ↑

Again and again and again.

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For it’s in this uncomfortable space in between failure and success; breakups and makeups; exams and graduation — that strength is ultimately born. 💥

Face it – You’re Strong!

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Everything you’re afraid of – you’ve already experienced.

Afraid of commitment?

(You’ve been dumped.)

Afraid of failure?

(You’ve failed.)

been there done that

Afraid of rejection?

(You’ve been rejected.)

Afraid of being broke?

(You’ve been without money.)

Fill in the blanks for me..

Afraid of being _________?

(You’ve been _________.)

And then vow to erase that fear in your life.

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By facing your fears head on.

Remember – you have been here before.

You have more knowledge and experience than you recognize.

You are braver than you realize.

You have faced this fear before.

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 You have survived this fear before.

And you have thrived because of it.

(You may not realize it – but you have.)

Face it – you’re strong!

And you have the power to kick this fear right to the curb.

Once and for all!

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Your final challenge is to embrace your power.

Full on!

Mindset changes everything.

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The Resilience Mindset

What we believe matters. As it’s our mindset that shapes our physiological and emotional response to stressful circumstances. Ultimately, determining our ability to bounce back after adversity.

For example, when a relationship ends, if we view it as a personal failure, from a place of blame and shame, we are less likely to try again. Afraid to risk the pain, reluctant to venture beyond our comfort zone.

“Obstacles do not block the path. They are the path.”

On the other hand, if we perceive the same breakup as an opportunity to learn. To begin again. To start over. Fresh. Renewed. We are more open to meeting someone new.

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Today I am grateful for all of my relationship failures. For if it weren’t for the loss, the heartache, and the lessons, I never would met the wonderful man that I am married to today.

Trust the Process.

It was not easy at the time. Challenge rarely is. But if we just keep our eyes to the sky, and trust that no matter what we are going through, it will all be worth it in the end.

I hope you find comfort in your discomfort. And beauty in the stars.

Related Post: Lay down your burdens.

Reigniting Motivation.

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I wrote this on the blackboard for my nursing students today.

This is their final week of classes. Which means one final opportunity for me to encourage their success.

This is my favourite part of teaching psychology. Every time I face a challenge, I imagine how I can translate it into a motivating lesson for my students.

Reminding students why they started nursing school is energizing. Staying inspired during final exams is galvanizing. Not giving up is the ultimate test.

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Thoughts ⇔ Motivation ⇔ Action

Transforming thought patterns is critical for student motivation and success. As what happens behind our eyes is as powerful as what happens in front of our eyes.

Reframe your thoughts. Reignite your motivation.

Instead of thinking of nursing school as an obstacle to overcome. Reframe it as superhero training. Heros save lives. And so do nurses. Every single day.

Will it be easy? No   ↑   Will it be worth it? Yes!

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Related Post: Staying Motivated During a Challenge.

How do you reframe to reignite motivation?