The Science of Parenting

The Science of Parenting

Having spent 30 yrs. as a counsellor working with parents of all backgrounds, what stands out for me is that parental frustrations is the result of parents “held captive” by the pre-programmed practices/neural pathways from their childhoods. Parents react to their child’s behavior and will often react in a way that doesn’t match the child’s or the parent’s needs in the present situation. Instead of trying to understand and be curious about what is happening for themselves or their child which includes emotional connection between the parent and child, the parent reacts based on past conditioning.

An example of this could be a child ignores a parent’s direction – instead of recognizing that the child is not purposely being defiant or disrespectful, the parent reacts to the imagined disrespectful defiance which may mimic the responses of his/her own parents in childhood. Even if the behavior was defiant, an angry, aggressive response would be out of proportion to the needs of the situation rather than a compassionate, patient, curious response which could have resolved the issue and would be more beneficial to the child.

The truth is that kids are meant to experiment with boundaries and getting their way. Parents need to learn to firmly yet kindly insist on cooperation, yet they also need to preserve the emotional trust and connection. Children are learning from parent’s modelling. Parents have been held hostage to their past conditioning. So what if a parent has had severe trauma? If a trauma pattern was created in their childhood when they were young and they were made to feel helpless, powerless, and desperately dependent without feelings of safety, connection and love, we will often see patterns that are getting in the way of emotional safety. When we overlook our child’s emotional needs, the child feels a sense of not mattering, not being worthy of love, not learning about our true self because our environment is not validating our reality. The deeper work then is helping parents deal with their trauma and understanding what impacts their thinking and reactions to situations that occur in their current life situations. As parents heal and grow, they are better equipped to respond to their children’s needs and develop healthy communication with clear, kind and firm boundaries.

Depression

Depression

Kelowna is a beautiful place to live but it is hard to appreciate the daily things in our lives when we are struggling with depression. Let’s say that after years of working for a company you are laid off or get fired. You would feel sad, tired and emotionally drained. You would probably feel sadness for a few days or more as you deal with the difficult feelings and adjust to the changes. But what if the sadness lasts for more than a few weeks and you start noticing that it is affecting your life in a big way.

The onset of depression can happen after a significant loss, during life changes or we may just notice a chronic low grade energy that is negatively impacting our lives. We may have started to turn away from the activities or daily practices in our lives that made us feel better. We can’t just snap out of depression or make it go away but we can get the professional help, support and guidance we need to get to our next better step. Contact Annette Adkin (Counsellor in Kelowna)

Addiction

Addiction

Though living in Kelowna has many opportunities to connect and enjoy outdoor activities it also has many people who are feeling distressed and disconnected. Being distressed and not coping with life’s challenges can lead to addiction. People are trying to soothe their uneasiness and feel better. One of the biggest reasons people are prone to addiction is the presence of childhood trauma. It is great to have a few drinks by the lake or at an event in the Okanagan, but what if this leads to too many drinks, a disconnect in my relationship or consequences that I don’t feel great about afterwards.

There are 7 main addictions which are food, sex, drugs, alcohol, technology, money and unhealthy relationship patterns but for today we will focus on alcohol. When someone struggles with an addiction, they need to learn more about coping strategies and skills to help them. I also talk about recovery meaning recovering the parts of myself that were missing from my childhood. In my practice I talk about being “addicted to turning away” from myself and things that are important in my life.

I describe addiction like someone else is driving my car and I am in the back seat saying I don’t think this is a good idea but I continue to do this behavior with negative consequences. If you are ready to make some changes or you just want to gain more knowledge to get to your next better step, contact Annette Adkin. She has over 25 yrs of experience in helping people grow and develop successful practices.

Anxiety

Anxiety

Busy in Kelowna?

It is normal to feel anxious from time to time, especially if you live a stressful life. But what happens when it moves from regular anxiety to more intense troubling feelings. When anxiety is more chronic and persistent, we start to experience it as a problem. What does that mean? And how do I calm my anxiety? Annette can help you understand anxiety and what you will need to face in order to alleviate these intense, sometimes overwhelming feelings. Annette Adkin has over 25 yrs of experience helping people understand their patterns and to develop tools to manage and overcome life challenges. Does this work?

Let’s Talk About Relationships….

Let’s Talk About Relationships….

Life is a series of learning experiences and many of its lessons come in the form of human experiences. Most of us think that the relationships that are pleasurable are blessings in our lives. But every single person we come in contact with provides a unique opportunity for our inner self to either evolve or degenerate. Relationships, especially those driven by conflict push us outside our comfort zone. Often the principles taught by these encounters are ones that would be hard for us to grasp on our own…things like forgiveness, humility (not being defensive and really listening to someone else’s needs/ reality) and compassion.

So in the big picture even relationships that we would describe as “bad” can be good if we are willing to learn, be vulnerable yet also have boundaries that protect ourselves. If we are not strong in these areas, this relationship gives us an opportunity to work on these areas.

What happens in our intimate relationships when things aren’t working and we aren’t able to resolve issues/ problems. When one person voices their concerns, what happens when another reacts rather than responds…what is going on? Could one of our fears be activated? How do we take a step back and get compassionately curious about what is happening within ourselves? Sometimes there are deep wounds in this area. If this is activating childhood trauma, does distress equal shame in our relationships? We will often see that if we were over-corrected as children and didn’t talk about our feelings with a safe adult, we may not know what to do when we have hurt our partner. If your experience is that you hold your feelings in, how do we learn to face our partner’s disappointment and still believe we are worthy and loved. Are their addictions that keep us walled off from our partner as well as our own vulnerable feelings? What happens when one partner shuts down and doesn’t face the difficulties? The other partner feels alone/ abandoned…how does this person react or respond when they experiencing these feelings? Counselling can create a safe place to explore these issues and understand more about what each person needs.

What are a couple’s main fears?

  • Fear of
  • Rejection
  • Making things worse
  • Financial insecurity
  • Losing your sex life
  • Abandonment
  • Failure

One thing to remember is what hurts is not so much not being understood by others in the context of our experiences, but rather in our desire and our attempts to reach the other and open up in a meaningful way. Needing to have the courage to express oneself to the other. We need to be able to create emotional safety for relationships to move forward in a healthier direction.

 

The Cycle of Addiction

The Cycle of Addiction

Addiction and early childhood experiences are connected. Developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld says that 75% of our emotional mapping happens in early childhood. What if we didn’t talk about feelings in our family, didn’t get warm hugs and the words “I love you?” Or a parent was rigid and over corrective? How does that play out in our lives?

We don’t get through this lifetime without wounds, but what did we learn about attachment? These experiences set up the wiring of our emotional brains. We learn about attachment/ closeness in our families. This means unconditional acceptance and to be known in our relationships. When we have some of these emotional roots broken, we see the consequences of our early childhood experiences. By the time kids become adolescents and have some freedom, they ordinarily will try to feel better and hence initiate what we call high risk behaviors. This includes being connected to other high risk peers, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, food, sex, internet porn etc. We medicate with these escapes to avoid fear, anxiety, depression and anger.

I believe that when someone is struggling with addictions, they are also struggling with how to form emotional bonds and to connect with other people. They also need to develop a stronger sense of self that connects them to their own feelings and intuition. Life is an emotional experience yet sometimes people have learned in early childhood that loving someone means that I will get hurt, I won’t feel valuable or my needs don’t count. All these beliefs and ways of thinking get in the way of creating intimacy and closeness. When we come to counselling, we learn about relationships/ fears, we are accepted without judgement and we can explore new ways to show up in our lives that honour our true values. Sometimes life will try to teach us these lessons through trial and error; we need to start listening and opening up to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the relationships that we develop on this path called life.