Five months have passed since all of our lives changed. At this point all of us have had to make at least one sacrifice, one compromise or experienced one challenge due to the pandemic. Whether it was the financial burdens of losing a job, reduced income to a business, increased childcare responsibilities, the loss of a milestone event, or a reduction of socializing and physical intimacy in our relationships the current Pandemic has affected us all. But these times have also brought on reflection and a forced change that has for many of us led to new perspectives and personal growth.
One of my favourite authors that I have come across is Victor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. I read this book years ago and have never forgotten it or the effect that it had on me as graduate student training to become a psychotherapist. Frankl, a holocaust survivor, neurologist and psychiatrist, describes his experience in death camps of Eastern Europe and how making meaning of the horrific experience allowed him to survive when others in the same circumstances did not. The other half of the novel guides us through how his experience as a survivor of the Holocaust led him to create Logotherapy, a form of existential psychotherapy that is based on helping individuals to cultivate meaning from their struggles in order to cultivate resilience.
Some of my favourite quotes from Man’s Search for Meaning are:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Although our current situation is not remotely close to the hardships of surviving the death camps of the Holocaust, our challenges and hardships are real and have brought personal struggle to many of us in significant ways. If we can start to look for areas of personal growth, changes in perspectives, or begin to see meaning in our struggle than perhaps we can all begin to cultivate our own resilience.
Let us know how you have made meaning of the hardships of the current circumstances on our social platforms.
For those who are interested in reading Man’s Search for Meaning here is a link to access the book from the Toronto Public Library:
Or buy the book on Amazon:
The past few months have been stressful and filled with unexpected circumstances. Many of us have been pushed to our limits in relationships, caregiving, at work, or just coping with our own mental health. We are all doing the best we can, and sometimes reminding ourselves of these circumstantial parameters can alleviate some of the critical judgment and social comparison that leaves us feeling like we are not enough. At times like these it seems crucial to practice self compassion with intentionality and sincerity. However, often we just say “I am going to be more self-compassionate to myself”. But for many of us we do not know how to go about actually practicing that.
One of the experts in the field of practicing mindful self compassion is Dr. Kristin Neff, Associate Professor Human Development and Culture, Educational Psychology Department, at the University of Texas. On her website Dr. Neff defines self compassion as including three different element:
1) Self-kindness vs. Self-judgment
2) Common Humanity vs. Isolation
3) Mindfulness vs. Over Identification
On her website Dr. Neff also provides eight examples of self compassion exercises that you can practice at home. She also provides ten guided meditations that you can listen to for free, to help you start a personal meditation practice through the lens of loving kindness and self compassion.
If you feel like you need some extra self love today, feel free to try a meditation or self compassion exercise from Dr. Neff. It may be a helpful start to a lifelong journey of learning to care for yourself and be your own best friend.
More information about Dr. Neff, her understanding of self compassion guided meditations and self compassion exercises can be found HERE.
How do you practice self compassion in your life? Let us know on our social platforms.
Summer is here, and because of COVID19 there are few places to go to. You may not be on summer vacation anywhere tropical, but it might be the perfect opportunity to get to that stack of books you have been keeping beside your bed. I recently finished the book “In this Moment” by Kirk Strosahl Phd and Patricia Robinson Phd, published in 2015.
This quick read informs the reader of a mindfulness approach to managing stressors. What I enjoyed most about this book was that it is was not focussed on developing a meditation practice, rather, it was focussed on bringing mindfulness skills in our every day lives. This book focuses on five facets of mindfulness and dedicates chapters to teaching skills in each of these five domains. The five facets of mindfulness discussed by Strosahl and Robinson include: 1) Observe, 2) Describe, 3) Detach, 4) Love yourself , and 5) Act Mindfully.
I enjoyed reading this book because it helped to break down the illusive concept of mindfulness into tangible steps and concrete exercises that can be practiced to target each of these five skill domains. I appreciated that this book was not just theoretical but included components of the The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire Short Form (Baer et al. 2008; Baer 2003). This tool helps to assess areas of strength and deficit before starting to develop the skills included in the book. After reading each chapter and practicing the exercises you can reassess yourself within the particular domains and recognize your areas of growth. Each chapter also included a section dedicated to explaining the particular mindfulness facet from a neuroscience perspective, helping the reader to explore what area of the brain is in charge of that skill.
My favourite quotes from In This Moment:
“We've been taught to reject the growth-producing aspects of daily stress and instead focus our energy on finding ways to eliminate or control our symptoms of stress. Instead of seeing those important symptoms as signals that life might be out of balance in some important way, we try to kill the messenger” (pp. 17).
“The only medicine we know of that can cure the problem of living life on autopilot is to live life deliberately, according to what matters to you...listen to your stress, accept that it’s there, and adopt a deliberate, mindful approach that will help you transcend it…. If you aren’t willing to have stress, then stress will have you… the mere fact that you have daily stress means there are things in your life that you care about. If nothing mattered to you, you wouldn’t have any stress at all” (pp. 18).
If you have given this book a read already let us know what you think on our social platforms.
If you have any books that you would like Wellness Wednesday to review please send your recommendations to our instagram page.
COVID19 has given many of us the opportunity or the mental push to focus on starting new habits. Whether they are health related, creativity oriented or professionally directed these habits are only helpful if they are maintained long term. I did some reading about habit maintenance, and I learned about five different techniques that help to maintain new habits.
What other techniques do you find helpful? Let us know on our social platforms.
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Jessica is a member of the clinical wellness and learning support team at FLEX Psychology. Jessica started Wellness Wednesday out of a desire to provide further opportunities for her clients to extend their wellness journey to all avenues of their life. You can learn more about Jessica by clicking here or by learning more about her and the clinical team at FLEX Psychology by clicking here.