As a registered nurse, I worked in the operating room, hospital beside and in the community and then, for over 25 years, I have worked in the USA, UK, as well as in Eastern and Western Canada, as a clinically trained master-level social worker and family mediator. My work also involved being a faculty lecturer at 5 academic institutions. My diverse roles continue to give me the privilege of working with people of tremendous courage - all trying to live a full, rich life of meaning and purpose. Consider this: pain and suffering are a natural part of living. Many times you can work through it and come out better. Yet there are other times, when you struggle and get really stuck in a feedback loop of difficult thoughts and feelings. This commonly leads to trying to escape, avoid, distract, deny or other controlling behaviours in order to relieve the hurt. What happens next? It often result in creating even bigger problems for yourself and those you love. Being stuck feels really yucky! Open to a new approach? Discover and learn practical strategies for ‘unhooking’ from problematic behaviours and moving toward who and what is important to you by increasing your psychological flexibility. Let my over 25 years experience, knowledge of brief solution-focussed and Acceptance and Commitment therapies (including The ACT Matrix) work for you. Serving Teens and Adults: Individual, Couples, Families and Groups. In-person or On-line Counselling Services.
“Imperfect Living” reflects the openness, curiosity and compassion toward self and others that I am hoping to encourage, so you can live a life that matters to you by being your best self!
Here are some things my clients have taught me over the many years of our working together:
1. Self Compassion
Treating ourselves with the same care and kindness we would treat our best friend is not only loving, it is helpful in reducing unnecessary pain and suffering. It makes us stronger and more resilient to handle life’s many challenges.
2. Acceptance is Empowering
Did you know our brain is a thought-producing machine with no delete button? We can not control the rate and intensity at which difficult or happy thoughts/feelings/memories pop into our minds. However, we are in control of our actions as well as how we choose to respond to those difficult thoughts and feelings. For example, observing our thoughts as streams of words, sounds and/or images is very freeing and gives us the space and energy needed to do the things that are most important to us! It means learning how to drop the struggle and getting on with living a life that is important to us.
3. Being Mindfully Present
When dealing with difficult thoughts, feelings, sensations or memories, it often triggers us to focus on either our possible future or our past. Getting caught up in the future involves lots of mental planning and thinking about all those “what ifs” in order to avoid past mistakes. Focussing on the past leads to tirelessly ruminating about past failures or tracking mistakes in order to better help handle the future. It is so easy to get caught up in this endless cycle between the past and future. What is most helpful and truly possible it to learn to pay attention to the present moment - mindfully taking it all in (see, hear, touch, smell and taste) - without judgement.
4. Re-writing Our Self-Stories
Self-stories are developed over time and are often in response to how other people have treated us and in turn, how we end up interpreting those experiences. While our minds are creators and containers of these self-stories, we are not actually our thoughts. By noticing and naming these unhelpful stories, we create distance between who the mind says we are and who we actually are - thereby creating new stories that better serve us in living a life we cherish.
5. Declaring Our Values
Many of us get caught up in an over-reliance on what others or society deems as important. For example, like having a “successful career”; being the “perfect parent” or having an ideal “swimsuit body” - the list of expectations goes on and on. Instead by clarifying for ourselves, “What kind of person do I want to be”?; “What is truly important to me?"; “What do I cherish?"; ““What would the best version of me be?” - we get very helpful answers. These answers help us to define our own values not others. Knowing our own values is a key motivator in overcoming the barriers to living our best life.
6. Taking Action
Moving toward a life we value involves creating goals that are specific, motivated by values, adaptive, realistic and time-framed. Each small step leads to the greater possibility of moving toward a more satisfying and fulfilling life. This does not mean a problem-free life. It means a life where difficult thoughts, feelings, sensations and memories still pop up and yet they no longer have the power to disrupt or stop us from living the life we want for ourselves!
If you are needing strategies and solutions for living your best version of you - let’s team up and connect!
Whole Plant-based Lifestyle Counselling Available: (Please note: International Services - not under RSW designation)
For those interested in Whole Plant-based Lifestyle Practices to help reverse and prevent lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, IBS, some forms of cancer and more - education and support is available here (view it on youtube)! And here is a more detailed story of my own health transformation:
T. Colin Campbell, PhD - author of the internationally recognized book, “The China Study” (3 million copies sold; translated into 50 languages) says of my story, “Your story is amazing. It is probably the most specular, I have ever heard.” May 15, 2020.
Reversal of Pulmonary Hypertension, Diabetes and Retinopathy after Adoption of a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet: https://ijdrp.org/index.php/ijdrp/article/view/41?ck_subscriber_id=141115214
Get simple and delicious oil-free whole plant-based recipes (also low in salt) here: Monthly contributor to Pulmonary Association of Canada: https://phacanada.ca/Living-with-PH/Resources
Kate McGoey-Smith is absolutely one of the most amazing people I have ever met... turning tragedy into blessings and terminology such as: "suffering as collateral beauty"