By Kelly Graham, MSW, RSW
Technology seems to be dominating our lives today. Whether it is your cell phone, computer, PlayStation, TV, or anything else, we are always surrounded by it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Netflix and checking Facebook; I’m not a technology hater. However, I have noticed that a common theme among people today, myself included, is that technology is beginning to interfere with our relationships.
If you were to add up the time you spend using technology throughout the day, you would probably be surprised by just how often you’re on it. Many people can’t even make it through a meal without checking their phone. When we see everyone else checking their phone, we then feel compelled to check ours. Instead of talking with each other face-to-face, we bury ourselves in our technology.
When we are continually using technology in the presence of others, we are ignoring them. While you may be listening, to them it looks like you are more interested in what is on your phone than what they have to say. Remember how you have felt when you’ve been ignored. Were you hurt, angry, sad, frustrated? All of those are valid responses. While this may be annoying when you’re trying to have a normal conversation with someone, imagine if they are trying to talk to you about something important. Then it may feel like you are ignoring their feelings, or worse, that Facebook is more important than them. When this happens frequently, the person may just stop trying to engage with you.
This ultimately causes a rift in relationships - when we feel like we can’t express our thoughts and feelings because the other person is too busy being lost in technology. We end up burying these feelings which eventually can turn into resentment and anger. If these feelings are not dealt with, it can ruin a relationship.
By Seija Grant, MEd CP, RP
According to the dictionary, communication is a means of connection between people. However, communication is so much more complex than that. It can be direct or indirect, it can be written or oral and there can be many subtleties, variables and factors. Communication is a difficult task for many of us. Sometimes we struggle to explain ourselves, or to have others understand our feelings or needs. Sometimes we might get angry or frustrated when trying to share opinions or perspectives with others. Sometimes we keep things to ourselves for the sake of keeping the peace. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
If so, don’t fret! The goal of effective communication is to minimize misunderstandings and overcome barriers in communicating with others. Luckily, I have some information to impart that can help you to communicate more clearly, calmly and efficiently—ultimately leading to strengthening your relationships with others.
Assertive communication is an interaction style which can help you to ensure things are fair, that you can express yourself clearly and confidently and can actually help to build your self-esteem! This approach to communication can make it more likely to have your needs met within an interaction as you are expressing yourself in a direct manner while also being fair to others.
By Linda Kelly, MSW, RSW
Is it common for you to be disappointed or upset by what people do?
If you feel unfairly targeted, criticized, or downright disliked by others a lot of the time, there’s a good chance that you’re suffering a lot more than you should, because you’re taking things personally.
As it was so eloquently written about by Seija Grant in her “People are not against you, they are for themselves” article, we often forget that people are much more focused on themselves than on us, just like we are more focused on our own lives and feelings than we are on others. And that’s pretty normal. In fact, the more intense one’s personal suffering, the more difficult it is to consider the world beyond their own headspace.
To personalize something is to make it about, or for, you, like things engraved with your name on them, or the way a room can be decorated to make you happy by reflecting your own likes and dislikes.
But personalizing is also a way of taking a situation, running it through the grinder of our perceptions, assumptions, and beliefs, and then making it about US.
By Kristen Sohlman, HBA, RP
What is a boundary?
A boundary is an invisible border or limit where one person ends and the other person begins. Boundaries are defined by our own personal limits, values, beliefs, and life experiences. Sometimes when someone makes you feel uncomfortable or hurts you they may have crossed your personal boundary. Boundaries teach others how much they can talk with you, how much they can touch you, or how they can treat you.
What a boundary is not!
It is important to realize that boundaries are not walls! Boundaries are invisible, they do not close you in or keep others out. By establishing a healthy boundary, you are actually letting people into your life by respecting your own limits, values and beliefs. When you communicate with others you are teaching others how to treat you by letting them know what you are comfortable with, as well as to help them to become closer with you. We cannot assume that others know what our limits and boundaries are and we cannot assume that we know what other people’s limits and boundaries are. In order to understand boundaries, we must be willing to communicate with others and speak up for our own values and beliefs.
What kind of boundaries do you have?
By Elizabeth Perzan, MSW, RSW
Valentine’s Day does not have to be a reminder of your single relationship status, or the fact that your partner cannot be with you this February 14th.
Being solo on Valentine’s Day can actually be empowering! Use today as a reminder that there are many advantages to being single or unaccompanied. For example, think of all the money you will save. And you are free from the awkward, mandatory gift exchange (heart-shaped jewellery that no one ever wears?).
You are granted the right to celebrate this day the way you want. Think of today as an opportunity to practice some much needed self-care. You can go to the gym, have a sauna, or enjoy a good book while embracing a warm cup of coffee or tea. Spend some time with a friend or family. You can even control what you want to binge-watch on Netflix. Maybe even babysit for another couple; give them a chance to have a special night to themselves.
Spending Valentine’s Day by yourself can be less stressful in general. You don’t have to worry about the “perfect” date, and there will be no disappointment if said date doesn’t go according to plan. Not to mention skipping out on the crowds and chaos, as well as zero pressure to dress up (pajamas at 6:30pm?Here I come). And don’t forget! No judgement when you purchase that V-Day sale candy (added bonus – you don’t have to share).
Bottom line: let today inspire you to learn to be happy with yourself, no matter your relationship status. Valentine's Day is a made-up holiday anyways. YOU are all that you really need.
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