Empowerment

Reclaiming Your Identity & Releasing Guilt in Motherhood

Who feels like you’ve lost a part of yourself in motherhood, and carry too much guilt? Watch this video below to learn what I think about “Mom-Guilt”, why you don’t need to be feeling it all the time and how learning to release it will help you in connecting with your authentic self and reclaiming your identity.

“Who Am I?” - I hear this often from the women I work with in my counselling practice. When you become a mother and your focus leans away from yourself and onto your family, it’s easy to lose connection with your identity. “Who am I besides being a mother?”

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Are you the same as you were before? Are you entirely different? Or maybe somewhere in between? I like to think that the essence of who you are is the same.... while you’ve also morphed into a new version of YOURSELF. 

When you find yourself wondering “who am I?” ... I encourage you to check in and notice if you’ve been second guessing yourself lately or maybe giving too much of yourself away. Tune into yourself, your inner voice. Listen carefully. You might be surprised at what happens when you allow yourself to connect TO YOURSELF. 

If this is an area you would like to be supported in, come to my next workshop “Reclaiming Your Identity & Releasing Guilt in Motherhood”.

You will be supported to  connect to yourself on a deeper level. Participants will have an opportunity to explore: qualities within yourself that represent who you are, reconnecting with lost parts of yourself and letting go what is no longer serving you, and self-care strategies that help you be your authentic self.

Why wait to start feeling better within yourself? Register now for Jen’s workshop “Reclaiming Yoir Identity & Releasing Guilt in Motherhood”. Jen offers this workshop in-person in the Calgary area and also in an interactive online format.

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN OFFERS WORKSHOPS AS WELL AS INDIVIDUAL COUNSELLING ONLINE & IN PERSON IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

What’s So Great About Workshops?

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Why do I love facilitating workshops? I was asked this recently in an interview I did with Jessica from Birth Takes a Village on post-partum rage (video being posted soon!)

What I love about facilitating workshops is: bringing people together with what might be an otherwise unknown commonality, and creating a space for safe and empowering discussion and self-exploration.

I am always so excited when I create workshops to be able to share information about topics I am passionate about, and helping others to foster self-awareness and take steps towards their goals.

Workshops are a perfect place to start exploring a topic or area that you are interested in. It can be a gateway to starting therapy or an addition or any work you are already doing on yourself (with or without a professional).

Check out my website for more info on my upcoming workshops: www.theessenceofyou.ca/events

^ Private workshops and Individual Counselling sessions are also available by appointment if you’d rather explore these topics 1-1.

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. JEN OFFERS WORKSHOPS AS WELL AS INDIVIDUAL COUNSELLING ONLINE & IN PERSON IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

Book into Jen’s Workshops below:

Feeling O V E R W H E L M E D? 4 Tips to Survive This Holiday Season!

Feeling O V E R W H E L M E D?

4 Tips to Survive This Holiday Season!

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This time of year can bring many mixed emotions. It is often full of frequent gatherings of family, friends & colleagues, which can come with ups and downs. Making time for seeing everyone and attending or hosting events, and financial stressors alongside preparing for Christmas itself (if you celebrate Christmas), thrown in with all of your usual daily responsibilities can become extremely overwhelming for families. Below I've listed 4 tips to help you cope with what is overwhelming you this holiday season: Setting limits, asserting yourself, respecting your boundaries and prioritizing self-care. 

Setting Limits

What limits do you need to set, and with whom? All of the extra family time might come with consequences - it is not unusual for people to have longstanding issues within their family of origin or in-laws. Do you find yourself getting triggered over and over again by certain members of your family (or in-laws)? It might be time to consider setting some limits with them to help maintain your own sanity and to preserve the relationship.

Limit-setting can also include looking at the bigger picture, prioritizing and setting limits internally. What will you choose to react to over this intense time of year? What supports do you need to put in place for yourself to help yourself with setting your internal limits and sticking to them? Is food or alcohol a trigger for you? Do you need to be conscious of the amount of physical time you spend around specific people or places? Do you need to let go of some perfectionist ideals and give yourself permission to do less? Do you need to discuss expectations of gift-giving with others? Becoming aware of unhealthy coping strategies that might amplify a bad situation and replacing these with supportive and healthy coping skills has a big impact on how you feel. 

Asserting Yourself

Once you decide what limits you need to set with people, you need to communicate these boundaries clearly to the people you are setting them with. Do you need to decline some invitations or say no to hosting houseguests? Do you need to ask for help? Do you need to support yourself by standing up for yourself when you are criticized again by that same family member for the same thing they talk about every year? This might not seem like the right time to face big issues head-on, but you might be able to start taking small steps to support yourself. If you dread the holidays because you don't get treated respectfully by others, then how can you assert yourself in these situations to co-create a different outcome? In our families, we all have roles that we play. When we keep responding in the same ways, we stay in these roles, even if it is unhealthy. The only way to make change in our family dynamics is to change ourselves from within and change how we engage in these relationships. 

Respecting Your Own Boundaries

This is the hardest part! Once you decide to set limits and start asserting yourself, the most important part is following through with the boundaries that you have set. This might seem like it could ADD to the overwhelm instead of reducing it, but once you start doing this consistently, it is a surefire way to stop yourself from getting overwhelmed in the first place. Think about it - if you have realized that hosting Christmas as well as housing out-of-town guests is too overwhelming for you - and you assert yourself by communicating your boundaries, then you are giving yourself an opportunity to create an entirely different experience for yourself where YOUR needs are being met, preventing the overwhelm. Respecting the boundaries that you have set will enable you to see the outcome of these changes. If you don't follow through - then you will find yourself back in the same overwhelming cycle you were in before. 

Making Self-Care a Priority

During this time of year when your focus is usually on giving to everyone else, it is so important to do things that make you feel good. Take the extra time in the shower, make time to connect with people that make you feel heard and supported, make sure you are eating nourishing foods that are good for your body, go for that walk that you don't feel like you have time for. Doing anything that helps to "fill you up" is going to help you manage feelings of overwhelm when they come up. I always describe meeting your own needs by speaking up for yourself and setting boundaries as "deeper" self care; but to be able to do this work you need to feel strong and supported. Identifying your triggers and find grounding strategies that help you to reduce anxiety and feel more centred is a great starting point, alongside doing the little things that make you feel good about yourself and within yourself - physically, emotionally and spiritually. What supports can you put in place to help you with setting limits and reducing your overwhelm during this time of year? Leave a comment!

Do you need support to learn how to set and maintain boundaries with others? Come to my workshop in January that is focused on setting boundaries and communicating effectively with others: Navigating Relationships in Motherhood

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

 

3 Ingredients for an Empowering Birth

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Who doesn't want an empowering birth experience? The steps that you will take leading up to your birth are so important - not only for the birth itself but also for your transition into the post-partum period. So here it is, my recipe for creating an empowering birth

  1. Knowledge 
  2. Emotional Preparation
  3. Support 

Simple, right? Although these three ingredients might seem simple, there is a lot involved in each. So, I'm going to break them down a little bit further below. 

1. KNOWLEDGE

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Making INFORMED CHOICES is an essential part of creating an empowering birth experience for yourself. Think about what you want your birth to look like, do your research, and make a plan. The way you birth your baby is your choice and NOBODY else's! There will be many people offering their opinions/perspectives/demands about how you should birth your baby, which can be overwhelming. However, when you have done your research and you know what is best for you, this will give you the power to stand up for yourself and assert your right to make informed choices for how you are treated and for what happens during your pregnancy, birth, and post-partum period. 

"Informed consent rights are extremely important to women’s experience during birth. One of the biggest factors in whether you remember your birth as a positive or negative experience is the degree to which you feel informed and involved as decisions are made in terms of your maternal health."  
- Taken from "Understanding Informed Consent" by Jessica Austin, Birth Takes a Village

And, your perspective of whether your birth was positive or negative also is a huge indicator of whether you will view your birth as traumatic or not! Use your power. 

2. Emotional Preparation

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Preparing emotionally for your birth is as essential part of creating opportunity for an empowering birth and positive transition into the post-partum period. Fear is one of the biggest obstacles to having a positive birth & post-partum experience; so don't let it stop you from achieving what you want! Take the time to explore and process your fears and other emotions around your birth/post-partum, and identify what you need to do to move past these to achieve your goal of having an empowering birth.

When women invest time into emotionally preparing for their births, they give themselves a much higher chance at having an empowering and positive birth experience and a positive transition into the postpartum period.

It's also very important to process past experiences that might impact your birth experience and transition into the postpartum period. There are often many negative internal dialogues that women have playing on repeat that interfere with our trust in ourselves to birth and care for our babies. These could be messages received during your last birth, from hearing other women's birth stories, or from past experiences in your life completely unrelated to birth but related to your ability to believe and trust in yourself and your body

3. Support

Choose to surround yourself with people who support your vision and your goals for your birth and post-partum period. Think carefully. Some people who are "supportive" in general won't necessarily be the most supportive people for you during your pregnancy and birth. Make sure that the people you choose to let in during this time can meet you where you are - and can respectfully support your choices. The last thing you need is people who try to convince you to do anything that you don't think is right for you. So not only does this include your family and friends that you want involved during this process, but also your healthcare providers. Choose your doctor/midwife carefully! And consider getting a doula - their role is to support you in your choices! 

So there it is, my recipe for creating an empowering birth! What else would you add? Comment below!


The Essence of You offers sessions and workshops on birth preparation to help women plan for empowering births! Contact Jen for more details, or check out our upcoming events here

JEN IS A COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN CALGARY, ALBERTA. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BOOKING A SESSION WITH HER OR ATTENDING ONE OF HER GROUPS OR WORKSHOPS, VISIT THE ESSENCE OF YOU WEBSITE OR CONTACT JEN DIRECTLY.

"The Internal Dialogue is What Helps Most"

One of the many helpful texts I received from Jessica to support my friend in her labour tonight!! 

One of the many helpful texts I received from Jessica to support my friend in her labour tonight!! 

You know when someone is passionate about supporting birthing women when they text you all evening to support you in supporting your birthing friend! My sister Jessica (Birth Takes a Village) is a trusted, respected and well known Birth Doula in Vancouver. I trust her more than anyone else when it comes to birth. I gained so much from having her support leading up to and during the birth of my own son; and I often rely on her for information and support for my friends too! She never hesitates to answer all of mine and my friends questions and send information, research articles and birth stories and videos to help however she can, regardless of her busy schedule! Tonight, alongside tonnes of helpful information to support my friend through her contractions, Jessica said:

 

"The internal dialogue is what helps most."

 

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I love that someone who has so much education on childbirth believes this to be true! Coming from a psychological perspective, this is my belief too. I love helping women in preparation for their births by supporting them to identify and release fears, and process their thoughts and emotions about pregnancy, birth and the post partum period. When women invest time into emotionally preparing for their births, they give themselves a much higher chance at having an empowering and positive birth experience and a positive transition into the postpartum period.

It's also very important to process past experiences that might impact your birth experience and transition into the postpartum period. There are often many negative internal dialogues that women have playing on repeat that interfere with our trust in ourselves to birth and care for our babies. These could be messages received during your last birth, from hearing other women's birth stories, or from past experiences in your life completely unrelated to birth but related to your ability to believe and trust in yourself and your body

What is your internal dialogue saying to you right now? Is it helping you or holding you back? 

 

Jen is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Calgary, Alberta. If you are interested in booking a session with her or attending one of her groups or workshops, visit The Essence of You website or Contact Jen directly.

This is me and some of the most important women in my life during my pregnancy who joined together to support me during a Mother Blessing. This day was FULL of affirmations and had a huge impact on my own internal dialogue for my labour and birth. I am so grateful for having had this experience to prepare me in such a positive and empowering way.

This is me and some of the most important women in my life during my pregnancy who joined together to support me during a Mother Blessing. This day was FULL of affirmations and had a huge impact on my own internal dialogue for my labour and birth. I am so grateful for having had this experience to prepare me in such a positive and empowering way.

Contact me for information on my Birth Preparation Sessions!

How it Started

My motivation for starting my practice was twofold. I love counselling and I feel very passionate about supporting women through body image and peri-natal related issues; and I also enjoy being a stay at home mother so I wanted to find a way to be able to do this while also working in my career that I love. Starting this practice has been challenging in many ways but I’ve never been more excited than I am about this!

My main goal for my practice is to be able to support and empower women. I want to help women in learning how to trust themselves, their bodies, their intuition. I am passionate about working with women-specific issues because I believe that as women, we have a stronger ability to connect to our intuition than men (sorry guys!) and that when we allow ourselves to tap into this we can empower ourselves and each other. This means allowing ourselves to become vulnerable. It means looking beyond what meets the eye. It takes courage, it is hard work, but it builds strength and allows us to become open, develop self-awareness, and find healing.

Learning to trust myself through my intuition has been a big part of both my personal and professional journey. This began for me as a child with my parents always telling me to "trust my gut"; and this has been continuously reinforced for me throughout university, as well as various supervision and training I have done in my career that has taught the same message. Over and over again I've been reminded that my body never lies and my intuition is always right. It is so easy to disregard this inner sense of knowing, because it is intangible, and therefore undervalued in our society that celebrates numbers and things that come in square boxes!

Living in a culture that frequently disempowers women, there is no wonder why we experience so many issues during the vulnerable experiences of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. As women, we also have a lot of pressure put on us for our external appearance. This seems to be highlighted during pregnancy and motherhood - our bodies are constantly under scrutiny by friends, family, acquaintances and health care professionals. We are so often being judged, criticized, and belittled… not to mention also holding ourselves to unreasonably high standards, doubting ourselves, and comparing ourselves. And all of this is often accepted and encouraged in our society.

After going through pregnancy, birth, and now motherhood myself, as well as being surrounded with pregnant women and mothers, I’ve really noticed the lack of HEALTHY support available and I'm hoping that my practice will help to shift this.

 - Jen

Jen is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Calgary, Alberta. If you are interested in booking a session with her or attending one of her groups or workshops, visit The Essence of You website or Contact Jen directly.