I am not enough

I am not enough

I am not enough.

It’s belief that many people with PTSD hold. A wish that somehow, they could have/should have done more. It’s only by seeing the enormity of a problem that we are able to truly appreciate how big it is. Suddenly our efforts feel small.Those who are injured in war or times of conflict tend to be quite silent about their experiences. So deep runs the shame that they wanted to do more. Recently a veteran shared a wonderful Helen Hayes quote with me:We relish stories of our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to someone too.If you were injured in service to your country, whether at home or overseas, you have been part of a united contribution that defines the Canada we are proud to call home. We can never truly know how efforts may have shaped our lives. Your contributions did matter, and you are someone’s hero.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.Executive Director, Landing Strong

Paying attention to what’s working

Paying attention to what’s working

Paying attention to what’s working

It’s often much easier to notice what we’re doing wrong, rather than what we’re doing right. Military and first responder roles rely on critical analysis of potential shortfalls in order to maximize safety. Even when our actions are not motivated by the desire for recognition, it’s always satisfying to know when we got it right or that our efforts are making a difference. The problem of focusing on our missteps and passing over successes, however small they might be, is that is fosters a bias to overlook the good when we are confronted with challenges.I like to think of the person who came up with the idea of building the first boat.  They may have thrown many items in the water and examined what made them sink, but chances are they spent more time examining what made things float in order to come up with the winning formula. It can often be easier to focus on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. But how much healthier would we be if we mastered the habit of noticing what we do well?How might your day be different if the focus was on all the little things you are doing that are having a positive impact?  Can you identify three in this moment?

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.Executive Director, Landing Strong

How do we make a difference when the problem feels so big?

How do we make a difference when the problem feels so big?

How do we make a difference when the problem feels so big?

Over the past few weeks, the very foundation of our country has rocked with the discovery of 1,323 bodies of First Nations children at various sites across Canada.  It’s believed that there are many more yet to be found. 

I’ve hesitated to write about this.  It’s incredibly important and I don’t want to get it wrong.  How do we possibly come to terms with this level of atrocity?  The genocide of a generation of our First Nations children: are we glimpsing the ugliest part of humanity? 

I’m reminded of a discussion I had many years ago following news of the tragic shooting at Montreal’s École Polytechnique where innocent lives were taken.  During a National conference of 1000 psychologists, we sat in a room together and asked ourselves the question: How to we respond to such atrocity?  How can we prevent such horrific acts of violence from reoccurring?  There were no quick answers.  We all felt powerless.  Eventually one of the speakers stood and spoke in a tentative voice:

“I don’t have the power to change the world, but I certainly can have a significant impact on my immediate circle within my community.” 

Others chimed in:

 “If each of us has a voice and speaks out, we are 1000 strong in this room alone.  If we all speak to 100 people that’s 100,000 minds that we have the power to change.  We all have an immediate circle of influence.  If we all commit to being part of the solution, demanding change, that has to have an impact”.  

I don’t pretend to have the answers.  Nothing can make this right.  We can’t go back and undo the harm that has been done.  I was taught that Canada is a mosaic woven of many different colours and fabrics.  I believe the diversity is what provides richness to our Country. 

We don’t heal from our past by looking away.  If there is to be hope for a version of Canada where all are treated with dignity and respect, we need to witness even our nations darkest periods.  

Ignoring pain does not allow for healing.  It prolongs it.  Let’s strengthen our circles, making sure the steps forward are meaningful and lasting.

This is news that needs to be felt.  Only then can we ensure it never happens again. 

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder

Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder

Working in the federal penitentiary, I frequently met inmates who chose alcohol over life.  They repeatedly shared stories of relationships that fell apart because the pull towards substances was more compelling than their desire to be in relationships.  When given the choice, they chose Johnny Walker over their partners. 

The decision to cut down on substance use (or to be abstinent) is really a decision about health and connection.  

I choose to trust.
I choose to feel.
I choose to fully live.

Abstinence does indeed help the heart grow fonder.
We run group programs year round designed to help you ensure the life you are living reflects the life you want. Feel free to call us if you’d like to jump into an upcoming group.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder

Noticing the tiny perfect things

I recently watched a charming movie on Netflix called A map of tiny perfect things.  A young couple, caught in their own personal ground hog day, struggle to find meaning when every day seems a repetition of the previous one.  Somewhat like waking up each morning to hear the COVID report. They hatch an ingenious scheme to devote themselves to finding tiny perfect moments that exist within the fabric of each day.  

I love this idea.  Instead of focussing on things that can’t be controlled, I want to form my own list of tiny perfect moments.  It’s easy to miss them.   Sometimes we have to look very closely to see.  

I’ll share one from yesterday.  A young man in his late teens is at the Big Stop struggling to get his debit card working. He’s filled his gas tank, but can’t pay for it because his card won’t work.  The cashier mentions that she is supposed to call the RCMP in such a circumstance.  Immediately a woman in line steps up and says “don’t do that, how much is the bill?  I’ll get it for him”.

Embarrassed that I didn’t think of it, I offer to cover half.  Turns out the bill is only $20.

That could be the end of the story, but it isn’t.  As I am pulling out of the station I see the young man waving his arms and running after me.  He explains that he got his card working and wanted to give me back the $10 I had chipped in, insisting that I take it.  He was articulate, thoughtful and appreciative.

What a beautiful tiny perfect moment to start this week’s collection.

In group we have the opportunity to witness many tiny perfect moments.  Moments when people listen to one another without judgement.  Notes of support that are offered after a difficult share.  Celebratory cheers when there has been an accomplishment.  Or simple quite head nots of understanding when a group member shares something they are struggling with.

There are still two seats left in our Healthy Living Group starting next week.  It’s a chance to ensure the life you are living reflects the person you want to be. Give us a call today if you’d like to join.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

The power of walking one step at a time

The power of walking one step at a time

ThT

The power of walking one step at a time

No matter how long your journey appears to be, there is never more than this: one step, one breath, one moment… Now.
               – Eckhart Tolle

Many of you who know me know that my family is strongly connected to Africa.  We’ve taken school groups to Kenya and Tanzania, both for community service and a trek up to the top of Kilimanjaro.  My son Kyle, my daughter Mackenzie, and I have done Kili twice.  Joe, my husband, eight times.  Each time, leading a group of trusting students.
 
Park rangers tell us that, generally speaking, half of the travellers who try don’t summit.  Our groups average a 98% success rate.  Here are some of the things we’ve learned that help:

  • Training takes time, and is done in gradual increments.  The journey is made one step at a time, one breath at a time. We start in September for a March climb.  Early training hikes are short, weight free, and low intensity. Over time we increase intensity, duration and load.
  • Working as a team increases the likelihood of success.  We train together, walk together, celebrate together, and struggle together.
  • No headphones are allowed.  By staying connected, we talk and encourage one another.  The strength of our team is directly related to the strength of the relationships with have with one another.
  • Every hike involves treats: something home-baked and yummy to look forward to.

Trauma recovery is like a personal expedition to Kilimanjaro.  I like to think all of the same principles apply.  Working together, we can significantly shift the odds in our favour.  As the guides say Pole pole (slow slow)…one step at a time.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong