Author Archives: Maritza Rodriguez

Preparing for Life Transitions

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on December 12, 2012 4:12 pm

There are many times in our lives where we pass through pivotal altering transitions in our lives. Some are marked with spiritual and/or cultural rituals such as a First Communion, Bar Mitzvah, Sweet 16, graduation from high school/university, marriage and death to name a few.

Traditional societies highly regard these transitional moments in a person’s life with elaborate ritual and celebration. A boy is cognizant of entering manhood. A woman’s responsibility is enlarged when she consents to marriage or a marriage is arranged. The ceremonies surrounding these life transitions are obvious signals and recognition that the person’s life is changing. For the most part, there is also much support from family and community members during these important markers in an individual’s life.

Our modern society has some indication that transitions are occurring but they are not as emphasized as they once were. Even though a child may have a spiritual celebration depending on the religion, there is no longer a definitive marker as to when adulthood begins. Is it when an individual is of legal age to drink alcohol? When they get a full time job? When they graduate from a post-secondary school?

Less and less, we are aware of our transitions but we feel things have changed and many people feel unprepared to cope with the “new normal”. The village is no longer behind you giving you advice and wisdom. That is not to say that family and friends are not supportive, but there are many paths that can be taken now, and this can be overwhelming to some individuals. On the flip side, the freedom to choose any destiny allows others to fly free and explore.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

How to Deal with the Winter Blues (Also Known as Seasonal Effective Disorder [SAD])

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on November 15, 2012 8:00 am

Autumn is a beautiful time of year. The leaves change into majestic colors. The temperature cools down. The routine of school and work resumes. However, this transitional season reminds us that winter is close behind.

While some people look forward to the winter sports, playing in the snow and the crisp cold air, the anticipation of this change brings dread to many. For some people, winter represents gray, dreary weather and long days inside.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Stress, Anxiety and Fatigue

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on October 19, 2012 1:47 pm

We live in a modern world full of responsibilities and tasks we must accomplish. A person is often looked upon as lazy if he or she is not constantly busy or accomplishing goals. Stillness is not highly valued in our culture even though there is increased discussion about the beneficial qualities of being quiet.

The irony of the situation is that we are usually overwhelmed with the technological advances that were meant to improve the quality of our lives. Computers, mobile phones, tablets and social media, etc. have eroded our idle time. We are busy all day, often at the expense of neglecting our relationships, our health and our dreams.

At the end of the day, we are usually exhausted because we have engaged in constant menial tasks. As a result, we often forgo exercise, cooking a healthy meal, eating as a family or engaging in a meaningful conversation with loved ones. We convince ourselves, however, that we are connected with others through the use of email, Twitter, Facebook and other social media avenues. While these are definitely wonderful ways to connect with others, it does not make up for intimate connections such as going out with a friend or engaging in genuine dialogue with another.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Small Steps to Feeling Fulfilled

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on September 12, 2012 1:54 pm

Children are naturally inquisitive and curious. They believe that everything is possible and have a strong belief in themselves and their abilities. A survey of young children resulted in 50% of the kids in a classroom boasting they were the fastest runners in their class.

Along the way, however, life gives all of us messages that are incongruent with the above children’s thoughts of themselves. We experience disappointments, failures, seemingly insurmountable challenges and our zest for greatness is dampened. For many of us, fear creeps in. We stop trying to attain our dreams or settle for very little so as not to let ourselves down.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Power of Personal Responsibility Over Feelings of Victimization

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on August 15, 2012 10:56 am

Responsibility is a very important trait when it comes to emotional health. Personal responsibility can empower a person to take control over all aspects of his/her life and as result, circumvent the painful role of becoming a victim.

Feeling as if one is a victim is like feeing like all of the air has been punched out of you. Desperation sets in as you wait and hope for that inhalation of oxygen. In turn, desperation brings with it feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness. This state further increases feelings of negativity, which seep into other aspects of your life. It can impact your ability to make good decisions, increase conflicts in relationships and cause financial hardships, just to name a few consequences.

Feelings of victimization can entangle a person in a negative web that appears bigger and stronger than the person and this gives an illusion that you are trapped. It is a very dangerous place for a person to be because it can either lead to resignation or, on the flip side, aggressive toward self or others.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Peel Off The Layers of Resentment

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on July 12, 2012 1:23 pm

Summer is here! It is deliciously warm. It is the season where we take off our layers – both physically and metaphorically. We want to feel light and unburdened.

It is a great time to deal with any lingering resentment. It burdens both our physical and emotional aspects of our body. It taints our thinking toward the negative. It makes us look over our back as it influences our outlook of life.

That being said, it is not easy for many of us to give up our resentment and pain. For some, the feeling of indignation is very empowering. By holding the resentment over someone’s head, it gives them the power in the relationship, albeit negative. For others, it gives them a purpose and/or a focus for their thoughts. Still for others, it gives them the excuse to not take full responsibility over their life by blaming another. These are just a few types of justifications for not forgiving another human being.

Personally, when I feel resentment toward another, my body feels physically heavy as if it is dragging. It sucks the energy and joy out of my life. My thoughts become obsessively directed toward the person and/or situation. It is as if the past experience takes on a life of its own.
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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Alienation, Expectations and Modern Communication

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on June 26, 2012 9:54 am

We live in a rushed, modern society full of interaction. We facebook, tweet, email and text, just to name a few. But the reality of the situation, more people feel isolated and alone than ever. Our sense of community is changing. It is less personal. Most of us are so busy that we do not make time for intimate relationships anymore.

I have to admit that I am guilty of this myself. I have preferred to text a friend because I didn’t want to commit to an in-depth phone conversation. I have chosen to sleep in because I am exhausted from my schedule rather than have breakfast with a family member on a day off. I have also been drawn into the virtual world of my friends’ facebook accounts. Some friends post every thought, dinner engagement, vacation and/or funny interaction that have experienced. Additionally, they post pictures, almost as proof, of their wonderful life.

Social media has become a very convenient method of keeping track of the wonderful experiences, interactions and daily thoughts that we would normally forget about. For privacy reasons, I have chosen to limit the exposure of my personal life on social media sites. As a result, I do not have the running record of how “fabulous” my life is. Most of the times, I cannot remember what I did last week.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Is Modern Entertainment Conducive to Mental Health?

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on May 22, 2012 4:25 pm

I recently came upon Duane Schultz’s work in his book, “Growth Psychology: Models of the Healthy Personality”. I was struck by four of his characteristics for mentally healthy individuals:

  1. Being responsible for one’s own destiny.
  2. Knowing one’s strengths and deficits.
  3. Being anchored in the present versus the past or future.
  4. Quest for opportunities and growth through new goals and experiences.

I immediately thought of the reality TV that seems to have permeated our wavelengths. It appears to be full of fighting with others, boasting of one’s importance while negating any personal weaknesses and blaming others when life goes astray.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Victimization vs. Personal Responsibility

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on April 20, 2012 11:39 am

There has been a trend in modern society to take less responsibility over our thoughts and behaviors. A month or two ago, a politician fell asleep during a presentation. When he was called on it, rather than admit his behavior and apologize for being tired, he counteracted by condemning the presenters of absurd accusations. In fact, the situation turned out to be so farfetched; he had to publically apologize for his comments. However, he never admitted to the initial behavior that started the whole embarrassing process; falling asleep during the presentation.

As a witness of this scenario, I contemplated the possible consequences for this politician as a result of this public fiasco. Many of his constituents might perceive him as cowardly, untrustworthy, defensive and/or unhonorable. These are labels that could possibly have a negative consequence to his political career. As a counsellor and observer of human behavior, I wondered why this man in a position of power responded initially as a victim, choosing to engage in a verbal attack in response to a stated fact – he fell asleep.

I will confess to placing myself in a similar situation as the politician mentioned above early in my career. I had scheduled clients all day and my last appointment was at 7pm at night. I was physically exhausted but hung in until the last five minutes of my finally counselling session in which I closed my eyes for what was approximately a few seconds and dozed off and did not hear what my client was discussing. I remember returning to a wakeful state, startled at my own actions. I could feel a dreadful burning sensation at the pit of my stomach that I associate with fear.  My client then stood up and angrily accused me of being uncaring and stormed out the door.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Parallels Between Global and Personal Changes

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on March 20, 2012 2:10 pm

There seems to be a constant theme in our modern society: transition. All around us there is change. Globally, the world is changing. Often it feels that it is changing faster than most of us can keep up. World politics and economics have especially reinforced these changes in the last few years.

Generationally speaking, there are also gross variations in attitudes and expectations. For instance, younger workers do not automatically accept societal norms such as hard work, long hours and accepting conditions without question.

This global movement has, in turn, amplified transition on a personal level. Examples include how the economic hardships have changed the habits of many families, including but not limited to budgeting and savings. For many individuals it has meant having to change jobs and even train for new occupations.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA