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Posts Categorised: Change management
We are excited to reveal that Maria has been named an Expatpreneur by The Finder Magazine in their 2017 awards.
Read about what makes Maria an Empathetic Counsellor in The Finder
The following is an extract from Finder Magazine:
This month, we’re celebrating the successes of savvy expatriates and Singaporeans, as well as the setbacks they overcame, to make life better in Singapore in our Expatpreneur Awards 2017.
Having lived all over the world since childhood, you can trust that expat Maria Luedeke, Owner and Counsellor of Aspire Counselling, can empathize with her patients regarding not only expat stresses but also the myriad other issues in life.
Maria is a member of several professional organisations such as the American Counselling Association, the William Glasser Institute and the American Psychotherapy Association.
She opened Aspire Counselling in 2016, and works with all ages and genders, couples and families and even corporate clients.
Columbian by birth, adopted at five weeks and a naturalised U.S. citizen, Maria resided in cities such as Rome, Tokyo and Hong Kong during her childhood.
“I grew up as an expat kid,” she says. “I moved about every four years!”
Perhaps that’s what makes her so empathetic and effective as owner of Aspire Counselling.
Maria credits her husband for helping her make the leap to business ownership.
“Don’t let fear hold you back from what you really want. My husband challenged me by asking, ‘What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail again?” she shares. “That has helped to spur me on when I begin to have any doubts.”
“The level of expectation of services provided is very high and pushes me to strive higher and work harder,” says Maria about Singapore.
However, she feels that Singapore supports women entrepreneurs, in particular. “Everyone from my bank to the office landlord, to my contractor bent over backwards to help me when they heard it was my first start-up.”
“As a therapist, there are times when I am emotionally drained or unsettled by certain cases,” she confesses. “I use exercise, yoga and my friends and husband to ensure I am practising good self-care.”
Life as an expat, trailing spouse in Singapore isn’t what you expected?
Many of us have heard the terms expat wife and trailing spouse. But what are the unique challenges faced these people. And when difficulties arise, what can you do about it?
Trailing spouse is a term coined to describe the spouse or partner of someone who relocates for work away from their home base. Sometimes a couple or a whole family move overseas. The trailing spouse can be a wife or female partner, or even a man.
Relocation brings with it a change of culture, distance from friends and family, and new beginnings. New friends, new food, new opportunities, but often also new stresses and challenges.
Many have been through this process, and many have had an amazing successful journey. But, many have found it challenging. How people deal with the challenges faced can define whether the posting overseas is a successful or negative one.
A new expat life full of hope
When starting the relocation journey, there is usually hope and optimism. There may be reservations, but the exotic location, career benefits, high salary etc. win over. Moving tends to go well at first as employers cater for our every need. First or Business class flights for the family, hotels and service apartments all help to keep us distracted whilst settling. The luxury of the new surroundings and exploring the new location, it can seem idyllic at first. New places to eat and drink, or even the distraction of helping the kids settle in their new home and school. Reality can take a while to sink in.
Dealing with the change associated with expat life
For some, the move may take place without any real consideration as to how the change will affect their own and children’s lives. For a while, you might not even notice or understand how it is affecting you. Expats can be surprised when things settle down and the excitement of the move is replaced by normality. Normality that may be accompanied by disappointment and emotions that weren’t expected.
Spouses may at times just follow their partner, taking a passive role and becoming increasingly dependent in the process. For others, the new surroundings can be intimidating, leading to them cutting themselves off, preferring instead to hide away and stay at home. There can also be challenges establishing one’s own identity in the new place. In too many cases, infidelity can rear its head, leading to disappointment, distance and even separation. When infidelity occurs, trailing spouses can be left debating the pros and cons of putting up with it, or returning home. Never an easy choice. Worse still if children are part of the expat scenario.
And for many, there comes a sense of grief. Even if one enjoys the new life, there can be a very real sense of loss associated with the move. Leaving behind family, friends, familiar situations etc. can be difficult.
Learning how to manage the changes in your life
Despite the challenges of life as a trailing or expat spouse, it is very possible to have a fulfilling and successful life. Achieving your goals and dreams should not be put on hold whilst you live overseas.
Self-care, keeping occupied in a fulfiling way, finding work, making friends, exercising regularly, eating well, moderating alcohol intake, learning the local language(s), study etc. These are all techniques that can help with finding identity and fulfilment in the new home.
Sometimes the difference between success and failure will come down to how you manage the change. It can also depend upon how you maintain your own identity. You may find that this is something you can’t do alone. You should not be afraid to discuss this and ask for help when necessary. You’ll find that you are not alone, and many have, or have had similar feelings and learnt how to manage them.
You are not alone – finding help
If you recognise yourself, then you may benefit from talking to someone who is professionally trained and experienced at handling such scenarios.
With professional support for you and/or your partner achieving your goals is a real possibility. Professional support can also help you find your own identity. It can help you decide for yourself what decisions you should make and discover what changes in your life will help you get what you need. Professional support can also teach you techniques to help you cope and manage how you feel.
If you are in need of help as an individual, couple or family, and wish to discuss this further then you may wish to book an appointment with Maria Luedeke at Aspire Counselling.
Maria Luedeke is a highly qualified counsellor who has lived and worked in America, Europe and Asia. Maria has extensive experience providing counselling to trailing spouses and expats in Singapore, as well as working with relationship and marital issues.
#expat #expatlife #trailingspouse #depression #relationships #relationshipissues #aspirecounselling #singapore
Featured in Expat Living – January 2017
Aspire Counselling is featured in Expat Living Singapore, published 11th January 2017, read Maria’s thoughts on Cultural identify crisis and marital issues affecting expats
Read the full article at http://www.expatliving.sg/counselling-singapore-issues-exp…/
The following is an excerpt from the article:
Cultural identity crisis
Moving into an unknown culture can be a confusing, stressful and frustrating experience for both adults and children as they are suddenly made to adapt to a new way of life or set of values. Being far away from home and without family support can also create stresses of their own. Culture shock can cause symptoms like extreme homesickness, an abnormal change in appetite and depression.
You can attend individual, couple or family therapy where counsellors can help you develop coping strategies for cultural adjustment issues. They can also assist you with any other underlying or coexisting issues such as marital strain or mood disorders.
Issues in a marriage can develop or become more pronounced during cultural adjustment periods. Both partners are experiencing high levels of stress as they get accustomed to the new environment, roles, cultural expectations and jobs. Excessive travel, loss of former careers and long work hours can add to daily frustrations of beginning a new life, creating temptation, loneliness, resentment and sparking arguments between spouses.
You can go for individual or couple counselling sessions where counsellors can provide a framework for you to work through difficulties.
1 Tanglin Road, Orchard Parade Hotel, #03-03
6570 2781 | aspirecounselling.net
Find out more about how Aspire Counselling can help under these circumstances at http://aspirecounselling.net or by calling 6570 2781
No matter who we are, or where we were born, each of us has an absolute right to a fulfilled life, and to achieve our goals. An equal right to a life without prejudice and constraint. Those who have, or have had mental health disorders have just the same rights.
During the course of their lifetime, many will face challenges. In fact so many will encounter mental health disorders at some point in their lives, that is should be treated as being normal. Normal as in, it can happen to anyone. Normal as in, it will likely affect about 25% of the population at one point or another in their lives. Being as “normal” as it is, it is important that those affected can achieve their goals and live their lives in a fulfilled way.
If you or someone you know is affected by a mental health issue, do seek help. With the correct guidance, it is possible learn to overcome the obstacles that appear to be in the way. By addressing the root causes, and learning how to cope with and manage what is affecting you, you can be empowered to achieve what you want to achieve.
Aspire Counselling – book an online or face-to-face counselling session, and get instant confirmation of your appointment at https://aspirecounselling.net
For further details email email@example.com or call 65 6570 2781
From the moment I became sober back in 2012, I’ve been on a constant journey to improve who I am as a person. This is something I learned from going to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Meetings, a sponsor, and the steps taught me that drugs and alcohol were but a symptom of my disease. I had a major problem with living life.
My journey throughout the last four years has been incredible, and I am a much different person. Like a good addict, I always think I need more. Today I am grateful that I can focus that on self-discovery and self-improvement rather than self-destruction. This path led me to research something called mindfulness.
My name is Chris Boutte. I am currently the Lead Alumni Coordinator for American Untitled design (11)Addiction Centers, and I’m based out of Desert Hope in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am not a doctor or therapist. Heck, I only went to college for a semester. I’m a bit of a recovery
However, I am a bit of a recovery nerd, so I spend a lot of time researching the disease of addiction and learning how to strengthen my own recovery. For a few months, I kept seeing articles about something called mindfulness and how it could be used to improve work, relationships and life in general. Out of curiosity, I wondered if it could help people recover from addiction. I happened to find a book called The Mindful Path to Addiction Recovery, and it intrigued me.
Since reading the book and learning how it can benefit people struggling with addiction, I decided to enroll in a six-week mindfulness course. I loved it so much that I then enrolled in the next course, which is about teaching mindfulness to others. Since practicing mindfulness, I feel my recovery has improved greatly, and I also realized that AA and NA had already taught me some mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
One of the best descriptions of mindfulness comes from Jon Kabat Zinn who founded the Stress Reduction Clinic as well as the Center for Mindfulness. He says, “Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness practice is all about increasing one’s ability to have very short instances of moment-to-moment awareness for longer periods of time. Some of you may be wondering what this has to do with anything, and others may already be thinking about how this helps with addiction recovery.
Perhaps there never will be a full answer to these questions. Opinions vary considerably as to why the alcoholic reacts differently from normal people. We are not sure why, once a certain point is reached, little can be done for him. We cannot answer the riddle.” -Alcoholics Anonymous Page 22
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was written in the 1930s, but now we have many more answers due to technological advances and research into addiction. Addicts and alcoholics have an issue with the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This part of the brain has a slew of responsibilities, and one of them is impulse control. I truly believe that I had addictive traits long before drugs and alcohol came into the mix, and impulse control was always an issue. Us addicts instantly react on our impulses, which is why there’s often no thought before the first drink or drug. By increasing our moment-to-moment awareness, we’re able to pump the brakes before we pick up that first drink or drug.
AA and NA Taught Me Mindfulness Without Me Knowing It
Like most addicts in early recovery, I was a hot mess. I was restless, irritable and discontent. I didn’t know who I was without drugs or alcohol, and I didn’t know how to act. I had a sponsor who constantly reminded me not to trust my thinking because it’s what put me in my awful situation. That made sense, so I started taking suggestions from others. The cliché sayings the men and women of the fellowship were telling me was my first glimpse of mindfulness, and I didn’t even realize it then.
“Take it one day at a time.”
Although mindfulness is about moment-to-moment awareness, this was a stepping stone. They told me to just stay sober one day at a time. I had an issue living in the past or worrying about the future. I’d often ask myself, “How am I supposed to stay sober forever?!” They taught me that I only had to stay sober for today. When I was craving, I only had to stay sober for that hour, that minute or that second.
The Three Questions
I had a lot of anger issues when I got sober. I blamed the world for my problems, and I also had an unexplainable ego. I truly thought that my way was the right way, which caused me to get into a lot of arguments and put myself in bad situations. Someone in a meeting taught me to pause and ask myself these questions:
“Does it need to be said?”
“Does it need to be said right now?”
“Does it need to be said by me?”
This took quite a bit of practice, but it taught me to pause. It taught me to be mindful of what I was about to do. While I still sometimes said things that I immediately regretted, it started to happen less and less.
How am I feeling?
Working on my fourth step taught me to be mindful of the way I was feeling. I used to get resentful, sad or anxious, and I couldn’t figure out why. Even if I knew why, I would judge myself for feeling the way I felt, or I’d judge the other person for making me feel that way. The fourth step really helped me get clarity as to why I was feeling these emotions, and it gave me the opportunity to work on my issues. Mindfulness and acceptance go hand-in-hand.
In the online mindfulness course I was enrolled in, I noticed many people were having trouble with the practices. Assuming that I was the only recovering addict in the class, I started to see that the fellowships of AA and NA had already given me a jumpstart on mindfulness practice.
How Mindfulness is Improving My Recovery
I am by no means a mindfulness expert, but I’ve been practicing mindfulness for a few months, and I can see how it’s been strengthening my recovery in a variety of different aspects. They sometimes say in meetings that after you get some time, it’s not about not picking up, it’s about dealing with life on life’s terms. Meetings, a sponsor, and step work are still a valuable part of my recovery, but mindfulness has been added into the mix, and it’s continued to improve my day-to-day life.
Stress and anxiety are feelings that aren’t limited to addicts alone. They’re part of human nature. There are days where I can feel overwhelmed from the time I wake up in the morning. Juggling work, a seven-year-old, friends, family, and recovery can sometimes cause my mind to race. Also like most people, I begin to worry about the future. “How am I going to pay this bill?” or “How am I going to complete this next task?” are regular thoughts many of us have. Mindfulness helps me recognize these feelings and bring myself back in the moment.
The best part about using mindfulness as a form of stress reduction is that I can literally do it anywhere. I’ve found that I begin having stress or anxiety the most in the morning on my drive to work, and it may not even be for reasons related to work. To come back to the present moment, I place my hand in front of my A/C vent in my car and feel the cool air coming through. I recognize the way the steering wheel feels in my hand. I start to notice the colors of vehicles around me and the weather. I may even mindfully listen to the song playing through my speakers as a way to be brought back to the moment, and I feel much better after only doing this for a minute or two.
My listening skills during conversations have become much better because I’m able to stay in the moment much better. I can listen to clients, coworkers, friends and my son with more focus. I’ve seen how this has helped me with simply providing somebody with my undivided attention rather than fiddling with my phone, thinking about other tasks or judging what the other person is saying.
The Ultimate Perks
For me, the primary benefit of mindfulness is acknowledging happiness and joy. Due to human evolution, our brains are designed to focus on the negative as a form of survival. Mindfulness has taught me bring attention to my happiness and serenity. In early recovery, I remember being more mindful of just feeling well physically and mentally because I was free from active addiction, but eventually I stopped noticing it. Today, I can bring attention to my positive feelings more than ever, and it’s truly a great experience.
The byproducts of mindfulness are endless, and I hope this article helped shed some light as to how it can help you in your daily life no matter who you are or how much clean time you have. I highly recommend that if you’re like me and wish to add to your recovery tool kit, research some mindfulness practices and continue to strengthen your recovery.
#sober #self-improvement #self-discovery #self-destruction