You may love me…but do you LIKE me?

By Tabasom Eblaghie,
Registered Clinical Counsellor

There are a few behaviours and habits we adopt as adults that have harmful effects on any relationship. We may have seen it with our family of origin, or picked it up from our friends and then brought them in with us into our marriages. Some of these include lack of communication skills, the silent treatment, avoidance of any conflict, withdrawal when hurt, and a negative view of life.

When we practice these on a regular basis in our relationship, we start to see more and more:

1) Sarcasm,
2) Cynicism,
3) Name-calling,
4) Eye rolling – (how many of us dislike that one?!!),
5) Sneering,
6) Mockery and
7) Hostile humour.

The above, in reality, use all of our communication skills to convey to our partners that we are displeased, angry, resentful and (perhaps) even disgusted with them.

We simply cannot resolve conflict or have a serious consultation when we are either giving the message that we TRULY dislike our partners or are being given that message.

“Human nature dictates that it is virtually impossible to accept advice from someone unless you feel that that person understands you. … People can change only if they feel that they are basically liked and accepted as they are.” (Gottman, 1999).

People who are happily married LIKE each other. Fondness and admiration can be fragile unless you remain aware of how crucial they are to the friendship that is at the core of any good marriage.

By simply REMINDING yourself (sometimes on a daily basis!) of your spouse’s positive qualities – even as you grapple with each other’s faults and flaws – you can prevent a happy marriage from deteriorating. Keep a journal and write down the spiritual qualities you appreciate in your partner, and acts of kindness your partner extends towards you. Keep focusing and re-focusing your eye’s vision to one that sees the good. The efforts made. And then appreciate them – not just in your thoughts alone but verbalize it! Most of us notice but find it hard to verbalize our gratitude. A simple thank you goes a LONG way in developing a solid friendship, and encouraging even more loving behaviour.

Consult about becoming more mindful of your body language (those lifts of the eyebrows, the shaking of the head and those eye rolls!), your tone of voice (is it loving or is it condescending?) and the words you use to convey how you feel (be careful of those derogatory, mean and hurtful words).

Little steps towards liking each other create that long lasting love desired by all.

If you’re interested in improving your communication skills, please call Tabasom at 604-889-3635 to book your private, individual session.Rose Garden

A Loving Message For Those Who Grieve

By Tabasom Eblaghie
Registered Clinical Counsellor

One of the emotions that is bound to visit us at one point or another in our lives is Grief.

Grief is a friend that allows us to heal from the wound of our loss. It visits us all differently, with various faces and accompanying emotions. It brings a rollercoaster of friends with itself, including Regret, Guilt, Anger, Fear, Relief and Sadness. When a loved ones dies, these emotions then present themselves throughout the months and years that follow, at times like a tornado that leaves us feeling ripped apart, and at times as gentle as the wind on a warm summer night.

One of the most meaningful conversations I have, on a daily basis, as a therapist with my clients, is the introduction to loved ones who have passed away.

Husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, grandchildren and friends, introduce me to the most cherished loves of their lives.

Stories unravel about the sweet nature, kind eyes, loving hearts, and playful moments of those who have moved on to the next world. Memories unfold, much like a rose stretching open its petals with unabashed beauty. Tales are told of warm kitchens, conversations over hot cups of tea, lessons learnt and support given during difficult times, thoughtful gifts, and strong arms offering hugs and shelter.

However, these memories are often overshadowed by the emotions that visit AFTER the passing of their loves ones. The final moments, which may have been less than ideal, take a front and center stage position in the re-enactment of their relationship. Stories are told and re-told about the Guilt that visits because those final moments were not “perfect” – “Why did I get angry?”, “Why didn’t I hug him/her one last time?”, “Why didn’t I do more?”, “What if I had called or visited more?”, “I didn’t say I love you when I said goodbye!”, or “Why did I argue over such a little thing?”.

Guilt then re-lives those final moments for weeks, months and years to come and brings with it a story of Regret and Remorse.

Guilt likes to trick a lot of those left behind with a message that is truly hurtful, but allows Grief to linger and visit indefinitely. What is this message? “You must suffer. If you don’t, then you don’t love…enough.”

When did we, as a whole, come to accept this message from Guilt? Is this a lie that’s been passed down from generation to generation? When did Suffering become Love?

During the mourning process, at times Joy and Happiness visit. We enjoy a quiet moment of laughter with friends, and then immediately may feel Guilt visiting: “How can I laugh and be happy when I’ve suffered such a loss?” This Joy is then replaced once again with Sadness with the influence of Guilt in the background.

If there were one message I could share with those who grieve, it would be that Suffering does not equal Love.

Love is Love.

Bring to mind your loved one and introduce them to others in the manner they would wish you to present them: the qualities they worked hard to foster in their soul, the legacy they left behind, the good deeds and kindly words, and the effect they had on the world and on your life.

What piece of them still lives on in you?

Love involves action. Say a little prayer for them whenever the thought enters that “You shouldn’t be Joyful but must suffer”. Give to a charitable organization in the name of your loved one, or feed and clothe the homeless.

Perhaps, if they could visit us, they’d tell us that these prayers and loving actions nourished their souls, and were much more helpful than the unnecessary pain of suffering.

As Henry Scott-Holland (1919) wrote “How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!”

Lake Until We Meet Again

Goodbye Letter

By Tabasom Eblaghie
Registered Clinical Counsellor

Love Letter from Anxiety

Dear Friend,

I’ve missed you so much. Our friendship seems to have changed over the years. When we first made friends, my intention was to protect you. Watch over you. And take really good care of you. You see, you were so little and needed me. When I visited you, you would slow down. You’d act more carefully or not do anything at all. You would not go into situations that would cause you pain, discomfort or perhaps where you didn’t know how things would turn out. You played it safe when I was with you, and I was happy to watch over you.

I loved being your best friend. I knew you’d turn to me when you weren’t comfortable, or when things were out of your control.

But…you don’t seem to need me any more. When I visit you, you seem indifferent. Like I don’t matter any more.

Please let me visit again and take care of you. I miss you.




Goodbye Letter to an Old Friend

Dear Anxiety,

Thank you for your friendship over the years. I know you entered my life when I was hurting most. Your friendship did keep me safe and sound, and I’m grateful to you for your help. I know your intentions were good but I think somewhere along the way, you lost your faith in me. And in the process I lost my faith in me. I don’t know when you stopped being a friend, and became a force that was detrimental in my life. The more I listened to you, the more I withdrew from life. I would feel paralyzed at times; so lost and lonely.

And then one day it dawned on me that I had incurred a lot of losses as a result of our friendship. I hadn’t experienced or lived or loved or felt or dreamed in a long time. A very long time! I was a ghost in my own life. I had lived my life like it was a dress rehearsal. I just couldn’t let you drive the car of my life any more.

That’s when I stopped listening to your lies and listened to the advice of the other friends in my life. I heard the voices of Determination, and Courage and Hope:

Your “what-ifs” were changed to “so what!”

Your “shoulds” became my “I choose to”.

Your “what a catastrophe” became “This is inconvenient, but not a big deal”.

I started to breathe again, meditate and focus on a Higher Power. With every prayer, my Faith grew in strength and I no longer feel alone, old friend.

I thank you for your friendship but now it’s time for us to part. I know you’ll visit me again, but now I think of you as a cloud on a sunny day. Here for a moment, but blown away the next by a puff of wind.

Signing my goodbye letter to you prayerfully and gratefully,


FEAR: Our Dreams’ Executioner

By Tabasom Eblaghie, M.A.
Registered Clinical Counsellor

“I’m at a crossroads…”

Those are words I hear almost every day as a therapist.

There is a common denominator that seems to factor into most of our decisions when we reach a crossroad: FEAR.

Fear usually appears very quietly. It loves to visit us in the dark, and preys on our minds when everyone is asleep and it can attack in peace. It tells us about our insecurities, and shines a spotlight on how things will go wrong. And it does this with great certainty.

Fear is so confident. Not confident in us or our abilities, of course! It imprisons us, and instills doubt and loneliness into our lives.

Most people, when they reach that crossroads in their lives, KNOW what and how their life would be different. They’d love to move towards “the dream” – the best version of themselves, a new job, life in a new location, love and marriage, buying a home, selling and downsizing, having a child, etc. However, fear guides them into a mental discussion that simply wreaks havoc with one’s imagination.

I’m not referring here to legitimate Fear that definitely exists. I’m talking about Fear that plays with our insecurities, and knows nothing about the values we stand for as an individual – like Faith. Or Determination, Patience and Kindness. It loves to kill our dreams, hopes and visions for a better “me”.

It does not know about our Courageous Hearts, our Wise Minds and our Sharp Intuition. Somehow it dulls all of our senses, and shoves us into a corner with no place to go, and no option but paralysis.

Fear grows in secret. It usually invites other friends in with it: Self-doubt, Anxiety, Shame and Negative Comparison. It hates to be discussed as it loses power when its exposed and dissected. So it hides, very carefully behind the veil of these friends. It is a very tricky and crafty problem, and well versed in the game of hide and seek.

Letting go of Fear’s hand is possible. And inevitable. We all have let go of its hand at some point in our lives.

And take that leap of Faith.

Most people find that in order to let go of Fear, there are three ways to start the process:

1) As Fear grows in secret, by simply SPEAKING about Fear and its lies, Fear slowly starts to become the tiny little problem that it really is.

2) By FOCUSING on a virtue such as Determination, Faith, Courage and Hope, we can start to step out of the prison Fear created for us. We must turn towards our higher nature, values and strengths and remind ourselves of the virtues that can be invited in to fill the vacancy created by the exit of Fear. If you have Faith based values, prayer and turning to a Higher Power is a great assistant in grounding oneself, and providing us with much needed solace. My favourite prayer is listed below.

3) By ACTING against Fear’s bad advice, shrinks it to nothingness – much like the dried weeds from last year’s summer in a winter garden – powerless, useless and easily removable. This would involve doing the very thing that Fear tells us we cannot do.

There will be pitfalls and failures…but so what? What’s the worst that could happen? Is it worse than the life you are leading today?

Who can you speak with today, and let them know about Fear’s influence in your life?

What do you know you have to DO in order to let go of Fear’s rules in your life?

To make an appointment, please write Tabasom at or call 604-889-3635.

O God! Refresh and gladden


“O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.

O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.:

– ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Prayers

While they are at your side…

“While they are at your side, love these little ones to the utmost.

Forget yourself. Serve them; care for them; lavish all your tenderness on them.

Value your good fortune while it is with you, and let nothing of the sweetness of their babyhood go unprized.

Not for long will you keep the happiness that now lies within your reach.

You will not always walk in the sunshine with a little warm, soft hand nestling in each of yours, nor hear little feet pattering beside you, and eager baby voices questioning and prattling of a thousand things with ceaseless excitement.

Not always will you see that trusting face upturned to yours, feel those little arms about your neck, and those tender lips pressed upon your cheek, nor will you have that tiny form to kneel beside you, and murmur baby prayers into your ear.

Love them and win their love, and shower on them all the treasures of your heart.

Fill up their days with happiness, and share with them their mirth and innocent delights.

Childhood is but for a day. Ere you are aware it will be gone with all its gifts forever.”

George Townshend


Death is nothing at all…

“Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!”
Henry Scott Holland


Ten Tips for Dealing with Depression

By Tabasom Eblaghie, Registered Clinical Counsellor

Is Depression visiting you? Here are ten tips to dealing with its insidious effect in our lives:

1) You have to do the OPPOSITE of what you feel like doing. If you don’t feel like talking to someone, pick up the phone any ways and call a friend. If you don’t feel like exercising, go for a five or ten minute walk.

2) The intention is NOT ENJOYMENT of the activity, but to just do it. Don’t go into the activity e.g. walking, swimming or visiting friends and then stop with the thought “I am not enjoying it so I won’t do it again”. You’re not doing it to enjoy the activity, but to re-activate your life.

3) Motivation comes AFTER we start something, not before. Start small. With each small success, motivation will grow. Open a few pieces of mail, vacuum one room, run some errands.

4) Any goal setting has to be done at a level WAY BELOW your normal level. If you could run for 45 minutes last year, start with a ten minute walk. Make sure your goals are small and scheduled – so say “I’ll go for a ten minute walk” and NOT “I’ll go for a walk”.

5) Watch your CAFFEINE intake. A lot of people say “I’m not sleeping because I feel depressed or anxious”; however, lack of sleep leads to feelings of depression and anxiety. If you’re not sleeping well, talk to your doctor and watch your caffeine intake. Try to keep it at around 200 mg per day. This is about one cup of coffee, or 2 cups of black tea a day. Stop drinking caffeine mid-day onwards, and stick to non-caffeinated beverages like Rooibos or herbal teas.

6) Your mom was right! Take your VITAMINS like Vitamin D3, Omega 3, Vitamin B12 and a good multi-vitamin. Talk to your doctor to see what your body may be lacking, and for dosage.

7) EXERCISE. It doesn’t really matter if it’s aerobic or anaerobic, but if you can tolerate aerobic, then choose that. Exercise releases endorphins which has a positive effect on our mood. Energy levels go up and exercise also helps deal with stress more effectively.

8) EAT small meals. During times of depression, we may not have the energy to prepare meals and may resort to fast food and food high in sugar. Pick up some fruit, nuts and easy to prepare meals like ready made salads and veggie packs for snacks.

9) Problems GROW in secret. Talk to someone about what is bothering you – whether you’re lonely, sad, angry, or dealing with fear and panic. Talk to a loved one, a therapist or a good friend.

10) Watch your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a depressant so if you’re self medicating with alcohol, it’s like taking a depressant to get rid of the depression which is counter-intuitive. Alcohol takes away our ability to problem-solve and deal with the thoughts and emotions that are creating problems in our life today.

This is only a small list of what you can do. Make sure you reach out and talk to someone, whether it’s a friend, a therapist or your family doctor. You don’t need to suffer alone. To find out if counselling would benefit you in your life today, please call me at (604) 889-3635 to discuss your issues. I look forward to speaking with you!


Reflections on Valentine’s Day

By Tabasom Eblaghie
Registered Clinical Counsellor

Valentine’s day is an interesting day. It brings forward the notion of love and togetherness, unity and harmony. It is a day to celebrate the accomplishments of a couple, and to honour the hard work that’s been done in keeping them together, and building something beautiful.

But this day also brings forward the voice of “Negative Comparison”. It’s a stark reminder of what one doesn’t have. It’s publically advertised and everywhere one goes, visions of floating hearts, roses, boxes of chocolates, romantic dinners etc, can create feelings of being “less than”.

As a therapist, I’ve met with many women and men who are affected by the voice of Negative Comparison and its lies: it whispers that because that individual is single, they’re perhaps not loveable. Or worthy. They’ve made mistakes and somehow should change themselves so that they could become worthy of love. It tells them that society’s rules and watchdog behaviour is watching and judging them.

Negative comparison tells them to isolate and hide away because there must be something inherently wrong with them.

Even for those in relationships that are perhaps not “perfect”, it is a harsh day – Negative Comparison reminds them that they chose the “wrong” person, and a further mental beating for staying in the relationship.

Negative Comparison is unkind and does not remind these individuals about their Integrity: for not settling, for following their intuition and staying away from someone who doesn’t bring out the best in them, for following their dreams, for standing up against violence and abuse, for leaving relationships where their partner was abusive, angry and punished them for their love…

It’s unaware of the sensitive soul, and beautiful heart inherent in these individuals and their Courage for going against the norms of a society that is individualistic, and punishing of anyone who doesn’t follow its set standards.

Negative Comparison is an entity that exists outside of us, and created by others and society in general. Negative Comparison forgets all of the accomplishments of ‘single’ individuals, their sweat and tears in achieving great things, their families and friends who love them, their creative and artistic sides, their passion and love for life, and sacrifices made in the past for loved ones. It diminishes self-respect, and self-acceptance. It only looks at right now. It takes away Hope, and the possibility of great things to come.

Perhaps today can be the day where those affected by the lies of Negative Comparison can step out of the abusive relationship and isolation created by this Entity, and allow the voice of Courage, Integrity and Hope to step in, and be a loving reminder of the COMPLETE story of each of us.

To make an appointment, please email Tabasom at

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5 Ways to Manage Anger

By Tabasom Eblaghie
Registered Clinical Counsellor

One of the most common emotions visits many people is Anger. Anger enters as a means to defend one’s rights, or protect one’s family or property. It is usually strongest when there is injustice or that sense of “This is so unfair!”

As a society, we are truly not that adept at dealing with anger. We tell children not to get angry, or we console a loved one with the words, “That’s nothing to get angry at!” but offer no strategies as how to actually manage it. Anger remains, and then is joined by Guilt, Shame and then perhaps snowballs into Rage.

There is a misconception that Anger should be released – we should lash out with words or fists and put the person in their place! This will ease the pressure we feel and bring justice back into the situation.

The popular idea that anger NEEDS to be discharge is an idea that needs to be discussed. This clearly doesn’t work with other emotions: does focusing on Sadness make us happy? Does declaring our Love for someone make our love end? Does living in a state of being filled with Guilt and Shame make us feel less ashamed and guilty? In all of these cases, its clear that whatever emotion we focus on simply GROWS and strengthens that emotion.

Research is really not clear that the LOUD discharge of anger releases it or causes it to fade. In fact, acting angry just seems to magnify and also increase in frequency!

Here are some ways to manage the anger:

1. Take time out! Anger can visit when there is a complicated web of thinking and causes the side of your brain that deals with logic to shut down, and the emotional brain to become even more powerful! Go for a walk in order to constructively burn off some of the excess energy and stress, and gain a better perspective and handle on the situation.

2. BREATHE! When Anger visits, the stress response is switched on and deep breathing using muscles of the diaphragm (you should see your stomach stick out with every inhale) can calm it down. Breathe in for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, and then HISS the breath out for a count of four. Do this five times, or more if needed.

3. Become aware of your thoughts as you experience Anger. Is Anger visiting you because there are unmet expectations? What are the SHOULDS that have been violated? Write down these expectations, and determine which ones are realistic vs. unrealistic.

4. Ask yourself “What I am REALLY angry about?” Focus on the event and not the fantasy that may have been created by unrealistic expectations, or past history with the individual or situation you are dealing with.

5. Cope. When you feel a bit calmer, decide on a line of action: e.g. do you need to discuss the issue, take a stand or clarify your position? Decide what really needs to be done about the situation at hand and then do it.

The goal here is to MANAGE the anger so that you can proceed to deal with the situation with a clear head. We all feel Anger – learning to manage it mindfully and diplomatically can assist in creating healthier relationships with family, friends and co-workers.

Uncovering Our Negative Assumptions and Core Beliefs

By Tabasom Eblaghie
Registered Clinical Counsellor

When a thought occurs to us, it is generally not our ONLY thought. Underlying our automatic thinking are so many other beliefs, assumptions, cultural and religious values, and family of origin beliefs.

When a thought visits us , which brings about strong emotions, it’s worthwhile to stop and assess it – in detail! So let’s say we have this thought:

1) “He made a mess of the kitchen…AGAIN!”

To assess it, we could ask: ‘What’s the worst part about that?’

2) “He just doesn’t respect me!” What does that indicate to us?

3) “He is not listening!” What would be the worst part of that?

4) “He doesn’t care about my opinion.” Maybe, maybe not. What’s the worst part about that?

5) “He doesn’t see me as an equal. I want to be respected.” And? What’s the WORST part about not being respected?

6) “It means he doesn’t love me. I feel SO unloved.”

As human beings, we need to feel loved, understood and have that sense of belonging in order to thrive and grow. We may feel an overwhelming sense of sadness when a snowball of negative thoughts occur in a split second, most times beyond our awareness. But what led to this sense of sadness? A messy kitchen counter produced this feeling through our INTERPRETATION of the event.

There are assumptions above that may not be working any more: ‘A messy kitchen indicates he’s not listening’;’ he must clean as soon as he’s done’; ‘our home must be clean at all times’; ‘it’s because of me and my lack of influence that he doesn’t listen’.

There may also be some core beliefs underlying the above: ‘I’m unloveable’; ‘I’m powerless’; ‘Relationships never work out for me’.

As we begin to uncover our mistaken beliefs, OTHER possible & more positive interpretations could come to us:

a) He didn’t clean because he had a tough day at work;
b) He will do it later;
c) If I clean, I do it for ME. A clean counter may not be as important to him as it is to me.

As for those core beliefs:

a) I am loveable, because…
b) I do have influence in this relationship, because…
c) We’re working on things one day at a time.

Often, the thing we’re most afraid of is NOT true, and hasn’t ever happened. Making friends with our inner voice requires practice and vigilance.

If you’ve noticed an increase in your negative thoughts, please call to discuss whether counselling would be an effective means of developing a kinder, gentler inner voice. Please call Tabasom at 604-889-3635 today!

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