December 2018 – Relationship Presence for the Holidays

Caring relationships provide protective health benefits as part of a quality life.  Ideally, many of us enjoy this sort of relationship with partners, children, friends, family, the community, our coworkers, our spiritual connection and of course, ourselves! Practicing presence in each of these relationship areas is an efficient and healing way to transform our patterns of being, relating and communicating. We deepen our connection and understanding of self and others and provide emotional support, nurturing and protection.

How does emotional presence affect our brain?

When we offer intentional and mindful presence in our responses to a caring other, our actions send a message that affirms our commitment to the relationship, and causes our brain to release oxytocin, a hormone linked to a felt sense of safety, love and connection. Actions that stem from a sense of presence convey a sense of safety and trust.

Happy partners intuitively practice presence in their responses to one another. Regardless of where we are in any of our relationships we can learn new behaviors that are healing, kind and transformative.


What does it mean to have presence?
Present: I am able to be with myself. I can tune into my body, mind, emotions, and spirit. I am in contact with myself and another.

Responsive: I allow you to impact me and I let you know how I feel by responding to you.

Engaged: I am involved with, and interested in you.

Self-Aware: I notice my feelings and thoughts. I do what it takes to get to know myself, my strengths as well as where I am challenged. I am able to calm myself down when I hear something from you that upsets me or I don’t like. I can wait and hear you out before I react.

Empathic: I am able to sense what it is like in “your world;” I allow myself to express interest, curiosity, and care for what you are going through, even if different from my experience. I can make amends if I have hurt you.

Natural: I am relaxed in my own skin, able to be authentic without fear.

Connected: I am able to open my heart and allow myself to care for, and be cared for by, you.

Energized: I experience myself as motivated, caring, and intentional with the important relationships in my life including others, myself, my community.


For partners in relationships, it may mean:

  • They empathically connect with their compassion and understanding for self and their partner in the moment.
  • They know how to keep their heart open to courageously face the universal fears (i.e., rejection, inadequacy, etc.) every human being has to contend with on a regular basis.
  • They remain curious and genuinely strive to understand and find validity in the other’s perspective, regardless of whether they agree or not.
  • They convey kindness and support for self and the other as individuals with unique and also shared dreams and aspirations.
  • They consciously act in ways that let the other know of their sincere interest and love, and their commitment to nurturing a healthy relationship.
  • They treat self and other with respect and dignity — especially when they are emotionally triggered — making no excuses or exceptions should they slip up.

There may be no more important gift you can give this season than offering your kind, caring presence to the significant relationships of your life.  All of us at Vancouver Island Counselling wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a healthy happy New Year.