Temptations, Habits, and Addictions

Written by Suzanne St. Amour,

Clinical Therapist at Family Service PEI
What comes to mind when you hear the word temptation? Does it have a negative or positive connotation for you?  People can be tempted to do a variety of things,  such as pushing that sleep button one more time in the morning or having another portion of a favorite food.
Temptation can lead to repeating a behavior until it becomes a habit. Humans do things for a reason (even when they do not give it much thought). They may not be aware of the motivation that causes them to act.  People’s actions are actually not random. So a person may be tempted to eat a piece of chocolate cake, because  they  like the taste and they enjoy eating it. Another may start biting their nails when they get nervous because it seems to help calm them down. Over time repeated actions like nail biting can occur outside of conscious awareness. Eating another helping of a favorite food will most likely involve some deliberation. These examples both can become habits. Habits are behavior patters acquired by frequent repetition. Some of them become nearly or completely involuntary, meaning that the individual is no longer conscious of the action. The behavior is repeated because it serves a function or has a purpose (or purposes) such as aiding someone to cope, it can also be a type of self-soothing or calming ones self. Oftentimes it is rewarding and pleasurable. To sum up, temptations can become habits.
Repetition of an activity can result in a habit become more serious. There is a point at which some types of repeated or constant habit can become an addiction. Examples of this include smoking, alcohol and drugs.  One of the frequently asked questions regarding addiction is; when does an activity go from being a habit to so an addiction..  Part of the answer has to do with free will and choice. A habit (although possibly difficult to change) is still a matter choice and retraining the brain. An addiction is a powerful compulsive need for and use of an activity or substance.  The list of potential addictive activities grows longer as technology introduces new areas of potential addiction such as gambling (casinos, machines or online), sex (online pornography and sexting), social media (e.g. Facebook), and the constant use of cell phones for various activities.
Going back to the idea of choice and free will, there is a fine line between habit and addiction and the line is crossed when a person looses control of the act.  With drug addiction for instance, the urge to repeat the experience becomes all consuming and there can be withdrawal effects that impact memory, the ability to make decisions and learn.  Some types of drug abuse become a way of life that must be continued at all costs. There is a complexity to the addiction that includes a physiological dependence and often if not always requires professional help to overcome. .To recap, some habits can become addictions.
Living deliberately and making conscious decisions about temptations can reduce or
prevent the temptations from becoming habits and possibly progressing to addictions. Being aware of our choices and tracking them over time also helps. Ask yourself the following questions, and answer honestly; how often do I do this _______ (fill in the blank), overall does it have a  positive or negative impact on my life, do I know the reason I do it, and do I need to stop?

How to Show Others you Care

By Alex MacDonald, Education and Outreach Specialist
“I love you.” Too often, this is something said quickly on the way out the door, rushed at the end of a phone call, or in a short goodnight text. Regardless of how or when you say it, it’s important that you not only tell your loved ones how you feel, but that you show them how you feel. Here are a few ways you can show your loved one just how much they mean to you.
1.  Listen.
This is an obvious one, but it really does make the world of difference. When you’re listening to a loved one, ask them questions about what they’re saying, make eye contact, be sure to let them know they’re being heard. Even try to follow up with them later. Imagine how your child would feel if you asked them what’s been going on in that TV show they’ve been telling you about. They’ll be excited because they know that you’re listening, and that you care.
2. Surprise.  
Do little things to surprise your loved one and make their day. Clean the kitchen. Make their favourite dinner. Write a list of 10 things you love about them. Bring them a coffee at work. The smallest things can put a smile on someone’s face without costing a dime.  A little surprise here and there shows your loved one you’re thinking about them and that they matter to you.  
3. Spend Time.  
Again, this one may seem obvious, but spending quality time with a loved one can do a lot to make them (and you) feel loved. Set aside time with no phones, no interruptions, no distractions, and be just the two of you. This could be the time you spend with your child on the way home from school, the time you and your partner have on dates, or any other time where you can focus on your loved one.
4. Appreciate.  
A great way to make someone feel loved is to show them how much you appreciate them. Say thanks when you notice them doing something for you. Whether they’re doing the dishes, picking you up from work, or if they got the groceries this week, let them know how thankful you are for them!
5. Compliment.
What better way to make someone feel good than to give them a compliment? It could be on something about their appearance if you like a new outfit they’re trying out, but don’t forget to also compliment them on other things! Tell them you enjoyed the dinner they made, or that they always make you laugh, or that you’re lucky to know someone who’s so generous. A little compliment here and there is guaranteed to bring out a smile!
The best years are ones filled with joy, happiness, and love. These five tips will help you ensure you and the people you care about have a year full of love.  

From Worrier to Warrior: Helping Your Child be Less Fearful

Many children and adolescents struggle with feelings of stress and anxiety. In a world filled with school, extracurriculars, busy social lives, sports, clubs, volunteering and more, it’s not hard to see where stress can creep into children’s lives. Luckily, Amy Przeworski of PsychologyToday.com has some helpful tips to turn your worrier into a warrior.
1. Help your child face their fears. Oftentimes, avoiding stressful situations only causes more uncertainty and worry. Try encouraging your child to face their fears and help them through the situation that makes them the most nervous. If your child fears large crowds, start by taking them somewhere where you can slowly ease into crowds, and be sure to talk to them through it. After 20-45 minutes, your child should start to adjust to the situation and they should feel more relaxed. When they start to calm down, they may realize the situation may not be so bad.
2. Remind your child that it’s okay to be imperfect. Many kids feel pressure to succeed, and subsequently, have a fear of failure. Remember to tell your child that working hard and trying your best is always important, but that it’s perfectly okay to fail sometimes. Remind them that you love them unconditionally, and that they shouldn’t let a fear of failure stop them from trying new things and  living a happy life.
3. Remember the positives. Fears often arise from focusing on the negatives in life. Instead, make sure your child always sees the best in every situation. As a fun activity, get your child to write down one good thing that happened to them every day. Keep these happy moments in a jar or box, and look over them together when your child is feeling stressed. Seeing the positive in every day can be a big help in reducing fears!
4. Reward bravery. If you notice your child doing something brave, make sure you acknowledge it! A compliment, a hug, a trip to the playground – anything! Research shows that behaviors that are rewarded are much more likely to continue than behaviors that aren’t. No matter how you do it, make sure your child feels good about their brave behavior.
5. Listen. Make sure your child feels listened to when they express their fears. If they don’t feel comfortable opening up to you, their worries will only worsen and be harder to solve. Instead, try making them feel safe within the conversation. If they express their fear to you, say “Yes I noticed you seem a bit worried. Why do you feel that way and how can I help you?” Having an open and honest conversation with your child will do a lot to ease their worries.
6. Use relaxation techniques. In a moment of stress, try using relaxation exercises with your child. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths together. Then, get them to imagine a relaxing place that they enjoy. This could be a beach, a library, their grandmother’s house, anywhere! Next, ask them to use all their senses to imagine this place. If they’re picturing the library, get them to think about the smell of the books, the feel of the carpet, and so on. Imagining their favourite place will help your child feel safe and relaxed.
7. Don’t give up! Although it can sometimes feel like you’re going in circles, repetition is important, so continue with the routine. Eventually your child will learn to stay calm in stressful situations, and deal with their emotions in a productive and positive way. Keep it up!

Q and A: Credit Reports and Credit Scores

Q: What is a credit report?

A: It’s your credit history. It shows:
>When you opened accounts
>Amount owing
>If you make payments on time
>If you miss payments
>If you go over your credit limit
Q: What is a credit score?
A: It’s a number that lenders use to rate your ability to use credit. Credit scores range from 300-900 points. The best score is 900 points. Lenders may also use your score to set your interest rate and credit limit.

Q: Who creates my credit report and credit score?

A: Credit report agencies are private companies that collect, store and share information about how you use credit. There are two main agencies: Equifax and TransUnion Canada.
>You can get your Credit Report at
BDO Accounting Firm
155 Belvedere Avenue
Charlottetown, PE
>You will need two pieces of ID

Q: What can I do with my credit report?

A: Your credit report can be used to:
 >Lend money to you
 >Collect on a debt you owe
 >Consider you for rental housing or for a job
 >Provide you with insurance

Q: How long does information stay on my credit report?

A: The maximum is 6 or 7 years. Accounts paid on time may be kept longer.
Q: How can I build my credit report?
A: The top three tips would be :
>Build your credit history early
>Make payments on time
>Apply for a secured credit card
Q: How can I improve my credit rating and score?
A: There are a few ways you can improve your score.
> Pay a little more than your minimum payment on time
> Keep older accounts, even if you are not using it
> Try to always use less than 35% of your available credit
> Keep Hard Hits down. A Hard Hit would be applying for a credit card and a Soft Hit would be requesting your own report.
Q: How often should I get my credit report?
A: Check your credit report at least once a year for errors and signs of identity theft. You have the right to dispute any information on your credit report!
If you have additional questions or concerns about your credit report, Family Service PEI offers free and confidential credit counselling. Call toll free 1-866-892-2441

Wanted: Co-Location Partnership

sharing_0In this day of rising costs, decreasing stability of funding, and movement towards greater efficiencies we are seeking a partner with which to co-locate our services in Summerside.

In that office we currently have 3 employees – 1 who is full time, and 2 who are part time (2 – 3 days per week). Yet, we have an abundance of space – 3 private offices; a waiting room; and a kitchen/storage area.

We are very happy with our current property management company. However, we have a need to reduce our overhead costs. We are willing to move to another location, or work with our current landlord to expand/reconfigure our space to accommodate a partner agency.

We see the benefits of doing so as:

  • Shared/reduced overhead costs
  •  More efficient use of resources
  • Shared common space(s)
  • Possible shared reception position(we currently don’t have any)
  • Cross promotion of services and/or greater visibility
  • Creation of synergy as a result of partnership initiative(s)

However, there are also some challenges:

  •  The need to protect the confidentiality of clients
  •  Finding a partner organization that ‘fits’ well with our services
  •  Developing a strong partnership agreement that works for both agencies

We are willing to work with anyone who is interested in formally partnering in this way. We feel that if there is interest and commitment, solutions can be found to any and all barriers to making this work.

If you are interested, please contact Denise Lockhart, Executive Director, via email: director@familyservice.pe.ca or phone: 902-892-2441 ext. 3 or 902-436-9171.

Talking About Money- Why It’s Important & What To Cover

images-3By: Ellan Dickieson, Family Service PEI

Jenny and William have 3 adult children. Her sons Carl and Gary live close by and her daughter Nancy will be coming home from Ottawa for a visit next week. Jenny has suggested to her husband William that they sit down with all 3 kids while Nancy is home, to talk about their financial situation and future. William brushes her off, saying that it is not necessary and everything is under control.   

Talking about finances can be difficult, and many people, like William, would prefer to avoid such conversations altogether for a variety of reasons.

  • We have money, property and papers scattered everywhere…I don’t even know where to start.
  • We’ve already worked things out with our attorney.
  • We don’t want to feel pressured by our friends/ family to make decisions.
  • We are very private; we didn’t talk about our finances when we were young, and we don’t want to open up now.
  • Our children have their own life to deal with; they don’t have time for this.
  • We’re lousy with money. Besides I’m pretty sure my sister will handle this.   

A lack of communication and planning can be costly to your family or friends. The best way to prevent financial challenges is to make a plan when you are physically healthy and still living in your home. It is much easier to plan ahead, than to react to a sudden event or crisis that forces you (or someone else) to make decisions quickly.   

At the end of the day, what is really at stake is the opportunity for you to communicate your financial wishes, and get help to make those wishes come true. By communicating your wishes early on, you are:

  • Making it easier for your friends and family to help you with financial issues in the future.
  • Making sure everyone understands your wishes and desires, eliminating confusion.
  • Creating a support network with whom you can talk to about concerns, ask questions, or get advice from.

When you think about initiating a conversation make a list of what topics you do and do not want to cover. Don’t feel obligated to discuss all information if you are not comfortable doing so. If at anytime you are feeling pressured, confused, or uncomfortable, ask to resume the conversation at a later date.   

Things to cover in a financial conversation may include:

  • Money – income, savings, investments
  • Property – assets
  • Liabilities – debts
  • Housing – cost of living
  • Health Care – cost of private care
  • Legacy – gifts, bequests
  • Legal Documents – power of attorney, will   

Financial conversations of this type are important regardless of age. People should always ensure at least one person is aware of their financial situation and their wishes in the event of a major and sudden event which would dictate the need for someone to make decisions on their behalf.   

For more information on having a conversation about money visit: www.ItsYourRight.ca

Avoiding Holiday Debt

Early-Christmas-Shopping-1402By: Investor Education Fund
​With the cost of holiday gifts, parties and travel, many people find themselves in debt over the holiday season. But with a little planning, you can avoid holiday debt.

8 tips to keep holiday spending on track

1. Set a budget for your holiday spending
Set a budget that you can afford and stick to it. It should include all the things you’ll spend money on over the holidays, such as gifts, cards, decorations, parties and food. Use this holiday budget worksheet as a guide.

2. Save before you shop
Save a little bit for the holidays each month. That way you’ll be spending cash you already have on hand. If you choose to use a credit card, you’ll have the cash to pay it off right away.

3. Make a list
If you shop with a list, you’ll be far less likely to buy on impulse. That means you’ll also be more likely to stick to your budget.

Before you shop:
List the people you plan to buy gifts for.
Think about their interests and the kind of gifts they would like.
Estimate the cost of each item on your list. You may be able to do some comparison shopping online.
Check that the cost of each gift fits your budget.

4. Pay cash, or pay credit cards in full
Paying cash for everything can be a way to help you stick to your budget. If you choose to use a credit card, pay it off in full and on time to avoid interest charges.
How much does that gift really cost?
To learn more about the risks of holiday debt, read Luc’s story.

5. Keep track of what you spend
Keep a record of what you’ve spent and what you’ve bought, and compare it to the list you created. If you start shopping early, it can be easy to lose track over several weeks or months. Try putting all your shopping receipts in a single envelope. As you shop, add the amount of each new purchase onto your total.

6. Shop early
If you shop at the last minute, stores may be out of the items on your list, and you may be more likely to buy on impulse. You’ll also have less time to shop around for the best deal. If you shop online, you’ll pay higher shipping fees if you wait until the last minute to order.

7. Look for sales and other discounts throughout the year
Watch for sales throughout the year to spread out the cost of gift-giving. Sign up for e-mail or even text-message promotions from the retailers you are most likely to buy from. Also sign up for or check the balances you have on rewards programs offered by debit and credit cards. You may be able to get a free gift or a discount. If you shop throughout the year, resist the temptation to buy additional gifts during the holidays that aren’t on your list.

8. Look for ways to reduce your travel costs
There are 2 ways you can try to cut your travel costs for the holiday season:
Buy your tickets early, at least by October.​
Wait until the last minute. Some travel websites have last-minute sections that offer huge discounts on travel packages. You must be flexible on your dates, though, and there’s a chance no travel packages will be available.

Sourced from: http://www.getsmarteraboutmoney.ca/en/managing-your-money/planning/managing-debt/Pages/Avoiding-holiday-debt.aspx#.VH3DZYuWt95

Having A Family Conversation About Money

family conversationsHaving a Family Conversation about Money

By: Family Service PEI & Credit Counselling Canada

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • The holidays are coming up and your adult children will be coming to visit.  You know that you should talk to them about money and your decisions for the future.  You are worried about having enough for retirement.
  • Your children are young and you know you should be teaching them about money.  Where do you start and how much should they know about your family finances?
  • Your kids are growing and talking about ‘what they want to be’ after high school.  How do you introduce the idea of saving for post-secondary education and what you might be able to provide?
  • You’ve just become engaged and you want to have the money conversation since you are concerned that your fiancée may be in debt and you need to have a plan going forward.

If so, it’s time to have the family conversation about money.

These conversations are always better held sooner than later.  Even in the case of an engaged couple, the money conversation should happen earlier in their relationship so that the two partners could determine their financial path forward.   Couples in longer term relationships need to talk regularly about handling debt, savings for emergencies, retirement and health care.

Let’s start with seniors and their adult children.  This is an important conversation to have as early as possible.  This is also one of the talks that you don’t want to have at holiday time.  Leave this topic for another visit and enjoy the holidays together without discussions that could be stressful.

Here are some additional tips to consider:

  • Have a talk with your spouse first and plan ahead before talking to your adult children.  Make a list of what topics you do and do not want to talk about.  The best way to prevent financial challenges is to plan ahead when you are physically healthy and still living in your home.
  • Take it slow, this may be an awkward and difficult conversation for them so be considerate of your adult children’s feelings.  It can be a tough conversation when talking about last wishes for burial/cremation, sources of cash flow, investments, assets and liabilities, insurance coverage, powers of attorney and wills.
  • Know that you will always have the final decision; after all it is your money and your life.
  • Ensure that you have follow up conversations particularly since they likely won’t have all the information in one sitting and they need time to assimilate and make decisions.

At the end of the day, what is really at stake is the opportunity for you to communicate your financial wishes, and get help to make those wishes come true. By communicating your wishes early on, you are:

–          Making it easier for your friends and family to help you with financial issues in the future.

–          Making sure everyone understands your wishes and desires, eliminating confusion.

–          Creating a support network with whom you can talk to about concerns, ask questions, or get advice from.

Everyone needs to have money conversations no matter the stage or age of your family members.  Sharing examples of things that you have undertaken may provide encouragement for them to do something similar.  For instance, having made a power of attorney for finances and personal care makes you feel more comfortable about any future situations.  This may ease the way for them to take this step.

Remember that money is a personal matter.  Everyone has boundaries around personal information and you should ease into these discussions with patience and empathy.

Focus Group Sessions

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We need your input! What do older adults need to protect themselves financially as they age? Come join one of our focus group sessions and give your input. For more information, please click on the picture.

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