Family

A Mini Guide for Expressing Yourself Effectively with Anyone

Expressing ourselves effectively is important in all areas of our lives. It’s important at work with our boss and colleagues. It’s important at home with our friends, partners and parents. It’s important when we feel strongly about an issue; when we need to communicate an important message; when we want to be understood; and when we are asking someone to meet a need, said Debbi Carberry, a clinical social worker in private practice in Brisbane, Australia.

But expressing ourselves isn’t exactly easy. For starters, we might not even know what we want, she said. Or maybe we know what we want but can’t articulate it. Maybe we’re afraid of being judged or rejected. Thankfully, by incorporating a few suggestions -- like the ones below -- you can express yourself effectively with anyone. Because it’s a skill you can sharpen.
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Celebrities

Whom Do You Respect?

Take a minute and consider the question, whom do you respect? Should this be a long list or a very short one? The problem with a long list is the candidates probably can’t be well vetted. A short list may make us out to be too cynical.

Let’s define the size of the list. You can only put five names on this esteemed list. This won’t restrict you, just possibly be a cause for adjustment of the definition.

Maybe you’ve gotten this far and can’t figure out why you should bother to make such a list. It’s because this list is a reflection of who you have become, failed to become, or still desire to become.
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Bullying

The Trope of the Closeted Homophobe: Is It True?

In one of the latest episodes of "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia," a character named Mac finally reveals that he is gay after 11 seasons of being in the closet. A running joke throughout the show was that Mac has always been secretly gay, despite being outwardly homophobic. Because of his strict Catholic upbringing, Mac has shown plenty of hostility toward gays and lesbians in many different ways, such as fighting gay marriage or giving a five-hour sermon on the evils of homosexuality. When he finally reveals that he’s gay, the rest of the gang simply exclaims that they already knew.

The trope of the homophobic character who is secretly gay isn’t exactly new. It’s been used several times before in television shows such as "Glee" and films such as "American Beauty." In all these situations, a character is outwardly homophobic and may even bully gay characters. Later it is revealed that this character is secretly gay and his or her homophobia was likely a means of dealing with repressed feelings.
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Family

Child Abuse Survivors, Victims Need You to Talk About It

How do you recover from childhood abuse? Is healing possible? Will the shame ever go away? Will I always struggle with depression or anxiety?

These are important questions as we enter April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month. While the answers to these questions are different for everyone, sharing our stories can inspire hope and help other survivors heal.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” - Nelson Mandela
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Children and Teens

The Benefits of Not Jumping to Conclusions

Human brains simplify information under stress. Largely out of awareness, we have a tendency to categorize experiences into extremes of good and bad, black and white, right or wrong. Most of life, however, happens in the gray areas. We lose the subtleties that are always there if we are too quick to know.

When I take something personally or feel stung by something someone said or did, I try to remind myself to get curious about other meanings, other ways of understanding the moment. For example, if someone is rude to me at a store, I could easily get angry and think to myself, “What a jerk!” But that thought process also gets me more riled up. That way of thinking fuels my anger, which makes me feel more agitated. My goal is to keep calm.

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Caregivers

Outdated Notions about Schizophrenia

Every parent’s worst nightmare. These are the words one mother used in a magazine article to describe her child having schizophrenia. When hearing her daughter’s diagnosis, another mother blurted out that she’d wished she had leukemia or some other disease instead. Even after the doctor told her that schizophrenia is much more treatable than leukemia, she said she’d still prefer leukemia. *

We see schizophrenia as a devastating diagnosis. We assume that our loved ones are doomed to a horrible life. This is something Psych Central blogger Rebecca Chamaa, who has schizophrenia, hears often. “People say it’s the worst thing that could happen to you. To hear that all the time and to be put in that category all the time, it’s a terrible thing to do to people.”
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Anger

Don’t Let Defensiveness Stand in the Way of Personal Growth

I can remember watching the popular girls in my elementary school bully another student, I'll call her Megan, because they thought she was “weird.” They would say rude things to her all day, making fun of her hair, her drawings, the way she spoke. And Megan would just sit there silently through it all, not even looking at them. She'd keep doing her homework, drawing, playing. Sadly, the other kids and I didn’t make any effort to help her, lest the mean girls turned their sights on us.

Megan was turning the other cheek, but I just didn’t get -- not then. I figured they were teasing her because she didn’t fight back. I promised myself I’d always fight back. Of course that only got me into a whole new kind of trouble -- Defensiveness.
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Family

What’s Your Name?

What’s your name? My name is Thomas Winterman, and I used to be a fat guy. Whew! It feels good to say that. No really, it’s nice to be able to call a spade a spade. I used to speak in code with words like “husky” or “large,” but I never allowed myself to say what I was.

I used to be fat, and it was not a good look on me. I was 275 pounds at my heaviest, and I was at (or near) my heaviest for a very long time. I loathed exercise and loved Taco Bell, a double chin recipe if I’ve ever heard one. When people said my name, they thought “fat guy.”

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Anger

Transforming My Angry Tightness

Last year, my husband Jon wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do. Jon promised his father they would speak on the phone at a certain time. So I had to leave Connecticut earlier than I wanted (to find cell phone reception), cutting short my lovely Sunday afternoon in the country. I felt myself get “tight” in my body, angry at having to make the accommodation.

I am not proud of my selfish reaction. Nevertheless I was powerless to stop it. My body tightened and I pushed back, asking Jon in a complaining voice, “What’s the big deal if you talk to your dad later?” But Jon insisted, claiming he made a promise he wanted to keep. So we rushed out the door.

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Anxiety and Panic

How to Help Someone with Anxiety

As human beings, it’s in our nature to care for those we love. If something’s wrong, we want to find ways to make things better.

One of my best friends suffered with anxiety for years. When he first confided in me, I was shocked. Below are insights I've gathered for helping someone with anxiety.

Anxiety disorders often involve overgeneralization
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Books

4 Tips for Helping Your Kids Practice Mindfulness

Our kids get just as stressed out as we do. While they don’t have bills, a demanding boss or a continuously-increasing workload, they do have homework, classmates, teachers, bullies and big emotions. So it helps to have a variety of tools they can use to manage their stressors and regulate their emotions -- tools they can take into adolescence and adulthood. Because stress and emotions are part of everyone’s daily life. And because everyone benefits from having healthy coping strategies.

That’s exactly what author and clinical social worker Carla Naumburg, Ph.D, provides in her newest book Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness with Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family. In this wise and down-to-earth book, Naumburg features practical and creative strategies for practicing mindfulness at home. She defines mindfulness as “the practice of choosing to pay attention to whatever is happening right here and right now, without judging it or wishing it were different.”
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ADHD and ADD

How to Prioritize Your Life When You Have ADHD, Part 1

Prioritizing may seem simple enough. You figure out what you need to do, when you need to do it, and then you do it. But there are actually many steps and processes involved in prioritizing your life. These include everything from paying and shifting attention to planning to getting organized to making decisions to taking action -- all of which also involve multiple steps within each piece. And all these parts and pieces are challenging for people with ADHD because of impairments in executive functioning.

That means that it’s important to have good strategies in place that take those obstacles into account. First, it’s important to identify what’s really troubling you about prioritizing. As ADHD coach Casey Dixon, PCC, BCC, said, are you struggling with knowing your priorities or following through on your priorities? Because these will require very different strategies.
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