World of Psychology Dr. John Grohol's daily update on all things in psychology and mental health. Since 1999. 2016-08-27T14:20:11Z http://psychcentral.com/blog/feed/atom/ Linda Sapadin, Ph.D <![CDATA[Upgrading Your Mind]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95335 2016-08-26T20:21:24Z 2016-08-27T14:20:11Z upgrading your mindHow many articles have you read that start out with something like this?

Manage Your Weight: 10 Easy Tips
Five Simple Ways to Manage Your Money
Time Management Tips for Getting it all Done
How to Manage the Stress in Your Life

All these (fictitious, yet typical) articles suggest ways to manage some aspect of your life. Not bad, if you can do it. However, most people can’t. And here’s why.

They haven’t addressed the one type of management that trumps all: mind management.

Have you ever taken a course on managing your mind? Or read a book on learning how to think?

Probably not. Why would you? You probably believe that you already know how to think. And that your mind does not need to be managed. It just is.

If you haven’t been actively learning how to upgrade the workings of your mind, you may be thinking in simplistic terms. When you were a kid you were good or bad, you did it right or wrong, you were popular or a doofus.

To lead a successful life, mind management skills must be learned, updated and revised. Here are just three skills you need to master to be successful in any endeavor of your life:

  • Differentiating thinking from obsessing.

    Learning how to think about an issue rather than obsess about it is essential to accomplishing your goals. You are thinking when your mind is disciplined, focused, creative and goal-oriented. In contrast, you are obsessing when your mind is excessively preoccupied with a single thought that you can’t let go of. Obsessing starts with point A, then doubles back on point A over and over, spinning out of control, until you finally arrive — at the exact same place you began. This is not merely an unproductive process, it’s counterproductive.

  • Reframing a situation.

    Most of us grow up thinking that what we assume to be true is, in fact, true. We don’t realize that people construct a reality that is not objective. Rather it is based on our family, culture, religion, predispositions, learned biases, experiences, as well as the people with whom we associate.

    We actively interpret the world in a way that we consider natural. Anything different from the way we think is then considered unnatural, alien, weird, wrong or just plain stupid. The way you interpret an experience is called “framing.” Actively changing your interpretation is called “reframing.” Reframing is a great way to counteract the tendency to become rigid in your own knee-jerk thinking.

  • Cultivating a relaxed mind.

    It’s easy to say, “just relax.” But for many people, that’s a really tough thing to do.

    With a tight and tense mind, it’s hard to think well or unwind. How can you relax your gray matter? One way is to shift the focus from what’s threatening to what’s exciting or promising about a situation. You may not be able to help it if a fearful thought pops into your mind. But you can learn to develop control over how long that thought stays there. Once you know how to relax your mind (without the help of drink and drugs), you’ll be less likely to fall into old habits which don’t serve you well.

Learning how to manage your mind can be of tremendous assistance to you as you cope with life’s dilemmas and choices.

Franklin D. Roosevelt summed it up when he said, “People are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”

©2016

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Alicia Sparks http://blogs.psychcentral.com/celebrity/ <![CDATA[Psychology Around the Net: August 27, 2016]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=96239 2016-08-26T14:30:55Z 2016-08-27T10:30:22Z Camera

The latter part of August is when most kids are headed back to school in America, and while many parents take this time to post first-day-of-school photos (as well as jokingly posting a few thoughts on their kids heading back to school!), there’s one topic that’s even more serious: bullying.

(Of course, I realize this is a major issue for kids around the globe.)

According to StopBullying.gov, children who are often at risk for being bullied are “perceived as different from their peers,” “depressed, anxious, or have low self-esteem,” or “antagonize others for attention,” while children who at risk for becoming bullies are often “overly concerned about their popularity,” “do not identify with the emotions or feelings of others,” or “have less parental involvement.”

For more information on topics like who is at risk for bullying, the warning signs of bulling, and ways to prevent bullying, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website, StopBullying.gov.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the latest in mental health and wellness! Read on for information about Instagram filters and depression, how to prevent self-help strategies from backfiring, research findings regarding Tinder users and self-esteem, and more.

Choosing This Instagram Filter Could Mean You’re Depressed: Okay, while it might seem a bit cliche to assume people who prefer darker colors or a decreased brightness suffer from depression (and really, there’s no way this could be 100% accurate), new research from Harvard University and the University of Vermont correctly identified 70% of study participants as people who have depression…based on the fact that those people chose Instagram filters that showcased “[p]hotos with decreased brightness, decreased saturation and increased hue […].” The biggest culprit Instagram filter? Inkwell (which turns colored photos to black and white).

When Self-Help Becomes Self Hell — 6 Tips to Stay Focused: Many people strive to improve their lives through some sort of self-help process, whether it’s attending conferences or webinars, reading books, or following motivational speakers who have — in some way or another — been where they’ve been. However, it is possible to become too wrapped up in the self-help process. For example, what happens when you focus on more than one improvement at a time? Try to commit to too many self-help formats? Compare other people’s success stories to your own journey? The simple answer: self-help hell.

Lack of Sleep Increases Breast Cancer Risk: Study: According to new research from Michigan State University, melatonin (a hormone associated with the synchronization of circadian rhythms including sleep timing) “seems to stop the growth of breast cancer tumors.” However, because our brains produce melatonin at night — and so many of us are sleep-deprived, for various reasons — lots of folks could be suffering from a low supply of melatonin. Developing treatments based on this science is still years away, but the National Sleep Foundation provides several tips for creating healthy sleep habits.

Digital Forms of Dating Violence Are On the Rise: What School Nurses Need to Know: “Many teens experience physical or sexual abuse within their romantic relationships and now dating violence can also be perpetrated digitally by harassing, stalking or controlling a romantic partner via technology and social media. School nurses are often some of the first to identify such problems and play an active role in preventing them from happening in the first place.”

The Psychology Behind Erectile Dysfunction: What’s Really Causing It: While it’s widely known that physiological reasons such as problems with blood vessels (which hinder blood flow to the penis) can contribute to erectile dysfunction, mental health problems — such as mood problems, high stress levels, anxiety, and even more extreme illnesses such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder — are often overlooked causes of erectile dysfunction (and often, harder to treat).

Tinder Users Have Lower Self-Esteem: Study: According to a new study presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association involving 1,300 “mostly college kids” who use the popular dating app Tinder don’t have particularly high levels of self-worth, tend to think of themselves as sex objects, and constantly monitor their physical appearances (among some other fairly unhealthy behaviors and values).

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Matthew Loeb <![CDATA[Lead, Don’t Follow]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95633 2016-08-14T19:42:26Z 2016-08-26T21:35:28Z lead, don't followLife isn’t meant to be a spectator sport.

You are stumbling through life checking boxes. College, marriage, career. But what happens when checking the proverbial boxes leaves you checked out? You want a purpose-filled existence; a life that inspires you and empowers others.

I understand. Here’s my advice: Find your passion. Seize it. And don’t let go.

“But, Matt, I am interested in a lot of different areas. How do I narrow down my passion to one particular area?”

Good question. Here’s my rejoinder: What talent are you most proud of? I have a knack for advising friends on personal and professional issues. Panicked friends, and that distraught women in the aisle seat, confide in me. Not surprisingly, I am transitioning into a counseling/advisor role.

Ever heard of Brandon Stanton and Yvon Chouinard? Probably not. What about Humans of New York and Patagonia? Heads are nodding. Stanton and Chouinard followed their passions. The result: two iconic companies. And, to think, Stanton was once a struggling photographer and Chouinard a humble blacksmith.

As you chart your own course, there are going to be naysayers. They will chastise you for stepping off the conventional, well-worn path. Don’t listen to to them. Stanton and Chouinard didn’t.

You define your life goals. Your path is yours and yours alone. Not your parents, not your Uncle Ted, not the proverbial Joneses.

Some will question your abilities. Shun them. Others will pigeonhole you based on their parochial self-interests. Ignore them. And some will belittle you for disrupting their status quo. Paraphrasing my Minnesota-bred mother, tell them to jump in a lake. Nice guys finish last, but only if you listen to the outside rumblings.

“But, Matt, what about earning a living?”

I hear the unease lining your voice. Rest assured, you will earn a living. You are passionate about what you do because you are skilled at it. Talent trumps. And so does fearlessness.

As you pursue your dreams, establish your priorities. Is travel or title more important? Family or fortune? In my case, life trumps largess. I know what I want out of life: meaningful relationships, international travel, mental health advocacy, and a sense of fulfillment. Once again, you, not the outside world, dictate your priorities.

Doubt assassinates dreams. At a young age, well-intentioned teachers or parents steer us in a particular direction. As we graduate from school and enter the workforce, reality dashes dreams. Spin conventional wisdom on its head. If you have a burning desire to chronicle life’s realities in black and white stills or found an environmentally-conscious clothing company, turn that flicker into a flame.

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Sophie Henshaw, DPsych <![CDATA[5 Things to Do if Your Job Makes You Cry]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95586 2016-08-27T03:12:55Z 2016-08-26T15:45:03Z what to do if your job makes you cryFrequent tearfulness, anxiety, fearfulness, insomnia and changes in appetite are often first symptoms of workplace stress. My clients who report these symptoms are also somewhat baffled by what could be the cause. They tell me, “I love my job and I’m good at it, so why does it suddenly upset me so much?”

Joan works as a nurse in a local hospital. She came to see me complaining that her panic attacks were getting worse and she was crying most days, unable to cope with a workload that, just a few months previously, had been no problem for her.

Joan said she was intending to build a new house. Her bank manager told her she needed to earn a little extra to afford the loan. Joan’s calculations revealed she could manage the loan if she did an extra four hours of overtime each week.

Overtime was abundantly available; there was a freeze on new hires until December. However, changing her schedule meant that Joan had to reconsider her work/life balance to carve enough time for her family. A colleague agreed to swap shifts with her so she could spend Sundays with her grandkids instead of at work.

Joan approached her clinical coordinator with a reasonable proposal that wouldn’t inconvenience the hospital’s smooth running.

Her boss, Lilliane, refused her request, even though she had recently swapped other employees’ shifts and given them overtime. She blatantly favored certain nurses and made vague excuses why she couldn’t accommodate Joan.

By the time Joan came to see me, she had tearfully accepted her lot, but it meant a decrease in her quality of life. She had to postpone her building project because the overtime she wanted was denied. She also had to give up reclaiming her Sundays with family, which meant she only saw them once a month.

Joan felt trapped, stuck, and as if her life were outside her control. Additionally, she suddenly developed a phobia of driving that limited her scant freedom even more. She was shocked to find herself helpless, weak and lacking in energy, when she’d previously considered herself resilient, resourceful and independent.

I suggested to Joan that she was exhibiting typical symptoms related to workplace bullying, which shocked her. She had no idea why anyone would target her since she went out of her way to do a good job, was always available to run extra errands for her boss, and was mild-mannered, quiet and inoffensive. Surely there had to be a more logical explanation?

Targets of workplace bullying are often so shocked by hostile behavior that they don’t figure out they’re being bullied for six to 18 months, by which time their mental and physical health have irrevocably broken down.

It is important to catch workplace bullying early. I define workplace bullying as repeated, unreasonable behavior by one or more people that creates a risk to the health and safety of the targets at whom the behavior is directed.

Once you realize what’s going on, there are five things you can do to reclaim your power:

  1. Create a workplace bullying timeline Gather all evidence of workplace bullying you can find and put it into a timeline. This includes all emails, policy and procedure documents, witness statements, recordings and every other item you can think of in an exhaustive paper trail. Keep any hard copies away from your workplace.
  2. Record hostile events Start writing down all the incidents you can remember where you were the target of upsetting, unreasonable behavior. If you can’t recall exact dates, approximate. Just record the behavioral facts and not your judgments, assumptions or theories about the facts. Expect this task to take several weeks. It’s OK to take your time, just get it done.
  3. Set up a Dropbox account Use a new (Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail) email address and password that only you know, then use it to set up an anonymous Dropbox account where you can store all your evidence in the cloud. Make sure not to access this account at work, and don’t leave an evidence trail even on your devices at home.
  4. Gather your support team Let your family and friends know what’s happening to you and that they may be called upon to support you. Even more importantly, make sure you have a good GP who’s willing to give you stress leave and initiate a worker’s compensation claim if you need it. Find a good psychologist who understands how to heal from workplace bullying, as well as a good lawyer who will represent you well if you need to take your case to court.
  5. Download my free work stress prevention kit I have prepared a free kit for you to help you implement the previous suggestions step by step. This kit includes two checklists, an evidence form, and an official complaint letter template. ClickYou can get your Work Stress Prevention Kit by clicking here .Ivonnewierink/Bigstock
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Brandi-Ann Uyemura, M.A. <![CDATA[Best of Our Blogs: August 26, 2016]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=96400 2016-08-25T22:05:55Z 2016-08-26T10:30:19Z overcoming feelings of inadequacy

“My guiding assumption was  ‘Something is fundamentally wrong with me,’ and I struggled to control and fix what felt like a basically flawed self. I drove myself in academics, was a fervent political activist and devoted myself to a very full social life. I avoided pain (and created more) with an addition to food and a preoccupation with achievement. My pursuit of pleasure was sometimes wholesome-in nature, with friends-but also included an impulsive kind of thrill-seeking through recreational drugs, sex, and other adventures. In the eyes of the world, I was highly functional. Internally, I was anxious, driven, and often depressed. I didn’t feel at peace with any part of my life.” – Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

When someone says something cruel, the pain of receiving that messages is equal to how true we think it is. If we know the statement is completely false, it’s easier to let it go without taking it personally. However, if someone hits upon something we’re vulnerable about, it feels like a throbbing wound.

For many of us who had troubled childhoods, we grow into adults who believe something’s missing. Our external lives mirrors that. This is why criticism gets to us. It’s why we sabotage our success or feel insanely jealous when someone achieves more than us. At the heart of it, we feel less than, not good enough, and unworthy.

If you’ve discovered your empty well, fill it with self-love, acceptance and kindness. You don’t need to do something amazing to deserve love and happiness. You simply need to tune in to the wonderful person that’s always been there. Our top posts this week will help remind you whether anxious, worn down and manipulated, you are perfectly imperfect as you are.

Sex & the Narcissist: Sadism (Pt 1) –
(Narcissism Meets Normalcy) – Sex makes narcissism even more complicated. This is true if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist or you were brought up by one.

5 Phrases Manipulators Love (and Use)
(Knotted) – If you get what I said at the beginning of this post, you probably grew up hearing these hurtful statements.

11 Ways to Calm a Child’s Repetitive Anxious Thoughts
(Stress Better) – Is your child repeating the same fearful thoughts over and over again? Break the cycle with this.

5 Ways We Teach Kids to NOT Trust Their Gut
(Parenting Anxious Kids) – Listening to their gut instincts could save their life. Make sure you don’t teach them to ignore it.

3 Tips for Dealing with Worst-Case-Scenario Thinking
(NLP Discoveries) – Do you worry constantly about things that never happen? Stop obsessing over failure and disaster, and read this.

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Corine Toren <![CDATA[My Life with Anxiety]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=94628 2016-08-12T19:40:24Z 2016-08-25T21:35:50Z my life with anxietySince I was younger, I knew that I thought in a different way than most children. As I grew older, I became consumed with death and its aftermath. I couldn’t understand why my biggest worry wasn’t which dress I would wear to prom. I felt like a fish out of water, and no one would understand.

After seeking help, I grew to realize that living with anxiety is not so abnormal. Some people have low cholesterol, some are allergic to peanuts, and some, like me, have an anxious mind. Honestly, I would pick anxiety over a peanut allergy any day.

In the beginning of my treatment, I felt alone and misunderstood. I refused to talk to my parents about what I was going through because I was convinced that they would not understand. While I was learning to cope with my anxiety and irrational fears, I thought about how many other teenagers shared the same thoughts as me. I felt like I wanted to let others know that they are not alone in what they are going through.

I’m not a therapist, a doctor, a social worker, or anything of the sort. I am, however, a daughter, sister, and a friend. Some may even call me an analyst. I take things in and let it marinate until I can understand the world. I learned enough from my experiences, and I continue to learn every day. And maybe I’ve even suffered a little. But mostly, I am a self-motivator. And since I’ve learned so much, from myself, and those around me, including family and friends, I feel inclined to share my knowledge with the world. After everything that I went through, I wanted to help others learn what I have learned, and show people how to look inside themselves without fear. I wanted to show people how to figure out who they are, and understand how to come to terms with it.

I grew up in a nice Jewish home with my family. I have great parents, and both a younger brother and sister. I went to private schools, summer camps, family vacations, I had food on my plate, and my room was painted in my favorite color. How could I complain? I was always a happy child. I had an amazing childhood. On the outside I looked like any other normal American girl. I had playdates, I did well in school, I had a loving family, and I had the ultimate collection of Barbie dolls. And just like a Barbie, I knew how to show my plastered smile and dress to impress. Nobody ever knew what was actually going on inside of me, and how my thoughts and fears ate me up alive. I knew how to hide my emotions, at least the ones I didn’t want anyone to see.

I still lived my life like any other ordinary child. I grew up with fears, but every child did too, so I didn’t think it was anything abnormal per se. But every year, kids grow up a little more. They become more mature. I grew up in a different way. Yes, I got taller, I went through puberty, and I even matured. But most kids’ fear of having a monster under the bed eventually goes away, and they even stop sleeping with a nightlight. My childhood fears followed me into young adulthood, but instead of a monster, my fears became more intensified and more about me. By the time I was 5, I stopped sleeping with a nightlight. I slept through the night and I didn’t worry about the monsters under my bed.

When I was 16, I studied abroad. I lived with three other roommates and everything was great. When I returned home, I started sleeping with the light on. Every night I slept with the light on until I was 19. It was embarrassing, and a secret I’ve kept until now. Before I sought treatment for my anxiety, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me. Even though I slept with the light on, I didn’t think that I needed to see a therapist or seek any type of help. It wasn’t until my first panic attack that I realized that I have major anxiety.

I was drowning in the most irrational fears and obsessions that made me feel like I could never have a normal future. Because of all of my anxieties, I was convinced that I was mentally ill, and that I needed to be institutionalized. I was afraid of death, and a loss of control, but at the same time, I also struggled to find a purpose for my life. My anxiety took over my life for a long time, until I stopped letting it.

My battle against my anxiety isn’t over yet, but I’ve come a long way already. Seeking help saved my life, and I am grateful for all of the support I received. Things got easier over time, but it was the will to make my life better that got me through my toughest moments. Anxiety disorder does not mean you’re crazy. It’s perfectly fine to need extra support. You’re not alone.

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Nicholette Leanza, MEd, LPCC-S <![CDATA[Mom Bullies: Mean Girls Who Grow Up to Be Mean Moms]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95451 2016-08-12T19:34:21Z 2016-08-25T15:45:25Z mom bullies

Here are some examples of Mom Bullies:

The Know It All:

This is the mother who has to add her two cents to everything and that her way is the best way. If you don’t do things the way she does, then they may infer that you are being a bad parent. She may be critical that you chose to formula feed your baby or that you let your children play video games. Sometimes, this may not be told to you directly, but behind your back to her other mommy friends.

The Judge:

If your toddler throws an epic tantrum in the grocery store, this is the mother who tosses you ‘the judgmental eyes’ to say that her child would never do that in public. Or she may scoff at you for sending in cookies to your child’s classroom party instead of the healthy snack of celery like she did.

The In-Your Face:

This is the mother who will call you out for not having your baby’s head covered on a chilly day or she’ll remark that “someone should be watching that kid” as your child runs wildly through the park even though you are breaking your neck to keep up with him. She has no filter and says what she pleases which is often hurtful.

Okay, so how do we deal with these types of bullies? Here are a few tips:

    • Do not react to her negative comments or judging looks. If you respond with an angry comment, it may only add fuel to the fire. Ignoring her will lessen the chance that she’ll keep heckling you and will diffuse the situation quicker.
    • Stand up for yourself. In some situations, it is appropriate to calmly express that you are the parent and that you make decisions based on what works for you and your child.
    • If it is a friend or relative, discuss your concerns with them. Let them know how uncomfortable they make you feel and that it is okay if you choose to parent differently.
    • Don’t bash other moms. If you don’t want your parenting to be judged, don’t judge other parents. Role model to your children respect for others and they’ll follow suit.
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    Nina Sidell, MA <![CDATA[Attitudinal Healing]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95583 2016-08-12T19:34:03Z 2016-08-25T10:45:35Z attitudinal healingYour attitudes support or detract from your experience when moving through life. Whether your attitude is expectant, positive, negative, neutral, simple, or complex, it drives you and shows up in your behavior. The best way to assess your position in life, your relationships, and your focus on life’s gifts or hindrances is to get to the root of your belief system, which in turn creates your attitudes.

    Chances are that you learned your life attitudes from those who raised you, your parents and caregivers. Other influential people who made a strong impact on your mind and experience also factor in. If these individuals had a happy, positive attitude or an unhappy, negative attitude, you learned from that example. If they were a glass half-empty or glass half-full person you knew it and their attitudes and actions reflected that.

    As a child you learn from the role models who raise you, in both word and behavior. You may initially agree with them and once adulthood sets in, you may possibly go in the opposite direction, thinking independently toward a more relatable way for you.

    If you are happy with your open or closed system of thinking and it works well for you, then keep it up. If your tendency to be an optimist, pessimist, or realist serves you well, then maintain it.

    We can choose to alter our beliefs and attitudes based on what we are taught, exposed to, and our motivation to change. I was speaking with someone recently who was a proud, self-proclaimed realist. As the conversation continued, I asked him about a few topics and where he stood on them. The relevance of his reality-based attitude slipped away as his views clearly stemmed from an inherent pessimism, challenging positive possibilities. It made me think that our attitude about our attitudes, like with all else, directly correlates to the outcome of our lives and our relationships. If you are realistic and honest about your tendencies and preferred ways of habitually thinking and feeling, and how this effects your quality of life, you are in better shape.

    So what happens if you realize that your attitude about something or someone is ineffective, outdated, or faulty? Perhaps your attitude is holding you back, separates you from others, or hurts you and your chances for a happier, healthier, and more successful life.

    Here are some tips for altering your attitudes and practicing the art of self-correction:

    • Notice and acknowledge the specific areas that you wish to investigate by being introspective.

    • Then, consider making changes that are natural and beneficial to you in alignment with your current beliefs and values.
    • Once you identify the modifications you require, practice the art of self-correction. Be mindful of your thoughts, words, and actions as they all serve as representatives of your underlying attitude.
    • Notice and be willing to edit yourself mid-thought and mid-sentence.
    • Give yourself a pat on the back when you practice self-correction.
    • Pay attention to core internalized messages or roles that do not serve you today and be willing to let them go for better ones.
    • Acknowledge how your self-corrective behavior positively impacts your life and your relationships (including the relationship you have with yourself.)

    Psychiatrist, educator and author Jerald Jampolsky, who founded the Center for Attitudinal Healing, offers this shift in attitude:

    • The essence of our being is love.

    • Health is inner peace. Healing is letting go of fear.
    • Giving and receiving are the same.
    • We can let go of the past and the future.
    • Now is the only time there is and each instant is for giving.
    • We can learn to love ourselves and others by forgiving rather than judging.
    • We can become love finders rather than fault finders.
    • We can choose and direct ourselves to be peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside.
    • We are students and teachers to each other.
    • We can focus on the whole of life rather than the fragments.
    • Since love is eternal, death need not be viewed as fearful.
    • We can always perceive ourselves and others as either extending love or giving a call for help.

    Be the hero in your own life so that your attitude guides you toward love, peace, and joy. Your attitude moves you through life, so make it work well for you.

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    Matthew Loeb <![CDATA[Identity Crisis: When Work Supersedes Life]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95630 2016-08-15T21:26:36Z 2016-08-24T22:30:38Z when work supersedes life“What do you do?”

    The question lingers in the air.

    The correct, albeit somewhat evasive answer: “I’m a lawyer transitioning into my next career phase. Currently, I am writing for Psych Central; you should check out my articles.”

    The questioner pauses; I manage a nervous chuckle. The followup question is unspoken. Rattling inside his brain, he wonders why I would choose passion over profit.

    In the United States, work defines us. It is our identity, providing structure and socialization. It provides a sense of accomplishment and, for the fortunate few, a sense of purpose.

    For the unemployed or underemployed, and I have been there, the well-meaning ‘What do you do?’ inquiry invokes dread, even self-loathing.

    But you are more than a business card or a 401(K). Case in point: I am a lawyer, but I am an intrepid traveler, a snarky journalist, a cackling prankster, and a loving nephew. The latter titles are more important than any glossy business card.

    Work does not nourish our emotional needs. I know. I graduated from a top-tier law school; I was on the fast track to a high-falutin position in a pressurized legal setting. But I wanted more than money; I wanted something purpose-driven.

    I am not alone. Among the economic elite, there is a growing sense of disillusionment and bitterness. Look at the spate of Wall Street suicides. Here is a particularly chilling quote:

    “His work did not leave much time for enjoyment but that’s the nature of the assignment that he chose. … at a time when he was under stress he probably resorted to illegal drugs, causing this incredibly poor judgement, is probably the best I can say,” a despondent father lamented.

    The all-consuming quest for the next raise and loftiest title can pervert your identity. At its worst, the keeping up with the Joneses mentality leads to addictive, self-destructive behavior. Don’t let it. Status is more than a six-figure salary or swarm of sycophants. It is how you handle these accoutrements and then having the self-awareness to recognize if or when these accoutrements are jeopardizing your emotional well-being.

    I am fortunate; I have mentors who balance work demands and life responsibilities. Work is a fundamental part of their identity. But family and relationships trump. In their personal and professional lives, they are pillars, before, during, and after the 9-to-5 grind.

    Understandably, we covet work success. We crave our colleagues’ validation; we cherish our close-knit working relationships; we boast about our latest work accomplishments. But work success is far different than life success. Ask any high-powered corporate executive drowning his sorrows in a hotel bar.

    So when the inevitable Nosy Parker prods you with the standard “What do you do?” question, here is a cheeky, and healthy, response:

    “I focus on personal investments, namely myself and my loved ones. I do have a stock tip: take stock of what is most important.”

    Reference

    Sorkin, Andrew (1 June 2015). Reflections on Stress and Long Hours on Wall Street. New York Times. Retrieved from http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/06/02/business/dealbook/reflections-on-stress-and-long-hours-on-wall-street.html?_r=0

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    Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW <![CDATA[Dating and Money: Must a Feminist Pay?]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95764 2016-08-15T21:28:45Z 2016-08-24T18:35:33Z dating and moneyWho pays on dates? It used to be simple. The guy did the asking and the paying. Today it’s less clear, as we can see from this range of views:

    • Tom, 26, says he paid for the first five or six dates with his girlfriend of three years, who’s 29. “She felt bad about me always paying, so sometimes she does. “But I usually pay,” he adds, “and the guy is always expected to pay for the first date. I pay more because it’s the gentlemanly thing to do. If you’re a guy, it feels good to take a woman out to dinner.”
    • Marge, 35, liked being treated on her first few dates with Wesley. But when he was ahead of her on line to pick up sandwiches and drinks for a picnic together, “he paid for his and left me to pay for mine,” she said. “I felt awful.”

      Wesley, it turned out, wanted no more than a hook-up relationship with Marge. This example suggests that a man’s reluctance to treat on a date might be a sign of lack of interest in investing himself emotionally in a relationship.

    • Brandon, 69, on the other hand, said that while dating, he and the woman he ended up marrying always split the cost. “I felt like that was fair; she was doing the right thing.”
    • Teresa, 45, married for two years, said that when she and her husband were dating, “he always asked and he always paid” and “that was fine with both of us.” She mused, “It changed in the 60’s and 70’s. There was more “going Dutch” then.”
    • Penny, in her forties, in an off-guard moment mentioned that she always expects the guy to pay and mumbled something about her father having abandoned her family when she was young.

    So Who Should Pay?
    Most agree that the man pays for the first date and often for the next few. But after that, it’s anybody’s guess. If you have a strong preference about who should pay for what, you can initiate a calm conversation in which each of you shares how you prefers to approach the financial part of dating.

    If you feel shy about bringing up the subject, you’re not alone.

    My family’s “don’t ask for money” rule stayed with me, unconsciously, into adulthood. So it was difficult for me to talk about money on dates. I wanted the man to treat, even if I offered to pay. Which I sometimes felt obliged to do. Wasn’t I a feminist? Didn’t that mean I should pay my own way? I expected the man to read my mind, because I was ashamed to let him know I wanted him to treat.

    Can a Feminist Allow a Man to Treat?

    When I did offer to split the check on a dinner date, if the man accepted, I felt unfeminine, which meant no second date. I’d think he was cheap or didn’t like me much. But now I think many men were as confused as I’d been. The guy could have thought I really wanted to pay my way. Maybe he feared I’d reject him as a “male chauvinist” if he refused my offer.

    Most people would probably agree, at least concerning early dates, that the “going Dutch” trend has subsided. Today men usually pay for early dates. Most seem prepared to continue to treat, but as the relationship evolves they may be open to some sharing of expenses if a woman offers.

    By the time my then husband-to-be asked me out for the first time, I told him the truth, which was that I’d already planned to see a play on my own that Saturday night. He said he’d like to go with me (not “take me”), which created ambiguity about whether this would feel like a real date. I asked, “Are you planning to treat?” Fortunately, he said yes.

    I learned that feminism means being who I am, not marching lockstep to a different drummer.

    What about you? Answering the questions below may help clarify your views about money as it relates to dating.

    Exercise: Identifying Your Views on Money and Dating

    1. Do you expect the man to pay for the first date? What are your thoughts about this?
    2. Who do you think should pay for subsequent dates?
    3. How do you feel when your date spends money on you? Does the circumstance make a difference? E.g., do you sometimes feel guilty or obligated? Sense a power imbalance? Accept it graciously? Enjoy it? Or something else? Please elaborate.
    4. Under what circumstances do you feel inclined to share expenses or reciprocate after a date spends money on you initially, or over time?
    5. How comfortable are you about sharing your ideas and feelings with a dating partner about how to approach the financial aspects of dating?
    6. Did you get the impression growing up that men should treat on dates, h that expenses should be shared, or something else?
    7. Has your viewpoint on this changed since then? Explain.

    dolgachov/Bigstock

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    Therese J. Borchard http://www.thereseborchard.com <![CDATA[Falling Upward and Embracing the Second Half of Your Life]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=83294 2016-08-15T21:26:22Z 2016-08-24T14:20:42Z embracing the second half of your lifeThere comes a moment in every person’s life when she realizes she has just entered the second half of her life.

    With the average lifespan of a woman in the United States being 81, I technically crossed that line three years ago. Yes, that’s when my waist disappeared and the pregnancy questions started; my squiggly gray hair came in and I purchased my first pair of readers; I started doing things like placing ketchup in the freezer and cereal in the refrigerator; and the medical appointments on my calendar started to outnumber the social gatherings by a ratio of about 10 to 1.

    A month ago, I went through the rite of passage to the second half of life: my first colposcopy with an added bonus of an upper endoscopy. As I lay in the preparation room for this christening event, I read the book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr. He writes:

    There is much evidence on several levels that there are at least two major tasks to human life. The task is to build a strong “container” or identity; the second is to find the contents that the container was meant to hold. The first task we take for granted as the very purpose of life, which does not mean we do it well. The second task, I am told, is more encountered than sought; few arrive at it with much preplanning, purpose, or passion.

    Father Rohr, a Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, goes on to explain that rarely does a person want to enter this second phase of life. It’s usually thrust on you as a consequence of failure, embarrassment, or some kind of raw pain. When we are enjoying success, who really wants to look deeper? We literally fall into the latter task by shedding the goals, boundaries, and identities that seemed so critical to us for most of our lives, only to find out that they have nothing to do with who we really are.9963483

    “It is when we begin to pay attention, and seek integrity precisely in the task within the task, that we begin to move from the first to the second half of our lives,” writes Fr. Rohr. Yes, that usually coincides with gray wisps and colonoscopies and readers hanging on your neck. But that’s only because the older we get, the better perspective we have on what really matters. Ironically, as our eyes fail, we begin to see life with much better vision.

    But telling our egos that we no longer give a damn is an arduous task in our first-half culture where LinkedIn congratulates us a few times a day on being endorsed for skills we didn’t know we had. And in order to make it as a health columnist, you need to pretend you have your life together, touting 10 tips for practically everything from cutting up watermelon for your next neighborhood block party to rebalancing your gut bacteria. If you are truly a second-half person living out the wisdom of your hard-earned humility, you don’t need the noise of Twitter or to brag on Facebook.

    In the half-hour I lay waiting for my colonoscopy, I realized that what has propelled me fully into the second half of life this year is a sequence of events much deeper than my gray hair, thick mid-section, and bad vision. What happened is precisely what Fr. Rohr describes: All of the institutions in which I sought safety and comfort and some kind of identity turned out to be mere containers, with no answers inside.

    First, my husband confronted me about my health and said that the traditional psychiatric approach I had been taking — trying different medication combinations and psychotherapy — was obviously not working because I was still very depressed after four years. I began to think seriously about all my conditions (hypothyroidism, pituitary tumor, aortic valve regurgitation, digestive issues), and I realized I had been letting my specialists of the big medical institution I wanted to trust guide my health journey — and that we were merely doing circles in the dark. I was petrified that I would stay sick forever.

    Then I became disillusioned with the publishing world after unsuccessfully fighting for my print and electronic rights back for my books Beyond Blue and The Pocket Therapist after they went out of print. Ever since I penned my first book in the fourth grade, How to Get to Heaven, I have always revered the publishing world, especially New York publishers, and wanted so desperately to be part of this prestigious industry. When I became a published author — and by a New York publishing house! — I attached too much of my identity into that. So when I observed the very ugly side of publishing the last few months, I was crushed. As a result, I never want to submit my intellectual property to a publisher again.

    Finally, there was my näiveté about the nonprofit world. A year ago, I believed that all you needed was a noble dream in order to build a formidable foundation. Now, I know money and power dictate the land of do-gooders just as much as with corporations. Plus, you’re handcuffed by bureaucracy and politics. I suppose I expected to be refreshed from years of working as a government contractor, only to find my aspirations lost in a sea of red tape and aggravation.

    “Where you stumble and fall, there you find pure gold,” said Jung.

    When I looked closer at each of my failures, I realized how much my ego and a false sense of self were central to the containers I had built. All of these deaths were opportunities for the scared girl inside of me to shed her unnecessary attempts to prove that she was someone in this world — because she ultimately felt unlovable. Without a published book, or a doctor directing my next move, or a worthy nonprofit behind my name, who would I be? Only after identifying all my lame attempts at security and a sense of identity could I recognize my authentic self and my mission.

    I didn’t need a New York publisher to help me disseminate my message and spread hope to the readers I write for. Why not self-publish my next manuscript? And instead of blindly following a bunch of physicians who subscribe to a medical model that no longer fits with my philosophies, what about beginning a new chapter on my health where I take the helm and guide my own course? How would that feel?

    What we do in the second half of our lives is “shadow work,” according to Fr. Rohr. It is filled with humiliations: of books that don’t sell, of publishers who creatively interpret contracts, of infuriating diagnoses despite doing everything right, and of losing your good intentions in a heap of bureaucracy. The good news is that as we move deeper into our second half, we are no longer as humiliated by our let-downs. We come to expect various forms of illusions.

    Fr. Rohr writes:

    Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of our physical self, but [it] is exactly the opposite. What looks like onward, into a broader and deeper world, where the soul has found its fullness, is finally connected to the whole, and lives inside the Big Picture.

    Blurry vision stinks, especially when your readers are in the freezer with the ketchup. And yes, some days I wish my hair would grow in blonde like it did at one point and I could get my waistline back. However, I’m much happier on this side of life, where there is less pressure to be someone I’m not.

    Somewhere in all my disappointments this year, I crossed over to freedom.

    I fell upward and embraced the second half of my life.

    Continue the discussion on Project Hope & Beyond, my one simple initiative.

    Originally posted on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.

    Kinetic Imagery/Bigstock

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    John M. Grohol, Psy.D. http://psychcentral.com/ <![CDATA[Exercise Helps Your Mental Health, Depression & Anxiety: Now What?]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95552 2016-08-25T22:31:44Z 2016-08-24T10:35:50Z At least once, your doctor or therapist has probably urged you — get out and exercise more. It’s the kind of simplistic advice that professionals feel good about doling out, because it’s so easy to do. Exercise helps improve your mental health, and can reduce anxiety […]]]>

    At least once, your doctor or therapist has probably urged you — get out and exercise more. It’s the kind of simplistic advice that professionals feel good about doling out, because it’s so easy to do. Exercise helps improve your mental health, and can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.

    But as anyone who’s heard this advice knows, it’s so much easier to recommend than do. While exercise can help our mental health, it can be hard to put into action without motivation. Moreover, a person who is depressed or anxious may find motivation, well, lacking.

    The Antidepressant Effects of Exercise

    Decades’ worth of research into the effects of exercise has demonstrated its help in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2015; WHO, 2001) and the NICE guidelines (NICE, 2013) recommend implementing physical exercise in the standard treatment of depression. A recent meta-analytic review of the scientific research (Kvam, et al., 2016) found that the positive effects of exercise on depression symptoms is especially strong when a person isn’t seeking any other kind of treatment:

    Findings from the current meta-analysis indicate that exercise is an effective intervention for depression compared with various types of controls. The effect of exercise as an independent treatment is evident, and the effect is particularly high when compared to no intervention.

    Thus, exercise may serve as an alternative for patients who do not respond to a given treatment, patients who are awaiting treatment, or those who for different reasons do not receive or want traditional treatment.

    We also know that lots of people never receive treatment for depression. The utilization rates for mental health treatment of depression vary from a low of 30 percent in the European ESEMeD study (Sevilla-Dedieu et al., 2011) to 55 percent in the U.S.-based NESARC (Hasin et al., 2005) study.

    So for a great many people with depression, exercise offers hope alleviating their symptoms. (The evidence for exercise helping people with anxiety is decidedly more mixed; see Bartley et al., 2013 for a review.)

    The evidence suggests that there are a couple of reasons why exercise may help. It may benefit our immune system and general, overall health. Researchers aren’t exactly certain of the specific mechanisms involved, but one of them may be helping to improve an oxidant-antioxidant imbalance (Roh, et al., 2016). It may also be because exercise releases neurochemicals in our brain that make us feel good (such as endorphins).

    Exercise’s Psychological Benefits

    In addition to the physiological and neurochemical impact exercise has on us, it also has a number psychological benefits, including:

    • Clears your mind
      It’s hard to disconnect from our always-connected world nowadays. As long as you turn off your alerts, turn on your music, and focus on what you’re doing, physical activity can help you take your mind off of your worries.
    • Improves your self-esteem
      Exercise and physical activity keep your body fit, which in turns helps to keep your mind fit. When you do things to help improve yourself, you feel better about yourself.
    • Better sleep
      It appears that regular physical activity helps to regulate the two main mechanisms that control the quality of our sleep — circadian and homeostatic rhythms. More exercise means better sleep, which in turn means better mental health.
    • Increase social interaction
      While exercise doesn’t have to be a social activity, if you do engage in it socially, you’ll benefit from the social interactions you have during it as well.
    • A healthy way to cope
      There are many ways to cope with the stress in life, but physical activity is one of the healthiest. It can allow you to cope more effectively with life’s frustrations without hurting yourself or others.

    Related: The Psychology of Exercise and Fitness

    So How Do I Get Started with Exercise?

    The most important thing about exercise isn’t that you do it at the gym, or you do a specific kind of exercise, or you do it for exactly this amount of time. The most important thing about physical activity is simply that you find something you enjoy doing and do it regularly, at least every other day.

    If you like the gym, that’s great. But if like me, you’re not into going to the gym, a daily walk for 60, 40, or even just 20 minutes can be helpful. (That’s the secret benefit of the augment reality game Pokemon Go — it gets people out walking.) Bicycling, yoga, walking, running — anything that involves regular physical activity works.

    People sometimes stress out about the need to exercise, and build it up into something big and daunting. It should be nothing of the sort. It’s just an activity that you should try and build into your daily (or every other day) routine, just as you’ve automated brushing your teeth and getting dressed.

    Think about all the unusual, simple ways you can do more exercise by simply making different choices in your daily life, too. Instead of taking the elevator up two floors, why not take the stairs? Instead of driving down to the local shop or cafe, why not walk or bike to it? What about playing more with your kids or family, engaging in more physical activity or games that require movement?

    Motivation to exercise can be a show-stopper. Understand that if you turn exercise into a daily beast that must be overcome, it may quickly become overwhelming.

    Instead, look at it as a simple, daily thing you want to add to your routine. Find rewards that work for you — it could be as simple as playing Pokemon Go or another exercise app. Or the rewards could be something larger, such as when you reach your 10,000 steps for the day, you treat yourself to an afternoon smoothie or Starbucks. Find a rhythm that works for you and then stick to it. Enlist trusted, supportive family, friends, or others struggling with exercising regularly (through apps) to help keep you to your new routine. Exercising with a partner can help boost your motivation, too.

    You got this. Exercise is a boon to your mental health and depression symptoms. Find a routine that works for you to incorporate it into your life, and you’ll start to gain the benefits of exercise within just a few weeks.

    Related: The Psychological Trick for Exercise Motivation

    References

    Bartley, CA, Madeleine Hay, M., & Bloch, MH. (3023). Meta-analysis: Aerobic exercise for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 45, 34-39.

    Hasin, D.S., Goodwin, R.D., Stinson, F.S., Grant, B.F. (2005). Epidemiology of major
    depressive disorder: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on
    Alcoholism and Related Conditions. Archives of General Psychiatry 62, 1097–1106.

    Kvam, S., Catrine Lykkedrang Kleppe, Inger Hilde Nordhus, Anders Hovland. (2016). Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 202, 67-86

    NICE. (2013). Depression: The Treatment and Management of Depression in Adults. NICE Clinical Guideline 90.

    Roh, HT, Su-Youn Cho, Wi-Young So. (2016). Obesity promotes oxidative stress and exacerbates blood-brain barrier disruption after high-intensity exercise. Journal of Sport and Health Science.

    Sevilla-Dedieu, C., Kovess-Masfety, V., Angermeyer, M., Bruffaerts, R., Fernandez, A., De Girolamo, G., De Graaf, R., Haro, J.M., Konig, H.H. (2011). Measuring use of services for mental health problems in epidemiological surveys. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research 20, 182-191.

    World Health Organization. (2001). Mental health. A call for action by world health ministers. In: Ministerial Round Tables 2001. 54th World Health Assembly. World Health Organization, Geneva.

    World Health Organization. (2015). Mental health. Physical Activity.

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    Psych Central Staff http:// <![CDATA[How to Say ‘No’ When You’re Being Pushed Too Far]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95211 2016-08-15T17:21:07Z 2016-08-23T22:32:53Z just-say-no-saying-no

    Does this sound familiar?

    A friend I’ll call “Ed” kept pushing me to contribute to my school’s alumni fund. The more he called me, the more stubborn I felt that my answer was, “No.”

    I felt that not only did I lack the money necessary to contribute in order to make a true difference, but I also knew whatever I could give would be paltry in relation to what the fund had already accumulated.

    10 Things You Learn From Being Raised By A Strong Mom

    Finally, Ed said, “You’re the only person who hasn’t said yes.”

    Maybe that was the truth. Maybe not. Knowing Ed — and his narcissistic ego — I sensed his motivation behind so actively pursuing my contribution had more to do with his desire to be able to say he got 100% of our class to contribute.

    Check out YourTango for relationship advice

    So I said, “I guess that’s the way we’ll have to leave it.”

    We all receive unwanted requests from time to time. Some deal with money. Some deal with our precious time. Maybe you’re more generous than I was, or maybe you’re less stubborn. Your response may vary according to the situation, and whether or not you currently possess the resources, abilities, or time needed to oblige.

    Learning to say no when requests are unreasonable, impossible, or simply unwanted frees your energy, time and financial resources so you can say yes to those things you find truly important.

    Here is a simple two-step process to identify how and when to confidently say, “NO.”

    1. Identify the Driving Motivational Tendencies Beneath Your Difficulty Saying No.

    In general, women (particularly heterosexual women) find it more difficult to say no than do most men. Women are more concerned about hurting others’ feelings, and are generally more anxious about incurring hostility or resentment from the person asking.

    You’ll know immediately that opportunities and issues lie within you as specific concerns and motivations are identified.

    One of my closest friends has collected several people she calls her friends. I call them takers, and sometimes narcissists. The relationships she has with these people are one-way streets with aspects of co-dependency — a form of relationship dysfunction in which “one person’s help supports (enables) the other’s under-achievement, irresponsibility, immaturity, addiction, procrastination, or poor mental or physical health.” This dynamic often breeds greater dependency and postpones the other person’s progress, ultimately wearying if not draining the giver.

    Too many of my own friendships have been based on such “helping” relationships. Over time, I began to realize how tired I felt being the useful one (if not used), in spite of satisfying my need to be needed, as well as to be seen as a good person. I had to be honest with myself and accept how lopsided these relationships were in order to then wean myself of the habit of forming relationships with needy people.

    Now that I have, I’m able to enjoy balanced, mutually generous relationships.

    And I’ve learned to request help myself!

    Common motivations for those of us with difficulty saying no include:

    • Fear of rejection.
    • Anxiety over the perceived threat of feeling lonely.
    • Preference for being seen as necessary and needed.
    • Conflict aversion.
    • Desire to uphold a self-image of generosity and kindness.
    • Need for control or superiority.

    2. Practice the Art of Just Saying No.

    My mother used to describe her sister as a doormat before “people-pleaser” became a common term in our vocabulary. When people get used to your being in that role, you can expect continuing requests and even antagonism or resentment when you finally put your foot down. When you receive a response that makes you feel uncomfortable, use it as an opportunity to gather information about the foundation and value of that particular relationship.

    Start by allowing yourself time to think before you answer. A simple, “Let me think about your request. I’ll get back to you by…,” is all you need to offer at first.

    Next, give meaningful consideration to the request.

    Ask yourself the following:

    • Do I have the resources, time, and energy necessary to say yes and follow through?
    • If so, do I really want to do it?
    • How does this request align with or take away from my own needs and priorities?
    • Will my involvement truly help this person, or will it serve to perpetuate their negative habits?
    • How will I feel if I say yes now and find I can’t, or don’t want to, comply later?
    • What are both the worst and best things that might happen if I say no?

    If you reach the conclusion that, yes, your answer is indeed, “NO,” say so — politely and firmly.

    If the person who made the request persists in asking you to reconsider, suggest alternative, comparable means of assistance — once. After which, simply repeat your refusal in a firm, pleasant manner as many times as necessary.

    When the request comes as part of someone’s pattern of reliance on you, insist on setting a time and place to discuss the situation. Before that conversation takes place, take time to organize and clarify your responses, and well as to identify the outcome you would like to achieve.

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • What is the meaning and value of this relationship to me?
    • What am I willing to do to (and what am I unwilling to do) in order to sustain and improve it?

    If the requestor has authority over you, you can also identify a range of alternatives, ask for clarification of previously agreed-upon priorities that may need re-visiting, or provide an either/or option (i.e., should I do this or that?).

    The Clever Way Highly Successful Women Avoid the Wrong Men

    Pay attention to what’s important to YOU and use your own resources well.

    Time, energy and financial resources are all precious. Once used, they cannot be retrieved. Every time you say no, you collect opportunities to say yes to yourself and to your own preferences, values, hopes, needs, and goals. Paradoxically, you also increase your opportunities to contribute to others, and possibly to your relationships, when you say no. You allow others the ability to deal with their own issues, become more resourceful in seeking alternatives, and gain respect for your strengths and interests.

    To make the time you’ve used reading this article count, decide on your own next actions. Choose one opportunity or situation within the next week where saying no will benefit yourself and possibly someone else. Identify two or three steps you will take to prepare for action. Schedule them — and then make it happen.

    Finally, if you feel stuck or occasionally hit a roadblock repeat this personal mantra I’ve developed:

    I will be as kind to myself as I am to others.

    This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: How to Say No To Users, Takers, and Other Self-Absorbed People…

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    Nina Sidell, MA <![CDATA[Keep Your Cool around Hotheads]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95677 2016-08-14T21:46:45Z 2016-08-23T18:45:40Z keep your cool around hotheadsHow many times in your life have you dealt with a hothead? That is someone who overreacts and flies off the handle, doing so with some degree of intensity, consistency, and predictability, typically with minimal provocation. When faced with a hothead who occasionally or repeatedly blows off steam in your direction, how do you process the behavior and keep your cool?

    Once you’ve spent time with a hothead, you learn to expect future over-the-top reactions. Their inappropriate intensity and lack of self-control may show up in limited or multiple scenarios. You may feel uncomfortable, even fearful and embarrassed around these people. They may be aggressive, passive with explosive tendencies, unable to appropriately handle stressful triggers, or lack healthy emotional and physical outlets.

    These individuals may have developed a pattern of rage and relief to express emotions that are uncomfortable for them or to assert dominance over others. Some people feel regret afterward. Others do not, nor do they have compassion toward those on whom they unloaded. They may not be emotionally stable or mentally well; their unpredictable blowups are clear indications of their instability. When adults behave as hotheads it is a reflection of themselves. Yet their acting out can make others feel afraid, intimidated, or angry.

    Some individuals realize that their reactivity does not match the situation and work to get a handle on it. Others do not take ownership or feel remorse. They are not interested in improving their behavior.

    Often, children who act out are diagnosed with behavioral issues and poor impulse control. Impulse control helps individuals express themselves appropriately, make wise choices, create strong interpersonal bonds, and have the patience and self-control to wait one’s turn. According to Goleman (1995), “there is perhaps no psychological skill more fundamental than resisting impulse. It is the root of all emotional self-control, since all emotions, by their very nature, lead to one or another impulse to act. The root meaning of the word emotion, remember, is “to move.” When adults act out and lose self-control, it is expected that they have a greater mastery of emotions and effective coping skills.

    Both children and adults are entitled to lose their temper sometimes. However, when losing it becomes the norm, and the effect hurts others in one’s path, it is necessary to learn a new way of managing explosive reactivity.

    Here are some strategies to help you keep your cool around hotheads:

    • Do all that you can to stay calm, centered, and at peace. You deserve it.

    • Utilize healthy outlets when you feel stressed.
    • Surround yourself with healthy people who can manage their emotions and impulses.
    • Set limits or walk away as soon as someone unloads on you inappropriately. Take space when necessary to protect yourself. You are entitled to feel safe.
    • Get support from your loved ones, close friends, and helping professionals if necessary.
    • One way to keep your cool is to sit in the position of observer. When you can emotionally distance yourself and maintain a neutral presence, it helps you to stay centered in yourself.
    • Do what keeps you feeling balanced. In addition to your personal and work responsibilities, you have an obligation to yourself to take care of you on every level. This includes your physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. When you make time to meet your own needs and rely on your support network, others’ behavior will affect you less.

    Since you cannot control or change others, be willing to take responsibility for those with whom you spend time and interact. Be accountable for your words and actions. If you think you are a hothead, find someone to talk with and explore what is causing these outbursts. If there is an unresolved emotional trauma, lack of skill around self-expression, or chemical imbalance to blame, seek help with counseling and medication (if need be).

    Discover and learn a more peaceful way to be in the world with others. Remember that being human is a multi-faceted job and a constant learning process. Keep your cool for your overall well-being and health.

    konstantynov/Bigstock

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    Suzanne Kane <![CDATA[5 Tips to Banish Loneliness]]> http://psychcentral.com/blog/?p=95498 2016-08-23T20:56:25Z 2016-08-23T14:20:39Z tips to banish lonlinessLoneliness is not a very accommodating or welcoming emotion. It is also not a given. Yet far too many of us experience this powerful and debilitating emotion from time to time. While most people are able to get past it without too much trouble, there are times when loneliness seems to hang around and is difficult to overcome.

    While there can be no substitute for professional counseling should feelings of helplessness, despair and hopelessness persist for more than a week or two, these tips should help give loneliness the heave-ho.

    1. Find something to do

    When you’re lonely, feeling like you’re enveloped in loneliness, you’re likely spending too much time thinking about your situation and not really doing anything. Those who obsess over being lonely are going to be convinced there’s nothing they can do about it. That’s a misconception that should be put to rest.

    The first step is to identify something you can do today, and get busy doing it. What that is doesn’t matter much. Doing something, other than thinking, gets you out of your present surroundings and mindset.

    Go out in the garden and yank weeds. Sweep the garage. Wash the car. Spend time talking with your neighbor. Call a friend and meet for coffee, lunch or a movie. Go for a walk. Any of these will provide a change of scenery and get you outside your dismal thoughts for a while. When you’re actively engaged in doing something, you’re not suffering from loneliness.

    2. Be good to yourself

    The tendency to beat up on yourself when you’re blue is not beneficial. Unfortunately, we all do this, even without meaning to. We stumbled and made a mistake at work that was costly, we got into an argument with a significant other or friend and now find ourselves not talking with each other, the bills pile up and we’re not sure how we’ll get out of this mess. Instead of talking about what’s bothering us, we bottle up our emotions. The result: We feel a tremendous sense of loneliness.

    When we hurt, we need to take care of ourselves. This self-care likely took a back seat to other pressing problems. Sleep may have suffered, as well as diet, lack of exercise, pushing ourselves past our limits. It’s time to hit the reset button and do something that will help us regain our equilibrium, make us feel physically better (a long soak in the tub works for some), and quashes feelings of loneliness.

    3. Be with others

    Most people who say they’re lonely spend too much time alone. While you can experience loneliness in a crowd, most people find the interaction and distraction of others takes away the lonely feelings – at least temporarily.

    The best antidote to being lonely is to get out and be in the company of others. Friends are an excellent go-to resource, but groups involved in a hobby, recreational activity, educational or leisure pursuit, skills building, community get-togethers, and travel also work.

    When you are with others, listen, smile, communicate in a reciprocal fashion and be in the present. Should thoughts of loneliness seek to intrude, remind yourself that you’re taking active measures to counter that negativity. Find someone to talk with and strike up a conversation. It’s hard to think about being lonely when you’re chatting about something you enjoy.

    4. Go somewhere new

    The discovery process is an almost guaranteed way to get past loneliness. When you activate your curiosity gene and pursue something that intrigues or interests you, the inevitable result is that you follow your enthusiasm as far as you can. There’s no room for feeling lonely when you’re eagerly going after that beckoning beacon.

    Take a drive using a different route than you normally do. Or, chart a course for a day trip that allows you to check out a small town, state or national park, wildlife refuge, botanical garden, museum, or a restaurant you’ve long wanted to try. While you’re on the road, anticipate learning something new, meeting people, making memories.

    Not only will this help dispel any loneliness you may have felt before starting out, the good feelings will remain with you on your trip home.

    5. Help someone

    If you’re wrapped up in yourself, feeling sorry that you’re lonely and not able to get past it, another method to employ is to go out and help someone. This doesn’t mean that you walk the street looking for a person who’s down-and-out. There are other more effective ways of helping others that you can use.

    Go through your closets and find usable clothing that you no longer wear and donate it. There are many charitable organizations in desperate need of clothing. The still-working small appliances, electronic devices, dishes, furniture items, linens, toys and other items also are much in demand for those less fortunate. When you donate, it’s good for the recipients and it’s good for you.

    Perhaps you know of a neighbor who’s elderly, unable to get out, a widow or widower or single parent. Bring a food item, flowers, a board game or just call and ask to come by for a visit. If you experience loneliness, you can imagine how a shut-in must feel. Two people visiting have more of a chance of dispelling loneliness than either one sitting alone ever will.

    Remember that you don’t have to suffer loneliness. But it is up to you to do something to get past it.

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