Psych Central Original articles in mental health, psychology, relationships and more, published weekly. 2017-01-17T15:03:54Z http://psychcentral.com/lib/feed/atom/ Suzanne Kane <![CDATA[How I Learned to Overcome Stress]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47976 2017-01-13T23:06:29Z 2017-01-17T15:03:54Z ]]> bigstock--130069148Friends often ask me my secret to being free from stress. I’m no expert, but I know what works for me. It didn’t come naturally, though, and it wasn’t easy at first.

When I was younger, I did it all wrong. Like a lot of young adults, back then and still, I seemed to constantly get involved in activities and pursuits that created a perfect petri dish for the development of stress.

  • As the old saying goes, I burned the candle at both ends.
  • Not only that, but I also engaged in risky behaviors.
  • To add more complicating factors, I hung out with questionable friends.
  • Naturally, I had poor self-care because of my bad habits.

Over the years, however, I learned that I control my actions and – vitally important – that my actions have consequences.

So, how did I go from being a veritable poster child for how to build stress to learning to live as close to stress-free as possible? Here are my go-to techniques to vanquish stress. Maybe they can work for you.

Stop trying to be perfect.

I used to think that I had to be the best in everything I did. I had to do it better, faster and smarter than anyone else or it didn’t count. Part of that had to do with being the younger sibling to a very competitive brother. Perhaps part of it was trying to please my parents, although I think every child wants that.

The downside of accepting only perfection is that perfection is an elusive target. There’s never going to be a perfect outcome. Improvement is always possible. What’s considered success today may be failure tomorrow.

My therapist helped me recognize this self-defeating tendency and gave me wise counsel: You don’t have to be perfect. Just do the best you can.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But when the advice finally sunk in, a lot of stress disappeared. Striving to do my best was not only enough, it was life-affirming, motivating and made me feel better about myself.

Create a schedule.

When too many conflicting demands began to intrude on my daily life, with a consequent dramatic uptick in stress, my therapist recommended I create a schedule. I didn’t want to do this, since I felt schedules were too confining. But I agreed to try it out. After all, with kids and school and work demands, I needed help keeping everything organized. If a schedule could accomplish that, I’d become a convert.

To my surprise, creating a schedule did help me put some breathing room into my life. It cut down some avoidable stress and gave me the self-confidence I needed to tackle other projects. In other words, to put different items into my schedule. All in good time, of course. I had to get comfortable with my schedule before I began to alter it.

That’s the other thing I learned about creating schedules. Like prioritizing tasks and creating lists of goals, schedules must be able to evolve and adapt.

It’s OK to ask for help.

I never liked asking for help. I thought it made me seem weak. But after several tragedies, unfortunate experiences and a lot of heartache, I gradually accepted the fact that there’s nothing wrong in asking for assistance. If I was willing to help others in need, asking for help when I needed it was OK.

In fact, for me, being able to ask others for help turned out to be a lifesaver. There was a time when I was so despondent, I didn’t know what to do. My therapist offered some consolation, but I needed more. He encouraged me to talk with a trusted friend, which I did. Just having another person listen nonjudgmentally was instrumental in lifting a crushing weight of stress. That we could laugh and do things together, like go to a movie or out for a pizza, helped as well.

Today, while I don’t make a practice of asking others to help, if I really am in need, I won’t hesitate to do so. And, I firmly commit to being there for others when they request my assistance. This is all part of being genuine, living up to commitments, wanting to help when it matters.

Do what you love.

It took me a long time to be able to love what I do. I went to school at night to earn several degrees, each with an emphasis on what I consider my strength: writing. Like millions of people, I had to work at jobs that weren’t necessarily gold standard, didn’t match my goals and dreams, but they did help me put food on the table and clothes on my kids, pay the car payment and rent.

I held firm to my dream of working in a field that allowed me to make use of my talents. I was fortunate to work in public relations for a major automaker and then become a freelance writer once I retired. Capitalizing on both my studies and my love of writing was incredibly beneficial. Every day brought new challenges, new opportunities to do what I love.

Here’s a secret I learned about doing what you love. It crushes stress.

Make time for play.

Part of why people get stressed is they grind endlessly without a break. Or, the only downtime is when they fall exhausted into bed. I know. I’ve been there. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that any human being will reach a point of no return if they fail to insert time to relax and recharge into their life.

I love going to movies. I also love reading, walking the nearby nature trails, gardening, cooking and travel. Any one of these I consider play. And they work wonders for dissipating stress.

After breaking for play – doing what you enjoy for leisure, recreation or educational pursuit – you can come back and take on the next item on the schedule, today’s to-do list, or address a pressing or unexpected problem. You’ve put harmony and balance back into your life. Stress doesn’t have a chance against this dynamic duo.

Exercise gratitude daily.

I’m lucky to have learned how to rid myself of stress. In fact, I consider myself extraordinarily grateful. The concept of expressing gratitude for all that I have and all that I have learned is so strong that I recommend doing it daily. There’s a lot to be grateful for, no matter what the personal situation or circumstance. For one, you’re alive. For another, you have friends and allies. You have another day to receive the blessings and gifts today brings.

These tips aren’t all-inclusive. A few more I’ve found helpful include:

  • Know when to say no. It isn’t necessary or conducive to well-being to take on more than you can handle.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat regular, well-balanced meals. Avoid excessive intake of sugar, fats and salt.
  • Drink lots of fluids, especially water.
  • Cut down (or cut out) alcoholic beverages.
  • If you smoke, quit. Nicotine is addictive. While it may create initial calming or soothing, once cravings set, the stress increases until the urge is again satisfied.
  • Tap into spiritual renewal through prayer, meditation, yoga, self-reflection.
  • Nurture a positive attitude.
  • Follow your dreams.
  • Love wholeheartedly, deeply and without reservation.

 

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Irving Schattner, LCSW http://www.mytherapistdelraybeach.com/ <![CDATA[Seven Anxiety Busting Tips]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47935 2017-01-13T01:50:09Z 2017-01-16T15:03:38Z ]]> Fire number "7"Are you constantly feeling stressed, unable to relax, always worrying about the day ahead and unable to fall or stay asleep because your mind is overloaded from the pressures of the day or worries about what’s in store the next day?  If you can relate to this, you are probably suffering with anxiety.  

Intense fear, terror, panic or dread my leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained to the point where even normal activities may be avoided or curtailed. You may experience a number of distressing or debilitating symptoms including, but not limited to, tightness in the chest, racing heart, difficulty breathing,  trembling hands or limbs, racing thoughts or being in a mental fog, or feeling detached from your body. You may have obsessive thoughts and excessive worry, and self-medicate or engage in other behaviors to calm your nerves.

Anxiety states range from mild, moderate, to severe.  You may find yourself feeling emotionally and/or physically drained, and begin to question your ability to tackle even the basic of daily activities.  You may find yourself needing to gain relief through alcohol or drugs, gambling, self-imposed isolation and/or avoidance of normally pleasurable activities.  You may also develop physical aches and pains and feel the need to seek medical attention or end up in the hospital emergency room.  

People suffering with generalized anxiety disorder experience difficulty controlling worrisome thoughts which interfere with managing tasks at hand.  It is common for persons with this disorder to worry about daily, routine tasks and circumstances such as school, job or career responsibilities, health, finances, household chores, being late for appointments, or question or evaluate the competence of their performance in given situations. The focus of their worries or anxiety may shift from one concern to another, as it is common for such persons to complain about persistent thoughts of worry, anxiety, fear, distress or dread which they feel incapable of shutting off.

Your self-esteem may come into question while self-mastery over your thoughts, emotions and behaviors appears out of reach.  You may also feel increased lack of energy, purpose, joy, sadness and even depression as your anxiety takes over your entire being.

Here are some strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety.  Try one or try all but, above all, Try!!

  1. Exercise. 
    Take a walk, ride your bike, go to the gym, participate in martial arts – whatever it takes to release stress. You should engage in a physical hobby which will naturally relieve your anxiety and improve your overall wellness.
  2. Get out of your head by getting outside.
    A change of geography, such as a day trip, mini-vacation, or even a walk on the beach can have a positive impact on your mental state.  Fresh air and change of scenery can do wonders. Regardless of whether it is snowing or sunny out, some time spent outside can do you much good and decrease your anxiety levels.
  3. Connect with new and old friends and acquaintances.
    There are numerous ways of doing so, ranging from a simple phone call to contacting them through social media.  Reminiscing about old times or planning get-togethers can ease stress and promote joy.
  4. Volunteer.
    Helping others will not only benefit others but give you a sense of purpose. By helping those less fortunate, it will make you calmer and feel better.
  5. Eat healthy.
    The old adage still holds true, “You are what you eat.”  Being more conscious of the choices you make in dietary intake will increase your energy level and make you more stress- resistant, as you become more mentally fit to tackle the challenges that confront you. The more green and leafy vegetables the better, as those release calming antioxidants and provide essential vitamins that help protect your mental health.
  6. Think “O2E,” which refers to Opposite to Emotion.
    This is a concept from dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) which challenges you to do the opposite of what you’re feeling. So, for example, if you normally isolate or sleep to deal with sadness or depression, you are encouraged to engage in behaviors which are more typical of a person who is not sad or depressed. This one takes some imagination and creativity, but it is rooted in the concept that changing your behaviors in turn changes your mental outlook which, in turn, reinforces more proactive behaviors. It’s as if you stepped outside of yourself and created a new reality of what is possible. You are no longer a slave to stress inducing emotions and come to the realization that you can choose how to feel by changing the way you act.
  7. Practice yoga, meditation and/or progressive muscle relaxation.
    Yoga combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. It’s a “total mind-body workout.” It helps reduce stress and anxiety and promote mental and physical stamina. Studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing anxiety and overcoming depression.Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique for learning to monitor and control muscular tension. Daily practice reduces worry, stress and physical ailments, such as stomach and headaches. Being mindful makes one aware of what one is feeling and experiencing in the moment while remaining in a calm, accepting state. Applied relaxation focuses on muscle relaxation and visual cues to maintain that state of calm and acceptance. Yoga and other meditative techniques have proven highly effective in reducing or deactivating the “anticipatory anxiety” normally associated with generalized anxiety disorder.
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Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT <![CDATA[The Cost of Secrets and Lies]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47965 2017-01-13T01:49:26Z 2017-01-15T15:10:55Z ]]> Listen.Trust is a fragile. Secrets and lies jeopardize trust and can damage us and our relationships – sometimes irreparably.

We all tell “white lies.” We say “I’m fine,” when we’re not, compliment unwanted gifts, or even fib, “The check is in the mail.” But in an intimate relationship, emotional honesty includes allowing our partner to know who we are. Honesty is more than simply not lying. Deception includes making ambiguous or vague statements, telling half-truths, manipulating information through emphasis, exaggeration, or minimization, and withholding information or feelings that are important to someone who has a “right to know” because it affects the relationship and deprives that person of freedom of choice and informed action. Although we may consider ourselves honest, few of us reveal all our negative thoughts and feelings about people we are close to. It requires the courage to be vulnerable and authentic.

The Cost of Secrets and Lies

Most people who lie worry about the risks of being honest, but give little thought to the risks of dishonesty. Some of the ways in which lies and secrets cause harm are:

  1. They block real intimacy with a partner. Intimacy is based on trust and authenticity — the ability to be vulnerable — “naked” not only physically, but emotionally.
  2. They lead to cover-up lies and omissions that can be hard to remember. These mount up, and if the truth comes out, it may be more hurtful than the original secret. The longer the truth is hidden, the greater becomes the hurdle of revelation, for it would bring into question every instance of cover-up and all times the innocent partner relied upon and trusted the betrayer.
  3. Because of number 1 and 2, above, the secret holder normally feels guilty, or at least uncomfortable, during intimate moments with the deceived person. Closeness and certain topics tend to be avoided. Avoidance may not even be conscious and include things like being preoccupied with work, friends, hobbies, or addictive behavior, and doing activities that leave little opportunity for private conversations.  The deceiver might even provoke an argument to create distance.
  4. Universally, honesty is valued as a moral norm, although the context and specifics may differ among different cultures. When we violate religious or cultural norms by hiding the truth, we experience anxiety generated by guilt. Despite our best efforts at hiding, our physiological reaction is the basis for electronic lie detectors.
  5. Violation of our values leads to not only guilt about our actions, but also it affects our self-concept. Over a long period, deception can eat away at our self-esteem. Ordinary guilt that could be reversed with honesty now becomes shame and undermines our fundamental sense of dignity and worthiness as a person. The gap between the self we show others and how we feel inside widens.
  6. Ways of managing guilt and shame create more problems. We hide not only the secret but more of who we are. We might build resentments to justify our actions, withdraw, or become critical, irritable, or aggressive. We rationalize our lie or secret to avoid the inner conflict and the danger we imagine awaits us if we come clean. Some people become obsessed with their lie to the point that they have difficulty concentrating on little else. Other people are able to compartmentalize their feelings or rationalize their actions to better manage dishonestly. Compartmentalization and denying, rationalizing (“What my partner doesn’t know won’t hurt him/her.”) or minimizing (“I only did it once.”) are psychological defenses that help us deal with inner conflict and an undesirable reality. They can be so effective that the liar is convinced that lying supports the relationship. He or she may not want to face the hurt or choices that the truth could precipitate.
  7. The victim of deception may begin to react to the avoidant behavior by feeling confused, anxious, angry, suspicious, abandoned, or needy. They may begin to doubt themselves, and their self-esteem may suffer.

What to Reveal

Opinions vary on how much “truth” others need to know. In some cultures, there’s a tacit understanding that infidelity is expected — as long as the adulterer is discreet. Mores change over time, so that homosexuality and transexuality, once taboos, are more openly accepted and discussed.  Similarly, the fact of adoption and information about the birth parents were once kept secret or only revealed when the child was older. Such jarring revelations often were traumatic, yet also explained confusing anomalies in the child’s mind. Today, it’s recommended that toddlers be told, and some families opt for open adoptions, where the birth mother is involved more or less in the child’s life.

We have a right to information about our heritage, particularly for medical reasons. Secrets about things such as addiction, criminality, and mental illness lead to chronic shame and family dysfunction. Children already “know” something’s wrong, but denial undermines their self-trust and reality testing.

In a sexual relationship, we have a right to know our partner’s intentions and fidelity for emotional as well as health reasons. Often faithful partners rationalize or deny this need and their vulnerability to their emotional detriment. By not asking questions or expressing their needs, they enable and collude in deception for the same reason that the betrayer is dishonest or secretive — to not rock the boat and jeopardize the relationship. When there’s been betrayal, even if the couple stays together, seeds of distrust linger and sometimes poison the relationship.

On the other hand, we also have a right to privacy. Even in the most intimate relationship, disclosure of conversations with our therapist, close friends, and relatives in my opinion, should be discretionary.

Victims of Betrayal

When the truth comes out, often it‘s enlightening. It can help the other person make sense of previously unexplained or confusing behavior. At the same time, it can be devastating and traumatic to discover that the one we loved and trust has betrayed us. It can shatter the image we have of our partner as well as our confidence in ourselves and even reality itself. Unfortunately, frequently victims of betrayal blame themselves. Although it may be fruitful to examine our behavior in order to learn from it, we’re never responsible for someone else’s actions or omissions. If the relationship wasn’t working, both partners have a responsibility to speak up and address problems.

There’s a natural desire to seek explanations and to know more facts. Aggrieved partners begin to review details of prior events and conversations, looking for overlooked clues and evidence of lies. They may painfully conclude that they and their partner have been living in two very different realities, which they once believed were shared. Even if the relationship survives, there’s loss when trust is broken. (See “Rebuilding Trust.”) As with all losses, our first reaction is denial, if not of the facts, then the severity of the impact. It may take time to accept the truth. Each of us will attribute a different meaning to the facts in order to heal and make peace with ourselves, our loved ones, and a disordered reality we once thought was safe and predictable.

When, and How to Reveal

What, when, why, and how we disclose are all essential factors. The timing, impact, and our motives should be carefully considered. The Ninth Step in Twelve Step Programs suggests making amends to people we’ve harmed, “except when to do so would injure them or others.” (See Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps.) Research shows that half-truths can leave you feeling even worse. (“Total Regret,” by Kelly Dickerson, Psychology Today, May 6, 2014.) Full disclosure may be necessary to rebuild a broken marriage. However, what are the compelling reasons to reveal an affair that’s long over or a current one that we have no intention of ending? In the first case, is it to deepen mutual intimacy, or in the latter, to avoid it or provoke a divorce that we’re afraid to initiate? Disclosing our dissatisfaction in the relationship might be the necessary conversation that if communicated earlier would have prevented the affair.

For everyone involved, the pain of the secrecy compounds the pain over the initial event, and the longer deception continues, the more damaging it is to self-esteem. Ideally, before revealing the truth to the person we’ve lied to, it’s helpful to have accepted our mistakes; otherwise, our shame and guilt can be obstacles to genuine empathy for the person we’ve harmed. First talk to someone nonjudgmental, whom you trust, or seek counseling. If we’ve forgiven ourselves, we’re in a better position to answer questions and face anger and hurt feelings that we’ve caused. To heal from guilt, see Freedom from Guilt and Blame: Finding Self-Forgiveness.

Each case of betrayal is unique. The potential damage and complications that surround lying as well as disclosure are things to consider when telling lies and keeping secrets. Contemplation in advance about the consequences of our actions to ourselves, our loved ones, and our relationships requires a degree of self-awareness, but can prevent unnecessary suffering. For more information on affairs, see www.dearpeggy.com.

©Darlene Lancer 2016

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Janet Singer <![CDATA[Freedom from OCD]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47970 2017-01-13T01:49:04Z 2017-01-14T15:10:25Z ]]> Obsessivecompulsive Disorder ConceptWhen he was dealing with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, my son Dan spent nine weeks in a world-renowned residential treatment program. During this time, he kept saying things such as “I’m fighting for my freedom,” or “I desperately want my freedom back.” I wasn’t sure if he was talking about getting out of the program, or about regaining his independence from his family. Neither seemed quite right to me.

Turns out I was right. It was neither. What Dan wanted and needed more than anything was freedom from OCD. Since that time, I have read many blogs and spoken to lots of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and I keep hearing variations of those same words: “I want freedom from OCD.” More than once, in fact, I have read first person accounts of those with OCD who have won their battle and they describe the “chains of OCD” being broken. They truly feel as if they are no longer prisoners.

But what does freedom from OCD really mean? Someone without the disorder might think it simply means saying good-bye to obsessive-compulsive disorder and having it be nothing more than a bad memory. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. While OCD is indeed highly treatable, it rarely goes away completely. So if you always have OCD, can you ever really experience freedom from it?

I would answer that question with a resounding Yes. Freedom from OCD does not necessarily signify the absence of OCD, but rather the lack of control that the disorder has over someone’s life. While a person who is not in control of their OCD will feel compelled to perform compulsions or avoid situations to rid themselves of the anxiety that comes with their obsessions, those who have freedom from OCD will accept their obsessions as just thoughts and nothing more. They will not let their OCD dictate how they live their lives. They are not prisoners.

It is not uncommon for those with OCD to name their disorder as a way of affirming that it is separate from themselves. I talk about personifying OCD in this post. While those who do not yet have their freedom from OCD might be dealing with something they call “The Enemy” or “The Dictator,” those who do have their freedom are dealing with something more akin to a little brother or sister tagging along behind them. Sure, they can be annoying and a bit of a nuisance, but you sure aren’t going to let them boss you around!

Gaining freedom from OCD takes a lot of hard work and doesn’t happen overnight. For many people, it might be an ongoing process. Exposure and response prevention therapy is the first line treatment for the disorder, and whether you work with a competent therapist or use a self-help book, ERP requires strength, courage, and an ongoing commitment. But it works. It’s not easy, but what worthwhile thing is?

When I write about Dan’s story these days, I often say, “Dan still has OCD, but OCD does not have Dan. There is a big difference.”

And that difference is freedom.

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Dominique Lyles http://www.momsbetterliving.com/ <![CDATA[What to Do When You Feel Like Giving Up]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47917 2017-01-09T22:51:05Z 2017-01-13T15:01:38Z ]]> Do Not Give Up Phrase In Wooden TypeWe all have been there. I was there several months ago. I wanted to just end everything because the worry, fear, and doubt was too much to handle. Sometimes giving up seems to be the easiest escape plan. However, to be honest, it is the biggest cop out for all of us. If you have experienced wanting to give up on something, a dream, a marriage, a job, I reassure you that you can change your thinking to reach a positive outlook on your situation.

There are practical steps you can take to address those feelings of wanting to throw in the towel. Below are 5 tips you can use when you feel like giving up. Maybe they will give you an idea or two about how to approach those feelings of wanting to quit.

1. Extend the time in which you expect to achieve the goal.

For example, many people take the leap of faith to do a weight loss challenge at the first of the year. Some may even go as far to hire a trainer and nutritionist. You establish a date to achieve your weight loss goal. However, as you embark on the process you realize the 2lbs you wanted to lose your first week is harder than you think. You feel defeated. But, you can alter this and scale back your time frame. Instead of pushing yourself to lose 2lbs in a week. Challenge yourself to lose 2lbs in 2 weeks instead. There is no harm in adjusting the time, yet still holding onto the goal.

2. Eliminate other activities to make more time for the goal.

If you have decided that you really want to achieve a certain goal no matter what, even though you are behind, then decide which activities you should make priority.  Sometimes we have to eliminate certain activities that may prevent us from reaching our goal. This does not mean we cannot pick them back up at a later time. Just evaluate what is priority and what is not.

3. Evaluate the goal and determine if an adjustment is necessary.

Maybe the original goal was to run a half marathon before summer, but you’ve encountered circumstances that have hindered your ability to run. Perhaps an injury or illness. The point is, you can still run that half marathon, but to make it happen before summer, the original schedule you set up needs to be modified. Adjust to each circumstance. Circumstances will arise when trying to achieve something in life. You cannot allow an obstacle to hinder you from reaching a goal.

Maybe you are dieting and you really wanted to lose a certain amount by a certain time. You haven’t lost the amount you should each week to meet the goal. Instead of giving up, adjust the goal and stay positive!

4. Experience the feelings but drop the effects. 

We sometimes can have a hard time controlling our feelings and emotions. The weight of a heavy issues can effect and beat up on our natural human reaction to remain positive. It is perfectly fine to experience the feelings of wanting to give up. However, the key to success will be not to dwell on your emotions. Find peace through affirmations, mediation, and even working out to allow your mind to focus on the positive. Saturate yourself around positive people to combat negative energy.

5. Envision success.

You have heard the saying, if you envision success, you can achieve success. No matter what happens, never stop moving towards your goal. Always remind and think about what it would be to feel victorious.

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Jennifer Artesani, M.Ed., LMHC http://www.cwscf.com/ <![CDATA[Using Social Media on the Autism Spectrum]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47899 2017-01-07T19:46:49Z 2017-01-12T15:02:27Z ]]> follow_meThose on the Autism Spectrum are consistently having to work more often than most on understanding what’s appropriate or expected in this world we live in. As the world grows technologically so do our situations in which social expectations can become confusing. While the purpose of this article is to help those with specific social difficulties it’s important to remember that we all struggle at some point or another with complications with our social skills.

It would be great if we all were provided with constructive feedback from our peers on social media when we have offended, annoyed, or made them uncomfortable. Unfortunately when we upset someone via social media we are often met with either a public verbal bashing, an “unfollow”, or a “delete” of friendship. While these actions inform us that something went wrong it does not quite let us know what we did or did not do that was “unacceptable.” That is the purpose of this article. To help us understand what the social expectations of social media are and how to resolve the situation when it occurs. Again, this article is not only for those on the Autism Spectrum.

Oftentimes we are unaware when we have crossed a social boundary because our intentions were good. In the world of social media good intentions come in the form of “liking” or “commenting” on someone’s posts or pictures. Seems innocent right? Why wouldn’t someone want to know that their picture or post was appreciated? Is that not why they posted it in the first place? These are all correct assumptions. However, those unspoken social rules still apply on social media as they would in our everyday lives.

Imagine what it would be like if the same person complimented you ten times in a row. The first few compliments would probably make us feel good and bring about a big smile. But as they continued to rocket fire those compliments or “likes” at us that smile would likely slowly start to fade and even eventually lead to feeling uncomfortable. This scenario applies to our social media compliments (better known as “likes” and “comments”) as well. When we over “like” or “comment” on too many pictures or posts of the same person that person may eventually begin to feel uncomfortable. So how much is too much? What is the magic number of “likes” or “comments” before we’ve crossed the line? Unfortunately there is no magic number which perpetuates the difficulties of our unspoken social expectations of appropriateness.

To help us gauge appropriate amounts think of when someone receives an alert about your action on their social media page. Picture in your head how that alert shows up and imagine how often your “face” or name shows up. Seeing your name or “face” five or more times at the same moment may become overwhelming for the person. While your act was innocent enough and happened all within minutes of each other because that happens to be the time you have set aside to use social media to the other person it may simply be too much at once. So while there is not set rule to follow, a good rule of thumb could be to keep it to three or less “likes” and “comments” (combined) for the same person. While it may not be as many compliments or praises that you would like to give them they will still feel appreciated and liked by your three or less compliments.

While we are trying to maintain social appropriateness we are not perfect. There will be times that we have crossed those social boundaries. Then what? Engage in the public display of someone “calling us out” on our social inappropriateness? Accept the friendship is over when they hit “delete”? Luckily, we have options and we can resolve it. We all cross social boundaries so we should all learn how to resolve situations when we do.

Let’s say you made a post that offended someone. You’ll know they were offended when they reply to your post with frowny faces or some not so nice words. You will then be left with two options. Join them in the online debate that typically never has an agreed upon winner or try to privately resolve the issue. Why privately? Approaching others privately takes away the need to impress an audience with our “comebacks” and well planned out wording. Taking this need away from both your “component” and yourself will allow for a more honest and likely resolution. You can approach someone privately either in person, giving them a call, or messaging them. Since written word can be misinterpreted in person or on the phone is best but writing to them privately is still more useful then writing to them publicly for others to see “the show.”

So now that we’ve determined how to approach someone when they are upset with something we have said what is our next step? We then want to address them politely as to reduce their assumption that our goal is to continue the argument or defend ourselves. This may look something like this: “Hey! How are you? I saw your response to my post and it makes be believe that I may have offended you. That of course was not my intention and I would like to clear the air with you.” We never have to apologize for our values and opinions. However, if we would like to keep relationships we should be comfortable with apologizing if our expressions of our values and opinions have offended or hurt someone else. Our intention of the expression was not to offend others so apologizing if it does is appropriate and by no means indicates you have changed your stance.

Now that we have reviewed how to resolve conflicts that may arise based on of our posts we should probably address how to reduce these conflicts from arising in the first place. Although we cannot guarantee we will not offend others we can reduce the likelihood of doing so. For this we can follow a historic social skills rule of: avoid topics of religion, finances, and politics. These three topics have been known to cause controversy and arguments since the dawn of time. That is why it is such a well-known social rule. However, this rule seems to be becoming more and more ignored everyday on social media.

While the purpose of this section is not to inform others to be ignorant of these topics and to never speak of them it is rather to remember why this golden rule came about. We are not likely to be close with all of our connections on social media. So they do not typically have old memories with us or frequent enjoyable encounters with us. Therefore what we post may be the gist of their interactions with us.

It is unlikely that you will share the same views and opinions on these three topics as everyone on your social media. Therefore just by doing the math posting your opinion on these topics will guarantee someone to disagree publicly and most likely lead to online debates and possibly offending others. These topics should not be ignored but would be better suited spoken about with people with whom you trust and who have a more serious connection with you. The reason for this is because if they disagree with you they are not likely to cease the relationship based off one discussion as they will likely have a greater connection with you in other areas.

To wrap things up let us remember to be aware that the same social skills rules we have for our daily lives also exist on social media. Be aware that controversial topics increase chances of confrontations of others. If we do experience confrontations be sure to approach them politely and privately to better our chances of resolution and maintaining the relationship. Although we are just trying to be nice, be aware of how often you are “liking” someone’s posts or pictures as to reduce overwhelming them. Most importantly have fun and enjoy the many benefits of social media and connecting with others!

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Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW <![CDATA[Is Being Popular All It’s Cracked Up to Be?]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47893 2017-01-07T19:47:09Z 2017-01-11T15:12:58Z ]]> “I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important, and a lot greater, than popularity.” -Julius Erving

“When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it’s because he’s so human; and that is the secret of his popularity.” – Walt Disney

Group of people holding hands“Jenna” (name changed, although she gave permission to share her story) is a 16-year-old who entered therapy of her own volition, with the full support of her concerned parents. Presenting with symptoms of depression and voicing that she experiences social anxiety, she was willing to discuss with the clinician that she wanted to “feel better about me and my life.” She let her therapist know that like many girls her age, she worries that she will be judged for how she looks, how she speaks and what she thinks. The onset of her insecurities was middle school. Prior to that, she was confident, had many friends and had little concern about the impression she made. A happy-go-lucky kid was the image reflected in the mirror.

Her interests are many and varied; from writing (one of her admitted passions) to music (indie-pop and world music are favorites). She admits being a ‘quirky kid,’ not like her friends. She has out of the box thoughts. Her best friend is a girl she describes as “making friends everywhere she goes. I could never do that. I would have to change my whole personality.” Her fashion sense likely resembles those of her peers; ripped jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, a few ear piercings, multiple bracelets, sneakers or boots. Her hair is stylish. Most would say she is ‘cute,’ forgoing makeup for a more natural look. She seems not to feel a need to keep up with her friends in terms of appearance. She sees that as a strength, which her therapist reinforces. She seems to be able to hold her own in conversation with her counselor about topics that would be deemed more sophisticated and mature.

The subject of popularity arose in a recent session. How would she define it? “Acting in ways that have other people wanting to be like you and be around you.” For Jenna, it isn’t about quantity, but the quality of friendships. She has another close friend in addition to the one referenced earlier. With both of them, she can be authentic and true to her feelings. Sadly, she still doesn’t place herself in the popular category, since she doesn’t view herself as someone to emulate.

Why Do Teens Want to Be Popular?

  • Adolescence is a time of uncertainty; that bridge between childhood and adulthood
  • A sense of belonging and finding their tribe who engage in similar rituals
  • A belief that being popular makes them unbreakable and invulnerable
  • They may be stepping back from parent-child relationship and creating their own sovereignty
  • Defining personal values that shape interpersonal interactions
  • Feeling that what they do and who they are is of consequence
  • Bolstering a flagging sense of self-worth
  • Creating a personal identity

What Are  Qualities of the Cool Kids“?

This 58-year-old professional still ponders that question. High School was a paradoxical time for me. I felt insecure and in some ways like the aforementioned client. It wasn’t about fame, but more about inclusivity and validation. There was a push-pull element to it. On the one hand, I didn’t want to fit into a mold, instead, desiring to be unique. On the other hand, I wanted to belong and not be considered ‘weird.’ Ironically, now I claim that status and confess that there are times when I stretch beyond the cultural norms; such as using vegan hair dye in bright, vivid shades of purple and pink.  It causes eye rolls and sighs in my 29-year-old son who tells me it is “unprofessional,” but has strangers who are my age and some young enough to be my children, applauding my boldness.

When I contemplate the people in my adult life who I would consider popular, I observe that they are usually kind, caring and compassionate and place a high value on relationships. When I step into the ‘way back machine’ and return to the late 1970’s when I was in High School, I observe that those who were the ‘cool kids’ were star athletes, cheerleaders, and student government leaders. In some cases, the roles overlapped. As I reconnected with some of my classmates at our 35th reunion, we laughed at the roads we have all taken since then and I was delighted to see that many had embraced the adult values I described. In their current circles, some would say they are popular and some would claim it matters less now than it did back then.

Popularity comes at a cost

  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol
  • Increased criminal activity
  • Needing to maintain status and position
  • Limited choice of friends- since they may feel they can’t ‘lower themselves’ to associate with those less popular
  • Constant re-evaluation of appearance
  • Needing to consistently ‘take the temperature’ of the room and adapt
  • Pressure to be a trendsetter

Is It Hip to Be Square?

A study conducted at the University of Virginia indicates that those who were considered cool in school, “were more likely to have bigger troubles later in life. As young adults, they were using 40% more drugs and alcohol than the ‘not so cool’ kids and were 22% more likely to be running into troubles with the law. When their social competence as adults was quantified (which included how well they got along with friends, acquaintances, and romantic partners), the teens considered cool in middle school received ratings that were 24% lower than their less cool peers.”

Instant Ways to Become More Popular

  • Listen with the intent to understand, not to respond.
  • If you have ever wanted to be a cheerleader, now is your chance. Be a solid support to the people in your life as you champion their success.
  • Spread “good gossip,” by saying nice (not mean) things about your family and friends. You are an influencer whose words have power.
  • Welcome new people into your circles.
  • Self-confidence is an attractive quality that will draw people to you.
  • Be the kind of person you would want to have as a friend.
  • Help people feel good about themselves.
  • Be generous of spirit and heart.
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Jennifer Pankowski <![CDATA[A Systematic Approach to Understanding Learning Styles in Students with Disabilities]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47889 2017-01-07T19:47:44Z 2017-01-10T15:10:32Z ]]> Three People Holding Question MarkThe way in which individuals perceive information and process it in different ways has an impact on learning. The understanding that each individual possess a unique set of biological and developmental characteristics that support their ability to learn is not a new concept, however the manner in which these needs are met academically can become a controversial topic. “Not everybody learns the same way — we all have our national preferences as to how we acquire and store the information that we learn”, so how do educators make it work for all students, including those with learning disabilities? (Learning styles of children, 2009).

Although the general idea for the existence of individual learning styles has become a widely accepted premise in modern education, “there are a number of extensions and/or variations… particularly in relationship to the nature of the specific types of learning styles and how the elements are assessed” (Dunn et al., 2009). It is with these variations that the questions of why students with various disabilities develop a preference towards some learning styles over others, is posed. By understanding why different students develop preferences towards different learning modalities, teachers can develop curriculum programs that work with less trial and error, and more success.

Learning Styles Defined

Understanding a student’s preference for a specific learn style is a complicated undertaking which often involves experimentation with various learning styles in order to unfold which style will best serves the needs of an individual student. There are various tools that are used in the field of education to identify various types of learning preference including those outlines by Gardner’s (1983) eight Multiple Intelligences. It was the belief of Gardner that there are several types of intelligences that can exist and that identification of intelligence through IQ (Intelligence Quota) alone does not effectively cater to the needs and abilities of all learners.

Kolb offers another model based on two preference dimensions theorizing that people develop preferences for different learning styles in the same way that they develop any other sort of style.

Why Learning Styles are Important for Students with Disabilities

Not everybody learns in the same way, we all have natural preferences and tendencies as to how we acquire and store the information. The cognitive development of students with disabilities is often starkly different then that of students without disabilities, however understanding how it differs from traditional child development is important to understanding how learning style identification can assist students with disabilities. Why and how does students create accommodations to account for disabilities and how students with similar disabilities make similar accommodations are threads that can weave a better understanding of how individuals learn.

It is the argument of Christie (2000), that there is a neurological explanation for the development of specific learning styles. Christie explores the brain as well as neurological and psychological processes involved in cognitive development and how these cognitive processes can explain the development of specific preferences in human learning.  

Christie explains that hemisphere dominance is often demonstrated in learning and the development of various skills, for example, expressive and receptive language, reasoning and sequencing are all found in the left hemisphere, while geometric figure identification, visual forms and facial identity are located in the right hemisphere. What does this mean for students with disabilities? When looking at the neurological effects of specific disabilities, a relationship may be found that students with similar disabilities may also have a similar hemisphere dominance which causes them to gravitate towards learning styles that accommodate for their particular disability.

A study on abnormal brain development by Escalante-Mead, Minshew and Sweeney (2003) offers compelling evidence for Christie’s argument.  This study discovered that disturbances in lateral preference in individuals with autism potentially shed light on brain maturational processes in this disorder. Individuals with autism and a history of early language disturbance showed more atypical cerebral dominance than both healthy participants and individuals with autism who had normal early language skills. The arguments by Christie (2000) as well as Escalante-Mead, Minshew and Sweeney (2003) offer scientific reasoning and explanation for the development of learning styles. “A critical relationship between our students and learning in the classroom is association…In education it is absolutely imperative that we assist our students to draw associations from sensory input to neurological processing to expressive output” (Christie, 2000, p. 328).

Christie accounts for association in students with disabilities by suggesting that the brain dominance of students with disabilities may be damaged or otherwise effected and therefore these students must use a method of association to overcome or over compensate for a disability. It is through an analysis of these works (Christie, 2000; Escalante-Mead, et. Al, (2003), that one can understand the argument that learning style preference is a neurological phenomenon which can offer insist into how the brain is involved in learning style preference development in individuals with disabilities.  

The compelling argument posed may offer incite into why students with Autism are often tactile learners. Does their disability and development offer a clue? Is it a cognitive adaptation?

Perhaps one of the most convincing examples for the role of the brain in learning style development in students with disabilities is in individuals with dyslexia.  A case study by Norris and Kershner (1996) offers additional validity to the neurological understanding of learning style preference development in individuals with dyslexia.  This study assessed the neuropsychological validity of the modality preference (learning style) of individuals with dyslexia with regarding to reading. The idea that learning styles are linked to the brain and that specific associations can be made to accommodate different types of learning is a sentiment that is also shared by Christie (2000). According to the research in this study, students who were considered fluent readers rated their reading styles to be more strongly auditory and visual than children with dyslexia. The authors of this study “assume that left-hemisphere engagement implicates a preference for auditory processing and that right-hemisphere engagement implicates a relatively greater preference for visual processing” (Norris & Kershner, 1996, p.234).  This research on dyslexia further supports the idea that by understanding what area of the brain is effected by a specific disability; teachers will be better able to determine a student’s learning style preference and better assist that child to learn.

While the research completed by Norris and Kershner, Christie and Escalante-Mead, Minshew and Sweeney all use a neurological rationale to explain why students with similar disabilities often share a common learning style preference, arguments have also been made outside the area of science as to why learning style preference coincides with specific disability types.  Heiman (2006) addresses the differences which exist among various students at the university level assessing the different learning styles which develop in students with and without learning disabilities. The results of this study found that students with learning disabilities preferred to use more stepwise processing, including memorization and drilling practice. In addition, these students reported a higher need for self-regulation strategies than their non-learning disabled peers.  

The presupposition that, students with learning disabilities face academic difficulties which provoke the use of different learning styles than students without learning disabilities is a common difficulty that causes a common accommodation to develop in students with disabilities is a compelling one.

Learning Styles for Students with Both Abilities and Disabilities

The line between those who are gifted and those who are disabled is not always one that is clear in the field of education. Often those students who have a disability which inhibits one or more areas of learning are able to uncover an area of giftedness as well.  This giftedness in turn provides them with a means of learning and understanding through a learning style preference that can be universally adapted into an education plan such as an Individual Education Plan (IEP).

The work of Reis, Schader, Miline and Stephens (2003) explores how students with Williams Syndrome have used music as a means of learning development. This idea of educational programs that focus on “remediating their deficits” is a bold one that has the potential to unlock hidden potentials for many students. The authors pose the idea of using learning style preference to unlock these students’ potential rather than using a program that works to address what are seen as deficits.

The thought provoking data provides support for the idea for learning styles as a means of assisting students to learn, as well as the argument that specific disabilities often promote the development of common and specific learning style preferences.

Conclusion

The benefit of unlocking why specific learning style preferences exists is in the ability of educators to find a curriculum that works for students with disabilities using fewer trials and errors, and therefore minimizing the frustration of failure. “According to Dunn (1983) learning style assessment enables educators to avoid the ‘hit or miss’ approach in determining which instructional techniques are appropriate for each student” (Yong & McIntyre, p. 124, 1992).

The developmental nature of how and why specific learning styles develop in students with disabilities is significant for the future of education of students with disabilities. This knowledge can help researchers and educators to develop plans and curriculums that are designed to more effectively meet the needs of various learners. With this information it becomes possible to develop work programs that use learning modalities for job training programs for individuals with different ways of learning.  This information can help students with disabilities become more integrated into their own communities and become a vital part of our society. The question that needs probing after identifying how and why learning styles develop is; how can this information extend past the classroom and into the world outside school?

References

Christie, S. (2000). The brain: Utilizing multi-sensory approaches for individual learning styles. Education, 121(2), 327-330.

Dunn, R., Honigsfeld, A., Shea-Doolan, L., Bostrom, L., Russo, K., Schiering, M., Suh, B., Tenedero, H. (January/February 2009).  Impact of learning-style instructional strategies on students’ achievement and attitudes: Perceptions of educators in diverse institutions. The Clearing House 82(3), p. 135. doi: 10.3200/TCHS.82.3.135-140

Escalante-Mead, P., Minshew N., & Sweeney, J. (2003). Abnormal brain lateralization in high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33(5), 539-543. doi: 10.1023/A:1025887713788

Heiman, T. (2006). Assessing learning styles among students with and without

learning disabilities at a distance-learning university. Learning Disability

Quarterly, 29(Winter), 55-63.

Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and

Development. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Learning styles for children. (2009). In About Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.aboutlearningdisabilities.co.uk/learning-styles-for-children-with-learning-disabilities.html

Norris, A., & Kershner, J. (1996). Reading styles in children with dyslexia: A neuropsychological evaluation of modality preference on the reading style inventory. Learning Disability Quarterly, 19(Fall), 233-240.

Reis, S., Schader, R., Miline, H., & Stephens, R. (2003). Music and minds: Using a talent development approach for young adults with williams syndrome. Exceptional Children, 69(3), 293-313.

Yong, F., & McIntyre, J. (1992, February). A Comparative study of the learning style preferences of students with learning disabilities and students who are gifted. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25(2), 124-132.

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Nicole Gent https://nicolegent.com/ <![CDATA[3 Ways Weaning Your Baby Can Affect Your Mental Health and What to Do about It]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47849 2017-01-01T21:28:31Z 2017-01-09T15:32:21Z ]]> A closer look at what happens to your body when you stop breastfeeding

Happy mother with babyBreastfeeding is rich in benefits for both you and your baby. You already know that.

Increased immune functioning, higher IQ in late childhood and possibly a lowered risk of adulthood obesity are some of the benefits for your baby, while lowered stress and anxiety, faster weight loss postpartum and increased bonding are some of the many benefits you gain as a nursing mother.

But what happens when you stop?

Whether your baby self-weans (just stops nursing), or your work schedule makes weaning necessary or you decide it’s simply the right time to stop, weaning your baby can have a dramatic effect on your body and your mental health. With so much focus on the benefits of breastfeeding, the side-effects of weaning are often overlooked. This can be devastating for a mom.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Hormonal Changes

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that hormones can have a significant impact on your mood. Most women experience some sort of mood change during their menstrual cycle after all, reporting mood swings, anxiety, sadness and, in some cases, even depression.

Oxytocin
One of the most significant hormones involved in breastfeeding is oxytocin. This hormone is released in your body as the milk is “let down” or released as you feed your baby. Originally labelled as the “love hormone,” it lowers stress, anxiety and increases bonding between you and your baby. Pretty amazing, don’t you think?

During weaning, the oxytocin levels in your body drop significantly and so, your body can experience a type of “withdrawal.” This change in your body can lead to an increase in anxiety, stress and in severe cases, feelings of detachment or distance between you and your baby. This can happen even when you willingly wean your baby.

The severity of these side effects usually depends on how quickly you wean your baby and how often you were breastfeeding your baby before you wean.

Prolactin and Estrogen
Prolactin (think pro lactation) helps to initiate and maintain breastmilk production, and so, when a successful breastfeeding relationship is established this hormone level is raised in your body. Higher levels of prolactin are also responsible for suppressed levels of estrogen which often (but not always) suppresses ovulation in your body. Many people view this as the body’s natural way of preventing pregnancy while your body nourishes your growing baby. The human body is amazing.

During weaning, therefore, things start swinging the other way; prolactin levels drop and estrogen levels rise. If your period hadn’t returned yet, this is when that would happen too. Makes perfect sense, right? Yes. The only problem is, these swinging hormones can have a serious impact on your mood and mental health and even lead to depression — especially in women that are particularly sensitive to hormone changes in their bodies.

What you can do

While these hormone changes are unavoidable, there are some practical measures you can put in place to “soften the blow” and cope with these difficult aspects of weaning.

  • If it is possible, wean your baby as slowly as you can.
    This will allow your body and your brain to deal with the changes slowly and steadily. Gradual weaning will also make the transition more gentle for your baby and, overall, a whole lot less traumatic for you both (not to mention helping you avoid painful engorgement).
  • Cuddle and hold your baby often.
    This will stimulate the production of oxytocin in your body and will also help you to feel more connected (emotionally and physically) to your baby through this journey.
  • Reduce stress.
    It isn’t a good idea to wean your baby under stressful situations, avoid this if you can. Find ways to cope with stress and anxiety if you find yourself experiencing this during weaning. Exercise (proven to provide relief from depression) can be great — and help prevent weight gain. Calming strategies such as deep breathing and stretching can be beneficial. It is also a good idea to invest in supplements that support your nervous system such as a vitamin B complex.
  • Don’t trust your negative feelings.
    What’s important to remember is that this is a physiological response and is in no way an indication of who you are as a mother. In the same way that PMS can make you feel like your world is falling apart only to discover that you’re actually ok a few days later; hormonal effects during weaning can play similar “tricks” on you.
  • Be patient.
    In time, your body will settle back into its pre-pregnant state. Depending on how long you breastfed for, it might even be two or more years since you had a normal period! After two or three cycles you will be a lot closer to feeling more like “your old self.” Hang in there.

2. Emotional Changes

Another way that weaning can affect your mental health is by the changes you go through emotionally.

Some moms report feeling a sense of loss, almost as if their babies don’t need them anymore — especially in cases when the baby self-weans (rejects the breast). The realization that your baby is growing and won’t always be your baby can also be very emotional for a mother.

While there are these negative feelings around weaning, there are also some positives.
Some moms report feeling a renewed sense of freedom, being able to take a break away from the baby without experiencing engorgement and having to rush home to feed or to the bathroom at work to express milk. It opens up the opportunity for others to help with feeds and may even mean that mom can get a little extra sleep at night if dad handles a night-feed.

What you can do

If you find yourself feeling particularly emotional and maybe even depressed about weaning:

  • Talk about it!
    Sharing your struggles and worries with your partner, a close friend or a family member will help you balance your perspective on your weaning experience. I distinctly remember the night my husband expressed how grateful he was that he could finally help with a night-feed and give me the gift of unbroken sleep. This shifted my focus and helped me to see the good stuff too.
  • Embrace a new season.
    As difficult as it is to go through the emotional turmoil surrounding weaning, take advantage of this new sense of freedom. Go to dinner and a movie. Buy yourself some non-breastfeeding clothes (and bras!). Have a glass of wine. Embrace the good stuff, it’s there if you look for it.
  • Get help.
    If you find yourself feeling sad and low long after weaning, you might be depressed and need help. Talk to a doctor or healthcare professional you trust, you owe it to you and your baby to feel okay.

3. Physical Changes

You’ve recently had a baby, the chances are you’re probably not feeling like a beauty queen but there are distinct physical changes that happen after weaning that might take you be surprise — and get you down!

  • Weight gain.
    This can be particularly discouraging for moms who have just weaned their babies but the chances are you will gain some weight. On average, breastfeeding your baby burns up to 700 calories a day. By weaning your baby you will no longer be burning this energy and instead it will be stored in your body. Voila! Extra pounds.

    Did you know that severely overweight people are 55% more likely to experience depression? This is most likely due to obesity causing a lowered self-esteem (a known trigger of depression).

  • Breast changes.
    Initially, when you wean, your breasts will be engorged and will be quite full in shape but as prolactin levels drop and your milk supply decreases (it can take up to 2 months or more to dry up completely) your breasts may appear flat and sagging.

    In time, as your hormones regulate, they should fill out a little but they may never quite get back to what they once were. Breasts are such a strong symbol of femininity and sexiness and this change alone can be enough to discourage even the most optimistic of women.

What you can do

  • Exercise.
    One of the best ways to take care of your body and prevent excessive weight gain, is — you guessed it — exercise. Start gently and increase your levels of fitness gradually. Just knowing that you’re doing something about your weight gain can boost your morale and help you feel positive. Grab a friend (or your stroller!) and go for a walk.
  • Eat healthily.
    After months of an increased appetite due to breastfeeding, it can be challenging cutting back on calories and watching what you eat. But do it. Fruit, veg, unprocessed food and as much healthy stuff as you can find will go a long way to maintaining a healthy weight, self-image and, of course, your emotional health.
  • Avoid the mirror, naked!
    Don’t do it. Don’t stand in front of the mirror naked so you can examine all your flaws (and saggy boobs). Give your body — and your breasts — time.

Now that you understand the various side effects of weaning on your body, take the necessary steps to care for yourself, physically and mentally. You’ve given your baby a great start by breastfeeding, well done! Celebrate that as you move on to a new season.

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Tina Arnoldi <![CDATA[Book Review: Changing to Thrive]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47733 2016-12-31T15:53:36Z 2017-01-08T15:34:17Z Change is hard. If it wasn’t, the diet pill industry alone would go out of business overnight. People who are desperate to make a change look for that quick fix […]]]>

Change is hard. If it wasn’t, the diet pill industry alone would go out of business overnight. People who are desperate to make a change look for that quick fix solution because their past efforts have failed multiple times.

In Changing to Thrive: Using the Stages of Change to Overcome the Top Threats to Your Health and Happiness, James O. Prochaska and Janice M. Prochaska acknowledge that changing behaviors is easier said than done. Many have stated intentions to change, especially on January 1st, but don’t achieve lasting success. Changing to Thrive teaches the reader why past efforts have failed by walking through the different stages of change and what it takes to increase the likelihood of maintaining that change. Their motto is “Wherever you are at, we can work with that,” acknowledging that not everyone is at the same level of readiness.

The first step toward change is the precontemplation or the “not ready” stage. This describes people who don’t anticipate taking any action in the next six months. It is possible they have made attempts to change in the past and have become discouraged because of repeated failures. The cause of failure is often due to the method of change. It is very likely they had tried programs in the past that were action oriented, which does not work for people who are merely in the beginning stages of considering change. Success in action-oriented programs comes only after people move out of the precontemplation phase.

People getting ready to move forward are considered to be in the contemplation stage. They do intend to take some sort of action in the next six months. Getting closer to the action stage happens when people can look at the advantages and disadvantages of making a change versus staying in their current state and begin to see advantages outnumber the disadvantages. When people make a pro-con list and the positives outweigh the negatives in favor of change, then they are on the right track toward taking action.

As people prepare for change, they need to educate themselves on the problems that they’re having. For example, smokers preparing for action may find a reason to quit smoking once they understand the negative impact on their physical health. They can then consciously list the pros and cons of smoking and are able to really see all the cons because they do intend to change. Each person has to decide his or her personal pros for making a change and by doing so, the cons will slowly decrease in their impact. For example, one con for a change might be that it takes too much time. To decrease the impact of this particular con, a person may counteract it by saying that the time invested now will pay off later when better health is experienced.

Once a person decides to move into action, it is important to plan for what it will take to maintain that action. Habits — both good and bad — are learned over time, so it’s possible to learn new behaviors that can become more powerful than the old negative habits. Developing a new habit that sticks includes changing thought processes and the statements people make to themselves. Maintenance is also dependent on the need to proactively seek good social supports, rather than negative ones, such as hanging out with people in a smoking area where it would be too easy to continue smoking. It gets complicated because people are no longer impacted only by the people that are physically around them. Now the whole world is open to them through social media, so it’s important to have the right people online and offline as part of the support network.

None of these steps or stages are a clear-cut, linear process where people move from precontemplation to contemplation to preparation to action to maintenance. Rather people go back and forth between the different stages, and that’s important for people to know so they don’t get discouraged when they step back. Change happens one small step at a time and it is okay to not go through this process in a linear fashion.

After reviewing each of these steps, the authors then walk through how this would apply to behavior changes many struggle with, like smoking, alcohol use, eating habits and exercise.  When it comes to eating, much of what people do is triggered by the presence or absence of some stimulus. The authors explain, “For example, most of us were conditioned by our parents to eat everything on our plates, after which we were reinforced and rewarded with more food, namely dessert .“ It seems very obvious now that this was a learned behavior that is definitely changeable. However, since most people engage in automatic behaviors, they don’t consciously think about what or why they do something.

When it comes to changing eating habits, the plan a person selects needs to be one they choose — not a single solution that’s dictated to him or her by a well-meaning expert or helping professional. For example, to eat the “right” number of calories, a person can eat 500 fewer calories per day, eat until they’re 80% full, or reduce calorie intake a little bit at a time. When people have three options to choose from they are more likely to stick with one they choose for the long-term rather than the one option that someone may provide. Once someone makes a commitment to change in the way that works for them, sharing commitments with others is important so willpower is not weakened.

The stages of change model is powerful for any area where behavioral change is desired. People who want to work through the book on their own will find a number of practical exercises they can do in each section to develop their pros and cons for changing a behavior and determine how ready they are for change. An honest look at how ready they are informs them on what steps they to take in order to move to the next level of the model rather than jumping right into action if they are not genuinely ready.

For those who work in the mental health field, this book can be a good reminder that not everyone is going to be in the exact same place in their readiness for behavioral changes. It can be less frustrating when clinicians understand that they’re working with someone who’s only in the precontemplation stage rather than assuming everyone is in the action stage. Even if someone comes for help, it does not mean that they are in the action stage. Someone else may be dictating the change. This individual may only be in precontemplation or contemplation stage and that is important to know in order to move forward with the appropriate planning. A good understanding of this model will change the way professionals work with clients and help people who have been frustrated with their failed efforts to change in the past.

Changing to Thrive: Using the Stages of Change to Overcome the Top Threats to Your Health and Happiness
Hazelden Publishing, October 2016
Paperback, 260 pages
$16.95

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Claire Nana <![CDATA[Book Review: Narrative Therapy in Wonderland]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47730 2016-12-31T15:50:55Z 2017-01-07T15:48:41Z Parents, and therapists, have forever marveled at the ability of children’s imagination to transcend everyday experiences. In their new book, Narrative Therapy in Wonderland: Connecting With Children’s Imaginative Know How, […]]]>

Parents, and therapists, have forever marveled at the ability of children’s imagination to transcend everyday experiences. In their new book, Narrative Therapy in Wonderland: Connecting With Children’s Imaginative Know How, David Marsten, David Epston, and Laurie Markham explore how imagination can be used not just to transcend the everyday, but to transform therapeutic problems and a family’s experience of them.

Imagination can transcend structured norms and institutionalized relationships, and that means experiences of unexpected potency can happen. The authors explain, “We define imagination as ‘the ability to deal resourcefully with unexpected or unusual problems.'” And it is exactly this resourcefulness that emerges when children are given the opportunity to harness what the authors contend might be their greatest strength — their imagination. By enlisting their imagination in ways that illuminate their desires, hopes, and goals, children can also learn how to address problems by calling on their strengths and skills.

The authors tell us that narrative, and the use of story, has been historically useful as a vehicle for shaping our understanding of our lives and the world around us. They write, “It is especially after something unexpected has occurred or a narrative value has been transgressed, that we turn to narrative to make sense of events.” By becoming coauthors instead of clinicians, therapists help children engage in a creative process where the child takes the leading role.

As opposed to a typical problem-saturated therapeutic discussion, the authors demonstrate how narrative therapy transforms the process of overcoming problems into an often exciting quest for a child in which the problem is externalized in a way that opens space for a child to enact his own innovative approaches.

Where traditional therapy might ask what is wrong with a child, narrative therapy often asks just the opposite. One example is the wonderfulness interview, where parents are asked to describe what is wonderful about their children, and in doing so, children are given a central — and important role — in the therapeutic process.

Viewing children as multistoried also opens the door for problems to be viewed as multistoried. “In our meetings with children, problems are divested of their sashes and gowns and dispossessed of their rank in the ivory tower,” the authors write. Here, the authors describe how the story of a young boy pulling his hair out is transformed into a story of a young boy who has been tricked by bed bugs to pull his hair out so they could steal it.

Externalizing problems in this way allows for the development of two perspectives: that of the problem, and that of the child contending with the problem. The authors write, “At the very least, we bring to light the problem’s agenda and make room for what may ultimately become known as the young person’s counteragenda.”

By allowing the child to be seen, and become known as someone other than what is portrayed by the problem, the contrast between the designs of the problem and the desires of the young person become clear. It is here, the authors contend, that new possibilities may arise. Many of these possibilities can also be facilitated by a skilled clinician, and the authors give numerous examples of how a child may learn to use mischief to, for example, play a joke on a problem, to cast doubt on the problem, to expose the problem as clueless, or discover it as jealous. “It can be incumbent upon us as practitioners to animate the conversation by means of inventive proposals and sleights of hand, especially during moments when conversations flag and imagination has gone missing,” the authors write.

By redefining problems as things that capitalize on the experiences of children and often lure them into secluded existences, and further, offering an alternative view of children themselves as powerful agents of change, narrative therapy also allows for a relational composition of identity. When the experiences of friends, caregivers, and relatives dovetail with that of a child, a communal response can be a potent therapeutic force.

Narrative therapy, however, faces a formidable opponent in modern day society. Traditional psychiatry relies on distinct labels, categorical diagnoses, and often one-sided views of children and the problems that are strapped upon them, and would rather medicate than investigate. Explaining their approach, the authors say, “Though conventional wisdom would suggest otherwise, problems are not in the least bit intimidated by professional diagnosticians. In fact, they often appreciate the attention they receive and the ways in which they are legitimized and awarded lofty titles. There is no substitute for young people as lead agents, though we can certainly supplement their efforts by taking active supporting roles.”

The vivid transcripts, exquisitely crafted questions, dramatic surprises, and insightful prose of Narrative Therapy in Wonderland demonstrates something children so intuitively know: it is in the imagination that we become the most powerful version of ourselves, a version that transcends our preconceptions, assumptions, and problems.

Narrative Therapy in Wonderland: Connecting With Children’s Imaginative Know How
W.W. Norton & Company, November 2016
Hardcover, 320 Pages
$35.00

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Tamara Hill, MS, LPC <![CDATA[Book Review: The Sexual Trauma Workbook for Teen Girls]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47659 2016-12-31T15:47:00Z 2017-01-06T15:44:50Z Only about 30% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities, according to the National Sexual Offender Public Website. That number is extremely low. Why? Some research suggests that sexual […]]]>

Only about 30% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities, according to the National Sexual Offender Public Website. That number is extremely low. Why? Some research suggests that sexual abuse victims don’t report sexual violence either out of fear of retaliation by the perpetrator or the fear of psychological and emotional damage that can occur during medical examinations and legal proceedings around the assault, which can be an embarrassing and shameful experience for victims. As a result, many females, primarily adolescent girls, refuse to report sexual violence. Even more shocking, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, every 8 minutes, Child Protective Services in the United States finds evidence for (and not against) child sexual abuse in cases where authorities have been contacted.

Do you know someone with a history of sexual abuse or rape? How was this person’s mood, behavior, or affect (i.e., physical appearance, primarily the face) after the event? Most likely the person has experienced some form of change in terms of behavior, affect, and thinking patterns. Rape or sexual abuse is traumatic. The trauma may be short-term or long-term, but it will never be easy for the victim to overcome outside of therapy or spiritual support (i.e., a pastor, youth Pastor, Mentor, etc.). Trauma requires therapy or counseling so the individual can learn healthy coping skills, emotionally and cognitively process the incident, and find healthy ways to be at peace with oneself. Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, MS, LPC, and Sheela Raja, PhD, recognized this need and wrote the manual The Sexual Trauma Workbook for Teen Girls: A Guide to Recovery From Sexual Assault and Abuse.

There is a compassionate letter from the authors in the introduction to help readers feel understood, and readers are encouraged to reach out for help if they begin to feel negative emotions, flashbacks, or other challenging emotions while reading. There is also a therapy-needs checklist that helps readers identify their needs. Each chapter has a “my story” section in which personal stories are provided to the reader. This is a good idea as it gives concrete examples to teens who may struggle with sharing their story or experience. Activities 1-6 seems to focus on helping girls conceptualize what has happened to them and find purpose and meaning after the traumatic event. Activities 7-20 seem to focus exclusively on healing, maintaining healthy coping skills, and moving past the trauma of sexual abuse/assault. The remaining activities focus on identification of symptoms and negative thought patterns such as nightmares, symptoms of PTSD, anger, fear, shame, guilt, and depression or anxiety. There are also additional resources that would be very helpful to teen girls and their families.

Each chapter focuses on important topics such as self-care, building coping skills, sleep hygiene, building insight about thoughts and feelings, breathing and relaxation techniques, meditations, guided imagery, acceptance of the incident, journaling or expressive writing, processing the incident and acknowledging victim status, personal safety, and social supports. Chapters are well organized and easy to understand or follow. As a therapist, I appreciate the chapters that focus on self-soothing and anger management as many victims of sexual abuse internalize their emotions. It is likely that teen girls will appreciate the organization of the manual and how each chapter encourages introspection, insight-building, and homework. Because of the homework and worksheets provided, teen girls can begin to psychologically and emotionally process the trauma of sexual abuse and explore questions, feelings, behaviors, and thoughts.

This manual is a great supplement to therapy. For example, a teen girl may be receiving therapy one to two times per week in a clinical setting but struggle at home with emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. This manual can assist a teen in remembering to use healthy coping skills and in exploring thoughts and feelings that may not occur during therapy sessions. For many of my own young clients, their most introspective experiences tend to occur before bed, before school, or outside of the therapy office. This manual may also encourage families to complete worksheets and chapters together, especially if the sexual abuse victim is a younger teen.

Readers will find this manual helpful and educational. It is a wonderful addition to a mental health professional’s bookshelf. It is also a great place to start helping adolescent girls heal. If you know someone who may be suffering from the trauma of sexual abuse, I encourage you to contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1800-656-HOPE.

The Sexual Trauma Workbook for Teen Girls: A Guide To Recovery From Sexual Assault And Abuse
Instant Help Books for Teens, June 2016
Paperback, 200 pages
$16.95

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Bella DePaulo <![CDATA[Book Review: Bad Feminist: Essays]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47739 2017-01-09T19:14:07Z 2017-01-05T15:38:34Z The title of Roxane Gay’s New York Times bestseller is Bad Feminist. But you don’t have to be any kind of feminist, or even have any interest in feminism, to […]]]>

The title of Roxane Gay’s New York Times bestseller is Bad Feminist. But you don’t have to be any kind of feminist, or even have any interest in feminism, to get something out of this book of essays. You just have to be interested in what’s happening in the world. Better still, if you sometimes find yourself feeling that you should think a certain way about a particular issue, but maybe you know at some level that you don’t really feel that way, Bad Feminist is for you.

Reaching for the highest compliment they can muster, books reviewers sometimes say that they couldn’t put the book down. I think there is a much loftier kind of praise and it applies to Bad Feminist: I put it down over and over again, because it made me think. Sometimes it made me walk away and pace.

Roxane Gay critiques movies such as Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station, The Help, and the whole Tyler Perry oeuvre. The essay on The Help was itself worth the price of admission. She discusses television shows such as Girls, Orange is the New Black, Tosh.O, and Law & Order: SVU. Gay also explores high-profile books and, often, their critical reception. Examples include Lean In, The End of Men, Gone Girl, The Hunger Games, the Twilight series, and Fifty Shades of Grey. Readers get to hear what Gay thinks about a wide array of celebrities, scoundrels, and respected public figures, such as Bill Cosby, Chris Brown, Jerry Sandusky, Paula Deen, Don Lemon, Marissa Mayer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Wendy Davis. In a bracing chapter, “A tale of two profiles,” Gay compares the reporting and cultural conversations around the Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to those about Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager killed by George Zimmerman. Gay also expounds on culturally fraught concepts such as privilege, trigger warnings, and rape culture.

Some of the topics in Bad Feminist have been so worked over in traditional media and social media that you may think there is nothing new that can possibly be said about them. That’s wrong. Roxane Gay is a fresh voice. It doesn’t always seem that way at the outset of any particular essay. She will make some points you have heard before, maybe some points you long ago decided you agree with. That feels good but it does not seem particularly revelatory. But then she considers another side and another aspect and one more after that, and soon you realize she is not just reiterating what you had been thinking all along. She is thinking much more deeply. Her arguments have texture. They also have heart.

Roxane Gay has academic credentials but her writing is blissfully free of jargon and pretense. Sometimes scholars try to hide themselves in their quest to be the impersonal voice of authority. Not Roxane Gay. She is there as a real person on every page. She shares intimate and disturbing experiences. She wants you to know that she sees herself as flawed and would never pretend to be otherwise.

Gay calls herself a “bad feminist” because she does not fit the mold, as she sees it, of how good feminists are supposed to be. For example, she sometimes feels so overwhelmed at work that she wants to cry — so, she closes her door and does just that. She wants to be independent but also have someone who will take care of her. She doesn’t know anything about cars and doesn’t want to learn. She thinks her favorite color should be black, but it is actually pink.

If some of that strikes you as small stuff, well, it is. Where Roxane Gay is uncompromising is in the domains of the big, important issues:

“I have strong opinions about misogyny, institutional sexism that consistently places women at a disadvantage, the inequity in pay, the cult of beauty and thinness, the repeated attacks on reproductive freedom, violence against women, and on and on.”

“I don’t want to cavalierly disavow feminism like far too many other women have done,” she adds. “No matter what issues I have with feminism, I am a feminist…I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

After reading Bad Feminist, there is a question I keep asking myself every time some new provocation or controversy or big event commands America’s attention: What does Roxane Gay think of that? Fortunately, she is currently a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times, so often, we all get to find out.

Bad Feminist: Essays
Harper Perennial, August 2014
Paperback, 320 pages
$15.99

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Stan Rockwell, PsyD <![CDATA[Book Review: Don’t Let Your Anxiety Run Your Life]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47670 2016-12-31T15:38:06Z 2017-01-03T15:36:47Z Almost everyone who walks through my door seeking counseling is struggling with anxiety. For most, it has been a life long struggle, and often depression is there, too. The authors […]]]>

Almost everyone who walks through my door seeking counseling is struggling with anxiety. For most, it has been a life long struggle, and often depression is there, too. The authors of Don’t Let Your Anxiety Run Your Life: Using the Science of Emotion Regulation and Mindfulness to Overcome Fear and Worry use research and experience to give thoughtful and very useful guidance on how to cope. It is a welcome resource for use with my clients and in my own journey with mindfulness and emotional regulation.

David H. Klemanski, PsyD, MPH, is a psychologist and professor at Yale University and directs the Yale Center for Anxiety and Mood Disorders, as well as the Yale Anxiety and Emotion Lab. Co-author, Joshua E. Curtiss, MA, of Boston University, is a statistician and researcher who studies the cause of emotional disorders and the role of emotional regulation in anxiety. They have put together a book to help us understand just what anxiety is and provide proven ways of dealing with it.

The subtitle of the book gives us an idea of what we are dealing with in anxiety — fear and worry. We all experience both, and each can be adaptive or harmful. While we feel fear and anxiety emotionally and physically, the authors point out that fear and anxiety are distinct emotions, and each requires a degree of control when they begin to cause us harm. Fear is there to protect us; it lets us know when something is wrong or a potential danger. Anxiety is different. When we are uncertain about the future, it is normal to have apprehension. Since the presidential election of 2016, I have seen many people expressing fear and anxiety about the future, in therapy and in everyday life. But we can also develop phobias, social anxiety, panic, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety, and anxiety from trauma. The authors do urge readers to go to a professional for diagnosis and treatment, but they give a long and evidence-based list of ways to deal with anxiety.

So what is an emotion? It is one of those concepts we all feel that we know, but when we try to pin it down, it is not so clear. Is it just a feeling?

The authors cite Klaus Scherer’s component process model — emotions are a “process involving cognitive appraisals, physical symptoms, action tendencies, communicative expression, and feelings.” You can begin to change your emotions, your anxiousness, at any of those parts of the process, but how?

The authors provide an in-depth way for altering the process. For example, they return to the distinction between fear and anxiety. Fear is that protective red alert system, and is very much in the moment. Anxiety, according to Klemanski and Curtiss, is a combination of fear, apprehension, avoidance, anticipation of future threats, worry, tension, and a desire to prepare for those threats. It can be all-consuming and is geared to the future at the expense of being attentive to the present moment.

The authors’ method of re-setting emotions is older than the Buddha and as new as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. The authors use examples and practice exercises throughout the book to help you develop skills and emotional regulations at all the stages of the emotional process. Mindfulness is the key component. Mindfulness has almost become a buzz word in psychology, but the authors do a nice job of defining just what it means and giving ways develop mindfulness so that it can become more of a way of being.

The principles that underlie their work are that everyone is capable of change, that just about everything in life is about how you perceive it, and that it is impossible to fail at using these skills when “you adopt a truly nonjudgmental stance toward your present-moment experiences.” It is the effort that matters.

Don’t Let Your Anxiety Run Your Life: Using the Science of Emotion Regulation and Mindfulness to Overcome Fear and Worry
New Harbinger Publications, July 2016
Paperback, 232 pages
$16.95

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Claire Nana <![CDATA[Book Review: Overcoming Passive-Aggression, Revised Edition]]> http://psychcentral.com/lib/?p=47726 2016-12-31T15:34:30Z 2017-01-02T15:34:11Z “Hiding anger in an underhanded, hurtful, gotcha-now manner has become a go-to choice for a society that’s losing its ability to know how to identify a problem and solve it […]]]>

“Hiding anger in an underhanded, hurtful, gotcha-now manner has become a go-to choice for a society that’s losing its ability to know how to identify a problem and solve it in a respectful way,” write Tim Murphy, PhD, and Loriann Oberlin, MS, LCPC, authors of their newly revised book, Overcoming Passive Aggression: How to Stop Hidden Anger from Spoiling Your Relationships, Career, and Happiness. Their newly revised book (the first edition was originally printed in 2005) reads like a comprehensive guidebook for surviving in a world that seems bent on showing two faces — neither of which is particularly genuine.

The authors begin with a discussion on politics, which seems a fitting place to start not just because Murphy himself is a Congressman, but because it provides such a rich example of how people so often say one thing while thinking and feeling the opposite. Much bitterness exists on the periphery of people’s lives, the authors remind us, and the reality is that we simply don’t handle it well.

And yet, hidden anger wears a deceptive mask. We seem to think it won’t really hurt others, that it is somehow consequence-free, and according to the authors, that it goes unnoticed. Stalling on an important task or forgetting to send a memo, make an important phone call, or show up for a meeting are all examples of the ways in which hidden anger acts in manipulative and often vindictive ways.

The cost, the authors contend, is failed relationships, increased stress, poor health, chronic irritability, fractured families, and problems at work and school. The roots of hidden anger, however, come from unmet needs. “Passive-aggressive behavior is often born of the similar fears of being controlled or caught in confrontation, and the need to work around others more than directly with others,” Murphy and Oberlin write.

The authors go further, linking hidden anger to many factors in childhood, such as a need to conceal true feelings, a need for protection, a need to be seen as “good”, and a need to meet others expectations. The result is that people with hidden anger often operate out of what the authors call “feelthink,” using their feelings to support and justify often irrational thoughts, confusing feelings with facts in the process. Where those with healthy anger can examine problems clearly, negotiate, accept responsibility, and promote equality in relationships, those with hidden anger have trouble analyzing problems, tend to blame others for their misfortunes, lack empathy, attack people rather than solve problems, use anger to gain power, and often look for revenge instead of resolution.

Yet hidden anger, the authors tell us, is a product of a faulty system — a family who has learned to hide anger, protect coalitions, maintain rigid roles, avoid confrontations, and operate out of duplicity. Much like “frenemies,” passive-aggressive families maintain the appearance of happiness at the expense of authenticity.

The tendency toward passive-aggression has grown so rampant, researchers have detected it in children as young as two and a half years old. The authors point to a recent Wall Street Journal article that stated that children often “use the threat of removing friendship as a tactical weapon”.

Viewed generationally, the tendency to conceal anger is often passed down through families and leads people to choose partners who are at equitable levels of emotional independence. Yet because hidden anger is a form of emotional immaturity, it often infects intimate relationships, causing partners to engage in power struggles, vacillate between closeness and distance, maintain dysfunctional patterns, resist adaptations, and potentially even resort to infidelity. Interestingly, the authors note that infidelity often reflects an ongoing power struggle.

Hidden anger in work and school, Murphy and Oberlin note, comes in eight distinct types. Where Backstabbers betray trust, Avengers lash out, Controllers manipulate, Cynics promote suspiciousness, Eeyores play victim, Blamers avoid responsibility, Mutes procrastinate and deny, and Stars are preoccupied only with themselves.

Healing from hidden anger, the authors tell us, begins with looking in the mirror. By reconciling their past, acknowledging visceral reactions, setting appropriate boundaries, holding family members accountable, and working on themselves and not others, passive-aggressive people can learn to find more appropriate ways to get their needs met. Here, the authors offer numerous helpful examples for dealing with passive-aggressive people, such as a list to help people recognize ways they may have set themselves up for mistreatment, a five-step method to deal with criticism, as well as specific ways to react to control, immature behavior, manipulation, self-absorption, depression and addictions, and even exit strategies for toxic people. Murphy and Oberlin also provide fourteen strategies to ease anger and bitterness — such as using mindfulness, empathy, and reflective listening and forgiveness — as well as assertiveness tips to help people find ways to advocate for their needs. The authors also include tips on seeking professional help, choosing the right therapist or counselor, and even coping with counseling that is critical. Lastly, the authors provide many innovative and practical ways for clinicians to unlock hidden anger in the clinical setting.

From covert narcissism to what many have dubbed the, “entitlement generation,” Overcoming Passive-Aggression sheds light on a ravaging societal problem that seems to have slipped under our collective radar. Delving into the complex nature of the problem and yet offering clear, concise, and unembellished wisdom, the book is a way forward for us all whether we are experiencing hidden anger or receiving it.

Overcoming Passive-Aggression: How to Stop Hidden Anger from Spoiling Your Relationships, Career, and Happiness
Da Capo Lifelong Books, Revised Edition October 2016
Paperback, 336 Pages
$15.99

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