World of Psychology Dr. John Grohol's daily update on all things in psychology and mental health. Since 1999. 2017-05-28T22:30:54Z Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW <![CDATA[When Your Mate Touches a Nerve…]]> 2017-05-21T16:04:53Z 2017-05-28T22:30:54Z How do you talk to your partner about a sensitive topic? If he or she says something that makes you uneasy, do you feel tightness in your throat, chest or elsewhere? Forget to breathe?

Maybe you change the subject? Call the person selfish, unreasonable, or inconsiderate? Or withdraw?

Reacting means doing or saying what first pops into your mind. If you routinely do whatever you’re asked to do when you’d rather not, you’re likely to build up resentment. If instead of yielding, you belittle or stonewall your partner, you can expect ill will and conflict to increase.

By responding thoughtfully instead of impulsively, you’re more likely to create a receptive, friendly climate in which good feelings flourish. This kind of caring response often is worded as an “I-statement.”

What’s an I-Statement?

I-statements usually begins with the word, “I.” They provide a simple, powerful way to state our thoughts, feelings, wishes, or needs. Examples: “I felt hurt when you forgot it was my birthday.” “I’d like you to phone me if you’re going to be late.”

I-statements tend to foster connection, cooperation, and respect.  

What’s a You-statement?

On the other hand, a “You-statement” tends to create distance. It often starts with the word, “you.” It implies that the other person addressed is bad or wrong. Examples: “You’re a slob. You always leave crumbs on the counter.”  Some people think they are making an I-statement that is actually a disguised You-statement. Example: “I feel that you are a slob when you leave crumbs on the kitchen counter.” The sentence starts with “I” but it’s really expressing a negative judgment. This could be changed into a true I-statement instead, by saying, “I feel annoyed when you leave crumbs on the counter. I’d appreciate it if you would wipe it after you make your sandwich.”

A “You-statement” typically creates distance in a relationship.

What an I-statement Communicates

An I statement is a clear message that can express:  

  • what you are thinking, e.g., “I think it’s important to keep agreements,”
  • how you are feeling, e.g., “I like it when you open the car door for me,”
  • why you feel the way you do, e.g., “because when you this, I feel like you appreciate me as a women,”
  • what you want or need, e.g., “I want to get to married,” or
  • what you are prepared to do if you don’t get what you want or need, e.g., “If you’re interested in keeping our relationship uncommitted, I’m going to stop seeing you.”

Benefits of I-Statements

I-statements are powerful in marriage and elsewhere because they are likely to:

  • let the other person know what you want,
  • avoid arguments and misunderstandings,
  • help you state your thoughts and feelings calmly, and
  • increase clarity, understanding, and cooperation (from a spouse, dating partner, children, and others).

How to Make an I-statement

By following the steps below for making an I-statement listed below, you’ll be more likely to gain your partner’s understanding and cooperation:

  1. Say how you feel about the behavior.
  2. Name the specific behavior.
  3. Say what you’d like or wouldn’t like to see happen next time.
  4. (Optional) Say what you are prepared to do if the behavior continues.


A woman might say to a man she’s been dating, “I felt uncomfortable when you flirted with the waitress last night. When you’re with me, I want to feel like I’m the only woman you’re interested in. She might add now, or in the future is the flirting happens again, “If this continues, I’m afraid it will make it hard for me to keep seeing you.”

If you decide to say what you will do if your partner’s behavior does not change, it’s best to mention the consequence in a way that can encourage cooperation. So be friendly, and avoid sounding like you’re making a threat.

Strive for Progress, Not Perfection

Assuming that you are a nice person but not a saint, you can expect to slip into a reactive mode at times and say something you regret. When this happens, recognize your mistake and do the repair work promptly. Be generous with your I-statements. Let your partner know that you regret what you said, in a way that fits for you, such as, “I’m sorry. I wish I could erase what I said. I want to do better next time.”

When I-Statements Backfire

Usually, using I-Statements will help you feel heard, valued for your true self, and understood.  Exceptions happen, however. One situation where using them can leave you disappointed is when the other person doesn’t care about you or your feelings. Another is that some people aren’t comfortable being on the receiving end of an I-statement. They may have been taught as children that it is selfish to ask directly for what you want. They might have been told that they were “wrong” to express angry, upset, hurt, or sad feelings.

This sort of person learned that it is not safe to be vulnerable, which is what happens when we open up by expressing our feelings. He or she can easily grow up an adult who lacks self-understanding, and therefore finds it difficult to empathize with another. He or she might feel backed into a corner upon hearing your I-statements, and therefore respond insensitively, e.g., “I’m sick of hearing about your feelings. Get over it.”

If serious challenges are holding you back from empathizing with yourself and your partner, be aware that it’s very difficult to change an entrenched pattern on your own. If you want to create a healthier relationship, individual or couple therapy can help.

Most of us can learn to communicate positively, even when our buttons get pushed. If making I-statements feels challenging, make them anyway. Practice makes perfect. By using I-statements more often, we’re likely to relate more empathically to ourselves, our partner, and others.

Note: Step-by-step instructions for using I-statements and six other positive communication skills are given in in Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted, by Marcia Naomi Berger (New World Library).


Suzanne Kane <![CDATA[6 Essential Qualities of Leadership]]> 2017-05-14T23:47:14Z 2017-05-28T18:30:00Z

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” – Simon Sinek

Leadership is a prized quality. Without effective leaders, companies would fail, projects would never get off the ground, problems would fester, children would get into all sorts of mischief, relationships would go awry and all sorts of other negative ramifications would likely ensue. As much as we say leadership is necessary, many of us are reluctant to take on the responsibility Worse, most of us feel we lack the qualities of a leader. What about you? Are you a leader? Maybe you think you’re just an employee and that you don’t have what it takes to lead.

You might be wrong. Here are some of the essential qualities of a good leader, giving some much-needed insight into what leadership is.

A leader possesses a powerful desire to do something.

If you want to help your co-workers, a family member or loved one, a close friend, or even a stranger to figure out how to solve a problem, work through an issue, strategize a doable approach to a task or project, you have what’s key to being a leader.

There’s more to leadership than that, of course, but it is an excellent start. Here are some other qualities of leadership to keep in mind that can help you be more effective in your dealings with others and in achieving your own personal and professional goals:

A leader encourages, not discourages others.

What’s more inspiring and motivating that you hear from your boss or someone in authority? Is it harsh criticism, always finding fault with your work, expressing disappointment over your efforts? Or, do you respond more favorably to words that encourage, offer suggestions, ask if you need help? An effective leader strives to choose the right language to motivate, persuade and congratulate others to do their best, to keep going when times get rough, and share what works with others.

A leader leads by example.

You wouldn’t expect others to follow your example if the way you conduct yourself is less than honorable. If you are untrustworthy, that doesn’t inspire trust. If you are cruel or lack empathy, those who report to you or look to you as an authority figure won’t find you admirable. On the other hand, a leader who does what he or she says and tells the truth is someone who deserves respect. Showing kindness and understanding toward others similarly gains the attention of those who look to you for direction.

A leader isn’t afraid to share strategies and tips.

Leaders have found the answers to difficult problems, solutions to complex or complicated issues, and how to get results. The most effective leaders are the ones who are also the most willing to share their knowledge in the form of strategies and tips. Whether it’s a one-on-one conversation, a company-wide speech, letter, newsletter, blog, video or phone blast message from the boss, when a leader shares ideas and tips with employees it encourages others to respond in kind.

A leader knows effective leadership is contagious.

If you want good things to happen in your company, at home or school or with your neighbors, and you inspire by your own actions, you’ll find that this attitude spreads like a wildfire. Everyone wants to be bitten by the success bug in one form or another. Good actions can overcome a lot of negatives in the world. Be that leader and help others who encounter you find their own leadership skills begin to flourish.

A leader never gives up.

The tendency to feel disheartened when a project fails is nearly universal. Yet an effective leader knows that this is precisely the time when employees, loved ones, family and friends most need encouragement and to be reminded that they’ll get through this together. There’s strength in community, yet more powerful still is the community with a strong leader to motivate them to continue. While the solution to problems may seem elusive, the difficulties seemingly insurmountable and resources lacking, the leader you want to guide you offers hope and a commitment to stand by you and with you to completion.


Marianne Riley, MA, NCC, LGPC <![CDATA[‘My Daughter Won’t Eat!’ 3 Tips if Your Teen Struggles with Disordered Eating]]> 2017-05-14T23:45:48Z 2017-05-28T14:20:21Z

So, its dinner time and you’ve been logging away hours at the stove preparing what you thought was your daughter’s favorite meal; mashed potatoes, steak, and green beans. She has always loved this meal. Ever since she was very young, her favorite food has been mashed potatoes. But this night is different, just like most of the nights the past 2 months. Sally, 13 years old, wont eat. You pray and hope each night will be better. Just maybe, she will have a few more bites than the night before. Sally sits down to eat and oh, no. She isn’t eating, again. She slowly moves her green beans around on the plate, pretends to take bites, and gulps down her water, filling herself up with liquid instead. This is your life lately and you have no idea what to do.

I get it. A very large portion of my clients is struggling with disordered eating and/or body image. This is extremely common for the age group 10-30 years old, unfortunately. This example above is all too close to home for the girls I work with. Struggling to eat, standing in front on their mirror feeling like nothing fits them, and refusing to eat at school because they are afraid others will judge them or because, “I am just not hungry.” For parents, this is a nightmare.

Quite frankly, if your child or teen is struggling to eat, not eating, refusing to eat, and/or loosing weight or engaging in excessive measures to loose weight, its time to seek professional help. I strongly recommend an inpatient treatment center if deemed appropriate for their level of care, a therapist, registered dietician, and/or psychiatrist and doctor. All of these people make up what is referred to as a “treatment team.” This “team” helps to make sure that your teen is getting the best care and recovery possible.

What can you do to help? Its hard being a parent of a child with an eating disorder (ED). Period. I often hear my client’s parents blaming themselves or looking for reasons why their child has disordered eating and constantly beating themselves up for “why” or “I should have done…” Tip # 1: Stop Beating Yourself Up. You did nothing to create this. ED’s are sneaky, powerful, and manipulative. They can pop up seemingly randomly, out of the blue, or unexpectedly. You did nothing to create this. You are doing the best you can. Its extremely hard to know what exactly to say, do, or ways to help, in fear of making your teen upset, mad at you, or even more uncomfortable. Your teen doesn’t want this either. Show yourself love and compassion the same way you want your teen to show themselves love and compassion.

While ED’s can be confusing and frustrating, the last thing you ever want to tell your teen is Tip #2 : “Just Eat It.” Never, ever, ever, please never, say this to your teen. Your teen desperately wants to be better. They hate this daily battle. They wish so badly that they could just eat the dinner. ED is yelling at them in their ear statements like, ‘you’re fat’ and ‘if you eat that, no one will like you.’ These are words they hear all day everyday when trying to eat. Telling them ‘’just eat it’ is extremely painful and angering for them to hear. They wish they could eat it, just like you!

Recovery can be a long, hard, and painful road. But it is absolutely possible and real. Recovery does exist! Be patient with yourself and your teen. Be a role model for them. Say nice things about yourself when you look in the mirror, show good self esteem, and model confidence. Once your teen begins to show signs of recovery and is doing better, another comment to avoid is Tip # 3: “You look so healthy!” They are absolutely not ready to hear that their body is changing. This is their number one fear. The one thing they dread the most is their body changing in recovery. Avoid making any comments about their body, appearance, weight, shape, or size. Really maximize and talk about their qualities that have nothing to do with weight. Have you noticed that they overall just seem happier? Point this out! But, please don’t comment that they look healthier. To individuals with ED’s, ‘healthier’ can mean ‘gained weight.’ While this may be true, that they have gained weight, this is not appropriate to be pointing out.

I know this is hard, draining, and heartbreaking to watch and experience, just know that it does get better and yes, you can help. Simply being there for your teen does wonders. Listen, let them vent, and just be a shoulder to cry on. Try not to give too much advice or appear bossy. Their treatment team knows what their doing and is there to help guide the way. Just be a mom or dad and show your teen you love them and care.

Gabe Howard <![CDATA[My Life with Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling)]]> 2017-05-14T23:46:50Z 2017-05-28T10:30:57Z “Truth is I cut my hair for freedom, not for beauty.”  ~Chrisette Michele

My Life with Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling)When I was around 13 years old — 27 or so years ago — I decided to grow a ponytail. Before that, my parents chose my haircuts and kept it short. At the time, I just wanted to look like my 80s hair band heroes. I didn’t expect the decision to grow my hair out would expose the very first noticeable symptom of mental illness.

But that’s exactly what happened. As my hair grew longer and longer, I began “playing with it,” as my family would say. As I grew older, the “playing” got more aggressive, more frequent, and more noticeable. Even though it was obvious that I was twisting, pulling, and ripping my hair out, it was not obvious that this was an illness. My family would yell at me — and, in some cases, punish me — to stop, thinking this was just a bad habit.

What does Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling) Look Like?

Trichotillomania (hair pulling) is primarily characterized by the recurrent pulling out, or twisting, of one’s own hair. Hair pulling may occur in any region of the body — such as your scalp, chest, or pubic area. In my case, the pulling has been mostly limited to my scalp. When my hair is long enough that I can place a tuft between my thumb and index finger, I start to twirl. I just twist the hair in little knots. As time goes on, the knots become tighter and I have to rake at my hair to pull it free. The constant twirling, knotting, and tugging causes hair to fall out and, if this goes on long enough, I will develop bald patches on the top of my head.

I cannot control this impulse. I’ve sat in job interviews yanking on my hair while talking to hiring managers. I’ve pulled out clumps while in professional meetings and I’ve even caused my scalp to bleed — and continued to twirl, in spite of the pain.

All my life, people have reacted to this habit by looking at me as if I’m crazy. They express worry, concern, and sometimes outright anger at why I would behave this way in public. When I was a teenager, I lived with my grandparents, and my grandfather used to leave the room when I would start to twirl. He said it was too distracting and I needed to stop.

Make no mistake; I tried. I’d sit on my hands, wear a hat, and even rub hair gel into my head to form a hair helmet. Nevertheless, I’d always find a way to grab, hold, and twist. Nothing I did worked to stop the twisting, pulling, and yanking until I shaved my head bald.

How I Defeated Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling)

I am a redhead and people with red hair, in general, really love their hair — even men. Even if someone doesn’t remember what I said, they remember the red hair. I loved having long hair because that meant more red. So when I say I came home in a frustrated, agitated, and angry state and asked my wife to shave my head, I can only imagine what I looked like through her eyes.

Earlier that day, while at work, I had pulled a clump of my hair out and it grossed my co-worker out. She made a big deal about it and told me to get help. She was disgusted and didn’t hold back. My supervisor told me to see the on-site nurse and, in short, I was embarrassed.

I still didn’t know that the reason I was playing with my hair had anything to do with mental illness. I thought it was a moral failing on my part. I decided that I didn’t deserve hair, since I couldn’t take care of it.

That evening, my head was shaved completely bald. No hair, whatsoever. And that worked. Having no hair to twirl meant that when I reached up, I’d find nothing to grab onto, and the compulsion receded.

In the years since, I found out how lucky I was that this worked. After being diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety, I’ve learned a lot about my various conditions — trichotillomania being a prominent one. And, while I no longer keep my head bald, I do keep my hair cut very short. If it gets too long, like in the video below, I’ll start twirling, again.

To this day, I think my hair twirling is a commentary on the lack of mental health education in this country. My entire family, all my friends, and even strangers watched me pull out my own hair and no one knew to recommend that I see a doctor. We were all quick to blame me for being bad, rather than consider that something more could be happening.

If the people around me didn’t realize that literally pulling my hair out was a medical issue — and I was in need of help, not scorn — then it shows just how much more mental health education our society needs.

Psych Central Staff http:// <![CDATA[Using Acceptance to Manage Anxiety and Stress]]> 2017-05-28T02:04:50Z 2017-05-27T22:30:35Z

It sounds counterintuitive, but the benefits are so worth it!

It happened again, that annoying trigger that starts your day off on a bad foot.

And, to make things even worse, today was the day you felt rested, and ready to relax. Darn it!

7 Ways To STOP Fighting Your Anxiety (So You FINALLY Find Some Peace)

What it is about stress and anxiety? No matter what you do,on a daily basis they insist on crashing the party you call life.

You’ve tried to evict these emotional life crashers, but for all of your effort, you can’t seem to figure out what to do to make them stop.

Sometimes in the moment, you try to remind yourself that ‘this too shall pass’…but how can you accept that mantra when it never does?

In fact, you know you can’t control the world around you.

Your anxiety and stress truly are internal, and that’s what makes this vicious cycle so perplexing.

It’s not just that you want peace of mind, but it’s the lack of peace of mind that’s hindering you in other areas — your sex life, not to mention the physical, and relational aspects. You’ve often wondered if your love life would improve if you felt more in control.

But the more you aim to control your stress, the more you’re left feeling emotionally drained and robbed with nothing left but frustration and an anxiety attack.

There are some great tools to use to help you along your journey, but it’s best to take advice from someone who has been there and overcame the challenge.

Andrea Miller shares her own personal journey, and stories of countless others, who have come to peace with the anxious thoughts and feelings in her book, Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love.

When couples in various love stages followed her advice and explored the internal barriers that hindered their love lives, they found the courage to try radical acceptance, starting with themselves.

Each story is about how they emerged from the emotional edge to discover the peaceful life they wanted.

In the book, Andrea explains that the key isn’t to let go, it’s to accept.

“This exercise may hurt a lot. But here’s what I love about this kind of honest introspection: You are empowered to move forward with a new, more self-serving narrative. Once you have come face-to-face with these debilitating, or even self-destructive parts of yourself, you can begin letting them go. You can begin rewriting the script for your future self.”

Still hard to imagine how the exact things that frustrate you will bring you peace?

We asked our YourTango experts to share with us how embracing the world helps you to conquer fear, anxiety, and yes, even stress.

They provided us with 10 solid reason why the radical acceptance mindset works, providing lasting results:

1. Radical Acceptance Opens Your Heart to Love

“The person who practices mindfulness, meditation and self-examination recognizes within them a sense of peace and peacefulness.

Feelings, such as anger and happiness, are fleeting. Having a sense of peace within is not fleeting. A sense of inner peace speaks to an awareness of the person and their environment. We can feel angry, happy, sad, etc., while at the same time maintaining a sense of peace.

Look to people such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. I have no doubt they felt anger that was part of their motivation as to why they acted. But a reason their actions were not violent, and their rhetoric was of love, is that they had a sense of inner-peace allowing them to feel anger, yet not allowing them to betray their beliefs through their actions.

When we feel emotions and act in unison with our core beliefs, not violating our true self, then we are at peace. We may feel anger or sadness at situations or even toward specific people, but in maintaining a union between those feelings and our actions to our core beliefs, we retain our sense of inner-peace even as we struggle through the turmoil of our feelings.”

Chris Shea is a life coach and national speaker on topics of mindfulness and addiction. You can follow his blog on YourTango or his website

2. It’s a Cycle-Breaker

“Acceptance is much easier (and less stressful) when you understand the cause of what is happening.

Personality styles, getting psychological needs met (certainty, connection, significance, variety), and giant snowballs of past emotions that get triggered each time the same feeling arises, play a role in every situation. Radical understanding helps put you in the driver’s seat of radical acceptance.”

Kelly Rudolph, founder of Positive Women Rock, is the bridge for women to get from stuck and stressed to clear and confident by releasing self-sabotaging subconscious programs. Get her free Life Strategies at

3. When You No Longer Force Yourself to Let Go, Your Focus Grows

“Acceptance can be beneficial in ways that can help people who are struggling with stress.

This is a two-pronged approach: be focused on a task at hand, but depending on the circumstance, feel a negative emotion, accept it, and continue to focus on the task. Using attention and acceptance together seems to be really promising as a holistic treatment option for people with stress.”

Deb Eastwood, the founder of Suddenly Single Coaching, is a powerful and loving Divorce Recovery Coach who works directly with women who are ready to create a new life. You can dream of the life you want, and she can help you achieve it through tools with which her clients begin to see changes immediately. Click here now to schedule a 25-minute complimentary coaching call.

4. Acceptance Is an Act of Love

“I believe where there is love there IS a way.

However, love requires loving thoughts, loving words, and loving actions toward our own self first and then toward everyone and everything else. In every moment and every circumstance we can take a moment to breathe, not automatically react, and quietly ask ourself: ‘What would love do now?’”

Dr. Erica Goodstone is a Love Mentor and Relationship Healer helping men and women heal their bodies and their relationships through love. You can follow her blog on YourTango or her website.

5. Self-Acceptance Is the Path to Happiness

“We’ll only learn to stress less and find true happiness when we stop judging others, and worse, ourselves! We are not our limitations or labels. We’re not even just our weaknesses or strengths. We’re complex in our variety. Yet we’re our own worst enemy.

So stop classifying and search for connection, and start with yourself first.”

Kathryn Ramsperger is a coach who gets people unstuck. You can find out more about Kathryn and her book (including a complimentary sample chapter!) about loving through prejudice and labels at

Should I Be Anxious That I’m Anxious?

6. Acceptance Is a Power Move

“An effective way of dealing with anxiety is by accepting your anxious thoughts. Next time you feel overwhelmed with anxiety try distancing yourself from the anxiety by allowing yourself to just notice it. It goes something like this:

‘I’ve noticed I’m now feeling anxiety because of XX.’

By noticing why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, and accepting your anxious thought as would an outsider, you’ll be reducing the power it has over you.”

Leigh Norén is a sex-positive sexologist and counsellor who offers individual and couples counseling regarding difficulties in relationships and sexual problems. To book a free consultation, contact her at

7. Acceptance Opens the Door to Progress

“When we consciously and deliberately release judgments and assignments of rightness and wrongness, we begin to step into the space of allowance of what is. And, beautiful, when we relax into allowance, stress, anxiety, and all of the unknown ‘what ifs’ dissipate.”

LeNae Goolsby is an intuitive empowerment life coach, spiritual catalyst & oracle of the pragmatic persuasion. You can follow her blog on YourTango or her website

8. It’s the Foundation of Love

Remember, there are no mistakes, we’re here to learn. We don’t have to LIKE it, and acceptance doesn’t mean ‘resignation’ to what’s happening.

But allowing and accepting everything for what it is IS the key. That’s what opens the floodgates, relieves the pain, and lets things flow!! Hint, hint: It’s called ‘Unconditional Love’.”

Nancy Lee Bentley is a Wholistic Health Expert, Speaker and Coach/Mentor with a ‘Get Real’ Recipe for Food, Health and Wholeness at

9. When You Change Your Response, Your Perspective Shifts

“We all deal with change differently, some is chosen change, some is unchosen change…but it is how we respond that counts for stress management. Every experience is a good experience eventually!”

Patrick Williams is an internationally acclaimed coach and speaker. Learn more by reading Getting Naked: On Being Emotionally Transparent at the Right Time, the Right Place, and with the Right Person, which can be found on Dr. Pat Williams’s website.

10. Acceptance Is a Supreme Act of Trust

“’I trust you’ — saying that feels pretty good, right?

Trust feels like a core element to any good relationship; but look closely, because blind trust is the source of the trouble in all relationships. It’s a set-up for failure because there’s not one person alive who can be trusted for everything.

Instead, consider what you can trust people for — the good, bad and ugly. For example, I can trust my partner to always get us places a few minutes early or on time; he can trust me to be five minutes or so late, so he makes adjustments. If you look and see people (with your eyes wide open) and only trust them for what they can truly be counted on for, like by what their track record reflects, you’ll reduce stress and have a lot less anxiety.”

Wendy Newman is a media-celebrated author; dating and relationship expert. You can read a free chapter of her book, 121 First Dates, and learn more about how she can help you find love and stay in love by visiting her website today!

This guest article originally appeared on How Accepting The World (And Yourself!) Can Help You Manage Anxiety & Stress.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on Psych Central does not make any profit from any book purchases, services, or otherwise made from this republished article.

Linda Sapadin, Ph.D <![CDATA[Are You Living in Your Own Bubble?]]> 2017-05-28T01:31:16Z 2017-05-27T18:30:09Z It’s so easy to live in your own bubble. To ridicule ideas that aren’t in your echo chamber. To give zero latitude to concepts that are foreign to you.

Too bad.

For to live a full life, a rich life, you need to remind yourself of the lessons you learned in kindergarten. First lesson: play well with others.

Why do we have to do that? Why can’t they just conform to our ways or go elsewhere? There should be different schools for them or maybe they shouldn’t even be here.

Now if you think I’m talking about immigrants, you’re right.  Kind of. But I’m also talking about Blacks, Hispanics, gays, disabled, kids, teens, elders, atheists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc. etc. etc. People who are nothing like you. Or just a little bit like you. Or, a member of your tribe but so completely different they may as well be living in a different universe — think: Orthodox and non-observing Jews; Moderate and Trump Republicans.

Living in your own bubble is boring. Nobody challenges you; nobody disagrees with you; nobody ever asks you to explain why you think the way you do. Everything is pleasant — on the surface. It may seem like nirvana. But it’s artificial. It’s shallow. It’s born of fear. Big Brother is watching you. Your tribe will disapprove of you. No coloring outside the lines!

People have a right to be different. Why? Because they are different. People come from the same family, yet have different passions. The same generation, yet have different beliefs. The same religion, yet view God differently.

Damn, even dogs are different and accepting of each other. And are intrigued by each other. And want to smell each other. And run around and play with each other. If they can navigate their differences, why can’t we? We are the higher species, aren’t we?

There are benefits from getting to know those who are different from you. Isn’t it possible they might bring to the table ideas you find intriguing? Life experiences you find captivating? Might they arouse your curiosity? Might they widen your perspective?

We live in a big wide world. So, next time you run into someone whose ideas are quite different from yours, don’t try to show them how wrong they are. Don’t denigrate them. Instead, be curious. Ask them questions. Be empathetic. Listen. See if you can grasp a bit of their viewpoint even if their way of living makes no sense to you.

Recognize that you are not right about everything. You may be wrong. Or, partially wrong. Or, it may have nothing to do with right or wrong. Just different. Different childhoods. Different baggage people carry with them.  Different communities people live in. Different experiences they’ve had. Different shows people watch. Different books people read. Different temples people attend.

Having friends who are just like you, and dismissing those who are different, is no great accomplishment. Indeed, it smacks of high school all over again. So, now that you’re an adult, it’s time to recognize that you’ve got a cognitive bias. What’s that? It’s making inferences about others from your subjective reality, but believing your opinions are the absolute truth.

So, go beyond your cognitive bias. Be open to getting to know people who are nothing like you. Hear their experiences without judging them. Expand your social networks. Get outside your bubble. We need to live with and work with people of different races, religions, and belief systems.

Kathy J. Marshack, PhD <![CDATA[Seven Surprising Lessons a “Helicopter” Parent Learned from Her Asperger Child]]> 2017-05-17T15:16:43Z 2017-05-27T14:20:37Z I felt utterly helpless. There was something profoundly wrong with my daughter, but I couldn’t help her — me the trained psychologist, the one with the master’s degree in social work and a doctoral degree in psychology. But this was long before the Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis became official in the United States. (Now it’s classified as a high functioning form Autism Spectrum Disorder.)

I began wondering about Bianca’s social skills by the end of first grade. She never seemed to play with other children and actually shunned them if they got too rambunctious. I dismissed my concerns and chalked it up to her sensitive, fanciful spirit.

Then the “wonder years” (age 6 to 11) arrived. This is when children enthusiastically explore their newfound independence. Their curiosity expands beyond the family yet they are still delightfully innocent. Although they are cultivating friends and acquiring social and academic knowledge at school, they really do still adore their parents.

They are also learning about social context. In other words, they are developing a theory of mind that is a prerequisite for empathy. Empathy leads to a whole host of social skills required in the worlds of children and adults. Bianca’s “wonder years” were anything but typical.

That’s when I started to get desperate. I became a classic helicopter mother. I found all kinds of ways to work around the school system. I hired tutors to coax her. I negotiated high school credit from outside activities. I tried Brownies, soccer, piano lessons, and summer camps. I forced her to audition for a prestigious private choir because of her marvelous singing ability—even though she was frightened of the other choir members. I tried everything I could think of to make my autistic child smile.

I consulted a naturopath. Being the supreme helicopter mother, I rolled up my sleeves and called local psychiatrists and psychologists. After a few appointments, it was clear these local folks weren’t going to be much help. I got on the Internet and began searching for help outside our community. Eventually we got the diagnosis…your daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome.

After the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome

My daughter was born eight years before anyone could have diagnosed her with Asperger Syndrome. By the time she was officially diagnosed, at age 14, I had been a helicopter mother for years.

I was taken by surprise with my daughter’s problems. I had no special knowledge to help her, just a mother’s love. I had to learn from the “outside in” and change many of my basic beliefs about parenting in order to reach her. I made some profoundly moving discoveries along the way. I made some terrible, life-altering mistakes, too.

I would like to tell you things got better for Bianca and all of us, but our lives turned tragic. My husband and I went through an extremely hostile divorce. Bianca continued to deteriorate under the aftermath of the divorce.

What does my story have to do with you?

Being a helicopter parent is a natural outcome of the crazy-making Asperger Sydrome/Neurotypical world we find ourselves in. Our natural instincts are to protectively hover over our children when they have such a serious disability. It’s equally natural to fight for them even if neighbors, teachers, and authority figures deem you unreasonable.

There are serious drawbacks to helicopter parenting. It leaves you very little time to relax and enjoy your children. As the super-responsible parent, you are always in survival mode. Bianca used to say of me, “My mom is obsessed with my brain!” Sadly, she wasn’t equally aware of my love for her. That is my fault as a helicopter mother. I’d circled her with offers of help while not leaving enough time for hugs.

Lessons learned

  1. Helicopter parenting is a natural by-product of loving your very dependent child. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are over-reacting. Your strongest asset is your heart.
  2. Channel your helicoptering into finding a good psychologist or Asperger Syndrome specialist, who really knows what he or she is doing.
  3. Join a support group for NTs in relationships with Aspies. I sponsor an international group online. It’s called Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. Find us at
  4. Read everything about Asperger Syndrome you can get your hands on. There are marvelously supportive resources at Autism Asperger Publishing Company. See
  5. Join your local Autism Society affiliate. It’s important that you socialize with other parents and spouses who share your experience. You are not alone. There are others who have gone before you and can help you avoid the pitfalls of ignorance. You’ll find a list of these groups at
  6. Don’t blame yourself for your mistakes. This is a challenging walk. Love yourself enough to keep on creating a meaningful life in spite of your mistakes. Keep in mind that human beings are remarkably resilient.
  7. Take time to relax and play. The future is unwritten, but today is a gift to be relished with your loved ones.

Thank goodness there have been tremendous improvements in understanding Asperger Syndrome. However, we have a long way to go to help our AS/NT families.  If we hope to save the Biancas of the world (and their parents from a lifetime of grieving) we must have the courage to look at the harsh realities threatening our families and find the healing we all need.


Alicia Sparks <![CDATA[Psychology Around the Net: May 27, 2017]]> 2017-05-26T18:00:12Z 2017-05-27T10:30:50Z maternal mental health screening

Happy Saturday, sweet readers!

If you’re here in the States, I hope you’re enjoying your long holiday weekend; however, before you hit the outdoors take a moment to check out the latest in this week’s mental health news! Learn about mindfulness-focused childbirth, why it’s important for veterans to help other veterans with mental health, how one of the most well-known billionaires today achieves happiness, and more.

Mindfulness-Focused Childbirth Education Leads to Less Depression: A new study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) shows women who undergo mindfulness training that deals with fear and childbirth pain can experience improved childbirth and less depression symptoms during and after pregnancy.

U.S. College Teaches Veterans to Heal Each Others’ Mental Wounds: William James College of Psychology in Boston is the first college in the country to develop a program focused on training military veterans how to treat their fellow soldiers’ and veterans’ mental health problems. Says Dr. Bob Dingman, the Director of the Military and Veterans Psychology Concentration, “If you talk to most vets, they want to talk to people who have had the same sets of experiences […] We don’t believe by any means that only vets can help vets, but we think it’s a good career pathway.”

Why Instagram Is the Worst Social Media for Mental Health: According to the results of the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health #StatusOfMind survey–which surveyed nearly 1,500 teens and young adults regarding Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube–Instagram is the worst social media platform for a person’s mental health and wellbeing, being associated with anxiety, depression, and fear of missing out.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Offers His Secret of Happiness–and Success: Speaking of social media, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gave recent Harvard University graduates one last lesson before they received their diplomas. The wildly successful billionaire entrepreneur says money and fame aren’t nearly enough to achieve happiness and satisfaction. You need a reason–a purpose–for what you’re doing.

Walgreens Mental Health Initiative Expands Reach: When Walgreens partnered up with Mental Health America (MHA) to provide free mental health screenings, one of the primary goals was to help meet patients’ needs for resources and mental health care access, says Dr. Harry Leider, the drugstore giant’s chief medical officer. Apparently it’s working, as nearly 75% of people who visit the mental health site and complete the screening move toward follow-up treatment.

This Article Is Why Psychiatrists Were Banned from Diagnosing Politicians Like Trump: “Do you believe Barry Goldwater is psychologically fit to serve as president of the United States?” Fact magazine sent this question to more than 12,000 members of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) back in 1964, and after it published–and the APA read–some of the answers, the APA put into effect the Goldwater Rule.

Psych Central Staff http:// <![CDATA[8 Effective Ways to Reclaim Your Sex Life During Depression]]> 2017-05-27T02:02:20Z 2017-05-26T22:30:34Z

You CAN do it!

Over nearly my entire life, at least since going through puberty at an early age, there’s been a cold war brewing in my mind and body between sex, stress, and depression. There is a seemingly never-ending battle between my libido and the physical and hormonal effects of stress and depression.

5 Ways To Stay Sex Positive Even When You’re Depressed

My own depression would take me falling from the ecstatic highs of a healthy sex drive to frustrating lows that made me feel like my body just flipped a dampening switch.

I also had those pesky libido reducing hormones that come out only when a woman becomes pregnant and has children. My depression and stress worsened over time, so about two years ago I delved into learning more about how stress and depression affect your ability to feel any interest in sex or even find it enjoyable.

I learned that depression releases hormones and chemicals that pretty much chase away your sex drive and even diminish your ability to enjoy sex when/if you finally get around to it.

And not only does depression release these chemicals that have a negative effect on you, but it also packages them along with negative thoughts. Mentally and physically, you can become your own worst enemy when it comes to sex.

There are two factors to look at when assessing depression’s effect on your sex drive

  1. How the neurotransmitters and hormones released by depression lower your libido.
  2. The mental state of mind in which your brain thinks you out of wanting or enjoying sex.

Stress and anxiety often increase significantly at the same time.

Research suggests that all this can trigger the release of hormones that can suppress your sex drive, in a way similar to how stressful situations release chemicals that produce the same reaction.

Basically, it’s like the stress of the holidays — feeling overwhelmed, over-scheduled and stressed out by family, work or events which can be accompanied by severe depression — all year long.

Researchers have noticed that the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine have something to do with depression, but they’re still not exactly sure what or why.

Antidepressants work for some people because they regulate these neurotransmitters

  • Reuptake inhibitors (reuptake is when the released substance is reabsorbed) work to keep these chemicals in your body longer
  • SSRIs regulate serotonin reuptake and are the most common
  • SNRIs regulate serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake, while NDRIs regulate norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake (this category is only represented by one drug, Wellbutrin)
  • There are also SARIs, MAOIs, Tricyclics and Tetracyclics. I simply have no space here to go over them all, but each works in a different way to prevent reuptake

Of course, while medication may work for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone.

An even more disappointing fact is that while anti-depressants may make some feel people better, most of these suppress sex drive, so arousal and orgasm may remain difficult, if not downright impossible while taking medication.

When you experience stress and anxiety, your hormones, hypothalamus, adrenal cortex and pituitary gland all play a part in releasing hormones.

Some hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline (or epinephrine), can be helpful to you in small doses, as they increase heart, blood pressure, and metabolic rates. Basically, part of your fight or flight response.

Cortisol suppresses low-priority functions that make you less effective in times of crisis to help you focus and save energy for things needed to survive. Cortisol will actually inhibit sex hormones. So depression is probably triggering reuptake of chemicals you need to feel better and once you add stress to the menu you are releasing chemicals that suppress your libido.

Welcome to my world, the magical world of stress + depression

On top of all this, you have the subjective issues that accompany depression, those things that you can’t really assign to a chemical or hormonal imbalance.

Depression comes with a reduced, or completely removed, ability to experience any kind of pleasure.

You simply stop enjoying everything, including sex

You may also experience other issues affecting your desire. People with depression may lose connection with their partners or feel no arousal with new partners due to their feelings of disconnection or their desire to withdraw from the world.

This can even mean the lack of physical touch of any kind, which results in the loss of certain chemical releases that accompany touch, especially prolonged touch such as hugging or kissing. (Hello oxytocin!)

Depression can also trigger anger or anxiety, both enemies of fun in the hormonal/chemical release and reuptake battlefield.

And anxiety, a stressor, can, in turn, deal out things such as a lack of sleep, an inability to concentrate, irritability, lack of energy and constant worry. These problems can then turn into highly negative thoughts about yourself and may keep you in a worst-case scenario mindset.

None of this is conducive to feeling sexy or fostering positive feelings about sex

A combination of these things puts a great strain on any relationship.

This may lead you into a nonstop cycle in which you feel depressed and so stop having sex, after which the lack of sex and intimacy creates tension and/or strife in your relationship, which then triggers more depression and stress, which keeps you from wanting or enjoying sex even more than you already didn’t, which triggers more anxiety/depression/stress, and on and on and on…

7 Crazy Things That Happen To Your Mood When You Stop Having Sex

It can be a frightening non-stop carousel of negative emotions and consequences, but working on your depression and trying to your remove stressors can help.

Here are 8 ways to go about doing so:

  1. Talk to your partner and your doctor about ways to minimize these effects.
  2. Taking time for yourself, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day can really help.
  3. Practice meditation or meditative breathing to help calm you and increase the amount of oxygen you’re receiving.
  4. Take a look at your diet, as poor choices can actually decrease your sex drive. Watching what you eat and daily exercise (as little as 20-30 minutes a day) can decrease the effects of depression and stress, which can then lead to an increase in desire.
  5. Find time to connect with your partner without the stress of sexual performance involved. Hugs, simple kisses, even just holding hands can help to release those feel good chemicals.
  6. Sometimes, attempting to have the sex you want, even when your brain tells you it’s not interested sparks your body to overrule your mind.
  7. Talk these ideas over with your partner and see if you can both come up with some ideas that might work for you.
  8. If you don’t have a partner, look for these connections elsewhere with family, friends or at a local cuddle party.

Non-sexual touch can help you feel more connected with yourself and others, while in turn luring your libido back so it will be there when needed

Note that a hug releases oxytocin after 20 seconds, so hold on a little longer if you can.

Making time to talk, share stories, have a laugh, make eye contact (another hormone releaser), and do anything that connects you with others and with your partner will help to undo some of the destructive effects of depression and stress.

Your brain is your largest sex organ but it can also be your biggest enemy

While the cold war may never actually end, you can remove yourself from the battlefield and remind your brain and body how to have sex in a way that makes you fulfilled and satisfied with your sex life again.

This guest article originally appeared on 8 Ways To ‘Trick’ Your Brain Into Sexy Thoughts When Struggling With Depression.

Matthew Loeb <![CDATA[Putting the Health and Care in Healthcare]]> 2017-05-12T15:56:40Z 2017-05-26T18:30:38Z Red, white, and blue. The blue represents Americans’ collective mood.

Is it our work-centric culture? Our reticence to discuss mental health? Our collective independence?

Regardless the U.S. stands for Under Stress. But why are we so unhappy — at least compared to our Scandinavian brethren? Denmark and Norway top Forbes’ list of the world’s 10 happiest countries. The two countries pace CNBC’s list as well. By comparison, the stars and stripes check in at #15, lagging behind, umm, Costa Rica.

The U.S. is an economic powerhouse; our personal incomes are steadily increasing too. But we are running, not walking, to the psychiatrist office for our monthly supply of happiness pills.

What gives? And what differentiates ourselves from our smiling Scandinavian peers?

Social support. And this theme manifests itself in our dueling health care systems.

In the United States, our health care model is predicated on profit. Stratifying risk, insurance companies profiteer from an individual person’s sickness(es). The quality of your insurance fluctuates based on age, income, geography. While progressives call for a comprehensive health care system, universal health insurance remains deeply controversial among the public. Detractors disparage universal health care as “socialist” or “European.”

We should be so lucky.

According to The Commonwealth Fund, the United States spends more than its Western peers (including Denmark and Norway) on health insurance. The result: the lowest life expectancy and health outcomes among its Western peers.

But more than our wheezing health numbers, our restrictive health care model has social implications. As Americans, we are casually dropped from one insurance plan to another.  Continuity of care is sacrificed for profit margins. Your long-term physician? He just received the dreaded out of network tag from your unsympathetic insurance company. Even during cancer treatment. Yes, some 2,500 cancer patients — in the throes of treatment — were unceremoniously dropped by their insurance company.

The Scandinavian approach is — dare I say it — more humanistic. And this is best represented in its cohesive structure. In Scandinavia, social support means more than a cheerful insurance receptionist.

Because health care is a fundamental right, Scandinavians are not scurrying from one health care provider to another. In fact, Danes are in touch with their primary care physician an average of nearly seven times per year, according to a 2012 PubMed article. Under this paradigm, Danes enjoy a professional advocate to navigate their health care system.

Furthermore, Danes’ comprehensive care has social implications. Unlike our profit-minded system, there is a social safety net for the mentally or the chronically ill. Every citizen receives health care — regardless of affluence or connections (or lack thereof). With more than 90% of Danes satisfied with their health care, the social safety net is both stabilizing and successful. By comparison, our social safety net is fragmented and inconsistent. While some states may provide unlimited mental health coverage, other states’ mental health services may be barebones — at best.

SOCIALized medicine?

Yes we can. And should.

Suzanne Kane <![CDATA[5 Effortless Ways to Embrace Change]]> 2017-05-12T15:47:28Z 2017-05-26T14:20:06Z

“The only thing that is constant is change.” – Heraclitus

Time never stands still in real life. It’s not like the movies where characters can freeze-frame and the writer takes the viewer on some tangential story. In real life, change happens constantly. You can fight it or welcome it. It’s your choice. Change will occur regardless.

For example, consider that nature is constantly in a state of flux. See how your breath increases or decreases according to the amount of energy you exert. Hear the different cadences of birds trilling, singing and chortling in the trees and bushes and flitting among the flowers in search of nectar. See the visible changes in friends and relatives portrayed in photographs in the family album. Change will happen and does happen all the time. In fact, change is constant.

Why not embrace change? If change is going to happen anyway, fighting it won’t do any good. It’s better to figure out an approach to deal with change that will work for you. Short of outright embracing it, however, which many are reluctant or feel incapable of doing, how can you learn to welcome change – or learn to accept and deal with it? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Keep a list. 
    It’s difficult to remember all the events and happenings in life without a record. To begin learning how to accept and eventually embrace change, start by listing momentous events in your life, actions you took toward goals you felt were worthwhile and the outcome of those actions. Every day, find the time to jot down items that point to changes in direction you took, such as taking a different route to work and finding a delightful store to browse in, being given a new assignment and diving in with excitement, hearing about the unexpected illness of a dear friend and getting in touch with her to offer comfort and support. These are times of change. They are significant to the extent that re-reading your list and thinking about them will help you realize that you are changing all along. It’s as natural as breathing and you do it often without thinking too much about it.
  2. Look for ways to change and incorporate them into your life. 
    Actively seek to do things differently instead of the usual routine. This not only adds change gradually into your life, it also makes life more interesting, alive and enjoyable. Do a wardrobe makeover. Get a haircut or new coloring, perhaps streaking or highlights. Join a group with interests like your own – or try out a group devoted to something you’ve never done, but would like to.
  3. See change as good. 
    Adopt a mindset that views change as positive and beneficial instead of something to be avoided at all costs. Remember that you cannot stop change from occurring, so learning to deal with it is necessary to living a happy and productive life. By reminding yourself that change is good, even when terrible things happen you’ll be able to find the nugget of good hidden within and be able to move forward in life.
  4. Surround yourself with change-oriented people. 
    The friends you cultivate and keep often have a profound effect on your receptiveness to change and your ability to accept and embrace change. If they are optimistic, open to innovative ideas and experiences, willing to take measured risks and learn from mistakes, they are likely enjoyable to be around and serve as an inspiration for your own goals. As such, make it a point to surround yourself with people who view change as not only good, but necessary and vital to living a vibrant, purposeful life.
  5. Feel yourself grow. 
    Another vital part of change that is often overlooked is the fact that change allows you to grow. As you embark on some new adventure, begin a learning process, seek new friends and explore new areas of interest, feel yourself growing and changing. This is an excellent self-reminder and self-affirmation that reinforces a positive outlook on life that will serve you well always.
Brandi-Ann Uyemura, M.A. <![CDATA[Best of Our Blogs: May 26, 2017]]> 2017-05-25T22:30:46Z 2017-05-26T10:30:39Z We’re nearing the end of Mental Health Awareness Month. But there are still things you can do. I received an email that certain brands will make a donation to a mental health charity of your choice when you make a purchase online. You can learn more about that here.

Mental Health America also has downloadable toolkits with resources, materials and info graphs that can help bring awareness to risky behaviors associated with mental illness. This page of social media feeds, for example, provides a realistic description of what mental illness really looks like.

Whether it’s sharing your story or our blog posts, let us know what you’re doing to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month.

9 Things A Narcissist Will Never Do
(Knotted) – You want connection, honesty and peace in your relationship. It’s the shocking reason your partner will never give it to you.

11 More Ways Being Raised by a Narcissistic Parent Can Affect You
(Narcissism Decoded) – You’re always second guessing yourself and struggle with relationships. Here’s why your parent could have been a narcissist.

Narcissistic Family and Pseudomutuality
(Narcissism Meets Normalcy) – It’s the tool that kept the peace in your family that you didn’t know about until now.

When A Pet Dies
(Strength Over Adversity) – If you’ve ever lost a pet, you can understand the heartache, pain, and grief this blogger is experiencing.

Narcissistic Abuse and the Symptoms of Narcissist Victim Syndrome
(Neuroscience & Relationships) – Narcissism can hurt. Here’s what it looks like when a narcissist emotionally manipulates you.

Psych Central Staff http:// <![CDATA[3 Ways to Develop and Maintain Healthy Relationship Boundaries]]> 2017-05-11T16:13:17Z 2017-05-25T22:30:41Z

Having boundaries is so, so important.

Boundaries in relationships are certainly a hot topic lately, but it also seems to be this ever-elusive concept.

While boundaries are incredibly important to the success of any healthy relationship, most people seem completely at a loss for how to maintain any kind of boundary from one moment to the next. And since life is ever-evolving, relationships inevitably change as well.

Healthy Relationships Happen by Choice, Not by Chance

In order for relationships to evolve and transcend each challenge (rather than devolve and wither away), the setting and maintaining of boundaries need to be at the forefront.

If you’re in the beginning of a relationship, the most important thing you can do is sit down and write out your non-negotiables — your ultimate wants and needs. This is why boundaries are necessary, to ensure that your wants and needs are being met and that your uncrossable lines are not being crossed.

Now, even if you are well into your relationship, it’s a good idea to sit down and do this too. And several times a year. Remember, life is ever-evolving.

Then of course, once you’re clear on what you want and need, you have to vocalize this to your partner. Your partner needs to know that every time the cooking, cleaning, dishes, laundry are all left on you, it makes you feel like a 1950’s housewife and not the smart, educated, strong woman that you are.

Your partner needs to know that when they say they’re going to be home at a certain time and are always late that it makes you feel less important, irrelevant, and disrespected.

Sitting down and calmly making your points clear creates a strong foundation for a healthy relationship. When you give your wants and needs air time, you are setting boundaries.

Voila! Just like that!

So now you’re feeling pretty good, you’ve taken the time to figure out what you want and need to feel loved, valued, and appreciated in your partnership, and you’ve even gone ahead and told your partner — you are on a roll!

But what happens when one of your vocalized boundaries is crossed?

This is where people come undone. I can’t even begin to tell you how many conversations I’ve had that go something like this:

Me: Have you told her that it really bothers you when she does X?

Them: Yes, I have, but she still does it!

Or even:

Me: When is the last time that you really sat down and explained to him how it makes you feel when he does that?

Them: I don’t know, but I know that I have before.

At this point I like to commend whomever it is I’m talking with for actually vocalizing their wants and needs with their partner at all (so many never even reach this step!), but then I remind them that we’re all human.

So what? Well, it means we aren’t perfect and we can’t change overnight.

Let’s go back to school for a minute. Most likely your high school English teacher really wanted you to write a great essay and even told you what you needed to do to get that A. Does that mean that you got an A on your first paper? Probably not.

Instead, it took repeat reminders, editing, and revisions, before you were really clear on what your teacher wanted and needed from you to get a good grade.

This is the exact same process for setting and maintaining boundaries in relationships.

Verbalizing your wants and needs is the first step. It’s a hard first step, but it’s only the first step. The work doesn’t stop there.

If you want your boundaries to be maintained, you have to revisit them from time to time. And you have to ask:

  • Does it feel like your partner heard you and is making appropriate adjustments?
  • Does it feel like you did a good job explaining your needs and wants?
  • Does if feel like your partner is trying but you are still feeling violated?

If you feel heard and that your partner made appropriate adjustments, you’re probably in good shape and can continue on your boundary-set ways.

If you aren’t sure that you communicated your boundaries well, you better sit down and revisit those boundaries with your partner again (just like in school, sometimes we need several approaches before we understand the content, so this is completely normal and totally ok).

If you feel like your partner is trying but it’s just not cutting it for you, it’s likely time to revise the boundaries you’ve set.

Maybe what you thought was the issue, wasn’t really the issue. So your partner might have gone ahead and truly tried to do the things you said you wanted, but you’re still not feeling loved, valued, and appreciated. Maybe you need to set new boundaries. Maybe you need to be clearer, more specific, and more direct.

The revision process is different for everyone and it truly is trial and error. You don’t know what’s going to work and feel good for both of you until you try.

In a Healthy Relationship, There Is No Alpha

Which brings me to the last piece of this puzzle, reestablishing your boundaries. Once you’ve sat for a good long while in your revision stage (whether solo or with you partner), you’ve got to reestablish the boundaries.

What does this mean? It’s basically going back to that big first step: giving air time to the new boundaries set.

Think of the recycling symbol. Each phase leads into the continuation of the next. That’s what a cycle is and the key to maintaining boundaries is truly a cyclical process.

Remember, relationships are ever-evolving, which means our work here is never done. We continually need to check-in with our partners and see how we’re doing.

In every stage of life our needs and wants are different, and sometimes our relationship climate changes rapidly. This is why it’s so critical to the health and development of our partnerships that we revisit, revise, and reestablish our boundaries regularly. ​

This guest article originally appeared on 3 Things People With HEALTHY Relationship Boundaries Do To Keep The Upper Hand.

Terry Nguyen <![CDATA[Coping with Anxiety in School and the Workplace]]> 2017-05-11T16:11:16Z 2017-05-25T18:30:57Z Anxiety can affect anyone at any stage in their life, but it is one of the most common mental disorders on college campuses. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, forty million American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, and 75% of those people have reported that their first anxiety episode occurred by the time they were twenty two.

Are you among them? Many of us who suffer from anxiety avoid seeking direct help. The stigma attached to the disorder is too strong, or maybe it’s just too embarrassing to open up about it. If you’re on a college campus, there will always be someone in student services who can listen and help. If you’re not ready for that right now, or are out in the work world, consider these other options.

Talk it out

Contrary to the actions of many young adults suffering from anxiety, your best first step is to reach out to others. Your colleagues, peers, friends, and family are an irreplaceable support system that can help you during serious episodes or periods of major anxiety. Having individuals to lean on in times of crisis is crucial for your well-being. If you hold in your feelings, things can get even worse. If you feel comfortable about it, disclose your anxiety to your boss or professor, in case you might need to take a day off or leave early because of your anxiety. If that doesn’t seem right, check out peer support groups on your campus or community.

As an adult in the workforce, counseling and other methods of support might not be as close as they are on a college campus. You might start simply, with calming activities such as yoga or meditation that can help clear your mind.

Have a plan for your bad days

Granted, there are some days when your anxiety is stronger than others. It is necessary for you to recognize your fears, and do what you can to gradually face them, instead of simply avoiding your struggles. Whether it be a social form of anxiety or fear-based anxiety, exposure or recognition of your trigger can help you in the long run. When dealing with something that stresses you, it can be helpful to “name it.” Giving stress a label can help it seem less overwhelming.

Mindfulness can also help. In college or at work, many develop anxiety before a test or an important project. Before you start overthinking or worrying, stop and take a breath in response to your automatic reaction. If you can slow down the pace of your body reacting to a trigger, this can be a helpful coping mechanism for anxiety attacks.

Engage in self care

Anxiety can make you feel exhausted or burnt out, and you might find yourself not caring for your own well-being. There are a variety of self-help activities you can engage in either before, during, or after school or work that can improve your mindset. Again, start small, with light physical activity, such as stretching, yoga, or meditation. Some even find that prayer even helps, especially if you are seeking to set the tone for your day. Be aware of what you eat. Some research has shown that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and folic acids can help ease depression. Did you know that caffeine actually enhances anxiety? A lot of caffeine can trigger a body’s fight or flight response, even if there is no actual danger, further leading to anxiety. Try green tea.

As you consider some of these coping strategies, remember that you are not facing this alone. If you need some proof of that, then check out Getting Past Anxiety and follow the story of Stella Maris, a thirty-seven-year-old professional woman who is fighting to break free from anxiety. The book is an inspirational novel designed to help you reclaim your life.

Just as the book’s author, Melissa A. Woods says, “It takes great effort to commit oneself to healing all the way to the source of the pain. It takes great courage to go inside, excavate, and understand the wounds, and to observe how you have used them in your life to control the people around you and even yourself. This understanding allows the psyche to release the victimhood and live in appreciation and forgiveness.”

Tracy Shawn, MA <![CDATA[Leaping Over the Assertiveness Hurtle]]> 2017-05-11T16:10:38Z 2017-05-25T14:20:51Z Asserting yourself can be one of the most challenging communication skills to master, especially if you’re dealing with a defensive person or someone who verbally agrees with your requests, but never actually follows through.

In response, people who have unsuccessfully asserted themselves often give up or become angry. They react by ignoring issues, fixing the problems themselves, or losing their tempers. The first two approaches may seem to work on a short-term basis, but not in the long run. When people push down their own needs, anger and resentment often follow, which can lead to physical and emotional problems (such as headaches and depression). And when people react by losing their temper by shouting and/or calling someone names, the other party will often become even more defensive and uncooperative.

What to do, then? The Advanced Communication Guidebook for Interpersonal Communication by Toastmasters International provides five simple, yet powerful ways to maintain one’s assertiveness.

1. Realize the Problem is Your Own:

The first part to step one is to realize that the problem you are experiencing is your own. For example, if your co-worker Pamela talks too loudly on her sales calls, it’s not her problem but yours. For whatever reason her voice skyrockets when she’s speaking to potential clients, it’s not a behavior that upsets her—or she wouldn’t be doing it. Yet if it upsets you and makes it hard to concentrate, it is your problem—and you do have a right to speak up about it!

2. State Your Problem:

The second step is to communicate the problem you’re having without judging or blaming the other person. In the case above, you’d simply describe your issue to Pamela in non-emotional way. For instance you could say to her: “Pamela, I can’t focus on my work when your phone voice gets too loud.”

3. Share Your Feelings:

The third step to asserting yourself in a positive manner is to share your feelings, explaining how the other person’s behavior affects you. With loudmouth Pamela, you might say something like this: “I’m stressed out because I don’t think I’ll be able to finish my deadline today.”

4. Specify a Solution:

For the fourth step, verbalize a solution in a clear, nonjudgmental voice. An example of this could go something like: “I’d so appreciate it if you could lower your voice enough to still be heard by your clients, of course, but not so loud that it effects my concentration.”

5. Describe the Consequences:

This fifth step helps the other person more fully understand how her behavior is affecting you and the positive outcomes that can come if she respects and follows through with your requests. “If you do this, then I’ll be able to focus more and make my deadline today.”


1. Speak Up As Soon As Possible:

Speaking up right away can prevent further resentment and stress. For example, asserting your needs to co-worker Pamela soon after her volume causes unnecessary distraction for you will hopefully decrease the offending behavior sooner rather than later.

2. Be Clear:

If you merely say that it’s hard for you to concentrate if people’s office phone calls are too loud, Pamela may think that you’re talking about someone else. Share the specific issue and what the other person can do to remedy it.

3. Remain Friendly and Calm:

Maintaining a friendly attitude helps others react in a more cooperative manner. If you also remain calm, it helps your credibility and increases the other party’s sympathy. If you become outraged or offend others, people will more likely become defensive and less likely want to help.

And…When You Still Hit a Brick Wall:

Let’s face it, no matter how well you follow these steps, there’s going to be some people in your life who won’t want to cooperate.

For example, Pamela may respond to your request to lower her phone voice by saying something like this: “But I have to speak up on sales calls because it helps me concentrate.” Pamela may also become defensive, lashing out: “Well, you should know that it drives me up the wall when you slurp your coffee!” Neither response acknowledges your request.

What, then, can you do? Stay on course. First, let Pamela know that you heard her — and if need be, maintain a sense of humor. It can be as simple as: “I understand that you feel it helps you to focus when you speak up on your sales calls,” or: “I’m sorry about my slurping (if you can also flash an apologetic smile here, all the better!). I wasn’t aware I did that! I’ll try not to slurp so loudly from now on!” But then, you go right back and repeat your request in a calm manner: “But I really do need to concentrate on my work, so I’m asking you to lower your volume to a more reasonable level.”

Pamela may still resist: “That’s easy for you to say. If you were in sales, you’d understand.”

When you find yourself in this loop, calmly repeat yourself until the other party understands (and hopefully!) finally complies with your request.