When shame becomes toxic, it can ruin our lives. Everyone experiences shame at one time another. It’s an emotion with physical symptoms like any other that come and go, but when it’s severe, it can be extremely painful.
Strong feelings of shame stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, causing a fight/flight/freeze reaction. We feel exposed and want to hide or react with rage, while feeling profoundly alienated from others and good parts of ourselves. We may not be able to think or talk clearly and be consumed with self-loathing, which is made worse because we’re unable to be rid of ourselves.
We all have our own specific triggers or tender points that produce feelings of shame. The intensity of our experience varies, too, depending upon our prior life experiences, cultural beliefs, personality, and the activating event.
Unlike ordinary shame, “internalized shame” hangs around and alters our self-image. It’s shame that has become “toxic,” a term first coined by Sylvan Tomkins in the early 1960s in his scholarly examination of human affect. For some people, toxic shame can monopolize their personality, while for others, it lies beneath their conscious awareness, but can easily be triggered.
Characteristics of Toxic Shame
Toxic shame differs from ordinary shame, which passes in a day or a few hours, in the following respects:
- It can hide in our unconscious, so that we’re unaware that we have shame.
- When we experience shame, it lasts much longer.
- The feelings and pain associated with shame are of greater intensity.
- An external event isn’t required to trigger it. Our own thoughts can bring on feelings of shame.
- It leads to shame spirals that cause depression and feelings of hopelessness and despair.
- It causes chronic “shame anxiety” — the fear of experiencing shame.
- It’s accompanied by voices, images, or beliefs originating in childhood and is associated with a negative “shame story” about ourselves.
- We needn’t recall the original source of the immediate shame, which usually originated in childhood or a prior trauma.
- It creates deep feelings of inadequacy.
The fundamental belief underlying shame is that “I’m unlovable — not worthy of connection.” Usually, internalized shame manifests as one of the following beliefs or a variation thereof:
- I’m stupid.
- I’m unattractive (especially to a romantic partner).
- I’m a failure.
- I’m a bad person.
- I’m a fraud or a phony.
- I’m selfish.
- I’m not enough (this belief can be applied to numerous areas).
- I hate myself.
- I don’t matter.
- I’m defective or inadequate.
- I shouldn’t have been born.
- I’m unlovable.
The Cause of Toxic Shame
In most cases, shame becomes internalized or toxic from chronic or intense experiences of shame in childhood. Parents can unintentionally transfer their shame to their children through verbal messages or nonverbal behavior. For an example, a child might feel unloved in reaction to a parent’s depression, indifference, absence, or irritability or feel inadequate due to a parent’s competitiveness or over-correcting behavior. Children need to feel uniquely loved by both parents. When that connection is breached, such as when a child is scolded harshly, children feel alone and ashamed, unless the parent-child bond of love is soon repaired. However, even if shame has been internalized, it can be surmounted by later positive experiences.
If not healed, toxic shame can lead to aggression, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and addiction. It generates low self-esteem, anxiety, irrational guilt, perfectionism, and codependency, and it limits our ability to enjoy satisfying relationships and professional success.
We can heal from toxic shame and build our self-esteem. To learn more about how to do so and the eight steps to heal, read Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You.
©Darlene Lancer 2015
Even if you don’t spend much time yourself playing any of these three roles – you probably deal on a daily basis with people who do.
Knowing how to put our “big girl” or “big boy” pants on and get out of the triangle is essential when dealing with people who want to pull us in. Using our own wise mind to recognize when we’ve regressed into one of these roles ourselves (usually because of the usual culprit, needing to play those roles early in our family of origin conditioning) is also essential to make wise conscious choices in our intimate and social interactions with others.
May the reflections and exercises offered below save you much grief and help you enjoy healthy, game-free relationships.
The drama triangle is a dynamic model of social interaction and conflict developed by Dr. Karpman when he was a student of Eric Berne, M.D. father of transactional analysis.
[Karpman and other clinicians point out that “victim, rescuer, and persecutor” refer to roles people unconsciously play, or try to manipulate other people to play, not the actual circumstances in someone’s life. There can be real victims of crime or racism or abuse, etc.]The three roles of the drama triangle are archetypal and easily recognizable in their extreme versions.
The stance of the victim is “poor me!” Victims see themselves as victimized, oppressed, powerless, helpless, hopeless, dejected, and ashamed, and come across as “super-sensitive,” wanting kid glove treatment from others. They can deny any responsibility for their negative circumstances and deny possession of the power to change those circumstances.
A person in the victim role will look for a rescuer, a savior, to save them (and if someone refuses or fails to do that, can quickly perceive them now as a persecutor.)
In terms of derailing resilience, victims have real difficulties making decisions, solving problems, finding much pleasure in life, or understanding their self-perpetuating behaviors.
The stance of the rescuer is “Let me help you!” Rescuers work hard to help and caretake other people, and even need to help other people to feel good about themselves, while neglecting their own needs or not taking responsibility for meeting their own needs.
Rescuers are classically co-dependent and enablers. They need victims to help and often can’t allow the victim to succeed or get better. They can use guilt o keep their victims dependent and feel guilty themselves if they are not rescuing somebody.
In terms of derailing resilience, rescuers are frequently harried, overworked, tired, caught in a martyr style while resentment festers underneath.
The stance of the persecutor is “It’s all your fault!” Persecutors criticize and blame the victim, set strict limits, can be controlling, rigid, authoritative, angry and unpleasant. They keep the victim feeling oppressed through threats and bullying.
In terms of resilience, persecutors can’t bend, can’t be flexible, can’t be vulnerable, can’t be human; they fear the risk of being a victim themselves. Persecutors yell and criticize but they don’t actually solve any problems or help anyone else solve the problem.
These are the most extreme versions of these three roles, but we can encounter people playing milder versions of these roles on a pretty regular basis.
Because Dr. Karpman was a student of transactional analysis at the time he identified these three roles on the drama triangle, there is a resemblance to the critical parent (persecutor) marshmallow parent (rescuers) and the wounded inner child (victim) Eric Berne described in Games People Play.
What gives the drama triangle much of its power and significance is the recognition that people will switch roles and cycle through all three roles without ever getting out of the triangle. Victims depend on a savior; rescuers yearn for a basket case; persecutors need a scapegoat.
The trap is, people are acting out these roles to meet personal (often unconscious) needs rather than being able to see the picture as a whole and take responsibility for their part in keeping the triangle going.
An example from “The Three Faces of Victim – An Overview of the Drama Triangle” by Lynne Forrest:
Dad comes home from work to find Mom and Junior engaged in a battle. “Clean up your room or else,” (persecutor) Mom threatens. Dad immediately comes to Junior’s rescue. “Mom,” he might say, “give the boy a break. He’s been at school all day.”
Any one of several possibilities might follow. Perhaps (persecutor) Mom, feeling victimized by Dad, will turn her wrath on him. In that case, she moves Dad from rescuer to victim. They then might do a few quick trips around the triangle with Junior on the sidelines.
Or maybe Junior joins Dad in a persecutory “Let’s gang up on Mom” approach, or then again, maybe Junior will turn on Dad, rescuing Mom with “Mind your own business, Dad. I don’t need your help!” So it goes, with endless variations, but nonetheless, pinging from corner to corner on the triangle. For many families, it’s the only way they know to interact.
(See Stories to Learn From below for more examples]
What’s needed is for anyone on the triangle to “wake up” to the roles they are playing repeatedly. One person shifting out of role can catalyze the others to shift out of roles and behaviors. What’s especially helpful is for the victim to begin to “grow up” and take responsibility for their own empowerment and resourcing themselves to meet their own needs.
[See Exercises to Practice below]Each role on the drama triangle has its own payoffs. Victims get to be take care of. Rescuers get to feel good by caretaking. Persecutors get to remain feeling superior to both victim and rescuer.
But the cost is to perpetuate a dysfunctional social dynamic and to miss out on the possibilities (and responsibilities) of healthy, resonant, resilient relationships.
POETRY AND QUOTES TO INSPIRE
It’s only when we become convinced that we can’t take care of ourselves that we move into victim. Believing that we are frail, powerless or defective keeps us needing rescue. Anxiety forces us to be always on the lookout for someone stronger or more capable to take care of us. This relegates us to a lifetime of crippling dependency on our primary relationships.
Victims deny both their problems solving abilities and their potential for self-generated power. This doesn’t prevent them from feeling highly resentful towards those on whom they depend. As much as they insist on being taken care of by their primary rescuers, they nonetheless do not appreciate being reminded of their inadequacy.
– Lynne Forrest
* * * * *
The rescuer is the classic co-dependent, enabling, overly protective – the one who wants to “fix it.” Taking care of others may be the rescuer’s best game plan for getting to feel worthwhile. There’s no better way to feel important than to be a savior!
Rescuers often gain satisfaction by identifying with their care-taking role. They are generally proud of what “helpers” and “fixers” they are. Often they are socially acclaimed, even rewarded, for what can be seen as “selfless acts” of caring. They believe in their goodness as chief caretakers and see themselves as heroes.
Behind it all is a magical belief, “If I take care of them long enough, then, sooner or later, they will take care of me, too.” Common phrases for the martyred rescuer are, “After all I’ve done for you, this is the thanks I get?” or “No matter how much I do, it’s never enough;” or “If you loved me, you wouldn’t treat me like this!”
A rescuer’s greatest fear is that they will end up alone. They believe that their total value comes from how much they do for others. It’s difficult for them to see their worth beyond what they have to offer in the way of “stuff” or “service.” They believe, “If you need me, you won’t leave me.” They scramble to make themselves indispensable in order to avoid abandonment.
– Lynne Forrest
* * * * *
The persecutor is actually shame based. This role is most often taken on by someone who received overt mental and/or physical abuse during their childhood. As a result, they are often secretly seething inside form a shame-based wrath that ends up running their lives.
They may choose to emulate their primary childhood abuser(s), preferring to identify with those they see as having power and strength – rather than become the “picked on loser” at the bottom of life’s pile. Persecutors tend to adopt an attitude that says, “The world is hard and mean; only the ruthless survive. I’ll be one of those.”
The persecutor overcomes feelings of helplessness and shame by over-powering others. Domination becomes their most prevalent style of interaction. This means they must always be right! Their methods include bullying, preaching, threatening, blaming, lecturing, interrogating, and outright attack.
The persecutor needs someone to blame. They deny their vulnerability in the same way rescuers deny their needs. Their greatest fear is powerlessness. Because they judge and deny their own inadequacy, fear and vulnerability, they will need some place else to project these disowned feelings. In other words, they need a victim.
It is most difficult for someone in the persecutor role to take responsibility for the way they hurt others. In their mind, others deserve what they get. These warring individuals tent to see themselves as having to constantly fight for survival. Theirs is a constant struggle to protect themselves in what they perceive as a hostile world.
– Lynne Forrest
* * * * *
[Out of the triangle….]The only way to “escape” the drama triangle is to function as an “adult” and not participate in the game.
– John Goulet, MFT, Breaking the Drama Triangle
* * * * *
Those in victim roles must learn to assume responsibility for themselves and initiate self-care, rather than look outside themselves for a savior. They must challenge the ingrained belief that they can’t take care of themselves if they are to escape the triangle. Instead of seeing themselves as powerless, they must acknowledge their problem solving as well as their leadership capabilities. There is no escape except to take total responsibility for their own feelings, thoughts, and reactions.
It is certainly possible to be helpful and supportive without being a rescuer. There is a distinct difference between being truly helpful and rescuing. Authentic helpers act without expectations for reciprocation. They empower rather than disable those they serve. What they do will be done to encourage self-responsibility rather than promote dependency. True supporters believe that the other can handle their own business. They believe that everyone has the right to make mistakes and learn through sometimes hard consequences. They trust the other has what it takes to see themselves through times of difficulty without rescuers needing to “save” them.
Self-accountability is the only way off the grid for the persecutor. There has to be some kind of breakthrough to them to own their part. Unfortunately, because of their great reluctance to do so, it may have to come in the form of crisis.
– Lynne Forrest
STORIES TO LEARN FROM
During the time my daughter and I were staying with my girlfriend and her daughter, I was missing a very expensive pair of earrings – over $200 worth, and announced to everyone what they looked like and asked had they seen them. Nope, no one had seen them.
Finally, one day, suspicious of my girlfriend’s daughter, I went into her room and looked into her jewelry box and there we my earrings! I snatched them back. When everyone was home later that night, I told everyone where I had found my earrings.
I was clearly the victim, right? The persecutor was clearly my girlfriends’ daughter and either my girlfriend or my daughter, who was very young, could have been the rescuer.
Well…My girlfriend could not come out of denial that her daughter had taken the earrings, and her daughter denied taking them, stating she had no idea how they wound up in her jewelry box, so my girlfriend began to feel angry at me for blaming her daughter, persecuting me but making me the persecutor and her daughter the victim and my girlfriend the rescuer of her daughter.
My girlfriend and her daughter not taking responsibility keeps us all in the triangle.
– Patty Fleener, MSW
* * * * *
A good example of the game could be this fictitious argument between John and Mary, a married couple. V = victim, R = rescuer, P = persecutor
John: I can’t believe you burnt dinner! That’s the third time this month! (P)
Mary: Well, little Johnny fell and skinned his knee. Dinner burned while I was busy getting him a bandage. (R)
John: You baby that boy too much! (P)
Mary: You wouldn’t want him to get an infection, would you? I’d end up having to take care of him while he was sick. (V)
John: He’s big enough to get his own bandage. (R)
Mary: I just didn’t want him bleeding all over the carpet. (R)
John: You know, that’s the problem with these kids? They expect you to do everything (R)
Mary: That’s only natural honey, they are just young. (R)
John: I work like a dog all day at a job I hate…(V)
Mary: Yes, you do work very hard, dear. (R)
John: And I can’t even sit down to a good dinner! (V)
Mary: I can cook something else, it won’t take too long. (R)
John: A waste of an expensive steak! (P)
Mary: Well maybe if you could have hauled your ass out of your chair for a minute while I was busy, it wouldn’t have gotten burned! (P)
John: You didn’t say anything! How was I supposed to know? (P)
Mary: As if you couldn’t hear Johnny crying? You always ignore the kids! (P)
John: I do not. I just need time to sit and relax and unwind after working all day! You don’t know what it’s like…(V)
Mary: Sure, as if taking care of the house and kids isn’t work! (P)
This argument could continue indefinitely. What is of interest is how one can remove oneself from the triangle. The simplest method is the non-defensive response. This works at any point no matter what the role the other person is taking as it doesn’t give a cue as to the next response.
Mary: Well maybe if you could have hauled your ass out of your chair for a minute while I was busy, it wouldn’t have gotten burned! (P
John: Yes, that’s true.
Although Mary may attempt to restart the cycle by continuing to scolded, if John continues in the same vein, Mary will eventually run out of things to say. John’s calm response invites discussion rather than continued wrangling. Mary might realize that she didn’t ask him for help, and they might well be a le to resolve the situation by planning on a course of action should something similar arise in the future.
It works just as well for the victim role:
John I do not. I just need time to sit and relax and unwind after working all day! You don’t know what it’s like…(V)
Mary: I’m sorry you’re feeling so tired.
This acknowledges any real problem the other person might have without continuing the dance. Again, the other person may attempt to restart the cycle by continuing to complain, but again, with continued non-defensive response, the other person will run out of things to say.
Even the rescuer role can be treated in the same manner.
Mary: That’s only natural honey, they are just young. (R)
John: Yes, they are young.
Other excellent non-defensive response:
“You may be right.”
– John Goulet, MFT, Breaking the Drama Triangle
EXERCISES TO PRACTICE
Because we all have unconscious core beliefs about ourselves and how to interact with other acquired in the relational dynamics of our families of origin, getting out of the drama triangle requires conscious awareness of any roles, victim, rescuer, persecutor or any others that we identify with and might be playing out currently, the capacity to discern healthier non-defensive, non-shaming-blaming responses when we sense we’re getting sucked into the roles of the triangle, and a willingness to take responsibility for our perceptions, reactions and behaviors when we wake up and know we are in the triangle.
This is basic wiser self application of our mindfulness practice to notice, acknowledge patterns, stepping back to reflect on them and the consequences of the, then dis-identify with them, not perpetuating the cycle, choosing wiser responses or behaviors.
Not to duck out of offering relevant exercises here, but the exercises in Chapter 16: Using Reflection to Identify Options in my book Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being are exactly the kinds of applications of your mindfulness practice that will help you get out of the triangle, or deal directly with anyone who is trying to pull you in.
Karpman Drama Triangle the official website of Dr. Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle
A Game Free Life: the Drama Triangle and Compassion Triangle by Stephan Karpman, M.D. 2014.
Karpman Drama Triangle – Wikipedia
“The Three Faces of Victim – An Overview of the Drama Triangle” by Lynne Forrest.
Breaking the Drama Triangle by John Goulet, MFT
Verified by Psychology Today
Time For a New Creative Approach to Career Counselling
The world of work is changing all the time. In the past, people would probably choose one career and stick to it for the rest of their lives, gradually climbing up the ladder with clearly demarcated and structured relationships. They might even remain at one company throughout their working lives.
But today, people move between careers and jobs several times; they have to navigate many work-related transitions.
The problem is that career counselling hasn’t, for the most part, adapted to these new realities. In the developing world, traditional career counselling approaches are still the order of the day. Young people – usually in their second last or last year of secondary schooling, and who are able to afford such a service – consult a professional career counsellor.
They are asked questions about their personal and family history, then complete a few interest and personality inventories. They may also write a set of aptitude tests, answer questions about their study habits and attitudes, and then receive what amounts to career education or career guidance.
For the most part, this approach is no longer working satisfactorily in a rapidly changing world. I am involved in many research projects, task teams, as well as in an advisory capacity, and the situation is by and large the same everywhere: alarmingly high tertiary dropout rates are related in part to undecidedness or career indecision. As my research has shown, students often discover that the degree they’ve chosen doesn’t interest them. They become indecisive and unsure about what they want to do as a career and feel stuck.
Based on my own research, and drawing from different approaches to career counselling that have enjoyed success in the developed world, I believe that it’s time for developing countries to approach career counselling differently; more respectfully. One approach, which we tested, was having conversations with students in which they tell their stories, rather than simply writing down answers to aptitude test.
Research has shown that encouraging people to tell their stories in career counselling settings has direct, positive results. It enhances people’s career adaptability and career resilience. This makes them more employable. When people share their autobiographies, they can be helped to identify their key life themes and find out what really drives or motivates them.
This sort of approach has also been shown to improve people’s chances of finding sustainable, decent work.
“Storytelling” is already widely used in career counselling in the US, Western Europe and Australia, among other places. Some of my colleagues and I have begun to introduce it in South Africa. Our research has conclusively confirmed the vast potential of the approach.
This sort of career counselling involves asking people not just to fill in aptitude tests or assessment sheets, but to also explain what drives or motivates them. This would centre on their key life themes – for instance, a candidate who says “I want to help people who are being hurt or bullied or do not have a voice” and who talks about sympathy or compassion or caring a great deal might be well suited to law, nursing, social work, psychology, or theology.
These life themes can be uncovered by, for instance, asking people about their earliest recollections (in the case of individual assessment) or, in group-based contexts, their biggest challenges while growing up. People are, for instance, also asked to tell the career counsellor who their role models were when they grew up; who their current role models are, and what they regard as their greatest strengths and areas for growth.
The ultimate aim is to help people not only choose a career and “find work” but also to make meaning of their career lives, find a sense of purpose and hope, design a successful life, and make meaningful social contributions.
This approach calls for listening and repeated reflection. Counsellors who are trained in the method create a ‘safe’ space for people (help them feel sufficiently contained) to narrate stories about their lives and their work. Ideally, people who undergo this sort of counselling should emerge with a deeper understanding of who they are and how this might play out in their work.
Of course, it will take time and training for career counsellors to start embracing this sort of approach. It took me more than a decade and a half of applying the new approach in my private practice (and constantly refining it) before feeling that I have mastered it to a satisfactory degree.
First, relevant stakeholders will have to accept that a different approach is required by career counsellors to respond appropriately to large-scale changes in the world of work.
Second, universities’ psychology (and education) departments will need to adjust their curricula, since it is here that future career counsellors are trained. I am training Master’s students in educational and counselling psychology in this approach, and their feedback about the course is consistently positive and inspiring.
Those who are already working as career counsellors could undergo further training to develop new, different approaches that are more in keeping with the demands posed by the changing world of work.
Career counsellors’ allegiance should be solely to their clients. Given this fact, and the fact that research has shown how valuable this and other different, more modern approaches to career counselling can be, it would be good to see them more widely in action.
Most people would never dream of trying to fix a broken arm or smashed-up car themselves, but deciding when to call in professional help and who to turn to isn’t so clear cut when it comes to dealing with a financial plan that has been mangled by the economy.
With things like low-fee online brokerages, tax-free savings accounts and exchange-traded funds, do-it-yourselfers have never had more investing choices. But the array of options comes with potential pitfalls and unexpected tax considerations that can undermine financial plans, so it has also never been easier for novices to get themselves into trouble.
“People tend to overestimate their abilities with their finances,” Judith Cane, head of Antara Group, says. The Ottawa financial planner has more than two decades of experience and sits on the board of Advocis, the group that represents the industry in Canada. “Sometimes it’s good to have an outsider come in to see the things you can’t.”
The problem for consumers is that there are many different kinds of financial advisers, and they offer a range of services at a range of prices.
And not all of them act entirely in your best interests.
“Many people who call themselves financial planners don’t provide any advice, they’re really just selling mutual funds to their clients,” says Ermanno Pascutto, the executive director of the watchdog Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights (FAIR). “They shouldn’t really be called advisers or planners or anything.”
Know who you’re dealing with
There are as many as 100,000 people across the country who call themselves financial planners, consultants or advisers — but that’s not to say that they’re all doing the same type of work.
With the exception of Quebec, where the industry is much more tightly regulated, for the most part they’re governed by a hodgepodge of regulatory bodies and designations. The result is an alphabet soup of acronyms:
- CFA – Chartered financial analyst
- CFP – Certified financial planner
- CHFC – Chartered financial consultant
- CIM – Canadian investment manager
- CLU – Chartered life underwriter
- CMP – Certified management professional
- RFP – Registered financial planner
- TEP – Trust and estate practitioner
On the whole, FAIR says Canadians aren’t well served by the mishmash of designations and the confusion it breeds.
“The real problem is that people aren’t financially literate,” Pascutto adds.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty seems to agree, which is why Ottawa is spearheading a task force trying to improve that. But in the interim, governments need to do more to protect Canadians, FAIR says.
“The regulators really need to up their game and make sure the financial industry has a duty to act in the best interest of their clients,” Pascutto says. “That’s not happening at the moment.”
Where to start
The first step in deciding what sort of financial help you need is to figure out what you actually need help with.
That sounds like a tautology, but many people think there’s a one-size-fits-all solution to finances. There isn’t.
If you’re interested in stock tips, for example, or getting somebody to sell you the right kind of insurance, or to help you consolidate your debt, your best bet is someone exclusively skilled in those areas, like an investment adviser, stock broker, credit counsellor, or insurance agent.
A more generalized financial planner, on the other hand, deals with broader questions like whether you should put money into an RRSP in the first place – as opposed to, say, paying down a mortgage or saving for a child’s education. They will help you figure out overall goals and a basic workable strategy to meet them, but they’re not likely going to be able to execute the entire strategy for you.
As an analogy, Cane says a financial planner is like a family doctor. “They’re great at looking at the whole picture and can refer you to specialists, but you still need to go see an endocrinologist or oncologist for specific ailments.”
Know how your planner earns their living
Whether the person calls themselves a financial planner, or an adviser, or goes by some other helpful-sounding title, the key is to know how they earn their living. More specifically, are they being paid solely for helping you come up with a sound fiscal plan, or are they also responsible for selling you specific investment products?
“A lot of financial planners have grandiose titles on their business card, but many are no better than salesmen,” says FAIR’s Pascutto.
If you find a planner who is right for your specific needs and isn’t promoting specific financial products, “the appeal is that they have no vested interest in any door you choose,” Cane adds.
There’s no magic formula when choosing a financial planner, but two designations that specialize in developing broad financial plans are certified financial planner (CFP) and registered financial planner (RFP). That’s not to say that other designations such as CFA or TEP aren’t as knowledgeable, but their expertise is typically geared towards very specific aspects of one’s financial life.
Fee versus commission
CFPs and RFPs are regulated by the Financial Planning Standards Council and the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners, respectively, and can theoretically lose their licences for unethical behaviour. But at the same time, both are legally allowed to sell products, and as such could be biased towards a product that benefits them more than you in terms of fees.
Figuring out potential conflicts of interest in the sometimes murky financial industry is not always easy. It pays to ask some questions about the person you’re dealing with, not matter what licences they hold.
And above all, get it in writing.
“As part of your financial planning agreement, the financial planner should clearly tell you in writing how she will be paid for the services to be provided,” the group that certifies CFPs says.
Generally, financial planners get paid in one of two ways. Some earn commissions on the products you end up buying. Others work on a fee-based model where the customer pays an hourly rate for unbiased opinions, and the planner has no financial incentive to steer them one way or the other.
Certified financial planners
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the rights to use the CFP designation in Canada. It offers a helpful checklist on its website that lists some questions to ask before signing up with a planner. It suggests asking about the person’s experience, their qualifications, how they get paid, and whether they’ve ever been disciplined for malfeasance.
Some planners who promote themselves as being fee-based have a partnership, or share office space, with a much larger firm that sells financial products.
“There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I think if you want real fee-based advice you need to stay away from that sort of arrangement,” Cane says.
“If somebody tells you they’ll waive the fees if you put money in this or that investment, I think you generally get what you pay for,” she adds.
In most cases, Cane says, the fee a financial planner might charge for their services is quickly made up in tax savings or other gains that are found when someone knowledgeable fine-tunes the financial course you’re on.
Ultimately, everyone’s experience with a professional financial advice will be different, but the customer who goes into the process armed with the knowledge of how the expert across the table gets paid is going to get the most out of the relationship.
“Our perspective is that when people pay fees for a service, they are entitled to know what they are paying for, and they’re entitled to get some sort of service for that,” Pascutto says.
“We think we have a long way to go [in Canada] before that’s happening.”
In the meantime, it’s prudent to take a buyer beware approach to financial planning and advice by doing your homework before choosing who to deal with.
Financial planning checklist
Here are five basic things that can help you evaluate a potential financial adviser.
1. Plan ahead: The first step is often to decide what sort of financial strategy you need. Are you a saver? A buy-and-hold investor? Are you willing to roll the dice a little? Picking an adviser who is among the best in long-term thinking might not be ideally suited for your daytrading needs, for example. So figure out what your ultimate goal is, and work with someone who can demonstrate that they’ve got the expertise to help you reach that goal.
2. Ask around: Friends and family can be a great first step to finding a reliable source of financial advice. Ask around and see if anyone in your circle has an adviser they’d recommend, or tips to share. Hearing about a bad experience and what went wrong can hone your decision-making skills and help you figure out what questions to ask a potential adviser when sounding them out.
3. Get personal: Whatever you do, make sure you meet with the person face to face before making any sort of arrangement. Remember, the adviser is going to need to have very intimate knowledge of your finances, personal activities and goals, and you must be comfortable providing them with that information.
4. Follow the money: There are a number of ways that advisers get paid, and it pays (literally) to know which method yours uses. The most common is the commission-based model where the adviser gets paid a fee by the financial companies that make the products he or she sells. That’s great in principle (since the customer never has to pay directly for the service), but critics point out that it poses an inherent conflict of interest. Certain financial products pay higher commissions than others, which gives the adviser a higher incentive to move you in that direction – whether it’s a good idea for your financial plan or not. That’s led a movement toward other types of payment plans, where compensation is more up front.
Higher net worth clients often like the asset-based model, where you pay an adviser a certain percentage of your entire portfolio, so the payment grows as the portfolio grows. That gives both parties an incentive to make the portfolio increase in value.
Smaller investors might like a simple fee-based planner that charges by the hour. The cost shouldn’t be much more than about $100 or so an hour, and less and less time will likely be needed once the financial plan has been worked out and set up — perhaps nothing more than a checkup here and there throughout the year.
5. Beware the alphabet soup: From CIM, to CFA, to TEP and even RHU, there’s a dizzying array of letters signifying credentials for financial professionals. But experts say the two types that most consumers should look for are either CFP or RFP. Those stand for certified financial planner and registered financial planner. The latter is generally for more advanced investors, but they share the common trait of not actually selling any financial products. A good financial planner’s role is to guide your savings and investment strategy, not sell you individual products.
This is a great article with lots of information and practical tips you can use right away.
Workplace bullying refers to any repeated, intentional behavior directed at an employee that is intended to degrade, humiliate, embarrass, or otherwise undermine their performance. It can come from colleagues, supervisors, or management, and is a real problem for workers at all levels. It’s no joke. By learning to recognize and address workplace bullying behavior, you can help to create a healthier, more productive environment for yourself and your colleagues. Keep reading after the jump to learn more.
Part One of Four:
Understanding Workplace BullyingEdit
- 1Learn what a bully is and what a bully does. Just like their immature little brothers and sisters on the schoolyard, workplace bullies use same tools of intimidation and manipulation to bring you down. Learning to recognize their behavior is the first step in putting a stop to it and getting back to work in a comfortable environment.
- A bully gains enjoyment from tormenting others. You might not always get along with everyone at work, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got a bully on your hands any more than you’re a bully yourself. Distinguish between the two by recognizing this trait–does this person seem to make special effort in messing with you, tripping you up, or bringing you down? Do they seem to enjoy it? If the answer is yes, this might suggest a bully.
- Bullies often have deep-seated psychological issues related to control. Know that your bullying has less to do with your performance and your personality and more to do with the bully’s insecurities.
- Recognize bullying behaviors. Watch for the sure signs of a bully that signify more than a simple misunderstanding or personal disagreement. Workplace bullying might include:
3Pay attention to signs outside of work that suggest you’re a victim of bullying. You might be suffering from bullying if you suffer at home in the following ways:
- Shouting, whether in private, in front of colleagues, or in front of customers
- Belittling or disrespectful comments
- Excessive monitoring, criticizing, or nitpicking someone’s work
- Deliberately overloading someone with work
- Undermining someone’s work by setting them up to fail
- Purposefully withholding information needed to perform a job efficiently
- Actively excluding someone from normal workplace/staff room conversations and making someone feel unwelcome2
- You have trouble sleeping or struggle with nausea and vomiting because you’re scared to go to work
- Your family gets frustrated because of how much you talk and obsess about work problems
- You spend days off worrying about going back to work
- Your doctor notices health problems like blood pressure and other stress concerns
- You feel guilty about having provoked your workplace troubles
- 4Don’t ignore the feeling that you’re being bullied. If you feel singled out unfairly, or as if you’re picked on a disproportionate amount, it can be tempting to come up with excuses. “Everyone gets treated this way,” or “I deserve it” are common guilt trips that bullies help to lay on you. Don’t fall into a trap of self-loathing if you feel you’re being bullied. Form a plan to stop the bullying and reclaim your workplace.
- Unlike schoolyard bullies, who tend to pick on victims they identify as alone or weak, workplace bullies typically pick on employees they consider threatening to their career. If your presence makes someone else look bad enough they feel the need to take you down, take it as a twisted compliment. You’re good at what you do. You know this. Don’t let them confuse you.
Part Two of Four:
- 1Tell the bully to stop. This is, of course, more difficult than it sounds, but you can keep a few simple gestures and statements in mind to bring out when you’re feeling bullied.
- Put your hands up, creating a barrier between you and your bully, like a policeman using the stop signal with his hand.
- Say something short that communicates your frustration, like: “Please stop and let me work” or “Stop talking please.” This will help you to stand up to the behavior and give you ammunition for your report if the behavior continues.
- Never escalate the bullying. Shouting counter insults or yelling back might end up getting you in trouble or making the situation worse. Use a calm, collected tone of voice, and tell the person to stop as if you were talking to a dog chewing on a slipper.
- 2Keep a record of all bullying events. Record the name of your tormentor and the method of bullying. Record specific times, dates, locations, and the names of any witnesses to the events. Provide and gather as much information as you can. Collecting documentation is the most important and concrete way to get the bullying to stop when you take the issue to your superiors or a legal team.
- Even if you’re not sure you’re being bullied, journaling about your feelings in a diary can help you to get your feelings out and figure out for yourself what you’re struggling with. As a result of writing down your feelings and your frustrations, you might decide you don’t have a bully, or that you definitely do and you need to take action.
- 3Get witnesses. Consult with your fellow co-workers any time you feel bullied and make sure they’ll back you up by corroborating your evidence. Have them write it down for future reference. Pick someone who works at the same time you do, or who has a desk near yours.
- If bullying tends to happen at particular times or in particular locations, have your witness linger in the area if you suspect you’re going to be tormented by your bully. Bring partners into a meeting with a superior who you feel bullies you. You’ll have backup in case things get ugly and you’ll have evidence for later.
- If you’re being bullied, there’s a good chance others are too. Team up and help each other deal with a common enemy.
- Keep calm and wait a while. Make sure that you’ve collected your evidence and that you’re calm and professional. Running to your boss in the throes of emotional turmoil can make you seem whiny, or like you’re overreacting, when there’s a bigger issue at hand. If you’re calm, you’ll be more articulate, present a better case for yourself, and stand a better chance of changing your workplace for the better.
- Wait overnight between a bullying situation and reporting things to your boss. If you’re bullied in the mean time, or if you have to wait a while before talking to your boss, do your best to avoid your bully. Remain calm and continue on your way. If you expect bullying might happen, you’ll be prepared when it does.4
- Wait overnight between a bullying situation and reporting things to your boss. If you’re bullied in the mean time, or if you have to wait a while before talking to your boss, do your best to avoid your bully. Remain calm and continue on your way. If you expect bullying might happen, you’ll be prepared when it does.
- 5Set up a meeting with your supervisor or HR representative. Bring your written evidence, your witnesses, and present your case as calmly as you can. Practice what you’re going to say before you get in there and have to say it. Keep your complaint short and sweet, and fill out any documentation paperwork provided for you by your superiors.
- Don’t suggest a course of action unless your boss requests it. In other words, it’s inappropriate to talk to your boss and say, “Bruce needs to get fired because he bullies me.” Lay out your case as strongly as possible and with as much incriminating evidence as you can, say, “I’m frustrated with this behavior and I’ve run out of options, so I thought you needed to know.” Let your superiors come to their own conclusions about a course of action.
- If your superior is the one bullying you, contact HR or contact your supervisor’s superiors. It’s not the army and there is no “chain of command.” Talk to someone who can make a difference.
- 6Follow up. If the bullying continues and it still hasn’t been sorted out and nothing is being done to stop it, you have the right to take it further and go higher up, by talking to higher management, personnel and even HR (Human Resources). Continue until your complaint is taken seriously and the situation is remedied to allow you to work in a welcoming environment.
- It would be helpful to come up with a variety of alternatives to help make the situation better for you. If your boss’s supervisor is unwilling to fire your boss but acknowledges that bullying has occurred, are you willing to transfer? Are you willing to work from home? What would make the situation “right” by you? Give some alternatives serious thought in case you need to present a case for yourself.
- If you present evidence and nothing changes or the situation becomes worse, consult a lawyer and consider legal action. Provide them with documentation and seek legal action.
Part Three of Four:
Recovering From BullyingEdit
- 1Make getting better a priority. You won’t be any good as a worker and you won’t be happy as a person if you don’t take the time to recover from your experience with bullying. Take some time off and ignore work for a while.
- If you’ve presented a good case for yourself, you should be a good candidate for a paid vacation. Jump on this opportunity.
- 2Engage in meaningful and fulfilling activities outside of work. It’s called work, not super-happy-fun-time, for a reason. Any job, even one at a healthy workplace that you enjoy, can get to you after a while and leave you in need of a vacation that rejuvenates your work ethic and your spirit. If you’ve been bullied and want to start feeling better, you might:
- 3Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist. You might be in need of more substantial care than you can provide by yourself. Therapy or medication might be in order if you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the grip of a workplace bully.
- 4Change jobs. It may be that, even if the bully has been dealt with, you might be more comfortable seeking new opportunities elsewhere. Treat this whole experience as an opportunity rather than a setback. If you were unhappy at your place of work, maybe developing skills in a new profession, moving to a different climate, or just transferring to a new branch might provide you with a fresh outlook on life and work.
Part Four of Four:
Preventing Bullying as an EmployerEdit
- 1Implement a zero-tolerance bullying policy at your business. Any health and wellness policy needs to involve anti-bullying protocols. Make sure this is covered and supported by the management and is taken seriously at all levels of the business.
- Pair this with an open door policy and hold frequent orientation meetings regarding workplace bullying, making sure employees at all levels are on the look out for this behavior.
- 2Address bullying behaviors immediately. It’s easy to sit back and hope for the best, thinking that your employees will be able to work it out among themselves. It won’t. Don’t let a problem fester among your employees if you want a productive, healthy, and effective work environment.
- Investigate all complaints seriously and fully. Even if complaints seem to come from overly sensitive employees and turn out to be the result of simple misunderstandings, they’re worthy of your attention.
- 3Eliminate competition. Often bullying evolves from a sense of competition in the workplace, leading employees who feel threatened by the skills of other employees to attempt to bring them down or sabotage their efforts by engaging in psychological warfare. It’s a dangerous and problematic workplace dynamic to let fester.
- Workplace competition is based on the belief that employees want to be the best and will work harder when rewarded for successes. While it’s true that competition in some business models can increase productivity, it also increases the turnover of employees and can create a hostile and unwelcoming environment.
- 4Encourage management and staff interaction. The more involved your workforce is at all levels with itself, the less likely the lowest-level workers are to take matters into their own hands. Think of it as Lord of the Flies–don’t let the parents be absent from the island, and the kids will be ok.
- QuestionIs it harassment if a co-worker is degrading me to other co-workers?Community Answer
- Yes, it is harassment if the degradation is affecting the quality of projects you get and the treatment you receive at the workplace, more so if it is taking place every day and affecting your mental and physical health. If you have evidence of harassment, take it to HR and work with them to find a solution.
- QuestionHow do I combat systematic bullying by a management team against employees?Community Answer
- If there is an HR department at your company, complain to them. If there are higher-ups above the management team, express your concerns to them as well. If multiple employees come forward together instead of just one person, all the better, If you have any evidence you can present, that’s helpful. If none of this helps, then there is likely a level of corruption and/or complacency in your workplace that you won’t be able to overcome, and it might be best to work on finding yourself a different job.
- QuestionCan writing “nitpicking comments” be classified as bullying?
- QuestionHow do I deal with an unnecessary suspension?Community Answer
- If you are part of a union, see your union representative. If not, and you are in a state in the union that is labelled ‘At Will Employment’, use caution before deciding how to fight an unfair suspension. The owner of a smaller company will probably value knowing that you would rather be at the office. A larger firm is a little more tricky. Using the proper means of ‘chain of command’ would be to your benefit. Stay professional, and start a letter-writing campaign. Carbon copy all of the proper supervisors or managers. Include the home office, if there is one. Let them know you see their point, but feel unfairly singled out, perhaps. Also, remind them that you would rather be working!
- QuestionWhat if the supervisor is bullied by the staff employee and undermining all work relationships of the supervisor? Why is it assumed the supervisor is the bully?Top Answerer
- Because bullying is associated with a position of power, whether real or perceived. Bullying among equals is rare, as is bullying where a more powerful person is the victim. Regardless of their roles, if a subordinate and a supervisor for some reason both perceive the subordinate to be more powerful, then sure, bullying can occur in that direction as well. The article deals primarily with how to handle it though, and this relationship is just an example.
- QuestionI am a minority in my workplace, how can I deal with constant bullying and alienation without challenging it formally?
- QuestionWhat can I do if my boss texts me constantly to have me tell other coworkers things he doesn’t want to?Community Answer
- Try to understand why the boss is doing this. If you think this puts in the face of trouble, then do it in a nice way.
- Is there any recourse for me if I was forced to retire because I was alienated by my boss’ son?
- What do I do if I was demoted at work for being bullied?
- I am a supervisor and have a coworker who is constantly nasty and rude to fellow coworkers and myself. S/he questions all my decisions and goes to management if they don’t like it. Is this bullying?
- Is it a form of bullying if someone calls me a “no brain”?
- My boss, the bully, is also the owner of the company. Is there any alternative to seeking legal advice? For that matter, what could a lawyer do?
- A bullied person can feel very lonely as well, and the effects can last for a long time, even for life.
- Do not retaliate – It can throw things out of hand and you could end up being blamed instead of the bully.
- A bully may interrogate the victim with lots of ‘police interview’ or ‘cross examination style’ questions. Interrogation can make a victim be afraid to open up and it can make them feel like the bad one instead of the bully/harasser and it can make them feel anxious, defensive and more alone.
- Beware malicious gossip and unkind remarks that are dressed up as jokes or banter. If it hurts your feelings, it hurts your feelings.
- Keep a diary of all the bullying events and keep evidence such as emails and work instructions to back up your claims.
- For nasty comments said to you – the best thing to do is to say nothing and walk away, or just use one-word replies to show that you are not interested in the bully’s/bullies nonsense.
- Carry on being yourself and carry on feeling good about yourself. Don’t believe the rubbish they say and don’t let them stop you being you.
- Don’t believe bullying myths such as “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” and others e.g. “Big girls/boys don’t cry.” Words do hurt and cut to the very core, and being bullied can reduce a person to tears and sadness.
- Don’t ever take what a bully says personally; doing so will only damage your self esteem.
- Think about the reaction. If it escalates, make sure you have a witness for any future action you might take. Most of all you are putting this person on immediate notice that you will not be treated this way and will not under any circumstances accept such behavior.
About This Article
A great type of meeting for those not interested in AA total abstinence.
Smart Recovery Meetings
The SMART Recovery 4-Point Program helps people recover from all types of addiction and addictive behaviors, including: drug abuse, drug addiction, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, prescription drug abuse, sexual addiction, and problem addiction to other substances and activities. SMART Recovery sponsors face-to-face meetings around the world, and daily online meetings. In addition, our online message board and 24/7 chat room are excellent forums to learn about SMART Recovery and obtain addiction recovery support.
Teaches self-empowerment and self-reliance.
Provides meetings that are educational, supportive, and include open discussions.
Encourages individuals to recover from addiction and alcohol abuse and live satisfying lives.
Teaches techniques for self-directed change.
Supports the scientifically informed use of psychological treatments and legally prescribed psychiatric and addiction medication.
Works on substance abuse, alcohol abuse, addiction and drug abuse as complex maladaptive behaviors with possible physiological factors.
Evolves as scientific knowledge in addiction recovery evolves.
Differs from Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other 12-step programs.
SMART Recovery Meetings are open to the Public. There is no cost to attend, however a hat is passed for donations. You do not need to contact the facilitator or register prior to attending; you are welcome to just show up (unless there is a note requesting attendees call first). If you do have questions about the meeting or need further information, you may contact Raymond Walli at 613-225-7272 or email@example.com. For more information on Smart Recovery please visit www.smartrecovery.org
Date: Saturday Mornings
10:00 am – 11:30 am
This is great article on a subject.
FASD is associated with a bewildering number of symptoms. But as Vanessa Hrvatin writes, the biggest barrier to early detection and treatment may be social not biological.
This is the second in three-part series, by Postmedia’s Michelle Lang Fellow Hrvatin. Read part one: Prenatal exposure to alcohol affects a million Canadians. Why it’s time to start tackling our hidden drinking problem
By Vanessa Hrvatin
Paul Thompson often told himself he’d never amount to anything.
He struggled at school. He could read and write, but staying focused on assignments overwhelmed him. And home offered little support: his mother suffered from addiction, so Thompson was raised by an aunt and uncle in the Fraser Valley in what he describes as an unhappy environment.
By 16, he decided to run away. Occasionally he roomed with friends or his sister. He got the odd job doing manual labour and sometimes managed to pick up a welfare cheque. But there were also times Thompson resorted to petty crime and was arrested. Mostly, he lived on the street.
Then he met Glenda and Pete Jansen. A Richmond, B.C., couple with a deep commitment to helping others — she is a special education assistant, he has worked as a pastor — they had been serving meals to the homeless from the back of their car for six months when Thompson lined up for a Sunday dinner. A friendship evolved, and the Jansens eventually took him into their home so he could get his life on track.
It was slow going. Weeks turned into months, months turned into a season. Thompson managed some work, but routines were difficult for him and he was easily frustrated. It wasn’t until Glenda attended a workshop on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) that “a light kind of went on,” she says.
She set to work, and in October of 2012, the 46-year-old learned that he wasn’t stupid, or beyond hope, as he’d believed for so many years — he was diagnosed with a brain disorder.
More than a million Canadians share Thompson’s condition, caused by exposure to alcohol in the womb. There is no cure for FASD, but early intervention can offer critical strategies for symptoms ranging from mild speech and memory deficits to severe cognitive delays.
Without support, however, outcomes can be devastating: unemployment, homelessness, addiction, abuse. According to some estimates, up to a quarter of inmates in Canada may also be affected.
But while FASD has been well documented for more than 40 years, it remains among the most misdiagnosed developmental disorders, and is often missed altogether. The cost to individuals is obvious. Experts estimate there is a steep cost for taxpayers as well, about $1.8 billion a year as a result of both lost productivity and added strain on the health-care and justice systems.
Both FASD advocates and medical researchers are now trying to make sense of what’s been standing in the way of early detection and treatment — and whether emerging science might offer new solutions.
Dr. Ira Chasnoff, a Chicago pediatrician and a leader in FASD research, has seen first-hand how dramatic misdiagnosis of what is sometimes called the “invisible” disorder can be.
In a 2015 paper in the journal Pediatrics, he describes an assessment of more than 500 children referred to a mental health clinic by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Most had been flagged for “behavioural problems,” with diagnoses including Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. But Chasnoff’s team found that 156 — nearly 30 per cent — actually had FASD, and of those children, 86.5 per cent had either been misdiagnosed or never diagnosed at all.
Chasnoff says one of the biggest challenges is that, except in cases where children are born with distinctive facial features — small eye openings, a thin upper lip, and no groove between the nose and lips, for example — most diagnoses depend on mothers to confirm prenatal exposure to alcohol.
But disclosure comes with risk. Mothers may fear they will lose their children to social services; across North America, more than 15 per cent of kids in child welfare are suspected of having FASD. Or they may simply fear judgment, rather than sympathy or a willingness to understand, when they talk about drinking during pregnancy.
Bernadette Fuhrmann says she was deeply stigmatized when she gave talks in her community about drinking while carrying her son — even though she became pregnant in 1976, before the harm to a fetus associated with alcohol were widely promoted. “You don’t deserve to have babies,” she was told.
Diagnosing FASD is also difficult because the symptoms are fiendishly varied. No two cases are exactly alike. And as in Chasnoff’s study, FASD can often present like other disorders.
Canada’s current diagnostic guidelines for FASD include assessments of 10 different brain domains — those responsible for motor skills, cognition, memory, impulsivity control and hyperactivity among them. Tested by physicians and therapists over a number of days, three domains must be considered impaired for a formal “FASD” diagnosis.
But what if alcohol exposure impacts two, rather than three, brain domains? Or a child suffers in multiple domains, but is just above the cut-off point for what diagnosticians consider meaningfully impaired?
“You need to bring in that clinical expertise,” says Dr. Gail Andrew, who leads the FASD diagnostic team at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton. “If I see a kid who is impaired slightly, not significantly, but in five brain regions, I might still give the diagnosis.”
Race and class bias may also be a factor in the under-diagnosis of FASD.
In Canada, says Andrew, doctors are far more likely to ask about drinking during pregnancy when patients are from marginalized groups.
Geography is another barrier to diagnosis. In Canada, the gold standard is a clinic with a team that includes a physician, a psychologist, an occupational therapist and a speech pathologist. But diagnostic capacity varies from province to province. In Alberta, there are more than a dozen clinics. In Quebec, there is just one — in Eeyou Istchee, a Cree Nation in the north. Many clinics have massive backlogs. At the New Brunswick Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Centre of Excellence, located in Moncton, the estimated wait for a diagnosis is two years.
The cost can be significant, too. While some assessments are free, the bill for Thompson’s diagnosis came to $5,300 — which the Jansens raised over nine months.
A cheek swab may be the way forward.
There is no genetic test for FASD. But many studies have shown that environmental factors, including prenatal alcohol exposure, can have what’s called an “epigenetic” impact — changing the way genes behave. Research on rats, for example, has shown a link between prenatal exposure and how offspring produce proteins responsible for regulating stress responses.
In 2016, a team at the University of British Columbia studied DNA samples from more than 200 children and found similar epigenetic “signatures” among those either diagnosed with FASD or exposed to alcohol in utero.
Other research suggests that such epigenetic changes may even be heritable. A 2012 American study found that the impact of prenatal exposure to alcohol in rats persisted for three generations. If the research bears out, it means that parents with FASD could pass on associated deficits — even if their own children are not exposed to alcohol in the womb.
The impact of paternal alcohol consumption is another question researchers are exploring. Results so far include lower birth weights as well as cognitive deficits in the offspring of fathers who drink.
Dr. Geoff Hicks leads the Regenerative Medicine Program at the University of Manitoba and has been studying the role of epigenetics in FASD for years. He says research around heritability of epigenetic changes and the effect of alcohol on sperm are both in early stages.
He is also cautious about using epigenetic signatures for diagnosis.
“There can be many confounding effects for FASD, like stress and economic status,” he says. “They’re all environmental impacts that could and would leave epigenetic marks, so it may be a long time before we can say, ‘This is alcohol’ versus ‘This is smoking,’ versus ‘This is alcohol, smoking, and poverty.’ ”
But the findings out of UBC, which investigated more than 400,000 genetic sites to identify a pattern associated with FASD, are promising enough that Hicks is now working with a large team to develop a clinical tool to help flag children at risk of the disorder.
A cheek swab could determine whether babies as young as a year old need tracking for potential support. Right now, a diagnosis is usually not confirmed until the age of six, which can be too late for optimal results. Hicks’ tool could also be significant in cases where it’s difficult to confirm maternal drinking during pregnancy.
“We know early interventions work,” says Hicks. “There are learning interventions and memory interventions, and if these are all done before the age of six, when the child’s brain is developing, they can have strong, profound outcomes.”
Without a diagnosis, many of the behaviours a child with FASD exhibits — aggressiveness, for example, or continually repeating the same mistakes — can be misunderstood and are often mishandled.
When her son refused to take medication during high school, one Edmonton mother recalls, he became so aggressive that he threatened to kill his principal. Instead of assigning a social service worker to his case, the school expelled him.
Fuhrmann’s son was violent even in preschool, and by the age of five started playing with fire. By his early teens, she says, he got involved in crime and drugs and was repeatedly in trouble with police.
Cognitive deficits may also hinder even seemingly high-functioning adults. One woman with FASD says she was fired because she could never get her tasks done on time. Another says she was so overwhelmed by work that she suffered a mental breakdown.
By contrast, a diagnosis of FASD can unlock vital access to educational supports, financial aid, housing and employment programs.
In 1995, the Winnipeg School Division responded to data showing an increase in students with FASD in the province by establishing a classroom specifically designed to address common challenges of the disorder. Teachers take children through the curriculum at a slower pace, offer such spaces as soundproof rooms to mitigate sensory overload, and help kids understand both how FASD affects the brain and how they can address their difficulties.
Perhaps it is this last piece — the psychological impact of a diagnosis — that is most transformative.
It wasn’t until her son was 25 that Fuhrmann learned about FASD. She encouraged him to get a diagnosis, but for many years he resisted. He insisted he was responsible for his actions and didn’t need help. But at 31 he landed in a penitentiary. On a call from prison, he told his mother, “This is the worst place I’ve ever been. I think I want my diagnosis.” She says it was the best thing that ever happened to him.
Savanna Pietrantonio, a 51-year-old in Hamilton, Ont., wasn’t diagnosed until the age of 47. By then she had already developed her own coping mechanisms and support systems. And knowing she has FASD hasn’t suddenly made her depression and anxiety disappear: “There are days where I don’t drive my car because my thoughts are so dark. I don’t trust my brain. I don’t know what I will do. It’s like your brain is searching for a place to rest and can’t find one.”
For all that, she says her diagnosis still fundamentally changed her for the better. “For 47 years I believed I was bad and stupid, just a person who always made bad decisions. When I got the diagnosis I realized this wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t a problem — I had a problem.”
Now 53, Paul Thompson is living in the basement suite of a three-storey home with a big backyard — safe and stable housing that’s a direct result of his diagnosis.
His mother had always denied drinking, and was in the hospital at the time of his FASD assessment. But at the discretion of diagnostic teams, confirmation of prenatal alcohol exposure is now sometimes accepted from family members and social workers. Thompson’s cousin stepped in on his behalf.
Thompson’s formal diagnosis made him eligible for Community Living British Columbia, which supports adults with disabilities and helps them find affordable housing.
Over the past several years, he and Jansen have become advocates for other adults with FASD as well. They’ve spoken on panels across the country, sharing their stories — and the message that it’s never too late to get a diagnosis.
There are still few diagnostic clinics in Canada that will assess adults, Jansen says. The emphasis on early intervention can also obscure the reality of living with an irreversible disorder: the need for support doesn’t end just because you turn 18.
Across the country, even adults with formal diagnoses of FASD are often stuck on long waitlists for services. Others aren’t able to access services at all, because their IQ or adaptive functioning skills are too high for provincial requirements.
Jansen says she remains Thompson’s “primary go-to person.” She helps schedule and take him to appointments, assists him with budgeting, and loads up his freezer with food so that he doesn’t resort to his favourite meal of Kraft Dinner every night.
Thompson picks up occasional work doing manual labour. But his disorder makes full-time work difficult. “His success is different from someone else’s,” says Jansen. But as she points out, “he’s changing people’s lives with his story. I mean, how many people can say that?”
Most importantly, Thompson is proud of himself. He no longer feels like he’ll never amount to anything. Gesturing to his living room and his kitchen, he stretches his arms out wide. “Look what I’ve got now,” he says.
- Prenatal exposure to alcohol affects a million Canadians. Why it’s time to start tackling our hidden drinking problem
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019
I find I’m using this technique more and more with clients. I learned it with my first teachers in Halifax during the Eastwind Program.
EFT Tapping Tutorials: How to do EFT Tapping
This tutorial page, plus The EFT Manual, the EFT workshops, and the resources on this website, will show you how.
There are a lucky few people who get to make history.
You’re about to join their number. EFT has the potential to do just that: change the entire trajectory of human experience.
While that’s a very bold claim, you’ll find the scientific evidence on this site to back it up. For as long as human beings have existed on this planet, people have suffered.
They’ve suffered from physical problems like pain and disease. They’ve suffered from psychological problems like anxiety and misunderstanding, social strife, and dysfunctional belief systems.
This suffering is not inevitable. It can be lessened, and even a 1% reduction in human pain would make a difference. EFT research shows that, in just a few hours, much greater reductions are possible.
In a study of 216 healthcare workers, anxiety and depression dropped by 45%. Pain dropped by 68%. Imagine those improvements spreading over the globe.
That’s what’s possible with EFT.
EFT TAPPING TUTORIALS
1. Easy EFT
The video below will have you tapping effectively within a couple of minutes; you can find written instructions in the free EFT Mini-Manual.
Great little video that talks about four techniques actually ; ).
He demonstrates and explains how/why they work!
Adult ADHD is more common than you might you think.
Posted Mar 19, 2019
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a well-known affliction that is characterized by difficulties in impulse control, hyperactivity, and a reduced ability to concentrate for extended periods of time. While it is typically considered to be an issue afflicting children and young adults, a growing body of research has revealed that ADHD does not disappear when one reaches adulthood. It is now estimated that symptoms persist into adulthood for as many as 60 percent of those who are diagnosed with the disorder during childhood.
Unfortunately, because it is so commonly believed that ADHD is something that one simply grows out of, many adults do not seek treatment for the disorder.
The Causes of ADHD
Genetic factors play a significant role in ADHD. Writing in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, a team of researchers found that, “If one person in a family is diagnosed with ADHD there is a 25%–35% probability that another family member also has ADHD, compared to a 4%–6% probability for someone in the general population.” They also claim that approximately half of parents who had the disorder have a child with ADHD.
Beyond genetics, some other factors the team cited include childhood exposure to high levels of lead, infant hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (when newborns do not receive enough oxygen to their brains), and prenatal exposure to nicotine. Children who suffer traumatic brain injuries have also been shown to exhibit symptoms associated with ADHD, though the National Institute of Health notes that this is not a common cause of ADHD.
Finally, and perhaps more controversially, some have suggested that the increased frequency of ADHD diagnoses in more developed countries may be linked to changes in diet, particularly with regards to the increased consumption of refined sugars. While it is advised that children and adults avoid processed foods and refined sugars for optimal health, it is too soon to say that there is a clear causal link between excessive sucrose consumption and ADHD. More studies are needed.
ADHD and Brain Chemistry
Imagine trying to read an in-depth news article while on a crowded subway train filled with conversation, music, the occasional panhandler, and frequent announcements about upcoming stops and other issues deemed important by the train’s conductor. Now imagine trying to read the same article in a quiet study without any of the din found on the train. Obviously, it is far more difficult to focus in the former scenario than in the latter.
Unfortunately for those with ADHD, even relatively quiet settings can end up feeling like that crowded train. They feel inundated by external stimuli, thereby making it difficult to filter out the background noise and to concentrate on singular tasks.
While the neurophysiological causes of ADHD are not fully understood, most researchers believe that there are key differences in the brain chemistry of people who have ADHD and the brains of people who do not. These researchers contend that people with ADHD have imbalances in the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters interact to regulate attention.
Dopamine is commonly associated with pleasure and reward, as it activates the so-called reward pathway of the brain. People with ADHD do not efficiently process dopamine, which means they must seek out more activities that activate the reward pathway. According to a 2008 paper published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, “People with ADHD have at least one defective gene, the DRD2 gene that makes it difficult for neurons to respond to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is involved in feelings of pleasure and the regulation of attention.”
Patients suffering from ADHD do not efficiently make use of the neurotransmitter and stress hormone norepinephrine. When an individual feels endangered, a flood of norepinephrine is released to increase alertness and to enhance our sense of fight or flight. At more normal levels it is linked to memory and allows us to maintain interest on a given task.
Dopamine and norepinephrine impact four distinct parts of the brain:
- The frontal cortex, which gives us the ability to plan and organize while focusing on and identifying internal and external stimuli;
- The limbic system, which regulates our emotions;
- The basal ganglia, which regulates communication between different parts of the brain;
- The reticular activating system, which can be characterized as the gateway to our consciousness. It is the part of the brain that allows us to determine what to focus on and what to tune out as white noise.
However, not all researchers agree that ADHD is caused by irregularities in the processing of these neurotransmitters. An intriguing study by a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom found that ADHD may be caused by “structural differences in the brain’s gray matter.” After providing both healthy volunteers and patients with ADHD medication that is known to increase dopamine levels, they found that the drug improved both groups’ ability to concentrate. This would suggest that there is no underlying problem with the neural pathways responsible for processing dopamine.
Professor Trevor Robbins, one of the study’s co-authors said, “These findings question the previously accepted view that major abnormalities in dopamine function are the main cause of ADHD in adult patients.”
Regardless of which theory proves correct, one should not conceive of ADHD as a weakness or a character flaw. One should treat it as one would treat any other disorder.
What Adult ADHD Looks Like
For those whose ADHD persists into adulthood, the imbalances of norepinephrine and dopamine continue, as well. However, the symptoms of ADHD tend to manifest themselves in adults in a way that is slightly different than how they manifest in children. While children who have ADHD are known to be easily distracted and to have problems following rules at home or at school (which can lead to underachievement and underutilized potential), the symptoms of ADHD in adults are subtler, though they can be just as pernicious.
In most instances, ADHD that persists from childhood and remains present in adulthood is less about hyperactivity and more about restlessness, impulsive behavior, and the inability to plan or manage things like time, finances, and even emotions. These symptoms can make sedentary activities difficult and can also have a negative impact on relationships with coworkers, friends, and loved ones. More extreme symptoms can lead to the fraying of these relationships, financial difficulties, and employment problems. An increase in these stressors can trigger more troubling disorders like anxiety and depression.
For those who have a difficult time concentrating and feel as though it is not simply a passing phase, it is possible that you may still have ADHD (provided you were diagnosed with the disorder while in childhood) or you may have a mild form of the disorder that did not meet the threshold of DSM-V when you were first evaluated. (There is also the distinct possibility that there may be a late-onset disorder that shares the symptoms of ADHD, but it has yet to be given a name.)
Then again, not every person who has difficulty concentrating has ADHD. The good news is that through an evaluation, medical professionals can determine whether or not you have adult ADHD. They can also provide highly effective medications that can help individuals manage these symptoms.
However, it is imperative that one does not self-diagnose. It is even more dangerous for patients to self-medicate with the kinds of drugs that are often prescribed to patients with ADHD. These stimulants improve symptoms in those with valid cognitive problems, but they do pose potential risks for abuse and can produce secondary side effects. Even if misuse has become a common phenomenon, particularly among young adults who are in college or pursuing a post-graduate degree, these medications should not be taken by individuals who have not been prescribed them or taken in dosages higher than what is recommended by a medical professional.
It is vital that one consult a physician for an evaluation to determine the best course of action.
Cherophobia is a phobia where a person has an irrational aversion to being happy. The term comes from the Greek word “chero,” which means “to rejoice.” When a person experiences cherophobia, they’re often afraid to participate in activities that many would characterize as fun, or of being happy.
This condition is one that’s not widely researched or defined. Psychiatrists most commonly use criteria in the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to diagnose mental health conditions. Currently, the DSM-5 doesn’t list cherophobia as a disorder. However, there are some mental health experts that discuss this phobia and its potential treatments.
Some medical experts classify cherophobia as a form of anxiety disorder. Anxiety is an irrational or heightened sense of fear related to the perceived threat. In the case of cherophobia, the anxiety is related to participation in activities that would be thought to make you happy.
Someone who has cherophobia isn’t necessarily a sad person, but instead is one that avoids activities that could lead to happiness or joy. Examples of symptoms associated with cherophobia could include:
- experiencing anxiety at the thought of going to a joyful social gathering, like a party, concert, or other similar event
- rejecting opportunities that could lead to positive life changes due to fear that something bad will follow
- refusal to participate in activities that most would call fun
Some of the key thoughts a person who experiences cherophobia may express include:
- Being happy will mean something bad will happen to me.
- Happiness makes you a bad or worse person.
- Showing that you’re happy is bad for you or for your friends and family.
- Trying to be happy is a waste of time and effort.
In an article from the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, the authors created a Fear of Happiness Scale. Created to compare fear of happiness across 14 cultures, the scale can also help a person or their doctor to evaluate if they have symptoms of cherophobia. Some statements include:
- I prefer not to be too joyful, because usually joy is followed by sadness.
- Disasters often follow good fortune.
- Excessive joy has some bad consequences.
By rating these statements on a 1 to 7 scale of how much you agree, it may be able to show that you have a fear or misperception of happiness.
Sometimes cherophobia can stem from the belief that if something very good happens to a person, or if their life is going well, that a bad event is destined to happen. As a result, they may fear activities related to happiness because they believe they can ward off something bad from happening. This is often the case when someone has experienced a past physical or emotional traumatic event.
An introvert may be more likely to experience cherophobia. An introvert is a person who typically prefers to do activities alone or with one to two people at a time. They’re often seen as reflective and reserved. They may feel intimidated or uncomfortable in group settings, loud places, and places with a lot of people.
Perfectionists are another personality type that may be associated with cherophobia. Those who are perfectionists may feel happiness is a trait only of lazy or unproductive people. As a result, they may avoid activities that could bring happiness to them because these activities are seen as unproductive.
Because cherophobia hasn’t been largely detailed or studied as its own separate disorder, there aren’t FDA-approved medications or other definitive treatments that a person may pursue to treat the condition.
However, some suggested treatments include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapy that helps a person recognize faulty lines of thinking and identify behaviors that can help them change
- relaxation strategies, such as deep breathing, journaling, or exercising
- exposure to happiness-provoking events as a means to help a person identify that happiness doesn’t have to have adverse effects
Not everyone with an aversion to happiness necessarily needs treatment. Some people feel happier and more secure when they’re avoiding happiness. Unless cherophobia is interfering with their own personal quality of life or ability to maintain a job, they may not require treatment at all.
However, if the symptoms of cherophobia are related to a past trauma, treating an underlying condition may help to treat cherophobia.
I really like the process described in this article for dealing with internal Conflicts. It describes them and a detailed process for combatting/making peace.
Your mind and heart feel like they’re split in two.
You want to do something, but another part of you is screaming “NO WAY!”
You believe in something, but you just cannot condone an action that belief teaches.
You feel like something is right, but then you also feel like it’s wrong.
How can you make any sense of all this mess, all this internal conflict? You feel like your brain is melting and you’re starting to get desperate.
If you feel like you’re going a little bit crazy, or the confusion is getting too much to handle, stop right now. Pause what you’re doing, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. For the next minute, focus on your breathing coming in and out. In this article, I hope to help you get to the root of your internal conflict and how to find peace of mind.
What is Internal Conflict?
Internal conflict is the experience of having opposing psychological beliefs, desires, impulses or feelings. In the field of psychology, internal conflict is often referred to as “cognitive dissonance,” which is a term that refers to holding conflicting and inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. This mental struggle can occur at any point in life over any topic such as relationships, work commitments, religious beliefs, moral standpoints, and social ideologies.
An example of internal conflict would be a person who believes in women’s rights but does not condone abortion. Internal conflict can often be seen in relationships where one person loves their partner, but they don’t feel emotionally available. In the religious world, internal conflict often occurs when one is faced with a doctrine or teaching they are uncomfortable propagating.
Your worst battle is between what you know and what you feel. – Anonymous
When we experience any kind of internal conflict, what is really happening is that there is a disagreement between our heart and head.
As shown by research conducted by places such as the HeartMath Institute, our hearts carry their own special kind of intuitive intelligence. As we were raised in societies that were (and still are) dominated by the mind, we become very confused and disconcerted when our hearts get involved in everyday matters. It is very easy to listen to the mind, mindlessly obey what others teach us, and logically plan our lives. But our hearts carry their own special kind of intelligence, an intelligence that is nonlinear, subtle, and often very abstract. There is no formula or set of rules that are attached to the heart’s intelligence: it is up to us to tune into the voice within, which is often what confuses us so much.
Our head intelligence is what helps to give our lives structure, direction, and practical application. But our heart intelligence is what breathes life and truth into this framework of our life journeys. Without listening to our hearts, we live soulless, unfulfilling, and inauthentic lives. But without listening to our heads, we live in absolute chaos.
As we can see, balance is needed. We need to listen to both the heart and head, but often, we tend to value one over the other which is what causes us to experience internal conflict.
So why does internal conflict occur? It occurs because we lack equanimity and balance between the heart and head. Our heart says one thing, but our mind says another: and both shout at the same intensity. When our actions don’t match our values, the inevitable result is a feeling of discomfort, even shame. So which do we listen to, when, and why? We’ll explore the answer to this question soon, but first, we need to understand what creates internal conflict in the first place.
What Creates Internal Conflict?
We experience internal conflict for a number of reasons. Often, there is no one “single cause” or origin, but there are a number of factors which include:
- The beliefs and rules we inherited from our parents
- The religious beliefs, dogmas or creeds we were indoctrinated to believe
- The societal values and ideals we adopted growing up
Quite simply, the more mental beliefs, ideals, expectations, and desires we have, the more likely we are to suffer from internal conflict.
8 Types of Internal Conflict
There are many different types of internal conflict, and I will attempt to cover as many as I can below. Pay close attention to which ones you resonate with.
1. Moral Conflict
Moral conflict arises when we hold conflicting beliefs about something to do with our personal ethics. For example, moral conflict could occur when a person believes in human rights but doesn’t believe in euthanasia. Or a person could value telling the truth, but lie to save another person’s life.
2. Sexual Conflict
Sexual conflict often overlaps with other types of internal conflict such as religious or moral conflict. For example, a person might be a faithful Christian but they discover they’re homosexual. Or a person might value monogamous relationships when sexually they are better suited to polygamous relationships.
3. Religious Conflict
Religious conflict is quite common because it revolves around belief and beliefs are very mind-orientated, making them particularly fragile. Examples of religious conflict could be believing in a loving God, but finding it hard to accept that this “loving” being sends people to hell for eternity. Or a person who is religiously faithful, but also believes in the use of medical marijuana (which is still classified as a drug). When faced with scientific facts, religious conflict may arise within a person who values both truth and their religious belief.
4. Political Conflict
Political conflict arises when a person feels split between their own beliefs and their political party’s beliefs. For example, a person may believe in America but doesn’t believe in paying taxes. A person may align with one party but disagree with their treatment of the healthcare system. Or a person may believe in the political philosophy but struggle to support the politician propagating it.
5. Love Conflict
Love conflict is what happens when we love someone, yet we want to do something that hurts them. For example, we may love our children, but believe we have to smack them to make them obedient, which causes us to feel guilty. Or we may love our partners, but find their habits to be intolerable which causes us to act out. We may also love a person and wish to keep them, but realize we have to let them go.
6. Self-Image Conflict
Your self-image is the mental idea you have about yourself, e.g. “My name is Karen. I’m a patient, loving, and compassionate person. I’m a disorganized artist who supports the rights of animals … etc.” Internal conflict arises when we are met with evidence that contradicts our beliefs about ourselves. For example, a person who believes they’re honest might lie on their resume to get their dream job. Someone who takes pride in eating healthy might not want to give up smoking. A person who identifies as an empath may feel constant resentment towards another person. Or a person may believe they’re ethical but might enjoy buying clothing that contributes to sweatshops.
7. Interpersonal Conflict
Interpersonal conflict overlaps with other types of internal conflict such as self-image and love conflict. This type of conflict occurs in social situations when you want to be one way, but find yourself acting in another way. For example, Sally hates talking about sports, but she finds herself faking interest in what her coworkers talk about. An introvert doesn’t have much energy but creates a high-energy facade to fit in with others. Or someone is offended by a friend but says nothing even though they want to.
8. Existential Conflict
Existential conflict involves feelings of discomfort and confusion about life, particularly when two opposing beliefs or desires arise. For instance, hating life but loving life at the same time. Or wanting to live life to the fullest, but not wanting to make any changes or get out of your comfort zone. Existential conflict can also be directed towards the world, for example, wanting to save our planet, but at the same time believing that it’s doomed.
Please note that all of these examples of internal conflict frequently overlap with each other. This list is also not definitive, so feel free to leave a comment if you believe I’ve left any types of internal conflict out.
How to Find Peace of Mind
All war originates within as internal conflict. And what is the root cause of internal conflict? Attachment to beliefs, desires, and expectations.
Quite simply, all our suffering occurs when we believe our thoughts, instead of seeing them for what they truly are: passing fluctuations of energy within the brain. Do we control our thoughts? No. Otherwise, we would always choose to think happy and harmonious thoughts. We don’t even know what our next thought will be, or what our next ten thoughts will be because they all spontaneously arise and fall within the mind. If we don’t control these thoughts, then how can they possibly mean anything about us unless we give them meaning?
Aside from that, here are some other tips which I hope can help you find more peace of mind and clarity:
- Distinguish between intuition and fear. The intuitive voice within your heart is very clear, strong, and unemotional. However, the fearful voice is vague and emotionally-charged. Learn how to distinguish between these two voices because they are often confused. Read more about following your intuition.
- In the long-term, what would be the wisest choice? When our heart dominates, we tend to make rash, poorly thought-out decisions. This is where the head comes in: foresight. Foresight is wisdom. With the limited knowledge you have right now, what would appear to be the wisest decision in the long-term?
- Weigh up the pros and cons. If you’re struggling to find clarity, divide a page into two sides. List all the pros of your decision on one side and the cons on the other.
- Figure out your number one priority. Internal conflict often appears when we have no clear priority. What is your biggest priority at the moment? What do you value the most?
- What mistaken beliefs are fuelling your confusion? What false, misleading, limiting or second-hand beliefs are causing the conflict within you? Write down your problem on a page and next to it ask “Why?” For example, you might want to keep your job but also crave to stay at home with your kids. Asking why relentlessly, you might discover that you believe that staying at home with your kids makes you a failure, and you’ve adopted this belief from society.
- Be ruthlessly honest: what are you scared of? Fear always underlies internal conflict. What is inflaming your cognitive dissonance? What are you truly scared of? Sometimes discovering your underlying fear helps you to gain more clarity and direction.
- What is the “lesser of two evils”? If you had to choose – gun to your head – what decision would you make?
- Adopt a future perspective. From the perspective of you resting on your deathbed, what would you regret the most?
- What is resisting the flow? One easy way to examine what is “not meant to be” is to examine what is causing the most resistance in your life. Remember, life flows effortlessly. It is our thoughts and desires that cut the flow. So, explore what is creating the most resistance in your life. Are you clinging to a ship that sailed long ago?
- What is a more loving approach? Are you honoring your authenticity or honoring what you “think” you should do/be? What approach or choice is more aligned with the truth, with love?
- Is there a more important underlying issue? Sometimes internal conflict actually hides deeper issues that need to be explored to find a resolution, such as negative self-beliefs, unresolved shame or childhood wounds.
- Relax your mind. Relaxing your mind is a great way to develop new perspectives. Try meditating, listening to soothing music or practicing mindfulness. Often the best answers come when we aren’t looking for them.
- Choose to stop participating. Do you need an answer right this very moment? Sometimes allowing life to move in the direction it wants is a better option than forcefully blazing a path. As teacher Wayne Dyer once wrote, “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.”
I hope these tips can help you find more peace of mind. Remember that it’s completely normal to experience internal conflict – there is nothing weird about you. Also, when it comes to internal conflict people tend to romanticize the heart and believe that we should only listen to whatever the heart wants. But this is an imbalanced approach: we need to use the heart as well as the brain so that internal harmony is created.
I really like the premise of this book. I have often recommended couples email each other as it seems the only way they have been able to productively communicate in the past. This book explains why and gives lots of assistance to get started!!
My book guides you step by step through emails that you and your partner can exchange, every day or once a week or just once ever, that are designed to help you learn about each other on a deeper level. As you all know, over time, couples start to struggle with a feeling that I call monotogamy, and that leads to feelings of disconnection, loneliness, boredom, resentment, and even anger and sadness. Couples start to use small talk or logistical household management talk as their primary modes of communication. (And that’s not counting sarcasm and sniping.) Especially for the classic couple The Wife Who Wants More And Her Annoyingly Satisfied Husband, or its gender inverse, this can be horribly frustrating.
52 Emails aims to bring some of the best parts of couples counseling into a less intimidating form. You get to connect with your partner, talking about topics you may not have discussed since your early relationship, if ever. And you don’t have to spend your time or money on a couples counselor, or convince a recalcitrant partner to attend therapy.
Writing can be much less awkward than face-t0-face
This book covers a range of topics, including sex, parenting, memories of each other, money, expectations for the future, infidelity, trust, and communication. I even go into the pursuer-distancer dynamic in one of the chapters. You can do all the emails (one a week would take you a year) or just the ones that relate to your individual situation as a couple. I designed the book to be flexible and easy to read, for anyone who is motivated to introspect and grow closer with their partner. And it is an interesting read, I think, especially because I have example emails for each topic, between members of a fictional couple (the emails are derived from a conglomeration of different types of clients I have seen over the years).
I am so excited to share this book with you guys, my supportive Dr. Psych Mom community. I would love to hear your experiences with it when you try it with your partners. Let me know if you order it! And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, And Just When Your Husband Thought He Could Watch The Game In Peace, You Bring Out The Email Idea.
Learn about Dr. Rodman’s private practice, including therapy, coaching, and consultation, here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.
funny and true!!
This is a great site with lots of questions answered quite well by the blooger. She has a couple books I am ordering presently, ; ).
Great article on the subject. Covers many of the bases!
Most people look forward to returning to work after a disability leave. It’s a chance to reconnect with co-workers, re-engage with work, and get back to old routines. But the transition back to work can also be difficult. You may be returning with new priorities in your life or new restrictions on what you can do. Whatever your situation, there are ways to help smooth your return.
Find out what to expect when you return
Returning from a disability leave is a big change in your life. In addition to the adjustments in your daily routine, you may not be returning to work exactly as you left. Your job or your capacity for work may be different now. As you prepare for your return, it will help to gather as much information as possible.
- Talk to your doctor about what to expect as you are recovering. Be clear about what you are currently able to do, and how that impacts your work. If your job requires lifting, will you be able to do this work? If you need to stand or sit for hours, you may need a break at regular intervals.
- If you will need accommodations in the workplace, talk with your leave coordinator. The person responsible for managing your leave may be in human resources, a case manager outside the company, or your union representative. Together, review your current abilities and job description. Identify changes that will allow you to return safely to productive work. You may be able to return to full-time work, but need a schedule change to accommodate ongoing medical treatments. You may need a different chair, computer screen, or a wrist rest at your desk. Or, you may need to be temporarily reassigned to a job that requires no travel.
- Talk with your manager about what you expect, and about what is expected of you. Even if there are no tangible accommodations to your work environment or schedule, it may take you a while to get “up to speed.” Be clear about what you will need to feel confident about your work. Together, plan how much work you will be able to do when you first return.
- Talk to others who have experienced a similar injury or illness and who have returned to work. Ask them about their experience. What can they tell you about the first few days of work? Ask which supports proved helpful to them over time.
Finalize your arrangements for personal and family needs
As your return date approaches, do what you can to prepare yourself and your family for the transition back to work. Your return will be smoother if you have had a chance to address your personal and family needs.
- Firm up any medical arrangements you need to make before your return. Schedule appointments for physical therapy or other medical treatments. Make transportation arrangements. Refill prescriptions that are running low.
- If you need child care, finalize plans now. You may need to start up child care again or adjust existing care to your new work schedule. Plan back-up child care as well. A trial run of the new arrangement during your last week of leave will help you and your child adjust to the new transition.
- Establish routines at home for the beginning and end of the day. It may help to have a checklist to follow, both for you and for other family members who share in household responsibilities. Think, too, about what you can do the night before, and what needs to get done in the morning.
- Take care of errands and household tasks. Before you return, you might prepare and freeze several meals. Do you need a haircut? Are there bills to be paid? Any tasks you can complete in your final days on leave will help make things easier at home as you make the transition back to work.
Work with your company’s leave coordinator to make any special arrangements for your return
As you approach the end of your leave, your leave coordinator can help with the timing of your return. Finalize plans to assist in your transition back to work, as well.
- Identify any physical or emotional limitations that affect your work. Are you taking medication that affects your ability to perform certain tasks at work? Will you be able to handle the walk from the parking lot to your company’s building? Be clear about what you can do and what you aren’t yet able to do.
- Think about any special schedule requirements you may have. Will you need to leave work for medical appointments? You may need to take time out from work for physical therapy exercises. Find out if you can return to work on a reduced schedule until you are fully recovered.
- Plan to evaluate your changing abilities as you recover. In time, most people who return from a disability leave are able to work at full capacity. Plan to make adjustments to your schedule or other accommodations as needed.
Plan your return with your manager
Hopefully, you have been in touch with your manager throughout your leave, and have found ways to stay current about what’s going on at work. As your return date approaches, you’ll need to touch base more often with your manager.
- Demonstrate commitment and talk about special concerns. Show your commitment to the company and your work group by initiating a conversation with your manager about your return.
- Let your manager know as early as you can about any schedule adjustments or other accommodations you may need. Your company’s leave coordinator can help you make those arrangements with your manager.
- The details of your medical situation can be kept confidential. Only your company’s leave coordinator or human resources department needs to know about your medical condition. If you choose to keep your condition confidential, you should decide what to say to your manager about your absence. Think, too, about what you would like your manager to say to others at work.
- Some employees do find it helpful to share information about their situation with their manager, as a way of setting expectations. You might photocopy an article, for example or a few pages from a book about your condition. A piece written by an expert may explain what you are going through and help your manager understand the realities of your situation.
- Demonstrate commitment and talk about special concerns. Show your commitment to the company and your work group by initiating a conversation with your manager about your return.
- Talk about job responsibilities and your work schedule. Discuss with your manager how the work you are responsible for will get done. Talk about which tasks you can take on right now, and which, because of your medical condition, you may not be able to manage until later.
- If you can’t take on all of your former responsibilities right away, you might offer to gradually increase your workload.
- Talk about your schedule and whether some flexibility might help in the transition back to work. If flexibility is necessary for a medical reason, your leave coordinator can help you work out the details with your manager.
- As you have these discussions, try to see things from your manager’s point of view. Your manager must balance the needs of everyone in the department and see that the work gets done. You are the person closest to the work, and you can play an important role in helping your manager come up with business alternatives and staffing solutions. Work with your manager to find “win/win” solutions that meet everyone’s needs.
- Talk about job responsibilities and your work schedule. Discuss with your manager how the work you are responsible for will get done. Talk about which tasks you can take on right now, and which, because of your medical condition, you may not be able to manage until later.
- Follow up with regular meetings. Once you are back at work, continue to meet regularly with your manager. It will give you both a chance to re-evaluate your workload, to see how you are managing, and to determine whether the business’s needs are being met. Regular meetings with your manager will also help you feel like a normal part of the work group, rather than an “outsider” with an unusual schedule or special condition.
- Use your meetings to honestly assess your workload, to be sure you aren’t trying to take on too much too quickly.
- As you make progress toward recovery, you and your manager can adjust your responsibilities to reflect your improving capabilities.
- When co-workers feel overworked. If you sense that co-worker resentment is affecting your work and the work of your team, talk with your manager about the problem.
- You may be able to defuse this tension by helping co-workers understand what you are going through. Perhaps just explaining your struggles will help. Be sure, too, to express your appreciation for their continuing support.
- It may be that you need your manager’s help. Your manager might discuss work assignments with your co-workers, making it clear that what they perceive, as “special treatment” is the company’s normal response to accommodate an employee with a disability. They may one day need the same flexibility.
- When co-workers feel overworked. If you sense that co-worker resentment is affecting your work and the work of your team, talk with your manager about the problem.
- When co-workers want to keep your work. You may have to deal with a co-worker who is reluctant to give up an interesting task assigned while you were on leave. Your manager is responsible for dealing with these conflicts, but you can help.
- If a subordinate has taken on temporary responsibilities during your absence, that person may worry that your return will mean a “demotion” to a more limited role. You might see if your manager could use your return as an opportunity to expand that employee’s role. Perhaps the employee can keep some or all of the responsibility taken on during your leave.
- Once you and your manager have decided which tasks you are resuming and which are being reassigned, suggest that your manager set up a meeting with your department or work group. Use the meeting to communicate the plan for managing these tasks and responsibilities.
- Your spouse. Your home routines are likely to have changed as a result of your injury or illness. You and your spouse may need to talk about your changing responsibilities. Rather than letting resentment build up, talk about ways you might share tasks at home more fairly.
- Getting the facts out in the open will help you both come up with solutions. If one of you feels an undue burden from cleaning or preparing dinner every night, you might decide to buy take-out food a couple of nights each week, cut back on your housecleaning for a while, or share the chores differently.
- Friends and family can help you get the rest, exercise, and emotional support you need. You can help by making your needs known. If you wait for those around you to offer their help, you may be setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.
- Co-workers might help run errands for you, or provide transportation to work.
Talk with co-workers
Co-workers, too, need to know what to expect from you as you return, and how your work will fit in with theirs. If you are returning at less than full capacity, your manager will play a key role in explaining how tasks will get done. You may either want to speak with co-workers yourself about your limitations and work capacity, or help your manager in explaining this to them.
Ideally, you want the people around you to understand what you can and cannot do, both when you first come back and later on, as your abilities change. Whether or not you share details of your condition with co-workers, it is important for them to know your current capabilities.
Get the help and support you need
The more help and support you get, the easier the transition back to work will be. Look for and accept help from whatever sources are available to you.
Remember, too, that the people around you who have been giving support may need rest and support themselves. Make sure the people who help you have time to “recharge.”
Your company may also offer training programs for employees in your situation. It may sponsor, be able to help to organize, or refer you to support groups of people with similar conditions. Check with your employer’s human resources department to review what is available.
Returning from a disability leave can be an enormous transition. With the help of your doctor, your leave coordinator, and your manager, you can set up a plan for a smooth and successful return to work.