How to Overcome Martyr Syndrome

If you feel like you have martyr syndrome, the good news is there are things you can do to overcome it and start living a happier, more positive life. By learning to express your feelings more, challenge negative beliefs and expectations, and set some healthy boundaries, you’ll quickly start to notice a big difference in how you feel about yourself, your circumstances, and other people. If you’re not quite sure where to start, don’t worry—this article will help guide you through the process of addressing your martyr syndrome and overcoming it.

Part 1

Expressing Your Needs Download Article

  1. Image titled Overcome Martyr Syndrome Step 1
    Stop expecting others to read your mind. If other people were going to understand your needs without you telling them, they would have understood by now. Good communication skills involve both speaking and listening. A simple conversation can clear up a big misunderstanding. If you’re trying to express yourself via pouting, sulking, or otherwise acting out, you cannot expect to be understood. Recognize that the only way another person will understand you is if you reach out to that person.[1]

    • For example, you feel you’re being asked to do too much at work. Have you told people in your office you need help or have you simply acted cold towards others?
    • If you have not told anyone you need help on a project, chances are they don’t know. Being cold towards your co-workers is not really communication and, chances are, no one knows what the problem is on your end.
  2. Image titled Overcome Martyr Syndrome Step 2
    State your feelings directly. The first step to direct communication is stating your feelings. When expressing yourself, focus on what you’re feeling. Try to abandon any mentalities you have convincing yourself you’re inherently the victim or things are inherently stacked against. All you can know for sure are your own feelings, so focus on expressing these.[2]

    • Start with the words, “I feel…” when expressing yourself and then briefly state your feelings and the behaviors causing them. This reduces blame as you’re focusing on your personal reactions over objective facts.
    • For example, do not say, “You guys gave me too short notice for this project and now I have to work harder than everyone else in the office.” Instead, say something like, “I feel overwhelmed because I didn’t get enough notice about the project.”[3]
    • Focus on the present moment. Express how you feel now. Do not let past emotions or problems control how you act now.
  3. 3
    Express your needs. People with martyr syndrome may hesitate to express their needs or ask for help.[4] Rather than reaching out and explaining what people can do to help, you may prefer to view your situation as hopeless and harbor resentments. However, this is unhealthy long term and can lead to strained personal and professional relationships. If you need something, say so.[5]

    • For example, if you need help, just ask. Say something like, “I could really use some extra help on this project if any of you have any downtime.”
  4. 4
    Avoid escape mechanisms. People with martyr syndrome may have built in escape mechanisms to help them avoid communication. If you are frustrated or upset by a situation, think about the ways you handle that other than communicating directly. Learn to recognize and avoid these mechanisms to begin with.[6]

    • Some people may behave in a negative fashion in order to entice others to guess what’s wrong. Instead of expressing yourself directly, for example, you may sulk or act cold towards someone who’s upset you.
    • You also may complain about the issue in ineffective ways. For example, you may whine or complain continually, refusing to listen to advice or suggestions. You may also complain to other people around the person who’s frustrating or upsetting you while withholding information from them.
    • You may also find excuses for not communicating. For example, you will convince yourself you’re too tired or too busy to talk things out directly.
    • Writing in a journal is a great way to confront your daily life and to process your emotions in a healthy way.
Part 2

Changing Your Thought Patterns Download Article

  1. 1
    Examine your own feelings. Understanding the causes and issues behind your martyrdom can help you make positive changes in your life. Try to get into touch with your own emotional state. Question why you might act like a martyr. If you can identify the cause, you can identify the solution.

    • Do you have low self-esteem? Do you ever find yourself thinking that you are worthless or unable to control your own life?
    • When you feel upset, can you identify what is causing it? Or are you unsure?
    • Do you often hold grudges? Is there something from the past that you can’t let go of?
    • Do you often see situations as hopeless? Why is this? Does it help you avoid uncomfortable situations? Does it help you justify your current state of life?
  2. 2
    Recognize you have choices. Martyr syndrome is often marked by a feeling of helplessness. You may feel you are inherently the victim in life and that will not change. While there is a lot one cannot change about any given situation, learn to recognize where you can make choices. This will help you feel more in control of your life.[7]

    • For example, everyone finds their job stressful at times. Having to do things you dislike at work is part of life, and you cannot fully control stressful situations from occurring. However, you can control your reactions and coping mechanisms.
    • The next time you encounter stress at work, pause and remember you have choices. Think to yourself, “I can’t completely get rid of these stressors, but I can control how I react. I can make a choice to stay calm and deal with this effectively.”
    • When faced with a difficult situation, sit down, and make a list of everything that you can do to make a difference. This will help you feel as though you have more control in your life.
  3. 3
    Stop expecting to be rewarded for your suffering. Some people volunteer to endure pain and neglect with the hope of being rewarded somehow. People feel that being a martyr will lead to things like recognition, love, or other rewards. Think about how you expect to be rewarded for your martyrdom.[8]

    • Think about how often you talk to other people about your martyrdom. Do you think that you use this behavior to get attention from others?
    • Many people are relationship martyrs. You may find yourself putting a lot more into a relationship than you’re receiving. Oftentimes, people feel giving and giving to difficult people will eventually result in those people changing and becoming more loving and caring.
    • Ask yourself whether this has ever really happened. In most cases, giving more than you receive in a relationship does not result in the other person changing. It only builds resentments and frustrations on your end.
  4. 4
    Identify your unspoken expectations. People with martyr syndrome often expect a lot from others. You have ideas of how people should behave that are not always reasonable or realistic. If you find yourself frequently feeling victimized by others, pause and check your own expectations.[9]

    • Think about demands you place on others. Ask yourself what you expect from people around you and whether these demands are reasonable.
    • For example, in a romantic relationship, you may expect your partner to match you in certain ways. Say you prefer working out with your partner, but your partner prefers to work out alone. You may find yourself assuming you’re the victim. You may feel your partner should want to spend time with you so they’re automatically in the wrong.
    • Ask yourself whether this is really reasonable. If you’re unsure, you can ask a trusted family member or friend for their perspective.
  5. 5
    Examine your beliefs. Martyrdom is closely associated with certain religious and philosophical beliefs. If you have martyr syndrome, it may be related to your underlying worldview. Think about whether you choose to suffer for your beliefs. Consider whether you’re trying to live up to an impossible standard or demanding perfection from yourself.

    • If you feel guilt, spend some time examining how you view the world. Your worldview could contribute to your martyr syndrome.[10]
Part 3

Cutting Back on Your Work Load Download Article

  1. 1
    Lower your standards. Many people with martyr syndrome feel overwhelmed or victimized because they both take on too much and expect a lot from those around them. Ask yourself what you expect from yourself and examine whether this is realistic.

    • What you expect of yourself is often the same as what you expect from others. Adjust your expectations to a more reasonable level. This will improve both your relationship with yourself and others.
    • Accept not everything will turn out the way you wanted. If you expected yourself to complete a certain amount of work within the day, do not beat yourself up if you miss the mark. Instead, appreciate what you did get done.
    • Appreciate others for what they do, even if they don’t meet your exact expectations. For example, say your spouse brings home the wrong brand of toothpaste from the store. Instead of getting angry, be appreciative that you have toothpaste at all and this is one less thing for you to do.
  2. 2
    Focus on spending quality time with others. Rather than running yourself ragged all the time, spend time with others. This will help you learn to appreciate people in and of themselves, regardless of whether they meet your expectations. Strive for small relaxing interactions, such as chatting over lunch, as well as taking a day off to unwind with friends and family members.[11]

    • Keep in mind that not everyone is good company. If certain family members or classmates make you feel bad about yourself, don’t spend time with them.
    • Focus on spending time with people who make you feel happy and relaxed. Avoid people who drain too much of your energy, as interactions with them may leave you tired.
  3. 3
    Seek help from others. People with martyr complex may convince themselves they cannot ask for help. If you feel the inclination to ask someone for help, you may find yourself making excuses as to stop yourself from reaching out. For example, you may convince yourself that person is too busy or that you don’t want to burden them. Remember everyone needs help sometimes and there’s no shame in reaching out.

    • The worst that can happen is that someone will say “No.” Even if someone is unable to help, they probably will not think less of you for having to ask for help. Almost everyone has needed to reach out to others for help at some point.
  4. 4
    Learn to set effective boundaries. Every time you say yes when you mean no, you’re sabotaging yourself. You can learn to politely and respectfully decline to do what people ask you do. Before you agree to someone’s request, ask yourself some questions. Ask yourself if you truly have time. Commitment should make you feel good about yourself and not bitter and overwhelmed.[12]

    • You can say “no” without ever actually saying “no.” For example, you can say, “Sorry, I can’t commit to that right now” or “I already have plans.”
    • Think about the commitments that really make you happy and prioritize them over things that drain you. Say “Yes” that things that will make you feel personally fulfilled and pass on other commitments.
  5. 5
    Do something for yourself every day. Even if it’s something small, doing something for yourself every day can help you feel like less of martyr. Find ways to give yourself a small treat. For example, take half an hour before bed every night to unwind with a book.[13]

    • Make it a ritual or a habit, such as spending an extra 5 minutes in the shower, relaxing, or meditating in the morning.
    • Consider treating yourself to something bigger once every week or so, such as a manicure or bubble bath.

Expert Q&A

Ask a Question


  • Stop trying to be perfect. Rather, aspire to be better than you were yesterday. Nobody is perfect. It’s okay to make mistakes. Correct the mistake and move on.

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About This Article

Elizabeth Weiss, PsyD
Co-authored by:
Clinical Psychologist
This article was co-authored by Elizabeth Weiss, PsyD. Dr. Elizabeth Weiss is a licensed clinical psychologist in Palo Alto, California. She received her Psy.D. in 2009 at Palo Alto University’s PGSP-Stanford PsyD Consortium. She specializes in trauma, grief, and resilience, and helps people reconnect with their full self after difficult and traumatic experiences. This article has been viewed 554,565 times.
4 votes – 100%
Co-authors: 36
Updated: July 22, 2021
Views: 554,565
Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 554,565 times.

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How to Be Social at a Party

Whether you’re shy or you want to get better at being social, there are lots of things you can do to let loose and have fun at parties. Make some new friends by talking to people and getting to know them through conversation. Do an activity that gets people together to have fun. If you feel uncomfortable, bring friends to the party or hang out with people you know before you meet new friends.

Method 1

Making New Friends

  1. Image titled Be Social at a Party Step 1

    Look approachable. If people are avoiding you or not coming up to talk to you, assess your body language. Notice if you’re crossing your body and try to uncross your arms and legs. If you’re looking down (or on your phone), look up and try to make eye contact with other people. Smile and look friendly.[1]

    • If you appear open and friendly, people are more likely to approach you.
    • Stand near the action of the room. If you’re standing far from the crowd, it may be harder for people to approach you.
  2. 2

    Introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Find someone you don’t know and introduce yourself. Keep it simple and don’t overthink it. Once you know each other’s names, you can start a conversation or find things you have in common.

    • For example, go up to someone and say, “Hi, I’m Liv. What’s your name?”
  3. 3

    Ask questions to get to know people better. Asking questions shows that you’re interested and engaged in conversation. Make a point to ask open-ended questions so that the person can elaborate on their answers and build on the conversation. You’ll get to know each other better and keep the conversation going.

    • Ask questions such as, “How did you end up in Los Angeles?” and, “What kinds of things do you do for fun?”
  4. 4

    Talk to new people as they arrive. Meeting new people is easy if you’re the first person they interact with once they get to the party. If you notice somebody new show up, go up to them and introduce yourself. If there’s food at the party, offer to get them a drink or show them the food table.[2]

    • If you and the person are of age to drink alcohol, offer them a drink.
  5. 5

    Find ways to connect with people. Search for things about someone else you can connect with. You might find someone who attends the same school or university as you, is from your hometown, or is wearing a similar shirt. You have more things in common with most people than you might think.[3]

    • Comment on what you have in common. For example, say, “I like your shirt! I have the same one.”
  6. Move around the room. Avoid staying in the same place all night. Get in the habit of moving around and seeing the room from different vantage points. This will help you observe what other people are doing and if you want to meet other interesting people present at the party.[4]

    • Moving can help you seem alluring to others and might keep people guessing. Aim to move every 10-15 minutes or so.

Method 2

Being Social in a Group

  1. 1

    Join groups slowly. If a bunch of people are together talking and you want to join the group, hang back for a moment and listen in to the conversation. You don’t need to walk up and contribute right away. Wait until you’re caught up on what’s being discussed, then chime in with a question or a statement.[5]

    • For example, if people are talking about sports, say, “I couldn’t believe the game last night!” If people are talking about school, say, “Who else has an exam tomorrow?”
  2. 2

    Start an activity to get people engaged. Especially if it’s a big party, it’s likely that people will break off into smaller groups. Suggest a card game or board game and invite people to play with you. It may be easy to talk to people while you play the game and being in a smaller circle can make you feel more comfortable.[6]

    • Put on some music and get people to dance.
    • Ask people you don’t know, “Do you want to play cards? We’re getting some teams together.”
  3. 3

    Include others in group conversations. If you successfully join a conversation with other people and someone new walks up, invite them to join the conversation. Let them know what everyone is discussing or invite them to contribute to the discussion.

    • For example, say, “Tim just got a puppy and we’re discussing dogs. What do you think about having a puppy?”
Method 3

Leaning on Friends to Feel More Comfortable

  1. 1

    Bring friends to the party. It’s easier to be social if you know other people at the party. Meet up with your friends at the party or go altogether. Knowing that your friends will be there can help you feel more comfortable and at ease.

    • Make sure you can invite people to the party and it’s not invite-only.
    • Invite people that you know well so you can talk comfortably around them.
  2. 2
    Hang out with friends to start. Assuming you’re not at the party alone, lean on the people you know. It’s okay if you feel shy or want to hang out with familiar people at first. Feel comfortable and at ease before you go meet new people.
  3. 3

    Meet friends of friends. If you want to meet new people but feel shy, have a friend introduce you to their friends. It can be nice to have something in common and know the same people. Ask a friend to introduce you to the people they know at the party.

    • For example, ask your friend, “Who do you know here? Can you introduce me?”
  4. 4

    Avoid socializing with only your friends. Parties are a great time to meet people. While it’s cool to be with your friends at the beginning, make an effort to meet other people as well. This will help you make new friends who you can hang out with at future parties.

    • You can always create a group that is a mix of new people and old friends.
Method 4

Dealing with Discomfort and Anxiety

  1. 1

    Ease your symptoms of anxiety. If you start to feel anxious before or during the party, focus on ways to decrease those feelings. Find a technique that works for you and do it before and during the party. You want to feel comfortable and put the focus on others, not yourself.[7]

    • For example, challenge negative thoughts about your performance, awkwardness, or that you don’t fit in. Replace your negative thoughts with rational and optimistic thoughts instead, such as “I’m an interesting person” and “Making a new friend can be fun.”
    • Take some deep breaths when you start to feel nervous or anxious.
  2. 2

    Build your social confidence. Building your social confidence helps you look and feel more comfortable in social settings. Tune into how others feel and look at their social cues so that you can respond better and focus less on yourself. Notice if someone looks bored, enthusiastic, or engaged and take their cues to continue the conversation or not. When you have a great interaction, remember what you did well and try it again.[8]

    • If you experience a failed interaction, don’t lose hope. Nobody has perfect interactions all of the time. Try again later or with someone else.
  3. 3

    Don’t give up if you feel uncomfortable. There may be times you feel awkward or uncomfortable, especially at the beginning of the party. Stick with it. Even if you feel uncomfortable, this doesn’t mean you will feel this way the rest of the night. Work through your discomfort.[9]

    • For example, set a challenge for yourself. Go talk to someone you haven’t met, even if it’s a brief conversation. Having a challenge can help you be motivated and push you slightly outside of your comfort zone.
    • If you couldn’t break the ice with the first person you met, remember that you might do better with the next person. The more people you meet, the easier it might become.
  4. 4

    Talk to a therapist if you struggle with social anxiety. If going to a party fills you with fear and you want to run away, you may suffer from social anxiety. Assess your symptoms and talk to a therapist about how you feel. Your therapist can help you manage your symptoms and help you to cope with potentially scary situations. Look for a therapist who specializes in working with people with anxiety disorders.[10]

    • Find a therapist by calling your insurance provider or contact a local mental health clinic. You can also ask your physician or a friend for a recommendation.

Expert Q&A

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  • If you’re of age and alcohol is served, drink a small amount of alcohol if this helps you feel comfortable and warm up.

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About This Article

Klare Heston, LCSW
Co-authored by:
Licensed Social Worker
This article was co-authored by Klare Heston, LCSW. Klare Heston is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker based in Clevaland, Ohio. With experience in academic counseling and clinical supervision, Klare received her Master of Social Work from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983. She also holds a 2-Year Post-Graduate Certificate from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, as well as certification in Family Therapy, Supervision, Mediation, and Trauma Recovery and Treatment (EMDR). This article has been viewed 468,821 times.
9 votes – 62%
Co-authors: 74
Updated: May 6, 2021
Views: 468,821
Categories: Party Socializing

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 468,821 times.

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How to Control Perfectionism

The desire to excel is usually a good thing, but there’s a difference between trying your best and demanding perfection of yourself. Perfectionists can be high achievers, but their efforts can also cause low self-esteem, misspent time, and strained relationships. The key is to find ways to give an effort you can be proud of without demanding the impossible of yourself. Instead of striving for “perfect,” strive for “good enough.”

Method 1

Replacing Perfectionist Thoughts and Words Download Article

  1. Image titled Control Perfectionism Step 1
    Remove “should” from your vocabulary. Perfectionists think and talk about what they “should” be doing instead of what they are doing, or what they “should” do or never do. These types of absolutes set you up for inevitable failure.[1]

    • Instead of saying “I should be working on next week’s presentation instead of sitting out here in the garden,” allow yourself some time to relax and schedule in some work time for later.
    • Rather than telling yourself “I should get every question right on this test,” try “I’ll do my best and look carefully to avoid silly mistakes.”
  2. 2
    Stop using black-and-white language. Perfectionists set up scenarios in which the only possible results are either “perfection” or “failure,” with no middle ground. This makes it impossible to achieve a goal with a few inevitable flaws, and makes you feel like a “loser” even when you accomplish a task to someone else’s satisfaction.[2]

    • Add words like “acceptable” and “good enough” to your vocabulary, and use them when evaluating tasks and your results.
  3. 3
    Don’t view everything in catastrophic terms. Perfectionists tend to create the worst case scenario in regards to failure. They’ll say things like “If I don’t get this just right, everyone will hate me” or “Everyone will see that I’m not cut out for this job.” When you feel this way, try to balance things out with some best-case scenarios.[3]

    • For instance, say to yourself “If I mess up this part, we’ll all have a laugh and move on,” based on what you’ve observed when others have done the same thing.
    • Part of catastrophic thought is “probability overestimation” — that is, overplaying your odds of failure or of negative consequences from failure. Try to look at the situation from a detached perspective and consider the true “odds.”
  4. 4
    List your accomplishments every day, week, month, and year. Every evening, write down at least one thing you accomplished that day, no matter how mundane: “I emptied out my junk drawer in the dining room.” Do the same on a weekly, monthly, and perhaps even annual basis. In the process, you’ll realize just how much you get done — and that you are therefore the opposite of a “failure.”[4]

    • Don’t assess how “perfect” of a job you did — just focus on what you got done. After all, by June 30th, does it matter how well you mowed the lawn on June 1st?
Method 2

Being Imperfect on Purpose Download Article

  1. 1
    Make intentional mistakes in minor everyday matters. This can actually be a bit of fun, but the true purpose is to show you how little other people tend to care whether or not you do everything perfectly. For the most part, they won’t even notice your imperfections, and if they do, they usually won’t mind. Try, for instance:[5]

    • wearing a shirt with a stain on it on purpose.
    • inviting someone over without tidying up the house.
    • shorting yourself on bus fare so you have to ask someone for a dime.
    • making a few intentional grammar mistakes in an email.
    • pretending to lose your train of thought while speaking in front of a group.
  2. Image titled Control Perfectionism Step 6
    Do imperfect work and see if anyone notices. In this case, instead of purposefully doing something imperfectly, simply leave some “imperfections” in place that you typically would find and eliminate. Does your boss even notice that your report is a bit less detailed than normal? Does your teacher seem aware that you didn’t re-write your math formulas to make your work look neater?[6]

    • And, even if people do notice, are they bothered by it at all? As long as you’re fulfilling the essential requirements of the task, the answer will almost always be “no.”
  3. Image titled Control Perfectionism Step 7
    Leave others’ work unfinished instead of taking it on. Perfectionists often feel the need to take on others’ work to make sure it is “done right” as well, even if they’re already overworked with their own tasks. Resist this urge, and observe what happens — it will probably be one of the following:[7]

    • The other person will complete the task to an acceptable level.
    • The other person will do an unacceptable job and will face the consequences.
    • The job won’t get done and no one will seem to care all that much.
  4. Image titled Control Perfectionism Step 8
    Identify your worst case scenario and ask “so what?” You may imagine that making a mistake will lead to your worst case scenario and find that you would still be okay if that happened. This can help to ease your concern and relax you. Try looking at the situation and taking the possible outcomes to their natural conclusion by continually asking “so what?”

    • For example, you might worry about being late to work and think, “If I am late, I will get into trouble.” Ask yourself, “so what?” “I might get a written warning or even get fired.” “So what?” “I might have to look for a new job?” “So what?” “If I can’t find a new job, I could end up having to move back in with my parents or borrow money from a friend to get by.” Although this scenario would be unpleasant, you would still be okay if this happened.
Method 3

Giving Your Perfectionism an Honest Assessment Download Article

  1. Image titled Control Perfectionism Step 9
    List what you’re giving up in your quest for perfection. Striving to be perfect in all things takes up a lot of time — time that could be used for many other things. So, take a few minutes to write down what you’re missing out on because you spend so much time trying to be perfect.[8]

    • Are you giving up time with your family or friends?
    • Have you stopped doing (or never started doing) a hobby you really like?
    • Have you lost one or more promising romantic relationships?
    • Are you missing out on adequate sleep, exercise, meal times, or “me time”?
    • Use the list you create to consider your priorities and determine whether trying to be perfect is worth what you’re losing.
  2. Image titled Control Perfectionism Step 10
    Do a reality check about how much something really matters. Ask yourself “Will this matter in 5 years? 5 months? 5 weeks?” If the answer is “no” to all 3, then you’re almost certainly wasting your time trying to complete the task spotlessly.[9]

    • If the short-term answer is “yes,” ask yourself “Will it matter in 5 months/weeks whether this was done perfectly?”
    • Be honest with yourself — how good of a job do you need to do for it to truly matter in the long term?
  3. 3
    Compare your work and others’ fairly and equally. Perfectionists often suffer from one (and sometimes both) of the following problems when dealing with other people: they demand far more of themselves than they do others, or they can’t trust others to do a “perfect” enough job and must do it themselves.[10]

    • If you expect the impossible from yourself but not others, envision someone else doing the same task you’re doing. Would they have to be either “perfect” or a “failure,” or could they do a “good enough” job? If so, why can’t you?
    • If you feel like you have to do everything yourself, take some time observing other people accomplishing tasks and how their peers/superiors/etc. respond to them. If everyone else seems to think the job has been adequately done, remind yourself to accept the “will of the majority.”
  4. 4
    Get outside help if your perfectionism has spiraled out of control. Perfectionism, at its most extreme, can be a symptom of OCD or other medical or mental health issues. If you experience one or more of the following, it might be time to talk to your doctor or a licensed mental health professional:

    • Things must be “perfect” because, if they aren’t, very bad things will happen.
    • Things left “not perfect” cause you serious anxiety.
    • The repetitive nature of your perfectionism is causing a serious disruption to your daily life.
    • If you ever feel like harming yourself as a “deserved” self-punishment for your “failures,” seek help right away.[11]
Method 4

Working Toward a Reasonable Goal Download Article

  1. 1
    Forgive yourself for your shortcomings. Nobody is perfect, and everybody has strengths and weaknesses. That’s not to say you should not try to grow. You can always learn something new or try to improve, but there are times when you’ll have to go with what you already know and do what you can based on that.[12]

    • Don’t waste time worrying about what you can’t (yet) do.
  2. 2
    Define your goal for the current task. Focus on what is really needed. Is the real purpose to be perfect or produce a perfect result, or is it to get something done? What really matters?[13]

    • Perfectionism can often cause the opposite of a timely result because the uncertainty that comes with it leads to procrastination.
    • Knowing what you want to achieve not only helps you go in the right direction, it also helps you know when you are finished.
    • Make sure to break up your goals into manageable tasks to avoid becoming overwhelmed by them. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then focus on losing 5 pounds at a time or exercising regularly rather than on your overall weight loss goal.
  3. 3
    Strive for the results that are best for you. Do not let your productivity be dictated by fear of others’ judgment. Accept a broader form of excellence, rather than narrowly defined perfection. Perfectionism can be self-destructive when the perfectionist is too concerned with how others may perceive an imperfection.[14]

    • Study to learn, rather than to get a perfect score. Eat and exercise for health and fitness, not for simple weight targets.
  4. 4
    Get started instead of waiting for certainty. Even if you’re not sure yet what you’re doing, give it a try. You may be better at it than you think, or your task may be easier than you imagined it. Even if your first attempt doesn’t get you anywhere, perhaps you’ll know what or who to ask to get going. Or, you may just discover what not to do. Most of the time, you’ll find that you imagined the barriers as larger than they really are.[15]
  5. 5
    Set a time limit for the task. Some things, such as housekeeping, are never really finished. No matter how well you clean the floor today, it’ll get just as muddy tomorrow. Instead of spending hours scrubbing, set a timer for a reasonable amount of time, and clean for just that long. The place will still get cleaner and you’ll work faster and without obsessing over details.[16]

    • Make this sort of upkeep work a regular, brief part of the routine and things will stay at an acceptable, pretty good level.
    • On a longer or more detailed project, a deadline, even a self-imposed one, can get you started and keep you moving instead of worrying over details. Break things up into smaller parts or intermediate goals if they’re too big.
  6. 6
    Do things “your” way instead of the “right” way. Recognize that for many activities, especially anything with an element of creativity, there is no one “right” way, no one “right” answer. If you’re evaluated at all, it is subjectively. You cannot possibly please everybody who reads your writing or gazes at your painting, for instance. While keeping an audience in mind can help give your work direction, you should also allow for a large element of personal expression and style.[17]
  7. 7
    Reflect on your failures. Consider what you can learn from your shortcomings, and how that will help you do a better job next time. You cannot learn without making some mistakes.[18]

    • Recognize the beauty and benefits in imperfection. Dissonant harmonies in music can create tension and drama. Leaves left on the ground insulate plants’ roots and decompose to nourish the soil.

Help Managing Perfectionist Thoughts

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Expert Q&A

  • Question
    Is it okay if my parents always want me to be perfect?

    Liana Georgoulis, PsyD

    Licensed Psychologist
    Expert Answer
    There’s a difference between your parents having high standards for you, and having hyper-critical, unrealistic standards. You may want to try sitting down and talking to your parents. Tell them you feel like they’re being too hard on you. This is the best way to get them to understand. If they just want you to do well though, that’s a good thing!
  • Question
    How do you get rid of a perfectionist mindset?

    Tracy Carver, PhD

    Licensed Psychologist
    Expert Answer
    It’s actually really hard to do this, partially because some of this is natural. It’s normal for your brain to fire off and look for imperfections, so you can’t turn it off entirely. With that said, practicing mindfulness every day is a great way to unlock more self-compassion and calm in the way you think.
  • Question
    Can perfectionism ruin relationships?

    Tracy Carver, PhD

    Licensed Psychologist
    Expert Answer
    In some cases, it can. First, identify how severe the problem is—is your partner thinking about leaving you because of this, or is it a little more mild? Then, decide how important it is to you that thinks really be perfect.
  • Question
    How do you let go of control if you’re a perfectionist?

    Tracy Carver, PhD

    Licensed Psychologist
    Expert Answer
    That can be really hard for perfectionists to do. Start with small, pragmatic things, like letting your partner cook dinner twice a week or letting go of the car being clean a certain way. That’s going to cause you some anxiety, but with the help of a therapist, you should be able to tolerate it.
Ask a Question


  • If you’re great at something, help others who wish to learn. Practice being patient and not expecting them to do everything perfectly or just like you.

  • Never compare yourself to others. We all have our own pace, set of experiences, and different outcomes. You are an individual, and will never be exactly like someone else. This is what builds your character.

  • Be flexible. Dealing gracefully with unexpected developments may be more important than sticking strictly to a predefined system or plan.

  • Schedule yourself free time, if that is what it takes to get some. Then, relax and take the time off.

  • Always look on the positive side of your mistakes. That way, you’ll realize that it’s OK to make mistakes.


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Deal with a Perfectionist Spouse

Be a Perfectionist

Cope with Perfectionist Parents

Work for a Perfectionist Boss

Become Less of a Control Freak

About This Article

Liana Georgoulis, PsyD
Co-authored by:
Licensed Psychologist
This article was co-authored by Liana Georgoulis, PsyD. Dr. Liana Georgoulis is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience, and is now the Clinical Director at Coast Psychological Services in Los Angeles, California. She received her Doctor of Psychology from Pepperdine University in 2009. Her practice provides cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based therapies for adolescents, adults, and couples. This article has been viewed 432,040 times.
4 votes – 100%
Co-authors: 46
Updated: December 1, 2020
Views: 432,040
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How to Fight Procrastination

Everyone struggles with procrastination on occasion. It can be hard to begin major projects or assignments that you don’t enjoy. However, there are specific techniques that you can try to fight procrastination and become more focused and productive on work, school, or home projects.

Part 1

Getting Started on Your Work

  1. Image titled Fight Procrastination Step 1

    Force yourself to begin the task. This might seem overly simplistic, but even sitting down at your desk to start a project or buying the materials needed for a home repair, for example, can help change your mindset and fight procrastination. The old saying that getting started is half the battle is true, especially if you struggle with procrastination.[1]

    • To help yourself get started, try to make your task as enjoyable as possible. For example, if you need to sit down to file your taxes, turn on some music that you like or envision how happy you’ll be once the task is complete and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. (Especially if you get a refund!)
  2. Image titled Fight Procrastination Step 2

    Eliminate your known distractions. Are you addicted to Tumblr or Pinterest? Is Netflix calling your name and taking you away from work that you need to be doing? If possible, disconnect from the internet while you work. Working with spreadsheets or other Office applications usually allows for this. If you need the internet for your project, try telling yourself that you can spend as much time watching your favorite shows as you like once the project is finished.[2]

    • If noise is a major distraction for you, then you might want to try foam earplugs or noise canceling headphones. You can find foam earplugs in any drugstore or convenience store.
  3. Image titled Fight Procrastination Step 3

    Set concrete goals for yourself. Sometimes procrastination is the result of feeling overwhelmed with too many projects or having tasks with non-specific requirements or due dates. Self-starting can be hard. It’s important to set specific, doable goals for yourself.[3]

    • For example, if you know that you have a major research paper due at the end of the semester, then it can be hard to start on it for a variety of reasons: a distant due date, no specific topic for the paper, or simply that there are more enjoyable ways to spend your time. However, if you set concrete goals like choosing a topic early on or writing a page or two a week, then the large, intimidating project that you might normally procrastinate on won’t simply exist in the abstract a few months down the road. It will exist “now” and you will be less likely to procrastinate and be pulling all-nighters at the end of the semester.
  4. 4

    Minimize interruptions as much as possible. When you finally do sit down to complete a task you’ve been procrastinating on, it can be frustrating to get interrupted repeatedly. Whether it’s an inconsiderate roommate or colleague or electronic interruptions, minimizing these will help you actually be able to get to work and not procrastinate.

    • Set your email client to not automatically alert you when emails arrive, and silence your phone completely. Be sure the phone is set to mute, not vibrate, as you can still hear/feel the vibrate setting and it will still distract you.[4]
    • Politely let your chatty roommate or colleague know that you are up against a deadline and have to get some work done. If you feel rude saying this, you can try softening the blow by mentioning that you can chat with then over lunch or dinner later on if they’re free, but right now you have to get your work done.
  5. 5

    Prioritize your work. Often, we procrastinate because we simply feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. To help fight procrastination, it is important to prioritize your work in order of importance and/or by deadline.[5]

    • Using a planner is helpful for this. Get one large enough to have both a weekly and monthly view so you can look ahead to future projects and visualize the deadlines for current projects.[6]
    • If you prefer, you can use the planner on your phone, tablet, or computer. If you choose to use an electronic planner, be sure to set audible alerts because these planners and calendars tend to have a smaller screen view that might not be able to show all tasks on a single screen. Play around with planner/calendar apps to find the one that works best for you and has the best interface.
  6. 6

    Change your work environment. Sometimes our work environment is the reason we tend to procrastinate. If you find yourself working in the middle of a huge mess or with noisy neighbors that drive you crazy, you need to change your environment to be productive and stop procrastinating.[7]

    • Try devoting 10 minutes to do a quick “tidy” of your immediate work space. Organize papers, put away clutter, and throw out any trash. This will give you some breathing room and a small sense of accomplishment which will help you begin your work.
    • If environmental factors beyond your control are the problem, then you might need to relocate your work space for the day. Good choices might be your local library or a cafe.
Part 2

Maximizing Your Productivity

  1. 1

    Break tasks down into manageable sizes. Feeling overwhelmed by huge projects can cause us to simply delay starting them. Breaking down projects into smaller goals can help you stop procrastinating and get started on your work.[8]

    • For example, if you need to repaint your bedroom, all the sanding, taping, trim work, priming and painting can be very overwhelming. However, if you make a goal to sand and clean the walls one day, tape everything off and prime the walls the next day, and finally paint on the third day, your major project will become more manageable, and you’ll be more likely to get started on it.
  2. 2

    Try using productivity apps. There are apps and browser extensions that will block your social media or any other sites that you deem “time wasters.” Check out one of these to maximize your productivity and cut down on distractions that help you procrastinate. [9]

    • Some good examples of apps and browser extensions designed to help you stay on track are StayFocusd for Google Chrome or Timeful and Pocket for Apple and Android products.[10]
  3. 3
    Take mental health breaks. Although this may seem counterproductive, breaks can help you reset and refocus. Get a snack or a cup of coffee and reflect on what you still need to do. Avoid beating yourself up for not having done more up to this point, and use your break as a refresher. Stand up, stretch, and use positive thinking to tell yourself that even though you haven’t accomplished as much as you wanted up to this point, you will once you go back to work. Sometimes a short break and a personal pep talk can help you refocus and stave off procrastination.
  4. 4
    Reward yourself for completing tasks. Even if your project is something you really dislike, you can help yourself get to work on it if you promise yourself something enjoyable upon its completion. You might tell yourself that you can binge watch your favorite show on Netflix or go out for a drink or some ice cream once you’ve completed your goal or task. Having something to look forward to can help jumpstart you and help you fight procrastination.[11]
  5. 5

    Have an accountability partner. If you have a friend or colleague who struggles with procrastination, too, then you might benefit from using each other as accountability partners. You can set up a friendly competition to see who can get further on their work, or you can simply use each other as support. Being accountable to someone will help you stop procrastinating. [12]

    • For example, if you catch your accountability partner checking Facebook during your designated work time, then you can gently remind them that they need to be working, and they can do the same for you. Be sure to be polite when you catch the other not working.
  6. 6

    Set a timer to keep you on track. Try setting a timer for 10 minutes and telling yourself that for that time, you have to work as hard as you can on a project. Regardless of how large the project is, you must work on it nonstop and give it your best for 10 minutes.

    • This is an effective jumpstart strategy that fights procrastination because the short time allotment is manageable and you can immediately see the results of your burst of hard work.[13]
Part 3

Maintaining Reasonable Expectations

  1. 1
    Step outside for some light exercise. It can be depressing to be indoors all day worrying about all the work you need to do. Even though it might seem counterproductive, step outside and take a short 5 to 10 minute walk in the fresh air. This can help you refocus and combat procrastination. Once you come back inside, however, ensure that you go back to work.
  2. 2
    Don’t be hard on yourself if you procrastinate. Be kind to yourself when you’re struggling with procrastination. Think about how you would treat someone else who was struggling with getting their work done. You would probably be kind and try to gently talk with them about how to go about completing their tasks. Do the same for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about procrastinating. Simply accept that you’ve put off your work up to this point and make a fresh start.[14]
  3. 3
    Don’t drag out work till it’s perfect. Our obsession with perfection can cause us to procrastinate in a roundabout way. Sometimes we’ll sit down and work hard on a project only to keep revising or fixing it until it’s past its deadline. Embrace that you only need to do your best and then submit your work. Don’t procrastinate submitting your work because you think it might not be perfect. It probably isn’t perfect, but it can be great and ready to turn in without being perfect.[15]
  4. 4

    Be introspective. Try to identify the importance of the task at hand and determine what the consequences will be if you don’t complete it. Will you receive a negative review at work for failing to complete a report or a bad grade for not writing your research paper? Objectively consider what will realistically happen if you keep procrastinating. Sometimes this bit of reflection can help you get going on a project.[16]

    • It’s important to remember when doing this to be objective about the possible outcomes. If the outcome isn’t especially negative, then this project or task might be one that you can delay in favor of more pressing work.
  5. 5
    Consider that there might be a medical reason for your procrastination. Finally, if your procrastinating is particularly bad and accompanied by other symptoms like sadness or hyperactivity, you might benefit from talking to your doctor. ADHD, depression, and thyroid disorders are just a few of the many medical issues that can affect your ability to concentrate, focus, and be productive.[17]

Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What if I’m procrastinating because I’m lazy?

    Annie Lin, MBA

    Life & Career Coach
    Expert Answer
    Laziness is rarely the primary reason for procrastination. It’s typically a lack of practice when it comes to breaking old habits. It’s hard to change things and when you don’t know how, you find yourself doing something else. Start by taking small steps to just build the mental muscle required to make changes.
Ask a Question


  • Remember to not be hard on yourself. Beginning major projects can be difficult. Try incorporating some concentration or focus techniques and finding a quiet space to work. It can take time to overcome a tendency to procrastinate. If you find that nothing is helping you, don’t be ashamed to talk to your doctor about the issues you’re having completing work for your job or school. You’re not alone.

 What You’ll Need

  • Planner
  • Foam earplugs
  • Noise canceling headphones

Related wikiHows

Stop Procrastinating


Get Out of a Slump

Stop Procrastination With Visualization

Use Apps to Help You Stop Procrastinating

Stop Procrastinating on the Internet

Motivate Yourself to Work

Stop Procrastinating at Work

About This Article

Annie Lin, MBA
Co-authored by:
Life & Career Coach
This article was co-authored by Annie Lin, MBA. Annie Lin is the founder of New York Life Coaching, a life and career coaching service based in Manhattan. Her holistic approach, combining elements from both Eastern and Western wisdom traditions, has made her a highly sought-after personal coach. Annie’s work has been featured in Elle Magazine, NBC News, New York Magazine, and BBC World News. She holds an MBA degree from Oxford Brookes University. Annie is also the founder of the New York Life Coaching Institute which offers a comprehensive life coach certification program. Learn more: This article has been viewed 59,663 times.
23 votes – 87%
Co-authors: 15
Updated: June 30, 2020
Views: 59,663
Categories: Procrastination

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 59,663 times.

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What Is a Schema in Psychology? Definition and Examples

I like this intro to Schemas/Lifetraps:


Human Head with Computer Folders

A schema is a cognitive structure that serves as a framework for one’s knowledge about people, places, objects, and events. Schemas help people organize their knowledge of the world and understand new information. While these mental shortcuts are useful in helping us make sense of the large amount of information we encounter on a daily basis, they can also narrow our thinking and result in stereotypes.

Key Takeaways: Schema

  • A schema is a mental representation that enables us to organize our knowledge into categories.
  • Our schemas help us simplify our interactions with the world. They are mental shortcuts that can both help us and hurt us.
  • We use our schemas to learn and think more quickly. However, some of our schemas may also be stereotypes that cause us to misinterpret or incorrectly recall information.
  • There are many types of schemas, including object, person, social, event, role, and self schemas.
  • Schemas are modified as we gain more information. This process can occur through assimilation or accommodation.

Schema: Definition and Origins

The term schema was first introduced in 1923 by developmental psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget proposed a stage theory of cognitive development that utilized schemas as one of its key components. Piaget defined schemas as basic units of knowledge that related to all aspects of the world. He suggested that different schemas are mentally applied in appropriate situations to help people both comprehend and interpret information. To Piaget, cognitive development hinges on an individual acquiring more schemas and increasing the nuance and complexity of existing schemas.

The concept of schema was later described by psychologist Frederic Bartlett in 1932. Bartlett conducted experiments that tested how schemas factored into people’s memory of events. He said that people organize concepts into mental constructs he dubbed schemas. He suggested that schemas help people process and remember information. So when an individual is confronted with information that fits their existing schema, they will interpret it based on that cognitive framework. However, information that doesn’t fit into an existing schema will be forgotten.

Examples of Schemas

For example, when a child is young, they may develop a schema for a dog. They know a dog walks on four legs, is hairy, and has a tail. When the child goes to the zoo for the first time and sees a tiger, they may initially think the tiger is a dog as well. From the child’s perspective, the tiger fits their schema for a dog.

The child’s parents may explain that this is a tiger, a wild animal. It is not a dog because it doesn’t bark, it doesn’t live in people’s houses, and it hunts for its food. After learning the differences between a tiger and a dog, the child will modify their existing dog schema and create a new tiger schema.

As the child grows older and learns more about animals, they will develop more animal schemas. At the same time, their existing schemas for animals like dogs, birds, and cats will be modified to accommodate any new information they learn about animals. This is a process that continues into adulthood for all kinds of knowledge.

Types of Schemas

There are many kinds of schemas that assist us in understanding the world around us, the people we interact with, and even ourselves. Types of schemas include:

    • Object schemas, which help us understand and interpret inanimate objects, including what different objects are and how they work. For example, we have a schema for what a door is and how to use it. Our door schema may also include subcategories like sliding doors, screen doors, and revolving doors.
    • Person schemas, which are created to help us understand specific people. For instance, one’s schema for their significant other will include the way the individual looks, the way they act, what they like and don’t like, and their personality traits.
    • Social schemas, which help us understand how to behave in different social situations. For example, if an individual plans to see a movie, their movie schema provides them with a general understanding of the type of social situation to expect when they go to the movie theater.
    • Event schemas, also called scripts, which encompass the sequence of actions and behaviors one expects during a given event. For example, when an individual goes to see a movie, they anticipate going to the theater, buying their ticket, selecting a seat, silencing their mobile phone, watching the movie, and then exiting the theater.
  • Self-schemas, which help us understand ourselves. They focus on what we know about who we are now, who we were in the past, and who we could be in the future.
  • Role schemas, which encompass our expectations of how a person in a specific social role will behave. For example, we expect a waiter to be warm and welcoming. While not all waiters will act that way, our schema sets our expectations of each waiter we interact with.

Modification of Schema

As our example of the child changing their dog schema after encountering a tiger illustrates, schemas can be modified. Piaget suggested that we grow intellectually by adjusting our schemas when new information comes from the world around us. Schemas can be adjusted through:

  • Assimilation, the process of applying the schemas we already possess to understand something new.
  • Accommodation, the process of changing an existing schema or creating a new one because new information doesn’t fit the schemas one already has.

Impact on Learning and Memory

Schemas help us interact with the world efficiently. They help us categorize incoming information so we can learn and think more quickly. As a result, if we encounter new information that fits an existing schema, we can efficiently understand and interpret it with minimal cognitive effort.

However, schemas can also impact what we pay attention to and how we interpret new information. New information that fits an existing schema is more likely to attract an individual’s attention. In fact, people will occasionally change or distort new information so it will more comfortably fit into their existing schemas.

In addition, our schemas impact what we remember. Scholars William F. Brewer and James C. Treyens demonstrated this in a 1981 study. They individually brought 30 participants into a room and told them that the space was the office of the principal investigator. They waited in the office and after 35 seconds were taken to a different room. There, they were instructed to list everything they remembered about the room they had just been waiting in. Participants’ recall of the room was much better for objects that fit into their schema of an office, but they were less successful at remembering objects that didn’t fit their schema. For example, most participants remembered that the office had a desk and a chair, but only eight recalled the skull or bulletin board in the room. In addition, nine participants claimed that they saw books in the office when in reality there weren’t any there.

How Our Schemas Get Us Into Trouble

The study by Brewer and Trevens demonstrates that we notice and remember things that fit into our schemas but overlook and forget things that don’t. In addition, when we recall a memory that activates a certain schema, we may adjust that memory to better fit that schema.

So while schemas can help us efficiently learn and understand new information, at times they may also derail that process. For instance, schemas can lead to prejudice. Some of our schemas will be stereotypes, generalized ideas about whole groups of people. Whenever we encounter an individual from a certain group that we have a stereotype about, we will expect their behavior to fit into our schema. This can cause us to misinterpret the actions and intentions of others.

For example, we may believe anyone who is elderly is mentally compromised. If we meet an older individual who is sharp and perceptive and engage in an intellectually stimulating conversation with them, that would challenge our stereotype. However, instead of changing our schema, we might simply believe the individual was having a good day. Or we might recall the one time during our conversation that the individual seemed to have trouble remembering a fact and forget about the rest of the discussion when they were able to recall information perfectly. Our dependence on our schemas to simplify our interactions with the world may cause us to maintain incorrect and damaging stereotypes.

Time For a New Creative Approach to Career Counselling

Time For a New Creative Approach to Career Counselling

Choosing a career path is often a complex matter. Shutterstock

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.

Telling stories

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.

Going forward

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.

Residential school survivor uses poetry, psychotherapy to heal – Saskatoon – CBC News

A poet and residential school survivor is releasing her latest collections of poems, and she says they have been instrumental in healing from the scars of residential schools.

Source: Residential school survivor uses poetry, psychotherapy to heal – Saskatoon – CBC News

Louise Bernice Halfe was was born in Two Hills, Alta., and completed programs at the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan. She attended the Blue Quills Residential School, near St. Paul, Alta., for six years.

While the recently finished Truth and Reconciliation Commission was intended to help survivors heal, Bernice Halfe said the process opened old wounds. This collection of poetry, Burning in this Midnight Dream, helped heal those wounds.

Traditional ceremonies, psychology needed to help others

“It’s been extremely challenging and frightening as well,” she said of the process of walking backward, and retracing her past through the poetry. “What scared me was the feeling of being exposed and vlunerable.”

She said she needed to press ahead as a process of “accepting responsibility of my own actions and behaviours,” but the poetry is “also for the people who don’t have the vocabulary to articulate the shame and the pain and the anger that goes within their own stories.”

Bernice Halfe has training in drug and alcohol counseling, and in social work. She also emphasized the importance of psychotherapy and talking as tools for healing.

‘How do you recover as quickly as the people in the Canadian public want us to recover? I don’t know; I hope it’s possible. It’s very very hard.’– Louise Bernice Halfe

When asked how she wants to contribute to conversations on the legacy around residential schools, she described a photograph that showed her parents’ wedding and all of her relatives connected to her parents.

“There’s been a generational impact on whole communities. How do you recover as quickly as the people in the Canadian public want us to recover? I don’t know. I hope it’s possible. It’s very, very hard,” she said.

Bernice Halfe said she wants to see more aboriginal therapists and psychologists. “Not the kind that just prescribe pills,” she said.

Part of that responsibility is shared by the government, which she said has been insufficient in providing deep healing for aboriginal communities to recover from the legacy of residential schools.

“I would like to see more people trained in psychotherapy, along with their [traditional] ceremonial practices,” she said. “We needing funding for education in our communities. We also need mental health services closer to the communities.

“I’m talking about talk therapy. I’m talking about psychologists,” she emphasized.

Louise Bernice Halfe launches her latest collection of poems on Thursday at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon at 7 p.m. CST.

Why Isn’t Psychotherapy Covered By Health Care? | Chris Curry

In terms of health care, we have it pretty good. If you are unfortunately diagnosed with cancer, most, if not all of your treatment will be paid for. If you break your leg, you can go to the ER and get a cast and leave without a bill. If you require surgery, the government will pay for that too. But what if your issue isn’t physical? What if what’s holding you back in life is a mental concern? Well, then you’re kind of out of luck.

Source: Why Isn’t Psychotherapy Covered By Health Care? | Chris Curry


There are indeed mental health services that are covered by provincial programs such as OHIP here in Ontario. We are all allowed free access to psychiatrists, which sounds great on the surface. But the real story is that most psychiatrists are incredibly overworked and many have waiting lists over a year long. For anyone who has ever experienced a mental health crisis, you know that waiting a year just isn’t an option.

And if you are mentally well enough to wait for that year (or more) there is only so much a psychiatrist can do for you with their limited time and vast client lists. Sure, they can prescribe and monitor your medication. But they typically don’t have time to sit down with you week after week and get to the real reasons why you are facing either depression, anxiety, addiction or any other mental health issue.

Psychotherapists specialize in that kind of ‘getting to the root of the problem’ type of therapy. And each year, countless lives are changed by the hundreds of excellent psychotherapists we have in this country. But for every life that is changed by psychotherapy, their lives are also changed by way of having to spend their hard-earned money and by prioritizing their mental health, sometimes at the expense of other important bills.

Whenever I am discussing treatment with a new client, their first question is inevitably ‘is this covered by the government?’

My answer has to unfortunately be ‘no, it’s not. But someday, I sure hope it will be.’

There are of course some private benefit packages that do cover psychotherapy but most of us are not lucky enough to have such in depth personal coverage from our employers. And that leaves many paying out of pocket for what can be a fairly costly expenditure.

If therapy was free for everyone in Canada, we would see an incredible reduction in the amount of sick days due to depression and anxiety. Productivity would go through the roof and our emergency rooms would be able to focus more of physical injuries instead of having to attend to mental health crises as well.

We are a progressive country and we lead in many areas. Unfortunately we are falling flat when it comes to mental health treatment. We’ve decided that only the rich and prosperous can have access to therapy.

And that just doesn’t sound very progressive to me.

Informational Interviews

Informational Interviews.

Informational Interviews

What is an Informational Interview and How it Can Help Your Career




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Skillfully used, an informational interview is one of the most valuable sources of occupational information. While it may cover some of the same ground as printed material or information on a company website, it presents opportunities for an intimate and flexible inside view of a job field unmatched by other sources. The informational interview communicates the first hand experiences and impressions of someone in the occupation, and is directed by your questions.

Stressless Interviewing

An informational interview is less stressful for both you and the employer than a typical job interview. You are the one in control. Questions can be asked that may not be strategic during a first interview (i.e., questions regarding salary, benefits, vacation). You can discuss what is done on a day-to-day basis and relate it to your own interests and feelings. Beyond the advantages of gaining valuable career information, the informational interview provides the opportunity to build self-confidence and to improve your ability to handle a job interview.

How to Conduct an Informational Interview

You should regard each interview as a business appointment and conduct yourself in a professional manner. If you have made clear, in advance, the explicit purpose of your interview you will, in all probability, find your contact an interested and helpful person. Remember the appointment time and appear promptly for your interview. You should neither be too casually dressed nor overdressed. Regular business attire is appropriate. Be sure you know the name of the person you are meeting, the correct pronunciation of his/her name, and the title of his/her position.

Informational Interview Questions to Ask

Because there are so many questions you can ask in the informational interview, individuals sometimes take notes during the meeting. A limited amount of note-taking is justified provided that your contact is agreeable and that you don’t interrupt communication between the two of you.

Sketch out a brief outline of the topics covered and the information gained as soon as possible after the interview. This will require only a few minutes, and will insure that you remember the important points discussed. Later, working from your outline, you can construct a more detailed report of the interview.

Follow Up With a Thank You Note

Write a thank you note to the people you have interviewed. Report back to them if you have followed up on any suggestions. By building strong rapport with career contacts you enhance the likelihood that they will offer assistance with your job search when you are ready for the next step in the job search process.

DEPRESSION: An amazing cartoon strip!

deep … artistic … funny.



I remember being endlessly entertained by the adventures of my toys. Some days they died repeated, violent deaths, other days they traveled to space or discussed my swim lessons and how I absolutely should be allowed in the deep end of the pool, especially since I was such a talented doggy-paddler.

I didn’t understand why it was fun for me, it just was.

But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to access that expansive imaginary space that made my toys fun. I remember looking at them and feeling sort of frustrated and confused that things weren’t the same.

I played out all the same story lines that had been fun before, but the meaning had disappeared. Horse’s Big Space Adventure transformed into holding a plastic horse in the air, hoping it would somehow be enjoyable for me. Prehistoric Crazy-Bus Death Ride was just smashing a toy bus full of dinosaurs into the wall while feeling sort of bored and unfulfilled.  I could no longer connect to my toys in a way that allowed me to participate in the experience.

Depression feels almost exactly like that, except about everything.

At first, though, the invulnerability that accompanied the detachment was exhilarating. At least as exhilarating as something can be without involving real emotions.

The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief.  I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn’t have to feel them anymore.

But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there’s a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don’t feel very different.

Which leads to horrible, soul-decaying boredom.

I tried to get out more, but most fun activities just left me existentially confused or frustrated with my inability to enjoy them.

Months oozed by, and I gradually came to accept that maybe enjoyment was not a thing I got to feel anymore. I didn’t want anyone to know, though. I was still sort of uncomfortable about how bored and detached I felt around other people, and I was still holding out hope that the whole thing would spontaneously work itself out. As long as I could manage to not alienate anyone, everything might be okay!

However, I could no longer rely on genuine emotion to generate facial expressions, and when you have to spend every social interaction consciously manipulating your face into shapes that are only approximately the right ones, alienating people is inevitable.

Everyone noticed.

It’s weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it’s frustrating for them when that doesn’t happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you’ve simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are…

At first, I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.

But people want to help. So they try harder to make you feel hopeful and positive about the situation. You explain it again, hoping they’ll try a less hope-centric approach, but re-explaining your total inability to experience joy inevitably sounds kind of negative; like maybe you WANT to be depressed. The positivity starts coming out in a spray — a giant, desperate happiness sprinkler pointed directly at your face. And it keeps going like that until you’re having this weird argument where you’re trying to convince the person that you are far too hopeless for hope just so they’ll give up on their optimism crusade and let you go back to feeling bored and lonely by yourself.

And that’s the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn’t always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn’t even something — it’s nothing. And you can’t combat nothing. You can’t fill it up. You can’t cover it. It’s just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.

It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.

The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren’t necessarily looking for solutions. You’re maybe just looking for someone to say “sorry about how dead your fish are” or “wow, those are super dead. I still like you, though.”

I started spending more time alone.

Perhaps it was because I lacked the emotional depth necessary to panic, or maybe my predicament didn’t feel dramatic enough to make me suspicious, but I somehow managed to convince myself that everything was still under my control right up until I noticed myself wishing that nothing loved me so I wouldn’t feel obligated to keep existing.

It’s a strange moment when you realize that you don’t want to be alive anymore. If I had feelings, I’m sure I would have felt surprised. I have spent the vast majority of my life actively attempting to survive. Ever since my most distant single-celled ancestor squiggled into existence, there has been an unbroken chain of things that wanted to stick around.

Yet there I was, casually wishing that I could stop existing in the same way you’d want to leave an empty room or mute an unbearably repetitive noise.

That wasn’t the worst part, though. The worst part was deciding to keep going.

When I say that deciding to not kill myself was the worst part, I should clarify that I don’t mean it in a retrospective sense. From where I am now, it seems like a solid enough decision. But at the time, it felt like I had been dragging myself through the most miserable, endless wasteland, and — far in the distance — I had seen the promising glimmer of a slightly less miserable wasteland. And for just a moment, I thought maybe I’d be able to stop and rest. But as soon as I arrived at the border of the less miserable wasteland, I found out that I’d have to turn around and walk back the other way.

Soon afterward, I discovered that there’s no tactful or comfortable way to inform other people that you might be suicidal. And there’s definitely no way to ask for help casually.

I didn’t want it to be a big deal. However, it’s an alarming subject. Trying to be nonchalant about it just makes it weird for everyone.

I was also extremely ill-prepared for the position of comforting people. The things that seemed reassuring at the time weren’t necessarily comforting for others.

I had so very few feelings, and everyone else had so many, and it felt like they were having all of them in front of me at once. I didn’t really know what to do, so I agreed to see a doctor so that everyone would stop having all of their feelings at me.

The next few weeks were a haze of talking to relentlessly hopeful people about my feelings that didn’t exist so I could be prescribed medication that might help me have them again.

And every direction was bullshit for a really long time, especially up. The absurdity of working so hard to continue doing something you don’t like can be overwhelming. And the longer it takes to feel different, the more it starts to seem like everything might actually be hopeless bullshit.

My feelings did start to return eventually. But not all of them came back, and they didn’t arrive symmetrically.

I had not been able to care for a very long time, and when I finally started being able to care about things again, I HATED them. But hatred is technically a feeling, and my brain latched onto it like a child learning a new word.

Hating everything made all the positivity and hope feel even more unpalatable. The syrupy, over-simplified optimism started to feel almost offensive.

Thankfully, I rediscovered crying just before I got sick of hating things.  I call this emotion “crying” and not “sadness” because that’s all it really was. Just crying for the sake of crying. My brain had partially learned how to be sad again, but it took the feeling out for a joy ride before it had learned how to use the brakes or steer.

At some point during this phase, I was crying on the kitchen floor for no reason. As was common practice during bouts of floor-crying, I was staring straight ahead at nothing in particular and feeling sort of weird about myself. Then, through the film of tears and nothingness, I spotted a tiny, shriveled piece of corn under the refrigerator.

I don’t claim to know why this happened, but when I saw the piece of corn, something snapped. And then that thing twisted through a few permutations of logic that I don’t understand, and produced the most confusing bout of uncontrollable, debilitating laughter that I have ever experienced.

I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

My brain had apparently been storing every unfelt scrap of happiness from the last nineteen months, and it had impulsively decided to unleash all of it at once in what would appear to be an act of vengeance.

That piece of corn is the funniest thing I have ever seen, and I cannot explain to anyone why it’s funny. don’t even know why. If someone ever asks me “what was the exact moment where things started to feel slightly less shitty?” instead of telling a nice, heartwarming story about the support of the people who loved and believed in me, I’m going to have to tell them about the piece of corn. And then I’m going to have to try to explain that no, really, it was funny. Because, see, the way the corn was sitting on the floor… it was so alone… and it was just sitting there! And no matter how I explain it, I’ll get the same, confused look. So maybe I’ll try to show them the piece of corn – to see if they get it. They won’t. Things will get even weirder.

Anyway, I wanted to end this on a hopeful, positive note, but, seeing as how my sense of hope and positivity is still shrouded in a thick layer of feeling like hope and positivity are bullshit, I’ll just say this: Nobody can guarantee that it’s going to be okay, but — and I don’t know if this will be comforting to anyone else — the possibility exists that there’s a piece of corn on a floor somewhere that will make you just as confused about why you are laughing as you have ever been about why you are depressed. And even if everything still seems like hopeless bullshit, maybe it’s just pointless bullshit or weird bullshit or possibly not even bullshit.

I don’t know.
But when you’re concerned that the miserable, boring wasteland in front of you might stretch all the way into forever, not knowing feels strangely hope-like.
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Got Stress? Here’s a Practice You Can BET On | Mindfulness and Psychotherapy

Got Stress? Here’s a Practice You Can BET On | Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.


No matter what time of year it is, stress will likely be a part of it. A little stress is good, it fuels motivation, but there’s a tipping point where it starts to have diminishing returns. When that higher level of stress hits, if it’s left unchecked it can lead to anxiety, depression, chronic pain, addictive behaviors, you name it. Today I want to give you something that you can BET on anywhere, anytime to help turn the volume down on the chaotic mind and bring you back into balance.

I’m a big fan of things that are short and sweet. Something I can remember that can help me in a pinch.

Here’s a short acronym that you can BET on throughout the day:

  • B – Body – At any point, bring attention to the body. How is it feeling? Is there any tension anywhere, in this moment of awareness, can you take a breath and allow it soften?
  • E- Emotions – What emotion is there in that moment? Is it anxiety, sadness, anger, confusion, joy, calm, or maybe just a neutral feeling? How does it feel as a sensation in the body? Research shows just labeling emotions turns activity down in the emotional center of the brain.
  • T – Thoughts – What’s on your mind? Is it busy or calm? If it’s a self-judgment or a judgment of another person, ask yourself, Is it absolutely true? How does this thought make me feel? What’s another way I can see this? Practice opening your mind.

Then just refocus on what matters in the moment.

That’s it, it’s that simple.

You can BET in the morning, before a test, during a business meeting, during stressful travel, while waiting at a stop light or on hold on the phone. You can BET before you open your email, in the midst of your kid’s temper tantrum, or just while taking a nice walk outside.

If you BET a few times a day, my guess is that you’ll break out of routine and back into the wonder of everyday life.

Try it out and let your experience be your teacher.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction is a living wisdom we can all benefit from.

Source: Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

9 Myths, Misconceptions and Stereotypes about ADHD | World of Psychology

9 Myths, Misconceptions and Stereotypes about ADHD | World of Psychology.

Associate Editor

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects about four percent of U.S. adults (Kessler, Chiu, Demler & Walters, 2005). Still, many myths, stereotypes and downright fallacies abound — everything from questioning the very existence of ADHD to downplaying its seriousness. Below, we spoke with two experts who treat individuals with ADHD to set the record straight.

1. Myth: ADHD isn’t a real disorder.

Fact: ADHD is a mental disorder with a strong biological component (like most mental disorders). This includes an inherited biological component, notes Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, a national certified counselor and licensed mental health counselor and author of four books on adult ADD, including Adult ADD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed.

For instance, studies have identified several genes associated with ADHD (e.g., Guan, Wang, Chen, Yang & Qian, 2009). One study revealed that kids with ADHD had hundreds of gene variations that weren’t found in other children (Elia et al., 2010).


2. Myth: ADHD only occurs in children.

Fact: Contrary to common belief, most people don’t magically outgrow ADHD. Rather they continue to struggle with the disorder, but their “symptoms just look different,” Sarkis said. Mainly, hyperactivity tends to diminish, said Ari Tuckman, PsyD, a psychologist and author of More Attention, Less Deficit: Successful Strategies for Adults with ADHD.

“However, the inattentive symptoms still exist and if anything become more disabling because adults are expected to manage all the boring details that tend to fall through the cracks for folks with ADHD,” he said. According to Sarkis, adults might “still feel a sense of ‘inner restlessness,’” which she describes as “wanting to be on the go, an ‘itch’ or need to be active or on the move.”

3. Myth: Hyperactivity affects all adults with ADHD.

Fact: As mentioned above, for some people, hyperactivity — which Tuckman refers to as the “most visible symptom” — declines with adolescence and adulthood; other people were never hyperactive to begin with.

Some people “have what is known as the inattentive type of ADHD and struggle with distractibility, forgetfulness, poor time management, disorganization, etc.,” he said.

4. Myth: ADHD stimulant medication leads to addiction.

Fact: There’s actually no indication that taking stimulant medication causes addiction. (Not to mention that it decreases debilitating symptoms.) People with ADHD who take stimulant medication tend to have much lower rates of substance abuse than people with ADHD who don’t take the medication (e.g., Wilens, Faraone, Biederman & Gunawardene, 2003).

A recent long-term study looked at the link between childhood and early teen use of stimulant medication and early adulthood use of drugs, alcohol or nicotine in a group of males with ADHD. Researchers found neither an increase nor decrease in substance use (Biederman et. al, 2008).

(By the way, here’s a brief response from one of the researchers inADDitude magazine.)

5. Myth: “Everyone has some ADHD these days,” Tuckman said.

Fact: Our technology-driven society has definitely caused many people to get easily distracted and overwhelmed. We get sidetracked during one project and feel forgetful about everything else. But as Tuckman clarified: “The difference is that people with ADHD pay a much higher price for their distracted moments and it happens much more often.”

Think of it this way: All of us feel anxious and depressed at certain points in our lives but that doesn’t mean that we have a diagnosableanxiety disorder, depression or bipolar disorder.

6. Myth: “People with ADHD don’t ‘want’ to focus or complete tasks,” Sarkis said.

Fact: It isn’t a matter of desire, but a matter of ability. As Sarkis explained, “It’s not that they don’t ‘want’ to follow through on projects; they just can’t. It’s not that they don’t want to stop by the grocery store on the way home from work; they just forget.”

7. Myth: “ADHD isn’t a big deal,” Tuckman said.

Fact: This couldn’t be further from the truth. Individuals with ADHD typically struggle in all areas of their lives, from the big responsibilities like job performance to simple tasks like paying bills on time, according to Tuckman. ADHD is also tough on relationships.

Plus, “There has even been research showing that people with ADHD have lower credit scores and higher blood cholesterol levels, revealing their difficulties with managing a broad range of lifestyle matters,” Tuckman said.

8. Myth: People with ADHD “don’t care about consequences,” Sarkis said.

Fact: Caring about consequences isn’t the issue; it’s the processing of consequences that’s a problem, Sarkis said. “We know we need to do something a certain way, but it’s tough to get that ‘certain way’ to stick in our brains.”

9. Myth: “People with ADHD just need to try harder,” Tuckman said.

Fact: While effort is important in overcoming obstacles caused by ADHD, it isn’t the whole story. Tuckman likened the misconception of working harder in ADHD to poor eyesight: “We don’t tell someone with bad vision that he just needs to try harder to see well.”

He added that: “People with ADHD have been trying harder their entire lives, but don’t have as much to show for their efforts. This is why it’s important to address ADHD with appropriate treatment and ADHD-friendly strategies that take into account how the ADHD brain processes information.”

Here’s a thorough look at ADHDsolutions for common symptoms andhow to succeed on the job.


Advice for Adults with ADD: Finding a Career That Works For You

Expert Advice for Adults with ADD: Finding a Career That Works For You | ADDitude – ADD & LD Adults and Children.


Finding a Career That Works For You

There are no inherently bad jobs for people with ADHD. Here’s how to find the best one for you.

Filed Under: Focus at WorkADHD Career Paths

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Finding a Career That Works For YouADDitude Magazine

Everyone has personal challenges of one sort or another that may interfere with job performance.

There are no ADHD-friendly jobs.
Sorry to be so blunt, but people send email all the time asking “What is a good job for an ADHD person?,” as if all people with ADHD have the same interests and abilities. Sorry. Now that we have cleared that up, let’s move on.
There are no jobs that ADHD would prevent someone from doing. Just as there is no one “perfect” job that fits all ADHD people, there is also no limit to the things that an ADHD person can accomplish. For example, the idea that someone with ADHD should avoid detail work such as accounting simply is not true. There are accountants who have ADHD. There may be other reasons why you can’t bean accountant, or a salesman, or a respiratory therapist, but being ADHD is not one of them.
“Everyone has personal challenges of one sort or another that may interfere with job performance,” says Wilma Fellman, a career counselor and author of the book Finding a Career That Works for You. “Instead of tossing aside an otherwise great idea for a career because of the threat of challenges, work with someone who can help develop strategies, modifications, and accommodations that might make it a good match for you.”
In other words, don’t give up.
Find Out What You Want To Do
Much has been written about job accommodations for people who have ADHD. In fact, ADHD is included in the American’s with Disabilities Act, which means that employers are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” for those who have been diagnosed. Of course, getting accommodations from your employer means that you have to tell them about your ADHD, which may create more problems than it solves. Some people who disclose their ADHD find that their employers perception of them changes almost immediately, and not always for the better.
Rather than depending on someone else to provide accommodations for you, Fellman recommends being more proactive and choosing a career that works for you. “Understanding your career interests and finding a job that matches these interests will improve your chances of being happy and successful in the career you select,” she says.
A lot of the problems that ADHD people have as students comes about because we are forced to sit in classes that either don’t hold our interest or don’t match up well with our abilities. Why force yourself into a career that is just more of the same? Adults have more freedom than children. You don’t have to feel like a square peg being hammered into a round hole.
How many careers can you name? A dozen? Maybe 100, if you really try? The Dictionary of Occupational Titles, published by the U.S.Department of Labor, lists over 27,000 occupations, covering nearly all job descriptions available in the United States. Many of these are jobs you probably never heard of and certainly haven’t considered as a possible career. But they exist, and you would probably be interested in several of them, if you knew you had those options.
Turning Things Around
If you have AD/HD, then you know that it affects your behavior and your abilities to do certain things. On the job, ADHD can show up as clowning around, not appearing to take things seriously, missed deadlines or in other ways that could cause potential problems between you and your employer.
Lynn Weiss, Ph.D., author of A.D.D. On The Job, believes that many of these behaviors can be used to work in your favor in the workplace. “Remember,” she says, “although your ADD-related behaviors can cause problems in a work environment, they can also be used in a constructive way to your advantage.”
As an example, Dr. Weiss talks about being extra sensitive to criticism, a trait that is very common among people who have ADHD. “Being hypersensitive is difficult and sometimes painful. But it does have a flip side that can serve as a tremendous asset for you in the workplace: a keen sense of intuition.” She continues: “Most of the business world’s top salespeople have good intuition, often called a gut-level feeling. For example, successful salespeople seem to just know with whom to spend their time, when to close a deal, and what the other person needs in order to be satisfied. Believing in and depending on this sense of intuition pays rich dividends.”
Again, successful ADHD people are those who have learned to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. These people don’t force themselves into a positions that don’t fit. Instead, they find or create situations that allow them to make the most of their abilities.
Jeffrey Mayer, author of Success is a JourneyTime Management for Dummies, and other books about succeeding in business, writes that all successful people share five characteristics:
  1. They have a dream.
  2. They have a plan.
  3. They have specific knowledge or training.
  4. They’re willing to work hard.
  5. They don’t take no for an answer.
You can find a career that works for you. Now, just go do it!

When drugs for depression fail, talking therapies help | Fox News

When drugs for depression fail, talking therapies help | Fox News.

  • Counseling.jpg
Patients with depression who fail to benefit from antidepressant drugs may do better if they are also treated with a type of “talking” psychotherapy called CBT, according to new research published on Friday. In the first large-scale trial to test the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, alongside medication for depression, scientists said they found that the combination works where drug treatment alone fails. Nicola Wiles of Bristol University’s school of social and community medicine, who led the study, said the findings underline the need to increase the availability of therapy for depressed patients. “While there have been initiatives to increase access to CBT in both the UK and Australia, worldwide initiatives are rare,” she said in a statement.
Wiles and colleagues recruited 469 adults from across Britain who had not responded to at least 6 weeks of treatment with an antidepressant. For the study, 235 patients continued with their usual antidepressant medication, while 234 patients got their usual care plus CBT and were followed up for 12 months. The results, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed that after 6 months, 46 percent of those who got CBT as well as their usual care had improved – reporting at least a 50 percent reduction in their depressive symptoms. This compared to 22 percent of those who did not get CBT. Patients treated with CBT, which involves talking through behaviors and ways of thinking with a trained psychotherapist or psychologist, were also more likely to go into remission and have fewer symptoms of anxiety, the researchers said. Similar effects were reported at 12 months. Major depression affects around 20 percent of people at some point in their lives. The World Health Organization (WHO)predicts that by 2020, depression will rival heart disease as the health disorder with the highest global disease burden. While there are many antidepressants on the market, including top sellers such as Prozac and Seroxat, it is widely accepted that many antidepressants work in only half of patients half of the time, and drugmakers are struggling to come up with a new generation of drugs in this field.
Willem Kuyken, a clinical psychology professor at Exeter University who also worked on the study, said its results showed that doctors and patients should be looking beyond drugs. “This trial provides further evidence that psychological treatments like cognitive therapy can provide substantive and lasting help to people who suffer depression,” he said. Wiles added, however, that even in wealthy countries such as Britain, where there has been a recent push to invest more into psychological therapies, many people who have not responded to antidepressants still don’t get the chance of trying intensive CBT that take between 12 and 18 sessions.
In the United States, only about a quarter of people with depression have received any form of psychological therapy in the last 12 months, she said.

Read more:

Stress Relief 5 Easy Resolutions

Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW: Stress Relief For 2012: 5 Easy Resolutions That Will Stick!.

The new year is up on the calendar. Will this be another year that you vow to start exercising only to drop your gym membership by Valentine’s Day? Remember the year you were determined to start flossing? Take vitamins? Give up soda?

Studies show that even people with life threatening illnesses are not successful at creating lasting permanent lifestyle changes. Why? Because change is hard work! It takes a tsunami of sustainable energy to effect long term, lasting change.

But what if the changes were such simple shifts of attention that they required virtually no effort? And what if they were prompted by activities that you already do so that you won’t forget? And what if, on top of all that, they actually made your life better?

Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Implement even one of these five simple practices into your day and you’ll find yourself happier and less stressful.

Hint: Use strategically placed Post-it reminders for the first few weeks until these healthy habits become automatic.

While You’re Brushing Your Teeth: “Morning Glory”
 As you brush your teeth, think of three things that you’ll be facing in your day. Think, “I will open myself with curiosity to __________” (the meeting, the parent/teacher conference or the luncheon, for example). Set your intention to be open and curious to the events of your upcoming day, rather than negative or judgmental. When you cultivate positive emotions, you de-stress your body and meet your day with optimism!
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Spiritual Laws of Money & Abundance

Follow The Spiritual Laws of Money and Abundance.

By S. Roman & D. Packer in Abundance on February 7th, 2008 

Money is neither good nor bad; it is energy. It is the way money is used that determines whether or not it is a positive energy that will benefit you and others. If you come from the highest level of integrity with your money, if you make it in ways that benefit people, through shifting their consciousness, or through serving and making a contribution, by giving your best, honoring others, and putting attention and consciousness into what you do, you are making a contribution to humanity and to yourself. When you use money in ways that serve your higher purpose and bring you and others joy, you are creating money of light. The more money is made and spent with integrity and light, the more it becomes a force of light for everyone.

True abundance is having all you need to do your life’s work – the tools, resources, and living environment – and to live a life filled with joy and aliveness. Abundance is not an extravagant, glamorous style of living maintained purely to impress others or one that does not support your true aliveness and life’s work. Part of the essence of spirituality is the belief in true abundance – of time, love, and energy. You teach others by setting an example. It may be hard, if not impossible, to help others lead abundant lives if you do not have a feeling of abundance about your own life. You do not want living at a survival level and experiencing lack to be the examples you set. When you have the right amount of money and money works in your life, people will learn about abundance from your example.

Most war and strife come from a belief in scarcity. People who believe in scarcity often try to squeeze more and more out of nature, wasting the planet’s resources. If you want to contribute to planetary peace, you can start by believing in abundance for yourself and others. As society begins to believe that there can be abundance for everyone, new discoveries will be made that will provide unlimited energy and resources that do not pollute or deplete the earth, and there will be fewer reasons for war. There truly is the potential for abundance for everyone on the planet. If humanity believed in abundance for all, it could be created. Start by believing that it is possible for everyone to have abundance.

It is all right to have money. Some of you feel guilty about having money, especially when you look around and see others living in lack. Some people learn and grow as much by having a totally materialistic focus as others do by living in poverty. It is not more spiritual to be poor, nor is it better to be rich. If you are worried that it is not spiritual to have money, examine the times in your life when you had money, even if it was just a small amount. Remember how you used your money. You may have been able to help those around you even more. When you felt abundant, you probably felt generous and able to support others in their abundance.

The people who are clearest about money are not usually those who have large sums of money, or those who have none, but those who have just the right amount for them. People who have just the right amount are not burdened by too many possessions; their possessions serve them. They do not spend time and energy that would be best spent creating their life’s work to acquire or take care of material things. Having too much money can take you off your path if you must spend a lot of time taking care of it. Not having enough money can also take you off your path if it requires a lot of your time and energy just to survive. It is important for you to have enough money to live on. If you do not have enough, if you spend most of your time worrying about your rent and food, your time and energy are not available to do the greater work you came here to do.

Think of being rich as having enough wealth to carry out your life’s work. You may not need many material possessions to have enough. For instance, your life purpose may be to work with nature. You may live in a log cabin, spend little money, and still have all the natural resources you need to carry out your purpose. In that case, you would be rich. What is important is having enough money to do the work you came to do, and not having so much that it keeps you from the work you came to do. Having enough money means being able to put your vision into action, to transform the energy around you into a higher order. Some people may need many material things to accomplish their life purpose. They may need to work with a group of people who will only listen to and respect them if they have an appearance of wealth and power.

Material possessions may provide some with a spiritual experience, teaching them what they need to learn in this lifetime, just as not having money may be a great teacher for others. Some people gain great freedom and growth from having money; some people gain freedom and growth from not having money.

How much money people need is an individual matter; do not judge others for what they have or do not have. Some people may be amassing fortunes that will later be used for the good of humanity, even if at present they don’t plan on using their money this way and aren’t on a spiritual path. You cannot know the larger purpose of anyone’s path. It is good to measure people’s success not by how much money they make or have, but by the degree to which they are fulfilling their life purpose, are happy about their lives, have the right amount of money, and believe in themselves.

As you become more prosperous yourself, it is likely that you will be around prosperous people. As you think in terms of prosperity, your vibration begins to change and you attract other people who think in terms of abundance as well. Do not feel jealous or threatened by someone who is successful. Realize that if you are close to a person who is succeeding, you are beginning to have that same vibration of success yourself. Begin now to believe that everyone’s success means even more success for you. If everyone around you begins to succeed, then you are surrounded with the vibration of success, and your success will grow even faster. When you hear of other people’s good fortune, appreciate their success, knowing that it affirms the abundance that is available for you as well.

Many of you think that you have to get your work out to a large number of people or be number one in your field to truly be successful. It is not wrong to feel competitive if that feeling helps you do your best at your job, but don’t feel that others who succeed in what you are doing can take away from your success. There is an unlimited supply of success. Every person in the world can be successful. Realize that you have your special place, and what you are here to do is in some way special and unique, no matter how many people are doing similar things. Are there people or companies you are competing with? Are you worried that their success might mean a loss to you? Take a moment to picture them succeeding beyond your wildest dreams. Then, imagine a reason why their success will be beneficial to you.

Know that there is no one else in the world who is going to do your work exactly as you do it. Even if it appears that others are doing the same work, they are probably reaching a different group of people, or reaching the same group in a different way. It is better to focus on living up to your potential. Are you putting the wants of people you serve first? Are you following your inner messages? As you do, you will shine. You will have all the business and abundance you want. Enjoy the process of getting your work out, not just to strive for recognition and fame. Let it be all right not to be number one, have the most clients, make the most money, or do it all yourself.

Do not worry about someone else taking away your idea, or doing what you are doing better than you are. As long as you do the best you know how and put out the finest quality product or service you can offer, you will be richly rewarded. It doesn’t matter what other people do. Even if someone is claiming the credit right now for your good work, don’t stop putting out quality work. You will be rewarded eventually. As with the tortoise and the hare, the one who works consistently and steadily, doing a good job all the time, will have more abundance and make a greater mark in the world than the person who takes shortcuts to beat everyone else out.

If you are competing with other job applicants for a job, or with other businesses for a client, or are wanting to get a grant or funding, do not view yourself as competing with others. If it is for your highest good to get the money, client, or job, you will. Always do your best in your grant applications, job interviews, and sales presentations; write or go to only those people your inner messages direct you to, and you will find your money or job. If you get it, do not worry that you have taken something away from someone else.

The universe is perfect and abundant, and others will receive exactly what is best for them. You cannot take away from others. Your opportunities are meant for you, and those that aren’t for you will be given to others. If you are competing for anything right now – a job, funding, a loan, a scholarship, or an apartment – see if you can let go of your worry and trust that the best outcome will occur for all of you. Trust that what is meant to be yours will be yours; the universe is always working to bring your higher good to you.

Don’t view your coworkers or those around you as competitors; see them as friends. Cooperation will get you much further than competition. One man who worked for a company wanted to be the vice president in a short period of time. He went around telling everyone of his ambitions, often praising his own work. He undermined the work of other employees so that his own work would appear better, and tried to take the credit himself for work that others had done. Another man in the same company simply wanted to do the best job he could. He was constantly thinking of his fellow employees, took on extra jobs, helped his boss out whenever he could, and performed the job he was hired for with attention and love. The first man was not promoted and quit in anger with many grievances against the company that “just couldn’t appreciate him.” The second man went on to become vice president.

When you think of others and yourself, have thoughts of riches, prosperity, success, and goodness. Having such thoughts helps make them come true. Let your thoughts about everyone be of their increased good. Picture everyone as successful. Sometimes people bring financial hardship to themselves by dwelling on other people’s financial difficulties, for what you focus on is what you draw to yourself. Rather than talking about how hard life is for people, send them compassion and light; see them getting out of their difficult situations and experiencing abundance. The positive pictures and love you send out will come back to you many times over.

One storekeeper increased his business dramatically by sending love and envisioning success for everyone who came into his store. People were magnetically drawn to his shop. If you hear friends complaining of lack, remind them of what they do have. When you are around people who talk of financial problems, see if you can change the subject or help them appreciate the abundance they have already created.

You may be hoping that your wealth will come from winning a lottery. To win, be ready to receive the money. While many of you hope to win, you don’t truly expect to win. People who win are committed to winning, and have dealt with their beliefs that say getting money this way is too easy, or too good to be true. Even more important, if winning the money would stop you from doing your life’s work, your higher self will keep you from winning. Winning a large sum of money can create more challenges than you think. It is important to have the right amount of money, and if a huge windfall would put your life out of balance, your higher self will most probably keep it from you.

Depending on how prepared you are to have a large windfall, many things in your life will change. Getting money gradually, at a pace you can adjust to, is a gift. You can get used to handling a larger energy flow in a balanced, stable way. You have the time to try out various actions before large sums are involved. If you aren’t prepared to handle a larger amount and you do get it, your higher self may find many ways for you to let go of it. Many people who have won or inherited large sums have also lost or spent them in just a few years; their own energy and the larger sum of money weren’t in harmony. Those who do keep their windfalls often keep the same jobs and homes and bank the money, slowly getting used to the increased amount.

Play lotteries if you grow from the process. For many people lotteries provide an opportunity to visualize themselves as abundant, and that picture helps them draw in abundance in other ways. Every time they buy lottery tickets, they feel the possible joy of winning, and bring that feeling into their lives. That may be precisely the feeling their souls want them to develop. You can create the same experience by visualizing your success, imagining having what you want, and making the picture as real and vivid as possible.

When you have money, see your money as a source of good; see it as potential to create higher purpose that has yet to be converted into substance and form. Keep picturing all your money in the bank or in your wallet as money that is awaiting your command to go out and create good for you and others. Appreciate your abundance, and realize that you have learned to tap in to the unlimited abundance of the universe. Your money is awaiting the opportunity to bring you good, and to improve your life and the lives of others.

About the author:
Sanaya Roman has been channeling Orin, a wise and gentle spirit teacher, for more than twenty years. All of Orin’s work assists people in unfolding their potential, finding their inner wisdom, and in growing their spirituality. Duane Packer has been channeling DaBen for many years, teaching people how to sense subtle energy and work with it to transform their reality. Both authors reside in Oregon and their website is

Based on the book Creating Money. Copyright © 1988, 2008 by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer. Reprinted with permission of H J Kramer / New World Library, Novato, CA. Additional information at


Accommodations: Illness or Excuse?

A Serious Illness or an Excuse? –

[COLLEGE11] Sally McCay

At University of Vermont, above, staff role play with students with mental health issues to prepare them to negotiate with professors.

Earlier this semester, college senior Leah Nelson emailed one of her instructors to ask for extra time to complete a paper. “I have been going through a rough patch lately and am making the decision to take care of myself this week,” Ms. Nelson wrote. Her mental health, she continued, would “take priority over everything else.”

Ms. Nelson, a 21-year-old student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, struggles with depression. Her symptoms often flare when exams and papers pile up. She says the timing of a suicide attempt in March of 2010, when she took an overdose of Tylenol, was influenced by the pressure of the three exams and paper due she had that week.

As mental health problems become less stigmatizing, more college students are comfortable asking their professors for test extensions and excused absences due to bouts of depression and panic attacks. Andrea Petersen has details on Lunch Break.

Ms. Nelson is one of a growing number of college students asking for wiggle room with their academic workloads due to mental health issues.

In some cases, students make direct pleas to professors. In others, students work through their university’s disability office to receive official academic “accommodations.” These can include extra time for exams, the opportunity to take tests in a quiet room, or flexibility with class attendance and assignment deadlines.

Schools are required to extend “reasonable accommodations” for students with documented disabilities—including psychological ones—to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Brian Harkin for The Wall Street Journal

A student group devoted to reducing stigma around mental illness is on 325 campuses. A backpack, pictured, reads ‘1,100 students die by suicide each year.’

The Other College Application Process

To qualify for academic accommodations, most schools require students with mental health issues to go through a fairly extensive application process. It generally includes:

•A recent evaluation from a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker.

•A disorder included in the DSM-IV, the primary handbook for diagnosing mental illnesses.

•A professional assessment of how the disorder affects the student academically and why specific accommodations are needed.

•There is often a deadline for applying: Some schools require applications at the beginning of the semester. Some require students to apply a certain number of days before the accommodations are necessary, say, two weeks before an exam where they’ll need more time.

But there’s hand-wringing among university administrators and faculty about how to support college students with mental health issues while making sure young adults progress academically. One of the goals of college, after all, is to prepare students for the working world. And not every boss may be OK with a blown deadline for a critical client report, no matter the reason. Professors also want to make sure they’re being fair to all students.

“There’s the danger that we take too much care and when they hit the real world that same kind of support isn’t there,” says David Cozzens, dean of students and associate vice president of student affairs at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Some formal accommodations, like additional test time, are fairly standard across universities and apply to students with physical and learning disabilities, too. But, schools diverge widely on formal accommodations for flexibility with assignment deadlines, class attendance and participation. Some schools leave it up to individual instructors. Others intervene more directly on students’ behalf.

Schools say they are seeing a rise in the number of students registering with their disability offices due to psychological problems. At Pace University in New York, the number of requests for accommodations from students with disabilities related to psychological disorders tripled in the last three years.

Brian Harkin for The Wall Street Journal

Leah Nelson, right, a University of Connecticut student, walks on campus with friend Kylie Angell. Ms. Nelson struggles with depression and works with professors to manage her workload.

At the University of Texas at Austin, 33% of the 1,687 students that registered with the disability services office during the spring 2011 semester listed psychological problems as their “primary” concern. In the spring of 2008, only 23% out of 1,175 did. (The increase was due, in part, to a procedural change that routed more students to the disability office.)

Colleges say they’re seeing more students on campus with psychiatric illnesses. About 11.6% of college students were diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the last year, and 10.7% were diagnosed or treated for depression, according to a survey of more than 100,000 students at 129 schools conducted by the American College Health Association. Many mental illnesses, particularly depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, emerge during late adolescence.

Psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety can have serious academic consequences because they affect concentration, sleep and cognitive processing, say mental health professionals.

Associated Press

The health center at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., recently stopped issuing notes students gave to professors to be excused from class.

It’s unclear why the incidence of psychiatric disorders appears to be rising among college students. Better medications and treatments are likely making it possible for more young adults with even serious mental illnesses to attend college. Many schools have launched programs to identify students with psychological problems and get them into counseling. Student-advocacy groups like Active Minds Inc., an organization with chapters on 325 campuses, are trying to reduce the stigma around having a mental illness.

Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has developed an extensive suicide-prevention program and a comprehensive disability services office. But it is pulling back on how involved it gets in student-faculty negotiations not covered by the office.

Over the last several years, the counseling center has stopped issuing dated “verification of visit” notes. Too many students were making appointments just to get the notes to provide proof of why they missed class or failed to turn in an assignment, says Greg Eells, director of counseling and psychological services. (The school’s health center stopped giving notes for medical appointments, too.)

“It was just not a good use of the university’s resources,” says Mr. Eells. But professors pushed back. “The faculty wants us to be a detective to see if the student is telling the truth. That’s not our job,” he says.

If students complain of psychological problems, some faculty members will send them to the disability services office to avoid having to determine what’s a serious issue versus what’s a gloomy day. Then, “the instructor isn’t having to make decisions on something they’re not equipped to assess,” says Steven Barrett, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wyoming.

In the fall of 2010, Amy Goodnough, now a senior at the University of Vermont, started experiencing severe insomnia and excess energy. Some mornings, she couldn’t get out of bed. Eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Ms. Goodnough withdrew from one class, took an incomplete in another and appealed directly to other professors to turn in some assignments late. “It was difficult to know day to day what my energy would be like,” Ms. Goodnough, 21, says. “I kind of crawled through the end of the semester.”

Before the spring term, she registered with the university’s disability services office and received letters to take to her professors stating that she be allowed “limited” flexibility with attendance and deadlines. Without those accommodations, “I don’t think I could have stayed in school,” that semester, she says. Now getting effective treatment, Ms. Goodnough has not needed the flexibility this term and has a 3.9 grade-point average.

Schools say they can’t require faculty to adjust deadlines or attendance policies. And in some courses, like science labs and speech classes, participation is critical, but schools can push instructors to compromise with students.

Students with mental illnesses “don’t know when the symptoms will happen, when they might be incapacitated,” says Laurel Cameron, the director of ACCESS, the University of Vermont’s disability services office. Even with a letter giving a student flexibility with deadlines and attendance, students are required to negotiate with each instructor at the beginning of the semester. They need to devise a plan, for example, of when to notify faculty of an absence and a timetable for making up work.

To help students prepare for those discussions, Ms. Cameron says she and her staff will role-play with students, taking on the tone of a skeptical professor.

Kim Larrabee, a faculty member at UConn and the instructor Ms. Nelson emailed for an extension, says she has a “sense of intuition of sincerity,” when students approach her for flexibility with academic work. And she considers how committed the student has been so far to the course. She gave Ms. Nelson an extra 10 days to finish her paper.

“I think your decision to take care of your needs shows maturity and commitment,” Ms. Larrabee wrote in an email replying to Ms. Nelson’s request. Ms. Nelson got an A on the paper.


ADHD: It’s not just kids who suffer

It’s not just kids who suffer from ADHD – The Globe and Mail.

In the last decade, there has been an explosion of cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among Canadian children. Everyone knows a Grade 2 student who cannot stop fidgeting in class or focus on the lesson of the day. With Ritalin, and other forms of therapy, these children can learn to live and thrive with ADHD.

However, ADHD in adults has not received the same level of recognition. Many in the medical community still associate the disorder only with children – even though almost two-thirds of patients never outgrow their symptoms. The disorder is also highly genetic, making it probable that if a child has it, so does one of her parents.

A failure to properly recognize, and treat, the disorder among adults costs everyone. The disorder’s key symptoms – inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness – can become a source of shame and embarrassment at work, and prevent creative people from reaching their potential. A Harvard study reported that untreated ADHD costs the workplace an estimated $70-billion a year.

Adults with untreated ADHD are also at significant risk of developing problems such as low self-esteem, addictions and obesity.

Although the prevalence rate for the disorder in adults is about 5 per cent, there is a shortage of adult psychiatrists in Canada who specialize in attention disorders, notes Umesh Jain, an ADHD researcher at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Many patients end up being misdiagnosed with anxiety and depression. A 2006 U.S. study found that only about 10 per cent of adults with ADHD receive appropriate treatment. “Many attempts have been made to educate psychiatrists about adult ADHD, but many doctors still don’t believe in it,” says Dr. Jain.

That leaves many people earning below their potential, or masking the disorder by choosing highly intense professions or extreme sports to give them the stimulation they crave. Once these roles end, they can have tremendous difficulty coping.

Adult psychiatrists and family doctors should become more aware of ADHD in adults. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders should clarify how it presents and evolves over time. With effective treatment – including medication and psychotherapy – a person’s life trajectory can be dramatically altered, and the underlying explanation for years of irritability, suffering and other problems can be correctly identified.

The Powerful Influence of Parents

by Jerry Lopper, Personal Growth Coach  on June 13, 2011 »

Image By Colin Brough

The influence of our parents is on my mind right now. Even as we become fully functioning adults and parents ourselves, it’s intriguing to consider how much of who we are is directly attributable to beliefs and experiences we encountered as children of our parents.

I’m reminded of this in reading Into My Father’s Wake, by journalist and author Eric Best. Best leaves his job, buys a sailboat, and sails solo from San Francisco to Hawaii and return in an attempt to resolve his relationship with his parents, especially his father.

A respected journalist, Best’s marriage is failing, he feels dead-ended in his job, and he struggles with alcohol and anger. The 50 day, 5,000 mile solo journey is his attempt to find himself and correct the path of his life.

Adult Children of Abusive Parents

Interspersed with fascinating descriptions of his sailing adventures, Best shares pleasant childhood memories of long sailing voyages with his father and disturbing memories of brutal beatings with a rubber hose at his father’s hands. He recalls his mother’s silent support of her husbands discipline, and struggles to come to terms with both parents’ treatments.

Most children are raised without the abusive behaviors demonstrated in Best’s book, yet don’t we all grow up carrying mixed images of our parents’ behaviors?

Psychologists offer an explanation that makes sense. Carl Pickhardt Ph.D. is a psychologist in private counseling practice who has authored several parenting books exploring the various phases of parent/child relationships as a child moves from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.

Pickhardt explains that the child idolizes and worships her parents, the adolescent criticizes and blames her parents as she begins the process of independence, and the adult rationalizes parental behaviors as she begins to understand the complexities of parental behavior.

Parental Behaviors

The children of abusive parents experience conflicting and inconsistent adult behavior, at times nurturing and caring, at other times abusive and hurtful. Given the child’s total dependence and natural tendency to look up to her parents, the abused child is confused, ceases to trust, and may even assume she’s part of the problem. Best demonstrates how these conflicts carry into adulthood.

Children of non-abusive parents also experience conflicts. We see behaviors that are loving and caring as well as darker behaviors such as anger. We see our parents’ faults, tend to focus on those in adolescence, and may even carry their faults into adulthood as the reasons for our own failures.

Life Purpose and Our Parents

Looking at more positive aspects of parental influence, in The Celestine Prophecy, author James Redfield suggests that each person’s life purpose evolves from and extends the life purpose of their parents. Intrigued by this, I followed the suggested process of examining what each of my parents stood for (their strong beliefs and values) and where they fell short (weaknesses and limitations).

Sure enough, I could clearly see how my own life extended what each of my parent’s stood for and how I’ve developed interests and strengths which they lacked.

Since this analysis was valuable and informational to me, I added the process to my Purpose in Life Workshop content, expecting that others would also find valuable insights.

I was surprised by the responses of workshop participants. Though some found the process positive and helpful, a majority reacted strongly against the hypothesis, even resisting my encouragement to keep an open mind and explore the possibilities. It seemed a large number of people attribute their life’s problems directly to their parents.

Coming to Terms with Parents

What does this all mean? To me it simply means that parents are human beings, with the full range of human strengths and weaknesses. Parenting is tough work. Our parents made some mistakes along the way, as we have in our parenting roles.

On the road to adulthood, we’re exposed to many examples of behaviors, including the very influential examples of our parents. Whether they were outstanding parents or lacking in many ways, as adults our behaviors are ours alone. We can chose whether to copy behaviors of our parents or discard them. We can chose whether to cherish their parental talents or denounce them.

Personal growth involves insightful—sometimes painful—self-reflection. Personal growth also involves accepting the accountability and responsibility of personal choice for our behaviors.

Eric Best reaches this conclusion near the end of his solitary 50 day voyage, deciding to cherish the love and care his father displayed in teaching him to sail, while forgiving his brutal discipline as a terrible weakness of his father’s own personal struggles.

Into My Father’s Wake is a good story of a man’s journey of self-discovery. Those without sailing knowledge may struggle a bit with the sailor’s terminology, but all will appreciate the vivid imagery Best conveys as he describes the beauty and danger of solo-oceanic travel. I found that sharing Best’s struggles with the human frailties of his parents stimulated useful self-reflection on the influence of my own parents on my adult life.