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
    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.
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    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.

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  • 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
    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.

      6
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.

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Tips

  • 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 Be Optimistic in a Pessimistic World

With the world as uncertain as it is at times, it’s easy to discover that you’re feeling more and more pessimistic about your life. And even if you’re generally an optimistic person, it’s easy to let your friends who are less hopeful drag you down. By changing your environment, your attitude, and your body, you can stay optimistic in a pessimistic world.

Method 1

Changing Your Attitude Download Article

  1. Image titled Elevate Your Self Esteem Step 13
    1
    See the good. Working to see the good in situations can help you feel more optimistic simply because you aren’t focused on the bad. Studies suggest that looking for the good in situations can decrease rates of cancer and mortality and can contribute to better cardiovascular health. When you find yourself focusing on the negative in a situation, try to think of what the opposite reaction would be and focus on that instead.

    • Say, for example, you get into a car accident that totals your car. Don’t focus on the fact that your car is totaled, focus on the fact that you have insurance and can get a replacement![1]
    • Try to contextualize challenges as a chance to learn, rather than seeing them as a setback. You can always learn something good, even from bad situations.[2]
  2. 2
    Spend less time on social media. Spending less time on social media makes it easier not to compare yourself to other people. Feeling jealous of other people can definitely put a damper on your ability to feel optimistic about your own life. On the other hand, limiting the time that you do feel that way can heIp you feel optimistic about your own situation.[3]

    • Studied have shown that spending too much time on sites like Facebook can actually make you feel depressed because you are comparing your daily life to the filtered, curated posts and images of your friends.[4]
  3. 3
    Be grateful. Write down the things you’re grateful for every day.[5] This forces you to think about the good things in your life. It makes it harder to focus on the bad – even if there’s a lot of it – and makes it easier to feel optimistic about the future.[6]

    • There are a lot of big things that are easy to be grateful for – maybe you got promoted at work, or your boss complimented you on your latest project. Being grateful for the little things is harder, but can help increase your optimism, too. So, for example, you might be grateful that it was a sunny day, or that you drank a great cup of coffee that morning.
    • Try repeating “thank you” silently to yourself in the morning right when you wake up to put you in a grateful mindset for the rest of the day.[7]
  4. 4
    Change the way you respond to negative situations.[8] When something bad happens to you, do you tend to blame yourself for it, or do you see how other factors could have contributed? Optimists tend to see bad things that happen to them as the result of other factors – when they lose a tennis match they think it’s because their opponent is great at tennis, not (as a pessimist would) because they’re a terrible tennis player.

    • Next time you find yourself framing a situation in a negative way, try to rework it in your head. Instead of thinking “No one wants to pair up with me in class because they think I’m stupid,” try thinking, “my classmates must not know how much I have to contribute to this project!”
    • This type of thinking refers to your locus of control. Those who have an internal locus believe that they influence events and their outcomes, while those who have an external locus believe things happen to them due to external forces. Those with an internal locus of control tend to feel more optimistic in their daily life.[9]
  5. 5
    Keep trying. Pessimists tend to give up on something very quickly if they don’t succeed right away. Optimists tend to work harder – and longer – at things, even if it’s not immediately clear that they’ll succeed. Another way to think of this is to “fake it til you make it.” Assuming that you will be successful at something one day – and continuing to work toward it – can make you feel a lot more optimistic about the eventual outcome.[10]
  6. 6
    Don’t catastrophize. Pessimists often catastrophize – in other words, they think of the absolute worst-case scenario for whatever situation they’re in, and they fixate on it like it’s the only resolution. Doing this over and over again can make the worst-case scenario seem like the logical outcome of any situation.[11]

    • Let’s say you get an after-hours email from your boss, saying that she wants to talk to you the following morning. You can catastrophize the situation by imagining the worst reason she might want to talk to you: you’re getting fired. Which will lead to you losing your home, which will lead to you having to live with your parents. You can avoid doing this, though! When you find yourself catastrophizing, take your fantasies of total ruin all the way to their ridiculous conclusion, and then ask yourself if it’s actually likely to happen that way. It’s unlikely they will.
  7. 7
    Stay present. It’s easy to live in the past and the future, particularly if you find it hard to be optimistic at times. If things have gone poorly for us in the past, we think our future will look the same way. By staying present and focusing on the task at hand, you can focus on one particular set of circumstances, feel more in control, and stay optimistic.[12]

    • Try asking yourself, “Is there a problem right now?” Take a look and see if a problem exists at that very moment. If there is no problem impacting you that second, try to focus on that instead of on potential future problems.
  8. 8
    Share your feelings.[13] It’s easy to feel pessimistic if you think you’re the only one who has gone through what you’re going through. Sharing your failures and successes with someone you trust – whether a family member, a friend, or a member of a support group – can make you feel less alone and therefore more hopeful.[14] [15]

    • You can start a conversation like this by saying something like, “I’ve really been feeling down lately because I can’t seem to get caught up on my finances. Every time I think I’ll pull ahead, another bill pops up! Has that ever happened to you? How did you deal with?”
    • Sharing good news can also make you feel more optimistic. You can try saying something like, “I got that promotion I’ve been hoping for! I’d love to celebrate with you!”
    • In both cases, asking for having someone to share either reinforces that you’re not alone or multiplies your happiness.
Method 2

Changing Your Environment Download Article

  1. 1
    Let some light in. If you find you’re feeling particularly pessimistic, check your surroundings. Are you sitting in semi-darkness, staring at your computer? Just turning on a light or opening the curtains can change your mood drastically!
  2. 2
    Go outside. Getting outside and getting some sunlight (even if it is not direct) for even 15 minutes a day can greatly improve our moods. Go for a short walk, sit on the porch, or water your grass. Getting that little bump in your mood can really make it easier to feel optimistic.[16]
  3. 3
    Make new friends. Do the friends you normally hang out with seem to always be complaining? Are they always pointing out the negative in every situation? This can make it hard to feel optimistic about anything! Either make new friends with people who are generally positive and upbeat, or spend more time with your already optimistic friends.
Method 3

Changing Your Body Download Article

  1. 1
    Get a physical. Schedule a physical or a wellness checkup with your doctor. Sometimes internal factors, like not getting enough vitamin D, can impact our moods. This is particularly common with people who don’t see a lot of sunlight. Let your doctor know you’ve been feeling down and you’re not sure why. They will check for common problems that may be keeping you pessimistic.[17]
  2. 2
    Work out. Pessimists tend to overthink things. If you find yourself falling into this behavior, do something that will take all of your attention, like working out, going for a walk, or even playing a game. If you’re fully engaged in what you’re doing, you won’t have time to worry![18]
  3. 3
    Eat balanced meals. Eating a balanced meal is the easiest way to take care of your body, and having a body that feels healthy and strong is an easy way to feel optimistic![19]

    • A balanced diet should include protein, fat, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and lots of water!
    • When considering portions for a healthy diet, focus on having about half of your plate filled with fruits or veggies and the other half split between lean protein and whole grains.
    • Easy substitutions can make it easier to eat a healthy diet. Try nonfat or 1% milk instead of 2%. If you eat a really heavy meal at breakfast or lunch, consider eating lighter fare for the rest of the day.[20]
  4. 4
    Smile more. Studies show that smiling actually releases serotonin, the hormone generally responsible for happiness. Finding little reasons to smile, even in the middle of a bad day, can make you feel happier and therefore more optimistic.[21]

    • Smiling also makes you seem more welcoming to others. Meeting new people who are drawn to that sort of energy can have a good effect on you, since they’re likely to be optimistic people, too.
Method 4

Dealing with a Pessimistic World Download Article

  1. 1
    Volunteer. As scary as the world can seem, it’s easy to feel like things will never change and there’s nothing you can do about it. But you can! Volunteer your time at an organization that supports the things you believe in. Feeling like you’re actually helping make the world a better place is a good way to feel less pessimistic about the world.

    • Websites like VolunteerMatch.org, Idealist.org, and HandsOn Network are all good places to start when you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity.[22]
  2. 2
    Unplug for a day. The 24-hour news cycle can make it seem like bad things are happening all the time, and it can make the world seem like a pretty pessimistic place. If you’re feeling down and overly pessimistic, try unplugging for the day: no internet, no social media, no phone. This can help you recharge and focus on the good things in your life.[23]

    • Going to the park (if it’s nice outside) or a library (if it’s not) and spending some time reading a book is a good way to unplug without getting bored. Getting lost in someone else’s world for a while can help you feel less pessimistic.
    • Playing a game with your friends – football, a board game, cards – is a good way to entertain yourself without relying on electronics.
  3. 3
    Practice self care.[24] Practicing self care basically means making sure you take good care of yourself and plan some “me” time. When the world feels particularly pessimistic, it’s so easy to focus on the bad and forget to take of yourself. Self care is always important, but it’s critical to make some time for it when you’re stressed or feeling burnt out. Schedule some time for yourself on those days, and engage in your favorite self-care activities.

    • A lot of the steps above are examples of self care: working out, eating a balanced diet, going outside.
    • Making a playlist of your favorite upbeat music and listening to it when you’re feeling pessimistic is another great example of practicing self-care.[25]

Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What are ways I can be more optimistic?

    Leah Morris

    Life Coach
    Expert Answer
    Know that it’s okay for bad things to happen and to have some negative feelings from it. It helps to reevaluate these situations to find the positive aspects of them.
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References

About This Article

Paul Chernyak, LPC
Co-authored by:
Licensed Professional Counselor
This article was co-authored by Paul Chernyak, LPC. Paul Chernyak is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Chicago. He graduated from the American School of Professional Psychology in 2011. This article has been viewed 19,742 times.
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Updated: August 9, 2021
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Categories: Optimism
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How to Control Perfectionism

https://www.wikihow.com/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
    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
    2
    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
    3
    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
    4
    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
    1
    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
    2
    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.
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Tips

  • 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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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
Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 432,040 times.

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What Is a Schema in Psychology? Definition and Examples

I like this intro to Schemas/Lifetraps:

Rory

*****

https://www.thoughtco.com/schema-definition-4691768
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.

I Got COVID-19 4 Months Ago. I Still Live With Symptoms

After 100+ days of dealing with COVID-19 symptoms, it occurred to me that this just might be my new norm.

Source: I Got COVID-19 4 Months Ago. I Still Live With Symptoms

Rachel Baum

July 16, 2020
By Rachel Baum, as told to Jennifer Clopton

I might never get better.

I don’t know the exact day I had this realization. It came at some point after I crossed the 100-day mark of still dealing with COVID-19 symptoms.

I contracted the virus around March 10th, and the symptoms still hang on. A debilitating headache. A stabbing pain between my shoulders that feels like I’m getting jabbed by a hot poker, and never goes away. I have tightness in my chest and coughing that still requires an inhaler to clear. The brain fog, clumsiness, and confusion are so bad that I’m astonished by how much I’ve intellectually regressed. Overwhelming fatigue and nausea come and go, and my voice often sounds like a whisper because I can’t get a strong enough breath to speak louder.

After 100+ days of dealing with these symptoms that come – off and on like waves, lasting and leaving with no pattern – it finally dawned on me that maybe this is my life now. At this point I’m really not sure this is ever going to go away. It just might be my new normal.

This is a far cry from my old normal. I have fibromyalgia, but pre-COVID-19, I was very active. I’m a retired dog trainer, so I’ve always been on the go. I live near a lake and was kayaking sometimes twice a day, going for a 3-mile walk every day, and I took up tap dancing, practicing 45 minutes to an hour a day.

During my illness and now whenever I relapse, all I can do is look at the lake out the window. I haven’t even attempted tap dancing. I know I don’t have the energy for that. Still, I do have days where I feel pretty good. I can go for a walk, cook meals, and do laundry. But then the relapse comes. It always comes. Sometimes it lasts for 1 day or 2, but sometimes as many as 10. When this happens, I’m knocked down, back in bed, needing to sleep, feeling anxious, reaching for my inhaler to help me breathe.

This is better than it was when I first got sick with COVID-19. For that first month, I was sick with all the symptoms you hear about – nausea, chills, headache, loss of taste and smell. For a few days, I couldn’t walk because my whole left side – my leg and arm – were stiff and in terrible pain. I had debilitating fatigue, and at my worst, I couldn’t eat or take deep breaths. Once, I had to call 9-1-1 for oxygen. In time, I did see some improvement, but for me it’s been far from a full recovery.

It hasn’t been a linear journey, either. I have some good days that make me hopeful that I’ve finally kicked this, but then I backslide. There’s no medical explanation for this that we’ve been able to find. Chest x-rays show my lungs are fine. Follow-up COVID tests have been negative, and my oxygen saturation levels continue to register as normal. Doctors are frankly mystified about what’s happening and what to do about it. The only thing it seems I can do is take Tylenol when the headache comes, keep my maintenance and rescue inhalers within reach, and try to mentally adjust to this new reality.

I get very discouraged sometimes thinking – what did I do wrong, why me? But then I think I should just be grateful that I’m still alive. It helps to know I’m not alone (even though that is heartbreaking, too). When I joined a COVID-19 Long Haulers group on Facebook, I was amazed to read post after post that sounded like me. There are currently more than 7,000 people from around the world in this group, and they too are still struggling with a seemingly never-ending list of debilitating symptoms that come and go in waves. Some people are hospitalized during their relapses and have had far more extreme symptoms than me, so I guess I’m lucky, although it doesn’t always feel that way.

For now, I’m trying to focus on what I can control. I signed up to be part of two clinical trials where I log my symptoms every day so researchers can learn from people like me who haven’t gotten better. I try to help others in my Facebook group when they’re struggling with the symptoms they’re still dealing with. For my own mental health, at this point I’ve just decided I have to give up the idea that I’m ever going to fully recover. I’ve got to stop treating it as if I’m going to be back to where I was before because I really don’t know if that will ever happen.

A lot of people get better and that’s wonderful for them. But for some reason, there are thousands of us out there that the virus has grabbed onto and it’s not letting go.

If anyone else out there is dealing with this, I’d say – find yourself a support group because you’ll need it, and it helps – a lot. You need people who understand what you are going through and you may not find that in your family or social circle.

At this point, after experiencing symptoms for nearly 4 months, I’m trying to find the positive life lessons in this for me. I’ve always been a person who likes to go, go, go, and this is forcing me to learn to slow down, take things down a notch, and relax a bit more. I’m learning to really appreciate the good days when they come and pace myself on those days and then rest when the difficult times come.

Kayaking every day may not be in the cards for me anymore, but I can still enjoy the beauty of the lake. The other day I did fish a little bit, and that made me feel better. I’m finding new sources of Zen in quieter activities that bring me joy. I also think I’ll keep telling my story because sadly, I do believe there will continue to be many others like me. And realistically, I’m just not sure that everybody fully recovers from this virus.

Rachel Baum lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, and is currently participating in 2 studies tracking long-term symptoms in patients who had COVID-19. She says she finds great support from a Long Haul COVID-19 Fighters support group on Facebook and is happy that a book she authored in her first career as a librarian – Funeral and Memorial Readings, Poems and Tributes (McFarland, 1999) – is now helping many people who sadly have to bury loved ones from this virus.

 

How To Know When You’re Ready To Stop Therapy — And How To Do It

I like how this encourages the “discussion” around the topic.

Rory

_________________________________________

There are some do’s and don’ts of taking a break from or leaving your therapist.

Source: How To Know When You’re Ready To Stop Therapy — And How To Do It

Finding the right therapist is often likened to the dating process: It can be daunting, requires serious effort and is very fulfilling once you find the one.

And — just like in dating — knowing if, when and how to end or put that relationship on hold can be equally stressful. It’s nerve-wracking, confusing and can leave you wondering if you’re making the right decision.

The good news is: Therapists are trained to want you to stop.

“I think people get nervous their therapists are going to feel hurt that they’re leaving,” Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist and author of “Maybe You Should Talk To Someone,” explained to HuffPost. “Ours is the worst possible business model, because from day one our goal is how we can get you to be independent of us. We want you to be able to function without us.”

“Ours is the worst possible business model, because from day one our goal is how we can get you to be independent of us. We want you to be able to function without us.”

Growing out of your therapist can look many different ways, but there are concrete signs, and some of them exist outside the room, according to Meg Gitlin, psychotherapist and creator of the Instagram account City Therapist.

“I think it’s when the person starts internalizing your voice or is able to readily access the tools you have given them, when they come in and they say ‘oh, I was at my sister-in-law’s and I got into a tizzy about X,Y and Z but I was able to talk myself down and self-soothe,’” she said. “The things you practice and learn in therapy have no value unless you can take them outside of the room.”

Repeatedly struggling to come up with things to talk about in a session could also be a sign you’re ready to take a break, but Josephson warns against jumping the gun on that one.

“If you’re having a good week, it’s not a reason to cancel your therapy session,” she said. “Therapy is not a quick fix … But if you find yourself constantly coming up short of issues you really want to discuss I think it might be time to consider taking a pause.”

Taking a break or stopping altogether can feel scary, especially if you’ve been working with someone for a long time, but it can also be an opportunity to reflect on that work and see how it manifests in your daily life.

“There are many benefits of stopping or taking a break,” said Mark Aoyogi, director of sport and performance psychology at the University of Denver. “Reconnecting with your independence, practicing the skills you have developed, engaging in life with your deeper sense of self-awareness. It’s also a great opportunity for continued self-introspection on what has been learned, how to apply it and what works best” for you.

“If you are having apprehension about raising the topic of stopping with your therapist, that is probably an indication your therapist is not a good fit.”

As with anything, there are right and wrong ways to go about broaching the topic. The main one is: Don’t ghost someone who has committed time, care and effort into helping you. As Gottlieb puts it, it’s “a conversation.”

“We’re not going to keep you somewhere you don’t want to be,” she said. “At the same time, we’ll talk to you about where you think you’re at and what progress you’ve made and how you’re feeling. You can always leave and if something comes up you can come back ― our door is open. I think people need to feel really comfortable talking to their therapists about what they’re doing there and how long they’re going to be there.”

Importantly, Aoyogi said that if you’re seeing the right person, they will be supportive and understanding of your wishes.

“If you are having apprehension about raising the topic of stopping with your therapist, that is probably an indication your therapist is not a good fit,” he said. “I’m not sure therapy can be effective if you are feeling pressured to continue.”

How to do the Faster EFT Tap — The Basic Recipe

Sep 27, 2017 · 5 min read

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe is easy, quick, efficient, effective and a fun healing tool.

It is used to change the references held in the subconscious that result in problems in all areas of life.

It is this procedure that is used for every round of tapping.

This Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe method can be used to solve any issue — financial, personal, professional, emotional, psychological, physiological, health related.

This Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe has provided relief to thousands of people around the world with impressive results.

We encourage you to try and test this out for yourself.

But first, you will need to know the basics of Faster EFT Tapping, so let’s start!

With just SIX easy steps to learn, it is the Fastest EFT tapping technique out there.

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe has only FIVE steps, that takes only 30 seconds to do.

Anyone of any age can learn this simple technique and use it whenever they want, wherever they are with lasting results.

It may seem a little strange at first, but after a couple of round of using the Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe, you’ll feel more comfortable.

Just like with anything new you learn, it takes practice and persistence.

This will be a tool that can be used throughout your life, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.

It’ll always be on hand for you to use, no matter the circumstances.

Why Faster EFT Works

In order for a problem to exist, there must be proof (the memory or record of an experience) and feelings.

Feelings are what make a problem a problem.

It is how you feel about something that determines whether it’s a problem or not.

If you feel good, that means you like something.

Conversely, if you feel bad, it means you don’t like something.

It’s that simple.

It is the feelings that make the problem real.

For example, Tom feels angry when he hears loud music in a parked car.

Another person, Tina, may enjoy the music.

She hears the same loud music, but she feels good.

In each of those cases, the subconscious is referencing a record that connects loud music in parked cars with either a negative meaning or a positive meaning; and then the brain signals the organs to produce the matching chemicals for those emotions.

How Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe works

FasterEFT is an energy based system as well, founded on Neurology and Biology.

Emotions affect both our physical and mental wellbeing.

So it follows that once your turbulent emotions are healed and cleaned up, you’ll have overall wellbeing.

The foundation belief in Faster EFT is that there is no disruption of energy, unlike traditional EFT.

In fact everything in your life and body is functioning as it should.

According to the way the brain has developed in order to survive in the environment, depending on your life’s experiences.

In Faster EFT, the tapping is used to disrupt the signal between the brain and the major organs of the body that trigger the fight or flight response while changing neural pathways in the neocortex of the brain.

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe doesn’t just deal with energy disruptions, which only fixes the outer issue of the problem.

It deals with the root cause of the problems, eliminating them completely.

Faster EFT recognizes that experiences are recorded in the subconscious for future reference.

This is how we learn to walk, drive, take a shower, eat, wash the dishes, type etc. without needing to consciously concentrate on every movement and decision.

Regular EFT specifically believes that negative emotions have nothing to do with memories, and are caused only by a disruption in the body’s energy system.

The Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe interrupts that signal between the brain and the organs by focusing on the meridian points connected to those organs.

This rewrites the reference or memory associated with that trigger.

For example, if Tom feels angered by the loud music and wanted to change that automatic response, he could use the Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe to disrupt the production of the chemicals that cause the feeling of anger when he hears the loud music.

And change the meaning of the loud music in his subconscious from “rude” or “disruptive” (or whatever they learned it means) to fun and enjoyment.

This will then result in an automatic feeling of enjoyment and fun when Tom hears that loud music in the future.

The Faster EFT Tapping Points

The following illustration is pretty straightforward and we’ll give a brief explanation with it as well.

For now, just identify each of these Faster EFT Tapping points on your body and follow along!

Step #1: Aim

Notice how you know you have the problem.

You don’t need to know what the emotions or feelings are, just notice how you know they’re there.

What do you feel?

Where in your body do you feel it?

What do you see or hear?

How do you know it’s a problem?

Step #2: Tap

Use two fingers to tap the following points, while focusing on the feeling of your fingers on your skin:

  • between your eyebrows
  • beside your eye
  • under your eye
  • just below your collarbone

While you are tapping, say “Let it go”. You can also add “It’s safe to let it go”.

Note: It doesn’t matter which side you tap — you can do either side, or both if you like.

Step #3: Peace

Grab your wrist, take a deep breath, blow it out, and say “peace” — and go to a peaceful memory for a moment.

Step #4: Check

Go back to your problem and take notice of how it’s changed.

Do you feel different?

Is the intensity of the feeling different?

Does the memory look or sound different?

Just notice.

Step #5: Repeat

Repeat steps two to four until the feeling or memory has “flipped” — in other words, the negative memory has been replaced by a positive memory.

Read: Why do We “ Reimprint or Flip” Memories in Faster EFT?

Watch the Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe

The Key to Success in using Faster EFT Tapping Basic Recipe:

Persistence is essential.

Don’t stop until it’s changed — even if it doesn’t feel like it’s going to change — it will, as long as you keep going until it does.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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Robert Smith

Written by

Creator of FasterEFT and CEO of Skills to Change Institute

Five rules for approaching our feelings with greater wisdom and effectiveness.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/supersurvivors/201911/building-emotional-intelligence-isnt-hard-you-think

David B. Feldman Ph.D.

Building Emotional Intelligence Isn’t as Hard as You Think

Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Dozens of times a week, we ask friends, family, and even strangers, “How are you?” Given this fact alone, you’d think our society was very interested in how people feel.

But all of us know that this question generally doesn’t get an honest answer. Instead, most people reply with, “good,” “fine,” or at least, “okay.” If we’re really honest with ourselves, most of us would be a bit uncomfortable if we got a more genuine answer.

For many of us, it can feel risky to get in touch with our feelings, let alone to express them to others. I was recently speaking with a close friend who was genuinely hurt by something his father posted in a family chat room. He had been ruminating about it for days. And yet, when I suggested that he bring it up with his dad, his answer was straightforward: “No,” he told me. “We don’t talk about feelings in our family.”

Psychologist Marc Brackett, the founder of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, argues that this tendency to avoid feelings, though understandable, can be a real disadvantage.

In one experiment, Brackett and his colleagues divided middle-school teachers into two groups. One group was placed in a good mood by recalling positive classroom experiences, while the other group was placed in a bad mood by recalling negative classroom experiences.

Then, they all were asked to grade the same essay. The teachers who were in a worse mood scored the essay a full letter grade lower than those in a better mood. But here’s the real kicker: Most of the teachers said they thought their mood had no influence on their grading, even though it clearly had.

Whether we like it or not, our feelings affect our thinking and behavior. Being out of touch with these feelings just means we’re at the mercy of them. So, it behooves us to get to know them better.

Our ability to understand and regulate our feelings is what psychologists often call “emotional intelligence.” Luckily, emotional intelligence isn’t a fixed commodity, but rather something we can build by learning what Brackett calls “emotion skills.”

He has developed a system, organized around the acronym R.U.L.E.R., which has been used in nearly 2,000 schools across the world to teach such skills to children and teenagers. But it can be equally applicable for helping all of us develop greater wisdom about our feelings and use them to our advantage.

Here are the five skills you can start practicing now:

R: Recognize

The first step toward productively managing any feeling is to recognize that we’re having it. Although this may sound easy, it’s equally easy to ignore our feelings. Have you ever said, “I don’t care,” about a situation when you really did? Have you ever gotten a head or neck ache, only to later realize you were actually feeling emotionally stressed?

To better recognize our feelings, Bracket suggests using a technique known as the “Mood Meter.” At its heart, this technique involves asking yourself two simple questions:

  1. How much energy does this emotion have?
  2. How pleasant is this emotion?

Emotions can be high in both, low in both, high in energy and low in pleasantness, or low in energy and high in pleasantness. Emotions high in both energy and pleasantness include joy, excitement, and optimism, while emotions low in both include sadness and depression. Anxiety, anger, and frustration are examples of feelings high in energy but low in pleasantness, whereas calmness and contentedness are examples of feelings low in energy but high in pleasantness. By at least identifying in which of these categories our feelings fall, we lay a foundation for wisely dealing with them.

U: Understand

The next emotion skill involves understanding our feelings. In short, this involves asking the question, “Why am I feeling this way?” Because this wide-open question is notoriously difficult to answer, in his book Permission to Feel, Brackett suggests some more specific questions we can ask ourselves to figure out the reasons behind our feelings. Here are a few of them:

  • What just happened? What was I doing before this happened?
  • What happened this morning, or last night, that might be involved in this?
  • What has happened before with this person that might be connected?
  • What memories do I have about the situation or place in which this emotion occurred?

Understanding the causes of our feelings can help provide clues about how to address them. If I’m feeling anxious because my new boss reminds me of a person from my past who was cruel to me, I’ll want to deal with the situation very differently than if my anxiety results from a particular managerial decision my boss just made. Of course, it could be both—so it can take serious time and introspection to really sort out what we’re experiencing and why. Be patient and keep at it.

L: Label

It’s not enough simply to recognize and understand an emotion; we also can benefit from finding the right word to describe it.

Many of us have a relatively limited emotion vocabulary. Some of us stick with two words: bad and good. Others might have three or four: happy, sad, mad, and scared. Still others may not use emotion words at all, but prefer figures of speech like, “on top of the world” or “burning up.”

But in actuality, there are thousands of words to describe emotions in the English language alone. We certainly don’t have to memorize all of them, but Brackett suggests that more accurate labels are usually better for us. In his words, “We know from neuroscience and brain imaging research that there is real, tangible truth to the proposition that ‘if you can name it, you can tame it.’”

For a start, knowing precisely what feelings we’re experiencing can give us clues about how to manage them. Although you may recognize that you’re experiencing a negative, high-energy emotion, both “stressed” and “overwhelmed” might fit that general description. But which of these labels most accurately describes our feeling really matters, because they mean different things.

“Stress” generally means we feel that what we’re trying to do or handle exceeds our capabilities, whereas “overwhelmed” means there’s just too much of it, regardless of our capabilities. If we’re feeling overwhelmed, the best approach may be to reduce our workload the best we can, whereas if we’re feeling stressed, the best approach may be to upgrade our capabilities by learning new skills or reorganizing the way we do things.

E: Express

If the R, U, and L of R.U.L.E.R. are about getting into touch with our emotions, the E and R are about what to do with them.

There are lots of reasons we hesitate to express our feelings. Especially when emotions fall on the negative end of the spectrum, we may be afraid they’re inappropriate, will embarrass us, or will somehow injure the person we express them to.

According to Brackett, however, “Hurt feelings don’t vanish on their own. They don’t heal themselves. If we don’t express our emotions, they pile up like a debt that will eventually come due.” So it’s important to express them in some way.

But this doesn’t mean we should let our emotions run wild, saying everything that’s on our minds to everyone we wish. According to Brackett, the skill of expressing our feelings “means knowing how and when to display our emotions, depending on the setting, the people we’re with, and the larger context.”

If we’re feeling hurt by something our boss said, for instance, it’s in our best interest to express this differently than if a close friend said something similar to us. Depending on the level of trust, we may make ourselves more vulnerable to our friend than our boss, expressing our feelings in greater depth or detail. If there’s a good chance we could lose our job, we may even choose not to express our hurt at all to our boss, instead confiding in and seeking support from someone else.

R: Regulate

The final emotion skill involves determining how to cope with our feelings.

Whether or not we choose to express them, feelings impact us. Regulating our emotions involves dealing with them in a way that allows us to best meet our personal and professional goals—or at least prevent our feelings from interfering with them. This certainly doesn’t mean ignoring our emotions; as already discussed, this doesn’t work well. Instead, it involves learning to accept and deal with them wisely.

Techniques for helping us cope with our feelings run the gamut, and we should strive to use ones that work for us. Relaxation videos abound on YouTube and can help us soothe strong emotions. Meditation phone apps can be used to facilitate mindfulness, which may help us accept our feelings. Physical exercise can help us to “work out” our feelings and feel more grounded in our bodies.

But emotion regulation can also be very simple. “You can’t stand your neighbor? Avoid her,” writes Brackett. “Your parents are coming to visit and you don’t want them to see some of your more outré artwork? Hide it until they leave. You’re tired? Splash some water on your face.” The important thing is to acknowledge our feelings—not avoid them—and then take productive steps toward dealing with them.

Learning to be more emotionally skilled isn’t a panacea. It won’t eliminate all our negative feelings or bring about a constant state of bliss. Such goals are probably impossible. But part of emotional intelligence is realizing that our feelings aren’t our enemies. In fact, if we approach them wisely, they can be some of our best friends. Let’s all get to know these friends a little better.

About the Author

What Is Toxic Shame?

https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-toxic-shame

When shame becomes toxic, it can ruin our lives. Everyone experiences shame at one time another. It’s an emotion with physical symptoms like any other that come and go, but when it’s severe, it can be extremely painful.

Strong feelings of shame stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, causing a fight/flight/freeze reaction. We feel exposed and want to hide or react with rage, while feeling profoundly alienated from others and good parts of ourselves. We may not be able to think or talk clearly and be consumed with self-loathing, which is made worse because we’re unable to be rid of ourselves.

We all have our own specific triggers or tender points that produce feelings of shame. The intensity of our experience varies, too, depending upon our prior life experiences, cultural beliefs, personality, and the activating event.

Unlike ordinary shame, “internalized shame” hangs around and alters our self-image. It’s shame that has become “toxic,” a term first coined by Sylvan Tomkins in the early 1960s in his scholarly examination of human affect. For some people, toxic shame can monopolize their personality, while for others, it lies beneath their conscious awareness, but can easily be triggered.

Characteristics of Toxic Shame

Toxic shame differs from ordinary shame, which passes in a day or a few hours, in the following respects:

  • It can hide in our unconscious, so that we’re unaware that we have shame.
  • When we experience shame, it lasts much longer.
  • The feelings and pain associated with shame are of greater intensity.
  • An external event isn’t required to trigger it. Our own thoughts can bring on feelings of shame.
  • It leads to shame spirals that cause depression and feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  • It causes chronic “shame anxiety” — the fear of experiencing shame.
  • It’s accompanied by voices, images, or beliefs originating in childhood and is associated with a negative “shame story” about ourselves.
  • We needn’t recall the original source of the immediate shame, which usually originated in childhood or a prior trauma.
  • It creates deep feelings of inadequacy.

Shame-Based Beliefs

The fundamental belief underlying shame is that “I’m unlovable — not worthy of connection.” Usually, internalized shame manifests as one of the following beliefs or a variation thereof:

  • I’m stupid.
  • I’m unattractive (especially to a romantic partner).
  • I’m a failure.
  • I’m a bad person.
  • I’m a fraud or a phony.
  • I’m selfish.
  • I’m not enough (this belief can be applied to numerous areas).
  • I hate myself.
  • I don’t matter.
  • I’m defective or inadequate.
  • I shouldn’t have been born.
  • I’m unlovable.

The Cause of Toxic Shame

In most cases, shame becomes internalized or toxic from chronic or intense experiences of shame in childhood. Parents can unintentionally transfer their shame to their children through verbal messages or nonverbal behavior. For an example, a child might feel unloved in reaction to a parent’s depression, indifference, absence, or irritability or feel inadequate due to a parent’s competitiveness or over-correcting behavior. Children need to feel uniquely loved by both parents. When that connection is breached, such as when a child is scolded harshly, children feel alone and ashamed, unless the parent-child bond of love is soon repaired. However, even if shame has been internalized, it can be surmounted by later positive experiences.

If not healed, toxic shame can lead to aggression, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and addiction. It generates low self-esteem, anxiety, irrational guilt, perfectionism, and codependency, and it limits our ability to enjoy satisfying relationships and professional success.

We can heal from toxic shame and build our self-esteem. To learn more about how to do so and the eight steps to heal, read Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You.

©Darlene Lancer 2015

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and expert on relationships and codependency. She’s the author of Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You and Codependency for Dummies and six ebooks, including: 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits, Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People, and Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness, available on her website and Amazon. Ms. Lancer has counseled individuals and couples for 28 years and coaches internationally. She’s a sought-after speaker in media and at professional conferences. Her articles appear in professional journals and Internet mental health websites, including on her own, where you can get a free copy of “14 Tips for Letting Go.” Find her on Youtube.com, Soundcloud, Twitter @darlenelancer, and at www.Facebook.com/codependencyrecovery.

The End of Sex

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201910/the-end-sex

Verified by Psychology Today

When evolution, human sexuality, and the Western world collide.

Posted Oct 06, 2019

Note: This guest post is co-authored by Marianne Brandon and James Simon, with an epilogue by Glenn Geher.

His wife had gone to bed early, so he locked the basement door to ensure privacy. He had planned this moment all day. Unlike his wife, who seemingly had lost interest in sex years ago, his lover was waiting downstairs, eager to please. Never critical or demanding, with such soft eyes and skin, sex had become such a pleasure. He had even come to love the way his lover pronounced his name. In spite of being a robot, she somehow managed to say it with such tenderness. . .

Panajiotis Pixabay
Source: Panajiotis Pixabay

We have become a massive, unintended sexual experiment. Our understanding of sex and gender is evolving at astonishing rates. Paradoxically, as powerful, exhilarating, and necessary as this process is for our collective future, we are simultaneously at a perilous moment for the future of intimacy and intimate relationships.

Forcing sex into a politically correct paradigm annihilates it. 

Sexual frequency today is less than all prior decades studied—at least, people are having less sex with their partners. Rates of sexual dissatisfaction and sexual dysfunction are astoundingly high. This is due to a variety of factors that are merging to create a perfect storm—technological advances, mobile lifestyles, increasing daily tasks, rising expectations for long-term relationships, and information overload.

Yet there is something even more fundamentally awry. The very empowering of women and the culturally valued softening of men has suddenly created a new way of engaging in the bedroom as much as in the boardroom, and our evolutionary psychology has not caught up. This is a serious social problem because intimacy is not an expendable aspect of humanity.

Our insistence that men and women are more alike than different is true in almost all aspects of living, except for sex. Human sexuality—the sexuality of all mammals in general and primates in particular—has primal, biological roots. And when people work with, rather than against, these instincts, their sex gets better. Gender equality does not imply gender equivalence—at least, not in the bedroom.

The extraordinary gains provided by the feminist movement have been a thrilling first in modern history. Women’s expectations about sex have appropriately changed: They demand more pleasure from sex and an equal romantic partnership; women are more comfortable engaging in sexually open behaviors, including hook-ups and sexual experimentation.

It is not just women who have benefited. In contrast to old-fashioned, male sexual stereotypes, many mature men today enjoy sexually assertive women. They appreciate a social climate that supports releasing restrictive pressures always to be ready and interested in sex: always having to be the sexual initiator, and being responsible for their partners’ sexual pleasure. These shifts are reflected in many men gravitating to sexual relationships with older women, their interest in being the primary caretaker of their children, and a decreased concern with being the primary breadwinner of a household.

Many men are pleased to have escaped the pressure of old-fashioned stereotypes of masculinity—being eternally dominant, carrying the financial burden of the household, having a reduced role in parenting, and avoiding emotional expression. And those who identify with a non-binary sexual identity may now live authentically, with freedom of self-expression.

In spite of these many hard-fought liberties for all genders, in some surprising and very significant ways, sex has become more complicated. In the privacy of our respective psychological medical practices, we regularly hear women say, “In the bedroom, he is passive. Almost meek. It’s hard to respect him, let alone have sex with him!” Or, “He’s so cautious and hesitant in the bedroom! It’s such a turnoff.”

Outside of sexual role play in certain fetishistic circles, for most women, there is no pleasure in sexually dominating a weaker partner. For women in long-term, committed relationships, the exquisite feeling of sexual surrender may paradoxically be more likely to unfold with men who express their sensuality in a more bold, self-assured style—literally, when she’s not the strongest force in the bedroom.

The truth is that modern women enjoy the more lusty, primal aspects of love-making. Polite sex holds little interest for them—they’d rather do the dishes. And what about men? Despite the valuable outing of abhorrent men via #MeToo, our culture is filled with men who respect women, and who long to share fulfilling sexual relationships with the women they love.

These men have learned that to show respect to their female partners, they should obtain verbal permission for sex, and to avoid at all costs any behavior in the bedroom that may be regarded as aggressive or dominant. This sounds right in theory. Yet behind the closed doors of our offices, wives and girlfriends experience these men as passive and uninteresting in the bedroom. And before long, sex ceases.

What we are failing to recognize is that exciting, primal sex in a trusting, respectful relationship requires the same elements we vilify in men today. We teach men to contain their sexual interest, resist assertive overtures, and hide their sexual longing. How confusing it must be for a man to develop a sensitive, responsive, polite sexual style, only to be ultimately told by the woman he marries that he is a boring and uninteresting lover. How depressing for a woman who is confident and secure in her sexuality to feel sexually unmet by the man who is to be her sexual playmate for a lifetime.

Experiencing her partner’s sexual confidence and longing is a fundamental aspect of good sex for a majority of women. Stripping men of their sexual assertiveness diffuses women’s sexual pleasure. Women are not experiencing this shift in their relationship and sexual dynamics as empowering. They are grief-stricken over what their lives are missing.

In our noble efforts to make sex politically correct, we are ignoring a fundamental aspect of sexuality. Exciting sex—primal sex—emanates from the more ancient biology we share with other mammals. Our biological nature has instilled in all male and female mammals some basic, unique instincts that make them want sex. Human bodies continue to respond to sexual triggers as our ancestors did, thousands of years ago.

Our combination of an evolved cerebral cortex coupled with our primitive sexual biology presents interesting and often challenging scenarios for us all. While our minds have matured and evolved to think in very different ways than our primate ancestors, our bodies continue to receive sexual marching orders from our more primitive brain regions. Herein lies the potential for infinite difficulty. Without comfort with our most basic sexual instincts as male or female, it is challenging to build a creative sexual repertoire with a beloved long-term partner.

Without sex, couples describe themselves as best friends. Proud as such couples may be of feeling close and connected, they lack the desire to make love. What’s at stake here is something very basic to our humanity—our deepest connection to our chosen other, and to our own sexual selves.

We are heading down a dangerous path, yet we also have before us an extraordinary opportunity. For the first time in history, because of the equality and respect prompted by the feminist movement, we have the capacity to manifest extraordinary sex in long-term, committed relationships. Triumphantly, a woman can now choose to feel vulnerable during sex, because it feels good—not because she is forced into that role.

Exploring sex and relationships from an evolutionary perspective does not imply that men and women are destined to return to fixed sexual roles. An immutable sexual style would be unappealing for most modern couples. But comfort in our most basic instincts enables couples to manifest potent sexual reflexes that have more recently been denied.

Our next undertaking as feminists, male and female, is to return to our core and collect what is precious that we have lost in these last decades of battle. Our efforts to make sex less about the primal brain and, instead, more politically correct, are forcing exciting sex onto a darker playground. Increasingly, men and women are seeking outlets for their primal sexual energy that can be damaging to their intimate relationships, such as overuse of porn and extramarital affairs.

Sex robots will soon offer non-critical, always-available alternatives for those who find sexual relationships uncomfortably complex, anxiety-provoking, or just too much hassle. Technology can accomplish what sex used to—procreation and sexual satisfaction.

This future is not simply a sci-fi story. It is the next logical step from where we are. However, we can choose a different path. Passionate love-making and intimacy do not have to be a casualty of our social growth. Harnessing sexual instincts within a trusting, mutually respectful, intimate relationship can offer the glue that keeps intimacy strong and desirable. It feeds more than our sexual needs; it feeds the soul of our humanity.

Epilogue, by Glenn Geher

Understanding our sexuality is foundational to understanding the human experience. The nature of human sexuality evolved over millennia. Reproduction is as basic as any process when it comes to the living world.

Cultural evolution, which is ultimately a product of our biological evolution, progresses at a rapid pace compared with the pace of organic evolution. Cultural evolution is exciting and profound. As Drs. Brandon and Simon have articulated so clearly here, norms surrounding relationships and sexuality, resulting from cultural evolution, have been advancing at breakneck speed over the past several decades, leading to all kinds of novel attitudes, beliefs, and technologies.

While our brave new world has lots of amazing new opportunities and affordances for all of us, we need to always keep in mind that the modern world is deeply mismatched from ancestral human conditions in many important ways. (For more, see, Positive Evolutionary Psychology, by Geher & Wedberg.) And evolutionary mismatch often leads to problems.

When modern technology and human mating meet head-on, as is the case with sex robots and pornography, we need to look before we leap. Our evolved relationship psychology is the result of thousands of generations of organic evolution. As Drs. Brandon and Simon warn, we ignore our evolved sexual psychology to our own peril.

Marianne Brandon is a clinical psychologist and Diplomat in sex therapy. She is the author of Monogamy: The Untold Story, co-author of Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding Your Lost Libido, and author of the ebook Unlocking the Sexy In Surrender: Using the Neuroscience of Power to Recharge Your Sex Life, as well as professional articles exploring evolutionary theory and sexuality, the challenges of monogamy, gender differences in sexual expression, and aging and sex.

James Simon is a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University School of Medicine, and he is the current President of the International Society for Study of Women’s Sexual Health. Simon served as principal investigator on more than 300 clinical trials, research grants, and scholarships in the area of women’s health. He has consistently been ranked as a top doctor nationally and internationally.

Facebook image: silverkblackstock/Shutterstock

Chronic insomnia best treated with psychotherapy 1st – Health – CBC News

People with chronic insomnia should try cognitive behavioral therapy before medications, suggests a prominent group of U.S. doctors.

Source: Chronic insomnia best treated with psychotherapy 1st – Health – CBC News

Chronic insomnia is defined as at least three restless nights per week for at least three months.

Chronic insomnia is defined as at least three restless nights per week for at least three months. (Alyssa L. Miller, Flickr cc)

While the American College of Physicians (ACP) can’t say cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) outperforms medications for chronic insomnia, the group does say psychotherapy is less risky than drugs.

“Sometimes we forget that sleep medications have the potential for serious side-effects in some patients, while cognitive behavioural therapy is very low [risk] to patients,” said Dr. Wayne J. Riley, ACP president.

“The evidence is clear that CBT and sleep hygiene can be long lasting, life long, durable and delivered at a lower cost,” said Riley, who is also affiliated with Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

About 6 to 10 per cent of people in the U.S. have insomnia. Through loss of productivity, the condition is estimated to have cost the country about $63 billion US in 2009, according to the ACP committee that wrote the new guideline, which is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Chronic insomnia is defined as at least three restless nights per week for at least three months.

“We wanted to take a deep dive into the literature for what makes a big difference with insomnia,” Riley told Reuters Health.

The ACP commissioned two reviews of insomnia treatments. One focused on medications, and the second focused on psychological and behavioural treatments.

Medication and ‘sleep driving’

Overall, the first review found that some medications may improve sleep over a short period of time, but those come with the potential for changes in thinking and behaviour. Additionally, there is a risk for infrequent but serious harms.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says medications for insomnia should only be used for short periods. The agency warns those drugs may impair people during the daytime, lead to “sleep driving,” behavioural changes and worsening depression.

The review of psychological and behavioural treatments found that CBT for insomnia improved overall sleep with a low risk of harms, the researchers report.

Evidence collected separately for the two reviews found that “side-effects can be quite severe with the use of insomnia medications in contrast to CBT, where there are minimal side-effects,” said Riley.

CBT for insomnia is typically delivered in four to six one-hour weekly sessions. People are taught behavioural techniques such as sleep restriction and stimulus control, and they are also taught sleep hygiene.

When chronic insomnia isn’t helped by CBT alone, the ACP advises patients and doctors to consider a short course of medication. That discussion should touch on the potential benefits, harms and costs of medication, the ACP says.

Doctors should encourage patients with insomnia to engage in CBT, according two researchers whose editorial was published with the reviews and the guideline.

‘Prescription not the best solution in the long term’

But, they admit, CBT for insomnia might not be covered by insurance and is likely not available at doctors’ offices, write Dr. Roger Kathol, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and J. Todd Arnedt, of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

“Unless access to and unencumbered payment for value-based behavioural interventions, such as CBT (for insomnia), in medical settings become a reality, patients with chronic insomnia will continue to receive suboptimal treatment and experience suboptimal outcomes,” they write.

Alternatives to in-person CBT for insomnia include group therapy session, telephone counseling, online lessons and self-help books, Riley said.

The ACP recommendations are similar to that of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), said Dr. Alcibiades Rodriguez, who is medical director of NYU Langone Medical Center’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center in New York City.

The AASM’s 2008 practice guidelines for treating chronic insomnia endorse psychotherapy as a first-line treatment and suggests it be used when medications are prescribed.

“The recommendations made by the ACP will appeal to a broader group of physicians to make them aware of this,” said Rodriguez, who was not involved with the new recommendations. “Then the doctors know just giving patients who come to their office with sleep problems a prescription is not the best solution in the long term.”

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.

26 Pieces of Advice That Have Actually Helped People With Mental Illness

With that expert’s list of ways to manage anxiety, the latest trendy mental health app and that “magical cure for depression” your aunt heard about on TV, it seems like everyone’s full of mental health advice these days.

Source: 26 Pieces of Advice That Have Actually Helped People With Mental Illness

 With that expert’s list of ways to manage anxiety, the latest trendy mental health app and that “magical cure for depression” your aunt heard about on TV, it seems like everyone’s full of mental health advice these days.

So, we asked our mental health community to share pieces of advice they’ve actually found helpful. These little nuggets of wisdom aren’t FDA-approved, but when used correctly side effects may include: self-care, acceptance and a little more patience with yourself.

Here’s some advice that’s actually helped people with mental illness:

1. “On a particularly difficult day, I was trying to fight through an anxiety attack and finish all the child-related tasks I needed to complete. My husband kept offering help, and I kept refusing. He pulled me aside in the laundry room as I was frantically folding another load and said, “Just let me help you.” It doesn’t immediately make the anxiety go away, but it’s helped me learn to let go.” — Maria Heldreth

2. “Don’t wait. See a doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be embarrassed. Chances are, someone knows exactly what you’re going through.” — Kristin Salber

3. “I have depression and anxiety (as well as other chronic medical conditions), and after the worst week I’ve had in a while, my doctor  said,“Find something you enjoy, and if you can’t find that, find the joy in something.” This really had an impact on me and still reminds me to look for a silver lining.” — Faith Merryn

Related: To the Husband With the Wife Who Has Depression

4. “I have generalized anxiety disorder, and I made friends with someone who’s extremely similar to me. She told me to always be myself and the people who truly care will stick around. It truly did help.” — Julia Ann Lange

5. “Words can hurt to say, but they need to come out. Write all those words down on paper.” — Melissa Cote

6. “A friend recently told me that no matter if I get a job one day or not,your life matters as long as you can make people smile. When I think of it that way, it’s easier to see my life as something of worth.” — Emma Wozny

7. “A great therapist I had told me to focus on ‘harm-reduction, not perfection.’ I felt like I was expected to magically ‘get better,’ and she helped me learn that starting with baby steps was totally OK.” — Jen Decker

8. “Someone said, ‘I’ve been here, I know a way out, I’m here to show you too.’ And, ‘It gets better, it may not leave, but it gets better. And it has.” — Tom Everman

9. “I have anxiety and major depressive disorder. This is going to sound ridiculous, but my best friend once told me, “When you’re sad, watch ‘The Simpsons.’” It actually works when I’m panicking, too. It gets my mind off whatever I’m obsessing about, and I usually end up laughing.” — Dawn Czarnecki Seshadri

10. “It wasn’t long after my diagnosis that I was told pretty bluntly: ‘This illness is has no cure. You’re going to carry this illness for the rest of your life. So you can either wallow in the weight of that, or you can fight for your only life and make it a good story.’” — Lyss Trayers

11. “My depression and anxiety stem from a traumatic childhood. Just hearing ‘it wasn’t your fault‘ from my psychologist was incredibly helpful.” — Kathrine Elise

12. “Don’t always believe what your brain is telling you.” — Kerri Lewis Brock

Related: 36 Things People With Anxiety Want Their Friends to Know

13. “It’s OK to feel sad. You don’t need to pretend.” — Allyson White

14. “The best advice: Treat yourself as if you were a good friend.”— Julie Jeatran

15. “Celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small,instead of dwelling on all the things we perceive as failures.” — Jennifer Northrup

16. “I have post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. When I was in intensive outpatient therapy, the counselor looked at us and said,‘It’s over. That moment is over. It isn’t going to happen again.’For some reason, that resonated with me.” — Nicole Hanes

17. “They told me this: ‘You are not broken; you are a whole person. You are just human. A human who is living, learning and growing. And learning, living and growing comes with bumps in the road. Remember that this is just a bump.‘” — Kallie Kieffer

18. “Your worst days will only be 24 hours.“ — Arielle Smith

19. “You wouldn’t skip a dialysis or chemotherapy appointment. Your therapy appointments are just as important. No excuses.” — Jennifer Davis

20. “‘I think you need to give therapy a try.‘ Thanks to that, I started therapy and I’m now on the path to recovery.”  — Julianne Leow

21. “Your struggles are your accomplishments in disguise.” — Katherine J Palmer

Related: 14 Things I Didn’t Expect to Learn at a Psychiatric Hospital

22. “Remember: Depression lies. Don’t believe it.” — Beth Brogan

23. “Always ask for help. There is never any shame in asking for help.” — Meghan Shultz

24. “Take life 5 minutes at a time.” — Stephanie Lynn

25. “You can’t give everyone else everything you have. You absolutely have to save a little of yourself for yourself.” — Shawn Henfling

26. I am a human being. Not a human doing. I just have to be.” — Michelle Balck

Answers have been edited and shortened.

By Sarah Schuster

More from The Mighty:

What the Starbucks Barista Didn’t Know When She Wrote ‘Smile’ on My Coffee

31 Secrets of People Who Live With Anxiety

I Have OCD. This Is What It’s Like to Be in My Mind for 3 Minutes.

After I Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, I Decided to Move Forward

After I Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, I Decided to Move Forward

Posted: Updated: 


When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, something that came as no surprise, as my life prior to my diagnosis was fraught with behavioral challenges. At 21 years old, after years of battling uncontrollable moods, fits of rage, a myriad of body image issues, addiction and frustration with finding adequate medication I found myself in my first psychotic episode. This was no way to live, I knew I was capable of so much more as an articulate young woman with big dreams. At 5 o’clock in the morning on July 7, 2011, after driving through the night with a head full of racing thoughts in a mind that possessed zero ability to cope, I found myself collapsed on the porch of my father’s home manic, enraged and inconsolable. I was surrendering, I could no longer fight the battle my life prior to that summer had felt so unrelenting and inhibiting. After a brief rest early that morning, the first few hours of sleep I had experienced in days, is when made my decision to thrive. For years prior to that hazy morning, I had been urged by loved ones to receive intensive clinical psychological treatment in a formal setting, but I believe part of me was always resisting in denial and arrogance. It was at the end of my rope where I found my desire to change the trajectory of my life. On July 11, 2011, I made the first imprints in the path toward my new way of being in the world. I spent 90 days in intensive psychological care and healing treatment where I acquired invaluable “tools” that allowed me to move forward in the world, the woman I was on my father’s porch that July morning became a shadow of my former self and an unwelcome stranger in my future.

Almost three years later not a day goes by where I don’t draw on the lessons learned through my decision to thrive. I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology and work as a peer counselor to youth experiencing their first onset of mental illness in Los Angeles, California. Everything I do comes from a place of gratitude for my demons and experiences that catalyzed my decision to forge the path I am on today. For I would be nothing without them just as I would be nothing without the boundless compassion, patience and support of the loved ones in my life who have championed all of my efforts.

I used to think the notion that people could change was a farce … until I did it myself. I am changing everyday, creating a more authentic self with every opportunity to do so, and within the beautiful chaos of it all — I am thriving.

Arianna has invited her Facebook followers to share their wake-up calls — the moments they knew they had to make changes in their lives in order to truly thrive and not just succeed — as part of a series produced in conjunction with the release of her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving. You can read all the posts in the series here.

Our Time Is Up: Ending the Therapeutic Relationship

Our Time Is Up: Ending the Therapeutic Relationship.

You entered therapy feeling broken, lonely, anxious, dissatisfied with your relationships and your career. Now you feel whole and healthy; your relationships have improved, and you’ve made some professional changes that have led to a more fulfilling career. You feel good about yourself. Life isn’t perfect, but you have come to accept these imperfections, and you feel equipped to handle life’s challenges when they come your way. Congratulations! The time, effort, and willingness to openly and honestly explore the most complex and painful areas of yourself and your life have paid off. Therapy worked. Now what? You have a standing weekly appointment with your therapist, and you have probably developed a strong therapeutic alliance with him or her. But lately you have noticed that you don’t feel a need to go to therapy and you struggle to find ways to fill the hour. These are some strong indicators that you are ready to leave therapy.

For most people, therapy is not forever. Very few people have reason to be in therapy for life. In fact, many of the people who make therapy a way of life are therapists. They have a personal and professional responsibility to maintain high levels of self-awareness. They must take precautions to ensure that their issues are not getting in the way of helping their clients, and that they are not letting their clients’ issues prevent them from living their own lives. Weekly therapy sessions can create the time, space, and support for therapists to do just that.

Certainly, there are some people who are not therapists who also come to view therapy as a way of life. These people are often deeply dedicated to self-growth, and therapy may provide the support they need as they pursue constantly evolving personal goals. However, the vast majority of people who come to therapy do so with the intent of getting help with something specific. Whether it is something as broad as wanting to feel better or something as narrow as making a decision about a career move, people usually bring a specific goal to therapy. For some, these goals can be achieved in a few short months, while for others, it can take years. But ultimately there is a resolution and they feel ready to end therapy. Thequestion then is how to do it.

One of the things people find most useful about therapy is that there is nothing you can’t talk about in a session—including your relationship with your therapist. In fact, a growing body of research indicates that much of the positive change produced by therapy comes as a result of the therapeutic relationship. For example, if your relationships improved while you were in therapy, it is likely, in part, because you learned new ways of being in relationships by actively participating in your therapeutic relationship. So take the well-honed skill set that you developed in therapy and open a discussion with your therapist about ending the therapeutic relationship.

This will likely come as no surprise to your therapist. He or she knows what you came in to work on and knows that you have achieved your goal. Plus, this is a natural part of the process—all therapists in training learn about how to help clients work through this final stage, called termination. This is a prime opportunity to review the goals that brought you to therapy and to reflect on the growth that allowed you to accomplish them. This part of therapy is kind of like a graduation ceremony—it is an opportunity to step back, look at how far you have come, and revel in your success. And, as with graduations, it is an opportunity to ponder and plan for what comes next. Part of termination involves reinforcing the coping skills that evolve during therapy and reminding clients to continue to draw upon them in the future. Another important part of this process is to identify indicators that may signal the need to return to therapy in the future.

Finally, working through the process of termination with your therapist will allow you the opportunity to process the ending of a powerful and unique relationship. While this is a deeply genuine relationship, it is also one that exists within strictly prescribed boundaries—within the therapist’s office during appointment times. Of course, there may have been phone calls and additional meetings scheduled during times of crisis, but there isn’t a healthy way to continue the relationship you have formed with your therapist outside of therapy. Feelings of grief, loss, and anxiety about ending the therapeutic relationship often come up, and termination is designed to address these feelings. Like all aspects of therapy, this can be a difficult process, but seeing it through can be invaluable in helping you continue to develop and implement the kind of sophisticated relational skills that enable you to have deeper, more meaningful, and authentic relationships.

© Copyright 2012 by Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC, therapist in Brooklyn, NY. All Rights Reserved.

Boyhood Is Not a Mental Illness: The American Spectator :

The American Spectator : Boyhood Is Not a Mental Illness.

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THE MALE SPECTATOR

Boyhood Is Not a Mental Illness

Suspended for chewing a Pop-Tart into a gun?

All the employees of school districts on a witch hunt to expel and otherwise permanently punish young boys for shooting toy guns or forming their fists into the shape of a gun need to read Back to Normal.

The purpose of psychologist Enrico Gnaulati’s 2013 book is to argue how ordinary childhood behavior is often misdiagnosed as ADD, ADHD, depression and autism — frequently with life-long, disturbing consequences. But along the way he raises the taboo question of whether we “label boys as mentally unstable, behaviorally unmanageable, academically underachieving, in need of special-education services, or displaying behavior warranting school suspension just because their behavior deviates noticeably from that of the average girl?”

He adds, “In a sense, girl behavior has become the standard by which we judge all kids.”

He cites numerous studies showing that typical boy behavior – wrestling, rough games of tag, good guy/bad guy imaginative play that involves “shooting” — are condemned by preschool and elementary school teachers, the vast majority of whom are women,  without the behavior being redirected appropriately to release boys’ “natural aggression.” Boys who play in the way noted above are not on a path to mass murder, contrary to what zero tolerance school policies suggest. For the vast majority of them, they are simply on the path to manhood. I wonder how many of us who recognize that truth still stifle our boys’ rough play or cowboy shoot outs out of fear of the new rules – reinforcing the capriciousness of regulations in young minds who will one day asked to make them.

Without changes to rigid policies and attitudes about what constitutes good behavior, we will be on a path as a society to generating mass confusion and depression in boys whose natural tendencies are being relabeled as criminal traits or medical problems that need to be treated.

This is not just an existential threat. As unorthodox feminist Camille Paglia said recently in remarks at American University:

Extravaganzas of gender experimentation sometimes precede cultural collapse, as they certainly did in Weimar Germany.  Like late Rome, America too is an empire distracted by games and leisure pursuits.  Now as then, there are forces aligning outside the borders, scattered fanatical hordes where the cult of heroic masculinity still has tremendous force.  I close with this question:  is a nation whose elite education is increasingly predicated on the neutralization of gender prepared to defend itself against that growing challenge?

If that sounds crazy, is it wrong to worry how the massive increase in the number of children taking anti-depressants and other drugs as a result of skyrocketing diagnoses of ADHD, bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorder will impact their lives?

Many drugs used to treat the above disorders cause serious problems, including mood swings, sleeplessness, weight gain, weight loss and slower growth. And then there is the long-term impact of a mental health diagnosis, which can create a sense that the child is not in control of his actions because it is purely a chemical imbalance in the brain.

As Gnaulati writes, however, in many cases it’s “causes — plural, not singular — that explain why a child behaves the way he or she does.”

“On any number of occasions in my practice over the years,” he writes, “I have seen how a mildly depressed or ADHD-like kid can be transformed by a change of teacher, a change of school, signing up for a sport, a reduced homework load, a summer abroad, a front-of-the-class seating arrangement, a month living away from home with an even-tempered aunt, or any of a host of other everyday steps.”

Many forces conspire to push a mental health diagnosis, from rules on health insurance to schools achieving certain goals under federal No Child Left Behind law. Gnaulati’s book should give parents struggling with a difficult child hope that their child may not be permanently mentally ill, but going through a difficult stage that can be treated without medication. And it should give school administrators perspective on how best to handle unruly boys and channel their energy without condemning their nature. At the very least, we don’t need any more boys suspended for chewing a Pop-Tart into a gun.

DEPRESSION: An amazing cartoon strip!

deep … artistic … funny.

Rory

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca/

 

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.
POSTED BY ALLIE AT 8:55 AM 5000 COMMENTS  LINKS TO THIS POST
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