5 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser 

Worth reading! – from Off The WebThere’s nothing wrong with playing nice and getting along. But people pleasers  rely on others’ approval to feel good about themselves. Saying “no” makes them feel guilty or worry that others’ will think they’re selfish, unreasonable, or inconsiderate. And so, in order to feel worthy and accepted, they said yes. And yes. And yes.
But constantly striving for others’ approval while ignoring your needs and well-being takes a toll. Though people pleasers may convince themselves that
making others’ happy makes them happy, the self-administered pressure to manage others’ emotionscan be exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and even lead to depression.

Here are five ways to disrupt your people-pleasing. Is that okay with you guys? Because if it’s not, I can change them. Just let me know. Really. 

1. Recognize the difference between people-pleasing versus simply being kind and generous.

Are you helping because it makes you feel good? Or because you feel less bad?
If helping out reinforces your values and makes you feel good, go for it.
For example, say you’re asked to head a committee at your kid’s school. If saying yes would underscore your value of contributing to the school community and make you feel happy and satisfied, even if it’s a bit stressful, go for it.

But if saying yes only allows you to avoid guilt, and makes you feel overburdened and resentful, you may be doing it for the wrong reasons. If you say yes simply to feel less bad, less anxious, less guilty, less sorry, it’s probably driven by people-pleasing.

This doesn’t mean you should stop being helpful and thoughtful and caring— it just means you should recognize whether you’re doing something because you actually want to, or because you’ll “feel bad” if you don’t. Recognizing the difference doesn’t make you selfish; it makes you honest.

2. Let your values be the driver of decisions

– not just whether you were asked or not. If the filter that decides whether or not to help out is, “Did someone ask me to do it?”consider changing out that filter. Instead, ask “Is this in line with my values and interests?”

Indeed, a 2013 study by happiness researcher Sonja Lyubormirsky recommended choosing activities related to one’s values and interests in order to maximize happiness. This can absolutely include serving important people in your life, organizations, and causes. Just make sure it doesn’t consist only of activities determined by others.

3. Practice being assertive

Healthy assertiveness can feel like brass-knuckled aggression to the people pleasers among us because the passive end of the spectrum is so cozy and familiar. But there is a long way between passive and truly aggressive. The aggressive among us just go for what they want, regardless of whether or not bystanders are harmed or what bridges are burned.
An assertive person, by contrast, commits to being polite and respectful. If you’re a people pleaser, you never have to leave behind being nice. You simply have to let go of trying to force others’ to be happy by doing whatever is asked of you.

So try increasing your assertiveness bit-by-bit. It will feel wrong to stand up for your needs and rights at first, but try it out.

Warm up by expressing an opinion when someone asks where you want to eat or what movie you want to see. Move on to politely disagreeing with Uncle Albert’s conspiracy theories, but listening respectfully and asking questions about his point of view. Then try saying “no” to a ridiculous request without bending over backwards to explain why. Keep calm and carry on, and eventually it will feel like second nature to meet others’ in the middle.

In sum, passiveness doesn’t respect you; aggression doesn’t respect others. Assertiveness lies in between, walking away from a discussion with respect for others— and yourself—intact.

3. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries doesn’t make you a bad person. You can’t please all people all the time. Unless you’re a box of Thin Mints. Then maybe.

These days, everything is extreme, from politics to weather to ironing. Spend even a couple of minutes on the internet and you’ll find an extreme split between views of the world: from being empathetic and caring to all humanity, or screw everyone and tell them what they can go do to themselves.
People pleasers  fall into the former category, but worry if they say “no” or otherwise stop trying to make everyone happy, they’ll automatically be dumped in a second. In other words, the self-image of people pleasers  hinges on every request. If they say yes, they breathe a sigh of relief—they’re still nice, good people. If they say no, they feel guilty, as if they hurt someone or did something bad. But it takes a lot more than saying “no” to watching your neighbor’s three disrespectful kids, while he watches football, to breaking your moral character.

4. Stop over-apologizing

People pleasers are always sorry. One of my clients joked she should introduce herself with “Hi, my name is Joanna, and I am sorry.”

People pleasers are always sorry.
If you’re a people pleaser, you mean only the best. Over-apologizing feels like it smooths things over and keeps others happy. But it can actually be a wee bit dishonest. Hear me out on this one: apologizing when you did nothing wrong makes it appear as if you were in the wrong. It’s an admission of guilt for a crime you didn’t commit. What’s more, it can make it look like others’ outrageous requests or poorly-thought-out actions were reasonable and justified. Save true contrition for the times you actually screw up (and we all do).

5. To sum it all up, be a people-respecter, not a people pleaser

Never hesitate to do the right thing. When your mother-in-law asks, go shovel her driveway. When your colleague asks, make a donation to get the office cleaning lady a nice Christmas gift. That’s just being respectful. But of all the people you respect, be sure to include yourself.

by: the Savvy Psychologist : 5 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™
For even more savvy, get every Savvy Psychologist episode delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the Savvy Psychologist newsletter. Or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, listen on Spotify, or like on Facebook.

Edited for readability

Letting Go Of the Past to Appreciate the Present

Suffering doesn’t make us grow –

But what we do with our feelings could make us grow. ⚡️💡

It’s an interesting saying though. Where did it come from?  Perhaps it’s because anguish and acute awareness sometimes occur near one another, in time and space.dreamstime_m_43975880

For me, however, what makes us grow is understanding our feelings, questioning the thoughts behind them, seeing the cause-and-effect of it all.

If we utilize this information the next time these feelings arise (anger, sadness, depression, confusion, fear), we can remember the awareness, aha moment, or insight we discovered before. We can  notice that what we are experiencing in the here and now is separate from the past.

Uncomfortable feelings are nearly always preceded by a stressful thought, and when the feelings come, we can isolate the stressful thought, idea, or assumption and question it thoroughly.contemplation

I find journaling a powerful aid here. Just write your rambling thoughts about a situation that made you uncomfortable (in your mind or in reality – doesn’t matter). Then let it set. You probably will already feel better because the act of writing is cathartic. But for true growth to occur, go back later and read what you wrote. Pretend you are a scientist!  Your job is to (compassionately) dissect your writing to find the threads of connection…

Try asking these questions:

1. Have I ever felt this way before? Are there any other similarities?

Personal example:   I had to  go to my son’s junior high school to deliver his medicine.   I noticed I had a racing heart, a sense of urgency to complete the task, and an overall sense of shame.

It made no sense in my logical mind.

 Have I ever felt this way before? Are there any other similarities? 

Junior high was very scary for me. I was picked on by other girls and I was even beaten up a number of times. The threats often occurred when students were moving from one class to their next, so I was especially scared when that bell rang!

2.  What were the beliefs / thoughts around the event? 

Thoughts– (that caused the racing heart, urgency and intense fear.)

(BTW – I think I ‘should’ be embarrassed to share this, as the discovered back-thoughts seem so clearly absurd and immature… but, I wouldn’t have known these were the thoughts if I hadn’t compassionately asked and listened...)

THOUGHTS:  I might be attacked!.. Did I do something wrong???… If I can become unnoticeable, I might make it… Hopefully the bell won’t ring!

Well – pretty obvious right? But my body didn’t know that , so:
junior high  –>  made mistake (let son run out of meds)  –>  fear….

Let me say, I’m not reactive to junior high’s anymore.

By listening, compassionately, to your own mistaken innocent mind, you can become free… from this,  then that,  then…

Awareness, Authenticity, and Assertiveness

As I’ve discussed before…

Without becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings, we are little more than a computer program: Life provides input, our brain rapidly calculates the meaning, and the body responds appropriately.

For example, if I see a snake during a moonlit walk, my body will rapidly prepare me for potential crisis – drenching my body in fight-or-flight chemicals. If I then realize it wasn’t a snake at all but just a fallen branch, my sigh of relief arrests the automatic response.

(Worth reading – from Off the Web!)

Being authentically you is perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give, not only to those that mean the world to you, but also to the people in your life in general – and especially to yourself.

dreamstime_m_211796

What does it mean to be courageously and authentically you, and why is this a precious gift?

Authenticity is the permission you give yourself to be real, to be who you are, aware of warts and graces. This permission frees you to give and to live in relation to your self and others, especially key others, from a place of love, and not fear.

It’s precious because how you relate – give and receive – directly impacts the balance of your life and relationships.

And, speaking of fears, our deepest fears are not about spiders, snakes or bridges, which are surface fears in comparison. Our deepest fears have to do with intimacy and our deepest yearnings for meaningful connection, contribution, and relationships; they are matters of the heart.

To choose to live authentically is conscious choice to love authentically, a conscious way of feeling safe enough to love and give with your whole heart.

And that means safe enough to set judicious limits, say or accept ‘no’ and ‘yes’ as viable options. Loving authentically with your whole heart means taking essential steps to consciously:

  • Treat others and, at the same time, yourself with dignity and care.
  • Give (to others and self) from a place of love – not fear.
  • Remain open and empathically connected rather than defensive (triggered) when you face what most personally challenges you in relational contexts.

Why set healthy limits on your giving? When you set healthy limits, you  Give and Express yourself from a place inside you that is authentic. It is rooted in your love rather than fear, shame or guilt.

Being an authentic you has a lot to do with getting to know and to fully accept and to love yourself and life in ways that allow you to authentically connect with courage to love with your whole heart.  It is only when you take one hundred percent responsibility for your inner emotional state and responses that you allow yourself to experience emotional fulfillment and personal transformation. It means  Standing up for yourself  from a place that intentionally sends a message that you like and respect yourself enough to treat yourself and the other with dignity even in challenging situations when emotions are pulling at you from another direction.

One of the most important ways to express authenticity is in how you relate to your self. Others know from how you present yourself , what is okay and not okay, in terms of how you want others to treat you.

When you nurture a healthy space inside you, as well as around and between you and others, you send a clear message that you like and respect yourself, that you know what you want and do not want, and, most importantly, that you are aware of what you most need and value in life.

Thus, when you love with your whole heart, a required skill to cultivate, is the capacity to remain open and vulnerable in triggering contexts  without getting triggered.

Nurturing healthy limits in the way you love, give and express yourself is one of the most important ways to improve your relationships and your life, thus, your happiness.

Setting healthy limits simultaneously conveys respect to others as persons, even when you strongly disagree with their viewpoint or feel pain in response to actions they took.

This is impossible to do, if you do not come from a place of deep respect and honor for yourself that is completely not dependent upon whether the other is treating you in the way you most want and deserve to be treated.

There are a number of things you can do to ensure that stress does not negatively affect your personal and relational well-being. You can schedule regular fun time. Eat healthful, nutritious meals. Exercise. Stretch. Breathe. Meditate. All of these are essential practices are proven by a substantial body of research to be effective.

A lifestyle of conscious caring for your health helps remove much of the intensity and reactivity, and needless anguish. When you care for your body, you care for your mental health. You are strengthened to withstand the everyday pressures of life and relationships.

Much of the suffering we experience in relationship conflict, however, is related to limiting belief, and old ways we have learned to think and to talk — to ourselves — and to one another. In addition to a healthful lifestyle, your ability to communicate can be your greatest asset if you want to protect your happiness, and to more effectively deal with the challenges you face in relating to those closest to you.

In other words, what you say and, especially, how you say things matters when it comes to your happiness. It sets the tone for your giving and receiving – in other words, how you relate to your self and others.

Do you nurture healthy boundaries and limits in your relationships? Do your actions send a message that you respect and value yourself, your time and contribution? Do your actions similarly convey that you respect and value others and their  contributions? Do you know how to “teach” others to respect you, or how to communicate your respect, especially in moments when you or others are seemingly unlovable?

Pause for a moment to reflect on the following statements; then use the scale below to rate how true each statement is for you:

0 – Not at all
1 – Occasionally
2 – Somewhat
3 – Moderately
4 – A lot
5 – Nearly Always

____ I find it difficult to stand up for myself.

____ I tolerate hurtful or sarcastic comments out of fear or worry.

____ I say “yes” to things I do not want to do, then resent it.

____ I feel powerless around pushy people and do what they want.

____ I feel others must be shamed or intimidated to do what is right.

____ I avoid ‘rocking the boat’ and go to great lengths to stop conflict.

____ I think “rocking the boat” is the only way to get things done.

____ I feel unsure and hesitant when it comes to handling conflict.

____ I say what I want, when and how I want to say it.

____ I think I must “please” others to feel okay or to not guilty.

____ I take what people say to me or about me personally.

____ I worry about what people are thinking of me.

If your score is higher than 10, you may benefit from developing more courage to be authentic and to set healthier limits. If your score is higher than 20, taking steps to nurture healthy limits and authentic connections with your self and others may need urgent attention. Your personal and relational happiness and well-being depend upon it.

When you are authentic, you love with your whole heart, you feel safe enough to remain open and vulnerable. Authenticity is about fully owning the power you have to make choices at any moment regarding how you will respond, or relate, to yourself and to life around you.

Choose to give the gift of being authentically you, to transform your life and relationships in ways that may surprise and delight you.

Awareness is key when it comes to authenticity.

It takes courage to live and love authentically. Essentially, authenticity is a continuous balancing act. It requires you to be willing to remain empathically connected even when you –  or others – are seemingly unlovable. It’s a conscious way of feeling safe enough to get to know you, and to love – give authentically – with your whole heart.

To live in balance and harmony in your relationships, it helps to become aware of the people and situations that tend to challenge your ability to be true to yourself.

To live in balance and harmony in your relationships, you need to know how to calm your mind and body, to feel safe enough to set judicious limits in your interactions with others, for example, to say or hear the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without getting triggered.

The first step in setting limits is identifying the specific situations that challenge or trigger you when it comes to either standing up for yourself with courage and/or doing so in a way that treats the other (thus also your self) with dignity.

Generally, these are certain situations or actions by others that unnecessarily trigger your body’s survival response. They may result from a missed opportunity to express your feelings, to say what you did or didn’t like, or to make a request. In other cases you may have “stood up” for yourself, however, you did so in an impulsive way that blasted, belittled or demeaned another, thus, it left you feeling worse than before.

The purpose of the exercise below is to identify your triggers, that is, the situations in which you do not set healthy limits at this time.

Exercise: Identifying the Triggers

Instructions: Below are four incomplete sentences followed by examples of possible responses. For each sentence, check all responses that are true for you, and feel free to add any of your own in the margins.

I feel guilty when …

“I see a look of disappointment on a loved one’s face”

“I’m asked to do something and do not want to”

“I say no”

“I notice someone I care about looks angry”

“I get angry and say hurtful things”

“Others do more than I do”

“A loved one looks hurt or unhappy”

I wish I had more courage to ask for …

“Quiet time for myself”

“Someone to stop yelling or making demeaning statements”

“Help around the house”

“Privacy”

“More information before a purchase”

“Someone to listen without judging, giving advice, or trying to “fix” things”

“An apology when someone has acted in a hurtful way”

I get frustrated or resentful when …

“Someone dismisses my opinion”

“I am not included in an important decision that was made”

“Someone takes me for granted”

“I say yes when I want to say no”

“Someone says no to one of my requests”

“I get overwhelmed by too many tasks”

“Someone talks over me or interrupts me when I talk”

I wish I had more courage to ask others to stop …

“Blasting me with their anger”

“Invading my personal space”

“Criticizing or judging me”

“Going through my personal belongings”

“Putting me down, correcting or humiliating me in front of others”

“Avoiding discussions to solve our problems”

“Making off-color jokes or comments in my presence”

“Blaming me or telling me I am responsible for their unhappiness”

Look over the triggers you underlined or added above. Then rank order the triggers from the most challenging to the least, with “1” being the most and “10” the least.

STOP letting your brain go into ‘protective mode,’ and you in a defensive mode.

The “triggers” you identify here are the specific situations you want to work on to develop an action plan for being “authentically you.” By mastering the moments when you need to face core fears that surface, you can do so without triggering your body’s stress response, also known as the “fight or flee” system, which puts your brain in ‘protective mode,’ and you in a defensive mode.

* Edited for readability

Sources – http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/12/a-key-aspect-of-being-authentically-you-identifying-your-triggers/ 
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/06/five-essential-steps-to-authenticity/ 
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/12/the-ultimate-gift-giving-the-gift-being-authentically-you/
 http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/06/the-secret-to-being-authentically-you-part-1/

About Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik shows clients how to break free of anxiety, addictions, and other emotional blocks, to awaken radiantly healthy lives and relationships. Dr. Staik is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, Safe Enough to Love™: Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit  www.drstaik.com, or visit on her Facebook fan page DrAthenaStaik

7 Tips for Dealing with TOXic People

Worth reading from off the web – WRITTEN BY: MARC CHERNOFF

7 Smart Ways to Deal with Toxic People

Don’t let toxic people rent space in your head.
Raise the rent and get them out of there.

Surviving the ups, downs, and lightning storms of other people’s moodiness can be quite a challenge.  It’s important, though, to remember that some moody, negative people may be going through a difficult stage in their lives.  They may be ill, chronically worried, or lacking what they need in terms of love and emotional support.  Such people need to be listened to, supported, and cared for. But whatever the cause of their moodiness and negativity, you may still need to protect yourself from their behavior at times.

And there’s another type of moody, negative behavior: that of the toxic bully, who will use his or her mood swings to intimidate and manipulate.  It’s this aspect of moodiness that inflicts enduring abuse and misery.  If you observe these people closely, you will notice that their attitude is overly self-referential.  Their relationships are prioritized according to how each one can be used to meet their selfish needs.  This is the kind of toxic behavior I want to look at in this post.

I’m a firm believer that toxic mood swings should not be inflicted on one person by another, under any circumstances.

So how can you best manage the fallout from other people’s relentless toxicity?

1.  Move on without them.

If you know someone who insists on destructively dictating the emotional atmosphere, then be clear: they are toxic.  If you are suffering because of their attitude, and your compassion, patience, advice, and general attentiveness doesn’t seem to help them, and they don’t seem to care one bit, then ask yourself, “Do I need this person in my life?”

When you delete toxic people from your environment it becomes a lot easier to breathe.  If the circumstances warrant it, leave these people behind and move on when you must.  Seriously, be strong and know when enough is enough!

Taking care of yourself

Taking care of yourself

Letting go of toxic people doesn’t mean you hate them, or that you wish them harm; it simply means you care about your own well-being.

A healthy relationship is reciprocal; it should be give and take, but not in the sense that you’re always giving and they’re always taking.  If you must keep a truly toxic person in your life for whatever reason, then consider the remaining points…

2.  Stop pretending their toxic behavior is OK.

If you’re not careful, toxic people can use their moody behavior to get preferential treatment, because… well… it just seems easier to quiet them down than to listen to their grouchy rhetoric.  Don’t be fooled.  Short-term ease equals long-term pain for you in a situation like this.  Toxic people don’t change if they are being rewarded for not changing.  Decide this minute not to be influenced by their behavior.  Stop tiptoeing around them or making special pardons for their continued belligerence.

Constant drama and negativity is never worth putting up with.  If someone over the age 21 can’t be a reasonable, reliable adult on a regular basis, it’s time to…

3.  Speak up!

Stand up for yourself.  Some people will do anything for their own personal gain at the expense of others – cut in line, take money and property, bully and belittle, pass guilt, etc.  Do not accept this behavior.  Most of these people know they’re doing the wrong thing and will back down surprisingly quickly when confronted.  In most social settings people tend to keep quiet until one person speaks up, so SPEAK UP.

Some toxic people may use anger as a way of influencing you, or they may not respond to you when you’re trying to communicate, or interrupt you and suddenly start speaking negatively about something dear to you.  If ever you dare to speak up and respond adversely to their moody behavior, they may be surprised, or even outraged, that you’ve trespassed onto their behavioral territory.  But you must speak up anyway.

Not mentioning someone’s toxic behavior can become the principal reason for being sucked into their mind games.  Challenging this kind of behavior upfront, on the other hand, will sometimes get them to realize the negative impact of their behavior For instance, you might say:

  • “I’ve noticed you seem angry.  Is something upsetting you?”
  • “I think you look bored.  Do you think what I’m saying is unimportant?”
  • “Your attitude is upsetting me right now.  Is this what you want?”

Direct statements like these can be disarming if someone truly does use their moody attitude as a means of social manipulation, and these statements can also open a door of opportunity for you to try to help them if they are genuinely facing a serious problem.

Even if they say: “What do you mean?” and deny it, at least you’ve made them aware that their attitude has become a known issue to someone else, rather than just a personal tool they can use to manipulate others whenever they want.  (Read Emotional Blackmail.)

And if they persist in denial, it might be time to…

4.  Put your foot down.

Your dignity may be attacked, ravaged and disgracefully mocked, but it can never be taken away unless you willingly surrender it.  It’s all about finding the strength to defend your boundaries.

Demonstrate that you won’t be insulted or belittled.  To be honest, I’ve never had much luck trying to call truly toxic people (the worst of the worst) out when they’ve continuously insulted me.  The best response I’ve received is a snarky, “I’m sorry you took what I said so personally.”  Much more effective has been ending conversations with sickening sweetness or just plain abruptness.  The message is clear:  There is no reward for subtle digs and no games will be played at your end.

Truly toxic people will pollute everyone around them, including you if you allow them.  If you’ve tried reasoning with them and they aren’t budging, don’t hesitate to vacate their space and ignore them until they do.

5.  Don’t take their toxic behavior personally.

It’s them, not you.  KNOW this.

Toxic people will likely try to imply that somehow you’ve done something wrong.  And because the “feeling guilty” button is quite large on many of us, even the implication that we might have done something wrong can hurt our confidence and unsettle our resolve.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Remember, there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.  Most toxic people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with.  Even when the situation seems personal – even if you feel directly insulted – it usually has nothing to do with you.  What they say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

6.  Practice practical compassion.

Sometimes it makes sense to be sympathetic with toxic people whom you know are going through a difficult time, or those who are suffering from an illness.  There’s no question about it, some toxic people are genuinely distressed, depressed, or even mentally and physically ill, but you still need to separate their legitimate issues from how they behave toward you.  If you let people get away with anything because they are distressed, facing a medical condition, or depressed, even, then you are making it too tempting for them to start unconsciously using their unfortunate circumstance as a means to an end.

Several years ago, I volunteered at a psychiatric hospital for children.  I mentored a boy there named Dennis, a diagnosed Bipolar disorder patient.  Dennis was a handful sometimes, and would often shout obscenities at others when he experienced one of his episodes.  But no one ever challenged his outbursts, and neither had I up to this point.  After all, he’s clinically “crazy” and can’t help it, right?

One day I took Dennis to a local park to play catch.  An hour into our little field trip, Dennis entered one of his episodes and began calling me profane names.  But instead of ignoring his remarks, I said, “Stop bullying me and calling me names.  I know you’re a nice person, and much better than that.”  His jaw literally dropped.  Dennis looked stunned, and then, in a matter of seconds, he collected himself and replied, “I’m sorry I was mean.”

The lesson here is that you can’t “help” someone by making unwarranted pardons for everything they do simply because they have problems.  There are plenty of people who are going through extreme hardships who are not toxic to everyone around them.  We can only act with genuine compassion when we set boundaries.  Making too many pardons and allowances is not healthy or practical for anyone in the long-term.  (Read Who’s Pulling Your Strings?)

7.  Take time for yourself.

If you are forced to live or work with a toxic person, then make sure you get enough alone time to relax, rest, and recuperate.  Having to play the role of a “focused, rational adult” in the face of toxic moodiness can be exhausting, and if you’re not careful, the toxicity can infect you.  Again, understand that even people with legitimate problems and clinical illnesses can still comprehend that you have needs as well, which means you can politely excuse yourself when you need to.

Off the web, from: http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/12/08/7-smart-ways-to-deal-with-toxic-people/

What are you stuffing?

hamsterStuff

“New Weight-Loss Trick Revealed!”

 Do something for me – will you? Close your eyes and slowly bring a few fingers from your non-dominant hand to your lips, and gently touch. Leave them there for a few seconds. 

The very first emotionally soothing act since leaving the womb was touching your lips and tasting nourishment. Our initial experience also taught us to “marry” eating and emotional soothing. It’s an imprint that continues to sooth us throughout life.

And what about pacifiers? They cleverly distract us from our needs, thus creating another mouth/anticipation-that-your-needs-will-be-met coupling. But I’ll get into addictions another time.

If you struggle with weight chances are you are unconsciously stuffing your feelings. You are trying to gratify a need or want that you don’t know how to get met otherwise. When you begin to understand what prompts you to use food as a way to fulfill other needs, you journey into a deeper, more respectful place within yourself. Rather than instantly changing your relationship with food through a new diet (which you may know doesn’t last), get to know yourself.

Are you stuffing anger? Learn about Assertiveness. Not only do you have a right to your opinions, wants and feelings, you have a right to express them. Are you avoiding a decision? The belief that one wrong move can mean a disaster can be paralyzing. Learn how to accept the possibility of making a mistake. I find that most are repairable. Do you feel a need for control? Over what? Is it true that you need this? Maybe you need to learn about authentic responsibility. Pick up some tips from a book about Codependency.

I strongly recommend journaling to better understand yourself. Meet yourself. Listen with compassion. Then get objective. The solution is there.

Therapy can be instrumental, in fact, it can be invaluable. We often need a witness other than ourselves to delve into the unknown aspects of Self. Get the help you deserve, privately and confidentially.

The “secret new weight-loss trick”is finding ways to better satisfy all your hungers — physical and emotional.

5 Steps to Forgiveness In Any Relationship

Unresolved conflict in any relationship does more than just hurt your feelings. We start becoming blocked in communication, building unconscious walls between us. The spontaneity is forsaken and time together eventually can become, well, dull. What you “let slide” just may do you in over time. Here are some steps that will keep the relationship safe from built up resentments or overly cautious communications.
Couple-Disagree

Step 1: Know What the Issue Is About

It’s common to have hurt feelings and be disappointed – but not know exactly what it’s all about. You must take the time to figure out what happened. Write the answers to the following questions to get clarity.

What happened?  What did you hear or see happen that led to the upset? These are the facts.

What does it mean to you?  Write about what the behavior means to you. This is where we interpret, draw conclusions, or tell ourselves a story about the other’s actions. This is your perception.

How does it make you feel?  When you think ______ do you feel angry? Hurt or sad? Are you afraid of losing something, or afraid of what the behavior might mean?

What would you like to change?  Try to get clear about what it is you want to be different. If its minor, you can formulate a request. If the situation is more serious (He burns dinner when he drinks too much, she spends too much money so bills can’t get paid), then you have to take more serious measures. For situations like this, I recommend therapy. Go with or without your partner, and you will learn how to take care of yourself until he or she has better self-control.

Step 2: Know How to Approach the Other – Explaining it from your perspective.

One way to be sure to make it worse is to tell the other how you feel as though it were FACT. Why? People become defensive when you assume to know what’s going on for them. And how can you? All you can know is your own perspective. The way you word it is more important then you probably think.  If someone who cares about you has hurt you, he or she probably doesn’t understand how you feel.

Try writing down your experience using “I” statements to practice how to say it in a clear, respectful manner.

Practice with the sentence-structures here:

“I felt  ____________ when you ______________________ because I think it means _____________ . I’d like it if you __(request)__.”

Or:

“When you ______________ I thought ___________ and felt __________.  I want you to ___________.”

 

Two-people-talking-1024x1024When you feel clear, you are ready to talk. You will probably feel some anxiety about talking, and it will be less so someday. But for now, accept that you will be somewhat anxious. Do it anyway!

Step 3: Know The Other’s Version of What Happened

It’s important to understand how the other person saw the situation. This also keeps the discussion on a more respectful level, with both of you discussing the problem rather than one person accusing and the other defending.

You may learn that s/he had a completely different take on the situation. When this happens, the solution can be that you have just learned more about the other, and s/he knows and understands more about you. The result is often an increased sense of closeness and compassion.

Step 4: Know You Have a Solution to the Problem

“Okay – So what are we going to do about this?”

If the issue isn’t resolved by understanding each other, then you need to emphasize what you’d like to see change. Remember that it is worth the time it takes, because it will prevent this from becoming a recurring problem. If someone is very hurt, or very defensive, it may take a few discussions to resolve this problem. If you can’t solve it together after a few tries, seek the help of a counselor. You are worth it.

Step 5:  Be Sure Your Forgiveness Is Real

Forgiveness does not mean the other’s behavior was okay. It means you understand because you recognize that all of us are fallible human beings. The good news is that you are willing to do what is necessary to fix the problems, and then forgive each other.

This can be as simple as looking into each other’s eyes and saying “I forgive you.” What’s important is that you communicate that the air is cleared, the hurt forgiven, and the problem is over. You won’t be able to do that honestly if you haven’t done the previous steps.

When both of you take responsibility for fixing these misunderstandings and/or mistakes in the relationship, your trust in each other will grow, and where trust grows, so does love.

Psychotherapy and Why it is Good for You

Psychotherapy and Why it is Good for You

I am always surprised when I hear people speak about their mental health issues and they say they would rather see a psychiatrist and take the prescribed medication. They don’t see the point in “just talking”. They assume that psychotherapy or counselling is about someone telling what you do.

No.

No.

And, no.

I have always talked to these people (or, tried to) to try and explain psychotherapy – what it is, what it is not and why it should be explored as an option.

There is nothing wrong with taking psychiatric medication. It has been scientifically proven, however, that the best way to treat mental health issues or disorders like anxiety and depression is with a combination of medication and talk therapy.

In Malaysia, health insurance does not cover counselling or therapy sessions. Unless accessed at the often under-staffed psychiatric units in public hospitals, it can be expensive. Many people avoid psychotherapy for this reason. I can understand that. But, if someone prioritised their mental health, or saw enough value in investing in these sessions even twice a month, they can make allowances in their budgets for it. For example – anyone living in KL will know that a night out at your favourite club(s) or pub or restaurant can very quickly hit the RM200 mark. Just cutting back on two nights a month covers two sessions of therapy. Just reconsider some of the things you do in your life and make some minor and temporary changes. The results will be so worth all that time and effort!

Why does psychotherapy cost so much? Because the people who do this work are specially trained. Training itself is expensive. Many people have to get the training abroad as these courses are not always offered locally. Training takes time. And, effort. A lot of it. Plus, the training is continuous. So, what you are paying for is quality and trained care and services.

Coming back to the topic on hand, I stumbled upon this website that also espouses the value of psychotherapy. It provides 5 reasons for choosing psychotherapy. These are:

  1. You learn to work through your own problems.
  2. No one is taking a side, except to help you.
  3. Your secrets are safe.
  4. Long term value can’t be beat.
  5. Psychotherapy works!

Its pretty cool stuff. The site also has two videos by the American Psychological Association (APA) that very simply explains the value of psychotherapy. The videos may feature American statistics, but the reality in Malaysia is not too far away.  

So, the next time you visit your local GP for stress, ask for a referral letter for a clinical psychologist. On your next visit with your psychiatrist, ask for clinical psychologists or counsellors that she can recommend. Search online for private practices; call them and ask them their rates and charges. The charges differ based on experience and qualification.