Tag Archives: psychology

How to overcome commitment issues

If you are a person who is fearful of commitment, someone who enjoys being close to others but grows distant when the relationship becomes more emotionally involved, then you might struggle with attachment issues.

Many commitment issues stem from past relationship experiences and/or our attachment to our parents or primary caregivers as children. It all comes down to having our needs met and being confident that if for some reason a relationship doesn’t work out, it’s ok. The good news is even if you are a person who has a hard time moving forward in relationships, there is hope in overcoming these struggles. It just takes some effort on your part. 

Moving Forward is Possible

Talk to a therapist. A licensed mental health professional has the proper training to help you move from unhealthy attachment styles to secure attachment. Proper counseling can help to heal the deep wounds that are causing you troubles now. Forming a secure relationship with a therapist can help to increase feelings of security and help make sense of the past. 

The first part of overcoming attachment struggles is to identify the problem. You must first understand where these emotions are coming from so you can work to heal them. A therapist who asks the right questions can help you to identify aspects of your childhood that may have led to your current emotional state. 

Second, it is important that whoever your partner is has a healthier attachment style. Being with someone who understands what a healthy relationship looks like can further help you to heal by developing more trust in others and how they will respond to your needs. That being said, you don’t need another person to heal, but if you are in a relationship try to choose a healthy one—one that makes you feel good, one that is not full of jealousy and insecurity. 

Third, believe in yourself. You do have the ability to move forward and have a happy, committed relationship.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201802/healing-attachment-issues

Where do commitment issues stem from?

We all know someone who has trouble with commitment. You know the type—the serial dater, the person who suddenly stops calling or showing up when the relationship starts to progress. It can be frustrating for both sides.

Insecure Attachment

There are a few reasons why a person might struggle with commitment. They may have formed an insecure attachment/avoidant relationship style. This type of personality style usually stems from a person’s childhood and their relationship with their parents or primary caregiver. Likely, as children, they felt as if their emotional needs were not being met and have since learned to not give as much weight to their emotions making it harder to get close to people. People with this type of attachment style tend to enjoy being in relationships but become uncomfortable when relationships get too emotionally close. 

Another reason why someone might struggle with commitment is because of catastrophic thinking. They have severe anxiety about relationships and always think the worst— “it will never work out, why bother,” “I am going to be trapped,” “I am just going to get my heart broken,” etc. This usually stems from childhood experiences of seeing their own parents unhappy and arguing on a regular basis. Or, they may have had a series of bad relationships in the past that has led them to think nothing will ever work out. They have lost faith in relationships and are fearful of getting too attached. 

It is, of course, difficult for both sides of the relationship when commitment troubles are a factor, but it doesn’t mean it is not possible to find love and to have true, meaningful relationships. It just might take some work. Meeting with a licensed mental health professional can help those struggling with commitment to identify the reasons why they might have trouble in this area and what can be done to move forward. 

Source: https://www.psychalive.org/anxious-avoidant-attachment/

You can find joy by sharing joy

The other day a friend posted something on social media about some positive recognition she had received from a colleague. She titled the post “I am not one to boast” as if she was embarrassed to share this information. Of course, she was proud and she had every right to share this good news with others but something was holding her back. 

Research shows that nearly three times more positive experiences happen in a day than negative, yet it is so easy to let the negative take over and ruin the day. Good things are happening to us all the time, but we are reluctant to share them. 

Maybe it is out of guilt. You don’t want to make others around you feel bad because something great happened to you but they are having a rough time. Maybe you don’t feel deserving of whatever good has happened. Or, you don’t want to “brag.” If it is a reoccurring form of goodness then maybe you have just gotten used to it and now it has become commonplace. 

The Benefits of Sharing

But, the truth is a lot of benefits can come from sharing our joy. Research shows that sharing positive experiences gives them more weight in our brains. A study done at Brigham Young University shows that discussing positive experiences leads to increased overall life satisfaction and more energy. 

Think about it when we talk about the good things that are happening to us we are validating them, we are accepting that we are deserving of the good and are able to relish in those experiences more fully. 

With this friend, in particular, she had an outpouring of support. Comment after comment after comment of well-deserved praise. Sharing her joy opened her eyes to the wonderful support system she has around her. 

And, as far as feeling guilty for sharing the good, in many cases hearing of good things happening to those around us lifts us up. It is so easy to get caught in the negative. There is so much negative news, so much happening around us that can easily crush our spirits. When we hear of these true moments of good in the lives of those around us, it gives us hope. It highlights the beauty that can be found around us. Even if these good things may not be happening to us directly. 

I mean, really, who hasn’t at least teared-up during a human-interest story on the news. We can find joy in other peoples joy, and sharing your joy can help to increase your overall appreciation for life. 

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201307/the-science-behind-the-joy-sharing-joy

How to Curb Negative Self-Talk

We all do it — “how could I be so stupid?” “I am not good enough.” “I am so dumb.” Whatever it is. We all talk to ourselves negatively. And, even though we may brush off that talk as meaningless, it’s not. After a while, our brains start to believe these things, whether they are true or not. 

Words Are Powerful

It doesn’t take much of telling yourself you “can’t” or you are “not worthy” to believe it. The act of curbing negative self-talk can have a big impact on our overall mental health. We have this beautiful ability to lift ourselves up — or tear ourselves down — with our words. 

So what can do you do to start the journey of treating yourself better with your words? It is difficult, as any habit is, to change our ways but it is amazing what a few small changes can do for our self-esteem and overall personal satisfaction. 

First of all, start small. No one is going to completely eliminate negative self-talk. I mean, seriously, we all do things that we are not proud of. That is life. But, by doing better at cutting ourselves some slack and appreciating all the good in ourselves we can lead happier lives.

Start with a Post-it (I said small, didn’t I?). Write one positive thing down about yourself and stick it to the mirror, or on the back of your bedroom door, or on a phone case, wherever you are going to see it regularly. It might sound or feel stupid but trust me, after a while your brain absorbs it. It can be as simple as “you can do it” or “you are strong.”

Next, cut yourself some slack. You are human. You will make mistakes. You are not perfect, I am sorry to break the news but it is true. No one is. Instead of jumping to “I am so stupid” or “I can’t do anything right,” be real with yourself. So, you made a mistake. Tell yourself these things happen. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend. If your friend broke a glass and immediately said “oh my gosh I am the worst,” what would you say? Likely you would tell that friend “It’s ok. These things happen.”

You can be in the driver’s seat when it comes to how you see (and talk to) yourself. 

Signs You Need A Mental Health Day

Your mental health is just — as if not more — important than your physical health. Your brain and all the different emotions you could be facing impact you physically. When you have a sore throat, a cough, a stomachache, a migraine, or other ailments, you take a sick day. When you aren’t feeling good mentally, it could be time to take a mental health day. 

We tend to ignore much of our mental health symptoms, brushing them off and saying “they will pass” only to have them resurface stronger than before. We don’t want to waste the time off, we don’t feel like we have the time to waste. But, we forget that when we aren’t operating at our fullest we aren’t being as efficient. By taking the time to tend to your mental health you are only helping yourself to be more focused, motivated, happy, and…well. 

Here are some signs that you could use a mental health day:

1.) You are distracted by something that needs to get done outside of the office. Maybe it is your taxes, a personal project, or a goal that requires your attention. Now I am not telling you to skip work whenever you need some extra time, but rather when you are distracted, forgetful, overwhelmed by something that needs to be tackled. Take a day to get it done. You will feel better for taking care of it, you will gain some control back over your life, and you will be more productive at your job when you return. 

2.) You have been neglecting yourself. Maybe you have been super busy at work or overcome with a project that is taking over your life. You aren’t taking care of yourself because you don’t feel like you have the time to spare. You could benefit from recharging your batteries. Take a mental health day to take care of you. The day can look any way you think it should — catch up on sleep, meal prep, go for a walk, take a fitness class, spend some extra time with your kids, meet a friend for lunch, whatever it is that you feel you need. A day away from the daily grind can do wonders for your inner self. 

3.) You are struggling with depression and anxiety symptoms that feel unmanageable. Maybe you are easily emotional, you are crying a lot, you are struggling to get out of bed, everyday activities are hard to accomplish, you don’t feel like you, whatever it is a day away from the stress you are consumed with can help. Allowing yourself to feel whatever it is you are trying to push past can be necessary to your healing. If you had the flu, your coworkers would never expect you to come in, they would not find you weak, in fact, they would likely thank you for taking the time to get well. 

There is nothing wrong with taking a mental health day. It can take courage to admit that you need one. It can be hard to allow yourself the opportunity to have this day but it will be worth it. If you are having trouble taking care of you, I encourage you to seek help from a licensed mental health professional. He/she/they can help you learn ways to fit time in for you. 

How often do you take mental health days?

What to do when your family doesn’t believe in mental health

I hear the argument against counseling and mental health all the time. People say “my family doesn’t believe in mental health and say I don’t need to see a therapist.” They think it is “unnecessary,” or a “waste of time,” “useless,” etc. But, think about it this way — who do you talk to about car problems? A mechanic. Who do you call when you have a sore throat or a cough that won’t go away? A doctor. Who do you see when you have pain in your tooth? A dentist. 

Those who don’t believe in mental health don’t know anything about mental health. You talk to your mechanic about your car, your doctor about your physical health, and your therapist about your mental health. Talk to your family about what they are competent in—maybe it is their opinions about cooking, sewing, sports, parenting, marriage, etc. But if you are struggling with emotional concerns, depression, anxiety, marital issues, parenting strategies, etc. talk to someone who is trained in these topics and can help to give you healthy tips to move forward positively in life. 

Wonders for the Willing

Therapy is one of those things that can do wonders for the willing. If you are open to the first step of coming into an office setting to try to improve your life, to work towards living your best days, then you could benefit greatly. Your friends and family might think they are helping by telling you that you don’t “need therapy” but there is nothing wrong with seeking help when you are struggling. In fact, that is a healthy step in the right direction—kind of like eating more vegetables, going to bed earlier, and exercising. 

Leave the mental health expertise to the mental health professionals and take care of you. 

You can boost your willpower, here is how:

Just like the muscles in our legs and arms, our brains get tired too. When we spend all day making decision after decision — the willpower part of our brains gets spent. Without even potentially realizing it, you begin to make poor—or even completely avoid—decisions. It is called decision fatigue and scientists are just beginning to learn more about its potentially detrimental impact. 

Whether it be shopping, working, dieting, it is easier for us to make smart, educated, well-thought decisions in the morning before we have depleted so much of our energy. It is why it is easier to eat healthier breakfasts than dinners, and why we often reach for that piece of candy at the end of the day. Our brains are exhausted and our willpower is depleted. 

Think about building a home, or picking out clothes at the store, you are making decision after decision — what hardware to put where, what lighting fixture, where should the outlets go, do I want the purple shirt or the red shirt, is this dress too big, should I spend this much money, etc. Chances are at the end you feel like throwing in the towel. Or you say “ah screw it, I will just go with this one.” This is decision fatigue. The list can go on and on. But, by recognizing that decision fatigue exists and acknowledging its potentially damaging impact, you can make changes to your life to increase your willpower. 

Reduce decison fatigue

Here are some ways to get started reducing decision fatigue and boosting willpower:

1.) Plan reoccurring decisions ahead of time: Obviously you can’t plan every decision before it happens. That is just life. But many of the decisions that are draining our willpower are the ones we make over and over again. Things like what you are going to wear to work, what you are going to eat for lunch/breakfast/dinner, when you are going to hit up the gym, etc. This stuff you can plan before you go to bed at night so the next day you have willpower for the big stuff. 

2.) Whatever is most important in your day, do it first: Maybe it is exercising, getting a project done, getting the laundry folded, helping your child with a project, whatever it is wake up early and get it done. You are the freshest version of yourself when you wake up. Get up, get to it and start your day off on the right foot, it may even help the rest of the day to unfold smoother.

3.) Take care of you: It is hard to have willpower if you feel drained, unhealthy, unfit, bad about yourself, etc. Put time in your day to focus on yourself and make sure you are getting the proper fuel for your day.

4.) Make commitments, instead of decisions: Rather than getting down on yourself by constantly telling yourself you “want to lose weight,” “want to change jobs,” “want to start working out,” start doing it. You will have fewer decisions to make if you just rip the bandaid off and commit. 

5.) Fuel first: If a decision is coming at the end of the day, or maybe a big meeting at work, then take a break, refresh and eat something first. You will be more on top of your game if you can boost some of that brain fuel. 

6.) Keep it simple: Get rid of the things in your life that you don’t need. Don’t waste your energy on things that don’t contribute to your wellbeing, that don’t provide joy. You don’t need to keep doing unnecessary tasks that are draining your energy. 

Your willpower is not always going to be at a steady level. That is impossible. But the first step to making changes is recognizing where the problems are and working to rectify them. It’s ok to put off a decision for a day rather than being impulsive. You can decide to get some rest first, just don’t avoid it completely. 

Sources: 

New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html

https://jamesclear.com/willpower-decision-fatigue

Why is it so hard to build self-esteem?

Self-esteem, self-worth are so important to mental health. And, so many of us struggle with improving our self-esteem. We never feel good enough. We find it difficult to love ourselves, to be proud, to feel satisfied in our own shoes. Why? 

Why is it so hard to build self-esteem? We live in a society where we have long been taught to tie our self-esteem, or self-worth, to personal achievement. We have goals we want to meet, jobs we want to get, and we work hard to achieve them. Once we get there we feel good, yes, but for how long? That one achievement is never enough. It is a dangerous cycle. It feels good to achieve a goal, and we do experience an increase in endorphin levels—and we like it. That feeling, that feel-good rush becomes our baseline as people. 

We always want to feel that good. We always want to achieve the next big thing. So, we continue to strive for more and more. Always looking to get higher and higher. I am not saying this kind of motivation is all bad. Of course, we want to be motivated to do well, to try hard, to achieve our personal best. But at some point, we have to be satisfied. The problem with tying our self-worth to achievement is we are never satiable and therefore never feel good enough. We never achieve a stable level of positive self-esteem because things are not all roses and butterflies all the time. There will be moments when you can’t go any higher.

Rather than tying our self-esteem to achievement, let’s switch gears. Connect your self-esteem to your personal qualities, the things that make you YOU. Maybe you are a compassionate person, a good friend, hard-working, loving, easy to talk to, open-minded. Maybe you are the one always willing to help a neighbor. Maybe you are good at making others laugh. We all have special things deep inside us that make us wonderful, beautiful people. Maybe you have been through a whole lot of hell in life and you are stronger than ever. Embrace that strength, look in that mirror, and love yourself. You are worthy. You deserve personal respect. You deserve to feel good about the person you are deep down inside. So what if you didn’t become an Olympic swimmer, or you didn’t get that job you tried so hard for, you are still wonderful, beautiful, unique YOU. 

Do this and your New Year’s resolution will stick

The time is upon us. It is a new year. Time to start making those resolutions. But, the real challenge is not making the resolution. It is not coming up with a plan to achieve that resolution, but rather it is keeping it. It is sticking to your word, obeying your subconscious mind. Statistics show that only 9.2 percent of people will ever achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Less than 10 percent of us stick to our word and break free of bad habits. 

So, what do we do to keep them? How do we change this mindset that leads to failure? 

The real problem is not that we are setting a goal for ourselves. I see people achieve personal goals all the time. It is not that we can’t do it. I know that we can. It is about how we see a New Year’s resolution versus a personal goal. Rather than tying a goal to the New Year, simply set a goal. Don’t give yourself a time frame. 

Our brains’ seem to be attached to that phrase “New Year” and after a week or two into the month, that goal doesn’t seem to matter as much. After all, it is not the “new year” anymore so why does a resolution matter? That goal starts to dwindle and the new becomes old. 

Instead, make a change. Make a change in your life for the better. Whatever it is you need. Set out to achieve the things that will help you to live your best life. Break free from old habits. Learn to love yourself a little better. Set aside time for you. But drop the phrase “New Year” resolution and instead resolve to make a positive change for you. You can make positive changes anytime throughout your life, they don’t have to start or end with a change in the calendar.

What changes are you making this year?

Statistic Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/306400

Vicarious Joy To The World!

You have probably heard the phrase before — “live vicariously.” Turns out it’s more than just a phrase. People really do feel the emotions of others. 

There is a realm of psychology referred to as “vicarious emotions.” This means that we experience the emotions of those around us. For example, maybe you have a friend who lost a sibling and you never met the sibling but you still feel heartbroken. Or maybe you had a spouse involved in some kind of personal trauma, and while you weren’t there in person you still feel pain.

A Psychology Today article by Dr. Robert Muller sites “vicarious trauma can be best understood as the absorbing of another person’s trauma, the transformation of the helper’s inner sense of identity and experience. It is what happens to your physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual health in response to someone else’s traumatic history.” This is vicarious trauma, but there is also vicarious joy.

You can experience the joy of others by being around them. Maybe its a friend who just got a promotion and you are beyond excited for him/her/them, or maybe a friend who has been trying to have a baby just got pregnant and you are suddenly overwhelmed with joy. Vicarious joy is also another reason to do good for others through charities or philanthropic work. When you are in a situation where you are helping others and they feel appreciated, that joy rubs off on you. You start to feel happier because those around you are also happy. 

Vicarious joy can also be learned by children. The more our children are exposed to happy environments, the happier more joyful children we will raise. By engaging our children in volunteering or other ways of helping others they will learn to be more joyful.  

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-trauma/201308/vicarious-trauma-and-the-professional-interpreter