Thursday, February 1, 2018

Anxiety Within the Relationship1

Relationships are wonderful and difficult at the same time. People who enter their intimate relationship secure and confident within themselves, are much better equipped to give that to one another. People who are basically confident and secure in their own separate ability to handle conflict do not readily fold when it occurs.

Unfortunately, when one or both partners enter their relationships without their individual security intact, they rely on the relationship to define their value. If challenges occur in the partnership, their individual insecurities are likely to emerge.
As insecurity increases in any of us, so do the symptoms that are associated. Anxiety, paranoia, fears of loss, instability, and increasing needs for reassurance begin to diminish our capacity to think and act effectively. Even if the more secure partner the relationship tries to do everything right to help the other feel safe.

Imagine how you would feel on the other end of someone you deeply care about who is constantly fearful and anxious. You would naturally try as hard as you could to heal those feelings of uncertainty and reassure that special person that everything will be okay.No matter how deeply you love, no matter how committed you are to the relationship, no matter how much you want to help, you are human. At some point in time, you will begin to feel helpless and powerless, then insecure in your own ability to make a difference.

If you are a relationship partner who becomes insecure, you are not alone. There are things you can do. There are six common causes that make all people feel insecure within their relationships. Once you have identified where your insecurity stems from, the next step is to learn how to lessen the impact of those drivers and to change those responses in the future.

1) Genetics
All people have a built-in alarm system to protect them from harm. Whenever threatened, their bodies produce chemicals that help them to survive by fighting, fleeing, or freezing. Some people have a more physical trigger-ready response to threats from birth. Those individuals naturally react more intensely to perceived threats and are more likely to anticipate future ones.

2) Environmental Stressors
People who have suffered trauma in childhood often have more intense fight or flight reactions when they feel threatened. If a person has been abandoned or wounded during those episodes, their confidence and innate sense of security will become more vulnerable in subsequent losses.

3) Fear of Disappointing
Many people are terrified to be discounted by those important to them. They have assumed responsibility for lost relationships by feeling that they did not measure up. If losses accumulate, they become even more reticent to express their reactions for fear they will again push the other partner away. That kind of insecurity feeds upon itself and can reinforce their feelings of being basically unlovable.

4) Conflict Aversion
Confidence increases when people are able to triumph over adversity. If relationship partners are innately insecure, they are less willing to take chances that might give them the opportunity to develop alternative options and more resilience.

5) Dependency
People who feel that their partners are only with them because they haven’t yet found someone better, often become hyper-vigilant and increase their dependency on their partner’s supportive responses. They tend to narrowly focus on only the behaviors that keep things in order and become totally dependent on those outcomes.

6) Broken Trusts
Intimate partners who have been abused, abandoned, or betrayed in the past, are going to be naturally warier in subsequent relationships.

Ultimately your success in relationships will boil down to getting a handle on your own insecurity. Your fear of loss might keep you from fully expressing those values in any relationship.

Make a list of all the people in your life who you believe in your heart care about you. To whom have you truly mattered? Ask yourself what each would say about you, and why they felt that way about you. As you let yourself feel that safety and comfort, listen for any voices in your head or heart that have made you doubt those positive feelings.

Avoid Avoidance
Avoidance is arguably the main factor that allows anxiety to develop and propagate. If you’re avoiding things that most other people think are safe, then you may need to deal with what may be inappropriate anxiety. Avoiding the things that make you anxious never allows you to find out the reality of the threat – it may not be a threat at all. But you don’t discover there’s no monster in the closet if you continue to avoid opening the closet door. Message to self: “Anxiety feeds off avoidance, I’ll try and find a way to face my fears.”

Every person needs to feel that what he or she says or does affects the people who are important to them. Think about relationships where you have felt you’ve made a difference, where the person on the other end of you is truly affected by who you are and what you’ve had to say.

Fall-Back Networks
No intimate relationship can survive and prosper if it is the only meaningful connection a person has in his or her life. Secure people seem to know that innately and maintain many quality relationships they can fall back on if their primary one is in jeopardy. They continuously keep those networks alive and available. Trusted and committed friends, family members, co-workers, spiritual advisers, communities of like-minds, and sacred causes are all places to regenerate that do not depend on only one person in one relationship.

Acknowledgement of One’s Own Marketability
Although it may be a very difficult concept to accept, accurate and honest assessment of our own value is crucial to knowing what we can expect from others. You must believe in your own value, no matter who you are with and be realistic in terms of where that puts you in the current partner-availability process.

Not Letting the Past Define Your Future
The past is for lessons. The present is for experiences. The future is for dreams. Insecurity increases when the past continues to become the future when people have not resolved their past fears or failures.

Understand the Difference Between Abandonment and Disappearance
The fear of abandonment is a common driver of insecurity for many people. Everyone wishes they could control fate and fears being alone and unwanted. Most people do not thrive when disconnected from others.

For Help:
If you or someone you know might be experiencing anxiety or insecurity in a relationship or in general, utilize EAP benefits to seek services from highly qualified, licensed professionals.
If someone you know is experiencing difficulty let them know they are not alone and you are willing to assist them with finding the help they need. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is powerful in helping others seek the help they need.
If you or someone you know needs immediate mental health assistance, you can access a local crisis program, such as Lewis Gale Respond (540-776-1100), go to the nearest emergency room, or call 911. Remember, it’s better to get help for yourself or someone else if needed. Getting help is better than the alternative.
Psychological Health Roanoke has qualified and experienced clinicians available to help you and your family.

1. Gunther, Randi, Ph.D., Insecurity. Psychology Today, retrieved on January 31, 2018 from

2. Davey, Graham, Ph.D., 10 Tips for Managing your Anxiety. Psychology Today Retrieved on January 31, 2018 from

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Reducing Your Holiday Stress

How to Reduce Your Holiday Stress

Do you find yourself focusing stressing and experiencing an increase of anxiety during the holiday season? Most people experience an increase in stress and anxiety surrounding the holiday season. The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress, anxiety and depression. And it's no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands and expectations— parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few. There is also the expectations of being jolly, happy and finding the perfect gifts for our loved ones.
With some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

Steps to Rethink Your Habits to Reduce Holiday Stress

1. Discuss what the holidays mean to you and your family. Talk about your values and consider alternatives to unbridled spending. Make the conversation about the “why” we celebrate and what it means to us—then
consider the “how’s”.

2. Set reasonable, manageable, and realistic boundaries, especially when you are spending on extended family. Your wallet might not be as full as others in your family, or you might be aiming your savings at
retirement, saving for college or other valuable goals. Take the blame and shame out of the holidays by having the crucial and perhaps uncomfortable conversations with other family members to set expectations that
are more reasonable to you. Yes, you might be moving out of your comfort zone, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Same old-same old might not work anymore, nor does it have to.

3. Meaningful activities do not need to revolve around spending dollars: Instead of making the holidays a time where breaking the bank becomes the norm, make it a time to do meaningful activities. Families who
volunteer at food banks or work on projects to help others—these activities can provide deep meaning and value to your life, perhaps more so than a “thing” can. The stories these volunteers tell after the holidays
are priceless, and the lessons they are providing their children have far reaching benefits about the meaning of helping make the world a better place.

4. Create your holiday budget in January. Take advantage of the post-holiday sales for items you know you’ll need next year. For example, wrapping paper, cards and other items you buy every year can be purchased at
terrific savings if you think ahead. In creating a holiday budget in January, you can divide the amount by twelve months and begin to set it aside monthly.

5. Focus on celebrating what is most important to you and your family. Whatever the meaning behind your holiday, put the emphasis on what you care about.

6. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You
can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.

7. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship.

8. Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.

9. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be
understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

10. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives:
Donate to a charity in someone's name.
Give homemade gifts.
Start a family gift exchange.

11. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list.

12. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity.

13. Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Try these suggestions:
Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
Get plenty of sleep.
Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

14. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your
mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Some options may include:
Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
Listening to soothing music.
Getting a massage.
Reading a book.

15. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to
face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Overcoming You Self-Critical Voice

How to Overcome Being Your Worst Enemy

Do you find yourself focusing on negative thoughts about yourself, being critical of yourself, repeatedly putting yourself down, criticizing yourself, or comparing yourself to other people? What do you say to yourself when you make a mistake? So many people are their own worst enemy.

The self-critical voice can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression, that defeats you before you start, and makes you afraid of trying anything because you of your fear and the regret that will follow. In this post, there are techniques to defeat this self-critical voice, so that you can feel better about being a real human being. Do you ever say the following to yourself?

• I should succeed at everything I try.
• If I don’t succeed then I am a failure.
• Nothing I do works out.
• It’s terrible to fail at something.
• I am useless, unlovable, a failure, a bore, etc.
• The only way I can accept myself is if I do the best.
• It’s all my fault.
• No one else screws up like I do.
• I need to evaluate myself all the time. This is the only way to keep myself from being lazy.

Techniques to Overcome the Self-Critical Voice:1

• Identify your negative thoughts.
Your negative thoughts about yourself may be so automatic that you don't even
notice them. But try to catch them, write them down, and then see if there is a

• What is the evidence for and against your self-criticism?
What is the evidence in favor of the label "failure"? Perhaps you didn’t do well on
the exam, your date didn’t go well, or you said something you wished you hadn’t
say. OK. Now let’s look at the evidence that you are not a failure. Weigh the
evidence for and against. What do you conclude?

• What is the advantage of criticizing yourself?
Some people think that they need to criticize themselves to self-motivate. If self-
criticism worked, then people who get things done would hate themselves. Is your
self-criticism really helping you achieve your goals? Or is it defeating you?

• Replace self-criticism with self-reward.
Try this for a week: Rather than focus on what you don’t do perfectly, try to give
yourself credit for five things every day. This could include simple things like
going to work, speaking kindly to someone, eating healthy foods, or making an
effort to treat yourself better. If you make some effort at your work or exercise, try
giving yourself credit for it — even just for making the effort. The more you
reward yourself, the more likely you are to move forward.

• Replace evaluation with observing and accepting.
Rather than measuring, comparing, and evaluating yourself, consider simply
observing yourself and then accepting yourself. Take exercise: Let’s imagine that
your exercise for the day is to take a walk for 40 minutes. Rather than measuring
and criticizing yourself, you decide to observe what you are doing. Try to accept
yourself as you are, as you continue to move toward your goal. Accepting yourself
means that you see yourself realistically, in the present moment, without judgment.
You can free yourself from the self-critic by accepting who you are and saying, “I
know I am not perfect, just like everyone I know, but I can accept that. I can accept
my mistakes; I can accept my frustration; and I can accept that I have unfinished
work to do. I have goals. I accept that.”

• Focus on Positive Affirmations Daily
Try to write three positive affirmations daily, preferably in the morning to set you day
in the right direction, and anytime you find yourself in negative thoughts, open up your
journal and read those affirmations. Also at the end of the day, write in your affirmation
journal, at least one thing you can work on from the day and at least two things that went
right or were positive for the day. Starting your day off and ending your day with these
positive affirmations can get your mindset changing.

• Leahy, Robert, PhD. Are You Your Own Worst Enemy, Part 1: How to defeat self-criticism, Psychology Today Retrieved on October 29, 2017 from

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Coping with Disasters

In light of all the Disasters (natural and man-made over the course of the last few months, seems appropriate to talk about how to cope!

Disaster is a sudden, calamitous event, bringing great damage, loss, destruction and devastation to life and property. Disasters are events that inflict great damage, destruction, and human suffering. Their origin can be natural, such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes, or of human origin: accidents and terrorist acts. The damage caused by disasters is immeasurable and influences the mental, socioeconomic, political, and cultural state of the affected area. Not everybody responds to a disaster in the same way, as there are differences based on various experiential factors and circumstances.1

Effects of Disasters: 1,2
• Emotional Effects: Shock, terror, irritability, blame, anger, guilt, grief or sadness, emotional, numbing, helplessness, loss of pleasure derived from familiar activities, difficulty feeling happy, difficulty
feeling loved.
• Cognitive Effects: Impaired concentration, impaired decision-making ability, memory impairment, disbelief, confusion, nightmares, decreased self-esteem, decreased self-efficacy, self-blame, intrusive thoughts,
memories, dissociation (e.g., tunnel vision, dreamlike or ‘spacey’ feeling).
• Physical Effects: Fatigue, exhaustion, insomnia, cardiovascular strain, startle response, hyperarousal, increased physical pain, reduced immune response, headaches, gastrointestinal upset, decreased appetite,
decreased libido, vulnerability to illness.
• Interpersonal Effects: Increased relational conflict, social withdrawal, reduced relational intimacy, alienation, impaired work performance, decreased satisfaction, distrust, externalization of blame,
externalization of vulnerability, feeling abandoned. Withdrawal or isolation.
• Intense or unpredictable feelings: Anxiety, nervousness, overwhelmed or grief-stricken. Irritability or moodiness.
• Changes to thoughts and behavior patterns: Repeated and vivid memories of the event. It may be difficult to concentrate or make decisions. Sleep and eating patterns also can be disrupted.
• Sensitivity to environmental factors. Sirens, loud noises, burning smells or other environmental sensations may stimulate memories of the disaster creating heightened anxiety.

Recovering from a Disaster:,1,2 3
The impact of disaster can be long lasting, however, psychosocial intervention can assist with a period of recovery .This can broadly be defined as a time of returning to ‘normalcy,’ and characterized by such processes as rebuilding, and repairing or re-establishing. Some strategies to assist with the recovery from a disaster:

• Give yourself time to adjust. Anticipate that this will be a difficult time in your life. Allow yourself to mourn the losses you have experienced and try to be patient with changes in your emotional state.
• Ask for support from people who care about you. Social support is a key component to disaster recovery. Family and friends can be an important resource. You can find support and common ground from those who've also
survived the disaster.
• Communicate your experience. Express what you are feeling in whatever ways feel comfortable to you, such as talking with family or close friends, keeping a diary or engaging in a creative activity
• Find a local support group led by appropriately trained and experienced professionals. Support groups are frequently available for survivors. Group discussion can help you realize that you are not alone in your
reactions and emotions.
• Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can be a numbing diversion.
• Establish or reestablish routines. This can include eating meals at regular times, sleeping and waking on a regular cycle, or following an exercise program. Build in some positive routines to have something to look
forward to during these distressing times, like pursuing a hobby, walking through an attractive park or neighborhood, or reading a good book.
• Avoid making major life decisions. Switching careers or jobs and other important decisions tend to be highly stressful in their own right.
• Seek professional help: You notice persistent feelings of distress or hopelessness and you feel like you are barely able to get through your daily responsibilities and activities, consult with a licensed mental
health professional such as a counselor.
• Get in touch with reality: Intense fear and horror make us lose perspective, and suddenly we expect disaster at every turn. Taking a step back from our fear and trying to think about what we know (what therapists
call "cognitive reframing") can help ease our fears, at least a little bit.
• Find safety in numbers. Results from decades of experimental research reveal that as social creatures, the more alone we feel the more afraid we are. Reminding yourself of the people you can trust will help you
feel safer in your community.
• Help others: Events are traumatic because they destroy our social fabric and disorder our expectations of the world. Giving to others helps strengthen the order in the world through good acts.
• Manage your exposure to the media: so that you can stay as informed as you want without becoming overwhelmed with anxiety and stress.

• Srivastava, Kalpana, Disaster: Challenges and perspectives: Industrial Psychiatry Jounral, 2010 Jan0Jun: 19 (1): 1 - 4. Retrieved on September 29, 2017 from

• Rowell, Kevin, PhD and Thomley, Rebecca, PsyD. Recovering emotionally from disaster: American Psychological Association, Retrieved on September 29, 2017 from

• Charuvastra, Anthony, MD; Managing Anxiety After a Mass Shooting, How to cope with the stress and uncertainity of tragedy. Psychology Today. Retrieved on October 2, 2017 from

Thursday, August 31, 2017


When fall hits that is typically the time to go back to school. With children and people returning to school means different stresses, routine changes, more traffic at peak times, homework, interactions with peers and more. Adults with children are not the only ones affected by this change, as a society as a whole we are affected by this change, through work, outings and our friends who have children. Unfortunately with children of all ages (elementary, homeschooled, middle school, high school, college, and graduate school) returning to school can mean an increase risk to experience bullying, which nowadays comes in many different forms, in which we have to be aware and on the lookout for.

What is Cyberbullying: 1,2,3
Today's bullies are not necessarily more vicious, they are more viral. Whether on Facebook, Instagram, or the several of other social media platforms, cyber bullies have 24/7 access to their victims. With a click or a swipe they can upload photos, videos, and personal details about victims with the goal of humiliating and degrading their targets. Bullies can engage in this despicable behavior from the comfort of their own homes, which can create psychological distance from the consequences of their actions, and a decreased sense of accountability. On top of that a cyber bully's audience is also markedly different than in years past. Schoolyard bullies taunt victims in front of peers on the playground. Cyber bullies taunt victims on the World Wide Web, sometimes hidden from adults. Unlike a playground punch that sends a victim home with a black eye, online aggression can be unnoticed, unacknowledged and deadly. Every year we see teen suicides correlated with cyber bullying behavior. Consequently, families, school authorities, and community members are increasingly focused on spotting potential victims before it is too late. Yet due to the nature of cyber bullying, they can be challenging to identify.

Cyber bullying is an invisible epidemic because it happens online. Parents miss it, peers miss it, and teachers miss it. We don't hear it, because teens would rather text than talk. We don't see it, because teens are intensely protective of their phones and devices. Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. By definition, it occurs among young people. When an adult is involved, it may meet the definition of cyber-harassment or cyberstalking, a crime that can have legal consequences and involve jail time. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Sometimes cyberbullying can be easy to spot — for example, if your child shows you a text, tweet, or response to a status update on Facebook that is harsh, mean, or cruel. Other acts are less obvious, like impersonating a victim online or posting personal information, photos, or videos designed to hurt or embarrass another person. Some kids report that a fake account, webpage, or online persona has been created with the sole intention to harass and bully. Cyberbullying also can happen accidentally. The impersonal nature of text messages, IMs, and emails make it very hard to detect the sender's tone — one person's joke could be another's hurtful insult. Nevertheless, a repeated pattern of emails, texts, and online posts is rarely accidental.

Some miss cyber bullying because they hold outdated victim stereotypes. Online, cyberbullying victims include successful, well-adjusted adolescents that do not fit a “victim” stereotype. Yet online dynamics are very different than in person. On the playground, bullies punch down—picking on the weak, or the small. But online, unencumbered by physical limitations, bullies are empowered to expand their range of targets. Everyone is vulnerable. Because many kids are reluctant to report being bullied, even to their parents, it's impossible to know just how many are affected. But recent studies about cyberbullying rates have found that about 1 in 4 teens have been the victims of cyberbullying, and about 1 in 6 admit to having cyberbullied someone. In some studies, more than half of the teens surveyed said that they've experienced abuse through social and digital media.

Effects of Cyberbullying: 1,2 3
No longer limited to schoolyards or street corners, modern-day bullying can happen at home as well as at school, essentially 24 hours a day. Picked-on kids can feel like they're getting blasted nonstop and that there is no escape. As long as kids have access to a phone, computer, or other device (including tablets), they are at risk.

Severe, long-term, or frequent cyberbullying can leave both victims and bullies at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. In some rare but highly publicized cases, some kids have turned to suicide. Experts say that kids who are bullied and the bullies themselves are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completed suicides. The punishment for cyberbullies can include being suspended from school or kicked off of sports teams. Certain types of cyberbullying can be considered crimes.

Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:
• Use alcohol and drugs
• Skip school
• Experience in-person bullying
• Be unwilling to attend school
• Receive poor grades
• Have lower self-esteem
• Have more health problems

Signs of Cyberbullying1,2 3
Many kids and teens who are cyberbullied don't want to tell a teacher or parent, often because they feel ashamed of the social stigma or fear that their computer privileges will be taken away at home.

Signs of cyberbullying vary, but may include:
• being emotionally upset during or after using the Internet or the phone
• being very secretive or protective of one's digital life
• withdrawal from family members, friends, and activities
• avoiding school or group gatherings
• slipping grades and "acting out" in anger at home
• changes in mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite
• wanting to stop using the computer or cellphone
• being nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text, or email
• avoiding discussions about computer or cellphone activities
• Becomes sad, angry, or distressed during or after using the Internet or cell phone.
• Appears anxious when receiving a text, IM, or email.
• Avoids discussions or is secretive about computer or cell phone activities.
• Withdraws from family, friends, and activities they previously enjoyed.
• Suffers an unexplained drop in grades.
• Refuses to go to school or to specific classes, or avoids group activities.
• Shows changes in mood, behavior, sleep, appetite, or shows signs of depression or anxiety.

How to Help1,2 3

For Victims who are Children or Teens:

Know that it’s not your fault. If you are bullied you mustn’t blame yourself. No one deserves to be treated cruelly.

Don’t respond or retaliate. Sometimes a reaction is exactly what aggressors are looking for because they think it gives them power over you, and you don’t want to empower a bully. As for retaliating, getting back at a bully turns you into one and can turn one mean act into a chain reaction. If you can, remove yourself from the situation. If you can’t, sometimes humor disarms or distracts a person from bullying.

Save the evidence. The only good news about bullying online or on phones is that it can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You can save that evidence in case things escalate.

Tell the person to stop. This is completely up to you, don’t do it if you don’t feel totally comfortable doing it, because you need to make your position completely clear that you will not stand for this treatment any more.

Reach out for help. Especially if the behavior’s really getting to you.

Use available tech tools. Most social media apps and services allow you to block the person. Whether the harassment’s in an app, texting, comments or tagged photos, do yourself a favor and block the person. You can also report the problem to the service. If you’re getting threats of physical harm, you should call your local police (with a parent or guardian’s help) and consider reporting it to school authorities.

Protect your accounts. Don’t share your passwords with anyone, even your closest friends.

Reporting threats of harm and inappropriate sexual messages to the police. In many cases, the cyberbully's actions can be prosecuted by law.

Being relentless. Cyberbullying is rarely limited to one or two incidents. It's far more likely to be a sustained attack on you over a period of time. So, like the cyberbully, you may have to be relentless and keep reporting each and every bullying incident until it stops. There is no reason for you to ever put up with cyberbullying.

If someone you know is being bullied, take action. The best thing you can do is try to stop the bullying by taking a stand against it. If you can’t stop it, support the person being bullied. Consider together whether you should report the bullying. If you’re not already friends, even a kind word can help reduce the pain. At the very least, help by not passing along a mean message and not giving positive attention to the person doing the bullying.

For Parents, Teachers or Adults

Know that you’re lucky if your child asks for help. If your child’s losing sleep or doesn’t want to go to school or seems agitated when on his or her computer or phone, ask why as calmly and open-heartedly as possible. Feel free to ask if it has anything to do with mean behavior or social issues. But even if it does, don’t assume it’s bullying. You won’t know until you get the full story, starting with your child’s perspective.

Work with your child. There are two reasons why you’ll want to keep your child involved. Bullying and cyberbullying usually involve a loss of dignity or control over a social situation, and involving your child in finding solutions helps him or her regain that. The second reason is about context. Because the bullying is almost always related to school life and our kids understand the situation and context better than parents ever can, their perspective is key to getting to the bottom of the situation and working out a solution.

Respond thoughtfully, not fast. If you respond publicly or if your child’s peers find out about even a discreet meeting with school authorities, the marginalization can get worse, which is why any response needs to be well thought out.

More than one perspective needed. Your child’s account of what happened is likely completely sincere, but remember that one person’s truth isn’t necessarily everybody’s. You’ll need to get other perspectives and be open-minded about what they are.

What victims say helps most is to be heard, really listened to, either by a friend or
an adult who cares? That’s why, if your kids come to you for help, it’s so important to respond thoughtfully and involve them. Just by being heard respectfully, a child is often well on the way to healing.

The ultimate goal is restored self-respect and greater resilience in your child. What your child needs most is to regain a sense of dignity. Sometimes that means standing up to the bully, sometimes not. Together, you and your child can figure out how to get there.

Preventing communication from the cyberbully, by blocking their email address, cell phone number, and deleting them from social media contacts. Report their activities to their internet service provider (ISP) or to any social media or other web sites they use to target you.

Listen. If you discover that your child is being cyberbullied, offer comfort and support. Talking about any bullying experiences you had in your childhood might help your child feel less alone. Let your child know that it's not his or her fault, and that bullying says more about the bully than the victim. Praise your child for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your child that he or she isn't alone, a lot of people get bullied at some point. Reassure your child that you will figure out what to do about it together.

Let someone at school (the principal, school nurse, or a counselor or teacher) know about the situation. Many schools, school districts, and after-school clubs have protocols for responding to cyberbullying; these vary by district and state. But before reporting the problem, let your child know that you plan to do so, so that you can work out a plan that makes you both feel comfortable.

Encourage your child not to respond to cyberbullying, because doing so just fuels the fire and makes the situation worse.

Limit access to technology. Although it's hurtful, many kids who are bullied can't resist the temptation to check websites or phones to see if there are new messages. Keep the computer in a public place in the house (no laptops in children's bedrooms, for example) and put limits on the use of cellphones and games.

Know your kids' online world. Ask to "friend" or "follow" your child on social media sites, but do not abuse this privilege by commenting or posting anything to your child's profile. Check their postings and the sites kids visit, and be aware of how they spend their time online.

Learn about ways to keep your kids safe online. Encourage them to safeguard passwords and to never post their address or whereabouts when out and about.

If your son or daughter agrees, you may also arrange for mediation with a therapist or counselor at school who can work with your child and/or the bully.

When Your Child Is the Bully
Finding out that your kid is the one who is behaving badly can be upsetting and heartbreaking. It's important to address the problem head on and not wait for it to go away. Talk to your child firmly about his or her actions and explain the negative impact it has on others. Joking and teasing might seem harmless to one person, but it can be hurtful to another. Bullying, in any form, is unacceptable; there can be serious (and sometimes permanent) consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues. Remind your child that the use of cellphones and computers is a privilege. Sometimes it helps to restrict the use of these devices until behavior improves. If you feel your child should have a cellphone for safety reasons, make sure it is a phone that can be used only for emergencies. Set strict parental controls on all devices. To get to the heart of the matter, talking to teachers, guidance counselors, and other school officials can help identify situations that lead a kid to bully others. If your child has trouble managing anger, talk to a therapist about helping your son or daughter learn to cope with anger, hurt, frustration, and other strong emotions in a healthy way. Professional counseling also can help improve kids' confidence and social skills, which in turn can reduce the risk of bullying. And don't forget to set a good example yourself — model good online habits to help your kids understand the benefits and the dangers of life in the digital world.

Monday, July 31, 2017

How to Work with Others!

Do you work with someone who isn’t a team player? Maybe they’re overly focused on completing and promoting their own work. Or they don’t chip in when everyone else is scrambling to meet a deadline or pulling a presentation together. This isn’t simply frustrating; it can affect your entire group’s performance. How do you work with this person in a way that doesn’t make you resentful? And how can you encourage them to think more about the team?

What the Experts Say
When a team member procrastinates or displays a bad attitude, there’s a real risk of social contagion that drags down the morale and productivity of those around them. “We all pick up on subtle cues from other people, and that affects our behaviors and actions,” says Susan David, founder of the Harvard/McLean Institute of Coaching and author of Emotional Agility. “That leads to poor team efficiency, lower levels of commitment, and less focus on the shared goal.” Ignoring the issue often ends up only making it more acute. “There are a lot of negative consequences to somebody not carrying his or her load on a team,” says Allan Cohen, a professor of management at Babson College and author of Influence Without Authority. “The longer it goes on, the worse it gets in terms of how frustrated other members of the group will become.” Here’s how to work with a coworker who isn’t a team player.

Don’t jump to conclusions
It’s human nature to make assumptions about the reasons behind someone else’s behavior, even when we lack real evidence, says Cohen. “That’s how our brains work,” he explains. But this shortcut doesn’t always lead us to the right conclusions. Instead of assuming that someone is just a slacker or lacks commitment, “do a little exploration first,” he says. The roots of the person’s behavior may surprise you. It could be that they are dealing with a stressful situation at home that is leading to distraction at the office. Or they may be feeling work pressures that you are unaware of. Or they’re not sure how to best contribute. You want to avoid writing the person off or “concocting an explanation for their behavior, especially if it involves attributing bad motives to them,” Cohen says.

Start a dialogue
Approach your colleague with friendly questions, rather than accusations. Even if you aren’t in a leadership position on the team, “consider this a good opportunity to practice your leadership skills,” says David. You might ask: “What else is going on for you right now?” or “What’s motivating you?” This should give you enough insight to see the experience from their perspective.

Invite them in
More serious problems arise on a team when members shun someone who isn’t carrying their weight. So take the lead and make sure you’re not ostracizing the person. Consider taking your colleague out to coffee or lunch just to get to know them better, and bring along a couple of colleagues to promote cohesion. More interactions will promote friendlier group relations. “It’s really hard to resent somebody you understand better,” says Cohen.

Revisit the team’s mission
Sometimes a team member who is being uncooperative may actually help identify underlying issues by serving as a kind of ‘canary in the coal mine’ indicating that something is off with the group. It may be that your team’s approach isn’t working, says Cohen, or that your mission isn’t clear enough. Use this opportunity to have a conversation with the entire team about what the group’s shared vision should be and the best methods for getting there. That clarity should help boost everyone’s sense of purpose and productivity. “A lot of people go into team meetings focused only on what’s been done and what hasn’t been done,” says David. “Teams who bypassed the earlier questions about mission often tend to get into the weeds of, ‘She didn’t do this,’ and, ‘He didn’t do that,’ which leads to frustration and resentment.”

Clarify team members’ roles
Once you’ve had the bigger picture conversation about mission, it’s a good time to clarify roles. “Don’t assume everybody knows exactly what their contribution is supposed to be,” says Cohen. It could be that the non-team player has little or no understanding of what they’re meant to do. Without putting your colleague on the spot, you can suss out whether there is any ambiguity or confusion, and then help clarify duties and deadlines so that they have a better understanding of what’s expected of them.

Identify new opportunities to motivate
A team member may not only distance themselves because they’re confused; they could find the work they’ve been assigned to be pointless and boring. They may want more responsibility or an opportunity to grow their skills. If that appears to be the case, “think about whether there is a more suitable role for this person on the team,” says David. Look for ways to reassign them, even informally, to better showcase their skill sets or offer them new ways to learn. “Everyone likes to develop and project a sense of competence, or of mastery,” says David. You’ll often find that commitment to the team grows as a person’s confidence in their role increases. “People are highly motivated by not wanting to let their teammates down,” says Cohen. “Get them into the game, and they’ll go to great lengths to perform better for the team.”

Principles to Remember:
• Inquire about your colleague’s interests, priorities, and motivations to get a better sense of their perspective and the causes of their behavior.
• Use this opportunity to revisit the team’s purpose and goals.
• Look for opportunities to better utilize the uncooperative team member’s specific skill set.
• Develop an explanation for the colleague’s behavior without talking to them first.
• Ostracize the team member in question. Promote more interactions to create better group cohesion.
• Assume everyone knows what they’re supposed to be working on. Clarify team members’ roles so that people know what is expected of them.

Reposted from the Harvard Business Review, By Carolyn O'Hara April 21, 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Decluttering Your Life

At some point in everyone’s life, there is clutter, whether it be “stuff” in your environment or in your interpersonal relationships or in your head and heart. When it becomes consistent and prolong there can be some long term effects of clutter.

Research states that people who constantly live in a state of chaos are prone to procrastination and an inability to commit to work or relationships. They get anxious and overwhelmed with change and usually give up before they even start the project. Their finances and time are wasted; they feel stuck and bad about themselves

• Increase in concentration
• Improved Sleep
• Increase in creativity
• Improved mood
• Letting go of your past
• More focus on your goals

• Give yourself 5 solid minutes.
• Give away one item each day.
• Fill one trash bag.
• Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear
out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After
six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard.
• Make a list. Create a list of places/areas in your home to declutter beginning with the easiest.
• The Four-Box Method. As we first set out on our journey to minimalism, this was the technique most often used in our home. Set out to declutter an area, with four boxes:
trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Each item in every room is placed into one of the four categories.

What is one way you can declutter today???