For many of us these are uncertain times. Anxiety is rampant because we don't know what to expect and don't know where things are headed. As a result, we worry too much and bring ourselves much distress. While I can't tell you there is nothing to worry about - the future is ALWAYS uncertain - what I can tell you is you can do something about it; you can take control of your life and create the best environment possible. With 24 hour news and social media we are constantly fed information and much of it is negative which can lead to fead. Fear can get you motivated but it can also cripple you. Politicians count on this, the media counts on this, and a bully counts on this. Fear is important when it motivates you to get out of danger. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where fear sells. The media sells you fear for ratings and politicians tell you what to fear in order to get your vote. If you look around, what do you think the hatred is all about? Why are women, muslims, people of color, and LGBTQ folks singled out? Why does there appear to be so much hatred towards what is different? If you guessed fear, you would be right. Fear can cause us to do many things, even hate one another. To get past the fear, we must avoid as much of the negativity as possible. Below are some tips to help you manage your anxiety and avoid negativity during this stressful time.
Defense mechanisms have become embedded in language. We often refer to someone as "in denial", "projecting", and acting in a "passive-aggressive manner". However, the average person does not often have a good understanding as to how defense work and what purpose they serve. Below I discuss denial, one of the most common defense mechanisms.
Denial is the unconscious act of denying or ignoring the importance of something. We deny our awareness of something that we know to be true, even if we are not consciously aware of it. For example, many individuals who experience same-sex attraction often deny those feelings, convincing themselves they are not, in fact, gay or bisexual. By denying these feelings, individuals are able to maintain a certain perception of themselves, and avoid the psychological and emotional pain that facing the truth may cause. However, there is a downside to denying one's true feelings. Desires, even when denied, tend to creep up on us and cause all sorts of problems. One may feel depressed, anxious, or angry and not know why. While denial can be helpful in order to get through difficult times, much of the psychological and emotional suffering one experiences relates to the denial of some aspect of one's self or the reality in which they exist.
Denial is a common defense and is rarely in complete conscious control. While we can actively ignore something that makes us feel uncomfortable, denial is usually an unconscious process that we are not completely aware of. Much psychological suffering is attributed to denying the truth. By facing one's fears and developing awareness of the parts of self or reality that has been denied, one can begin to heal. Working though and understanding defense mechanisms is a critical part of psychotherapy.
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.
Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, "What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?"
In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough," and to go to bed at night thinking, "Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging."
"This important book is about the lifelong journey from 'What will people think?' to 'I am enough.' Brown's unique ability to blend original research with honest storytelling makes reading The Gifts of Imperfection like having a long, uplifting conversation with a very wise friend who offers compassion, wisdom, and great advice."
Most of us report feeling depressed at some point in our life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2014) nearly 7% of adults meet the criteria for a major depression. However, feeling down, blue, sad, or even depressed does not mean one is experiencing a major depressive episode. As I mentioned, nearly everyone feels down or depressed at some point in their life. The loss of a loved one, divorce, or a bad day can cause one to feel depressed. There is a difference between feeling depressed and meeting the criteria for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD). In order to meet the diagnostic criteria for a major depressive disorder one must have (a) experienced at least five of the symptoms below during the same two week period:
The above may sound quite clinical and may be difficult to apply to yourself or someone you know. Therefore, it is imperative to speak with a mental health professional in order to receive a proper evaluation. If MDD is diagnosed, the mental health professional can recommend a treatment strategy that may include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. It is important to remember no two individuals are a like and it may take some time to develop a treatment plan that works.
David Kearby, LCSW is a therapist in downtown Indianapolis serving individual adults.
It is thought the highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system that makes he or she vulnerable to light, sound, smells, or anything that tends to be uncomfortable. Additionally, the HSP tends to withdraw during busy days, often seeking a dark room where privacy is paramount. The HSP was often shy as a child and may still be shy as an adult. The HSP often has an interesting inner life and can become over-stimulated in situations where their senses become overloaded. In fact, studies suggest there is a correlation between HSP’s and introversion. It is not surprising that an HSP would tend to be an introvert as extroverts get their energy from others whereas introverts go within. For more about introverts, see my blog post.
The HSP tends to stay within his or her comfort zone and rarely participates in situations that makes he or she feel overwhelmed. This HSP may also be emotional and may be referred to as someone who is ‘thick skinned.’ Does this sound like you? If so, you are not alone. It is estimated that 15 to 30% of the population is highly sensitive. If you would like to find out more, take the quiz today to find out of you are an HSP.
Stage One: Preparation
The journey begins by preparing for what’s to come, solidifying your motivation, revealing fears and building a support system.
Stage Two: Reflection
You move ahead by looking back and trying to make sense of thoughts, feelings and behaviors you may not have understood before.
Stage Three: Exploration
Through easy-to-follow exercises, you’ll actively explore your gender identity, layer-by-layer, so you can form a more complete, authentic picture of yourself.
From the start, Dara Hoffman-Fox LPC explains why understanding your gender identity is an essential component to finding your place in the world and becoming your true, authentic self. Along the way, the book covers how to:
"Understand Your Gender Identity"
Your gender is a core element of who you are and affects all areas of your life— greater awareness of this can lead to clarity and a stronger sense of self.
"Sustain The Highs and Lows"
Resources, connection and self-care can help you stay on the challenging path of self-discovery.
"Reveal and Uncover Your Fears"
Facing your feelings of fear, loneliness, and shame head-on—understanding why they’re there can be one of the most empowering parts of the journey.
"Reflect on Your Past"
Reflection through the lens of gender exploration can help you make sense of past experiences and how they formed who you are today.
"Thoughtfully Explore Your Gender"
Thorough, step-by-step exercises and gentle contemplation not only help reveal your true self, but also allow you to travel at your own pace.
"Discover and Embrace Your Authentic Self"
You will have a deeper understanding of your gender, yourself, and the options for “what’s next” so you can express this authentic self to the world.
Stop waiting and start walking your path today with YOU AND YOUR GENDER IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO DISCOVERY.
Do you classify yourself as an introvert? Perhaps you feel there is something wrong with you because you don’t enjoy large crowds and get more excitement from solitary activities. If so, you are not alone. Studies have shown that between one-third to one-half of the population is introverted. Personality research suggests one is either born an introvert or an extrovert. This does not mean, however, there aren’t times when you feel more lively around others and might describe yourself as “extroverted.” When we talk about introversion, we are talking about tendencies. Everyone has times when they would rather be around others and times when they would rather be alone. The difference is introverts become energized by going within whereas extroverts get their energy by being around groups of people. Some studies suggest the neurotransmitter Dopamine plays a key role. Whereas extroverts use of their dopamine more quickly than introverts, they rely on external activities to replenish their dopamine levels.
Here are six interesting facts about introverts:
1. Introverts process information in a way that requires internal thought process. Essentially, it takes longer for introverts to store information in long-term memory.
2. Introverts require less stimulation from the outside world and, as a result, tend to become over-stimulated.
3. As mentioned above, introverts store dopamine more readily than extroverts.
4. Introverts feel less excitement from risky activities.
5. Introverts pay careful attention to their surroundings. Introverts tend to stand back and watch crowds as opposed to participating in the excitement.
6. Introverts tend to be thinkers by nature and have an active imagination and running dialogue with themselves.
Do you think you might be an introvert? Take The Quiet Revolution Personality Test to find out!
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, otherness refers to “the quality or state of being other or different.” While there is an endless array of ways in which individuals are different, the understanding of otherness is narrowed a bit to specific culturally constructed categories that people are often placed in. Examples include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc. We often find comfort in belonging to a certain category and find meaning and acceptance in our otherness. But what happens when the experience of being an ‘other’ is detrimental to an individual’s psychological well-being? As Crastnopol (2011) notes, the experience of otherness, especially in regards to sexual desire, can cause feelings of shame and despair. Gay and lesbian individuals often find solace in their otherness, especially when they find a community that welcomes them and supports them. However, there are many LGBTQ individuals that find it difficult to accept the otherness that is projected onto them. Many LGBTQ individuals find that they are place in particular categories long before they feel the need to identify as an ‘other.’ Consider, for example, the teen boy on the school bus who is referred to by his peers as a "faggot" despite the fact boy has yet to understand his sexuality or has yet to identify as gay. It is quite common for others to notice our differences long before we do. Teens, especially, struggle with the idea of not fitting in, and the idea of being an 'other' can be intolerable. Before this boy has even had a chance to make peace with this difference, he is already forced into the role of being an 'other.'
uch of the pain and trauma that young LGBTQ individuals face directly relates to being consider different from his or her peers. Assimilation is often the desire at this stage of development, and for some, being labeled as gay, lesbian, or queer can be devastating to one's self-esteem. It is unfortunate we live in a society that forces individuals into categories. My hope is one day, individuals of all sexual orientations, religions, colors, and ethnicities will be embraced for their sameness while relishing in what makes them unique.
David Kearby is a therapist in Indianapolis who specializes in working with the LGBTQ community.
This is a great video introduction on how to stop panic attacks.
When beginning your meditation practice, sitting still and focusing on nothing can be extremely difficult for many of us. In fact, in is one of the main reasons people give up on their meditative practice. They often feel as though they are doing something wrong and begin to feel quite frustrated. In a recent article by Drake Baer, he discussed why meditation and mindfulness practice can be so difficult and offers strategies to help people. The main point that Baer points out is that people get frustrated because they are constantly battling intrusive thoughts and images that seem to take them out of their meditative state. Baer states, however, that the key is to relax and let go of what happens. Let whatever comes to you come naturally. To read the article, click here.
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