Conflict

As uncomfortable as it is conflict is a normal part of people’s lives, especially in relationships. Conflict boils down to two or more people perceiving something differently which creates difficulty in one’s ability to achieve their goals. Most people today believe that conflict is always bad and that confrontation is to be avoided at all costs. However because it is such a common aspect of social interactions it is best to learn to deal with conflict in the best way possible. There can also actually be positive effects of conflict, as well as, negative effects. 

Positive Effects

  • A challenging crisis can be a test on any relationship. However, as much as it can tear a family apart, it can also bring them closer together. Overcoming a challenge or conflict can provide those in a relationship with a greater understanding of each other, improved unity, and a sense of accomplishment.

  • Conflict, if handled well, can allow others to share and take time to get to know each other better like their needs and wants and how to fulfill them. The also allow an opportunity for each person to clarify and express emotions they may have been holding in. To better handle conflict it may be better to express these emotions earlier than later. 

Stay tuned to the blog to learn more insights on conflict.

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Don't be Afraid to Ask

It is a very common piece of advice, "Don't be afraid to ask [for help]...there is no such thing as a bad question...it's better to ask than assume and make an..." The reverse of not being afraid to ask for help is, "Don't be afraid to ask someone else if they need help." Yet, it seems so very uncomfortable and difficult to ask if someone is considering suicide and needs help. 

Often times, the discomfort reportedly stems from lack of knowledge and fear of implanting a fateful idea. So, inform yourself. Check out your local resources. Know that the research finds that asking if someone is considering harming themselves, in fact, does not create or increase suicidal ideation. And, more often than not, people will honestly tell you when they need additional support. 

Some resources to research for someone in need:

  1. National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1.800.273.TALK)

  2. Crisis Text Line (Text HOME to 741741)

  3. NAMI-different branches with local resources, like ADAPT (866.260.8000) in Dallas County

  4. Local psychiatric hospitals and outpatient therapy offices, such as TCG

  5. 911

 Remember:

  1. There is no such thing as a bad question

  2. It's better to ask than assume

  3. And if you are concerned, don't be afraid to ask

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Suicide Support

It's no secret that death by suicide is one of our nation's rising issues today. Chances are sometime in your life, you will either know someone who has died by suicide or you will need to be there for a someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. It can be hard to know what to say, how to say it, and how to respond. Here are a few tips:

  1. Begin by educating yourself about suicide. It can be helpful to understand what it is and how mental health impacts it.

  2. Encourage your loved one to get professional support. There are many counselors and organizations that specialize in loss and suicide as well as support groups you can help them get connected to. Here are a few :International Survivors of Suicide Loss DayAFSP’s Survivor Outreach Program, and bereavement support groups.

  3. Don't try to over-relate. Death by suicide can be a very different loss and grief response than losing a loved one in some other ways. Try not to say that you know how they feel or that you understand. Rather say things like "I can't imagine but you are going through, but i am here to support you through this."

  4. Be patient with their healing.  

  5. Dont wait for them to ask what they need. Find ways to support them by calling, texting, bringing food, sending cards, etc.

  6. Remind them it's okay to speak about their loved one, that you are comfortable with reminiscing about who this person was to them.

  7. Remind them to take care of themselves by eating, sleeping, doing things they enjoy, and getting out of the house when possible.

Healing from a loss by suicide can be a painful and long process. You will be a huge support to them if you can stick by them from beginning to end.  

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Feel your Feelings

It's okay to have our feelings and feel them too. We live in a culture where feelings- especially unpleasant ones- are taught to be avoided. Children often hear the words "Don't be sad" or "Don't cry" from a early age.  

When we don't express or acknowledge our emotions we aren't truly living. It okay to feel both pleasant and unpleasant emotions. Having emotions allow you to experience life and all that comes with it. 

When we express, process, and cope with our feeling we thrive. No one like to feel unpleasant emotions, but those emotions are a natural part of human experiences. Identifying healthy coping strategies to deal with uncomfortable emotions rather than avoiding or numbing them allows to not fear our emotions. Having emotions doesnt mean that our emotions have to over power or control us. Processing and coping with our emotions helps us take better care of ourselves. And when we take better care of ourselves we feel better about who we are and our self-worth. 

Things to remember:

  1. It's okay to have emotions

  2. It's important for us to feel our feelings- all of them.

  3. All our feelings are natural and important

  4. Processing and coping with emotions is important

 “Today, I will allow myself to recognize and accept my feelings- whatever they may be.”

-Unknown

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Techniques for Overcoming Procrastination

Procrastination can be something than can be really hard to overcome. Especially if it is something you have been doing for most of your life because it is now a habit. Those pathways in your brain are a lot more efficient and it is your go to strategy to deal with difficult tasks. Sometimes we choose the short-term benefit over the long-term goal. However the long-term goal doesn’t go away and now the situation is more dire. As my dad always said, “Poor planning on your part does not make it an emergency on my part”. So here are some techniques that can help you overcome procrastination. 

  1. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. So take a task you’ve been putting off and just work on it for 5 minutes. When you finish the first five minutes set a goal of another five minutes and so on. It helps it feel less overwhelming. 

  2. Identify the most difficult part of the task and do that first. That was it is all downhill from there!

  3. Use positive reinforcement. Reward yourself with something nice whenever you complete a difficult task. I like to choose chocolate!

  4. Make changes in your surroundings to reduce distractions, gain privacy, and have all needed tools and items close at hand. Being organized helps!

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Obligatory Love?

“You only did that because I told you to." Time and again these words, or some slight variation, have been uttered throughout therapy sessions and phone calls with friends. Each time, this person had expressed to a loved one how they would feel less irritated or more loved. Then, the individual would find themselves arguing or thinking, “You only did that because I told you to!” Perhaps, you even find that you are frustrated with yourself; "I have to make a conscious effort to show my partner love. I wish it came more naturally; hugging shouldn't feel weird."

One of our greatest road blocks is the way in which we talk to ourselves. Think about it! How often are you minimizing your own efforts? "It would have been better if I'd...How could I be so forgetful..." And now, think about how often we do that to our partners. Through self-talk, we convince ourselves that we would feel more loved or appreciated if our loved ones could somehow read our minds and anticipate our every need.

While the likes of Luke, Leia, and Charles Xavier may benefit from the gift of telepathy, us mere mortals here on earth are left needing to communicate our needs to our significant others. So, do not be shy about giving yourself and your loved one a mental pat on the back to say "thank you for loving me in a way I know how to receive it 'because I told you [how] to."

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Rest Well This Winter Break

As Winter Break draws near, many of us are digging into the grind for the last week of work and school before the Holidays. Teachers are diligently grading the last of the semester’s assignments, while students feverishly study for exams and scribble out final papers. Moms are scurrying about town looking for thoughtful gifts for friends and family. Employees are wrapping up projects while employers complete annual reviews. And everyone is yearning for a much needed time of rest before winding up for the New Year. 

However, sometimes the things we do during our down time end up being less restful than we anticipate—in fact, sometimes we can walk away feeling more depleted after a day-or-two-long Netflix binge, hours of gaming, or mindlessly scrolling through social media. Even introverts reading for hours on end or extraverts hopping from coffee date to holiday party to game night to charity event can grow weary with their favorite past times. No one likes the feeling of getting back to work at the end of a break and thinking, “All I did was ‘rest,’ but I still feel so tired.” 

Don’t get me wrong—all these activities can certainly be fun modes of rest in moderation, but having only one method of resting can quickly become stale and lifeless. Thus, it is important to change it up and engage in a variety of activities that are rejuvenating for your personality. Every person is recharges in a different way, so take time to reflect on what activities consume your attention and drive away your stress when you engage in them. These will be the activities that are most energizing for you.

If you’re an artist, seek inspiration by going to museum or taking time to create. If you’re an athlete, call a buddy and go play ball. If you’re a nature lover, take a walk or bike ride away from the traffic and crowd. If you’re a music fanatic, attend a holiday concert in your favorite genre. Or if cooking is your jam, whip up a recipe you’ve been dying to try.  

Whatever your personality, be intentional this Winter Break to regularly practice restful activities that re-energize your mind, body, and spirit. 

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Avoiding Relational Apocalypse

Well-known psychologist Dr. John Gottman has done decades of work regarding marital stability and divorce prediction. He has identified what he calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” capable of killing any marriage if not stopped. The four horseman are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. These four are not only indicative of marital homicide, but are also very deadly in other relationships be it friendship, parent-child, or at work.Below is a helpful pictorial and a link to a video from Dr. Gottman defining the four horsemen and helpful corrective responses. Take some time to reflect and even ask those closest to you to identify if any of these are present in your communication style specifically when things are not going as you expected. If so, actively begin implementing the antidotes remembering that research has shown that for every one negative response we have we need five positives to make up for it.Active reflection and intentional change will go a long way in decreasing conflict and maintaining stable, happy relationships. 

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Rinse & Repeat - The Beauty of Routine

If sleep is a challenge - falling asleep, staying asleep, waking at a reasonable time, etc. - it's time to consider a routine. We get the idea behind routine because we know it is so important for our babies, but why is that? For people who do not do so well with words just yet, consistency tells society's tiniest members just what is coming next, like when it is time to go to sleep. The same goes for our adult bodies. But wait, I use words! Yes, adults do tend to communicate much better than infants, but our bodies still need those consistent cues to settle in for the night. 

Consider melatonin, a commonly suggested sleep aid. This is a hormone our bodies naturally produce; however, without consistent bedtime cues, your body may not know that it is producing an inadequate amount of melatonin to induce sleep. So, what does your routine look like?

  • Regular bed time?

  • Consistent wake time?

  • Preparing for bed (i.e. changing, brushing teeth, washing face, etc.)

  • Wind down activity? (i.e. reading, prayer, Mindfulness exercise, etc.)

  • Rinse & Repeat!

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Improving the Memory Process

Last time we talked about how are memory can be affected by stress and depression and how there are four main stages to the memory process: attention, encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. Now let’s take a look at things we can do to improve each stage. 

Improving the attention stage: decreasing/eliminating distractions, decreasing mental fatigue by taking breaks, and listen carefully including eye contact and body posture. Before memory difficulties you may have been able to have the TV going while eating a snack with someone talking to you from the side. Now, improve your attention by turning off the TV, putting down the food, turning towards the person, and make an effort to listen very carefully. 

Improving the encoding phase: In this stage you want to try simplify incoming information as much as you can and also reducing the amount of incoming information. Also try and link the information back to something you already know. For example, you can never remember your neighbor’s name Glenda? Let’s say one of your favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz which has the character Glenda the good witch. Now you think of that and it helps you remember her name.

Improving the consolidation phase: This phase is all about repetition. Repeating things over and over can really help things stick. You can gradually increase the amount of time in between repetitions as you improve. 

Improving the retrieval phase: remembering the context of where you were when you heard the information, mentally retrace your steps, and using first letter prompts. Using first letter prompts can be a helpful study too. Make an acronym of what you want to remember and then remember the acronym and the items fall into place. For example, AECR = attention, encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. 

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