Humans are all about community. By connecting with others, we find support, meaning, reassurance, and joy. Even the healthiest among us feels lonely and isolated at times. For those who struggle with physical or mental disabilities, the isolation can feel even greater.
How to people do it?
When I first became a bird owner, I noticed that my cockatiel Sunshine would only eat when someone was near her.
Most birds are flock animals; they rely on the members of their community for companionship, safety, and parenting.
In the wild, Sunshine would only eat with her flock members there to watch out for her.
Like many other animals, humans have an inborn need for community that is crucial to not only our survival but also to our mental health and happiness.
Not everyone needs 40 friends, but everyone needs someone they can rely on to help them through the harshness of life.
WHAT KEEPS US FROM BEING CONNECTED TO OTHERS?
There is a lot of relationship advice out there; friends, family, and coworkers are willing and eager to share their thoughts.
Over the years, I’ve heard and read some awful pieces of advice.
Here are the worst of them.
10. If you love her enough, you can get her to change.
9. No one will ever love you as much as he does.
I pulled into a gas station and asked if they would take a check. Nope.
How about a credit card number phoned in from my husband? Nope.
My random gift cards were worthless here. I was worried.
I was desperate. I went back to my car where my young daughter sat and asked her if I could borrow the money in her coin purse. She had $2.38.
Digging through the crevices and corners of my car yielded another $1.03. I went inside and placed the pile of change in front of the cashier. The total amount was $19.41, a little less than 5 gallons of gas.
In my mind I was going through everything that had gone wrong. Why did I forget my credit card? Do hotels take checks from out of state? Do restaurants? What would I feed my daughter? Where would we sleep? How could I be so stupid???
I was going full force into negative thinking. I finally realized that my thoughts weren’t doing me any good at all. In fact, they were harmful. With my mind full of what if’s, there was no room or energy for realistic problem solving.
Once I slowed down I realized that my daughter wouldn’t starve, I could find a way to get some cash back from a store, and that I was resourceful enough to deal with this situation.
I did some mental arithmetic and discovered that I could keep my miles per gallon quite high if I used cruise control and didn’t rush. At 42 miles per gallon or more, I could possibly make it. And if I didn’t, I would be close enough to have someone come and get us.
Negative thoughts often sneak up when people are stressed, anxious, or depressed. And once they take root, they can impede more helpful, critical, and logical thinking.
Here are 5 simple and easy ways to manage negative thoughts when they appear.
Do these sound familiar?
For some people, these phrases may bring back memories of their childhood, or they may have heard these statements from their kids.
Despite sounding childish, everyone has said something similar in their adult life to a spouse, police officer, family member, or friend.
In counseling sessions, I frequently hear how people struggle with the difference between excuses and explanations.
Some people hesitate to give any explanations; they see explanations and excuses as the same thing, and they don’t want to be seen as giving excuses.
Others go to the other extreme and take no accountability for his or her own actions, blaming everything from their upbringing, their stress load, their partner or kids, for their wrongdoing.
Although it can sometimes be unclear, there is a difference between an excuse and an explanation.
People make excuses when they feel attacked. They become defensive.
Excuses are often used to deny responsibility. People make excuses when they feel attacked. They become defensive.
Explanations help clarify the circumstances of a particular event. Explanations are less emotional and less pressured than excuses.
Sometimes, the only one who can really know if their statement is an excuse or an explanation is the one saying it. Telling the police who pulled you over that you are running late for work is a good example of this. If you were hoping to get out of a ticket or lying, it was probably an excuse. If the officer asked why you were driving 30 in a 25, and you answered honestly, it was an explanation.
Why does it matter?
Consider the following situation:
Your 14-year-old daughter has brought home a failing grade on her science report. You ask her what happens. She says:
Do you ever wonder why other people are happy, and you’re not?
The good news is that being happy is more of a choice than you might think.
Happiness doesn’t have to be an elusive idea that only some fortunate people are able to obtain. Here are seven simple things you can do to increase your happiness.
If you’re a parent with a mental illness, or if someone in your family is mentally ill, you may struggle with how to talk about it with your children. You may feel embarrassed or even ashamed about your disease.
Even thought it can be difficult, it’s important to create a safe space for kids to hear and ask questions about the illness that affects you or your partner.
Here are five tips to help you get started.
I was at a workshop recently, and the topic of introverts and extroverts emerged. I commented about my own introverted nature, and was met by surprise. Apparently I didn’t fit the image of an introvert that my new friends had in their minds.
Plenty of people in the United States are introverts. The figures vary, but currently it’s generally accepted that about half of the US population are introverted.
The term introvert was first introduced by Carl Jung. And interestingly, the notion of introversion and extroversion is not a matter of being completely one or the other. Personality types, like introversion and extroversion, are on a continuum, and all people have a mixture of both in their personalities.
In this article, I use the term “introvert” to describe someone who interacts with the world mostly in an introverted fashion, rather than an extroverted one, and vice versa for extroverts.
The definition of what extroversion and introversion mean is based upon on how an individual sees and reacts to events, objects, or people. Introverts spend a great deal of time monitoring how things impact their inner world. An outside event (or person or object) is described and examined in regards to how it affects them and their history, thoughts, emotions, and feelings. For example, if an introvert is watching kids play, they may be reminded of themselves when they were little, imagining how care free they felt. An extrovert might comment on how crazy kids dress these days.
In a similar way, introverts gain energy by focusing inward. After spending time around a group of people, introverts feel tired and depleted. It takes effort for them to socialize, and in order to feel more energized they may pull away from the outside world and spend time by themselves. Extroverts find spending time with groups of people or activities to be energizing, and solitude is taxing.
Many people, both extroverts and introverts, carry misconceptions about what it means to be an introvert. Here are four commonly held beliefs that are not accurate.
For many families, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years are times for reunions, reconnecting, and enjoying one another.
Yet however great the celebrations are, holidays are stressful. Here are six tips for making your holidays as peaceful and stress-free as possible.
It’s fall here in the United States. For much of the country, this means darker skies, shorter days, and colder temperatures. For many people, the change in season can also mean an increase in depressive symptoms.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD)?
SAD is a type of depression that occurs during a change in season, usually fall and winter. People who suffer from SAD have many of the same symptoms as those with depression: lack of energy, feelings of hopelessness, withdrawing from friends and family, weight gain, and not enjoying things that one used to enjoy.
How many people experience SAD?
Many people experience seasonal affective disorder. According to Dr. Norman Rosenthal, 6 percent of the people in the United States suffer from SAD 1. This does not include the number of people who experience a less severe form of seasonal depression – the winter blues. SAD is more common in the northern areas of the United States, and less common in areas of the south where there is more sunshine.
How is SAD treated?
There are several treatments for SAD. Like major depressive disorder, SAD can be treated with psychotherapy and medication. But SAD also responds very well to light therapy. Light therapy uses a full spectrum, intense light to help decrease depressive symptoms.
What is the difference between SAD and clinical depression?
People who experience SAD have the same symptoms as people with major depressive disorder. However, major depressive disorder is not limited to the darker days of fall and winter.
Tips for surviving SAD