myths about psychotherapy

8 Common Myths About Therapy (Debunked)

What really happens in therapy?

Thanks to the stigma surrounding psychotherapy that is still, to some extent, present in our society (although this is, fortunately, changing for the better), many people have never seen a therapist and are hesitant to do so, even if they could benefit from it. Add to that sometimes-inaccurate portrayal in the media, and it’s not a surprise why many people have a slightly distorted, or downright wrong picture of psychotherapy. This can discourage people from seeking help when they really need it, and further damage their mental health. Thus, it is important to talk openly about therapy and share accurate information. It can help combat reservations people may have about finding a therapist and getting the right kind of support.

If you’ve never been to therapy and you feel like something is holding you back, maybe it’s worth exploring if you believe some of the common misconceptions about therapy. Here are 8 common myths we’ve heard about psychotherapy (in no particular order), and truths that disprove them.

1. Therapy is for weak people

Maybe the most common myth about therapy is that seeking professional help means that you are somehow weak or flawed. Everyone goes through a rough patch from time to time; that’s part of life, and we don’t have to go through it alone.

But sometimes we try to do exactly that, afraid of what other people might say or what we would think of ourselves if we have chosen otherwise. The truth is that seeking therapy does not mean you are incapable of solving your own problems. Exactly the opposite! You are taking charge of your life by actively improving some parts of it with the help of a professional. You have enough self-awareness to realize that some things are not working the way you’d want them to. Instead of trying to prove yourself as tough, you are choosing to smartly and efficiently get where you want to be. You’re not letting fear hold you back. That pretty much sounds like the opposite of weak, doesn’t it?

misconceptions about therapy

2. You will be lying on a couch

Nowadays, this is very rare. Some psychoanalytically oriented therapists use this approach sometimes as a way to help the client speak more freely about their inner experience, but only if the client feels comfortable with it. Typically, a therapist’s office looks a lot like a living room, where you both sit at a comfortable distance, facing each other. Some therapists take notes during your visit (yes, as you’ve seen in movies :)), others leave that for after the session. It all depends on the therapist’s approach and style, and there are many different ones out there.

3. Therapy is mostly just you talking and the therapist listening. You can do that with a friend.

 While support from friends and family is amazing, sometimes that is not enough to work through some challenges. Your therapist is a professional with years of training, educated to treat cognitive, behavioural, and emotional problems, and will use many different techniques to help you deal with them effectively. Because of their long training and experience, your therapist hears things differently than a non-therapist. For example, you may be upset about others not following the rules, and your therapist may hear a fear of lack of control. Or you may be upset that your partner is going out without you and making new friends, and your therapist may hear a fear of abandonment.

It may look like a casual conversation, but a good therapist is trained to ask intentional questions to help you have a better look at your experiences and emotions and link them together. Exploring deep parts of yourself in a safe, encouraging, non-judgmental environment with the guidance of a professional who is (or should be) unbiased is much different than talking to a friend.

Moreover, a therapeutic relationship is different from all the other relationships in your life. The most obvious difference is that the whole focus of the relationship is on you and your well-being Even when a therapist shares something from their personal experience, it’s you and your goals in mind. A therapeutic relationship is deeply psychologically intimate but also strictly professional. Usually, you can’t be friends outside of therapy (or, at least, not during the course of treatment).

psychotherapy techniques

4. You have to have a major mental health issue or be in a crisis to seek therapy

People come to therapy for various reasons. Indeed, some of these people battle serious mental health issues and might benefit from medication. However, the majority of issues people come with are what you’d call “everyday problems”. Examples include managing stress, navigating transition and change, dealing with grief, finding a work-life balance, overcoming fears, improving relationships, etc. Moreover, many people look for therapy as a preventative measure, or as a way to maintain their mental health.

5. You will have to talk about your childhood

Not necessarily, and not if you don’t want to. There is nothing in therapy you strictly HAVE to do. If you don’t feel ready, a good therapist will not pressure you to talk about your past. Learning about your childhood can help in understanding the patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviours you have now, the way you see the world, and the decisions you are making in the present. Our early experiences deeply and powerfully shape our beliefs about relationships, safety, and love. These beliefs further direct what we think we “have to do to earn” those things. Some of these beliefs and tactics serve us well, and some are inaccurate and unhelpful. Nonetheless, we carry them all into adulthood.

For example, if your caretakers encouraged you to “always put others first”, that being kind means accommodating other people’s needs, that saying “no” is rude and you earned punishment for that… you, as a child, quickly learned how to behave to gain their approval. Your nervous system shapes in a way that communicates: “putting others first=mom’s/dad’s approval=safety” and “boundaries and self-care=mom’s/dad’s disapproval=wrong, danger, abort!”. As an adult, you may tend to people-please, be an ‘overgiver’ in relationships, and struggle with setting boundaries. Even if you rationally understand that boundaries are important, your nervous system can still cling to the old patterns. This is why you may feel a knot in your stomach or your heart pounding when you are about to set some personal boundaries, even when you know it’s the right thing to do.

When you understand why you feel or behave a certain way in the present, where the root of the problem is, the path to change becomes clearer. You connect the dots, are more aware of unhelpful patterns in the present and are more able to replace them with more accurate, useful ones, that will serve you better right now.

how therapy works

6. Therapists have ready solutions for your problems and will tell you what to do

Although your therapist knows a lot about what is important for mental health in general, a path to good mental health can be different for different people. A therapist may be an expert in mental health, but the client is an expert in their own life. In therapy, they are two equals who bring their knowledge together to explore the issue and weigh options to find a solution that works well. A good therapist doesn’t work based on a ready-made formula, but tailors treatment around each client’s needs and goals. They won’t give you direct advice. Instead, they will empower you to identify and understand your blocks, and guide you toward finding what’s best for you and trusting your own decisions.

7. Therapy can solve problems in one or two sessions

Usually not. Just like you don’t get a six-pack after one or two sets of crunches, you most probably won’t completely solve the problem you came with after just one session. Therapy is a process. Sometimes it’s a short process, sometimes it’s a longer one, but worth the effort nonetheless.

8. You will always feel better after a therapy session

Many times, you will leave your therapist’s office relieved, hopeful, optimistic, joyful. Other times, uncovering your fears and insecurities, remembering your past, or facing your true emotions, can be a painful experience. Talking about something that has a high emotional impact can be stressful and leave you exhausted. Therapy encourages you to leave your comfort zone, and that is not always a pleasant experience. Sometimes, therapy is described as “a storm that leads into calm”. It is a process in which, at times, things become worse before they become better.

Thus, it is not surprising to, sometimes, leave your therapy session feeling drained. You need time to process and to let things you unpacked fall into their place. It’s part of the healing process. However, if after the majority of your sessions you feel worse, it’s important to raise this issue with your therapist.

 

Do any of these misconceptions sound familiar? What are some myths you’ve heard about psychotherapy? Please let us know in the comment section below.

 

Interested in learning more about coaching or therapy? Contact us today.

 

Sources:

Kottler, J. A., & Balkin, R. S. (2020). Myths, misconceptions, and invalid assumptions about counseling and psychotherapy. Oxford University Press, USA.

Wampold, B. E. (2019). The basics of psychotherapy: An introduction to theory and practice. American Psychological Association. Online HERE

core-values

Personal Core Values – A Road To Meaningful Life

Had something like this ever happened to you?

  • Someone said or did something that you strongly disagreed with, but you didn’t say anything and then felt guilty about not speaking up?
  • You set goals and then failed to meet them.
  • You’re so busy pleasing other people that you don’t get the time to focus on what you want, and then you get angry at others?
  • You suppress what you want to do because it’s not “practical” or because you have so many things you “have to do”

If any of these resonate with you, the reason behind it may be that your actions were (or still are) not aligned with your core values.

What Are Core Values And Why They Matter So Much?

Core values are fundamental beliefs and principles that you find important in life. They highlight what you stand for, what drives you, what you see as valuable. They represent who you would like to be and how you would like to live your life.

When making different decisions, our core values give us direction. They should provide the goals and criteria that influence the path we take, what we choose, how we behave. We derive a sense of fulfillment when living in line with our personal values because our motivations and actions are aligned with what we see as important in life.

Choosing your personal core values is one of the most critical decisions when it comes to living a fulfilled life. When we don’t honor our values, we can feel lost, unmotivated, like something is simply “wrong”, and our mental and emotional state can suffer. On the other hand, intentionally creating a life that is in accordance with your values instead of automatically and habitually responding to what happens around you, without awareness and purpose, increases the chances of finding a sense of balance, confidence, and fulfillment.

personal values

How To Find Your Core Values And Make Your Life A Little Bit Easier

Many of us have no idea what our personal core values are. And in a way, it’s not surprising. In a society that actively asks us to conform, it’s not uncommon to focus on meeting other people’s expectations so much, that we lose sight of what is really important to us. Our core values get buried beneath what we think we should value.

So, turning your attention inward and engaging in an attitude of curiosity about what makes you tick and what you think is important, can help you understand yourself better. From there, you can make wiser choices, and do it more easily.

But how to do this? How to determine your core values?

One way can be to, for starters, pay attention to how you feel in different situations. What makes you angry, sad, frustrated, bored, happy, excited? Examine these situations closely – what is the main theme?

Here are some questions that can help you start thinking in that direction:

  1. If you could have any career, without worrying about money or other practical constraints, what would you do?
  2. What kinds of stories inspire you?
  3. What kinds of stories make you angry and upset?
  4. Think about three people you most admire. What is it that you appreciate about them the most?
  5. What are you the proudest of?

Sometimes, a wide list of core values can also help. A shorter list, like the one on the picture below, may be useful. Or maybe a longer one, like the one HERE, is something you find more helpful and inspiring.

What you can do is take a look at the list and select 10-15 values that most resonate with you. As you work through, you may find that some values you picked are similar or naturally combine. For instance, if you value community, generosity, and kindness, you might say that service to others is one of your top values. So, analyze your choices and try to narrow down the list, to combine the values into groups. What are the main topics? These larger “groups” you made – those should be your core values.

Regularly Revisiting Your Core Values Is The Key

Our brains loooove instant gratification. Humans are wired to avoid short-term pain and chase short-term pleasure. This is why you fail to resist eating that yummy cake on your fifth day of diet (again), or why it’s so difficult to give up smoking. Small things that give us instant pleasure or delay discomfort, but don’t serve us long-term, are something we all occasionally give priority to. We sometimes lose sight of our more important goals and of our higher values. This is why, if we want to make wiser, healthier, more fulfilling choices, it’s crucial to keep revisiting them, so that we bring them back to the front of our mind and keep ourselves in check. Try to be present and act from a conscious, deliberate mind most of the time rather than letting automatic responses guide your behaviour. In other words – act as a pilot, not on autopilot.

personal values

Of course, not every activity you do will match your values. Sometimes you got to do what you got to do. However, to have that sense of meaning and fulfillment, like you’re doing something “right”, you need to be aware of your value system and try to spend most of your time doing things congruent with it. If you feel guilty or empty doing something, if you don’t find any meaning in it, perhaps these actions are not meeting your values, or even worse, are going against them.

Values can change over time. This is also why it’s essential to check in with yourself from time to time about what you value the most and if you’re acting in line with it. This can help remove those conflicting feelings that sometimes arise as a result of not staying true to yourself or not having your values clearly defined.

What are your core values? Let us know in the comment section down below!

 

Interested in learning more about coaching or therapy? Contact us today.

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-modern-brain/201909/the-real-issue-instant-gratification

Dahlgaard-Park, S. M. (2012). Core values – the entrance to human satisfaction and commitment. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 23(2), 125-140.

Sagiv, L., Roccas, S., Cieciuch, J., & Schwartz, S. H. (2017). Personal values in human life. Nature Human Behaviour1(9), 630-639.

attracting same bad situations

Why You Keep “Attracting” the Same Situations Over And Over Again

Do you feel like the same situations keep happening to you over and over again? Do you keep attracting partners that don’t fulfill your needs or you face the same problems in different relationships? Are you struggling with the same stresses and conflicts at work, or you keep losing your jobs? It’s like you’re a magnet for people who hurt you, or embarrassing situations, or bullies at work, etc.

I am sure that, at least once in your life, you have said or thought something like: “Why this keeps happening to me all the time?”. And really, why? Is it some kind of a mystic cosmic power that brings these experiences to your life? Fortunately, psychology has a more realistic explanation to why you keep entering the same unpleasant situations all over again. Let’s explore what actually happens.

Frameworks You Live By

From the moment you are born, you are in a survival mode. During your childhood, your little mind is programmed to absorb everything that is happening around you in order to learn and adapt to your environment. You pull in the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, ideals of those around you. By interacting with your parents or primary caregivers, you form certain beliefs about yourself, other people, and life in general. These beliefs are the product of the way you interpreted behaviours of your important adults and how they treated your needs, as well as things they were telling you about other people, rules, and life in general.

Of course, not all parents are the same. Thus, some will be convinced that life is a fight, you are not allowed to make mistakes and need to be perfect in order to succeed or be loved and appreciated. For others, life will be a scary and dangerous place full of people waiting to hurt you, so you need to be careful who you trust and never let your guard down. Some will, on the other hand, believe that life is easy and fun, that people usually have good intentions and that, whatever you do, everything will be okay in the end.

These belief systems become the frameworks we live by. They are like colored glasses that affect how we see everything unfolding in our lives. More importantly, these beliefs direct our decision making, condition our behaviour and, ultimately, affect how others react to our behaviours and how they treat us.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Now, imagine a situation that you’re going to a party where you don’t know almost anyone.

Version 1: You’re afraid nobody will talk to you because believe you’re boring or not good with new people. Consequentially, you will probably feel self-conscious and anxious, and enter the party acting awkward, standoffish and not so friendly. As a result, people will not be encouraged to come to you and start a conversation, which will only, in turn, reinforce beliefs you already had.

Version 2: You strongly believe that you’re an interesting person and others will be open to meet you. You think: “This party is going to be great”. People will probably be drawn by your openness and outgoing attitude and come talk to you, which also proves you were right in your beliefs in the first place.

This effect is called a self-fulfilling prophecy, a term coined by famous sociologist, Robert Merton.

Merton noticed that sometimes a belief brings about consequences that cause reality to match the belief. He defined self-fulfilling prophecy as “a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true” (Merton, 1968).

self-fulfilling prophecy
Source: psychologytoday.com

In other words, a self-fulfilling prophecy is a belief or expectation that we hold about a future event that manifests because we hold it. Our expectations and predictions of what will happen impact our behaviour, which shapes how others see us and how they act toward us. In turn, they provide feedback we set ourselves to get in the first place, which serves to reinforce the original belief. Generally, this process is unintentional – we are not aware that our beliefs cause the consequences we expect or fear. And that’s exactly why it’s so difficult to tackle them down and start changing them.

Breaking the Cycle Can Be Hard…

Breaking the cycle of entering the same situations over and over again can be tricky, in the first place because we don’t see our fundamental beliefs as beliefs but as actual facts about the world. Subconsciously, it’s important for us to prove that our beliefs about how life works are “right” because it gives us a sense of security. If we “know” the rules by which the world functions, we feel like we can prepare and know what to expect. That’s why we filter information so they can fit our belief system. We rate experiences that are in line with our beliefs as an important “proof” that our frameworks are actually true, while we label those opposite to our frameworks as unimportant coincidences that won’t impact the way we see the world.

Over time, these patterns of thought and behaviour become our automatic response, a sort of a habitual reaction to circumstances. Researchers believe we have neural pathways in our brains that are reinforced by habit. The more you repeat the behaviour, the stronger your neural pathway for that behaviour becomes, and the easier it triggers the next time.

It’s like a forest dirt road – the more you walk on it, the more well-established it becomes. You have an automatic impulse to walk down that well-worn path, rather than on the grassy part. However, this dirt road often leads to the same destination. To break the cycle, you need to consciously resist the urge to stay on the road you know and start walking on the grass to a different direction. Over time, as you repeat taking the same route on the grass, another path will form and it will be easier to walk on.

…But You Can Do It!

One thing you can do to make the first step toward exiting the circle of “attracting” the same problems is to, for starters, let go of certainty. It’s important to understand that much of what you think you know about yourself, other people, and life, is more probably a belief and less probably a fact. It is a product of your upbringing and your past experiences. But the good news is that we can choose our beliefs and, therefore, change them.

You can start off by choosing a pattern that you want to break out of. Then, write down the past five times when it happened. List all the details about those situations – how did it happened, what led to it, why you think it happened. Now, try to find commonalities across these situations. In the end, try to find what part you play in these situations? Are there any behaviours that might have led you to the common outcome?

Here is a list of questions that might be helpful in discovering a pattern and your part in it:

  1. What keeps happening over and over again?
  2. How does it start?
  3. What happens next?
  4. And then what happens?
  5. How does it end?
  6. How do you feel after it ends? (John James, 1973)

 

This process is crucial for changing your patterns. It gives the opportunity to tackle down the reason you might have taken up a particular role and contributed to the outcome that keeps happening. From there, you can set up a goal – what you want to change and what results to get – and then map out a different path from the one you’re taking now.

It’s absolutely okay if you’re not able to identify the reason behind the same situations repeating in your life by yourself. A good therapist can help you figure out where you’re standing and how to proceed.

 

Please share your thoughts and experiences on the topic down below in the comments, it’s always amazing to hear it! Also, don’t forget to share this post on your social media.

 

Sources:

https://yaqeeninstitute.org/najwa-awad/why-do-bad-things-always-happen-to-me-breaking-the-cycles-of-negativity/#.XQZQfYgzbIU

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychology-writers/201210/using-self-fulfilling-prophecies-your-advantage

https://positivepsychology.com/self-fulfilling-prophecy/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860473/

holiday stress

How to Reduce Stress Over Christmas and Holidays

The holiday season…

Cold weather ✔

Snow ✔

2013 coming to an end ✔

Deadlines approaching ✔

More family time ✔

More commitments ✔

Season of giving ✔

…as you know, the list keeps running. Most of our lives encompass some of these things right now. In my practice, I’m finding that there’s an increased level of stress and anxiety in people’s lives. Why does holiday stress happen?

Holiday Season and Stress

Research from the American Heart Association (2004) contends that this time of year there’s an increase in emotional stress about the holidays. Having to interact with family we may, or may not want to associate with, feeling the pressure of having to absorb financial pressures such as purchasing gifts, travelling, and/or entertaining. Having planned your holiday in advance is a good way to de-stress yourself. For example, you could visit friends, play a role-playing game with the family, renovate the house, etc. Also around this time of year, people are more likely to indulge in foods and beverages they may not usually consume. Consequently, if it interrupts normal healthy patterns, feelings of guilt or regret creep in.

5 tips for avoiding holiday stress:

  • Pick and choose your holiday activities
  • Ask for help
  • Say no when necessary
  • Everything in moderation
  • Set realistic expectations for the season

Try to relax and lower your expectations from yourself and from your family. You may find yourself enjoying holidays more than you expected.

References

Kloner, R. (2004). The “Merry Christmas Coronary” and “Happy New Year Heart Attack” Phenomenon. American Heart Association. Retrieved from: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/110/25/3744.short

keys to a long life

Keys To a Long Life

Most of us want to live as long as possible, right? But what are the keys to a long life? Is it not to stress so much? Is it to be positive? Or, is it to stop working too hard and focus on other aspects of your life? All these sound intuitive and reasonable, but the reality might not be what we expect it to be. As it turns out, the keys to a long life might be just the opposite of all mentioned. What?!

Well, a 20-year long Riverside study on the University of California had a mission to discover what is that that predicts someone will live a happy, long life, and came with some surprising results. For instance, people who were most devoted to their jobs lived the longest. Another example – people who were more cheerful and laid-back actually, on average, had shorter lives compared to people less cheerful and humorous. One possible explanation is that people who are laid-back and not continually productive in their job are also laid-back when it comes to their health; maybe too much. They are maybe more careless about their health and have more risky behaviors than responsible, “serious” individuals.

But what does affect the longevity of life then? Dr. Friedman, one of the authors of the study, says:

 “Probably our most amazing finding was that personality characteristics and social relations from childhood can predict one’s risk of dying decades later”

The study came to many more interesting findings of keys to a long life, and you can read it all here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311153541.htm

Being positive and cheerful is a great thing, as long as you stay responsible to your health. So eat that apple and smile!

 

Interested in learning more about coaching or therapy? Contact us today.

stress

5 Tips to Radically Reduce Stress

According to research conducted by American Psychological Association about stress at work, 2 in 5 employees experience stress during their typical workday. In other words, almost half of the employed population is stressed every day. This number is huge and concerning.

The same study shows that less than six in ten employees report having resources to manage work stress. But knowing how to face stressful situations without feeling overwhelmed is extremely important, not just for your workplace success, but for your physical and mental health. Untreated chronic stress can cause insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, all the way to serious conditions such as depression, heart disease and obesity.

Although, of course, it would be best if the initial problem of chronic stress could be solved before the other problems began, here are 5 helpful and research-backed techniques to help you reduce stress and save your health:

1. Give yourself permission to step away from the stressor

That’s right. Sometimes we feel obligated to feel stressed, because somewhere deep down, we believe that we’re controlling the situation to some extent by feeling stressed. There is an almost unconscious fear that if we let it go, everything will fall apart. Because of this, we clench to the stressful situation in hope that we’ll somehow fix it if we stress enough about it. But we won’t. And if you give yourself permission to step away from the thing that’s causing you stress, and let yourself do something else, there’s a high chance you’ll get a new perspective and solve the problem more efficiently after some time. Even if you don’t, at least you’ll get rid of some portion of that stress. This doesn’t mean to run away from all stressful situations; it just means that you should let yourself step away from it for a little while, and take care of yourself, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.

2. Excercise

Yeah, this is a classic one. But it really works! Research shows that daily exercise significantly reduces stress experienced during the day. Working out clears your mind and strengthens not just your body, but your abilities to cope with stressful situations too.

3. Laugh it off

Did you know that neuroscience discovered that, when you fake a smile, it activates the same parts of your brain that light up when you’re smiling for real. In other words, just a simple facial expression of smiling can, after a while, trick your brain into feeling better. The real smile is always the best solution, of course, but research suggest that, to some degree, you can fake it ’til you make it. So, try to forget about your grumpy boss and remember that funny cat from that YouTube video. It’ll elicit smile on your face, and you can start from there.

4. Speak with someone about your concerns

Social support matters. When you talk to someone you trust, it really takes off the burden off of your chest. Talk about your distress, your feelings and your concerns, and be open to advice. Even if you don’t end up with the solution, just speaking it out helps alleviate the pressure.

5. Meditate

Maybe you heard it before, but mindfulness and meditation really increase the quality of your life. Practicing it daily leads to getting to know yourself better, and with that, to start being honest with yourself about your feelings. From there, you can recognize how exactly you’re feeling when you face a stressful situation and learn to release that pressure in a healthy way. Meditation can help you step out of your head and get a new perspective on the problem. Finally, meditation will teach you how to relax and release the tension you might be holding when you feel stressed. Try it out; it’s one of the easiest techniques you can implement in your daily routine today to improve your well-being.

 

Interested in learning more about coaching or therapy? Contact us today.

 

References:

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

positive break

Distract Yourself in Healthy Ways

Good Morning Readers! We work hard to gain benefits or avoid losses. But either way, it’s okay to reward yourself with a healthy, positive break.

I was browsing through my favorite websites, to get my day off to a great start. So, I landed on this site and thought I would share it with you: http://vividlife.me/ultimate/. It gives some helpful suggestions if you need ideas on how to break away from the “daily grind” and give yourself a positive break. Additionally, it gives some insight into healthy and unhealthy distractions and how and why to avoid the second ones.

Cheers!

P.S. If you need more ideas, we shared some in our article here.

 

Interested in learning more about coaching or therapy? Contact us today.

positive attitude

Positive Attitude

Do you see a cup half full or half empty? This question can seem trivial, but it actually can tell a lot about the way you see circumstances in life and, possibly, the way you feel most of the time. Research shows that people who see a cup as half full, a.k.a optimists, tend to have higher levels of happiness, perseverance, achievement, and health (Peterson, 2000, p. 47) compared to pessimists. Additionally, there is evidence that optimistic people are more likely to take proactive steps when it comes to their health, while pessimism is somewhat related to health-damaging behaviours. Accordingly, a positive attitude is related to higher levels of physical and mental health, increased life expectancy, success at the workplace and better coping strategies.

Although pessimists would say that optimism is the same as denial and oversimplification, and having a positive attitude is dangerous because these individuals will end up disappointed and hurt. However, research has strong evidence against those statements. As a matter of fact, the behavioural patterns of optimists appear to provide models of living for others to learn from. After all, increased life expectancy and health, as well as being successful and happy and making people around us feel the same way is what really matters in the end.

So, if being positive is so beneficial for happiness, can we somehow incorporate it into our lives? The answer is YES, you definitely can.

Learning Positive Attitude

Becoming optimistic and training yourself to look at the bright side takes work and discipline. If you tend to see things negatively, it will take some time to make optimism a thinking habit. But once you do, you’ll definitely notice the change in the way you feel and act. So, what should you do?

Notice Your Negative Thinking Patterns

Listen to your words and your thoughts. The longer you listen, the more you’ll recognize negative assumptions and conclusions. Catch yourself doing that and try to challenge those negative thoughts. Do you have enough evidence to support those statements? Where do you draw that pessimistic conclusion from? Try replacing these negative beliefs with positive, or at least neutral ones.

Give Yourself and Others a Positive Feedback

Give compliments. For some, it’s easier to blame others than to support them, but give it a try. Even if someone has done something poorly, recognize the effort and find something they’ve done well. This applies to you as well. When you accomplish something, maybe you have a tendency to tell yourself something like “oh, that’s nothing special” or “I was just lucky” or “everyone could do it”. This usually happens because you’re afraid that, if you take responsibility for your strengths and good actions, you’ll disappoint others the next time you fail. But this is false; taking positive feedback is not dangerous, nor is rejecting it the warranty of protection from disappointment. Recognize your irrational beliefs and work on overcoming them.

Be Grateful

Give thanks for small things in your life. It’s easy to get swallowed by difficulties of everyday life and forget about everything that make out life easier. But remembering to be grateful will eventually make you happy with what you have instead of being unhappy for what you don’t. Keeping a gratitude journal can be really beneficial, especially in the beginning of your practice.

Becoming optimistic can be really difficult and even feel fake in the beginning, but as time passes by, you’ll get better and better at this. If you’re persistent, you’ll just catch yourself one day naturally implementing positive attitude in your thinking pattern. So hang in there.

 

Interested in learning more about coaching or therapy? Contact us today.

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161121/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/

The Psychology of Optimism and Pessimism: Theories and Research Findings

https://psychology.as.uky.edu/optimism

work-life balance

Work Life Balance

Do you feel overwhelmed with work? Are you constantly tired and under stress? Your boss is calling you to ask just one more question about the meeting, you’re checking your e-mails in the evenings and you can’t seem to get that huge workload out of your head? Well, you’re not alone. Many young people feel exactly like this in the 21st century. As a matter of fact, a new study shows that Canadians are feeling lower levels of satisfaction with their work-life balance in comparison with eight years ago. This is the same period in which smartphones and the internet became inevitable parts of our everyday lives. Coincidence? Don’t think so.

But let me ask you one uncomfortable question: until when are you planning to go on like this? Can you imagine yourself in 5 years feeling the same? If your answer is “Oh, hell no!”, then it’s time to reevaluate priorities and make some changes.

What Is a Work-Life Balance and How to Maintain It

Greenhaus (2002) defines work-life balance as “satisfaction and good functioning at work and at home with a minimum of role conflict”. However, the expansion of technology brought pressure for us to be available in any moment of the day. This makes your roles in the workplace and at home hard to strictly separate, creating the conflict between them. In other words, technology is making it difficult for us to unplug and separate work from home. Further, our private life is suffering, and we’re feeling stressed and unhappy. Eventually, it takes a toll on your physical and mental health.

So, how to make the balance? Is there a way to be successful and maintain a fulfilling career while having enough quality time for friends, family, partners, hobbies, and yourself? Yes, there is.

1. Let go of perfectionism

Perfectionism may have been useful when we were kids, because it helped us stay on top of our obligations and get good grades. However, as you grow up, life becomes much more complicated, and in these circumstances, making everything perfect is often impossible. It can, further, lead to frustration and procrastination. It’s the habit that works against you; the soon you learn to let it go, the better. This, of course, doesn’t mean to get sloppy and to stop caring about the way you do your job; it just means that you should strive for greatness, but not for perfection.

2. Unplug

Turn off your devices! Every time you jump to respond to that e-mail or the phone call from work while you’re at home, you’re sending the message to your brain that what’s happening at work while you’re not there is extremely important and that something catastrophic can happen if you don’t answer. But that’s irrational belief; if you stop for a second to think about it, you’ll realize it. But every time you decide to turn off your smartphone and make yourself unavailable for the next few hours, you’re sending yourself the message that your well-being and maintaining your relationships are valuable. Eventually, you’ll feel more in control of your time and your life.

3. Exercise and Meditate

Working out and sitting in silence are two incredibly powerful methods of taking control of your thoughts. If your mind is constantly shifting towards your work, practicing mindful meditation can do wonders for training yourself to stay in the moment and enjoy it. Further, exercise is proven to boost your mood; it’s an instant fix against feeling stressed or overwhelmed. If exercise and meditation don’t give you the desired effects that you were after, then don’t hesitate in trying an alternative method.

4. Limit Time-Wasting Activities and People

How many times have you caught yourself endlessly scrolling through social media, and feeling miserable after that? Or you said ‘yes’ to hanging out with people who are drowning your energy? Identify the bad habits you have that are swallowing your quality time and try to eliminate them. Next, make a list of priorities – what are the things you enjoy the most? Then devote your quality time to high-priority people and activities on your list.

5. Change the structure of your life

If there’s something that cuts your precious time, try to reorganize things a little. You don’t have to do everything by yourself; this is the perfect opportunity to soften the grip around the need to control everything and delegate part of your obligations to someone else. This way, you’ll make room for your higher priorities.

6. Start Small. Build From There

Don’t put too high expectations in front of yourself. Start one thing at a time; and reward yourself for every small step you take toward your goal. Why don’t you start with this list? Trying to accomplish everything at once and create a work-life balance in a short period of time would be impossible, and you would soon end up frustrated and disappointed. So, one step at a time. Moving slowly is completely alright.

Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing great. Take care.

 

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