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.
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).
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.
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:
- What keeps happening over and over again?
- How does it start?
- What happens next?
- And then what happens?
- How does it end?
- 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.
The holiday season…
Cold weather ✓
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, traveling, and/or entertaining. 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.
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
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!
According to research conducted by American Psychological Association about stress at work, two in five 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 to have 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.
So, here are 5 helpful and research-backed up techniques that can 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 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 the 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.
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. If your stress is debt related it might be a good idea to converse with companies similar to debtconsolidation.co to work towards bringing your debts into one manageable payment. This can significantly reduce stress for many because they will have better control over their finances.
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 on a healthy way. Meditation can help you step out of your head and get the 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 to your daily routine today to improve your well-being. If you’re looking for more alternative methods to relieve your stress, you might even want to consider medical marijuana from somewhere like this lansing dispensary. Cannabis has been shown to improve people’s mood and a lot of people use it help them to unwind after a stressful day. Just remember to do your research first to make sure cannabis is legal where you are.
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/5294/distract-yourself-in-healthy-ways/. This article 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.
P.S. If you need more ideas, click here.
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 behaviors. Accordingly, 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 behavioral 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 having a positive attitude 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 you drew 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 a positive feedback is not dangerous, nor is rejecting it the warranty of protection of disappointment. Recognize your irrational beliefs and work on overcoming them.
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.
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 on 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 internet became inevitable parts of our everyday lives. Coincidence? Didn’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, expansion of technology brought a 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, partner, hobbies and yourself? Yes, there is. Forbes published 6 tips for successfully creating the work-life balance that’s right for you:
1.Let go of perfectionism – perfectionism was 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’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 over 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.
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 make 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.