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.
Are you stuck in your head? Do you feel like you are worrying about anything and everything all day long? Repeating the same scenarios in your head over and over and spiraling down the hole of anxious thoughts is tiring!
Sometimes, worry can be a good thing. When there is a realistic possibility of failure or unpleasant thing occurring, worry can motivate us to work harder, prepare and focus on what we can control. However, when it slips into rumination about the things you have no control over, it doesn’t lead to productive or practical solutions. Instead, it triggers unhelpful thought patterns and excessive worry that repeat over and over. It’s completely useless and simply frustrating. But how to stop?
Why Simply Telling Yourself to Stop Worrying is Not Helpful
Your excessive worry isn’t there without a reason. You bother yourself with worst case scenarios and anxious thoughts because they give you a false sense of control. If you worry too hard, bad things might not happen, right? And if they happen, you’d surely be prepared?
Still, you don’t feel any better if the thing you were worried about really occurs, do you? Think about it.
Remember, worrying gives you a FALSE sense of control. We have a tendency to believe that rumination will bring a sense of relief, but it doesn’t because that tailspin has no end or solution, which just intensifies anxiety more.
Simply telling yourself to stop doing something is not enough because, as mentioned above, somewhere deep down you might believe that worry gives you some sense of control and relief. That’s why your subconscious mind doesn’t let go. However, this sense of control is extremely weak, and the damage to your mental health far outweighs that illusion of the “benefit”.
So the first thing you need to do is to consciously decide to give up on trying to control things you can’t control. Second, stop blaming yourself for feeling anxious. It’s enough you feel overwhelmed in the first place; you don’t need additional pressure. Simply telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work. So, what does?
Schedule Worry Time
It may sound counterproductive, but forcing yourself to worry during a specific time of the day may actually help you worry less. Studies consistently show that dedicating 15 to 20 minutes during the day to purposely obsess over things that worry you actually decreases the number of worrying thoughts during the day and helps to ease anxiety.
Rules are simple: schedule 15 minutes at a specific time every day to worry about your problems. Pick a time when you know you’ll be able to focus all your attention to worry without interruptions. However, try to make this time at least 2 hours away from your bedtime to avoid possible difficulties falling asleep.
Okay, now that you made your appointment with worry, spend some time with it. Dedicate your full attention to your anxious thoughts during those 15 minutes, without fighting them or trying to make them go away. Don’t try to think positive or to convince yourself these thoughts are unnecessary. Exactly the opposite – strive to come up with as many worries as you can, and try to be as uncomfortable as possible in reviewing them. If you run out of ideas in those 15 minutes, it’s important to not walk away. The goal is to fill the whole 15 minutes with worry, not a minute more or less. If you spent all your anxious ideas in the first 10 minutes, repeat the ones you already thought over.
When your scheduled date with worry passes, get up and go on with your day. You’ll meet your worry at the same time the next day, but not until then. Anxious thoughts will, of course, try to sneak in and occupy space in your head during the day. Just politely tell them that now is not the time, and they will have to wait until the appointment when you’ll listen to all of them. If they are persistent, instead of getting stuck in your head with them, try some of the mindfulness techniques like focusing on the outside sensations or on your breathing.
How And Why Worry Time Works
There is a little mind twist here. You’re probably frustrated with not being able to run away or combat all those worrying and uncomfortable thoughts; it just seems there are too many of them all the time. However, when you turn tables around and purposefully try to find as many of them as possible, you realize three things:
- There are not so many of them after all,
- Facing your worries and letting unpleasant feelings those obsessing thoughts evoke is not so terrible or unboreable,
- In the end, worrying becomes boring.
These three things change the way you approach your worry and gradually ease your anxiety over anxiety. Instead of becoming all tense on the first thought of worry, you become to experience other emotional responses, like boredom for example. That creates space for making a distance from unhelpful thought patterns and for taking a more realistic perspective.
In the end, one important note: be persistent. Give time for change. When you start practicing this technique, it’s possible that your worry will intensify in the first few days, and it will be more difficult to resist rumination between worry times. That is frustrating, but also totally natural. Just keep up the practice. Emotional changes need time. However, if this technique stirs up extremely strong emotions in you after a week, stop practicing it. Additionally, don’t hesitate to ask for additional support. Your therapist will work with you to discover what lies behind your anxious thoughts and feelings, and find techniques and tools that suit you best.
Thanksgiving, the time of year to give thanks for the important people and opportunities in our lives.
What do you give thanks for this year? Regardless of what, or who, remember to approach our lives every day of the year with a thankful attitude. It’s important to remember all the good things, people, relationships and experiences we have in our lives. It’s scientifically proven that gratitude has numerous benefits for ourselves, but also for people around us.
Practice Gratitude Every Day
Gratitude enhances your physical and psychological health. You will sleep better, have higher self-esteem and love yourself more, which leads to happier and healthier life. It also improves empathy and reduces aggression, which improves relationships and makes you more likable and approachable.
One of the good ways to remind yourself about the things you’re grateful this Thanksgiving, and keep remembering them during the year, is to write down 3 things you’re thankful for this year. After writing them down, reflect on why they’re important to you, and write them down beside the list. Post this somewhere visible in your living space so it’s a daily reminder.
Visualizations are also a powerful way to help us see the destination we want to arrive at.
And remember, Have Fun!
Taking care of our mental health is as important as taking care of our physical health. Hundreds of studies are constantly proving the extreme benefits of daily meditation to our mental and physical health. Just 20 minutes a day of sitting still and watching your thoughts stroll by while focusing on your breathing can make wonders for you! Here are some examples of amazing benefits meditation can bring.
Meditation Boosts Your Health and Positively Changes Your Brain
Numerous scientists have found that mindfulness meditation has a significantly positive effect on our brain and immune system. It can also decrease pain and lower inflammations at the cellular level. Additionally, scientists noticed some physical changes on brains of people who meditate regularly. For example, they found that these patients experience increased cortical thickness and growth of grey matter, which is connected with better focus and memory. Also, these individuals have a larger volume of areas in their brain that are related to emotional regulation and self-control.
Meditation Brings Positive Emotions and Improves Mental Health
We all want to be happy. Luckily, meditation can help us achieve that goal. Studies have shown that it can decrease anxiety and depression, as well as lower everyday stress we’re experiencing. Additionally, it brings positive emotions, like joy and calmness. There are also “loving-kindness” types of meditation, which bring feelings of warm love and fulfillment.
Meditation Betters Your Social Life
Although meditation is (usually) an alone activity, it actually increases your sense of connection to others. This happens because meditating can enhance your emotional intelligence and make you more compassionate. Additionally, it can make you more introspective and more in control of your emotions, which all appears attractive to others, making you a desirable individual for connection (friendship, romantic relationship etc.).
Meditating daily is incredibly important for your mental health. So, make a change today! Brain Sync offers customers a free-guided meditation sample. You can start from here: http://www.brainsync.com/free-guided-meditation-online
Physical health is as important as mental health. Excercise makes our bodies stronger and healthier, but did you know that it does the same for our minds? It’s true!
Several studies have shown that people who are physically active perform better on cognitive tasks such as reasoning, memory, and vocabulary compared to not especially active individuals. Other studies show that exercise boosts mood and positive emotions after just about five minutes of performing it. What’s particularly amazing is the fact that, on a long-term, working out is a powerful tool for combating depression and anxiety.
But if exercise is so good for us, why is it so damn hard to do it?
Despite numerous benefits of physical activity, many people find incorporating working out into their daily lives incredibly hard. Have you ever caught yourself finding excuses not to hit the gym? Although you know how exercise is important for you, even if you know that you’ll feel great after it, laying on the couch is somehow hard to resist. Perhaps you say you don’t have time. Or you’re too tired. Or any other excuse you creatively came up with.
Experts say that making exercising a habit is hard for various reasons. One of them is that some people start too hard, with too high expectations regarding their performances, that they soon “burn out” and convince themselves it’s too difficult for them. Another reason is that they expected the change in their looks or performance too soon. Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment and drop of motivation.
A Few Ways to Help You Excercise Daily
Although it’s difficult to make it a habit in the beginning, remind yourself why daily exercise is so good for your physical and mental health. Otto gives a great metaphor for it: “Failing to exercise when you feel bad is like explicitly not taking an aspirin when your head hurts.”
Try implementing a workout regime into your daily lives; set a SMART goal for a duration (how long) and frequency (how often) you’re going to work out per week.
Be sure to implement a tracking system to help monitor your progress. By tracking, you’re better able to see your progress and use it as positive encouragement! When you see your photos/number of reps/distance/anything else you set as your tracking system, after a couple of months, it’s a fantastic motivation to keep going! You’ll feel awesome!
Lululemon posts a great blog on why it’s important to sweat once a day: http://lululemon.com/community/blog/sweat-once-a-day-recap
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.