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Parenting a Whiny, Disrespectful Child: How to Stay Calm

As parents, we are probably all familiar with being provoked into a blood vessel-popping rage.

We are instantly overwhelmed and any resolution we might have made to stay calm is eradicated. That’s because kids are amazingly good at refining behaviors that they can turn to when they’re disappointed or angry, especially in public, to make their parents even angrier.

Let’s just stand back for a moment and appreciate the virtuosity of the 6-year-old who trails along behind you every morning on the way to school wailing that you’re mean because you make him wear an uncomfortable backpack. Or the 9-year-old who demonstrates her budding independence and wit by being rude to you in front of others, or the 12-year-old who during an argument over chores shouts, “You don’t care about anybody but yourself! You just want me to do all this stupid stuff around your stupid house because you’re so selfish and lazy!”

It’s as if they had commissioned a study of the most effective ways to set you off and then implemented the findings with great care and foresight. And yet there you go, rising to the bait. What’s your standard move? The come-along arm yank? The livid pinch-and-shake combo? The point-by-point counterargument? “What? I’m selfish? I’m lazy? I changed your diapers and picked your nose and sat up with you all night long when you were sick! I work hard all day to support this family, and then I get home and I clean and I cook. …”

There’s really no satisfying response, is there? Decreeing an extravagantly harsh punishment may immediately address your sense of justice, but it’s unlikely to make the annoying behavior go away, and once you calm down, you’re unlikely to stick with the punishment, anyway.

Grabbing, shaking, hitting, or screaming at your kid may stop the behavior and be cathartic for you, but only for a moment (after which you may well begin to feel guilty for losing control of yourself and overreacting), and over time such responses will likely lead to further behavioral problems. Ignoring the unwanted behavior and finding ways to encourage its positive opposite is the effective response for getting rid of the unwanted behavior in the long run, but this approach won’t satisfy your overwhelming short-term urge to do something right now that punishes the crime.

It’s difficult to work out a satisfying response to flagrant disrespect because you’re typically in the grip of at least four distinct, only partially overlapping, and often conflicting motives:

  • An emotional urge to do something with the anger surging up inside you
  • A moralistic impulse to dispense justice in proportion to the offense
  • A social obligation to show yourself and your child and any others who might be watching that you don’t tolerate such behavior
  • A practical intent to get rid of the problem so you don’t have to put up with such hassles in the future.

Does that mean you should NEVER reason with your kids? Of course not. But before you do answer the “why can’t I?” “why not?” questions, ask yourself “have I already given my child the answers to this question many, many times already?” If the answer is yes, then instead of using reasoning to try to change your child’s mind, try saying something like:

“What do you think?”

“I’ll bet you know the answer to that question”

“Do you have any idea what I’m going to say?”

“I don’t blame you for being upset. And you have heard my answer already.”

If your child is truly interested in the answer to her question, then, of course, give her an explanation. But before you answer “why” questions automatically, consider the possibility of having your child to give you the answer. It will tell you what is on her mind and how they think. That also helps you to listen and understand what she is really believes or what she has figured out for herself.

If by the age of five, you’re starting to feel as if your child is ready for law school, its a signal to reason less. Many children–particularly preschoolers–try to wear you down by whining. And when they do, it’s almost impossible not to become annoyed and frustrated. Whining is heavy-duty irritation, akin to scratching on a blackboard. But there are strategies parents can use, rather than giving in or getting furious.

When faced with criticism, blame or defensive false accusations, we can say, “It’s awful, isn’t it!” or, “I don’t blame you for being angry” or “I never thought of it that way.” We are just letting them know we heard what they said!

Rather then offer explanations, counter-critiques, or defenses, we can choose to do something else instead, such as:

• We can agree with them; e.g., “It certainly seems like I’m hard to get along with.” We are not agreeing with the facts of the matter, we are agreeing that they feel the way they feel. Feelings are like opinions and perceptions in that they are subjective, without a factual basis.

• We can choose to agree that they are upset:  “It’s so frustrating when this happens, isn’t it.”  We do not need to go on and on defending the inaccuracy of their accusations, trying to win a pardon for our offense against them. We are not required to defend against fiction.

• We can say, “I can tell you are angry.” This is not a confession of guilt. It is an observation of their tone, words and body language. We are just acknowledging that we can tell they are in emotional pain.

• We can say “It must make you angry when that happens. I don’t blame you, I’d be angry too if that happened to me.” This is an appropriate validation of the other person’s anger and of their worth as a person. When we validate the other person’s anger, we are validating their right to have feelings in spite of their unpleasant choice in how they are being conveyed.

• We can choose to calm ourself down, and put our own anger in a moderate, manageable perspective: “What difference does it make? Just because they said it, doesn’t make it literally true. It’s how they feel in the present. It’s not a fact. It’s just their opinion and perception in the moment.

Here’s what NOT to do if you already have a child who is earning an advanced degree in whining. Don’t change your no into a yes. Don’t try to explain or justify your reasons for refusing to grant your child’s wish. Beware. If your child has even the merest hope that the more he whines, the more chance there is that you’ll give in, he will up the ante and whine more.

Instead, help your child to learn alternative, more positive ways to ask for what she wants. During a calm, pleasant moment when you have your child’s attention, ask her if she knows how to ask for something in her regular voice and not a whining voice. Have her show you how she does this and say something like: “Yes, that is exactly the way it sounds when you ask for something in your ‘whiny’ voice. Now let’s practice your asking me for something in your ‘regular’ voice (or your ‘Suzy’ voice or your ‘big girl’ voice).” Compliment her when she uses that normal voice.

The next time she starts to whine, instead of repeatedly telling her to “stop whining”, ask her to use her regular voice. If you do this consistently, chances are you will be on the way to curing the whining habit.

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

4 Conflict Resolution Skills to Manage Anger

Managing your anger means not saying or doing things you’ll later regret.

It means calming yourself, assessing situations with a cool head, and taking sensible actions. It basically involves making choices around four components of your behavior:

  • 1  Expressing yourself
  • 2  Taking care of yourself
  • 3  Building up your tolerance for frustration
  • 4  Maintaining a positive outlook

EXPRESSING YOURSELF

When you express yourself, you promote constructive communication. Have you ever heard the expression that communication is 10 percent information and 90 percent emotion? It means that good communication is more than just send- ing a message. It’s like a game of catch. It involves making sure that the message you send someone else is the message they’ve received, and that the message you receive is the message the other person has sent. Easier said than done!

Communication is effective and constructive when actions match words. If your words and actions don’t match, then your listener will ask you for clarity, and you will need to o er it. So as you talk with someone, pay attention to how you’re feeling, to the words you’re using, and to what your body language may be saying.

Because communication is a two-way street, expressing yourself effectively also means listening to your partner in a conversation. For example, if your husband/wife is saying the same thing over and over, maybe he/she thinks his/her emotions haven’t been heard along with his/her words. That’s a common issue because it’s so easy for a listener to jump over someone’s feelings and start giving advice, sharing facts, or trying to minimize a problem instead of really hearing what the other person is saying. But when you refuse to hear someone else’s feelings, you’re saying, in effect, “Your feelings are not okay. You have no right to feel that way.” And when you verbally attack other people, they respond by defending themselves and counterattacking, and pretty soon the discussion has escalated into something so completely unrelated to honest emotional needs that further talking can’t lead to a solution.

This works the other way, too—if you’re not fully heard, then you can’t communicate your needs. So it’s understandable that you feel frustrated or angry when you’re not feeling heard and the other person just cuts you off by saying, “That’s ridiculous!” You can’t solve a problem that you don’t understand, and full communication—listening to words while also listening for feelings—is what leads to understanding. Surprisingly, though, there’s often no need to solve the problem, whatever it is, once the people discussing it are sure that their feelings have been heard.

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

When you take care of yourself, you promote your own happiness. Your happiness is just as important as anyone else’s, so set some limits on others’ demands. Your whole day doesn’t have to be a round of people-pleasing tasks. Today maybe some- one else can pick up the dry cleaning or mow your mother’s lawn. Again, though, this is easier said than done. People who want you to do things for them may think you’re being sel sh if you say no, and you may think so yourself.

But this is really more about self-preservation. How can you truly care for others if you don’t care for yourself rst? Besides, why not be a role model for self-care? Otherwise, all you’ll be doing is teaching others that you’ll always be there to solve their problems, and they’ll never learn to do that themselves. It may be hard to set boundaries and then watch people struggle, but that’s how people grow.

BUILDING UP YOUR TOLERANCE FOR FRUSTRATION

When you increase your tolerance for frustration, you foster forgiveness. If some- one hurts you—a neighbor tells lies about you behind your back, your business partner steals from you, your spouse has an a air—you want to lash out in anger, especially if the other person’s behavior involves a personal betrayal, or if there’s a signi cant di erence in power between you and the person who hurt you.

When you can’t hit back, your frustration can feel extreme. Why shouldn’t you seek revenge? Why should you ever forgive anyone who betrays you? These are legitimate questions. And the answers have to do with an important fact: Forgiving someone else’s bad behavior is not the same thing as forgetting or condoning the behavior.

Forgetting means repressing—bottling up hurt and anger. But forgiveness is a powerful stance because it rests on the ability to let go of your painful feelings about a person or an event so you can move on with your life. Someone else’s bad behavior caused you pain, and you are making the choice to let your anger and pain go. Forgiving others’ hurtful behavior is an opportunity for you to let them be responsible for themselves.

Your act of forgiveness is for your bene t, not anyone else’s. As the old say- ing goes, holding a grudge against someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. When you seek revenge or wish harm to another, the bit- terness of your feelings depletes your energy and prevents your pain from healing. But when you increase your tolerance for frustration—that is, your tolerance for not lashing out when others hurt or disappoint you—you can learn more about the world and discover new opportunities to grow and stay healthy, because you’ve developed the power to let go of the past and enjoy your life in the present.

MAINTAINING A POSITIVE OUTLOOK

When you maintain a positive outlook, you become more able to manage your interpretation of events. Your outlook on life—its speci c events and the other people involved in them—has much more to do with how you feel than it does with actual events and people in your life. If you see the world as a terrible place where the cards are stacked against you, then you create a formula for anger, sadness, or worry. You have a choice about what you emphasize in the world around you. If you wake up in the morning and it’s raining, you can interpret that fact as a per- sonal a ront from nature and bemoan the gray, depressing day to come. Or, you can look out at the rain and feel content to be warm and dry in your comfortable home. It’s really up to you

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

How to Forgive After a Fight

Forgiveness is the ability to let go of the past in order to move forward.

Letting go of old wounds is the antidote to hurtful experiences and can dramatically improve your mood in the present. 

You may imagine that forgiveness is arrived at through a logical, rational sorting-out process. But forgiveness does not involve assessing degrees of guilt and innocence, the relative evil of the perpetrator’s intent, as if you were a Supreme Court of One. 

Forgiveness means a letting go of anger, not for another’s benefit, but for your own. These people who have hurt you will never know about it. It’s none of their business who you forgive. It’s for your benefit. This matter is between you and you. 

Forgiveness is not arrived at or achieved intellectually. Hurt is a personal experience and it can be solved by reinterpretation. When you are hurt, you are, in a sense, at war. You can replace these battle scars in your bloodstream with the feeling that you are at peace. You may find yourself dragged down by anger against those who could have treated you better. These resentments and hostilities about the past can be an obstacle to your enjoyment of the present. You can speed up your healing process by forgiving. 

The act of forgiveness gives you options that were never open to you before. It allows you to live your life on a much more realistic basis. If you don’t forgive, the hurt will stay down there inside you forever. Is that what you want?  I don’t think so.  

You have the power of choice now. Having choices is liberating in itself.  You have the choice to let go of these feelings in order to move forward with your life. Forgiveness is not “condoning.” It is not “permitting,” “allowing” or anything else. Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate choice. A decision that you make to stop holding on to your hurt. You can choose whether to hang on to it or to let it go anytime you wish.

Many clients will say, “If I forgive, then how do I prevent it from happening again?” Where is it written that if you don’t forgive, it will make you tough and invulnerable?  You cannot prevent hurtful things from happening to you in an imperfect world by refusing to forgive. That is not ‘strength of character’, that’s sulking and pouting. It’s time you replaced that unhappy role with a mature identity of your own. 

Some people become confused about forgiveness because it sounds like you’re letting go of responsibility and allowing others to discard the rules of society. But forgiveness can complement personal responsibility. Forgiveness allows you to let go of the past, while you continue to maintain your best effort and clear thinking about personal responsibility in the present. 

Here are some choices you can make to foster forgiveness:

1. Identify what hurt and pain (what someone just said or did) as antagonism because that’s what it is. It was not said or done for you, its serves their own agenda.

2. Put your hurt and pain in its proper perspective – they made an immature, childish statement or action. It does not deserve the attention and energy you are giving it.

3. Are you going to let your hurt determine your response or will you choose to use your adult judgment? Are you going to let your anger control you or are you going to manage it?

4. Identify that this is an opportunity to allow others to be responsible for themselves.

5. Using your adult judgment, you can consciously choose to manage your hurt and anger appropriately. You can take this immature, foolish remark like a grown-up instead of returning to your childhood.

6. Understand that your purpose in holding onto this hurt and pain is not to be productive, but

a) to relieve the pain of your feelings by putting them down and to build yourself up

b) to control the situation

c) to prevent the humiliating exposure of your own imperfections

d) to achieve fairness by seeking revenge and hurting them.

7. You can choose to write out your anger. Writing your thoughts and feelings down on a piece of paper makes them tangible and concrete before our very eyes. You cannot evaluate abstract thoughts in your mind about your life or about yourself. However, we can begin to sort them out when you see them in black and white in front of you.

To start the journaling process it maybe useful to ask yourself focusing questions. By answering these questions you are able to make your internalized, unconscious, unacceptable feelings conscious and concrete. This allows you to find forgiveness from your conflicting logical and emotional reactions, which helps you to move forward.

Forgiveness can be achieved by choosing to self reflect on questions, such as:

What is the worst part about it?

How does that worst part make me feel?

When else have I felt this way?

What am I trying achieve?

What scares me about this?

How will this affect my life in the long term?

What would be an ideal outcome?

What advice would I give to someone else in this situation?”

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

Women in Madness

There is a long history of women who were told they were hysterical for openly expressing intense emotions.

Guest blogger, Laura Brownstone, LCSW has been a therapist for over 15 years. In this post, she shares her thoughts on the shame and stigma that fuels the impulse of self injury.

I think madness starts when we feel unworthy. Throughout history, women labeled hysterical were forced to stifle their emotions through institutions, torture and death. In my own history, I had a great aunt Haicha that died in an asylum. As a young woman in the Ukraine, she had witnessed the horror of her parents’ death and was left to care for her three little siblings. She had a “nervous breakdown” and was institutionalized. She submitted her body and mind to doctors’ who executed experimental insulin treatments and anguishing hot or cold baths

Most women are not hospitalized now, like my aunt was a century ago. Sometimes it is necessary to hospitalize people to protect them from themselves; to protect them from death. As a therapist I have had people thank me for helping them go to the hospital. It gave them another chance. They felt more grounded and hopeful. That is the punch line of hospitals. Giving people hope.

I have worked with many hopeless people and many hanging on the edge of madness. I had a client who had cut herself with razor blades since she was 12. She swore it was not to kill herself. It was a release for her. She seemed to feel some pleasure when she talked about using a kitchen knife for the first time. She said it slid across her arm like a wave through water. She described being in a trance like state. When we are disembodied and still, it is harder to be hurt.

I have asked what would the knife say if it could talk? I would ask if there were alternative coping mechanisms. I have seen many people slow down the impulse of self harm, when they start loving themselves.

I had a client who had been fondled by her pastor for years. The statute of limitations had run out and she was still cutting. We would walk and talk. She would tell me how cutting was like an addiction. She ended up yelling at me and then fired me for not advocating enough for her with her doctor. I was happy for her to have the realization that she could do better. She could stop punishing herself and learn to externalize her anger.

As a middle aged woman who has dealt with depression and anxiety for most of her life, I continue to hold hope for the future, even if it is only by a few threads some days. I remember another teenager who felt trapped in her mind. She had kissed a cute boy the previous summer, but still felt depressed. She didn’t understand depression and how it kept her imprisoned. She was lost without words or connection. The razor blade sat on her sisters’ bathroom sink. It was something she thought she could control. She stared at the razor’s shine as she gently guided it across her arm. She could see the white track of a scratch. She had held in the pain for too long. She wanted relief. Luckily on that day, she lacked the impulse and had the courage not do it.

We all want to feel less pain. Sometimes we have to greet pain with open arms. We need to dance with it, give it colors and a voice. It needs to be moved, expressed, discharged. We can write, yell at the sky, dance and draw. Other people believe they don’t have a choice. I am glad that I feel that I do.

S.A.F.E. Alternatives (Self-Abuse Finally Ends)

Information Line: 1-800-DONT-CUTor 1-800-366-8288

Email: info@selfinjury.com

www.selfinjury.com

Laura Brownstone is a psychotherapist who practices in Chicago. She likes to write about empathy and relationships. She is curious of about life. She is certified in EMDR Therapy and is Trauma Informed.  She helps clients become more self compassionate and aware of how they operate in the world. https://urbanbalance.com/therapist/laura-brownstone-lcsw/

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

The 5 Causes of Anger and How to Find Forgiveness

Try looking at anger in terms of the following 5 reasons for angry behaviors:

  • 1  Seeking revenge. You feel hurt, so you want to get even and make things fair.
  • 2  Preventing disaster. You feel helpless, so you want to take control.
  • 3  Pushing others away. You feel discouraged, so you want to withdraw from life and avoid being judged.
  • 4  Getting attention. You feel disrespected, so you lash out to be acknowledged or to prove your importance.
  • 5  Expressing difficult feelings. You’re overwhelmed, so you want to reduce your discomfort.

One of the best ways to heal from anger is to forgive the people who hurt you. The act of forgiveness gives you new options for living your life on a much more realistic basis. Besides, if you don’t forgive old wounds, they’ll stay deep down inside you forever. Is that what you want?

Forgiveness has nothing to do with condoning or excusing the wrongs that were done to you. It means letting go of those old wounds so you can move on with your life. And forgiveness has nothing to do with assessing the degree of other people’s guilt, or the relative evil of their intentions. That’s because forgiveness is not about other people at all. You forgive others for your own benefit, not theirs. The people who hurt you don’t even have to know that you’ve forgiven their hurtful behavior. Your act of forgiveness is between you and yourself—it’s no one else’s business.

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

Angry Thoughts: The Cycle of Anger

Once when I was watching the news, I saw a story about a man in southern California whose house had been destroyed by a mudslide.

He was crying, and he told a reporter that he wanted the federal government to step in and help. Down the street, the reporter found another man who had suffered the same fate. “My family got out all right,” this man told her. “All our stuff is buried in the mud, but we can save a lot of it.” When she asked him what would come next for him and his family, the man said, “I’ve always wanted a third bedroom.”

The first man looked at his ruined house and saw nothing but loss. The second man saw the opportunity to save what he could of his past and then go on to build a better future. The first man saw loss, and what he got was helpless sorrow. The second man saw possibility, and what he got was hopeful energy. In other words, how you interpret a situation determines what you will feel about it. By the same token, what you’ve felt about a situation in the past will influence the way you interpret a similar situation in the future, even though the similarity may be slight.

For example, if you’ve become hypersensitive to signals of rejection, then you may feel snubbed by something as random and meaningless as two strangers at your bus stop having a conversation that doesn’t include you. And, as you might expect, if you’re frequently angry, then you may tend to interpret neutral events in anger-provoking ways.

When you feel anger or any other emotion, your feeling is the product of two factors:

1 The objective physiological arousal that a particular event produces in you

2 Your subjective interpretation of the event

For example, when someone steps on your toe, you feel pain, and your heart starts to beat faster. These automatic reactions are your body’s initial physical response to the event. If you interpret this event as an accident, you’ll still be in physical pain, but you won’t be angry. But if you interpret the event as a deliberate provocation, you’ll probably react with anger.

The physiological arousal caused by an event is involuntary, but you have a choice about how you interpret the event, which means that you also have a choice about your emotional reaction. It’s your interpretation, not the event itself, that is the key to your emotional experience. If you find that you’re often in a state of anger, you may want to examine the inter- pretations you’re bringing to events, since your interpretations may be promoting angry thoughts that color your expectations about how your life will unfold.

When you hold on to past hurt, you’re actually trying to relieve your pain by putting other people down and building yourself up. You may imagine that nursing old wounds is the way to be in control and prevent the humiliating exposure of your imperfections. You may even entertain vengeful fantasies of finally achieving fair- ness by hurting the people who hurt you. But instead of trying to control or redeem a hurtful situation, you can focus on managing your reaction to it.

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

Anger and The Brain

Anger is a message from the body. It’s the body’s response to something it perceives as threatening.

You may not even be consciously aware of the threat, but your body alerts you to the danger it perceives, and it does this so you can step in and take urgent action to neutralize the danger.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to be constantly ready to size up a potential predator and then choose quickly between a fight to the death or a flight to safety. For them, there was no two ways about it— they would either live or die. But most situations in the modern world are far more nuanced, and they include contradictory elements—danger and safety, excitement and boredom, affection and irritation. That’s why, in today’s world, it’s not always the big things that lead to eruptions of anger; sometimes it’s the little things going on all the time—losing a parking space, getting stuck behind a slowpoke in the supermarket checkout line, stubbing your toe, a waiter dropping a tray of glasses that then shatter on the floor. These are the everyday stressors that overwhelm you and trigger your body’s fight-or-flight response.

The moment your body perceives a threat, the brain undergoes striking changes. Communication breaks down between the prefrontal cortex, where rational thought and judgment reside, and the amygdala,

where fear rules the day. Your brain

gets pumped up on hormones like

testosterone and noradrenalin and

epinephrine. It’s the latter two that

pack the real emotional punch. But

they also make you more focused

and alert in response to the threat.

You’ve probably experienced the

surge of energy known as an adrenaline rush. This surge helps mobilize your mus- cles as it temporarily sharpens your senses and enhances certain types of memory.

As this automatic, instinctual response continues, your pupils dilate, your heart speeds up, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, your digestion slows, and your perspiration increases. Your brain even becomes deprived of blood and oxy- gen as those precious resources are rushed directly to your large muscles so you’ll be ready to move fast if you need to. 

You’ll also be feeling especially sure of being in the right, and you’ll be powerfully convinced that it’s important for you to do something right now. And so it starts—the blaming, the arguing, the yelling, the hitting . . . the list goes on. After all, how can you think clearly when your brain is starving for blood and oxygen? Your rational mind is no match for your body’s fight-or-flight response, and it will take you a full 20 minutes to calm down phys- ically and psychologically even after the response has stopped.

There’s nothing more urgent than danger, and as far as your body is concerned, you’re back in the same neck of the woods where one of your ancient forebears was devoured by a predator capable of extinguishing the entire human species. Your fight-or-flight response tells you that you’re facing a potentially fatal threat, that you must kill it or run away from it as fast as you can, and that you must not allow this threat to come anywhere near you ever again.

The fight-or-flight response is useful in the short term—it tells you that some- thing is wrong, it opens your eyes to the situation around you, and it focuses your attention on what needs to be changed. But it’s an emergency response, a state of high arousal that your body isn’t built to maintain for very long. When this response endures over time, as it does when you’re in a chronic state of anger, your body starts to break down. Then the same physiological changes that are meant to help you in an emergency start to disrupt your sleep and diminish your appe- tite. Instead of feeling energetic and mentally focused, you lose energy, and your judgment becomes impaired. Parts of your brain stop communicating with each other, and brain tissue shrinks in the regions that control learning, memory, and rational thought.

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

Helping Someone Who May Be Suicidal

Guest blogger Aimee Daramus asked to share her post to promote awareness of suicide prevention resources.

In the wake of the recent suicide of Sydney Aiello, a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stone Douglas High School, another student of the school, so far unnamed in the press, has killed himself in a similar manner, with a gunshot wound to the head. This raises the possibility of a copycat suicide. It is essential to take immediate action to protect the remaining survivors, and survivors of similar traumas, to try and stop any further copycat suicides.

For anyone who feels at risk of hurting themselves or otherwise feels triggered by this, please surround yourself with the safest people you know, on and off-line, but protect yourself from any voices that are mocking you, denying your reality, or otherwise trying tome you feel that your desire to get through the schooldays safely is wrong. You dont need those voices now; please shut them out of your life, even to the extent of letting someone you trust monitor your social media to shelter you from those influences. If you have a good therapist, get in touch immediately. Go to the hospital if you have to. There are other support resources below, to help you find support.

You can help by spreading messages and memes of support, letting people know that their lives are valued, and by checking in on anyone you know who might be at risk during this time. Make sure they know that they are important to you. If you see potentially triggering contents, please consider deleting them if you can, and letting people know that bullying trauma survivors is not acceptable. Above all,  please be sensitive in how you comment on this. You dont know who might be reading, or how it might affect them. Yes, of course you have the freedom to say what you like.Is using it to encourage someone to kill themselves the wisest use of that privilege? If you need to talk to someone that you think might be suicidal, please do so. You need to find out if they have such thoughts. If they do, you need to know if they have a plan. Try to remove anything that might be used to harm themselves. If there is immediate risk, consider calling the paramedics to the them to the hospital, but ONLY if you believe there might be immediate risk. Dont hospitalize someone because youre scared to have that conversation. They need their loved ones right now. Safe places with safe people are the best thing for them right now.

Here are a few resources:

Suicide prevention phone apps:

Safety Plan (the icon is a white equal-armed cross on a blue background)

Suicide Safe (from SAMSHA; this app has, among other things, links to emergency services and even a section on conversation startersto help you have difficult conversations about suicide)

MHFA AU (the icon is a white star on a dark green background) this Mental Health First Aid app also has tips for talking to people about suicide

Twitter Feeds:

@MhAngels

@WeTalkMH

@afpsnational

Web site:

suicide.com

 suicidehotlines.com

 afps.org

Hotlines:

1-800-SUICIDE

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Veterans Peer Support Line: 1-877-Vet2Vet

Spanish Speaking Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDA

YOUTHLINE Teen to Teen Peer Counseling Hotline:1-877-968-8454

Blogger Info: Aimee Daramus, Psy.D.,L.C.P.
adaramus@adaramus.hush.com
www.audeotherapy.com
Twitter: @audeotherapy.com

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

How to Avoid Responding Defensively During a Challenging Conversation

Healthy communication about a difficult subject doesn’t have to end in agreement.

In fact, one benefit of regular conversation with someone who doesn’t agree with you is the discovery that your disagreement can actually be stimulating to both of you. But open-mindedness is essential. Each of you must be willing to listen to what the other is saying. 

When you find yourself in a conversation with someone else about a sensitive and potentially explosive subject, do you make any of the following common mistakes?

• Talking too much. When you need to talk with someone about a difficult personal problem between the two of you, it’s possible that you’ll begin by talking around the subject—being vague, trying to be polite, and hop- ing that your listener will somehow pick up your meaning. There’s also the risk that as you talk and talk, you’ll say something that the listener will react to defensively. But the fewer words you use to open the conversation and explain the problem as you see it, the better off you both will be.

• Assuming that you have all the facts. When you feel strongly about something, you’re usually convinced that you have all the facts and know exactly what’s what. You’re also quite sure that you know who’s right (you) and who’s wrong (the other person), so you go into the conversation primarily to get the other person to agree with you. Then, the more the other person resists (perhaps in an effort to offer his or her own viewpoint), the harder you push to get your way. But you rarely, if ever, know all the facts, and you can’t always be right. 

Go into the conversation prepared to listen to and consider the other person’s point of view. And show that you’re listening by nodding, saying “I see,” and rephrasing the other person’s key points (“So what you’re saying is . . .”). The purpose of repeating what the other person has said in your own words is not to be a parrot but to cre- ate communication and dialogue, not to mention to give yourself a way to remember what the two of you talked about. 

• Not seeing your own role in the problem. It’s tempting to see every problem as someone else’s fault. But if you’re involved in the situation, then you’re part of the problem in some way, and you need to remember that your role is at least as great as the other person’s.

• Jumping right into action. When a problem is difficult, it’s tempting to offer an immediate solution so the conversation can end quickly. But slow down. You need to hear the other person’s side of the story, and the other person needs to know that his or her opinions and feelings have been heard. If you push too quickly for your own solution, the other person probably won’t be committed to it, and the outcome will show that disen- gagement. You’ll think you’ve solved the problem, only to find that nothing has changed and you’re quickly back to square one.

• Not understanding the importance of how you sound. The feeling conveyed in your voice will have more of an impact and be remembered longer than the words you actually speak. If you yell, you may think you’re forcing the other person to listen, but what’s more likely is that he or she is waiting for you to pause so they can lash out with a defense against your verbal attack. Raising your voice creates the kind of stress and tension that provoke anger. The louder your voice, the more intense the anger, and the greater the risk of a physical confrontation. Be sure to modulate your voice so that its volume and tone don’t deliver a message of aggression or dominance.

• Being oblivious to personal space. You can make the other person uneasy if you stand or sit too close. But if you stand or sit too far away, you can come off as cold and uncaring. Watch the other person’s movement toward you, and especially away from you, for clues to getting the distance right. If you see that you’re too close, pull back a little.

• Not understanding your purpose in communicating. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve by talking with someone else about a difficult problem between the two of you. Do you see the conversation as your chance to win an argument? Or is it about finding a solution and deeper understanding? If all you want to do is prove something, get even, or make yourself look good, then that’s not communication—it’s grandstanding.

The antidote to feeling defensive is to understand that you’re in control of your choices in the present. To take positive control over these choices, you have to make an active effort. For example, the next time you’re angry, remind yourself that you have choices now that you didn’t have as a child. As a child, you sought to get control in the wrong way—by losing your temper or suppressing your anger. But now, as an adult, you can choose to express your anger by simply and clearly saying how you’re feeling rather than arguing, shouting, or defending yourself. You can respond from a place of self-respect instead of reacting from a place of rage and defensiveness.

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Yelling in Relationships and Raging On the Road

When you take someone’s anger-provoking behavior personally, you feel offended and disrespected.

Your reaction to your uncomfortable feelings is either to defend yourself or to submit passively to what the other person seems to think of you. Either way, you view the other person’s behavior as a literal, serious, personal threat to your well-being:

• In traffic, your blood pressure shoots up as you fume about the sloppiness of other drivers and about how their recklessness is putting you personally at risk.

• At the office, you take a colleague’s disagreement with you as personal disrespect or hostility.

• Closer to home, your girlfriend goes off the deep end over some silly joke you told at a party, and you feel personally attacked and hurt.

In reality, however, reckless drivers drive recklessly whether you’re on the road or not. Your colleagues at the office can disagree with you for reasons of their own that have nothing to do with you. And maybe your girlfriend is upset because the way you told that joke brought back some painful memory that you know nothing about. In each case, what you’re taking personally isn’t personal at all.

Let me give you another kind of example. A client of mine was deeply in love with a woman who wasn’t emotionally available. She would draw him in and then do something to push him away. (This is what’s commonly called sabotaging the relationship.) At first he took her behavior personally because he had behaved badly toward her a few times and felt guilty. But as he and I talked and as he looked at his past behavior, he expressed deep sorrow. 

He worked on forgiving himself, and he apologized to the woman he loved. She accepted his apology, but soon enough she was pushing him away again. He was finally able to see that she had major issues around emotional intimacy, and that her pushing him away wasn’t any type of personal statement about him. She’d had a pretty tough life, and the way she protected herself whenever she felt unsafe with someone was to go on the attack or withdraw. And her protective technique was highly effective!

You may never know the real reasons why people in your life have attacked you or withdrawn from you. They may have been suffering from the effects of past abuse, or other problems of their own may have played a role. What you can know is that their provocative behavior was almost certainly not personal, and so it would be a mistake for you to take it personally.

• Don’t defend yourself against insults or other hurtful behavior. Your attackers aren’t interested in your point of view. They’re focused on relieving their own emotional pain, at your expense. Others’ antagonism is no reflection of your worth as a person, and you require no defense.

• Don’t worry about looking or sounding stupid. If someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, you can say, “I need to think about that and get back to you.” Remind yourself that you’re an imperfect human being, you’re allowed to make mistakes, and you do many things quite well. You will never be superior or inferior, but equal.

• Put less focus on yourself. Instead, think about your goals and the steps needed to meet them. In a social interaction, think about how to make the experience itself enjoyable, and ask yourself what you can do to feel more comfortable.

• When someone attacks you, muster up the courage to risk doing something new. For example, you can simply say, “I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish.” That’s not a counterattack. It’s just the truth. And if you feel good afterward, savor that feeling—you will have earned it.

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