Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

20 Ways To Be A Happier Person

20 Ways To Be A Happier Person In 2020, According To Therapists
If you’re going to make a resolution for the new year, it may as well be improving your mental health.

Looking to make 2020 your happiest, most fulfilling year yet?

If your mental and emotional wellness took a backseat in 2019, there’s no better time than right now to prioritize it. (If anything, it’ll make the election year just mildly more bearable.) Your mood affects everything in your life ― your relationships, your work, your self-care ― so improving it should be at the top of your goal list.

That might feel like a huge and lofty task, but small, actionable habits can help you get there, according to experts. Below are the most common happiness tips therapists recommend. Maybe they’ll sound challenging or unrealistic (more on that later), but maybe they just might change your life.

1. Conquer one anxiety

Give yourself a motivational benchmark to start conquering your biggest fears this year.

“Single out the goal of selecting an anxiety that is holding you back, and thoroughly commit yourself to obliterating that fear,” said Forrest Talley, a clinical psychologist. “Hold nothing back in your assault; treat that fear as though it is enemy number one.”

Perhaps you’ve been worried about signing up for a half marathon. Maybe you’re afraid to reach out to book agents because you don’t want to be rejected. Perhaps you’re fearful of having a difficult conversation with a toxic friend or family member and you’re putting it off. Set the goal, pick a reward you’ll get when you complete it, then get to it.

“The thing to keep in mind is that very often happiness is found just on the other side of a doorway guarded by our anxieties,” Talley said. “And the new year is a great time to start kicking down some doors.”

2. Lock down a sleep schedule that works for you

You may think you’re doing OK on sleep, but take a closer look at your schedule. Are you really getting optimal hours? Are you maintaining relatively the same bed time every night?

“Getting a [consistent] good night’s sleep is vital; chronic sleep deprivation is a huge problem, especially for those who work late or are extremely busy,” said Joanna Konstantopoulou, a psychologist and founder of the Health Psychology Clinic. “It’s not just the 40-hour marathons without sleep which can be detrimental to your psychological health, but simply losing an hour or two on a regular basis can have a significant impact on your mind and well-being.”

That last bit is important. If you’re constantly shaving off an hour here or there ― thinking you can get by on five hours a night ― it’s time to reevaluate that sleep schedule.

“Start with small steps by giving yourself a sensible and realistic bedtime,” Konstantopoulou said. “Try to go to bed half an hour before your usual bedtime and stick to it. Evaluate this new habit every day by having a journal and writing down your progress.”

She noted that this new routine will improve your memory, reduce anxiety, and “transport toxins out of the brain” to potentially prevent chronic illnesses.

3. Find one small self-care act that works for you and prioritize it

Pick a you-centric activity and engage in it regularly, said Elena Touroni, co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.

“The most impactful mental health goal a person can set is the commitment to balance workload and responsibilities alongside activities that bring them a sense of well-being and enjoyment,” she said. “When there is an imbalance in what we’re giving out to the world, and what we’re taking for ourselves, that’s when our psychological resources get depleted.”

Her suggestions to get you started? Try beginning each day with a five-minute mindfulness meditation session. Want to go further? “Go to therapy to unravel a lifelong pattern, get a personal trainer, or make time for reading,” she said. “This commitment can be broken down into specific and concrete goals, depending on your personal preferences, but it all comes down to making self-care a priority.”

4. Spend 10 minutes a day outside

Go for a walk during your lunch break, spend a few minutes drinking your morning coffee outside or pick up running. It doesn’t even have to be for a long period of time.

“This year, resolve to spend less time inside and more time outdoors in natural settings,” said Michael Brodsky, a psychiatrist. “Research in multiple countries show that spending time in green spaces can lift your mood and relieve anxiety in as little as 10 minutes.”

5. Regularly practice a simple mindfulness exercise

“Many of us spend our days worrying about the future or ruminating about the past, thus, missing a great deal of what is happening in the here-and-now,” said Anna Prudovski, the clinical director of Turning Point Psychological Services.

Making an effort to be more present “increases the sense of well-being, promotes vitality, heightens our awareness, helps train our attention, improves the quality of our work, and enhances interpersonal relationships,” she said. Sounds pretty nice, right? “Be more present” can feel a little vague, so here’s how you can get started:

Each day, spend five minutes noticing your surroundings and how you feel. Do this by naming five things you see, four things you can physically feel, three different sounds you hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. It’s OK if you point out something far away from you. Then take a second to label how you’re feeling in the moment (like, “I’m frustrated,” “I’m bored,” or “I’m excited”). This is known as a grounding exercise, which experts say helps with anxiety.

6. Say nice things about yourself

Roseann Capanna-Hodge, pediatric mental health expert and psychologist, suggested an adjustment to your everyday vocabulary, both in your thoughts and out loud.

“Instead of always focusing on the negative, flip your dialogue to only positive outcomes. For example, instead of saying, ‘If I get that job,’ switch it to, ‘When I get that job.’ Those subtle changes in using positive language helps to change your mindset to a glass half full instead of a glass half empty.”

You can also increase your positive thoughts by stating one thing you like about yourself when you look in the mirror each morning. Cheesy, but worth a shot.

7. Give up or cut back on one unhealthy habit

We know when things are bad for us, which can cause stress. You can curb that by reducing them or giving them up entirely, said Sarah C. McEwen, a cognitive psychologist. Think activities like high alcohol consumption or excessive caffeine consumption.

Getting those things in check “will all help to manage stress levels,” McEwen said.

8. Find a physical activity you love

“Exercise plays a large role in mental health,” said physician Jena Sussex-Pizula. “While studies are ongoing, a review article found consistent beneficial effects of exercise on depressive symptoms across multiple studies.”

How often? McEwen suggests 30 minutes a day if you can. “This [amount] has been shown to produce the most benefit for improving mood and reducing stress levels,” she said.

The most important part is finding something you enjoy. It doesn’t matter if it’s pilates, martial arts, spinning, running, dancing or lifting weights ― just make sure the activity is something that excites you.

9. Try meditation

Haven’t jumped on the bandwagon just yet? Now is as good a time as ever. McEwen suggests meditation for those who want to improve their level of stress resilience.

“A mindfulness meditation practice will have a tremendous positive effect longterm,” she said. “I recommend allocating at least 30 minutes daily, which can be divided into morning and evening.”

Feeling intimidated by the concept? McEwen suggested trying a local class or an app like Headspace, Waking Up or Insight Timer.

“Research has shown that the regular practice of meditation can actually improve your health because it lowers the negative effects of not only high cortisol, but also high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” she said. “Other great benefits of regular meditation include mental clarity and focus, improvement of memory and overall higher level of mental performance.”

10. Stop negative thoughts in their tracks

“Our thoughts are not always reality,” said Judy Ho, a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist and author of ”Stop Self Sabotage.” “And we need to get into the routine of challenging them and changing our relationships to our thoughts.”

You can do this by asking yourself a simple question when you’re beating yourself up. Next time you have a negative thought, ask yourself: Does this completely and accurately capture what’s going on?”

Ho said from there, you can transform the thought using one of two tactics. One is called “yes, but” and one is called “labeling.”

“‘Yes, but’ involves recognizing a not so great thing, and [adding] something that is positive or shows progress,” she said. “Example: I did eat three cupcakes while trying to cut down on sugar, but I have been doing a great job with healthy eating and can start fresh tomorrow.”

And as for labeling, try mentally recognizing or acknowledging that the thought you’re having is toxic. According to Ho, this “takes the wind out of the sails of a negative thought and reminds you that a thought is just a mental event, and nothing more.”

11. Invest in a quality relationship

“If you want to have good long-term mental and physical health, you need to first see if you have meaningful, loving relationships,” said clinical psychologist Kevin Gilliland. “Who knows you better than anyone and who do you know better than anyone? Have you invested in that relationship by staying in touch and talking on the phone (not just texting)? And when was the last time you got together?”

Gilliland suggests picking one person close to you this year, and planning to spend quality time together.

“If we’re not careful, we will end up giving our best in places that aren’t good for our mental health,” he said. “Study after study finds that loving meaningful relationships are good for our mental and physical health.”

12. Read self-development books

“Read at least one book on someone you admire, and how they have dealt with the struggles in their life,” Gilliland said. “There are a lot of ways to learn about your mental health, from therapy to self-help to the lives of other people.”

You can pick up many tips and find a lot of inspiration in these motivational books, whether they’re memoirs or expert-backed advice. Need a specific suggestion?

“I have so enjoyed Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography and recent album ‘Western Stars’ where he talks about his struggle with depression and family issues,” Gilliland said. “It’s powerful and encouraging … You can’t help but see yourself in some of his stories, he can paint with words like very few people can. It’s a wonderful way to learn about your mental health without feeling like its work.”

13. Cut back on your social media use

So often we view people’s highlight reels on social media. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy in our own lives, according to experts. And given that research shows spending too much time online is linked to poor mental health, now’s the perfect time to cut back.

“External validation is temporary; it’s difficult to maintain the pressure to chase ‘likes,’” said therapist Jennifer Musselman. “Build your self esteem from competence of something important to you, and by being of service to others.”

14. Set better boundaries

Did you find yourself feeling chronically overwhelmed and stretched thin in 2019? Time to reel that in and make more space for you by setting boundaries.

“This one is more important than people realize, and they have way more control than they realize,” Gilliland said. “If you don’t want to go, then don’t go!”

Consider: Is it something you think you “should” do? If so, then why? In the words of a popular therapist joke, stop should-ing yourself. Set those boundaries to thrive in 2020.

15. Make a progress list each week

Expecting perfection guarantees you’ll feel like a failure at least part of the time, and can lead to serious anxiety.

“Learn the art of progress, not perfection,” Musselman said. “We are setting ourselves up for failure from the get-go [when we expect] to ‘have it all’ perfectly balanced. In other words, we will always feel like we are failing.”

From “doing it all” as a mom to building your entrepreneurial business to perfecting your talent, it’s time to let go of that expectation that things are always going to be perfect. Instead, try writing down the incremental improvements you made each week. Celebrate small successes that eventually will lead to big ones.

17. Get a therapist if you’re able to do it

If you were trying to get in physical shape and had no idea where to start, you might turn to a coach or personal trainer. Mental health works the same way.

There are so, so many benefits to seeing a therapist. And there are affordable options, too: Attend group therapy at a local mental health center, seek free options in your community, opt for a sliding-scale psychologist, find a provider through your health insurance or try an app like Talkspace to get started.

“Getting a therapist in 2020 would be a good goal if you need a therapist and have been putting it off,” Talley said.

18. Write in a gratitude journal

Practicing gratitude “is so essential for a full and happy life,” Talley said.

Instead of allowing your brain to go to a place of anxiety and stress, Talley says to arm yourself with grateful thoughts. Writing them down helps.

“If you wake up and focus on that which you have to be grateful for, your brain becomes better at finding even more [gratitude],” Talley said.

19. Turn your phone off

It’s been shown in many studies that too much tech time can negatively impact mental health.

Become less available via text and email so you don’t feel emotionally tethered to your phone, and spend more time off your devices. Opt for screen-free activities ― especially at night ― that help you disconnect from certain social and work stressors.

“While it’s unclear if sedentary screen time is a marker for or risk factor for depression (as all that has been shown is a correlation), there appears to be a consistent association of increased screen time in patients with depression and anxiety,” Sussex-Pizula said.

20. Reduce food shame and stress through mindful eating

Have thoughts around food, calories, dieting, etc. been weighing on you in 2019? Lisa Hayim, a registered dietitian and founder of food therapy program Fork The Noise, said it’s time to kick this to the curb.

“When we feel nervous, scared, anxious, or even unsure of what to eat or how much, our stress hormones begin to fire,” she said. “Our sympathetic nervous system becomes activated, and we’re no longer making empowered decisions.”

Does this sound like you? Are you constantly thinking about what a food choice might “do” to your body?

“Breathe. Your body knows what it wants and how much it wants, when it wants it,” she said. Listening to it is called intuitive or mindful eating: enjoying whatever you want and taking cues from your body when it’s hungry and full.

“Decreasing stress around food choices is not just good for the body, it’s good for the mind and the soul,” Hayim said.

 

By Dominique Astorino   12/30/2019
wellness@huffpost.com.
happiness-comes-from-within-and-is-found-in-the-present-moment-by-making-peace-with-the-past-and-looking-forward-to-the-future

 

6 Things To Let Go Of
If You Want To Be A Tiny Bit Happier This Year

Examining the toxic thoughts and behaviors that you should kick to the curb and advice on how to do it.

Most people kick off January by creating resolutions that drastically aim to add healthy habits to their daily lives (which doesn’t always work, by the way ― and that’s OK). But sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to let some things go instead.

“The new year offers a fresh opportunity, while the weight of the past keeps us in a place of inaction,” said Olecia Christie, a certified life coach and owner of Optix Communications in San Antonio, noting that it’s important to discern when to release the things that no longer serve our own growth and happiness.

With that in mind, here are a few things you should consider leaving behind in the new year, according to Christie and other experts:

Comparing your life to others’ on Instagram

In this era of social media, it always appears that everyone is living their best life — that is, everyone except you. Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, a licensed marriage and family therapist at The Zinnia Practice in California, said you should remember that social media is a highlight reel. Comparing your daily life to a single picture capturing a perfect moment isn’t the best use of your time.

Instead, Osibodu-Onyali suggested engaging with the people you admire in 2020.

“Rather than spending so many hours per week scrolling mindlessly, begin to actually connect with people you admire on social media. Send them a DM, ask for advice, seek out actual mentorship,” she said. “You’ll be surprised how many new friends you will acquire just by reaching out, rather than being a jealous onlooker.”

Letting fear hold you back from something you want to do

Anthony Freire, the clinical director and founder of The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling in New York, said in order to release fear, shame and guilt, you must first “shine a spotlight” on them.

“On your deathbed, you don’t want to be kicking yourself for not having completed your bucket list for any reason, but especially because of feelings like guilt, fear and shame — which are only problematic feelings because you’ve told yourself that you should feel that way,” he said.

Worrying about things you cannot control

It’s unrealistic to suggest giving up worry or stress entirely ― these feelings are a normal part of life. Instead, try to focus just on the worries you can take action on.

“Focus your thoughts on things you can change. When you have a list of worry thoughts, write out what you can change and what you can’t. Work on the situation that you can change, and just release the rest. It takes a lot of time and practice to learn this skill, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that you’ll worry less,” Osibodu-Onyali explained.

For some, this is easier said than done. If you find that you’re unable to manage your excessive worrying ― especially over things out of your control ― it might be worth seeking advice from a professional. This could be a sign of an anxiety disorder, which is a very real and common condition.

Old grudges or grievances

Research shows holding onto a grudge or anger for longer than necessary can be toxic for your physical and mental health. Right now is the perfect opportunity to work on letting go of some old baggage “by either working on repairing strained relationships or closing the chapter on relationships that cannot be salvaged,” Osibodu-Onyali said.

This doesn’t apply to people who have severely damaged or hurt you, but could be useful for someone you’ve grown distant with or just no longer envision as a healthy part of your life. You can either choose to move forward or let go.

“Although saying goodbye to a relationship can be tough, the closure can be very freeing,” Osibodu-Onyali said.

What other people think of you

There’s a saying that goes “what other people think of you is none of your business.” It’s important to know what your values are and to be grounded in them, so that you’re not swayed by the thoughts of others. Osibodu-Onyali said she often challenges her clients by asking: “So what if they don’t like you? What happens next?” She said more often than not, the answer is usually “nothing.”

“The truth is that the world doesn’t end and you don’t have to be liked by everyone,” she said. “Stick to your core group of supporters who truly love and respect you, and don’t spend time worrying about the people who don’t quite get you. If they don’t get you, that’s OK. You can’t be a part of every group.”

The need to be right in every conflict

We’ve all strived to win arguments; however, that can cause more stress than it’s worth. Freire said letting go of the need to win “takes up enormous energy because people tend to want to be right.”

“How many times do we fight with someone and we’re simply fighting to be right?” he said. “We say things we can’t take back and later we apologize and think to ourselves ‘I overreacted’ or ‘We fought over something so stupid.’ Sometimes we don’t even remember why we were fighting to begin with. Sometimes trivial things we get stuck on are just smaller manifestations of larger underlying issues.”

These kinds of interactions can often lead to “negative self-talk and anxiety as [we] overanalyze the situation and stress about the impact of the interaction,” according to Elise Hall, a licensed and independent clinical social worker in Massachusetts.

Instead, try looking at a fight as a problem to be solved (experts say there’s one phrase that can easily help you do this with a partner). This can help you let go of the need to be right and put your focus on a solution.

This all might be challenging, but it could be worth it to increase your joy — even just by a fraction.

By Stephanie Barnes      01/02/2020


1 Comment

9 Tips on How to Communicate During a Conflict

Have you ever been so angry at someone you said something you instantly regretted? There are more constructive ways to communicate during a conflict that can effectively turn the situation around. Keep some of these tips in mind next time you’re facing a disagreement.

How does conflict start?


Everyone has a need to feel understood, supported and safe. Conflict often arises when people perceive a threat to having these needs met. A natural response is to get angry at the person you feel is somehow threatening you.


For example, your partner could give you a gift you didn’t want. You might get angry because you feel they don’t understand you. But in fact they gave you the gift to show their affection and are hurt that you don’t like it.


A situation like this doesn’t have to become a heated argument. When people can communicate honestly and openly, a conflict can usually be settled with a positive outcome for everyone involved.


Proactive Steps to Resolve Conflict


1. Time it Right – If you have a past dispute that still needs to be resolved, make sure to find an appropriate time to bring it up. Choosing the right moment could mean the difference between a helpful discussion or a nasty blow-up. Avoid approaching the person if they’re obviously busy or have somewhere to go. You could ask them to schedule a time to talk about it with you. It’s best to meet in person, but if you need to phone someone, always start out by asking if it’s a good time to talk.


2. Speak to the Source – You might find it easy to tell friends and family members all about someone you have an issue with. But it can be more difficult to speak to the person themselves. You don’t know how they’ll react and it could be scary making the first move. But ignoring a serious issue could be even worse in the long run. If you’re hesitant to face them alone, you can suggest a counselor or trusted friend join your discussion with them to help bridge the gap.


3. Stay on Topic – No matter how heated a discussion may get, always stay focused on the issue you want to resolve. Whenever you mention any facts about the situation, keep them objective and only refer to what really happened. Resist any temptation to bring up historical patterns you feel someone has, or what they said to you ten years ago. Clearly, this would not help the situation.



4. Really Listen – It can be easy to get lost in your own point of view and become blind to any other input. Take a step back and focus on the other person for a moment. Ask them why they’re upset or how they’re feeling. Then take the time to listen to what they have to say. Don’t interrupt while they’re speaking and ask for clarification afterwards if you didn’t understand anything they said. This lets them know you care and are truly listening.


5. Take Responsibility for Yourself – No one is innocent in a conflict. Own up to your part of what happened. Also remain aware of your own feelings and reactions. Are you upset about what someone said because it stirred up some painful memories completely unrelated to the situation? This is not the other person’s fault. That might be a good time to take a break from the discussion and sort out your own feelings before you react unfairly.


6. Start Your Sentences with “I” – It’s always helpful to express your thoughts and feelings about what’s going on. For instance, “I was hurt when you said I’m lazy because I value your opinion of me.” But keep it about yourself. Don’t cross the line and start pointing fingers or blaming others for what happened. Also, make sure you’re expressing your true emotions, not just saying you’re angry. Typically, anger comes from feeling hurt, scared or sad about a situation. Try digging a little deeper to find out what’s at the bottom of your anger.


7. Seek Understanding – Remember that the other person is also upset because their needs are being threatened. Ask them to clearly express what they really want or need. What did you do to cause their frustration? A common cause of misunderstanding is making assumptions about how the other person is feeling. Don’t ever assume. Keep asking questions until you really know what’s on their mind.


8. Use Humor When Appropriate – Sometimes the best way to defuse a confrontation is to lighten it up a bit. Obviously, this needs to be approached with sensitivity. Many times humor would only make matters worse. But if it’s a fairly small issue, you could ask the other person, “Doesn’t it seem silly we’re even arguing about this?” Or if you can tell the other person is open to it, you could try a playful shoulder punch or other goofy gesture. Just make sure the playfulness is mutual and there are no lingering bad feelings.


9. Look for Compromise – Try to find common ground with the person you’re in conflict with. Your goal should not be to “win” the argument. What resolution would be good for both of you? Stay focused on resolving the conflict in a positive way rather than being right. And remember it’s always an option to agree to disagree. Some arguments aren’t worth a prolonged effort and it can be fine to simply let go of what’s not important and move on with a fresh start.


By: Zoe Blarowski    April 20, 2016    About Zoe
 


1 Comment

Psychologists Explain How to Stay Calm In An Argument

“Conflict wreaks havoc on our brains. We are groomed by evolution to protect ourselves whenever we sense a threat. In our (world), we don’t fight like a badger with a coyote, or run away like a rabbit from a fox. But our basic impulse to protect ourselves is automatic and unconscious.” – Diane Musho-Hamilton

Emotional intelligence (“E.I.”) is defined as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” A low E.I. generally leads to an inability to stay calm, resulting in more conflict, while a high E.I. leads to less conflict and an ability to stay calm under pressure

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. Even the coolest, calmest, and the most collected person in the room will experience some degree of interpersonal turmoil at some point. In most cases, people don’t have any control over what happens next.

The only aspect of a conflict we can control is how we react. This isn’t to say that overriding this “automatic and unconscious” process is easy; it’s not.

But we can learn to recognize, acknowledge, and manage our negative emotions. We can override, to some degree, this innate physiological response.

We can learn to stay calm during any conflict, including in the midst of an argument.

HERE’S HOW:

1. TAKE DEEP BREATHS

Why: The ability to remain relaxed and centered during a conflict depends on your ability to de-tense the body. Shallow breathing is the body’s innate response when confronted with stress. Quashing this natural response and practicing deep breathing instead helps the body to remain calm.

How: Deeply inhale through the nose before slowly exhaling through the mouth. Smooth, deep breaths will cease the production of two stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol.

2. CONCENTRATE ON YOUR BODY

Why: Concentrating on any physical sensations that arise in a conflict permits you to mindfully change them. When your focus switches to the body, you can feel the tension, shallow breathing, etc. that accompanies stress.

How: When you notice your body beginning to tense, return your posture to a neutral state by relaxing your shoulders and hands. This open position communicates positivity using body language – and often diffuses conflict.

3. ACTIVELY LISTEN

Why: A person will initiate an argument, or some other kind of conflict, if they feel they’re not being heard. Furthermore, it’s impossible to diffuse a conflict without attentive and active listening.

How: When someone is talking, focus all of your attention on what the person says. Ignore any thoughts of constructing a response. Once the person finishes speaking, you have the necessary information to respond intelligently.

4. ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

Why: Open-ended questions are invaluable in conflict resolution. First, open-ended questions demonstrate that you are attentively listening. Second, these type of questions show respect for the person by allowing them to articulate their thoughts.

How: Learning to ask open-ended questions can be a bit tricky for some people. The easiest way to avoid asking “Yes” or “No” questions is not to use the words “Do,” “Don’t,” “Did,” and “Didn’t” when asking a question. Instead, use the words “What,” “Why,” “When,” and “How.” Try it now. Notice the difference?

5. KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN

Why: The easiest way to escalate conflict is raising your voice. On the flip side, one of the easiest ways to diffuse conflict is lowering your voice. Voice level is also linked to blood pressure. When BP reaches a certain point, it becomes more difficult to understand what’s being communicated.

How: The first step is to diffuse the initial anger of the other person. You can’t do this by raising your voice. On the other hand, you can quickly impart a sense of calm by making the conscious decision to lower your voice.

6. AGREE TO DISAGREE

Why: Not every conflict will produce amicable or mutually agreeable results. However, you can avoid deepening the conflict by politely disengaging from the conversation.

How: One law of interpersonal conflict is that it takes two participants. Separating yourself from an argument is appropriate under one of two circumstances: (1) the person becomes increasingly hostile, or (2) the conversation, despite your best efforts, is not going anywhere.

In closing, unless you happen to be a self-awareness guru, you will become angry in an argument at some point. Human beings are emotional creatures – and this ability to feel can be used to either our advantage or our detriment. It’s also important to forgive yourself if you should act in an unbecoming manner. We all do – and anyone who says otherwise is either a fool, a liar, or both.

By following one or more of the six tips given, you will assuredly feel more confident in any conflict. As a result, you’ll use your emotions and self-regulation to your benefit. Doing so, you will gain the trust and confidence of people in your good and even temperament.

To our non-argumentative better selves!

REFERENCES:
HTTP://WWW.NOTEY.COM/@HUBSPOTMKTGBLOG_UNOFFICIAL/EXTERNAL/8558555/HOW-TO-CALM-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT-INFOGRAPHIC.HTML?UTM_CONTENT=BUFFER8E58E&UTM_MEDIUM=SOCIAL&UTM_SOURCE=PINTEREST.COM&UTM_CAMPAIGN=BUFFER
HTTPS://HBR.ORG/2015/12/CALMING-YOUR-BRAIN-DURING-CONFLICT
HTTPS://WWW.PINTEREST.COM/PIN/324751823116339269/
HTTPS://WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM/BASICS/EMOTIONAL-INTELLIGENCE


1 Comment

5 Habits That All Emotionally Intelligent People Have In Common

What does it really mean to be emotionally intelligent? Many of us can say we’re in touch with our emotions but how does this translate into a relatable and social intelligence towards ourselves and other people?

The idea is that emotional intelligence is not only recognising and identifying with our own emotions, but also having the capacity to handle other people’s feelings in an empathetic and astute way. This is a crucial way to build long, lasting relationships with those around us while managing our own emotions in a healthy manner.

With this in mind, here are 5 habits that are identifiable with an emotionally intelligent person.

1. They Know Asking For Help Is A Strength Not A Weakness

Emotional intelligence is essentially down to a sense of self-confidence. While many people feel asking for help is a sign of weakness, it’s really just a mindset of insecurity and potential judgement of others.

Someone who possess emotional intelligence knows that they have an understanding of their own strengths and limitations. They understand that while having self-confidence, they realise that they don’t necessarily know everything there is to know and aren’t afraid to admit this. Sourcing information to bridge the information gap and collaborating with others is seen as a strength and a chance to grow as a person rather than a weakness.

2. They Are Able To Deal With Communication Problems In A Calm Way

When we are having communication problems with people—whether loved ones, colleagues or even strangers—it can be frustrating, leading to lashing out or losing our cool. Being able to stay calm and patient when facing communication challenges is a sure sign of emotional intelligence.

The ability to read social cues is key. Calmly being able to redirect or pivot the approach of their message when it clearly isn’t getting across is showing empathy towards the needs of their audience. They care, not only about the message they’re trying to convey, but about other people having a clear understanding.

embrace_failure

 

3. They Are Able To Discuss Conflict Clearly And Objectively

Arguments can bring out the worst in people and bring up difficult emotions. It can cause feelings of frustration, feeling like you’re not being understood and goes against our need to be accepted and always right.

With emotional intelligence comes the need to be understood without being patronising, condescending or angry. It’s the ability to explain a conflict in a clear and objective way. Emotionally intelligent people have self-awareness of their own emotions, they are able to self-manage these emotions, be empathetic towards where other people are coming from in their argument, and be good at handling the others’ emotions too.

4. They Are Able To Deal With Negative Feedback In A Positive Way

While getting negative feedback can bring out our insecurities, emotionally intelligent people are able to deal with it self-confidently without getting defensive.

Focusing on the facts and keeping a level head allows their emotions to stay in check meaning they are more likely to see criticism as growth rather than damage to their self-worth. This isn’t to say emotionally intelligent people don’t experience negative emotions such as frustration when hearing criticism, but they are able to process them quickly and climb out of their own perspective to meet someone else’s.

5. They Are Able To Embrace Failure

Self-confidence is key when it comes to dealing with setbacks. The importance of self-confidence is that it will keep you afloat when life throws you into the deep-end and emotionally intelligent people know this.

Having this self-confidence is how emotionally intelligent people deal with failures. They realise that assessing troubling situations in an objective way without harsh self-judgement and lashing out is paramount to picking themselves up, gaining strength, taking on board what they’ve learnt from the situation and moving on.

Conclusion

Learning more about our emotions and those of others can propel us far in life. Being more stable in our thoughts and perspectives can get us through hard situations and build more lasting relationships with others and ourselves.

Jenny Marchal      Freelance Writer
 


2 Comments

A Simple Formula for Changing Our Behavior

Peter Bregman     OCTOBER 14, 2015

“Whoa! What are you doing?” I asked aghast.

I had just walked into my daughter’s room as she was working on a science project. Normally, I would have been pleased at such a sight. But this time, her project involved sand. A lot of it. And, while she had put some plastic underneath her work area, it wasn’t nearly enough. The sand was spreading all over our newly renovated floors.

My daughter, who immediately felt my displeasure, began to defend herself. “I used plastic!” she responded angrily.

I responded more angrily, “But the sand is getting all over!”

“Where else am I supposed to do it?” she yelled.

Why won’t she admit when she’s done something wrong? I thought to myself. I felt my fear, projecting into the future: What would her life look like if she couldn’t own her mistakes?

My fear translated into more anger, this time about how important it was for her to admit mistakes, and we spiraled. She said something that felt disrespectful to me and I raised my voice. She devolved into a crying fit.

I wish I could say this never happened before. But my daughter and I were in a dance, one we have, unfortunately, danced before. And it’s predictably painful; we both, inevitably, end up feeling terrible.

This is not just a parenting dance. I often see leaders and managers fall into predictable spirals with their employees. It usually starts with unfulfilled expectations (“what were you thinking?”) and ends in anger, frustration, sadness, and loss of confidence on both sides. Maybe not crying. But the professional equivalent.

I’m always inclined to ask: Why do I react the way I do? The answer is a complicated fusion of reasons including my love for my daughter, my desire to teach her, my low tolerance for messiness, my need to be in control, my longing for her success, and the list goes on.

But it doesn’t really matter.

Because knowing why I act a certain way does not change my behavior. You would think that it would. It should. But it doesn’t.

The question that really matters – the hard question – is how do I change?

First, I need a better way to respond to my daughter. For this, I went to my wife, Eleanor, who is truly a master. I asked her how I should have handled it.

“Sweetie,” she said, role playing me in the conversation with my daughter, “There’s a lot of sand here and we need to clean it up before it destroys the floors, how can I help?”

Simple and effective:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. State what needs to happen
  3. Offer to help

That’s a great way to handle it. Think about any problem you face with someone at work. I don’t suggest you start the conversation with “Sweetie,” but the rest is applicable.

shouting

I watched a manager get angry at a direct report (we’ll call him Fred) for a sloppy, unclear presentation he gave. The manager was right — the presentation was unclear — but the way he responded damaged the employee’s confidence and Fred’s next effort wasn’t much better. Instead, he could have tried this:

“Fred, this presentation made six points instead of one or two. I’m left confused. It needs to be shorter, more to the point, and more professional looking. Would it help if we talk about the point you’re trying to make?”

No frustration. Not even disappointment. Just clarity and support.

Another time, I watched as a CEO got annoyed at his direct reports for presenting plans that were not reflective of the budget commitments they had made. His emotion was understandable. Appropriate, even. But not useful. An alternative might have been:

“Folks, these plans don’t reflect the budget numbers we agreed on. Those numbers are non-negotiable. If you want, you can let me know where you are getting stuck and we can brainstorm solutions.”

Identify the problem. State what needs to happen. Offer to help. Simple, right?

But – and this is the strange part — in my situation, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. As I thought about it, I realized my impediment.

It didn’t feel authentic.

I believe strongly in leading and living with authenticity. And I was angry and worried about my daughter’s future. So responding calmly, in that moment, would represent a disconnect between how I felt and how I acted. That’s inauthentic.

Which is when it hit me: Learning — by definition — will always feel inauthentic.

Practicing a new behavior, showing up in a new way, or acting differently, feels inauthentic. Changing a dance that’s been danced many times before will never feel natural. It will feel awkward, fake, like pretending. The hedge fund manager was angry, the CEO was annoyed. Not expressing those emotions feels fake.

But it’s much smarter, more likely to compassionately teach the people around us, and a better approach to getting them to reverse their ineffective behaviors.

If we want to learn, we need to tolerate the feeling of inauthenticity long enough to integrate the new way of being. Long enough for the new way of being to feel natural. Which, if the new way of being works, happens sooner than you would think.

Yesterday, my daughter was doing homework late at night and I had to ask her to work in the dining room instead of her bedroom because her younger sister needed to go to bed.

But, before I did, I paused. I empathized with the challenges she would feel, being asked to leave her room for her sister. Being asked to do her difficult homework in a place that wasn’t as comfortable.

“Sweetie,” I said, “Your sister needs to go to sleep and we need to move you into the dining room. How can I help?” Identify the problem, state what needs to happen, and offer to help.

It felt weird. Like I was being overly solicitous. Fake.

But it worked.

After I helped her move, she quickly got back to her work.

Then, as I was walking out, I heard her say “Dad?” I paused at the door and looked back at her. “Thanks,” she said, without looking up from her book.

Peter Bregman is CEO of Bregman Partners, a company that strengthens leadership in people and in organizations through programs (including the Bregman Leadership Intensive), coaching, and as a consultant to CEOs and their leadership teams. Best-selling author of 18 Minutes, his most recent book is Four Seconds (February 2015). 

source: hbr.org


2 Comments

8 Signs Your Ego Is Trying To Sabotage You

The ego can most easily be described as the mask you wear in daily life. The real you, hidden beneath all the layers you have put on, wants to reveal itself, but the ego likes to maintain control at all times. It can’t stand to give up its power over you, and sadly, many people never move beyond the ego’s domain in their lifetime. If you have felt like you’re in a constant war with your own mind, your ego might feel threatened by your higher self.

Here are 8 signs to look out for if you think your ego is trying to sabotage you:

1. You have become very self-destructive.

Thoughts of self-hate regularly enter your brain, and you have turned to compulsive habits such as drinking or smoking. The ego comes from a place of darkness, and to tame it is one of the most difficult tasks a human will face in his or her lifetime. It fears giving up control, so it wants to keep you in a low vibrational state at all times to avoid transparency. So, if you have picked up on destructive habits and demeaning thought patterns about yourself, you can almost be sure the ego is the mastermind behind it all.

2. You feel overly self-conscious around others.

The ego doesn’t always make a grand entrance; sometimes, it likes to take a more subtle approach. Self-destructive habits can also include feeling a lack of self-confidence, but this doesn’t seem as apparent as the former. However, the ego is still likely to blame, because it always wants you to second-guess yourself and rely on things outside your consciousness for contentment. However, once you move into your heart and act on love rather than fear, you will slowly see this behavior dissipate.

3. You find yourself complaining often.

The ego loves to find everything wrong with a situation or person, so it harps on all the atrocities and misfortunes in life on a daily basis. Complaining every once in a while is a part of life, but if you catch yourself seeing the glass half-empty more than you normally would, try to look inside and tell your ego that all is well, and it doesn’t have to worry.

ego

 

4. You point out the negatives in your life before the positives.

Becoming a Negative Nancy can happen without you ever noticing this shift in consciousness, because the ego moves very slyly. It likes to go undetected and work in the background so as not to draw too much attention to itself. Looking at the world negatively reflects your vibration, so if you want to start noticing the positive aspects of life, work on taming the ego and feeding your soul instead.

5. Fights and arguments happen frequently between yourself and others.

Like we’ve said before, the ego doesn’t enjoy being wrong, and gets wounded easily if it doesn’t get its way. If you constantly have to get the last word in and can’t stand for others to be right, your ego is definitely trying to interfere with your life.

6. You judge others harshly.

This sort of goes along with seeing the negative in the world, but judging others is actually just a reflection of yourself. How you see yourself, you will see others, so if you want to start noticing the good in people, you must first realize the positive things about yourself.

7. You find it hard to listen to others without wanting to interrupt.

When the ego rules, it doesn’t know how to meet others halfway. It works using a “my way, or the highway” approach, so allowing others to speak and have the attention on them really scares the ego. It doesn’t take well to giving others the time of day, so if you find it difficult to let other people speak without wanting to interject, your ego is clearly dominating your energy.

8. You seek revenge when others hurt you.

The ego needs to get even when it feels pain, so what does it do? Try to destroy others, of course. It survives by tearing you down and tearing others down, so to stay alive, it must always hurt others. The Ego feeds off pain and destruction, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad. You must learn to use it for good and not evil, just like a superhero would do. They all have incredible powers, but must use them wisely for the benefit of themselves and humanity as a whole.


2 Comments

9 Ways To Avoid Killer Stress

BY MARGARET PAUL   AUGUST 7, 2014 

Since stress is a killer, it’s vitally important to practice the following healthy ways of avoiding stress in your life, and of managing stress in loving ways.

Stress activates the fight or flight mechanism, where the blood that’s normally in your brain, organs and immune system is directed into the arms and legs, readying you to fight or flee. Chronic stress keeps the body in this state, which eventually has a major effect on the ability of your immune system to keep you healthy.

Here are some tips to manage stress:

1. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Self-judgment causes much stress. It’s easy for many of us to blame outside situations for our stress, such as others’ rude, blaming or angry behavior, or things not going our way. But the truth is that most stress is caused by how we treat ourselves. If you start to notice what stresses you, you’ll discover that judging yourself is a major cause of anxiety and stress.

Try practicing being compassionate toward yourself for being human, rather than judging yourself or others for mistakes or failures, or for others’ rejecting behavior toward you.

2. Lovingly let an argument go until you can come back to the conflict when you’re in a calmer place.

Being around angry, blaming and controlling people is stressful, but are you exacerbating the stress by arguing, defending or explaining yourself, or attacking back? This only serves to cause more stress. When you can, it’s far better to disengage from a fight or argument and come back to it when both of you are calm.

When you lovingly disengage, you are walking away to take care of yourself — not to punish the other person (which would actually cause more stress).

3. Don’t be addicted to worrying!

Do you believe that, somehow, worrying will give you control over bad things not happening? For many, this is a major false belief that causes much stress. Instead, practice developing your faith that you are always being supported in the highest good of your soul’s journey.

4. Practice mindful breathing instead of shallow breathing.

Learning to mindfully breathe all the way down into your stomach, rather than shallowly breathing into your upper chest, can release much stress.

5. Take some time on a daily basis to process your feelings.

When you avoid your feelings by staying in your head, judging yourself, turning to various addictions, or making someone else responsible for your feelings, you are rejecting and abandoning yourself — which creates stress.

Getting mindfully and compassionately present with your feelings takes away the aloneness of self-abandonment and creates a sense of inner-calm.

6. Seek to understand your feelings, instead of trying to repress them.

Learn what your feelings are trying to tell you, which can create immediate relief from stress. Trying to control your feelings by any of the above ways of abandoning yourself just creates more stress.

stressed

7. Accept that you don’t control of the actions of others.

Much stress comes from trying to control what we can’t control. This is what the Serenity Prayer is all about:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Helplessness over others and outcomes is a hard feeling to feel, so instead, you might find yourself trying to control others and outcomes — which you can’t do, and which creates much stress. Compassionately accepting your helplessness over others and outcomes creates serenity.

8. Practice gratitude. What are you grateful for?

Rather than relieving stress, complaining actually creates more stress. Instead of complaining, try focusing on what you are grateful for. You will find that heart-felt gratitude immediately relieves stress. Many of you who are reading this have much to be grateful for. You are likely not starving, not on the streets, not fighting a war. Try being grateful for the everyday things that many people on this planet don’t have.

9. Laugh.

Laughter relieves stress. Even in the midst of life’s challenges, it’s important to find ways to relieve stress with laughter.