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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

5 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem and Make It Stick | Psychology Today

5 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem and Make It Stick | Psychology Today

Stigma can eat away at one's self esteem. I came across an article in Psychology Today that I find  beneficial. ~ 

5 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem and Make It Stick

1. Skip empty "affirmations."

John was 25 when he came to see me for psychotherapy. The previous year he had quit his "boring office job" and moved back in with his parents to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He now had a part-time job as a barista, played video games, and saw friends on weekends. As for figuring out his life—he wasn't.

"I think what's holding me back is my self-esteem," he said during our first session. "I just don't feel good about myself—in any way." John had tried to improve his self-esteem by repeating positive affirmations several times a day: I'm going to be a big success, and I can do anything I put my mind to.

"The positive affirmations you're using are not good," I explained to John, "both grammatically and psychologically. But the bigger problem is there seems to be nothing in your life that is nourishing your self-esteem—you're not doing anything that would make you feel good about yourself."

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Indeed, we have to nourish our self-esteem. If we want to feel good about ourselves, we have to do things that actually make us feel proud, accomplished, appreciated, respected, or empowered, or take steps that make us feel that we're advancing toward our goals. John was doing none of these things.

5 Steps to Nourishing Self-Esteem

1. Avoid generic positive affirmations.

Positive affirmations are like empty calories. You can tell yourself you're great but if you don't really believe it, your mind will reject the affirmation and make you feel worse as a result. Affirmations only work when they fall within the range of believability, and for people with low self-esteem, they usually don't.

2. Identify areas of authentic strength or competency.

To begin building your self-esteem, you have to identify what you're good at, what you do well, or what you do that other people appreciate. It can be something small, a single small step in the right direction, but it is has to be something. If John were a champion video game player, that could have done the trick. But he wasn't that dedicated. As a result, the hours he spent playing did not provide his self-esteem any emotional nourishment.

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3. Demonstrate ability.

Once you've identified an area of strength, find ways to demonstrate it. If you're a good bowler, join a bowling league. If you're a good writer, post an essay to a blog. If you're a good planner, organize the family reunion. Engage in the things you do well.

4. Learn to tolerate positive feedback.

When our self-esteem is low we become resistant to compliments. (See Why Some People Hate Compliments.) Work on accepting compliments graciously (a simple "thank you" is sufficient). Hard as it might feel to do so, especially at first, being able to receive compliments is very important for those seeking to nourish their self-esteem.

5. Self-affirm.

Once you've demonstrated your ability, allow yourself to feel good about it, proud, satisfied, or pleased with yourself. Self-affirmations are specifically crafted positive messages we can give ourselves based on our true strengths (e.g., I'm a fantastic cook). Realize it is not arrogant to feel proud of the things you are actually good at, whatever they are, as when your self-esteem is low, every ounce of emotional nourishment helps. (See The Difference between Pride and Arrogance.)

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Self-esteem is not fueled by hope—"I'll be successful any day now"—or by false beliefs—"I'm the greatest." It's fueled by authentic experiences of competence and ability, and well-deserved feedback. If those are lacking in your life, take action to bring them into your daily experience by demonstrating your abilities and opening yourself up to positive feedback (from yourself as well as from others) once you do.

Copyright 2016 Guy Winch



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Monday, March 27, 2017

Wellness as my goal

Let's succeed at gaining wellness. My successes came as I pressed to improve my person and my work. At every success, I looked for things I might improve the next time. 




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Sunday, March 26, 2017

What you wish family and friends knew

Thank you, Bp hope.com.

What I Wish Family & Friends Knew About Bipolar

Unless you have walked a mile in my shoes, there's no way you will ever be able to understand what it's like to have bipolar.

wish-friends-family-knew-bipolar

By Jess Melancholia

I don't know a single person with bipolar disorder who doesn't have that one friend or family member who just doesn't get it. They either have no idea about mental illnesses in general or believe they are something you can "fix."

For me, it's more than frustrating; it's downright cruel. You would think your family and friends would be there to support you. Unfortunately, you get the usual confusion and apathy. Or you get the anger. 

Here are three basic premises that I wish they knew:

You can't understand my bipolar and you never will.

I'm sorry this sounds harsh, but it's 100 percent true. Unless you have walked a mile in my shoes, there is no way you will ever be able to understand. My depressions are so dark and morbid that they drain me of all my energy. The thought of taking a shower or even just getting out of bed is overwhelming. Depending on how low I get, I honestly contemplate suicide because I can't bear to go on like this. My manias are so wild and unpredictable that irritability and insomnia cause major health issues. Sure, it's nice to have more energy—but not when I can't control my actions. Overspending and grandiosity can get me into major trouble in my financial and social life.

Bipolar depression and mania are far more extreme levels of emotions than you have ever experienced or can even conceive of. Trust me when I say you don't—you can't—understand. So don't even try. Just be there.

When I'm manic or depressed, that's not the real me.

Everything is amplified when I'm in the middle of an episode, so it's much easier for me to say or do things that I wouldn't if I were well. This doesn't by any means excuse anything—bipolar is an explanation but not an excuse. A lot of outside stimuli are attacking my senses, and it's hard for me to hold back the things I feel compelled to say and do. The fact is, my bipolar affects my ability to react "normally" to the world around me.

The last thing I need is anger and criticism while I'm trying to deal with my symptoms the best way I know how. My personal catchphrase is, "Don't be ashamed of your actions; learn from them and grow."

Your coping skills won't "fix" me.

While there are plenty of good tips out there for living a well-balanced life, like doing yoga or eating healthy, they do very little if anything to help when you are deep in the throes of depression or mania. Logic and reason go out the window. I fully believe in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) as useful tools to help manage bipolar disorder, but these will not cure it. They just won't. So for someone to tell you that you just need to do this one thing (practice the Tree pose, boost your omega-3s) and you won't be depressed or manic anymore is absurd and irresponsible. It perpetuates the stigma that this is "all in your head" and you should be able to "just get over it."

Here's the bottom line: My brain doesn't function the same as everyone else's, regardless of public opinion. But that doesn't mean I am weak. In fact, it means I am much stronger than you think. It takes monumental courage and strength to live life battling bipolar. Every moment I continue breathing, I am winning this fight.

And I will never stop fighting. Having my friends and family stick by my side gives me hope that I can manage whatever happens. Through their strength, I know I have a reason to keep on going. 

If they only knew how much their support means to me.

Printed as "What I wish family and friends knew about bipolar", Winter 2017


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Thursday, November 3, 2016

It hurts when a person in denial shuts you out

What do you do? The person you love is out of control and is not listening to you. You know its going to end badly for both of you. No cooperation. Only denial. Here are some practical things one can do for their loved one, and themselves. 


Fast Talk: Dealing With DenialEventually, we need to face the facts about our reality and diagnoses

By Julie A. Fast
Bphope.com

It can be upsetting, stressful, and downright incomprehensible when someone with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder denies the illness and refuses treatment. You may find yourself watching helplessly as behaviors tied to untreated bipolar lead to family distress, broken relationships, problems at school and work, money woes, and alcohol and drug abuse.
If you try to help someone in denial, you will probably be accused of interfering if you even mention the word bipolar. This is confusing because it's very easy for you to see what's wrong, and naturally you want to point out the problem in hopes that the person will then get help. Often, however, your attempt just makes things worse.
It hurts when a person in denial shuts you out, but it's common.
What's even more confusing is that you can have an honest conversation about bipolar when your loved one is stable, reviving your hopes that the person will enter or stick with treatment. Then boom! Here comes the denial again.
It may be cold comfort to learn that it is very typical behavior for people with bipolar disorder to deny they are sick and avoid treatment, even if they have been in the hospital or taken medications for the illness in the past.
It's important to remember that people in denial are usually miserable, in a great deal of internal pain, and can't see a way out. It's easy to believe they really can't see what's going on, but unless denial is a result of a mood swing such as strong maniaor paranoia, the affected individuals usually know what is happening. They respond to your concern with aggression because they are trying to protect their decision to deny the illness.
It hurts when a person in denial shuts you out, but it's common. The person prefers to be around others who don't mention the illness, and will paint you as the bad guy because you are the one who is stating the truth.
There is good news, however. I've talked with hundreds of people who moved through denial to eventually admit that bipolar is at the root of their problems and they needed help. Over and over I've been told how despite their relentless inner pain and confusion, they refused help and pushed away the people who cared about them.
It's when someone realizes that they no longer want a life controlled by bipolar disorder that they begin to listen to loving advice instead of fighting back.
Steps toward change
Find the sweet spot. Are there periods when your loved one is more open to discussion? Often people are more receptive during a mild depression. Once you see a pattern in your loved one's moods, you'll have a better sense of when to gently start a conversation.
Set expectations. If a loved one with bipolar is living with you, you have the right to set expectations for behaviors such as drug use, drinking, yelling, staying in bed all day, staying out all hours and, yes, refusing treatment. You are always in control of what works best for you. It's not always about the person with the illness. It will be up to you to decide the consequences if your expectations aren't met.
Understand the challenges. Always remember that bipolar is an illness. No one chooses to have bipolar disorder. People in denial can be very unpleasant and it's easy to walk away from them, but don't forget they are suffering. It's OK to address this directly. Go ahead and say you understand that it must be hard to have someone tell you what to do. Say that you can tell the person feels misunderstood. People in denial may get angry or refuse to reply, but they have heard you. Many times, when they get better, they will tell you they heard you.
Hold on to hope. I've known many people who accepted treatment after years of denial, often when loved ones learn simple strategies and get them help at the right time. It isn't easy to hang on until then. Nothing with bipolar disorder is easy! But bipolar is treatable, even for those who currently refuse to admit they are ill.
Printed as "Fast Talk: The Denial Factor", Summer 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Helping your loved living with bipolar disorder. Thanks, bphope.com !

I gained a better understanding of my role as helper, and my limitations. I hope you get great benefit from it also.

10 Ways to Support Someone with Bipolar

When family and friends understand how things are for those of us with bipolar, it helps move us along the road to recovery and helps us all live more harmoniously.
By Stephen Propst


For those of us who have bipolar disorder, we are kidding ourselves if we think we can go it alone. While one of the most profound determinants of making a positive recovery is having support from family and friends, supporting someone with a chronic illness is not easy. When family and friends understand how things are for those of us with bipolar, it helps move us along the road to recovery and helps us all live more harmoniously.
For those who support us, there are ways to reduce stress, improve relationships, and make for a better overall quality of life for everyone. Whether the person has been diagnosed as having bipolar and is compliant, or refuses to admit that anything is even wrong, having the right attitude and the necessary basic knowledge is key. Here are 10 points to keep in mind if you're serious about offering support that helps, not hinders.
1. Never give up hopeLooking back, the first 10 years of my more than two decades of dealing with bipolar disorder were a seemingly insurmountable struggle, but my loved ones never gave up hope. Despite a situation that often created frustration and hopelessness, they never doubted my recovery. Today, they continue to instill that same undying confidence.
There is one piece of advice for anyone who loves someone with bipolar disorder, and it is this: keep the faith and never give up. There have been many times when there was nothing but hope, and you have living proof that it kept me going. So, let your hope for a loved one spread—it's contagious.
2. Take some timeTime is one of the hardest concepts to convey to people. We all want immediate results, but with bipolar disorder, so-called overnight success can, in fact, extend to years. Studies show that it can take 10 years or more to even obtain an accurate diagnosis (Living with Bipolar Disorder: How Far Have We Really Come? Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance [DBSA] Constituency Survey, 2001). In my own case, it took eight years before someone accurately put a name to my struggle.
With bipolar disorder, there are simply no quick fixes. Thinking there is a miracle cure only makes matters worse, so instead, help your loved one set realistic goals. The road to recovery is not a straight shot; it's a winding path with delays, downtimes, and detours. Remember progress can be made, but it takes time. Let patience be your guide.
3. Face the factsBe willing to acknowledge that bipolar disorder is a legitimate disorder. Saying something like, "It's all in your head," or "Just snap out of it," denies that reality. As with diabetes or cancer, bipolar disorder requires medical treatment and management. And as with other chronic conditions, bipolar disorder is initially unfamiliar and frequently unpredictable. It can be gut-wrenching and at times, scary.
It also helps to face the facts when it comes to our current mental health system. If you find it to be disorganized and disconnected, imagine what the patient is experiencing. With your support, a patient can be guided through the maze, find the best care, and stick to a workable treatment plan.
4. Adopt the right attitudeHow you see things does matter. With the amount of stigma and discrimination that exist in society at large, the last thing a patient needs is misguided thinking coming from family and friends. More support is needed, not more shame. The more your response is based on reality and not on myths, the more your support can make a difference.
All too often, family members make a loved one feel as though it isn't bipolar but rather a character flaw or something brought on by the person. Some even view an occasional setback as though it spells permanent doom. Such flawed thinking may be common, but it's harmful to the person facing bipolar disorder who needs constructive feedback, not destructive rhetoric.
5. Get educatedPeople who have bipolar disorder often deny that anything's wrong, and frequently, they don't stay on their medications. It's important to learn about these and other nuances of the disorder. Fortunately, there are many resources available today, especially compared to 25 years ago, not the least of which is the Internet.
A national clothing store uses the slogan: "An educated consumer is our best customer." To support your loved one, consider adopting a similar notion. An educated family member or friend is our best advocate and our greatest source of support.
6. Treat us like adultsA psychiatrist once commented that my body (at the time) was 30-years-old physically, but I was 45 intellectually, and 15 emotionally. Talk about a tough pill to swallow! Bipolar disorder can arrest a person's emotional maturity and produce behavior that appears very childish and reckless.
Please remember, however, that while someone who has bipolar may act like a child, there is an adult underneath. The world of the person who has bipolar disorder can be full of chaos and confusion, and low self-esteem is common. It can make a big difference when you continue to acknowledge and show respect for the grown human being who is struggling behind all the symptoms.
7. Give us some spaceLiving with a serious illness is a daunting task. It can be a foreign concept to separate yourself from someone you want to help. But as a support person, it is best to establish a loving distance between yourself and the person who has bipolar.
Set boundaries and establish consequences that encourage those who have bipolar to seek recovery on their own, all the while expressing your concern and willingness to help. Be supportive, patient, and understanding—without being used. Effective encouragement is helpful; enabling is not.
An educated family member or friend is our best advocate and our greatest source of support.
8. Forget the pastFrustration often accompanies bipolar disorder. Family and friends can spend countless hours—if not years—wondering what went wrong. Avoid making matters worse by wallowing in the past.
Pointing fingers solves nothing, blaming is not the answer, and getting angry only makes matters worse. Bitterness and resentment can sometimes act as a trigger and incite more of the behavior you want to stop. Instead, focus on helping make tomorrow better. That's true support.
9. Take care of yourselfThe family suffers right along with the person who has bipolar disorder, so, it's important for you to develop your own coping skills. Only if you take care of yourself can you help. All too often caregivers end up becoming ill.
During training, emergency medical technicians are taught to never put their lives in obvious jeopardy to save someone else's. If they did so, they'd be unable to help anyone. Likewise the same is true for you while you are caring for your loved one. Remember that you have yourself—and probably others—to care for as well.
10. Find a healthy balanceThere are so many questions: "How much should I be willing to do?" "Should we use tough love?" "How long does this go on?" "How long should we wait before we intervene?" and on and on and on. Bipolar disorder is tough. It's like walking a tightrope sometimes, where you've got to learn to balance your own welfare with the interest you have in supporting the person with bipolar.
You also have to find a healthy balance when it comes to the support you offer. Learn to take things in stride, one day at a time. There's a time to help and a time to step back; a time to speak and a time to listen; a time to be patient and a time to be insistent.
Now, you have some valuable points to ponder as you help your loved one pursue recovery. The more you're in the know, the better equipped you are to offer the type of support that can make a positive difference. The reward is a brighter, happier future—for everyone involved.
I know it's worth the effort.
Printed as "Points to ponder: Help from parents, partners, and pals", Fall 2005 bphope.com

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

National Mental Illness Awareness Month

October is a special month because it has a variety of mental health "awareness" days:
  • October 2-9: MENTAL ILLNESS AWARENESS WEEK
  • October 4: NATIONAL DAY of PRAYER for MENTAL ILLNESS RECOVERY & UNDERSTANDING
  • October 6: NATIONAL DEPRESSION SCREENING DAY
  • October 10: WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY

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Caring and Support are priceless

Many times along my life's journey, I came to learn the value of having someone to be with me. I never expected anyone to have "the answer" for me. However, I did need caring and support which I received. 


Right now I say a "Thank You" -  (you know who you are.)



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