Monday, September 29, 2014

The Benefits of Talking

An article on the Reachout.com website mentions the thought on the importance of talking, and so we wanted to share. Although it is brief, it brings up some good points.

Talking is important for everyone. It helps you stay healthy and stops your problems from getting on top of you. You should talk to people you trust including a counselor or other mental health worker which is also a good option.

This could be for you if you...
-want to talk more
-don't want to talk more
-wonder why talking helps
-want options for people to talk to
-get angry easily
-worry too much

Why Talk to a Professional? 

Some people are good at talking, and do it a lot. Some people don't like to talk too much but it can be helpful for everyone. It's worth making an effort to talk through what's going on for you with someone you trust. Good things that can come from talking are:

-It will help you sort through your thoughts and clarify whatever is going on for you at the time. While all your stuff is internal, it's hard to see how it really works. Once you've had to say it out loud, it gets easier to get hold of.
-If you just worry about your problems without talking to someone about them, they probably start to seem worse and bigger than they are. Talking will cut them down to size.
Someone who's not involved in whatever's bothering you might suggest options you haven't thought of.
-If you're talking to someone neutral, but caring, they won't take sides or push an agenda.
-Talking is like a pressure valve for your head. Switch it on once in a while.


Talk to who?

You're going to want to pick someone you trust to talk about things that are bothering you. It might be a friend, family member, teacher, doctor or other person you see often. You may also want to consider talking to a counselor. They can help you get the skills and help of someone who's trained to be a good person to talk to, so it's worth considering too.

Some counselors specialize, so you can get someone who's experienced in dealing with whatever's going on – whether it's drugs, sadness, anger, sex, stress, family issues, school, or anything else.

What can I do now?

-Write down a list of people you trust who you can talk to
-If you want to talk to someone outside the situation, call a helpline
-Find out some great tips for better communication

Monday, September 22, 2014

100 Questions To Inspire Rapid Self-Discovery

Good Morning!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Since it's Monday, and we all may be dragging a little bit, I wanted to share something uplifting and fun for today. Here are a list of 100 questions, meant to help inspire rapid self-discovery. Have you ever taken the time to sit down and really think about your life? Your goals? Where you are, where you wanted to be? Well, if not, there is no better time then now! Check out this great blog post from Alexandra Frazen and find out for yourself. Enjoy :)

http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/2013/04/18/100-questions-to-inspire-rapid-self-discovery/

Here are just a few to get you started:

ϟ What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

ϟ What’s one thing you’re deeply proud of — but would never put on your résumé?

ϟ What’s the most out-of-character choice you’ve ever made?

ϟ If a mysterious benefactor wrote you a check for $5,000 and said, “Help me solve a problem — any problem!” … what would you do with him or her?

ϟ What’s going to be carved on your (hypothetical) tombstone?

ϟ What are you FREAKISHLY good at?

ϟ What’s one dream that you’ve tucked away, for the moment? How come?

ϟ What are you STARVING for?

ϟ If you could have tea with one fictional character, who would it be?

ϟ Do you have a morning ritual?

ϟ Do you believe in magic? When have you felt it?

ϟ Is there something that people consistently ask for your advice on? What is it?

ϟ Have you ever fantasized about changing your first name? To what?

ϟ When was the last time you astonished yourself?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Criticism vs. Feedback--Which One Wins, Hands-Down?

Criticism vs. Feedback--Which One Wins, Hands-Down?
How to optimize the chances that your frustrations will be heard.
Published on June 30, 2009 by Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. in Evolution of the Self

What Makes Feedback So Superior to Criticism?

It's hardly a coincidence that the word criticism--though many of its synonyms are not in themselves unfavorable (such as analysis, appraisal, or review)--almost always carries negative connotations. The term feedback, on the other hand, is as likely to refer to something positive as it is negative. However, in the effort to compare apples to apples, I'll be focusing here only on negative feedback (just as earlier my attention centered exclusively on negative criticism).

In personal, non-business situations, giving someone negative feedback isn't about calling attention to flaws in their performance, but explaining to them how their behavior has adversely affected you. Consequently, any such statement is primarily about yourself, which is why such communications typically begins with the pronoun "I" (rather than "you"). For when you're giving feedback, you're not actually blaming the other person for your reactions--whether they be hurt, anger, or disappointment--but informing them that their actions do in fact relate to your negative feelings. Still, in your willingness to take some responsibility for the feelings evoked in you, you're reducing the possibility of their reacting defensively. And you're also increasing the odds that they'll show more of a desire to listen to, understand, and empathize with the distress their insensitive behavior may have caused.

An example of this might be telling your spouse about their obviously bored reaction when you shared with them the specifics of a lunch date you had with a friend. You might tell them that even though you realize you may have gotten carried away in confiding so many details of what transpired during the get-together, their response of looking away, and audibly sighing and yawning, left you feeling hurt, uncared for, and even insulted. At the same time that you're more than willing to own up to your possibly straining their patience, you're seeking to make them aware that their dismissive response was still emotionally painful to you.

 Your motive here isn't to get them to hang their heads in shame, or abjectly confess that their behavior was reprehensible, only to increase their awareness of the negative impact their behavior had on you--and, of course, to prompt them to be more considerate and responsive in the future. To the degree you're able to circumvent their defenses and prompt them to empathically enter into your world, you stand a much better chance of achieving these worthwhile "educational" goals. They'll also be more likely to reflect upon their behavior and engage in some sort of self-confrontation when they're not being actively derided as obtuse, selfish, hardhearted, or callous. Name-calling, after all, is rarely effective in promoting positive behavioral change.

To help pinpoint the distinctions between giving criticism and offering feedback, I've compiled the fairly comprehensive list below. Examining it carefully should make it clear why feedback--even though it may be negative--is far more likely to impel another to re-think and, hopefully, to change their behavior than is criticism.

• Criticism is judgmental, negatively evaluative, and accusatory. As such, it can involve diagnosing (as is psycho-analyzing), labeling, lecturing, moralizing--and even ridiculing. Feedback, on the other hand, focuses on providing concrete information that could be helpful in motivating the other person to reconsider their behavior. Rather than being judgmental, it's descriptive.

• Criticism typically involves making negative assumptions about (or "mind-reading") the other person's motives. Feedback, however, generally avoids speculating on the other person's intent, focusing instead on the actual results of their behavior. If the person giving feedback shares their impression about the other's motives, it's clearly stated as such.

• Criticism is more general and diffuse--it can include negative appraisals of the other's character, even temperament. Feedback doesn't engage in such "character assassination," but rather centers more on the particular behaviors relating to the speaker's present-day frustrations or annoyance. The examples given aren't meant to illustrate the other person's personality defects, but rather to exemplify what is specifically experienced as troublesome or problematic.

• Criticism tends to exaggerate and over-generalize the behavior being objected to, and liberal use is made of such hyperbolic words as "always" or "never." Feedback attempts to be precise and delimited, and to aim attention only toward those behaviors that give offense.

• Criticism can have an unrestrained, all-inclusiveness about it--and it can revolve around things that aren't really changeable (e.g., criticizing another for being so allergic). Feedback doesn't indulge in overwhelming the other through "kitchen-sinking" complaints. And, typically, it engages the other person solely on behaviors that can be changed. (Note how common the phrase "destructive criticism" is--and how comparatively rare is the term "destructive feedback.")

• Criticism can come across as invalidating, condescending, preachy and authoritarian--and the person delivering it as arrogant, with a clear sense of superiority. Feedback, by confining itself to detailed descriptions of what is bothersome, is far less likely to imply that the person on the receiving end is somehow inferior, defective, or "less than."

• Criticism can make the other person feel under pressure, or at risk, because the angry tone in which it's typically delivered is frequently experienced as demanding, intimidating, or threatening. Feedback, offered in a calmer, more tentative, and low-keyed manner (ideally, at least), is designed to inform rather than attack--and so is far less likely to make the other person feel in jeopardy.

• Criticism commonly includes giving advice, commands, injunctions. Feedback, however, is less likely to center on how the other person should change than (by focusing on the negative interpersonal effects of their behavior) to prompt a discussion about the possible benefits of change.

• And--finally--as I've already emphasized, criticism prompts defensiveness because it's blaming and disparaging (at times, almost daring the other to refute it). Feedback, assuming that the other person is reasonably open to it, is much more likely to lead to self-reflection and re-evaluation of the behavior that might have been hurtful or provocative. It can hardly be overemphasized that, in essence, feedback has nothing to do with winning an argument, only with resolving a problem.


Many readers may recognize from all these characterizations that what I'm describing as feedback in many ways overlaps with what is more familiarly known as assertive (vs. aggressive) communication. So anyone wishing to develop greater proficiency in expressing their frustrations and complaints in ways that would optimize their getting the results they want would benefit greatly by exploring one or more of the virtual "library" of books available on the seminal subject of assertiveness.



To view original article, click here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Failure as the Single Best Marker of Human Success

Failure as the Single Best Marker of Human Success
Glorious dandelion fields betray stories of failures. The same is true with us.

Published on September 4, 2014 by Glenn Geher, Ph.D. in Darwin's Subterranean World


Failure is a predictor of success. This is, without question, one of life's great ironies. And it has deep roots into the evolution of life. And it is, without hesitation, simply true.

From a biological / natural selection perspective, the idea is that some features of organisms are more likely (on average, by chance) to make it into future generations compared with other features. Hand grip strength that is strong is likely to lead to better tree-climbing, more survival, and more reproduction than weak hand grip (just watch American Ninja Warrior for evidence of this). But while some designs (e.g., strong and versatile hand grip strength) out-compete other designs (e.g., wimpy hand grip strength), all designs will show some level of failure. Adaptations for strong hand grip strength may well have evolved over thousands of generations during the evolution of the arboreal primates in Africa - but we must note that in this process, failure, leading to primates falling from canopy to the forest floor, was necessarily a sometimes-consequence. Many-a-primate fell to a gory death during the years when advanced hand grip strength was evolving. Failure was part of what happened sometimes.

Evolutionary processes work this way. They follow a probabilistic logic - some qualities are "more likely" to lead to success than are other qualities - but they will still have failure rates that are different from zero. A "good adaptation," for instance, may lead to a 10% death rate while a "not as good" adaptation may lead to a 30% death rate. From this mathematical/evolutionary perspective, failure is necessarily part of the game. The issue is not whether one feature will fail and another will not - the issue is more subtle, nuanced, and statistical-based. The issue is whether one feature will, on average, lead to a higher proportion of successes relative to failures compared with alternative features.

Evolutionary Failure and Real Life

All this conceptual stuff about how evolution works has real implications for how our lives progress. In life, you sometimes succeed and you sometimes fail. This is just how it goes. When we step back and look at organic evolution, the same exact process is true - some biological adaptations succeed (and come to typify a species) and other such adaptations fail (and come to NOT typify any species).

Picking Dandelions to Learn about Success and Failure

But the evolution of life is relentless - and this point needs to be included in this discussion. Ever pick dandelions out of your yard? Good luck. You may start with 20 in your basket, increase to 60, commit to "pick them all," only to find that you have picked 80 after several hours and that 85 more (that you had not seen before) are now in your side yard - and so forth. In the evolutionary story of a modern yard, dandelions show an extraordinary failure rate (they get picked at lot) - only to be out-done by an even more extra-ordinary success rate (they find good environments and grow a lot).

What happens when you squash a dandelion plant? Does it cry? Does it say, "Go ahead without me - I just cannot do this anymore!" ... or does it just follow its biological design, and disseminate seeds in wayward, random directions, with the (apparent) goal of growing more plants all over the place?

Dandelions, and so many other natural forms of life, have the greatest possible lessons for all of us humans out here - whether we know it or not. And here it is: Dandelions cannot help but fail at times. They don't seem to have evolved mechanisms designed to reduce failure at all! They don't bite - they are actually pleasant to eat (with few if any toxins) - they are helpless! Rather their strategy toward proliferation seems more like this: (a) grow a lot, (b) grow quickly, (c) grow wherever, (d) turn to seed asap, and (e) go back to step (a). ... Ever see a field full of dandelions? I bet you have. And that, my friend, is because this particular evolved strategy works - it, on average, is effective at facilitating growth and reproduction. My front yard in late April is a testament to this fact.

More failure corresponds to more success.

The irony of the dandelion is this: The more failure the plants encounter corresponds strongly to the more success that the plants encounter. In essence, these plants are trying - and they consistently make efforts at replicating. They often get squashed. A six-year old may decide to make a daisy chain out of them or give a bouquet to a lucky parent. A lawn mower may actually take some of these soldiers down for some time. But in the end, the evolutionary strategy of the dandelion is just so strong. They ALWAYS come back.

Their general plan is simply this: Grit and Perseverance. Keep at it - move forward through failure, and you are likely to see another day and to grow. Or at least your offspring will.

Human Success Maps onto Dandelion Success

Humans are a lot like dandelions. We try all kinds of things. For instance, if you are a kid trying out for a part in a play, you may get rejected the first year (as a dandelion may get weed wacked in Season 1).  But the dandelion, due to its biological design, keeps trying. It tries a new area of the yard - its pods and the wind may bring it a mile away. It "gives it another go." And that may work.

Does this strategy work for you? You didn't get this particular part in this particular play. Should you just go belly-up, then? Well a dandelion wouldn't do that! Maybe try another play - another role - another venue - another group - another accent. Give something else a try - this may be the solution!

And don't get discouraged. The dandelion may fail five more times before it finally yields a plant that has just the right conditions to facilitate reproductive success. The four or so failures beforehand were just part of the process.

Think about any human domain in which success is a goal. We could learn quite well from the natural world. Suppose you want to successfully publish a scientific journal article. Well if you ask any scientist you will be told that failure early on in the process is par for the course. Any good scientific article may well have been rejected a solid 3 other times by other journals before it got accepted. But a good and dedicated scholar knows this - and keeps at it. Just like, with evolutionary ancient and non-conscious rules, dandelions seem to "decide" where and when they will take up new territory. And, like scientific manuscripts, they will probably fail, but like the scientific manuscripts of persistent and successful scholars, they will be resubmitted - ultimately to the point of production and publication.

Failure is a Prerequisite for Success in Life

Those who do not try are those who do not succeed. The most successful among us are, without exception, those who have failed the most - as a result of being those who have tried the most.

The greatest scholarly successes ever came on the heels of mountains and mountains of failures. And that is OK. That is natural. The greatest dandelion fields in the world were preceded also by fields and fields of lawnmowers and poor soil conditions and other forms of dandelion adversity. But, based on their evolutionary history, dandelions are like the honey badger - they just don't care! So they came back!

And humans who are trying to accomplish something can learn a lesson here from their sisters the dandelions. Perfectionism has little place in production and optimization. Grit, effort, and persistence trump perfectionism in cultivating success in many areas - in dandelion reproduction and in human production.

Whatever You are Doing, Channel Your Inner Dandelion

Be like a dandelion. Try, expect to fail; try, deal with a failure; try, deal with a different failure; then, one day, succeed - you will have a field full of dandelions - or a vita full of publications - or a classroom full of students who understand the material. Or whatever it is that you are striving for.

Realizing that the failure-to-success ratio in any endeavor is high should go a long way to helping people stay on track and moving toward their goals.

Based on this reasoning, the most successful among us - in any field - are those who have failed the most. And as a corollary, failing a lot is highly predictive of ultimate success and innovation - in any field. This is part of the deal of who we are - and understanding our evolutionary roots helps us get exactly why failure is ultimately (if ironically) predictive of success.

So you want to succeed in your life endeavors? Then harness your inner dandelion. Smile at adversity, welcome failure, and realize that hard-work and perseverance - peppered with failures - are the great predictors of success in life.

to view the original article, click here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201409/august-29-september-5-0/failure-the-single-best-marker-human-success

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

10 Ways To Radiate Positivity And Be Attractive

10 Ways To Radiate Positivity And Be Attractive
Feeling insufficiently beautiful? Positive vibes attract like light draws moths.
Published on July 20, 2012 by Susan Heitler, Ph.D. in Resolution, Not Conflict


There's negative and there's positive vibes. Criticism sends out negative vibes.  So do complaints, disagreement, blame and frowns.  Love, by contrast, involves the emanation of positive energies.  Expression of thanks, gratitude and appreciation, along with interest in others' lives and warm smiles, all send forth positive energy.  These positive emanations convey a loving stance.  The more positives you send folks, the more they will feel loved by you, and the more they are likely to appreciate you in return.

Folks who emanate positive vibes are upbeat to talk with. They feel "warm." Whether they are your boss, your employee or colleague, your friend, family members or loved ones; these folks feel safe to share with, and, like sunshine, radiate good feelings. Their positivity makes you want to talk with them more because they've set good vibes as a relationship standard.

Positive folks consistently avoid being critical, negating what you say, being argumentative or responding dismissively to what you say.  Those negative energy habits are what negative folks do.

Interacting with someone who is often negative or being in a group that a negative person leads induces downer feelings.  The negative energy this person emanates makes others feel insecure and can become downright unpleasant.

Positive individuals and leaders, by contrast, convey interest in your perspectives and well-being, agreement, appreciation, humor and affection. One supermarket manager circles his store every morning greeting each worker with a warm hello and a genuine "How are you?"  His workers love their jobs as well as their leader.

How can you tell if a person has or positive or a negative impacts on you?

Subconsciously, your body spurts feel-good chemicals when you hear positive words and phrases or recieve a smile, eye contact, or a pat on the back. Seretonin and oxytocin levels in your body rise.  By contrast, seretonin levels in your body go down when you interact with someone who is negative telling you, "Stay away!"

You can decide to be a positive person, and can choose how much positive energy you want to emanate.

The following a list of sentence starters that launch good vibes along with whatever information you are wanting to convey.  I'll bet you could add some more.

1. Yes...   "Yes, going swimming sounds appealing."  [Note, "Yes... but.." has the opposite impact.  The but deletes the positivity of the Yes.]

2. I agree. "I agree that it's too hot to much exercise other than swimming today."

3  I appreciate .... "I appreciate your willingness to pack a lunch before we head out."

4. Thank you for....  "Thanks so much for getting me moving.  I was stuck in my armchair."

5. I like (love, enjoy, etc) ... "I like that bathingsuit!  Looks terrific!"  And to initiate action "I would like to ...".

6. That makes sense to me because....  "Bringing lunch makes sense to me because the food at the pool is so expensive."

7. I'm pleased (happy, delighted, etc) that...  "I'm pleased that you thought to invite our friends to join us at the pool."

8.  Good! (Excellent, Great, Wow, Cool, Terrific, etc)  "Great.  Let's hop in the car."

9.  How...?  or What ....? [Note: These open-ended question words convey interest in the other.] "How are you feeling about driving since your recent accident?"  "What have you heard lately from your Mom?"

10. Positive non-verbals like enthusiasm in your tone of voice, genuine interest, smiles, laughter,  playfulness, eye-contact, plus, with intimates, hugs and other physical expressions of affection ...

Every sentence you say of course will not radiate good vibes.  Some talking is serious, or for information-sharing.  At the same time, generously seasoning your interactions with positive expressions of agreement, appreciation, affection, good humor and enthusiasm warms your relationships and brightens how people feel when they talk with you.

Of course positive words have an even more potent impact when they are accompanied by an enthusiastic tone of voice and genuine interest in the other.  Be sure therefore to add liberal sprinklings of #10's.

Especially if it feels like your close relationships need a bit of rekindling, try warming them up and see what happens.

The brief video below illustrates how positive vibes sustain the glow of love in marriage. Those principles apply to all realtionships.  (Sorry about the muddled front picture; hopefully the video itself works fine). The video can help you to assess how you've been doing in the department of positive emanations and give you further ideas on how to do more.

Be a positive leader in all your relationships.  Emanate positive vibes, even to yourself, and affection and appreciation will return your way.  Everyone will enjoy the sunshine!

------------------------------------

Denver clinical psychologist Susan Heitler, Ph.D, a graduate of Harvard and NYU, is author of Power of Two, a book, a workbook, and a website that teach the communication skills that sustain positive relationships.