Connection in the Time of Covid-19

2020 will forever be known as the year that COVID-19 changed our lives. But will it be remembered for its horrific impact on our lives or will it be remembered as the way that we all banded together to cope and find new ways of going about our lives? In order to answer this question, we must first take a look at why interactions with those around us is so important.

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Why Do We Crave Interaction? 

Humans are social creatures, and have relied on our connections with other humans as a means to survive and thrive as a species. Even from our earliest days, we have needed the help of others to feed ourselves and our families, procreate, and advance to the point we are at now. Even in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, we still need social interaction to get us through the day. Loneliness and disconnection are a huge threat to our mental and physical well-being. Disconnection from those around us can be devastating to our sense of self and our sense of the world, making it even more difficult to reconnect.

In recent weeks, workplaces have largely moved online and video meetings have become commonplace. FaceTime and Skype are replacing face to face visits with grandparents. Hugs and kisses are given on opposite sides of the windows at nursing homes. Classrooms around the world are now online, with teachers leading discussions and lessons from their own homes. This all reinforces our absolute need for social interactions to survive. From the food we eat to the medicine we take, all of this requires social interaction to come to fruition. With our uncanny ability to adapt, we have found new ways to keep the world moving, and are learning a lot about ourselves in the process.

What Social Distancing is Teaching Us

The shift to social distancing is bringing up new challenges many have never had to think about. Where to get essential supplies, how to manage working at home with children and spouses, job loss, disruption to school and day care routines, cancellation of social events, and so many other changes to daily routines have forced us all to think outside the box. We are learning along the way, and some incredible lessons are coming out of the perceived chaos.

Compassion for our fellow man is something that we can very easily push aside. But when we are called to think of more than just ourselves, many will be pleasantly surprised to find that lending a helping hand to someone in need is what many choose to do. There are stories coming from all over the world of great acts of kindness and compassion, especially to those that are most vulnerable to the virus. Retailers offering special hours to protect those who need it most, delivery services extending hours and operations to assist in getting food to families who need it, and the outpouring of support for all of those on the front lines both in and out of the hospitals are just a few of the prime examples of the kindness and compassion that do exist in the world every single day that we often take for granted. 

Along with compassion, there are great examples of selflessness over selfishness. Within the first week of the proposed stay-at-home orders, there were several instances of stores being out of stock of essential items for no other reason than a few people stockpiling in a way that was completely unnecessary. Even before stores began to limit the purchase of essential products indefinitely, communities across the country banded together to ensure that everyone got what they needed. Large donations to food banks have poured in, as well as offerings on Facebook groups to share stockpiled goods. We are remembering that in order to take care of ourselves, we must also care for others.

And if nothing else, COVID-19 has taught us about our resilience as a species – our unmatched ability to adapt and overcome in even the most precarious of situations. With the changing rules and recommendations, new ways to go about our lives are being adopted and accepted without much hesitation. We have banded together to stay home and flatten the curve to help prevent further spread and to protect those that are most vulnerable in our communities. We have found new ways to maintain businesses and supply chains, allowing many to maintain income in a time when our social system has become inundated with applications for assistance to many who were laid off and are unable to return to work at this time due to closures. This speaks to the unwillingness of human kind to back down from challenges that seem insurmountable. 

Even with all of the kindness, compassion, selflessness, and resilience, many still struggle with the unknowns – when will we be able to reopen businesses? When will the kids be able to go back to school? When will we be able to have social gatherings? When will life go back to “normal”? Finding ways to cope with social distancing is an important step in making sure that we all stay on top of our mental and physical health.

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Coping with Social Distancing

Social distancing is not a choice that anyone got to make for themselves. With this lack of choice, there is a feeling of a loss of control over ourselves and our surroundings. A loss of control can lead to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger, anxiety, and depression. All of these feelings are expected as our lives have been turned upside down in a lot of ways. It is the way that we choose to cope with these feelings that will define our ability to adapt and preserve through times such as this. 

There are several ways to stay connected with our friends and families through social distancing. Mailing cards and letters, video calls, phone calls, and social media are just a few of the ways that many are choosing to stay in touch. 

There has also been a huge push for constant productivity during isolation, but there is also nothing wrong with giving yourself a break. You don’t have to finish projects, work on yourself, keep the house spotless, or even be in touch with people every day. There is nothing wrong with taking time to sit on the couch, eat comfort food, and be alone with your TV. Cut yourself some slack and don’t succumb to the artificial pressure to be this new and wonderful you. 

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Getting outside is a great way to boost your mood and reconnect with yourself that doesn’t involve the newest self-help seminar or book. Taking a walk around your block, minding the 2 metre gap between you and others can help bring calm and peace in a way that a lot of other things cannot. It is also great exercise, and can help release some of those “feel good” neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin.

With all of the changes during social distancing, it can be easy to lose sight of the many positive and meaningful things that are coming out of this situation. Through compassion, kindness, and a lot of hard work, we are showing ourselves and each other that we really are all connected. The COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered for the toll it has taken, but it will also be remembered for all of the ways that we as a society have banded together to adapt and overcome. 

 

 

How does Marijuana affect your Relationship?

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How Marijuana Can Affect Relationships

The impact marijuana can have on relationships remains to be a very controversial topic. Some hold the view that the two can never go hand in hand. Instead, they mix as well as dynamite and match; very explosive with widespread and far-reaching effects. While others believe that marijuana has no negative effects on relationships. In their view, it spices things up. This article, though not intended to hit at any side in favor of another, has captured nothing but the truth on how marijuana affects relationships from both schools of thought.

Success in any relationship calls for love, trust and compromise. In addition, it also requires the couple to be free of substance abuse and addiction in all of its forms.  In this context we are discussing marijuana ABUSE. I invite you to be open minded in this topic and not stay in the category of black and white thinking. Not everyone who smokes pot will abuse it or become addicted to it.

Pot smoking, like any substance, may seem innocent, harmless and even fun for some at the very outset. Though the habit initially kicks off as a way of establishing identity or possibly freedom of expression, it can eventually lead users down the path to ruin and destruction in any love relationship. It can set one’s life in a downward spiral that ultimately robs them of everything they value as far as love and relationship are concerned. Unfortunately, marijuana has become widely accepted and debatably legalized in many modern societies.

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How does marijuana affect your love life?

Having counseled many couples on relationship matters over the years, I hold as true the opinion that the abuse of pot can actually minimize progress and growth in relationships. Marijuana abuse can directly impact:

  • Personal life and friendship
  • Intimacy and commitments
  • family life and responsibilities
  • emotions

Personal life and friendship

If pot smoking ultimately turns habitual and addictive, the victim ceases to be himself or herself. The drug moves in and completely takes over such an unsuspecting soul. In no time, such an individual becomes consumed by social anxiety and paranoia.

At this stage, the pot addict is more likely to be introverted and neglected, even by close friends and confidants. Of course being high kind of redefines their brand of friends; they associate more with a clique of other addicts trapped in the same habit of pot smoking. These are the kind of friends that only sink them deeper in their abyss of frustrations. Essentially, the addict loses touch with reality and reason.

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Intimacy and commitments

In love life, intimacy is very critical. In fact, according to some studies, it is the glue that holds the relationship together longer. By its very nature, intimacy is about partners being able to see into each other. Precisely, intimacy guarantees a clear perception of an individual’s feelings as well as their partner’s.

Marijuana in a relationship acts contrary to this feeling. Though critics suggest it heightens intimacy, this substance is in fact insidious and dangerous in your relationship. The “sacred herb,” as some erroneously call it, is a mood-killer when abused and only detaches you from your own as well as your partner’s feelings. Besides, weed shortens memory and makes honoring commitments in a relationship quite the nightmare.

Family life and responsibilities

Whenever a recreational drug like marijuana turns addictive, cravings for the same makes one forget everything else but the pot. Abdication of duties and responsibilities in the family typically sets in at this stage. Real addicts are never worried about the welfare of their children or spouse. Not in the slightest. They live in denial, isolation and over time becomes overtly defensive of their actions. It is no surprise that such individuals resort to verbal attacks if questioned about any of their unbecoming behaviors.

The drug-free partner in a relationship that is bedeviled by marijuana suffers more psychological traumas than the addict. Such partners may at times feel betrayed, tricked or even short changed in the relationship. This often develops into self-blame; taking unnecessary responsibility for the addicted partner’s way of life. This might then degenerate into jealousy, rage and self judgement, the real ingredients of depression.

Ironically, if asked if they still love their spouse in the relationship, the addict is often quick to respond in the affirmative. Their continued use of pot is evidence to the contrary though.

Marijuana and emotions

Emotionally, pot smokers are not themselves. Research findings indicate that as one uses drugs time and again, likely the case with marijuana addicts, their emotional tone plummets lower and lower. Unless they are high, such individuals know not much happiness and pleasures in life. Such a twisted perspective ends up draining life in any relationship. In some cases the couple may call it quits and part ways, just like that. In some rare cases though, the pot-free partner may have the nerve and patience to wait and just hope for the best – a day when the love of their life will finally stop the bad habit. Success rate for such cases is often very slim because the addiction often turns chronic over time. Most of the patient pot-free partners end-up depressed and frustrated without the intervention of specialists like psychotherapists and psychologists.

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How to recover from marijuana addiction

Clearly, marijuana and relationships are immiscible. The good news however is that marijuana addiction as a condition can be reversed. Various effective recovery programs are in place for the same. These programs remake the addict anew so that they once again come into the light. With well-thought-out alternatives, these programs helps clients regain a brighter outlook on life as a whole, integrity and self-respect. This way, they can once again love and be loved back.

To the drug free partner in the relationship, patience is of the essence. Give your partner time to shed off the bad habit. If the addict remains defiant and unappreciative of your patience then consider exploring other options like:

  • seeking help from a psychotherapist
  • divorce

The second option should come last; only upon exploring all available options and all concerted efforts rendered futile. Though this therapy is known to shock drug users into reality, it is likely to impact negatively on kids, if there are any. So, settle for divorce only if your partner’s marijuana addiction condition deteriorates and becomes so much over the top or is clearly on the brink of spinning out of control.

Communication Breakdown: Why do we listen to reply and not listen to understand?

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Why We Tend to Listen to Reply and not Listen to Understand

As a skill, listening is very critical in communication. It is the best way to pass across information and, more importantly, knowledge between individuals. Even so, studies suggest that over the years, our listening ability has only deteriorated. We no longer listen to understand. Instead, we listen to reply.

Studies show that we spend close to 60 per cent of everyday listening to others, but only retain a quarter of what we hear. Part of the reason for this could be that the world around us has become louder over time. A careful scrutiny and analysis of issues reveal the real suspects in play; a delicate combination of a pair of aspects within the human brain. These aspects include:

  • The lag time concept
  • The confirmation bias aspect

The lag time concept

Charles Gross, in his study at Princeton University in 2010, discovered what he called lag time in communication. It is the time duration between what you hear and what you understand. Now, according to Gross, lag time is in the range of a few seconds up to a minute. Of course this varies among individuals.

According to Charles Gross, lag time is the reason people listen more to reply than to understand. In fact, this is where real trouble begins. During lag time we shift attention to ourselves. We stop listening to the others. Instead, we listen to ourselves, a perfect recipe for communication breakdown. During the same phase, we tend to figure out a quick response rather than let the message sink in. The whole conversation then ends up into a fierce contest.

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What causes lag time in communication?

The exact cause of lag time is still unclear, though psychotherapists and psychologists believe human emotions holds a center stage and are very critical to it. Thoughts, beliefs, values, perceptions and opinions are also other very vital ingredients of an individual’s lag time.

The confirmation bias aspect

In the words of Grand Eklund, “You are only listening to what you want to hear.” I can’t agree with Eklund more. In all most every communication setting, people tend to pick out facts and other figures they deem fit; what affirms their pre-existing perspectives, values and beliefs. In so doing, they listen with more intent to reply than to understand – a real communication disaster. That is in fact how the confirmation bias concept operates.

Healthy conversation should involve listening to every detail of what is spoken. Confirmation bias however contradicts this. It makes it quite the challenge to listen and acquire knowledge.

How does confirmation bias come about?

Psychologists hint that confirmation bias has some level of connection and link with how slow individuals speaks in comparison to how fast they listen. Studies show that the human brain has the ability to process words at an optimum rate of between 600 and 1000 words per minute. When we speak, individuals communicate roughly 175 to 200 words a minute. Clearly, we aren’t utilizing our brain’s full capacity, especially when listening. Because of this underutilization of potential, the human brain tends to drift off into other aspects that would make up for that deficit; the onset of competitive listening.

Competitive listening is best explained using George Miller’s Law. In order to understand what someone else is saying, one has to first assume that the other person’s position is true and then try to find out what is actually true in it. A negation of Miller’s concept bears what is known as competitive listening; hearing something then reacting negatively to it, in part because of a belief that the other person’s position is false. In this spirit, listening grinds to a halt and communication breaks down.

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Way forward to effective listening

Many years of exploring listening as an art points me in a common direction; that effectiveness in listening can only be achieved through awareness and concentration. Yes, simply allowing yourself to listen better without coercion.

In order to “listen to understand and not just to reply”, we need to concentrate more voluntarily. This way, we acquire more knowledge and also make our conversations more effective.

The Power of Affirmations

beliefs-and-affirmations-IIIt can be quite difficult sometimes to think of something positive about ourselves. At times, we are our own harshest critics. It is easier to point out our own flaws, than recognize the positive things about ourselves. It is so important that we can find the positive things about ourselves, developing our self-love.

shutterstock_132820748Self-love is something that many people struggle with, finding it hard to love and accept themselves for who they are. This can be because of a lifetime of being told that they aren’t good enough, trying to live up to impossible standards, and feeling like they have let people down when they don’t. There can be a lot of shame and guilt associated with insignificant failures, and they can be carried for years beyond the memory of the failure itself. These situations can take a serious toll on your well-being, namely your self-esteem and confidence, components that are essential to self-love.

Affirmations are a great way to boost self-esteem, confidence, and help you regain a sense of self-love. They are simple, easy to remember sayings that are meant to promote positive self-talk and remind you of just how great you really are. Affirmations are an easy way to remind yourself each and every day that there are so many great things about you. Affirmations can also be used to learn acceptance and move past some of the mistakes we might have made. Below are just a few examples.

I am worthwhile and intelligent. My contributions matter.daily_affirmations_giveaway_02

I am beautiful/handsome.

I love myself.

I forgive myself for the mistakes I have made.

I trust myself.

I can see the wonderful things that others see in me.

Coming up with your own affirmations will help making them more specific to yourself. Think about what you struggle to believe about yourself, and turn it into an affirmation. There is no reason for you to feel any less amazing than you are, and by taking a moment each day to remind yourself, you are building a path to a happier and healthier you.

Affirmations help remind us just how unique, capable, and special each and every one of us is. They lead us towards developing a better sense of self-love, contributing to a higher self-esteem and confidence level. Affirmations are extremely powerful and can help you change your outlook on yourself as well as your life. Next time you are feeling sad, scared, alone, or insignificant, remember just how amazing you are.

Aaron’s Apple

lovehopefaith A child in pain is something that no one ever wants to witness. Parents of children living with chronic illness watch their children struggle with some of the simplest things. Chronic illness shouldn’t take away a child’s opportunity to be a child. The foundation Aaron’s Apple helps to ensure just that.

Aaron’s Apple is an organization that helps families with chronically ill children. Their mission is to provide direct funding for medications and treatments that some families cannot afford for their children. They strive to make sure that children do not have to suffer with the pain that can come from chronic illness.

Aaron’s Apple is hosting a charity event on March 6th, 2014. This event is a night of education and inspiration to those living with chronic illness, IBD and other autoimmune diseases. I am absolutely honoured to be speaking at this event.

My topic is “Living with a chronic illness is not a life sentence”. There are so many ways in which chronic illness can be better understood and conquered. Simple things like encouraging strength, hope, being supportive, and having faith can completely change the outlook of those suffering. Reaching out is one of the most important things that you can do for those living with a chronic illness. Being that shoulder to rest on, that uplifting kind word at the end of a rough day, can mean the world to someone in pain.

Transform. Motivate. Awaken. Change your outlook, and watch those around you change theirs.

How Will A Sexually Transmitted Disease Effect You?

images-4Sexual relationships are tricky, no matter what your situation. It can be a delicate balancing act of physical attraction and emotional interest in your partner. But what if your partner has a sexually transmitted disease? Would you still sleep with them? Would you be concerned about becoming infected yourself? How does it change the dynamic of your sexual relationship with this person? Having an active sex life while having a sexually transmitted disease can be a hot button issue between sexual partners, but how should it be handled?

Having an STD can drastically change your sex life. There is a large amount of shame that comes from having a sexually transmitted disease. Shame in the fact you have a disease and shame that you could pass it on to others and drastically change their lives. Society puts a label on those that have an STD, one that defines them as unclean, promiscuous, unprepared, and undesirable. The truth of the matter is that some people contract STDs from those that they love and trust. Yes, your chances for contracting an STD go up with the number of partners you have, but there are many people who have slept with very few people and contracted an STD from a long term partner. The tried and true “don’t judge a book by its cover”, applies here just as it does to other situations. It may be disheartening to many people that you have something you could pass on to them. The risk for transmission can be very high for diseases, even higher when you engage in unprotected sex. Unsuspecting partners are much less likely to protect themselves, than those who know they are sleeping with someone who has an STD. It is extremely difficult to tell someone that you are interested in that you have a disease of this nature, but there are responsibilities on both sides of the table.images-2 (1)

For the person that is living with the disease, responsibility is important. Owning up to the fact that you are infected is so important. You have a responsibility to inform your partners and make sure that you are doing everything you can to protect them as well as yourself from contracting further infections and diseases. You are not your disease. It is important to remember that you have value and can contribute more than just sexually. You will be rejected by some people, and others will have questions. It is important that you prepare yourself for these situations by owning your disease and having responsible practices when it comes to sex.

For the person that is considering sleeping with someone with a sexually transmitted disease, it is important to remember that it is completely your choice. It is your choice to engage or not engage in sexual activity with someone who has a sexually transmitted disease, but you need to know the facts. The best way to protect yourself is to be informed. Know what you are getting into 110%. The internet may be a good resource but a medical professional is the best. Talking to someone first hand will allow you to ask the important questions. And don’t be afraid to ask your potential partner the questions that you have.

images (1)So where can you get support and information about sexually transmitted diseases? One place to start is your GP, gynecologist, or medical doctor. They will be able to provide you with the information that you will need or at least point you in the right direction of that information. There are also resources in the community that can assist you with your sexual health. In Toronto, there is the Bay Centre for Birth Control. It is centered around women’s health and can help you with examinations, information, counselling, and referrals. (Links provided below)

Having a sexually transmitted disease does not have to stop your sex life. As long as you are responsible and respectful, there are many options for those wishing to have intercourse with someone who is/isn’t infected. There are many couples that have successful and fulfilling relationships when one or both partners is infected. It is important to remain hopeful and look towards total wellness; mind, body, and spirit.

Links:

http://www.womenscollegehospital.ca/programs-and-services/family-planning-fertility-care-sexual-health/bay-centre-for-birth-control460/

http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=30865e67bbee0410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextfmt=default

Drug Abuse in Affluent Teens

Money can do very strange things to people. It can cause some to completely lose their sense of self, which in turn causes them to seek out a new sense of self. Often times with kids and teens that are raised in a wealthy environment this can be the case because they are looking for a sense of purpose. They struggle to make an identity for themselves, separate from their family name. Their parents are often high achievers, Unknown (1)choosing to work and earn rather than spend time with their families. Being a high achiever comes with high standards, standards that teenagers may often fail to meet. These expectations can be overwhelming for a child. Children in wealthy families also often have a lot more spare time on their hands than other children would. Often times they lack responsibilities such as chores and jobs, leaving them with unstructured and unfilled time. So what do these children and teens choose to fill their time with? Well they often have the means to participate in anything that they would like to, but there are some that will choose to do something extreme to make an identity of their own. This is where experimentation and the abuse of substances comes in.

Prescription medications, illicit substances, and alcohol are more readily available to more affluent teenagers. Whether they are purchasing from peers, or taking them from home, wealthier teenagers seem to have access to a wider variety of substances early on and the means to acquire anything they might have in mind. It is pretty much a given that there will be substances present at a high school party, and it should come as no images-3 (1)surprise that there is a large variety to choose from. More and more teenagers are choosing to experiment during parties with their friends, and it is a breeding ground for future addiction and substance abuse. Often trying these drugs once is more than enough to get hooked, and the consequences aren’t always the first thought with teens and peer pressure.

One question that often can come about is how is it possible for kids to get a hold of these substances? Often the home medicine cabinet is more than enough. Coupled with an accessible liquor cabinet, the home can be just as diverse in the types of things kids are trying to get their hands on. This begs the question, what can be done about preventing overdose and addiction?

Well the first step is education about the consequences of using drugs. Now this isn’t exclusive to educating about illicit substances like cocaine and heroin, but also the dangers of using alcohol, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications imagesas well as marijuana. Often times parents will use scare tactics in an attempt to discourage their children from using drugs, but this doesn’t work. Just the facts are often enough. This education needs to be paired with encouragement to make good choices and an understanding that there is an open line of communication at all times. Structure is also very important for teens. It is important that they learn responsibility and earning what they have. Teaching teenagers these values early on is a great way to set them up to be a contributing adult.  Having dinner as a family can be the most crucial time you have with your kids and teens in educating them, creating communication, spending time with them and bonding with them daily. images-1 (1)

Adolescence is a crucial period in a child’s life. Their bodies, minds, and spirits are changing at a rapid rate, and with these changes comes big responsibility. It is so important that children and teens are educated about drugs and alcohol in order to make informed decisions. Mistakes will be made, boundaries will be pushed, but the important things is that the teens stay safe, happy and healthy.

How Can You Spot A Narcissist?

images-6They are like human magnets, drawing in those around them. They can be downright captivating, but within them lies ulterior motives. Narcissists thrive on being admired by those that surround them, and find it difficult to be told that they are not beautiful or brilliant. Like the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, they are cursed because they love no one but themselves. They are destined to waste away, alone with their vanity and need for acknowledgement. The truth of the matter is that we all have a narcissistic streak, as it is a trait that varies in degree from person to person. There are some aspects of narcissism that are healthy and adaptive, like confidence and self-sufficiency. But when taken to the extreme, they become classified as narcissistic personality disorder. So what are the characteristics of a true narcissist?

High levels of self-esteem, grandiosity, self-focus, and self-importance are common amongst narcissists. Narcissists think that they are more attractive and intelligent that everyone else and have no problem telling those around them. They carry themselves with the utmost confidence, ensuring that those around them take notice. At first narcissists may just seem arrogant and full of themselves, but there are clear Unknown-1differences between a narcissist and someone who is self-centered. Narcissists are vain to an extreme degree, feel entitled, and use different manipulation techniques to ensure that everyone around them admires them.

Big, anonymous cities are where narcissists will thrive, often finding careers in entertainment-related fields. Narcissists are quick to accept positions where they will be leaders, allowing them to dominate and impress others without the negative impact of a bad reputation (which is often achieved through their promiscuity and socially unacceptable behaviour). This need to lead is not necessarily to manipulate others, but to receive more recognition and positive reinforcement from others.

This allows for a narcissist to be comfortable maintaining distant ties with those they surround themselves with. The way that narcissists interact with others is especially interesting. While they engage in less desirable communication techniques (yelling, cursing, arguing, etc.), they still engage those around them. This is all to maintain power in an interaction. They tend to not reciprocate conversation very well, “glazing over” while others are speaking. Narcissists are not interested when the attention is not on them.

images-2Another important characteristic to consider about narcissists is their sexual habits. Men and women who score high on narcissism tests express more interest in short-term physical relationships, rather than long-term relationships. In order to engage those they desire, women will often times dress more provocatively, while men will engage more in bragging and using their wit. Promiscuity is the direct result of their search for the best deal for themselves. They use this as another way to control their environment, and even when in a committed relationship they are much more likely to be unfaithful. Unknown-2

Narcissists have a very Jekyll and Hyde personality. When the charm and dazzle wears off, and those around them start to become disenchanted, narcissists transform. They become angry, hostile, and will punish anyone who does not support their grandiose vision of themselves. Rejection is not something a narcissist will ever come to accept until they can come to terms with their warped sense of self.

Narcissism is a complicated and serious disorder. While we are all a little bit narcissistic, the degree to which it comes out depends greatly on our underlying beliefs about ourselves. Narcissism is handy in reminding us how important we are, helping to build confidence and self-esteem. But it can be a very lonely disorder. Despite having all the followers they could possibly want, narcissist are left standing alone, the only ones truly able to fill up the hole they are constantly trying to fill with admiration. Hope, faith, love, and understanding can guide a narcissist away from the fate of Narcissus, the namesake of the disorder. With a little support and a lot of hard work/reflection, narcissism is something that can be conquered.

Sub-Personalities

Sometimes it may feel like a different person takes over us when we are in need of protection. Sub-personalities, not to be confused with multiple personality disorder, are this “other person” that works to keep us safe and secure. We use these sub-personalities to have a variety of needs met. So what is a sub-personality and which one do you use?

Sub-personalities are fragments of a whole. They are the parts of us that we use to meet our needs, as well as protect ourselves. We use these personalities to adapt to different situations, to tailor our reactions in order to get the desired response from others. These personalities come in several combinations and take different forms in each person.  Each of us has between four and eight sub-personalities, which I have listed below:

1) Abuser/Bully multiple_personality_disorder_by_blacksheepart-d60w6xu
2) Addict
3) Approval Seeker
4) Caretaker
5) Chronic Crier
6) Comedian
7) Controller
8) Inner Critic
9) Fixer/ rescuer
10) Judge
11) Lost Child
12) Martyr
13) Over Achiever
14) People Pleaser
15) Perfectionist
16) Pillar of strength
17) Rebel
18) Spiritualist
19) Teacher
20) Victim 

In my office I often see this combination amongst other combinations that I will write about in future blogs.  These three often pair together and have much in common; “The Inner Critic”, the “Judge”, and the “Perfectionist”. Each of these sub personalities and those above will transform to meet the needs of the situation and those that we are interacting with. Knowing these sub-personalities and how they affect your reactions is important so that you can see when they are doing more harm than good.

299779_237911279591395_412890649_nThe inner critic is that little voice that attempts to keep us safe, that little flashing warning sign that goes off when something doesn’t feel quite right. It is a collection of the judgments and criticisms that we have received our entire lives (both positive and negative) that is meant to keep us on track. This little voice can often manifest itself in a negative way, especially when coupled with the judge. This sub-personality is like a built in security system, meant to keep us in check with reality. In order for this sub-personality to do more good than harm we need to learn to communicate with it. By making choices independent of the criticisms, assessing the validity of those criticisms, and changing the negative into positive, we can use the inner critic to take a more whole look at situations.

The judge often comes paired with the inner critic. This sub-personality projects poor self-image in order to defend and protect. It is based in shame from previous criticisms and has a strong hold within our fear of rejection. It will attempt to control the situation 557233_379170868798768_1066134704_nby pointing to others’ flaws and shortcomings instead of allowing us to come to terms with our own. The judge is often decisive and observant, but is also intolerant and far too judgmental of others and ourselves. In order to combat the judge in us we need to learn to face our fear of rejection, accepting that we will not always be accepted. We also need to do inner work on self-image and the basis of the shame in our lives. By stopping the negative behaviour and addressing the inner messages we are receiving, we can learn to see the bigger picture and be more accepting of ourselves and of others.

The perfectionist is another shame-based sub personality. This shame is based in past failures. The perfectionist causes us to be more expectant of others than ourselves, in the fear that we may fail them before they will fail us. The perfectionist will attempt to control the situation by making us perfect, or what they deem to be perfect. But despite all of this talk about perfection, the perfectionist is very aware of the shortcomings and causes a lack of confidence. While the perfectionist is often times responsible and will give everything their best, they will often times be very rigid and cause conflict when it is not necessary. In order to come to terms with the perfectionist we must accept the fact that we are only human. Mistakes will happen, but that is okay. Vulnerability and fears should not rule our lives, and neither should shame. By setting appropriate and achievable goals, and learning to treat ourselves with the love and respect that we deserve, there is hope to have a more positive perfectionist.

Sub-personalities may only be fragments of the whole, but they are essential to who we are. Keeping them in check is a very important part of maintaining healthy relationships and boundaries. Letting these sub-personalities go unchecked is going to cause unnecessary turmoil and stress. With inner work, we can develop a better understanding of our sub-personalities, and use them in positive ways in our day-to-day lives.

Conquering Fears in Relationships

shutterstock_105933593  Fear. It can take over your thoughts, and in turn you can build up so many walls and blocks that you end up feeling alone and misunderstood. So many of us long for a meaningful relationship to another person, but it is fear that gets in the way. Fear of rejection, fear of judgement, fear of abandonment and fear of trust are just a few of the many fears that we must overcome in order to gain a meaningful relationship.

Fear of rejection is all about self-confidence and self esteem. It stops us from chasing after our dreams because we do not want to be turned down or fall. Every no we receive brings us closer to the door with the possibility of a yes, that is why it is so important to work through your fear of rejection and learn to cope rather than avoid.

shutterstock_123809797Fear of judgement stems from not having fully accepted ourselves. We are our own harshest critics. Full self-love and acceptance can change that, although we can never be 100% of anything 100% of the time. It does not mean that everyone thinks the way you do about yourself. People’s judgements on others have very little to do with the person being judged. It has much more to do with the person doing the judging. Their own insecurities come out against others. People will judge no matter what situation you are in, but it should matter not what they think, but what you think about yourself.

A fear of abandonment is within all of us, but the severity is based solely on our personal experiences in the past. With some it is much closer to the surface. A fear of abandonment can manifest in several different ways, the most apparent of which is the need to be clingy and demanding. Another way people cope with the fear of abandonment is rejecting their partner before they themselves are rejected, running away from relationships before they have reached their full potential. And finally, there are those who will change their whole entire person to become the “perfect” partner for the person that they are interested in. These coping skills are poor and maladaptive, which can cause train-wreck relationships to become normal. This is where being able to develop trust in your partner is so important.shutterstock_107413730

The fear of trust is a big deal in relationships, romantic or otherwise. It is a pretty common occurrence. We have all been hurt by someone we trusted, someone who decided that what they wanted was more important than our trust. But we have to keep in mind that we cannot punish everyone else for that person’s mistakes, especially when seeking out new relationships. It is perfectly normal to have a period of trust building and cautiousness in the beginning of a relationship. However, at some point we have to decide whether or not we can trust the other person. Trust is the foundation of every good relationship, and without it, you don’t really have a relationship at all.

But how do we overcome these fears? Well, it is a daily struggle. It takes a lot of reflection and deep inner work to break through these defenses. We have not only the outside opinions to combat with, but the internal ones as well. Our brain is pretty good at talking us out of things, but sometimes we just have to ignore it and take a leap of faith. Relationships, especially romantic ones, carry a lot of risk which is reasonable to be unsure of. But if we are unwilling to accept that risk, we may just lose out on having someone wonderful in our lives.