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Do you Suffer from Imposter Syndrome?

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Impostor syndrome is a psychological condition where people are unable to believe in their successes. Thus, despite the evidence that points to the fact that they are skilled, capable and competent they write this off as temporary – or timing and good luck. Thus, they constantly struggle with feeling like a fraud.

So what are some ways that you can counteract this syndrome?

  1. Admit this is something that you suffer from. When we know we’re not alone, and our symptoms have a name (because they are part of an identified disorder) it can help disperse the feelings of anxiety and shame.
  2. Distinguish between facts and feelings. Everyone feels stupid and inept at times. That doesn’t mean we’re stupid. Our feelings aren’t facts. So try to be objective – and seek out the real truth.
  3. Don’t demand perfection. It is good to set goals and have high standards for yourself. However, it’s unhealthy to obsess over every little thing. You’ll simply waste a lot of time and never feel quite satisfied. And all of us are human and make lots of mistakes.
  4. Take a look at the rules you have imposed upon yourself. Are you saying to yourself: “I have to always get it right”;”I should never ask for help”; or “It is bad to make mistakes”? These are misguided rules that undermine your self-esteem. They set you up for failure as they close the door to help.
  5. Change the tapes in your head. Instead of constantly repeating faulty self-destructive thoughts (such as “Wait till they discover just how useless I am”) replace it with a thought that builds esteem and confidence. (Such as, “I’m better at this now as I know what I am doing … It’s so much easier when you’ve been here for a while.”)
  6. Don’t look to others to affirm your success. Don’t look to other people to rate and judge your work. Set your own personal goals, and mark your progress and success.
  7. Fake it till you make it. Almost every individual who succeed in life has a period when they’re acting, as they don’t feel confident. It doesn’t mean that they’re a failure, a fake or a fraud. It means that they’re still learning, and are not afraid to try.
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5 Easy Steps to Keeping your Cool

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It is surprisingly easy to lose your cool, and to react to minor stresses and to irritating people. However, most of us would rather feel relaxed and in control, and the following guidelines can help us reach this goal.

  1. Keep things in perspective: Often we catastrophise or over-react when the issue or offense is insignificant. Here, it is best to force yourself to take a balanced approach and remind yourself, “it’s minor, and not worth the energy!”
  2. Visualise yourself coping: Take a few deep breaths and let your feelings settle down. Draw a mental picture of a calm, unflustered “you”, who takes their time to respond and is able to cope. Then, in a calm, low voice – with a few well chosen words – respond as you would like, so you maintain your self-respect.
  3. Be aware of your triggers: When someone pushes our buttons we generally react. However, if we know what those are then we can regain control, and can practice how to cope when our feelings are stirred. Also, if we’re tired or hungry, feeling cold, or over-stretched then we’re much more likely to over-react.
  4. Create a calm environment: Stay one step ahead by preparing yourself for inevitable setbacks and infuriating people. For example, play some music in the car, or take a walk during lunch, or keep some photos in your office of the people that you love.
  5. Distract yourself: When you feel the pressure building, or you start to ruminate, think of something that’s amusing, or a fun event you’ve planned.

These are just a few suggestions to help you stay detached so that stresses and people don’t make you lose your cool.

How to Forgive Yourself

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1. Recognise the importance of forgiving yourself. Not forgiving yourself will deplete your energy, and leave you feeling all chewed up inside. It keeps you living in the past instead of living in the present – so it’s hard to make the most of what’s happening today.

2. Recognise the effects of not forgiving yourself. Those negative emotions like shame and regret are also bad for our long term health – as they undermine and damage a healthy immune system.

3. Name the emotions you are struggling with. Simply naming your emotions can help reduce their power. It brings some order and control into our lives again when we’re hit by overwhelming and negative emotions.

4. Reflect on the fact that we all make mistakes, make foolish decisions and act badly at times. It’s part of being human – you’re an imperfect person. We all do stupid things, and say some things that we regret.

5. Try to let go of other people’s expectations. We can’t please everyone – it’s not going to happen. Decide on your own standards, then try to live by them. Also, if you’re looking for approval you’ll never measure up as you’ll always meet someone who will criticise and judge.

6. Choose to practise self-forgiveness. It’s healthy to acknowledge the regrets that you have – but then you need to be willing to let go of the past – and decide to move forwards – and live life differently.

How to be Mindful in your Daily Life

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  1. Allow and accept the different feelings you experience – knowing these will change throughout the day.
  2. Don’t judge yourself for having negative feelings.
  3. Don’t believe every thought that pops into your head. Some of these are true, but many will be false.
  4. Slow down and take life at a manageable pace.
  5. Stay in the present; do one thing at a time.
  6. Let go of the need to control everything.
  7. Practise being curious; notice little things.
  8. Use your 5 senses to become more aware of what is happening all around you in the world.
  9. Nourish and take care of your body and mind.
  10. Practice contentment and gratitude.

Relationship Check Up

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A healthy relationship means that both members of the couple are…

1. Communicating with each other: Talking about problems without screaming and shouting; listening to each other, and respecting their viewpoint; being willing to adapt and to sometimes change their mind.

2. Showing respect for one another: Valuing the other person’s culture, beliefs, viewpoints, opinions and boundaries. Also, treating each other in a kind and caring way.

3. Demonstrating and conveying trust: Each person is trustworthy and trusts the other person – because they have been shown that they are worthy of that trust.

4. Honest with each other: Both are open and honest – but are private as well; and they don’t demand the other person tells them everything.

5. Equals: They make joint decisions and treat each other well. No person calls the shots or determines all the rules.

6. Able to enjoy their own personal space: As well as spending time together, they spend time on their own. They’re respect the fact they’re different, and they need their own life, too.

7. Decisions about sex are discussed, and are consensual: They discuss sex together, including birth control. There’s no one individual sets the rules and standards here.

Signs of an unhealthy relationship

An unhealthy relationship develops where one, or both, of the partners is…

1. Failing to communicate: Problems are ignored, or not talked about at all. One or both don’t really listen, and they rarely compromise.

2. Acting in ways that are disrespectful: One or both are inconsiderate toward the other person; and they don’t behave in ways that send the message that they care.

3. Refusing to trust the other person: One or both is suspicion of their partner’s loyalty. Hence, they make false accusations, or won’t believe the truth.

4. Acting in a way that is dishonest: One or both is deceptive, or they lie and hide the truth.

5. Acting in a controlling way: One person thinks that they should set the one who rules, controls the other person, and say how things should be.

6. Beginning to feel squashed and smothered / cutting themselves off from friends and family: One partner is possessive, or feels threatened and upset, when the other’s with their family or spends time with their friends.

7. Attempting to pressurise the other into sexual activity / refusing to talk openly about birth control: One partner wants the other to participate in sex, or to engage in different practices against that’s person’s will. Or, one of the partners stops using birth control, or expects the other person to “take care of all that.”

Signs of an abusive relationship

An abusive relationship develops when one of the parties…

1. Starts to communicate in ways that are abusive: When arguments occur, one of the partners screams and cusses, or they verbally threaten or attack the other person.

2. Shows disrespect through acting in abusive ways: This is where one of the partners abuse, harms or threatens the physical safety of the other individual.

3. Wrongly accuses their partner of flirting or cheating: One of the partners is convinced – with no real grounds – that their partner is cheating or having an affair. Thus, they lash out verbally, or hurt, the accused partner.

4. Refuses to accept responsibility for the abuse: When they fly into a rage or act in ways that are abusive, they miminise their actions and refuse to accept blame. They may even blame their partner for “causing the abuse.”

5. Starts to control the other partner: One partner has no say as the other sets the rules – and arguing against that simply leads to more abuse.

6. Does what they can to isolate their partner: One partner has control of who the other person sees, the way they spend their time – and, even, clothes they buy and wear. Thus, they start to lose their confidence and personality.

7. Forces sexual activity: The frequency, type and circumstances for sex are determined by one partner – and the other must comply. If they don’t acquiesce it leads to violence or abuse. Also, sometimes violence is included in the sex.

Steps for Letting Go of Painful Memories

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Experiences can leave us with some painful memories. They tie us to the past and prevent us moving on. And the only way to freedom is to work on letting go – so these memories don’t haunt us or keep us trapped in pain. Below are some guidelines to help you work on this.

1. Before you can let go, you must face whatever happened and accept that it is part of your past experiences. Suppression doesn’t work as a long-term solution. It can only be a band aid that brings temporary relief. Talk to someone you trust, or write about it in your journal. You need to share what happened, in order to move on.

2. Identify the lessons you have learned from what has happened. There’s always a lesson – so look for what you’ve learned. It doesn’t make it better – but it does lessen its power.

3. Write the lesson down on a piece of paper and repeat it to yourself when you’re hit by old, painful memories. For example, if you’ve been scarred by abuse, then you might write something like: “My experience of abuse does not determine who I am. I’m a stronger person now, and that is not my destiny. I’m choosing my own future, and the person I will be.”

4. Repeat this mantra often so it takes root in your mind. Allow it to be stronger than the bad experience. Say it often, till you mean it, then you’ll start to feel you’re freer. Persevere and keep on fighting when those old memories return.

5. Seek to be a person who’s at peace with themselves. When peace is your focus, old thoughts and memories have much less power over how you think and feel. However, seeking after peace must be a conscious, constant choice.

6. When the past tries to intrude, focus firmly on the present. Ground yourself in what’s happening around you in the room, and try to breathe deeply – and deliberately relax. You are here in this moment; you’re not living in the past.

7. Forgive – for your own sake. Try to heal from what happened – then let resentments go. You don’t want them in your life for they’ll just tie you to the past. It’s not an ease process; it takes work and discipline. But it is worth the daily struggle – as one day you’ll be free.

Relationship Issues: Healthy versus Unhealthy Boundaries

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The following comparisons highlight the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries.

1a) Healthy: Being your own person.

1b) Unhealthy: Feeling incomplete without the other person.

2a) Healthy: Accepting responsibility for your own happiness.

2b) Unhealthy: Relying on others (especially your partner) to make you happy.

3a) Healthy: Being able to balance separateness and togetherness.

3b) Unhealthy: Wanting either too much or too little togetherness.

4a) Healthy: Having meaningful friendships outside the partnership.

4b) Unhealthy: Being unable to build and maintain close friendships with others.

5a) Healthy: Being able to see and focus on your own, and your partner’s, good points.

5b) Unhealthy: Always focusing on your partner’s flaws and worst qualities.

6a) Healthy: Achieving intimacy without the use of substances.

6b) Unhealthy: Using substances to reduce your inhibitions and achieve a false sense of intimacy.

7a) Healthy: Accepting transitions and endings

7b) Unhealthy: Being unable to change, let go and move on.

Self Care and Emotional Wellness

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If you want to boost your emotional health then build the following into your life:

1. Develop a good group of friends. If possible, try and have quite a wide group of friends. That then means if someone moves away, or you change your school, your hobbies and so on, you’ll still a healthy support system in place.

2. Learn to appreciate solitude. Isolation isn’t the same as solitude. Isolation is being cut off from others for negative reasons; solitude is enjoying space and time for yourself – so you can recharge your batteries, and enjoy just being “you”.

3. Invest time in getting fit. People who are fit and healthy generally feel better about themselves. Also, exercise releases feel good hormones so we feel happier, more optimistic and relaxed.

4. Allow yourself to “goof off” and have a laugh – as too much work will drain your energy.

5. Discover your passion and invest time in that. We all have something that brings us alive, and seems to resonate with who we are inside … So investing in your passion is extremely satisfying!

6. Plan for difficulties and problems. We all encounter problems and hard times in this life. Expecting that to happen helps us feel more in control – as we understand it’s normal – so we don’t just fall apart.

7. Work on increasing your self-awareness. As above, we all have blind spots and idiosyncrasies. If we can learn about ourselves, and our natural tendencies, we can learn to master weaknesses, and work to change and grow.

8. Be willing to take risks. Though it’s hard to step out into unknown territory, you’ll find it’s more rewarding to stretch yourself and grow.

9. Watch out for energy vampires. There are plenty of people who will drain your energy so learn how to say “no”, and to set some boundaries.

10. Ask for help when you need it. We all need support and encouragement at times … And offer help to others when things are tough for them.

How our Wrong Beliefs can Stress us Out

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Often the thoughts we carry round in our head – and our basic beliefs about the way things should be – are actually a source of unnecessary stress. So, check out the beliefs that we have listed below and see if there’s something that applies to you:

1. Demand for Approval: This is the belief that others must always treat us well. We must have love or approval all the time, from every single person who matters to us, or else we feel we’re worthless and unloveable.

2. High Self Expectations: This is the belief that we must always succeed, and even excel, in everything we do – or it means that we’re a failure and we don’t have any value.

3. Dependency: This is the belief that we can’t cope on our own. We need to lean on others to help us all the time – and we can’t be independent and just make our own decisions.

4. Helplessness: This is the belief that the events in our past have determined our future and the goals that we can set. That is, we think we’re helpless victims – and that’s why we have these problems.

5. Emotional Control: This where we give control to other people, and say that they’re the ones who make us feel the way we do. If only they were different then we wouldn’t feel this way.

6. Personal Idealism: This is the belief that other people and the world must always be predictable, and fair and just.

7. Problem Avoidance: This is the belief that problems make life hard and should be avoided wherever possible. We don’t believe they central for developing new skills, resilience, perseverance and character.

8. We Must Be Free From Anxiety At All Times (Discomfort Anxiety): This is the belief that we can’t cope with feeling anxious, nervous, worried or uncomfortable. Instead, life should be stress free so I don’t have to have these feelings.

9. Perfectionism: This is the belief that there’s a perfect answer, or that there’s only one solution, to the problems I am facing. Hence, I’m frightened to act in case I make a mistake.

10. Over Caring: This is the belief that I must become upset and show that I care when others are upset – or it means that I am heartless and I lack compassion.

Overdependency in Relationships

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Overdependency is:

  • Desperately holding on to other people, places or things in an attempt to find meaning and purpose in your life
  • Letting others do so much for you that it prevents you from developing your own sense of personal autonomy, independence, responsibility and accountability.
  • Being unwilling to let go of others so that you can find your own direction in life.
  • Refusing to formulate your own goals and dreams in case they don’t match those of the people you are dependent on.
  • Having a feeling of emptiness and worthlessness; feeling you “need to be needed” in order to be loved; or having your whole identity wrapped up in someone else.
  • Thinking sympathy and pity are the same thing as love.
  • Having a desperate need for approval; desperately fearing rejection and abandonment by the person you are dependent on; being clingy, possessive and jealous.
  • Lacking a belief in your own competency and ability to cope on your own.
  • Feeling stuck and immobilised because of a fear of failure, or the fear of making the wrong decision.
  • Having a fear of loneliness – which causes you to cling desperately to someone – even when you should let them go.

Overdependency is a control issue because:

  • You are handing control of your life and happiness over to someone else.
  • When you become too dependent on someone, you give them the power to control you.
  • People who are overdependent frequently use manipulation and other subversive control techniques to “hook” others into taking care of them – so that they can rescue, fix or save you. Alternatively, they may use intimidation, threats and coercion.
  • They use the same hooks to prevent the person from detaching and walking away (For example, by threatening suicide)
  • They may use the mask of “helplessness” to get others to take care of them, and do things for them.
  • When forming close relationships, they deliberately look “fixers,” “caretakers” and “rescuers” – that is, they seek out people who are likely to assume responsibility for their wellbeing.

Freedom from overdependency:

  • First, recognise what is going on and be honest with yourself about your patterns and tendencies.
  • Second, recognise that you are a separate person from your partner (or family member). Thus, it’s up to you to assume responsibility for your own choices, decisions and actions (or lack of choosing, deciding and acting). In the same way, stop assume responsibility for, or try to control, the choices and behaviors of others. Don’t speak and act for them, don’t tell them what to do (or how to do it) or redo what they’ve done (as it isn’t the way you would have done it.)
  • Notice your negative feelings – anxiety, fear, and even terror – and learn to face and manage these. This is one of the most powerful things you can do!
  • Next, notice how critical you become when others don’t do things your way, or meet the standards that you set for them. Also, notice how you act in response to these feelings. Do you jump in, try to fix, get angry, pout, withdraw sexually and emotionally? It’s time to get rid of those unhealthy behaviours as they’re part of the pattern of dependency.
  • Consciously work on your self-esteem. Don’t look to others to makyou happy, or to feel you have worth and significance. Healthy self-esteem comes from the inside out.
  • Recognise the value of boundaries – and know where you end and another begins. Learn to establish and enforce your boundaries, and accept that others can choose for themselves – so don’t manipulate to try and get your way.
  • Stop blaming others for making you upset. We have control of how we think and feel. You’re not a helpless victim – you can choose how you will live, and what you will accept in your relationships.
  • Don’t take the flack for, or defend others’ behaviour. Allow them let them to feel the consequences of their actions. Stop defending and enabling them.
  • Get professional help. Being dependent in relationships often has its roots in our early childhood experiences. You may some need help to unravel that, and better understand why you act the way you do.