This is a beautiful story!
This is a beautiful story!
Sharing powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, West Virginia — and a shocking image of the sugar we eat — TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.
by Sharon Martin LCSW
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Do you seem to get swallowed up in relationships? Does your sense of self disappear when you’re strongly attached to someone else? This “loss of self” happens, whether you’ve been married for decades or are newly dating, when the other person or relationship become your identity.
You become all about the other person. Your needs get sidelined while the other person’s needs and interests take center stage. Your mission becomes making him/her happy (regardless of your own feelings). You focus on what s/he wants to do. You stop pursuing your hobbies, seeing your friends and family, and you defer to what s/he wants.
Instead of being “Mary”, your identity becomes “Mary, Jim’s girlfriend” or simply “Jim’s girlfriend”. This feels good, especially during the intensity of the beginning of a relationship. In fact, this obsession of sorts is quite normal in the early stages of a new-found love. It’s not healthy, however, when it’s one-sided; when your partner isn’t equally interested in giving and pleasing you.
You may feel you’ve willingly made these compromises. Or you may not have even noticed that you were giving up parts of yourself. Often this is a pattern that’s been repeated in relationships your entire life and you may not have had a strong sense of your interests or priorities to begin with.
For others, this may have happened due to your partner’s jealousy or manipulation. In other words, you were pressured into giving up parts of yourself and you fear losing the relationship if you don’t keep him/her happy.
What do you imagine will happen if you keep yourself hidden in your relationships? Will your resentments grow and fester? Will this be a satisfying relationship long-term? Will you miss out on achieving your goals? Will your health suffer? Will your friends and family miss you? Will the world be deprived of your unique gifts?
Inter-dependence or healthy dependence involves two complete individuals who come together to support each other. From this inter-dependency, you develop trust and safety that helps you navigate through the world, but you’re not reliant on the other person or the relationship for your identity or self-worth. In secure relationships, partners support each other in pursuing their own interests and other friendships. They aren’t jealous or demanding. Couples need time together and time apart. In other words, loving, trusting relationships are important, but they needn’t overshadow YOU.
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I love this book. I have the audio series and have listened many times. This is a good quick reminder of what each habit is about.
Many people feel insecure at least some of the time. Some people feel insecure most of the time about most things. Other people may occasionally feel insecure or only in certain situations or with certain people.
Explore why you’re feeling insecure
Sometimes insecurity is the result of trauma. If you’ve experienced a betrayal or hurt, such as cheating or lying or abuse in your current or past relationship, it’s normal to want to protect yourself from further hurt. You put up your guard and feel anxious, on edge, or worried. Your nervous system goes into overdrive searching for evidence of danger. You might also notice that these feelings of insecurity remind you of childhood wounds. Children tend to internalize harm caused by others and believe it’s their fault – because they’re bad, flawed, unworthy, unlovable. This sets the stage for feeling insecure in adult relationships.
Other times it’s not so easy to spot where insecurity began. You may have a pervasive feeling that you’re not “good enough.” You worry about what people think. You don’t want to disappoint or displease others. You try to live up to someone else’s expectations or standards. Comparison leads to insecurity. It makes you feel “less than” compared to others that seem prettier, thinner, smarter, stronger, or funnier.
Love and acceptance from others does not solve insecurity
Most people think the solution to insecurity is having others love and accept them. It isn’t. I remember a painful experience I had in middle school. I had a great group of friends, felt accepted, cared for and wanted…until they rejected me. Friends and lovers will come and go. Sometimes they drift away. Sometimes they storm off after an intense fight. Sometimes they die. If you’re counting on others to make you feel secure, you will eventually be disappointed.
When people feel insecure in a relationship, they often turn to their partners seeking reassurance and validation. A partner can never provide the sense of security you’re seeking. Relationships are always uncertain. There are no guarantees that your partner will be dependable or faithful or with you for the rest of your life. The only way to feel secure in your relationship is to seek security and confidence within yourself.
Security comes from loving yourself and knowing you’re resilient
Feeling safe and secure means that you know you can cope with whatever life throws your way. You can’t control what your partner does or if this relationship ends, but you can control your response and your feelings. It’s empowering to know that you can cope with the unexpected and messy parts of life. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be hurt or angry or heart broken. It just means that you have confidence in your ability to get through really tough situations and feelings.
Chances are you’ve already gotten through some pretty challenging things in your life. When I reflect on my experiences, I’m in awe of some of the things I’ve overcome. I didn’t always do it with grace, but I did get through more pain than I imagined I could. I suspect the same is true for you.
Life experience shows us that we can endure a lot of adversity and uncertainty. You can not only survive, but thrive when you choose not to let life’s curve balls keep you down or feeling like a victim. This is where confidence comes from. It doesn’t come from reassuring words or promises from your partner or anyone else.
Instead of seeking validation from others, reassure yourself
Look inside yourself for the validation you’re seeking. Honestly, no one can give you want you can’t give to yourself. Your partner might say the words you crave: “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine my life without you.” The problem is, if you don’t believe this to be true deep in your soul, you’re not going to believe it when anyone else says it to you. If you want others to make you feel worthy, you’ll always be chasing this approval. Instead:
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Who taught you how to identify and manage your emotions, how to recognize them when they arose and navigate your way through them? For many adults, the answer is: No one. You hacked your way through those confusing thickets on your own. Although navigating our inner landscape was not something that was taught to us in school, it should be, contend a number of researchers. They believe emotional skills should rank as high in importance in children’s educations as math, reading, history and science.
Why do emotions matter? Research has found that people who are emotionally skilled perform better in school, have better relationships, and engage less frequently in unhealthy behaviors. Plus, as more and more jobs are becoming mechanized, so-called soft skills — which include persistence, stress management and communication — are seen as a way to make humans irreplaceable by machine. There has been a growing effort in American schools to teach social and emotional learning (SEL), but these tend to emphasize interpersonal skills like cooperation and communication.
Kids are often taught to ignore or cover over their emotions. Many Western societies view emotions as an indulgence or distraction, says University of California-Santa Barbara sociologist Thomas Scheff, a proponent of emotional education. Our emotions can give us valuable information about the world, but we’re often taught or socialized not to listen to them. Just as dangerous, Scheff says, is the practice of hiding one emotion behind another. He has found that men, in particular, tend to hide feelings of shame under anger, aggression and, far too often, violence.
How does one go about teaching emotions? One of the most prominent school programs for teaching about emotions is RULER, developed in 2005 by Marc Brackett, David Caruso and Robin Stern of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The multiyear program is used in more than 1,000 schools, in the US and abroad, across grades K-8. The name, RULER, is an acronym for its five goals: recognizing emotions in oneself and others; understanding the causes and consequences of emotions; labeling emotional experiences with an accurate and diverse vocabulary; and expressing and regulating emotions in ways that promote growth.
As a strategy, children are taught to focus on the underlying theme of an emotion rather than getting lost in trying to define it. When an emotion grips you, explains Stern, understanding its thematic contours can help “name it to tame it.” Even though anger is experienced differently by different people, she explains, “the theme underlying anger is the same. It’s injustice or unfairness. The theme that underlies disappointment is an unmet expectation. The theme that underlies frustration is feeling blocked on your way to a goal. Pinning down the theme can “help a person be seen and understood and met where she is,” says Stern.
RULER’s lessons are woven into all classes and subjects. So, for example, if “elated’ is the emotional vocabulary word under discussion, a teacher would ask students in an American history class to link “elated” to the voyage of Lewis and Clark. Instruction reaches beyond the classroom, too; kids are prompted to talk with their parents or caregivers about when they last felt elated. Researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence has found RULER schools tend to see less-frequent bullying, lower anxiety and depression, more student leadership and higher grades. So why isn’t emotional education the norm rather than the exception?
Surprising fact: While scientists and educators agree on the need to teach emotions, they don’t agree on how many there are and what they are. RULER’s curriculum consists of hundreds of “feeling words,” including curious, ecstatic, hopeless, frustrated, jealous, relieved and embarrassed. Other scholars’ lists of emotions have ranged in number from two to eleven. Scheff suggests starting students out with six: grief, fear, anger, pride, shame and excessive fatigue.
While psychology began to be studied as a science more than a century ago, up to now it has focused more on identifying and treating disorders. Scheff, who has spent years studying one taboo emotion — shame — and its destructive impact on human actions, admits, “We don’t know much about emotions, even though we think we do, and that goes for the public and for researchers.” Or, as Virginia Woolf so beautifully put it, “The streets of London have their map; but our passions are uncharted.”
Parents can start to encourage their kids’ emotional awareness with a simple prompt “Tell me about some of your best moments,” a phrase Scheff has used to initiate discussions with his university students. But he and Stern agree that schools can’t wait until academics have sorted out the name and number of emotions before they act. “We know we have emotions all day long, whether we’re aware of them or not,” Stern points out. Let’s teach kids how to ride those moment-by-moment waves, instead of getting tossed around.
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Chenille shares here about her experiences of detaching with love. Sometimes in relationships we can become involved in unhealthy ways, where we are trying to control or change another person. The goal is for me to take care of my side of the street and love others as they are attending to their side. It can be hard to let go of someone else when they are engaged in destructive behaviors, but we are guided by scripture to guard our hearts and trust in God’s sovereignty as we practice healthier ways of relating.
We all reach critical points in our lives where our mental strength is tested. It might be a toxic friend or colleague, a dead-end job, or a struggling relationship. Whatever the challenge, you have to see things through a new lens, and take decisive action if you want to move through it successfully.
It sounds easy, but it isn’t.
It’s fascinating how mentally strong people set themselves apart from the crowd. Where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to overcome.
Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that mental strength comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong only to a lucky few. It’s easy to fall prey to this misconception. In reality, mental strength is under your control, and it’s a matter of emotional intelligence (EQ).
Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.
Despite the significance of EQ, its intangible nature makes it very difficult to know how much you have and what you can do to improve it if you lack it. You can always take a scientifically validated test, such as the one that comes with the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book.
Unfortunately, quality (scientifically valid) EQ tests aren’t free, so I’ve analyzed the data from the million-plus people TalentSmart has tested in order to identify the behaviors that are the hallmarks of high emotional intelligence. This data shows that what you don’t do is just as important as what you do when it comes to EQ.
The beauty of EQ is that it’s a flexible skill that you can easily improve with effort. Absolutely anyone can enhance their EQ by emulating the habits of emotionally intelligent people. If you’re up for it, start with these critical things that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid. They consciously avoid these behaviors because they are tempting and easy to fall into if one isn’t careful.
1. They don’t stay in their comfort zone. Self-awareness is the foundation of EQ, and increasing your self-awareness isn’t comfortable. You can’t increase your EQ without pushing yourself to discover what you need to work on and what you should be doing differently. This is hard because when you take a really good look at yourself, you aren’t going to like everything you see. It’s more comfortable to keep the blinders on, but they make certain that you’ll never have a high EQ.
2. They don’t give in to fear. They say that bravery is being scared to death to do something and doing it anyway. Many times, that’s true, even when it comes to your career. The fear doesn’t have to come from something as extreme as rushing into a burning building; it can be a fear of public speaking or going out on a limb to try for a promotion. If you use fear as an excuse not to do something, you’ve already lost. It’s not that emotionally intelligent people aren’t afraid—they simply pick themselves up and fight on regardless of the fear.
3. They don’t stop believing in themselves. Emotionally intelligent people persevere. They don’t give up in the face of failure, and they don’t give up because they’re tired or uncomfortable. They’re focused on their goals, not on momentary feelings, and that keeps them going even when things are hard. They don’t take failing to mean that they’re a failure. Likewise, they don’t let the opinions of others keep them from chasing their dreams. When someone says, “You’ll never be able to do that,” they regard it as one person’s opinion, which is all it is.
4. They don’t beg for attention. People who are always begging for attention are needy. They rely on that attention from other people to form their self-identity. Emotionally intelligent people couldn’t care less about attention. They do what they want to do and what needs to be done, regardless of whether anyone is stroking their ego.
5. They don’t act like jerks. People who act like jerks are unhappy and insecure. They act like jerks because they don’t have the emotional strength to be nice when they don’t feel like it. Emotionally intelligent people place high value on their relationships, which means they treat everyone with respect, regardless of the kind of mood they’re in.
6. They don’t hold grudges. The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. Researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs.
7. They don’t hang around negative people. Negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to negative people because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear to someone and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral. Emotionally intelligent people avoid getting drawn in by setting limits and distancing themselves from negative people when necessary. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.
8. They don’t feel sorry for themselves. Here’s the worst thing about feeling sorry for yourself, other than it being annoying, of course: it shifts your locus of control outside yourself. Feeling sorry for yourself is, in essence, declaring that you’re a helpless victim of circumstance. Emotionally intelligent people never feel sorry for themselves because that would mean giving up their power.
9. They don’t feel entitled. Emotionally intelligent people believe that the world is a meritocracy and that the only things that they deserve are those that they earn. People who lack EQ often feel entitled. They think that the world owes them something. Again, it’s about locus of control. Emotionally intelligent people know that they alone are responsible for their successes or failures.
10. They don’t close their minds. When people close their minds to new information or opinions, it’s typically because they find them threatening. They think that admitting that someone else is right means that they’re wrong, and that’s very uncomfortable for people lacking EQ. Emotionally intelligent people aren’t threatened by new things; they’re open to new information and new ideas, even if it means admitting that they are wrong.
11. They don’t let anyone limit their joy. When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself with others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something they’ve done, they don’t let anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from them. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself with others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.
12. They don’t get eaten up by jealousy and envy. Emotionally intelligent people understand that the happiness and success of others doesn’t take away from their own, so jealousy and envy aren’t an issue for them. They see success as being in unlimited supply, so they can celebrate others’ successes.
13. They don’t live in the past. Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve things that aren’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this if they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require your taking some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens—your past becomes your present and prevents you from moving forward.
Bringing It All Together
Improving your emotional intelligence is the single most important thing you can do to improve your life. The good news is that you can make it happen with a little determination, effort, and a good model to follow.
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by Sharon Martin, LCSW
Over and over again I see people struggling at work and in their relationships because they don’t feel worthy and lovable; they don’t love themselves. I’ve come to recognize that self-love isn’t selfish or strange or conceited. In my opinion, loving yourself is the cornerstone of good mental health. So, after writing 9 Simple Ways to Love Yourself, I decided it was worth giving you nine more ways to love yourself.
1. Honor your feelings. As a society, we are uncomfortable with feelings, especially the “unpleasant” ones. We prefer to numb out with alcohol, food, electronics, pornography, and busyness. We pretend we’re “fine” when we’re really very far from fine.
Feelings don’t just go away when you avoid them. They will show up at another time in another way. There really isn’t any way of avoiding them; you have to go through them. This is why honoring your feelings is a gift you give yourself. It’s a way of validating your experiences.
Feelings are also windows into what you really need. For example, you anger might be telling you that you’re overworked and tired. When you ignore your feelings, you can’t meet your own basic needs.
One of the exercises I commonly give to my therapy clients is to start regularly checking in with your feelings. Simply take a few minutes, be quiet, reflect, and pay attention to your feelings. When you’re not in the habit of doing this, it feels foreign, but the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Eventually, it becomes automatic and you gain a deeper understanding of yourself.
2. Accept compliments from others. Many people have a bad habit of dismissing compliments because they feel uncomfortable with the focus on themselves and doubt whether the compliment is true. If you feel uncomfortable, try the compliment on and consider whether the person offering it is being true and honest. People generally give compliments because they care about and respect you.
The compliment-giver is offering you kindness and positive energy that you deserve to benefit from. When you dismiss it, you’re also denying the compliment-giver the pleasure of giving you this gift.
3. Cut yourself some slack. Loving yourself means offering yourself grace when you mess up. It means not expecting perfection. It means resting when you need to rather than pushing through the pain. Notice when you’re judging yourself with hindsight and forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know.
4. Care for your body. Taking care of your body is one of the most basic ways to love yourself. Everything really is much harder when your health is suffering. I find that often people (including me) take their bodies for granted. You’re probably keenly aware of your physical ailments or limitations. Instead of focusing on them, try being grateful for what your body can do. You can either hate your body for having jiggley thighs or you can choose to appreciate your legs for supporting you and carrying you all day long. Caring for your body includes the obvious things like eating nutritiously, getting enough sleep and exercising, but it can also means soaking in a hot tub or asking your partner for a foot massage.
5. Allow yourself to dream. When you love yourself, you have hope for the future. You have dreams and goals and ideas; you allow yourself to imagine yourself doing and going great places. Try a new hobby or do something off your bucket list to show yourself that you matter.
6. Express your opinions. Your opinions and thoughts are just as important and valid as everyone else’s. You don’t have to defer to others as if they know more or are more important than you are. Thoughtfully expressing your opinions is a reflection of self-respect. If this is hard for you, start small and with safer people until you build up your confidence.
7. Build relationships. Healthy relationships are good for everyone. Research shows that people with strong social support networks are healthier, happier, and live longer. If you’re an introvert, highly sensitive person, or have anxiety or another mental health problem, it can be hard to build connections with others. You don’t necessarily need a huge circle of friends, but you do need a handful of people that you enjoy and can count on. Not having a lot of friends is nothing to be embarrassed about. With deliberate effort, most people can build positive relationships. Look for opportunities in the places you visit regularly whether that’s church or a coffee shop or school or even online.
8. Invest in self-improvement. I see the desire to improve yourself as an indication that you value yourself. We all have things we’d like to improve, but not everyone will invest the time and money in themselves to actually do the work. Self-improvement comes in many forms – going to therapy, reading a self-help book, listening to podcasts, reading this blog, attending a support group. When you love yourself, you’ll want to improve not because you’re “broken” or want to please someone else, but because you care about yourself. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from psychologist Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” The desire for self-improvement doesn’t come from self-loathing, it comes from self-acceptance.
9. Don’t accept all negative criticism as Gospel. Do yourself a favor and look at criticism with a curious mind. Explore the validity of the criticism logically, rather than immediately jumping to defensiveness or self-criticism. Loving yourself means that you can accept and take responsibility for your mistakes or faults, but you don’t take responsibility for everything that goes wrong; you thoughtfully consider whether the criticism is true.
I hope you will add these nine ways to practice self-compassion to your arsenal of self-love. Which one will you try to use today?
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The new breed of high-tech self-monitors (measuring heartrate, sleep, steps per day) might seem targeted at competitive athletes. But Talithia Williams, a statistician, makes a compelling case that all of us should be measuring and recording simple data about our bodies every day — because our own data can reveal much more than even our doctors may know.
Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.