How to Chase Away Your Summertime Blues

Does your stomach turn when the thought of summer begins? Do you feel lonely, sad, or depressed in the summer months? Is it hard for you to plan a vacation, or get some good shut eye? If so, don’t feel bad, because you are not alone. In fact, reverse SAD occurs in about less than 10% of the population during the summer months.

Most people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD when winter rolls around, the more common form of SAD. But summertime reverse SAD, while temporary, and short lived, can still be very emotionally taxing for the summer months that are endured.

Some of the triggers are listed below, so it’s important to take notice of these symptoms, especially if they generally occur like clockwork for you every time summer comes around. That can indicate the cyclical nature of your summer depression.

  • Disruption of routine — very bad for those suffering from depression. Having a consistent and reliable routine for anyone, let alone someone battling some form of depression is key to managing and staving off symptoms. But during the summer, routine goes out the window — and that disruption can be stressful. It’s therefore important to try to maintain a consistent sleeping, eating, and exercising routines/schedules as you hopefully try to do throughout the year. If things get thrown to the wayside your summertime depression will not be lifted that quickly.
  • Not sleeping. The dog days of summer can actually wreak havoc on your sleep schedules. This of course, results in modulations of your sleep hormone, melatonin. Staying up later because the days are longer in the summertime, naturally exposes you to more light. This can cause you to not sleep well by tossing and turning, or to not sleep at all. Since people stay up later, and/or are exposed to more sunlight, there can be a disturbance in your sensitive circadian rhythm.
  • Bad moods. The precursor of melatonin, is the neurotransmitter serotonin, a major player in regulating mood. By reducing melatonin production, SAD increases the risk for depression and other mood disorders.
  • Financial issues. Summer can be very expensive for anyone. Whether its vacations, hosting duties, summer camp etc, the list can be exhaustive. For those suffering from SAD, who are financially strapped, or at least trying to follow a budget, it can be a particularly challenging.
  • Body insecurities. More women suffer from this more than men, but men, of course, may also fall in this category. Some people with reverse SAD might avoid the beach, or any outdoor activity because of their insecurities revolving their “imperfect” bodies. While most people can feel like this from time to time, those with reverse SAD feel it very acutely, which propels their summertime depression even more.
  • Expectations of Summer/Obligation to do fun things. Since summer is supposed to be fun, and relaxing, you’re “supposed” to be entertaining, or naturally in an upbeat mood, it just isn’t fun and relaxing for you. Since most people cannot comprehend such a thing, that can cause you to feel really lonely, whereby you might ask yourself “What’s wrong with me?” You might even entertain the notion that summer is truly endless, and not coming to a close soon enough for you.
  • The heat, and not being able to beat it. Research also suggests that high temperatures might also play a role in reverse SAD. The summer heat can be particularly oppressive and agitating to those suffering from reverse Sad. This may contribute to their depression because they often opt to stay indoors, even when it’s a bit cooler out. This leads to social isolation, which is very detrimental to those suffering from reverse SAD.
  • Genetic component. Researchers think there may also be a genetic component; more than two thirds of patients with SAD have a relative with a major mood disorder.

So how does one with reverse SAD cope in the summer months? While there is no tried and true formula, the following ideas and tips can definitely help you cope more effectively, which will ultimately help in staving off your symptoms, if not getting rid of them altogether.

  • Routine – It’s important to try, and set a consistent routine, and schedule during these slow summer months. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just somewhat regulated. That will make you feel like you are more in control of what is happening around you.
  • Exercise – Keep up with your exercise, but don’t overdo it with strict dieting and hard exercise. While exercise is important for mood control, do not feel compelled to do something completely out of your comfort zone, potentially injuring yourself, and sending your stress hormones soaring. If you are trying something new, take it nice and slow, reduce your intensity level, and make sure to rest your muscles. If it is too hot out, find ways to incorporate your physical activity early in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler outside.
  • Get adequate sleep – Make sure to get enough sleep, so your melatonin levels stay somewhat stabilized despite the longer hours spent in daylight in the summer months.
  • Plan ahead – The upside about this particular type of depression (SAD/Reverse SAD) is that at least you are aware of what is coming because of the seasonal pattern of this depression. If you start to think about how you can better cope with your symptoms in early spring, you can predict on a dime what your stress triggers will be when summer rolls around, and you can actually avoid them well in advance. Some things, of course, will be out of your control, and you have to be ok with that.
  • Delegate if you are starting to feel overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your children are old enough, they can babysit their younger siblings, so you can have some “m”e time to relax and treat yourself. If there is a lot on your plate at work despite the summer months, don’t refrain from asking for some help so you don’t feel like you are drowning. A significant number of reverse sad individuals become more depressed at work in the summer months.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Stop comparing yourself, and how you feel in relation to others. There is no way to truly know how others feel on the inside, or what is truly going on with them. Your best bet is to take some time to reflect, and either with yourself or a professional, think about why it is you get depressed in the summer months. Knowing why, and your triggers are a good place to start and perhaps break the cycle.
  • Consider revisiting your medications. If you are taking medication to treat your depression, your doctor might prescribe a stronger dose in the spring, and then gradually taper the dose in the winter months. This can be a lifesaver for you, so you do not have to suffer for 3 whole months in the summertime. That alongside psychotherapy can work wonders for those suffering from reverse SAD.

If you find yourself with symptoms of the summertime blues, it’s important to treat it as if you would a mild depression. The trick is to plan ahead so you can have a restful, productive and peaceful end to your summer! The most important thing is to think about your well being, be a little selfish, and do what is right for you, by avoiding the things that will stress you out, and leave you feeling drained. If that means turning down summer invitations for bar b q’s and the like, then so be it. Your mental and physical health is more important.

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7 Essentials for Parents of Kids with OCD

3 Tips for Sparking Your Kids’ CreativityLooking back to what I now know suggests that my 3 1/2 year old son’s long lasting temper tantrums may have been an indication that something was up. I just didn’t know what it was and wasn’t sure how to become better informed. All I remember is that it seemed like it was his way or the highway. He eventually grew out of those temper tantrums by the time he started pre-school.

When Jeff was in elementary school, he would erase numbers and letters until they looked “just right!” At night I would spend a few minutes with each of my sons saying good night. When it was his turn, we would talk and then say good night. But as I was leaving the room he would say, “Say good night mom.” I would say, “Good night Jeff, I love you.” Then he would say, “Mom, say good night again!” This interaction seemed to last all night. It didn’t of course, but it seemed like it. Years later when I understood OCD, I realized Jeff just wanted me to keep saying good night until it sounded “just right.”

As he continued to get older, Jeff excelled in academics and sports. There was no reason to be concerned about him being a super achiever and trying to always be the best, or so I thought.

Parents are so fortunate in this Internet era. They can immediately access great resources to educate themselves and know what may be the reason for their children’s behaviors.

It has been said that we can learn from the past, prepare for the future, and live in the present. Parents can learn from this writer’s past experiences to help them focus in the present and help their kids to do so as well. They can also learn how to prevent their child’s OCD from worsening in the future.  

Here are some crucial reminders:

  • Don’t delay treatment. When your child shows OCD symptoms, don’t make the assumption that he will grow out of them. Most of the time, symptoms aggravate, and the longer your child creates mental and external habits, the stronger the pathways will be.
  • You are your child’s main advocate. Follow your instincts and do what it takes to ensure your child gets the proper treatment. As you seek professional help, be open with your provider. When she provides suggestions or skills and you either don’t agree or think they may not work for your child, let her know. Your child’s therapist knows OCD, but you know your child best.
  • Inform yourself and loved ones about OCD. When parents understand OCD and explain it to their children, they in turn develop a more positive attitude and are more willing to receive treatment. Find ways to normalize OCD. You or your children don’t need to feel embarrassed about it. Keep in mind that your attitude towards the illness will influence your child’s perspective as well.
  • Remember the dangers of enabling. Even though we wish for our kids to be free of emotional and physical pain, it is part of life. OCD can be challenging and for that same reason, they will need to learn to manage it. Provide love, support, understanding, and empathy. Notice your natural instinct to over protect them and abstain from doing what they can do for themselves, or from doing rituals for them. Be patient and take one day at a time.
  • External rituals may not be obvious. This doesn’t mean OCD is absent. Your children’s OCD may target relationships with loved ones, fear of harming them, or harming themselves. They may worry excessively about their sexuality or religion and moral values. Their mental compulsions may be unnoticed, and they could be suffering in silence.
  • OCD can affect children’s self love. Despite being intelligent, talented and super-achievers, your children may feel excessive guilt or shame. Intrusive thoughts may create self-loathing. Stay positive and focus on the process. Your children will gain skills to notice how thoughts and feelings come and go. They will discover they don’t need to be stuck with them.
  • Connect with your children emotionally every day. Notice opportunities where you can engage them in conversation or play. Enter their world unconditionally. Listen and be present with them mentally and emotionally. When they share their OCD challenges, acknowledge and validate their feelings. Refrain from providing immediate advice or reassurance. Remember, maintaining a positive relationship with your child is more important than anything else!

Though OCD is a chronic illness, it can be managed and your child can live a functioning and value-focused life. Don’t despair or lose hope. Quite often we focus on what is not there instead of noticing what is there. Keep in mind that your children have talents, strengths, and many interests. They may have OCD, but they are more than their OCD! A great life awaits them. You can lead the way!

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Pagan merchants continue to wrestle with occult bans

TWH –It’s still not a good time to accept credit cards while Pagan. As was reported in March, terms of service forbidding fortune telling and other “occult” practices are enforced arbitrarily, and sometimes without warning. A new twist in the tale was discovered by Yeshe Rabbit, who was advised that not using a particular processor for the forbidden transactions is not enough. She was told to remove the offending services from her business web site.

The Sacred Well, her shop with two West Coast locations, now uses a different provider, but she’d like to work on clearing this climate of uncertainty once and for all.

[Carmel Sastre, CC/Flickr.]

The ban on occult products and services stems from a purely mercenary motivation: the fear that customers will be unhappy and demand their money back. It’s for that same reason that lottery tickets can’t be purchased with plastic.

The lottery comparison is only superficially similar, however. For one thing, it is a clearly-defined category of merchandise, as opposed to the board and mushy “occult” grouping.

For another, it’s unlikely that anyone has told the owners of shops selling lottery merchandise that they won’t be able to accept credit cards for any merchandise if they continue to sell those scratch-off tickets.

“TSW was designated ‘high risk’ because, according to CardConnect, we mentioned ‘reiki, herbal smoking blends, and psychic readings’ on our website,” Rabbit said.

“This was after 10 years of working in our industry without any significant chargebacks or complaints. It was not based on our existing record of sales, only on wording on our website.” That wording has not been changed in the recent past, she confirmed.

Like many store owners, Rabbit acknowledges that she didn’t study the fine print when she first signed her CardConnect agreement some ten years ago, but that changed when she heard about other Pagan vendors running into problems.

“We made sure that we were not using any single processor for any activities listed in the fine print of their policy. CardConnect had a policy against psychic readings. However, since we did not use CardConnect to process readings, but rather used it to process sales of merchandise and classes, we thought we were abiding by the policy,” Rabbit explained.

“However, when they notified us that they planned to terminate our service,” she continued, “they specifically cited that we offered readings and smoking blends on our website.”

Rabbit said that she wrote back, letting the agent know that they  used other processors for both readings and web sales, but they did not budge.” Card Connect told her that the store would “need to take those pages down to retain their services, even if [they] were using those services for a separate part of the business that did not violate their policy.”

“In the end, we chose to close our account,” Rabbit said.

A call to CardConnect asking for media relations was transferred to the voice mail of a Chelsea Cole, who did not respond to inquiries by press time. Cole was asked to confirm that CardConnect policy includes the restrictions that Rabbit described, and whether those limitations extend to CardConnect clients with lottery tickets for sale.

What’s clear is that at least one card processor is coming down harder still than earlier in the year, with attempts to dictate terms that extend well beyond what one might expect.

“They are not interested in any proof that our practices are linked to a legitimate religious path,” Rabbit said, “even though Paganism and Wicca are recognized by the government and armed forces for things like chaplaincy and headstones.”

Sacred Well Portland [Courtesy]

The fact that services such as divination are used by some individuals as part of their sincerely-held religious beliefs is a complicating factor which could well hold sway in a court of law, but getting there is an expensive and cumbersome process which the stereotypical Pagan merchant can ill afford to pursue.

If Rabbit had those resources handy, she said, she’d be more inclined to just start a processing company of her own. “It’s tempting to dream about creating the kind of infrastructure that supports the world I want to live in, where there is true religious freedom and respect for diversity of beliefs and practices,” she said.

Rabbit is confident she could write a report that demonstrates that there is no need to for any processor to consider the Sacred Well a business risk, but she’s not sure it would matter much. After all, a 115-page business plan backed by considerable research was ignored by a commercial realtor in one West Coast city that simply refused to rent any space to a Pagan shop.

“I fear that would happen if we tried to do that here,” she said. “Perhaps if several businesses did this and approached these companies en masse, it might be more effective.”

The number of Pagan merchants isn’t big enough to get changes through a boycott. That’s evident in the other demand made of Rabbit, concerning her business web page.

CardConnect representatives “did not provide any explanation about why they felt they could dictate the content of our website, even after we offered proof that the activities they find objectionable have nothing to do with their processing equipment or services,” Rabbit said.

That kind of demand makes little business sense if it would lead to a loss of revenue for the processor.

Rabbit believes that if changing this state of affairs were to be successful, it would be as a leaderless movement, with responsibilities shared among actors. “I can see myself instigating, contributing, and collaborating in a movement among Pagan business owners to address the religious intolerance directed toward our products and services,” she said, “but I don’t know that anyone needs me to lead in that field. We are all business owners and capable entrepreneurs.”

She added, “I would love to team up with people like Jane Hawkner, Susan Diamond, and Phoenix LaFey around this. And, truth be told, if we really want something like this to be successful, we would benefit greatly from the business wisdom of Cat Yronwode. She is brilliant.”

Unless and until these policies are clarified or modified, there is little a Pagan business owner can do other than read the fine print of every agreement carefully, and to have one more more backup plans in place.

As Rabbit discovered, even complying with the letter of the policy is no guarantee that someone at the other end of the phone won’t decide it’s too risky anyway, and close the account. Absent the deep pockets for a lawsuit or the community will for a movement, signing up for payment processing while Pagan is no more certain than the promises made by some world leaders to take in war refugees and give them permanent homes.

We will continue to update this story as new information is received.

*  *  *
The work of journalist Terence P. Ward was made possible by the generous underwriting donation from Hecate Demeter, writer, ecofeminist, witch and Priestess of the Great Mother Earth.

Source: http://wildhunt.org

Bullying Isn’t Just ‘Child’s Play’

Bullying Isn’t Just ‘Child’s Play’My name is Gabe Howard and I’m forty years old. I’m outgoing and charismatic, and I make my living as a writer and speaker. Despite a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, my adult life is stable and I’m content. When it comes to my childhood, many things stand out, but — even all these years later — the biggest defining event is that I was bullied.

I’m not certain why, 25 years after the fact, bullying stands out so much. It certainly wasn’t the only negative thing I was forced to endure as a child. Before I turned 12 years old, my biological father abandoned me, two of my aunts died, and I had suicidal thoughts almost every day.

Which Is Worse: Bullying or Untreated Mental Illness?

Only on the internet does someone debate whether it’s better to be a victim of childhood bullying or suffer from untreated mental illness. Neither is good and enduring both at the same time causes a kind of trauma that sticks with a person.

There are treatments for mental illness and some have been quite effective for me. The time from when I was diagnosed until I reached recovery with bipolar disorder was four years, but I made it to recovery.
The trauma associated with being bullied hasn’t eased nearly as much as the trauma associated with undiagnosed mental illness. As I mentioned, the effects of bullying have stuck with me to this day. So, for me, being bullied as a child had a longer lasting negative effect than being suicidal as a child.

And I’m pretty sure I know why.

The Difference between Being Bullied and Being Bipolar

For a moment, forget about me being suicidal as a child. The real issue, in my mind, is that when I was bullied, it meant that someone disliked me enough to intentionally want to hurt me.
The bullying, to this day, makes me doubt the intentions of those around me. When I first meet people, I can’t help but wonder if they are going to want to intentionally cause me harm. I was emotionally, mentally, and physically bullied by my peers.

Then, society justified its actions by declaring that bullying behavior was normal. “Boys will be boys,” “they’re just kids, they’ll grow out of it,” and “let them handle it on their own” was all I heard from the authority figures in my life. I’m certain this contributed to my distrust of authority figures.

The major difference between being bullied and being bipolar is that I expect bipolar disorder to want to hurt me, and that is a reasonable state of mind.

But, because of the bullying, I now expect people to want to hurt me. And that makes it harder to connect with all the great people in the world.

And that’s a shame.

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Best of Our Blogs: August 22, 2017

There’s one thing I’ve been doing lately that has made me feel inspired, motivated and less alone while getting through the ups and downs of life as a stay at home mom. It’s returned “me” time and is an important part of my self-care.

If you haven’t downloaded a podcast lately, you’re missing out on a key ingredient to improving your life. Some shows are pure fun. Most are informative. It harks back to radio shows that keep you entertained purely by someone’s voice and great story-telling.

If you’re already a podcast listener, have you checked out the Psych Central Show? It’s getting great reviews and does a wonderful job of providing information on mental health and mental illness in an informal, casual, and conversational way.

Have a favorite podcast that promotes healthy mental health and destigmatizes mental illness? Share yours here.

The Narcissist’s Unloved, Invisible Daughter
(Narcissism Meets Normalcy) – Struggle with healing old childhood wounds? You won’t feel alone after reading this woman’s true story.

Several Ways to Sit with Your Feelings
(Weightless) – You feel uncomfortable in silence. You can’t stand meditating. This is the reason why and what you can do to resolve it.

Are You Hungry or Empty? How To Know The Difference
(Childhood Emotional Neglect) – Before you grab that bag of chips or go out to get a frozen drink, you need to read this.

Five years ago: For the love of Sandy
(Model to Recovery) – We can use our hurt to hurt others or we can use it to heal others. Read how one woman is using her story to shed hope and help others in honor of her mother.

Mindset For Success: Selling Your Script
(Hollywood Therapy) – It’s the one thing they don’t teach you in film school, but it’s the one skill you need to be a successful screenwriter.

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What if You Suspect Emotional Infidelity?

Emotional infidelity can be as heartbreaking for the betrayed partner as a physical affair. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s going on when your spouse assures you that a relationship with a friend, coworker, or social media acquaintance is innocent. But if you are concerned that that emotional intimacy is developing, you can look out for the signs listed below and then decide how to deal with the issue.  

Signs of Emotional Infidelity

  • Your spouse is texting the suspected emotional affair partner more often than you and turning off his phone or computer when you show up.  
  • Your partner is dressing differently, spiffed up as in courtship mode.
  • Your credit card statement shows payments at bars and restaurants different from the ones you frequent, and other unexplained expenses show up.
  • Your partner detaches from you emotionally by becoming withdrawn or unusually critical toward you. Physical detachment can easily follow a lack of emotional intimacy. The “cheating” partner may sense that having sex with his or her spouse would be disloyal to the emotional affair partner.  

Expressing Your Concern

If you suspect your partner of having an emotional affair, first process your feelings (fear, betrayal, anger, hurt, helplessness, or confusion) enough to have a calm manner when initiating the conversation. If you come across as angry and accusing, your partner is likely to become defensive, dismiss your concern, or counterattack, like by calling you paranoid or irrational.

Say kindly and respectfully that you want to discuss something that concerns you. Ask if this is a good time to talk before proceeding, or agree on a different time. Then say:

  • which signs of an emotional affair you’ve noticed;
  • how you’re feeling about the apparent emotional affair  insecure, uncomfortable or , anxious, something else;
  • what you would like your partner to do. Examples of what you might want your partner  to do:  
  1. Discontinue contact with suspected or actual emotional affair partner;
  2. include you in all interactions with that person;
  3. agree to transparency regarding emails and texts sent and received;
  4. get a job elsewhere if the person is a coworker;
  5. see a therapist with you to talk about both of your concerns in a safe setting;
  6. tell you what might be missing in his relationship with you makes him look for intimacy elsewhere.
  • what you are prepared to do if your partner is not willing to do what it takes to end a developing or current emotional affair. You might decide to separate, divorce, get therapy for yourself to help you make a wise decision, or do something else.

Prevention Is the Best Strategy

We can control only our own behavior, not our partner’s. The best way to prevent the prospect an emotional affair from happening is to keep our marriage fulfilling  ⎯ with romance, intimacy, teamwork and kind, respectful resolution of issues. By holding a weekly marriage meeting that uses the simple agenda and positive communication skills explained in detail in Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted, most couples can create this kind of emotionally intimate relationship. Partners who keep their bond strong are more likely to stay emotionally and physically faithful.

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Our Words Have Power (So Speak Kindly To and About Yourself)

“I monitor my self-talk, making sure it is supportive and uplifting for myself and others.” ~ Louise Hay

Three years ago, I ended up with no work in a foreign country. I was almost depressed, as I didn’t know what to say when people asked questions about my profession. The idea of making no income injected my mind with a wide repertoire of worries, fears, and concerns.

I was lost and stuck, and the way I was labeling myself at the time felt quite painful: unemployed. Not only did it look like I had a serious problem to deal with, I was starting to feel like I was a problem, myself.

We all perceive the reality of our experiences filtered through our own lenses, the expectations we set on ourselves and others, and our individual system of belief. To some people, being unemployed is a fact. Not good or bad, normal or abnormal, right or wrong. To me, it held a strong negative connotation. In a world that generally validates our self-worth through what we do for a living, being left with no work made me feel like a total failure.

Thanks to Wayne Dyer, one of the spiritual teachers who helped me grow into who I am today, I managed to change my perspective and see things in a much different light. Here’s what I remember him saying in an interview on YouTube: “Your only problem is your belief that you have a problem. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

His words spoke to me from the inside out. It came like thunder: a wake-up call that was going to shift my entire experience. The moment I decided to look at the situation from another angle, everything changed.

I decided to eliminate the world “unemployed” from my vocabulary, and I went for more empowering words instead. I was “job hunting,” and “looking for better employment opportunities” while being “in transition to a new career.”

Those feelings of frustration and sadness, which came with a deep sense of unworthiness and identity loss, got replaced by a much cleaner space of possibilities, hope, and curiosity for a fresh start.

By changing my perspective and the language I was using to describe my experience, I stopped feeling like a victim. Things were not imposed on me any longer, and I had power.

All of a sudden, I could see the bright side of the situation. When I was busy with work, always running somewhere, working overtime to reach goals and fulfill my duties, I so much wanted to get more time. When I was left with no job, I accused life of being unfair. It wasn’t.

I realized I had all the time in the world—and what a precious gift that was, because time never comes back! I had enough savings to rely on and a supportive husband, as well. And I had a dream to pursue—to do soul work with people and make this world a much better place. One year later, I got certified as a coach.

Today, I know that was a real blessing in disguise. “Unemployed” was not a weakness, but an opportunity for me to grow professionally and build a new career from scratch.

I have also learned that failing with anything doesn’t make me a failure, because I am not what I do. Being left with no work was an experience, and it didn’t have to define me or lower my self-worth unless I allowed it.

One more time, Wayne Dyer was right: I am a “human being,” not a “human doing.”

You see, the thoughts we think and the words we speak have tremendous power. Words are a form of energy, and their vibration has a high impact on the way we feel and think; they can either empower us or put us down.

I invite you to try the following exercise: think of a situation in your life that looks like a problem. Stay for a moment with that and get mindful of how that feels in your body.

Now, think of the same situation as if that was an issue or a topic for you to brainstorm, reflect, and deal with. Can you see the difference and how much lighter you feel?

You’ve done nothing else but replacing the word “problem” (which feels like a burden, something heavy for you to carry) with “issue” (much lighter, something that you could find a solution to).

When I was a child, my mother advised me always to pay attention to my words. “One can kill or save another with only one word,” she said. I didn’t get what she meant at that time, but now I do.

Looking back on my life, I came to realize I spent many years punishing myself with disempowering words about who I was. Thinking I wasn’t good enough, perceiving myself as a failure when I was making mistakes, taking myself for granted, unable to acknowledge my achievements, as if “anyone could do that” or “it wasn’t anything big or special.”

“Stupid me!” “I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never get this.” “This is too big for me.” “I am average.” That’s how the voices in my head used to sound.

Years later, thanks to the beautiful work of Louise Hay, I have learned that being mindful of my self-talk is one of the best forms of self-care and self-respect.

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.“ ~Louise Hay

I knew I would have never told my best friend what an idiot she was for doing this or saying that. And if she were to consider herself ugly or stupid, I would have never encouraged such an idea. I would have supported her in the best way I could.

It took me a while to understand how unfair I was to myself: talking to others kindly and showing them compassion while putting myself down every day. Just like everyone else, I was also a person, worthy of being seen and listened to, appreciated, understood, forgiven, respected, acknowledged, nurtured, and loved.

The day I stopped making myself small with my self-talk, my life transformed, and here’s what I know to be true today:

I am whatever I believe myself to be. If I think I am smart, beautiful, ugly, or stupid, that’s what my reality becomes. We all get to shape our own story by the way we feel, act, and think.

Besides that, I don’t have any weaknesses; I only have areas for growth.

While I am aware of the things I need to work on (do less and be more, become more patient and sometimes calmer, talk less and listen more and so on), the very fact that I have replaced the word “weakness” by “area for growth” is empowering. Like everyone else, I am on a journey called Life, and that’s all about learning.

My husband and I moved to Mexico a few months ago. We can understand Spanish, but neither of us can speak it. I could see this as a weakness, but I choose not to. This is nothing but an area for growth: we are both going to acquire new skills, expand our knowledge, and grow as individuals. We’ve already started to take lessons.

The words we use in our everyday life have power. They can either destroy or build relationships with ourselves and other people. Getting mindful of our self-talk is one of the best forms of self-love and self-compassion. Let us choose our words wisely.

Language shapes our behavior, and each word we use is imbued with multitudes of personal meaning. The right words spoken in the right way can bring us love, money, and respect, while the wrong wordsor even the right words spoken in the wrong waycan lead to a country of war. We must carefully orchestrate our speech if we want to achieve our goals and bring our dreams to fruition.” – Dr. Andrew Newberg, Words Can Change Your Brain

And now, I would like to hear from you. If there were one single disempowering word for you to eliminate from your vocabulary, what would that be?

About Sara Fabian

Sara Fabian is a women’s career and empowerment coach and inspirational speaker, on a mission to help professional women to discover their unique strengths, gifts and talents, boost their confidence, find their calling and live a meaningful life of purpose. For weekly inspiration, subscribe to her free newsletter at sarafabiancoaching.com or follow her on Facebook.

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10 Things Introverts Should Start Doing Today to Live a Happier Life

You’re reading 10 Things Introverts Should Start Doing Today to Live a Happier Life, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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It’s not easy being an introvert, because our society seems designed for extroverts. Job interviews favor those who are personable, smooth-talking, and quick-thinking. Classrooms are noisy, busy places that reward the students who raise their hands frequently and dive into group work. The social scene lauds those who are confident, outgoing, and quick to make small talk.
How can an introvert live a happy, fulfilling life in an “extroverted” world? In my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, I explore how introverts can work with their introversion rather than fight against it. Here are 10 ways introverts can do just that.
1. Get over your guilt of leaving the social event early. Have you ever started saying your goodbyes at a social event only to have someone incredulously exclaim, “You’re leaving already? We’re just getting started!” These types of comments used to fill me with guilt. Why was I the only one getting drained and wanting to leave? Was there something wrong with me? Thankfully, I later learned that I’m an introvert, and introverts get worn out by socializing because they respond to rewards differently than extroverts (you can learn more about the science behind introversion in my book). Now, I have no problem calling it an early night and heading for the door.
2. Have more meaningful conversations. Introverts tend to loathe small talk because it feels pointless and inauthentic, but we feel energized by talking about meaningful topics and big ideas. And there’s good news for introverts: research suggests that the happiest people have twice as many meaningful conversations — and do less surface-level chitchat — than the unhappiest. You may even find that big talk doesn’t drain you the way small talk does.
3. Be okay with turning down social invitations that promise little meaningful interaction. We’ve all been there. An acquaintance invites you to such-and-such event. You feel obligated to attend because you don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings or seem rude. But you know that the birthday party for your friend’s niece’s toddler or the guys’ night out won’t be fulfilling. In fact, it will not only lack meaningful interaction but also leave you with an introvert hangover, which is when you feel physically unwell from overextending yourself socially. If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a good chunk of your life saying yes to social invitations out of guilt — then you paid for it later with exhaustion and overstimulation. Of course, there are some things you probably shouldn’t skip, like your good friend’s wedding or your spouse’s birthday dinner with the family. Bottom line, to live a happier life, pass on any unnecessary get-togethers you feel will drain your introvert battery, not energize it.
4. Schedule your alone time to avoid hurt feelings. I had the pleasure of sitting down with introverted Indie rocker jeremy messersmith to interview him for my book. He told me about a smart practice he’s been doing for quite some time: He makes sure he gets enough alone time by scheduling it once a week on the family calendar. That way his extroverted wife won’t feel hurt when he says he wants to be alone, and they can both work together to protect his restorative solitude by not scheduling other obligations at that time.
5. Don’t force yourself to live the “extroverted” life. Research from the University of Maryland suggests that acting falsely extroverted can lead to burnout, stress, and cardiovascular disease. Turns out, embracing your introverted nature isn’t just a feel-good axiom — it’s actually good for your health.
6. Back away from one-sided relationships. Sadly, because introverts listen well and are often content to take the back seat, we can be targets for toxic or emotionally needy people. These relationships — in which one person is taking more than they give — drain our already limited social energy. If there are people in your life who continually exhaust you, consider spending less time with them. You’ll get the bonus of freeing up more time and energy for the people who do fill you up.
7. Stop beating yourself up for that awkward thing you said…3 years ago. Perhaps because introverts have more electrical activity in their brains than extroverts, they tend to ruminate. Our overthinking may take the form of playing embarrassing mistakes over and over in our minds. Sadly, rumination can give way to anxiety and depression — and it rarely helps you solve the problem you’re chewing on. To break free from the rumination cycle, do something to get the powerful engine of your mind chugging down a different track. Try calling to mind a positive memory, putting on music, going for a walk, or doing any different activity than the one you’re currently doing.
8. Give yourself permission to not do it all. I have an extroverted friend who always has her hand in something. If she’s not organizing a get-together with our friends, she’s volunteering at her son’s pre-school or taking on an extra project at work. I’ll admit that I’ve wished for her energy because she really does seem like she’s doing it all. But I have to remind myself that my talents lie in deep analysis, reflective thinking, and quality over quantity — not in running around doing all the things.
9. Occasionally push yourself out of your comfort zone. To my absolute horror, after writing a book about introversion, I learned that people wanted to talk to me about said book. They even wanted me to give interviews, go on podcasts, and give speeches! Let’s just say it was a very real lesson in pushing myself out of my stay-at-home-and-watch-Netflix comfort zone. Honestly, I hated almost every minute of it (I really did!), but I did those things because I knew it would be good for me. Taking the occasional jaunt out of your comfort zone can help you grow, too.
10. Protect your needs. Because introverts tend to be conscientious people who keep their thoughts to themselves, they may find their needs getting overlooked. Most people probably aren’t purposely trying to burden you or take advantage of you — it may be that they simply aren’t aware of what you need! Do you need a few hours to yourself to recharge from a busy week? Say it! Do you need someone to stop talking to you for a few minutes so you can concentrate? Tell them! Your needs matter just as much as everyone else’s.
My book, The Secret Lives of Introverts, has been called a “decoder ring for introverts” and “one of the best books [on] introvert empowerment.” It’s available for purchase on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

You’ve read 10 Things Introverts Should Start Doing Today to Live a Happier Life, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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You Always Have Value — Here’s How to Nurture It

“You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being – not because anybody says so, not because you’re successful, not because you make a lot of money – but because you decide to believe it and for no other reason.” – Wayne Dyer

female-meditation

Plumbing the depths to find your self-worth only to come up empty? The truth is that we’ve all been there at one point in our lives, usually when things looked bleakest and hope seemed to have disappeared. At such times, not only did we feel hopeless and helpless, but worthless as well. Finding any value in what we did or believing we had value was also incredibly hard.

What we didn’t realize then – and may have a tough time believing now – is that we always have value. The key is to tell ourselves so over and over until it sinks in and we begin to believe it.

Think about what it means to have value and worth. These are not attributes someone else bestows upon us, at least not any human. One can argue that God gives us value and worth and that without these, we’d be animals. That may be the subject of a philosophical discussion, but there’s likely some merit in the concept. For now, however, the focus is more on how our internal beliefs help shape and motivate our actions and determine the extent to which we live a life of joy and purposefulness.

Making tons of money may sound good, like a panacea to solve all problems, but it rarely happens and almost never works. Just as you can’t buy happiness, having a stack of cash won’t ensure that you feel any better about yourself than when you were an average, hard-working individual.

Being a household name or the CEO of a thriving company similarly doesn’t catapult you into the category of high self-esteem, self-worth and value. It’s important to remember that value has nothing to do with dollars and cents, with titles or material possessions, or celebrity or stature in the community.

If you’re coming from a place of self-doubt, the realization that you always have value may take some time to bubble up. It is there, your value and self-worth. It just needs patience on your part to discover and nurture it.

How can you do that? Here are some suggestions:

Strike the word worthless from your vocabulary.

There is no good reason to ever use this word. It does nothing for self-esteem. Instead, replace it with worthwhile. You may have failed in an endeavor, yet your efforts were worthwhile.

Strive to see the positive in everything you do.

This means everything, from the seemingly trivial to the most important decisions you make. This means making a conscious choice to look at each potential action and weigh the possible outcomes, both positive and negative, and then choosing the course that offers the most hopeful result.

Savor the goodness of life.

This is important, for life’s goodness is all around you. How you view life helps shape how you live it. You can do good things, emanating from the goodness of your spirit, or dreadful things, in an impulsive, punishing, lashing-out way. Goodness is more powerful than evil. You can do more to bring about goodness in the world and, in so doing, elevate your own sense of value and worth.

Remember that each human being makes his or her own way in the world.

Life is also short, so the time we have in it is precious, deserving of our best actions. How do you want to live your life so that it means more to you and helps you feel like you’ve contributed something worthwhile?

Always pursue self-improvement.

Strive to make small advances toward overcoming any of your perceived or real shortcomings. Work to eliminate a tendency to be hypercritical of your efforts. In addition, and this is crucial, give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. It is from experience that wisdom comes – along with an increased sense of value and worth.

Remember, all you need to begin to believe you have value and worth is the decision to do so. Follow up with proactive, well-thought-out plans and maintain a hopeful attitude backed by a powerful desire to utilize your strengths to your best advantage.

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Pagan Community Notes: EarthSpirit Community, Florida senate race, solar eclipse and more

BOSTON — The weekend’s scheduled “Free Speech Rally” was overshadowed by thousands of counter-protesters. According to reports, there were only a “few dozen” rally attendees, who were eventually escorted out of the area to the sound of the crowd cheering. The event’s organizers have claimed that the rally was not related to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, but protesters were unconvinced and showed up in force.

Among the crowds were a number of people from the Pagan community. Specifically, members of the EarthSpirit Community, which is based in Massachusetts, were on hand with their own signs. Posting live, one member wrote, “Lots of passionate people on the Boston Common today. We are glad to be among them.”

Moira Ashleigh documented the march in photos, which are all posted on EarthSpirit’s Facebook page. After the rally attendees left, EarthSpirit members reported that “the counter-protest has become a celebration and ‘love-fest’ of 30,000. Gratitude to those who represented our community in Boston today and those of you acting elsewhere to demand justice for All Beings of the Earth. ”

There are reportedly a number of white nationalist rallies planned throughout the country over the coming month, including New York, Berkeley, San Francisco and beyond. With that will come more counter-protests and similar actions.

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ORLANDO — In a not completely unrelated story coming out of Florida, Augustus Sol Invictus, who was one of the “Unite the Right” organizers, has announced that he will make another run for the U.S. Senate in that state. This time around, he is running as a Republican. In 2015, Invictus ran for Senate as a Libertarian and lost. However, in July, Invictus left the party, which he has reportedly claimed is an “organization devoted to losing.”

Invictus has since joined the Republican party and, in an August video announcement, said that he will be making another run for the U.S. Senate from Florida. In that speech, he says that “new leadership is needed,” and he promises to “restore the republic […] if God wills it.” Along with organizing rallies, Invictus is also the publisher and founder of the Revolutionary Conservative, a reported member of the Proud Boys, and does identify as a practicing Pagan. He is also currently on the SPLC watch list.

The next U.S. Senate election in Florida will be held in November 2018.

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A solar eclipse occurs in the U.S. today. Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists around the country are preparing to witness this rare and spectacular event. In some cases, people will be engaging in rituals, spell work, and meditations.

As astrologer Diotima Mantineia told The Wild Hunt, “We’ll have plenty of inspiration to work with, but some of us may get carried away with enthusiasm — or anger. Both are very much in the air.” Mantineia sees fire and transformation. She offered, “it will help to keep in mind that sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a transformative event, things can get pretty scary.”

For those that are not able to get outside to experience the astronomical event, NASA will be live broadcasting beginning at noon EDT with a “pre-game” show followed by a second program that “will cover the path of totality the eclipse will take across the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina.”

In other news:

  • Many Pagan, Heathen, and polytheist organizations have published reactions and statements with regard to the violent events that occurred in Charlottesville. The Troth is no different. However, the organization also produced a video titled Inclusive Heathenry. After images and music demonstrating what happened in Virginia. a title card says that witnessing the weekend’s events “can leave anyone feeling helpless or alone. Especially those in the Heathen community. Seeing our symbols used for hate.” The video then goes on to showcase the Troth’s community, its people, its mission statements, and its work.
  • Solar Cross Temple is hosting an eclipse ritual event titled “A (Re)Statement of Faith” as presented by Jacki Chuculate. The ritual, as written, can be performed anywhere and is meant to be done in coordination with the eclipse, but can be done in the surrounding days. Chuculate writes as part of the ritual, “As the eclipse grows and peaks, we notice all the ways and means in which our essential work has been challenged. How we as people and people of the work have been challenged, depleted, struggled, and face a world and realms that are literally and figuratively, toxic.”
  • Sarah Kate Istra Winter, also known as Dver, has just released a new book. It is titled A City is a Labyrinth: a walking guide for urban animists. Winter writes in a blog post, “After many years of exploring my city on foot, visiting all the numinous places and finding spirits in every corner, performing rituals in urban environments, and using walking as a means of trance-induction, I decided to collect all my experience and ideas in a little (4×6 inches) pocket guide.”
  • CalderaFest Pagan music festival tickets will be subject to an eclipse sale. The announcement reads, “get your general admission tickets for $50 off Aug. 20-27.” CalderaFest, which was first held in May 2016, is a three-day camping event dedicated to Pagan music. Due to the weather, organizers moved the event to the fall. CalderaFest’s second year will be kicked off during October in the mountains of north Georgia.
  • Priestess Starr Ravenhawk has announced the lineup for 2018 WitchsFest USA. New for next summer’s event will be Queen Mother Imakhu, Elizabeth Ruth, Sharon Day, Austin Shippey, Gregg Sicarri, and Kenya Coviak. Returning presenters include Rev. Donald Lewis, Christopher Penczak, Lady Rhea, Rhonda Choudry, Lilith Dorsey and Krystal Madison. WitchsFest is held mid-July in New York City’s west village.

Source: http://wildhunt.org