How to Beat Narcissists With The Grey Rock Method

Written by David Davenport – Contributing Author Healing Arts Institute

The term narcissist is often used to describe someone who exhibits a haughty or overly confident persona. We use the term so frequently and under so many circumstances, it may have lost much of its actual meaning in colloquial use.

A pathological narcissist is categorized within a group of personality disorders referred to as Cluster B disorders. In this group, narcissists share company with other similarly related disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Histrionic Personality Disorder.

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) will have an inflated sense of self, believing that others are inferior to them. They have magnificent expectations for their success but may or may not have the ability or drive to achieve those grandiose visions. True narcissists will be exceedingly sensitive to criticism and will react with extreme anger to anyone who challenges their sense of self-worth. Interestingly, (and tragically) the very people narcissists abuse are the same people that narcissists demand the most admiration.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it is thought that about 6% of the U.S. population has NPD and about 10% may have a dual diagnosis of NPD and BPD.

That is a lot of angry and toxic people who are walking around in society, and chances are good that you know many of them.

Narcissists can be extremely charismatic people but have difficulty maintaining that façade over time. Eventually, they destroy or subjugate every relationship that they are a part of causing extraordinary suffering to those who have the misfortune of being involved.

Fortunately, there is a way to lessen their manipulative and toxic effects, a method called Grey Rock.

A narcissist does not cope well with the mundane nature of daily life. They will often cause drama to satiate their desire for excitement and latch on to anyone who they believe will provide that excitement for them.

The idea behind Grey Rock is to learn how to be as uninteresting a target as possible. Let the narcissist become bored of you and seek their pathological need for toxic behavior elsewhere.

When was the last time you were fascinated by and drawn towards a boring grey rock? Get it now?

The Basic Principals Behind the Grey Rock Method

Do not let the narcissist know that you are trying to emotionally separate from them.

As tempted as you may be to let the narcissist know that you have had enough of their nonsense, that challenge to their self-esteem may provoke an angry reaction. Remember, the idea is to get them to lose interest in using you as a source for their emotional manipulations.

You don’t have to validate yourself to the narcissist.

Practice in small increments detaching from their verbal taunts and manipulative behaviors. Work with a trained therapist who can guide you through this process so that you don’t take the technique too far and begin detaching from everything and everyone.

If you must speak with a narcissist, keep the interactions as short as possible.

Be polite and civil if you converse with a narcissist but keep the conversation short and directly on topic. Gently guide the conversation back on track if it deviates into other areas of discussion. Many of the people with Cluster B personality disorders can be extremely charming and charismatic. Do not allow them to continue to lure you into their twisted web.

There is nothing wrong with succinct “yes” or “no” answers when no further explanation is required in a conversation. You do not need to act as the source of the narcissist’s emotional vampirism.

Disengage from the narcissist as quickly as possible.

Do not give the narcissist any more attention than is required. If possible, begin focusing on another task or activity which can give you an excuse to either leave the conversation completely. When they see that you’re not providing them with the attention that they desire, they may try additional manipulation tactics. 

This is when you must go back to step one and practice emotional distancing.

Do you have a friend, co-worker, spouse, or parent who you believe fits the description of a Cluster B personality? If so, please seek help immediately from a licensed and trained therapist. These individuals can produce a severe and lasting impact on your mental health and emotional well-being.

Cutting off toxic people from your life is only the first step. The process of healing and learning to interact with your surroundings in a healthy and balanced way is a long journey that should be taken with trusted friends and trained guides.

Citations:

Brown, Andrew D. “Narcissism, Identity, and Legitimacy.” The Academy of Management Review, vol. 22, no. 3, 1997, pp. 643–686. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/259409.

Meadows-Fernandez, Rochaun. “What Are Cluster B Personality Disorders?” Healthline, 28 Feb. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/cluster-b-personality-disorders.

Post, Jerrold M. “Current Concepts of the Narcissistic Personality: Implications for Political Psychology.” Political Psychology, vol. 14, no. 1, 1993, pp. 99–121. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3791395.

Raypole, Crystal. “Dealing With a Manipulative Person? Grey Rocking May Help.” Healthline, 13 Dec. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/grey-rock.

“The Gray Rock Method | Beat ‘Toxic People’ with Serenity.” YouTube, uploaded by Einzelgänger, 27 Jan. 2020, https://youtu.be/mUmycvTfH5Q.

Meadows-Fernandez, Rochaun. “What Are Cluster B Personality Disorders?” Healthline, 28 Feb. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/cluster-b-personality-disorders.

How Growing Up Poor Can Forever Alter a Child’s Life

Written by David Davenport – Contributing Author Healing Arts Institute

This week we celebrate Marten Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. King fought bravely to solidify civil rights for all Americans, and we have made considerable strides towards realizing his dream of establishing a more equal society.

While we have come far, there is still much work to be done before we can honestly say that we have arrived at that destination.

Correcting the lingering disparities in opportunity for minority communities must begin with identifying the conditions that minority children are growing up with, and correct problems at the family level.
All the positive changes that we want to see in our communities must begin with helping children and their families.

Today we’re going to look at some of the consequences of poverty on children, how it affects our society, and what we can do about it.

Half of Florida’s Children Are Living in Poverty

Believe it or not, almost 55% of children in the State of Florida are living in households that are below or near the poverty line. This unexpectedly high figure predominantly affects black and Latino children.

When children are hungry, they are more likely to perform far worse in school than their classmates who do not have to rely on government assistance. 

It’s more likely that these kids will be enrolled in special education courses and require mental and behavioral health counseling.

That’s a lot of children who will be expected to integrate into society without the proper set of skills needed to succeed.

Being Raised in Poverty

Oftentimes, parents of children in poverty may not be able to give the time and attention they need to their kids. Parents who are low-skilled or who themselves have a history of being incarcerated may only be able to find low-paying work. They may work multiple jobs to keep their family financially afloat.

Single-parent households are all too common in low-income communities. Having only one parent will exasperate an already difficult financial situation.

Children living under these conditions are more likely to develop attention deficit disorders, have difficulty regulating anger, and understanding proper social etiquette. They may grow up believing that they are justified in taking whatever action is necessary to escape their conditions.

Without intervention, it is this way of thinking that lures these children into a way of life that is guaranteed to keep them poor, and in many instances lose their freedom.

Rerouting the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Making sure that children stay in school is crucial to ending the cycle of poverty and reducing the disproportionate number of minority children who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

About 66% of juvenile offenders who later appeared before an adult court were African American compared to only 20% of Caucasian juveniles.

Once kids become incarcerated in the juvenile system, their developmental needs are far less likely to be met than when they were in the free world. While there are many amazing programs and hard-working people in the Florida juvenile justice system, the recidivism rate and return to criminal activity is too high to ignore.

Students of color and LGBTQ+ youth are the most likely to feel that their school environments are unsafe due to bullying or no-tolerance policies. They are also the most susceptible to developing trauma-based mental health challenges and higher rates of attempted suicide.

What is the Solution?

There are not enough financial assistance programs available to help all the families that need it, but there are plenty of people who are willing to help these children in any way they can.

Healing Arts Institute of South Florida was founded for just this purpose.

Our therapists work in the schools and homes of at-risk youth, making sure that they and their families can get the mental and behavioral support they need.

Our programs are funded by you, the generous public, so that we can offer our services free of charge.

We work with the Broward school superintendent and Broward Sheriff’s Office in a collaborative effort to keep kids in school, off the streets, and out of trouble.

When these children are allowed to grow up receiving the support they need, they are taken out of that dreadful cycle of poverty and incarceration.

They can become healthy and happy adults, the people who they were always meant to be.

Please give using the link below to provide mental health services to our youth!

Citations:

Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne, and Greg J. Duncan. “The Effects of Poverty on Children.” The Future of Children, vol. 7, no. 2, 1997, pp. 55–71. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1602387. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

Duncan, Greg J., and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, editors. Consequences of Growing Up Poor. Russell Sage Foundation, 1997. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610448260. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

“Child Poverty: More Than Half of Florida’s Children Are Living in or Near Poverty |.” The Children’s Campaign, iamforkids.org/child-poverty. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

“Florida’s School to Prison Pipeline.” ACLU of Florida, 12 Apr. 2018, www.aclufl.org/en/floridas-school-prison-pipeline. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

How to Become Self Driven: 5 Motivation Killers to Avoid

Written by David Davenport – Contributing Author Healing Arts Institute

Motivation is a difficult concept to master because it can seem so fickle. We can bounce between feeling highly driven and stubbornly lazy in a relatively short period. 

The forces which motivate us come in two basic varieties. External and internal. 

External motivation comes from a source outside of your control. Another person or environmental situation that forces you to act. This type of motivation can be positive in the form of praise or monetary compensation, or it can be negative in the form of coercion or threats.

In either situation, external motivation can be a powerful factor in motivating you to accomplish a task, but the source is ultimately out of your control.

Internal (or intrinsic) motivation draws upon a passion that is within you, it is what drives you towards accomplishing your goals.

What governs self-motivation, and what can be done to avoid losing that motivation?

Internal motivation is determined by three basic factors:

Autonomy – The feeling that the task you are working on is a result of your own choice.

Relatedness – The feeling that the time you spend towards accomplishing your task will be beneficial as part of a larger picture. A sense of belonging.

Competence – The feeling that your work is effective and necessary in an ongoing chain of events. In other words, your work has a purpose.

Studies have shown that all these must be present to develop and sustain self-motivation. The synergistic interplay of these factors suggests that if any one of them decreases, internal motivation will also decrease. If that happens, external motivation will become the dominating influence.

If you’ve been procrastinating on completing a project one or all three of these elements are likely missing. Take time to analyze what you are working towards and find where autonomy, relatedness, and competence play a role. Chances are your productivity and enjoyment will increase dramatically.

5 Motivation Killers to Avoid

Making Excuses

It is common to make excuses for not doing the things we need to do. Maybe you are afraid to start a project that is outside your comfort zone or acquire a new client for your business. It becomes easier to tell yourself that a daunting challenge is impossible rather than mustering the courage to tackle it. Rejection and failure are possible outcomes, but not even trying will always guarantee that result.

Complaining

Occupying your mental and emotional energy with negative thinking will only dampen your motivation. While it is important to be realistic and aware of your constraints, focusing excessive attention on negative outcomes will make it almost impossible for you to complete your task or project with a feeling of satisfaction.

Comparing Yourself to Others

Your journey and accomplishments are your own and no one else’s. It is alright to want to attain what someone else has already achieved, but you should do so with the understanding that persistence and patience will allow you to reach that goal. Instant success is an illusion.

Pursuing Superficial Results

Whatever you do, do not make the mistake of pursuing activities that serve to impress others rather than working towards your goals. Your time is precious and overloading yourself with activities that do not directly advance your goals will only take attention away from things that matter and deflate your motivation.  

Ignoring Self-Care

This may be the most important thing on our list. Making sure that you are healthy and happy goes a long way in keeping your motivation going. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep. Take a little time out of each day to exercise, even if it’s just a walk. If you don’t have the time to eat three full meals, eat several small snacks throughout the day and drink plenty of water.

Your life belongs to you and nobody else. No matter how busy you are, take time out of each day for yourself, and prioritize your needs over everything else. You’ll be surprised how invigorating it is when you realize how influential your well being is over everything else that you do.

Citations:

Dysvik, Anders, et al. “An Investigation of the Unique, Synergistic and Balanced Relationships between Basic Psychological Needs and Intrinsic Motivation.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 43, no. 5, 2013, pp. 1050–64. Crossref, doi:10.1111/jasp.12068.

Psych2Go. “10 Habits That Are DESTROYING Your Motivation.” YouTube, uploaded by Psych2Go, 1 Oct. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=cejVaaPZGt4&list=PLbPJLaLL5_ENqax0xTBoEGV5mxNmkseHQ&index=37.

Ryan, Richard M., and Edward L. Deci. “Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being.” American Psychologist, vol. 55, no. 1, 2000, pp. 68–78. Crossref, doi:10.1037/0003-066x.55.1.68.

Learn How to Reach Your Goals by Defeating Your Fears

Written by David Davenport – Contributing Author Healing Arts Institute

Learn How to Reach Your Goals by Defeating Your Fears

To be successful in any area of life, we must know what we are working toward. If we are trying to build wealth, we must define a series of steps to attain it. If we are working towards personal healing, we must recognize the parts that need to be worked on.

These individual steps that we complete are called objectives and the successful completion of a series of related objectives will lead us to the attainment of our GOAL.

Defining our goals may seem like a great idea. The problem is that even with well thought out objectives, many people never actually reach the goals they set out to achieve.

Why?

The simple answer is that they do not take the actions needed to reach their goals, and the biggest reason is fear.

Fear of trying something new, fear of losing what they already have, or perhaps even fear of how different their life may become if they succeed.

Fear not loyal readers! We are going to help you to define your fears and prove to you that they are not so scary after all.

Continue reading to download free worksheets that will help guide you through this process.

Fear can be useful in certain situations. It helps us to recognize the danger and avoid potentially life-threatening situations. It can also paralyze us from taking action and living a happy and fulfilling life.

Download the worksheet using the link below and follow along.

To Defeat Your Fears, You First Must Name Them

“There is nothing to fear but fear itself” is an iconic quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural address in 1933. It exemplifies the idea that we become paralyzed by the idea of fear rather than the actual dangers posed by facing it.

To defeat your fear, you have to know what you are fighting against. You have to recognize and define what you are afraid of. Entrepreneur and author Tim Ferris proposed a simple system for defining your fears called Fear Setting.

These worksheets are based on Tim’s Fear Setting system.

On page one of the worksheet, list a fear that is preventing you from taking action in an area of your life that you want to improve. Be as detailed as possible in describing the fear, write what you BELIEVE will happen if those fears become reality.

Example: I want to change careers and make a living in a different industry. I feel trapped and am afraid that I am too far into my life’s path to make any changes. If I do, my family will hate me and I will lose everything I have worked for. I will never find meaning or fulfillment in my life.

In this example, the fear of ‘losing everything’ is preventing a positive change to find meaning and fulfillment.

As you are writing, do not edit yourself. Just let your thoughts flow naturally.

For each of the fears that you define, write AT LEAST one way that outcome can be either avoided or at least reduced in severity. Don’t worry about being too pragmatic and write whatever comes to mind no matter how outlandish or unlikely it may seem.

Example: I can start by taking a job in a different department in my company to learn new skills. I can take classes online as a backup or get my foot in the door with a new company. I can start a small business at home at night and on weekends.

Lastly, for each fear, list ways that you can bounce back if the worst-case scenario occurs.

Example: I can always go back to my old job for a while until I am ready to try again. I can reduce the monthly cost of living by removing unnecessary expenses. I can ask friends and family for help while I am transitioning into my new life.

Consider What Will Happen if You do Nothing

The second page of the worksheet will help you understand the cost of maintaining your current path. Write down the impact of doing nothing at all. How will continuing business as usual affect you physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally? On a scale of 1 – 10, rate how your life might look if you do nothing at all.

Example: If I keep my current job, I will feel horrible. Every day I am emotionally drained and tired. I don’t feel as if I have the time or energy to spend with my family. I don’t feel good about myself. I am miserable.

My life will be 4/10.

It’s Not All Black and White

Look at page 3 of the worksheet. Here you will think about all the possible benefits you will receive from even attempting to do those things you are afraid of. Take your time and consider all the positive outcomes you will experience, both for successful completion and even for an attempt. On a scale of 1 – 10, rate how beneficial achieving this outcome will be for your life.

Example: If I change careers, I will be more engaged with my work and feel more fulfilled. I will be a better mother/father/spouse because I have found more meaning in what I do for a living. I will be happier and can focus more on improving other areas of my life. Even if I’m not able to make the switch now, the courses I take will expand my skill set and boost my confidence.

My life will be an 8/10.

Size up Your Fears

Compare the benefits of taking action (8/10) with your life outcome if you do nothing (4/10). Is a better and more fulfilling life worth the risks you may have to take? This process can help make these decisions easier to consider. Complete this worksheet and share it with a friend or therapist.

See Your Fears for What They Are

Your fears may seem like a terrifying imposing shadow in the dark ready to pounce and devour you at any moment. When applying a logical system to analyze the source of those fears, you may discover the imposing monster is just a harmless little mouse projecting its shadow through the window.

Applying this system will help you to identify your fears and see them for what they are.

You can learn to befriend your fears and work with them instead of allowing them to control your life.

Citations:

Ferriss, Tim. “Fear-Setting: The Most Valuable Exercise I Do Every Month.” The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss, 15 Nov. 2020, tim.blog/2017/05/15/fear-setting/.

Kim, John. “6 Ways to Conquer Your Fears.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 30 Sept. 2020, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-angry-therapist/202009/6-ways-conquer-your-fears.

Stephens, William O. “A Stoicism for Our Time?” International Journal of the Classical Tradition, vol. 6, no. 3, 2000, pp. 438–446. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/30222588. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.

The Surprisingly Simple Method to Crush Your New Year’s Resolutions

Written by David Davenport – Contributing Author Healing Arts Institute

The start of a new year can be symbolic of starting a new and better life. We make promises to ourselves about how we intend to live healthier, be kinder, or become better parents.

Ask yourself this question. How many of my New Year’s resolutions did I maintain in 2020?

Our hearts may be in the right place, but our good intentions often fall to the wayside in favor of old comforting habits.

Well, not this year!

Forming a new habit is difficult. Sustaining it over the long haul can be incredibly challenging if you don’t know how to do it. 

Fortunately, you are about to learn the simple secret to maintaining any new habit for long term success.

Just keep it to Yourself

When we announce our intentions, it is usually because we are seeking the approval and admiration of others who might be impressed with our ambition. We want our friends and family to be proud of us! 

Social media exacerbates this by making it extremely easy to proclaim our intentions to a mass audience with minimal effort.

We are not seeking the goal to attain personal betterment, but rather to fill a sense of our own identity. Our actual goal is the approval of others, and all we need to do is proclaim that we’re going to do something amazing and receive praise.

Technically that’s it.

You’ve accomplished your TRUE goal and received 102 thumbs-ups.

Now you don’t actually have to go to the gym.

If you want to stick to your resolutions, DON’T TELL ANYONE. Hold your goals close to your heart and stun the world with your results.

Stop Trying to Move Massive Boulders

Making large-scale changes to your lifestyle at once is a surefire way to fail at your new resolutions. It is far better to do something a small amount each day over a long period than trying to do everything at once.

We can use the gym as an example. If you go to the gym three times a week for 30 minutes at a time, are you going to be able to look in the mirror after each session and notice results? No, you won’t.

It is only after consistent application and the passage of time that you notice large scale noticeable changes. After two months, for sure. After six months, whoa…

If you miss a day every now and again, no problem. You are not going to look any fatter on a day you take off from exercise. The idea is to maintain steady progress, not to attain perfection. Be consistent but allow yourself room to breathe, make mistakes, or just relax every now and again.

This mindset holds true for starting a business, finishing school, investing your money, or just about anything else you can think of

Pick ONE goal.

Be consistent.

Take small steps every day toward realizing your accomplishment.

There is no Try

Once you have your goal in mind, start doing something, anything toward that goal. Think of the first thing you can practically do to accomplish ANY step and just do that thing.

Learn what you can along the way and allow yourself to make mistakes. It will never be perfect, so don’t keep pushing away your dreams until all the stars align in just the right way. It will never happen.

Just start doing the thing, whatever it is. Even if your first step is a deep breath and having belief in yourself.

You can do it.

Citations:

Graybiel, Ann M., and Kyle S. Smith. “GOOD HABITS, BAD HABITS.” Scientific American, vol. 310, no. 6, 2014, pp. 38–43. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26039932.

Arlinghaus, Katherine R, and Craig A Johnston. “The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine.” American journal of lifestyle medicine vol. 13,2 142-144. 29 Dec. 2018.

Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Potts, H.W.W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998-1009.

Markman, Art. “If You Want to Succeed, Don’t Tell Anyone.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 28 May 2009, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ulterior-motives/200905/if-you-want-succeed-dont-tell-anyone.

The Science Behind the Amazing Power of Belief

Author: David Davenport – Contributing Writer for Healing Arts Institute

What do you believe in? Do you believe in a cause, a higher purpose, or maybe a better future?

As a child, you may have believed in Santa Clause, the idea that someone will come out of nowhere to bring you everything you ever wanted. As we grow up, those beliefs tend to subside in favor of more realistic expectations (hopefully)!

The idea of hope and belief is not something to dismiss, however. There is actual power and benefit in genuinely believing that you can be a happier, fulfilled, and better person.

I’m sure by now you have read about the Law of Attraction. This philosophy is based on the idea that you can have anything you want from life. You simply achieve this by believing that those desires are already waiting for you to bring them into existence.

Surprisingly, there appears to be an underlying truth to it. When you look at what the Law of Attraction is really about, it seems to be rooted deeply in psychology rather than metaphysics.

It all begins with understanding two very distinct and opposing cognitions, the fixed mindset, and the growth mindset.

Most of us are trapped in the mentality that where we are and what we have at this very moment is what defines us. We focus on our job titles, our performance reports, the never-ending management of day-to-day details. We seek constant reward and external validation for our efforts and maintain routines without ever living up to our potential. This is the mentality of NOW.

What about the mentality of COULD BE? Are you able to face a little bit of temporary difficulty or discomfort to be who you are really meant to be? Of course, you are. You just may not be aware of it yet.

The Fixed Mindset

People with a fixed mindset are likely to avoid difficulties and challenges in life. After all, challenges tend to be uncomfortable. We’re taught from a very young age to go-along to get-along. Don’t rock the boat.

The problem with this mentality is that when faced with a challenge the first association is fear. We avoid it. This buildup of anxiety leads to an increased probability of failure. Afterward, we are left to cope with feelings of disappointment and ineptitude. Not good.

So how do we react? We make excuses, try to find others that performed worse than we did to feel better about ourselves. We tell ourselves that next time we would rather resort to dishonest methods of success rather than risk another failure.

That sounds like a miserable way to live life, but there is a better way.

The Growth Mindset

People with a growth mindset are also anxious about facing difficulties and challenges, but they welcome the opportunity to tackle them. Their relationship with failure is much different. Failure is seen as an opportunity for a course correction rather than a repudiation of self-worth. The growth mindset will engage deeply with difficulty as using it as an opportunity to learn something new.

So how does the power of belief relate to a growth mindset?

Our beliefs influence our thoughts, and those thoughts determine our actions. There is no separation.

It is impossible to hold a belief that we are not able to accomplish something and simultaneously be successful in the actions needed to achieve it.

To manifest what we want from life, we MUST believe that we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to. By holding the proper beliefs about what we can achieve, we will necessarily begin to take the actions required to manifest what we want.

This is not an easy task. It can take a lot of work to reverse a lifetime of negative thoughts. By changing our thought patterns, we are making physical changes in the brain over time. We are forming new neural connections that will help us to see the world differently, confidently take the actions that we need to take, and manifest whatever we want out of life.

It’s not magic, just amazingly powerful psychology.

Citations:

Shaffer, Joyce (26 July 2016). “Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice: Building Brain Power for Health”. Frontiers in Psychology.

LeDoux JE (2002). “Synaptic self: how our brains become who we are”. New York, United States: Viking.

Dwek, C. [Carol Dwek]. (2014, December 17). The Power of Believing That You Can Improve. Retrieved from http://YouTube.com

How to do Those Things That You Don’t Want to do

Author: David Davenport – Contributing Writer

We’ve all been there.

Trying to convince ourselves to do that dreaded thing we have been putting off for the last two days, or weeks, or the last several months.

Whatever the reason, we find ourselves fighting our own brains. Most of us end up losing that battle and resort to distracting ourselves with activities that take our minds away from what we really should be focusing on.

The problem here is not the task itself, but how you interpret your thoughts behind it.

Your brain is a processor. It is always processing sensory information, ideas, and emotions. Your brain then provides you with recommendations about what to do with all that information.

We call these thoughts.

These thoughts can be helpful, but sometimes depending on the information they are based on and the beliefs which help structure them, they can prevent us from doing what we need to do.

Tip #1: Realize that your thoughts do not dictate who you are. You are NOT your thoughts.

That’s right, you are in charge of your brain, not the other way around. Your thoughts are just suggestions from your mind to help push you in the right direction. If your thoughts are nudging you in a less helpful direction, then we need to learn how to change them.

Thank your brain for providing the suggestion to check your Facebook feed for the fifth time in the last hour.

I mean that literally. Tell your brain (not out loud if anyone else is in the room) that you are grateful for the suggestion but that you have this other task that needs to be done.

You’re going to feel silly. But over time, doing this will help you and your brain to work more cooperatively with each other.

Tip #2: Change your beliefs surrounding the task.

Our belief about something will determine how we perceive it. When we are avoiding a task, we may believe that it will be unpleasant, and we perceive that unpleasantness as discomfort. The thing is, we can apply whatever meaning we want to the task. We just so happen to be more prone to providing a negative association.

Again, we must change how we allow this suggestion from our brain to influence our behavior and actions.

We can tell our brains that this feeling of discomfort is a sign that we’re right on target to do what we have to do. The accomplishment of finally completing our task will be far more pleasant than the dread of postponing it.

The more you practice this, the more likely your perception and behavior will change over time.

Tip #3: Expose Yourself to Uncomfortable Situations

Expanding slightly on what we just discussed, it’s usually the fear of discomfort that keeps us from being as accomplished as we want to be. The best thing to do in this case is to train yourself to be a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Exposure therapy will teach you that even though you are feeling discomfort, exposure to an uncomfortable situation is usually not going to kill you. Use good judgment and personal discretion towards that latter suggestion.

Pick ONE thing that makes you uncomfortable and spend a little time each day dealing with it. Small incremental exposure is the key here. Just like slowly lowering yourself into cold water, you will eventually acclimate to it and realize that it is not so bad after all.

Willpower is the ability to act despite what your mind is telling you to do. 

You can choose to interpret and perceive discomfort in any way you choose. Push through the resistance a little bit at a time.

Be consistent.

Keep at it and DO THE THING!

Citations:

Inspired by an article originally published by Medium.com

Edblad, P. (2019, October 21). This is How to Do Things You Don’t Want to Do. Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://medium.com/better-humans/this-is-how-to-do-things-you-dont-want-to-do-cf3fa94c302f

The Disastrous Consequence of Complacency

Perhaps you have noticed times in your life when it seems like everything you have worked towards falls apart without warning. Whether it is a business that you are building, a habit you are trying to establish, or making long-term changes in your lifestyle or mindset, our plans seem to go haywire and we are left wondering what went wrong.

How could this happen? More importantly, how do you prevent it from ever happening again?

Fortunately, this is a phenomenon that has been studied and described. It has a name, and the solution to preventing these catastrophic downfalls is simpler than you think.

The Seneca Effect is a mathematically observable pattern proposed by Ugo Bardi that can (in a way) predict oncoming disaster.

This phenomenon is named after the Roman philosopher and playwright Seneca the Younger who wrote “Fortune is of sluggish growth, but ruin is rapid.”

The Seneca Effect (or Seneca Collapse) states that the decline of something is much more rapid than its growth. In other words, it can take a long time to build something up and a short amount of time to tear it down.

This concept is relevant to personal finance, economics, business, or any manner of discipline. In this article, we are going to apply it to personal growth and development.

When we are working hard to develop better life habits and ways of thinking, it feels like the uphill climb is never-ending. We feel like Sisyphus, fated to forever push our boulder uphill without end or reprieve. Occasionally the temptation to give up or at the very least ease off our daily work towards improvement may seem overwhelming.

Even worse, we may feel that we have just done enough. We have learned enough, practiced enough.

Everything will be fine.

It is at this point that we are in the greatest danger of reverting to our old destructive habits, negative mindsets, and ways of thinking.

It is the complacency of good enough that casts us down from the peak of our accomplishments and has us once again slowly roll our boulder up the hill to try again.

The key to avoiding this fate is simple. Keep learning. Keep learning even when you don’t want to, especially when you don’t want to.

When you are starting your journey of self-improvement, you are new and open to instruction. You are always learning and improving. It then becomes natural to become so adept at what you do you become somewhat of an expert at doing it. Eventually, you continue without thought or regard to whether you are still pushing yourself in the right direction. You’re almost on autopilot. You become complacent.

Everything seems good until it isn’t.

Life circumstances change, and you realize that your way of doing things no longer works. Your system is out of date, and you haven’t been maintaining it.

Now we’re back to the bottom.

One of the most amazing things about life is that we can build our peak to infinite heights. We can avoid the cliff altogether. The universe is not a system of limited resources. We want to strive to better ourselves a little bit each day. We want to learn new ways of looking at the world and make consistent improvements so that we can avoid Seneca’s collapse.

True, there will be times when we slip up and maybe even fall just a bit. We pick up a bad habit that we thought we rid ourselves of. We fall back into patterns of defeatist and negative thinking. The idea here is not to be perfect, but to avoid the big fall that brings us back to despair and hopelessness.

The idea is to better yourself in small increments as a part of a daily habit, and in doing so, we can avoid ever having to tumble down the face of that catastrophic cliff.


If you feel like you need help putting your life into perspective, Healing Arts Institute offers a range of therapeutic and coaching programs to help you reach your highest potential.

Please visit us on our website for more information and let us be your guide.


Citations

Bardi, Ugo (2017). The Seneca Effect: Why Growth is Slow But Collapse is Rapid. Springer.

Heinrich, Torsten. “Resource Depletion, Growth, Collapse, and the Measurement of Capital.” (2014).

Bardi, U. (1970, January 01). The Seneca effect: Why decline is faster than growth. Retrieved December 08, 2020, from https://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com/2011/08/seneca-effect-origins-of-collapse.html

Never Start Your Day by Doing These Four Things

We all have our morning habits and rituals that we rely upon to set us on the right path for the day. Many people dread waking up and spend a considerable amount of mental and emotional energy to get going.

But have you ever considered your morning habits?

Truthfully, I think we’re doing it wrong.

Today we are going to look at some of our most typical morning mistakes and some alternatives to try and develop healthier habits to improve our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Hitting the Snooze Button 

The dreaded sound of the morning alarm from our smartphones invokes an almost instantaneous Pavlovian reaction that plays out in two parts:

– The snooze-button reflex

– The mental justification (“Just five more minutes!”)

Repeat as necessary until you’re almost too late to properly prepare for whatever it is you need to do that day. Rushing through your shower, skipping breakfast, and not realizing your socks aren’t coordinated is no way to start the day, trust me.

Just get up.

Move your phone, alarm clock, dog – whatever it is that gets you up in the morning away from your bed. Make yourself get out of bed and walk to whatever that thing is to turn it off.

Great! Now that you’re already out of bed, we can move on to the next step.

Reading News and Social Media

Some of us cope with the daily trauma of leaving our comfortable beds by distracting our brains with the agitating and completely unproductive stimuli of scrolling through news feeds.

Don’t do this. Just don’t.

Your morning should be about reflection and slowly easing into your day in the most positive way possible. When was the last time you found anything positive coming from your news alerts? Probably never. When was the last time you read a comment about a political issue and came away from that experience feeling anything other than irritation?

If you are a morning reader, skip the newspaper and block news websites from your phone. Instead, read positive affirmations and stories that are uplifting to help you start the day.

You can read more about how news and social media affect us by reading our blog article: “Modernity: Why Modern Society is the Source of Mental Illness.”

Complaining

Are you a complainer in the morning? Do you like to make sure that EVERYONE knows how poorly you slept the night before? If you do, you’re setting the wrong tone for yourself and everyone around you.

If you are looking for sympathy and validation based on something negative, you are essentially telling your brain that the day is already shot before you have the chance to start it.

Misery does not love company, misery loves loneliness – and nobody wants to hear about your sleep problems (not even you)!

Instead, start your day by recognizing all the things that you’re grateful for. Gratitude is a powerfully positive influence to start your day on the right foot. There’s ALWAYS something for which you can be grateful. Sometimes we have to look hard to find it – but we have to start somewhere.

Eating Foods That are Sugary and High in Caffeine  

When the effects of sugar and caffeine are combined, the short-term energy boost you think you are receiving results in an unpleasant crash within hours – usually around lunchtime. We receive sudden and almost irresistible urges for more carbohydrates, sugars, and unhealthy foods that make us feel satisfied for short periods until our next crash.

Sound familiar?

It’s not easy to get around this when most of our breakfast foods consist of sugar, carbohydrates, baked goods, and coffee.

Try to have protein-rich foods in the morning like eggs, cheese, and milk to keep your energy up and your cravings at bay. Learn more about curbing cravings and developing better impulse control in our article “Dopamine Fasting: Proven Techniques to Master Your Impulses.”

Citations:

The Effects of Caffeine in the Body. (2020). Retrieved November 17, 2020, from http://svmsl.chem.cmu.edu/vmsl/caffeine/caffeine_effects.htm

The Harmful Effects of Sugar and Choosing Healthy Alternatives. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://www.naturalnews.com/022692.html

Inspired by an article published in Medium.com

Five Warning Signs And Dangers Of Mental Burnout

Our fast-paced modern society allows us to dismiss the symptoms of mental burnout and exhaustion as something temporary and trivial. There is no shortage of distractions which can help us ignore the signs of our declining mental health until we begin to spiral into full depression or anxiety.

Sometimes we turn sharply into our work, we begin to isolate, and we may even self-medicate with alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine to alleviate the symptoms.

Doing this will not work of course.

Early symptoms of mental burnout can include feelings of depression, physical and mental fatigue, excessive pessimism, insomnia, or oversleeping.

Today we are going to go over five possible warning signs of mental burnout that you should be aware of.

Noticeable Changes to Your Eating or Sleeping Habits

Have you found it hard to get to sleep recently? Maybe you’re finding it harder to wake up at all in the morning. It’s normal to experience shifts in sleeping patterns while undergoing significant life changes. But it’s a red flag to experience these things when your lifestyle and daily habits haven’t changed much.

Losing sleep or sleeping too much can negatively affect your concentration, reduce your productivity, and increase anxiety.

Changes in eating habits (eating less or overeating) can be just as detrimental to your health. Loss of physical energy, lowered self-confidence from weight gain, and the onset of depression are a few of the side-effects of unhealthy changes to your dietary habits.

Frequent Mood Swings

One of the more recognizable signs of mental burnout is frequent and dramatic shifts in your mood. As our physical and emotional energy reserves continue to drain, it becomes more difficult for us to maintain stress loads the way we used to. Even minor inconveniences can seem like daunting obstacles to overcome – and when we feel unable to handle them, we can lash out at family, friends, or colleagues. 

The longer we allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed, the harder it is for us to see a way out of our daunting circumstances. Over time this will lead to feelings of anxiety and a growing lack of motivation.

Social Withdrawal

Even if you are usually an outgoing and social person, mental burnout can make you feel like you want to isolate yourself to recharge your batteries. It may never feel like enough. You may begin to sleep at every opportunity or to turn to substance abuse to alleviate the constant emotional burden of feeling mentally exhausted. 

Some people may be embarrassed that they don’t feel like themselves anymore and can withdraw even from close friends and family.

One of the most insidious aspects of isolation is a slowly growing sense of apathy – of just not caring anymore and feeling emotionally numb. Long-term social isolation can become damaging and lead to a downward spiral of depression and anxiety.

Difficulty Concentrating

Mental and emotional exhaustion can make it hard to conduct day-to-day activities at the level that we are used to performing them. I have often compared the experience of this temporary cognitive stress to thinking through the mud. The name for this is brain fog. It can make maintaining focus and the completion of even simple tasks harder than they should be.

People may turn to self-medicating with caffeine or seek prescription solutions to restore their previous cognitive function. Without identifying and addressing the underlying cause, medicating will not yield the results you’re looking for. It will only prolong your dependence on chemical substances to alleviate symptoms. 

Increased Frequency of Depression

The end-result of experiencing these symptoms is a recurring and seemingly inescapable feeling of emptiness, emotional numbness, and a constant dread of feeling ‘on-edge’.

Take time out of your day to scan your body and mind for tension, changes in mood, and feelings of anxiousness.

Be brave and reach out to friends and family – tell them what you’re experiencing.

Most importantly, seek out professional help. You don’t have to carry any of this on your shoulders.

If you’re thinking about whether therapy is right for you, read our blog entry ‘How do I Know if I Should Try Therapy’?

Thank you for reading!

Sources:

Psych2Go. (2020, September 14). Is Your Mental Health Falling Apart? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Nk04hFnYHWU

Killgore, W. D. (2010). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition. In Progress in brain research (Vol. 185, pp. 105-129). Elsevier.

Polivy, J., & Herman, C. P. (2005). Mental health and eating behaviours: a bi-directional relation. Canadian Journal of Public Health/Revue Canadienne de Sante’e Publique, S43-S46.

Stetz, M. C., Thomas, M. L., Russo, M. B., Stetz, T. A., Wildzunas, R. M., McDonald, J. J., … & Romano, J. A. (2007). Stress, mental health, and cognition: a brief review of relationships and countermeasures. Aviation, space, and environmental medicine, 78(5), B252-B260.