The Simple 3-Step Method to Stop Catastrophic Thinking

Woman laying in bed with a worried look - catastrophic thinking
Written by David Davenport – Contributing Author Healing Arts Institute

We all worry about things that have yet to happen. Looking to the future while expecting a negative outcome is a natural human behavior, but catastrophic thinking can distort our perception of what is actually happening and bring about the outcomes we are trying to avoid.

Worrying is kind of a strange thing when you think about it. While it can help to motivate you into taking action, it can also have the completely opposite effect and paralyze you from doing anything at all to alleviate your fears.

Sometimes worrying can become so bad, we begin to predict the outcome of almost every hurdle, challenge, or setback as a catastrophic disaster.

When worrying becomes this bad you become paralyzed by fear. You may spiral further into a self-imposed pit of despair and depression. 

Today we are going to learn a little bit about why we develop catastrophic thoughts as well as a simple 3-step method to stop catastrophic thinking.

Why do we catastrophize anyway?

Believe it or not, catastrophizing future events to expect the worst possible outcomes is a form of protection. You read that correctly, your brain is trying to protect you by imagining the most horrific possibilities that could result from a given scenario.

When you’re done shaking your head in disbelief, consider this. 

If you KNEW beyond a reasonable doubt that jumping into a dark and bottomless pit would result in your demise, would you do it? Would you plunge into that unknown chasm knowing that there would be no chance that you would ever come out alive?

No, of course not.

You would stay away and warn everyone else not to go either. You would worry that your life would come to a premature end, so you would avoid jumping into the void.

But what if we’re not talking about some hypothetical death cave, but instead about your career. Maybe your finances. How about your relationships?

Why would worrying about my career or family cause me to go into a survival-driven panic? Because your brain can’t tell the difference between a real threat, and one that is completely hypothetical. 

It’s an evolutionary survival mechanism that is trying to steer you away from certain death. Now here’s the thing. Not every challenge or setback in life is as impactful as the result of plunging yourself into a bottomless pit. But for some people, their brain can’t tell the difference.

For some, catastrophic thinking has become a coping mechanism in response to years of disappointing outcomes. For others, it is the result of prolonged trauma and abuse. Whatever the cause, the result is the same.

Anxiety, depression, and a severe lack of motivation.

They become stuck. They worry. And it only ever gets worse.

A simple 3-step method to stop catastrophic thinking

Step #1: Be able to identify what you are feeling

This step is the most important of the three. When you begin feeling nervous, take note of it. It doesn’t matter what you are nervous about, the idea is just to become aware of what your emotional state is.

Many times, we allow our anxieties to amplify if we are unaware of them. If it goes unchecked, your mind may make the possible outcomes seem worse than they really are.

You can remind yourself that you are safe. You are not in a life-threatening situation. When you are starting out with this exercise, it helps to write down words to describe the feelings and sensations that you are experiencing.

This helps by removing these anxious and distorted thoughts away from the realm of emotion and begins to place them into the realm of logic and rationality.

Describe the situation that is making you nervous in the most factual way possible. Do not include descriptive words or any kind of qualifier. Just the facts. 

We want to begin training our brain to respond with our rational thoughts, not our emotions.

Step #2: Directly challenge your catastrophic thoughts

Using the completely factual description that you wrote down in the previous step, begin to challenge your predicted catastrophic outcomes.

From a completely logical standpoint ask yourself: Are there ANY other possible outcomes other than the one I am afraid of? If so, what are those possible outcomes?

If I cannot change any aspect of what I am worried about, why would worrying help me? Will worrying change the outcome to be in my favor?

Can you think of any other questions that you could ask yourself to challenge your catastrophic thoughts?

Step #3: Replace your negative catastrophic thoughts with logical and productive thoughts

Once you begin to challenge your catastrophic thinking, it rarely stands up to rational scrutiny. When your mind is clear, you can begin to see things the way they really are.

Calming your mind and reducing negative thinking is not enough. You must train yourself to replace those negative catastrophic thoughts with positive ones.

Is there anything that I have control over that will increase the chance of a positive outcome? If so, what can I do?

Taking action in areas you have control over can help alleviate anxiety and reduce time spent worrying. The only way to guarantee failure in anything that you do is to not even try. 

If you have already done everything in your power towards achieving a positive outcome, then spending time worrying will accomplish nothing. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Do not invite failure into your life by focusing on that possibility as the most probable outcome.

You control your thoughts; your thoughts do not control you!

For more techniques (and a great workshop) on controlling fear and anxiety, read our article Learn How to Reach Your Goals by Defeating Your Fears.

Healing Arts Institute offers specialized therapeutic services from highly trained and empathetic professionals. Call or visit our website to learn more about how we can help you through your healing journey and realize your full potential.

Citations:

Therapy in a Nutshell. “Catastrophizing (How to Stop Expecting the Worst) Depression and Anxiety Skill #7.” YouTube, uploaded by Therapy in a Nutshell, 21 Mar. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY6f8kvBSyM&list=PLbPJLaLL5_ENqax0xTBoEGV5mxNmkseHQ&index=39&t=131s.

Wong, W. S., et al. “The Effects of Anxiety Sensitivity, Pain Hypervigilance, and Pain Catastrophizing on Quality of Life Outcomes of Patients with Chronic Pain: a Preliminary, Cross-Sectional Analysis.” Quality of Life Research, vol. 23, no. 8, 2014, pp. 2333–2341., www.jstor.org/stable/24727656. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

Five Warning Signs of a Manipulative Personality

African American couple arguing on couch - Five Warning Signs of a Manipulative Personality
Written by: David Davenport Contributing author Healing Arts Institute

There are at least five warning signs of a manipulative personality of which people should be aware.

The average person will interact with dozens of different people each day. Sometimes we might feel that some of these people want more from us than we are comfortable providing. Relationships with most people in our lives will likely be positive (or at the very least neutral). Some people may try to use you to attain their desires in manipulative ways.

Long term and repeated contact with people like this can make us feel uneasy, suspicious, and given enough time – resentful. They can chip away at our self-worth and our mental well-being. 

Below are five warning signs of manipulative personalities that you should watch out for.

People Who Take Advantage of Your Kindness

If you are the type of person who is willing to help anyone in need, it may be difficult to discern that someone you are helping may be taking advantage of you.

In a healthy relationship, there should be a reciprocation of kindness from the other person. They may not be able to give back in the same way that you can, but the expectation is for them to show kindness where they are able.

A manipulative person will often take the kindness provided to them and then expect even more without returning anything. 

They may point to a physical or emotional ailment (real or perceived) to garner sympathy and continue to extract the attention or adoration they desire. But to a manipulative person, it will never be enough. They will always want more, and they will rarely give back to you.

People Who Make You Feel Guilty All the Time

Master manipulators know that they can get what they want by making you feel like you owe them something. They may use phrases such as “If you loved me, you would…” or “You always do this…”

If you find yourself becoming angry when someone makes you feel guilty, perhaps you are already subconsciously aware of the manipulation. Do not ignore this when it happens, as this will lead to increased anger and resentment towards yourself and that other person.

People Who Lie Often and Intentionally

Spreading rumors and inciting drama among friends, family, or work associates is a favorite tactic of people with manipulative personalities. In doing so, they can attempt to steer group perception in their favor. There is the bonus that they might be able to make you feel guilty about standing your ground.

Are you starting to see a pattern here?

People Who Gaslight You

The term gaslighting refers to a tactic where someone tries to convince you that something you have seen or heard is not real. A manipulative person may fervently deny having said or done something even though you clearly remember it happening. They may do this to the point of absurdity but will never admit to it.

If you ever confront them about their behavior, the manipulator will often pretend as if they have no idea what you are talking about. They will make it seem that their behavior is completely normal, and it is YOU who is problematic.

They use gaslighting to hide their other manipulative tactics or out of embarrassment for having been discovered and called out.

Over long periods this behavior can make you feel like you are going crazy, constantly second-guessing yourself and your perception of reality.

People Who Never Accept Blame

Watch out for people who are quick to point the finger of blame towards others while rarely taking responsibility. While it never feels good to accept fault for something that went wrong, a mature and authentic person will readily do so without feeling threatened.

Manipulative people will often deflect blame even when they were responsible.

While it’s natural to want to deny fault for doing something wrong, a manipulative person will burn bridges and salt the earth behind them to avoid being blamed.

Be careful.

Some of these behaviors are practiced by people who are intentionally trying to manipulate, but there is the possibility some may not be consciously aware of what they are doing. Some people who have suffered abuse may have adopted these tactics as a means of social survival.

It is advisable not to accuse people you suspect of being manipulative. The underlying cause of the behavior may be a more disturbing psychological problem and you do not want to make matters worse.

If you suspect that you are being manipulated, read our blog article “How to Beat Narcissists With The Grey Rock Method” to learn about one possible way to deal with them.

Healing Arts Institute offers specialized therapeutic services from highly trained and empathetic professionals. Call or visit our website to learn more about how we can help you through your healing journey and realize your full potential.

Citations:

Kirmani, Amna, and Rui (Juliet) Zhu. “Vigilant against Manipulation: The Effect of Regulatory Focus on the Use of Persuasion Knowledge.” Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 44, no. 4, 2007, pp. 688–701. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/30162512.

Nicki, Andrea. “BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER, DISCRIMINATION, AND SURVIVORS OF CHRONIC CHILDHOOD TRAUMA.” International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, vol. 9, no. 1, 2016, pp. 218–245. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/90011865.

Rudinow, Joel. “Manipulation.” Ethics, vol. 88, no. 4, 1978, pp. 338–347. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2380239.

Black History Month and Our Impact on the Future

Black History Month - African American father reads a book to his daughter
Written by: David Davenport Contributing author Healing Arts Institute

February is Black History Month, a time when we reflect on the accomplishments and contributions of the African American community to our society.

The origins of Black History Month officially date back to 1915 when the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) was founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. In 1926, the second week of February was designated as “Negro History Week”, but it would take another 50 years before the celebration expanded to encompass the entire month of February.

While the concept of Black History Month was conceived in the United States, other countries now recognize their own versions including Canada, the United Kingdom, and most recently the Republic of Ireland.

Theme of Black History Month 2021 – The Black Family

This year’s theme focuses on the black family which is at the heart and soul of our mission at Healing Arts Institute. While black families have integrated into many different cultures throughout the world, they face unique challenges and a shared sense of unity regardless of where they live.

The commemoration of black history offers representation to the diversity among black families as well as their shared cultural and national identities.

Challenges Facing Black Families

Social scholars, medical practitioners, and representatives in government have tried to address certain challenges facing black communities and families in the United States for decades. Among the most pressing is the fragility of the black family. Black children are far more likely to grow up in single parent households than other racial groups and are at higher risk for dropping out of school and becoming pregnant at an early age.

The emotional stress which is inflicted by these circumstances are compounded by an increased likelihood that black families may have limited economic support from friends and family during hard times. Black families are far more likely to have more than one family member unemployed, and the inter-generational inheritance of wealth is far below that of other racial groups.

As a result, these children may not have access to new experiences or perspectives that can change the way they see the world. They may not have positive mentors to guide them or role models to look up to. They remain trapped in a mental prison that makes it almost impossible to break the cycle of poverty and violence.

While struggling with these conditions, it is crucial that black children and families have the resources to navigate these socioeconomic complexities and maintain healthy family relationships.

Healing Arts Institute’s Service to Black Communities

Healing Arts delivers critical services to black families in Broward by providing mental and behavioral health therapy at no charge. Stressful social circumstances and economic hardship can put a lot of strain on families who are already struggling to succeed.

It is not uncommon for black families to rely heavily on public transportation. Without the ability to travel, making appointments with a therapist can be difficult. That is why we provide our services directly within the homes and schools of our clients. We believe in the tradition of making house calls so our families receive the care they need.

We strive to be a pillar of support and comfort to those who otherwise might not have access to us.

Healing Arts Institute’s Regions of Impact

The impact of children who grow up with emotional and social deficiencies can be felt throughout entire communities. It is a legacy that feeds upon itself creating multi-generational dependencies on government programs and a distrust of protective institutions such as law enforcement and education.

At least 58% of our clients are from communities whose residents earn below the individual median income for Broward county. These areas include Lauderhill, North Lauderdale, and the greater Fort Lauderdale area.

We operate in areas where we are needed the most to benefit children and families.

How You Can Help

You can help us hire more experienced full-time therapists. Help give them the tools that they need to go directly to the children who need our help. We want to be able to maintain one full-time professional for each program we offer in at-risk communities.

Donate to our Community Heroes Campaign today. Your donation goes towards providing tele-health, in home, and school based therapeutic services for students and their families who are uninsured or under insured. All of our services are free of cost to the children and families who need us.

Join us for another Tennie Talk – Black History Month – Wednesday Feb 10th 7:00PM EST on Zoom

Hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, join Dr. Thelma Tennie as she discusses:

  • Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders in Black Communities
  • Tips on How to End Mental Health Stigma
  • How to Seek Culturally Competent Care
  • Questions to ask a Therapist Before Starting Therapy

Citations:

Nicole Arlette Hirsch and Anthony Abraham Jack. 2012. “”What We Face: Framing Problems in the Black Community”.” Du Bois Review, 9, 1.

“Disadvantage for Black Families Compounded by Economic Circumstances of Kin – Population Reference Bureau.” PRB.Org, PRB.org, 16 Apr. 2020, www.prb.org/disadvantage-for-black-families-compounded-by-economic-circumstances-of-kin.

ASALH – The Founders of Black History Month. “ASALH – The Founders of Black History Month | BLACK HISTORY THEMES.” ASALH | The Founders of Black History Month (Est. 1915), 25 Jan. 2021, asalh.org/black-history-themes.

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