How to Be Fearless Without Being Foolish

Fearlessness is a highly prized leadership quality. Foolishness is not. Practicing the former often risks revealing the latter, causing significant anxiety in leaders.
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What Dreams May Tell You About Your Mental Health

People with more intense lucid dreams reported lower levels of distress.
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6 Traits of Highly Toxic People

Everyone knows people who are very difficult to deal with, but when does “difficult” cross into “toxic”? While toxic is not an official diagnosis, there are some individuals that cause endless interpersonal conflict, and tend to make others feel bad about themselves on a regular basis.
Some individuals with Narcissistic, Histrionic, or Borderline Personality Disorder can fit these descriptions, but just having one of those disorders doesn’t necessarily mean that someone acts “toxic” to everyone or to anyone. Do you recognize anyone you know in the following descriptions of habits of toxic people?

Behavioral Signs of a Toxic Person
Toxic people endlessly blame others and seem completely unable to “own” their own contribution to any problem. They will come up with elaborate explanations of why they couldn’t possibly be to blame for any given issue, even when such explanations seem like obvious lies to those around them.
Passive aggression
Often, toxic people will not be outright aggressive, but they will make small verbal “jabs” toward others when they are angry or hurt. This behavior will be denied if anyone calls them out on it, which can be very confusing, a form of gaslighting for partners or family members.
Toxic people constantly criticize others, for their appearance, personality traits, behavior, or anything else that catches their attention. If this criticism is directed at you for long periods of time, it can have a terrible effect on your self-esteem. The younger and/or more sensitive you are at the time of receiving this criticism, the more severe an impact it may have on your sense of self.
Frequently, toxic people will manipulate others to get what they want. Examples of this in toxic parents can include “dividing and conquering,” where a parent tries to break up the bond between siblings so that they cannot come together and bond over the parent’s toxic behavior. Examples in the workplace can include a toxic person using guilt to get out of doing work (e.g., claiming that their parent is sick when they aren’t). Manipulation can be overt or subtle, but it is always unhealthy.
Although many people can affect a “jaded” air as part of their personality, some toxic people seem completely unable to enjoy anything in life. When others try to share anything that makes them happy, they are met with cynicism and condescension. An example is a coworker who sees that you’re engaged and makes a critical comment about the institution of marriage and the frequency of divorce. Another is a family member who tells you that your weight loss is bound to be short lived because “diets never work.”
Emotional blackmail
Toxic people try to use guilt trips and emotional blackmail to get their needs met. Examples include a divorced parent who tries to deter you from spending time with your other parent, by telling you how lonely she is and how much the other parent has hurt her over the years. Or the significant other who threatens to binge drink alone in her room if you go out with your friends instead of stay home and watch a movie with her.
Toxic people do not hesitate to pull on your heartstrings or use guilt against you if it means that you will comply with their requests.
Healthy Solutions for Dealing with Toxic People
If you recognize your significant other, friend, family member, or coworker in these descriptions, it is important to come up with a plan to deal with them in a healthy way. It is very useful to empathize with such people and to understand how they got to be the way that they are. This doesn’t mean you have to interact with them, but people aren’t born “toxic” and generally get that way from observing such behavior in the home as a child or experiencing abuse.
Setting boundaries with toxic people is essential, although it can be very challenging. Working with a therapist is a great way to explore how you can set boundaries that work for you, whether this means only talking to someone at certain times, keeping an emotional guard up with them at all times, or completely severing contact.

The post 6 Traits of Highly Toxic People appeared first on Talkspace Online Therapy Blog.

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The New Psychological Volatility

Normal isn’t normal anymore
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The Unexpectedly Positive Attributes of Anxiety

We all get anxious sometimes: first-date butterflies, taking a test worth 33% of our final grade, or driving away from home only to wonder if we really turned off the stove. Most of the time, these everyday worries pass.
But if you have an anxiety disorder, daily worries can take over your life. From work performance to social interactions and everything in between, an anxiety disorder can leave you feeling nervous, fearful, agitated, and constantly on edge. Luckily, therapists can help those who suffer from anxiety disorders learn to cope with symptoms, and address habits caused by anxiety.
Understanding these habits is the first step toward living happily and healthily with an anxiety disorder. And the news isn’t all bad: Many of the habits people with anxiety express can actually be good qualities if channeled in the right way. Here are some common habits of people with anxiety, and how you can find your secret strengths inside of these behaviors.

You’re constantly thinking of what can go wrong
If you have an anxiety disorder, you’re familiar with the seemingly endless parade of thoughts that go through your head. It’s as if your brain catalogues every last thing that can go wrong in every possible situation. Many people with anxiety feel they have little control over these kinds of thoughts — which can be totally exhausting.
Surprising Benefit of Worrying
While excessive worry can prevent you from trying out new opportunities, some alertness about potential dangers has its benefits. Researchers have found that people with anxiety are actually better at responding to threat than people without anxiety, since their brains process threat more efficiently. This has positive effects: As one study showed, people who have anxiety actually do avoid fatal accidents more than people without anxiety.
The Fix:
Whenever worry about what could go wrong starts to get you down, remind yourself that you’re actually more capable of dealing with threat than other people. Think of a time when everything did go wrong and of how capably you handled it. Even if things do go wrong again, you’ll be able to deal with it — maybe even better than non-anxious people.
You Worry About What Other People Think of You
For people with social anxiety, normal social situations like meetings or parties can be super intimidating. You may obsess about how other people perceive you or worry that you’ll make a fool of yourself in front of everybody. These fears are inaccurate — the reality is that you’re doing just fine! But anxiety can even prevent you from enjoying social time with others and may tempt you to isolate yourself.
Surprising Benefit of Social Anxiety
While caring so much about what other people think of you can be exhausting, it shouldn’t hold you back from daily activities. There are also benefits to being highly sensitive. Researchers have found that people with social anxiety are more empathetic than those without, and have increased ability to understand other people’s emotions.
The Fix
Remind yourself that other people’s opinions won’t make or break you, and that most people are self-conscious. Remember that your empathy actually makes you better at dealing with other people, not worse. Direct those empathic skills into building healthy, caring relationships with the people around you. Use your empathic powers to remind your loved ones that you care: Bake them a cake, take them on a nice date, or write them a love letter.
You Ruminate
Your thoughts spin around and around the same few topics, and you can’t seem to get out of their grasp. This is rumination, a thought pattern wherein several thoughts constantly repeat themselves. Rumination can make people who suffer it feel trapped in their own minds. Yet it’s also a sign of depth of thought, and when channeled correctly it can be a helpful quality.
Surprising Benefit of Rumination
You have high intelligence! Several studies have shown that people with anxiety tend to be more intelligent than people without. Rumination may be frustrating to experience, but it’s also correlated with high verbal intelligence. In fact, lots of famous writers and intellectuals grappled with anxiety — and hey, you could be one of them!
The Fix
Think about which cues cause you to ruminate. Do particular situations or encounters tend to send your thoughts spinning out of control? Use that high verbal intelligence to keep a diary observing your own thoughts and behavior, in order to understand what sets you off. And rather than using those verbal skills solely for coping with worry, why not try using them in a creative project?
Focus on the Positive
In the moments when fear keeps you from entering a social gathering, or when an obsessive thought won’t leave your head, we know it doesn’t feel like there are any upsides to anxiety. However, everyone deserves to live their daily lives without suffering constant stress.
Criticizing yourself for your anxiety only makes things worse. So next time you begin berating yourself for being anxious, remember that having anxiety doesn’t make you lesser than anyone else — in fact, quite the opposite. It means you’re intelligent, conscientious, detail-oriented, and you respond well to crisis. By recognizing the good things your anxiety reveals about you, and reaching out to a therapist to help change the rest of what holds you back, you’ll be increasingly able to embrace the moment—and yourself.

The post The Unexpectedly Positive Attributes of Anxiety appeared first on Talkspace Online Therapy Blog.

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Your Personality May Affect the Likelihood of a Dog Bite

Recent data shows that there is a common personality trait in people who appear to be frequent targets of dog bites.
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7 Secrets of Highly Resilient People

Unfortunate situations are often called setbacks for a good reason: they set you back from your carefully planned life trajectory. For many of us, losing a pet, failing on a work project, or experiencing a harsh rejection can feel like the end of the world.
For some lucky people, these problems don’t seem permanent. Sure, they might feel sad, and yes, even a little disappointment. But they’re resilient: able to bounce back quickly, even from the most serious setbacks. This ability isn’t magic — it’s resiliency, and you can experience it too. Cultivate this life-changing trait by practicing these seven simple habits.

Positive Thoughts Make a Positive Mood
A bad day can leave you down in the dumps for weeks. But some people just bounce back from a setback — no matter its severity. Here’s the secret: they’re thinking positively. Reframing your thoughts might sound like a struggle, but optimism comes easier if you practice positive reappraisal.
Imagine a frustrating situation, like being laid off from your job. It’s easy to turn this into a huge negative. You lost your job! “Upset” is a natural reaction. Positive reappraisal challenges you to find exciting opportunities, even in a downturn. You lost your job,and now you have time to pursue your dream of running your own Etsy shop. Or you can work on that novel you’ve been dreaming about.
Science show that positivity breeds positivity: The broaden-and-build theory indicates that looking at the world through rose-colored glasses might bring you more joy.
(But You Need to Think Positively All the Time)
Positive thinking has to extend to your day-to-day in order to strengthen your ability to rebound. Researchers have found that “infusing ordinary events with positive meaning” can directly affect your resiliency.
What does that mean? Be mindful. Take time to be grateful for your circumstances,and not simply when things are going well. Spend part of every day appreciating ordinary moments and you might just find your ability to appreciate the less-than-ordinary (even when it’s bad) is much-improved.
Good Friends Improve Sad Days
Somehow, moping feels better when you’re alone. Add a glass of wine, an indulgent dinner, and a too-long TV binging session and you’ve fallen into a classic case of emotional coping. Dealing with your emotions can reduce your stress, but it won’t improve your resiliency in the long run.
Instead, build up a good support system. Resilient people don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends after setbacks — in fact, an extensive social network can actually increase your ability to fight off stress. Relax by sharing your struggles with your friends, and you might just find yourself bouncing back quicker.
Self-Awareness Breeds Resiliency
Falling into a negative black hole is far too easy when you’re unaware of your own pitfalls. In an interview with The Guardian, University of Bedfordshire occupational health psychologist Gail Kinman said that her research has found that “self-awareness is an important aspect of resilience—in fact, it is fundamental.”
Think about a typical bad day. Your boss yells at you. The coffee maker breaks (and spills all over your shirt). Your presentation goes up in flames. And your dog eats a huge chunk of chocolate… the chocolate you’ve been saving for a bad day just like this. Before you know it, you’re skipping the gym, acting rude to your partner, and completely uninterested in playing with your pup.
Cultivating self-awareness means you can cut off the negative cycle at its root, before it grows into a major problem. You’ll be able to recognize your poor coping skills immediately — like that desperate urge to skip the gym — and fight back.
Directly Addressing Problems Makes Things Simpler
Some setbacks can’t be solved — the death of a beloved family member or the loss of a job, for example. But these major complications have solutions. Resilient people use problem-focused coping methods, identifying the root cause of the stressor and seeking to solve that problem. This takes active planning: thinking about how the situation could be solved or prevented in the future and developing goals and a plan that can prevent or mediate the hiccup.
Taking Time to Recharge
Resiliency isn’t merely the ability to persevere through endless mud. Resilient people share one important trait: they’re good at recharging when their emotional battery is low. A continual series of tough days with no break is sure to deplete your energy and willpower.
A strong reserve of willpower is necessary for bouncing back. Otherwise, you might find yourself cracking like an egg. Remember that bad-day routine? Forcing yourself to go to the gym can feel impossible if your whole life is a slog. Set aside time to relax in order to ensure you’ll recover from your next major setback.
Facing Your Fears
Every disruption might feel like the end of the world unless you start dealing directly with your fears. Perhaps you’re terrified of looking foolish or incompetent in front of your peers. So, to avoid this horrible feeling, you’re always avoiding huge projects where you might fail. That might feel fine — as long as it works.
But facing those fears doesn’t only lead to a better, more exciting and successful life. It can also help you gain resiliency. When you already know what it’s like to be scared, dealing with a setback or problem feels much simpler.

The post 7 Secrets of Highly Resilient People appeared first on Talkspace Online Therapy Blog.

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Time to Change: Anxiety-Relief in 3 Painless Steps

Are you sick and tired of feeling hijacked by stress and anxiety? A few adjustments can go a long way.
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Tragedy In The Air Terrorizes Anxious Fliers

Flying makes us aware we are vulnerable. To feel safe threats must be controlled. But, when flying, we have neither control nor escape. What can do we to feel safe when flying?
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How Being a Perfectionist Can Be Dangerous

How can families help perfectionist kids? A few tips can help.
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