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We hear people say “I feel stressed” so often these days that many of us just brush it off. Moreover, living in a big city like New York, we tend to view feeling stressed and overwhelmed all of the time as an inevitable part of a culture that views hard work and achievement as a badge of honor. While it is true that not all stress is bad (it can help motivate us when we need a push and can help us to become more resilient during tough times). However, the effects of chronic stress can be detrimental not only to our minds but also to our bodies.

Symptoms of chronic stress disorder

Feeling stressed is quite simply your body’s reaction to a situation where it feels threatened. When we feel threatened, our bodies go on high alert and vacillate between the fight and flight modes. Fight or flight is your body’s way of determining whether you should run away or attack the threat. Chronically being in fight or flight mode can lead to symptoms that vary depending on the individual. However, there are some typical signs that show up in most people. The emotional and cognitive symptoms include feeling easily agitated or overwhelmed, racing thoughts, constant worrying, forgetfulness, and feeling defeated. Physical symptoms can include insomnia or sleep issues, headaches, chronic fatigue, stomach problems, hyper-vigilance, loss of sex drive, and chronic colds or viruses.

What prolonged stress does to the body

When your body is constantly feeling as if it needs to be on the attack, it never has the ability to get into the parasympathetic mode, which is when we feel calm and at ease. It is only in this mode that the body is able to heal and repair itself. Research shows that the effects of chronic stress weaken the immune system. This leaves us more susceptible to catching that cold from someone sneezing on the subway. It can even leave us more vulnerable to catch more serious illnesses down the road.

Additionally, when our bodies are under prolonged stress we are more likely to hold onto unnecessary weight. When stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol. Over the long term, this hormone can shut off the body’s way of determining when it is hungry or full. This can leave you more susceptible to not only overeat but also indulge in unhealthy foods as a quick fix to feel better.

Another way we can see how chronic stress affects our body is through the symptom of feeling fatigued. Feeling chronically fatigued, even when you sleep throughout the night could be a warning sign that your body needs a break from constantly being in fight or flight mode. This is known as adrenal fatigue and is a condition that is almost always caused by chronic stress. When your body is running on its adrenaline all day long to help you get through the everyday stressors in your daily life, it has no more fuel left to energize you to get up or fall asleep at night, in the morning or help you fall asleep at night. This imbalance in the body is why many people with chronic stress can feel wired at night and crash during the day.

Tips to help alleviate chronic stress and overwhelm:

Even though it might seem difficult to counteract and manage chronic stress and anxiety, there are many simple ways to help your body get back to rest and repair mode so that it can heal and feel better.

Take mindful moments

Taking a mindful moment simply means taking a few minutes a day to focus on the present moment. This could mean meditating, taking a walk outside, or doing some deep breathing. Taking even a few minutes a day to stop and focus on your body or your outside surroundings can do wonders for your nervous system.

Read more: The Everyday Benefits of Mindfulness

Herbs and tonics

There have been many studies that show that adding certain herbs to your diet can help combat stress and calm down inflammation in the body. Some of these include Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Lemon Balm.

Try less strenuous exercise

While intense cardio sessions might seem like a great way to blow off some steam, sometimes when your body is in constant fight or flight mode it can exacerbate the situation. Taking a less intense workout such as yoga, pilates, or a brisk walk can be much easier on the nervous system when it is overly active from chronic stress.

Read more: Workout to Get the Stress Out!

Talk it out

Talking about your anxieties, stress, and feeling overwhelmed can be a huge relief. When we feel overwhelmed and stressed, we often feel very isolated and alone. Finding a friend, loved one, or therapist who can talk to you about these feelings can help to alleviate symptoms.

Learning how chronic stress affects our bodies can be scary, especially if you have been dealing with it for a prolonged period of time. Rather than looking at it from a fear-based lens, we can use symptoms as a tool or warning sign that lets us know when we need to slow down and practice some self-care.


What are ways that you manage stress in your life?

The post The Effects of Chronic Stress appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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Smartphones, the technology we love to hate. It is a classic case of can’t live with them, can’t live without them. On the one hand, our smartphones have made our lives so much easier. On the other hand, they’re supposedly ruining our physical and mental wellbeing. Not many days pass without a new study suggesting a negative impact of our smartphone use: the blue light is damaging our eyes, the constant whir of new information is disrupting our sleep, social media comparison is making us anxious and insecure. As we are all too aware, smartphones are addictive, too.

Read more: How to Enjoy Your Own Company

Considering all of this, a practical and symbolic step is to instead utilize your phone to be the thing that can also improve your health. Here are some suggestions of how to transform your smartphone into a tool to improve your wellbeing.

Use your smartphone to practice meditation

These days, there is no shortage of mindfulness and meditation apps, promising to help you combat anxiety, sleep better, hone your focus, and more.Headspace was the first app I downloaded when I began to augment my more traditional meditation practice. Their mini-meditations are great for people who are on the go, as many of them are only 2 to 3 minutes long. They are perfect for lunch breaks or to recharge before heading to an event. Headspace also sends you reminders throughout the day to encourage mindfulness. They also offer “SOS” sessions when you’re feeling especially stressed out. You can also track your meditation progress over time and iPhone users can sync the data into Apple Health. There’s a free trial for first-time users. As a therapist, I suggest this app to my clients and have received positive feedback.

Set healthy boundaries with your phone

One way to set a boundary with your phone use is to ban your phone from the bedroom. Invest in an alarm clock and leave your phone on airplane mode or in a different room. This will improve your sleep as you won’t be disrupted by notifications, and will avoid the inevitable mindless scrolling in bed.

Another way to set a boundary is to change your morning routine when it comes to phone use. Wait until you’ve had a shower or eaten your breakfast before tackling your notifications. Doing this will help create some space and will allow a gentler start to the day.

Another suggestion is to do a social media cull. Stop scrolling on social media accounts that make you feel inferior. We’re all guilty of this but marvelling at somebody else’s lifestyle can be damaging to our self-esteem. Remind yourself that social media is a constructed reality and only shows the best parts. Only follow accounts that inspire and help you. If they don’t, let them go.

Use your phone to improve (not hurt) intimacy with your partner

Make it a priority to spend quality time with your partner without your cell phone. Before you make any rules, however, examine your own phone habits and discuss the issue with your partner calmly and respectfully. Here are some guidelines that may help you keep your phone out of the way of your relationships:

  • Try to keep time for physical intimacy sacred — no phones in the bedroom.
  • Try to protect  mealtime — no technology at the dinner table or in the restaurant.
  • Try to guard your leisure time with each other — no checking smartphones or receiving calls on dates or special occasions.
  • Try to give each other priority during time in the car by placing your phones out of sight.

If in any of these situations you need to check your phone for a legitimate purpose, provide an explanation.

Our cell phones are an integral part of our lives and help us organize our lives and communicate with others. Hopefully, this blog helps you to keep questioning and reassessing your experience with your phone.

What do you feel is the hardest healthy boundary to maintain with your phone?

The post How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Phone appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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In my years of working as a therapist, I have found the topic of combining medication and therapy to be polarizing.  People tend to be divided into two camps. There are those who resort to medication to address the symptom(s) but do not believe that therapy would be helpful, and there are those who work diligently in therapy but do not consider medication as an option. There is a number of individual reasons for this medication vs. therapy polarization. Upon exploration, these reasons typically fall into three categories:

Institutional trauma

It makes a lot of sense that people who were mandated (in extreme cases) or pressured (which is more common) to take medication would experience being medicated as an imposition on their agency and autonomy. Examples of being pressured to take medications range from taking ADHD medication as a child to the extreme cases, like being subjected to involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. Institutional trauma is also a result of experiences in counseling. For example, people who were mandated into counseling may have reservations about starting therapy. Institutional trauma is most common in the communities of color, but it spans all populations.

Stigma

When considering medication or therapy, many people say “I just don’t want to do it” or “This is not for me,” despite experiencing difficulties in day-to-day functioning. When I hear this, I get curious about the meaning they make about being in therapy or taking medication. Let’s face it: the stigma of mental illness is rampant in many communities. This stigma has to do with the self-perception of being marked by weakness or inadequacy from needing therapy or medication. Some of these beliefs can be culturally reinforced.

Bad experiences in the past

It also makes a lot of sense that people feel resistance to starting therapy or taking medication if they tried it in the past without a positive outcome. Unfortunately, it is possible to have a bad experience in therapy. That is why it’s important to approach a search for a therapist with care. It is also possible to experience bad side effects from a prescribed medication, which is why it’s important to work with a prescriber that would take your discomfort seriously.

Research has found that the best treatment outcome is achieved through a combination of therapy and medication. As a relational and body-centered therapist, I view my client’s physical experience as intrinsic to their emotional and cognitive functioning. In other words, the state of a person’s nervous system, and its capacity to self-regulate determines the emotional and cognitive climate this person lives in. Just like the weather, a person’s mood can fluctuate, but it typically stays within the range that the climate allows. For example, if a person functions in a state of ongoing agitation and overwhelm, it is expected that this person may eventually start feeling hopeless. In instances like these, medication management can be life-changing and of crucial importance to support the possibility of therapeutic change.

Read more: Finding the Right Therapist

Here are some reasons why it is important to be in therapy while taking medication:
Medication makes symptoms manageable

Medication that is prescribed by a trained professional can create a buffer, in which the intensity of symptoms are mitigated and the capacity for self-regulation is enhanced. This is true for symptoms of depression, anxiety, traumatic flashbacks, mood swings, agitation, difficulty concentrating, and more.

With symptoms managed, it is easier to address the core issues

With the intensity of symptoms managed by the medication, it is easier to access, explore, and reintegrate the problematic beliefs and behaviors that were caused by the symptoms and/or have perpetuated the symptoms.

Awareness and support give choice

Therapy heightens awareness. Medication can offer chemical support for the nervous system. Together, therapy and medication can increase a sense of agency and manageability of one’s life. That, in turn, can help a person to make new choices and seek new experiences, creating a sense of expansion in life.

The choice is yours

Once you start, you get to choose when to stop. By the time many people choose to stop taking medication, their cognitive and behavioral toolbox is expanded.

If you are starting medication management, it is important to also be in therapy.  While medication helps reduce the intensity of symptoms and provides a chemical support to the nervous system, work in therapy is focused on increasing awareness of maladaptive behavioral and thought patterns. When used together, medication and therapy can be powerful and transformative tools for positive change.

What is your relationship with therapy and medication?

The post Why It is Important to be in Therapy While Taking Medication appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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Mental health can be a very challenging and sensitive conversation topic, especially when it comes to talking about your own mental health. This puts us in a very vulnerable position, where we have to talk about something extremely sensitive and personal. Being put in that vulnerable position can also bring up a lot of unpleasant emotions that we’ll be forced to feel and process. Needless to say, it takes a lot of courage to talk about such an intimate experience. We also run the risk of oversharing and making others feel uncomfortable around us. Even though 1 in 5 people deal with mental illness, including anxiety, and depression; there is still a lot of stigmas attached to mental health. We may worry about being misunderstood, judged, or even ostracized. So it’s only natural to not want to share or talk about our experiences when we don’t feel safe to do so. However, not talking about our mental illnesses can also make us feel very lonely and isolated. Here’s why it’s important to talk about your mental health.

You will feel relieved

Bottling up your emotions about your mental health and well-being can be very exhausting. It could even make your mental health deteriorate even more. You can feel as though you are completely alone and have nobody to talk to. Your mental health is a big part of your life and opening up about it can be a very freeing experience. Sharing your experience and what you are going through can feel like a weight is being lifted off your shoulders. It can also help you feel less alone. Talking about your mental health with others is a good start to acceptance and the healing process.

Read more: Common Fear of Staring Therapy

You will normalize your mental illness

Putting your mental illness into words and talking about it out loud with other people will help you process your emotions and thoughts around your mental health. This process will help you look at your mental illness as something that is in you and a part of who you are. This means you can begin to look at it more like a friend than an alien. Normalizing your mental illness will give you a different perspective on it. It can help you develop compassion and understanding for yourself. Most importantly, you will no longer feel alone and isolated. Once you normalize your mental illness, you will begin to feel that you are like everyone else, instead of feeling like an outsider.

You will feel more in control

By choosing to talk about your mental health, you control how much you feel comfortable sharing and this gives you power. You choose and decide what parts of yourself to expose to others. Having that kind of power gives you the chance to create your own narrative. This way, you will tell others your own story and experiences without letting them make any assumptions. You will be in control of what others will know and see about your experience. This can be very empowering.

Yes, talking about your mental health and your emotions can be very tricky, especially because you may encounter someone who doesn’t understand it. At first, you might even make things awkward for yourself and the people around you. There is a chance that you will experience a reaction you didn’t expect. Some people might judge you or assume things that aren’t true about you and that alone can be a very negative experience.

Exposing the most vulnerable parts of yourself is truly a brave act and. However, once you get past the initial feelings and reactions, you are likely to feel more free. As you share your experiences, you will also feel less alone and more accepted by people in your life. It is also important to remember that every time you talk about your mental health, you help the process of destigmatizing mental health. You can set an example for another person who is struggling with mental health and feels misunderstood.

What are some of your struggles with opening up about your mental health?

The post Why It’s Important to Talk About Mental Health appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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What is Your Anxiety Telling You? - YouTube
What is Your Anxiety Telling You? [Transcript]

Anxiety can be an uncomfortable feeling, but it can also be confusing because you don’t always know what’s wrong. Here are four easy steps you can use to understand what is going on beneath your anxiety and what your anxiety is trying to tell you.

Notice Your Anxiety

The first step is just to notice that you are anxious. You might have some cues that you can look to that will let you know that what you are experiencing is anxiety. These cues could be physical, like sweating under your arms or in the palms of your hands. The thoughts you are having could be a cue too, like if you find that you are worrying a lot about many different things. If you are able to establish with yourself that what you’re experiencing is anxiety, then that’s the first step towards managing that anxiety.

Figure Out the Underlying Emotion

The second step is to figure out if there’s an emotion beneath your anxiety. You can simply ask yourself if you’re experiencing any of the basic core emotions (fear, sadness, anger, disgust, joy, or excitement). Ask yourself, “am I experiencing fear? Am I experiencing sadness?” and so on. Go through the emotions and see if any of them are something you identify with.

Feel the Feeling

Once you’ve identified an underlying emotion, the next step is to feel the feeling. To do this, drop your awareness down into your body and see if there are any physical sensations that accompany the emotion. For example, if you are experiencing sadness, you might feel a tightness in your chest or an urge to cry. If you’re experiencing anger, you might have an energized feeling in your temples. Give a lot of space to the feeling and see how it is to let the physical sensations exist.

Get Curious About the Emotion

See if the emotion is asking you to say or do something. Do you have an urge to act or to speak up? See if you can understand what the emotion wants. Perhaps you want to sooth yourself by taking a bath or seek social support by calling a friend. Many times, the urges that we have around emotions are perfectly reasonable and it will help to follow them. Other times they may not be reasonable: perhaps it is not the time or place to act of the emotional urge, or perhaps it just wouldn’t be helpful. If that’s the case, let yourself sit with that feeling a little bit longer and, like a wave, it will probably pass.

These are four steps you can use to understand what your anxiety is trying to tell you: notice you’re anxious, see if you identify with an emotion, feel the feeling, and get curious about that emotion. If you’re interested in learning more about this way of managing anxiety, I recommend reading It’s Not Always Depression by Hilary Jacobs Hendel.

How do you understand respond to your anxiety in helpful ways? Join the conversation in the comments below.

The post What is Your Anxiety Telling You? [Video] appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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Family of origin stories and family relationship patterns are often the focus in therapy sessions. A common theme with clients who have an aging or sick parent is coping with the ways these events can change the relationship. Clients with aging or sick parents struggle to balance their own lives and careers with caring for their parents. They also share the stress that accompanies a shift in the parent child relationship when parents age, begin to face illness, and physical or emotional decline. This dynamic, and how a person responds, obviously varies from person to person and from one relationship to another.

What seems to be consistent across those conversations, however, is the challenge and adjustment accompanying shifting child and parent relationships. The parent they’d previously known becomes less recognizable. While clients in this position often feel anger, frustration and sadness, they often also experience guilt over these feelings. In an effort to allay guilt and allow us to connect with the range of emotions we may experience, it’s important to give attention to the following:

Role Reversal

As our parent(s) age, we may find our role with them shifting from being taken care of to being the caretaker. It can be difficult to accept that a parent has become more dependent on you and less emotionally available. Additionally, changes you have made and family issues you’ve addressed in your life may not have been addressed or explored by a parent. It can be common for adult children to face and resolve family issues in therapy or in their own lives. Recognizing that a parent has not addressed old patterns and ineffective ways of relating may shift the responsibility to the child to role model new and better behaviors. As we become more aware of our wants and needs in our relationships, we may have to teach our parents how to be the parents we need.

Acknowledge Feelings of Loss

Aging and illness can make our parents less available to us and they may, in fact, demand more from us. The emotional or physical decline may present us with a version of a parent who is less capable, less engaged and less resilient than we’ve known. These changes are often accompanied by feelings of loss and loss can lead to feelings of anger, fear, and sadness. Accepting one’s parents as they now require us to grieve the way they used to be. We may need to reconfigure our way of relating to an aging or ill parent. We can explore different ways of connecting that acknowledge who they are now and how they are changing.

Read more: 5 Ways for Coping with Grief and Loss

The Burden of Responsibility

Changing parent-child relationship dynamics may require a change in our lifestyle, financial support, increased visits/travel, or living together. New responsibilities may emerge as parents age or face illness. This may require a change in our lifestyle, focus, and expenses. Planning ahead, creating a budget for new expenses, coordinating with other siblings or family members, and seeking emotional support can ease the burden of responsibility.

Aging is an inevitability. Physical and emotional decline and illness are common experiences in aging and can impact our lives and relationships in many ways. The impact can be particularly challenging in the parent and child relationship. As parents age, face illness, and decline, we may be faced with unresolved family issues, need to take on new and different responsibilities, and perhaps lose part of the whole person they once were. We will likely face a range of emotions and adjustments. If we can take time to acknowledge and experience our emotions we may create more capacity to adapt to these changes.

What do you feel are other important ways to cope with a changing parent and child relationship as parents age or face illness? Write your ideas in the comments below.

The post How to Adjust to the Changing Parent and Child Relationship appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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We enter into relationships to feel connected to and accepted by others, and to belong. That is the intention for most people and the “ideal” situation. In the reality of the day-to-day grind of our lives, however, we are often interrupted (and interrupt ourselves) in staying connected to our loved ones. A lot can get in the way: stress, physical and emotional exhaustion, fears of getting hurt – the latter is a significant obstacle for those who have been hurt in relationships in the past. Here I plan to discuss three common ways people create disconnection in relationships: projection, holding back, and deflection.

Read more: Am I Emotionally Connected to My Partner

It is useful to think of these three ways of engaging in a relationship as adaptive. First, we all do it. We all project our feelings, behaviors, and attitudes onto others, and that creates a base for empathy. A capacity to hold back supports impulse control, which we all need to function in a society. Deflection gives rise to an ability to make light of things, and thus to a sense of humor. Secondly, we learned these ways of engaging for a reason. They are protective. When we project, we detach from a difficult emotional experience that we have trouble accepting in ourselves; and we judge others for what we cannot accept in ourselves. Or, we may imagine that others are judging us for it.

We learn to deflect when we need to reduce the intensity of an experience that feels overwhelming. Learning to hold back comes from a need to fit in and to be accepted. Thirdly, these ways of engaging relationally are NOT something to overcome. Rather, in any given situation, it is important to learn to notice when you are using these relational adjustments, get curious as to how they are serving you, and to proceed with awareness.

Here is what projection, holding back, and deflection look like:

Projection

Guessing another person’s motives and what they might feel and/or think. Creating a story about another person’s experience without checking it out with them. Anticipating possible future scenarios. Making assumptions. Filling in the gaps without asking questions. Using “You”-language instead of making “I”-statements.

Holding back

Holding in the impulse to express one’s needs, feelings, thoughts, or opinions. This experience is often accompanied by physical reactions (e.g., racing heart, difficulty breathing, tension in the jaw, chest, shoulder and/or neck, experience of “throat closing”). It is saying “no” to one’s genuine expression in order to say “yes” to something (or someone) else.  

Deflection

Dismissing one’s own or another person’s experience by making jokes, brushing things off as unimportant, being evasive rather than direct, and/or intellectualizing. In deflecting, we change topics and shift the focus of attention. Cell phone checking is definitely a means to shifting the focus of attention, and most of us engage in it at least a dozen times a day. Obsessive thinking is another example of deflection, and it serves to avoid one’s painful emotions by engaging in a mental exercise in resolving of an unrelated or a potential, “what-if”, problem.

There are times when projection, deflection, and holding back can be useful, if used with awareness.   They can also lead to feeling disconnected and detached from people in our lives, if used habitually and without awareness. Remember, being aware gives a choice.

What is your go-to way of disconnecting?

The post Three Ways We Disconnect appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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Let’s face it, although it’s 2019, we still unfortunately see many instances of sexism playing out in the workplace. Workplace sexism can take a huge psychological toll and make us feel devalued, disrespected, and invisible. The #metoo movement has brought new energy and focus to this not very new issue. Whether you work in Hollywood or in a tiny office, you may wonder how you can navigate this often treacherous landscape of sexism so that you feel empowered. Here are a few suggestions of how you can stand up to sexism at work:

Breathe and check in with yourself

Remember to breathe. Sometimes the best way we can take care of ourselves in a moment when we are feeling triggered is to stay connected with our bodies, and one of the best ways to do that is to keep breathing and noticing our breath. Notice what emotions are coming up for you and internally name them without judgment. For example, you might say to yourself, “I’m noticing that I’m feeling humiliated, rageful, frustrated, stereotyped, etc. in this moment.” Simply acknowledging your feelings and allowing them to be present can be very powerful.

Process the experience

Process this experience with someone you trust, whether it’s a coworker, friend, your partner, or your therapist. Talking with someone else about your experience of workplace sexism can validate your experience and remind you that you’re not alone. If you have that voice in your head that says, “You’re being too sensitive. I’m sure he (or she) didn’t mean it that way,” you have a person to remind you that you’re not “crazy” and that, yes, that experience was in fact sexist and your reaction is a valid and an appropriate response to being dehumanized.

Find your allies at work

Find the people at work who you can share your experiences with. Because your coworkers are intimately familiar with the people, dynamics, and culture of your workplace, they can help by being a sounding board for you. Perhaps they have had similar experiences and you can strategize together about how to support each other. Or perhaps you can work together to address the problem structurally, whether that involves talking to HR, scheduling a meeting with your boss, or bringing in a feminist trainer for your staff.

One reason it can be hard to stand up to sexism is that it often shows up in the form of a microaggression and people are often not aware of doing anything wrong. Although they might not be intentionally causing harm, the impact of the sexist action or statement is real and valid.

Read more:  What is Microaggression and How to Avoid It!

It’s never too late to address

If you find yourself replaying all the amazing and badass things you wish you’d said in the moment, but all you could manage when it happened was to stare like a deer in headlights or plaster a smile on your face, it’s okay! When we feel we are being discriminated against, even unintentionally, it can feel very jarring and unsafe in the moment and that can make it difficult to respond in real time. However, it’s not too late to stand up to sexism if you go back to the person at a later time. In fact, it can be better to take the time and space you need to process what happened, get support, then go back on your own terms to address it when you’re no longer feeling triggered.

Have a conversation

If you feel safe and supported enough, have a conversation with the person who said or did something that you experienced as sexist. Share your experience rather than accusations, because nobody can argue with what you are feeling. If the person responds by clarifying their intention (“Oh, I didn’t mean it like that! I just meant…”), you can respectfully let them know that, although you believe their intentions were good, it still had a negative impact on you. Regardless of their intention, that impact is true! No matter how they react, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you were able to stand up to sexism in your workplace.

These are simply a few suggestions of how to stand up to sexism in your workplace, and there are certainly many more out there. It is important to use our voices instead of remaining silent and to remember that we are not alone. While this post focuses on what a person being targeted by sexism can do, it’s also incredibly important for folks who are not targeted to do their own work to be allies and proactively support the fight against sexism.

What are some more actions you can take to stand up to sexism at your workplace?

The post Standing up to Sexism at Work appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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Using Your Attachment Style to Recognize Patterns in Relationships - YouTube
Using Your Attachment Style to Recognize Patterns in Relationships [Transcript]

Many different kinds of relationships can be impacted by your attachment style. If you are new to the theory of attachment, you might (very understandably) be wondering “what is attachment?” Attachment refers to the kinds of strategies that we use within our interpersonal relationships in order to maintain a sense of safety. This is based on our earliest relationships in life with our caretakers. Caretakers can be parents, guardians, or whoever cared for you early on.

For example, if your caretaker was available to you, provided appropriate care and soothing when you were distressed, but also let you explore the world around you and be independent, it is very likely that you tend to form secure attachments today. What that means is that you feel confident that you are going to get your needs met in relationships and that you generally feel that it is safe to depend on other people.

Many of us, however, had early life experiences that may have resulted in a not-so-secure attachment style. This includes those of us whose parents were a bit distant or were way too close and didn’t allow exploration and independence. It also includes those whose parents struggled to tolerate outbursts of emotion, or parents who were unpredictable or unsafe in their behavior. These types of relationships can result in an insecure attachment style.

Insecure attachment styles can be broken down into anxious attachment and avoidant attachment. Anxious attachment is characterized by being overly preoccupied with the possibility of being abandoned in relationships. Avoidant attachment is characterized by a need to disengage emotionally, and sometimes physically, to maintain a sense of safety.

Why is all of this important? Since your early life experiences form a blueprint for how to stay safe in relationship to others, it is possible you are still using that blueprint even with situations in which it’s not really useful. You might find yourself avoiding people who you would like to get close to or becoming really worried about whether or not somebody really cares about you.

Romantic Relationships

We often look at attachment styles through the lens of romantic relationships and this makes a lot of sense, because these are usually very close relationships where there is enough safety for conflict to emerge. Attachment styles tend to show up in conflict. That said, there are plenty of other places where your attachment style can show up. Let’s look at how attachment can impact other types of relationships.

Watch: Attachment Styles in Relationships

Close Friendships

Attachment styles can impact close friendships. An example would be when you feel really worried when you text a friend and they don’t text you back. You might find yourself ruminating and wondering if you did something wrong. This would be an example of anxious attachment.
With avoidant attachment, your friends may often tell you that they don’t really know you. You might feel like you are being as open as possible, but there is still something that feels inaccessible to your friends.

Work Relationships

Another place attachment can show up is in the workplace. For example, if you are anxiously attached and receive some negative feedback from your supervisor, you may find that you can’t stop thinking about this feedback. You may check in with other people in your office to make sure you are still a good employee and a good person.

At work, an avoidantly attached person might forget to ask for help on something they really don’t understand. This is because it is not in their nature to seek out others for help.

Relationships with Power Imbalance

Another place where attachment may show up is in any relationship where there is some kind of power imbalance. These can be relationships with teachers, mentors, religious authorities, and even your therapist. These are all relationships that in some ways resemble a parental relationship. It makes sense, then, that they are also relationships where your attachment style can show up.

Adult Relationships with Parents

On the subject of parental relationships, it is important to realize that your attachment style is still in play with your parents, even though you are an adult. It can be distressing to feel pulled back into that dynamic.

So, what’s the good news in all of this? Understanding your attachment style can be instrumental in helping you develop self-compassion. This is especially helpful when you behave in ways that don’t make sense to you. Instead of asking “why did I do that?” you may want to try asking yourself “how is this related to my attachment style?” This may help you to stop beating yourself up.

Another reason why attachment brings good news is because it is flexible. You might be oriented toward one end of the attachment spectrum. Through new relationships, new experiences, and lots of practice, however, it is entirely possible to move towards a secure style of attachment.

If you’d like to know more about attachment styles and how this knowledge can help you understand and manage confusing behaviors, please register for my upcoming webinar “Why Did I Do That? Feel More in Control by Understanding Attachment Styles.”

The post Using Your Attachment Style to Recognize Patterns in Relationships [Video] appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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Using Your Attachment Style to Recognize Patterns in Relationships - YouTube
Using Your Attachment Style to Recognize Patterns in Relationships [Transcript]

Many different kinds of relationships can be impacted by your attachment style. If you are new to the theory of attachment, you might (very understandably) be wondering “what is attachment?” Attachment refers to the kinds of strategies that we use within our interpersonal relationships in order to maintain a sense of safety. This is based on our earliest relationships in life with our caretakers. Caretakers can be parents, guardians, or whoever cared for you early on.

For example, if your caretaker was available to you, provided appropriate care and soothing when you were distressed, but also let you explore the world around you and be independent, it is very likely that you tend to form secure attachments today. What that means is that you feel confident that you are going to get your needs met in relationships and that you generally feel that it is safe to depend on other people.

Many of us, however, had early life experiences that may have resulted in a not-so-secure attachment style. This includes those of us whose parents were a bit distant or were way too close and didn’t allow exploration and independence. It also includes those whose parents struggled to tolerate outbursts of emotion, or parents who were unpredictable or unsafe in their behavior. These types of relationships can result in an insecure attachment style.

Insecure attachment styles can be broken down into anxious attachment and avoidant attachment. Anxious attachment is characterized by being overly preoccupied with the possibility of being abandoned in relationships. Avoidant attachment is characterized by a need to disengage emotionally, and sometimes physically, to maintain a sense of safety.

Why is all of this important? Since your early life experiences form a blueprint for how to stay safe in relationship to others, it is possible you are still using that blueprint even with situations in which it’s not really useful. You might find yourself avoiding people who you would like to get close to or becoming really worried about whether or not somebody really cares about you.

Romantic Relationships

We often look at attachment styles through the lens of romantic relationships and this makes a lot of sense, because these are usually very close relationships where there is enough safety for conflict to emerge. Attachment styles tend to show up in conflict. That said, there are plenty of other places where your attachment style can show up. Let’s look at how attachment can impact other types of relationships.

Watch: Attachment Styles in Relationships

Close Friendships

Attachment styles can impact close friendships. An example would be when you feel really worried when you text a friend and they don’t text you back. You might find yourself ruminating and wondering if you did something wrong. This would be an example of anxious attachment.
With avoidant attachment, your friends may often tell you that they don’t really know you. You might feel like you are being as open as possible, but there is still something that feels inaccessible to your friends.

Work Relationships

Another place attachment can show up is in the workplace. For example, if you are anxiously attached and receive some negative feedback from your supervisor, you may find that you can’t stop thinking about this feedback. You may check in with other people in your office to make sure you are still a good employee and a good person.

At work, an avoidantly attached person might forget to ask for help on something they really don’t understand. This is because it is not in their nature to seek out others for help.

Relationships with Power Imbalance

Another place where attachment may show up is in any relationship where there is some kind of power imbalance. These can be relationships with teachers, mentors, religious authorities, and even your therapist. These are all relationships that in some ways resemble a parental relationship. It makes sense, then, that they are also relationships where your attachment style can show up.

Adult Relationships with Parents

On the subject of parental relationships, it is important to realize that your attachment style is still in play with your parents, even though you are an adult. It can be distressing to feel pulled back into that dynamic.

So, what’s the good news in all of this? Understanding your attachment style can be instrumental in helping you develop self-compassion. This is especially helpful when you behave in ways that don’t make sense to you. Instead of asking “why did I do that?” you may want to try asking yourself “how is this related to my attachment style?” This may help you to stop beating yourself up.

Another reason why attachment brings good news is because it is flexible. You might be oriented toward one end of the attachment spectrum. Through new relationships, new experiences, and lots of practice, however, it is entirely possible to move towards a secure style of attachment.

If you’d like to know more about attachment styles and how this knowledge can help you understand and manage confusing behaviors, please register for my upcoming webinar “Why Did I Do That? Feel More in Control by Understanding Attachment Styles.”

The post Using Your Attachment Style to Recognize Patterns in Relationships [Video] appeared first on myTherapyNYC.

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