Is My Partner a Narcissist?

You swore it was going to be the last time you picked a guy like that.

Self-absorbed. Conceited. A seeming inability to truly care about anyone or anything but himself.

It. Was. Supposed. To. Be. The. Last. Time.

Sigh.

But here you are again, in the same boat, swearing that this will be the last time.

What gives? Is he truly a narcissist? Is there any hope for the relationship? Why do you always end up with partners like this, anyway? Learn if your partner is a narcissist and what you can — and can’t — do about it.

What Is a Narcissist?

In Greek mythology, Narcissus is an attractive young hunter, renowned for his good looks. While out in the woods one day, he stops to take a drink from a still, silver pond, only to catch a glimpse of his reflection. He falls in love with his own image, telling it, “I love you.” So taken is he with himself that he cannot pull himself away, not even to eat or drink, and he dies.

Today, a narcissist is someone with an excessive and destructive love of self. A narcissist:

  • Is exorbitantly interested in themselves; they’re “in love” with themselves.
  • Hogs the conversation — there’s very little of the normal, healthy give-and-take of a two-way conversation.
  • Doesn’t seem to care about social convention or rules (in fact, they delight in breaking them).
  • Breaks promises often and cancels plans frequently, and then blames you for getting upset about it.
  • Is overly concerned with status, material goods and the perception that they are “better than.”
  • Uses people for their own gratification
  • Is confident, charming, grandiose, entitled and manipulative

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is not easy. You don’t really feel heard, and when you try to bring up any problems, a narcissist turns it back on you and blames you for feeling the way you do. They also tend to use guilt as a weapon, noting “how much they do for you” and claiming you’re ungrateful. Things that are important to you don’t even register with them, even when you make a point of saying something. It’s always all about them.

What Causes Narcissism?

Before we get into what causes narcissism, we need to make an important distinction. There are people who are narcissistic, as described above, and then there’s narcissistic personality disorder, a mental illness.

Narcissists are certainly obnoxious and ill-behaved, but they don’t have a mental disorder. Whereas, someone with narcissistic personality disorder has an inflated sense of self-importance and a deep need to be admired, but the symptoms mask truly fragile self-esteem. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot are three notorious and evil examples of people with narcissistic personality disorder. For our purposes here, we’re speaking of narcissists in general, not those who have been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

Now, what causes someone to be narcissistic? No one can pin it to any one thing. It’s likely a mix of several environmental, genetic and neurobiological influences. However, in general, the following scenarios can set people up to become narcissists later in life:

  • Parents who put their children on a pedestal, constantly glorify them and build their own lives around them.
  • Growing up in a home where love is conditional; only being the best is rewarded, and anything else is a disappointment and ignored.
  • Being spoiled and over-protected as a child.
  • Having a narcissistic parent.

What Do Narcissists Look for in a Partner?

It’s a common misconception that narcissistic men look for meek women. This isn’t true (so, there’s some consolation in that). Years of research and anecdotal evidence have revealed a definite profile of what narcissists look for a partner. A narcissist looks for someone who is:

  • Smart and pretty. He wants the “total package,” someone who will make him look good.
  • Self-sufficient. He doesn’t want to have to take care of you, so you’d better be able to do it.
  • Just a bit insecure. You can’t be too insecure, mind you, because then you’re not a challenge.
  • Codependent. At first, you’ll perceive all that control as him being caring, which appeals to your codependent nature.
  • Has low self-esteem. This is what enables you to overlook the early warning signs and let him run the show.
  • A people pleaser. Are you willing to stroke his ego? Do you avoid conflict? Are you willing to give him tons of attention and validation? Good, because these are the things he craves.
  • Empathetic and a caretaker. This works out perfectly for all those times he feels victimized. Plus, empathetic caretakers tend to be extraordinarily giving, which is great, because he is a “TAKER” in all caps.

What to Look for When You Suspect He’s a Narcissist

Ready to do some digging? If you think your partner is a narcissist, look for these signs:

Lovebombing

In an effort to hook you early in a relationship, a narcissist may shower you with gifts, affection and declarations of love. There are big promises of “forever,” and he is amazingly caring and loving. Everything is perfect. There may be trips and love letters and talk of being soul mates. They’re already in love with you in the first few weeks.

You’re being lovebombed. It’s a manipulative tactic narcissists use to reel you in. They create an unnatural and intense period of affection in an effort to disarm you from your natural defenses. They don’t want you to question the speed of the relationship — how can anything so perfect be wrong?

But it doesn’t last forever. The first time you make plans with a girlfriend or question one of his decisions, he blows up, calling you selfish or ungrateful. After all he’s done for you. You’re left confused and hurt. The pattern repeats itself.

Remember: This isn’t how real relationships progress.

Hurting you and others while actively campaigning for your sympathy

Extracting sympathy from you is one of the narcissist’s greatest ploys. It may begin by them telling you how poorly they were treated in the past, about abuse they suffered or all the times they were let down. This is part of a strategic effort to present themselves as a humble, even charitable person who deserves your sympathy. Especially early on in a relationship, narcissists will present an image of modesty to hide their real feelings of superiority. Because if you knew how truly arrogant and self-indulgent they really were, well you probably wouldn’t stay, would you?

The thing is, they can’t keep the charade up indefinitely. When they inevitably reveal their true nature, they scramble to repair the damage — and that requires re-soliciting your sympathy. The cycle continues.

Remember: People who hurt you and truly aim to do better take responsibility for their actions.

Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse. Narcissists use this tactic to make their victim question their sanity and to throw them off-kilter and mistrust their perception. Gaslighting is best explained with the following examples of the behavior:

  • They tell you a blatant, outright lie, right to your face, and they insist it’s true. For example: He insists he was at the restaurant having lunch when he said he was, even though you were there and you know he wasn’t. But he doesn’t budge from his story, and eventually, you just move on from the lie — which is what he’s counting on.
  • They deny they said something. Let’s say, for example, he claims to have paid the electric bill — and then the power gets shut off. He then insists he never said he paid it, even though you know he did.
  • They scoff, “That’s nuts” or “You’re crazy” a lot, after you present them with the truth.
  • They constantly tell you that you’re overreacting or being too sensitive.

Gaslighting is harmful because it causes you to second-guess your ability to remember things correctly. It leaves you confused, disoriented and threatened. You begin to question if there’s something fundamentally wrong with you.

Remember: Your partner shouldn’t make you feel crazy.

Extremely charming one moment/short-tempered the next

This is classic narcissist behavior. These people are extraordinarily charming and social, but once they feel threatened or don’t get their way, they can turn on a moment’s notice and blow up. When they realize their cover is blown, they may be able to turn the charm back on, and they will often try to win you and others back with large, magnanimous gestures. It’s all part of their manipulation game.

This type of emotional volatility goes hand-in-hand with poor impulse control, and it’s often the result of the type of overindulgent parenting that breeds narcissists. If they can’t seem to regulate their moods like a grownup, they may be a narcissist.

Remember: Part of their game is to get you to comply with their desires. They’re counting on you giving in, so you don’t have to deal with their irrational behavior.

‘Hoovering’

Think Hoover, the brand of vacuum. Narcissists employ this behavior to “suck” you back into a relationship after you’ve attempted to break free. It’s another manipulation tactic employed to get you to do what they want. A few examples of hoovering behavior include:

  • A social media message that states, “I miss you. I wanted to marry you. You’re the only one I’ll ever love.”
  • A text message that reads, “I know you hate me but I really need you right now. It’s urgent.”
  • Coming home to a bouquet of flowers and a card that reads, “Can’t we work it out? Please give me another chance.”

Remember: These are attempts to regain the control they lost when you left.

He’s a Narcissist. Now What?

If you decide to stay in the relationship:

Understand that if you decide to stay, you have many challenges ahead. Narcissists don’t really recover from their self-centeredness; they just get better at masking it, in an effort to get along with others and have relationships. But staying is one of your options.

If you decide to try to put up with the behavior, you should:

  • Get a therapist and a circle of friends who can help you and give you love and support.
  • Identify coping strategies, so you don’t engage in destructive behavior right along with him.
  • Practice self-care, so he doesn’t erode your self-esteem.

When to call it quits: Physical abuse is never OK. There’s never an excuse for it. Emotional and verbal abuse is equally inexcusable. If he is abusive, you should leave. Get a competent therapist who can help you deal with the fallout and identify why you stayed with him in the first place.

Other signs you should leave: You are simply and truly unhappy. There’s no joy in life anymore. You know, deep down, that you deserve better. The stress is causing sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. If you reach this point, get a good therapist and get out.

When you decide to leave the relationship

This is a tough decision as well. Be prepared for his increasingly desperate attempts to keep you (see: hoovering). A narcissist will try everything, so be firm and resolute in your decision — they will prey on any weakness or ambivalence you show. You will definitely need the support of friends and family during this time.

Coping strategies as you leave include:

  • Be kind to yourself. Leaving him is honoring yourself.
  • Keep a journal of your feelings. Focus on the future.
  • Surround yourself with loved ones, people who will lift you up, not tear you down.

As you move through the breakup and begin to heal, it’s important you look at the underlying issues that led you to the narcissist in the first place. If you don’t get at the heart of it, you may just find yourself in a relationship with another such person down the line. A therapist can help you get to the bottom of it. Often, low self-esteem causes you to search for a partner with narcissistic traits, even if you don’t realize you’re doing it.

Online therapy is a wonderful solution for busy people who can’t make it to a physical office space. With teletherapy like ThriveTalk, you connect with a certified therapist who is trained to help you achieve a loving, secure future. If you’re searching for a partner who’s loving, kind and stable, teletherapy can help you get there.

 

Unraveling The Truth About SSRIs and Other Antidepressants

Trying to be happy in the midst of depression is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. It’s like trying to see a crack of sunlight in a cave buried 1,000 feet below the surface of the earth. Or like trying to see the color in a black and white world. Living with depression is excruciating. And yet, that’s exactly what more than 16 million adults in the U.S. had to do in 2015. Yep, that’s almost 7 percent of all American adults. Getting treatment for depression is difficult. First, you have to know you’re depressed. Then, there’s the “crazy” stigma to wrestle with, along with finding and talking to a therapist. But for many, the real struggle is wrapping their brains around taking SSRIs or other antidepressants. After all, taking a drug that affects your mind is a scary concept.

Here’s what you need to know about antidepressants and how they treat depression.

What is Going On in a Depressed Brain?

To say that depression is simply a chemical imbalance is cliché, not to mention somewhat misleading. In fact, depression is much more complicated than one chemical level being too high and another too low. The real culprits are neurotransmitters. Well, kind of…

Connections between nerve cells (neurons), nerve cell growth, and circuits, in certain areas of the brain, play a major role in depression. Neurotransmitters — much like tiny smartphones — are chemicals that send messages between the neurons. When the neurotransmitters’ signals aren’t firing correctly or aren’t very clear, the brain doesn’t function at its best and low moods result.

The hippocampus, an area close to the center of the brain, is responsible for long-term memory and also seems particularly important to depression since it is found to be 9- to 13-percent smaller in depressed women.

Genetics, stress, other medications, and medical history can also have a major impact on depression. For example, stress can slow down or stop the production of new neurons, and research suggests that the process of generating new neurons (called neurogenesis) is helpful in improving symptoms of depression.

Clearly there is room for more research. Here’s what we know:

What are Antidepressants?

There are many types of antidepressants out there. Some are more targeted or more powerful than others, and some can have ugly side-effects depending on the person.

Different types of antidepressants include Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), Tricyclic antidepressants, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

One of the most common entry-level treatments for depression is Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs. These are believed to cause less problems than other antidepressants and can be taken in higher doses than some other treatments.

So What Do SSRIs Do Anyway?

In the hot mess that is depression, one thing seems to be clear: neurons need to be able to talk to each other. Remember those tiny chemical messengers called neurotransmitters? Antidepressants treat the symptoms of depression by upping the concentration of neurotransmitters, thereby helping the neurons to communicate better.

So, when things are working well, neuron A releases the neurotransmitter (aka the messenger) to neuron B. When neuron A gets feedback that neuron B received its message, neuron A stops releasing the neurotransmitter and starts to reabsorb (or ‘reuptake’) the neurotransmitter.

Serotonin is one type of neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, mood, and pain. In a depressed brain, neuron A may be over-zealously reuptaking the neurotransmitter serotonin, which means that the message neuron A is trying to send is not being received completely by neuron B.

SSRIs help this by stopping the reuptake of serotonin, making serotonin more available to deliver neuron A’s message.

What are the Most Common SSRIs?

Navigating the world of prescription antidepressant medication is a little bit like shopping for groceries in a foreign language. You know the gist of what you need, but finding and choosing the exact right ingredients is super hard. How can you get what you need when you don’t know the right words for what you need?

A psychiatrist or even your general practitioner can help you choose the right treatment for your symptoms, medical history, and current situation. But just in case you forget what you talked about, here’s a cheat sheet of the most common names for SSRIs so you can do your own research and “shop” the Rx lane intelligently:

  • fluoxetine (name brand: Prozac).
  • paroxetine (name brand: Paxil, Pexeva)
  • sertraline (name brand: Zoloft)
  • citalopram (name brand: Celexa)
  • escitalopram (name brand: Lexapro)

How Effective are SSRIs in Treating Depression?

Okay, honestly antidepressants don’t help everyone — sometimes they can just be a bad mixer in an already bad cocktail. And side effects can be undesirable, including drowsiness, nausea, diarrhea, weight-gain, and nervousness.

But SSRI’s are effective treatment for many people with depression, especially people with moderate to severe depression. The right blend of antidepressants improves symptoms 20 percent of the time. Twenty percent may not sound like a lot, but that’s 20 people out of 100 who can now see the sunlight. Also, people who take an SSRI for the long haul are less likely to relapse 27 percent less likely, in fact. So for the chronically depressed, investing in a good treatment of SSRIs can be life-changing.

Now What?

Depression is complicated. But with the right combination of treatment, neurons can start talking to each other again and depression can get better. And now that you feel more comfortable with the medications available to treat depression, it’s important to take the next step in connecting with a therapist. A good therapist will walk with you through the fog of depression and help you make good choices for treatment.

Too busy to make the visit to a therapist’s office? Teletherapy provided by services such as ThriveTalk can connect you with competent certified therapists via video conference.

The Consequences of Neglecting Self-Care as a Caregiver: Therapy is Critical

Being a caregiver can be overwhelming, with challenges that can intensify as time goes on. As this intensity brews, you may start to suffer just as much as your loved one in need. The grief of seeing a loved one’s health deteriorate and being responsible for their well-being can cause you to lose control and hit a low point. If stress starts to feel unmanageable, remember it’s OK to get help from friends and family or from online support groups and therapy.

Therapy is a Tool

Caregiving tasks, plus the responsibilities of your own life, like work and family, leave little room to assess your emotional and psychological well-being. Feeling like frustration and fear, guilt and grief, anxiety and depression can start to compound.

Although these feelings are normal, they may lead to caregiver burnout as your own health starts to deteriorate. Remote counseling and treatment can help you handle the distress that comes with this role. Online therapy isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a survival tool that can help you manage and work through your emotions to find solutions that improve your situation.

Your Wellness Matters

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) identifies six signs of caregiver burnout:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Frequently getting sick
  • Emotionally impulsive and over-reactive
  • Lack of exercise
  • Social isolation
  • Solely taking on the caregiving role

If you identify with caregiver burnout, then you may be running on crisis mode. This can negatively impact your ability to care for your loved ones. Others may be depending on you, but you also need to be able to rely on yourself. Caregiver burnout could worsen into a panic attack or nervous breakdown.

Risk of Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation felt by a caregiver resulting from frequent interaction with someone in distress; this advanced stage of caregiver burnout can cause the caregiver to develop secondary traumatic stress. With this type of fatigue, empathy turns to apathy and a disinterest in others. Outbursts, anger and even abuse toward a loved one may occur as patience and tolerance diminish. Take the red flags of compassion fatigue seriously; these include alarming or uncharacteristic behavior, self-destruction, thoughts of self-harm or harm toward others.

Advocate for Your Own Self-Care

Take care of yourself, emphasizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It seems so simple, but it’s necessary for building strength and resilience for the long term.

  • Make sure to meet your own needs and even develop self-compassion. Criticizing yourself just exacerbates the distress. You’re not going to be the perfect caregiver. Reason with your expectations. Accept that physical, emotional and financial stress will exist but can be managed by developing coping skills.
  • Value and establish balance. Caregiving can become all-consuming to the point that you neglect family, friendships, interests and healthy habits.
  • Reach out for help if focusing on yourself seems impossible. Regularly schedule breaks, delegate tasks to others, enlist in-home services or out-of-home respite programs and say yes when someone offers assistance. Take advantage of this time to go out with a friend. Pamper yourself. Work out and enjoy a favorite activity.

Create Your Support System

Caregiving is inarguably an exhausting and rigorous job that no person can manage on their own. It would be unusual to not reach out for help. Your support team can include family members, friends, local/online support groups and a therapist who can serve as a trusted, professional outside resource.

With a support system in place, you may actually start to experience positive effects of caregiving. Richard Schulz, PhD and Paula R. Sherwood, PhD, RN, CNRN, identify these effects as discovering a new meaning to life, learning skills and strengthening relationships.

Take the first step and connect with a certified therapist by visiting ThriveTalk.com. Teletherapy through video conferencing is a convenient way to speak with a counseling professional anywhere, anytime. Making time for treatment can seem like a stretch, so online therapy accommodates your busy schedule and demands.

8 Ways to Keep Depression from Sabotaging Your Relationships

You’re not just being a Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy, you’re clinically depressed. And as much as it affects you personally, depression can have a huge impact on your relationships too.

Four in 10 Americans suffering from depression say it presents a major challenge in their relationships, a Reader’s Digest survey found. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep depression from hurting your relationships.

Set Boundaries Early

Set boundaries to keep relationships from moving into dangerous areas. Doing so will also help you build self-confidence. For example, say you have a little crush on one of your coworkers. It’s easy for that coworker to go from friend to romance without realizing it. Workplace relationships that become too intimate can damage martial relationships. Among couples who are experiencing issues with infidelity, 50 percent of women and 62 percent of men are intimately involved with someone at work, says psychologist and author Shirley Glass.

Prioritize Your Mental Health

As humans, we are constantly performing tasks to upkeep our physical hygiene. Each day you wash your face, brush your teeth and put on clean clothes, for example. Why wouldn’t you put the same energy and daily maintenance into your emotional hygiene? Guy Winch, psychologist, author and Ted Talk speaker talks about the idea of emotional first aid. Do things that are good for your mental health like eating healthy, exercising, getting outside and practicing mindfulness.

In addition, get assistance from a professional who can help develop a treatment plan for depression. Professional assistance for depression helps eight out of 10 people who seek treatment, according to the New York Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. If your schedule makes it hard to find appointment times, consider teletherapy via ThriveTalk, which allows you to speak to a live therapist over the phone or on a webcam from a location of your choice on your own time.

Cultivate Your Relationships

Building healthy relationships requires a time investment, which can be challenging when you’re a busy bee all day, every day.

This maintenance can be particularly challenging for couples with kids. In fact, only 33 percent of parents feel they spend enough time with their kids, a Pew Research Center poll found. Parents with children also have trouble finding time for each other. Create a time budget to ensure you’re getting enough quality time with family members and your spouse.

Quality time isn’t about where you’re going or what you’re doing; it’s about who you’re with. Though spending time with your kids is very important, don’t neglect your relationship with your partner. Those suffering from depression tend to push those closest to them away. Be conscientious of this and proactive. Plan date night. Hire a babysitter for a few hours. Just go for a walk around the block together. Even small slivers of time together are important.

Be Willing to Trust

Trust is an essential component of any healthy relationship, whether at home, with friends or at work. But trusting others can be hard, especially after you’ve been hurt or betrayed. One in 20 men and one in five women don’t trust their spouses, a OnePoll survey found.

Getting past mistrust is essential for good relationships. Forgive people who have hurt you, forgive yourself for allowing them to hurt you, and be honest and vulnerable about your feelings. Start by trusting in small things and work toward the big ones.

Give & Receive Constructive Feedback

In a healthy relationship, both people can give and receive constructive criticism without causing friction. Overreacting to criticism can cause minor issues to escalate into arguments, and is a sign of a lack of self-confidence.

Depression can amplify this escalation, making arguments overwhelming and defeating the participants.

Learn to take criticism gracefully by listening before you react and taking it as an opportunity to improve instead of making excuses or shifting blame. Be patient if your spouse is depressed — it’s often hard to self-identify with this behavior.

Also, learn to give criticism effectively. Practice softening the edge of criticism by making constructive suggestions instead of personal accusations.

If you care about each other, remember you each have good intentions.

Develop Empathy

Empathy can help you appreciate the intent behind people’s behavior instead of reacting defensively, and it can help you build positive rapport with others as well. Learn to observe behavior closely, listen carefully and imagine yourself in the other person’s place so you can better understand their behavior. The next time someone upsets you, instead of taking it personally, see if you can figure out what was going through their mind that led to their behavior.

Treat Others as You’d Like to Be Treated

The Golden Rule remains the best guideline for building healthy relationships. In all your relationships, think about what is in the other person’s best interests before taking action. The Golden Rule is also in your own best interests because it can help distract you from feelings of depression, as well as help you build better relationships that make you feel more positive.

Keep Your Commitments

A big part of treating others the way you’d like to be treated is keeping commitments. If you have a reputation for being an unreliable flake, people won’t trust you. If you say you’re going to meet a friend for drinks after work, be there. If you plan a ski trip, don’t back out two days before. If you said you’ll be at your best friend’s birthday party, don’t bail. Before making a commitment, take time to consider if you can actually do what you’re about to promise. Quality relationships are built on one strong pillar: showing up when you say you will.

The dynamics of depression are difficult to field. These proactive steps can keep depression from sabotaging your relationships. If you need additional help, get in touch with a counselor to develop a treatment plan for depression. You can schedule a teletherapy appointment today through ThriveTalk.

 

 

How to Stay Physically, Emotionally, & Spiritually Healthy During a Divorce

Even if the split is amicable, going through a divorce can be extraordinarily trying. The stress can affect every area of your life, even if you think you have a handle on it. This is the time to go back to basics when it comes to self-care. Consider divorce therapy to deal with your anger and anxiety. Learn how to stay healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually when going through a divorce.

Seek Help From Friends & Family

Numerous studies have confirmed the connection between having a strong support system and one’s physical and mental health. The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey, for example, says respondents with emotional support systems in place reported less stress than those without. And according to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, people with low levels of social support are at increased risk of heart disease, cancer and infectious diseases.

It’s always important to have such a support system, but it is critical when going through a divorce. Seek and nurture these types of relationships. Look to friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. Ask them for help. Don’t be afraid to expand your social circle and try new groups and hobbies.

Eat Right & Exercise

Don’t let these things slide because you’re going through a rough time; in fact, this is precisely when you need to stay on top of these healthy habits. Eating right helps you get the nutrition you need to combat emotional distress. Take a look:

  • B vitamins help you regain energy after a stressful episode
  • Vitamin C helps your adrenal glands produce hormones that fight stress
  • Magnesium aids in muscle relaxation and can help reduce anxiety attacks

You know how important exercise is in maintaining physical health, but it’s an important component in your emotional health, too. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise helps lower fatigue, boosts concentration, improves sleep and increases overall cognitive function.

Consider Seeing a Therapist

There is no shame in seeking professional counseling. If anger is overwhelming you, if you’re experiencing anxiety attacks or if you’re having trouble carrying out normal activities, seek divorce therapy. Therapists are trained to help you develop coping strategies that enable you to emerge from your divorce healthy and strong.

Teletherapy is an option, especially for people with busy schedules. In teletherapy, you receive counseling from a competent, certified therapist via video conference. It’s perfect if you don’t have the time or means to make it to a therapist’s brick-and-mortar office. Contact <ThriveTalk.com> to learn more about teletherapy services.

Stick to a Normal Schedule

Fight the urge to hide and isolate. Suffering begets suffering, and it’s more important than ever to get up, shower, go to work, and do all the normal things you always do.

Not that it’s not OK to stay home every now and then and enjoy some “you” time — that in and of itself is a healthy thing — just check your motivation. If you’re doing it to hide from the world, that’s a problem. If you’re doing it to enjoy some quiet time and to rest and recharge, that’s another thing entirely. You’ll know the difference.

Practice Mindfulness

Tend to your spirit. Mindfulness is a technique that enables you to be fully present, to be aware of yourself, and to find peace regardless of the storms that rage outside. Prayer and meditation are practices that increase mindfulness, as are being in nature and helping others. Visit Mindful.org to learn more.

Reach Out

Divorce is difficult, but you can get through it. It’s vital that you take care of your mind, body and spirit. If you think you might need professional help, visit <ThriveTalk.com> to schedule a teletherapy session with a trained counselor. Life can be beautiful again — promise.

Are you Sexually Compatible With Your Partner? Take This Quiz to Find Out

Sex matters! It’s an important aspect of any romantic relationship. But what happens if your tastes and your partner’s don’t necessarily line up? Maybe you’re into fishnets, candles, and sex toys while he’s more of a missionary style, lights off, socks on kind of guy. If the above speaks to you, I hate to break it to you but this could be a problem down the road.

There are a wide range of people and sexual appetites in the world, and hopefully you’ve found someone whose tastes at least somewhat align with yours. You don’t have to have 100 percent matching sexual appetites to have a successful, long-term relationship, mind you but being in the same ballpark helps. Take this quiz to find out if you and your partner are sexually compatible.

Quiz: Are You Sexually Compatible With Your Partner?

Question 1: Do you find your partner’s body a turn-on?

0=No/Never: Honestly, no. I’m not really turned on by my partner’s body.

1=Sometimes/Maybe: Sure! He has his flaws, but who doesn’t?

3=Yes/Always: My guy is smokin’ hot. His bod is perfect for me.

Question 2: Are you both able to speak up about what you like and dislike in bed? 

0=No/Never: Uh, no. It’s embarrassing. I’m afraid he’ll think I’m weird. Or he might think I’m criticizing his technique or what if he’s criticizing MY technique!? Better not to risk it.

1=Sometimes/Maybe: Yeah, it wouldn’t be problem… except for that one thing.

3=Yes/Always: I have no problem doing this if I need to but I don’t often need to (wink). We’re pretty synced up.

Question 3: Are you two operating on the same level of passion and kink?

0=No/Never: Not really. He’s more Christian Grey and I’m more Mother Teresa (or vice versa).

1=Sometimes/Maybe: We are pretty much on the same level. One of us might be a bit more daring than the other, but nothing too noteworthy.

3=Yes/Always: We are two peas in a sexy-ass pod.

Question 4: Have you thought about/discussed/used sex toys in your lovemaking?

0=No/Never: I want to, but he wouldn’t. Or, vice versa.

1=Sometimes/Maybe: We have, but one of us didn’t like it.

3=Yes/Always: We are on exactly the same page as far as this goes.

Question 5: Do you look forward to sex?

0=No/Never: No, and it has everything to do with my partner.

1=Sometimes/Maybe: Not really, but it’s me, not my partner.

3=Yes/Always: Hell yes!

Question 6: Would you ever make up an excuse NOT to have sex?

0=As often as I can: I have my period. I’m getting my period. I’m just getting over my period. I have a headache. I’m getting a headache. I’m just getting over a headache. Rinse, repeat…

1=Sometimes/Maybe: Every now and then. But doing this every once in a while is OK, right?

3=No way!

Question 7: Have you faked an orgasm with your partner?

0=Yes: I do so just about every time we have sex.

1=Sometimes/Maybe: I’ll admit to doing this once or twice (so sue me).

3=No/Never: Now why would I want to do that?

Question 8: Do you like the way he smells?

0=No/Never: What a weird question. I guess he smells fine most of the time.

1=Sometimes/Maybe: When he wears that one cologne, mmm.

3=Yes/Always: I LOVE the smell of my man showered, unshowered, whatever!

Question 9: Sex aside, do you get along pretty well?

0=No/Never: Not really. We are having major problems in and out of the bedroom.

1=Sometimes/Maybe: We get on each other’s nerves sometimes, but in general, we do OK.

3=Yes/Always: He is my BFF and I’m his.

Question 10: How do you feel about putting in some extra effort to spice things up?

0=No/Never: Honestly, I’m not that into it. I just don’t care.

1=Sometimes/Maybe: I’m willing to learn and try new things.

3=Yes/Always: We are always looking for ways to shake things up! Bring on the handcuffs and whipped cream.

Quiz Results

Completely Incompatible (Score 0-8 points)

Let’s talk. There is trouble in paradise. Either you two are simply mismatched, sexual appetite-wise, or there are deep underlying relationship issues that have made their way into the bedroom. If it’s a case that one of you is vanilla bean and the other is chocolate wasabi — but the rest of the relationship is sound and healthy — then schedule an appointment with a sex therapist to learn techniques and strategies for meeting in the middle and surviving the sexual chasm. These types of sexual problems can be overcome. Ditto if there is sexual dysfunction present; a trip to a doctor really is in order then.

However, if the reason for the low score is because the relationship on a whole is rocky, or you find that you just don’t really care about him or sex or sex with him, well, then you have your work cut out for you. It’s time for some soul-searching to figure out what it is you want. This would be a good time to begin couples therapy or individual counseling.  

Lukewarm Lovers (Score 9-18 points)

Between “Sesame Street” and “XXX LIVE GIRLS NOW” is the PG-13 club, and you’re in it. Most of us are members at some point in a long-term relationship, and that’s OK.

First off, kudos to you for knowing sex is important and caring about the experience. Your biggest challenge will be not getting complacent and stuck in a rut. Unfortunately. when the honeymoon shine wears off, keeping things spicy becomes work. But you’re not alone! This is true of most long term relationships. If you’re up to the challenge, keep trying new things. Look to TV, movies, and the internet for inspiration. Try a sex therapist if any sexual problems crop up or if you don’t know how to get creative. You can learn!

Hot & Heavy (Score 19-30)

Congratulations! You two are sexually compatible. You appear to be well-matched as far as your sexual appetites go, and you’re definitely “into it.” Having similar levels of passion and a shared propensity for exploration and experimentation is a blessing.

Keep doing what you’re doing; it’s obviously working. If you feel like you could take your sex to the next level, do a good old-fashioned Google search for just that when we plugged “how to take the sex to the next level” into Google, more than 2.3 million search results got returned. One or two are bound to appeal to you.


Healthy sex lives have one thing in common: good communication. You simply must be able to talk to your partner about what you like, want, and crave, and he needs to feel safe expressing the same to you. If you can’t do this, for whatever reason or if you can’t muster the energy to care well, that’s a major red flag.

ThriveTalk offers teletherapy services for busy people who want to talk with a certified counselor but don’t have time to make it into a physical office. Individual and couples counseling is available via video conference, and you can get help with sexual problems and learn how to communicate better.

Dysphoric Mania vs. Euphoric Mania: How To Tell The Difference

What is Mania?

Mania is a term used to differentiate bipolar disorder from depression. Referring to mania as the ‘high’ component and depression as the ‘low’ component is common. However, mania is much more than that.

A mood disorder, mania involves experiencing abnormal amounts of energy, both mentally and physically. However, it is much more extreme than an inability to sit still or a racing mind. In some individuals, the severity of mania can lead to hospitalization.

While mania is a symptom of bipolar disorder, it can also occur in people who do not have bipolar disorder. When mania occurs in individuals with bipolar I, depressive episodes often transpire as well, but not always.

Within the realm of mental health, there are several factors and significant details that separate conditions on the bipolar spectrum. In this article, we will break down these differences and hope to shed light on how an umbrella term such as ‘bipolar disorder’ actually has a lot of variation.

Hypomania vs. Mania

Hypomania is a milder form of mania. While energy levels are still higher than average, they are less extreme as in someone experiencing a manic episode. However, this is not to say hypomania doesn’t cause problems in the individuals who have it. It’s just that the effects aren’t as intense as someone with mania.

For the most part, hypomania, alternating with depression, often occurs in people with bipolar II disorder, but not always.

Symptoms of Mania and Hypomania

While the symptoms of mania and hypomania vary in intensity, they are often the same.

  • Higher than normal energy levels
  • Easily distracted
  • Extremely talkative
  • Racing mind
  • Decreased need or desire to sleep
  • Restlessness throughout the day and night
  • Inability to sit still or focus
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Impulsive decision making often involving sex, gambling, or spending money
  • Starting several tasks with no way of finishing them
  • Decreased inhibitions
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Increased irritability
  • Aggression
  • Reckless behavior without considering consequences

In this case, the individual experiencing mania or hypomania may not be able to recognize these changes and think that they are acting normal.

Severe Symptoms of Mania

The individual may have a break from reality when experiencing a manic episode. Oftentimes the severity of a manic episode leads to hospitalization.

Psychotic Symptoms May Include:

  • Extreme paranoia
  • Hallucinations (visual or auditory)
  • Delusional thinking

Following a manic episode, a major depressive episode usually occurs and lasts around two weeks, sometimes longer.

Cycles

In addition to extreme changes in mood, individuals with bipolar disorder also experience changes in energy levels and behavior. These changes are called cycles.

Generally, an individual with bipolar disorder usually has two cycles per year. Furthermore, when individuals experience four or more manic, hypomanic, or depressive episodes in a year, it is called rapid cycling.

Mania and Hypomania – Not Always Bipolar Disorder

While mania and hypomania are common symptoms of bipolar disorder, they can also be brought on by:

  • Medication
  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use
  • Sleep deprivation

Treating Mania and Hypomania

For the most part, a mental health professional will prescribe medication along with psychotherapy to treat mania and hypomania. The medications may include mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.

It is absolutely crucial to take the medication as your doctor prescribes. Also important to note is that it may take trying several different medications before finding the appropriate combination and dose.

Conversely, for hypomania, mood stabilizers are not always necessary. For example, maintaining a healthy lifestyle may be enough to cope with the effects of hypomania. Individuals should make sure they are getting enough sleep and may want to avoid caffeine, as both can be triggers.

There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ pill for individuals dealing with mood disorders. Hence, finding what works best for you may take time but, will be paramount for your mental health.

Breaking Down the Types of Mania

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder also known as manic-depressive disorder. There are two main types of bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar I
  • Bipolar II

The difference between bipolar I and bipolar II comes from how severe the mania is. Individuals with bipolar I have full-blown mania while those with bipolar II have hypomania. However, people with hypomania can develop full-blown mania, often very quickly.

Furthermore, there are two types of mania:

  • Dysphoric Mania
  • Euphoric Mania

What is Dysphoric Mania?

Dysphoric Mania is another way to refer to bipolar disorder with mixed features. Mixed features involve symptoms of both mania and depression. If a person is experiencing an episode with mixed features it means that they are either having a depressive episode with at least three signs of mania or they are having a manic episode with at least three signs of depression.

Dysphoric Mania is a relatively dated term. However, some mental health professionals who use psychoanalysis as treatment may use it to describe the condition of the patient.

An estimated 50 percent of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder experience dysphoric mania or dysphoric hypomania.

During a dysphoric episode, patients experience the symptoms of bipolar disorder, depression, mania, and hypomania– just all at the same time. The mixed episode can make treatment more complicated and can also increase the risk of extreme behavior.

Additionally, individuals with dysphoric mania do not have feelings of euphoria. This difference causes many to view dysphoria mania as the opposite of euphoric mania, although they do have commonalities.

Symptoms of Dysphoric Mania

As previously mentioned, individuals with dysphoric mania, or mixed features, experience usually two to four symptoms of mania as well as at least one symptom of a depressive disorder.

It is crucial for individuals with bipolar disorder, as well as bipolar depression, to understand and acknowledge symptoms of dysphoric mania so that they can seek treatment immediately.

Below is a list of the most common manic symptoms of the dysphoric disorder. Additionally, we’ve listed common depressive symptoms.

Dysphoric Symptoms:

  • Severely depressed mood
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Increased anger and irritability
  • Agitated depression
  • Impulsive decision making
  • Excessive energy
  • Decreased need or desire for sleep

Depression Symptoms:

  • Feeling lethargic or having no energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Long episodes of crying
  • Changes in appetite and sleep
  • Feeling anxious, agitation, or anger
  • Feeling extreme amounts sadness
  • Social isolation
  • Aches and pains in the body
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Difficult or inability to make decisions

Usually, the satisfying mood elevation correlated with mania is lacking from a dysphoric episode. When individuals experiencing mixed mania do experience an elevated mood, it usually alternates rapidly with a severe depressive mood.

What is Euphoric Mania?

Generally, euphoric mania is precisely what it sounds it would be. Individuals with euphoric mania describe the feeling as beautiful, wonderful, exciting, and unbelievable. Everything becomes fascinating. The desire for new experiences dramatically increases with the exciting unknown possibilities.

At first, euphoric mania can be exhilarating. Individuals often have a newfound level of confidence and feel like they are on top of the world. Consequently, as these unstoppable feelings continue, judgment begins to fade. Individuals often make decisions without thought of what the outcome of their actions may be.

Symptoms of Euphoric Mania

The symptoms of euphoric mania can vary depending on the severity of the individual’s mania.

Individuals with bipolar II hypomania may actually enjoy the symptoms of euphoric mania. However, the carefree actions of a euphoric episode are not without consequence. These actions may resemble:

  • Recklessly spending money
  • Having sex with anyone who seems appealing at the time
  • Sleeping significantly less but not feeling tired
  • Poor decision making
  • Impaired insight

Full-blown euphoric mania in bipolar I disorder has more severe consequences and is often dangerous. Individuals experiencing this mania frequently experience a superhuman surge of invincibility. As a result, the grandiose sense of self can lead to the individual acting incredibly selfish and cruel to others. Symptoms of this euphoric mania are:

  • Thoughts of extreme arrogance
  • Not sleeping much or at all for weeks at a time
  • Feelings of hypersexuality
  • Inability to judge the safety of actions
  • Unable to consider the effects of actions
  • Picking up and leaving current living situations on a whim
  • Extreme drug and alcohol abuse due to the inability to realize what has already been consumed

Ultimately, the individual experiencing euphoric mania reaches the inevitable outcome – the end of the manic episode. Initially, euphoric manic episodes feel wonderful, but often end in destruction. Without proper help, euphoric mania can ruin an individual’s relationships, health, and finances. This is why major depression and mania are closely linked.

Coping with Mania

Both dysphoric mania (bipolar disorder with mixed features) and euphoric mania are treatable conditions. It is crucial to work with a mental health professional to manage your condition appropriately.

In addition to working with your doctor, individuals have also found several other coping methods to be effective.

Knowledge is Power

Make sure to know all you can about your condition, including triggers as well manic and depressive symptoms. Moreover, ask questions! Stay informed about all possible treatment and management.

Observation and Prevention

Keeping track of your mood and lifestyle may be able to help prevent an episode. Monitoring patterns and early warning signs can help keep you one step ahead.

Treatment

Stay in treatment! Consistency is key to managing your condition. Even when things feel in control, continuing treatment is necessary for bipolar patients.

Reach Out

You are not alone.

If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned, seeking guidance from a mental health professional is essential for finding the appropriate way to manage your condition. If you don’t currently have access to a mental health professional, ThriveTalk can help. Reach out. We are here to help.

Sources

https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/psychosis/types-of-mania-in-bipolar-disorder/

https://www.healthline.com/health/mania-vs-hypomania

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315016.php

https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/dysphoric-mania#symptoms

https://www.bphope.com/bipolar-disorder-and-mania-surges-urges-and-loud-music/

4 Ways Therapy Can Improve Your Life

As human beings, we all share a desire for a sense of purpose, peace and belonging. We seek love, and happiness. But the hardships of life may distance us from these emotional and spiritual needs. And the farther away we become, the more pain builds.

If you’ve hit “rock bottom,” know that deep beneath your pain lies resiliency, which is stronger than any struggle. You can be resilient, but it may take some help to overcome grief or quell any suffering. Therapy can provide you with the tools and support to become resilient—not only changing your life, but transforming it. Here are four ways therapy can bring you to your feet, so you can not only walk, but soar.

Regain Power

Feeling like you’ve lost control—or that you lose control often—is a sign of emotional distress. Driving a loss of control are triggers, which Therapist Aid refers to as a stimulus that contributes to an unwanted emotional or behavioral response. Does numbing the pain with alcohol, heated anger, overwhelming sadness, toxic jealousy or crippling fear sound all too familiar?

Therapy helps point you in the direction of these triggers as you learn how to make changes (to your environment, relationships, thought processes) to avoid them. If you can’t avoid one, you can then learn how to manage and deal with it head on. You’ll discover the power to react in a non-harmful way. Emotions and physical behaviors become a choice, rather than a negative involuntary reaction.  (1)(2)(3)

Break Free

While triggers can disrupt the rhythm of your life, self-limiting beliefs can hold you back. Generalizations from the past and a tunnel vision on misfortunes, failures or disappointments can uphold these belief systems. You may have conditioned yourself to justify these belief systems as truth. Consider the “self-fulfilling prophecy:” what you believe to be true, is. We can be our own worst energy, or our biggest advocate.

Counseling provides the framework to help dismantle these belief systems—and rebuild new ones that are empowering. Learn to detach yourself from the psychological and emotional states that lock you into attitudes of “I can’t, “I’m not” or “I don’t deserve.” Reconditioning your mindset helps build new beliefs that shape your life’s positive stories. (4)

Find a Support System

Many counseling services offer group therapy sessions where people meet over problems like depression, anger management or addiction. People may join to cope with loss, low self-esteem or obesity. Over time, these groups grow into a safe, non-judgmental community where you can express yourself and know you’re not alone. Group members, along with the psychologist who leads the session, provide diverse perspectives outside the situation. Although talking to friends and family is beneficial, talking with those who share your experiences welcomes objective responses without an emotional investment or hidden agenda.  (5)(6)

Prioritize Self-Care

In therapy, you’re the star. You’re encouraged to put your wellness, your wellbeing, at center stage. Together, you and your counselor can develop a plan of attack that addresses mental, physical and spiritual self-care practices. A professional will provide the tools and coping mechanisms to help you achieve good mental and emotional health, as well as help you stay on track. Maybe it’s as small as taking a shower and getting dressed every day. It could be to stop drinking, make time to relax or prioritize sleep. No matter what you need to focus on, self-care will help you self-heal and reach your wellness. (7)(8)

Be Resilient

If you’re struggling and can’t seem to find sunshine among the darkness, reach out to a certified therapist at [THRIVETALK.COM]. Complete [FORM URL] to learn how you can benefit from therapy through avoiding triggers, believing in yourself, group therapy and self-care. Remember, you’re not alone, and you have what it takes to move forward and up.

How Therapy Can Improve Your Life

 

Life is hard.

We all struggle at some point, and we all could use some extra support during those times. Despite how you feel, it is OK to not be OK.

Admitting you need help to get through the storm is a strong, smart decision. Treatment is not an easy path; therapy takes time, energy and courage. It requires a commitment to self-examination and a willingness to put up with short-term discomfort, but it is one of the best ways to improve your life. It’s also incredibly rewarding and even an action as simple as making an appointment can make you feel better.

But on the other side of the work, on the other side of the self-searching and commitment, a beautiful, fulfilling life awaits you. The right therapist can help you process your feelings, find solutions and change behavior patterns that may be stopping you from achieving self-confidence, reaching your life improvement goals and finding true happiness. This article examines how therapy can improve your life.

How Therapy Can Improve Life

close-up of newtons cradle balance balls with a background of a person having therapy

Therapy Helps You Identify Your Triggers & Avoid Them

Triggers are the external circumstances or events that incite negative feelings and behaviors, such as anxiety, panic or anger. You may be familiar with this term if you or somebody you love is suffering from addiction, as identifying and avoiding triggers that set off drug use is a common tactic in combating addiction.

There are many different types of triggers that set off a wide variety of symptoms. Triggers are part of the human experience and learning about them can help you live a healthier and happier life. Here are some examples:

Emotional triggers. You’ve never felt “enough” for your mother; nothing you do ever seems to please her. Just her presence at your house for Thanksgiving dinner brings about childlike feelings of inadequacy and ineptitude. Whether your partner makes a snide comment or your mom gives you a glare, you snap, the behavioral result of mom’s presence.

Addiction triggers. Longtime smokers will tell you how difficult it is to quit, especially when they do something they’ve always associated with smoking, such as driving or talking on the phone. Other addictions can be triggered by your environment for example, if you’re trying to quit drinking, you probably shouldn’t hang out in bars, because that can heighten the desire to drink (also known as an “exposure trigger”).

Trauma triggers. The brain forms a connection between a stimulus and the feelings associated with a past trauma. For example, say you were abused in your childhood by a man who wore a certain type of cologne. Years later, smelling that cologne could trigger the feelings of panic and helplessness that you experienced during the abuse. This is also called re-experiencing.

Psychiatric/mental health triggers. Eating disorders, self-harming behavior, depression these psychiatric illnesses and many more can be triggered by outside influences. Say someone who is struggling to keep her bulimia under control overhears another person making fun of overweight people that could trigger binge-purge behavior.

How can therapy help?

A licensed therapist is trained to help you identify triggers and develop strategies to avoid them. Since it’s not possible to avoid them entirely, they will also help you learn how to cope with triggers, so you aren’t at their mercy.

What does this look like? Therapy can teach you how to:

  • Identify what may trigger you
  • Accept responsibility for your reaction to the trigger
  • Ask for what you need from others to avoid your triggers
  • Set up healthy boundaries for your emotional and physical health
  • Detach from a situation when necessary and choose a healthier response

Let’s say, for example, your drinking has become a problem. In therapy, your counselor may use resources from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to identify what makes you want to drink and help you develop the necessary coping skills to maintain sobriety. From the workbook:

If drinking changes the way a person acts, thinks, and feels, [you] need to begin by finding out what situations you are most likely to drink in and what you are thinking and feeling in those situations. We call these high-risk situations. What we want to find out is what kinds of things are triggering or maintaining your drinking. Then we can try to develop other ways you can deal with high-risk situations without drinking.

Regardless of what your triggers are and how they affect you, in therapy, you’ll learn ways to stop the trigger from blossoming into progressively worse levels of anxiety and destructive behavior. This takes work, of course, but it is possible to develop strategies that leave you stronger and more confident in your ability to effectively manage triggers when they come up.

Therapy Helps to Identify Core Beliefs Holding You Back

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” Henry Ford

We’re all operating under a set of beliefs that we learned in childhood. These are called core beliefs the ideas and assumptions we hold about ourselves, other people and the world at large. These beliefs are always bubbling under the surface, affecting us, driving us, influencing how we think, feel and act. They become a set of self-fulfilling prophecies that limit what we believe we can achieve and how happy we think we deserve to be.

Some examples of negative core beliefs that may be holding you back in life include:

  • You can’t trust anyone
  • Women should be thin
  • All men lie
  • Women are backstabbers
  • You should stick by family, no matter what
  • You’ll never amount to much
  • You’re not smart
  • You need a partner to be happy
  • You’re not cut out for that job
  • You’re not good enough

How can therapy help?

Therapy enables you to identify the core beliefs that are keeping you from achieving your goals or simply being happy. A trained counselor pays attention to how you speak, noting when you use absolutes like “that’s impossible,” “everybody always” or “no one should.” They also look to see how you speak of yourself. You likely hold beliefs about yourself that you don’t even realize are limiting you.

What a Therapist does

Your therapist may walk you through a series of questions designed to identify core beliefs. These questions may include:

  • Why do you think you are struggling with X?
  • Why do you think others do or don’t struggle with X as well?
  • Do you think you are smart/pretty/competent? Why or why not?
  • Are people good or bad?
  • Is the world kind and loving or scary and dangerous?

Once you know which core beliefs may be holding you back, you and your therapist can examine where they came from and how to dispel them. Choose a “stretch goal” with your therapist something that will get you closer to your overall goal, but which you can take in baby steps as you challenge the long-held beliefs that are limiting you. As you do this work in therapy and reach smaller milestones, you build the self-confidence that’s necessary to challenge negative core beliefs.

This is a part of a larger therapeutic approaches or intervention known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in which you develop coping strategies aimed at changing thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that don’t serve you. A therapist trained in CBT techniques can guide you as you change the negative thinking and behavior that is keeping you from success and happiness.

Group Therapy Provides a Built-in Support System

close-up of individuals in a circle sitting down who are having group therapy

As you look into treatment, you will likely find different types of therapy and an option for group therapy. Just as it sounds, in group therapy, several people with similar issues and goals get together under the guidance and direction of a therapist. The goal of group therapy is to change your behavior, as opposed to joining a support group, in which the goal is to better cope with a particular problem.

Group therapy has a number of benefits, including:

  • Trust. There’s a bond among people who have gone through similar experiences and share common obstacles, a level of trust among peers that are unlike any other.
  • Support. You receive emotional and practical support from the group’s members. Other people have been where you are now and have experienced the same symptoms.
  • Hope. Because the group contains members at different stages of therapy, senior members can share stories of hope with newer members.
  • Feedback. The group’s observations and feedback become an integral part of your personal journey. If your therapist observes something, you might be apt to brush it off, thinking she doesn’t know what she’s talking about but if all eight or 10 members of your group observe the same thing, that’s a little harder to brush off.
  • A sense of belonging. You can see that you’re not the only one going through this and you are not alone.
  • You begin to learn how to relate to others in healthy ways. If you’re having trouble understanding why your relationships aren’t successful, you may learn from the group’s members in ways you could never have spotted on your own.

There’s an additional benefit of group therapy: You might make meaningful friendships that can be an invaluable source of love and encouragement even long after treatment ends. Such friendships form a vital support system that helps us in every area of our lives  mentally, physically and spiritually. Having people you can lean on in good times and bad is critical. 

To get the most out of group therapy:

  • Be honest and forthcoming. Make an effort to be an active participant in the group. Don’t monopolize the discussion every time, but let people in.
  • Learn how to give and receive feedback.  This is one of the biggest benefits of the group dynamic. Pay attention to what your peers have to say. They can often see attitudes and behaviors in you well before you can recognize them in yourself. Give thoughtful feedback as well.
  • Don’t assume what others are thinking or feeling. When in doubt, ask.
  • Follow the rules set forth by the counselor. There’s not much to add to that.

A word about addiction

syringe, pills, bottles, and morphine on a white surface relates to therapy for addiction

Participating in both group therapy and a support group has proven especially beneficial for those who think they may have a drug or alcohol problem. While there are a number of factors that go into why someone has an addiction, decades of research and experience shows that the group dynamic is especially helpful here.

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, you can find group therapy/intensive outpatient treatment by visiting:

Millions of people worldwide have found lasting recovery via the following 12-step groups, faith-based groups and other community-based support groups. Participation in these groups is free. You may wish to look into:

Therapy Helps You Develop & Maintain Good Habits

When we’re facing problems such as extreme stress, depression, anxiety, grief or a particularly traumatic breakup, it’s easy to let up on the things we need to do to take care of ourselves and, it’s not always easy to recognize that this is what we’re doing. In addition, for whatever reason, some of us never developed the habits we need to maintain good emotional and physical health in the first place. Therapy can rectify that by helping you develop healthy habits to improve your life.

A competent therapist can help you identify areas of self-care that need improvement. A professionally trained and objective third party is vital to this process. The goals of self-care are to:

  • Establish habits that promote good physical and emotional health
  • Reduce stress and add more balance to your life
  • Increase your joy and achieve your goals

So what does self-care look like? It will be a little different for everyone, but here’s a general idea:

  • If you’re taking meds, take them as prescribed
  • Attend your treatment sessions; don’t skip because your symptoms are getting better
  • Get out and about don’t isolate
  • Stick to a regular sleeping schedule
  • Exercise, eat right and practice good hygiene
  • Attend support groups regularly
  • Experiment with what brings you joy for example, listen to new types of music, meditate, attend a drum circle, plant a garden
  • Keep a journal
  • Make a vision board
  • Get your nails done or treat yourself to a massage

Self-care is especially important for those suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders and PTSD, as well as those who are coming to terms with violence or abuse. That’s because a lack of energy and motivation is common in those illnesses and situations, as is a sense of self-loathing. These can prevent sufferers from taking proper care of themselves.

Self-care not only improves our lives, but it improves the lives of those close to us. In their book, Work and Family – Allies or Enemies?: What Happens When Business Professionals Confront Life Choices, authors Stewart D. Friedman and Jeffrey H. Greenhaus discovered a positive correlation between the time that working mothers spent practicing self-care and the physical and mental health of their children.

Once you and your therapist identify which healthy habits you’re lacking, set up a plan to incorporate them in your life. A therapist serves as an excellent accountability partner in this regard.

Explore Online Therapy With ThriveTalk

woman sitting on a window sill looking outside thinking of seeking online therapy

Everybody needs help sometimes. Get help if you experience:

  • Symptoms of depression
  • A desire to change something about your life
  • Anxiety that interferes with your ability to carry out normal activities
  • Self-destructive, abusive or violent behavior
  • Behavior associated with eating disorders
  • Grandiose ideas, periods of mania or hyperactivity
  • A history of sexual abuse
  • Compulsive behaviors such as substance abuse or excessive shopping, gambling or sexual activity
  • Inability to move through grief

It’s important to note that therapy isn’t limited to people experiencing the above symptoms. Therapy can help in a number of “life” situations, too, such as when you want to:

  • Resolve relationship problems
  • Stop picking abusive or emotionally unavailable partners
  • Grow in your career and stop underachieving
  • Develop more self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Overcome shyness and isolation
  • Transition from one stage of life to another
  • Find someone to talk to about life’s challenges
  • Ensure a better quality of life

ThriveTalk provides online therapy or online counseling services for those who prefer teletherapy and are ready and willing to explore their issues with a licensed therapist. ThriveTalk provides therapy when and where you want it.

Are you ready to learn what’s stopping you from becoming truly self-confident and living the life of your dreams? Schedule an online therapy session with a qualified counselor who can help you identify and correct what’s holding you back from success and happiness. Contact us to set up an appointment for online counseling therapy with ThriveTalk. Get started today.

Gaslighting: Signs You’re Suffering From This Secret Form of Emotional Abuse

What is Gaslighting?

You know that you are self-aware. You have strong opinions, defined goals, and at the core, you know who you are.

Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, you begin doubting things. Questioning people’s motives. Second-guessing what you want and who you are. Your confidence turns to suspicion. You feel neurotic and paranoid. You may even start to wonder, “am I going crazy?”

You’re not crazy.

If you can identify with any of the feelings just mentioned, you may be a victim of the modern dating trend: Gaslighting.

Definition of Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic in which a person, to gain power and control, plants seeds of uncertainty in the victim. The self-doubt and constant skepticism slowly and meticulously cause the individual to question their reality.

Perhaps the best way to examine this inherently abusive behavior is to go straight to the source, the 1944 film “Gaslight.” The film tells a story of a husband systematically brainwashing his wife to the point that she legitimately thinks she is going insane. The wife fights to protect her identity all while her husband viciously tries to take it away.

While it never disappeared, over seven decades later, gaslighting has fully resurfaced in the dating world. Additionally, the term has resurfaced recently in some online publications to describe President Trump.

Additionally, the movie Gaslight also touches on how gaslighting can lead to the victim developing a form of Stockholm Syndrome. The victim becomes so uncertain of their sense of reality that they are now solely dependent on the gaslighter.

Who is at risk?

One of the most troubling aspects of gaslighting is that everyone is at risk. In fact, it is a method commonly used by cult leaders and dictators. While, many of us have the good sense to not join a cult, we can experience gaslighting in our personal relationships without even realizing it.

Unfortunately, gaslighting is also used by abusers and narcissists, and it can be difficult realizing you may have those people in your life. Furthermore, gaslighting happens in a deliberately slow, precise way to ensure that the victim doesn’t realize it’s even happening.

It’s hard to recognize this type of abuse because in addition to lying, the gaslighter may also be incredibly charming. At first, you may even find yourself feeling guilty that you are second-guessing this individual. The abuser uses tactics to prove your concerns otherwise and quickly you begin ignoring your gut. If it was wrong the first couple of times, it must always be wrong. This confusion is precisely what the abuser wants. As a result, without even realizing it, you are in an abusive relationship.

Examples of Gaslighting

So, are you a victim of gaslighting manipulation? Take a look at the following tell-tale signs of gaslighting behavior:

1. Blatant lying

First, people who gaslight tell obvious lies. You know that they are lying. The issue is how they are lying with such ease. The gaslighter is setting up an abusive pattern. You begin to question everything and become uncertain of the simplest matters. This self-doubt is exactly what the gaslighter wants.

2. Deny, Deny, Deny

Again, you know they said what they said. However, they completely deny ever saying it. The gaslighter may push the point and ask you to ‘prove it,’ knowing that you only have your memory of the conversation that they are denying happened. It starts to make you question your memory and your reality. You begin to wonder if the gaslighter is right, maybe they didn’t really ever say what you remember. Consequently, more and more often, you question your reality and accept theirs.

3. Using what you love against you

Additionally, people who gaslight use what is closest to you against you. If you love your job, they will find issues with it. If you have children, the gaslighter may force you to believe you should never have had them. This abusive manipulation tactic causes the victim to question the foundation of themselves as well as what they hold close.

4. The slow death of self

One of the terrifying parts of gaslighting is the methodical timeline that the abuser uses. The manipulation happens gradually and over time the victim morphs into someone entirely different. The most confident human being can become a shell of a person without being aware of it in the process. The victim’s individual reality diminishes and becomes that of the abuser.

5. Words vs. Actions

Notably, a person who gaslights talks and talks. However, their words mean nothing. Therefore, it is important to look at what they are doing. The issues lie in their abusive actions towards the victim.

6. Love and flattery

A common technique of a person who gaslights is to tear you down and then build you back up, only to tear you down again. However, the uneasiness comes from the love and flattery. Whether you realize it or not, you are becoming used to being torn down. However, the praise may lead you to think that the abuser isn’t all that bad.

7. Confusion

Without a doubt, people crave stability, and the gaslighter knows this. The constant confusion that the abuser has instilled leads the victim to become desperate for clarity. More often than not, the victim searches for this clarity in the abuser, thus continuing the cycle and increasing the power that the abuser has.

8. Projecting

If the gaslighter is a liar and a cheater, they are now accusing you of being a liar and a cheater. You constantly feel like you need to defend yourself for things you haven’t done.

9. “You’re crazy”

The gaslighter knows you are already questioning your sanity. The gaslighter also knows that you search for clarity in the person who is purposefully causing the confusion. Therefore, when they call you crazy, you believe it.

Furthermore, the gaslighter may also tell other people that you’re crazy. This way if you were ever to approach them for help with your abuser, they wouldn’t believe you. The gaslighter has given them a heads up that this would happen. You’re too “crazy” to be taken seriously.

10. Everyone else is a liar

The abuser may also tell you that everyone else is against you and that they are all liars. Again, believing that everyone else is lying to you forces your sense of reality to be further blurred. People who gaslight want their victims to turn to them for everything so that they can continue the abuse.

Ultimately, the quicker you can pick up on these gaslighting techniques, the better luck you will have to avoid a gaslighter’s abuse and maintain the distinct reality of your circumstances.

Gaslighting Abuse

Gaslighting is a form of mental and emotional abuse. It promotes anxiety, depression, and can trigger mental breakdowns.

Culturally, women are depicted as overly emotional, fragile things who cry at the drop of a hat. Furthermore, the label “crazy” is eagerly placed on any individual who expresses their feelings in a passionate way. You don’t like certain behaviors – you’re crazy. You have your own opinions – you’re crazy. As a result, crazy has become a term that others use to get off the hook for their own behavior.

However, gaslighting is not women being overly emotional or crazy. Gaslighting is psychological abuse and cannot be overlooked.

The Gaslighter

Gaslighting is a technique commonly used by narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths. Since these are words we typically hear on television to describe a serial killer, you may not realize this person may be in your day to day life.

Narcissist

On a surface level, narcissistic people have an excessive admiration or obsession with themselves. Narcissistic abuse stems from the narcissist’s utter inability to empathize with others. Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be extremely manipulative and have no regard for the well-being of its victim.

Sociopath

Sociopaths exhibit complete lack of shame or remorse for their actions. The personality disorder is loosely defined as a person with no conscience.

Psychopath

Psychopaths are people suffering from a chronic mental disorder that causes abnormal and violent social behavior.

While psychopaths, narcissists, and sociopaths are all over pop-culture, they are also everywhere in our day to day lives; we just may not realize it.

Gaslighting in Relationships

Important to realize, any relationship can be a victim of gaslighting.

Gaslighting in a romantic relationship may be easier to notice, and the end goal of the abuser is often apparent to others. More often than not, in romantic relationships, the motive of gaslighting is to gain control.

Conversely, gaslighting at work, or in relationships with friends or family members, can be more difficult to detect. It usually always involves control, money, or infidelity. Coupled with premeditated manipulation and gaslighting tactics, the people who gaslight usually get what they want and are successful at covering things up.

How To Deal With Gaslighting

Gaslighting emotional abuse causes psychological distress for its victims. With that being said, if you have experienced one form of gaslighting or another, you’re not alone.

The following list may help when faced with gaslighting:

  • First, try to clarify who is gaslighting you and how. Take notes of any time you have questioned your perception of reality. In order to move on, you need to confirm the gaslighting is happening.
  • Additionally, set aside time to meditate. This will help you stay grounded and objective if the reality of your situation is ever questioned.
  • Talk to friends or family members who you trust. Seek guidance from a therapist or mental health professional.
  • Finally, shift your perspective. You are no longer a victim, you are a survivor.

Time to Rebuild

By and large, we are living in an unusual and frightening time.  Gaslighting is being referred to as the newest dating trend and even our President is being accused of gaslighting.

The good news is, you can repair the damage. It is entirely possible to regain the confidence and self-worth that you lost at the hands of the abuser. Knowledge and awareness are crucial for the regrowth of clarity and sense of self. You’re already on your way.

Sources

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/1/21/14315372/what-is-gaslighting-gaslight-movie-ingrid-bergman

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-warning-signs-gaslighting

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/toxic-relationships/201801/how-know-if-youre-victim-gaslighting

https://lonerwolf.com/gaslighting/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5489585/Gaslighting-modern-dating-trend-leave-damaged.html