Congratulations! You’ve finally found a therapist that you feel safe and comfortable with, and you’ve come out of your first teletherapy session feeling supported and empowered. Now comes the challenging part — staying the course on your journey to better mental health.
According to MindNation Operations Head Jen Alonte, it’s important to return for follow-up therapy sessions so that your psychologist or WellBeing Coach can check on your progress. “Most mental health concerns are caused by long periods of unresolved problems or issues that cannot be ‘cured’ in just one session, especially if the concern is something serious like depression or anxiety,” she says. “And even if you ‘feel better’ after just one session, it does not hurt to have follow-up sessions to solidify whatever therapy was introduced in case a trigger occurs.”
“Most mental health concerns are caused by long periods of unresolved problems or issues that cannot be ‘cured’ in just one session,”
Jen Alonte, MindNation Operations Head
That being said, continuously showing up for therapy is a fairly major commitment in terms of time, emotional space, and finances. This is why it’s important that you put in the time, energy, and effort into every session so that you do not waste valuable resources — both yours and your therapist’s.Jen shares some tips for ensuring that no money, time, or energies are wasted:
Eliminate distractions. Keep your cellphone on silent, and make sure you are doing your teletherapy session somewhere calm and quiet. “Make sure there are no other people around who will vie for your attention,” Jen says. Lastly, don’t schedule your session right before or after a meeting so that your mind is not filled with distracting thoughts.
Come prepared. “A day before your session, think about what you want to discuss with the therapist and write them down so that you don’t miss anything,” Jen suggests. Also, don’t forget to check if your Internet connection is stable and that your device’s camera and microphone are working so that you do not run into technical problems in the middle of the session.
Be seen. Even though MindNation teletherapy sessions are also available through voice chat or sms chat, the best set-up would still be one where the therapist sees your face. “This is because psychologists can learn a lot from facial expressions and other non-verbal cues,” Jen explains.
Be open. No need to be afraid or shy; psychologists, psychiatrists, and WellBeing Coaches are trained professionals whose job is to listen without bias or judgement and offer the best kind of support. “Our psychologists mostly use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a form of treatment, so what you say will help them determine the right course of treatment for you,” Jen explains. “So if you hold back, the advice that they will give will also be limited.”
Give feedback after the session. MindNation Care Coordinators send feedback forms to clients after they complete a session. “Be sure to fill in the form honestly. This is because by default, we will always assign you to the same therapist for follow-up sessions since they already know your background. But if you are not comfortable with the therapist for whatever reason, let us know right away so that we can assign you to someone else,” Jen assures.
Getting the most out of therapy might be challenging at times, but if you are committed to taking care of your mental health and participate in therapy sessions properly, you can help yourself achieve better mind, better you.
MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions via video call, voice call, or sms chat. Rest assured that all conversations will be kept secure and confidential. Book a session now through Facebook Messenger https://bit.ly/mn-chat or email [email protected].
Do you have difficulty telling your partner you are frustrated at them? Do a friend’s annoying habits trigger you, but you choose to stay silent to keep the peace?
This is where knowing the difference between constructive and destructive criticism comes in.
“It’s important to relay feedback to a loved one even when it’s negative because we want to help our loved ones to become better versions of themselves,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. “Additionally, when we are able to go through difficult communications with our partners unscathed, the relationship becomes stronger.”
This does not mean you have to call them out about every little annoyance; some things are better left unsaid. “As long as what you are saying helps the person improve and does not make them question their self-worth or self-confidence, then that is constructive criticism,” Jessa says. “Everything else is just nitpicking.”
Ready to have the constructively critical conversation? Here are some do’s and don’ts for relaying feedback to your loved one:
“It’s important to relay feedback to a loved one even when it’s negative because we want to help our loved ones to become better versions of themselves.”
Jessa Mae Rojas, MindNation Psychologist
Time it right. Don’t do it when they are tired after a long day, or if YOU are tired after a long day. And especially do not get into the conversation when you are angry because you might end up saying something destructive instead. If tempers are high, step out of the room for awhile, take deep breaths, or do activities to distract you until you calm down.
Focus on specific behaviors, not on your partner’s whole personality. Don’t just say, “You’re just no fun.” Get specific instead by saying, “I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to enjoy online parties with my friends. Can you tell me why so I can understand better?”
Give your partner a chance to explain or offer feedback. You have had your chance to speak, now it’s to sit back and listen. Remember that you are having a dialogue, not a monologue.
Diagnose your loved one. “I think you have mental health issues,” or “Wow, your childhood really messed with your brain” will only deviate the conversation from the main issue.
Make “You” statements. If you say, “You are impossible to talk to and you just don’t listen,” your partner will justifiably feel defensive. “I sometimes find it difficult to talk with you,” is a much more positive way to broach the subject.
If despite your best efforts your criticism is received in a negative light, don’t fan the flames by responding angrily. Instead, seek to understand why your loved one is acting this way. “Have a heart to heart talk; ask them ‘How would you want me to talk to you about this next time? Would you rather I write it down or send you a text message first, instead of talking to you about it directly?’” Jessa suggests. “These can help pave the way for more productive conversations in the future.”
If you and your partner are having difficulty communicating with each other, MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7 to help you build a stronger and lasting relationship. Message https://bit.ly/mn-chat to book a session now!
Harrison Ford was a carpenter before being casted as Han Solo in the “Star Wars” movies. Today, he is one of the world’s best-known actors and an enduring pop culture icon.
When Michael Jordan retired from basketball in 2003, he shifted to professional baseball and then to running his own business. In 2014, he became the first billionaire player in NBA history; he is also currently the 5th-richest African-American.
Finally, Sara Blakely was selling office supplies door-to-door when she got the idea for making shapewear; the company that she founded is now a household name — Spanx.
What do these people have in common? They all got to where they are now by stepping out of their comfort zones.
“A comfort zone is not a physical place,” says Monique Ong, co-founder and chairman of MindNation. “It is a frame of mind, a place where you feel comfortable and your abilities are not being tested.” In other words, comfort zones are comfortable, safe ways of living and working, usually in a set routine.
Staying in one’s comfort zone has its advantages — you have zero stress, you complete tasks faster, and you don’t expend as much mental energy.
However, it also has its drawbacks — you don’t learn new skills, become complacent, and even miss out on opportunities for growth.
“Growth only happens when you are learning, and learning only happens when you encounter something new,” Monique points out. “When you make changes and take risks, you transition and even evolve into someone better, and sometimes in the process you even transform those around you.”
Monique’s life has been all about expanding her comfort zones. After graduating top of her class from one of the most prestigious universities in the Philippines in 2000, she embarked on a storied career in Marketing for three Fortune 500 companies for over two decades, lived in seven different countries in the process, and even started her own business. But in June 2017, while on a business trip in Singapore, sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). She spent 21 days in a coma and had to undergo three brain surgeries. When she woke up, she did not know how to eat, sit, or walk. Doctors told her that because of her injury, her brain was now only operating at 40% capacity. She was also diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder arising from a severe TBI that causes the patient to have trouble speaking, reading, writing, and understanding language. And finally, because of the swelling in her brain, she became blind in one eye.
“Changes don’t have to be big, and they do not have to happen overnight. By simply being creative, you can make small tweaks to your routine while you are on lockdown and already challenge yourself.”
Monique Ong, MindNation Co-Founder and Chairman
Monique was told that with therapy, her brain capacity could improve up to 80% — at the most. But she refused to let doctors determine her fate; in her quest to return to her normal life, she challenged herself and those tasked to treat her. She demanded daily speech therapy, even if her therapists only suggested that she see them thrice a week. She also asked for homework, and spent every day answering grammar worksheets, writing in a journal, and practicing giving presentations. She even started a light boxing exercise regimen with her physical therapist. On top of all these, she resumed planning for her wedding, which would be held 11,000 kilometers away in southern France.
When she was tested by her neurologist six months after her accident, her brain was operating at 95%.
In 2019, she co-founded MindNation, an innovative mental health and well-being company that has grown globally as a trusted partner for organizations and communities alike. She is proof that if we step out of your comfort zone, take risks, and face challenges head-on, we can evolve our lives, relationships, and even careers into something better. “Maybe not right away, and definitely not guaranteed,” Monique cautions. “But at least there is that possibility.”
From the comfort zone to the growth zone
This is not to say that you do need to experience a life-altering accident to challenge yourself, or move to another country to experience taking risks. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it virtually impossible for us to have adventures. But all these do not mean we have to resign ourselves to a life of idleness and inactivity. “Changes don’t have to be big, and they do not have to happen overnight,” Monique advises. “By simply being creative, you can make small tweaks to your routine while you are on lockdown and already challenge yourself.”
Here are some of the things Monique does to continuously challenge her comfort zone even when she is homezoned:
Working out is synonymous with challenging yourself. Monique is currently working with a personal trainer online, even though exercising is one of the things that she doesn’t like to do. “Because of our one-on-one set-up, my coach is constantly focused on me, always telling me to squat lower or bend deeper. I hate it, but I end up learning that I can do things I never thought possible.”
For those who love exercising, one way to stay challenged is to change up your workout program from time to time. Don’t just brush off yoga because you think you’ll never be able to touch your toes or disregard strength training because it seems intimidating. Stepping outside your fitness comfort zone can help you spice up your routine, help break a fitness plateau, and even increase your motivation.
Veer away from comfort foods.
Trying new dishes is one of the easiest ways you step out of your comfort zone. “If you’ve been having your meals constantly delivered like me, order a dish that you’ve never ordered before or that you think you’ll never like,” Monique suggests. “Or another from a different restaurant entirely. Even if you end up not liking the food, you are slowly training your brain to adapt to risk-taking. Next time, when you take on bigger challenges, they won’t seem so scary anymore.”
Make lockdown date nights as close to real date nights as possible.
Before lockdowns happened, date nights meant dressing up, candlelit dinners at romantic restaurants, and evenings filled with meaningful conversations. But if you and your partner have been isolating at home 24/7 for more than two years now, there are ways to break this routine and rekindle the spark.
“When we order food on date nights, my partner and I make sure to remove them from the takeout containers and place them on real plates. We also use real utensils and bring out the formal glassware — even if we’re just drinking water,” Monique shares. “Finally, we make sure to dress up, sit facing each other at the dining table — not in front of the tv — and put our phones away for 2 hours so that we can have an honest-to-goodness conversation. These take a lot of effort, but in doing so we make the experience more meaningful.”
Dare to have uncomfortable conversations.
“The pandemic has made talking to friends boring because there is no longer anything new to share,” Monique points out. “‘What’s new with you?’ ‘Nothing, I’m still stuck at home like you.’ So instead of asking people about their day during virtual catch-ups, introduce topics you never used to talk about, like world affairs or philosophical questions. These may be boring topics, but talking about them can help everyone learn something new and even take your relationship to a whole new level.”
Expand your professional skill set.
Monique may be the chairman of a company, but she still blocks time in her calendar every day for strategic thinking and planning. This includes updating herself on what competitors are doing, reading up on industry trends, and holding discussions with the team to stay on top of issues and concerns. “By doing these, I grow not only myself but also the business,” she says.
Not a C-suite executive? You can still challenge your professional comfort zone even if you are a junior team member. “Take on an extra project on top of what you are already doing — being mindful of your own capacities and limitations, of course,” Monique suggests. “Another way is to enroll in that digital marketing course, for example, even if you don’t know the difference between ‘reach’ and ‘engagement.’ Or reach out to your manager and ask if you can schedule a short meeting, to get feedback and advice on your current path.”
“Investing in skills like these not only represent a new challenge, they can build resilience, foster creativity, refresh your confidence, and open up more opportunities than ever,” she adds.
At first glance, there is nothing wrong with choosing to stay in your comfort zone. Here, you stay safe, predictable, and it’s not as if you will kill anyone for doing so. “But what it will kill is any purpose, meaning, or surprise in your life,” Monique points out. “When you don’t try new things, you won’t have any excitement, originality, or new motivation about anything.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing us to change our perspectives on how to live, act, and interact with others. “Use the time spent in lockdown to look for opportunities that will challenge your comfort zone; the result is either you say ‘This really isn’t for me,’ or you become so comfortable with the experience that you grow from it and it becomes your new comfort zone,” Monique says.
While arguments and disagreements between family members are normal, it’s important to distinguish between normal fights and toxic behavior.
“A relationship is toxic when it is not harmonious, when negative moments outweigh the positive ones,” explains Aiza Tabayoyong, a family and relationship expert from the Love Institute, a pioneering company equipping couples, parents, and individuals with skills on how to have fulfilling relationships with those dearest to them.
The fights do not even have to be direct or explosive confrontations to be considered toxic. “The hurting can come in many forms,” points out Aiza. “It can be verbal abuse in the form of sarcasm, some subtle teasing, or giving the other person the silent treatment.
It can even be passive-aggressive behaviors — like leaving the soap dish full of water knowing you’re the next one to use the soap, or finishing up all the food when they know it’s your favorite. At first glance, these behaviors are simply annoying. But if they occur constantly and the person does not change their ways even if you ask them to, they become hurtful and disrespectful, which leads to repressed anger, and becoming toxic.”
Toxic relationships are bad not only for the relationship but also for the mental, emotional, and physical health of the people involved. “In a toxic relationship, your body and brain are constantly in a fight or flight mode because of so much stress,” explains Aiza.
“In the long-term, this negative energy will literally become toxic in your system, and can also lead to different mental health challenges like depression or anger management issues,” she adds.
“The fights do not even have to be direct or explosive confrontations to be considered toxic. The hurting can come in many forms. It can be verbal abuse in the form of sarcasm, some subtle teasing, or giving the other person the silent treatment.”
Aiza Tabayoyong, family and relationship expert from the Love Institute
How to move forward
Repairing a toxic relationship takes time, patience, and diligence. This is because most toxic relationships often occur as a result of longstanding and unresolved issues in the current relationship, or as a result of unaddressed issues from prior relationships.
If you truly want the situation with your family member to change for the better, there are some things you can do to turn things around:
Stay away from the source of the toxicity as much as you can. This can be hard to do these days when you are isolated at home with the other person and cannot literally go away, so it would help if you have a room of your own where you can take a breath. If not, Aiza recommends putting up some form of psycho-emotional shield, such as meditating, listening to music, praying, and also reminding yourself that you are distinct and different from the other person.
“It’s important to cut the emotional connections especially if the other person knows your buttons,” she advises. “Instead of thinking ‘ There’s something going on with my loved one and it’s affecting me,’ shift the mindset to ‘There’s something going on with my loved one, I need to move away from striking distance so I will not be affected.’”
Regroup and recollect. Once you’ve had your space and are in a better place, know your options. According to Aiza, there are three:
Option A: Are you going to accept the person’s behavior and just choose to live with it? The downside is you will need to set very firm boundaries to cope with the toxic behaviors, and the boundaries may become so rigid that you will be permanently disconnected from the other person.
Option B: Will you give hints and hope that the other person will get that you are affected by his or her particular behavior? In this case, be prepared for the possibility that they will never get it.
Option C: Ask for a dialogue with the other person. “Approach the other person with a sense of compassion, because he or she might be going through something that you are not aware of,” instructs Aiza. “Then use ‘I’ statements to convey how you feel, such as ‘I feel __ when you do __.’ This way, you are letting them know the effect of their behavior — not their personality or their character — on you. They won’t feel attacked, and the chances of them being defensive or angry will be minimized.”
On the other hand, lashing out with “You’re so inconsiderate!” or “You always/never think of others,” is exhibiting judgement and will make the other person want to prove you wrong. He or she will lash back with, “That’s not true, I am very considerate, do you know how much I do for this family, etc. etc.”
Talk to a professional. “Talking to a psychologist can provide you with a sounding board to process your feelings or help you view things from another perspective,” says Aiza.
Dealing with toxic family members who are older than you
It’s easier to have difficult conversations with peers — like siblings or your partner — than with older members of the family like parents or the parents in-law. What should be done if they are the ones exhibiting toxic behavior?
At the very least, try to make the relationship civil. If the relationship has been sour for so long already, you cannot expect the other person to be as empathetic or compassionate to your pleas. “Bring the relationship first to neutral ground by knowing the other person’s love language, something that will build favor and allow you to reconnect,” shares Aiza.
Present your case in a way that it’s beneficial for both parties. “Start by saying ‘I know it has been difficult for both of us; I’m sorry if I knowingly or unknowingly offended you or hurt you. I want to improve things around the house or our relationship, may I talk about it when you are available?’” suggests Aiza. “If they are ready, they will say yes. If they are not ready and say no, at least you tried.”
In the case of in-laws, ask for help from your partner/their child. “Ask your partner to mediate and make things better, or bring you up in a better light,” she says.
How to reduce being toxic towards others
Because we are human, it’s highly possible that we are treating family members unpleasantly without even realizing it. How can we become less toxic people ourselves?
Get feedback. “Ask trusted people whom you know will not hurt you for feedback. For parents, if you have a good enough sense of your self-worth, ask your kids ‘How is mommy doing? Is there anything you would like me to do so I can be a better mom?’” suggests Aiza.
If there is no one to ask, just be observant of yourself. “What is your own level of stress that you may be bringing into your relationships. How happy are you with your life? How contented are you?” Aiza asks.
If you prefer a scientific approach, MindNation has an online WellBeing Quiz that you can take for free to check on your mental status and happiness level. If you score Healthy or Thriving, then you are in good shape and no one is affected by you; but if you are Fading or Burned Out and you realize that there are people you rub the wrong way or people who trigger you, you might want to step back and see where that’s coming from.
“Is it because you’re tired? Or maybe you have some unresolved issues that need to be resolved?” asks Aiza. “Whatever it is, you might want to work on those now, because a lot of our past issues manifest either in relationships or at work.”
Make time for self-care. “This is very, very important, especially if there are other people counting on you,” Aiza stresses. “Self-care is whatever it looks like for you, whether it’s doing breathwork, meditating, walking under the sun (just make sure to stay safe), bingeing a little bit of tv, or talking to your friends and finding a reason to really belly laugh.”
For Aiza, the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique opportunity for the family to work on their issues and become stronger. “Think of it as a forced team building exercise,” Aiza says. “Now is the perfect time to look at any problems that you may have, take a pause, and deliberately work on them.”
MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions if you need help addressing relationship issues, past traumas, or to work on yourself. Book a slot now through FB Messenger or email [email protected].
Everything we do in our day-to-day life affects the planet, from the straws that we use to drink our milk tea to how often we leave the lights on in our home. Now more than ever, it is important that our actions and decisions do not contribute to the further damage of the environment.
The first step to achieving this is by adopting eco-friendly practices. “This means buying products that do not contribute to air, water, and land pollution, as well as making it a habit to conserve resources like water and energy,” says Potxee De Castro, Sustainability Officer of Planet CORA, a non-government organization dedicated to protecting #LifeBelowWater and #LifeOnLand, and to empowering everyone to take aggressive #ClimateAction for the future of our youth.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of reducing, reusing, and recycling, the next step would be practicing sustainable living, which means being conscious and cautious of how you interact with your home appliances, how you travel from one place to another, how much you buy, and more — all in order to protect and improve the environment.
“It’s important to practice sustainable living because you are ensuring the quality of life of future generations,” Potxee says.
“When you do something right, you feel right.”
Potxee de Castro, Planet CORA
Another reason to practice sustainability is not just its positive impact on the environment, but also its effect on one’s mental health. “When you do something right, you feel right,” Potxee points out. “Whenever you feel that everything else in your world is falling apart, just knowing that you are doing something good, not just for yourself but for the sake of others, will make you feel better about yourself.”
It’s possible to practice sustainable living right in the comforts of your own home and among your circle of friends.
Potxee recommends 10 phases to get you started:
#10: Decluttering starts at home. “Start by going through your things — what do you need, and what do you really, really need?” Potxee advises. “By filtering your items, you get to start thinking about your spending and consumption habits, which leads to better decision-making about how you can maximize your existing resources, and how you can share your excesses with others.” For the people who like to collect as a hobby (be it toys, shoes, or designer bags), this does not mean they have to give up their pastime. “If collecting really brings them joy and they can’t stop doing it, ask them to do something good for others or for the planet in exchange for every new item that they acquire, like donate some of their clothes or not buy a beverage that comes in a plastic container for that week,” suggests Potxee.
#9: One plant at a time. No need to create an indoor garden — you can make do with just little pots of herbs or flowers. “And even if you don’t have a green thumb, just keep trying!” Potxee advises. “You gain experience just by making the effort to let a plant live, and you also get to appreciate life from a different perspective.”
#8: Refuse single use. “It’s so hard to do this now during the pandemic because we rely on deliveries to provide us with our essential needs, and more often than not these deliveries come with huge amounts of plastic and bubble wrap to protect the items,” Potxee says. One way to resolve this is to be very insistent when you place your orders that your items should come with minimal to zero plastic packaging or utensils (if you are ordering food). Another way is to be resourceful and look for alternative products that are closer to home, so that you just can personally pick them up using your own containers and bag.
#7: Count your carbon footprint like you’re counting calories. At home, you can do this by conserving electricity. “If you must turn on the air-conditioning, try to gather everyone in one room so you don’t turn on so many units,” says Potxee. Other ways to save electricity include turning off unnecessary lights, maximizing use of natural light, and unplugging unused electronics. #6: Save water. Even though water covers 70 percent of our planet, only 3 percent of it is fresh water. As a result, some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water to drink, bathe in, or irrigate their farm fields with. In addition, rivers and lakes are becoming too polluted to use, and climate change is altering patterns of weather and water around the world, causing shortages and droughts in some areas and floods in others. So conserve water. “Take shorter showers; turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving; use your washing machine only when you have a full load, and use the water from the final rinse to water your plants or flush your toilet,” advises Potxee.
#5: Don’t hate, educate. “I used to feel really bad towards people who would call me pushy or finicky for reminding them to stop using plastic straws or pay attention to their carbon footprint,” Potzee shares. “But later on I learned that if I took the time to patiently explain things to them and increase their awareness of the issue, I could influence them to change their ways.”
#4: Ditch and switch. Switch to items that are eco-friendlier. “But do you research so that you balance cost with quality,” reminds Potxee.
#3: Pose and post. Leverage the reach of your social media followers to influence people to make better choices.
#2: Lead by example. Don’t say one thing but do another. Whatever you do will be watched and emulated, so make sure you hold yourself to the same standards you preach to others.
#1: Consistency is key. “Nobody’s perfect, and there will be times when we will inevitably encounter plastic items — someone gifts us with a drink that’s in a plastic cup, for example. In this case, go ahead and enjoy that drink, but just don’t forget to throw it in the proper recycling bin when you are done,” says Potxee.
On the surface, it can be incredibly daunting to reduce your environmental footprint especially when you feel that you are just one person and will probably not make a difference. But when you break it down into the small phases outlined above, you will realize that you have more power than you thought.
We’ve all been asked questions that are no one else’s business: “Why are you still single?” “Why don’t you have kids yet?” “Are you gay?” “How much do you make?”
Our first instinct would be to get angry at the intrusiveness of the questions, but Luis Villarroel, psychologist and founder of Kintsugi Psy (https://www.facebook.com/kintsugi.psy), advises that we should first give the one asking the benefit of the doubt. “Sometimes, people ask things they shouldn’t because they’re bored, they’re curious, or they’re looking for intrigue. But it’s also possible that they just don’t know any better,” he points out.
What to do instead? Answer honestly — and by honestly, Luis means to answer based on how you feel about the question. How to find out? Here are some things you can do the next time someone asks you something that makes you squirm:
First, determine the other person’s motives.
Ask questions in return, such as: “Why are you curious?” or “Why do you ask that?”
If the person is really persistent, ask: “Is there something going on in your life that you want to know more about mine?”
These questions will help you understand the person’s intentions and guide you into making your next move, which is to answer, to decline, or to disengage.
If you want to answer, go right ahead.
“There is no shame in that,” Luis says. Just make sure that answering is what you really want to do; do not answer for the sake of being polite (a common reaction if the one asking is an older relative or a superior at work), or because you feel guilty or are being pressured. Doing so will only take a toll on your mental health.
“There is a difference between answering politely and answering healthily. If you are polite (for example: you just give an uneasy laugh), the other person might not realize that their questions are inappropriate or are making you uncomfortable,” points out Luis. “They might keep asking it the next time you meet, which means you have to keep up the charade and bottle up your feelings, all of which could also affect your mental health later on.
“There is a difference between answering politely and answering healthily.”
Luis Villarroel RPsy
If you would rather decline answering, make it simple and straight to the point.
Say things like: “Sorry I’m not comfortable answering that”, “I don’t want to talk about that”, or “Can we talk about something else? I’m not in the mood to talk about that.”
There is no need to antagonize or fight with the person (i.e. “You’re so rude” or “That’s so offensive”); not all battles have to be fought.
If the other person keeps pressing the issue, know that you have every right to disengage by walking away.
“Everyone has the fundamental right to privacy. Everyone is entitled to share what they want to share and withhold what they want to withhold,” Luis points out. “Do not let the other person, whether intentionally or not, manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do.”
Finally, when you have some time alone, Luis advises that you reflect on your thoughts, values, and principles.
After all, events –and questions — by themselves are not positive or negative. What makes them good or bad is how we perceive them. There may not really be any malice in the question being asked. “Ask yourself why you perceive some questions as ‘intrusive’? What about those questions makes them ‘bad’ or ‘rude’ to you? Why do they make you uncomfortable?” Luis suggests.
If you do find the reason, and are content with your belief that they are too personal to answer, then go ahead and defend your right NOT to answer them the next time you are asked. On the other hand, you might end up realizing that you can answer those questions after all, and you will become better for it,” he says.