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Featured Mental Health 101

Hello, D.E.A.R: A Communication Technique For Setting Boundaries

We know how important setting boundaries are to our mental health and well-being. However, it can be hard to communicate these boundaries or call out those who cross them. We fear that insisting on setting boundaries may make us seem difficult, unfriendly, or even troublesome.

Fortunately, the D.E.A.R conversation technique – developed by Dialectical Behaviour Therapist Dr Marsha Linehan in the 1990s – can be used to effectively remind people about your need for setting boundaries without hurting their feelings. MindNation psychologist Maria Teresa Empleo explains below:

D is for DESCRIBE

“Describe the situation where your boundaries were crossed, sticking to facts and neutral terms,” says Maria. This means when someone oversteps your physical boundaries for example, you say something like “I notice that you like to hug me when you see me in the morning” instead of inserting an opinion such as “You’re so inconsiderate of my personal space.” Try to give the other person the benefit of the doubt; they may be wholly unaware of your boundaries.

E is for EXPRESS

When people upset your boundaries, stick to “I” statements when calling them out. An example would be “I feel uncomfortable when you do this” or “I don’t feel happy when you do that.” Do not label, i.e. “Calling me after office hours is so rude” or question the other person’s intentions, i.e. “You keep interrupting me during work, do you want me to lose my job?” “These will only hurt the person or make them defensive, and you will lose any chance of an amicable resolution,” reminds Maria.

When people upset your boundaries, stick to “I” statements when calling them out.

MindNation psychologist Maria Teresa Empleo

A is for ASSERT

“Specifically tell them what you want to happen in the future, such as ‘I would appreciate it if you would greet me in the morning with a high-five instead of a hug,’” suggests Maria.  “Or ‘I prefer that you send work-related messages between 8AM to 5PM only.’ Do not hem and haw, say “Maybe” or “Sorry,” or be vague, as in “I’m sorry, but maybe you could do something else to greet me in the morning?” This can lead to confusion, give the impression that your boundaries are negotiable, and encourage new expectations and demands among those around you.

R is for REINFORCE

“End the conversation on a gracious note,” Maria says. Statements like “I appreciate you hearing me out,” or “Thank you for respecting my boundaries,” will soothe any feelings that may have been hurt or offended and increase the chances of an amicable resolution. 

If despite your best efforts you find it is difficult to set boundaries with someone, you have two choices:

  • Limit contact by physically avoiding the other person or asking someone else to run interference for you. “But in cases of sexual harasment or physical abuse, you have every right to report the threatening behavior to the authorities right away,” Maria cautions.
  • Go no-contact. This can be asking to be transferred to another team or leaving the company altogether, unfriending/unfollowing the person on social media, or going as far as to tell friends and family that you want to minimize contact with the person.

When you are firm in communicating and setting your boundaries, you show that you value yourself, your needs, and your feelings more than the thoughts and opinions of others.

Book the MindNation Self-Love Pack© to get THREE 1-hour consultations with a psychologist who can help you with setting boundaries, living intentionally, and having better relationships with the ones who matter. This plan is available for free when your organization avails of the CareNow Plan© for teams. Visit www.mindnation.com to learn more.

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Mental Health 101

5 Therapy Myths And Misconceptions Debunked

There is no shame in seeking help. MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now https://bit.ly/mn-chat  or [email protected]

No one bats an eye if you go to a doctor for a heart problem; but mention that you are seeing a psychologist for mental health concerns and people will judge, shame, or even criticize you. 

“People avoid therapy because of the stigma surrounding mental health,” explains MindNation psychologist Maria Teresa Empleo. “And because no one wants to talk about it, people just come up with their own ideas of what therapy is about.”

Myths and misconceptions about therapy can prevent those affected from getting potentially life-changing support. If you or a loved one is in distress and are considering professional help, below are five common myths about therapy to stop believing:

MYTH: “Going to therapy means I am crazy.”

FACT: “While there are people who go to therapy for serious mental issues, this does not mean that they are crazy, weak, or hopeless,” Maria stresses. “Rather, going to therapy is an indication that they are mature and have the strength to come out, ask for help, and do whatever is necessary to make themselves better.”

Additionally, you can go to therapy even if you don’t have a major mental disorder. “Majority of people who go to therapy just need help managing everyday problems,” Maria points out. “During this pandemic, for example, my clients are mostly those who want to deal with work stress, relationship problems, and adjustments to the new normal. Many others just want to improve their well-being, relationships, or self-esteem.”

MYTH:  “I need to divulge my deepest and darkest secrets in order to get better.”

FACT: “You and your therapist might have to explore these if they are directly related to your current problem,” Maria admits. “But do know that talking about them can help ease your emotional burden.” 

That being said, going deep and personal is not a requirement for treatment. “Therapy is a safe space. If there are things that you do not want to talk about just yet, we will not pressure you,” she assures. Once you are ready, rest assured that MindNation teletherapy sessions are guaranteed to be secure, and confidential. 

MYTH: Follow-up sessions are not needed.

FACT: Because most patients feel an improvement in their mood after the initial or second session with a therapist, they no longer return for additional sessions. But follow-up sessions are important because they reinforce the practices taught, ensuring that you do not end up repeating the negative thoughts or habits that caused you to seek help in the first place. “When you feel better, have a clearer headspace, and are no longer as sensitive or emotional as the start, then you will be in a better place to work on your triggers,” Maria explains

MYTH: Therapy is expensive.

FACT: If your company does not yet have an Employee Assistance Program that includes sessions with mental health professionals and you have to pay for therapy out of your own pocket, this article lists the reasons you should consider therapy as an investment and not an expense. 

[J]ust as you would not think twice about paying a doctor to treat physical health concerns, you should also regard psychologists, psychiatrists, and WellBeing Coaches as experts in treating mental health concerns. 

Maria Teresa Empleo, MindNation psychologist


Also, just as you would not think twice about paying a doctor to treat physical health concerns, you should also regard psychologists, psychiatrists, and WellBeing Coaches as experts in treating mental health concerns. 

MindNation psychologist, psychiatrist, and WellBeing Coach teletherapy sessions are available singly or in packages so you save more on follow-up sessions. Purchase at bit.ly/mindnation-shop or thru the Goodwork.ph app.

MYTH: “I’d rather talk to a friend, at least that’s for free.”
Friends are a great source of support during tough times, but because of your close relationship there will always be that fear of judgement. On the other hand, because psychologists, psychiatrists, and WellBeing Coaches are strangers, there is no need to worry about bias and censure. More importantly, they are trained and licensed mental health professionals, so they can offer science-based solutions to help you cope with life issues and mental health challenges.

Are you ready to talk to a MindNation psychologist, psychiatrist, or WellBeing Coach? Read this article to find out how you can choose which therapist is right for you. IF you are curious to find out what goes on during the first therapy session, we give you the rundown here. Finally, here are some things you can do to make sure that you get your money and time’s worth during your therapy session.

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Mental Health 101

Ease The Anxiety: 4 Ways To Cope With Fear And Worry

In a survey of more than 6,000 Filipino employees conducted by MindNation between September 2020 to April 2021 on the state of their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half (53%) of the respondents said they felt varying degrees of anxiety mainly due to fears of the COVID-19 virus, financial pressure, and personal matters..  

“Anxiety is defined as distress or uneasiness caused by fear of danger or misfortune, as well as excessive worry,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. While a little bit of anxiety is normal and can be helpful in signaling danger —  for example, it reminds you to practice social distancing policies when you are in a populated space — too much anxiety can leave you feeling weak, tired, irritable, or find it difficult to concentrate on tasks. You can even experience physical symptoms like gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, hyperventilation, and heart palpitations. All these can affect your productivity at work and relationships with loved ones. 

Managing anxiety
While we cannot stop anxious thoughts from entering our minds, there are things we can do to control our reactions to them. “Always remember to keep calm,” Jessa reminds. This means:

  • C — Cultivate positivity.
    Negative thoughts produce more unnecessary anxiety, so always practice positive self-talk. “Instead of saying ‘I can’t do this,’ say ‘I can do this,’” Jessa suggests. “Another thing you can do is stand in front of the mirror every morning and tell yourself that you are smart, beautiful, confident, and that you can do anything.”

    Additionally, try to develop a story with positive outcomes. When you reframe an experience, it turns something stressful or traumatic into a challenge that can be overcome; or, it can turn a really bad day into a mildly low point in overall wonderful life.  Just be careful not to fall into the trap of toxic positivity, or the assumption that you should always be happy despite being under difficult circumstances. “All our feelings are valid, and suppressing negative ones can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and overall worsening of mental health,” Jessa points out.
  • A — Allocate time for worrying.
    Jessa advocates the Worry Time Technique, which involves designating a specific time, place, and length of time each day solely for worrying.” Anytime you become aware of a worry during the day, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket or somewhere out of sight; since you will have time to think about that worry later, there’s no need to get anxious over it now,” Jessa instructs. Download the Worry Time Worksheet from MindU here.

    “At the end of the day, when your worry time comes around, settle yourself down at the worry place, pull out the paper, and reflect on your worries.” Journaling can help at this point; just write out whatever is on your mind, instead of ruminating. 

“The Worry Time Technique makes worrying less intrusive in your life and allows you to manage your anxieties effectively, giving you a greater sense of control,” she adds.

  • L — Label your emotions.
    Giving emotions a name (i.e. “I feel angry,” or “I feel confused”) provides a deeper understanding of what happened, how it affects you, and helps you see the possibilities for what to do next. Instead of your emotions spiraling out of control, you feel less anxious and triggered.

    Start by writing down the event that activated your anxiety: “I made a mistake at work.”

    Then, write down what that event made you believe about yourself: “I am such a failure. I should always do a perfect job.”

    Name the emotion you feel: “I’m worried I’m going to get fired.”

    Finally, dispute this belief: “I usually do a good job but I am not good at everything. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. My boss was very happy with my report last week. I will learn from this and perform better next time.’ 

    By labelling your emotion, you are able to understand what is going on through your mind more clearly, and build a road-map to address the problem. This makes you more relaxed and confident.
  • M — Meditate regularly.
    “Mindfulness meditation —  or the type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment — is an effective strategy for managing anxiety,” Jessa shares. By training your brain to stay in the moment, whether it’s through focusing on your breath or your five senses, you let go of regrets of the past as well as anxieties about the future.

If you notice a team member struggling with anxiety, you may want to refer them to a professional for help. Mental Health professionals can help with streamlining the process of identifying triggers, maintaining long-term strategies through behavioral therapy, and more.

The MindNation CareNow Plan provides your team access to 24/7 teletherapy sessions with MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches through sms chat, video chat, or voice call. Email [email protected] today to inquire!

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Mental Health 101

5 Steps To Choosing The Right Therapist For You

Looking for a therapist — whether it’s for self-improvement, to heal from past traumas, or just to maintain good mental health — can be daunting. After all, this is someone whom you will be sharing your deepest and most uncomfortable feelings to, so it is important that you choose a mental health professional who will make you comfortable and give you the right kind of help.

We asked psychologist Luis Angelo Villarroel of Kintsugi-Psy to share some steps for choosing a therapist to help you reach your mental health goals: 

Step 1: Ask yourself: “What kind of help do I need?”
There are many types of mental health professionals, specializing in different areas of mental health. Each of them plays a key role in identifying and treating your mental health challenges:

  • Psychologist. Uses evidence-based strategies and interventions to help people overcome challenges and cope with past traumas, present issues, or future concerns. 

“If you need help dealing with day-to-day problems, best to see a counseling psychologist. On the other hand, if you are looking for someone who can treat certain disorders, you will need the expertise of a clinical psychologist.”

Luis Angelo Villarroel, Psychologist

Just like medical doctors, psychologists have different areas of specialization: there are clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, assessment psychologists, industrial psychologists, child psychologists, etc. While they are all educated in mental health concerns, some are more equipped to deal with certain aspects than others. “If you need help dealing with day-to-day problems, best to see a counseling psychologist,” Luis explains. “On the other hand, if you are looking for someone who can treat certain disorders, you will need the expertise of a clinical psychologist.” 

  • Psychiatrist. They are the only type of mental health professional who are licensed to prescribe and monitor medication.Most psychiatrists do not offer counseling services, but will give referrals to therapists.
  • WellBeing Coach. They work one-on-one with individuals who want to improve their health and well-being, using concepts drawn from psychology, behavior change, and life coaching fields. A WellBeing Coach can help clients overcome obstacles to maintain healthy habits for life.

Don’t worry if you are unsure which one is suited for you. Luis assures that if the mental health professional that you visit first feels that some other form of therapy will be more suitable for you, they will inform you from the get-go.

Step 2: Start your search.

Once you have narrowed down what kind of therapy or therapist you want, it’s time to begin your search. There are a number of different places where you can begin choosing a therapist. Some options include:

  • Searching online through search engines or social media hashtags. You can also ask around in reputable forums or Facebook groups. 
  • A more secure way would be to inquire with hospitals. “Call the hospital help desk and ask if they provide mental health services,” Luis suggests.
  • An even better option is to ask trusted people for recommendations — friends, family, or your primary care provider. And don’t worry if you end up choosing the same therapist as your friend or loved one; like doctors, mental health professionals are bound by the rules of doctor-patient confidentiality. “Even if your spouse is my patient, I will treat the two of you as individuals,” assures Luis.

Step 3: Check their credentials

For psychologists and psychiatrists, make sure they are licensed to practice and that they follow guidelines and a code of ethics. Note that while WellBeing Coaches are not required to have a specific degree and they don’t have oversight by a governing board, you can do your own research to check if they are legitimate.

Step 4: Inquire cost

While therapy should always be considered an investment, it is prudent to know how much you will be shelling out per session, especially since mental health concerns cannot be resolved in just one session. That said, note that the professional fee of a therapist is not an indication or reflection of their experience or lack thereof. “Sometimes the cost can be dependent on the location of the therapist; if their clinic is located in a high-end part of the city, for example, expect their cost to be higher due to rent or other factors not necessarily linked to their skills,” Luis explains. 

Step 5: Book a session and get started on your mental health journey

Here is an article outlining about what you can expect during your first session with a psychologist or WellBeing Coach. 

Use this initial appointment to determine if you feel comfortable with the therapist you have chosen. While talking to the therapist, think about these questions:

  • Do you feel like you can talk to this person?
  • Do you feel like you can be honest?
  • Does it feel like this person accepts you?
  • Are they a good listener?
  • Will they customize their approach for you?

Know that you can always change therapists, whether it’s just five minutes into the first session or after five sessions. “You are free to withdraw from the therapy anytime you feel it is not working out, if you realize your therapist isn’t a good match for you, or you feel you are not being supported well into your therapy process,” Luis assures. “On our end, we will offer to make whatever adjustments you need so you become more comfortable and continue treatment. But ultimately, rapport with your therapist is very important– the treatments will only work if you feel comfortable with us.”

Finally, know that you have every right to terminate the relationship if the therapist behaves unprofessionally or crosses boundaries. In the Philippines, you can report these untoward incidents to the Professional Regulation Commission or to the Psychological Association of the Philippines.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if you have chosen the right therapist for you. “We will exhaust all means to help,” Luis says. “And even if we do not work out, I will always encourage you to continue looking for another professional. Sometimes, just talking to someone you can trust — or being able to trust someone again– is already a big help in achieving growth and healing.”

MindNation offers 24/7 teletherapy sessions with psychologists and WellBeing Coaches through video chat, voice call, or SMS chat. Psychologist session starts at P1,500/hour while WellBeing Coach session starts at P500/hour. Book a session now at bit.ly/mn-chat.

 

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Mental Health 101

First Timer’s Guide To Therapy

You’ve finally booked an appointment with a mental health professional — congratulations! You’re on your way towards a better mind, better you.

Maybe you’re feeling nervous about it; that’s totally normal. Or maybe you just want to be prepared; that’s also commendable. Whatever your reason, we’ve put together some general ideas of what you might expect if you’re headed into therapy for the first time so you’ll feel more at ease.

“When attending a therapy session, go into it with open eyes. Be curious, be honest, ask questions, and do not be afraid. Think of it as talking to a friend.”

Kevin Quibranza, MindNation People & Operations Head

BEFORE THE SESSION:

  1. Eat a healthy meal, but not too much. If you’re hungry, you won’t be able to focus on the therapy. If you’re full, you might end up feeling sleepy in the middle of the session.
  2. Dress comfortably but appropriately.
  3. List down concerns you want addressed or any questions you may have. This allows you to maximize the time you have with the therapist.
  4. Inform household members that you should not be disturbed for the whole hour (unless it’s an emergency).
  5. Be in front of your computer at least 10 minutes before your session starts. This will give you enough time to settle down and check for anything (or anyone) who may disturb your privacy, i.e. if family members are around, gently remind them to move elsewhere. 
  6. Bring water because talking will make you thirsty, and you want to avoid leaving your computer –and wasting precious minutes — just to get a glass of water.
  7. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably; if you want to walk around while talking, that’s also okay as long as you don’t disrupt other people. I wouldn’t recommend lying down during sessions because it can cause drowsiness.
  8. If you are using your cellphone for the session, make sure to mute all notifications. If you are on your computer, put your phone on silent mode. 

DURING THE SESSION

  1. Because it’s your first time, the therapist will need to conduct an assessment. Some therapists will ask background questions about your childhood or your family to get to know you better. Others will ask you to share what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, or your reason for seeing them.
  2. Some therapists take down notes while you speak; others will just listen and write their notes at the end of the session.
  3. Rest assured that your conversation will be kept in the strictest confidentiality. The therapist-patient relationship is special because it is one where you can be totally honest and not worry about being criticized, interrupted, or judged.
  4. You won’t be expected to tell your entire life story. If you booked a session for a specific reason, i.e. work stress, then the conversations will only revolve around that topic.
  5. You won’t be forced to feel anything. It’s okay if you cry, it’s also perfectly okay if you don’t. A healthy therapy is one where there is a connection between the client and the therapist and any emotions that spill out are brought about by that connection and not because it is “expected” of you.
  6. You are free to take down notes especially if the therapist likes to give instructions or homework. Writing may also help you remember some of the key points raised in the session.
  7. You don’t have to answer questions if you are not comfortable or ready. It is a therapist’s job to ask intrusive questions, but if they are really making you uncomfortable, just say so.
  1. If for whatever reason you feel that the therapist’s approach is not effective, it’s okay to let them know and try to find someone else. Choosing a therapist is like choosing a partner — it might take you a few tries but if you find one that you click with, it can really bring about something great.
  2. Don’t expect all your problems or issues to be solved after just one session. This is a misconception; talk therapy is not a quick fix. We encourage our therapists and clients to foster a connection and have multiple sessions since most of the time, problems are due to bad habits that were formed over the course of our lives and cannot be resolved in just 60 minutes. 

AFTER THE SESSION

  1. Expect to feel tired. Talking through major emotional topics for an hour is draining. Don’t go right into a big client presentation after your session; instead, drink water, calm down, and take some time to process the things that you need to do moving forward.
  2. Expect homework. Most therapists do this to empower clients to tackle the issues they are facing themselves and not be dependent on the psychologist for their mental healing. The type of homework would depend on your situation and the therapist’s approach, but most use Cognitive Behavioral Theory approaches such as practicing relaxation or stress management techniques.
  3. Book a follow-up session after two weeks. This will allow the therapist to check on your progress. 

When attending a therapy session, go into it with open eyes. Be curious, be honest, ask questions, and do not be afraid. Think of it as talking to a friend. If you are asked questions regarding your situation, try to answer them as honestly as you can because you might end up realizing something new about yourself. It’s all part of the process; go through it, and enjoy the ride.

For those in the Philippines, MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. An initial session with a psychologist starts at P1,500, and succeeding consults will cost only P2,500 per hour.

Clients may opt to avail of a 5-session package for only P12,125. On the other hand, the first session with a WellBeing Coach will cost only P500, with additional sessions amounting to P1,000 per hour. Clients may also choose to buy a 3-session package for P2,850 or a 6-session package for P5,550.

Book a session now through bit.ly/mn-chat or email [email protected]

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Mental Health 101

Breaking 7 Myths About Meditation

Meditation has been proven to more than just reduce stress and help us achieve inner peace. Studies have shown that a regular meditation practice can also lengthen our attention span, reduce age-related memory loss, improve sleep, and help control pain. Additionally, meditation can be done for free, anytime and anywhere, without need for special equipment, and with zero side effects. 

While the number of people turning to meditation has increased through the years (a rough estimation of people who meditate globally ranges between 200 and 500 million), there are still many who hesitate to take up the practice because of the misconceptions that make them feel they cannot do it. We asked Dinah Salonga, co-founder and Chairman of Yogaplus (www.yogaplus.ph), one of Manila’s premier yoga studios, to debunk some common myths and explain what meditation is really about:

“Meditation is the practice of paying attention to whatever arises in the present moment, not communicating with a deity. There are no rules or dogmas to follow in meditation.”

Dinah Salonga, co-founder and Chairman of Yogaplus
  1. Meditation requires staying still for a long period of time.

Dinah: Just like dance or yoga, there are many different styles of meditation and many ways to practice it.

A. There is a dedicated practice, where you intentionally set a time to meditate in stillness for a few minutes. It’s like going to the gym; while you’re there, you focus on doing your exercises.

B. For those who have difficulty sitting still, there is the integrated practice, where you can meditate while doing an activity like walking, eating, hiking, or drinking coffee. Yoga is another example of a moving meditation practice.

  1. You need to be able to sit in an uncomfortable lotus position (a cross-legged sitting pose in which each foot is placed on the opposite thigh).

Dinah: Not at all. You can sit in a normal cross-legged position, or even sit down on your heels in a kneeling position. If being on the floor is not comfortable, you can meditate while sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, or even standing up. You may even lie down — just make sure you don’t fall asleep. 

The important thing is to be in a position where you are comfortable and your spine is in neutral alignment — this means the spine is straight but not rigid, making it easier for you to breathe. 

  1. Meditation is a religious practice so I don’t want to do it because I’m a devout Catholic/Christian/Muslim/etc.

Dinah: Although many religions talk about meditation and its importance, the practice is more spiritual than religious. Meditation is the practice of paying attention to whatever arises in the present moment, not communicating with a deity. There are no rules or dogmas to follow in meditation; if there is chanting in a session, it is only done as a means of helping the mind concentrate, and is completely optional.   

  1. The goal of meditation is to empty the mind and feel calm and peaceful.

Dinah: Just as there are different styles of meditations, there are also different goals. You can meditate to relax, to empty the mind, or to learn to pay attention. The last one is called mindfulness meditation, where distractions are a part of the practice and you will be taught how to respond when you are distracted.

  1. One session of meditation can solve my problems (i.e.  depression, anxiety, etc) right away.

Dinah: Definitely not. Meditation is a practice and something you need to do regularly to experience the benefits. In some instances, it may not even be the right solution for your current situation. If you have a mental health problem, for example, it will be best to consult a professional and get their advice on whether meditation can help you.

  1. You need to practice meditation for YEARS to reap the benefits.

Dinah: Even just short segments of practice (i.e. one minute a few times a day) can already make a difference in making our minds more calm. Sure, it might take some time to feel that meditation has completely transformed you, the way you live, and your overall happiness; just like any other skill, the more you practice, the longer the effects will last. Take it step by step and enjoy the process of getting to know your mind. 

  1. Meditation is hard, it’s only for women/monks/elderly/etc. 

Dinah: Meditation is simple but is not easy. Think of it as driving or riding a bike — these are skills that can be done by anyone. We can all learn and become good at it if we practice. With a few exceptions (like some mental health issues), almost everyone can do it. 

MindNation Wellness Coaches are available 24/7 to help you build better physical and mental health habits. Book a teletherapy session with them through FB Messenger http://mn-chat or email [email protected].

Categories
Mental Health 101

What is Gaslighting?

In 2018, Oxford Dictionaries named “gaslighting” as one of the most popular words of the year. It is defined as the act of undermining another person’s reality by denying facts, the environment around them, or their feelings.

Struggling with relationship problems? MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions in the Philippines if you need someone to talk to. Book your session now through bit.ly/mn-chat or email [email protected]

“Gaslighting is a form of manipulation,” says psychologist Riyan Portuguez. “A person who gaslights seeks to gain more power in an argument by portraying themselves as the victim or making the partner question their worth.” 

Common statements you may hear from gaslighters include: 

“I was just joking.”

“I didn’t do that/I never said that. You’re imagining things.”

“You have issues.”

“You’re upset over nothing.”

“Here we go again.”

“You’re being sensitive/you’re so dramatic.”

“Gaslighting can be unintentional, especially in cases where one person is so afraid of losing the other that they will say anything to divert blame or avoid a difficult conversation,”

Riyan Portuguez, psychologist

While gaslighting is most often mentioned in the context of a romantic relationship, any relationship that has a power dynamic (i.e. friends, family members, or workmates) can be a breeding ground for this toxic behavior. This means that not only is it highly likely that most of us have been gaslighted at some point in our lives, it’s also possible that we have inadvertently gaslighted other people as well. 

“Gaslighting can be unintentional, especially in cases where one person is so afraid of losing the other that they will say anything to divert blame or avoid a difficult conversation,” explains Riyan. “But we need to understand that gaslighting is self-defeating, because it does not resolve the conflict in a mature or proper way.” 

Gaslighting can have a devastating and long-term impact on our emotional, psychological, and even physical well-being. This is why it’s important to learn how to spot the technique, shut it down, and minimize the psychological impact on our daily lives or the lives of our loved ones.

How to tell if you are being gaslighted

According to Dr. Robert Stern, author of the book “The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life,” signs that you are a victim of gaslighting include:

  • No longer feeling like the person you used to be
  • Being more anxious and less confident than you used to be
  • Often wondering if you’re being too sensitive
  • Feeling like everything you do is wrong
  • Always thinking it’s your fault when things go wrong
  • Apologizing often
  • Often questioning whether your response to your partner is appropriate (e.g., wondering if you were too unreasonable or not loving enough)
  • Making excuses for your partner’s behavior

What to do if you feel you are being gaslighted

  1. Don’t say “You’re gaslighting me!” “Accusations will only make the other person defensive and escalate the situation. Remember that it’s possible your partner is not even aware that they are gaslighting,” reminds Riyan.
  2. Instead, point to specific, observable actions and how they made you feel. Use ‘I’ statements such as “I felt __ when you did/said ___.”
  3. When presenting your side, stand your ground. “Gaslighters will seek to confuse you. But if you know your truth, it won’t be as easy to sway you,” Riyan says.
  4. Always remember that you are not responsible for another person’s actions or emotions. Gaslighters usually claim that you provoked the abuse. “Most victims of gaslighting end up rationalizing the gaslighter’s behavior by saying ‘He reacted this way because I did this’ or ‘It’s my fault she said that.’ But if we start feeling responsible, it will be hard for us to recognize reality,” Riyan shares. “It’s good to be empathetic and try to look at the other person’s point of view, but if you are the one wronged, you need to put up healthy barriers.”   
  5. Talk to someone about what you are going through. These can be trusted friends, loved ones, or even a mental health professional. This does not mean telling them off the bat that the other person is a gaslighter. “Don’t seek to make the other person look bad because again, they might not even be aware of what they are doing,” cautions Riyan. Instead, focus on the problem or the situation and seek advice on what to do, or if your thoughts and feelings are valid.
  6. Know when to walk away. “If you have exhausted all means but the gaslighter refuses to change their ways, then you need to leave the relationship to protect your mental health and peace of mind,” advises Riyan. “You are not responsible for changing another person; better to spend your time and energy with people who are more deserving of your attention and who see your worth.”

How to stop yourself from gaslighting others

If you are worried that you might be gaslighting your loved one, here are things you can do:

  1. Think before you speak or act. “Before you say or do something during a difficult conversation, ask yourself if your words or actions will improve the relationship, or worsen it,” advises Riyan.
  2. Seek to find common ground, not to “win.” “What is more important to you, the relationship, or your need to be right?” asks Riyan.
  3. If you made a mistake, own up to it. “Nobody is perfect, so reevaluate yourself before you plunge into a difficult conversation,” Riyan suggests.
  4. If the other person really misread the situation or misjudged you, don’t get angry or defensive. “This can happen in partners who came from toxic or abusive relationships; they inadvertently bring their hurts and insecurities into their current situation,” explains Riyan. So instead of responding to their accusations with “You’re being dramatic, it’s nothing!” or “You’re just imagining things,” ask them to pinpoint what exactly you did or said that they found wrong, and explain your side. “Don’t avoid the conversation; use it to give your partner the reassurance that they need,” she adds.

It is entirely possible to stop gaslighting behavior, but it will take a great deal of self-awareness to do so. While there are some who are able to do it on their own, talking to a mental health professional can also help. Therapists can guide you in examining your actions and see if you have been, consciously or unconsciously, engaging in toxic behaviors. They can also help you to make needed changes that will make your own life and relationships better.

Categories
Mental Health 101

8 Reasons People Don’t Seek Professional Help For Mental Health Concerns

Despite mental health being more visible than ever and care being more available, only a few people seek professional help for their mental health concerns; according to the World Health Organization, up to 80 percent of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment. 

Up to 80% of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment.

World Health Organization

Why is this the case? Based on a poll conducted on MindNation’s Instagram page last March 2020, below are the eight most common reasons people avoid therapy. We asked MindNation People and Operations Head Kevin Quibranza to comment and share how we can overcome these thoughts and fears:

  1. Shame. (“I don’t want to be labelled ill or crazy. If word got out that I was seeing a psychologist, it could negatively impact my career, relationship, or other life goals.”)

    “Being afraid to do what needs to be done because of what others think is detrimental to your health,” says Kevin. “Don’t be ashamed to seek help.”

    When confronted with these negative voices, the best thing to do is to tune them out. If they harangue you, keep your replies short (i.e. “I see,” or “Okay”) and resist the urge to expound or explain yourself. Switch the topic if you have to. With nothing to continue on, the naysayer will stop there.

    Lastly, surround yourself with enablers. Think about the people who are supportive or would be supportive of your plans to seek therapy if you told them. “Many people nowadays are open-minded with mental health problems and it is no longer as taboo for them as it used to be,” says Kevin. And if you don’t have any such people in your life, it’s okay. There are people out there in the world who are doing what you want to do, so increase your contact with their works, such as their books, their interviews, their TV shows, and so on.
  1. Practical barriers like cost (“Therapy is expensive. I’d rather talk to my friends, at least that’s free”) or inaccessibility (“My Internet connection is not stable;” “I don’t know how to use video conferencing apps.”)

    Reaching out to friends and family is free and highly recommended when starting your mental health journey. However, there will be cases in which your loved ones might also need to set boundaries when on the receiving end of concerns. The end goal of therapy is not to have you dependent on it, but to build your resilience so you can approach life and its obstacles as a stronger, better YOU. Mental health professionals are trained to do just that.

    TIP: As part of MindNation’s mission for accessible mental healthcare for all, psychologists and WellBeing coaches onboard are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7, and an initial session costs only P1,500 (for psychologist) and P500 (for a WellBeing Coach).

    MindNation sessions are available through video call, voice call, SMS/chat, and Care Assistants will be able to guide you every step of the way.
  1. Hopelessness. (“I tried it once, I didn’t feel any better. I guess it’s not for me.”)

    “Just because one psychologist’s approach did not work for you does not mean that another’s approach won’t,” explains Kevin. “Ask a friend, colleague, or doctor you trust to recommend another therapist who might be a good fit for you, although be mindful that you may have different therapy needs and goals than the one giving you the recommendation.”
  1. Distrust. (“I don’t like confiding in a stranger.”)

    “It might sound paradoxical, but the best person to talk about our problems are strangers,” points out Kevin. “They don’t have the biases that you or your immediate family might have, which can stop them from guiding you or giving you the best advice, plus they can offer a fresh perspective on a situation that may have trapped you for a long time.”
  2. Denial. (“Why should I go to therapy, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fine, everyone goes through what I’m going through; just give me a few days and I’ll be able to snap out of this funk that I am in.”)

    People usually resort to denial as a way of coping with anything that makes them feel vulnerable or threatens their sense of control. It could also be a defense mechanism against the fear of stigma mentioned in item #1.

    “Denial is never helpful,” says Kevin. “If you have mental health problems, you need to go to therapy right away to stop it from becoming something more serious. Those few days that you are asking for to ‘snap out of it’ can be addressed in a one-hour session.”
  1. Lack of awareness. (“My family thinks it’s a bad idea.”)

    This is usually said by older family members who do not understand the nature of mental health; the younger generation, thankfully, do not have such limited awareness. “At the end of the day, do what is best for yourself, because it will be you alone who will carry that burden,” advises Kevin. 
  1. Anxiety. (“I don’t know where to go. How can I be sure I won’t be scammed or the organization is legitimate?”)

    “Ask friends and other trusted sources for referrals, or follow the company’s social media accounts to read the reviews, comments, and see for yourself the work that they do,” suggests Kevin. 
  1. Other priorities. (“I just don’t have the time/money;” “I’m so busy with so many things.”)

    “Work can wait, your mental health cannot. You need to put your well-being on top of your priority list because everything else revolves around it; if you are mentally unwell, you cannot perform tasks as effectively, thereby affecting your productivity levels,” points out Kevin. 

Seeing a psychologist or WellBeing Coach for mental health issues should be as natural and automatic as seeing a doctor for broken bones or other physical ailments. “When you burn your hand, your first and natural reaction is to put it under cold water,” Kevin says. “Going to a professional to treat mental distress should also be a priority.”

Lastly, don’t think of therapy as an expense; treat it as an investment. By getting help now, you generate returns in the long-run for yourself, your family, your community, and your business. 

To book a session with MindNation’s psychologists and WellBeing Coaches, message http://mn-chat or email [email protected]

Categories
Mental Health 101 Self Help

The Pitfalls of Toxic Positivity

When a friend comes to us with a problem, it’s easy for us to give advice that falls into the trap of toxic positivity — defined by clinical psychologist Dr. Jaime Zuckerman as “the assumption, either by one’s self or others, that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should only have a positive mindset or—my pet peeve term—‘positive vibes.’”

Toxic positivity statements may sound like any of the following:

  • “You’ll get over it.”
  • “Don’t be so negative.”
  • “Always look on the bright side.”
  • “Think happy thoughts.”
  • “It could be worse.”
  • “Everything happens for a reason.”

Focusing on the positive and rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions may sound like a good thing, but according to Joyce Pring-Triviño, TV presenter, and host of the podcast “Adulting With Joyce Pring,” toxic positivity denies, minimizes, and invalidates genuine human emotional experiences. “When we exhibit toxic positivity, we deny all the negative experiences that make us human,” Joyce points out.

“Furthermore, suppressing or avoiding negative feelings can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and overall worsening of mental health,” Dr. Zuckerman says.

Psychotherapist Carolyn Karoll adds: “The pressure to appear ‘OK’ gives the impression that the person is defective when they feel distress, which can be internalized in a core belief that they are inadequate or weak. Judging oneself for feeling pain, sadness, jealousy—which are part of the human experience and are transient emotions—leads to secondary emotions, such as shame, that are much more intense and maladaptive. They…don’t give space for self-compassion, which is so vital to mental health.”

Lastly, by not acknowledging the wrong in the situation, we don’t leave room for the other person to take steps to resolve their situation. “After all, how can things get better if we’re already saying that they should be okay with what is happening?” says Joyce. 

If you find yourself constantly turning to toxic positive statements to help a friend or loved one cope with their fears and anxieties, the first thing to do is not to  blame yourself. “It’s also human nature to not want to dwell on the bad things,” assures Joyce. “We want to be distracted by the good because otherwise, we will get anxious ourselves.”

The next time the opportunity presents itself, work on doing the following instead:

  1. Listen and validate other people, even if their sadness makes you uncomfortable. Everyone’s entitled to their own feelings. Don’t shame another person for their emotions.
  2. Use healthy positivity statements: 
  • “I know it’s hard but I believe in you.”
  • “It’s okay to feel bad sometimes.”
  • “Always look at the bright side.” 
  • “It can be difficult to see the good in this situation, but we’ll make sense of it when we can.”
  • “Things can get really tough, but I am here for you.”
  • “I know this isn’t the outcome you were hoping for and that can be painful. But trust that this feeling won’t last forever.”
  1. Do not offer unsolicited advice. Instead, ask “How can I support you?” or just say “I’m here if you need me for anything.”

While it may seem beneficial to tell others to look on the bright side of things and find the silver lining in all life experiences, it’s also important to acknowledge and listen to emotions even when they aren’t pleasant. By helping your loved one pay attention and process their feelings as they come and go, you can help them understand themselves and their situation better.

Listen to Adulting with Joyce Pring’s “Toxic Positivity” episode here!

If someone you know is feeling especially stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, MindNation’s 24/7 Care Hotline is available all day, every day, on FB Messenger. The service is FREE, completely confidential, and the staff is trained to ease your anxieties. Drop us a line bit.ly/mn-chat

Categories
Employee Wellness Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

5 Ways To Disagree With Your Boss (Without Getting Fired)

Speaking up for what you believe is a good thing, but when it comes to disagreeing with your boss, you need to be careful and tactful.

A 2018 study by Gallup reported that 94% of people feel stressed at work, with 35% saying that their boss is a cause of workplace stress. One possible reason for the latter is the fear and anxiety that comes when you need to voice a disagreement with a higher-up. While most workplaces these days are trying to establish a healthy culture where communication is open across all levels, dissenting with a superior is still a tricky thing. Doing so might make him or her think you are being difficult or disrespectful, but staying silent might give everyone else the impression that you are apathetic or complacent.

So how can you deliver your opposing opinion without suffering unfavorable consequences? Below are some strategies that you can employ: 

  1. Take note of the timing

Sometimes it’s not just what you say — it’s also when and where you say it. If you are in a relaxed team meeting where everyone is sharing suggestions and ideas, then feel free to chime in with your own thoughts. But if the discussion is starting to get heated and your manager is starting to display signs that they are getting angry, embarrassed, or feeling ganged-up on, it might be best to wait until things cool down. Then set up a separate, private meeting to talk it out. 

  1. Start off on a positive note. 

While work conversations should ideally be honest and straight-to-the-point, you will need to moderate your bluntness when you are talking to a person of authority. So begin your opposition by clearly mentioning something positive, like a portion of the idea that you liked. Segueing into the disagreement is much better than blurting out “I think your idea is wrong because…” right off the bat.  

  1. Ask and listen before reacting. 

Take a deep breath and try considering the issue from your superior’s point of view. Try to know his or her motivations for making such decisions; the best way to get them to listen to your side is to be able to reflect back to them that you understand what’s important to them. So ask questions, research the context, and gather information so that once you state your opposing view, it is based on facts and logic, not on emotions. 

  1. Rephrase the disagreement in the form of a suggestion

Instead of telling your boss what you think should be done, make it seem like you are asking for an alternative take on the matter. For example, you could say something like “I like your idea of holding team meetings every week, but what do you think about holding them on Wednesdays instead of Mondays so that….?” By letting your manager make the final decision, you still show respect for his or her authority. 

  1. Respect the final decision. 

Always mentally prepare for the possibility that you will speak your mind but nothing will change. If that happens, you need to respect your boss’s decision and let it go. Instead of feeling angry or sad, take the rejection as a learning opportunity; even if you disagree with his or her point, try to at least understand it, so you are able to support it. At the very least, rejection builds mental resilience, so you still get something positive out of the whole experience. 

By following the tips above, you can hopefully disagree with your boss in a way that is courteous and convincing but won’t cost you your mental health or your job. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation