A mentor is an experienced or trusted advisor who provides their mentee with the tools, guidance, support, and feedback they need to thrive in their career. A good mentor enhances an employee’s skills, cultivates leaders who can help the company further advance, and drives positive company culture.
Good mentors come in all ages, genders, and even educational attainments. “You can be a good mentor as long as you are dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned in to a mentee’s needs,” says career and business advisor Grace De Castro of V+A Consulting, a boutique consulting firm with expertise in customized people programs and creative business solutions.
It is not just a mentee who benefits from the guidance of a good mentor; mentors themselves experience the satisfaction that comes from giving back and having a sense of belonging. “A mentor can find a lot of growth if they are in a group that is supportive and safe, in a community that makes them feel heard and values their life experiences,” shares Grace.
Mentors themselves experience the satisfaction that comes from giving back and having a sense of belonging.
Grace De Castro of V+A Consulting
If you feel you are ready to take on the role of nurturing someone’s career growth, here are the qualities that you need to be a good mentor:
Optimism. A good mentor constantly uplifts their mentee. “Make the person feel that you believe in their potential, that you hear them, and are willing to listen to them,” says Grace.
Teachability. While there are courses and certificate programs for aspiring mentors, these are not requirements to be good in the role. “There are many things you can do on your own to learn to be a good mentor, such as following thought leaders and statesmen on social media so you learn about different perspectives,” advises Grace. “And read! There are so many books that can help you become a better mentor, and don’t limit yourself to non-fiction, self-help, or personal development books. Fiction gives you a different view of how people are and can be great conversation starters. Lastly, immerse yourself with what’s happening outside; have a genuine interest in others.”
An open mind. “A good mentor always comes prepared to be surprised,” advises Grace. “We are all human, which means that most of the time there are deep-seated reasons for mentoring that involve personal issues. So I always make sure I provide a safe space for my mentees if they want to talk to me about deeper matters.”
A real desire to help but no desire to control the outcome. “Sometimes, people don’t necessarily need advice from a mentor; they just need someone to listen to them,” says Grace. “And when you provide a safe space for people to use you as a sounding board, you end up improving more than just careers.”
Trust. A good mentor never gossips about their clients. “I have lost potential clients because they want to know who else I am working with but I value confidentiality,” says Grace. “A good mentor-mentee relationship involves a trust component that both work very hard to strengthen over time.”
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.
Politics. Religion. Divorce. LGBTQ+. COVID-19 vaccines. These are just some examples of topics that can be very polarizing when brought up between colleagues, friends, and loved ones. If you want to avoid getting into a full-fledged argument and preserve the good relationship you have with the other person, sometimes the best course of action is to just agree to disagree. This means coming to an understanding that neither of you are going to change the other’s mind and expressing a willingness to move on.
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 — shares some ways you can properly and respectfully agree to disagree:
Communicate to understand, not to change minds. Listen without bias. “Instead of saying right off the bat ‘No, you are wrong’ or ‘That’s such a crazy thing to think,’ ask ‘Why do you feel this way?’ or ‘What makes you think this way?’” Aiza advises. Show respect and curiosity instead of judgment and condemnation. Then move on to #2 —
Find common ground. If both of you are set in your respective beliefs, try to look at the big picture. What do both of you want to achieve? What final outcomes are you interested in? Political differences, for example, can be rooted in a desire for better governance or protection of the family’s welfare; the issue of COVID19 vaccines, on the other hand, is about staying safe and healthy. While both of you may have different ideas on how to achieve these goals, choosing to focus on the why will make it easier to accept these differences.
Ask yourself what’s important. Choosing to agree to disagree is easier said than done. But if the relationship is special to you, preserving it should trump your need to be right. “At the end of the day, what’s more important to you — keeping the relationship or winning the argument?” Aiza asks. “Is it campaigning for a candidate, or saving a marriage or friendship that has been there even before this candidate ever thought about running for a position?”
MindNation WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 to help you build better communication habits so that you can express your thoughts and opinions more effectively. Book a teletherapy session now at www.mindnation.com.
Not only are relationship conflicts normal, they are inevitable. “A serious relationship or marriage is a union of two distinct people who grew up in different families and, hence, bring with them different cultures, belief systems, values, goals, habits, and behavioral patterns,” says 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. “For those who are in a heterosexual relationship, gender alone carries biological and psychological differences.”
Additionally, it takes a lifetime to know all there is about someone; Aiza even compares it to studying in school. “When you start dating someone, your knowledge and awareness about them is equivalent to what a child knows during the preschool years,” she explains. “Once you get married, it’s as if you are entering elementary school. On your 25th anniversary, you have just completed high school. I would say that you only become an expert on your partner — the equivalent of a doctorate degree — when you have spent 50 years together.”
“This is because once you start living together and form a family, you will be facing new situations that you otherwise would not have encountered as single people,” she adds. “Parenthood alone comes with a whole gamut of experiences that will require both parties to adjust each other’s temperaments and values. And it is during these times of adjusting that conflicts occur.”
Common causes of relationship conflict Even the most compatible of couples will encounter conflict because of the following reasons:
Triggers and issues stemming from childhood. “For example, if a partner lacked attention as a child and they feel they are also lacking attention in your marriage, that can be a trigger,” Aiza enumerates.
Differences in values. This encompasses a wide variety of subjects, including isues pertaining to money, sex, spirituality, goals, and family roles. “Who has more say in the relationship? How will the children be raised?” Aiza enumerates. “How much sway do in-laws or extended family members have in decision-making? If these are not discussed properly before the marriage, conflict will occur.”
Lack of communication, validation, and affirmation. “We’ve become so used to doing things a certain way when we were single that when our partner acts the opposite way and neither wants to compromise, that also poses a conflict,” says Aiza.
When to ignore, talk it out, or walk away Just because relationship conflicts are normal and inevitable does not mean you should give up on the idea of having a harmonious marriage. Unresolved relationship conflict is very stressful, and this stress can negatively affect the physical and mental health of both partners as well as any children that they may have. However, not all issues need to turn into conflicts; in the same vein, you should also know which conflicts are more grave and require more drastic measures. Aiza shares some ways you can tell the difference and what you can do to resolve them:
When to let your partner be “It is not worth the conflict if the issue is about something bigger involving your partner and not about you,” Aiza assures. “In such cases, just let them express their emotions and do your best to love and understand them.”
An example would be the expression “Shut up.” During one of your conversations, you might have said it in jest, i.e. “Oh, shut up, that’s not true,” but your partner reacted like they were disrespected and got triggered. In such cases, instead of lashing back with “You’re so sensitive, I didn’t mean anything bad about it,” just pause and give them time to cool their tempers. Then when they are ready, gently ask if they want to talk about why they reacted in such a manner, so that you know not to do it again next time. Whether they want to talk about it or not, just make a mental note to refrain from saying “Shut up” next time.
When to talk it out, work it out A relationship becomes problematic when the conflict stems from different values and you and your partner are triggered with deep feelings about certain issues.
A classic example would be matters involving money, i.e. when the two of you differ in how much to spend, what to spend on, how much money to lend to relatives or friends, etc. In such cases, you need to sit down and try to come up with a compromise. To do this, start by expressing your feelings, then hear out your partner. Use “I” statements such as “I feel __ when you spend on ___. But I want to understand why you are doing this, can you explain it to me?”
Then, as always, hear out your partner from a place of love and understanding, i.e. “Oh, so you were raised to think of money this way, which is why you did this and that. Now I see.” Finally, bring up options so that you can come up with compromises. That way, everyone comes out a winner.
When to walk away
Every person should have a list of behaviors that they will not tolerate in a partner. Ideally, these non-negotiables should have been seen before the marriage. For Aiza, examples of toxic behavior include extreme disrespect and abuse (whether physical, mental, or emotional), pathological reasons or disorders that you are not qualified to handle, or psychological incapacities.
“It is sad if these things are discovered within the marriage. But if the love is strong and the other person wants to make it work, then try to work it out, maybe with the help of a professional,” Aiza advises. But if the partner continues to be in denial, resorts to gaslighting, or keeps falling back on toxic habits despite promises to the contrary, then you need to decide if this is still a relationship that you want to continue.
This is not to mean that you should file for separation, divorce, or annulment at the drop of a hat. “If you love each other, and you spent spent a lot of time getting to know your partner well enough during the dating process, if you knew what you were getting into and you took your marriage vows seriously, if you were not coerced into the relationship and there was love to begin with — then everything can be worked out,” Aiza assures. “But if you got married simply because you were swept off your feet or were coerced or pressured, or you never had the opportunity to really get to know your partner — then maybe all these conflicts are a sign that you were not meant to be. Do still try to work on the relationship, don’t give up over the smallest conflict; but if you’ve done everything you can and you still don’t see any change in your partner, then you’re probably better off ending it.”
“Do you have enough common values that you can adjust to differences in way of thinking? Is there good enough communication? Is there a good level of maturity?”
According to research conducted by relationship company The Gottman Institute, 69% of conflicts in a marriage can be resolved successfully. This is where Aiza stresses the importance of getting to know your partner well. “Do you have enough common values that you can adjust to differences in way of thinking? Is there good enough communication? Is there a good level of maturity?” she lists. “Marriage is forever, it is ‘I love you until death do us part’ and not ‘I love you only until it’s convenient and comfortable.’ And when the love is true, that will hopefully be a strong enough motivation to keep going and to keep fixing any relationship conflict.”
MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 to help you address past traumas or build better habits so that you can have better relationships with the ones you love. Book a teletherapy session now Facebook Messenger http://bit.ly/mn-chat , or email [email protected].
The parent-child relationship can be regarded as the most important relationship an individual can experience. Those who grow up with a secure and healthy attachment to their parents stand a better chance of developing happy and content relationships with others in their life. On the other hand, adult children who are constantly stressed by their parents can experience poor mental and physical health, including fatigue, decreased motivation, depression, irritability, as well as the inability to sustain healthy routines, choices, and relationships.
There are many reasons why adult children find their parents stressful. It could be emotional baggage carried over from childhood, a mental/generation gap in terms of thinking pattern and current trends, or because parents overstep boundaries and continue to treat their adult offspring as children by interfering with their decisions and life choices. And while it’s easy to put physical and emotional distance between ourselves and a peer that we find stressful, it’s harder for those raised in an Asian culture to have frank and difficult conversations with parents. “Our culture places importance on honoring parents, so telling them they are stressful is tantamount to being impolite, disrespectful, or ungrateful,” explains Rac General, a psychologist for MindNation and mother of two grown children.
“When you know your parents’ triggers, you can be more mindful of your words and actions that will potentially cause them stress”
Rac General, MindNation psychologist
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to improve our relationship with our parents and minimize the stress. Here are some of them:
Find out why your parents are the way they are.
Do some research into your extended family and what your parents were like in school — these helped shape them into who they are today and can help you understand why they think and act in certain ways. “Also involve yourself in your parents’ day to day activities, including their work or workplace, and even get to know their friends and team members. These will give you a better understanding of their context and mood,” Rac says.
Understand the state of their physical and mental health.
Both affect emotions, behavior, and mood. “Also, when you know your parents’ triggers, you can be more mindful of your words and actions that will potentially cause them stress” advises Rac.
Finally, find out what their self-care routine or relaxation outlets are and join them so that you can bond.
When talking to them, do it politely.
Conflicts often start and are fueled by our choice of words. When we’re angry with someone, we’re likely to tell them exactly what they’ve done to upset us and start arguments with “you” — “You did this!” or “You always/never ___!” More often than not, this leads to a defensive response, and once someone becomes defensive, they lose the ability to listen and understand other perspectives. Instead, try to frame the conversation in terms of how the issue impacts you by using “I” statements such as
“I feel ___ when ____.”
“I’m upset/hurt/nervous that ___.”
“I don’t understand….”
Ask for help from third parties.
If you really feel that you can no longer manage your relationship with your parents on your own, politely ask grandparents, trusted members of the extended family, or even your parents’ friends for advice or help. They will either offer you a new perspective that you can consider, or mediate on your behalf. However, never, ever suggest to a parent that they should seek the help of a mental health professional, even if you are certain that their stressful behavior is the result of a mental health concern. “It will be taken as an insult and they will get even more angry with you,” Rac points out. “Instead, politely ask a trusted relative or friend to be the one to relay your concerns.”
5. Seek professional help.
If your situation is worsening, and you are having trouble dealing with stressful relationships, it is advisable to seek help from professionals. Mental health professionals can help if you are struggling with anxiety and mental distress.
MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for family therapy sessions or if you are struggling with anxiety and stressful relationships. They can help you get to the root of the relationship problem, improve your communication, assist you with setting/ enforcing boundaries, and help you find a solution that is beneficial for you. Book a session now at https://bit.ly/mn-chat
“Ghosting” refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so — the offender essentially “vanishes” into thin air, as if they were a ghost.
While the term is recent, the practice is not. “In the 1990s, Filipinos called it nang-indyan (not showing up for a date),” explains psychologist Riyan Protuguez. “In English, we borrowed from the military and called it someone ‘going AWOL’ (Absence Without Leave) or ‘going MIA’ (Missing In Action).” And if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of ghosting, you are not alone — a study of 1,300 people published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships in 2018 revealed that a quarter of the participants had been ghosted by a partner.
According to Riyan, ghosting can have a negative psychological impact on the person being ghosted. People who have been left hanging by a romantic interest or partner will tend to blame themselves, i.e. “What did I do wrong?” or engage in self-doubt, i.e.“Am I not good enough?” As a result, their self-esteem suffers, which can lead to a host of other mental health concerns. It’s even worse if the one who is ghosting engages in love bombing first (i.e. overwhelming their partner with loving words, actions, and behavior) — before disappearing, leaving the other person bewildered and anxious.
“Ghosting” refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so — the offender essentially “vanishes” into thin air, as if they were a ghost.”
Why do some people choose to ghost?
There are several reasons a person ghosts another, but the most common ones are:
It’s a form of experiment. “Some millennial daters like to experiment,” Riyan shares. “They deliberately cut off contact to check how into them the other person really is.” In short, it’s a convoluted form of playing hard-to-get.
They are emotionally unavailable. “People who ghost do not know how to handle the difficult situation of turning someone down or ending a relationship,” says Riyan. “They don’t know how to communicate their feelings, so they just withdraw.”
How to move on after being ghosted
Being ghosted often triggers painful emotions, and while it can take some time to work through the pain, it is possible to move on. Here are some tips:
It’s not you, it’s them. Don’t blame or question yourself. “Ghosting is committed by people who are emotionally immature and who have their own issues, so it is never your fault,” Riyan assures.
Explore self-care activities to divert your attention. Spend time with trusted friends and loved ones, write in your journal, exercise, or watch your favorite tv show.
Set boundaries. Delete their number from your contact list, unfriend and unfollow them on social media, and throw away or donate the gifts you received from them. If they try to woo you back with love bombing — and people who ghost usually do — “Always remember that you don’t deserve someone who treats you this way,” Riyan reminds.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to try again. One bad experience should not stop you from finding the one that is right for you.
How to avoid ghosting others
If you ever find yourself in a position where it seems easier to just disappear than to engage in a difficult conversation, always put yourself in the other person’s shoes. “Do your best to treat others with kindness and honesty,” Riyan suggests. “Your words may hurt, but it’s better than disappearing without an explanation.:”
Some ways you can turn someone down gently:
“It was nice meeting you but I just didn’t feel the connection.”
“I am going through some personal stuff right now, and it’s best I deal with it on my own.”
“I know we have been talking for awhile now, but I don’t feel a spark anymore, I hope you understand.”
“I’m sorry but I don’t see this going any further, I respect you and hope we can still remain friendly.”
Reeling from being ghosted? MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions if you need to process the complex feelings you may have after being left hanging by a romantic interest. They can also give you further coping strategies to make sure you come out the other side stronger and more confident than before. Book a session now through https://bit.ly/mn-chat.
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].
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
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
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.
Instead, point to specific, observable actions and how they made you feel. Use ‘I’ statements such as “I felt __ when you did/said ___.”
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.
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.”
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.
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:
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.
Seek to find common ground, not to “win.” “What is more important to you, the relationship, or your need to be right?” asks Riyan.
If you made a mistake, own up to it. “Nobody is perfect, so reevaluate yourself before you plunge into a difficult conversation,” Riyan suggests.
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.
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.
When we’ve been unattached for the longest time and hear that a friend has paired up or gotten engaged, or we see photos of couples looking lovey-dovey online — we can’t help but feel a twinge of envy and, in some cases, even frustration. “When will it be my turn?” “Why can’t my Mr. Right come right now?” “Sana all (I hope everyone’s like this).”
Feeling pressured to be in a romantic relationship is perfectly normal, assures Luis Villarroel, a psychologist and founder of Kintusgi Psy. “Biologically, humans are social creatures and we are most comfortable when we connect with someone else. Culturally, romantic relationships have been, well, romanticized through the years and we’ve been raised by our forebears to believe that being in one is what we should all strive for,” he points out.
But sometimes, this pressure to pair up can become too much for a single person to manage and may lead to feelings of low self-worth (“I’m single because there is something wrong with me”) and even spiral into mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. “Because we’ve been conditioned by society to believe that being in a relationship is the only path in life, we feel like failures when we do not achieve it,” explains Luis. “But the truth is, finding a romantic partner is NOT the only path we can take. There are other things that we can do and focus on in life.”
Below are some of the reasons to enjoy being single:
You learn about yourself. Being single gives you more time to look deep inside yourself and identify the person you really want to be.
You have time to work on yourself. What changes do you want to make in your career? What new skills, attitudes, or mindsets do you want to develop? When you are not in a relationship, you have time to get clear about all these and more.
You can make self-care a priority. When you are in a relationship, part of your time will be spent assisting your partner with their needs. While this is not a bad thing, it can sometimes lead to putting yourself second. But when you are single, there are no other responsibilities to pull you away from self-care needs like working out, socializing with friends, or taking time to focus on personal development.
Your time is your own. Once you get past feeling lonely and realize how wonderful being single is, you will become aware of one of the best perks – your schedule is now completely your own.
You take time to love yourself more. It’s actually mentally healthy for you to take some time to be alone if you can, because you learn to love yourself more. “By doing so, you can learn what you really want and what’s important to you and your life. This can even end up helping you find out whether or not a relationship is actually something you want in your future,” Luis says.
You learn to enjoy being alone. “There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely,” says Luis. “We need to stop thinking less of ourselves just because we are alone.”
To start appreciating having your own time, try making a list of five to 10 hobbies that can be done on your own–you’ll probably come up with more ideas than you think!
“Don’t be ashamed or afraid of being single,” Luis advises. “You’re the only YOU that you’ve got, so never feel that it’s something less to be with yourself. Instead, use this time to work on the things that you need to improve, and learn to love yourself for who you really are.”
“You’re the only YOU that you’ve got, so never feel that it’s something less to be with yourself.”
Luis Villarroel, Psychologist
If the idea of being single continues to bother you, Luis suggests that you self-evaluate to find out why the idea is troubling. “Think about why you want to be in a romantic relationship? Is it because you’re feeling the pressure from others? Because you feel lonely? Worthless? And once you identify the stressors, pressures, and causes of tension, you will have a better idea on how to act on those. Now, if you are having trouble accessing these, talking to a psychologist can help.”
At the end of the day, Luis points out that the stress of finding The One lies in the belief that love can only be found in romantic relationships. “That’s not true,” he says. “Love can be found in other aspects; there’s self-love, and also the love of your other social supports like friendships. You don’t always have to be in a romantic relationship to experience love.”
If your relationship status is causing you stress and anxiety and you need someone to talk to, you can reach out to MindNation’s FREE 24/7 Care Helpline via FB Messenger (bit.ly/mn-chat). If you need the services of a mental health professional, you can book online sessions with psychologists or WellBeing Coaches also through FB Messenger, or via email [email protected].