A Detox For The Soul: How To Eradicate Gossip For A Lighter, Happier Existence Part Three

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Choosing To Focus On The Positive

 

Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to focus on the positive when you seem to be surrounded by negativity. It takes great strength of character to seek the silver lining when you’re the victim of gossip but finding the positive is an essential tool when shifting from feeling powerless to powerful.

 

Mindfulness And Accepting The Present

 

Exert from ‘How To Stop Operating On Auto-Pilot And Live For The Moment’…

 

Whilst at one of the worlds best facilities in 2009, I was introduced to something called mindfulness. Mindfulness is a form of meditation which has gained great medical recognition and is designed to cultivate an experience of living in the moment. However, to stop there would be to sell mindfulness short. It also encourages us to accept the present in all its fullness – even if what we are experiencing is unpleasant.

 

It serves to both heighten our perceptions and teach us to appreciate and see our environment anew. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the pioneer of mindfulness and the man responsible for bringing it into the mainstream medical arena, describes mindfulness as ‘The awareness that emerges when we learn to pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally to things as they are.’

 

The first few mindfulness classes I attended brought me such a deep feeling of relaxation, well being and peace, I knew I would continue to use mindfulness throughout the course of my life.

 

Mindfulness can teach us to access states of openness, acceptance and immersion which we seldom find in our everyday lives. The sort of states one might experience on holiday. Think of mindfulness as a form of mental vacation, a way to connect with non-judgmental principles and a complete acceptance of what is, whatever that may be.

 

In recent years the body of research on mindfulness has been enormous and the amount of positive findings staggering. Mindfulness has been found to help us better process pain and emotion and there is evidence which suggests it can significantly reduce the chance of patients with chronic depression relapsing. Studies even show that mindfulness can improve our concentration and quality of sleep.

 

As if those benefits weren’t enough, it has also been proven that mindfulness lowers the stress hormone Cortisol and many patients treated for stress, anxiety, pain and depression are increasingly being advised to practice mindfulness. Whereby mindfulness was once seen as a holistic treatment, it is now recognized by the medical profession as a viable treatment in and of itself.

 

To gain more insight into what mindfulness is, it is important to examine what it is not. For instance, mindfulness is not trying to relax. To become aware of the present moment, especially when we are going through a period of stress or depression, can be far from relaxing. Mindfulness simply allows us to become less reactive to our inner struggles and enables us to let go.

 

Unlike other forms of meditation, mindfulness is not trying to rid the mind of thoughts. When thoughts arise (as they will) the mindful person will simply acknowledge and observe them, allowing them to pass and returning their focus to the breath.

 

Stay tuned – next Monday we will continue looking at choosing to focus on the positive and will go into the role goals, hobbies and interests have to play in helping us to ooze positivity.

 

Further Resources:

 

‘A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted’ by Will Bowen

 

Have you ever meditated? What type of meditation did you do and how did you feel after? Is daily meditation something you would like to introduce into your lifestyle? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, understanding and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

A Detox For The Soul: How To Eradicate Gossip For A Lighter, Happier Existence Part Two

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How To Stop Engaging With Gossip

 

This is always a tricky one and if I’m honest I was better at this when I was younger than now, often not wanting to speak up for fear it might cause conflict. The truth is I think I’ve just lost sight of how important it is not to engage with gossip, even if I might do so in a passive way. I have to admit I’m disappointed in myself for doing so and I’ll be making a special effort to adopt the following strategies myself.

 

Change The Subject

 

This one might be obvious but in the heat of the moment it can feel quite difficult to do, especially when the conversation is in full swing. Try thinking of something fun or positive to talk about, like an upcoming event or even a holiday another might have planned.

 

Say Something Positive About The Person

 

This is often the best way to communicate that you are not comfortable with the direction of the conversation without having to say so directly – a good strategy to have in your bag! Think of something positive about the person in question and if you can’t, think about something compassionate you could say like ‘bless her, she might be going through a really tough time right now that we just don’t know about’.

 

Confront Gossip Politely But Assertively

 

This is of course the most courageous thing to do, though not everyone may feel able to act on this one, especially in larger groups. If you would like to know more about assertive communication please read my article titled ‘Assertiveness; A Journey Worth Taking’.

 

Point Out Missing Information

 

If you see that not everything is being taken into consideration or there is missing information in someone’s gossip, so long as you don’t reveal any secrets, point it out – it may just be the nudge they need to stop gossiping around you.

 

How To Protect Yourself Against Gossip

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A Detox For The Soul: How To Eradicate Gossip For A Lighter, Happier Existence Part One

 

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Do you consider yourself a gossip? Before I sat down to write this series I thought gossip was spreading malicious rumors or trying to discredit someone in the eyes of others and, if you had asked me a month ago whether I was a gossip, I would have said a flat out no.

 

The truth is sometimes I do gossip. Sometimes I am hurt and endlessly find fault with those who I believe have caused the situation to my friends; sometimes I make judgments about others in conversation, without fully knowing their story. Sometimes, when I am very hurt, I even resort to labeling them when describing them to others.

 

I’m completely ashamed to admit this of course, but in order to do something about it, I first had to acknowledge the issue existed.

 

Naturally, in time I forgive them, or realize I don’t know the full story, but by then the damage has already been done, leaving a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.

 

I don’t want to be that person anymore, regardless of how I’ve been treated and neither do I ever want to jump to conclusions – after all, everyone is on their own journey and is doing the best they can with what experience and resources they have.

 

So this series is as much about my own journey as it is yours. Think of it as a detox for the soul – a lighter, happier way to live.

 

Why We Gossip: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly  

 

Whilst most of us are aware just how poisonous malicious rumors and gossip can be, very few of us are aware we gossip relatively regularly, so ingrained it is in our culture. Have you ever read a Hollywood magazine about A-Lister news? Did you share with a mutual friend that you thought one of your close friends was making a mistake? Then you have likely engaged in gossip. So why do we do it?

 

The Good (ish)

 

In truth there really isn’t any good kind of gossip, however there are understandable psychological reasons why we may be drawn to gossip.

 

The most common reason is that it is a subconscious way of bonding with others. In between the lines you are communicating to those you gossip with that they are more important to you than those you are gossiping about.

 

The Bad

 

Another common psychological reason we are driven to gossip is that it makes us feel important when we know information others don’t, in part elevating our unspoken status.

 

In some cases it might even be a form of projection. The key to know whether you might be gossiping about others as a form of projection is when your reaction to certain behavior is disproportionate.

 

For example, why does it bother you so much that someone who is single and you barely know, slept with two guys in the same week? Could it be that you are suppressing feelings about your own sexuality out of misplaced shame and guilt?

 

The Ugly

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The Brand New Accessible Psychology Site Is On It’s Way!

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Hey Guys,

 

Well its been an exhausting few weeks at Accessible Psychology but finally I have some news to share..

 

I am so excited to tell you all that the new site is now in it’s final stages, eeek!  It’s already looking great and will be so much easier to navigate. 🙂

 

I will announce the exact Re-Launch date closer to the time, but for now, here’s a sneaky little peak of everything we have in store once we go live…

 

  • Brand new ‘Mind’s Eye’ film and book reviews of selected new releases. There will be one film review and a best-selling book review each month. All reviews will feature character driven plot lines reviewed from a psychological perspective.
  • A competition across all Accessible Psychology social media channels with a prize giveaway of the first two reviews – one bestselling book and one new release film on DVD.
  • New category menu – making finding your favorite articles ten times easier.
  • Slick new magazine style site featuring photo’s with every post, a brand new logo and more!

 

In the meantime, August’s Hot Topic is ‘A Detox For The Soul: How To Eradicate Gossip For A Lighter, Happier Existence’ and will start next Monday, August 7th.

 

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates on when the new site will go live.

 

Wishing you all a wonderful week,

 

x X x Jenny x X x

Sympathy vs. Empathy (and how knowing the difference could save your relationships) Part Four

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Last week we began examining the seven steps to fostering more empathy, including learning to better identify our own feelings and treating others as they would like to be treated. This week we conclude the series by looking at the last three steps to increasing our empathy, including being more curious and challenging prejudices and finding common ground.

 

Cultivate curiosity

 

When we were little children we were all naturally curious but later in life this curiosity tends to fade. Remember that little child in you and do your best to remain curious and open. Ask people questions and learn about their thoughts, opinions, beliefs and feelings. Seek to understand viewpoints different to your own.

 

Active listening and being open

 

Active listening is when we really focus on listening to others. It involves reading body language, mirroring body language and repeating what the other has said so they feel heard and understood – this approach also gives others the opportunity to correct you if they meant something different to what you thought.

 

Be open and share your own story with others. Let yourself be vulnerable. It will make the person you’re speaking to feel safe in sharing with you in turn.

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Sympathy vs. Empathy (and how knowing the difference could save your relationships) Part Three

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Last week we looked at the many life-enhancing benefits of empathy and learnt the ‘enemies of empathy’ and how to overcome them. This week we begin examining the seven steps to fostering more empathy, including learning to better identify our own feelings and treating others as they would like to be treated.

 

The seven steps to foster more empathy

 

Learn to better identify your own feelings

 

One of the key elements in becoming more empathic with others is to be able to read their emotions. This is virtually impossible without first learning to effectively identify our own emotions. The good news is that with just a little practice we can all become better at reading our own emotions.

 

All you need do is begin to notice when you are feeling an emotion and your awareness of your emotions will increase. The next step is to understand your emotions. You can do this by first thinking about what triggered your emotions (like an event) and then asking yourself why you are feeling the emotions that you are.

 

For example, if I notice that I am feeling anxious the trigger might be that I am meeting new people and the reason why might be that I don’t yet know whether our meeting will go well. Of course you can always delve deeper, for instance the core reason why I am anxious as to whether the meeting will go well or not is probably exasperated by the fact that when I met new people at school it didn’t go well.

 

Read literature

 

Reading literature is incredibly effective at allowing us to better understand others different perspectives and emotions. So read as much as you can and as wide a range of literature as possible to fast-track developing greater levels of empathy.

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Sympathy vs. Empathy (and how knowing the difference could save your relationships) Part Two

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Last week we explored the differences between sympathy and empathy and the different types of empathy. This week we examine the many life-enhancing benefits of empathy and look at the ‘enemies of empathy’ and how to overcome them.

 

The benefits of empathy

 

Strengthen bonds and relationships

 

When others sense we share their emotions and relate to them we instantly create a deep rooted bond. Naturally our relationships become stronger and closer as a result, meaning we can both give and receive support during life’s toughest times.

 

Fosters good emotional health and well-being

 

When we are empathic we experience feelings of connection, kindness, inclusion and community – all instrumental in promoting good emotional health and well-being.

 

Heals painful psychological problems

 

We can help to heal others loneliness, alienation, anxiety, fear, depression and shame all from emotional and compassionate empathizing.

 

Can be a source of self-esteem and gives us a sense of identity

 

Healthy self-esteem should only be related to our characters because – unlike other things such as success or money – we have complete control over how we choose to behave. When we are empathic and connect with others emotionally, we automatically feel good about ourselves and it can be a huge source of healthy self-esteem.

 

Furthermore, if we are empathic over a prolonged period of time, we can identify ourselves as being empathic by nature, enabling us to have a more positive identity.

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Sympathy vs. Empathy (and how knowing the difference could save your relationships) Part One

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Sympathy and empathy, aren’t they the same thing?

 

I recently saw a video by Brene Brown about the difference between the two. It had such a profound effect on me that I began wondering about all the times when I had offered sympathy as opposed to empathy – a mistake I’m sure we’ve all made.

 

I would often sympathize with friends who were going through romantic struggles, knowing that it must be awful for them and wanting to help but never really ‘feeling’ the emotions they were experiencing. This left me understanding their position intellectually though unable to relate on an emotional level.

 

So I vowed to shun sympathy in favor of empathy, knowing that having previously seen sympathy and empathy as the same, I had caused my relationships to suffer rather than thrive.

 

Throughout this series I will outline the critical difference between sympathy and empathy and examine the ways we can develop our empathy so that it nurtures and strengthens our relationships, fostering even greater levels of compassion towards others.

 

The nature of sympathy

 

In Dictionary.com’s article titled ‘Sympathy vs. Empathy’ it captures today’s meaning of sympathy perfectly and reports that:

 

‘Nowadays sympathy is largely used to convey commiseration, pity, or feelings of sorrow for someone who is experiencing misfortune.’

 

As you can see, the very nature of sympathy is distant. It speaks of us being observers to others sorrow and feeling bad about their pain. For someone on the receiving end of sympathy, it can make them feel even more isolated, and, if those suffering are prideful, they might even feel offended by such sentiments.

 

The nature of empathy

 

In Dictionary.com’s same article it mentions today’s meaning of empathy and reports that:

 

‘[empathy] is now most often used to refer to the capacity or ability to imagine oneself in the situation of another, thereby vicariously experiencing the emotions, ideas, or opinions of that person.’

 

Empathy by contrast is personal. It gets in amongst the others pain and feels it right alongside them. Rather than isolating the person suffering, it comforts them, showing them that they are fully understood and reminding them that they are not alone.

 

The different types of empathy

 

Perspective Taking

 

This is predicting the thoughts of another by imagining ourselves in their position.

 

Cognitive Empathy

 

This is not feeling the others emotion but understanding that you need to communicate emphatically. It is especially helpful to engage with cognitive empathy and vocalize this to your enemies or those placing unrealistic demands on you as it is very powerful in resolving conflict.

 

Emotional Empathy

 

This is when we feel what the other person is feeling.

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How To Halt Put-downs And Come Out On Top Part Four

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So now you know what to say it should be easy right? Well, you know what they say, when man makes plans, God laughs. Others may be resistant to the assertive changes within you so let’s discuss what we need to anticipate in those around us this week.

 

What To Expect When You Begin To Assertively Stand Up For Yourself

 

If you are new to assertively standing up for yourself, especially if you have resorted to being passive in the past, you need to anticipate a certain level of resistance from others who have previously taken for granted that they can put you down.

 

Although this makes the process of being assertive harder at first, stick with it – you will get stronger and more confident in asserting yourself if you persist. Remember, the perpetrator is expecting you to back down at the first hurdle and when you don’t you will send a very clear message that you are not going to tolerate being mistreated any longer.

 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that being assertive will be uncomfortable at first. Very uncomfortable even. You might feel anxious, afraid, angry or a mixture of all these emotions. Try your very best to remain calm externally. Your emotions will calm during assertive exchanges once you have more experience of asserting yourself. Be patient with the process, persist in asserting yourself consistently and have confidence that it will get easier.

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How To Halt Put-downs And Come Out On Top Part Three

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How To Halt Put-Downs The Assertive Way

 

Once time has passed and your emotions have cooled (at least a little) try to get the person in a neutral environment alone. If the person continues to put you down in front of others, maybe consider continuing to address the situation assertively – regardless of who is listening – as outlined below.

 

Most of all, remember to remain calm (at least on the outside) with a moderated tone of voice and open body language throughout the duration of the conversation, no matter what is being said. Remember, the moment you lose control and get angry or aggressive you give your power to the perpetrator which is exactly what they want.

 

Step One – Find Out The Intention Behind The Comment, Explain Your Thoughts And Feelings And Say What You Want

 

Repeat the put-down and then ask…

 

‘Can you say more about what you meant by that comment?’

 

The person may then reply by a further put-down such as ‘nothing, you’re overly sensitive’. Repeat the question and if they do not answer continue by saying…

 

‘I took the comment to mean (x, y, z). Is that what you meant by the comment?’

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