In the article 8 Habits of Actively Vulnerable People, author Lindsay Holmes, says that unlike vulnerability “as a result of circumstances out of one’s control,” emotional vulnerability “is an exercise in openness which can be truly empowering.”
Emotional vulnerability can help you feel more satisfied with life, it can improve and deepen relationships, and it can even further your career. Why then, do many people find it challenging to make themselves emotionally vulnerable? Quite simply, it’s fear of rejection. Most of us are acutely aware that, once a thought or emotion is put forth, it’s impossible to retract. And revealing our deepest feelings in such a way can be quite intimidating.
Yet, emotional vulnerability offers tremendous benefits, both personally and interpersonally. Let’s take a look at some of the most important reasons why you should work towards allowing yourself to be emotionally vulnerable more often.
Why You Should Share More With Others
To clarify, sharing thoughts and feelings does not mean you must “come clean” to everyone. Emotional vulnerability should occur first and foremost on an intimate and familiar level. Think about who your closest to--do you share all your thoughts and concerns to your spouse, for instance? If not, then why?
Sometimes we struggle with letting guards down in our closest relationships. Live Bold and Bloom (a lifestyle publication), states, “When you are able to show yourself fully to another person, you experience the joy of being fully yourself”. Additionally, “Vulnerability fosters trust,” then article goes on, “As you reveal yourself to another person, and they treat you with respect, love, and dignity, your trust in that person expands.”
If you end up sharing sensitive information with your significant other and he or she judges or doesn’t listen, it is probably a sign that you need to work to improve your relationship, as there may be a sense of disconnect or mistrust hindering true closeness.
Build Relationships through Emotional Vulnerability
Those who live authentically and openly, positively impact others. Sharing your true self with others can make you more appealing and interesting; Plus, people will feel more comfortable around you, and may share their own concerns. Holding on to anxiety, anger or guilt and/or simple ideas and concerns, due to fear of rejection or confrontation, only hurts us in the end.
Author, Mark Mason, says, “Vulnerability is the path of true human connection and becoming a truly attractive person”. Psychologist Robert Glover also states, “Humans are attracted to each other’s rough edges.” Glover speaks the truth; no one can truly enjoy perfection and life without hurts and scars, because it doesn’t exist, so embrace life, and embrace yourself. Allow yourself to act and speak naturally and honestly.
Identify Your Own Avoidance Tactics
You must identify your avoidance tactics. Many people try to ignore or avoid their feelings in order to prevent shame, guilt and pain from surfacing. However, burying problems only creates more mental and physical problems. Choose to share feelings with a close friend, family member or a professional so that you can make sense of your troubled thoughts. If you feel a certain way about a friend, family member or another person, you should also not hold it inside. Though you may not want to hurt the person, it’s doing more harm by failing to address the issue and bring forth possible solutions.
Get Comfortable With the Uncomfortable
Most successes in life come from taking risks. Paul Coleman, a psychologist in Wappingers Falls, New York, and author of Finding Peace When Your Heart Is in Pieces, says, ““Vulnerability is ultimately a willingness to take a risk” and “playing it safe will never be fulfilling”. Again, this doesn’t mean you should talk to an audience about your most personal thoughts and feelings; instead, begin with small steps.
If you have stirred up emotions about your boyfriend or girlfriend, let them know. (In fact, the same applies for family, friends, roommates, coworkers, etc.) You can choose emotional vulnerability in two situations: when you simply want to be heard, and when you need to address and communicate an issue. Regardless of the scenario, the old saying “The truth will set you free,” usually turns out to be incredibly accurate.
In Conclusion: Be Kind To Yourself
Mistakes happen--if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not living! If you share with a person that responds negatively, let them go and move on--know your value and worth. Confine in friends that feel okay with sharing their own emotions, and take turns listening to one another. By sharing the same level of issues and personal feelings, you will instantly feel more connected and in tune with reality.
As PsychologyToday points out, “We all need to realize that a sense of common humanity is the recognition that everyone makes mistakes and no one is without their weaknesses”. We must be kind to ourselves like we would with others who need help, love and understanding. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing to live by fear or love--yes, we need both at times, but which one outweighs the other in your own life? By progressing towards love and compassion, you’ll be more willing to be emotionally vulnerable; at large, this creates deeper, and more meaningful human connection.
For more information on how to cope with specific psychological conditions, visit Dr. Syras Derksen.
While providing support for friends and loved ones dealing with traumatic experiences or mental illnesses is one of the most important ways that you can help them cope with difficult situations and distress, it can take a toll on your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Only 60% of people with mental health issues receive mental health care, so family members and caregivers often provide the most support for these individuals. Mental health issues, trauma, addiction, and other struggles impact more people than just the person who is dealing with these issues. They influence friends, family, colleagues, and other people in their community. Helping others cope with their mental health problems and other issues can be incredibly stressful, and if not properly managed, this stress can lead to the “helper” developing problems of his own.
It is vital for caregivers, friends, and family members who are helping others through situations and issues that cause distress to practice self-care and healthy stress management. While self-care looks different for everyone, one of the best ways that anyone can make sure they are taking care of themselves when they are helping others is to visit a mental health professional.
Many people wrestle with the idea of seeking help or taking time for themselves when they are helping their friends and family members because they believe that the other individual has a more immediate or severe need. Often times, these helpers will say they will get help managing their stress after they get their loved one the help they need first. While this idea is honorable, it is not effective, and it can actually be detrimental for both the helper and the person being helped.
If you have ever flown on an airplane, you are familiar with the safety demonstrations that encourage you to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others in case of emergency. This instruction is stated because if someone loses consciousness trying to assist someone else, then neither person will be safe. This same idea applies to those people who try to provide care and support for their partner, friend, or family member without taking care of themselves first. If you are suffering yourself, then you will not be able to give adequate assistance to your loved one, which means that you will both struggle. When you are helping someone who is dealing with a severe problem, practice self-awareness and set aside time to seek help for yourself if you are exhibiting signs of distress.
Signs A Helper Might be in Distress
There are several signs that might indicate that a helper is in distress. Here are some of the most common indicators:
If you notice that you are experiencing increased levels of anxiety, your caregiving situation might be causing you distress. Symptoms of anxiety include constant or overwhelming fear and worry, sleep issues, shortness of breath, and panic. Severe anxiety can get in the way of your daily life and prevent you from helping others effectively, so it is important for you to look for these symptoms and get help if needed.
Irritability and Anger
If you find yourself more susceptible to anger, outbursts or general irritation, you may be struggling to manage high levels of stress and anxiety. Keep track of your mood and make note of any drastic changes regarding anger or irritation.
Fixating on the Problem
If supporting your loved one through a challenging time begins to preoccupy all of your thoughts, it is time for you to step back and consider seeking some help. Do not allow yourself to fixate on the situation or the problem your loved one is facing. If you start to focus on their problem instead of helping them as a person, you might be feeling distress. Address these concerns before you become resentful or unable to provide further support.
Putting Others Needs Before Your Own
While being selfless is an honorable trait, the needs of others should not come before your own wellbeing. If the time and energy you spend caring for someone is negatively influencing your mental, physical, or emotional health, you need to take a break so that you can take care of yourself. Find a therapist or support group that will help you cope with this stressful period in your life so that you can be better equipped to help others around you.
For more information on how to cope with specific psychological conditions, visit Dr. Syras Derksen.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2029, the last of the Baby Boomer Generation will have reached age 65. This means that in a mere 11 years, 20% of the United States population will have reached the retirement age --and these statistic are only accounting for the U.S.! Let’s face it, our population is aging and we need to be ready for the challenges that are to come. As George R. R. Martin once said, “Knowledge is a weapon arm yourself well for battle.” The more we learn about potential mental health issues now, the better prepared we will be in the future.
Statistics show that 20% of older adults and 37% of adults living in nursing homes suffer from depression. If that isn’t bad enough, in this age group the symptoms are often overlooked. You may be wondering how symptoms of such a serious disease could go unnoticed. Unfortunately they are often attributed to other events that will inevitably occur when a person reaches this age bracket i.e. loss of a loved ones and coping with bodily changes. If you are currently entering senescence, remember that you are not alone. In fact, you belong to a fairly large world demographic. One of the best things you can do to prevent depression is create bonds with those who are dealing with the same issues. Building a good support system will do wonders for your mental health and overall outlook on life. Keeping friends and family close will remind you of all the good in the world.
One study said that at 20% older Americans have the highest suicide rate among any age group. Remember that suicide is never the answer. If you develop depression that leads to suicidal thoughts, please visit your doctor immediately. Additionally, you should try to find a hobby that brings you joy. Whether it’s painting, playing and instrument, or even writing blog articles, find your passion. When you become passionate about a specific endeavor, it can very quickly become an excellent reason to get up in the morning.
After looking at the statistics, it is apparent that our society is in great need of efficient treatments for older patients dealing with substance abuse. An estimated 17% of older adults misuse and abuse alcohol and medications. This estimate doesn’t even include the number of seniors who are at risk for this type of behavior. We here at Oakville encourage you to see your physician regularly. Only a licensed professional can tell you provide you with the help and treatment necessary to stay healthy, clear headed, and away from potentially harmful substances. Remember, as you get older, you will much likely need to be placed on various medications. Always take them as directed. Failure to do so can lead down a dark path that does not have a happy ending for you or your family.
Anxiety is another mental health problem that tends to be overlooked. Because this disorder can present itself with a multitude of different symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose. According to a study on mental health issues in the elderly, 9% of those age 95 and above, who do not experience dementia, have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Seniors should make themselves aware of these statistics so that they can try to prevent adding themselves to these ranks. Although anxiety can be difficult to prevent, there are a few methods that seniors can do to keep this disorder at bay. For example, seniors should keep their lives as stress free as possible. By eliminating stress, seniors will be more likely to stay relaxed and prevent anxiety from clouding their judgement.
Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia
The last of these four disorders is by far the most difficult to deal with. Alzheimer's Disease currently affects 12 million people worldwide, and that number is expected to increase to more than 22 million people by 2025. The number of people dealing with this terrible disease is rapidly increasing and causing heartbreak to many families around the globe. If you are unaware Alzheimer's Disease is the disorder that causes dementia, otherwise known as the irreversible deterioration of intellectual ability. Although scientists have developed means of detecting it early, there is still no known cure for this disease. As a senior, you must visit your physician often! Early diagnosis of this disease is of the utmost importance. When detected early, your doctors can drastically slow the course of this disease, giving you more years to spend with the ones you love.
Guarding yourself against mental health disorders is vital to living a long, productive life.
Trying to navigate a relationship with a narcissist can be a difficult feat. While narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is rare, affecting less than 1% of the general population, most people demonstrate narcissistic tendencies over time.
Narcissism is marked by many traits including a lack of empathy, grandiose thoughts and behaviors, entitlement, and a strong need for validation. These traits make healthy communication and negotiation a challenge, which can lead to frustration and eventually ruin relationships. One of the major characteristics of a narcissistic negotiator is the tendency for them to overestimate the power of their position and underestimate the power of yours. This can lead to continued misunderstanding and escalation in conflict.
Admiration Vs. Rivalry
Both admiration and rivalry can play a part in how narcissists interact. Both of these traits contribute to the maintenance of a grandiose self-image. It has been shown that narcissistic traits are great for building relationships in the short-term, but are disastrous in the long-term.
A research project in 2017 found was conducted to look at the admiration behaviour vs. rivalry behaviour in narcissists. This admiration was defined as the promotion of positivity in the person's self-view. Rivalry was the tendency to protect their self-image by being negative towards others. They found that it was tendency towards needing admiration that was what helped narcissists build relationships in the short-term. However, it was the tendency towards rivalry that cause relationships to break-apart over the long-term.
It is likely that this dynamic also occurs in negotiating. In the short-term relationships can flourish, but it would be expected that negotiations would also elicit strong rivalry tendencies that could produce negative acrimonious interactions. This fluctuation between these two sides could also be disorienting for the participants and observers.
What Should You Do?
When dealing with someone who tends to show narcissistic characteristics, it is important to make sure you are able to protect your self-esteem and your feelings. If you have a relationship with someone with NPD or with someone who often shows narcissistic traits, here are a few communication tips to keep in mind:
While you can neither control nor change the actions and thought patterns of someone who behaves narcissistically, remember that you are in control of your own actions and feelings. If you feel a conversation is leading to an unproductive argument or spiraling out of control, take a step back and think about how you can stay in control of the situation. Do your best to prevent frustration on your end from negatively influencing the way you communicate with the other person. Avoid building a negative case against them in your mind or lashing out in anger by taking control of your own thoughts and actions.
Avoid Unhealthy Conversation
You might be tempted to feel negatively about yourself when communicating with a narcissist. A narcissist might display little to no empathy for your feelings or try to blame you for a conflict. While it is frustrating to solve an issue with someone who refuses to take responsibility for his or her own actions, it is important for you to remember the big picture: you are in charge of your feelings, and you do not have to give this person power over your sense of self.
When negotiating with a narcissist begins to seem one-sided or the other person stops listening and is no longer interested in a healthy dialogue, you can stop the discussion. Communicate your feelings with the other person and express that you would prefer to continue the discussion at a later time when he or she is ready to listen to and respect your feelings. Even though a narcissist might feel entitled to your time, energy, and praise, they are just one person, and you do not have to give them every single thing they want just because they demand it from you. You do not have to sacrifice your self-esteem and energy to communicate with a narcissist.
Become Aware of Narcissistic Tendencies
As you spend time with a person with NPD or narcissistic tendencies, be sure to make note of the character traits they exhibit that might lead to unhealthy communication between the two of you. By becoming aware of these traits, you know when to stop a potentially unproductive conversation or disagreement. This will also give you a starting place for learning how to develop strategies to deal with these behaviors effectively. If you cannot avoid dealing with a narcissist on a regular basis, you should practice self-care by preparing yourself to handle the different character strengths that they might misuse.
Separate the Behavior from the Person
A trademark characteristic of narcissists is the need to be validated. Effective communication will not happen if you label the other individual based on their actions. When you become aware of their narcissistic behaviors and you want to communicate your feelings, you need to make sure you separate these behaviors from the person. Use “I” statements to express your feelings instead of placing blame that might make them feel attacked or invalidated. For instance, instead of saying, “You’re selfish, and you only care about yourself” you could say, “I do not feel cared for when you do this.” Doing this provides the space for the other person to listen and change, and it will help them pinpoint an area where they need to improve.
For helpful strategies that can make it easier for you to identify narcissistic behaviors that you demonstrate or that are exhibited by somebody close to you, visit www.oakvillewellnesscenter.com.
Leahy, R. (2014). Impediments and strategies in negotiating: A cognitive therapy model. Handbook of International Negotiating.
Wurst, S. N., Gerlach, T. M., Dufner, M., et al. (2017). Narcissism and romantic relationships: The differential impact of narcissistic admiration and rivalry. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112(2), 280-306.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the world’s most common childhood disorders, with an estimated prevalence of 5.29%. It is also a highly misunderstood neurodevelopmental condition.
Whilst many associate it with hyperactivity and overmedication, particularly in young boys, ADHD encompasses a wide range of symptoms. ADHD is also being increasingly diagnosed in adults and girls.
ADHD is diagnosed three times more frequently in boys than girls. Not long ago, however, this figure was closer to 10 to 1. Although the margins are narrowing, by adulthood the level of diagnoses across the sexes is roughly the same - so to what can we attribute the lower rates identified in childhood?
One potential explanation is that the symptoms observed in girls and boys can be quite different. Boys tend to exhibit the more “obvious” signs of ADHD such as hyperactivity and conduct disorder, whereas the difficulties experienced by girls tend to be attentional such as daydreaming in class.
For this reason, ADHD in girls may not be as obvious in an educational setting and therefore fall under the radar.
The hyperactive symptoms more commonly displayed by boys are more likely to be problematic in the home or classroom, and may therefore more quickly draw the attention of teachers, special needs officers etc.
Girls on the other hand, tend to experience the difficulties of ADHD in a more internal manner. It has also been argued that as girls are socialised by society to behave in a more reserved manner that they are better than boys at covering up symptoms.
There is also limited public knowledge in terms of the different ways ADHD may express itself among the sexes.
So in what ways may ADHD look different in girls than boys?
An interesting paper by Rucklidge (2010) explored gender differences in ADHD. In a review of previous studies, she found a number of differences in a variety of areas.
This is potentially the most widely recognised symptom of ADHD and is the main symptom that boys tend to exhibit more than their female counterparts. Children with ADHD may find it difficult to sit still and may also exhibit impulsivity for example non- stop talking, making inappropriate comments and being impatient.
Although many children may be high-energy, in order to meet the clinical criteria for these facet of ADHD the hyperactivity and impulsivity demonstrated must be impacting the child’s life and have been doing so for six months or more.
Inattentive ADHD is that which leads to trouble focusing and being easily distracted. Children with ADHD are daydreamers who get bored easily. Whilst this could easily be said of many children, in the case of those with inattentive ADHD this leads to trouble completing schoolwork and avoiding tasks requiring focus. Children with ADHD may also be highly disorganised with messy rooms.
Again, whilst many of these are common childhood traits, those with ADHD will suffer both at home and at school due to the severity of these symptoms.
Girls display attentional ADHD more so than boys.
Tactile Defensiveness (TD) refers to both behaviours and emotional responses which are out of proportion to tactile (relating to sense of touch) stimuli. Children with TD may be overwhelmed by sensory overload and in extreme cases may find everyday activities such as having hair brushed or eating cold food intolerable.
TD is commonly associated with ADHD and is exhibited more frequently by females.
Social and Psychological Functioning:
Studies have also found some marked differences in these areas between girls and boys. Boys have been found to be more aggressive, particularly with peers. Interestingly, it has been found that girls suffer from lower self-esteem and demonstrate poorer coping strategies than boys.
This could be due to the more internalised nature of female ADHD but could also be the result of later diagnosis.
Effects of late diagnosis
Early identification and intervention are obviously important in terms of determining future outcomes. Children who receive support at home and at school are much more likely to manage their condition into the future.
Unfortunately, at present ADHD tends to be diagnosed later in girls than in boys. Until recently, the American Psychiatric Association diagnosis manual specified 7 as the cut- off age for symptoms to be evident. Although this has recently been increased to 12, it is quite possible that the narrow age- range previously provided prevented some diagnoses from being made.
Some studies estimate that as many as 50- 75 percent of girls with ADHD are not diagnosed.
Studies have found that both men and women diagnosed as adults struggle in a wide array of domains and have lower self- esteem, poorer coping strategies and higher levels of depression. In addition adults identified with ADHD later in life tend to have negative attributions about themselves.
The lack of a diagnosis may lead individuals to having their difficulties attributed to laziness or lack of ability both by themselves and others.
As of yet however, no study has compared those diagnosed during adulthood with those diagnosed during childhood.
So what should you look out for in order to spot the signs of ADHD in girls?
The following signs may indicate that ADHD is going unnoticed:
If this sounds familiar it may be worth speaking to a GP or therapist in order to further investigate the basis of these problems. Given the lack of awareness regarding girls with ADHD, and the detrimental impact of later diagnosis, it is important not to let girls with ADHD continue to fall under the radar.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Hamed, A. M., Kauer, A. J., & Stevens, H. E. (2015). Why the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder matters. Frontiers in psychiatry , 6 .
Rucklidge, J. J. (2010). Gender differences in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychiatric Clinics of North America , 33 (2), 357-373.