Being positive, choosing to cultivate happiness can attract some bad press. "You're not living in the real world", is one such comment. Thankfully many of our schools acknowledge how important positive mental health is and make space in their (very crowded) curriculum to teach positive psychology strategies such as growth mindset and gratitude.
Personally, I have always struggled with being positive and optimistic. Many days I am making the conscious choice to be positive, to choose the best way of living I know. Some days where energy levels are low and my mind turns to the thought that I can't wait for the day to be over, those are the days I need to make a choice, to use some of the practical, positive evidence based strategies that will dial up the happiness and energy.
So turning up each day and choosing to be positive, particularly on those days is a strength of character. It is learning these strategies that can make a very real difference in our mental health.
Positivity is not at odds with realism. To live fully in reality, it is essential to cultivate, and yes work on, positivity, optimism and happiness.
Being positive encompasses knowing your strengths as well as your weaknesses; practicing gratitude towards the people, experiences and resources in your life; having a growth mindset whereby you continue to learn and be open to all that is happening in your life; working on your cognitive flexibility whereby you can see there is more than one way of interpreting the world, more than one way of living your truth, always more than one way of thinking about everything.
Raising positive young people can be a horrendously difficult task in this world which often appears to be crumbling down around us. It takes strong, courageous parents and educators to guide our young people to live positively. There is nothing superficial about this at all.
Positive Young Minds is unashameably proud to work with parents, educators and young people to draw out their strengths, foster their courage and determination, and help them connect with the good, the greatness and the wonder of the world around them.
As parents or educators young people look to you to teach them and show them how to do this.
If you would like to learn more about how to increase levels of optimism in young people you look after simply send an email to email@example.com.
I did it! I switched off all internet for 5 days, and did not comment or post for another 3.
So how was it?
It was so incredibly easy. I know, I was surprised too. I had all this quiet. Here are the top 9 things I discovered.
With divorce and separation common in our society it can be easy to take it for granted and fail to recognise the stress it provides for children caught in the middle.
The impact this event has on the children involved depends on many factors. These factors can include, the age of the children, how the adults speak to each other, what the adults tell the children, whether the parental split results in a less stressed home environment, the shared care arrangements, and the personality and temperament of the children. There are so many things going on at this time and often children are left to cope in their own emotional turmoil whilst the adults are battling it out.
If you are a parent going through this you may be overwhelmed by all that is happening. If so, imagine how your child may be feeling. They have no control in the situation. They don’t know what is going to change, what will stay the same. Where is Christmas going to be? Who is going to come to the school concert? Can they go to a birthday party that is on when it is the other parent’s turn to have them?
Providing stability wherever possible is one way you can help your child. Keeping traditions, maintaining the same bedtime routine, including your child in decisions that involve them, having a transition routine.
So where does mindfulness come in? The short answer is everywhere. But if we hone in on transitioning between homes. Before you first see your child when they come home from their other parent take time to check in with yourself. How do you feel about them coming home? Do you want to know what they did, what your ex has said about you, whether they did their homework? Have you been lonely without them? Do you wish they didn’t have to be away from you? Do you wish they didn’t have to come home? Do you wonder whether they had such a good time away from you that you can’t match the experiences your ex provided them, or do you think your ex has neglected them?
You may find you are experiencing some strong, and/or perhaps surprising thoughts and feelings. That’s great. Practice noticing them, without judging yourself. And then, let them be and turn your focus to your child.
By spending some time becoming aware and acknowledging your own thoughts, feelings, urges etc the aim is to reduce any tension that can occur during this transition time for your child.
If you would like to learn more about how mindfulness can help you in these and other areas contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0408533515.
If you are going through a separation it can be useful to take a formal course such as https://lifeworks.com.au/programs/parenting-after-separation/. Relationships Australia also have a shared care parenting plan template http://www.relationships.org.au/relationship-advice/publications/pdfs/share-the-care-parenting-plan.
When you read or hear the word mindfulness what reaction do you have?
Many people who come and see me state that mindfulness doesn’t work for them, they don’t want to do that ‘mindfulness stuff’, or that they’re sick of being told to breath. Their reaction is quite strong.
Practicing mindfulness underpins most of the work I do in therapy, and how I try and live my life, yet when I hear or read the word ‘mindfulness’ my reaction is not always positive.
I think it is because it has become such a populist word and tends to be tossed around like fairy floss, that the word itself is becoming diluted.
There is a part of my brain that still wants to automatically associate ‘mindfulness’ with a tall, young, skinny female with long hair sitting cross legged on a cushion. I don’t judge people who can do this – part of me would love to be that person, that person who seems to have their act together and exudes calm.
However, my mindfulness is not neat, and I am not that person. The process of practicing non-judgement of self and others, of focusing on my breath, of noticing my thoughts, feelings and actions; of seeing things for how they are, of deliberately focusing on the beauty and wonder around me, of practicing gratitude, and of taking committed action; these processes can be tough and demanding. Particularly when my brain is resistant and wants to hold on to incorrect beliefs, past failures and echoes of bullying. When my stress response is triggered and wants to run and hide, not sit on a cushion….
So why do it?
It tends to bring me peace, increase my feelings of happiness and allow me to respond to situations and people rather than react. It increases my feelings of gratitude and makes me feel calm.
So pay attention to your reaction to the word ‘mindfulness’. There is no right or wrong reaction. And by paying attention to your reaction you are practicing mindfulness (and isn’t that interesting).
Being organised and living uncluttered has been a life long struggle of mine, so far. I am frequently reminded by my family that as a child my way of tidying up was to put everything in the wardrobe – including a chair covered with clothes.
Maybe you like me, have bought, read and even implemented much of Marie Kondo’s “The life changing magic of tidying up”. And a year later it looks the same again...
Maybe you’ve tried other methods of organisation such as the Flylady method.
Or maybe you, like me, have been living through the “It’s all too much, I just give up” method.
I like to tell myself that if I was single and didn’t have four other people in the house, only one of whom has any sort of “let’s keep things in order” gene, that things would be different.
Well I’m calling it now – Poppycock! The mess comes from within. Even Dr Brooklyn Storme, Psychologist, saw through my personality when she titled the podcast I did with her “You can be a mess and still be a great mum!” [http://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-f5ccv-8d47fd].
I don’t know about you, but my life is messy. It is full of children and teenagers, sport and music commitments, shift work, emotionally challenging work, struggles to keep fit, making and going to medical appointments, school commitments, making sure there is food in the house and clean clothes to wear. Many of my friends have similar lives and you probably do to.
"I don’t know about you, but my life is messy. It is full of children and teenagers, sport and music commitments, shift work, emotionally challenging work, struggles to keep fit, making and going to medical appointments, school commitments, making sure there is food in the house and clean clothes to wear. Many of my friends have similar lives and you probably do to"
First Awareness, Then Acceptance
In therapy we start with awareness and move on to acceptance.
I accept that I am a ‘messy mum’. I have too many ideas. This results in bursts of energy and then inertia. I struggle with balancing the love of my family with the need to recharge in isolation. I experience feelings of awe and wonder at how privileged my life is; followed by frustration with so much that I still want to do.
I accept that my children are messy. They are wonderful, exciting, and messy. They infuriate me and inspire me – often at the same time.
I live with the messiness and continue to take steps that fit with what is important to me – including simplifying my life, creating community, practicing positive psychology to enhance happiness, and providing opportunities and experiences for my children.
Because being authentic is so important to me, it is an important philosophy behind Positive Young Minds. At Positive Young Minds we acknowledge that life, ourselves and our children are messy. In working with children, adolescents, parents and schools our aim is to be practical, and to help you make things more workable and perhaps a little less messy.
If you have children with messy emotions such as anxiety, depression; problems at school including not wanting to go, difficulties learning, or social isolation; or children need some help dealing with messy lives, we can help with counselling and/or assessments, or parent consultations. You are welcome to contact us now and make an appointment for yourself or your child. If you are not quite ready to do this, have a look at the website, give me a call and or send me an email and I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the process for therapy and/or assessments.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED? ACT LIKE AN APE!
Bullying is insidious. It has been linked to an increase of mental health difficulties in those being bullied and an increase in criminal offender to those are engaging in bullying behaviour.
It is not just children who can feel powerless when bullying behaviour occurs. As a parent when you child tells you they are being bullied, picked on, victimised you may feel powerless, angry, sad. It may trigger memories of similar things happening to you. It may reflect what is happening to you in your workplace. As bullying behaviour occurs everywhere – wherever there is a power imbalance.
So, what should you do as a parent. I have outlined a structure that you may find helpful. One thing you can do as a parent is to act like an APE.
When you see a change in your child’s behaviour. They may start having sleep difficulties, not want to go to school, or start acting out. When you know that something is not quite right, or when they tell you someone is picking on them at school, or online, or in their football team. However this information comes to you the first thing to do is to acknowledge it.
Well-meaning parents in an attempt to minimise what is happening or from a place of not knowing what to do may make comments such as “ignore them”, “find someone else to play with”, “they’re just jealous”, “I’m sure they didn’t mean it”, “don’t whine”, and “toughen up”. Ever heard these? Ever said these?
Before you say anything – listen. Let your child tell you how they are feeling or ask them how they are feeling. Acknowledge their feelings. Ask your child what they want to do. Acknowledge their thoughts
“ignore them”, “find someone else to play with”, “they’re just jealous”, “I’m sure they didn’t mean it”, “don’t whine”, and “toughen up”. Ever heard these? Ever said these?
Play detective and gather information. Who, what, when, where. Get a copy of your school’s anti bullying policy and share this with your child. These actions show your child that you are taking them seriously. It can also help identify the type of bullying, and sometimes whether it was a misinterpretation by your child. Another benefit is it shows your child that being bullied happens to other people too.
Then depending on the information you have found you can create a plan. This will generally involve talking with the school who can help with putting in place the school bullying plan and providing a supportive structure.
If it is cyberbullying many schools will also help with this. Take three steps yourself: screenshot, report, block.
The other part of the plan is…
Bullying revolves around social relationships where there is unequal power. You can power up your child, either by yourself or with the help of professionals. This is done through helping them regulate their emotions, helping them understand their behaviour and how it impacts on other people, educating them on how bullies choose their targets; increasing their self-esteem; and teaching assertive verbal and non-verbal behaviours.
Part of empowering children is for the action plan to involve the child, parent and school. How the child wants to resolve this is important. For example, many children present with ‘frenemies’ and it is important for the child to see if this friendship can be resurrected. When they are in control and can try for themselves they have the opportunity to see if the ‘frenemy’ is really a friend, or someone they choose to let go from their life.
In my work I have found that when children are involved in the plan and decide to empower themselves their self-esteem can blossom.
If you think being an APE could work for you and your child contact me on 0408533515; send an email to email@example.com or send me a message via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/positiveyoungmindspsychology/.
Nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia), not an official diagnosis, but refers to the anxiety people feel when they are separated from their mobile phone. This may be due to not having their phone, lack of service connection, or a dead battery. It can result in a range of anxiety symptoms. It can also be a symptom of social anxiety.
(Not to be confused with the existing, clinically accepted disorder of nomophobia which refers to a fear of laws, rules and regulations).
We all love being able to take photos on our phones, keep up to date with who is doing what, and share our lives quickly and vibrantly with our friends, family and anyone else who is interested. However, it is easy for our phones to encroach too much into our lives. The ironic and sad situation is that despite us wanting to use our phones to increase connections in our lives, it is easy for our phone use to interfere with our ability to feel and be connected. How do you know if your phone use may be interfering with your life?
The ironic and sad situation is that despite us wanting to use our phones to increase connectedness in our lives, it is easy for our phone use to interfere with our ability to feel and be connected
A little checklist of some behaviours that may indicate an unhealthy reliance on your mobile phone
Three ways your mobile phone use may interfere with making connections in your life
1. When you avoid or minimise face to face interaction you are missing the opportunities to develop soft social skills like reading non-verbal communication. If your conversation involves communicating feelings, other than just an exchange of information, you miss the opportunities to choose your tone of voice and enhance your message with non-verbal communication. We have all experienced the situation of trying to figure out what someone 'meant' in a text.
2. If you are 'phubbing' your friend or partner, ie, if you are prioritising taking a call, responding to a text ahead of speaking with the person in front of you, what do you think that does for building lasting connections? You are sending your 'in-person' friend that they are less important than the person on the other end of the phone.
3. If you have anxiety and are using your phone as a distraction, this may stop you learning and using more productive and longer lasting calming techniques. Your phone, like any other distraction technique is only a short term solution.
What if my mobile phone is off?
There is some research that suggests simply being able to see a mobile phone or have it within easy reach, even when it is switched off reduces concentration - "because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone" https://www.sciencedaily.com/releas…/2017/…/170623133039.htm. So if you are sitting with someone but knowing you could be checking your phone, that is distracting.
More research into this is required - but isn't that an amazing thing to think about. So next time rather than have your phone near you and off, maybe experiment with putting it out of sight where you would have to move to get it. And if you think using your phone may be masking some anxiety, there is always help available to learn some more sustainable strategies.
You are my lovely free range child.
Off to school, on the bus. Not for you the careful dropping off on the first day.
It is a case of double checking you have paper and pens in the morning, rather than covering and naming all your books a few weeks before school starts.
It is a scrambling of combining second hand and new uniform and wondering whether two pairs of blue socks and one pair of shorts will last all week, rather than dutifully decking you out with five pairs of new socks and two to three pairs of shorts. More uniform will come as needed.
Forms that need to be completed head with you to school, rather than completed before the end of last year (as per school recommendations).
It’s telling you you’ll find out when you get to school where your home room is if you can’t remember, rather than bringing up a map and showing you.
It’s running around looking for the folders I bought you, only to find out your sister has taken them to school the day before to use. And then having your sister help you work out what you can do instead.
It is looking at your hair and saying that will do, rather than worrying about it being perfect for the first day.
You are my lovely free range child. You have less parental angst put upon you. You have both the help and advice (asked for or not) of your siblings. You have the benefit of my experience and my learning from those siblings who have trod the path before you.
You have more freedom, in part because you have demanded it.
You are less fussed over, but you are well and truly fiercely loved.
here to edit.
It's Day 2. I am wondering if you have started on your resolutions, or have read any of the information I posted yesterday?
Yesterday I went to the gym to continue working on my physical fitness. Today is a rest day, just as well, because for some reason I have woken up so tired I am struggling to keep my eyes open! So I am taking it easy and keeping my eyes on my overall goal.
Failure, set backs and being human are normal and that's why relapse is a recognised part of behaviour change. It is important to begin and continue and understand the path is not a straight line but full of twists and turns, hills and valleys and rest stops.
This file is about the barriers we commonly face when making changes.
I love New Years resolutions. They represent hope and optimism.
However, you need more than a will and motivation to succeed with your resolutions.
You need a plan.
I have included a YouTube clip and a file that walks you through a change I made in National Psychology Week in October this year. This looks specifically at mental health, but I hope you will find it useful for either a physical, mental or other types of goals you have..
If you would like individual support you are welcome to call me after the 10th January on 0408533515 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.