Self worth is your sense of value as a person. While self worth is a sense of your own value, or worth, self esteem is often focused on how we measure up against others. Self-worth is about who you are, not about what you do. Explore the impact of measuring yourself against external measures and how you work towards developing a healthier, more instrinsic sense of self worth. Learn how to start combating your inner critic and other ways you can boost your self worth.
What I wonder about with all of my clients is how do they relate to others? What’s at the heart of this question is the idea of attachment styles. John Bowlby, who is the father of the attachment theory, calls it lasting psychological connectedness between human beings. We all exhibit attachment to our caregivers when we are babies and this style can either be a secure attachment or insecure attachment. This helps us form how we interact in relationships thereafter. The emotional bond that develops between adult romantic partners partly uses the same attachment system as we use when we are attaching to a caregiver when we are infants. Learn about what adult attachment styles look like, what attachment-related anxiety and attachment related-avoidance are, and how you can alter your attachment styles as an adult.
Many of the women I see are in the period of their lives where they may be ready to move up in their careers, they may start thinking about what “settling down” looks like for them, they may be wondering if their current relationship is leading in the direction they want it to, and many of them are definitely looking to their peers to gauge how they are doing in comparison with other young women in their circles. We have a biological drive to want to fit into groups and the Social Comparison Theory says that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. Look at the research that shows whether social comparison can be helpful or not and think critically about how social media affects the pressure of young adulthood. Get some ideas on what to do when you are in this stage of life and trying to measure yourself against others to see how you’re doing.
Caitlin has some big changes happening in 2018 which brings her to reflect on how her clients approach big decisions and crossroad in their lives. Questions to ask yourself to get to know what is going to work best for you when presented with an opportunity. Try not to get bogged down in the idea of making the “right” decision, but instead think about the different paths that different decisions will take you down.
As a therapist I see a lot of transition and movement as the year ends and a new one begins. Many people look at the end of the year and beginning of the next as a fresh start. I love the idea of taking time to be reflective and gain insight into your choices and patterns, but personally, I’m not so sure about the resolution idea. Why you ask? Only about 8% of people who set New Years resolutions actually keep them. The New Year’s resolution ritual is based on a false idea that people can change overnight as long as they have the willpower. The truth is that nothing magical happens when you wake up on January first - it’s just an arbitrary date - and you can choose to reset at any time you want! Learn about tactics to use for successful goal setting and how to reframe a resolution.
For some, holidays can be a time of happiness, merriment, and fun traditions. For others, it’s not all excitement and happiness, but it’s also a little bit of anxiety, stress, and irritability. Over scheduling, over consuming, under sleeping, fantasies of our families, and lack of alone time can make holidays less than enjoyable, just to name a few. Tackle these buzz killers with a few helpful strategies like asking yourself why you do things each year that make you miserable, focusing on the things you can control, and letting go of the fantasies. Learn some helpful interpersonal skills to deal with that family member who knows how to get under your skin.
The ending of a significant relationship can bring up a lot of emotion - negative self talk like “I should have moved on by now” or “I will never find a partner who will stay” can come creeping in. It’s important to let ourselves feel these losses and understand that the loss of a relationship can often feel like the death of a loved one - we move through it in stages. Acknowledging the realities of the loss of a relationship can help us move through the pain.
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, offers one of the most widely-used definitions of mindfulness: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” The gold standard studies of mindfulness have found benefits such as better concentration, psychological flexibility and less reactivity, and stronger working memory. Several scientists have proposed that the health benefits of mindfulness are caused, in part, by four interrelated factors: attention regulation, body awareness, change in perspective on the self and emotion regulation. While it can have great benefits, mindfulness isn’t the answer for everyone or in every situation, and it’s important to recognize when it might not be right for you. Try mindfulness in a variety of ways.
Social anxiety is extremely common in the US, with more than 200,000 cases per year. What’s the difference between social anxiety and the disorder of social anxiety? Some social anxiety is normal. If it distresses us too much that it ends up interfering with our ability to do things, it becomes a disorder. Social anxiety can have multiple contributing factors including genetics, culture, and biology. Many people turn to substances, especially alcohol, to help quiet social anxiety, yet it often contributes to it even more. Explore ways to begin to manage social anxiety.
Hey there! I am still away this week unplugging and restarting. While I'm gone, enjoy this week's mini-episode on books for self-exploration and inspiration.
See you back here next week with a new episode of Satisfied Self Podcast!
Hey there! I am away on vacation for the next two weeks and am taking time to unplug. Today's mini-episode is about unplugging - what it really means and why I'm doing it.
Join me for a second mini-episode next week!
So many young adults struggle with alone time and feeling lonely. Being alone is not the same as being lonely - being alone is a physical description, meaning when we are alone, we are just not with people, while loneliness is a feeling that is usually experienced as negative and painful. Research has shown that loneliness poses serious health risks, but a certain amount of “alone time” can be good for you. Even though being alone can be beneficial, many people struggle with it so much they would rather electrocute themselves than have to sit alone with their own thoughts! New research suggests that loneliness and social isolation are as much a threat to your health as obesity. At the root of loneliness is a lack of connection with others. Explore learning how to better enjoy “alone time” and how to manage and deal with feelings of loneliness, including connecting more with others.
Research shows that exercise improves mental health in a number of ways. It has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and negative mood. It can improve self-esteem as well as cognitive function. It’s likely that multiple factors are at play to help bring about these benefits. The effects aren’t just immediate, but there appear to be long term benefits of exercise on the brain as well. Even though we know there are benefits of exercise on mental health, we need to know more about the specifics of how exercise helps mental health to hone in on what types of exercise is most helpful, how long someone needs to exercise to reap benefits, etc. And even if people understand why exercise is good for mental health, why is it still so hard to stick to a program? Caitlin posits a challenge of noticing your mood during and after exercise.
There is lots of research showing the benefits of gratitude. Importantly, it can help improve relationships by helping us be more willing to forgive, be less narcissistic, set more realistic expectations for other and more. Gratitude is even more fulfilling when you can turn it outwards as well as inwards. And although it has it’s benefits, gratitude isn’t for everyone. Explore the things to do to boost gratitude.
Taking a look at how habits develop and what’s needed to make them stick. So many clients want to work towards creating healthier habits, so what does it take? Can we change a habit once it’s already set? A habit loop requires a trigger, action, and reward and sticking with a new habit until the point of automation means greater success. The average amount of time it takes for a habit to stick is 66 days. What you can do during that time to help a new habit stick - pairing, setting small realistic goals, scheduling with the understanding that “will power” wanes at the end of the day, and more. The challenge for next week: pick a habit you’ve been wanting to adopt and stick to it for 7 days.
Body image is established by senses, ideas, and feelings that for the most part at unconscious. It involves both internal - biological and psychological - as well as external - cultural and social - determinants. As body image satisfaction goes down, so does quality of interpersonal relationships, life satisfaction, and also mood. Self compassion has been shown to activate the self-soothing system and a feeling of calm and being cared for that help raise body image satisfaction. Caitlin explores ways to increase body satisfaction, such as becoming a critical consumer of media, practicing self compassion, and noting the individual differences and functions of the body. Caitlin puts forth the sticky note challenge to draw attention to the ways in which your body works for you.
Caitlin shares an anecdote from her own experience of struggling with lack of confidence in a professional role, and she’s not alone in her struggle. Across the board, men have higher self esteem than women. Women are socialized differently than men and brain structures and chemistry show unique patterns of thinking and behavior that impact women’s struggle with confidence. Caitlin reviews the number of ways in which lack of confidence impacts women in her practice and in the research. She reviews ways women can boost confidence, including strengthening neuronal pathways for action by taking action regardless of anxiety or discomfort, connecting with a mentor, and reframing failure experiences as learning experiences. Caitlin puts forth a challenge for the week: how will you try in a way that you normally would have held back?
Most young adults are not strangers to the quarter life crisis; 39% of men and 49% of young women report feeling a “crisis” in their 20s. Caitlin reflects on the concept of quarter life crisis as an intersection of sense of purpose, sense of self, values, passion, and what brings someone joy. Just as Erik Erikson explained, people in their 20s are trying to develop deeper relationships while also developing a cohesive sense of self. There are positive effects of consciously working through this crisis, as research shows that people who have a sense of life purpose show a lower risk of mortality. Working through this period means finding others who are also going through it, getting to know yourself better through mindfulness and journaling, and taking an active and accepting approach. Caitlin poses a question for the weekly challenge: what do you value and how are you living those values right now? What could you do to introduce just a little more today or tomorrow?
Are you a perfectionist? Perfectionism may be a driving source for some, and for most it also creates roadblocks. Caitlin explains a review of the research that shows there is a divide in whether perfectionism can be helpful at times or not and how our society and the media portrays a perfectionist ideal. Perfectionism takes a few different forms and at its best can be a risk factor and at worst it correlates with depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. What kinds of things can you do to overcome the negative effects of your perfectionism? Caitlin explores making peace with imperfection, becoming successful at imperfection, noticing and challenging critical voices, and developing more gratitude and appreciation. Caitlin creates a gratitude journal challenge.