Sleepy Teens 4.5 Times More Likely to Commit Crimes as Adults

-Traci Pedersen

Teenagers who feel sleepy in the middle of the day are more likely to engage in antisocial behaviors, such as lying, cheating, stealing, and fighting. Now, a new study shows that those same teens are 4.5 times more likely to commit serious crimes as adults.

“It’s the first study to our knowledge to show that daytime sleepiness during teenage years are associated with criminal offending 14 years later,” said Adrian Raine, the Richard Perry University Professor of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Perry and Peter Venables, an emeritus psychology professor at the University of York in England, published their findings in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Raine had gathered the data for this study 39 years earlier as part of his Ph.D. dissertation (studying under Venables) but had never analyzed it. Recently, he began noticing cross-sectional studies — those that evaluate several behaviors at a single point in time — connecting sleep and behavioral problems in children. He pulled out his old data to see if there is an association between sleep and criminal behavior in adulthood.

“A lot of the prior research focused on sleep problems, but in our study we measured, very simply, how drowsy the child is during the day,” said Raine.

Raine evaluated 101 teens (aged 15 years) from three secondary schools in northern England. At the start and end of each two-hour afternoon lab session (1:00 to 3:00 p.m.), he asked participants to rate their degree of sleepiness on a seven point scale, with one being “unusually alert” and seven being “sleepy.” He also measured brain-wave activity and sweat-rate responses to stimuli, which indicates the level of attention a person pays to a tone being played over headphones. This represents brain-attentional function, Raine said.

Next he gathered data about the teens’ anti-social behavior, both self-reported from the study participants, as well as from two or three teachers who had worked with each teen for at least four years.

“Both are helpful. There are kids who don’t really want to talk about their anti-social behavior, and that’s where the teacher reports really come in handy,” Raine said. “Actually, the teacher and child reports correlated quite well in this study, which is not usual. Often, what the teacher says, what the parent says, what the child says — it’s usually three different stories.”

Finally, Raine conducted a computerized search at the Central Criminal Records Office in London to determine if any of the original 101 participants had a criminal record at age 29. Raine excluded minor violations, focusing only on violent crimes and property offenses and only those crimes for which participants had been convicted. His findings revealed that 17 percent of the original participants had committed a crime by the age of 29.

With these data in hand, Raine also factored in the participants’ socioeconomic status. He found a connection.

“Is it the case that low social class and early social adversity results in daytime drowsiness, which results in inattention or brain dysfunction, which results 14 years later in crime? The answer’s yes,” he said. “Think of a flow diagram from A to B to C to D. Think of a chain. There is a significant link.”

“Daytime drowsiness is associated with poor attention. Take poor attention as a proxy for poor brain function. If you’ve got poor brain functioning, you’re more likely to be criminal.”

Of course, drowsiness in and of itself doesn’t always predispose a teenage boy to becoming antisocial, said the researchers. And many children with sleep problems do not become lawbreakers. But they did observe that teens with sleepiness and a greater frequency of antisocial behavior were more likely to commit crimes as adults.

These findings could potentially help with a simple treatment plan for children with behavioral issues: Get more sleep at night.

“That could make a difference not just for anti-social behavior at school with these teenage kids but more importantly, with later serious criminal behavior,” Raine said. “More sleep won’t solve crime, but it might make a bit of a dent.”

The 3 Most Dangerous Things to Say in a Relationship

-Harriet Pappenheim, LCSW

Almost every relationship article mentions the Big C: Communication. But what if your words are doing more harm than good?

Language is a powerful force, and what you say to your partner on impulse could be doing a great deal of damage. Here are the top three most dangerous phrases to let slip from your lips.

1. “You Always… You Never…”

The classic communication killer. Nothing is more guaranteed to aggravate your partner than to hear this kind of sweeping generalization. The problem with “You always…” “You never…” is that it’s so easy to let slip in the heat of the moment, and what your partner hears is, “You’re useless. You always disappoint me.” Even if it’s over something as trivial as doing the dishes.

You may be frustrated, and simply wanting to make a point, but what the other person hears is an attack on his or her very character. That hurts. Lines of communication clamp shut with a vengeance. Your partner will automatically become defensive and is unlikely to really hear another word you utter.

Hyperbolic criticism like this only serves to push your loved one away and won’t get you any closer to having your needs met.

What to say instead:

“I feel ‘x’ when you do/don’t do ‘x’… How can we sort this out?”

“I really appreciate it when you do ‘x’.”

As you see, starting with “I” rather than “You” is often a good start! Beginning with “I” turns your words from a blanket accusation into an invitation to talk, and to come to a resolution.

2. “I don’t care.”

This is a no-brainer. Your relationship is based on caring, so why sabotage it with this thoughtless phrase? To say “I don’t care” in any context — I don’t care what we have for dinner, I don’t care that the kids are fighting, I don’t care where we go later — automatically implies a lack of emotional investment in the other person, and in your shared life.

The most important predictor of a long-lasting relationship, according to John Gottman, is quite simply whether or not couples regularly perform simple acts of kindness, such as showing interest when the what each other has to say. If your partner makes a bid for your attention and you react with “I don’t care” (either spoken or implied) — it’s going to inflict damage.

What to say instead:

Pretty much anything, as long as it conveys interest and involvement in whatever your partner wants to share with you!

3. “Never mind… it doesn’t matter.”

Of course, there will be times when you genuinely mean this. But too often we use these words in a dismissive sense, eg. “Never mind, I’ll just do it myself,” or “No point talking about it!”

Both phrases in this sense imply that you are rejecting your partner’s input, deliberately shutting her or him out. It can also be passive aggressive — trying to make an implied point about your partner’s behavior, or attitude, rather than having a frank and upfront conversation.

What to say instead:

“I would really love to get your input on ‘x’…”

“I’m in a tight spot here, please can you help me out?”

Don’t forget to say “thank you!” Such a small thing, but those two words make all the difference. Unsurprisingly, couples who thank each other regularly feel more supported and appreciated, helping them to get through periods of tension when they do arise.

No doubt, we all have times when our partners frustrate and annoy us. Expressing that frustration might just seem like speaking your mind, or being honest. But often, it’s just not constructive.

Ask yourself, “Is this a real issue or just a passing annoyance?” If the answer is the former, try to use neutral, constructive language that focuses on actions rather than character, and avoids placing blame.

That doesn’t mean you should watch every word you say, all the time. But more sensitivity around hurtful phrases goes a long way. And making the effort to reinforce your love with positive phrases — “Thank you,” “I love you” — is worth it a hundredfold.

6 Tips to Manage Workplace Anxiety

-Joe Wilner

There can be a lot to worry about when it comes to our careers.

Anxiety can arise from toxic co-workers, unstable working conditions, financial uncertainty, and distress about not performing up to par.

Some anxiety is healthy and keeps us motivated, but if anxiety becomes persistent and excessive it can disrupt our daily performance and our overall quality of life.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, employees say stress and anxiety most often impacts their …

  • workplace performance (56 percent)
  • relationship with coworkers and peers (51 percent)
  • quality of work (50 percent)
  • relationships with superiors (43 percent)

Those struggling with anxiety may turn down responsibilities that could benefit their career or avoid interacting with other people that are important for work projects or career goals.

To help you improve job-satisfaction and job-performance, here are six suggestions to help get your anxiety under control.

1. Stick to the essentials

First and foremost, maintain the habit of self-care. The mind and body are intricately connected, so our lifestyle has a direct influence on our mental health.

When we don’t take care of ourselves physically and ignore the daily essentials, we’re more likely to experience emotional imbalance.

To sustain emotional equilibrium make sure you eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and limit caffeine and alcohol. Try to keep your body and mind in shape to handle challenging situations.

2. Use square breathing for relaxation

When anxiety is triggered it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and we experience the fight-or-flight response. Using relaxation techniques is a great way to calm your physiology and offset the pattern of anxiety arousal.

Periodically during your day practice some form of deep breathing. Square breathing is one way to elicit relaxation. You can do this prior to meetings or before crucial conversations that trigger anxiety.

It’s just four simple breath segments done to a count of four.

  1. Inhale… 2… 3… 4…
  2. Hold… 2… 3… 4…
  3. Exhale… 2… 3… 4…
  4. Hold… 2… 3… 4…

Focus on your breath and the count of four; repeat the same process until you reach a relaxed state.

3. Work with your worries

Most worry totally normal and can help us take action to solve problems. If you have high levels of anxiety however, worry may be excessive and more alarming.

If you have a tendency to fixate on worrisome thoughts, try using a Worry Journal to express your concerns.

When we write out what is worrying us, we’re better able to process our concerns. A Worry Journal can help us gain awareness of what we’re actually worried about, and create some emotional space for us to problem solve.

4. Focus on progress, not perfection

Many people live with stress and anxiety because they have high expectations for their performance. Setting high standards and expecting positive results is important when it comes to success, but we also want to make sure we’re realistic and understand that we’ll make mistakes.

No one is perfect but often we expect ourselves to excel and achieve superior results. This can lead to all-or-nothing thinking and create performance anxiety.

Accept that you won’t always achieve your goals and that you’ll have good days and bad days. When you make a mistake don’t be so hard on yourself. Learn from your mistakes and identify the progress you’re making.

5. Focus on your zone of control

Anxiety can be exacerbated when we feel out of control or face a great deal of uncertainty.

Whether it’s coping with ongoing changes in the workplace or dealing with the erratic behavior of other people, you’ll cope with anxiety more effectively when you can adapt to change and keep focused on what you can control.

Ultimately, all you have control over is your own thoughts, attitude, actions, and choices. When you get anxious, ask yourself, “What can I do about this?” “How can I effectively deal with the situation?”

Avoid asking questions such as, “Why is this happening?” or “Why do they act that way?”

“Why” questions can leave you feeling helpless and inhibited.

6. Reach out for help

When it comes down to it, if you continue to struggle with anxiety the best option may be to seek professional help.

Take advantage of employer resources and benefits. Your workplace may offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), discounts to gyms, or skill-building courses.

Learn what’s available and be proactive in getting a grip on anxiety.

What Do You Really Crave When You’re Lonely?

-Kira Asatryan

Starting now, you really can stop being lonely.

I’ve struggled with feelings of loneliness my whole life. It’s a big part of why I decided to become a relationship coach. I wanted to understand why some of my relationships felt more substantial than others. I wanted to understand why sometimes I relished being alone, while at other times being alone evoked feelings of profound sadness.

The question I wanted to answer was this: What makes some relationships feel better than others? It was a mystery I was determined to figure out.

I’ve constantly alternated between desiring to be alone — which I know is classic introvert behavior — and desiring to be with others. The thing was, I only wanted to be with others in a very particular way: I didn’t want to chit-chat, mingle, or even party. I wanted to feel warmth radiating between me and the other person. I wanted to feel safe and comfortable. I wanted to feel close. I wanted to make the loneliness stop.

If my relationship with someone didn’t have that element of closeness, it tended to make me feel more isolated than just being alone. For this reason, I found most of the popular advice about how to overcome loneliness profoundly unhelpful: “Put yourself out there more!” the experts exclaimed. “Relationships are a numbers game… get enough acquaintances and you’ll eventually find yourself with some good friendships.”

That sounded reasonable enough. But it felt…exhausting.

I simply didn’t buy the idea that the best path out of loneliness is playing a numbers game. Most of us already have people in our lives with whom we feel that spark of connection; we just don’t know how to properly fan the flames. We don’t know how to move from casually interacting with someone to becoming close.

In other words, I’ve found, through much research and introspection, that most of us who struggle with loneliness are not lacking access to other people. That’s not the source of the pain. The source of the pain is the lack of a certain feeling in our relationships. And that feeling is closeness.

As I write in my new book, Stop Being Lonely: “When a relationship lacks closeness, you’ll sense that the other person doesn’t really know you and/or doesn’t really care about you. Loneliness is essentially sadness caused by a lack of closeness, also known as sadness caused by distance. This is why it doesn’t work to simply surround yourself with people. You must actually feel close to them.”

So what exactly do I mean by closeness? The feeling of closeness arises between two people when they both feel that the other understands them well and cares about them deeply. I call these essential qualities of closeness “knowing” and “caring.”

Getting to know someone in a way that fosters closeness means coming to understand that person from his or her own perspective. This is substantially different from how we usually “know” people. We tend to believe we know someone when we’ve interacted with them a lot and developed our own theory of “how he is.” But to create closeness, you must — above all else — understand how that individual sees himself or herself.

Once you can see a person from his own perspective, the next step is to start communicating that you care. In other words, show that you’re interested, engaged, and invested in their happiness and well-being. This doesn’t mean becoming “concerned” or worried about the person’s well-being — which is really just you dumping your anxieties on someone else — it just means communicating that they matter to you.

Together, knowing and caring are a powerful combination. They say to another person, “Not only do I see the real you, I want to keep the real you well.” This is the message you will give and receive from close relationships. What more could we want?

This feeling of being understood and valued — this feeling of closeness — is what you’re really craving when you’re lonely. The great news: You can create this feeling with anyone who also wants to feel it. Closeness doesn’t have to be something that happens randomly or by accident — it is within your control to create. Starting now, you really can stop being lonely.

My Struggle to Stop Expecting the Worst Outcomes

-Sarah Burleton

I would bet that anyone reading this blog has a “what if” thought run through their head at least once or twice a day.

“What if there is an accident on the way to school? What road will I take so I’m not late?”

“What if my car won’t start?”

“What if I have to work late and I can’t get to the daycare on time?”

We “what if” little scenarios in our head all day so we can have a plan A, B, and sometimes plan C to fall back on just in case something in our day goes wrong. We want to have a sense of comfort that not only our needs are taken care of, but the needs of those we love as well. Many of us don’t like surprises and we like to be prepared for anything that comes our way.

So most of you keep your plan A, B, and C in the back of your heads and go about your day. You don’t expect any surprises, but you feel confident that if anything out of the ordinary does arise, you can easily handle whatever is thrown your way.

The difference between you and me is that I not only prepare plans in my head for the little surprises; I truly believe that the worst is going to happen, so I protect myself accordingly. Here are a few examples of what runs through my head when I “what if” a situation:

“What if my relationship fails? Well, it’s going to anyway; everyone walks out on me eventually.”

“What if no one likes me at my new job? Doesn’t matter, no one ever gets to know me or involves me in anything at any job I’ve ever held.”

“What if my new book bombs when it is released? I don’t expect it to do well; no one cares to read about my life.”

Complete self-defeating thoughts.

What do thoughts like these do to me personally and professionally? I push people who love me away because I’ve already planned in my head that they are going to leave anyway. I have a hard time engaging myself with co-workers because I assume that they aren’t going to like me and will just end up making fun of me or talking about me behind my back. And I am having a hell of a time finishing my next book because I don’t believe that anyone cares enough to read about my life and I feel dumb for sharing parts of it.

I’m still carrying my past into my present. My fear of being bullied the same way I was in high school pushes me away from my co-workers. Spending my childhood hiding what was going on in my house and being told I was a liar when I shared my story with DCFS (Division of Children and Family Services) makes me scared to publish my next book. And growing up unloved and eventually abandoned by my mother showed me how cold-hearted people who are supposed to love you can be.

I protect myself now the same way I protected myself in the past: I push people away and I find comfort behind the giant walls I have put around myself. Walls that I put up early in my childhood to protect myself from Mom, the bullies, and the truth about my life. I expect the worst in my adult life because that is all I was used to and that’s all I knew.

But that isn’t fair to me or anyone around me. Just because there was a mean group of kids in high school that enjoyed watching me cry doesn’t mean that co-workers at a new job are going to do the same. My stories aren’t dumb and are important to so many people; regardless of what a DCFS worker thought. And the people who love me aren’t going to leave me and hurt me like Mom did; they are in my life because they want to be in my life.

It’s very difficult to cut those self-defeating thoughts out of my head and not create “what if” scenarios to avoid getting hurt; but like anyone else, I’m trying. I take deep breaths, remember that I’m not a child anymore, and I try to look in the mirror and smile at myself. I cautiously let down my walls, and nine times out of ten I am surprised at how honest and good so many people are.

If you spend your life preparing for the worst and expecting the worst to happen, the only person you are hurting is yourself. You are denying yourself the opportunity to experience love and happiness, and denying others the opportunity to see you for the awesome person that you are.

Perfectionism and Certain Thought Patterns Predict Binge Eating

-Neil Petersen

Who is most at risk for engaging in binge eating, or compulsive overeating?

Two articles published in the January edition of the journal Eating Behaviors are shedding light on this question.

The first, by researchers from Canada, homes in on the link between binge eating and perfectionism. Previous research has suggested a connection between the two, but it hasn’t been clear which way the causation goes: does being perfectionistic make people more likely to binge eat, or do people become more perfectionistic in response to binge eating?

If the former sounds more plausible to you, you’re right!

The study, which followed 200 undergraduate women for a month, showed that having more perfectionistic concerns predisposes people to binge eating. However, the opposite is not true – binge eating does not increase people’s perfectionistic concerns.

This result indicates that perfectionism, and in particular “negative” perfectionism – being self-critical, obsessing over mistakes, etc. – can put people at risk for binge eating.

The second study published identified another factor that might make people more susceptible to compulsive overeating: certain patterns in the way people think about food.

One of these patterns has to do with what psychologists call desire thinking. Desire thinking is related to craving. As the name suggests, it involves thinking about and imagining something you want. It has been linked to addiction and compulsive behaviors.

In this case, the researchers found that desire thinking about food is related to binge eating. People who engage in more food desire thinking are more likely to engage in binge eating.

A second thought pattern, food thought suppression, also ups people’s risk. Once again, the name tells most of the story: food thought suppression means intentionally avoiding thoughts about food.

Together, these studies point to several ways people’s thought patterns and attitudes predict compulsive overeating. Some of the patterns that put people at risk (food desire thinking and food thought suppression) have to do with food specifically, while others (perfectionistic concerns) have to do with how people go through life more generally. In all cases, though, understanding these risk factors for binge eating should make it easier for professionals to recognize and treat binge eating.

My Toxic Relationship Recovery Resolutions

-Sharie Stines, PhD

Are you are in a toxic relationship and find yourself repeating the same old negative patterns over and over again? Do you find yourself feeling like you’re walking on eggshells when your toxic person is in your space? Or when thinking about this particular person do you find yourself feeling knots in your stomach. or tension in your neck?

If you can look at your toxic person as the drug you are addicted to, then the way to heal is to practice a program of recovery from the toxicity of this relationship.

The first step in breaking an addiction is to realize you are addicted, and the second step is abstention. With regards to your toxic relationship, learn to abstain in one of two ways:

(1) Abstain from the relationship completely (no contact); and/or

(2) Abstain from emotional entanglements that are unhealthy.

Following is a list of suggestions for great self-development resolutions.

  • I resolve to respect myself.
  • I resolve to trust my intuition.
  • I will no longer participate in “no win” conversations.
  • I will no longer participate in impossible situations.
  • If I feel bad around someone I will remove myself.
  • I will no longer make every decision a crisis.
  • I will live one day at a time.
  • I will learn to “reframe” negative experiences.  For example, if my toxic loved one chooses to give me the silent treatment, rather than feeling hurt, I will learn to enjoy the peace it brings me.
  • I will learn how to manage my emotions, rather than have them control me.
  • I will take my power back.
  • I resolve to believe in myself.
  • If I feel emotionally unstable, I will not call or reach out to my toxic loved one for support. Instead, I will call someone safe.
  • I will have compassion for myself.
  • I will honor and pay attention to my feelings.

To make your resolutions even simpler, just pick one and commit to focusing on it until it becomes a well-ingrained habit.  Just making one simple change, changes everything.  After you’ve mastered one of your resolutions, move on to incorporate another one; and so on.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Night

-Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

When we sit with ourselves, in silence, even for just a few minutes, we learn so much. Because how often, in a day, do you simply check in with yourself? How often do you sit in complete quiet and ponder how you’re feeling, how your day went, and what you need?

Below are ten questions that will help you do just that. Consider responding to these questions every night in your journal. Even ten minutes can be powerful. Ten minutes without any distractions. Ten minutes without a phone or the TV. Ten minutes without work or chores. Ten minutes of uninterrupted time to simply self-reflect. Ten minutes curled up on the couch. Or sitting at your desk with a candle. Or laying in bed with just your lamp on. Or sitting on the back porch staring at the sky. Ten minutes on your terms. For yourself.

  1. How do I feel about today?
  2. What did I learn (whether about myself or something else)?
  3. What did I really need today?
  4. Did I provide it?
  5. Where do I feel tension in my body?
  6. What was the predominant emotion I experienced today?
  7. What seems to underlie this emotion?
  8. Was I kind to myself today?
  9. If not, can I offer myself some compassion right now?
  10. What brought me joy, even if it’s a touch, a crumb, a speck of joy?

If these questions don’t resonate with you, write down your own list of ten or five or two questions that you think are important for you to consider every night. Because the key is to connect to yourself and to keep reconnecting every day. The key is to listen. Journaling is one way we can do that.

6 Ways to Banish Anxiety and Speak Up In Meetings at Work

-Melody Wilding, LMSW

Another meeting is coming up at work, and you’re dreading it.

Like so many professionals — probably many more than you realize  —  it’s not a comfortable environment for you. Maybe you’re shy, introverted, or you genuinely enjoy listening to others’ ideas. Perhaps it’s important to you to show respect by deferring to the leaders at the table.

Situational factors can play a part, too. Certain co-workers may dominate the discussion, not allowing you to get a word in edgewise.

Whatever the case, sitting frozen through yet another meeting can be a terrible feeling. By now you might even take it for granted that feeling self-conscious in meetings is part of the job. You may wonder if it’s really worth all of the effort to speak up, especially if it doesn’t come naturally to you.

Elevating your visibility at work is essential if you want your career to evolve and grow. You work hard and have great ideas to contribute  — you should be making an impact and getting the recognition you deserve. If you want to get ahead, then it’s important that your voice is heard. It’s within your power to take control and ditch the habit of staying silent in favor of speaking up.

Here are some very simple strategies you can confidently implement at your very next meeting. With a little practice, you’ll finally feel like the integral team member you’ve always been.

1. Banish Pre-Meeting Jitters

Your hands are shaky. Your stomach is doing somersaults. You suddenly start second guessing if you spelled the client’s name correctly on the agenda. These are common pre-meeting anxieties. It’s normal to experience anticipatory stress when you feel as if your intelligence or contributions are being evaluated.

Instead of interpreting your jitters as a sign that you’re inadequate or otherwise not up to the task at hand, Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal suggests befriending your stress response, reframing it as a sign you’re ready for action and prepared to bring your best to the (conference) table.

2. Ease Into It

It may be tempting to arrive right before a meeting starts to appear prompt or avoid awkward small talk. But if you feel rushed or short on time, this will only exacerbate the existing stress you already feel during meetings.

Instead, build in a buffer and plan to settle in before things get underway. Give yourself the opportunity to ease into the physical meeting space. If it’s a virtual teleconference, get comfortable with the webinar controls, your mic, and webcam ahead of time.

As colleagues arrive, focus on making conversation with one or two people at a time, which can feel both socially fulfilling and less overwhelming. You’ll also already have an “in” of sorts as the meeting begins and conversation turns towards agenda items. This can help ease anxiety and make speaking up for the duration of the session seamless.

3. Commit To Speaking Early

Have you ever come to a meeting with ideas and plan for what you want to say, then left realizing you said nothing the entire time? While you’re not alone, staying quiet is doing yourself a disservice. It typically gets more difficult to enter the conversation as a meeting progresses. The longer you wait, the more your anxiety will build.

Growth often comes from discomfort, so push yourself to speak up early. Set a simple strategy to say something in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the session–whether it’s to welcome attendees, present your main argument, ask a question, or offer an opinion on a new business proposal. It’s a surefire way to ensure you contribute.

4. Use Your Strengths When Speaking Up

You don’t have to be the loudest in the room. Even the soft-spoken can still make an impact by backing up a coworker’s comment with a simple, “Great idea! I can see that working really well.”

You can also focus on asking powerful questions. Especially if you consider yourself an introvert, you’re likely very observant, which gives you an edge when it comes to posing the kind of thought-provoking questions that haven’t crossed your colleagues’ minds quite yet.

Another way powerful way to increase your impact and visibility even after the meeting wraps is by following up with an email to your boss summarizing key points raised, or better yet, providing a proposal for a new project sparked by the conversation. You’ll build up a reputation as someone who makes useful contributions and you’ll come to everyone’s mind more quickly when promotion time comes around. More importantly, you’ll gain confidence in yourself.

5. Be The One To Take Action on “Next Steps”

Did something come up in the meeting that could use more research? Commit to taking on something for the next meeting. It shows you have initiative and that you’re interested and invested in your organization.

This is a great example of employing a pre-commitment device, a habit formation technique you can use to nudge yourself towards behaviors you desire. You’ve committed yourself — now you’ll be more motivated and likely to follow through.

6. Challenge Your Beliefs About Contributing

Many people’s leadership instincts may not have been nurtured to their full potential in childhood, and subconscious insecurities can seep into our behavior to this day when it comes to speaking up. So how do you overcome old, outdated scripts holding you back from feeling confident about speaking up? It requires a deep-dive into your presumptions about self-worth and speaking up.

Growing up, what were you told about standing out? Were you given the message by your parents, teachers, and community that you could be whatever you wanted, or did you internalize concepts such as, “People won’t like you if you try to stand out”? If you find yourself easily devastated by real or imagined negative feedback when you express your ideas, consider that you may be reverting back to an immature identity when your self-esteem was more contingent on other people’s (especially that of authority figures’) opinions.

When you have a point to make yet find undermining thoughts creeping in, thank your inner-critic for trying to do it’s job by keeping you protected. Fear can signal you’re saying something of significance. Seize the moment. Stop playing small. Remember, you’re part of your organization because you’re qualified, you’re effective, and you matter.

You’ve got a lot to offer — now it’s time to let everyone know it.

27 Signs of Superficial Relationships

-Mike Bundrant

Warning: This post is one person’s opinion about the signs of superficial relationships: An opinion piece made up by the author. It’s not clinical, scientific, or based on research. It’s opinion, informed only by experience.

There is nothing wrong with superficial relationships. Not every connection in life can be deep and emotionally engaging. Superficial relationships have their place.

Some relationships are superficial for practical purposes. You don’t spend enough time together – and don’t have the goal of going deeper.

Other superficial relationships leave you wanting something more because you have an expectation of something deeper and are not being satisfied. This is where it gets interesting.

Are you in superficial relationships that you wish were more substantive?

You’ll need to be the judge of that. This post mentions 27 signs of superficial relationships that might help to understand.

But first, why does it matter?

Well, if you’re genuinely wondering whether or not your relationship is superficial, and especially if you’re willing to read up on the topic, chances are that you are not a superficial person.

Being a deeper person, however, doesn’t protect you from superficial relationships. It takes two to tango. Your relationship might be as shallow and superficial as a relationship can get if both of you aren’t engaged at a deeper level.

A deeper person in superficial relationships may not be very happy. Of course, being “deep” doesn’t mean you are a healthy person. Yet, communicating with people who understand you on a deeper level is probably more fulfilling in general.

So, if you’re a deeper person in a superficial relationship…

You need to adjust your expectations if your partner is not capable of – or interested in – going deeper with you. Some people don’t want to go deep with you. Some people lack the ability to go deep with you. Others are capable of going deep, just not in the way you go deep – in your specific area of interest.

If you’re lucky, the person you’re with wants to go deeper with you and can do just that, in the area of interest that suits you. If this is the case, you don’t need to hang out in a superficial relationship.

Here are the promised 27 signs of superficial relationships:

  1. You don’t know what the other person wants out of life or is really interest in.
  2. You don’t understand how your life-values compare.
  3. You don’t know where you’re compatible vs. incompatible as people.
  4. You can’t or don’t put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  5. You don’t communicate feelings.
  6. There are lots of controlling/control issues in the relationship.
  7. You don’t think about what the other person needs from you.
  8. You don’t know what you need from the other person.
  9. You argue on a regular basis about trivial things.
  10. Your relationship centers around having fun (or just one thing).
  11. You gossip behind each other’s back.
  12. You don’t spend much time together.
  13. You’re not invested in each other’s goals or behavior.
  14. You fantasize about being with someone else, regularly.
  15. You lie to each other.
  16. You can’t disagree respectfully.
  17. You’ve never had a discussion about boundaries.
  18. Your sex is mechanical.
  19. Your sex is one-sided.
  20. Your sex life isn’t happening.
  21. You don’t talk about sex.
  22. You don’t know each other’s personal history.
  23. You avoid eye contact.
  24. You don’t touch each other.
  25. You don’t think about the other person when he or she is absent.
  26. You can’t connect about your life dreams.
  27. There is a lot of manipulation in the relationship.

As I mentioned, this is a non-scientific list. If one or more of the above is going on in your relationship, that does not automatically mean it’s superficial. However, in deep and deeply respectful relationships where both parties are recognized and independent and emotional beings, the items on this list would be less common, in my opinion. And, yes, I may have left out many commonly accepted signs of superficial relationships.

Remember, superficial relationships are not bad or wrong. And deeper relationships develop in stages, often years in the making.