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When Positivity Becomes Toxic

Have you ever heard the following phrases?

  • “Positive vibes only.”

  • “Everything happens for a reason.”

  • “Failure is not an option.”

  • “Why are you so upset? So-and-so has it much worse.”

  • “Look on the bright side.”

 

If these sound familiar, it’s because this type of mindset is glorified in mainstream culture. Toxic positivity is the belief that one should focus on the bright side of things and keep moving forward while ignoring or neglecting the negative aspects of life. While the intention is seemingly optimistic and positive, the impact is nothing short of harmful. Imagine having to be objectively strong, ambitious, successful, level-minded, in control, unaffected, emotionally stable, invincible, and perfect all the time. What an exhausting way to live! Toxic positivity essentially tells us that it’s not okay to be human because being human is messy and difficult. This is why so many people suffer in silence and feel like they’re failing in life. But what if we began looking at these positive attributes through a realistic and empowering lens rather than a dismissive one? What if we acknowledged that part of being “strong” is learning how to grow through moments of weakness? What if we believed that part of remaining “in control” is recognizing that there are things outside of our control and focusing on the things we can help? What if we accepted that part of being “emotionally stable” is becoming familiar with the emotions that hurt and feel uncomfortable and learning how to process these emotions in healthy ways? I believe we can normalize the real human experience and allow others to feel more comfortable and free to admit they aren’t doing well, ask for help, and receive support! No one should have to suffer alone or in silence.

 

Here are some healthier phrases to replace toxic positivity:

  • “I’m here for you.”

  • “I am so sorry that happened to you.”

  • “You have every reason to feel that way.”

  • “Do you want to talk about it?”

  • “How can I support you right now?

Written by Cindy-Joy Rosado, Graduate Student in Mental Health Counseling

Believe Beyond What You See

Every negative has a positive if you are willing to seek beyond those things that stand in the way of your vision to be able to see clearly. Believing according to some standard definition means to accept something as true and in order for the acceptance to occur faith has to ignite it, which means that if you can believe the air you breath is oxygen without actually seeing it then you can have faith in yourself.

Today you get to choose to have faith in yourself and in the fact that you have a purpose even though you may not see it, just as you believe in oxygen and its purpose of being able to serve you without ever having seen it.

As a therapist I have been a witness to a common symptom that occurs in this field and that is the negative beliefs that many fall subject to and it is due to these negative core beliefs that dysfunction becomes a way of living causing it to be normalized. This is why being able to recognize your own cognitive distortions is imperative. The following are some tips on ways to recognize your own cognitive distortions to be able to pave the way for newer healthy ways of thinking.

  1. Acknowledge your thoughts by observing them rather than judging them
  2. Embrace the feeling that you may have that is associated with the thought
  3. Identify the feeling that you would like to have to replace the negative feelings that were triggered by having the thought
  4. Engage in activities, such as listening to music, to allow the new feeling to become your reality

By taking these steps you will have allowed your thought to remain as a thought instead of becoming your reality.

Written by Bria Young, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

Gut Health & Mental Health: The Stomach as a Second Brain

The stomach is sometimes referred to, in mental health circles, as the “second brain.” A healthy gut has been linked, in recent research, to healthy brain function. According to an article from Clinics and Practice, “Healthy gut function has been linked to normal central nervous system (CNS) function. Hormones, neurotransmitters, and immunological factors released from the gut are known to send signals to the brain either directly or via autonomic neurons.” These neurons are at their best when levels of healthy bacteria are elevated in the stomach and intestines. Clinics and Practice also states that “studies have emerged focusing on variations in the microbiome and the effect on various central nervous system disorders, including, but not limited to anxiety, depressive disorders, schizophrenia, and autism.” Disturbance in the gut biome correlates to the worsening of symptoms of mental health disorders. Combatting microbiome disturbances can be as simple as making minor lifestyle changes. These changes can include taking a probiotic supplement, eating healthy portions of live cultures, including yogurt, kefir, etc., and staying hydrated with sufficient water. Gut health may not be the sole cause or component of one’s mental health in its totality. However, there are clear impacts of a healthy diet, live cultures, and healthy bacteria in the body.

Written by: Victoria Baker, Mental Health Counseling Clinician

Supervisor: Dr. April Brown

 

Reference:

Clapp, M., Aurora, N., Herrera, L., Bhatia, M., Wilen, E., & Wakefield, S. (2017). Gut

microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clinics and Practice, 7(4), 987.

https://doi.org/10.4081/cp.2017.987

Speak Your Mind In Therapy

There are many issues that arise over a lifetime for which we may need assistance from a mental health counselor in working through. We are social creatures, but we can get lost or trapped in our own thoughts. This is when we need a trusted someone to help us see ourselves in a new way. Typically, we only share portions of our thinking, or depending on the listener, we share very edited versions of our thoughts. Depending on your situation, you feel your friends or loved ones don’t want or need to hear all that is going on in your head. This is where mental health counseling can help.

A mental health counselor assists others by listening and identifying areas of change. But something else is also happening during therapy sessions. You are speaking your mostly unedited thoughts aloud for someone else to better understand you. Focusing on yourself in therapy and without editing for the listener’s needs or wants allows you to better understand your own thoughts through this clarification process.

This happens with couples as well. In relationships, we may fall into communication styles that become frustrating cycles. These can become predictable enough for one person in the relationship to recite both sides of an entire argument routinely experienced with their significant other. The therapist can assist in recognizing and changing these cycles of communication. Here again, speaking these thoughts aloud is helpful because the couple works to identify how they are thinking and feeling in a clear way for themselves, for one another and for the therapist.

Families benefit from therapy through these same processes with the added benefit of shared insight within the family. When parents, separated or divorced co-parents, and/or stepparents and their children of all ages are included in sessions, there is opportunity for shared understanding and change. For example, parents may benefit from learning their fears or concerns for their children aren’t their children’s concerns. Children also see their parents making a healthy choice to seek assistance for issues that arise and watch as they model healthy coping skills for these issues within the family. What better way to change generational communication cycles that keep families stuck and repeating destructive patterns of behavior?

Whether you are interested in individual, couples, or family therapy seeking the services of a mental health counselor to discuss your needs provides an opportunity for sharing one’s most unedited thoughts and concerns. This new way of sharing and learning is the perfect opportunity to change yourself and your relationships.

Written by April Daniel

Bringing Intimacy Back Podcast Becomes Non-Profit

Bringing Intimacy Back, a podcast that is dedicated to inspire, enlighten, and encourage intimate connections, is officially registered as a non-profit. Visit Bringing Intimacy Back for more information and watch previous shows or follow their social media (Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, & Twitter).

Bringing Intimacy Back, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, has provided an engaging environment to discuss how to enhance intimacy in one’s personal relationships with significant others, families, friends, Spirit, and oneself. Bringing Intimacy Back is always the place where intimacy comes alive, where intimacy has no limits; it is Where Intimacy is Real.

Dr. April Brown is a Licensed Mental Health Christian Counselor (LMHC), Certified School Counselor (CSC), Certified Relationship and Sex Therapist, Board Certified TeleMental Health Counselor (BC-TMHC), National Certified Counselor (NCC), and a Qualified Clinical Supervisor. Kanya Ford best known as Coach Kay is a clinical sexologist, master sexologist, Bedroom Kandi consultant, and owner of Love & Intimacy 101, LLC coaching practice.

Two strong, independent entrepreneur women with the education and dedication to educate and improve intimacy for viewers as a non-profit podcast. Hosts Dr. April Brown and Kanya Ford are on a mission to increase intimacy in a world that is so disconnected by asking the nitty, gritty questions you are all dying to ask. Bringing Intimacy Back is based on building intimate connections to empower us to live a more fulfilling, driven, and purposeful life. It is time we squash our fears and be comfortable with finding our true intimate selves and Bringing Intimacy Back is the podcast that does just that. Live shows every Thursday at 3:30 pm eastern time, new intimate topics alongside new guests, no topic is off-limits.

With the advancements in technology, staying communicated and reaching a lot more people has never been so easy, but it comes at a price. Technology has also caused distance, we are all guilty of staying glued to our phones, if we are being honest, any technology we can get our hands-on. Bringing Intimacy Back is here to close the gap, lack of intimacy is one of the top three reasons why relationships fail or face problems. The higher the intimacy level is, the lower there is of anxiety, depression, stress, relationships failing, and arguments within the relationship.

The podcast you didn’t know you needed, but you finally found. The first steps in building and establishing strong intimate connections start with you, what better place to do it than taking a plunge into Bringing Intimacy Back. The podcast with a purpose to inspire, educate, and encourage stronger intimate connections and now proudly so as a non-profit. Bringing Intimacy Back registered as a non-profit created for its viewers, reaching new heights and exploring intimacy. Tune in for LIVE shows every Thursday at 3:30 pm EST or visit Bringing Intimacy Back for more episodes.

Written by Rachel Gonzalez

 

Divine Connection Starts with Family

A strong, close, trusting, stable, and loving relationship is the goal in life. Our first source of love comes from our own families. We learn what love is by watching our parents and we take what we learn with us in life. When we start dating to marriage, our learned traits come into play with these relationships. Our first memories of love were not watching it on the TV screen, it was right in front of us all along. How we view ourselves, how we approach situations, and how we view life are all being formed from a young age through the family. Have you ever wondered what makes you, you?

You are who you are in part because of family. It has shaped your person; keep in mind that family is the building block for emotional development. It is the reasoning behind how we cope with our emotions and how we are able to express ourselves. Family has always been there for us when we needed them the most; we can all remember a time when we turned to family for support and comfort during tough moments. That divine connection between you and family is irreplaceable, it is the greatest treasure that should be kept close to your heart.

“So much of what is best in us is bound up in our love of family, that it remains the measure of our stability because it measures our sense of loyalty.”- Haniel Long

Written by Rachel Gonzalez

There is Still Hope

“There is hope even when your brain tells you there isn’t” – John Green

Hope is a beautiful feeling; it is having expectations for something out of life or love. Our hope as kids was so much bigger, the world was our oyster. We were optimistic about life, we would dream of becoming president, a doctor, a lawyer, and a veterinarian. We dreamt of finding true love or finding happiness in life without worry. Our dreams dwindled as the years came and went and with each changing season, we grew older.

Do not let the spark in your eyes dwindle. Keep that hope for life and love alive. Try to find the positive in life even when it seems like life keeps knocking you down. It is okay to want positive outcomes out of horrible situations. When things are not going our way, we feel bad about ourselves, and we focus on the negative. We worry about the future and what could happen causing our bodies to go through stress and anxiety when it hasn’t happened yet so we either go through it twice or unnecessarily. Try focusing on the positive things in life, big or small. Remind yourself, the sun always comes out after a storm. Hope is everywhere, hope is not lost, hope is the last thing that is lost in life.

Written by Rachel Gonzalez

Some Seuss Love

It’s a troublesome world. All the people who are in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute.  You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not.”

-Dr. Seuss

This Dr. Seuss quote was written long before the isolation and fear that accompanies the Pandemic and recent world events. Yet even then, the world needed more kindness, forgiveness, and love. Today, more than ever, it is imperative that we use the power of our words and actions to create positivity, peace, and love and reject negativity, war, and hatred.

Love and kindness are all about customer service. Yet, we often offer the very best customer service to clients, associates, colleagues…even strangers. Many demonstrate kindness to people far from their hearts and reject those near and dear. Oftentimes, we show more interest and attention to others and ignore the ones that need our love and attention the most. In these troubled times, wouldn’t it be great if we could spread joy and kindness by doing little things that mean a lot to all?

Random acts of kindness are deliberate, selfless actions that bring happiness to others without consideration of reciprocity. The recipient need not be a stranger and may be someone that lives with you or right next door. Someone that may appreciate your kind deed so much that they carry out the kindness to someone else. This domino effect is only possible if we each seize the opportunity to do good, right here and now.

Can we make the world a better place? You bet!

Here are five practical, actionable steps that can help show kindness and love to all.

  • Offer a smile, a compliment, and words of encouragement.
  • Send a handmade card, note, or love letter.
  • Nurture compassion by listening empathetically without interrupting.
  • Visit, call, write, email, or text someone to show you care.
  • Share stories, memories, unwanted or excess items, photos, books, articles, etc. Give generously and from the heart.

There is hope that the steps shine some light. Now here is a quote that’s quite right!

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not!” -Dr. Seuss

written by Ria Ruane, MA, RMHCI

 

 

Taking Therapy

We all talk about going to therapy.  Having to go to therapy can mean going to an in-person session with a therapist in their office or finding a quiet place where you feel safe and comfortable to log on to a secured link for a virtual visit.  But what we may or may not talk about is taking therapy.

It is equally as important to the process of working on our mental health to not only show up for therapy but to take what is learned in therapy with us. The therapeutic process involves building a relationship in which you feel comfortable sharing some of the most uncomfortable aspects of your life or yourself. This can take time, but during this process, there is a lot to be gained as well. The act of speaking your fears, concerns, and troubles aloud allows you to acknowledge them and begin the working phase of therapy.

This phase is what the name implies, work.  But remember, you sought therapy because you wanted to improve how you are feeling.  So, this requires you to be open to change. If everything in your life, including you, remain the same you will have the same problems. This seems simple, but taking the insight gained in therapy back into our day-to-day lives requires us to be mindful and to make new or different choices. This is what it means to take therapy. Taking therapy into each minute of your day and especially into those difficult moments when change is needed the most, it may be work but it may also be fun and restorative!  These changes can lead to relief, more happiness, less stress, and an improved outlook on life. Taking therapy is an investment in your well-being and your future.

The first step is going to therapy, the next step is taking what you learn there back out into the world with you.

Written by April Daniel

Women On the Rise

A women’s beauty is often displayed on magazines and billboards being objectified. It’s not about the beauty on the outside of the woman that should catch attention, but the strength she must wear it every day. Who said that women need to have flawless skin, soft eyes, make-up done, and not a hair out of place? Women are so much more than that, they often are teared down and have had to work to reach success.

Our Mother’s Home Organization is a pillar for young women who are turning a page to a new chapter in their lives called motherhood. They give young women a fighting chance in society when they are not financially, emotionally, or mentally stable to enter such a harsh world especially for women. Our Mother’s Home Organization has been around for 20 years, they give young women the resources and tools to be successful or have a better chance. Their mission is to empower teen moms and build a new facility with transitional living space to increase independence.

It is essential to empower women for their self-worth, independence, and to reassure they have control over their lives. Empowered women and organizations such as Our Mother’s Home are who have helped to pave the way for future women leaders all over the world. Join us on March 11th as they are hosting an in-person event in celebration for mental health, well-being, and women empowerment.

 

Visit https://www.ourmothershome.org/ for more information or to donate.

-Written by Rachel Gonzalez