Monthly Archives: May 2014

Emotional Trauma: Ten healthy ways to self-soothe

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Have you noticed how violence transforms people and re-defines their sense of identity and how violence causes people to lose their sense of individuality (they don’t feel part of the “in” crowd)?

Have you been subjected to violent trauma at some stage of your life that has left you feeling like your identity has been re-defined? Have you lost your sense of individuality?

Traumatic experiences often leave us struggling with upsetting emotions, frightening memories and a sense of constant danger. You could possibly feel numb, disconnected and unable to trust other people.

No matter how long ago the traumatic event happened, it could take a while for you to get over the pain and feel safe again but with the right treatment, self-help strategies and support you can speed up your recovery, heal and move on.

Traumatic experiences usually involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it does not involve physical harm. It is not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic or not, it is your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightening and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatised.

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CAUSES OF EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA:
• It happens unexpectedly
• You were not prepared for it (came as a shock/surprise)
• You were powerless to prevent it
• It happened repeatedly
• Someone was intentionally cruel
• It happened in childhood

Emotional trauma can be caused by single-blow, one-time events, such as a terrible accident, natural disaster, or a violent attack. Trauma can also be experienced from ongoing, relentless stress such as living in a crime-ridden neighbourhood or struggling with a terminal illness like cancer.

Recovering from emotional and psychological trauma takes time. Give yourself time to heal and to mourn the losses you have experienced. Don’t try to rush or force the healing process. Be patient! Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling without judgement or guilt.

Here are a few self-soothing strategies you could use to help you along your journey to healing:-

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1) Meditate – Medication helps you live in the moment rather than anticipating fearful events. Meditation also increases self awareness and promotes mental clarity.

2) Exercise- Physical activity causes physiological changes such as increased blood flow to the brain and can elevate mood.

3) Taking a bath-Taking a nice hot bath can be a way to nurture and self-soothe.

4) Breathing exercises- Relieves tension and increases oxygen intake.

5) Listen to music- Listening to upbeat music can cheer you up and distract you from negative thoughts. Listening to music on the way to work or coming home is a great way help you unwind during your commute.

6) Journaling – Journaling helps you get in touch with your thoughts and feelings. Writing helps you to process your thoughts and problem solve.

7) Organize something or clean- Cleaning and organizing is a great stress reliever. It can provide you with a distraction and also gives you a sense of control.

8) Work on a puzzle – Working on crosswords, word find puzzles, jigsaw puzzles or Sudoku puzzles can be a diversion from negative thoughts and is entertaining.

9) Reading – Can prevent you from obsessing over negative thoughts

10) Watch TV – Watching a comedy may induce laughter and elevate your mood.

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Despite the simplicity of the above list, these ten healthy self soothers can give you just the boost you need to decrease anxious feelings.

The next time you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed try one of these activities for at least half an hour and you should notice an improvement in mood and stress level.

Top Ten Issues Affecting Men in 2014

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Recently I have been pondering about the top ten issues affecting men. Why are many men in our society feeling so powerless? Why do our men feel the need to rape and murder our women and children in an effort to regain their power?

I recently read an article that originally appeared on a Facebook page called The Good Men Project based on the
http://shriverreport.org/talking-about-men-the-top-10-issues-affecting-men-in-2014/

Could one or more of the following be possible reasons for this?

1. Unrealistic and stereotypical portrayals of men in the media and in our ever changing culture: Men are often portrayed as . . .

• Dumb, deadbeat dads
• Sex-obsessed womanisers
• Seen as incompetent, misogynistic, brutish slobs who only think about beer, sex and sports

An alternative to this is men portrayed as:
The super-hero, financially successful, in perfect physical shape, rich, handsome, brilliant, athletic – the gold standard and an almost impossible ideal.

What about the men who are: complex, kind, communicative, nurturing, able to be warriors and poets at the same time, able to love deeply and for the long term?

2. Raising boys today . . .

• There are very limited resources available and very few agreed upon methods on how to raise boys
• Are boys being over diagnosed with ADHD?
• How do we teach boys to not only respect women but also other boys and themselves?
• How do we help the challenges of boys of different races?
• How do we have conversations with boys and let them know they can be victims of sexual assault?
• What about boys growing up outside the socially accepted gender spectrum?
• Violence and aggression – how do we prevent bullying and school shootings and stabbings?
• Boys being raised by single parents or gay dads – do they need more support than boys in traditional households?

3. The disposability of men and boys . . .

• The invisibility of boys being sex trafficked to men, being exploited as cheap manual labour – there is something in our collective consciousness that treats men and boys as disposable.
• Historically, men are: the first to go to war, the first into a burning building, the last to leave a sinking ship
• Men are seen as champions of economic progress, the ones who are there to put the infrastructure into place that drives our transportation and communication systems
• Men and boys are the invisible victims of rape and sexual assault. No clear language, few outlets to talk about it and a society-driven reluctance for them to come forward.

4. Parenting, stay-at-home dads and paternity leave:
• Moms are still seen as the default parent, the one who is more “natural” at the act of parenting and caring for children. Stay-at-home-dads are seen as losers or slackers when they WANT to be there for their children because they WANT to be part of their children’s lives.
• Men – even men with money and status cannot take paternity leave without being questioned.

5. The prison industrial complex:
• The prison system affects men disproportionately and we don’t talk about it enough. How does a man change while inside prison?
• Are men and women given equal sentences for equal crimes? What role does mental illness play in those who commit crimes and are imprisoned? What is it like for children who have a parent in prison? How difficult is it for guys who are trying to parent their children from inside prison?
• What impact is the school-to-prison pipeline having on our nation’s boys?
• How do we work towards understanding how violence and aggression lead to the most horrific of crimes so we can prevent them from occurring?

6. The LGBT movement and gender and sexual fluidity:
• It is difficult to be a man and to fall outside the gender and sexual norms
• How long will it take for all types of gender and sexual expression to be seen as “normal”?

7. Relationships of every kind . . .
Men and relationships – men are not only interested and committed to sexual relationships – they are also interested in and committed to a whole host of other relationships i.e. male friendships, fathers and their sons, fathers and their daughters, sons and their fathers, daughters and their fathers, familial relationships, work relationships – all these relationships are part of the psyche of today’s man, and all are relationships they care about.

8. Sports as a lens of culture and masculinity . . .
• Sports has typically been the domain of men – men, on average, have been faster, stronger, more powerful. Sports highlights so many positive aspects of traditional masculinity – strength and power for example.

9. The young and the old, the strong and the weak . . .
• Men who are old and men who are young don’t fit into the biggest parameters of idealised masculinity – older men are seen as weak and feeble and younger men are not yet financially successful.
• Beyond age, there are other forms of societally defined weakness that keeps men out of the traditional man-box, i.e. if you are disabled in some way, weakened by injury or disease or suffering from a mental illness – you are told to “man up” and “take it like a man”. You are simply excluded, rendered invisible and excluded from the “boys club”. This may be the reason why body-image problems are increasing in the masculinity realm.

10. Helping to solve the bigger problems of the world today . . .
• Racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental issues, abuse of women and chidren – men want to help solve these problems but are often overlooked in favour of women.

What do you think about these ten points mentioned above?

Do you have anything to add to these points mentioned?

Are there more points you would like to add?

Communication between men and women: Understanding the gender differences

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To all our loyal readers: Please accept our humble apologies for the delay with posting. We always strive to post weekly but due to time constraints, there has been a bit of a delay between our last post and this one.

Thank you for reading our posts and please feel free to pass on the information to others who might need the information.

Communication between men and women has always been a complicated matter. Women often feel unloved and disrespected by their male partners because of the breakdown in communication between them. Men, in turn, feel misunderstood and walk away frustrated because they feel women don’t understand them.

I recently came across the following pieces of information which I thought could help us understand the communication differences between males and females and hopefully we could bring some dignity into the way we communicate with each other.

Studies have shown that children’s games are a primary agent of gender socialisation. There are notable differences between the games boys and girls tend to play and these differences teach boys and girls specific rules for formulating their own messages and interpreting the messages of others. The rules taught through childhood play seem to shape the way we communicate as adults.

Games traditionally played by girls require few players and have fixed rules – playing “house”, “school”, “hospital”. Communication is used to encourage intimacy and status equality and to negotiate how to play so that everyone will “get a turn”. There is emphasis on co-operation and sensitivity between players. Girls tend to say “let’s try this”, rather than “you do this”.

Boys, on the other hand, tend to play rule bound games with winners and losers. The games are highly competitive (soccer, cricket etc) both between the teams and for individual status within the teams. Boys’ games involve more players and, because they have clear goals and rules, less talk is needed. Generally girls’ play is less physically active and more verbal than that of boys.

• Women’s culture values intimacy and relationships but men’s culture places greater emphasis on autonomy and individual achievement.
• For women, communication is the very core or a relationship, whereas for men it is a means to achieve conversational dominance.
• Women tend to bond through communication. Most women see talk as essential to the foundation of close relationships. Their talk is generally more expressive and focussed on emotions and personal issues.
• Women often interpret responses from men as uncaring and insensitive.
• When women say “let’s talk about us”, they want to communicate to enhance a relationship, whereas most men interpret the request as meaning that there is a problem in the relationship.
• Men generally use language to assert themselves or to achieve something, whereas women use language to create and maintain relationships. Men use language to attract and keep an audience, whereas women use it to indicate they are listening by saying things like “carry on”, “tell me more”, etc. Men use language to compete whereas women use language to collaborate.
• Men continue to bond through shared physical activity like working on cars, watching sport or playing games.
• Men’s talk seems to be more instrumental and competitive i.e. if a woman confides in a man about a problem, his response would be to offer advice or a solution. His primary instrumental use of language leads him to show support by doing something. Women expect expressions of empathy and discussion of feelings before they listen to advice.
• Men often feel irritated when women offer empathy and support instead of advice for solving problems.
• Men are less comfortable making personal disclosures, whereas women regard personal talk as the way to intimacy and the enrichment of relationships.
Feminine communication rules:
1. Include others. Use talk to show interest and respond to their needs
2. Use talk co-operatively. Communication is a joint activity, so people have to work together. Important to invite others into the conversation, wait your turn to speak and respond to what others say.
3. Use talk expressively. Talk should deal with feelings, personal ideas and problems and should build relationships with others.

Masculine communication rules:
1. Assert yourself. Use talk to establish your identity, expertise, knowledge etc
2. Use talk competitively. Communication is an arena for proving yourself. Use talk to gain and hold attention, to wrest the talk stage from others; interrupt and re-route topics to keep you and your ideas spotlighted.
3. Use talk instrumentally. Talk should accomplish something such as solving a problem, giving advice or taking a stand on issues.

So, women use communication to include others, talk co-operatively and talk expressively whereas men use communication to assert themselves, talk competitively and talk instrumentally. How do we then move forward from here?

What do we need to do in order to understand each other better?

What can women do to meet men half way and what can men do to meet women half way to create a platform to understand each other better?

What do you think?