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Pregnant? We can Help! Part Two

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CONTINUED. . . 

But What if You’re Not Pregnant What Else Could It Be? A missed or delayed period, the most commonly reported first sign of pregnancy, could also be caused by:

  • Pending menstruation
  • Excessive weight gain or loss
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • New workout regimen
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Tension or stress
  • Change in birth control usage
  • Various illnesses
  • Breastfeeding

Nausea or morning sickness, the second most frequently cited symptom of pregnancy, might be explained by:

  • Food poisoning
  • Tension or stress
  • Anxiety
  • Change in hormonal birth control
  • Other stomach ailments

Tender or changing breasts, the third most noted pregnancy symptom, might be triggered by:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Change in hormonal birth control
  • Impending menstruation

Fatigue or tiredness can be brought on by:

  • Tension or stress
  • Exhaustion from working too hard
  • Depression or other mental health struggles
  • Common cold or flu
  • New workout regimen
  • Allergies or other ailments
  • Lack of sleep
  • Improper nutrition
  • Pending menstruation
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Pregnant? We can Help!

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Pregnancy or PMS?

Pregnancy symptoms differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy and the only way to know for sure if you’re pregnant or not is to take a pregnancy test. A missed period is usually one of the first signs of pregnancy. Most at-home pregnancy tests recommend waiting until the first day of your missed period before taking a home pregnancy test. Our nurses and pregnancy educators find that when women test within a day or two of their missed periods they may get an inaccurate negative result. We recommend testing after being seven days late. This is because it’s considered normal to start your period anytime from seven days before to seven days after it’s due and still be within the “normal” time frame. Pregnancy tests work best when the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) has built up in your system. This usually happens around 11 – 12 days after ovulation. Most women get their period around 14 days after ovulation. Some Pregnancy Test Strips are highly sensitive so you can begin testing as early as four days before your missed period. Are you experiencing these early signs of pregnancy? As we said, the most significant pregnancy symptom is a missed period, but you could experience other early pregnancy symptoms within a week of conception:
  • Spotting or light bleeding: If pregnant, this symptom is usually associated with implantation bleeding and is considered one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. The embryo usually implants to the uterine between 6 to 12 days after conception. Some women will experience spotting as well as cramping. Other women don’t even notice implantation bleeding or cramping, so don’t worry if you are trying to get pregnant and don’t experience these symptoms; you could still be pregnant. When this implantation occurs, light bleeding or spotting is perfectly normal. This symptom is sometimes accompanied by light cramping.
  • Nausea or morning sickness: Nausea or morning sickness is the second most commonly reported first sign of pregnancy. Most expecting women experience nausea which typically shows up 2 to 8 weeks after conception. Nausea can be experienced with or without vomiting. Morning sickness can be experienced at any time of the day. It usually occurs during the first trimester and subsides after that for most women, but some will experience nausea throughout their pregnancy.
  • Swollen or tender breasts: The third most frequently cited pregnancy symptom is breast swelling or tenderness. Changes to the breasts can start as early as 1 to 2 weeks after conception.
  • Fatigue or Tiredness: As early as the first week after conception many women cite feeling tired as a sign of pregnancy.
Frequent Pregnancy Symptoms Also Include:
  • Backaches: Lower backaches are common. It can occur with the onset of pregnancy, but it’s usually experienced later as the pregnancy progresses, around pregnancy week 27 to week 34.
  • Headaches:  Experts believe the sudden rise of hormones and/or blood flow in your body leads can cause headaches. There is an approximate 50% increase in the volume of blood flowing during your pregnancy.
  • Frequent urination:  Don’t be surprised if between 6 to 8 weeks you feel like you have to pee more often. You’ll feel the need throughout your pregnancy as the growing baby and expanding uterus place more and more pressure on your bladder.
  • Food cravings or food aversions:  The food expecting women crave or seek to avoid varies and is quite sporadic. It is alright to allow yourself the freedom to pursue those cravings and avoid the things you don’t want as long as you are getting the nutrition you need for a healthy pregnancy. These cravings or aversions can occur early in pregnancy or anytime throughout your pregnancy.
  • Darkening of the Areolas: It’s normal if the areolas, area around your nipples will darken.
  • Mood Swings: Expecting mothers frequently experience mood swings. This is primarily caused by the hormonal changes that affect the neurotransmitters of the brain. Some may experience elevated highs and lows, and others alternate between states of happiness and depression or anxiety. Mood swings are normal; but, if you’re struggling with depression or extended periods of sadness, please contact your healthcare provider. Some women prefer to go directly to a counselor or mental health professional.
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The Trifecta That Makes You a Target for Narcissists

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Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does it feel like I always attract narcissists?” Many survivors say most partners or friends they grow to care about are narcissists. When we do attract healthy people or partners, we may find that we aren’t as intrigued by a wholesome relationship, or we label the relationship as “unexciting.” There is something about narcissist that draws narcissists and victims together.

I want to make a point here. We can’t control a narcissist, but we can change things within ourselves to stop the cycle. In my experience, there are three reasons we attract toxic people.

1.You suffered narcissistic abuse as a child.

Almost everyone is taught how life should be in their childhood. In a healthy family, the parents meet the needs of the children physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. In an unhealthy family, the roles are reversed. The child is expected to work hard to shine a light on the toxic parent and earn that parent’s love. Unfortunately, in some cases, both parents are narcissists!

When we reach adulthood, a toxic environment seems “normal” and healthy. It’s what we know. Many of us raised by harmful parents think love must be earned, not just given. We learn no one will love us unless we are pretty or handsome, intelligent, quiet, outgoing, successful, and more. The toxic parent dictates our beliefs, values, and worth. This mandate is brainwashing for many of us. Those voices of inadequacy play in our heads for a lifetime unless we do something about them. And it’s difficult to do the work to heal, so sometimes we don’t go to therapy or find coaching. A broken heart and soul lead to bad choices in partners, friendships, and jobs.

A good example of toxic parents comes from one of my clients. Megan is a 34-yer-old woman living at home with her parents because she is between restaurant jobs. Megan’s mom is a narcissist, and her father has become the “yes man” or doormat. Megan had her menstrual cycle a few days ago, and her parents turned off the water source to her room. She came home from work needing to shower, but her parents wanted to show her who is still in control.

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Three Phrases That Make a Narcissist Angry

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Most narcissists have anger that lies just below the exterior of their persona. When anger does surface, it can be ugly. Unfortunately, the punishment never seems to fit the crime when you are dealing with a narcissist. Here are three phrases that make a narcissist boil over, even if that person was only simmering before.

1. Can you show me evidence or proof?

A narcissist is always right, so how dare you question that person! A narcissist cannot stand to be invalidated, and by asking them a question about a statement or belief they’ve expressed, they feel like you are calling them a liar.

We know that narcissists perpetually lie but be careful on how you call it out. Decide if it’s a battle worth fighting first. Choose your battles.

2. I can see how you can see it that way.

Narcissists are emotionally intelligent enough to hear the doubt in this phrase. So you are telling them that yes, they can have their own opinion, just as you do. But, you are saying that you don’t necessarily agree with him.

Narcissists grow angry when there isn’t full compliance.

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Understanding That It’s Not About Me, But It’s About Them- A Narcissistic Tactic - Part 2

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How to address each narcissistic tactic

Gaslighting

To combat the above, the primary argument is in a target’s mindset. A victim must change the narrative that the narcissist’s voice has placed there to become a survivor. For example, when a narcissist gaslights a target, the target can tell themselves, “Well, the narcissist may say it didn’t happen, but I saw it with my eyes and heard it with my ears. My reality is my reality. “ Think about it. Why would anyone want to change another’s reality? It is because they are unhappy with their own. Narcissists are miserable people.

Passive aggressiveness

When it comes to the passive aggressiveness techniques that seem so oppressing, the target can say to themselves, “Well, now that I know the narcissist isn’t speaking to me, I’ll use this quiet time to go read a book and call a friend.” The toxic person certainly won’t like that a target isn’t groveling to fix things, but by not engaging, the victim is standing up for themselves and evolving into a survivor. The passive-aggressiveness from the narcissist is designed to garner supply. Whether it’s attention, admiration, money, or sex, it is a way for the toxic person to manipulate another for what is needed at that given moment.

Ghosting

Ghosting is another narcissistic tactic, especially during the dating process. It is the tactic of ending all communication with someone without warning or reason. Not all people who ghost are narcissists, but there are ways to turn the tables on ghosting, no matter the person who does the disappearing act. Ghosting is really about the person who is ghosting. Such an act of never responding again or simply going dark reflects the person making the withdrawal – not the target. If someone can’t speak to a friend or partner to let them know that the friendship or relationship is over, then that person isn’t worth anyone’s time. Ever. Targets should turn around and never look back.

Rage and triangulation

Both rage and triangulation are narcissistic tactics to cause a target to clamor to get back in a toxic person’s good graces. The victim is left thinking, “What did I do to cause this or to not measure up yet again?” You did nothing wrong. The narcissist who is angry or into comparison games did. There is no game if one party takes themselves off the playing field. To the narcissist at this point, one might say quietly to themselves, “Play all the games you want. I know what I stand for, and I am out.”

 
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Understanding That It’s Not About Me, But It’s About Them- A Narcissistic Tactic

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One of the most devastating things a narcissist does to their target is to instill a mindset in them of, “It’s always my fault.” Through gaslighting and consistent, derogatory remarks, a narcissist convinces a target that the target can do nothing right. As a result, the target learns to believe that any adverse event is related to their failure to meet the narcissist’s standards, much less be a decent human being. Here is an explanation of each narcissistic tactic they use to destroy a target’s confidence and self-esteem slowly.

Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of abuse in which (most often) a narcissist tells lies to alter the victim’s reality. For example, common gaslighting phrases are “I didn’t say that” or “I can’t talk to you because you’re an idiot” or “That didn’t happen.” As the object of the narcissist’s deceit, a target begins to feel crazy and unworthy of existing. Self-esteem and self-confidence plummet. The target may begin to isolate because, after all, they believe no one believes them or much less admires them. Finally, they start to accept as true the narcissist’s lies and manipulations.

Passive aggressiveness

Narcissists are skilled at making subtle putdowns, backhanded compliments, or using the silent treatment. All of these manipulations tell a target, “You don’t matter.” And the victim begins to feel like they don’t. Many survivors report feeling like they couldn’t stand up for themselves because why would it matter. They feel worthless, unlovable, and far less than enough.

Ghosting and the silent treatment

These can fall under passive-aggressive techniques, certainly, but they happen so frequently they need their own category for addressing.

A narcissist uses the silent treatment to tell a target that you don’t matter enough to be addressed. The narcissist will often be in a social or work setting and speak to everyone around them. At home? They don’t even glance at the target. It’s demeaning and sinister.

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How to Carve a Jack-o-lantern

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To carve a Jack-o-Lantern you will need the following materials
1 Pumpkin
1 Medium Serving Spoon
1 Medium Knife
1 Small Knife
Newspaper
Medium bowl
1 Dry Erase Marker
1 Candle
1 lighter

Step 1: Preparing for Carving

Spread out newspaper

Step 2: Cutting Out the Stem

Cut a hole around the stem at about a 45 degree angle towards the center of the pumpkin big enough for your hand to fit through.

WARNING-If the cut isn't at an angle the stem will fall into the pumpkin. WARNING-Save the stem

Step 3: Scooping Out the Pumpkin

Using the medium serving spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp (the orange stringy material inside the pumpkin) and put it in the bowl

Step 4: Sketching the Face

On roundest or best looking side, Sketch the desired face or design of your Jack-o-lantern.

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How To Make Pumpkin Spice Coffee At Home

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Fall is officially in full swing, which means crisp leaves, warm sweaters, and pumpkin-flavored everything. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is back again — and it stole our hearts the moment it was released. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t drink a PSL at least once a day while I was in college.

At the time, I wasn’t thinking of what was actually in their pumpkin spice latte. Just a few spices to give it that autumnal taste, right? Wrong. Let’s take a closer look.


WHAT’S ACTUALLY IN MOST PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES?

Pumpkin spice’s flavor profile only needs 5 to 10 percent natural ingredients to make us think we’re drinking something as fresh and natural as a homemade pumpkin pie. That means that 90% of our favorite pumpkin drinks are a blend of a bunch of chemicals, according to an interview from Institute of Food Technologies food scientist Kantha Shelke.

I hate to break it to you, but the pumpkin spice latte you’re buying at the drive thru is more than likely all artificial ingredients. And not to mention that our favorite pumpkin spice latte calories are upwards of 350 for a 16-ounce serving. No thank you.

There are also a ton of products on the market that give you the ability to make pumpkin coffee at home — including pumpkin creamers, syrups, flavor packets, and more. However, these also usually do not contain natural ingredients.

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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: These 9 Tips Can Help

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How to survive a breakup and learn to live, love, and trust again

Breaking up is never easy, even if you’re the one initiating the end of the relationship.

First, there are a range of emotions to contend with, some of which may last longer than others. There are also short-term and long-term steps you can take to recover from a breakup so you can move on to healthy, trusting relationships in the future — including a healthy relationship with yourself.

Learn more about what to expect with a breakup and how you can recover in a positive way.

Step 1: Express your emotions

Expressing your emotions is your first step to recovery.

The grieving process can go through its ups and downs, and you could experience sadness one moment and anger the next. Some people might even experience relief.

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Why We Hurt the Ones We Love, and Let Them Hurt Us

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When you look in the mirror, whose image do you see?

For nearly three decades, I’ve worked with people who, in one way or another, have either betrayed loved ones or been betrayed. In recent years, both the frequency and types of betrayal have exploded in my practice and those of my colleagues. More people seem entitled to betray the trust of loved ones if “I feel like it,” or to “get my needs met.”

Betrayal in intimate relationships occurs when a partner lies, cheats, surreptitiously uses family finances, chronically criticizes, stonewalls, yells, or abuses. Each act violates the implicit promise that gives us the courage to love in the first place: No matter what happens, the person you love and trust will ...

  1. Care about your well-being.
  2. Never intentionally hurt you.

Why It Hurts So Bad

Love relationships are mirrors of the inner self. We learn how lovable we are and how valuable our love is to others only by interacting with the people we love. Young children never question the impressions of themselves reflected by caretakers and peers. They do not think that their critical, stressed-out mothers or their raging fathers are just having a bad time or trying to recover from their own difficult childhoods. Young children attribute negative reflections of themselves from significant others to their own inadequacy and unworthiness.

Suppose you had internalized your body image based on reflections from a funhouse mirror, which made your hips look a mile wide. You would think you were in deep trouble and that no diet could help. Once you've internalized such a negative image, you distrust even accurate mirrors.

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5 Myths About OCD

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Often misunderstood, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can lead to serious struggle.

KEY POINTS

  • There are many myths and misconceptions about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
  • OCD involves intrusive, distressing thoughts and repetitive, ritualistic habits that attempt to resolve the anxiety of those thoughts.
  • A few misconceptions about OCD are that the disorder is synonymous with perfectionism and that everyone with OCD is neat or afraid of germs.

There are few psychological disorders that appear to be as misunderstood as OCD, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. For many people, it has made its way into everyday slang, frequently used to describe simple perfectionistic tendencies or a persnickety personality type. For all the social media memes that pretend to diagnose OCD just by virtue of bothering you with uneven stacks of books or paintings that are slightly off-kilter, the real truth is much more serious: OCD can be debilitating.

 

So, what is OCD, really? Recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it involves a struggle with intrusive, distressing thoughts—those are the obsessions—and also repetitive, ritualistic habits that attempt to resolve the anxiety of those thoughts. Those ritualistic patterns of behavior are the compulsions. Though not everyone with OCD has both, most do, and by definition, these vicious cycles of thoughts and behaviors cause intense distress and significant disruption to daily life. Thankfully, there is hope, and there are several effective treatment options.

 

For more clarity on the vast differences between how our culture uses the word "OCD" and what the psychological disorder itself is truly like, read on.

Myth Number 1: OCD means you’re a perfectionist.

No. In our lexicon, "OCD" may seem synonymous with "anal," but that is a misperception that often has no basis in reality. People with OCD may feel out of control, lost in the cycle of obsessions and compulsions, and may feel like perfection is nowhere to be found. It's not about wanting things exactly right. It's about a continual struggle to quiet the itchy thoughts that keep intruding, and the compulsions that are desperate attempts to scratch those itches.

Myth Number 2: OCD means you’re extremely neat or afraid of germs.

Also no. Though some individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may have specific obsessions involving fears of contamination, and compulsions that have to do with hand-washing, many don't. The obsessive thoughts can be about anything distressing under the sun, and contamination fears—though on the upswing since COVID—are just one subtype. And many people who hoard items to the point of unsafe living conditions are actually suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive symptomology. (Hoarding Disorder is closely related.)

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4 Secrets of Successful Relationships

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Making a relationship work is all about having the right mindset.

KEY POINTS

  • Relationship science can help partners build healthier and stronger intimate connections.
  • Common sense beliefs, such as the idea that sacrifice is always beneficial, aren't supported by research—and can backfire.
  • Paradoxically, a total lack of conflict in a relationship can actually be a bad sign.

How do you make a relationship work for the long haul? Many of us rely on "common sense" beliefs to guide us along the way, but this often leads us astray. This is where turning to relationship science can help. Research has identified several key factors for long-term love and passion, many of which have to do with the relationship mindset we hold. 

1. Don’t sacrifice too much.

We often hear about the importance of sacrifice in relationships—we’re told that we need to put our partner’s needs above our own in order for things to work. While there is some truth to this idea, it’s important to keep in mind that sacrificing too much can actually undermine the relationship.

When sacrifice is one-sided (one partner is always compromising, while the other is not) and/or when the sacrifices being made are very large (to the point where you’re giving up things that are extremely important to you and neglecting your own needs), sacrifice can take a toll.

Sacrifice tends to work best when it is mutual and minor.

 

2. Don’t make your love conditional.

We often think we know what’s best for our partner and that one of our jobs in a relationship is to help our partner become who we want them to be. That’s why it’s not uncommon for people to tell their partner things like, “if you love me, you’ll change.”

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The Narcissistic Parent

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“Fatty, fatty, two by four, couldn’t get through the open door.” That song still rings in my head daily. It’s what my mother, a narcissistic parent, sang to me in my childhood. It’s no surprise by the time I was 18, I had developed an eating disorder, and my weight plummeted down to 89 pounds. The thing was, however, that I wasn’t substantially overweight before I stopped eating. It was about achieving my mother’s view of unattainable perfection.

Being skinny was one of the outrageous standards she put in place for me as I was growing up. For narcissists, as you may know, it’s all about how it looks. Your dreams, desires, beliefs, natural-born talents, and other skills don’t matter. How you plan to make this world a better place doesn’t matter. It’s about how YOU make the NARCISSIST look to others, with your appearance and achievements.

In a healthy family, the parents meet the needs of the kids emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and physically. In a toxic family, the unhealthy parent or parents reverse the roles. You are required to shine the light on the toxic parent. If you don’t? The narcissist uses shame as the sharpest weapon. Then, all hell breaks loose. Love is withheld. The toxic parent sparingly doles out attention. You may receive the silent treatment or be ignored for days or longer. Regardless, it hurts.

Children of narcissists can become stunted emotionally and physically. I remember not wanting to grow up because I didn’t want to leave what I thought was the security of my home. My mother had taught me that she did no wrong and the rest of the world was bad. If I stayed a “mini-me” version of her, life would be safe and tolerable. The family jokingly called these rules her “do-right rules.” (I still don’t think that’s funny. Not one bit).

Children of narcissists struggle with identity, because one day you will likely grow up and leave, yet you are still a little girl or boy inside, struggling with making the narcissistic parent happy. My career choice of being a television news anchor and personality was a decision I knew my mother would accept. Even the man I said yes to marrying was someone whom I knew my mother would approve of.

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What is Narcissism? PART FOUR

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CONTINUED. . . . 

What Causes Narcissism?

This is one of the most difficult questions to answer because narcissists can come from such broadly diverse backgrounds.  Is it caused by nature or nurture?  

In some cases there has to be a genetically linked tendency.  Think, for instance, how some individuals have a natural bent toward mathematics, music, literary skills, and so on.  We often say, “It’s just in them to be that way.” Likewise some people have a natural bent toward tenderness, friendliness, or sociability.  It’s just how they are.

It also could be presumed that some people are more inclined toward troublesome trends. They can lack interest in emotions. They can be more naturally bossy.   Or perhaps they are relationally elusive. Those qualities, too, can be “just how they are.” So some of the inclination toward narcissism could be “nature.”

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What is Narcissism? PART THREE

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CONTINUED. . .

Types of Narcissism

Narcissism can be displayed in a very wide array of patterns.  Think of a hub of a wheel and the spokes that extend from that hub. The spokes represent the many patterns that can be offshoots of the core tendency toward narcissism.  

Following are some types of narcissism you might encounter, and while it is not an exhaustive list, it can give you and idea of how pervasive narcissism can be.  And yes, individuals can have combinations and degrees of these types:

The Bully:  Forceful, punishing, coercive, overbearing, demanding, prone to rage, willing to humiliate or shame, preys upon others’ weaknesses, user of people.

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What is Narcissism? PART TWO

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CONTINUED. . . 

8 Primary Indicators Of Narcissism

Consistently, narcissists display most or all of eight identifiable tendencies:

  • An inability to empathize.  Narcissists do not feel the need to know and understand a person’s emotions or experiences.  Being self-enamored inhibits their concern for others.
  • A strong, persistent need for control.  Narcissists believe they should be the ones holding the reins of power in relationships and organizations.  Wherever they go, they have a fixed agenda regarding the ways life is supposed to unfold.  
  • An attitude of entitlement.  Though they show little concern about the needs of others, they routinely focus on satisfying their own needs and preferences.  When they do not get what they demand, anger is inevitable.
  • Manipulative, exploitive behaviors.  Being non-authentic people, they can give the appearance of friendliness or coordination, only to show later that they are users of people.  They are not honest or trustworthy.
  • An inability to receive direction.  Narcissists are pathologically defensive.  They have an image to maintain, and any discussion about flaws or mistakes will be met with strong denial, reversal, blame, or accusation.
  • A need for superiority.  Truly believing in their unique, lofty status, they are commonly critical and condescending.  They justify bullying and stubbornness by focusing on others’ inferiority.
  • An alternate reality.  Their lack of objectivity causes them to anchor upon a version of truth that does not match pitch with others.  They truly believe they hold distinct perspectives that others cannot learn. 
  • Ability to create favorable false impressions.  For a time, narcissists can appear charming, friendly, and agreeable.  Their yearning to be admired prompts them to present themselves as appealing and enviable.  But this charm inevitably is temporary and situational.

Types of Narcissism

TO BE CONTINUED. . . 

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What is Narcissism? PART ONE

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Narcissism is the pattern of life driven by self-absorption, control, and manipulation.  It can be understood as a pattern on a spectrum, with each of us having at least some capacity for it.

On the far end of the spectrum, narcissism is referred to as a personality disorder (NPD), a pathological manner so embedded and so dysfunctional that it renders the individual as one who surely contributes pain and strain in relationships.  People with NPD have an inflated sense of their self-importance, an excessive need for admiration or superiority, and a greatly diminished capacity for empathy.

Short of NPD, many people are sufficiently inclined toward self-impressed behaviors and poor empathy, so they too create exaggerated strain in their primary relationships.  Others may contain their narcissistic tendencies fairly well, yet they may also have moments when it comes to the fore. That’s life on the spectrum.

Narcissism In The Context Of Ancient History

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You might be a people pleaser if. . .

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You might be a people pleaser if you:

  • Try too hard to be nice

  • Hold onto hidden resentment

  • Measure your words more carefully than is really warranted

  • Give up on being understood or taken seriously

  • Have difficulty using the word "no"

  • Allow others to determine too much of your schedule

  • Become too deferential when someone else is angry

This webinar is definitely for you if:

  • You assume your needs are not as important as others' needs.
  • You have feelings of burnout because you don't prioritize your own self-care.
  • You take too much responsibility for others' happiness.
  • You suppress your difficult emotions so readily that you won't express them even when the time is right.

 

Register below for our webinar that will be LIVE on Tuesday, September 21st at 1pm CT. If you cannot make the live session and feel like this webinar would benefit you, still register! We will be sending out a recording to all who have registered to keep forever.

 

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0ozS9fdETPSfyywWGZmQaQ?utm_medium=email&_hsmi=159032552&utm_content=152393347&utm_source=hs_email

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Try the 10 Positives Exercise

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  • We have a choice to see the positive or to see the negative in any given situation.
  • We can choose to interpret situations on the positive side to reduce our stress and anxiety.
  • Applying the 10 Positives exercise to various challenges can add deeper meaning to our lives.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many people told me that they were feeling overwhelmed, lonely, and unfulfilled. Admittedly, the last year has been even more difficult and unprecedented on many levels, social, financial, and existential. This has led to increased stress, anxiety, and even despair, as people struggle to live meaningful lives in unstable conditions. We do, however, have a choice. We can choose a positive attitude no matter what is happening around us. We can choose to interpret situations on the positive side.

 

This exercise is called the 10 Positive Things or simply, 10 Positives. Here are three ways to apply this exercise:

 
 

An exercise to cope with challenges in relationships, work, and family situations

Think of a situation that is challenging in your personal relationship, your family, or your work. Write down your interpretation of the situation and then list 10 Positives that could result from this situation. Write down as many positives as you can without filtering them for realism or social acceptance. This exercise may help you move beyond your disappointment, frustration, stress, and even anger so that you can begin the process of forgiveness and healing.

 

An exercise to deal with a situation that is extremely stressful

When a situation is particularly stressful such as having a car accident, losing your job, or being diagnosed with an incurable disease, it is very important that you move into higher levels of optimism in order to maintain not only your physical health but your mental health. Starting to see the silver lining or hopeful side in something will also help you start to see the possible solutions or opportunities to address the situation, instead of repeating the same negative thoughts over and over, which is known as "loop thinking." (See my recent Psychology Today post How to Stop a Negative Cycle of Thoughts or Experiences.) 

In essence, we see what we want to see. Perception does not always mirror reality; oftentimes, however, it becomes our “reality.” When we believe that there isn’t enough of this or that in our lives, or when we see the negative in everything, we are blocking ourselves from living a full life. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have in your life, or spending your time complaining about a situation, start looking for and be grateful for the positive that is in your life.

 
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Steps to Happiness

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1. Do something nice for someone else.

Do acts of kindness for others (e.g., make someone else happier). She notes there is plenty of research evidence that doing things for others makes you happier, and I have reviewed some of it here and here.

 

2. Express gratitude on a regular basis.

This was the other bit of well-supported advice Lyubomirsky gave me in response to my query (and of course, I am grateful for that advice, Sonja!). After the first time I read her book, my wife suggested that we institute a nightly ritual of a “thankful list.” We have been doing that for over a decade now, before our son’s bedtime reading, and it’s one of the highlights of my day. In the book, Lyubomirsky lists several ways that gratitude boosts happiness, by helping you savor positive experiences, for example, as well as boosting your self-esteem, building social bonds, and disrupting your negative emotions.

 

3. Cultivate an optimistic outlook on life.

Lyubomirsky has done research with Laura King, who herself conducted interesting research in which people imagine their “best possible future selves.” What would you be doing in 10 years if everything went perfectly in your life? It’s worth trying yourself right now, because it’s fun, and King’s (2001) research suggests that imagining an ideal future self actually increases people’s inclination to persist toward their goals and to cope with setbacks.

4. Avoid invidious social comparisons.

Lyubomirsky’s own research suggests that happy people are pretty oblivious to other people who seem to be doing better than them. On the other side of the coin, materialistic attempts to keep up with the Joneses (or the Gateses) are actually a great way to make yourself more depressed (see Dittmar, Bond, Hurst, & Kasser, 2014).

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5. Nurture your relationships.

Make time to be with friends and family members (without your electronic devices), pay attention to them, let them know what you like about them, and when something good happens to them, be sure to share in their positive outcomes. Practice saying: “I see your point” if you have minor disagreements (about the news or who should wash the dishes for example).

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