How Does Your Message Land? 

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November 4th, 2022 >> Communication

How Does Your Message Land? 

Are you aware of how your communication lands when speaking with someone? As we strengthen our emotional intelligence, we gain insight into how we impact those around us.  It’s not uncommon to speak with good intentions and realize that the receiving party has become uncomfortable, so much so that they are defensive. 

Reflecting on how a conversation might have escalated when you felt misunderstood is a great way to break your unhelpful communication pattern. When we take the time to explore contributing factors that escalated into an argument, we can learn about ourselves and make the necessary changes. Is it what we said? Perhaps it’s our tone. Maybe it’s our delivery. 

Considering the efforts we make to engage in productive sensitive conversations, having an undesired outcome can be puzzling. The following are 6 helpful strategies when having sensitive conversations:

  1. Avoid using absolute words such as “always” and “never.” We don’t want to attack and put the receiver in a defensive mode.
  2. Use “I-statements” and point out the specific behavior that bothers you, such as, “I feel nervous when you don’t come home on time.” If you label or generalize instead of stating a specific behavior, it will not land properly. Which would we prefer to hear: “When you’re lazy,” or, “When you don’t call me”?
  3. State what you want. For example, “I would like for you to call me if you’re running late.”
  4. Avoid addressing other issues. Focus on one situation at a time. It’s easy to open the flood gates and try to deal with so many of the issues rather than the one at hand. This will only dilute the importance of what we’re addressing, and the result will be that we won’t be heard. 
  5. Share why the request is important to you. This step makes it easier for the listener to understand our preference and the reasons for it. 
  6. Be sure you come from a caring stance and not an accusatory place. The above mentioned strategies will only work if we are coming from the perspective of, “You are important to me, and I’d like to make this work.”

If you’re unsure how your message lands, check in with the receiving party with, “What did you hear me say?” or “I’m curious how that sounded to you.” They may even share with us which word or phrase we used that triggered them. 

The communication chapter can be found within the Anger Management Essentials workbook, 2nd edition. https://amzn.to/3kXHyZy

Anita Avedian is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (License # LMFT 38403) and has been practicing psychotherapy since 1996. Anita is the Executive Director of both Avedian Counseling Center and Anger Management 818, a boutique group practice servicing the Greater Los Angeles area. Her specialties include working with relationships, anger, social anxiety, general anxiety, and addictions. She also has been certified in Thought Field Therapy(TFT) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), both of which she integrates into her practice. Anita offers a monthly anger management certification program to counselors. Anger Management Essentials is an approved National Anger Management Association (NAMA) model that is used for anger management certification. 

Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

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September 29th, 2022 >> Mindfulness

By Alex Mirsakova , AMFT

We live in a fast-paced, high- stress society, one that highlights constant productivity and achievement. The concept of slowing down and taking a break seems out of the question for many of us. Yet, the importance of taking care of our own mental well-being, and the importance of slowing down when it feels as though we must go faster – cannot be ignored. It seems counterproductive to be told to “slow down” when we feel as though we must constantly rush. But perhaps the next time we feel that familiar overwhelming sense of urgency, we can accept it as an opportunity to pause.

Developed by Kristin Neff and Chris Germer, the practice of the self-compassion break is designed for you to directly experience the three elements of self-compassion:

1) Mindfulness 
2) Common Humanity 
3) Kindness.

It can be used as often as you need, through a moment of pain, difficulty, frustration, or intense pressure.

I invite you to take the self-compassion break:

Take a few deep breaths and settle into your body. Take four seconds to breathe in. Take four seconds to breathe out. Focus on your breath. Focus on the sensations in your body.

Now, bring to mind a situation in your life that is creating stress or paining you. When first learning this practice, choose a problem that’s in the mild to moderate range so that you may gradually develop this quality of self-compassion.

What changes are you observing in your body? What discomforts are you noticing? What sensations are coming up for you?

When challenges are present, it is important to take time to stay calm and mindful. Speak to yourself gently and acknowledge that you are experiencing discomfort in this moment.

Mindfulness Statements:

I am not okay

I am under a lot of stress

This is frustrating

Common Humanity

As you embrace the challenges in your life, you can begin reflecting on the challenging experiences in life that all humans live through. Inviting yourself to connect with humanity and accepting that pain is a part of life will help you understand that you are not alone in your time of despair.

“I feel, through my struggle, what others feel. In this way, I am sensing this feeling as not just my own, but as a deep connection to many other people.”

Experiment with offering yourself a simple gesture of soothing touch. One option is placing your hand over your heart. Experiment with finding what feels soothing and right for you. Feel the warmth and gentle touch of your hands. You may tap lightly on your body as you ground yourself.

Words of Affirmation and Positive Statements of Kindness

Perhaps there are particular words of kindness and support that you need to hear in this difficult situation. What simple message might be a caring response? If you are having difficulty summoning the words, consider what you would offer a dear friend or a loved one who is experiencing a painful moment. What would you say to this loved one? Now, see if you can offer the same message to yourself.

I can be kind to myself

I accept where I am in my life

I forgive myself for past mistakes

I am growing to trust myself more everyday

Alex is a pre-licensed clinician who works with couples, individuals, and children/ teens ( ages 10 and up). She is bilingual and speaks Russian and English. She works via telehealth as well as in person at our Glendale, Pasadena , and Sherman Oaks offices with flexible evenings and weekends scheduling. Book with her today .

Gratitude

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July 25th, 2022 >> Gratitude

By: Anita

What is gratitude? Gratitude is more than a word; it is a belief. 

We often hear the word gratitude, but we often don’t understand the real meaning of it. Gratitude means to be thankful. Seems simple, but if that were the case why is gratitude not an integral part of our daily lives?

We as humans tend to often focus on the negative aspects of life although positive experiences are happening as well. However, there could be one negative aspect and four positive aspects, but we effortlessly cling onto the focus ruminating until we are engulfed by its negativity. When negativity is focused on and magnified it starts to consume our thoughts. We begin to catastrophize and become stuck in an emotional state that can feel helpless at times. Once this happens our thoughts influence our emotions, and our emotions influence our behaviors. 

What can be done to break the cycle of latching on to negative aspects of life and finding gratitude to assist with positive and thankful views? 

The practice of intentional gratitude is an amazing tool to reflect and can be instrumental in everyday life.  Practicing gratitude allows us not to focus on the wonders
of positive thinking, places, things, and people. Gratitude can be wonderful and help us appreciate the simple yet beautiful elements of life including its ups and down. 

Being and showing gratitude has the power to influence moods, change perspectives, and assist in better quality of life.

Tips for practicing gratitude daily: 

·      Define the meaning of gratefulness and how you would like to show gratefulness

·      Identify, acknowledge, and contemplate what you are grateful for 

·      Appreciate what you are grateful for by just noticing things to be thankful for. 

·      It is beneficial to say what you are grateful for out loud or write it down in a journal. 

Examples: 

1. I am grateful for this day. 

2. I am grateful for my morning walk. 

3. I am grateful for my family and friends. 

The best way to incorporate gratitude is to apply it in your daily life. It is important to practice it at least once a day. For example, in the morning when you are starting your day. It can be practiced when having a meal. You can also add it to your night routine before going to bed. 

The key is to remember to practice until gratitude becomes part of your daily routine.

Crafting from Nature: Anita Avedian

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March 25th, 2022 >> self-care

Nature can provide amazing artistic outlets and brighten up a space. From looking outside your window to integrating plants inside the house. However, what if you don’t have a green thumb or much of a creative bone in your body, if you do well. What is one to do when you still want the esthetic that nature creates in your dwelling? What if you could use elements in nature to create simple works that capture natural elements? Try this fun creative and crafting project that will give you nature, skill building, and a fun activity without much work.

Let’s use what we see in nature like a leaf and craft a small cup, bowl, or plate. 

Supplies needed: 

Flexible Leaf that is the size of the palm of your hand

Water

Rolling Pin or similar (can or bottle)

Paring Knife/ or similar (Small kitchen knife)

Plastic Wrap

A small cup, bowl, or plate (Depending on what you are making)

Tape (Optional)

Air Dry Clay

Acrylic Paint

Paint Brushes

Gathering supplies:

Take stock of what supplies needed can be found around your house or outside.

For example, if you take a walk around your home or a local park you will be able to find a leaf the size of your hand. Any leaf will do but try to pick a leaf that you like or has a unique color and shape. Let this be fun and be open to it resonating with you. The leaf should be flexible and soft to the touch. Collecting a hard or brittle leaf can lead to breakage which we want to avoid. Pro tip: Grab a few options of leaves just in case breakage does happen.

You can look in the kitchen and find a few more supplies. Once that is done run down to your local crafting store and retrieve some air-dry clay and any acrylic paint of your choice. You will use this paint after the clay is shaped and dried, therefore purchase a color you would like to see around your house. I recommend grabbing some natural colors and a metallic color like gold to provide an accent along the edges of the craft. Pro tip : Buy various size paint brushes to help you create the look you want especially if you are a beginner. Once you have all your materials from your home and the store, then begin crafting.

What are we making:

This is a crafter choice activity: You can opt to make a small cup, bowl, or plate.

Let’s get crafting – Steps to complete 

Organize your workspace and all your materials for easy access. Fill up a small cup of water that will be used to smooth the clay. 

First Step – Open your air-dry clay and rolling pin: Begin rolling out your clay using the pin until it looks like a thin sheet of clay. You are looking for the clay to be the thickness of about 1 centimeter . 

Second Step – Grab your favorite leaf and place it on the clay with the ridges of the leaf face down into the clay. Softly, roll the pin over the leaf to leave a light leaf impression. (think of this like a stamp). You are only pressing to leave the imprint but not to flatten the clay. 

Third Step – Take your small knife to outline the leaf, cutting as close to the edge of the leaf as possible. Once that is done gently remove the leaf from the clay. You can repeat the stamp process if you want more of a leaf pattern, if not that’s okay. 

Fourth Step – Go ahead and grab your water and smooth out the edge of the clay where you’ve cut with the tips of your fingers.

Fifth Step -What have you decided to shape the clay into? Grab your crafting muse (bowl, cup, or plate) that will be used as a mold.   Cover the bowl, cup, or plate with some plastic wrap first, making it as flat as possible trying to eliminate wrinkles. Tape the plastic wrap if need be. Place the clay with the leaf print down onto the plastic covered craft item and leave the clay to dry and harden.

Sixth Step – Once the clay is dry you can remove it off the item and begin to paint with the acrylic and metallic colors. Pro tip: Use a small brush to paint the veins of the leaf for more detail.

Crafting from nature can be simple and fun. This activity is great for beginners who want to express their creativity. This easy art project is also  great for bringing people together. Begin your crafting journey today!! 

Rethink Vacationing and Envision a Staycation

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January 26th, 2022 >> Vacation

Rethink Vacationing and Envision a Staycation

By: Destiny Johnson

Since the pandemic began opportunities for travel have decreased. There have been many rescheduled or postponed vacations with individuals hoping for the end of COVID – 19. Many travel bans, restricted booking, and vaccine mandates resulted in many canceled flights, cruises, and vacations.  The devastating effects of COVID-19 and all its variations I’m sure has many individuals wondering when traveling and vacationing will be able to happen. 

Now that the pandemic has lasted longer than anticipated, should we rethink vacationing while the world is still influx?

Vacationing for many is a significant part of their lifestyle; a way to destress and re-center, while experiencing culture. Many view vacationing as a much-needed escape to relax. During the pandemic the need to get away or have an outlet to experience something new and entertaining is critical to people’s mental wellbeing

However, the challenges for vacationing are still felt and for many the options for vacationing have dwindled. Taking a vacation shouldn’t be a luxury or unattainable goal but a right to joy. A right to find clarity, find stillness, and to explore. Vacationing is a life changing experience and can be recalibrated.  

How can we re-think vacations and travel?

What if I provided an option for vacation that allowed you to not travel far but was full of new possibilities and experiences.   You can do this by creating vacations and getaways that are only a few miles away. Local vacationing can ease some concerns related to COVID-19, reduce restrictions toward travel, provide an unexpected escape that is affordable and most of all fun. This concept is called taking a “Staycation”.

What is a staycation?  A staycation is a local gateway or tourism site that is near your residence. Staycations are an alternative to a traditional vacation that is still fun-filled, free of expensive travel fees, and can eliminate the hassle that comes with flying.

Types of Staycations 

Overnight Stays– a vacation spent near an individual’s local home rather than abroad. That lasts overnight or a few days.

Day Trips – involves time being spent in one’s hometown or a few miles away. (The next city or an hour or two away) The day is filled with local attractions or activities that only require a few hours of travel to experience a day elsewhere and a fast return home.

What are the benefits of a Staycation? 

·       Contactless travel options to increase safety. For example, using your own car can help reduce exposure of COVID – 19 

·       Local travel means you reduce expenses and save more

·       May decrease travel time to destinations by attending local attraction

·       Ease of travel increases because you avoid airports, baggage claims etc.

·       Ability to help support local and community businesses 

·       Explore new things that are relatively close to your neighborhood

What will you find in your local staycation pursuit? 

Happy Staycation!!!

Mindful Talking

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October 6th, 2021 >> Mindfulness

By: Destiny Johnson

Have you ever spoken to someone, and kept getting interrupted? Trying to get a word in at times can be quite challenging in conversations when mindful talking isn’t used. This happens from time to time when speaking with acquaintances, family, and friends. It can also take place in the workplace with colleagues and clients. 

Many of us have heard of active listening but what about the art of mindful talking when engaging in dialogues with people. What is mindful talking or speaking?  It is one’s ability to speak to others with awareness, active listening, and focus. Mindful talking is knowing what, when, and how to use tone to engage with someone. Mindful communication involves listening, tone, nonverbal cues, paying attention, and connecting to others. 

Speaking mindfully is a great skill to incorporate into any conversation. Mindful speaking encourages emotional intelligence. Imagine speaking and not being allowed the space and respect to respond. Or not having the opportunity to share your thoughts and opinions. It would be like you were trapped in a one-sided conversation. Do you think you would feel heard? Do you think the other person who is not receiving mindful talking would feel heard?

If there is no space to share and respond it cannot be a dialogue. If this type of communication continues it can become incredibly annoying and frustrating. Ultimately, the lack of care, consideration, kindness, empathy, and attention to the other person when having dialogue will eventually drain the relationship and decrease communication.

Here are some tips to increase Mindful Talking in conversations:

Consider Time

Realize how much time and space you take up while speaking. If you have an hour to dialogue with someone, how much of that time is spent with you talking versus them. How you listened to what is being share verbally and non-verbally? Ask yourself does this need to be said, have I listened enough before responding

Use Silence and Pauses

Make sure you take pauses; it will allow the listener to process what’s being shared. Not everyone processes the same way. For example, introverts tend to process inward using thought while many extraverts process outwardly using speech. Both are valid but pause to allow for communication to flow. The use of silence can also allow you to be intentional with words and consider how much talking has taken place versus how much listening

Probe and Seek Clarity

Ask questions to better understand before speaking. Ask questions to gain perspective from others. Many times during conversations messages can get lost, contributing to lack of understanding and miscommunication. Seek to understand instead of talking. When you listen intently it will help you know what to say 

Here and Now

Be present and in tune to the moment happening in front of you. Many people get lost in thoughts of yesterday (the past) or tomorrow (the future) that we forget about the present moment. This can occur when talking. Try to focus on what is tangible in the conversation and connect with the persons words and feelings. Use breathing to bring you back to the conversation if your mind begins to wonder while talking to someone. Focus on your breath and what they are saying. 

Awareness

Check in with yourself and your surroundings. Identify how the person you’re talking to is doing. You can pick up on cues that indicate if the listener is checking out and vice versa if you have lost your focus. Checking in with yourself, can be done by quietly recognizing what is happening internally or around you. Are you following the conversation? Is the person distracted? Have they disconnected? Are you not responding to questions because you have zoned out? 

To build awareness and focus you can use open posture. Posture your body toward the listener with arms uncrossed, lean in physically to the conversation, and provide eye contact. This will help you stay alert and welcome dialogue. It is important to limit distractions and refocus your thoughts to the speaker. Use verbal encouragers like yes, uh huh and ask questions to understand and connect. 

Showing curiosity can strengthen dialogue and unfold an engaging conversation. Begin practicing intentional and mindful speech because it is important to feel heard. Try out some of these tips and see if your conversations and connections can be deepened.


Destiny Johnson is a career counselor and certified anger management counselor with Avedian Counseling Center.

Dealing with Loss of plans or dreams

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July 20th, 2021 >> achieve, Career, goal setting, productivity

By: Destiny Johnson – Career Counselor at Avedian Counseling Center

As humans, we tend to be drawn to achievement and progress. We set goals and seek ways to fulfill them. Accomplishments give us all a sense of pride and confidence. When we can dream and achieve, it creates positivity and hope for the future. Think of a goal that you worked hard for and finally saw it come to fruition. How did you feel? Empowered or inspired? However, what occurs when a dream or plan is lost or not realized? Disappointment or discouragement?

If achievement is the vehicle used to create purpose and self-worth then the loss of achievement can impact many individuals negatively. Feelings of sadness, disappointment, and discouragement are emotions that arise when dreams aren’t accomplished. Some dreams are lost due to unplanned circumstances outside of our control while others are a conscious decision. Some dreams are snatched or not accomplished due to injury, anxiety, new responsibilities, death of a loved one, poverty, discrimination, age, lack of preparation, illness, or low skill development.

Let’s review some scenarios :

A track athlete has trained all year long for the chance to win a medal during an important track meet. The athlete has spent hours exercising, running drills, working on breath control and form. They have adapted their lifestyle to accommodate where they want to be health-wise. Then the date of the meet arrives, they complete a routine warm-up and off they go running in the race of a lifetime. They pivot wrong and instantly the knee begins to buckle and the pain causes the athlete to fall behind and just like that the dream of the medal drifts away….. 

Or 

A little girl dreams of her wedding day. She is wearing a beautiful dress and envisions her father giving her away. Fast forward to the end of high school and her father becomes ill, and within a year he passes away. The young lady now works through her grief slowly. Now she is done with college and meets a special person and after two years of dating, she gets a proposal. She is excited and joyful. As she prepares to marry her partner, she is overwhelmed with sadness realizing her father will not be there to walk her down the aisle.

Regardless, of the scenario, the loss of a plan or a dream can be difficult to experience and even harder to accept. The losses can be incredibly hard to understand, cope, and can come in waves of disappointment. I am sure some have heard the five stages of grief. However, grief can occur and pops up without notice during milestones, anniversaries, or important events.

How can we address the loss of dreams when they occur? Questions to help you address loss:

What can be learned when plans and dreams are lost?

What can be learned about ourselves when plans or dreams aren’t accomplished?

How can you reframe your story?

What resources can you use when navigating the loss of plans and dreams?

Do you need to talk with someone about your loss of dreams?

Additionally, here are some strategies:

  1. Permit yourself to grieve. It is normal to be disappointed and sad when dreams do not match reality. Sadness is a signal that we should not ignore but understand and is a natural reaction. You are allowed to not feel or be ” okay” and to process the pain of what was lost. Identify your hurt and what it means to move forward healthily.

  2. Identify the accomplishments that have occurred to remind you of the progress that has already taken place. You have a right to review your wins and applaud yourself. Look for the good in your life.

  3. Recalibrate and get organized to figure out what the next best steps are for you. Seek out helpful resources to help with overcoming grief and actively work to avoid getting stuck.

  4. Reframe your experiences that are negative to see a new positive outcome. Reframing is critical to overcoming the grieving process and losses. 

Realities of Bullying during the pandemic

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April 8th, 2021 >> COVID-19

Children and teens are spending an alarming amount of time online, and with life coming to a slow down in so many parts of the world again, the possibility of putting a plausible pause on this time does not look possible. Also, children are cooped up in their homes, having less to almost none physical outlet to channelize their energies and frustration. They are bored, disengaged and confused because of the huge changes that the Covid brought into out lives. These are just some of the factors why we see a huge increase in cyber bullying. 

Apart from online classrooms, a hotbed for cyberbullying, where kids are spending endless hours, is online gaming. While most of the time the attacks manifest in the form of insults, ridiculing of gaming skills or more generally profanities being hurled at the players involved, it is by far not the only type of bullying that could be experienced in online battle arenas.

As a parent or a guardian, the onus is now on us to help curb this issue.

Some starter points that can really help are

—> Stay attuned to your child’s behaviour at home. Most often, it is a good indicator of how they conduct themselves online, school or otherwise.

—> Fostering an open minded, forbearing attitude in children at home encourages them

to treat their classmates without a prejudice. Teach them to be inclusive and tolerant of different perspectives and views.

—>  Children who are respected at home do not seek for attention outside and reflect more compassion.Model patience and respect towards your child’s opinions at home so they can carry that forward to their classroom.

—> The ability to control their emotions plays a huge role in how they interact with the outside world. Self help tools like meditation, journaling and exercising go a long way in helping them stay centered when things are not in their control. Empower them these self help tools so they can align themselves in and outside the classroom.

—> Children who are assertive and the ones who can articulate their feelings better tend to be the ones performing better at school as well as socially. Encourage them to voice their opinions and stand up for themselves whenever they deem necessary.

—> Spend time and meaningful conversations with your children. Encourage healthy discussions about their feelings and emotions on the daily. This will keep you in the know of their mental state AND will give them a place to vent. Nurture your child’s self- esteem and encourage them to report bullying to you, teachers, coaches or school administrators.

—> Children understand better when they are communicated with clearly, about expectations and rules. Set guidelines and rules for screen time and online etiquettes.

—> Boredom is one of the reasons why children choose to spend unconstructive time online. Urge them to connect with friends and family instead. That way they are fostering connections as well. 

—> Parents are increasingly becoming busier. It is easy to loose sight of what is important when you are consumed with work priorities. Take time to keep a check your child’s online activity as frequently as possible.

—> Teach your children strategies to deal with uncomfortable situations with classmates and others.

Schools authorities and teachers are constantly making an effort to make this online time for our children as safe as possible, but not much can be controlled what they do post school hours.

Let’s empower our children with tools and blueprints for a surer, safer and constructive experience online.

Manasvi Mehta

Founder, Good Earth Citizen
good_earth_citizen
https://www.instagram.com/good_earth_citizen/

Introspection

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April 6th, 2021 >> COVID-19, Introspection

I find that, mostly during seasons of transitions, many of us go back to the drawing board and check in with ourselves, looking at what needs to be readjusted and what goals need shifting (Personal or otherwise). The COVID-19 Pandemic has been a catalyst for many of us to engage in frequent introspection. According to google, Introspection is defined as “the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.” Many of us have had to evaluate where we are, the work we do, and redefine our overall sense of purpose, because of the discomfort and vulnerability this pandemic has created.  Many have involuntarily lost so much, and during or after a much needed grieving season, we are getting back up with a revised lens through which we perceive life. 

In the late 1800s, Wilhelm Windt developed the original idea of introspection and his work later on, established the field of cognitive psychology (McLeod, 2008) Windt focused on 3 areas of mental functioning; thoughts, feelings and images. 

So why should we introspect? Dr. Poppenk of Queens university,  has found  that humans have more than 6,000 thoughts per day, by being able to identify the end of an old thought and the beginning of a new one. That number can be overwhelming and when we don’t take the time and effort to refocus our thoughts, we would be easily derailed by the fast paced life we live. As there is a toxic extreme of doing anything, there are toxic ways to introspect; which can lead us to feel anxious, and many other undesirable emotional and psychological discomfort. There is however a productive way to be introspective. A good place to begin, is by asking ourselves more “what” questions than we do “why” questions. According to Eurich, 2017, “why” questions tend to stir up more negative thoughts, while “what” questions keep us curious about ourselves, and draw us to a more positive future. 

According to a journal article “87 self-reflection questions for introspection” written by  Courtney E. Ackerman, there is a bank of questions we can use to begin and guide our introspective journeys. And for some, you will need to journal to help process those thoughts, feelings and images more intentionally. Some of these questions are to jump start the self reflection process, others are to get to know ourselves better. Here are a few you can start on…

  1. What have I given up on?
  2. What do I need to change about myself?
  3. What act of kindness was I once shown, that I will never forget?
  4. The words I’d like to live by are….
  5. Am I putting enough effort into my relationships?

Arguments with Neighbors

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February 6th, 2021 >> anger, Arguments with neighbors

Do you consider yourself as someone who argues a lot? Do you avoid your neighbors to reduce conflicts?

The word “argument” is best defined as, “an oral disagreement, verbal opposition, or discussion involving differing points of view.” Often when we think of an argument, thoughts of a person yelling or saying put-downs comes to mind. Arguments can take place in any person to person dynamic.

A team at Lund University studied the impact of arguments on health. They conducted a long-range study gathering data on ten thousand Danish adults ages 36-52 in 2000 regarding their relationships and social lifestyles. Individuals answered questions about conflicts with partners, children, other family, friends, and neighbors. They found that middle-aged adults who frequently argued with their partners were more than twice as likely to die at a relatively young age, compared to people who rarely fought. Frequent confrontations with friends were 2.6 times more likely to die prematurely than those who got along with their peers. Even more surprising, these researchers found a specific group with whom arguing should be avoided at all costs.  Can you guess who? Neighbors. Neighbors who argue are three times more likely to die prematurely than neighbors who get along. 

A study led by Keith Sanford from Baylor University sought to identify, what was most important to people during an argument. The two main underlying concerns during conflicts include: 

Perceived Neglect – one person feels as though the other is being inattentive or disloyal.

Perceived Threat – one person feels as though the other is being too critical or demanding. Here, the partner is hostile, critical, blaming, or controlling.

When neighborly conflict arises, it tends to be driven by these two perceptions and resentment can occur when conflict goes unresolved. A hostile environment can take place when blaming, being critical or judgmental is the main focus versus conflict resolution. Many times, unresolved conflict is about control rather than the act of treating someone badly. You must ask yourself are you arguing because you feel like you were wronged? Or are you being stubborn and justified because of this perceived wrongdoing?

So, what’s the solution? A great place to start would be to reduce the frequency of conflicts. Did you know that quarreling has been found to give rise to undesirable health conditions?

Since arguing affects our health, learning to communicate assertively will help to develop a longer lasting relationship and decrease the effects arguing has on our health.

The following are some strategies to reduce conflicts with neighbors:

  • LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND – Most times when arguments take place we often just want to be heard and validated. Therefore, just as you want to be heard, your neighbor does too.
  • PRACTICE ACTIVE LISTENING – “Fixing” or “Problem solving” may be a good strategy if your neighbor requests for a change. But if they are frustrated about something that cannot be changed, then practice active listening skills. Be a sounding board for the other person and encourage them to talk. Doing so will help them cope through the problem. They will sense that you’re considering their input.  
  • GIVE TIME AND SPACE In order to have a productive conversation, you’ll need to check in with yourself. If you’re really triggered, excuse yourself and let the other person know that you’ll need to return to the conversation on another day. Often both parties need a cooling down period.  Creating a space and time for this to happen can be beneficial so that effective communication can take place.
  • TAKE TIME TO PROCESS – During this time, process what’s bothering you and return when you’re ready to talk. Once you begin sharing your concerns, take turns communicating your experience and perception of the situation.
  • ADDRESS THE ISSUE NOT THE PERSON – The issue and the person are not one in the same. Focus on expressing your thoughts and feelings regarding the root of the issue or your need versus the person. Blaming the person can cause for communication to become stagnate and make the person defensive.
  • BE WILLING TO COMPROMISE – Sometimes being the bigger person and giving in is really winning. Keeping peace for the greater good can be what is needed to move forward.
  • BE SOLUTION MINDED – When discussing the issue, be open to explore solutions together. Offer some suggestions or actions you are willing on taking.
  • OFFER A KIND GESTURE – When a neighbor realizes that you are offering a kind gesture, they will sense that you have their back.  Perhaps to inform them about a package they have in front of their door, or to offer that you would be willing on checking their mail if they’re away on vacation.

Remember, these are your neighbors. You are bound to run into them frequently. Why would you choose the path of conflict when you can work together to have a peaceful and harmonious neighborly relation.