Unhealthy Methods of Self-Soothing

Dysfunctional Self-Soothing Habits

Unhealthy Methods of Self-Soothing

This year has been incredibly stressful. Between COVID19, BLM movement, political unrest, racially police killings, salary losses due to budget cuts, and so much more; we find ourselves trying to cope with trauma, stress, and manage our relationships in unique ways. We do the best we can, while trying to stay strong for ourselves and our family – in isolation. Social distancing aka isolation has been challenging for those who desire in person connections. In addition to the new challenges of the pandemic in 2020, the burden of stressors have increased exponentially. Thus, we look for ways to manage our stress which we think will make us feel better; and it does momentarily. We find that we have to engage in these methods more and more to achieve the desired effects of self-soothing, in order to manage our stress. Some common ways of unhealthy self-soothing include:

  • Spending money incessantly. Raise your hand if you have been engaging in more retail therapy to deal with stress. Has Amazon or online shopping in general has become your new best friend? There is something about clicking a button and having something brand new delivered to your house the very next day that is gratifying.
  • Substance abuse. In order to escape the emotional turmoil or relax after a long day, we may come to pour several glasses of wine or perhaps even smoking marijuana. Drugs and alcohol allow us to emotionally escape and feel numb, if even only for a little while. Before you know it, what was once an occasional indulgence turns into an everyday ritual.
  • Emotional eating or abstaining from eating. Food is easily accessible and affordable in most cases. We use food to comfort us when feeling distressed. Feeling upset – eat ice-cream, feeling stressed out after a long day at work – order pizza. We often turn to carb and sugars to make us calm down, relax, or just to feel good in general. On the other hand, there are those who stress out so much that they stop eating altogether. Stress has exacerbated them so much mentally that they physically lose the desire to nourish their bodies.
  • Spending excessive time at work. On the surface, spending a lot of time at work can appear to be a good thing. You feel like you are overachieving, staying productive, and dedicated to getting your job done. By digging a little deeper, one can see that spending copious amounts of time at work is a defense mechanism where one may be attempting to avoid problems at home. Spending time at work becomes a welcome escape to not have to deal with issues at home.
  • Using Band-Aid tactics to fix relationship problems. Instead of addressing relationship problems with our significant others or family members, we use other things to move on past the situation quickly. Some examples include: buying material things, having a baby, taking a trip, relocating, or renewing vows just to name a few things. These things by themselves do not cause issues, however many people embark on these endeavors with the idea that this wonderful thing will fix all of the problems in the relationship.
  • Avoidance of conflict. Sometimes we may avoid conflict or having to deal with a difference of opinion. The way that we do this is by ghosting people or avoiding our obligations to them. With respect to ghosting, in this context, it does not reference toxic people that need to be cut off; but more of the people who avoid coming home after work, who avoid talking to their children or significant others just because they don’t want to hear their problems, problems in the relationship, or deal with the stress of someone else in general.
  • Projecting blame onto others. To avoid dealing with our own issues within our lives, we take it out on the person that is closest to us. We may be a little more edgy, irritable, or pick irrelevant fights with the ones that we love, simply because they are there.
  • Depending on others to fix responsibilities. We avoid our responsibilities altogether because we are so checked out or overwhelmed. We procrastinate and put things off. We may look to our significant others or someone close to us to fix it for us, thereby creating a relationship that is codependent.
  • Self-harm. When someone has difficulty coping with emotions, sometimes they feel better through engaging in activity that physically help them to release pain. Self-harm can come in may forms such as hitting, burning, cutting, scratching yourself.
  • Sex. Sex can be a release. It can come in many forms from masturbation, pornography, hooking up with strangers and various other things that we do to quell anxious energy and fulfill the needs of instant gratification.
  • Gambling. Gambling is another impulsive activity that is easily addictive and can cause you to get caught up in instant gratification – that is until you lose. Some people who engage in gambling are so caught up in the high of winning or winning potential, that they find it difficult to stop and face reality.
  • Refusing to be proactive in problem-solving and leaving it up to a higher power or chance to fix issues. There are those that choose to leave problem-solving to luck, God, prayers, or karma. You’ve probably heard some of these before “give it to God, he will take care of it” or “all we can do is pray about it” or even “karma is a bitch.” While not disregarding the power of a higher being or beliefs about chances in life; there is a dismissiveness about sitting back and not being proactive about problem-solving. Sometimes life requires more than just prayer or karma, and let’s not forget – if you believe in God or some other higher power; there are tools that are placed in your life to help you be more proactive in dealing with things in life.

If this blog resonates with you and you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC to see how we can work together through counseling, consulting, or coaching, or other media projects please click here for a consultation. Please note that advice is not given during a consultation, and that potential counseling clients must be a resident in California.

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Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for treatment with a licensed mental health professional.

© 2021 Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC. This blog falls under the intellectual property of www.drnataliejones.com, and should not be copied without the writer’s consent. Please use the appropriate social media tabs to share the blog.

Working While Black – 9 Signs of Microaggression in the Workplace against African American Women

Working While Black – 9 Signs of Microaggression in the Workplace against African American Women

A common stressor that occurs among African American women in a workplace is microaggression.  Microaggression is defined as a subtle statement, action, or incident which discriminates and is prejudicial against a racial or ethnic minority and is often utilized to make people of color feel inferior. It is often overlooked or dismissed by White counterparts, because the aggression is not always obvious nor is it obvious how it causes the person who is being aggressed against feel. Here are some signs that you are experiencing microaggression on your job.

1) It doesn’t feel good going to work. Your body is typically going to alert you in several different ways when something or someone isn’t good to or for you mentally, spiritually, psychologically, or physically. The way in which this shows up with respect to microaggression is that you dread going to work, and the feeling intensifies over time. This may show up in ways which you dismiss or minimize initially. Some signs to look for are inability or reluctance to get out of bed, anxiety, depression, or feeling stressed or lack of motivation when thinking about your job, avoidance of certain people and situations. This is your body’s attempt to alert you that you don’t feel as though work is a safe space.

2) African American women are referred to as aggressive or hostile when expressing job concerns that goes against the toxic workplace mentality or management. African American women who advocate and express concerns are often referred to as aggressive or hostile – which is a condescending way to describe someone opinion that you may not agree with. It is also utilized as a control tactic to try and demonize someone with good intentions and has a desire to bring about positive change in the workplace. This tactic is utilized to make someone become more submissive by suggesting that they are a bad person or that they are difficult to be around. This also encourages triangulation, where more than 1 person is encouraged to align with non-Black counterparts against the woman of color. This tactic is an attempt to make a black woman feel inferior, that her opinion/voice doesn’t matter, disliked, or as though her job may be in jeopardy for expressing a valid or different opinion or concern.

3) White counterparts reword your ideas and opinions and are praised and given credit for originality. It can be a magical occurrence really – your idea or opinion that you expressed, which wasn’t well received by management or no one cared to acknowledge, is expressed by a White colleague who is treated as though their train of thought is new and genius. Absolutely nothing changed was changed from the idea that you came up with except for the race of the next person who re-stated it. When trying to reclaim credit for your idea, it falls on deaf ears. It can be an additional shock, when the person who restated your idea or point is actually aggressive, yet their aggressiveness is not addressed.

4) Feeling invisible. In the predominantly White workspace, it can seem as though you don’t even exist when you aren’t acknowledged. When an African American woman speaks to a White co-worker, and doesn’t get a response (e.g. saying good morning, and not receiving any acknowledgment back). What’s more, is the co-worker will speak to others in the room with no issue. n that occurs when you speaking to White counterparts where it seems as though you are non-existent.  Another example of African American women being ignored on the job, is when their emails and other communications are consistently ignored by management.

5) Guardedness or the perception that you are being scrutinized more. Often African American women feel the need to be guarded and hold their work to a higher standard. There is often the perception that your work is being scrutinized more or the threshold is lower for job termination. Some women feel that their work is also reviewed closer or more scrutinized than their counterparts. This perception comes from comments, warnings, emails, and documents advising that their work needs to be reviewed or modified in some way. Another form of microaggression, is when management may go to another non-Black and requests for them to give feedback about the African American woman’s work performance or behavior. This can also be viewed as triangulation. Because there is a concern about excessive scrutiny, African American women often overcompensate by doing extra work.

6) There is refusal to address you by your title, role, or work role given is often inappropriate. Another form of microaggression occurs when non-African American coworkers or managers refuse to address African American women who have a higher degree, such as PhD or MD, by their title instead referring to them as Ms. By refusing to call an African American woman by her title, it considered disrespectful and it is a power and control tactic, designed to make them feel inferior or level the dynamics to make the non-African American co-worker feel equal. Still other Black women experience being assigned inferior work roles that allow them to maximize their potential. Thus African American women are passed over for leadership opportunities, and higher paying jobs.

7) Inappropriate comments made about hair, attire, names, mannerisms African American women among colleagues. African American culture is one where in which the public is scrutinizing and tries to conform to White standards of culture. There are still students being expelled from schools for wearing their hair in locks, and there were also recent news reports of teachers cutting off a student’s braids. It is not uncommon for African American women’s hair, names, speech, and style of dress to be discussed in a condescending manner among work peers. Questions asked about their differences can also be shameful in nature. Examples of insensitive comments about African American women’s hair include: “is your real,” “can I touch your hair,” “how much does it cost to do your hair?”

8) Cultural differences are seldom addressed. There is education on cultural sensitivity of marginalized groups in most workplaces. However, in those discussions of cultural sensitivity or competence as it is frequently referred to – African American women are infrequently referenced in groups in which people need to be more sensitive or appropriate to.

9) Little support is offered when there is racial disparity or discrimination experienced on the job. When the ideas of racial differences or aggression is brought up by those who have experienced it, experiences are dismissed, or no one wants to discuss those experiences for fear that there is too much controversy around racial matters.

Despite African American women experiencing microaggression on the job, they are still very resilient. It’s unfortunate that microaggression is something that is still an issue of discomfort for people of color, however the more that we start safe conversations around the issue, the more we can address it.

Disclaimer: This blog was written for educational purposes only and is not meant to be definitive or utilized in place of therapy with a licensed professional. This blog was written by Dr. Natalie Jones, and cannot be reproduced without consent of the writer.

© 2019 Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC

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Deadly Killer of Relationships: The Inability to Ask Your Partner Questions

Deadly Killer of Relationships: The Inability to Ask Your Partner Questions

Deadly Silence In a Relatioship

Inability to ask your partner questions or discuss issues in the relationship

When you are in a relationship, communication is essential. Part of learning about your partner is being able to talk to them about likes/dislikes, past relationship history, goals, and problems. This is part of building an emotionally and psychologically healthy relationship. Asking your partner questions helps you get to know your partner, establish trust, boundaries, intimacy; as well as learn about your partner’s communication style.
There are quite a few people who have a difficult time asking partners questions. Some believe “ignorance is bliss.” The inability to or refusal to ask your partner questions is a red flag. The red flag indicates overarching themes: 1) that you don’t know your partner, and your partner doesn’t know you, 2) abuse is involved, and 3) one or both partners have difficulty dealing with reality. Here are some problems that are symptomatic of the inability to ask our partners questions in the relationship.
1) You don’t know the person you are in relationship with: Part of getting to know a person is spending time with them and getting to know them by asking questions. If you aren’t asking them questions, that means that you don’t know that person, which means that you are in a relationship with a stranger. Being in a relationship with a stranger, is taking a huge risk because that means that you don’t really know anything about them beyond superficial information.

2) Trust: Trust is another piece of foundation of the relationship which is also acquired by couple getting to know each other. When you trust someone completely, you are comfortable with sharing your most vulnerable secrets with that person and vice versa. Not being able to discuss vulnerabilities will cause you to doubt whether your partner is being truthful and loyal.

3) Inability to problem-solve: Part of discussing of learning how to address issues that arise in the relationship is being able to ask your partner questions about what went wrong, and how they would like to problem-solve the issue. Inability to address the issues that arise in relationships, causes them to increase exponentially. Avoidance or refusal to answer questions about problems that arise in the relationship, will ultimately lead to the destruction of the relationship.

4) Walking on eggshells: Inability to talk to our partner often causes feelings of distress. We become conditioned to feel as though “I can’t talk to my partner, or they will leave.” Thus a fear of rejection or failure develops. We think that our partner will leave us if we pose questions or indicate that there are problems. Thus, we sit silently, and agreeably as though things are okay, trying not to rock the boat.

5) Abuse: Inability to ask questions in the relationship can be an indicator that we are not safe or abuse will occur if we try to do so. If our partners do not allow us to ask questions or become abusive when we try to inquire or problem-solve; this is psychological abuse. Inability to discuss problems because our partner has become volatile emotionally, physically, or verbally is a safety and security issue.

6) Emotional Instability: There are times when we find it difficult to explore issues or problems with our partners because we don’t know how to manage emotions. We could be afraid of our own or our partners, or a combination of both. Thus, we become fixated on avoiding emotions and discussions in our relationships because we aren’t sure how to handle them or what to do with them. For some, it’s easier to avoid, than to feel like we failed.

7) Living in a fantasy: There are a lot of people who are focused on an end goal in a relationship, such as getting married, having children, or living happily ever after – or something along those lines. However, sometimes we get so caught up in what we want that we forget about the steps that are necessary to get there. For some, they believe if our relationship sounds, feels, or looks good – even if it’s only for the moment, then nothing else matters. They forget that real relationships take work. It’s just like when we were in grade school, and our teacher wanted to see how we solved our math problem, as opposed to just seeing the answer. We need to do all the work to effectively solve the problem was effectively addressed.

In a truly healthy relationship, you should be able to ask your partner questions and problem-solve. If this is an area with which you struggle, please contact me today to see how I can help you get back on track in your relationships.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog was written by Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC. The content of this blog is written for educational purposes, and should not be substituted for treatment with a licensed mental health professional. If you would like more information on how to become more impowered and learning how to speak up for yourself, email me at admin@drnataliejones.com to book a consultation for a therapy session.

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