Diversifying Your Life Portfolio

eggs-in-one-basket

Ever since I was a child, my mom always taught me not to put “all my eggs in one basket.”  This is a life lesson that resonates with me and I have tried to impart that lesson on younger friends and family.  But more and more lately, I have noticed people around me are overinvested in one area of their lives or the lives or their children as a measure of life success. 

“I will work 60 hours a week to be the best sales manager,” “My son/daughter will spend three-four days practicing (soccer, football, softball) and playing all weekend at games to be the best (fill in the blank),”  “I have to become Ashley’s BFF or no one will like me,” etc…

Before I get the angry emails from well-meaning parents of sports-minded children, please understand that I am not implying that is wrong in the least.  What I am asking is “Have we created a society terrified of losing?”  Pope Francis wrote a piece on the 10 Steps to Happiness in which he stated, “Consumerism has led to the anxiety of losing.”  Are we overinvesting in one area of our lives because we are afraid of we aren’t the pinnacle in one area, we aren’t anything at all? 

I am a firm believer in diversifying talents and time with friends and family as a coping mechanism for life’s natural cycle of beginnings and ends.  Everything will come to an end…school, friendships, jobs, lives.  However, if we spend the time to teach our children, friends and family that we are meant to utilize each and every unique skill we have in different capacities, the endings become the resilience we need for new beginnings. By doing this, we not only find out the richness of our own abilities and self worth but we also expand the possibilities for a more diverse, tolerant society.

When we don’t put all our (talents, relationships, intention, attention) in one basket, we see what we are truly meant to be without the fear of losing who we thing we are supposed to be.

-Cheryl L.

Creative Solutions to Cyberbullying

cyber bullying

I don’t know about you but I sure have a love-hate relationship with the internet. I love how it connects us with ideas, increases our knowledge, improves our opportunity for success, connects us with friends and acquaintances, and improves our ability to network and touch more people. What I don’t like about technology and the internet is that it creates a divide in face-to-face contact, decreases our connection with others, and allows some people the false sense of protection and an increased comfort zone to impulsively speak out and attack others. The cyber-world, unfortunately, can be a place where some feel empowered and boosted up to gang up against others and say some mean things. Both kids and grown ups are susceptible to this type of behavior called “cyber-bullying.” Cyber-bullying is defined as the use of information technology to harm or harass other people in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manners. The topic has been newsworthy in recent years because of stories about young individuals across the nation who have harmed themselves due to ongoing cyber-bullying, yet there are so many more people who have fallen prey to this bullying who have not had the publicity (and luckily still can have the support to help intervene and stop the attacks). That’s where we can come into play…

Our world is changing, technology is getting faster, and the use of the internet and social media is not going to slow down. People, education, and business are using technology for all forms of communication. According to cyber-bullying statistics, over 50% of adolescents have reported being bullied online and 1 in 3 young people have been threatened online. It seems as though, without an increase in awareness and intervention in our neighborhoods, schools and communities, these statistics will only increase. That leaves it to us (you, me and our communities) to take a proactive role in making sure that this is not our future. A friend shared a really neat article that was posted in the Huffington Post recently about a middle schooler her applied for the 2014 Google Science Fair. She created the idea of an alert system that would ask teens to rethink their actions before posting anything harmful online. Her study found that when participants were given an alert asking them to rethink their actions before potentially posting something hurtful, there was a 93% reduction in the number of adolescents willing to post abusive messages. Wow, that is pretty awesome! You can check out more about this science fair project here — Teen Creates Awesome Science Project That Could Help Stop Cyberbullying.

Reading the article about the young lady who thought of a way to actively combat cyber-bullying made me realize we can all actively participate in this discussion, and positively influence the prevelance of online bullying. Just because people hide behind a smart phone or computer screen to say things to people, does not mean we ever need to be okay with it. I want to continue to love the internet and social media, although that means (for me) negativity needs to be minimized online. There is so much positive that can be had through sharing ideas and knowledge via technology. I hope you take the time to read this article and it sparks some discussion of how you can contribute to decreasing online bullying through sharing creative solutions and ideas you might have. Just think, your ideas might just save someone, and who knows what the world could be like with all of our ideas working together.

-Alex W.

Please see below for more reading on the topic:

stopbullying.gov

cyberbullying.us

A Peek Behind The Curtain Of Depression

peek

This week was my turn to speak to you all about the building blocks of self-esteem, character building and leadership and I had another topic planned…until late this afternoon (August 11, 2014).  I was in my living room getting ready to go to work when I heard the news report stating the Robin Williams died of an apparent suicide.  My heart drops even now writing those words.  A man that has undoubtedly touched the lives of millions of people worldwide with his talents and spirit lost hope for another day.

Immediately, seemingly well-meaning people sound off with their words of “suggestion” and others judgment on how Mr. Williams could have dealt with his soul wrenching pain or how people with suicidal ideation can “reach out” to people for help.  I choose to believe each and every one of these people truly believe their words are truth and will help those in need in the future.  However, people under the veil of depression are consumed with the warped picture the illness has created in their minds.  It is important to understand that depression is a physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual condition.  Therefore, it is a serious health concern that needs to be addressed by a trained professional (social worker, therapist, psychologist…).  A good example is that you wouldn’t tell a person with diabetes, “Lay off the sugar and you should be fine”.

What qualifies me to speak about depression and somewhat lecture on this health crisis?  Other than the fact that I am a MSW (Masters of Social Work) and work with people with depression frequently in my line of work…I too struggle with anxiety and depression.

I have been told since I was too young to know better that I should be able to “snap out of it,” “stop worrying,” “stop crying, you have nothing to cry about,” etc.  I can’t speak for everyone with depression because like any other condition, it manifests differently in different people but hearing those words made me feel weak and insignificant.  I usually explain depression to my patients and families like a cult that has to brainwash you so that you can’t hear the truth about your amazing, unique self and then the next natural step is isolation.  That beast, depression, can’t live unless you are isolated (not necessarily physical but in your mind) from the people and activities you love.

This brings me to my main point of writing this blog post.  I am wildly passionate about reaching out to people who are thinking about taking their lives, reaching my arm down the black hole of depression and sharing in the struggle with them to get themselves out.  I think that is where the disconnect is in American society.  We ask people already struggling to get out of bed in the morning to reach out for help.  By the very definition of the condition, the physical/mental/emotional energy is not there.  I am challenging the readers of this blog to think differently about depression and suicide.  Let’s not wait till we lose another icon or loved one.

Often times, you will hear friends and family of the person who committed suicide say “There were no signs”, “We were just at dinner like always”, etc.  There are usually some clear signs of depression, if you are attentive and invested.  Once again, it is a good time to remind you that if you notice a friend or a loved one exhibiting signs of depression and/or suicide ideation (thoughts and verbal plans to hurt themselves), please contact a mental health professional.

I am asking you all to join me in lifting some of the stigma of depression/suicide and reach out to our loved ones that are hurting and feel alone.  No one should think there is no hope in tomorrow.  RIP Mr. Williams and the millions that left too soon before you.  Please give them a hug for me and tell them their lives were not in vein.  We will see a better day for those struggling with depression.

Take good care,

Cheryl Lvovsky

Depression and Suicide Resources

What Are Symptoms of Depression?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Taken from WebMD, August 11, 2014

Warning signs of suicide with depression include:

  • A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
  • Losing interest in things one used to care about
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • Saying things like “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”
  • Talking about suicide (killing one’s self)
  • Visiting or calling people one cares about

Remember, if you or someone you know is demonstrating any of the above warning signs of suicide with depression, either call your local suicide hot line, contact a mental health professional right away, or go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

Taken from WebMD, August 11, 2014

 

Mental Health Professionals available

  • Suicide Hotline                                                                1-800-784-2433 (1-800-Suicide)
  • NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates  Speaking with NAMI members (individuals living with mental illness and family members) can be a good way to exchange information about mental health professionals in your local community. You can find your state or local NAMI organization at www.nami.org.
  • Primary Care Physician (PCP)  Your primary physician or pediatrician is an excellent resource for making recommendations and referrals to a mental health specialist or therapist in your area.
  • Your Insurance Provider  Contact your insurance company for a list of mental health care providers included in your insurance plan.
  • American Psychiatric Association (APA) – The APA can give you names of APA members in your area. Find your state branch online, consult your local phone book or call (703) 907-7300.
  • Psychiatry department at local teaching hospital or medical school.
  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW)  NASW has an online directory of clinical social workers. Visitwww.socialworkers.org and click on Resources or call (202) 408-8600.
  • American Psychological Association (APA)  The APA can refer to local psychologists by calling 1 (800) 374-2721.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services SAMHSA has an online database of mental health and substance abuse  services and facilities in each state. Visitwww.samhsa.gov/treatment and click on Mental Health Services Locator.

Taken from NAMI.org, August 11, 2014

Winning Isn’t a Measure of Success… Improving Is

betters

I had an idea of a blog post in mind yesterday but as I was driving into work today, I heard the most insightful NPR piece, “When Kids Start Playing to Win,” on children’s development surrounding competition, winning, and the frustrations and potential low confidence that comes from comparing yourself to others. I must share this radio piece because it is insightful, has incredible nuggets of truth, and hopefully, will be mind opening to you.

When Kids Start Playing To Win

Great, great piece to read or listen to for an alternative approach to growth, confidence, and measuring success (see link below). One family shares that at age 5, when their son loses, it has a devastating effect on his self-esteem. What is emphasized is that when kids start to compare themselves to others, they are setting themselves up for losing self-confidence. That it’s important to compare yourself to your previous self as a marker of success, and no one else — looking for improvement as a measure of success rather than winning or beating someone else. 

Please enjoy this gem!

-Alex W.