Cover Photo Credit: pixabay.com/photos/road-trees-snow-cold-ice-frost-4730553/
Fall and winter can be hard seasons to cope with year after year. Some get sad knowing that the end of the summer marks the time when the temperature and daylight begin to change. The winter blues typically starts in the fall and winter seasons, when daylight hours are shorter. Feeling the winter blues does not necessarily mean that you have a mental health condition. However, the best way to determine that answer is to consult with a mental health professional who can assess and recommend appropriate interventions about your thoughts and symptoms.
The fall and winter holidays can worsen these feelings for you. Memories of loved ones combined with cold weather and the early darkness in the sky does not help. Although Christmas is my favorite holiday, I do dread the dark skies and cold weather. You would think that I would be used to it being a Midwesterner, right? I am, but it does not mean that I do not want 90 degrees and an eternal summer (hello California). If your are overly consumed with your feelings and they are interrupting your daily living, or you are feeling hopeless and helpless, then you need more specialized care. I want you to pay attention to your symptoms. Personally, I conduct what I call "self-introspection" for myself especially in the fall and winter. What this means is that I focus on "self-checks" because I can get in my feelings and become annoyed and/or irritable with the darkness as the seasons change too. My personal self-introspections consist of the following:
You can do the same thing(s) in order to check your winter blues, and to begin to unravel where you determine the problems. The one issue that I repaired for myself this fall and winter is to exercise more often. I mentioned on a live video that I bought a walking treadmill. I use it daily, at minimal twice per day in 30 minutes intervals up to one hour. Soon, I'll be weight training as well. The other pattern that I repaired was to socialize more often with loved ones and friends. Like you, I get wrapped up in my immediate family and career that I am sometimes guilty of leaving out socializing with close friends and other family members.
Beating the Winter Blues
One thing that mental health professionals may fail to tell you is that you need to normalize your feelings. We are too busy diagnosing symptoms instead of humanizing your experiences combine with teaching you to cope better with them. Society tells us not to cry, especially men. Others will make you believe that feeling down, or having the winter blues, makes you weak or not as strong. I am sure that you have heard, "Suck it up" and move on. Not ok! There are people who seem to repress their feelings (yes, neurotic) and avoid them. Try not to do that because our bodies are designed to not only feel our feelings, but to handle them. What it cannot cope with is an overabundance of feelings because we withhold them. It causes chronic ailments (i.e., sickness, anxiety) and/or we learn to use unhealthy methods to make our bodies calm down (i.e., excessive drinking during the holidays). Instead, allow your body to manage your feelings and to let it become emotional. For example, if you have lost a loved one, why not cry if it hurts? If your girlfriend left you right before Thanksgiving, why not feel irritable about it? If you lost a job, why not panic and feel your rapid heartbeat or worry behaviors? Your Instagram smile is only real if you feel the joy that comes from it.
Sometimes, society can make us feel as if we are unstable if we mourn over a loved one for too long or show that life issues attack and hurt us (i.e., job loss). However, we feel better when we feel: "I just needed a good cry." Heard of that one before? I have many times and it works to restore balance within our bodies, as well as emotional stability. For example, I rarely get angry but when I do, I allow myself to feel it for as long as I need to until it starts to go away on its own. Disclaimer: Do not take your anger out on others. I internalize my anger, write it down, cry if needed, think, talk, and when it dissipates I am ok and feel better. You can allow yourself to feel the winter blues and recover from it. To help, add interventions to your end of the summer routine to help you prepare for your winter blues. Here are some recommendations that I share with my personal friends and family:
Our cookies made you smile, right? Training your brain during your winter blues can be easy. Focus on you first to inspect and determine where you need work, then make it happen. Along the way, make sure that you remind yourself that it IS acceptable to allow your body to heal by being emotional. (Cry when needed or punch a punching bag) Then, create a yearly plan to include interventions to prepare for your winter blues (this is no different than preparing for difficult family members at holiday parties). Once you increase your awareness of your winter blues, intervene, and prepare for it, you are learning more about yourself, your emotions, and ways to improve your winter blues. Most of all, your joy/happiness begins to surface which is what you want to happen not just in the fall and winter seasons, but for your lifelong journey.
Merry Christmas to You and Yours!
It is December 1st at 3:45am. Like some of you, I am just not sleepy or tired. Instead, I am thinking how many times did I have to "Let GO" of a person, job, and/or other things that seemed toxic in my life or did not fulfill me? Plenty of times from men to friends and in previous places of employment. Throughout the years I learned that self-satisfaction and happiness were priorities in my life. Not to mention, my self-satisfaction and happiness helped me to remove individuals and things that were not helpful. Sometimes it was hard, but necessary and worth it. When I reflect back, my choice to "Let GO" allowed me to receive the many blessings that came to me in the future. How did I "Let GO?" Life lessons is how I "Let GO" and learning from them as opposed to allowing myself to get sucked back into the same patterns and situations. Your life is your own journey and a testimony to others. There is no better time like the present to choose wisely and make changes for the New Year. We will discuss How to "Let GO," and what to do After You "Let GO!"
How To Let GO
Are you tired yet? Or, mad? If you answered no, then you will continue your unhealthy lifestyle. You can have what you want out of life if you change your thought processes. At times that means showing your emotions or allowing them to occur to feel distress. Many of you withhold your emotions as if there is something wrong with doing what the body does naturally - being emotional. On the other hand, changing your thought processes means setting new goals and following through with them. What's stopping you from letting go, but you? Let's explore a examples from comments that I have seen on social media to demonstrate how we can be toxic to ourselves with regard to our decision-making keeping us in bondage:
The inability to "Let GO" starts with why we remain in relationships and situations in the first place that causes us distress. This is influenced by a variety of things, such as our family history and childhood, personality traits, emotional connection, and societal expectations. We do form strong emotional bonds with others, and letting go may feel like losing a part of ourselves. My first heartbreak was in college and it was awful. Believe me, I understand. For some of us, letting go often involves stepping into the unknown, which can be intimidating. People prefer the comfort of the familiar, even if it is causing them distress. Investing a significant amount of time and effort into a particular relationship or situation may be a catalyst for staying stagnant in relationships and situations because it feels like acknowledging that the investment was not worthwhile. Some individuals may also feel societal pressure to maintain certain connections, even if they are no longer healthy. Letting go can be tied to their sense of self-worth or identity. The idea of moving on from a situation or person might be perceived as a reflection of personal failure or inadequacy. People may hold on because they hope that the situation or relationship will improve over time. The belief that things might get better can be a powerful motivator to persist despite challenges. This one can be dangerous as well, for a victim of domestic violence. Lastly, I know that once I was hurt in college, I did not want to go through the grieving process again over another person which caused me to stay in a relationship a bit longer although I knew it was not right for me. Letting go can be a process of grieving, especially if it involves the loss of a loved one, a relationship, or a significant aspect of one's life. Grieving is a natural and necessary part of the healing process.
What I did to Let GO was to start being realistic with myself while observing signs, symptoms, and patterns in people, jobs, and situations based upon what I learned from my previous failures. It is similar to keeping a mental rolodex about those things that gave me pause in relationships and situations. When they caused me to pause, I paid attention and started to think about what was happening. Pausing was used as a trigger for me to make a decision to stay and tolerate behaviors and issues or walk away without returning. A pause is an instinct not to be ignored. I stopped denying my instincts and leaned into them which is how I learned to "Let GO" even in a place of employment. As of today, if I pause it means that my instincts are telling me to listen. Then, I do comply with them. If someone walks into your life with the same patterns that you had in another relationship and you recognize the toxicity, that is your signal to stop and not move forward with that person by letting go. Staying hurts you more than experiencing other options that can possibly give you the life that you deserve. Let GO!
After You Let GO
This depends upon the circumstances; however, the benefits exceed the potential outcome of staying in toxic situations. It opens you up to personal growth, emotional relief, space for new relationships and opportunities, increased self-awareness, improved physical and mental health, freedom from toxic relationships, acceptance of change, renewed focus on priorities, and inner peace. You will be an entirely new you while developing your personality and characteristics because,
I remember feeling panic when I found out that I was pregnant with my last child. I was surprised with an intense fear about giving birth at 41-years-old! On one hand, I could have said, "It all still works," but I thought... "How did this happen at my age?" I know, just go with it... Not to mention, my Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB-GYN) kept saying things to me like,
Ok stop! My attitude was, "I AM NOT OLD!" Haha. "Stop talking to me as if I am 80!" It drove me insane especially because I thought, my crap works! Most of all, the baby and I were just fine. Yeah, I was fertile so watch out folks once you hit 40! Also, please know that I adored my OB-GYN and she took very good care of my "old butt" over a decade ago. (If you are in St. Louis, I will link her information at the end of this blog). However, it was hard for me to believe that I was being considered as very advanced material age; I felt so good and healthy, I guess I just never felt advanced. Honestly, I ignored all of the noise about being at a very advanced material age and just cared for the baby and I as we traveled through the next 32 weeks. My pregnancy was smooth; there were no concerns, and I delivered a healthy baby. Amen!
"Old Dads," A Netflix Film 2023
I will not tell a lie. When I saw this film was released on Netflix, I did not not plan to watch it and Bokeem Woodbine is one of my favorite actors. For the life of me, I could not understand why Bill Burr and Ben Tishler thought of developing a comedy about old dads. I mean, men can have babies until they are 90-years-old if they want to but old moms take all of the physical risks associated in pregnancy after age 35, according to Cleveland Clinic. I mean, what do old dads go through that merited a film about it? Why did they choose men and not women? I went on and on with negative thought processes and irritated myself (laughing) because not only do I adore Bokeem, but I also like a good comedy. So, it made sense for me to watch it, and I did.
The movie definitely showed the differences between old dads and moms in general, and I was delighted for the producers to show old dad emotions during the pregnancy process. Dramatically done, yes, but expressed in every aspect of their situation. Nevertheless, it seems as if I was not too far off about my initial hesitation about watching the film. Old moms face the emotional aspect of being very advanced maternal age, but also the physical process of the pregnancy while old dads, the emotional portion of it. Old dads can certainly take the pregnancy just a shocked as we do, but the movie depicted them as being confused jerks which was odd to me.
I read a lot about child development in graduate school. During my pregnancy, I viewed many articles about how the age of mothers impacts children. I learned that advanced maternal age can have both positive and negative effects on children. Understand that the age of a mother is just one factor among many that can influence a child's development, and the impact of being an older mother varies from family to family. Here are some potential effects:
There are many factors that contribute to a child's development, and the age of the mother is just one of them. What matters most is the love, care, and support that old moms and dads provide to their children. A positive way of being supportive to older parents is to offer emotional support. Provide a listening ear and emotional support allowing them to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without judgment. Validate their experiences and acknowledge the challenges they may face as older parents. Respect their choices, try to avoid imposing your own opinions, and support their decisions.
"What If My Child is Aggressive at School but Not at Home?
Since I hear this question a lot from parents, I wrote this blog to help you to determine the cause(s) for your child's aggression at school. If the aggression is only occurring at school, then your child has some control over their emotional outbursts. The key to determining the catalyst behind your child's aggression at school, is to find out the events that leads up to the aggression. Or, what precedes the aggression? Is the aggression due to their academic courses being too difficult? How about being teased or bullied? Problems at home? Childhood aggression in school is challenging for both parents and educators; however, understanding the underlying cause(s) and taking steps to manage and reduce it is key to dealing with it at school. Feel confident because you can get to the bottom of why it is happening at school, and work with your child's teacher(s) to determine solutions.
Managing Aggressive Behavior at School
Let's discuss how you can manage it at school. One of the easiest ways to do this is to communicate with your child and school personnel. This may sound cliche; however, many parents are not asking their children about their feelings, experiences, and what may be triggering their aggression. Do this while encouraging open and honest communication with your child. This helps to ensure that they feel safe when opening up to you about their aggression. Make them consistently feel heard. Help them understand that they are loved. Give them that stability. Be a presence in the school and stay in contact with your child's teacher(s). Attend school open houses and parent-teacher conferences to learn from your child's teacher(s) about their academic status and behavioral concerns. Many parents are NOT attending these events! I started being an active school parent when my children were in preschool and you must do this as well. Besides, your children will remember and appreciate the support.
Next, I want you to observe their behaviors closely while paying attention to patterns and triggers for their aggression. Help your child to identify and process their emotions by recognizing and labeling their feelings. Encourage them to express themselves in appropriate ways and assist them with strategies to manage their anger and frustration, such as deep breathing exercises, counting to ten, or taking a break. If none of this helps to reduce their level of aggressive behaviors, then consult with your child's teacher(s) and school psychologist to help you assess the underlying causes and provide guidance. Work closely with your child's teacher(s) and school psychologist to address aggression in a coordinated way. Collaborative efforts between home and school are often effective. If your child's aggression is related to a specific disability or condition, consider working with the school to consider developing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that addresses their needs and provides appropriate support.
If you are need of a more structured approach to address and modify challenging and disruptive behaviors, you can request and approve a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) and Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) from the school psychologist. A BIP is a structured approach used in various settings, such as schools, homes, or clinical settings, to address and modify challenging or disruptive behaviors in individuals. BIPs are typically developed for individuals who exhibit persistent and problematic behaviors that interfere with their daily functioning and well-being. These plans are often used for children with behavioral disorders, developmental disabilities, or individuals with emotional or social challenges. Here's an overview of what a BIP entails:
A well-designed BIP is a proactive and positive approach to addressing challenging behaviors. It emphasizes understanding the reasons behind the behavior and teaching alternative, more appropriate ways of responding to situations. BIPs should be individualized and flexible, with the ultimate goal of improving the individual's overall quality of life and social functioning. Regularly assess your child's progress in managing their aggression. Adjust strategies and interventions as needed.
Rewards and Consequences
Make sure that you acknowledge and reward your child's positive actions and efforts to control their aggression. Positive reinforcement can motivate better behavior. On the other hand, clearly communicate consequences for aggressive behavior, and be consistent in applying them. The consequences should be reasonable and related to the behavior. Addressing childhood aggression may require time and patience. Be supportive, understanding, and willing to adapt your approach as you work to help your child develop more appropriate behaviors and emotional regulation skills.
Therapy for Childhood Aggression
Therapy can be an effective intervention to address the underlying causes and provide strategies for managing and reducing aggressive behavior. Each child is unique, so therapy should be tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. Therapy options that I typically recommend to help parents with childhood aggression starts with Behavior Therapy, as well as the other options outlined below:
Q33: "What Can I Do To Stop My Child's Aggressive Behavior?
You need to find out the reason(s) why your child is aggressive. Is the aggression only at home? School or daycare? Or both environments? These are a few questions that I initially ask parents whose children are deemed aggressive by them. Think about it for a moment: If your child is aggressive only at home and not at school, then your child probably has some control over their behaviors, right? Do you Understand? If not, let's break it down.
What helps most children behave at school? That's right, consequences. There are consequences at school, (i.e., no recess and in-and-out of school suspensions). Your children are aware of them resulting in them behaving better at school. If your child has minimal aggression at school, then what could cause them to show their aggression at home? There can be many answers to this questions; however, you may have a lack of consistency in your rules or how you deal with misbehavior, (I.e., discipline) or consequences for your child's actions at home. What are you rules? When they are broken such as with acts of aggressions, how do you handle them? Mishandling aggression causes it to increase at home and there are steps you can take to determine the triggers that cause the aggression at home as well as school.
What Is Childhood Aggression?
Daily, I observe aggression in children. I witness children throwing objects at their parents' heads and those parents allow it to happen. Sometimes, parents argue with and sound similar to their children about the behavior, as if they are having a tantrum too. Many parents report to me as if I judge them, and I DO NOT,
"I just don't want to spank (him or her)."
Attention: Spanking a child is NOT the only way to assert discipline or structure within your home and with some children, even a spanking will not work to improve their behaviors. One problem here is that discipline does NOT start when children are 4, 5, and 10-years-old. More than likely, you are positively encouraging and supporting your child's aggressive behaviors, unintentionally, (I.e., yelling which gives your child your attention nor holding them and cuddling after they have hit you to calm them). It's simple math: (Behavior) When they hit + I cuddle (attention reinforces negative behavior) = more hitting (aggressive behavior). Attention: Your child's teacher does not cuddle your child after an aggressive episode.
Childhood aggression refers to aggressive behaviors exhibited by children. These behaviors can manifest in various ways, ranging from verbal aggression (such as name-calling and shouting) to physical aggression (such as hitting, pushing, or biting). Childhood aggression is a complex issue with multiple potential causes and contributing factors. When you support these type of behaviors, they continue and increase as children age.
Tip: Children are cute and cuddly as toddlers; however, they do grow up and you do not want this behavior from a 16-year-old teenager in your home.
On the other hand, some degree of aggression is considered normal in childhood, especially in early childhood. It can be a part of a child's emotional and social development as they learn to navigate their feelings and interactions with others. However, it should decrease as a child matures and learns more appropriate ways to express themselves. While some level of aggression is typical in childhood, persistent and extreme aggression can be concerning. Warning signs may include severe physical violence, cruelty to animals, a lack of remorse or empathy, and other disruptive behaviors. Childhood aggression. has been researched by Psychologists for many years and most agree that it can take place in various forms, including:
To stop aggressive behaviors, it takes work. It is challenging, concerning, and the approach to ending them needs to be systematic and goal-directed. Pending the age of your child, remember, improving their aggressive behaviors can possibly take several years. You cannot ignore aggressive behaviors. You need to unravel or undo the behaviors that were created and that is not something that can be done in a day. Addressing childhood aggression is crucial to help children learn more appropriate ways to express themselves and resolve conflicts.
What is Your Parenting Style?
I know that learning to deal with aggressive behaviors can be exhausting; however, this is also the reason that I suggest to parents to start early with developing appropriate feelings and behaviors within their children. Do not allow aggressive behaviors to continue due to your child having a disability, being young, or thinking that it is a cute behavior that kids "just do." I have heard it all and collectively, your parenting style can be a catalyst for how your child learns to deal with their feelings. Parenting styles refer to the general approaches that parents use to raise their children. These styles are characterized by the attitudes, behaviors, and strategies parents employ in their interactions with their children. These styles can have a significant impact on a child's development, behavior, and overall well-being.
Several prominent parenting styles have been identified and studied by Psychologists. These styles can have a significant impact on a child's development, behavior, and overall well-being. Here are four commonly recognized parenting styles, though not fixed categories include the following:
You, as a parent, may use a combination of these parenting styles and if you do, you are modeling those inconsistencies to your child. Your behavior directly impacts your child's development and behavior, and it is confusing for your child. Why? For a few reasons: Mixed Messages, inconsistent boundaries, emotional confusion, and conflicting expectations. When children receive conflicting messages from their parents about what is expected of them, it can lead to cognitive dissonance. For example, if one parent is permissive and allows a behavior while the other parent is more authoritarian and punishes the child for the same behavior, the child may not know which rules to follow and act out. Better yet, play the two of you against one another. My children tried this behavior when they were younger; however, we remained a united front against them and that type of manipulation against us.
Inconsistent parenting also causes unclear boundaries in children. Children may not understand where the limits are and how they are expected to behave. This inconsistency can lead to frustration and anxiety for children. Different parenting styles may also create emotional confusion for children. For instance, if one parent is emotionally distant (uninvolved parenting) while the other is emotionally responsive (authoritative or permissive), children may struggle to understand and regulate their own emotions. When parents have different expectations for their children's behavior, children may feel pressure to meet both sets of expectations, even if they are contradictory. This can create stress and anxiety for the child.
Some children will learn to adapt to your type of parenting styles or a combination of them, by becoming skilled at reading each parent's expectations and adjusting their behavior accordingly. While this adaptability can be seen as a strength, it can also lead to a lack of authenticity or a sense of not being true to oneself (they will say, "I do not know who I am). Children may use the differences in parenting styles to their advantage by playing parents agains one another or manipulating situations to get what they want. This can lead to power struggles within the family. When inconsistencies are extreme or lead to confusion and emotional turmoil, work together to establish a more consistent and coherent parenting approach.
How Your Parenting Style Impacts Your Child?
You are raising an adult and not a baby. Believe me, children do grow up and you want to them to productive citizens. This will not occur if you do not teach them how to cope with their aggression. We all had to learn! One incorrect decision can cost your child a significant amount of consequences, (I.e., physical aggression or fighting at school, harming others, and incarceration). You can cause them to have difficulty making decisions when they receive mixed messages in how the world will deal with their aggressive behavior. For example, your child cannot attend school and remain overly aggressive. Your school will stop that behavior and it may not be the type of consequence that. you agree with; however, other children, as well as school staff need to be safe. I have sat in enough manifestation hearings, school suspensions and expulsions, and worked in alternative schools to know that these are real consequences for students who cannot handle the traditional classroom settings. This is also true for students with disabilities. And Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will only guard aggressive children for so long and even then, they will have consequences for their aggressive actions. By allowing aggressive behaviors in your children, they may also become uncertain about what they should do in your home causing indecisiveness and/or anxiety. Ignoring the problem can ultimate lead to feelings of insecurity in children. They may grow to feel as if you are not a reliable source of support and guidance, which can impact their self-esteem and confidence.
No One Teaches Us How To Parent
You are correct! It is a learn on the fly skill; however, allow your instincts to drive your decisions. You know that society will not accept childhood aggression because you are fully aware of the consequences. Every family is unique, and what works for one family may not work for yours. Be adaptable and tailor your approach to your child to their specific needs and circumstances. Parenting is a highly personal and individualized journey, and there are some general principles and strategies you can use to become amore effective caregivers. Consider some of these options:
When I was in my doctorate program, I learned about cult behavior. I also studied behaviorists such as Bandura, Skinner, Pavlov, Thorndike, and etc. Bandura and Thorndike are my two favorites not only because they were involved in the future of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), but because I firmly believe that our behaviors are learned and begin in childhood. Everything that we learn, as I always say on social media and to parents, begins on the playground in elementary school. I grew up in psychology learning about play behaviors such as rough and tumble, solitary, and imaginative play. If you observe children on the playground, you can discover why negative behaviors in children occur including bullying, as well as the type of children who follow bullies. The followers of bullies and children who played solitary were most interesting to me in graduate school.
My mother constantly reminded me, "Have your own mind Lisa," "Be a leader and not a follower Lisa," and most importantly, "If your friend jumps off of a bridge, are you going to follow them?" I would always answer, "no" and she would reply, "Exactly." I did not realizing then how significant the latter would mean in my life as I grew into an adult. My mother was adamant about prayer, creating your own path, using your own mind, having your own wealth, and making good choices. I mimic the same principals with my own children.
As a parent, I was never perfect and neither was my own mother. However, she wanted me to understand my worth. In return, I wanted to firmly instill in my children that they sure loved themselves, understood their worth as I do. Of importance to me is that my children will NOT compromise their integrity, especially for another person, and that person should not ask them to either.
My mother gave me the foundation to study behaviorism; unknowingly, as she was shaping my behaviors. Once I became a mother and studied psychology with a new baby in graduate school, I would often mentally regress back to the lessons that I learned from my mother and on the playground as a child. While some children gained more skills with how to bully others, and the followers seemed weak and ignorant, I also observed how manipulation led to power. You see, even then there were certain characteristics of children who conformed to bullying behaviors and almost worshipped them.
Once I was taught the psychology behind conformity in graduate (doctorate level) school, I put the pieces together. What is happening in politics with regard to behavioral norms including cult-like behaviors is not new, nor is it a mystery. Group polarization seems to be central theme in American politics right now meaning, less independent thinking and more attitude change due to the influence of the group. Making the best choice for a group is not as important than following a specific leader despite that leader's actions. Yet, here we are in American politics and we should be embarrassed about our current political state.
"I am embarrassed."
A consistent question that I see on social media that I am paraphrasing is, "Why do some people's behaviors in politics seem cult-like?" My response is that many of these individuals are opportunists, compromise their integrity, and that it is all theater. However, that does not address the question. Some of the behaviors shown in the news do remind me of behaviors that I studied surrounding joining cults. Cults meaning, the impression of worshiping a person and/or following a person despite their actions, (e.g., I see the wrongdoing, but I am going to follow that person regardless of their actions because it benefits me). Cults, also known as new religious movements or high-demand groups, are typically characterized by their charismatic leaders, rigid belief systems, and high levels of control over their members. Remember the phrase, "Don't drink the koolaid?
First, let's explore the reasons why your political observations may seem similar to cult-like behaviors. People join cults for a variety of reasons which can be deeply personal and complex. Some common factors associated with joining cults are written below, and I underlined those behaviors that may specifically address your political cult-like behavior questions:
The Psychology Behind Cult Behavior
Now do you understand why some individuals are vulnerable to cults? See the "behavioral" component? Let's add psychology to it and how it applies to cult behavior. The psychology behind cults is a complex and multifaceted topic that involves various psychological factors that contribute to the formation and functioning of cults. I typically start discussing individuals who join cults with the exploitation of needs. Cults often target individuals who are going through personal crises, searching for meaning, or seeking answers to life's questions. They offer solutions and a sense of belonging, and cults exploit these vulnerabilities to attract new members. They prey on social influence to manipulate and control their members, including peer pressure, groupthink, and the desire to conform to the group's norms and beliefs. Other psychological behaviors used to attract others into cults include the following:
How To Stop Cult-Like Behaviors
Stopping cult-like behaviors is complex and needs to address psychological, social, and emotional factors. Many of you are concerned about this topic in politics and it can be a sore spot in discussions during events as well. Consider the following steps if you want these behaviors or discussions even in politics to improve:
The process of addressing cult behavior requires empathy, understanding, and careful communication. If you believe the person's safety is at risk, do not hesitate to involve relevant authorities or professionals. Ultimately, the individual has the right to make their own decisions. Even if you disagree with their choices, respecting their autonomy is important for maintaining a healthy relationship. Leaving a cult or a political belief can be a long and difficult process. Be patient and understanding, as the individual may need time to recognize the problems and make their own decisions. Individuals who join cults are not necessarily weak or gullible. Many cult members are intelligent, capable individuals who have been gradually drawn into these groups due to a combination of factors. Understanding these factors can help prevent individuals from falling victim to manipulative tactics and encourage early intervention when someone is showing signs of involvement in a potentially harmful group.
Caution: I am very blunt in this blog. If you cannot take the heat, kindly move on...
Were you shocked by the "Alabama brawl" because I was not; not even by Black people coming to the defense of the co-captain from the Harriet, II, as well as those who were bystanders. Every Black man that I asked said, "Yes, I would've helped them." Not one would have stood by and watched as the co-captain was assaulted and battered. If you were surprised that a group of White men jumped that single Black man, then you are living in a bubble. How many times do Black people need to tell you all that these incidences frequently occur?
We, Black people, just have technology on our sides now. Some of you can see it in real time as we do from the videos shown, however, many of you still deny that racism, even systemic racism exists. The rest of you justify these thuggish acts against Black people with comments such as, "He shouldn't have moved their boats," though you are unaware of the unspoken rules or courtesy given to one another in the boating world. Not to mention, the fact that when you lay hands on a Black person in 2023, you better be ready for the outcome. At least, that is how we feel in the Black community.
So, why were so many black people cheering as the white men were given a good beat down? I saw this question repeatedly on social media. It is because, it's about time! When you walk through life without dealing with this type of unfairness or violence toward you due to you skin color, you lack the comprehension and understanding about how it feels. Yes, I've been through it and once it turned into a physical altercation. Admittedly, it did not end well for the White women who felt entitled enough to TRY to throw hands toward me. You saw the white chair right? OK. This behavior occurred another time in a former place of employment from systemic racism to microaggressions, and a doctorate degree did not save me from it. It was so bad at one point that I coined the term, "White Girl Syndrome" because I noticed certain and consistent behaviors that White women displayed that protected them from the consequences of their behaviors, (i.e., victim mentality, whining, and tears), including police involvement or racism. Today, we call the behavior being a "Karen." You all have seen this behavior numerous times on video with them on the phone with the police complaining about others, especially Black men. When the White woman in the purple shirt from the Alabama brawl was arrested for her assault and battery toward the co-captain, many Black women smiled and said, "Good," including me because she needed to be held accountable for her actions.
I do not need to explain racism, that's obvious. However, we can apply the behavior seen in the brawl not only to past history but how Black people are still mistreated in 2023, (i.e., employment, housing, and police brutality). This brawl was a prime example of White entitlement including the fact that the aggressors were given only misdemeanor charges and no charges for federal hate crimes. If 9 Black men jumped 1 White man, the criminal charges would have been worse for the Black men. No need to debate this point, we all know it is true because the criminal justice system has never been equal between Whites and Blacks, nor has it been fair.
In the case of the Alabama brawl, millions of people initially observed the Black men (only) in hand cuffs as the White men casually walked to their boats, however, we don't want to talk about that point... But, we are discussing it in this blog because White people are so used to turning the other cheek and getting away with bad behavior that walking away after their assault and battery toward the co-captain was normal for them. That is "White entitlement" or the societal advantages and privileges that White individuals experience due to their racial identity. It is rooted in historical and systemic factors that perpetuate unequal power dynamics and opportunities based on race. This is also how racism manifested in this situation, as evidenced by all of the White people from the pontoon boats walking away as if nothing happened. Not to mention, the fact that they ignored a huge riverboat attempting to dock in its designated space with over 200 people on it. Here is what I want you to learn about White entitlement:
How White Entitlement Hurts Black People?
If you DO NOT believe that this behavior occurs to Black people, then you are sadly mistaken, and we are tired of it. White entitlement can have various negative impacts on Black individuals and communities due to its role in perpetuating systemic racism and unequal power dynamics. Some of the ways that White entitlement harms Black people include the following:
After reading this section, you should have a better understanding about why the Black people helped the co-captain, then we all laughed, cheered, celebrated, created funny memes, and etc after watching the videos of what happened. Forget the disclaimer, "I do not condone violence" because sometimes, we all must defend ourselves. Besides, everyone likes it when the bully on the playground gets his or her ass kicked. Or in this case, the entitled White men and women who jumped the co-captain. Believe me, their violent choice was not only something they have been wanting to do to a Black person, because it was far too easy for them to be violent toward the co-captain (Cue: "Try that in a Small Town"), but they were raised with this mentality. They could have killed the co-captain! They had no remorse or empathy, and had zero issues with harming another person. THIS is the mentality that Black people have dealt with for decades from racist White people and live with daily.
Hello DeSantis, that is Black History, which cannot be erased or viewed as a benefit to Black people...
In the case of the brawl, I think someone neglected to remind the White folks that it is 2023, ironically, in Montgomery, Alabama. (Cue: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
White Entitlement and Mental Health
White entitlement can have implications for mental health, both for those who benefit from it and for those who are marginalized by it. The psychological impact on mental health for Black people is due to the constant exposure to White entitlement and systemic racism on Black individuals, including stress, anxiety, and feelings of marginalization. The ramifications of White entitlement on Black people is typically coined, "paranoid" or being overly "sensitive" about what we perceive as racial injustice. That is how society, especially some White people, make themselves feel better about what they observe and know to be true about White entitlement or privilege.
Have you ever asked a White person why they ignore racism or White privilege? I have plenty of times and it has been the same response; either, "You have more privileges than I do a a Black person," or "I do not see color." Both responses are wrong and allows them to ignore the racial divide and problems within our society. Although some White individuals actively work against racism and are allies in efforts to promote equality and social justice, for many of them, it evokes feelings of guilt or responsibility, especially if individuals recognize that they benefit from systemic advantages. Some might choose to avoid these feelings by ignoring the issue altogether. Racism has been normalized over time; some individuals might view it as an unfortunate but unchangeable aspect of life, leading them to accept it rather than challenge it. For others, it makes them uncomfortable and emotionally charged and they avoid these conversations to prevent discomfort or conflict. Allow me to make you uncomfortable:
For Those Benefiting from White Entitlement:
For Marginalized Individuals Impacted by White Entitlement:
How to Overcome White Entitlement
Black people never had the privilege of being entitled, which is why Affirmative Action was so important. No whatsboutisms for this one because Black people are privileged. Introspection, communication, and education can challenge and improve White entitlement. In doing so, take the time to reflect upon your own experiences and biases and challenge them, educate yourself about the history of racism to gain a deeper understanding, listen to the stories and experiences of Black people with empathy and a willingness to learn, rather than asserting your perspective, dismantle your ignorance, engage in uncomfortable conversations, overcome your defensiveness to grow, amplify the voices of marginalized individuals, work to combat racism and the systems that perpetuate racial inequality, support policies geared toward racial justice, surround yourself with diverse perspectives and individual from different backgrounds, acknowledge mistakes, continue to learn, and promote diversity. Overcoming White entitlement is a journey that requires dedication, humility, and openness to change. It's about recognizing your role in a larger system and actively working to contribute to positive change and equality for all.
My Exhausting Conclusion
A White man said to me, "What about all of the Black people who harm White people?" "Did we make that viral in the media?" This is the type of response and behavior that correlates with this blog. He turned the Alabama brawl into a "whataboutism" or, a counteraccusation along with the "victim" mentality which is the typical behavior of a White person with White entitlement. He saw the videos as we all did, but wanted to debate about the history and percentage of Black violence toward White people in America.
My Response: I need you to check American history 1st, then address me with that same non-sense mentality.
I am all for open conversations about the Alabama brawl as well as White entitlement; however, I have my limits. Until White people, such as the man above, recognize the existence of White entitlement as being a type of privilege, we cannot foster an understanding, addressing systemic racism, and promote a more just and inclusive society. White individuals must acknowledge one's own privileges, challenge their discriminatory behaviors, and actively support efforts to dismantle systemic racism. Moving toward a more equitable society involves dismantling structures that perpetuate White entitlement and is a crucial step toward fostering a more just and equitable society.
The mental health implications of White entitlement are factual, empirically proven, and clearly impacts all of us. If you benefit from White entitlement, use self-reflection and education about privilege to challenge your biases. For Black individuals, seek support through therapy, our community, and advocacy to help address the mental health challenges stemming from White entitlement. Ultimately, dismantling the harmful effects of White entitlement can positively impact the mental health of Black people. We need a break!
Wives versus Girlfriends
I listened, observed, and read countless opinions from women about Darius Jackson's comment toward his lovely girlfriend, KeKe Palmer in July, 2023. One of the most striking issues was the debate amongst women regarding the responsibility she has to him... as his girlfriend. In other words, whether or not he had the right to expect her to dress a certain way in public, though she is not his wife. As a woman who is now in her 50s, having been a girlfriend and a wife, and with two daughters, this argument was intriguing to me. ONE of my initial responses to Darius's tweet was, "My daughters better not have the mentality of wearing clothes to please their boyfriends; they wear what they want, and boyfriends do not get to dictate that point!" Boyfriends are not husbands and yes, it is different when you are married. The Red Flag here is the belief that there is no difference between the responsibilities of being a girlfriend versus those of a wife. I agree with the comments about Darius's tweet that mentioned, "She is not his wife," and it was presumptuous of him to believe that she needed to wear clothing pleasing to...him, not to mention sharing it with the world (that's another Red Flag blog in and of itself).
Personally, one of the reasons that I never wanted to cohabitate with a man was due to what I call my, "single-woman mentality." Or, the belief that cohabitation will cause me to perform "wifely-duties" before my time. I did not want that responsibility as a single woman, nor did I want to take care of a man. This was my thought process in my early 20s and 30 years later, I am glad that I had it and do pass it on to my own children. I used to get very confused with people who would enter my life back then, and want me to dress and look a certain way - for their pleasure. As a single woman, that was not an option that I gave to them, and would dismiss them quickly from my life. Too controlling - Red Flag! Once I was married, however, I understood that husbands and wives may have preferences for one another and they should respect them, which was different from my responsibilities while being single. If you are clueless about the Darius-KeKe situation, here is an article for your perusal from MSNBC in July, 2023:
The topic, "Wives versus Girlfriends" is sensitive and personal, as it involves relationships and societal norms, and can vary greatly depending on the individuals involved. However, there are differences that may exist between wives versus girlfriends:
Where are the Red Flags?
When reading the blogs, articles, and comments about the Darius-KeKe situation, the main Red Flag that I consistently read in comments was, "Being a wife is NO different than being a girlfriend." Yes, there IS a difference, but I am also aware that many women are content with being what I call a "forever girlfriend." However, this type of satisfaction in relationships can be a Red Flag for both parties in the relationship for various reasons, depending on the context and the individuals involved. A "forever girlfriend" refers to a situation where a woman is involved in a long-term, committed relationship with another who consistently avoids or resists the idea of getting married or taking the relationship to a more serious and formal level. There are some Red Flag concerns raised about this type of relationship dynamic such as,
Is Being a Wife or Girlfriend Better?
I also saw this debate between women: "Being a girlfriend is better; no, being a wife is better." Ladies, you have your own opinions based on your experiences. Opinions and preferences vary and what one person values in a relationship might not be the same for someone else. Some women hold the stance that being a girlfriend is a better choice for them possibly due to:
With that said, I am a wife. It is a different responsibility and concern for my spouse than for a man that I dated or who was my boyfriend many years ago. There are advantages and benefits to being a wife over being a girlfriend. I have written about the business side of marriage versus being in-love with your spouse on this blog; however, I did not mention that I also see marriage as being advantageous in these areas as well:
Ladies, To Conclude...
It's essential to remember that a successful and fulfilling relationship is not solely determined by marital status. Whether someone chooses to be a wife or remain a girlfriend, the most important factors are mutual love, respect, trust, communication, and compatibility between the partners. Each person's path to happiness and fulfillment in a relationship is unique, and it's crucial to respect and support the choices that individuals make based on their personal values and circumstances.
The dynamics of each relationship depend on the individuals involved and their personal choices. Some long-term unmarried relationships may mirror the commitment and stability of marriage, while some marriages may lack emotional depth and commitment. The labels themselves do not define the quality or depth of a relationship; it is the love, respect, and understanding between partners that truly matters.
Communicate openly and honestly in any relationship to understand each other's desires, goals, and expectations. If one partner wants a more committed relationship and the other partner is unwilling to meet those needs, it may be necessary to reevaluate the relationship and consider whether it is best to move forward together or go separate ways. Every individual deserves to be in a relationship where their needs for commitment, security, and happiness are respected and fulfilled.
Every person's perspective on relationships is influenced by their experiences, values, and individual preferences. What matters most is that both partners in a relationship are on the same page about their commitment level and the direction they want the relationship to take. Open and honest communication is crucial to understanding each other's feelings, expectations, and goals to build a healthy and fulfilling relationship, whether as girlfriends or spouses. Compromise is key in relationships, pending the expectations established between couples. Most of all, keep your feelings about your relationship, OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA!
Recovering from Red Flag Relationships
I hope that you are better able to identify red flags internally, as well as spotting them in your relationship after reading my last two blogs. Pay attention to red flags to avoid repeating the same cycles which cause toxic relationships. Recognize red flags and determine if your relationship is toxic. You have a duty to protect your mental and emotional health. You can avoid negative behaviors, lack of respect, and an unhealthy dynamics in your relationships which can cause serious emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical consequences. You deserve to be in a relationship that brings positivity and fulfillment into your life.
Recovering from red flag relationships can be a challenging process, believe me, I know. Whether you are the red flag in your relationship or your partner, it is possible to heal and move forward in a healthier way. It takes self-reflection, support, and commitment to personal growth. One of the greatest gifts that I gave to myself was learning how to love me. This experience included being alone for a very long time to understand myself which caused me to improve and upgrade my choices in relationships. My process was simple and it worked for me. You can tailor my suggestions to suit your beliefs, personality, and lifestyle. Here’s what I did to assist with my own journey:
• I prayed over myself and my future marriage. I added everything that I wanted in a partner. I also wrote it all on paper and placed it inside of my bible. I actually went back and took the paper out of my bible and added, “And he must know how to cook.” Then, I put it back and never took it out again or thought about it. I decided that I would no longer worry about relationships. I let go.
• I thought, when someone comes into my life, I will be healed. I am going to be happy. Letting go of hurt, pain, and other emotional baggage opens you up to possibilities instead of you being closed off to opportunities. When you are emotionally drained, exhausted, anxious, or sad due to past conflicts and negativity, you will put those feelings before new ones. Acknowledge and validate your emotions. Allow yourself to process the emotions you may be experiencing and give yourself permission to grieve the loss of the relationship or the disappointment caused by the red flags.
Be Open to Healthy Relationships
• As you heal and grow, be open to the possibility of healthy, supportive, and fulfilling relationships. Remember that not all relationships are the same, and with increased self-awareness, you can make more informed choices moving forward.
Establish Healthy Boundaries
• Reflect on the red flags you observed in past relationships and use this information to set clear and healthy boundaries for future relationships. Learn from your experiences and identify what you will not tolerate in a partner or relationship moving forward.
Learn from Your Experience
• Use the red flag relationship as an opportunity for growth and self-awareness. Reflect on what you have learned about yourself, your needs, and your boundaries. Identify any patterns or behaviors that may have contributed to the unhealthy relationship and work on improving them.
Focus on Self-Care
• Prioritize self-care activities that nurture your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques, exercise regularly, and ensure you are getting enough rest.
Take Your Time!
• Stop using other relationships to heal. All you are doing is masking your pain while padding more relationships problems onto an already broken person (you). This behavior is toxic. Do not rely on others to make you happy. Healing from a red flag relationship takes time, and it's okay to take things at your own pace. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself the space and time needed to heal and move forward.
Seek Support from Loved Ones
• Reach out to friends, family, or a support network to talk about your experiences and feelings. Sharing your thoughts and emotions with others can provide validation, understanding, and perspective. I am a huge fan of sharing feeling, thoughts, and behaviors with trusted friends; however, they are not mental health professionals and do not have the skills to monitor your mental health or assist you in recovering. Still, many of you will rely on unskilled friendships and family members since therapy will require you to,
The Path to Recovery
Recovering from a red flag relationship is an ongoing process. You may have setbacks or difficult moments along the way. Be kind to yourself and remember that healing takes time. Focus on your growth and well-being, and with time and support, you can build healthier, more fulfilling relationships in the future. Indicators to know that you are on the path to recovery include:
You can be done with red flag relationships and move towards healthier, more fulfilling connections. Break free from red flag relationships and focus on building healthier relationships in the future. Remember that prioritizing your well-being and personal growth is a continuous journey.
Red Flags in Relationships
Although it did not take me a long time to identify "Red Flags in Relationships," it surely took me awhile to learn to walk away from them. I am no different than all of you, especially in my early 20s. You see, I had a boyfriend that I loved a lot and it took me a few years to cut him loose. He was a liar and a cheater. I took him back a few times because I believed in him more than I did myself. However, he pissed me off one final time and I was done. I did not look back. You know what that did for me? It allowed me to not only prove to myself that I could let love go, but that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for AND I learned to love me.
After that moment, I fully grasped the ability to run away from negative relationships and I kept it. After reading this blog, I want you to get to the point where you can spot red flags, internalize them, and make the best decision for your life, and not the other person. To do this, hopefully you read Part I of this red flag blog series to understand yourself better. Now for this blog, lets first determine if you are the type of person in relationships who...
Does one of them seem like you? I was Florence Nightingale in relationships and wore "helper" on my forehead, as do most individuals in the psychology field. This difference with me is, I took it off! Men aggravated me enough to the point where I was done with them for a long time! When I was ready to date again in my early 30s, I taught myself to observe, listen, wait/pause, and focus on myself. I also finished school and enjoyed being alone.
You will learn everything you need to know about your significant other if you are quiet and listen. After I learned this, if I spotted what I perceived as a red flag, (and I did), no matter how hard it was, I let the person go. I was true to myself before developing any emotions for another. Does it mean that you will be free of mistakes? Of course not because you are human. Understand that gathering evidence does not cause you to choose perfect relationships. However, t equips you to become more aware of what you will accept while getting to know someone. So the next when your radar goes off, it is much easier to accept someone as they present themselves and move on. if you encounter a red flag. Proper preparation!
Let's start by identifying some red flags in relationships. This is to maintain and protect your well-being and ensure your future healthy connections to others. Here are some common red flags to watch out for:
How To End Red Flag Relationships
Paying attention to red flags in relationships is essential for your well-being and the health of your relationship. Red flags are warning signs that indicate potential problems or unhealthy dynamics. Concluding red flags in relationships involves making a decision about whether to continue or end the relationship based on the presence of significant warning signs. Here's what you can do to help make the best decision for you:
Determining how to deal with red flags in relationships is a deeply personal decision, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Trust your instincts and prioritize your well-being. No relationship is perfect, and people can exhibit occasional negative behaviors. However, if you consistently notice multiple red flags or a pattern of concerning behavior, it may be necessary to reassess the relationship and prioritize your well-being. Trust your instincts and DO NOT ignore red flags. You want peace in relationships...