An Instruction Manual for New Parents on Newborn Care

After a successful pregnancy, labor, and delivery, you’re now prepared to take your new family home and start a new chapter in your life. However, after you get home, you might think you have no idea what you’re doing! You are acting in complete ignorance! Even the most anxious new parents can soon feel comfortable taking care of a baby thanks to following advice.

Getting Aid Following Childbirth

During this stressful and overwhelming period, think about seeking assistance. Speak with the professionals nearby while you are in the hospital. Many hospitals employ lactation consultants or feeding specialists who can assist you in starting to breastfeed or bottle-feed. Nurses may demonstrate how to carry, burp, change, and care for your baby, which is another fantastic resource.

You could choose to engage a postpartum doula, a baby nurse, or a respectable neighborhood adolescent to assist you for a short while following the birth if you need in-home assistance. Your doctor or the hospital may be able to direct you to home health agencies and assist you in finding information about in-home care. Family and friends frequently wish to assist as well.

Care of a Newborn

The fragility of infants might be frightening if you haven’t spent much time around them. Observe the following fundamentals:

Before touching your child, wash your hands or sterilize them with a hand sanitizer. Because they don’t yet have a robust immune system, newborns are vulnerable to illness. Make sure everyone who comes in contact with your kid has clean hands.

Support the head and neck of your infant. When you are carrying your infant, support the head and cradle it. When you are laying your baby down, support the head.

Never, under any circumstances, whether anger or play, shake your baby. Brain hemorrhage and possibly death might result from shaking. If you need to wake your baby, tickle them instead of shaking them.

Bonding and Calming

One of the most enjoyable aspects of caring for an infant is certainly bonding, which takes place during the delicate period in the first few days and hours following delivery when parents form a close bond with their child. An emotional connection can be facilitated by physical proximity.

Infants’ attachment influences their emotional development, which influences other aspects of their development, such as their physical development.

The presence of a parent or other responsible adult in a child’s life is essential for their development.

Start your bonding process by cuddling your infant and giving him or her gentle strokes in various patterns. You and your partner can also benefit from being “skin-to-skin” by cradling or nursing your infant close to your bodies.

Babies, particularly those who are premature or have health issues, may respond favorably to infant massage. Certain massage techniques may improve bonding and aid in the growth and development of infants. Ask your doctor for advice. Infant massage is covered in many books and DVDs. However, be cautious because babies lack the strength of adults, so massage your baby lightly.

The vocal noises that babies typically enjoy are talking, chattering, singing, and cooing. It’s likely that your infant will likewise enjoy music. Other effective techniques to boost your baby’s hearing include baby rattles and musical mobiles. Try singing, reciting poetry and nursery rhymes, or reading aloud while gently swaying or rocking your baby in a chair if they are being fussy

Some infants may be extremely sensitive to touch, light, or sound; they may also scream more frequently than usual, sleep for shorter periods of time than typical, or turn their faces away when spoken or sang to. Keep noise and light levels low to moderate if that applies to your baby.

Another calming technique first-time parents should learn is swaddling, which some newborns respond favorably to during their first few weeks. When done correctly, swaddling prevents a baby’s legs from moving too much while keeping their arms tight to their bodies. Swaddling a baby seems to give most babies a sense of security and comfort in addition to keeping them warm. Additionally, swaddling may lessen the startle reflex, which might awaken a newborn.

The Whole Diaper Story

Before bringing your new child home, you will probably choose between cloth and disposable diapers. Whichever method you choose, your child will need new diapers roughly 10 times per day, or 70 times per week.

Make sure you have everything you need before changing your baby’s diaper so you won’t have to leave your child unattended on the changing table.

Lay your infant on his or her back and take off the soiled diaper after each bowel movement or if it is damp. To gently clean your baby’s genital area, use a washcloth, cotton balls, and water. You can also use baby wipes. Boy diaper removal should be done with caution as exposure to the air may cause him to urinate. To prevent a UTI, wipe a girl’s bottom from front to back when wiping her (UTI). Apply cream to stop or heal a rash. Always remember to fully wash your hands after changing a baby.

A typical problem is diaper rash. Warm showers, diaper cream, and some time out of the diaper usually help the red, bumpy rash to disappear in a few days. The majority of rashes occur as a result of the baby’s sensitive skin being irritated by the wet or poopy diaper.

Try these suggestions to treat or avoid diaper rash:

As soon as your baby has a bowel movement, change their diaper as quickly as you can.

Apply a fairly thick layer of diaper rash or “barrier” cream after gently cleaning the region with mild soap and water (wipes can occasionally be unpleasant). The best creams are those that contain zinc oxide because they provide a barrier against moisture.

Wash your cloth diapers in detergents devoid of dyes and fragrances if you use them.

Allow the infant to spend some of the day alone. This enables the skin to breathe.

Call your doctor if the diaper rash lasts more than 3 days or appears to be getting worse; it can be a fungal infection that needs to be treated with a prescription.

Basics of Bathing

You should give your infant a sponge wash until the umbilical chord is cut, and the navel fully recovers (1–4 weeks)

In the first year, a bath two or three times per week is acceptable. Bathing more frequently could dry out the skin.

Before bathing your child, get the following ready: a soft brush to stimulate the baby’s scalp a soft, clean washcloth mild, unscented baby soap, shampoo towels or blankets, a fresh diaper and fresh clothing.

Sponging: Choose a safe, flat surface (such a changing table, floor, or counter) in a warm area for the sponge bath. If a sink or bowl is available, fill it with warm (not hot!) water. Baby should be stripped of clothing and wrapped in a towel. Start with one eye and wipe it from the inner corner to the outer corner of a clean cotton ball or washcloth soaked with water only. To clean the second eye, use a fresh washcloth corner or an additional cotton ball. Use the wet washcloth to clean your child’s ears and nose. Then dampen the cloth once again, gently wash the person’s face with a little soap, and pat it dry.

Next, make a lather using baby shampoo, gently wash your child’s head, and then rinse. Gently wash the remainder of the infant with a moist cloth and soap, giving close attention to the creases in the genital region, behind the ears, under the arms, and around the neck. After washing those areas, make sure they are dry before dressing and diapering your child.

Bathing in tubs: The initial baths for your infant should be gentle and brief when they are ready for tub baths. Return to sponge baths for a week or two if the person gets angry, then try the bath once more.

Burping and Feeding Your Infant

You might be unsure about how frequently to breastfeed or bottle-feed your child. In general, it is advised to feed babies whenever they appear hungry, or on demand. Your infant may cry, put his or her fingers in their mouths, or make sucking noises as a cue to you.

A newborn infant need feedings every two to three hours. Give your infant the chance to nurse for roughly 10 to 15 minutes at each breast if you’re breastfeeding. Your infant will likely consume two to three ounces (60 to 90 milliliters) of formula at each feeding if you are formula feeding.

To make sure they feed enough, some infants may need to be awakened every few hours. If you need to wake your infant frequently or if they don’t seem to be interested in sucking or feeding, call the doctor.

It is simple to check that your kid is eating enough when you use a formula, but nursing presents some challenges. Your baby is most likely getting enough food if he or she appears full, changes approximately six diapers, passes several stools, sleeps soundly, and gains weight consistently.

During feedings, babies frequently swallow air, which can make them irritable. Burp your child frequently to aid in preventing this. If you bottle-feed or breast-feed, try burping your child after 2–3 ounces (60–90 milliliters) or whenever you switch breasts.

Try burping your infant after each ounce when bottle-feeding or every five minutes when breastfeeding if they frequently have gas, have gastroesophageal reflux, or seem fussy during feeding.

Use these burping suggestions:

Hold your infant up straight, placing the child’s head on your shoulder. With your other hand, softly pat the back of your infant while supporting the head and back.

Place the infant on your lap. With one hand, support your baby’s head and chest by placing the heel of your hand on their chest and cradling their chin in the palm of your hand (take care to grab their chin, not their throat). Your baby’s back should be softly patted with the other hand.

On your lap, place your infant face down. Gently massage or rub your baby’s back while supporting his or her head, making sure it is higher than the child’s chest.

Before feeding your baby again, if they haven’t burped after a few minutes, switch the baby’s position and try again. When feeding time is finished, always burp your baby and then keep him or her upright for at least 15 minutes to prevent spitting up.

Getting to Sleep

If you’re a new parent, you might be startled to find that even while your baby seems to need you all the time, they actually sleep for at least 16 hours each day.

Newborns often snooze for 2-4 hours at a time. Expect your baby to wake up if they haven’t had food in four hours because babies’ digestive systems are too small to allow them to sleep through the night (or more often if your doctor is concerned about weight gain).

When should you anticipate your child sleeping through the night? At three months old, most babies sleep through the night (for six to eight hours), but if yours doesn’t, it’s not a cause for alarm. For this reason, if your infant is gaining weight and seems healthy, don’t get discouraged if he or she hasn’t slept through the night by three months. Babies, like adults, must develop their own sleep cycles and routines.

Baby should always be put to sleep on their backs to lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Other safe sleeping habits include sharing a bedroom (but not a bed) with the parents for the first six months to a year, and not putting blankets, quilts, sheepskins, plush animals, or cushions in the crib or bassinet (these can suffocate a baby). To avoid the development of a flat spot on one side of the head, be sure to rotate your baby’s head from night to night (first right, then left, and so on).

The days and nights of many babies are “mixed up.” During the day, they are more tired, while at night, they are more awake and attentive. Reduced stimulus at night is one method to assist them. Use a nightlight or keep the lights dim overall. Keep your baby’s conversations and activities for the daytime. Try to keep your baby awake a little bit longer by talking and playing with him or her when they wake up during the day.

Although managing a newborn may make you feel uneasy, in a few short weeks you’ll establish a pattern and be parenting like a pro! Ask your doctor to suggest services that can help you and your baby grow together if you have any questions or concerns.

Based on: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/guide-parents.html

New Support for a Serotonin Deficit in Depression

Source link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/12/221215120730.htm

Since the 1960s, researchers have postulated that major depression stems from disruptions in the serotonin neurotransmitter system, but the evidence for that idea, though plentiful, was indirect. In fact, a recent comprehensive analysis of existing studies concluded that there was not strong evidence to support the “serotonin hypothesis.” In its wake, some in the field have called for a reexamination of the hypothesis. Not so fast, says a new study that provides direct evidence of disrupted serotonin release in the brains of individuals with depression.

The study appears in Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier.

Depression is among the most common mental illnesses and causes of disability worldwide. Despite the lack of direct evidence for disrupted serotonin signaling in the depressed brain, medications used to treat depression overwhelmingly target the serotonin signaling system to increase extracellular serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). Only about half of patients respond to antidepressants, and fewer than 30% experience total remission. A better understanding of 5-HT dynamics in depression could help guide more effective therapies.

“Our thinking about the role of serotonin in depression has evolved significantly over the past decade. We once thought that serotonin changes could account for the entirety of depression. When this simple hypothesis could no longer be supported, some were inclined to dismiss any role for serotonin in depression,” said John Krystal, MD, editor-in-chief of Biological Psychiatry. “The current study provides important new support for further exploration of the role of serotonin in depression. This is particularly timely, as drugs targeting serotonin receptors, such as psychedelics, are being explored as potential new treatments for mood disorders.”

The study, conducted by Invicro, a global, imaging contract research organization, in collaboration with researchers from Imperial College London, King’s College London, Copenhagen University, and the University of Oxford, used a novel imaging technique to look directly at the magnitude of serotonin released from neurons in response to a pharmacological challenge. In previous work, these researchers pioneered the use of positron emission tomography (PET) with the radioligand [11C] Cimbi-36 to detect serotonin release. In the current study, the researchers applied this methodology to compare serotonin release in 17 patients with depression and 20 healthy individuals.

David Erritzoe, MRCPsych, PhD, lead author of the paper, said, “This study used a new and more direct method to measure serotonin in the living human brain, and the results suggest reduced serotonin (release) functioning in depression. This imaging method, in combination with similar methods for other brain systems, has the potential to help us to better understand the varying — sometimes limited or even lacking — treatment responses that people with depression have to antidepressant medication.”

Participants with depression and healthy controls underwent PET scanning with [11C] Cimbi-36 to measure 5-HT2A receptor availability in the frontal cortex; the two groups did not differ significantly at baseline. Both groups then received a dose of d-amphetamine, a stimulant drug that works to increase 5-HT concentration outside of neurons, where it interacts with 5-HT2A receptors and reduces the binding of [11C] Cimbi-36. In a second scanning session three hours after drug administration, healthy control participants had significantly reduced 5-HT2A receptor availability, indicating an increase in serotonin levels. Participants with depression, however, did not show a significant decrease in binding potential, suggesting they had a blunted serotonin release capacity in key brain regions.

The study found no relationship between the severity of depression and the extent of serotonin release capacity deficits. Of note, all patients were free of antidepressant medication, and 11 out of the 17 had never received antidepressant treatment, indicating that low serotonin release capacity is a feature of depression rather than a result of antidepressant treatment.

This first direct evaluation of serotonin levels in the brain of individuals with depression is a major step forward in laying to rest the speculations questioning the involvement of serotonergic neurotransmission in the pathology of depression. Depression is a multifaceted disorder that may have multiple causes, and different subtypes may involve multiple neurotransmitter systems. Serotonergic dysfunction is unlikely to explain all the clinical features encountered in this disorder. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates that serotonergic deficits are present in unmedicated depressed individuals.

Eugenii Rabiner, MBBCh, FCPsych SA, at Invicro and senior author of the paper said, “It has taken our field over 20 years to develop a method that enables the measurement of serotonin release in the living human brain. I am very pleased that we managed to develop this method and apply it to clarify this important aspect of the pathophysiology of depression. I hope that we can use this technique in future to explore the different symptoms of depression, as well as serotonergic deficits found in other conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease.”

Journal Reference:

1. David Erritzoe, Beata R. Godlewska, Gaia Rizzo, Graham E. Searle, Claudio Agnorelli, Yvonne Lewis, Abhishekh H. Ashok, Alessandro Colasanti, Iro Boura, Chloe Farrell, Hollie Parfit, Oliver Howes, Jan Passchier, Roger N. Gunn, David J. Nutt, Philip J. Cowen, Gitte Knudsen, Eugenii A. Rabiner. BRAIN SEROTONIN RELEASE IS REDUCED IN PATIENTS WITH DEPRESSION: A [11C]Cimbi-36 PET STUDY WITH A D-AMPHETAMINE CHALLENGE.Biological Psychiatry, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2022.10.012

Social Media: ‘Everything You Do Is Wrong’

Source link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/thinking-about-kids/202212/social-media-everything-you-do-is-wrong

Anxiety and defying common sense feed clicks.

“Throwing balls to your dog teaches obsessive behaviors and will cause permanent damage to their bones and joints.”

That was the last straw.

Loki, my pandemic pup, is involved in a lot of dog sports. He is a natural at FastCAT racing, we do Rally obedience, he’s training to be a therapy dog, and he can do dozens of silly pet tricks. My social media feeds are filled with posts about dogs. Most of them tell me what an awful pet owner I am.

  • You’re talking to your dog too much.
  • The popular leash you use for walks in the woods will kill your dog and cause permanent scarring.
  • Common high-end pet foods will poison your dog.

And the one that just pushed me over the edge—throwing balls to my dog will cause him irreparable harm.

Why Does Social Media Feed Fear?

I was recently interviewed by the Washington Post about parenting. Specifically, several experts, including myself, were asked about “sittervising.” Yes, it’s just what it sounds like—watching your child while sitting down instead of playing with them or obsessively following them around the playground. In other words, letting them play.

All the experts said, “Yup, good thing. Kids need some space.” The author of the piece, myself, and seemingly all of the commenters’ reaction to this new parenting trend was the same: “Well, duh.”

Yet “sittervising” hit several major newspapers and has been trending on Instagram and TikTok since August. Why?

The answer is clicks. The same reason that my feed is filled with scary warnings that perfectly normal things sensible dog owners do are dangerous.

The Stranger the Better

Think about these three headlines:

  1. Dogs need daily exercise.
  2. Feeding dogs too many treats can lead to vomiting.
  3. Throwing balls to dogs causes obsessive behavior.

Which would you click on?

Headline 1 is something you probably know—it doesn’t make you curious and it isn’t worrying, so you’re unlikely to seek more information.

Headline 2 is worrying, but not really surprising. I might click to see what they mean by “too many.” (I was surprised to read that my dog’s favorite liver treats are only supposed to be given a few at a time, several times a day. Oops.). A post on common human foods poisonous to dogs—chocolate, grapes—is more likely to get clicks.

But 3? I would definitely click. Why?

First, it annoyed me. What’s wrong with throwing balls to dogs? Dogs love balls. My dog really loves balls.

Second, it made me anxious. My dog runs over to me every afternoon, ball in mouth, ears up, looking hopefully at the door. When we get to the park, he is there, poised, ready, and eager to run. He’ll happily play catch for an hour. Is he obsessed? Is this compulsive behavior? Is this bad for him?

Third, and this is the key to the reason we see so many posts like this, throwing balls to dogs is something lots of people do. The more common the behavior—in other words, the more innocuous and seemingly safe it is—the more people are likely to click on the article. Why? Because it’s relevant to us.

If the headline read, “Dying your dog’s fur can lead to unnecessary vet bills,” most of the people who clicked would be people who dye their dogs’ fur or those considering it. That’s not a lot of folks in the world of clicks.

But if the headline read “Can bagging dog poop make you sick?” (The answer is no, by the way. Cleaning up dog feces reduces the likelihood of illness for both people and pets.) I’d click on that.

An ideal clickbait ad:

  • Catches your interest.
  • Raises your anxiety about something important to you (your pet, your child, your relationship, your finances).
  • Is highly relevant (something you do or are considering doing).

Since most responsible dog owners pick up dog waste, no one wants to get sick, and it’s kind of yucky, a post asking whether something you do several times a day is potentially dangerous is likely to be a popular post.

Parenting articles are similarly anxiety-producing. The sittervising piece was typical. It tells parents they should have been worried about letting their children play alone in their own home while they did other activities like watching TV, reading, or cooking dinner. I find it hard to believe that any parent has not engaged in sittervising.

This makes it a perfect clickable piece. It is relevant to many parents. It is anxiety-producing. And it annoys us, because we are being criticized for doing a common sense, safe, and normal behavior. Interestingly, the sittervising trend tells us that we probably were guilty for doing something that the article and experts say we should never have been guilty about. And that most of us were not guilty about.

Many parenting articles are like that. Does your child use social media? (Over 98% of U.S. adolescents do.). Worry! And find out why to worry.

Look at your own feed. Is it feeding your anxiety?

The Strongest Signs That a Romance Is Over

Source link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-bad-looks-good/202212/the-strongest-signs-that-a-romance-is-over

How to tell when your partner is “quiet quitting” your relationship.

Research corroborates the reality that in romance, the end is often predictable. The evidence suggests that the strongest sign that a romance is over is arguably not what a partner says or does, but how he makes the other feel.

In other words, if you sense your partner has moved on emotionally, he probably has. Although he might still perform the relational bare minimum, such as dutifully calling every day, a partner’s “quiet quitting” may be obvious in other ways, such as through the choice to increasingly make plans alone or with others. While it’s tempting to wonder if you are “just too sensitive,” or assume you must have done something to prompt your partner to pull away, actions speak louder than words—and a partner’s behavior speaks volumes.

Lack of Intimacy Predicts Breakup

Yoobin Park et al. (2021) investigated the link between a lack of intimacy and the likelihood of relationship dissolution. [i] They found that partners who perceived lower levels of reward in their relationship were more likely headed for a breakup. They discovered this effect was significant even after controlling for relationship satisfaction and attachment insecurity.

Operationalizing reward in a way that captured different features of intimacy such as connection, love, and self-disclosure, the findings of Park et al. validate the importance of intimacy within a romantic relationship, corroborating previous findings that intimate connection is one of the fundamental reasons people stay in a relationship. They also note that because there may be a difference in the extent to which people value intimacy or consider it a “reward,” there may also be a difference in the reward’s predictive power for a breakup. Park et al. report that their exploratory analyses yielded support for this possibility by demonstrating that reward did not predict breakup as strongly for people who place less value on intimacy.

Recognizing When the End is Near

1. Building boundaries. Some partners begin to withdraw by building walls instead of bridges. This may occur physically, such as when a partner seeks to spend more time in a different room, or emotionally, through decreased information sharing. However it is manifest, building boundaries is a roadblock to relational development, signaling the beginning of a future apart.

2. Withdrawing affection. If your partner has lost interest in intimacy and romance, you most likely want to know why. Barring significant life changes such as a cancer diagnosis, or the loss of a job or loved one, which can be associated with withdrawal and depression, withdrawing affection is often a sign that the relationship is faltering.

3. Seeking socialization. A partner who is gravitating towards meeting new people or attending events solo may be demonstrating a preference for singlehood. You can respectfully inquire into the reasons or rationale for the change in preference, but consider whether there will ever be an acceptable answer to the desire to spend time socializing without you.

Noticing the presence or absence of the features of intimacy noted by Park et al., such as connection, love, and self-disclosure, can make it easier to notice when your partner is disengaging. Here are a few signs.

Beginning a New Chapter

If your relationship does come to an end, remember that a failed relationship is not the end of the world; indeed, it can be the beginning of a fresh chapter in your life. There is nothing about romantic rejection that defines you; breakups happen to most people at some point, and many breakups have more to do with the partner who prompts the dissolution. If a breakup was indeed provoked by your behavior, you can learn from it and move on, stronger and wiser.

References

[i] Park, Yoobin, Emily A. Impett, Stephanie S. Spielmann, Samantha Joel, and Geoff MacDonald. 2021. “Lack of Intimacy Prospectively Predicts Breakup.” Social Psychological and Personality Science 12 (4): 442–51. doi:10.1177/1948550620929499.

A man looking at the sea

We Are Wired for Moral Cowardice

Source link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/our-humanity-naturally/202007/we-are-wired-moral-cowardice

Why it’s so hard to oppose the crowd

With reassessments of historical figures occurring regularly nowadays, it’s only right that a 1928 essay by W. E. B. Du Bois, skillfully dissecting the memory of Robert E. Lee, would resurface for modern readers. Du Bois’s masterful takedown of Lee, though written almost a century ago, has been circulating widely on social media. After conceding Lee’s military genius, Du Bois exposes the Confederate general’s moral failure with clarity and eloquence that make the essay arguably more relevant today than when it was written.

ROBERT-LEELee’s moral failure, Du Bois explains, was not only his defense of slavery but also his failure to reject the narratives of the social hierarchy that surrounded him. He writes: “(Lee) followed Virginia not because he particularly loved slavery… but because he did not have the moral courage to stand against his family and his clan… He was asked to lead armies against human progress… and did not dare refuse.”

As Du Bois pointed out, standing up against the crowd is the real test of moral fortitude. One must have the backbone to oppose “the overwhelming public opinion of their social environment.”

This principle is no less true today, not only in reconsidering Lee and other historical figures (and monuments to them), but in many other areas of social discourse. Standing up against the crowd is difficult because it conflicts with deeply ingrained human impulses. As social animals, we have a tendency to conform to predominant beliefs and views within our social group, whether that group is our family, our close friends, our community, our school or work peers, or the broader society. Open dissent in any of these contexts can be difficult, escalating in intensity with the perceived importance of the challenged views within the group.

It’s easy to understand why such impulses would have had survival value for our ancestors. Individuals with personality traits that encouraged cooperation and cohesion would have often had an evolutionary advantage over those who reflexively challenged group decisions and viewpoints. These hard-wired impulses towards conformity and groupthink, meanwhile, explain why much of what we are taught as children encourages us to think and act as Lee did—to stand by our social group even when it marches us toward moral and human calamity.

From a young age, in various ways we are taught, encouraged, and sometimes even manipulated to accept all kinds of ideas—religious beliefs, political outlooks, nationalistic values, and views on matters from sex to immigration—that are predominant in our families and other social circles. As members of social groups, we are fed narratives that we are expected to simply accept. These narratives might address big theological questions or they might tell us what to think about people who don’t look like us. They might tell us how to think about long-dead warriors, but they might also tell us what to think about a war to be launched tomorrow.

Even if we have the intellectual independence to critically question such issues for ourselves, we might still hesitate to vocalize our opinions if they challenge the established position of a social circle that is important to us. As Du Bois teaches, and as Lee’s failure shows, our own moral character depends on our ability to transcend such narratives and think for ourselves, to speak up when our critical thinking leads us to question the prevailing social structure.

Independent thinking might sound dangerous to some, as if it would necessarily overturn established morality. But that is hardly the case. A willingness to think independently does not equate to moral anarchy. Free thinking does not mean quickly jumping aboard every crazy idea that comes along to challenge established norms. Critical thinking does not require the rejection of long-accepted truths when those truths can be backed up by evidence.

But if a prevailing idea, belief, or practice can’t stand up to scrutiny, it should be questioned if not outright opposed. In such a situation, human impulses toward moral cowardice are an obstacle to progress.

What Gives Meaning to Our Lives?

Source link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/longing-nostalgia/202003/what-gives-meaning-our-lives?collection=1137432

New research finds a sense of “mattering” may matter more than other factors.

When we think of a crisis, we imagine a situation that is serious and urgent, imperative to address without delay. It can also be considered a turning point, such that life will never be the same again. The decisions made during a crisis will likely affect the nature and quality of life for the future. Some crises, like natural disasters or traumatic accidents, are dramatic upheavals accompanied by intense emotions. Others may be more insidious, arriving and intensifying more gradually.

In sudden events, the realization that life will change dramatically comes soon after urgent needs are met and the imminent threats have resolved. But the impact of crises that develop more gradually is often not obvious and, in some cases, is only fully appreciated with time. During either type of crisis, threats to health or safety awaken and clarify what is most important and what gives meaning to our lives.

Unfortunately, a pronounced sense of meaninglessness seems to exist among young people. In a recent survey of a representative national sample of 1,700 Americans, a majority (59%) of adults 65 years and older strongly agreed that their life has meaning, in contrast to only 36% of those 18 to 29 years old.

Are an increasing number of young adults experiencing lives empty of essential meaning? Research suggests that a sense that one’s life is meaningful is correlated with healthier behaviors, such as exercise and better diet, greater life satisfaction, and a lower incidence of depression. Conversely, a sense of emptiness of purpose or value in life has been associated with unfavorable indicators such as depression, anxiety, and suicide. The association of depression and suicidal ideation with weak assurance of meaning in life suggests that many people are experiencing a crisis of meaning. 

In The Rebel, Albert Camus argued: “If we believe in nothing, if nothing has any meaning and if we can affirm no values whatsoever, then everything is possible and nothing has any importance.”

Recent research has shed light on what constitutes a person’s sense of meaning in life (Costin & Vignoles, 2020). One prominent theory views meaning in life as comprised of three facets: coherence, purpose, and mattering.

  • Coherence refers to making sense of one’s experiences or the world at large. A high sense of coherence is the feeling that there is order to the world or that what happens to us makes sense.
  • Purpose refers to the belief that one’s life is justified by a life aim that can be pursued and a vision of how life ought to be.
  • Mattering refers to the experiences of value and worth that transcend superficial passing situations and events. Mattering means feeling that one’s behaviors make a difference and that life is worth living. More importantly, mattering refers to a person’s feeling that they matter.

The research suggests that of the three dimensions, a sense of mattering is most predictive of overall meaningfulness in life. Although further research is needed, preliminary work suggests that mattering is enhanced by rising above petty things and exclusive self-interest. Understanding our role in the broader social landscape can yield insight into the significance of our life and of our self.

Appreciating the impact we have on others, especially on those to whom we will one day pass the torch, strengthens our recognition that we and our lives matter. Most parents understand what matters most when they see their child’s spontaneous expressions of joy, need, fear, and love. What matters is even more evident in their child’s rapid growth toward independence.

The significance of one’s life is affirmed when we ponder the legacy we will leave behind in those who have been affected by us—by how we have interacted with them, by who we are, and by how we have lived and loved. The anguish we once felt over pricey purchases or fashion choices fades in the face of a loved one’s life-threatening illness or life-changing injury. Arguments over homework or practicing for music lessons become trivial when a child’s life or wellbeing is threatened.

We don’t need to wait for a crisis to know what really matters. We can remind ourselves of what really counts before we ever find ourselves in the midst of one.

The most valuable gift we can give to one another is the conviction that they matter. As noted nearly 2,000 years ago, faith, hope, and love endure, but the greatest of these is love. Faith in the coherence of life even when we can’t understand it and hope in fulfilling our purpose in life are important to our psychological wellbeing. But ultimately, feeling that one’s life is worth living flows from having been loved and from loving another. During the most difficult times, the most life-sustaining resource we can extend to another is the affirmation that they are loved.

References

Costin, V., & Vignoles, V. L.  (2020).  Meaning is about mattering:  Evaluating coherence, purpose, and existential meaning as precursors of meaning in life judgments.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 118, 864-884.

Ekins, E.  (2019).  Poll:  Who finds the most meaning in their lives?  Cato Institute.

Kleiman, E. M., & Beaver, J. K.  (2013).  A meaningful life is worth living:  Meaning in life as a suicide resiliency factor.  Psychiatry Research, 210, 934-939.

Couple-relationship

Your Relationship Is Not a Lost Cause

Source link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/progress-notes/202010/your-relationship-is-not-lost-cause

3 cogent reasons couples therapy is often successful in transforming intimacy.

The heightened emotional bond of marriage in particular puts partners continually at risk for conflict. Murray, Bellavia, and Rose (2003) concluded, “The experience of slights and hurts at the hand of a partner is inevitable. After all, conflicts of interest routinely surface, and even ambiguous behaviors, if sufficiently scrutinized, might seem to reveal a partner’s irritation, disappointment, or disinterest in oneself” (p. 128).

When conflict does occur, partners are often stuck in ruts of retort and resentment. Aggression and withdrawal in the midst of conflict are patterns of conditioned defense, covering up primary emotions, with primal cravings for understanding and support buried beneath. Knee-jerk reactions nearly inevitably result in perceptions of judgment, misunderstanding, and rejection, which diminish respect and increase disconnection. On the other hand, messages of understanding breed respect and connection.

Ontario psychotherapist Malcolm MacFarlane analogized, “I use [an] image of two magnets with the same poles facing each other to describe the sense of contact, energy, and anxiety that we experience when we enter the sphere of conflict with another person. Many people disengage from this sphere of conflict either by avoiding and backing off or by attacking, escalating, and then disconnecting. … The ideal is to learn to stay in the sphere of conflict while being authentic and working through the conflict” (personal communication, June 25, 2016).

Our emotions and thinking are inextricably tied to one another and together generate perception. When we perceive misunderstanding, under-appreciation, judgment, or rejection, our defenses go up. As walls rise, we have increasing difficulty hearing one another, by which I really mean understanding one another. Empathy is a precursor to mutuality.

Couples who do not experience mutuality usually channel feelings of sadness, fear, or shame through self-protective or coercive behaviors. When such interactions evolve into patterns, couples often experience a loss of trust or heightening of fear, which buries the deeper emotions even further.

There is an alternative to overt rage. When either afraid of one’s own anger or when emotion can be buried no further, logic—facts or even beliefs—may provide concealment. Logic is yet another superficial, secondary, reactive, and protective layer of defense for the rawer, primary, underlying emotions within—of which sadness, fear, and shame are prime examples.

The good news?

1. Couples nearly always already possess the resources they need for a positive relationship.

These resources involve increasing safety, empathy, and responsiveness. There are no magic facts that heal relationships. Intimacy is embodied, not encoded. Insight is often necessary but never sufficient in and of itself to bring about change. To recondition marital soil so intimacy may grow, expressions of vulnerability and understanding must increase, and reflexive, knee-jerk reactions must decrease. When highly committed to the relationship and highly motivated to see positive changes in it, partners are often quite adept in pivoting toward constructive and healing changes.

Healing is a function of growth. Growth, and thereby healing, occurs as two people lay down their defenses and connect in safe and constructive ways around the unresolved emotion, being careful to honor the unique emotional process of the one they love without stepping on and triggering emotional landmines. Couples therapy can lay the groundwork for this.

2. Changes must be experienced to be sustained, and therapy provides space for this to occur.

You can choose to keep on explaining what you already believe or risk stepping into a new terrain by exploring together how, rather than why, each of you feels hurt and anger. I’m referring to a shift between defending, criticizing, or debating facts to connecting on a more vulnerable and emotional level.

When one partner aggressively asserts resentments or withdraws in an emotional paralysis, the other partner may react in due pattern, understanding may be thwarted, and a cold distance remains. During this sort of interaction, partners typically feel—and this is where the mutuality ends—misunderstood and unsupported.

Where there is hurt, there must be—and let’s be clear that in some cases this requires great preparation and even facilitation—a coming together and a facing together of the underlying pain. Such pain generally involves sadness, fear, shame, or all three. Respect and connection do not occur at the secondary reactive level of emotion, through explosions, attacks, and retreats, and neither do growth and healing.

It is never easy to communicate vulnerably and honestly through the tremble of raw emotion. Couples have an opportunity to begin to experience a restructuring of their patterns of interaction and their experience of intimacy. When one chooses to communicate nondefensively upon feeling misunderstood or unsupported, the resulting mutual experience tends to be feeling mutual respect and emotional togetherness.

3. We are capable of increasing our capacities for emotional management and self-direction. 

Many couples struggle to manage intense reactive emotions they feel in the midst of conflict. We are not necessarily determined by our impulses. If you and your partner find yourselves in a tailspin of disconnection, make a decision today to lean into a new paradigm marked by respect and understanding and driven by intentionality. This is challenging work, and you may benefit from the facilitation a therapist can provide. Over the course of therapy, partners are capable of consolidating new positions, attitudes, and cycles of attachment behavior and experiencing conflict in a more satisfying, growth-oriented way.

And with the surge of COVID-19 came the surge in use of telehealth for therapy, including for couples therapy. Couples now have even greater options for accessing good therapists, and less excuses.

References

Murray, S. L., Bellavia, G. M., & Rose, P. (2003). Once hurt, twice hurtful: How perceived regard regulates daily marital interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(1), 126-147.

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Living An Honest Life — DSM (Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Think back to when you were five years old and the way that you viewed the world. If you were raised in a good family, then you can relate to the fact that almost everything around you was based on the idea of having fun. At that age, you didn’t have responsibilities, expectations, work or pressure. You just lived you life having fun. As you grew older, you learned the importance of being honest with yourself and others; living an honest life.

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