Relationships: Reading Material & Student Workbook

Love Yourself

  • Be kind to yourself when you make mistakes. Remember no one is perfect.

  • Stop looking towards others for approval. Look inside yourself, and love every part of you.

  • You shouldn’t allow other people to tell you who you are. You are the only one who can decide that.

  • You need to love yourself first before you can genuinely love others.

Family Time

  • Quality time is time spent doing an activity that is meaningful to the whole family.

  • You learn about your family from the time you spend together.

  • The learning process takes place in the many daily tasks of life done as a family. Like:

    • Eating meals together

    • Talking over the day’s activities

    • Dealing with challenges

    • Interacting with people outside the family

Ideas for family activities:

  1. _For Example….Make Tuesday night the family game night or start a new family tradition._____

  2. ______________________________________________________________________________

  3. ______________________________________________________________________________

  4. ______________________________________________________________________________

  5. ______________________________________________________________________________

  6. ______________________________________________________________________________

Sibling Rivalry

What causes sibling rivalry?

  • Birth Order

  • Brothers vs. sisters

  • Age

  • Parental attitude

Tips to avoid getting into a fight with your brother or sister:

  • Always stop, breathe, and think before arguing.

  • Remind yourself that you have special talents.

  • Try to praise your siblings for their achievements & share their pride.

Past experiences with my siblings & how I could have handled them differently or better:

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Thoughts for how I could positively handle other situations with my siblings:

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The Teen Years

  • The teen years are the most challenging years for families.

  • Remember your parents will always be your parents and still have authority of what you do under their roof.

  • Follow the curfew set and know that parents will always worry about you especially if you are late. Call them when you’re going to be late.

  • Effective communication is key. If parents feel that you are keeping them in the loop, you will gain more of their trust and respect.

  • Believe it or not parents do know what is best for you so listen and learn from them.

  • Learn from their life experiences.

  • Choose wisely when selecting your group of friends and/or boyfriend. You are who you hang out with. You will take on their characteristics within one month’s time.

Repeat and Acknowledge

Repeat and acknowledge is a communication tool that will help to identify the real problem and allow both parties to fully acknowledge the other persons feeling and concerns with out an argument.

Role Play Rules

Two participants: A Giver and a Receiver

  1. Giver — speaks a feeling

  2. Receiver — states back and ask for corrections, “What I hear you saying is….. Is this correct?”

  3. If the Giver answers YES — the Receiver will own, acknowledge and validates the givers feelings,

  4. If the Giver answers NO — The Receiver will repeat step one until they come to a YES.

Choose Your Friends Wisely!

  • Your friends have such a powerful influence over your attitude, reputation and direction.

  • The need to be accepted and part of a group is very powerful.

  • Too often friends are chosen based on whoever will accept us.

  • It’s hard, but sometimes it is better to have no friends for a time than to have the wrong friends.

  • The wrong group can lead you down all kinds of paths you really don’t want to be on.

  • You can look for friends anywhere; they don’t have to be the same age as you. You can be friends with your parents, your grandparents, cousins, etc. Anyone who shares your interests and will be there for you is a friend!

Qualities to Look For In a Friend

  • Someone you can trust.

  • Someone who encourages you to succeed and achieve and celebrates your successes.

  • A person of good character (honest, sincere, loyal, respectful, responsible).

  • Peacefully resolves conflicts.

  • Has strong positive relationships with his or her parents and other adults.

  • Serious about school.

  • Knows how to make plans and set goals.

  • Has a positive view of the future.

  • Gets along with many different people.

  • Kind and compassionate.

  • Respects himself or herself.

  • Avoids dangerous situations.

  • Takes positive risks.

  • Gives back to the community and serves others.

  • Is a positive influence on yourself and others.

Qualities I feel are important when looking for a friend:

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Qualities I want to avoid when looking for a friend:

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Qualities that I will have as a friend to others:

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Develop Lifelong Friendships While in College

Developing lifelong friendships may be one of the most rewarding aspects of college life.

Friendship Statistics

  • Between the ages of 15 and 25 is when most people establish lifelong friendships.

  • Singles tend to rely on friends for companionship.

  • Best friends usually become an extended family.

College friends are somewhat different than friends from high school because you bond in different ways. You may bond during late night study sessions, making dinner together, or during long drives home. They’re somewhat like your family away from home. Some friends may make sure that you wake up in time for your midterm or make you soup when you’re sick. During college there are a variety of ways to develop these friendships, which have the potential of becoming lifelong friendships.

Living with Roommates

Sometimes many students make lifelong friendships with their roommates. If you have a good experience with your roommate during your first year of college, you may want to continue living with that roommate. You may also decide to live with other people as well. Sharing a house or an apartment allows you to spend time with people and really get to know who they are. You may learn things that only their families know about them like how long they take in the shower or what kinds of odd things they like to eat. Living together also provides opportunities for a lot of inside jokes, which can create even stronger bonds. You may also become closer when one of you becomes sick, and the parental instinct kicks in.

Joining a Club

By joining a club, you may be able to find people who share similar interests. Usually college campuses offer a variety of clubs like those that are associated with academic majors, public interests, politics, music, or careers. There are also fraternities and sororities at different colleges. Clubs provide an opportunity to meet people outside of the classroom, and the opportunity for you to get involved with something that you’re passionate about. Being involved in extracurricular activities may also alleviate some of your stress.

Making Friends for Life

Developing lifelong friendships does take some time. Don’t be discouraged if the first couple of people you meet don’t turn out to be the type of friends you were hoping for. You may need to keep on trying to meet new people. You may make friends with people who you wouldn’t have considered being friends with before. If you feel uneasy about the friends you have made, try to remember what you liked about your friends from high school. Keep yourself surrounded by good people who share similar goals to help you stay on track.

Tough Decisions

You are young, free and have your whole life before you. You have to choose which path you take in life:

  • Do you want to go to college or graduate school?

  • Should you try out for that team?

  • What type of friends do you want to have?

  • Who will you date?

  • What values will you choose?

  • What will you stand for?

  • What kind of relationship do you want with your family?

  • How will you contribute to your community?

When The Going Gets Tough

The tough challenges are conflicts between doing the right thing and doing the easier thing. They are the key tests, the defining moments of life – and how you handle them can literally shape your life. They come in two kinds, small challenges and major challenges.

Small Challenges occur daily and are easier to conquer. They include things like:

  • Getting up when your alarm rings

  • Controlling your temper

  • Disciplining yourself to do your homework.

  • Overcoming spending urges and saving money.

If you can conquer yourself and be strong during these challenges your days will run much more smoothly. Soon enough, these moments will prove to have less and less power over your life.

Major Challenges occur every so often in life and include things like:

  • Choosing good friends

  • Resisting negative peer pressure

  • Rebounding after a major setback

  • Parents divorcing

  • Getting cut from a team

These challenges have huge consequences and often strike when you’re least prepared for them. If you recognize that these moments will come then you can be prepared for them and meet them head on.

Peer Pressure

What is Peer Pressure?

  • It is the pressure, stress or strain we all feel from friends and classmates to act, behave, think and look a certain way. This kind of pressure can cover everything from fashion to sex and dating.

  • Peer pressure can be negative, where someone is coerced into doing something that they know is wrong (e.g. drugs, smoking, or pressure to have sex) or it can be positive, for example, a teen whose friends are all high achievers in school will feel pressure to also be successful.

  • Beware of friends that seem to be friends but really are not. They may try to take advantage of you.

  • Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. They may do some things to you that you would never do to them.

Who is Affected By Peer Pressure?

  • Anyone can be affected by peer pressure; however, teens with low-self esteem are most likely to fall victim to negative peer pressure.

Overcoming Peer Pressure

Some of the hardest moments come when facing peer pressure. Saying no when all of your friends are saying yes takes raw courage. Sometimes peer pressure can be so strong that the only way to resist it is to remove yourself entirely from the environment you’re in. This is especially true if you are involved with a gang, sorority, or a tight group of friends.

To overcome peer pressure, you’ve got to care more about what you think of you than what your peers think of you.

So Why is Peer Pressure so Hard to Resist?

  • It is because you want to belong. Everyone wants to feel accepted by some sort of a group.

  • That’s why teens are often willing to go through brutal hazing rituals to become a member of a club or get heavy into drugs or drinking in order to fit into a particular group.

  • Sometimes you simply need a wake-up call to snap out of it.

Why do Teens Pressure Other Teens to do Things?

  • Some teens believe that manipulating people to do things they shouldn’t gives them a sense of control over others.

  • Some teens are jealous and envious of what you have, but only want to be more like you.

  • Some teens think it’s cool to try to get away with doing things that are wrong just to see if you will side with them.

  • Some teens use pressure to get what’s best for them, even though they know that the outcome won’t be good for you. This is very self-centered thinking.

How do You Walk Away from Peer Pressure when you Know it’s Having a Negative Impact on you?

  • The idea that “everyone’s doing it, so it must be cool” is not always true. Don’t go along if you are uncomfortable with the idea.

  • Ignore the person.

  • Hang out with people who don’t pressure you to do risky things.

  • Even though it’s tough to say “no” you can do it if you believe in yourself. Try it and see how good it makes you feel. Often, you will find others agreeing with you.

  • It can really make things a lot easier if you have at least one other friend who is on your side.

  • Make up your mind beforehand that certain things in life will always be a definite ‘NO’; like drugs, cigarettes, lying and stealing.

  • Remember that the values that your parents taught you will make you stronger in handling peer pressure and you can always use them as your excuse as why you won’t do something.

  • Since it is rather difficult to always say no to friends, try and choose likeminded people as friends.

  • Refuse to let yourself down. If you can think of peer pressure as letting yourself down, it becomes easier to combat it. It will make you feel more confident and raise your own self -esteem.

Ways to Resist Negative Peer Pressure

  • Walk away.

  • Ignore the person

  • Pretend that the person must be joking. (“What a riot! You are so funny.”)

  • Say no – calmly but firmly.

  • Say no and give a reason (“No. Cigarette smoke makes me sick.”)

  • Say no and state a value or belief that’s important to you. (No. I’ve decided not to have sex until I get married.”)

  • Say no and warn about the possible consequences. (“No way! We could all get expelled.”)

  • Say no and change the subject. (“No, I’m not interested. Say, what did you think of that stunt Clarisse pulled in math class today?”)

  • Say no and offer a positive alternative. (“No thanks, I’ll pass. I’m going for a bike ride. Want to come?)

  • Say no and ask a question. (No! Why would I want to do that?”)

  • Say no and use humor. (“Forget it. I’d rather go play on the freeway; it’s safer.”)

  • Say no and apply some pressure of your own. (“No. Hey, I always thought you were smarter than that.”)

  • Share your feelings. (“I don’t like being around people who are drinking.”)

  • Use your parents as an excuse. (“My dad would kill me if I ever did that.”)

  • Stick up for yourself. (“I’m not going to do that. It wouldn’t be good for me.”)

  • Confront the person. (“I can’t believe you’d ask me to do that. I thought you were my friend.”)

  • Call another friend to help you.

  • Always have an out – a Plan B. (“Sorry, I can’t come to the party. I promised my sister I’d take her to a movie.”)

  • Make an excuse. (“Gotta run. I told my mom I’d clean my room.”)

  • Laugh.

  • Hang out with people who don’t pressure you do to risky things.

  • Ask a peer mediator to help.

  • Tell an adult.

  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.

  • Avoid the person from then on.

Just Say NO!

  • Why is ‘NO’, a two letter word, so hard to say?

  • Say ‘No’ – it may be tough, but believe in yourself and often you will find others agreeing with you.

  • Practice saying ‘NO’ for all the right reasons.

  • Role play saying ‘NO’ with a family member or a friend.

  • Once you say ‘NO’ understand that there is no going back. People will eventually respect you more for standing up for yourself.

  • Saying ‘NO’ means you can feel more in control of your life.

List any suggestions from class for avoiding peer pressure:

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Not all peer pressure is bad. If you can find friends who put positive pressure on you to be your best, then hang on to him or her for dear life, because you have someone very special.

If your self-confidence and self-respect is low, how can you expect to have the strength to resist?

  • Make a promise to yourself and keep it

  • Help someone in need

  • Develop a talent

  • Renew Yourself

  • Eventually you’ll have sufficient strength to follow your own path instead of going down the beaten path.

Dating 101

  • Be clear with yourself about what kind of qualities you ideally want in the opposite sex based upon your needs and values.

  • Once you set the qualities you need, never wavier from them.

  • Know what personality characteristics and values you want your date to have.

  • Be clear with yourself about your minimum requirements and what you will and won’t be satisfied with.

  • Don’t be misled by what you see in the beginning.

  • Don’t make a long-term commitment during the first phase of the relationship.

  • You should also delay committing yourself to the person until after you have had an argument or two.

  • Your potential partner needs to get to know you, so be visible, open and honest from the beginning.

Suggested similarities for better relationships

  • Similar core beliefs and values regarding ethics, morals, religion and spiritual issues.

  • Contents and style of life.

  • Desire and need for affection and togetherness.

  • Standards of cleanliness and order.

  • Beliefs regarding division of labor and responsibilities.

  • Level of need and desire for social activities.

  • Amount of involvement with others.

  • Types and frequency of activities.

Characteristics & Qualities I am looking for in a relationship:

  1. _________________________________

  2. _________________________________

  3. _________________________________

  4. _________________________________

  5. _________________________________

  6. _________________________________

  7. _________________________________

  8. _________________________________

  9. _________________________________

  10. _________________________________

As I date, I have learned that I want:

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As I date, I have learned that I don’t want:

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Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Relationships

What Makes a Healthy Relationship?

Mutual respect

The key is that your significant other is into you for who you are – for your great sense of humor, your love of reality TV, etc. Does your partner listen when you say you’re not comfortable doing something and then back off right away? Respect in a relationship means that each person values who the other is and understands – and would never challenge – the other person’s boundaries.

Trust

It’s ok to get a little jealous sometimes – jealousy is a natural emotion. But how a person reacts when he or she feels jealous is what matters. There’s no way you can have a healthy relationship if you don’t trust each other.

Honesty

This one goes hand-in-hand with trust because it’s tough to trust someone when one of you isn’t being honest.

Support

It’s not just in good times that your partner should support you. Some people are great when your whole world is going well, but can’t take being there when things are going wrong. In a healthy relationship, your significant other is there with a shoulder to cry on when you find out your parents are getting divorced and to celebrate with you when you get the lead in a play.

Fairness/equality

You need to have give-and-take in your relationship, too. Do you take turns choosing which new movie to see? As a couple, do you hang out with your partner’s friends as often as you hang out with yours? You’ll know if it isn’t a fair balance. Things get bad really fast when a relationship turns into a power struggle, with one person fighting to get his or her way all the time.

Separate identities

In a healthy relationship, everyone needs to make compromises. That doesn’t mean you should feel like you’re losing out on being yourself. When you started going out, you both had your own lives – your own families, friends, interests, hobbies, etc. – and that shouldn’t change. Neither of you should have to pretend to like something you don’t, give up seeing your friends, nor drop out of activities you love. You also should feel free to keep developing new talents or interests, making new friends, and moving forward.

Good communication

You’ve probably heard lots of stuff about how men and women don’t seem to speak the same language. We all know how many different meanings the little phrase “no, nothing’s wrong” can have, depending on who’s saying it! But what’s important is to ask if you’re not sure what he or she means, and speak honestly and openly so that the miscommunication is avoided in the first place. Never keep a feeling bottled up because you’re afraid it’s not what your BF or GF wants to hear or because you worry about sounding silly.

What Makes an Unhealthy Relationship?

A relationship is unhealthy when it involves mean, disrespectful, controlling, or abusive behavior. Some people live in homes with parents who fight a lot or abuse each other emotionally or physically. For some people who have grown up around this kind of behavior it can almost seem normal or ok. It’s not! Qualities like kindness and respect are absolute requirements for a healthy relationship. Someone who doesn’t yet have this part down may need to work on it with a trained therapist before he or she is ready for a relationship. Meanwhile, even though you may feel bad for someone who’s been mistreated, you need to take care of yourself. It’s not healthy to stay in a relationship that involves abusive behavior of any kind.

Warning Signs

In one survey, 20% of American girls reported having been hit, slapped, or forced into sexual activity by their partners. This stuff happens to guys, too – they are just less likely to report it. 40% of all teens said they know someone at school who experienced dating violence. If you think there’s no way it could happen to you or someone you know, think again.

Ask yourself, does my significant other:

  • Get angry when I don’t drop everything for him or her?

  • Criticize the way I look or dress?

  • Keep me from seeing friends or from talking to any other guys or girls?

  • Want me to quit an activity, even though I love it?

  • Ever raise a hand when angry, like he or she is about to hit me?

  • Try to force me to go further sexually than I want to?

If you can think of any way in which your significant other is trying to control you, make you feel bad about yourself, isolate you from the rest of your world, or harm you physically or sexually, then it’s time to get out, fast. Let a trusted friend or family member know what’s going on and make sure you’re safe. It can be tempting to make excuses or misinterpret violence as an expression of love. But even if you know that the person hurting you loves you, it is not healthy. No one deserves to be hit, shoved, or forced into anything he or she doesn’t want to do.

Ways to Tell If a Relationship is Unhealthy

Are you in a relationship where things don’t feel right? Where the give and take isn’t there?

The following can help you decide.

A relationship is unhealthy if a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend…

  • Doesn’t like you to spend time with anyone else and gets jealous or angry if you do.

  • Criticizes you or makes fun of you in front of other people.

  • Gets angry when you disagree with him or her.

  • Has a terrible temper.

  • Makes you feel afraid to be with him or her.

  • Ever-that is EVER- hits you, kicks you, shoves you, or throws things at you.

  • Ever forces you to have sex.

  • Wrongly accuses you of flirting with other people or seeing other people behind his or her back.

  • Makes you feel trapped.

  • Expects you to justify everything you do, every place you go, and every person you see.

  • Wants to make all the decisions in your relationship.

  • Gives you orders.

  • Tries to control you.

  • Tells you what you should or shouldn’t wear.

  • Drives your other friends away.

  • Criticizes your beliefs.

  • Makes you feel that nothing you do is ever good enough.

  • Makes you feel that it’s your fault if he or she treats you badly.

  • Spies on you when you’re apart.

  • Threatens to hurt himself or herself if you break off the relationship.

Coping with a Relationship Breakup

Relationship Breakup’s

Breaking up a relationship is difficult – especially if it’s not your choice. Grief can be experienced even when an unfulfilling relationship ends, because, at the very least, you have lost the emotional investment you made in that relationship. But the challenges posed by such a deep loss can be turned into opportunities, enabling you to not only survive, but also thrive.

Loss in relationship breakups is experienced both physically and emotionally 

Why do relationship breakups hurt so much, even when the relationship is no longer good? Whatever the reason for a breakup or divorce, coping can be a challenge, because even a disappointing relationship starts out with an emotional investment in what could be. Serious relationships begin on a high note of excitement and hope for the future. People invest time, energy, plans, dreams and hope for the future in love relationships. When these relationships fail, we experience profound disappointment, as well as grieve the physical loss of someone important in our lives.

Easing the Pain of Relationship Breakups

Two things that can provide support during the grieving process are:

  • Experience your emotions.

  • Have the support of other people. Talk about your feelings. It’s important to talk about them when you’re grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings and understand your grief will make you feel better.

Gaining Strength from Facing the Challenge of a Breakup

Use a breakup to engage in healing and empowering processes of self discovery. Challenges faced are opportunities to:

  • Learn more about your beliefs, habits and needs.

  • Build more powerful and effective social skills.

  • Acknowledge past breakups and recover from them, as well as your current one.  

Focus on other pursuits:

  • Your friendships!

  • Helping others in need.

  • Doing the things you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t because your boyfriend was not supportive.

You’re Not Ready to Have Sex If….

  • You think sex equals love.

  • You feel pressured or afraid to say no.

  • It’s just easier to give in.

  • You think everyone else is doing it. (They’re not!)

  • Your instincts tell you not to.

  • You don’t know the facts about pregnancy.

  • You don’t understand how birth control works.

  • You don’t think that a girl can get pregnant the first time. (She can)

  • It goes against your moral beliefs.

  • It goes against your religious beliefs.

  • You’ll regret it in the morning.

  • You feel embarrassed or ashamed.

  • You’re doing it to prove something.

  • You can’t support a child.

  • You can’t support yourself.

  • Your idea of commitment is a 3-day video rental.

  • You believe sex before marriage is wrong.

  • You don’t know how to protect yourself from HIV – the virus that causes AIDS.

  • You don’t’ know the signs & symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs, also called STDs).

  • You think it will make your partner love you.

  • You think it will make you love your partner.

  • You think it will keep you together.

  • You hope it will change your life.

  • You don’t want it to change your life.

  • You’re not ready for the relationship to change.

  • You’ve been drinking.

  • Your partner has been drinking.

  • You expect it to be perfect.

  • You think HIV and AIDS only happen to other people.

  • You think you can tell who has HIV by looking at them.

  • You don’t think teens get HIV. (They do)

  • You don’t know that abstinence is the only 100% protection against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

  • You haven’t talked about tomorrow.

  • You can’t face the thought of tomorrow.

  • You’d be horrified if your parents found out.

  • You’re too scared to think clearly.

  • You think it will make you more popular.

  • You think you “owe it” to your partner.

  • You think it’s not OK to be a virgin.

  • You’re only thinking about yourself.

  • You’re not thinking about yourself.

  • You can’t wait to tell everyone about it.

  • You hope no one will hear about it.

  • You really wish the whole thing had never come up.

It’s OK to Wait!

Toxic People

Five Types of Toxic Qualities in People:

The Blamer

This person likes to hear her own voice. She constantly complains about what isn’t working in her life.

The Drainer

This is the needy person who calls to ask for your guidance, support, information, advice or whatever she needs to feel better in the moment.

The Shamer

This person can be hazardous to your health. The shamer may cut you off, put you down, reprimand you, or make fun of your or your ideas in front of others. The shamer is the kind of person who makes you question your own sanity before hers.

The Discounter

This is the person who discounts or challenges everything you say. Often, she has a strong need to be right and can find fault with any position.

The Gossip

By gossiping about others, she creates a lack of safety in her relationships, whether she realizes it or not. After all, if she’ll talk about someone else, she’ll talk about you.

Dealing with Toxic People

  • Be comforted in the fact that you are not alone. Every person knows at least one toxic person in their life.

  • Toxic people come in all shapes and forms as they know no boundaries.

  • Realize that until you stop allowing a toxic person to hurt you and your life, they will continue to do so.

  • The most important thing to remember is that you have the power to stop a toxic person. You do this by controlling your own actions and reactions.

  • You can control yourself and your life.

  • You have the power to walk away from a toxic person and not allow them into your life anymore.

  • Move away from toxic people and move toward people who are positive and uplifting.

  • Rely on your instincts, they never lie.

  • Train yourself to move away from what hurts you and move toward what feels good.

  • This is one of the smartest life skills you can learn and also one of the best gifts you can ever give to yourself.

  • Toxic people are not hard to recognize. Just take notice of how you feel when you are around one of these people. It will be easy to determine. You may feel like you are going crazy, but don’t worry; that is the true mark of being with a toxic person. Remember this so that you will be better able to identify a toxic person. That is the first step towards eliminating one from your life.

  • Know that when a person is toxic it is because of their own issues.

  • Toxic people have a habit of turning things around so that you feel bad, you feel guilty, and you feel like you are at fault.

  • When dealing with toxic people remember that exercise is your best friend.

  • Exercise relives both mental and physical tensions. It helps the body to produce healing chemicals that will repair your body and help you think more clearly.

  • Most importantly develop supportive relationships with your life partner, friends, family, workmates, and associates. There is strength in numbers.

  • Loved ones can offer you good advice and support for eliminating negative influences in your life.

  • The best thing you can do when dealing with a toxic person is to walk away, then mentally walk away. Allow yourself to disengage, disassociate, and detach. The following are some good examples to help you, but feel free to make your own that speak to you personally.

    • I do not care about…

    • I will not allow … to hurt me.

    • Detaching from… will help me to be healthy on many levels.

    • I control my own life and decisions.

    • I am strong.

    • I feel good about the decision to detach.

    • Detachment is healthy and necessary.

Resolving Conflict

Conflict is a natural part of life brought on by our different beliefs, experiences, and values.

If not managed carefully, conflict can harm relationships.

Steps to Resolve Conflict:

  • Treat the other person with respect – Although this may seem challenging, you must try. Words of disrespect block communication and may create wounds that may never heal. Use your willpower to treat the other person as a person of worth and as an equal.

  • Confront the problem – Find a time and place to discuss the conflict with the other person. Choose a time when you aren’t arguing or angry. The place should be comfortable for both of you.

  • Define the conflict – Describe the conflict in clear, concrete terms. Be specific when answering who, what, when, where and why questions. Define the conflict as a problem for both of you to solve together, not a battle to be won.

  • Communicate understanding – Listen to really understand the other person’s feelings, needs, and so forth. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Step back and try to imagine how the other person sees things.

  • Explore alternative solutions – Take turns offering alternative solutions. Be nonjudgmental of other’s ideas. Examine consequences of each solution. Think and talk positively.

  • Agree on the most workable solution – Agree to a solution you both understand and can live with. Work to find a win-win situation. Be committed to resolving the conflict.

Expressing Difficult Feelings

Feelings Vs. Thoughts and Beliefs

Feelings and thoughts are different, but also are similar. We react to events with both thoughts and feelings. Feelings are emotions, and sensations, and they are different from thoughts, beliefs, interpretations, and convictions. If we only express our beliefs about something that happened and not the feelings, the bad feelings linger and are often harder to release. Whenever someone says, “I feel that…” the person is about to express a belief, not a feeling. 

Quick Reference Guidelines for Expressing Feelings

Be specific about how you feel:

  • The degree of the feeling

  • The action

  • If you have mixed feelings, express that too

  • Respectfully confront the person.

  • Use “I feel” statements or “I” messages.

Guidelines for Expressing Feelings

  • Try to be specific rather than general about how you feel. Consistently using only one or two words to say how you are feeling, such as sad or upset, is too vague and general. What kind of sad and upset? (irritated, mad, anxious, afraid, sad, hurt, lonely, etc.)

  • Specify the degree of the feelings and you will reduce the chances of being misunderstood. For example, some people may think when you say, “I’m angry” means you are extremely angry when you actually mean a “little irritated”.

  • When expressing anger or irritation, first describe the specific behavior you don’t like, then your feelings. This helps to prevent the other person from becoming immediately defensive or intimidated when they first hear “I am angry with you”, and they could miss the message.

  • If you have mixed feelings, say so, and express each feeling and explain what each feeling is about. For example: “I have mixed feelings about what you just did. I am glad and thankful that you helped me, but I didn’t like the comment about being ignorant. It was disrespectful and unnecessary and I found it irritating”.

Techniques for Expressing Feelings

  • Express feelings productively.

  • Respectfully confront someone when you are bothered by his or her behavior.

  • Express difficult feelings without attacking the self-esteem of the person.

  • Clarify for you and the other person precisely what you feel.

  • Prevent feelings from building up and festering into a bigger problem.

  • Communicate difficult feelings in a manner that minimizes the other person’s need to become defensive, and increases the likelihood that the person will listen.

Which of the two methods you use for expressing your feelings should depend on your goal, the importance or difficulty of your feelings and the situation.

  1. I feel statements are used in situations that are clear and fairly simple, when you want to express yourself and avoid a buildup of feelings without attacking or hurting the self-esteem of the other.

  2. I messages are used in more complex situations to clarify for yourself and the other person just what you are feeling when a) you have difficult negative feelings, b) you confront someone and want them to change their behavior, and c) it is very sensitive and important that the other person accurately understands.

I Feel Statements

These statements take the form of “When you did that thing I felt this way. That thing is a behavior of the other person, and this way is your specific feelings. Here are some examples:

  • “I felt embarrassed when you told our friends how I talk on the phone every night.”

  • “I liked it when you helped me understand why you acted the way you did at the party.”

  • “I feel hurt and disappointed that you forgot my birthday.”

I Messages

It is called an I message because the focus is on you, and the message is about yourself. When using I messages you take responsibility for your own feelings, rather than accusing the other person of making you feel a certain way. The essence of an I message is “I have a problem”.

There are four parts to an I message:

  1. When … Describe the person’s behavior you are reacting to in an objective, non-blameful, and non-judgmental manner.

  2. The effects are … Describe the concrete or tangible effects of that behavior. (This is the most important part for the other person to understand; it’s your reaction.)

  3. I feel … Say how you feel. (Most important part to prevent a buildup of feelings.)

  4. I’d prefer … Tell the person what you want or what you prefer they do. You can omit this part if it is obvious.

Common Mistakes  

  • Not expressing a feeling at all, expressing a belief or judgment.

  • Only expressing negative feelings.

  • Nonverbal body language contradicts the words. For example, smiling when irritated.

Practice these techniques and turn them into useful skills.  Make it easy for yourself to spontaneously express difficult feelings in a manner that is productive and respectful.  

Spirituality

  • For some, spirituality is the intimate relationship with a higher power through religion; for others, being spiritual is a matter of finding a personal connection to the universe.

  • The word spirituality comes from the Latin word spiritus, which means breath.

  • Spirituality is about nurturing the spirit or the soul.

  • Spirituality is about doing things that celebrate the impossibly amazing fact that you’re alive. Your spirit is what is left when you strip away everything else. It is what makes you who you are.

  • The more you take care of your spirit, nurturing it, petting it and watering it, the happier a life you will have.

  • No matter what your particular belief system is, what’s important is to make it matter: to cultivate it, and to find ways to deepen your relationship with God, or nature, or whatever you identify as the source of your faith and your spiritual strength.

  • No matter what your religious beliefs are it is important to…

    • Go to a religious service regularly that best suits your beliefs.

    • Pray, the power of prayer is immeasurable.

    • Have a set of morals and values that you can apply to every aspect of your life.

    • Read some form of religious text or even a prayer journal.

Strategies to Strengthen Your Spirituality

Commit to a sacred space and time every week.

It could be a church or mosque. It could be Friday evening or Sunday mass. But it could even be Saturday scripture-study breakfast with friends, or a sunset meditation on the beach every Thursday. The important thing is the commitment, the setting aside of a time and place solely for the purpose of spiritual replenishment and growth.

Take your time finding a spiritual home.

If you think you’d benefit from belonging to a faith community, don’t rush it. Most churches, fellowships, mosques and temples welcome visitors.

Talk to people who are open about their spirituality.

Your faith is your own, and each set of religious beliefs is as personal as the person who holds it.

Serve.

Faith isn’t only about looking inward. It is also -perhaps mostly- about looking outward. Service is at the heart of most faiths, and many houses of worship have outreach offices or social justice programs. Get involved with a charity or volunteer at a homeless shelter, a hospice, a day-care center (anywhere you can help) and make it a regular part of your life. Service is the most rewarding spiritual practice that you can know.

Pray.

It takes some discipline to quiet your thoughts and distractions. You can pray on the subway, or in the shower. You can pray alone, or with others. But try not to just ask God for stuff. Give thanks daily for your many blessings.

Be grateful.

Appreciate your good fortune, and be grateful for all your blessings.

Give Thanks.

To God, to your friends, to your teachers, your parents, to everyone who helped get you to where you are today, give thanks. Give thanks for everything and everyone you love; for good health, for lilacs, your friends, your family. Give thanks for another beautiful day given to you. Remember to live everyday like it could be your last.

Coping with Loss

The loss of a loved one is something no one wants to talk about but is something that needs to be addressed. In our hearts, we all know that death is a part of life. Death gives meaning to our existence because it reminds us how precious life is. The loss of a loved one is one of life’s most stressful times.

This section is meant to touch upon what may happen as a result of a great loss in your life. Image University only wants to try to prepare you for what you can expect due to the death of a loved one.

Knowing What to Expect

You may experience a wide range of emotions, even when the death is expected. Everyone handles the grieving process differently. Some emotions you may experience include:

  • Denial

  • Confusion

  • Sadness

  • Anger

  • Guilt

These feelings are normal and common reactions to loss. You may not be prepared for the intensity and duration of your emotions or how swiftly your moods may change. You may even begin to doubt the stability of your mental health. But be assured that these feelings are healthy and appropriate and will help you come to terms with your loss.

Remember — It takes time to fully absorb the impact of a major loss. You never stop missing your loved one, but the pain eases after time and allows you to go on with your life.

Mourning A Loved One

  • Mourning is the natural process you go through to accept a major loss.

  • Mourning is personal and may last months or even years.

  • Grieving is the outward expression of your loss. 

  • Your grief is likely to be expressed physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

  • It is very important to allow yourself to express these feelings.

  • At first it may seem helpful to separate yourself from the pain, but you cannot avoid grieving forever.

  • Someday those feelings will need to be resolved or they may cause physical or emotional illness.

  • Many people report physical symptoms that accompany grief. Stomach pain, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances and loss of energy are all common symptoms of acute grief. Of all life’s stresses, mourning can seriously test your natural defense systems.

  • Profound emotional reactions may occur. These reactions include anxiety attacks, chronic fatigue and depression.

  • Your reactions are influenced by the circumstances of a death, particularly when it is sudden or accidental. Your reactions are also influenced by your relationship with the person who died.

Dealing with Grief

The best thing you can do is allow yourself to grieve. There are many ways to cope effectively with your pain.

  • Seek out caring people. Find relatives and friends or possibly a teacher or a coach who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.

  • Express your feelings. Tell others how you are feeling; it will help you to work through the grieving process.

  • Take care of your health. Maintain regular contact with your family physician and be sure to eat well and get plenty of rest. Be aware of the danger of developing a dependence on medication or alcohol to deal with your grief.

  • Accept that life is for the living. It takes effort to begin to live again in the present and not dwell on the past.

  • Postpone major life changes. Try to hold off on making any major changes in your routine and give yourself time to adjust to your loss.

  • Be patient. It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life.

  • Seek outside help when necessary If your grief seems like it is too much to bear, seek professional assistance to help work through your grief. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.

Helping Others Grieve

If someone you care about has lost a loved one, you can help them through the grieving process.

  • Share the sorrow. Allow them — even encourage them — to talk about their feelings of loss and share memories of the deceased.

  • Don’t offer false comfort.  It doesn’t help the grieving person when you say “it was for the best” or “you’ll get over it in time.” Instead, offer a simple expression of sorrow and take time to listen.

  • Offer practical help. Baby-sitting, cooking and running errands are all ways to help someone who is in the midst of grieving.

  • Be patient. Remember that it can take a long time to recover from a major loss. Make yourself available to talk.

  • Encourage professional help when necessary. Don’t hesitate to recommend professional help when you feel someone is experiencing too much pain to cope alone.

Young Adults can Grieve Differently than Adults

A parent’s death can be particularly difficult for young adults, affecting their sense of security or survival. They are often confused about the changes they see taking place around them. It is best not to feel like y