CynthiaJohnson

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     When a person dies by suicide, it sends a devastating shock wave through the world around them. Whether they were your personal friend or a celebrity that you admired, being connected with a person who dies by suicide can make you feel overwhelmed with confusion and despair. The relationships and role models we build throughout life have a tremendous impact on our mental health, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.   While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help. If someone you know or admired died by suicide, here are a few things you should know:    It’s ok to be angry    If the person had been killed by a drunk driver, you’d know exactly who to be mad at. You’d be enraged with the person who made the choice to drive intoxicated. When a person dies by suicide, however, it’s a bit more confusing. They are both the victim and the person who caused their death. It’s normal to feel abandoned, angry, or resentful as you process what’s happened.    “Why” may never be clear – and that’s ok   Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, died by suicide in 2017. His family posted a video showing Chester smiling and playing games with his loved ones just hours before taking his life. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint why a person became suicidal - a traumatic event, extreme stress, or mental illness are common instigators. But in cases like Chester’s, suicide was something that no one saw coming. The factors leading to suicide are often unclear, and acceptance can only happen when you realize you may never fully understand “why.”   Grief comes in waves   Some days you’ll feel at peace, accepting that no one could not have prevented what happened. Other days, you might be triggered by a sentimental memory of the deceased and feel overwhelmed with emotion. It’s normal for symptoms of grief to ebb and peak. When you are having an especially bad day, remember that your feelings will subside in time.   Self-care is not betrayal    When a person dies by suicide, guilt and depression can curb your motivation to take care of yourself. Simple acts like brushing your teeth, eating healthy, and exercising can feel burdensome. Reestablishing your routine will help bring back a sense of normalcy as you work through your grief. Allow yourself to experience both mundane and enjoyable activities, as routine and laughter are both important parts of the healing process.   Therapy isn’t sold in pint glasses    After experiencing the loss of someone by suicide, it can be tempting try to numb your void with alcohol. Be cautious about using substances to cope with your grief, as this does not help you work through your pain but only masks it until you sober up again. Alcohol exacerbates depression and anxiety, making you feel even worse once your buzz wears off. This can lead to you becoming dependent on alcohol to cope with your symptoms, worsening your depression and making recovery significantly more challenging.    Pain has a ripple effect   It’s common to have suicidal thoughts in the wake of a person’s death. Our brains want to make sense of things, and when something is insensible, our minds tend to replay the hurtful event repeatedly as we try to make sense of it. This confusion may cause you to fixate on death and despair, resulting in overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness. Know that the intensity of these feelings will fade in time. If your suicidal thoughts are unrelenting, seek help from a specialist right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can help direct you in getting help, either for yourself or for a loved one in need.    National Suicide Prevention Hotline:    1-800-273-8255     When in doubt, lean    You may feel like isolating yourself, staying in bed, and wallowing in depression for a while. As tough as it may be, push yourself to get out of the house and lean on the support of your friends and family. Isolating yourself may only worsen your depression. Stay connected to supportive people, and limit your time spent with people who tell you how you should think or feel.    Cultures may clash    Different cultures and religions have varying views on suicide, making it something that many people are unwilling to acknowledge or discuss. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide only worsens the problem, discouraging those in need from getting help.    You can change perceptions   As you process your grief, don’t forget that you have the power to make a difference by talking about suicide. Your voice can empower those in need to seek help and acknowledge that sufferers should be recognized and supported without shame. You can advocate through social media, online or in-person support groups, speaking engagements, or by educating your close friends and family. Start by learning how to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors to help prevent future deaths by suicide. A great resource is the Center for Disease Control’s listing of risks and protective factors.     Hope lies ahead    When their loss is still new, it may feel like you’ll never be happy again. The people that we meet, love, or admire are a defining part of our lives, and their loss is excruciating. This pain reflects the intense bonds we are blessed to experience as human beings. While birthdays and other milestones may be especially tough from year to year, know that the intensity of your grief will lessen over time, and someday you will be able to embrace both the happy and sad memories. Believe that no matter how dire things may feel today, the future holds hope, peace, and acceptance.     Variations can help   While your loved ones might not have the words to say, a specialist in depression and grief will understand your needs and will listen, validate what you are experiencing and help you discover ways to cope with your loss.    Variations Psychology has experts with a wide range of specializations       
	 CLick here to find a specialists that's right for you 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:      

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
                   First Name 
                   
                 

                 
                   Last Name 
                   
                 

               
            

          
        

        

          
             
               Email Address 
               
             
          

        

          

        

       

       
            Sign Up    
       

     

    
        We respect your privacy.  
    

     Thank you! 
      

   

 
       
     Y.on("domready", function(){
     Y.all('input[name="lname"]').setAttribute("value", "x");
     });
            Found this article helpful?     Rate and review us on Google and Yelp               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our    specialists.     More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/riskprotectivefactors.html  Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide http://www.sptsusa.org/  University of Texas Suicide Prevention Program https://cmhc.utexas.edu/bethatone/studentscopingsuicide.html  The Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900?pg=2   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Coping with the Shock of Suicide . Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/coping-with-the-shock-of-suicide

Coping With the Shock of Suicide

When a person dies by suicide, it sends a devastating shock wave through the world around them. Whether they were your personal friend or a celebrity that you admired, being connected with a person who dies by suicide can make you feel overwhelmed with confusion and despair. The relationships and role models we build throughout life have a tremendous impact on our mental health, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.

While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help.If someone you know or admired died by suicide, here are a few things you should know:

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      How to STOP Anxiety in its Tracks    Excuse me sir, your amygdala’s going haywire   Our brains are naturally wired to respond to threats with worry. When we encounter something troubling, a part of our brain called the amygdala sends out red flags to our bodies to be on high alert. Whether you are facing a dangerous situation like confronting a robber or something positive but nerve-wracking like taking your SAT’s, your amygdala will trigger your body to have symptoms of anxiety. Some people have more sensitive circuitry than others, causing them to experience anxiety symptoms more often.   Symptoms can include:     Increased heart rate    Shortness of breath    Feeling like your chest is caving in    Muscle tension    Intense, debilitating fear     But son, California doesn’t get tornadoes!   The threat response circuitry for a person with anxiety disorders is highly sensitive and may become triggered for reasons that seem completely irrational to others. Reasonable or not, just about anything can become a trigger for someone with anxiety issues, and their brain responds to that trigger the same way it would if they were standing face to face with a known serial killer. Without learning how to cope with their symptoms, this pervasive worrying can impact a person’s relationships, school or work performance, and mental health.     The equal opportunity offender   Anxiety impacts people through all walks of life and affects children, teens, and adults alike. Anxiety can take many forms. Some common forms of anxiety disorders include:    Social anxiety – Feeling anxious when having to interact in social situations    Panic disorder – Experiencing sudden attacks of fear, often with no obvious trigger    Generalized anxiety disorder – Excessive worry about several aspects of life    Agoraphobia – Intense fear of places where an escape route isn’t obvious    Specific phobias – Intense irrational fear of a specific trigger such as elevators, spiders, earthquakes, cars, etc.     When it’s a Problem    We all experience anxiety at one time or another. Whether it’s starting a new job, going on a blind date, or trying out a new rollercoaster, there are many life experiences that induce anxiety. Most people can move past it as it comes and carry on with their lives, but if you feel that your symptoms are a frequent problem that holds you back in any area of life, give these tips a try:   Get your amygdala out of the gutter   Anyone with anxiety knows how annoying it is for well-meaning friends and family to suggest that they “just cheer up,” or, “stop thinking that way,” as they know it is simply not that easy. However, by practicing a set of habits called STOP skills, you can learn to put the brakes on your brain’s reactions. STOP skills were developed by   Dr. Marta M. Shinn  , one of Variations Psychology’s specialists, and can benefit both adults and children. Stop stands for:     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      1. Surprise your brain   Anxiety makes us feel like we have no control over our minds, but we can influence our thoughts with practice. When you have a worrisome thought, identify it as a destructive idea that needs to be removed. Of course, it’s impossible to immediately remove a thought from your brain; if someone tells you not to think about hippos you’ll have hippos dancing through your head all day!   But you can identify the thought as a nuisance and work on replacing it.    One technique is to wear a rubber band on your wrist. Whenever a troublesome thought pops in your brain, snap it on your wrist, tell the thought to “stop!” and then picture yourself throwing the thought away to make room for a better one!   2. Talk to your brain    Positive self-talk is important to replacing your worrisome thoughts. Keep your problems in perspective – in the big picture, is your situation as threatening as it feels? Repeat positive affirmations to yourself, even if you don’t believe them at first.   What if it’s not my brain that’s the problem?   The same goes for parenting a child with anxiety as well – be the confidence that they don’t have. If they keep asking, “What if a tornado comes - you can’t know for sure that one won’t happen here.” Just say, “You’re right, it could happen, but I think we’ll be ok.” This is a great time to model how to manage worrisome thoughts.   3. Open your breathing   Next time you’re overcome with anxiety, pay attention to what your body is doing. Your muscles clench up, your chest tightens, and your breathing gets shorter. Focus on regaining control over your body, loosening your muscles and taking slow, controlled breaths. Once your breathing is under control, your other “high alert” symptoms will start to subside.   4. Practice a new behavior    Find your time out spot. We’re not referring to the corner your mom used to banish you to when you’d smack your brother. We mean to find a hobby, place, mental vision that allows you to take a break from whatever is triggering your anxiety. It could be listening to calming music, going for a drive, or watching cheesy movies with your best friend. Think about things that make you feel relaxed and calm; whatever that looks like for you, make it a priority when you feel anxious.   Other Helpful Tips:    Lay off the vodka red bulls    While you may have a few friends who strongly believe in the notion that “wine is cheaper than therapy,” an anxious person should limit their alcohol and caffeine consumption. Using alcohol as a coping mechanism for anxiety is dangerous because it can lead to dependence on alcohol to cope with your symptoms. Alcohol also changes your serotonin levels, which can increase anxiety symptoms once your buzz wears off. Caffeine can also worsen your symptoms because it is a stimulant that can give you the same jittery effects that trigger your “fight or flight” response during anxiety attacks.   Try a yoga class   …Or just YouTube yoga videos at home if your anxiety revolves around bending your body in unnatural positions in a room full of strangers. Whether you’re into high impact workouts like CrossFit or are more into the slow and controlled movements of Pilates, regular exercise of any kind will help your brain release endorphins and reduce your stress.   Namaste in bed   Yes, we want you to exercise regularly, but it’s equally important that you get adequate rest. Anxiety can be exacerbated by lack of sleep. For adults, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Doctor’s orders! Children require much more sleep depending on their age, with teens requiring 8-10 hours of sleep, 6-12 year old’s requiring 9-12 hours, 3-5 year old’s requiring 10-13 hours, 1-2 year old’s requiring 11-14 hours, and infants requiring 12-16 hours.   Power up with protein    Remember that anxiety is an issue with your brain’s health – you can address it with your thoughts and coping skills, but you can also support your brain health by feeding your body with proper nutrition. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and make sure to keep high protein snacks on hand to keep your energy up throughout the day.   Talk to a specialist   Variations Psychology has experts with a wide range of specializations to help you overcome problems with anxiety and help you get back to living your best life.      
	 Click here to find the specialist that’s right for you 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:      

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
                   First Name 
                   
                 

                 
                   Last Name 
                   
                 

               
            

          
        

        

          
             
               Email Address 
               
             
          

        

          

        

       

       
            Sign Up    
       

     

    
        We respect your privacy.  
    

     Thank you! 
      

   

 
       
     Y.on("domready", function(){
     Y.all('input[name="lname"]').setAttribute("value", "x");
     });
            Found this article helpful?     Rate and review us on Google and Yelp               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.      More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress  National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-when-fear-overwhelms/index.shtml   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). How to STOP Anxiety in its Tracks.   Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/how-to-stop-anxiety-in-its-tracks

How to STOP Anxiety in its Tracks

Excuse me sir, your amygdala’s going haywire

Our brains are naturally wired to respond to threats with worry. When we encounter something troubling, a part of our brain called the amygdala sends out red flags to our bodies to be on high alert. Whether you are facing a dangerous situation like confronting a robber or something positive but nerve-wracking like taking your SAT’s, your amygdala will trigger your body to have symptoms of anxiety. Some people have more sensitive circuitry than others, causing them to experience anxiety symptoms more often.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      When a Friend Dies by Suicide   The death of a loved one is always extremely painful, but having a friend die by suicide is especially devastating. Friendships are an important part of the human experience and impact our happiness, well-being, and sense of belonging. While we don’t get to choose which family we’re born into, we do get to choose who we build friendships with, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.   Why didn’t they come to me?   When a person dies, the first people we tend to sympathize with are family members, but being a friend of someone who dies by suicide presents its own unique struggles. After all, you’re the one they’re supposed to vent to when their family drives them nuts. You’re the one that’s supposed to take them out to get their mind off their crazy ex. You feel a responsibility for their well-being, and it’s hard to accept that their psychological battle was out of your control.   While there’s no easy road through the grieving process, knowing what to expect can help. If you’ve lost a friend to suicide, here are a few things you should know:    It’s ok to be angry   If your friend had been killed by a drunk driver, you’d know exactly who to be mad at. You’d be enraged with the person who made the choice to drive intoxicated. If your friend died by suicide, however, it’s a bit more confusing. They are both the victim and the person who caused their death. It’s normal to feel abandoned, angry, or resentful as you process what’s happened.   “Why” may never be clear – and that’s ok   Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, died by suicide in 2017. His family posted a video showing Chester smiling and playing games with his loved ones just hours before taking his life. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint why a person became suicidal - a traumatic event, extreme stress, or mental illness are common instigators. But in cases like Chester’s, suicide was something that no one saw coming. The factors leading to suicide are often unclear, and acceptance can only happen when you realize you may never fully understand “why.”   Grief comes in waves   Some days you’ll feel at peace, accepting that you could not have prevented your friend’s death. Other days, you’ll see an ad for your favorite band coming to town and feel devastated that you can’t call your friend to go with you. Milestones that should be enjoyable, like finding the love of your life, buying a new house, or watching your kids graduate may all have a bitter tinge knowing that your friend isn’t there to share those experiences with you. It’s normal for symptoms of grief to ebb and peak. When you are having an especially bad day, remember that your feelings will subside in time.   Self-care is not betrayal    When your friend dies by suicide, guilt and depression can curb your motivation to take care of yourself. Simple acts like brushing your teeth, eating healthy, and exercising can feel burdensome. Reestablishing your routine will help bring back a sense of normalcy as you work through your grief. Allow yourself to experience both mundane and enjoyable activities, as routine and laughter are both important parts of the healing process.   Therapy isn’t sold in pint glasses    Friends play an important role in the formation of our identities, and after losing a friend it can be tempting to try to numb your void with alcohol. Be cautious about using substances to cope with your grief, as this does not help you work through your pain but only masks it until you sober up again. Alcohol exacerbates depression and anxiety, making you feel even worse once your buzz wears off. This can lead to you becoming dependent on alcohol to cope with your symptoms, worsening your depression and making recovery significantly more challenging.   Pain has a ripple effect   It’s common for loved ones to have suicidal thoughts in the wake of their friend’s death. Our brains want to make sense of things, and when something is insensible, our minds tend to replay the hurtful event repeatedly as we try to make sense of it. This confusion may cause you to fixate on death and despair, resulting in overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness. Know that the intensity of these feelings will fade in time. If your suicidal thoughts are unrelenting, seek help from a specialist right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can help direct you in getting help, either for yourself or for a loved one in need.  National Suicide Prevention Hotline:   1-800-273-8255     When in doubt, lean   You may feel like isolating yourself, staying in bed, and wallowing in depression for a while. As tough as it may be, push yourself to get out of the house and lean on the support of your friends and family. Isolating yourself may only worsen your depression. Stay connected to supportive people, and limit your time spent with people who tell you how you should think or feel.   Cultures may clash    Different cultures and religions have varying views on suicide, making it something that many people are unwilling to acknowledge or discuss. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide only worsens the problem, discouraging those in need from getting help. Depending on their beliefs, expect that your friend’s family members might have a hard time talking about what happened or speaking up for the needs of those battling mental illness.   You can change perceptions    As their friend, you have the power to make a difference by talking about suicide. Your voice can empower those in need to seek help and acknowledge that sufferers should be recognized and supported without shame. You can share your story through social media, online or in-person support groups, speaking engagements, or by educating your close friends and family. Start by learning how to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors to help prevent future deaths by suicide. A great resource is the   Center for Disease Control’s listing of risks and protective factors.     You made their life better    Know that your relationship was just as important to your friend as it was to you; their choice to end their life was based on a warped perception of reality – a feeling that death was the only viable escape from their struggles - and was not a reflection of the value they placed on your friendship. You improved their quality of life despite their internal battle.   Hope lies ahead    When their loss is still new, it may feel like you’ll never be happy again. Close friends are a defining part of our lives, and their loss is excruciating. This pain reflects the intense bonds we are blessed to experience as human beings. While birthdays and other milestones may be especially tough from year to year, know that the intensity of your grief will lessen over time, and someday you will be able to embrace both the happy and sad memories. Believe that no matter how dire things may feel today, the future holds hope, peace, and acceptance.     Variations can help   While your friends might not have the words to say, a specialist in depression and grief will understand your needs and will listen, validate what you are experiencing and help you discover ways to cope with your loss.  Variations Psychology has experts with a wide range of specializations:      
	 Click here to find the specialist that’s right for you 
       Click here to subscribe to Psychologically Speaking      

 
   
     
      
        Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.  
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
                   First Name 
                   
                 

                 
                   Last Name 
                   
                 

               
            

          
        

        

          
             
               Email Address 
               
             
          

        

          

        

       

       
            Sign Up    
       

     

    
        We respect your privacy.  
    

     Thank you! 
      

   

 
       
     Y.on("domready", function(){
     Y.all('input[name="lname"]').setAttribute("value", "x");
     });
            Found this article helpful?     Rate and review us on Google and Yelp               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/riskprotectivefactors.html  Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide http://www.sptsusa.org/  University of Texas Suicide Prevention Program https://cmhc.utexas.edu/bethatone/studentscopingsuicide.html  The Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/suicide/art-20044900?pg=2   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). When a Friend Dies by Suicide.  Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/when-a-friend-dies-by-suicide

When a Friend Dies by Suicide

The death of a loved one is always extremely painful, but having a friend die by suicide is especially devastating. Friendships are an important part of the human experience and impact our happiness, well-being, and sense of belonging. While we don’t get to choose which family we’re born into, we do get to choose who we build friendships with, and having that connection severed by suicide is incredibly traumatic.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Life Success – Is it about Persistence or Following Your Passion?   Listen to the podcast for this blog post here     

 
 
      “Everybody’s life is either rewarding or an example.” -Tony Robbins   Remember that person in high school who was insanely smart, but just didn’t have the drive to reach their potential? You know, that kid that always seemed bored in class, aced every test, but couldn’t be bothered to do their homework. After all, they knew all the answers, had their career plans, so why do the extra work? We’ve also known someone who wasn’t necessarily the most passionate or intelligent one in school, but worked tirelessly to accomplish anything and everything expected of them, no matter how necessary the task seemed.  So where are they now?   Einstein flunked and ended up alright   Whether passion or persistence is more important to success is a long-debated topic. Of course, there are several examples of drop-outs achieving massive success like Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga, and Bill Gates to name a few. But is passion truly enough in and of itself to help a person lead a successful, fulfilling life?      Motivation matters   There are two types of motivation that drive our behaviors: intrinsic and extrinsic. Motivation is considered intrinsic if a person is driven by the natural satisfaction that will result from their achievement. Intrinsic motivation energizes our feelings of passion and fulfillment. Motivation that is extrinsic is driven by trying to earn a tangible reward or to avoid punishment – this type of motivation is reflected in persistence and hard work, as it is not necessarily enjoyable or interesting to engage in, but is necessary to receive an end-goal.   For example…   If a child is naturally drawn to learning languages, they might study French for the mere satisfaction of knowing how to communicate common phrases. They may watch YouTube tutorials on their own time or even become a French Professor someday. This passion to master French would be intrinsically motivated. If the same child isn’t as inclined to achievement in science, their parent might offer them an extrinsic reward, such as money or a new game, if they can improve their biology grade. The student’s persistence to perform in biology may end after meeting their minimum obligation, or they may discover that they love it now that they dedicated some time to studying it.   Which one will get my kid on the Honor Roll?   Both passion and persistence are important to success, and it is difficult to reach one’s potential without combination of both. Think of the winter Olympics – you can often tell which figure skaters are the ones with the most natural talent and passion – they have a sense of effortlessness, as if that’s what they were born to do. Then you have the ones who weren’t necessarily “born with it” but for fame, financial security, or other motivations have worked themselves to the bone to get where they are – their performance resonates with determination and precision. At the end of the day, they get scored on both technique and presentation, so the ones with a strong sense of passion and persistence have the best odds.   Passion without persistence    "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." -Vidal Sassoon   A person with passion and poor persistence is likely to give up when challenges arise. No matter how strong a person’s passions or talents are, they will eventually come up against obstacles that threaten their upward mobility. For example, let’s say your child is a prodigy artist who dreams of having their own gallery. However, they know nothing about running a business and didn’t put much effort in school, thinking an artist really has no need for learning the Pythagorean theorem. Without the persistence and drive to learn effective practices and develop a convincing business model, they would not qualify for a loan to open their gallery, nor would their gallery be likely to succeed if it did open.   Persistence without passion    "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do… Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it." -Steve Jobs   A person with persistence but no passion may not be quick to give up, but their performance will likely not be at the same level as someone who is passionate - nor will they feel the same sense of fulfillment, and well-being is an important element in success. What’s more, passion empowers persistence; studies show that students who are passionate about a topic are more likely to persist through challenges that arise in mastering the subject.   Synergy = Success   Cultivating both your child’s passions and persistency are the best way to equip them for success. When these two traits work together, a child is motivated by the fulfillment of the task at hand, and believes in their ability to overcome challenges that might otherwise prompt them to give up.   Got it - so how do I support them?     Here are some tips to foster persistence and passion in your child:    1. Teach active coping     "It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.'" – Hans Selye   At each stage of a child’s development, there are social and academic stressors that present themselves. Students that employ active coping mechanisms tend to perform better than those who use avoidant methods. Avoidant coping includes procrastination, angry outbursts, over or under eating, or blaming others for their stress. When your child is feeling stressed, encourage them to positively affirm themselves, record their thoughts in a journal, vent to a friend, and set time each day for relaxing and enjoyable activities. Emotional intelligence is strongly correlated with academic success.   2. Consider your family culture    “A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.” -Mahatma Gandhi   For all of you Game of Thrones fans, what do you think of when you hear the name “Lannister”? Aside from power thirsty tyrants, you may recall the saying, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” Your child will internalize the identity traits that you associate with your family. Develop a mantra that you say whenever challenges arise, “We are a strong family. We don’t give up when times get tough!” Convey that persistency is a part of who you are.   3. Empower through responsibility    "Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them." -Vaibhav Shah   Giving your child age-appropriate responsibilities builds their sense of competency. Task your school-aged child with feeding or walking your pets, washing the dishes, and laying out their clothing for school. Encourage a part-time job for your teenager or young adult living at home. However, be sure that responsibilities are increased gradually and that you leave ample time for them to relax and unwind; burning them out will reduce their feelings of autonomy and passion for what they are doing.   4. Develop alternate pathways    “The only problem we really have is we think we’re not supposed to have problems! Problems call us to higher level – face & solve them now!” -Tony Robbins   When you are inspired to achieve something, you’re more likely to find ways to overcome obstacles. For example, if you’ve always dreamt of becoming a nurse but just can’t seem to pass anatomy, you’d probably spring for a tutor. If you didn’t see how that class impacted your dream, you wouldn’t be motivated to spend your time or money on extra help and might just drop the class. The same goes for your kids; when they encounter obstacles, they may not always be motivated to seek alternate pathways on their own. Discuss their challenges, collaborate to explore different approaches, and discover strategies together. Model that obstacles are not a reason to abandon a task.   5. Celebrate failure    “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” -Oprah Winfrey   Remind your child that the most successful people in the world have failed more times than most others have tried. Failure paves the way for success, and the true failure is giving up. Even if your child is engaging in something they are talented at and passionate about, they won’t always bat a thousand, and that’s a good thing. Resist rescuing them every time they get frustrated or say they can’t do something. Intervening deprives them of their opportunity to learn from trial and error.   6. Be strategic with incentives    “Without delayed gratification, there is no persistence.” -Sunday Adelaja   Don’t offer your child money or ice cream for every task you want them to accomplish. In the real world, there will be things they have to get done that won’t offer instant gratification. Incentives tend to be more effective for projects in which quantity is the goal –tasks that are repetitive and non-complex, such as writing vocabulary words 25 times. For these types of tasks, an incentive may increase your child’s motivation. For tasks where quality is the end goal, however, incentives can damper their performance. Try to avoid offering incentives for tasks requiring broad, creative thinking.   Some tips for cultivating passions:     1. Listen to their dreams    "If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much." -Jim Rohn   Self-determination theory suggests that humans have three innate needs:    A need to feel competent    A need to feel related    A need to feel autonomous    These three needs are what energize passion. If you are pressuring or guilting your child over their school performance, they will not feel competent or autonomous. Listen to their feelings about the subjects they dislike. Acknowledge their feelings, be positive about their passions, and try to help them connect the dots between their dreams and obligations. For example, if they dream of being the next big rock star, explain how math can improve their guitar skills.   2.Empower goal-setting    "The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus." -Bruce Lee   “Academic hope” refers to the process of thinking about one’s goals, the motivation to achieve those goals, and one’s plans to achieve them. Students with high academic hope tend to have increased success. Model goal-setting, planning, and achievement in everyday life. Share your past and present goals, plans, and achievements. Demonstrate that your passions and interests are important to you, and you are willing to do what it takes to pursue them. Talk to your child about their goals, ask them about their action plans, and supportively listen to their ideas. Positively reinforce them each time they make progress.      3. Help them connect    "If people like you, they're going to want to do business with you. And if they don't, you're going to have an almost insurmountable obstacle to overcome." -Barbara Corcoran   Students who actively engage with peers and faculty at their school are more likely to succeed. Encourage your child to join clubs, attend tutoring groups, and approach their teachers for extra help or just to discuss interesting concepts.     4. IQ isn’t the be-all end-all    "As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others." -Bill Gates   While you want to support your child’s intellectual growth, knowledge and reasoning are not the only factors that contribute to academic success. Put as much emphasis on character building. Traits related to leadership, responsibility, perseverance, and adaptability have all shown correlation with higher GPA’s.   5. Consult a specialist   If you are concerned about your child’s motivations, coping skills, and academic success, a specialist in education can help your child get the most out of their scholastic experience. A specialist will evaluate your child’s challenges, determine the possible presence of any learning disorders, and develop a customized plan to empower you to support their growth.      
	 Click here to find the specialist that’s right for you 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:      

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
                   First Name 
                   
                 

                 
                   Last Name 
                   
                 

               
            

          
        

        

          
             
               Email Address 
               
             
          

        

          

        

       

       
            Sign Up    
       

     

    
        We respect your privacy.  
    

     Thank you! 
      

   

 
       
     Y.on("domready", function(){
     Y.all('input[name="lname"]').setAttribute("value", "x");
     });
            Found this article helpful?     Rate and review us on Google and Yelp               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Cerasoli, C., Nicklin, J., & Ford, M. (2014). Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives Jointly Predict Performance: A 40-Year Meta-Analysis.  Psychological Bulletin,   140 (4), 980-1008.  GreatSchools.org, Crawford, L. (2016) Teaching Young Kids Persistence. https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/teaching-persistence-1st-and-2nd-grade/   Hansen, Michele Joann, Trujillo, Daniel J., Boland, Donna L., & MacKinnon, Joyce L. (2014). Overcoming Obstacles and Academic Hope: An Examination of Factors Promoting Effective Academic Success Strategies.  Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice,   16 (1), 49-71.  Hen, M., & Goroshit, M. (2014). Academic Procrastination, Emotional Intelligence, Academic Self-Efficacy, and GPA.  Journal of Learning Disabilities,47 (2), 116-124.  Michigan State University, Student Work Archive https://msu.edu/~dwong/StudentWorkArchive/CEP900F01-RIP/Webber-IntrinsicMotivation.htm    Tamez, J. (2014). Assessing the values of "talent' versus "performance'. Supermarket News.      How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Life Success – Is it about Persistence or Following Your Passion?   Psychologically     Speaking.   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/life-success-is-it-about-persistence-or-following-your-passion

“Everybody’s life is either rewarding or an example.” -Tony Robbins

Remember that person in high school who was insanely smart, but just didn’t have the drive to reach their potential? You know, that kid that always seemed bored in class, aced every test, but couldn’t be bothered to do their homework. After all, they knew all the answers, had their career plans, so why do the extra work? We’ve also known someone who wasn’t necessarily the most passionate or intelligent one in school, but worked tirelessly to accomplish anything and everything expected of them, no matter how necessary the task seemed.

So where are they now?

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Explaining the Unexplainable: How to Discuss School Violence with Your Kids   In the wake of recent school shootings, many of us feel an overwhelming sense of fear and lack of control over such a senseless tragedy. Between social media, word of mouth, and news broadcasts, children are exposed to more and more similar headlines; it can be hard for parents to know how help their children process these tragedies without worsening their anxiety.  Our clinicians at Variations Psychology wanted to share a few insights to guide you in discussing school violence with your children:   Find out what they already know.    Between classmates, TV, and the internet, chances are your child may have already heard some details about the shooting. Ask them what they’ve heard before you start offering up information. Gently correct inaccuracies and let their questions guide what you will share.     Honesty is important.    If your child heard about the shooting from a classmate on the playground, it can be tempting to see if you can get away with telling them it was all made up and didn’t happen. This is not recommended, as silence on a subject suggests to your child that it is too awful to even speak of and can increase their fear of it. Model confidence and assurance in their safety as you speak to them; your kids are looking to you to see how scared they should be.   Keep it age appropriate.    For preschoolers and school aged children, use simple language and avoid gruesome details. Reassure them that they are safe. Give them extra love and attention to reinforce that you are there for them. Remind them of all of the people who are dedicated to their safety – you, their teacher, principal, etc. For adolescents, take time to listen to their feelings and thoughts about school shootings and campus safety. Remind them of what they can do to help (i.e. – reporting strangers on campus or reporting “red flag” behaviors of concerning students).   Stick to your routine    It feels natural to many parents to try to keep their children close after school shootings, but psychologists agree that the best way to model resilience and strength is by showing your child that tragedies will not stop you from living your life. Keep your child’s daily routine the same following tragic events; the consistency of school, homework, and other predictable activities will help retain some sense of normalcy among the chaos of what they’ve learned.   Censor what you can    While you can’t shield your kids from everything, try to be attentive to the amount of media coverage and adult conversations you expose your children to. If you want your older children to watch the news, record it beforehand so that you can review it to decide if it’s age appropriate.   Show a little extra patience    Your child may not blatantly express that they are struggling to process what happened, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t having difficulty coping. In the wake of horrific tragedies, it’s normal for your child to act irritably or have difficulty focusing or completing tasks. Give a little extra patience, comfort, and reassurance in the weeks that follow.   Always give hope    Any time you discuss something traumatic with your child, balance out the conversation with hopeful insights for the future. Share stories of those that survived, of people helping one another, and of the heroism and quick response of the police and first responders.     Find a specialist        
	 Click here to find the specialist that’s right for you 
      While tragedies such as the shooting in Parkland are disturbing to most people, some have a harder time coping than others. If you or your child are experiencing increased anxiety, depression, appetite or sleep changes, seek support from a professional right away. A specialist who understands how trauma affects adults and children and can help you or your child learn coping skills to overcome your fear and anxiety.  Additional Resources:  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network:   http://www.nctsn.org/    The National Education Association:   http://www.nea.org/home/72279.htm     Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:      

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
                   First Name 
                   
                 

                 
                   Last Name 
                   
                 

               
            

          
        

        

          
             
               Email Address 
               
             
          

        

          

        

       

       
            Sign Up    
       

     

    
        We respect your privacy.  
    

     Thank you! 
      

   

 
       
     Y.on("domready", function(){
     Y.all('input[name="lname"]').setAttribute("value", "x");
     });
            Found this article helpful?     Rate and review us on Google and Yelp               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our    specialists.     More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice composed of specialists in a variety of psychology domains including Clinical Psychology, School and Educational Psychology, Child Development, Psychological Testing, Educational Testing, and Training.  Our specialists provide therapy to children, adolescents, adults, couples and families.  We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.  Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).      
  
       References:   Dym Bartlett, J. (2018). Resources to Help Children in the Wake of a School Shooting.  Child Trends . Retrieved online: https://www.childtrends.org/resources-help-children-wake-school-shooting  Long, C. (2018). School Shootings and Other Traumatic Events: How to Talk to Students.  The National Education Association . Retrieved online:  http://www.nea.org/home/72279.htm  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (2018). Parent Guidelines for Helping Students After the Recent School Shooting. Retrieved online: http://www.nctsn.org/   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Explaining the Unexplainable: How to Discuss School Violence with Your Kids.       Psychologically Speaking . [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/explaining-the-unexplainable

Explaining the Unexplainable:
How to Discuss School Violence with Your Kids

In the wake of recent school shootings, many of us feel an overwhelming sense of fear and lack of control over such a senseless tragedy. Between social media, word of mouth, and news broadcasts, children are exposed to more and more similar headlines; it can be hard for parents to know how help their children process these tragedies without worsening their anxiety.

Our clinicians at Variations Psychology wanted to share a few insights to guide you in discussing school violence with your children: