No matter how sincere you are about wanting to pursue your goals and feel better about your life, you may be sabotaging your own success in ways you don’t realize, preventing you from living your best life!
Guest Post: Stop Doing These 5 Things and Feel Better About Your Life
If you are pouring energy into trying to achieve your goals, but aren’t making progress, check to see whether you are doing any of these five things. They could be holding you back or draining your energy. Stop doing them so you can start to feel better about your life!
1. Are you comparing yourself with others?
A little bit of competitiveness can be an excellent motivator, but, as Farnam Street points out, if you’re always comparing yourself with others you’re never going to be content. This is because there will always be someone more successful or talented, or who has it easier, or who has something you feel you need to be happy.
Obsessing nonstop over what others have leaves you with no time to appreciate what you have. It can make you bitter and resentful too, which will make you less productive. So, if you constantly compare yourself with others, stop doing so today and feel better about your life!
2. Are you trying to do everything at once?
Perhaps you feel you don’t have time for anything but work because your plate is too full. Or maybe you don’t completely trust others to make good decisions and feel it’s all on you. These are often the result of a work-life balance that’s off kilter. The stress of this can build up until you are exhausted and burned out.
To feel better about your life, prioritize self-care and give yourself a chance to check out on occasion. If you feel this is impossible, it may be time to hire someone to help you manage the tasks you’re dealing with. Just bringing on a virtual assistant might be a game-changer for you.
3. Are you wasting energy on toxic relationships?
Yes, maintaining relationships can sometimes take a little patience, but when the relationship is healthy and positive, the work that goes into them is always worthwhile. In a good relationship, you should be able to relax and be yourself, and you should trust your friend or loved one not to go behind your back or undermine you.
In unhealthy relationships, Women’s Health explains you may feel perpetually exhausted and as though you always must be on your guard against manipulation or gaslighting. Relationships of that sort are exhausting and bad for your mental health. To feel better now, set some boundaries and protect yourself from toxic people.
4. Are you working a job you hate?
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to switch out an unsatisfactory job for a satisfying one. But if you are truly miserable at work, it’s worth making an extra effort to feel better about your life. Search for a new position or even switch careers completely.
Remember that there may be a job out there you’re qualified for that you haven’t even dreamed of. If not, however, there’s still the possibility of taking classes or training for a different position.
5. Are you waiting for everything to be perfect to feel better about your life?
If you’ve been putting off making needed life changes because the time isn’t right, or you don’t feel the opportunity is ideal, ask yourself whether you are simply procrastinating.
After all, no time will ever be completely right and no situation entirely ideal. This is a case of letting the perfect become the enemy of the good, and you should stop doing it right away. Instead of procrastinating because things aren’t perfect, feel better immediately by making a plan to improve your situation, one step at a time.
Even if you can’t magically change everything in your life right this minute, there are still plenty of choices and changes you can make that will bring about immediate improvement. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of changing your thinking. Sometimes it has to do with your work or relationships.
Whatever the case, don’t delay, and make the changes you can make, now, for a happier and healthier life.
Guest Author: Dorothy Watson
Dorothy Watson grew up with a single mother who suffered from bipolar disorder. Her mom wasn’t properly diagnosed until Dorothy was about 12 years old, so she saw her mom struggle for a long time. Since she has seen how hard life can be for people whose mental health hasn’t been properly addressed, she is an advocate for mental wellness. You can learn more at Mental Wellness Center.
This guide has 50+ free resources for overcoming perfectionism including assessments, worksheets/handouts, workbooks, guides, videos, articles, and more.
Do you hold yourself or others to unrealistic standards and find yourself defeated or frustrated when those standards aren’t met? Are you sensitive to criticism and have a fear of making mistakes? Do you have a tendency to procrastinate? Are you driven by fear or have an intense fear of failure? If so, you may be a perfectionist. And it may be hindering you instead of helping.
April 22 – 3 in 10 healthcare workers consider leaving the profession due to pandemic-related burnout. (Source: The Washington Post)
July 13 – Over half (53%) of United States public health workers report symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or suicidal thoughts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic according to the CDC.
July 23 –Mental health workers are deployed to provide mental health support to first responders, the search and rescue teams, who worked for weeks to find victims after the condo collapse in Surfside, FL that killed nearly 100 people.
November 1 – Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive therapy, dies at 100. (Source: USA Today)
December 13 – Digital (computer and smartphone-based) treatments for mental illness may effectively reduce symptoms of depression. (Source: American Psychological Association)
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 in the United States. (CDC)
A 2021 report published by Mental Health America indicates that most American employees are experiencing burnout. Furthermore, employees are not receiving the support they need to manage stress; workplace stress has a significant impact on mental health. Download the full report here.
February 3 – Researchers develop experimental vaccines to block opioid-induced respiratory depression, the primary cause of overdose death. (Source: Scripps Research Institute)
February 17 – Demi Lovato reveals that she suffered from three strokes and a heart attack in 2018 as a result of a drug overdose, leaving her with permanent brain damage. (Source: ABC News)
March 4 – A 75-year old New York doctor who saw patients in a hotel parking lot is charged with murder for 5 opioid deaths after writing massive quantities of prescriptions for opioid drugs. (Source: CSB News)
April 2 – The CDC reports that overdose deaths were at their highest in 2020, a 38.4% increase compared to the previous 12-year period.
September 1 – Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, is dissolved in a bankruptcy settlement that requires the company’s owners, members of the Sackler family, to pay billions of dollars to address the impact of the opioid epidemic. (Source: New York Times)
September 9 – Disparities in opioid overdose deaths for Black people continue to worsen. Read the press release. (Source: National Institutes of Health-NIH)
September 22 – An NIH report indicates that methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths nearly tripled between 2015-2019. Read the press release.
October 28 – The American Medical Associationcommends the Biden-Harris Administration “for responding to the spike in drug overdoses with an evidence-based, humane approach to increasing access to care for patients with a substance use disorder and harm reduction services.”
November 22 – Researchers develop a wearable naloxone injector device to detect and reverse opioid overdose. Read the news release from UW Medicine.
December 1 – Fentanyl strips prevent overdose and save lives. (Source: MSN News)
December 7 – The first safe injection sites in America open in New York in Washington Heights and East Harlem. (Source: Psychiatry Advisor)
December 9 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announces it is dropping the name of the philanthropic Sackler family, whose name is linked to America’s opioid epidemic. (Source: NBC News)
Discrimination & Reform
January 18 – The American Psychiatric Association issues a public apology for their past discriminatory practices. Read the news release here.
February 25 – The House passes the Equality Act, which “prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.”
July 30 –Research suggests that a 2017 executive order banning foreign nationals from select Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States harmed the health of Muslim Americans. (Source: Yale News)
August 17 – Researchers find persistent racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States. (Source: JAMA)
October 29 – The American Psychological Association issues an apology for its longstanding contributions to systemic racism.
December 1 – A study indicates that youth who face discrimination are at a greater risk for developing a mental disorder and are twice as likely to experience severe psychological distress compared to youth who don’t experience discrimination. (Source: Pediatrics)
Mental Health in 2021 Legislation
In February, the Mental Health Justice Act of 2021 to create a grant program for training and dispatching mental health professionals (instead of law enforcement officers) to respond to psychiatric emergencies is introduced.
The infrastructure act signed to law by the president in November mandates automakers to install anti-drunk driving technology systems in all new cars.
In 2021, recreational marijuana use is legalized in New York, Virginia, New Mexico, and Connecticut. While marijuana is still federally controlled, it is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia and medically allowed in 36 states. Read more about marijuana legalization in the United States here. (Source: U.S. News)
2021 – the second year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic – brought with it more distress, loss, and hardship, with no end in sight as COVID deaths in 2021 surpassed those in 2020. While the year delivered a few legislative victories and promising research findings in mental health in 2021, overall, it wasn’t a great one.
Data suggests that mental health in 2021 suffered, with increased rates of depression, anxiety, and substance use. Healthcare workers experienced severe burnout. Overdose deaths skyrocketed while thousands of lawsuits were filed against opioid makers such as Purdue Pharma who started and sustained the opioid crisis in America, profiting off the suffering and tragedy of addiction. (See the Opioid Settlement Tracker to learn more about opioid settlements and how the money is spent.)
Meanwhile, a wave of civil unrest in America, triggered by the murder of George Floyd in 2020, continued into 2021 with protests, rioting, and violence. While the movement gained strength in 2020, in 2021, many Americans looked away. At the same time, there was a political push for a more “patriotic” retelling of history – to limit what schools could teach about slavery. However, steps in the right direction were taken by both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association when they issued public apologies for the harm they caused.
Although drug overdose deaths increased, there were significant strides taken in 2021 to win the “war on drugs” – by ending it with an awareness that this is not a war; it’s a treatable illness. 2021 saw the establishment of evidence-based, harm-reduction measures as well as legislation to decriminalize and legalize drugs. Meanwhile, medical research in 2021 revealed promising treatments to heal both addiction and mental illness.
To conclude, last year – in general – sucked. Despite this, it wasn’t entirely bad in mental health in 2021. And, 2022 could be the light at the end of the tunnel! In fact, the same poll that suggested 2021 was a “trainwreck” of a year found a majority of Americans are still hopeful for 2022.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
20 Powerful TED Talks on Relationships & Communication
1. Four Habits of ALL Successful Relationships | Dr. Andrea & Jonathan Taylor-Cummings (2019)
All relationships take work. Dr. Andrea & Jon Taylor-Cummings share their observations of the four fundamental habits of healthy relationships: BE CURIOUS, not critical; BE CAREFUL, not crushing; ASK, don’t assume; and CONNECT, before you correct.
2. Ten Ways to Have a Better Conversation | Celeste Headlee (2016)
Journalist, author, and public speaker Celeste Headlee reveals the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity, and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 rules for having better conversations.
3. The Brain in Love | Helen Fisher (2008)
Helen Fisher – anthropologist, human behavior researcher, and self-help author – talks about romantic love in this video clip. She shares what neuroscience tells us about the brain in love.
Bonus video: The Science of Love with Dr. Helen Fisher
4. Do You Have Post Betrayal Syndrome? | Debi Silber (2020)
Dr. Debi Silber – psychologist and founder of the PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute – talks about being blindsided by betrayal. She explains how we heal (physically, mentally, and emotionally) from betrayal by turning trauma into transformation.
Take a free quiz to find out if you have post betrayal syndrome.
5. The Dreaded Drama Triangle | Lucy Barnes (2018)
There are three roles we take on in unhealthy relationships. Are you the victim, the rescuer, or the persecutor? Lucy Barnes talks about the dreaded drama triangle in this TED Talk.
6. How to Fix a Broken Heart | Guy Winch (2018)
Psychologist Guy Winch talks about heartbreak and the intense emotional pain it brings. To recover from a broken heart, we must be willing to let the relationship go; hope can be incredibly destructive when we’re heartbroken. In one of the most viewed TED Talks on relationships and breakups, Winch shares practical suggestions for moving on after a relationship ends.
7. How to Speak So That People Want to Listen | Julian Treasure (2014)
According to Julian Treasure, the seven deadly sins of speaking are gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, blaming, lying, and conflating fact with opinion. He talks about the four cornerstones of effective speech as well as tools for speaking so that people want to listen.
Bonus TED-Ed Video: How Miscommunication Happens and How to Avoid It
8. How to Spot a Liar | Pamela Meyer (2011)
We’re all liars, according to Pamela Meyer – and we’re lied to between 10 and 200 times on any given day. In one of the most highly viewed TED Talks on relationships and deception, Meyer talks about how to spot lies by recognizing the telltale signs of a liar.
9. How Your Brain Falls In Love | Dawn Maslar (2016)
Biologist Dawn Maslar explains the neuroscience of falling in love. Romantic love is associated with chemical and hormonal changes that differ for men and women.
10. Infidelity: To Stay or Go…? | Lucy Beresford (2018)
Psychotherapist and relationship expert Lucy Beresford argues against the assumption that ending a relationship after infidelity is the best course of action. She suggests that it’s more courageous to stay and rebuild. In this TED Talk, Beresford explains how a couple can repair their relationship and rebuild trust after a betrayal.
Bonus TED-Ed Video: A Brief History of Divorce
11. Is Casual Sex Bad for You? | Dr. Zhana Vrangalova (2015)
Renowned sex researcher and psychologist Zhana Vrangalova discusses casual sex, long portrayed as a societal sin. She explains how “hookup” sex satisfies some of our most basic human needs.
12. Is It Lust or Is It Love? | Terri Orbuch (2014)
Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka, The Love Doctor®) is a professor of sociology at Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan) and a research professor at the Institute for Social Research at University of Michigan. In this TED Talk she explains how to differentiate between lust and love by recognizing distinctive features.
13. Overcoming the Fear of Love | Trillion Small (2018)
Dr. Trillion Small, licensed marriage and family therapist, examines why we fear love and how to overcome this in order to have healthy relationships.
14. The Power of Vulnerability | Brené Brown (2011)
Brené Brown shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
15. Relationships Are Hard, but Why? | Stan Tatkin (2016)
Stan Tatkin – relationship expert, clinician, teacher, and researcher – explores why we fight in relationships from a neuroscience perspective.
16. Rethinking Infidelity… A Talk for Anyone Who Has Ever Loved | Esther Perel (2015)
Relationship therapist Esther Perel discusses adultery and infidelity in this TED Talk. She explains that monogamy has nothing to do with love and talks about the three ways infidelity hurts us differently today.
17. The Science of Love | John Gottman (2018)
Can science help find the magic of love? Relationship expert discusses the science of love and how to make love work.
18. Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships | Joanne Davila (2015)
Psychologist and researcher Joanne Davila describes how you can create the things that lead to healthy relationships and reduce the things that lead to unhealthy ones using three evidence-based skills – insight, mutuality, and emotion regulation.
19. What a Sex Worker Can Teach Us About Human Connection | Nicole Emma (2018)
Nicole Emma explains that sex is how men feel loved and worthy. She shares what she learned about human connection through sex work. She also touches on the impact of harmful male messages in society.
Leslie Morgan Steiner shares what it’s like to be in “crazy love” with an abusive partner. For years she stayed with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. In this TED Talk, Steiner explains why domestic violence victims don’t leave abusive relationships; she also corrects common misconceptions about intimate partner violence.
1. Anger Is Your Ally: A Mindful Approach to Anger | Juna Mustad (2019)
You wouldn’t let a young child drive a car, nor would you lock them in the trunk. Treat your anger in the same manner; don’t let it drive you, but don’t be a “stuffer.” Juna Mustad explains how neuroscience and mindfulness can help us to better understand and manage anger.
2. Don’t Neglect Your Emotions. Express Them – Constructively! | Artūrs Miksons (2019)
Medical doctor and psychotherapist Artūrs Miksons talks about how we learn to suppress or reject emotional responses that are deemed unacceptable by society. In reality, emotions should not be labeled as “good” or “bad”; they just are. A better way to manage difficult emotions is to not only recognize and accept them, but to speak them aloud and share with another.
3. Emotional Mastery: The Gifted Wisdom of Unpleasant Feelings | Dr. Joan Rosenberg (2016)
Psychologist Joan Rosenberg explains how poor management of unpleasant feelings blocks us from feeling capable in life and achieving success. She reveals a simple formula (1 choice, 8 feelings, 90 seconds) for navigating these challenging feelings in one of the most popular TED Talks on emotions.
4. Emotions Monsters and the Way We Treat Them | Melissa Gallagher (2020)
Melissa Gallagher – trauma survivor, parent, and mental health advocate – explains that we need to recognize and connect with our “emotions monsters” in order to heal from suffering. Hiding from our pain only makes it worse.
5. Feelings: Handle Them Before They Handle You | Mandy Saligari (2017)
Recovering addict and addictions therapist Mandy Saligari explains that we must handle our emotions or they will handle us. She discusses emotional coping mechanisms for managing feelings and the role of healthy boundaries.
6. The Mood-Boosting Power of Crying | Kathy Mendias (2020)
In this video clip, Kathy Mendias explores the science behind the mood-boosting power of tears (which the average human produces 15-30 gallons of per year!) She explains how crying can improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
Did you know that the chemical composition of emotional tears differs from that of the tears that form in response to an irritant? Click here for a 4-minute bonus video that explains the chemistry of tears and why we cry.
7. The Power of Women’s Anger | Soraya Chemaly (2019)
Author Soraya Chemaly talks about how girls and women across the world are taught that anger, “the moral property of boys and men,” is better left unvoiced. In reality, anger is a powerful signal that warns us of threat, insult, indignity, and harm; feminine rage is justified, healthy, and a potential catalyst for change.
8. Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful | David Steindl-Rast (2013)
Monk and interfaith scholar David Steindl-Rast talks about how gratefulness is the secret to true happiness. He encourages everyone to “live gratefully” by not taking life for granted. Every moment is a gift and we have a new opportunity in every moment.
9. Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals | Tim Ferriss (2017)
In this TED Talks, Tim Ferriss – entrepreneur, investor, author, podcaster, and lifestyle guru – talks about overcoming self-paralysis through “fear-setting.” By envisioning our fears and then focusing on what we have control over (define, prevent, impair), we are better equipped to face them.
10. You Aren’t at the Mercy of Your Emotions – Your Brain Creates Them | Lisa Feldman Barrett (2018)
Neuroscientist and psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains, and analyzed hundreds of physiology studies for the past 25 years to better understand human emotions. Through exhaustive research she discovered how emotions are created in the brain. As one of the top-viewed TED Talks on emotions, this video shows that we have more control over our emotions than we think we do.
Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion
1. Compassion and the True Meaning of Empathy | Joan Halifax (2011)
In this inspiring TED Talk, Joan Halifax shares about what she’s learned about compassion and true empathy. She has a deep insight into the nature of compassion, gained through her work with people in the end stages of their lives.
2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth (2013)
In this popular TED Talk, psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth explains how grit and determination, not IQ, are the biggest predictors of success.
3. How Do You Define Yourself? | Lizzie Velasquez (2014)
Lizzie Velasquez, once labeled the world’s ugliest woman, explores the ways in which we define ourselves. As one of the most powerful TED Talks on true beauty, this video empowers viewers to challenge society’s definitions of beauty, happiness, and success – and to decide for themselves how they’ll allow themselves to be defined.
4. How to Succeed in Every Moment Even When You’re Failing | Dr. Jill Stoddard (2020)
Dr. Jill Stoddard – clinical psychologist and author – challenges the notion that goal achievement is a measure of success. She explores alternative ways of thinking about failures in life.
5. Listening to Shame | Brené Brown (2012)
Brené Brown – researcher, professor, and author – explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. In this TED Talk she explains how shame is an epidemic and how it plays a major role in “broken” behaviors in our lives.
6. The Magic of Not Giving a F*** | Sarah Knight (2017)
Bestselling author Sarah Knight outlines her method for “not giving a fuck,” thereby putting a stop to spending time she doesn’t have, doing things she doesn’t want to do. One of the most powerful TED Talks on self-determination, Sarah Knight’s speech will leave you rethinking your own priorities (and fucks to give – or not to give) in life.
7. The Price of Shame | Monica Lewinsky (2015)
Monica Lewinsky delivers a compelling talk on public shaming and the “culture of humiliation” that exists today. From a woman who lost her personal reputation on a global scale back in 1998 – and who was able to survive by taking back her narrative – this video clip is one of the most powerful TED Talks out there on countering public humiliation with empathy and compassion.
8. The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong | Amy Morin (2015)
What bad mental habits are holding you up? In this TED Talk, Amy Morin – psychotherapist and author – explains how to become “mentally strong” by challenging our negative beliefs and giving up unhealthy habits. This strategy builds resiliency and allows us to become unstuck in life, thus reaching our full potential.
9. The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion | Kristin Neff (2013)
Kristin Neff – university professor and published author – explores the relationship between self-esteem and self-compassion in this video clip. She asks viewers to be kind to themselves as she discusses what research tells us about self-compassion.
10. The Three Secrets of Resilient People | Lucy Hone (2019)
In this TED Talk, Dr. Lucy Hone – resilience expert, acclaimed researcher, and published author – discusses three strategies for rising up from adversity in the face of suffering. She shares about her personal experience with painful loss – and how she was able to get through an unimaginable tragedy. As one of the most inspiring and powerful TED Talks on resiliency, this video clip provides viewers with not only insight, but hope.
Nancy Berns, a sociologist at Drake University, discusses grief and closure in this 18-minute TED Talk. She explains that closure is a fabricated concept, and that it is doing us more harm than good. This is one of the best TED Talks on grief and loss for counseling students, use with grieving clients, or for self-help.
2. Getting Cozy with Grief | Stacy Smith (2020)
Stacy Smith is a therapist, college professor, and the founder of Club Forget Me Not, a nonprofit that helps grieving children. In this 10-minute clip, she talks about death, grieving, and “being present in grief.”
3. We Don’t “Move On” from Grief. We Move Forward with It | Nora McInerny (2019)
Nora McInerny, writer and podcaster, talks about life and death in this 15-minute talk. She shares her personal experience with loss, and encourages viewers to rethink our approach to grief. This is one of the most powerful TED Talks on grief.
The best TED Talks for addiction and recovery, along with other powerful YouTube videos to play for clients in a treatment setting – or for yourself or for anyone who desires to learn more about substance use.
The following best TED Talks for addiction are entertaining, insightful, and though-provoking.
2. Addiction: A Story of Stigma, A Story of Hope | Scott McFadden (2020)
This 18-minute talk delivered by Scott McFadden is one of the best TED Talks for addiction as it addresses stigma and sends a message of hope.
Excerpt:Scott McFadden is a Licensed Addictions Counselor, who also identifies as a person in long term recovery from heroin and other drugs. He shares a harrowing story of incarceration and a long journey to recovery while explaining the dynamics of addiction and the labels, shame, and stigma which have become the greatest obstacles to turning around the opioid epidemic.
He shows us the need to talk to one another to overcome the secret places where shame resides. This is a story of vulnerability and hope!
5. Addiction Neuroscience 101 (2018)
Approximately 25 minutes, an overview of the neurobiology of addiction.
4. Chris Herren Speaking on His Addiction Recovery Story | PeaceLove (2015)
A 17-minute motivational speech delivered by Chris Herren.
Excerpt:Hear former professional basketball player and motivational speaker Chris Herren speaking about his recovery from drug addiction. Since August of 2008, Herren has been drug-free and alcohol-free, and has refocused his life to put his sobriety and family above all other things.
This fascinating 19-minute video clip from Rachel Wurzman is one of the best TED Talks for addiction as a biopsychosocial disorder.
Excerpt: Addiction to opioids is now officially a national emergency. But why are addiction rates spiking and what can we do about it? Neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman shares new research about how the brain reacts to opioids, replacing the sense of community and belonging human beings are losing. We are beginning to understand that solving the opioid epidemic will require us to focus on social factors surrounding those addicted.
6. Do You Have More Heart Than Scars? | Zackary Paben (2017)
A 17-minute inspirational talk by Zackary Paben.
Excerpt:How can resilience and interdependence impact the arch of our personal narrative to transcend from victim to hero? Since 1991, Zack has been empowering adolescents and adults as a mental health/recovery professional in a variety of modalities, including wilderness and residential.
As he continues to face his own visible and invisible scars, he innately has to acknowledge the wounds of others and encourage them in their own healing process.
7. Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong | Johann Hari (2015)
A 15-minute video from Johann Hari. This piece is somewhat controversial because it suggests that addiction is a social/environmental issue while failing to address the impact of trauma, genetics, brain chemistry, etc. This clip is an excellent tool for generating discussions and is one of the best TED Talks for addiction.
Excerpt:What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way.
As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.
8. Great Leaders Do What Drug Addicts Do | Michael Brody-Waite (2018)
An 19-minute talk from Michael Brody-Waite, entrepreneur and addict in recovery.
Excerpt:This is my story from drug addiction and homelessness to founding and leading a company on the Inc 500 list. There are 3 principles that saved me from death and set me apart as a leader. They are small enough to fit in your pocket, yet big enough to change your life. The best part is that anyone can take these principles and immediately implement them after watching this talk.
9. The Harm Reduction Model of Drug Addiction Treatment | Mark Tyndall (2017)
This 17-minute video from Mark Tyndall about harm reduction and recovery is one of the best TED Talks for addiction treatment.
Excerpt:Why do we still think that drug use is a law-enforcement issue? Making drugs illegal does nothing to stop people from using them, says public health expert Mark Tyndall. So, what might work?
Tyndall shares community-based research that shows how harm-reduction strategies, like safe-injection sites, are working to address the drug overdose crisis.
10. How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris (2015)
16-minute talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on the impact of trauma.
Excerpt:Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.
This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer.
11. Let’s Quit Abusing Drug Users (2015)
19-minute video clip about addiction and recovery reform from Dr. Carl Hart. He discusses drug use in the context of poverty, social injustice, and ignorance. An excellent video for generating discussion and one of the best TED Talks for addiction and policy reform.
Excerpt:Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University, offers a provocative, evidence-based view of addiction and discusses how it should impact drug policy.
12. The Merits of Harm Reduction | Melissa Byers (2019)
14-minute video clip from Melissa Byers about addiction, harm reduction, and recovery.
Excerpt: Melissa shares her family’s personal story of addiction and how harm reduction plays a much more significant role to recovery than people realize.
13. Nuggets (2015)
A 5-minute cartoon clip of a kiwi bird who tastes a golden “nugget.” This simple animation doesn’t require words to send a powerful message about addiction. Hauntingly accurate.
14. The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power | Gabor Maté (2012)
This 19-minute speech delivered by Gabor Maté is one of the best TED Talks for addiction.
Excerpt:Canadian physician Gabor Maté is a specialist in terminal illnesses, chemical dependents, and HIV positive patients. Dr. Maté is a renowned author of books and columnist known for his knowledge about attention deficit disorder, stress, chronic illness and parental relations.
15. Recover Out Loud | Tara Conner (2017)
One of the best TED Talks for addiction, this 10-minute video clip from former Miss USA, Tara Conner, is all about her personal experience with substance use.
Excerpt:Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006, shares her life-long struggle with addiction and what she has learned from 10 years of sobriety. Addicts are not bad people that need to get good, but sick people that need to get well.
In this challenging and at times humorous talk, she calls for a different response to the addiction crisis.
16. Revitalize | Living With Addiction | Amber Valletta (2015)
16-minute inspirational talk delivered by Amber Valletta.
Excerpt:Supermodel, actress, and fashion icon Amber Valletta opens up for the first time about her daily struggle of living with addiction.
17. Rewriting the Story of My Addiction | Jo Harvey Weatherford (2015)
10-minute video clip from Jo Harvey Weatherford about her personal recovery journey.
Excerpt:Jo Harvey Weatherford develops and implements drug and alcohol prevention programs on the campus of The University of Nevada. In this candid talk she discusses the importance of the stories we tell ourselves about our behavior, and how she rewrote her own story of addiction to alcohol.
18. The Stigma of Addiction | Tony Hoffman (2018)
This 15-minute video from Tony Hoffman is one of the best TED Talks for addiction. He shares about his substance use and stigma.
Excerpt:There is a stigma which many assign to drug addicts, even long after they have overcome their addiction. Tony discusses how his first time smoking marijuana led to his eventual drug addiction, homelessness, prison, and finally redemption.
Microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ individuals, both intentional and unintentional, are commonplace.
A microaggression is defined by Merriam-Webster (online dictionary) as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.”
[+] may represent QuestioningorAgender, Bigender, Genderless, Gender Nonconforming, Gender Queer, Pangender, Pansexual, etc.
Lesbian: A woman who is attracted to other women (sexually, emotionally, and/or romantically)
Gay: An individual or a man who is attracted to individuals of the same gender
Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both men and women
Transgender: A person whose gender identity differs from the one assigned at birth
Queer: A reclaimed slur that refers to and celebrates individuals who are gay
Questioning: A person who is uncertain about or questioning their sexuality or gender identity. (Note: This is in reference to the internal conflict one experiences.)
Agender (or Genderless): Someone who does not identify with any gender (or as having a gender)
Bigender: An individual who identifies with two or more genders
Gender Nonconforming (or Gender Variant): Individuals who do not conform with society’s expectations of their gender role
Gender Queer (or Genderqueer): A person who identifies outside the gender categories of male and female
Pangender: Individuals who identify with two or more genders or with all/any genders (or as a non-male/non-female gender)
Pansexual: Someone who is capable of being attracted to all genders
The above list is in no way comprehensive. I recommend doing your own research. (Start with the resource section at the end of this article.)
Note that sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing. Sexual orientation refers to sexuality or attraction while gender identity refers to how a person views and thinks about themselves in terms of gender.
Source: Wikimedia Commons contributors, ‘File:1*YwY44v93qVAkje3 wADZkw@2x.png’, Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.
When considering gender, imagine a gender spectrum vs. a binary consisting of male and female. This concept of gender spectrum is supported by scientific data.
12 Examples of Microaggressions that Target LGBTQ+ Individuals
1. “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
This Christian slogan was intended to be catchy and humorous – while at the same time condemning gay men as unnatural. The indication is that God didn’t intend for people to be gay. Therefore, if you’re gay, you’re an abomination in God’s eyes.
2. Assuming that a gay man has multiple sexual partners.
Gay and promiscuous are not one and the same. The idea that a gay man sleeps with multiple men (as opposed to being in a committed relationship with one person) is a stereotype.
3. Forms that include checkboxes for male/female only and documents that use he/she (vs. they).
Limited-choice binary forms are microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ individuals and invalidate the 5.6% (about 6 out of every 100) Americans who don’t identify as either male or female.
4. “I went through a bisexual phase in college, but I got over it.”
This suggests that bisexuality is temporary and/or something that one can “get over.” Similarly, when someone who is bisexual is asked, “When are you just going to pick one?” – the indication is that bisexuality is a temporary state that ends when someone chooses one or the other. It’s insinuated that someone who is bisexual is indecisive or that bisexuality isn’t real, but something leading up to something real.
5. “What is your sexual preference?”
The word preference indicates choice. In reality, one doesn’t consciously choose to be sexually attracted to someone. It just happens.
No one wants to be ridiculed or discriminated against for being gay. (Oppositely, it’s in our very nature to seek acceptance and connection. We desire inclusion and belonging.)
Instead of “preference,” use orientation when talking about attraction.
6. Intentionally using the wrong pronouns.
The implication is that someone’s gender identity is wrong. This microaggression may be used to push a religious or political agenda, but it’s harmful to reduce a person to an agenda.
Directing a transwoman/transman to a bathroom that doesn’t match their gender identity and/or the incorrect use of “ma’am/sir” are similar forms of this microaggression.
Since you won’t always know how an individual prefers to be addressed, keep it simple… just ask.
7. “Were you born boy or a girl?”
Like asking one’s “preference,” this microaggression targets LGBTQ+ individuals by implying that someone who doesn’t identify with their biological sex made a conscious choice to reject their biological sex.
Instead of “born boy or girl,” someone’s biological sex should be referred to as assigned gender.
8. Automatically assuming that something happened to the individual (i.e., childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc.) that “made” them the way they are.
This microaggression implies that a person is LGBTQ+ because something bad happened to them. The assumption tolerates a person’s LGBTQ+ identification, but only to excuse it. (For example: “She became a lesbian because she was tired of dating chauvinistic jerks.”) This discredits the complexity of sexual orientation and gender identity.
9. “I’ll pray for you, but I can’t condone your choices.”
The idea that being LGBTQ+ is a sin implies that it’s a willful act against God. In reality, being LGBTQ+ is not a choice.
10. “How do you know you don’t like [men/women] if you haven’t tried?”
Sexual orientation is not the same as taking a car for a test drive or trying on pairs of jeans. You wouldn’t question a straight man about his relationship with a woman or encourage him to have sex with at least one man before committing to marriage.
11. “Who’s the man and who’s the woman in the relationship?”
This implies that relationships are defined by stereotypical gender roles. It undermines non-traditional relationships, suggesting that for a relationship to be legitimate, there must be a male and female.
12. “I never would have known you’re transgender! You’re totally passable as a [man/woman].”
You wouldn’t compliment a lady by telling her she’s “passable” as a woman.
Also, take a moment to consider insecurities you have about your looks. Have you ever struggled with body image or felt self-conscious? Imagine being in the wrong body!
In sum, microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ individuals can be unintentional or well-meaning, but when LGBTQ+ persons are subjected to microaggressions time after time, it’s damaging. What’s more, microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ individuals contribute to stigma and perpetuate false stereotypes.
Microaggressions that target the LGBTQ+ population thrive in environments where it is acceptable to:
Voice judgments about a person’s morality
Discredit or devalue someone’s personal experience
Bully or intimidate
Make invasive comments about a person’s sexual relationships
To conclude, microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ persons are harmful. You can prevent using them by increasing your awareness.