Why Therapy Is Broken

Photo collage of a face that's blurred gesturing hands and psychology books on a shelfPhoto-illustration: WIRED staff; Getty Images

Everyone is telling one another to “get help,” but few acknowledge that the practice is often flawed.To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

An hour a week in a shrink’s office is increasingly treated as a prerequisite for a healthy, happy life. There, we imagine, friends learn new coping skills and enemies realize the errors of their ways. Everyone is “healed.” Therapy has been marketed as a panacea for all kinds of issues, from fixing a bad personality to ending racism.

Refusing to seek treatment becomes a red flag, while fluency in “therapy-speak” is all but mandatory. Professional help has even infiltrated our leisure hours: Reality TV shows like Couples Therapy, podcasts from This Is Dating to Where Should We Begin?, and “therapy in a box” card games, some actually designed by psychoanalysts, abound.

Unfortunately, as anyone who’s actually tried it can tell you, therapy often sucks.Anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of people who go to therapy repo rt some benefit—but at least 5 percent of clients get worse as a result of treatment. (For people from marginalized groups, harmful outcomes may be even more common.) The remainder report no clear benefit at all. Plenty of would-be clients go once and, feeling alienated, never return.

Others keep trying, even as it becomes clear they aren’t really getting what they need, whatever that is. But the American mental health care system has hardly acknowledged the existence of bad therapy, let alone taken steps to fix the problem. Instead, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which sent the demand for therapy soaring, the American Psychological Association and other organizations seemed to prioritize the quantity of available appointments over the quality of any resulting therapy. The rise of app-based mental health care, like BetterHelp and Talkspace, has only made this landscape harder to navigate.

The result is that everyone is telling everyone else to go to therapy, but “nobody really creates space to have dialog about, ‘OK, if it doesn’t work, let’s talk about why,’” says psychotherapist Ben Fineman, cohost of the Very Bad Therapy podcast with Carrie Wiita. That’s partly out of fear of uncertainty, which therapists dislike as much as anyone, and partly because reforming mental health care is complicated. But ignoring these shortcomings is only perpetuating the suffering therapy promises to heal.

The obstacles to good therapy start when clients form expectations of what therapy will entail—which usually happens well before the first session. People often come in with their own “secret agendas,” says Jeffrey Kottler, author of On Being a Therapist. “They’re being blackmailed, or they want leverage, or they’re seeking reassurance.” Even for those that have reasonable expectations and feel eager to put in the work, the process by which transformation unfolds is murky, and therapists aren’t always the best at explaining what is to come.

All psychic healers strive to “clarify symptoms and problems, inspire hope, facilitate experiences of success or mastery, and stir the patient’s emotions,” as Jerome Frank wrote in his 1961 classic Persuasion and Healing. But the fault lines between professional and public conceptions of therapy are numerous. For example, research suggests that about half of therapy-goers will experience improvement in 15 to 20 sessions.

But one study found that the majority of people incorrectly assume they need just six sessions to resolve their issue. Similar gaps in understanding emerge in views on self-disclosure by therapists, the value of negative feedback to therapists, and the purpose of therapy itself. And while therapy is commonly discussed as if it were a single entity, there are hundreds of distinct theoretical models currently used, from EMDR to Gestalt to CBT. Depending on whom you ask, at least 20 orientations fly under the banner of psychoanalysis alone.

Each provides its own model of the brain or mind, the nature of distress, and the path to healing—in other words, its own value system. Even so, therapists commonly mix and match a number of techniques learned in graduate school, from early mentors, and at weekend workshops. This is done mostly for pragmatic reasons, as every client needs a slightly different form of support.

The practice has also been supported by the “Dodo bird verdict” of psychotherapeutic models—named for the Lewis Carroll line, “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes”—which claims that all models are equally helpful or unhelpful. But it’s unclear if the verdict holds up, says Alex Williams, program director of psychology at the University of Kansas. In fact, very little about contemporary psychotherapy is actually backed by credible evidence. In a meta-review of 70 purported empirically supported treatments, Williams and his colleagues found only 20 percent of the interventions are based on reliable studies.

An additional 30 percent were in the “murky middle,” and fully half of the treatments under review didn’t have the evidence their boosters thought they did. For Williams, contemporary therapy is resting on more of a “don’t-know bird verdict.”

Some therapies do appear to be better than others for specific conditions, like exposure therapy for phobias. Others, from conversion therapy to attachment therapy, appear to be dangerous in any context. But even when the underlying method is credible, “most therapists don’t follow a manualized treatment protocol,” says psychotherapist Kirk Honda, host of the podcast and YouTube channel Psychology in Seattle. That makes the line from a controlled trial (where evidence is developed) to the therapist’s couch (where evidence is acted upon) squiggly at best.

To save themselves from analysis paralysis, many therapists fall back on the “common factors,” which suggest that good therapy can be distilled down to empathy, a clear shared goal, positive regard and affirmation, and the like. To date, the so-called “therapeutic alliance” between patient and provider appears to be one of the most important components of successful therapy. Therapy is indeed a “relational art,” and the success (or failure) happens in the unreplicable dynamic between two people. Unfortunately, that insight hasn’t made these alliances any easier to foster.

In the US, finding a therapist—any therapist—can feel as difficult as the problem that drove you to therapy in the first place. Many communities have only one or a handful of mental health professionals to choose from, and some American counties have no psychiatrist (who can prescribe medication) at all. What’s more, private-practice therapists rarely if ever accept insurance, so many clients pay out of pocket—a luxury few can afford.

Even for people who have the time and money to choose, it’s hard to know what to look for. In the absence of a referral or personal recommendation, many people turn to “Find a Therapist” databases from their insurance, ZocDoc, or Psychology Today. But current systems are, understandably, designed to prioritize things like cost, proximity, and availability of services—not expertise in a particular problem or a good fit between patient and provider.

Consider a person who is seeking help for time-consuming rituals. They are likely to end up talking to the next-available therapist about more obvious issues, like the depression or anxiety their rituals cause. Even if this person has a hunch that a label like OCD might apply, and searches for the condition by “issue” for OCD on the Psychology Today site, they will receive dozens of results for therapists who have tagged OCD on their provider pages but don’t actually employ the gold-standard treatment, exposure response prevention.

To find a provider with expertise in ERP, the client would have to know what condition they have and what intervention they require, then deliberately search for providers by “type” of therapy offered instead. Even then, they may find that the therapist they’re paired with has all the right training but is untrustworthy, unprofessional, or unlikable.

When time is segmented into 50-minute billable increments, clients can’t afford to waste a second. But building an alliance with a therapist—or failing to do so—is often slow going. Some individuals seem supremely skilled at this work: In a 2003 study, psychologist John Okiishi found that, in a sample of 91 therapists, the top performers enabled their clients to improve 10 times faster than everyone else. But even a supershrink would, inevitably, struggle to help certain people.

When a client isn’t making progress, the therapist should be the one to point out the problems and offer a back-up plan. In situations where the alliance cannot be repaired (or never formed in the first place), a therapist will typically refer their client out to a colleague who might be a better fit. But in the US, financial incentives can get in the way. Kottler says therapists may be loath to let a source of revenue walk out the door; after all, their malpractice insurance, rent, and other payments are due.

“There have been times in my life, honestly, when my income stream has gone down, and I really need to keep clients and I’m not getting many new referrals,” Kottler says. “And I won’t easily let a client go.” Often, that leaves clients in the position of calling the whole thing off. Some end up ghosting. Others tell their therapist that they’re doing better even when they aren’t. Rare is the client who’s able to speak the truth: “You just aren’t helping me.”

Eliminating bad therapy entirely, whether in person or online, is a quixotic goal. But improvement starts with freeing both clients and therapists from getting trapped in the current “first come, first serve” model. Even in the absence of universal health care, government support for mental health could help people access therapy at no cost to them. Without the burden of out-of-pocket fees, patients would be able to experiment. If a therapeutic alliance doesn’t form on the first try, they’re able to find another.

“I joke with patients, it’s kind of like speed-dating,” says Jessi Gold, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. Put another way: “We’re the medicine,” Gold says. And what do you do if your medicine isn’t working? You try a new one. Instead of leaving people to navigate mental health care themselves, Honda thinks government funding could also be used to create a system for pairing clients and therapists—perhaps a combination of algorithmic sorting and trained professionals who serve as a resource to both parties.

That way, everyone would have a first, second, and third option for therapy already lined up, with a point person to turn to should problems arise. Funding could also make a difference further upstream, by subsidizing psychotherapeutic education. Aspiring therapists of color, LGBTQ therapists, therapists from low-income backgrounds, and others with marginalized identities in particular should be supported as they enter a field that is predominantly white and relatively wealthy.

When coupled with proactive efforts to decolonize psychotherapy, intentional investment in diversity could help to satisfy clients’ growing desire for cultural competence in all its forms. Regulation may also be in order. Right now, American therapists are primarily accountable to their state licensing board, but these organizations tend to respond only to ethical violations in the strictest sense. At the same time, there is no federal agency responsible for regulating specific treatments, even those that consistently do real harm.

Funding research, putting evidence-based regulations in place, and curtailing misleading marketing practices could save many clients unnecessary frustration. In the interim, better technical education for therapists could help them navigate a post-pandemic, late-capitalist, and climate-changed country. Many of the most common “presenting problems” are grief and trauma, yet these topics are not currently a core part of many school’s curriculum, Honda says. At the same time, many therapists are reluctant to adopt new innovations as they try (and often fail) to balance the art and science inherent to their work.

For example, a 2018 trial showed that routine outcome surveys for clients led to better outcomes, yet the vast majority of therapists remain skeptical of the value of collecting such data. For now, it’s important to know that there probably aren’t many truly terrible therapists—just therapists who are bad for you. So while the world waits for a revolution in mental health care, consider getting your break-up speech ready.

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How To Craft a Great Mission Statement For Your Business In 5 Simple Ways

Mission statements remain key aspects of businesses since they remind employees and leaders of what the business stands for. These mission statements can inspire people and help them become unified, so a business needs to know how to create one. This means you must review the approaches and strategies available, so you can craft a great mission statement to help your business.

How to Come Up with A Good Mission Statement

1. Know What You Want to Accomplish

If you plan to craft a mission statement, you need to understand what your business plans to accomplish. For example, some businesses want to help people feel happy and beautiful while others want to get people to find their own homes. While your business wants to make money, it needs to have another point it can focus on.

This means you need to consider the position of your business, so you can find an ideal mission statement based on the situation. The statement won’t work if your business doesn’t identify one related to it. Because of this, you need to form a connection between your statement and business by working towards a goal.

2. Look at the Big Picture

Once you identify the goals you plan to accomplish, you need to look at the situation from a larger scope. This means identifying why your business wants to reach a goal, so you can see the situation with the bigger picture in mind. For example, if your business wants to encourage people to purchase homes, you need to figure out why you want to do so.

For example, a life coach mission statement can mention wanting people to succeed, so it does this by offering its services. This means you need to understand how your business benefits its customers, so you can build your statement around it and understand the bigger picture.

3. Make it Relatable

Not only do you want your mission statement to point towards a goal, but you also want it to stand out as a relatable one. This means you need to identify one that customers and average people understand and want. You must get your customers involved and invested in your mission statement to help you succeed.

You want your customers to feel invested, so they gain a reason to support your business. If they want to see you fulfil your mission statement, they’ll continue to make purchases and support your cause. That way, your customers can feel good about helping you out while your business continues to make money.

4. Focus on Simplicity

As you craft a mission statement, you can focus on simplicity to make it better. It needs to catch the attention of people, so you can’t make them too complicated or long. This seems unnecessary, but doing so can make your mission statement strong overall. Mission statements should stick to one idea expressed in a single sentence.

If your mission statement drags on for multiple sentences, it becomes overwhelming and unappealing. When this happens, customers and employees forget about it since it becomes too long to remember. Instead, you need to make the mission statement a single line people can easily memorize and remain focused on to help your business out.

5. Ask for Suggestions

Developing mission statements helps businesses succeed, but some people struggle to create them on their own. You don’t have to think of a mission statement since you can turn to people in your business for assistance. This means you need to take the necessary time to talk with people throughout your business to receive suggestions.

You can talk with the leaders and ask them what they think might work as an effective mission statement. You can also ask customers and employees for their opinions, so you can identify more options for your mission statement. Once you find one, make sure you give credit to the person who came up with it.

Conclusion

A mission statement allows you to represent your business through a simple phrase and idea. Make sure you focus on creating a mission statement, so you can find one to represent your entire business. As you focus on this, you can impress your customers while encouraging your employees to work towards your mission statement goal.

Source: How to Craft a Great Mission Statement for Your Business In 5 Simple Ways – Newslibre

.

Related contents:

Thompson, Andrew (20 August 2015). “Google’s Vision Statement & Mission Statement”. Panmore Institute. Archived from the original on 13 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-02.

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The Complicated Reality of Doing What You Love

I didn’t love my old therapist, but she did give me one crucial piece of advice: Get a hobby. I was writing about food for work, so cooking didn’t really count as a hobby anymore — I’d already monetized that one — nor did reading, nor socializing, especially since all of my friends worked in my industry. I needed something in my life that existed apart from all that. I was stressed and, of course, also on my phone too much (and still am).

Maybe something you can do with your hands. The suggestion felt like an escape hatch: Maybe a hobby could free me from toil. Cooking had once been the thing I did to relax when I got home from work, the thing I was curious about, the thing that distracted my brain from its standard litany of complaints. Puttering in the kitchen had once been a release, but now it was part of my professional life. It needed a replacement. A few months later, I dutifully signed up for a ceramics class at a studio nearish my Brooklyn apartment.

This was March 2016. One of my roommates was an artist who had taken a class at that same studio, and I always envied the little pots she made. One of them was shaped like the face of a woman, with a ponytail for a handle. She gave it to me, and I put a small succulent in it that would soon die. I hoped that taking a class could make me more like her, or at the very least, happier — and if not that, well, maybe I’d make myself a bowl to put pasta in.

Learning to make ceramics on the wheel — this is what you picture when you think of that scene from Ghost — feels initially impossible, pointless, tantrum-inducing. In class, our teacher showed us how to take a blob of clay and slam it onto the machine’s surface, strong-arm it into symmetry as the wheel whirred around, dig a hole in its center with our fingers, make the hole wider, and then raise up the walls that would make it a vessel.

Doing it on my own was another thing entirely: a reminder of the unkind presence of physics, an asymmetrical lump thwapping around like an off-balance tornado, just some really ugly shit that would occasionally collapse in on itself.

This is par for the course. Most of us suck at first. The stuff you made in second-grade art class was objectively better. Clay shrinks when fired in a kiln, so the first mugs I made that weren’t ugly came out more like handled thimbles. Glazing each piece — decorating it with the often-colorful vitrified coating that makes it water-tight and food-safe, and glossy or matte — was its own messy challenge. My goal became not to make art or even craft, so much as to make things I didn’t hate.

Of course, failing at something new doesn’t feel good; it feels like banging your head against a wall in front of an invisible audience of your own making. Turning off the desire to excel once you leave work is often impossible, if not difficult.

That said, the pace of my failure was different at the studio. Making ceramics requires patience and is an exercise in delayed gratification (or dissatisfaction). There are so many ways to fuck something up, so many stages to the process, and entering that cycle of hope, expectation, and either failure and trying again or ecstatic satisfaction added a new dimension to the rhythms of my life. Entering that cycle of hope, expectation, and failure and trying again added a new dimension to the rhythms of my life

Through this mild and harmless struggle, I acquired a hobby. “How agitated I am when I am in the garden, and how happy I am to be so agitated,” Jamaica Kincaid writes in My Garden (Book). “Nothing works just the way I thought it would, nothing looks just the way I had imagined it, and when sometimes it does look like what I had imagined (and this, thank God, is rare) I am startled that my imagination is so ordinary.”

Powerlessness, for an amateur, can be its own draw. At the studio, I started as a lazy learner, but in a few months became obsessed, signing up for more classes when my session ended. My classes netted out to about $40 a week, plus materials and the cost of firing. I was spending maybe $200 a month, which required an increased vigilance in my other spending but also meant I had something to care about.

I had a place to go in my free time that was not my office, or my apartment, or a friend’s apartment, or a restaurant, or a bar. I had something to be curious about, and my goals were unrelated to exterior forces: a boss, a job, a market, a reader. Unlike with writing, my progress was quantifiable: Now I can make a vase this tall. Now I have made a planter. Now my handles are beautiful. Now I have made two things that more or less look like a pair.

I also relished having something to do that didn’t involve a screen and therefore felt far from the style of work to which I was most accustomed. Hands covered in clay cannot swipe very well. Hobbies have always been defined by their tenuous relationship to work: After industrialization bifurcated life into the realms of work and leisure, hobbies appeared as something “productive” for workers to do with their newly minted chunks of free time.

“Leisure came to represent freedom because it took place in time separate from work, and time in an industrial world could be used for either work or leisure,” writes Steven Gelber in his book Hobbies: Leisure and the Culture of Work in America. “For this reason, industrial capitalism sharpened the West’s ambivalent feelings about leisure.” Leisure does not exist without work and is therefore defined by it.

Even as hobbies gained popularity among the 19th-century middle class, they mimicked the capitalist attitudes of the workplaces from which they were meant to provide relief. “Since the hobby was done at home in free time, it was under the complete control of the hobbyist. It was, in other words, a re-embracing of preindustrial labor, a recreation of the world of the yeoman, artisan, and independent merchant,” Gelber writes. “Hobbies were a Trojan horse that brought the ideology of the factory and office into the parlor.”

The capitalist value of a “work ethic” has always been present in the world of the hobbyist. We love hobbies because they are something to do that isn’t work, something that we choose to do. But they still so often require toil; we are still proud of ourselves when we perform our hobbies efficiently, competently. Pursuit of mastery is implied, if not always present. For me, few things match the thrill of pulling something beautiful out of the kiln. It always feels like a surprise I have magically given myself.

Once I had made a few things that I didn’t hate — and because I have a smartphone and a need for validation — I began posting photos of my work on Instagram. I loved making mugs, loved their practicality and the way they fit into a home. A mug can look like anything. I had newfound opinions on what mine should look like, and that felt good.

By the winter, people were asking to buy them. I was freelancing at the time, and my studio cost about $200 a month, plus more for materials. If I could regularly sell a few mugs, I’d break even. The baseline price for these things, according to a brief survey of other potters, was around $40 — I started selling mine for $35 or $40, depending on size.

From the beginning I felt like I was doing everything wrong. Like maybe I should wait until I got a little better, or until I could make a nice shiny website, or until I had, I don’t know, SKUs. But it felt irresponsible to turn down a few people who would help cover my expenses and who wanted my work in their hands. Once you start making things, you have to put them somewhere. You begin to understand why people collect stamps.

Certain hobbies are difficult to monetize — say, bird-watching. Coin collecting, unless you sell it all. Gardening. Many things can only be monetized by becoming a teacher, or maybe now an influencer. Once demand appeared, selling felt like an inevitability. I wanted to keep making things but didn’t have space to keep it all; people love mugs; selling something feels like a pat on the head followed by a treat. (To be clear, the treat is money.)

People began commissioning mugs, and they’d tell me what color they wanted, send me a photo of something I’d made and ask for something similar. It was slapdash but it worked, and it covered my expenses. I was having fun and only mildly stressed by the process, always behind schedule. I look back now at some of the things that people paid for and feel a bit embarrassed, but I’m always wishing my work were a little uglier, so maybe I should be proud.

Once demand appeared, selling felt like an inevitability Somewhere along the line I made a website and started selling things more formally, claiming the revenue on my taxes, finding a person with a real camera to take photos of my work. I’d leave my day job at a magazine and go to the studio, often until 1 or 2 in the morning. It made me late for work, but I didn’t care; I ended up getting laid off with one foot out the door, and was given the gift of time — more daytime hours, at least — to spend at the studio. I had lost my hobby and gained a revenue stream.

My ceramic work, now, is caught up in the question of selling. Mugs sell, so I make more of them. I take a sick pleasure in the exhausting production line of throwing, trimming, attaching handles, smoothing everything down, painting, glazing, firing, staring at rows of cups lined up like synchronized swimmers, ready to jump. It’s the same sick pleasure I get in staying up until 2 am working on a jigsaw puzzle: maniacally focused on my goal at the expense of my posture. Untangling the question of what I want to make from what will sell feels like crawling out of a very deep well.

The swiftness with which modern craftspeople can and do monetize their hobbies is, of course, not a surprise. Traditional careers are crumbling, and side hustles are fetishized; Instagram has turned marketing into a basic skill we’re all expected to have. It’s easier to sell the crap you make in your spare time, and you’re more likely to need the money than you might have been a few decades ago, when you could have just foisted it all on your friends. This all risks turning hobbies into even more of an illusion, a mirage of leisure that quickly turns to obligation.

Some people, though, have fought the seduction of commerce and won. RC, an artist who makes work under the name marinatedclouds, began her first sculptural project with the express intention not to sell it. She was burned out from working a full-time job in graphic design, where in order for an idea to succeed, it needed to be marketable. “So many interesting concepts got dismissed because they couldn’t fit into a business context,” she remembers. “It became a situation where I started feeling really empty — I didn’t know how to have fun anymore.”

She had long toyed with the idea of creating a book about chicken and rice, with 35 different dishes from around the world. But she’d never gotten around to it; the work was too similar to her job as a graphic designer. So she decided to turn it into a sculptural project, quitting her job in April 2018 and giving herself the summer to focus on ceramic chicken and rice. Once she was done, she just kept making things.

Her work is influenced by early 2000s nostalgia and her Taiwanese American upbringing; her pieces look like something made by a child from a different dimension, playful and mind-blowing in one. Pencils are sliced like bananas; crayons threaten to crawl out of their box. She once made an entire aughts-era desktop computer.

Nurturing ideas was and is something I’m still extremely steadfast about,” RC says. “I want to pursue every idea, whether it lacks concept or not. Sometimes just making crayons is literally what I want. There’s no additional background to it, I just like the rainbow.” Refusing to sell her work — something she did for two years, despite enthusiastic interest from people on Instagram — allowed her to create the world of marinatedclouds without tainting it with outside influence. “For me, it’s just pursuing any and every idea that I have. That’s my form of self-expression.”

Quickly, her pieces began to pile up in her one-bedroom apartment. She was tripping over things. She got rid of her living room and turned it into a studio; she has no couch. But last winter, after a financially challenging 2020, she decided to sell some of her older pieces, both to make money and to clear space for new work. She learned that donuts sell really well. “That’s feedback that I didn’t actually need, but it does stay in the back of my head, and that’s something I do really want to avoid,” she says. She doesn’t want to cater to demand — only her own whims.Advertisement

This is, for many of us, the dream: unfettered commitment to externalizing our innards without concern for any gaze but our own. Reclaiming one’s time, you could say. But it requires nothing short of a battle. “Society puts so much pressure on success as in status or monetization,” RC says, “but success to me now is being true to myself.”

I can no longer call ceramics my hobby, and I doubt I ever will. I assume I will sell my work until people stop buying it, both out of necessity and because it does bring me joy to make a silly little thing that someone will incorporate into the tableau of their home. The struggle, for me, is between what I want to make and what I assume people will buy; the struggle of wishing I could log off forever but knowing that Instagram is the most direct marketing tool I have. The only solution I have come up with is to have a segment of my work I make just for myself, without concern for the market — or at least with an attempted lack of concern.

But making time for that also means carving out time, both for creation and inspiration, for the rest that is required for my brain to think thoughts. This is something I crave more than a new hobby; this is peace.

Marian Bull is an editor, writer, and potter living in Brooklyn.

Source: When you monetize your hobby, it looks a lot like a job

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5 Tiny But Impactful ‘Microaffirmations’ To Make Everyone on Your Team Feel Valued and Included

When it comes to making sure colleagues from different backgrounds feel comfortable at work, tiny things really do matter. We often hear about how “microaggressions” like always expecting female employees to organize birthday cards or questioning non-white colleagues about “where they’re from” can alienate, exhaust, and distract people at work.

But the opposite is also true. Even small actions and moments of thoughtfulness can make people feel welcome, valued, and included. New research out of the University of Kansas, for instance, found simply having male allies who spoke positively about gender equality helped make women working in unbalanced tech and science fields feel more supported.

Microaggressions matter, but so too do “microaffirmations.” These “are little ways that you can affirm someone’s identity; recognize and validate their experience and expertise; build confidence; develop trust; foster belonging; and support someone in their career,” according to Change Catalyst CEO Melinda Briana Epler, who has worked on diversity issues for 25 years.

Microaffirmations cost nothing and take mere seconds but can make a big difference to how well your company lives up to its ideals (and attracts and retains diverse talent). In a recent TED Ideas post, Epler laid out 13 of them, but here are five to get you started.

1. Mirror the language that someone uses to describe their own identity.

Can the fast-changing rules about the “right” words to use around sensitive subjects and identity markers seem confusing sometimes? Sure, but there’s an easy solution that doesn’t require keeping up with complicated theories or ever-changing debates. Just talk about people the way they talk about themselves.

“Listen and learn how someone pronounces their name, describes their identity and uses their pronouns. Then mirror the language they use to describe themselves — it shows them you’re paying attention and that you care about them,” instructs Epler.

2. Acknowledge important holidays and life milestones.

Not everyone in your office may celebrate the same holidays or tick through the same life milestones. But everyone you work with deserves to have the biggest occasions in their lives recognized by their colleagues.

“Keep an eye out for key moments that might be important in someone’s life, and recognize them. You might wish them a lovely Diwali if they celebrate it,” Epler offers as an example of a long list of potentially relevant occasions including Juneteenth, Ramadan, Yom Kippur, Pride Month, etc.

3. When someone isn’t participating, take notice and support them.

It’s easy to write off someone who is quiet in meetings or brainstorming sessions as simply short of courage or ideas, but if you do so, you’ll likely miss out on both valuable insights as well as a chance to bring out the best in your people.

“A person who is feeling marginalized or excluded, tokenized or like an impostor may sideline themselves — by not speaking up, not contributing, not showing up. In the remote workplace, people may turn off their video because they aren’t engaged, don’t have a home environment they want to show on video, feel excluded, or are burned out from inequities and exclusion. Check in with them, and see if and how you can support them,” advises Epler.

4. Invite someone to speak and share their expertise.

If you’re invited to speak on an all-white guy panel or notice a certain sameness in who gets chosen for the big presentations around your office, fixing that lack of diversity isn’t just in the hands of the organizers. Epler urges those with clout to help push forward underrecognized talent in their professional circles.

“If you’ve been invited to give a speech or presentation, ask if you can bring an expert colleague with you to the stage, or consider stepping back and recommending someone who isn’t often asked to speak,” she suggests, adding that “if you’re asking someone to share their expertise at a corporate event or at an event that makes a profit, make sure they are paid equitably for their expertise.”

5. Provide both positive feedback and constructive criticism.

Studies show that women in particular are often give only “nice” feedback that ignores areas for improvement and robs them of opportunities to learn and grow. So be cognizant of your constructive criticism and make sure you’re not shying away from sometimes awkward but ultimately beneficial conversations with certain members of your team.

On the other hand, Epler reminds bosses to also remember to mix praise for what’s positive in with notes on what to work on. “When I was in film school working with actors, one of my directing teachers taught us that you should always give an actor two to three pieces of specific positive feedback before providing negative or constructive feedback. It can make a big difference in their next performance,” she writes.

Author image for Jessica Stillman

Source: 5 Tiny but Impactful ‘Microaffirmations’ to Make Everyone on Your Team Feel Valued and Included | Inc.com

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Is Your Relationship With Money Holding You Back?

Mel H. Abraham, the host of The Affluent Entrepreneur Show, often hears clients tell him, “I’m having some money issues because …” What follows “because” could be any number of reasons, but in Abraham’s book, money issues are often a symptom and not the actual problem. “The fact is your current financial situation is a result of your past decisions,” he explains.

So, when his clients take a moment to honestly examine their decisions and habits surrounding money, he often sees some of the seeds of where they are today — things like how much they did or didn’t save, what they typically spend their money on, and whether their relationship with money is toxic.

The reality, says Abraham, is that we are often conditioned to have limiting beliefs about money from a very young age. Money is not something we talk about or are taught about in school. And unless you intentionally seek to learn about money, your primary source of learning is observation. “The question, though, is: Who are you observing?” Abraham asks.

Most of our money education comes from our surroundings, aka parents, friends, and neighbors, as well as conversations we’ve overheard or what the media has told us. “Were they the best source of financial information and financial education?”

Based on these observations, we unconsciously create beliefs about money, and these beliefs form what Abraham refers to as our “money identity.” That identity could spur from things as simple as hearing a parent say, “We can’t afford that,” which could lead you to start believing that money is scarce and that you need to be afraid of spending any money at all.

You could have grown up hearing that “people who have money are greedy,” which might make you not want to work as diligently, or that “money is not important,” which can lead to brushing off the financial side of your life.

As you get older, these limiting beliefs can intensify. And Thomas Creel, the founder and owner of Creel Financial LLC, says these common toxic money thoughts can lead to everything from preventing you from asking for a raise you deserve to overspending, putting off saving for retirement, or staying in debt. He shares the following as examples of limited money beliefs:

• “I’ll never be good with money, so why even try?”

• “My friends seem to be doing well with money; something must be wrong with me.”

• “As long as I can pay my bills every month, I can spend the rest on having fun.”

• “Life is too short; I’ll worry about retirement when I get older.”

• “Only going out with my friends and spending money is when we have fun.”

• “My friends wouldn’t want to hang out with me if we did something for free.”

• “My parents never talked about money, so I guess I won’t talk about it either.”

• “If I lose all my money, then my parents will just give me more.”

• “Money is the cause of all the world’s problems; therefore, I never want to be wealthy.”

When it comes to money conversations, Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, the chief science officer for Happy Money, sees many parallels to the evolving conversation about mental health. “In the past, there was more of a stigma that kept many from sharing openly about their mental health struggles,” she says.

“Thankfully, that is changing, but when it comes to conversations about debt, income, and other money topics, it seems that we are still very reluctant to discuss our finances.” Getting in tune with your financial beliefs is one of the very best ways to start repairing your relationship with money.

Here are some expert-backed ways to begin repairing your relationship with money:

View money as just a tool

Creel likes to look at money as a tool in the same way that you would view a hammer as a tool. “You can either use the hammer to build a useful shelf for your home, or you could use the hammer to break things. It’s the same thing with money,” he explains. And just like how you have to learn how to swing a hammer, you have to learn how to use money to build the life you want.

Let go of the belief that “money is complicated or confusing”

“This often leads to not trying to learn about money because you believe it is beyond you — which it isn’t,” says Abraham. But if you don’t do anything to increase your understanding of money, you cannot feel better about your relationship with money. “All money skills are learnable, but without effort, we can fall into complacency, and complacency with money, which is the first step toward crisis,” Abraham explains.

Creel says it’s likely that you weren’t ever formally taught how to handle your money, and this is probably the reason you aren’t managing it correctly. “No one is taught how to use their money, and that’s what gets us into trouble,” he explains. “So, give yourself grace and know that wherever you’re at in your journey with money, there’s always something you can do to get better with it and improve your situation.”

Challenge your upbringing

Creel asks clients to take inventory of their childhood perceptions of money and question any limiting beliefs that they may have formed about it. “Ask yourself, ‘When it came to how my parents handled money, what did I learn from them?’ Talk with close friends and see what answers come up,” he says. This will likely bring up some common themes, like “money is hard to save” or “only people with X type of job have the ability to have a lot of money.” Next, ask yourself, “Am I sure that these beliefs are true?” “What are some other possible outcomes that could be true?” asks Creel.

Create some positive money affirmations

Come up with several empowering affirmations that you can say to yourself every morning that can help change your thoughts around money. Creel suggests the following:

• “I am capable of overcoming any money obstacles that stand in my way.”

• “I’m not poor; I’m just low in wealth right now. That is changing.”

• “I can conquer my money goals.”

Realize that your money situation can change

You might be strapped for cash at the moment, but a new job, a period of diligent saving, or a raise could change all of that, and quickly. “Remembering that much of what feels overwhelming in life, and with finances, is temporary is a good first step to overcoming anxiety when managing your finances,” explains Lauren Anastasio, a certified financial planner at SoFi. Try to shift your mindset and remind yourself that debt doesn’t have to last forever. “Keep your eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel,” Anastasio says.

Find a budget buddy

Understanding that the emotions you are going through are very real, and most likely have been felt by people you know, can be a comfort. “Talking to your partner, a close friend, or family member about what is going on may help you let go of guilt, shame, and financial anxiety,” says Anastasio.

Your budget buddy can be your cheerleader when you need it and motivate you whenever you get frustrated or discouraged. “Whether this person is a financial professional or a trusted friend whose financial choices you admire, he or she can also offer tips to help you be savvier with your money,” Anastasio adds.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Nobody is perfect, and comparison, says Anastasio, is the thief of joy. “It can be difficult to avoid making assumptions about how others are faring financially based on our social-media intake, but just because a friend is posting about their exotic vacations or a neighbor seems to be doing one luxury home renovation after another does not mean they’re experiencing success while you’re not,” she says.

Find the joy

While making money technically involves work, it doesn’t have to be a miserable, nonstop hustle. “Part of healing our relationship to money is not only believing that we are capable of making it, but believing that pursuing money and pursuing happiness, balance, and peace are by no means mutually exclusive. In fact, they’re mutually constitutive,” says Rachel Rodgers, the author of We Should All Be Millionaires and the CEO of Hello Seven.

While it’s true that “money can’t always buy you happiness,” it can definitely fund things like travel, new classes, and other passions you may have, enriching your life, and it can ease stress and increase your freedom. So, as you work through your limiting beliefs and grow throughout your financial journey, Rodgers says to remember to have fun and enjoy yourself along the way.

Tune in to your spending emotions

“Track what you spend and how it makes you feel so you can decide what’s worth it to you and what’s not,” suggests Dunn. Pay attention to how purchases affect your mood in order to identify what Dunn refers to as your “happy and sad spends.” By understanding how your money choices impact your mental and emotional well-being, you can start to shift your spending toward what makes you truly happy — such as paying down debt, savoring a treat, investing in an experience, or helping another person. “This mindfulness approach will help you get even more joy from your happy spends,” Dunn says.

Focus on your goals, not the dollars

When it comes to priorities, money can help you get there but shouldn’t be your primary focus. Robin Saks Frankel, a personal finance expert at Forbes Advisor, says it’s important to take time to evaluate what your goals are, not just with money but also with your life as a whole. “If you want to have a partner and children, for example, or you want to make a career change, those goals cannot be attained or measured by how much money you do or don’t have in the bank,” she says.

Nicole is a freelance writer published in The New York Times, AARP, Woman’s Day, Parade, Men’s Journal, Wired, Emmy Magazine, and more. Keep up with her adventures on Twitter at @nicolepajer.

Source: Is Your Relationship With Money Holding You Back?

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Desjardins, Jeff (December 15, 2015). “Infographic: The Properties of Money”. The Money Project. Ret

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