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Maintaining Excellent Relationships: By Thomas G. Beley

Maintaining Excellent Relationships: By Thomas G. Beley

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

By: Thomas G. Beley, PhD, LCSW

There is a German fable that states that relationships are like two porcupines trying to keep warm in the dead of winter.  Move in too close, or too quickly, in the anticipation of feeling the warmth, chances are the porcupines are going to experience some discomfort and pain from their respective ill-positioned quills.  Yet, being afraid of getting too close to each other, the porcupines are likely to run the risk of dying from the winter cold.

As individuals, our relationships are not too different than the porcupines.  Whether it is with family, friends, co-workers or strangers, we are constantly in a natural process of trying to determine just how close we need to be with someone while at the same time not sacrificing our own individual beliefs, values, or needs. It is the negotiation of these two natural forces of individuality and togetherness that determines the success of any relationship.  Too much of either or an imbalance can have unsettling effects.

It is important to understand that individuals are subject to an inherent process of trying to reach a successful balance between these two natural forces. Research has shown that this is a process rooted in nature and all living organisms.  Being a part of all life means we have the desire to be our own person yet at the same time desire the safety and security of the group.

Finding Balanced Relationships

In humans, this process happens both consciously and unconsciously.  We seek out relationships that will give us both the opportunity to pursue our own individual needs while at the same time involve ourselves in a relationship that is nurturing and comforting.  Our behavior, whether good, bad, or indifferent, is often influenced by these forces of nature of trying to find that right balance between one’s need for individuality and togetherness.  The successful balance of these two life forces is what brings us a sense of well being and contentment. It is our ability to maintain this delicate balance between individuality and togetherness that determines the quality of any given relationship.

It is also important to note, here, that the quest for individuality or togetherness is not to say that one is more important than the other. They are both extremely critical. However, it is how a person balances these two forces within their life and the relationship systems in place that makes the difference between staying calm and collected and being in a state of turmoil and conflict.

Relationship conflicts often occur when there is an imbalance in these two natural forces. Imbalances can occur both within the individual and within the relationship system itself. A common scenario that often develops is when one person within the relationship system desires more individuality and the other person in the relationship system desires more togetherness and closeness. As is often the case, one person begins to feel overwhelmed in the relationship while the other person may feel neglected. Typically, the person desiring more individuality is running away from the relationship system while the person seeking more closeness is chasing the relationship system.

The Dance of Conflict

This “dance” can occur in a variety of ways.  One such way is when an individual requires an excessive amount of one or the other.  Too much of an individuality influence may make it difficult for that person to make a meaningful connection with others, particularly those who desire more closeness and togetherness. In that desire to achieve a sense of individuality, a person can easily cut him or herself off from others. Along the same lines, a person with a high degree of individuality may find others having a difficult time making a meaningful connection with him or her.  The same holds true for the person needing a great deal of togetherness. The desire to achieve closeness can result in the person becoming excessively dependent on others or not maximizing their own individual potential.

Another common scenario that is when one person desires individuality and the other person is requiring a sense of togetherness.  A person who requires a sense of individuality will likely create a conflict in the relationship system of the person who has the desire to achieve more togetherness.  The same dilemma holds true if two people have inordinate amounts of the same needs.  Two people desiring a great deal of individuality will likely experience the cold of winter.  Two people desiring a great deal of togetherness will likely feel the quills of another person. When there is an imbalance of these needs, anxiety occurs and the potential for conflict exists.

Find What Matters

It is important to emphasize that there is no magic formula that constitutes what is the right amount of togetherness or individuality within a relationship system.  What truly matters is how a person manages their respective needs and the awareness of the needs of the other within the relationship system.

Doctor Thomas G. Beley, Ph.D., LCSW is the Executive Director of Palm Healthcare Company. For over 25 years, Doctor Beley has worked in the field of substance use disorder and mental health disorders. Through the years of helping people who struggle with drugs, alcohol and mental health issues, Doctor Beley has proven to be an expert clinician and an innovative and compassionate leader in the treatment industry. Palm Healthcare Company is grateful to have an executive team with experience and incredible commitment to helping others. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Could Bullying Statistics Show Connection to Substance Abuse?

Could Bullying Statistics Show Connection to Substance Abuse?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Bullying is a concept we are all familiar with. We each experience bullying at some point in life, to one extent or another. Even those who become bullies have often been bullied at some point. Technology and social media have created a whole new breed of cyberbullying, and too many people don’t take bullying very seriously. When you look at bullying statistics, the impact can lead to other real issues, including substance abuse and addiction.

To be a Bully

Firstly, let us look at what it is to be a bully. The title is typically described as the use of superior strength or influence to intimidate, typically to force someone to do what one wants. The site stopbullying.gov defines it as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves real or perceived power imbalance. This behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time. It also concludes that both those who are bullied and those who bully often have serious, lasting problems.

Bullying statistics show three categories of behavior:

1. Verbal Bullying

This type of bullying is about the things we say or write. Verbal bullying includes:

  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Taunting
  • Threatening

2. Social Bullying

This involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:

  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

3. Physical Bullying

Physical Bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. It includes:

  • Hitting/kicking
  • Pinching
  • Tripping
  • Pushing
  • Spitting
  • Taking or breaking someone’s things
  • Making mean or rude hand gestures

Sadly, the prevalence of bullying often convinces people that it is just a rite of passage. A lot of people don’t take the issue seriously enough. Adults often justify the behavior as a sign of immaturity, without realizing the genuine harm that comes from it.

The Impact of Bullying

Being bullied can lead to many other adversities in life, including physical violence and mental health problems.

Because both behaviors are so common, it is difficult to correlate bullying and substance use. When looking at addiction and bullying statistics, according to 2016 Monitoring the Future survey:

  • More than 17% of children have tried drugs by 8th grade
  • Almost 50% have used illicit drugs by senior year in high school
  • Childhood alcohol use rates are even higher

According to the CDC’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey:

  • 20% of American high schoolers have been bullied in school in the past year
  • More than 15% have been bullied electronically in the past year

Bullying can erode a child’s self-esteem. It can deplete their confidence, even for those who parents may believe are confident enough to endure a bully. Over time, they learn to question their self-worth. If a bully targets a specific attribute of the individual, they may begin to obsess over it.Some bullying statistics show that those who have been bullied are six times more likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues. It is extremely common for victims of bullying to develop progressive behavioral disorders such as:

Over time, they may turn to alcohol or drugs to ease the pain. Also, the desire to fit in and feel accepted can lead a child using drugs to connect with people. Several studies show the risk factors for psychological health problems, substance abuse, and bullying statistics often overlap.

Similarity in Symptoms

When we look closer at bullying statistics and at the warning signs of substance abuse, we find that the symptoms are extremely similar.

Common Symptoms of Bullying

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Eating disorders
  • Poor performance in school or work
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Alcohol or drug use

Common Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

  • Mood swings
  • Poor performance in school or work
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Health problems

Looking at some of the more general warning signs we can see how many are present concerning both issues.

Substances and Bullying Statistics

Ultimately, drugs can become a crutch for numbing the emotional pain of being bullied. While it is harder to predict whether being the victim of bullying will lead to substance abuse, with bullies there is also a very real risk of developing issues with drug use and addiction.

Bullying statistics often show that bullies themselves typically suffer from a variety of emotional and behavioral challenges. Sometimes a child lives in a home with domestic violence, and so they become aggressive with their peers to expel their frustration. Yet, they may still use drugs or alcohol to escape the painful life at home. Even the act of bullying itself is typically an indication of diminished self-worth, and just like with the victims, that lack of self-worth can lead them to use drugs.

Some even believe bullying could be comparable to an addiction itself. Some psychologists compare bullying to other ‘process addictions’ like gambling, overworking or shopping. While we do not recognize bullying as an addiction, many believe the comparison could be helpful to address the issue.

Compassion and Care

Whether or not someone is a victim or bullying, or has been a bully themselves, we all deserve respect and compassion. When it comes to providing care for those who struggle with substance use disorder, it should always be a priority to help people develop healthy coping skills, while gaining self-worth. As people struggle to deal with emotional and behavioral challenges, there should be resources there to help guide them toward personal development. Not just getting off of substances, but also to empower them as an individual.

One issue we have with facing bullying head-on is that people typically think of a “bully” as someone inherently bad. However, life is not so simple. A child who bullies isn’t a bad child, they are just interacting with their world in an unhealthy and aggressive way. They still deserve understanding and support.

We commonly see the same stigma with people struggling with addiction. Too often they are labeled as “bad” people, but the truth is that they are just dealing with things in a self-destructive and unhealthy way. Dealing with substance use disorder and with bullying means meeting it with love and care, not judgment and punishment.

Perhaps if focus more on supporting people, we have a better chance of changing addiction and bullying statistics for the betterment of everyone.

 Palm Healthcare Company believes in the importance of compassionate and comprehensive care for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Providing a safe medical detox, a personalized recovery program and an innovative approach to holistic health, our mission is to help people transform into the person they want to be. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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