Monthly Archives: October 2015

Turning Post-Traumatic Stress into Post-Traumatic Growth

laymileaf1
I learned about a new idea tonight–the theory of Post Traumatic Growth. After going through an extremely abusive relationship, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I think my case is “mild,” but it sometimes comes back to me and ruins a day or two with flashbacks and bad dreams. I hate what happened to me, but sometimes I can see that it changed me for the better. I wish I could have changed for the better without being abused, but the events definitely pushed me into realizing I needed to learn to protect myself from predatory people and it inspired me to put more value on myself…and to better take care of myself.

In abuse recovery groups, we often hear cliches telling us that things will become better than before and that we will learn to be stronger and happier after trauma. It sometimes seems very hard to believe, but on good days, I know it’s true. My life, and my treatment of myself has changed dramatically for the better since I escaped from an abuser and said “no more!”


The article I read tonight was based on the book Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth
When I read this article, I could relate. The idea of growing stronger after trauma is not a new idea, but I’m excited and inspired that there are researchers studying it and learning about it. The article notes that, it isn’t the trauma that helps us grow, but instead we grow from our reactions and our thoughts about it.

In that study, participants who went through a period of deliberate rumination, in which they thought deeply about their experience and how best to find a way forward, were more likely to rebound to a better place.

 

 

 

The article mentions that it is important not to get stuck, though. That is something that is hard to avoid for those of us who continue to deal with abusive people. It’s really hard not to focus on how bad things are, when it seems like no change is in sight. I know for me, my head understood how to “get over it” a lot sooner than my heart did. I finally had to make the jump from just understanding how to feel better to actually, actively getting better!

 

Here’s another quote that especially spoke to me:

…in another report, those who felt more depressed after their diagnoses were more likely to say they had made positive changes up to two years later compared with those who found the ordeal less trying.

That’s pretty comforting. Of course we hate going through really rough recovery after domestic abuse, but those of us who have it harder are more likely to make the bigger, better changes. There is light at the end of this tunnel! Sometimes we struggle to believe that we will rebound better than ever, but now there are experts and studies to back us up and gives us information on who recovers better.
Here’s another article on the subject that lists some characteristics of people who grow instead of “breaking.” One of the things that can help you recover better is a good social support system, but here’s an interesting quote:
Support from those who have had your experience can be just as helpful – even if those people are strangers. Back in the day, this takes the form of bereavement groups. Today, it can be a Facebook group or an online community.
This is good to know! Especially for those of us who are estranged from abusive families, or who have watched our abusers fool and take all our friends away from us.
Another thing that can help is “emotional” disclosure. Talking to others is good, but so is writing in a journal or sharing what happened to you. There are more helpful points and ideas, but it all comes down to: we have the power to view our traumas in a productive way and choose the mindset to thrive. Our thoughts control our emotions, and it’s important that WE take our thoughts where we want to go!

Here are a couple other books about Post-Traumatic Growth that sound promising:

 

An overview of my favorite money-making survey sites!

Legitimate ways to make money online!

Legitimate ways to make money online!

I found that working full-time with two little kids and doing everything on my own was leaving me little time to actually live, so in the past couple years, I’ve found ways to survive on part-time hours and still pay my bills…and even have some fun!

I have a number of things I do to earn extra money, including product testing and using survey sites. Depending on how much time I devote, it is not unrealistic to make $5 a day doing the bare minimum in surveys that are mailed to me. If I have an emergency, I do more. (For example, a couple weeks ago, I had a pipe burst under my kitchen, and I didn’t have enough money to cover the repair. I got online and started taking surveys!) It’s not a lot, but it helps. I can’t count the times that cashing out on a survey site has rescued me from a financial bind or helped me make the last few dollars to pay a bill.

People often ask me about what sites I use, and I’m glad to tell! But, I’ve been doing this for over a year now, so I’m really familiar with the sites and the ways to optimize my earnings. For a newbie, it’s probably completely overwhelming. So, I decided to post a basic overview of the sites I use, how they pay, and how much you can earn. I would recommend starting with a small number of sites at first, then adding more when you get used to them. When you first start doing surveys, you will earn a lot faster at first, because all of the surveys will be new. After a while, the old surveys are all done, and you just get the new ones in your e-mail. At that point, it’s easier to start adding other sites. These days, I just try every survey that comes in my e-mail, because sites usually only send you the best options. If I need to make money more quickly, I can always go to my favorites sites and look for more surveys.

Some sites will allow you to put in a bit of time and earn more quickly, while other sites take just a few minutes a day to earn slowly. Still, I take the couple minutes it takes on the slower sites, because they do add up–especially if you use a bunch of sites at once.


Soo…..here’s part of my list:

Inbox Dollars: This was the first site I joined, and I still use it, (and cash out,) regularly. I would suggest starting here, because Inbox Dollars pays you for using their links to join other survey sites. (Hint: That’s a very easy way to hit your first pay out. Many times, you will earn $1 or more just for signing up for another survey site through Inbox Dollars. Plus, you can then make money on those sites, too!) Their rewards are paid in dollar amounts instead of points, so it’s easy to keep track of your balance. You have to earn at least $30 to cash out, then when you try to cash out, you get a prompt to earn to $40 and save on the processing fee…so I do that. I cashed out my first $40 after two weeks! This site has more than just surveys. There are plenty of free offers, as well as offers to earn points on purchases, and more. Plus, for every survey you attempt, you get a spin on the Spin and Win wheel which often awards prizes like a bonus 5 cents, a bonus dollar or a bonus five dollars.  Once you’ve used all the initial offers, it is still easy to maintain about $20 a month in earnings just by taking the surveys they send to your e-mail. If you work harder to do more surveys, $40 a month or more is possible. (I just did that to help pay for my broken pipe.)

Global Test Market: This site is currently my favorite. You have to earn 1000 points to cash out–and it’s possible to do that in a month or less. I usually save up a bit more because the payout options don’t add up to exactly 1000 points. For example, at 240 points, you can get $10 in a Paypal payment. For 220 points, you can $10 in a gift card, (I always choose Amazon!) The average survey pays 30 points and takes 5-10 minutes. The surveys are plentiful, and it’s easy to surf through and finish several surveys a night. It is not hard to reach your first 1000+ points in a month and get $40-$50 in rewards.
Also, some of GTM’s surveys are screeners to find people to test products at home. I have tested a bunch of different products–things I would actually buy–which has saved me quite a bit of money on home goods and toiletries. Plus, some of these products are really good, so I enjoy them!

Mintvine: This is another site with plenty of surveys, (plus points for taking a daily poll or being rejected for a survey.) It is easy to earn points very quickly. Their point system is pretty easy–1000 points is $10 worth of credit. You can get gift cards or Paypal, but you have to have at least 1000 points first. It is not hard to get to the first payout, especially since there are several new member bonus options. I would say it is possible to earn $20 a month on this site if you take all your options. The most I’ve earned was $40 in one month.

Swagbucks: This isn’t really just a survey site, although there are survey options. I usually don’t even take many surveys there, unless I’ve used up my other ways to earn points. This site pays in gift cards based on points. You can cash out as little as $3 for 300 points. On this site, I make points by watching videos, watching ads, interacting with ads, taking short polls, and more. Each day, Swagbucks assigns you a point goal, and if you hit the goal, you get a bonus. I always try to hit the smallest goal at least. That is about 30-50 points a day to get a 10% bonus. It’s not hard to get there with very little effort. In fact, since Swagbucks randomly rewards you for using their search engine, you might get 15 points for just one search! The more you search, the more you can earn. I’ve have earned as much as 300 points in one day just by doing easy things. Typically, I hit around 50–which equals out to about $15 a month. If you do surveys, it adds up a lot faster.


In my experience, this is a good start to making some extra money online. I will continue posting some more overviews soon!

Don’t be the grump that scares people away

Surround yourself with beauty!

Surround yourself with beauty!

It’s easy to get caught up in a bad mood, a bad day, a bad life…and get grumpy about everything. It may make sense to you, but consider how it sounds to other people! There is a grump in my office who is just so grumpy, I groan and want to get away every time I see her! I’ll call her Frieda.

Frieda’s desk is close enough to mine that I can hear her very clearly throughout the day. And do you know what I hear? Her being grumpy, short, cold, and rude when she’s on the phone with our clients. Sometimes I am shocked at how rude she is! She is so grumpy, she ends up arguing with them–unnecessarily, because if she wasn’t being so mean, they wouldn’t respond defensively. I hate sitting near Frieda. I take care to always use a soft, calm, and polite tone with clients. I find that works much better than pissing them off ;) But then I hear Frieda being harsh and grumpy and sometimes I end up mumbling under my breath, “geez, stop being a jerk.”

I also hear Frieda grumping and trashing our co-workers. She’ll look at someone else’s work and nitpick everything she thinks is wrong with it. She will grumble to the person who sits next to her about how awful so-and-so is, and how they always mess things up. I’m still pretty new to the company, and I’ve had the delight of hearing her discuss ME while complaining about those idiot new people. Oh how pleasant…. NOT! Hellloooo, Frieda! I can HEAR you trashing me. How about a bit of empathy for the newbie who still has a ton to learn? Or…get this. Maybe I am not doing anything wrong and you are just a grump who thinks everyone should do things your way?

So I have to sit there listening to Frieda being mean to clients, gossiping about co-workers, oh…and grumbling about our supervisors. And I wonder, (since Frieda is married,) how really miserable her husband must be because I have never heard her say anything nice.

We recently had a day for charity fundraising that included some games to play in between doing work. Because of it, we received e-mails from our Human Resources department to help us play along. Most people thought it was fun, and a nice break from the stress…but not Frieda. She grumbled and grumped about all those annoying e-mails and how stupid the games were. She complained that the HR department was wasting time and needed to get back to work. She grouched that she was going to send a letter to the CEO about how pointless and wasteful the games were.

I had to bite my tongue after hearing a whole day of her being a grump.

I wonder if she has any clue how mean and awful she sounds? Or how all of her complaining and attacking makes other people see her? She must have *some* good qualities, (since her husband hasn’t run away from home!) But…all we hear is the negative all day. It’s so depressing, I’ve considered asking to move to another spot in the office. I don’t want to hear her being mean all day. I want to be in a positive mood at work, and I want to do a good job, and be fair to everyone else! But Frieda is quite frankly…a drag.

Don’t be a Frieda!

Change Your Words, Change Your Life: Understanding the Power of Every Word You Speak

Recently, I read a book that was filled with wisdom about the power of our words to make or break our reputations, make or break our moods, and to make or break our relationships. Maybe I should silently donate a copy to Frieda ;)

She might be a fun and interesting person, but all I know is that she sounds like a meanie. It’s something to consider for all of us. When we think we are venting, (not that there’s anything wrong with that,) are we going overboard? Are we making our entire world gray and dreary? Are we scaring people and opportunities away from us? Are we destroying workplace morale? Do our moods spiral downward as we focus more and more and more on negativity all day? Who knows what damage is done by a big mouth and a bad attitude!

I know from time to time, I get into these modes, and now I realize with horror…I hope I don’t sound like Frieda! Like the title of the book tells us, your words can change your life. I enjoyed the book a lot, and have been making an effort to remember the good advice in it. Listening to Frieda has inspired me to be even more careful about how I talk because I don’t want to make people feel the way Frieda makes me feel.

Seeing the signs and avoiding a potential predator

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

As a former doormat with terrible boundaries and a fear of saying “no,” I have often found that predators and creepers like to push boundaries with me. I have been bad at saying no because I try to be polite and avoid their yucky comments instead of being bold and stopping them. I’ve been a magnet for predatory people because I was an easy target.

Recently, someone that I believe is going to prove to be bad news has been trying some typical narcissistic games/predatory moves on me. In the past, I might have fallen for some of them, but this time, my red flag detectors are working! I wanted to share my observations of warning signs because what I’m seeing is pretty typical of the way a narcissist will cozy up to a vulnerable person. Although I have come a long way, I still have a lot of weak spots that probably look fun and inviting to toxic people.

First of all, this person tried to find common ground with me based on the fact that we are both estranged from our mothers. He kept complimenting me on my strength. Well, as someone who has struggled with a narcissist mother all my life, this tactic has almost always worked on me. I’ve always been glad to hear from others in the same situation. Sometimes they are sincere, and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes it’s a creeper trying to connect on a more personal and intimate level. At first, I responded to this person eagerly because I love to connect and discuss. But, he barely responded. When he did, he started complimenting me again. Uh oh. He brought up the toxic mother commonality, but didn’t really have anything to say about it. Does he really have a narc mom?

This isn’t a sign on its own, but it is not unusual for a predator/narcissist to play victim and try to relate to a real victim/survivor. We want to trust others who share our stories, but unfortunately, our desire to find others who can relate also opens us to more narcissists. I am aware that this person is married, and has been for a long time. So…I put up my warning boundaries and kept the conversation pretty neutral. I will discuss narcissistic parents, but we don’t need to discuss how smart, strong, or cute I am. Uggh.

Second sign: This person continued to compliment me. Compliments are nice! But when overdone, they get a bit uncomfortable. Why is this person bombing me with praise? And how come every time I divert to a conversation, it comes back to these superficial compliments? Hmmm…. I feel like this person wants something from me…but it’s not a good chat! I don’t want a married man being so friendly with me.

Although I am not pursuing a relationship with this person, it is still common for narcissists and predatory types to “love bomb” a new target with all kinds of admiration. We all like to be praised, and it’s easy to be blinded by praise from someone with not-so-good intentions.

The third sign was the clincher. He started trying to triangulate between myself and another single woman who has a lot in common with me. He started telling me she seemed very jealous of the fact that he talked to me and “liked” my comments on Facebook. Oh no. I am not interested in this person, and he’s not going to get me interested by trying to make me jealous of another woman. I am not competing for him! He persisted in telling me that the woman was very jealous and that she was starting to act crazy. This is quite bizarre, because he and I are not heading anywhere near a relationship. I’m barely talking to him and I’m trying to keep things light and neutral. There isn’t anything for anyone to be jealous of!

It is common for a narcissist to try to make a potential target jealous by pretending they are in high demand. It’s human nature to want what others want, and it makes the predator seem more special and valuable. Subconsciously, it makes us more likely to want them.

Fourth: After talking to this person off and on, he suddenly tells me his divorce will be final THIS week. Surprise! That’s weird. His Facebook status shows married to his wife. No separation, no fighting…just married. There’s a big smiley picture of her! I already know to be wary of men who claim they are going to get divorced some day. They aren’t divorced until they actually are, but predatory types will keep a woman on the hook by promising they are going to file any day now.

Actions speak louder than words. Predators tell us all kinds of stories, but we can only believe what they SHOW us.

Finally, this person told me that the “other” woman had blocked him on Facebook and that he was sorry he’d trusted her. He then told me he hoped I would still be a friend to him because he’s going through a rough time.

Do you see the red flags waving and the flashing lights going off!?

A narcissist will always say the other person is “crazy” when the other person places a boundary and tries to get away. They will also play victim and seek your comfort.

Now, if I’d seen just one of these signs, or even two, I might not want to jump to conclusions, but my conversations with this person are heading straight into uh uh, no no no territory. There are too many weird stories, there is too much triangulation and there is…a wife. Ahem. I will be keeping my distance.

Be careful out there and make sure to be alert when it comes to detecting creepers!

This is a mild story since I wasn’t even contemplating dating this guy, but if you are interested, I have an eBook about big red flags of narcissism in dating relationships. Been there. Done that!

A Woman’s Guide to Detecting Narcissistic Men: Thirty Tips for Recognizing a Potential Predator