September 29, 2011

Staying Safe (tips for teens and adults)

We face risk every day in the things we do. The food we eat is a form of risk taking. You may be allergic to it. Going out and having fun, first date, online chatting, driving, parties with friends and holidays trips –yes, it is a great time in your life, but all of these have a series of risks attached. All our behaviours, emotions, feelings and words also involve some risk in terms of dangerous and unpredictable consequences.
Safe means zero risk and is not achievable at all times in all places under all circumstances. 

Safety Behaviour is managed risk-taking behaviour and is achievable. 

Safety Behaviour depends on Risk Perception.

How much is ‘at risk’? Shaping our perception of risks

Are dangers really increasing or are we more afraid?
Risk perception is an essential factor in every human decision making.

Our perspective affects how we identify risk, how we see the level of risk and in turn, evaluate these risks and make a decision. Each of us envisages risk as a result of what we believe to be the likely outcome, the chance of the outcome actually occurring and how concerned we are if it does happen.
There are internal (memory, experience, mood) and external (physical environment, sensory information) factors that contribute to influence our perception and the decisions we make.
A large element of our memory is based on previous experience, so it is logical that our perception of risk is also influenced by prior experience. Many psychologists believe that we repress memories of traumatic experiences and what we recall is not always an accurate reflection of events or today’s reality.
Our mood affects how we function and our risk perception. Mood gets in the way of retrieving information: if we are feeling grumpy, we are more likely to recall negative events and situations whereas if we are content we focus on happy memories. People in positive moods increase the likelihood of helpful, safe behaviours. People in negative moods use less information to make decisions, are more selective of what information they pay attention to, are less detailed in their approach. As a result, their ability to manage safety risks may be reduced.

Knowledge and information is the core contributor to risk management and safety.

By being informed we are able to better indentify the risks and can make an informed decision because we better understand the consequences. If we do not know or understand the situation or do not have an experience base on which to make informed decisions, we may choose to take a calculated risk level, using 2 risk components such as likelihood and consequence.

Making a decision to be safe

We make decisions every day; consciously or unconsciously, on how we are going to behave. Keep in mind that at every stage of your life you will have risk, it’s important to understand what these risks are and have a plan to minimize the consequences.

Step 1: Identify the risks
Step 2: Decide how risky it is
Step 3: Evaluate the situation and make a decision

Example: Safe Celebrating

Party safe: This or this?
Step 1: Identify the risks:
Risks associated with being young include:
• a desire for sensation
• a tendency towards high-risk behaviours
• the impact of group/peer dynamics
• a lack of maturity

Risks associated with substance use include:
• inexperience with alcohol
• a tendency towards binge drinking -intoxication/ reduced inhibition
• the use of illegal drugs

Risks associated with places chosen for celebrations include:
• unsupervised use of facilities, especially around
water (beaches, rivers, pools)
• limited supervision/emergency support

Risks associated with road use include:
• increased independent use of roads
and vehicles
• inexperience of drivers
• car overcrowding
• many of the activities occurring at night
• fatigue
• limited transport options

Step 2: Decide how risky it is for you using your experience, knowledge, research and our risk level calculator
There are six signs that tell you when a risk is NOT a good idea. If any of the following apply, think twice before you taking the risk. 
1. There's a good chance you could lose everything.
You drink too much, lose your wallet with all ID and money, plus your mobile. No way to get home and no phone to call home.. 
2. You have to put a lot on the line to get only a little.
You risk your health and life experimenting with amphetamines at a party because others told you it was OK. 
3. There are too many factors you can't control.
You drink too much at a party, cannot control those around you and what they do to you, cannot control yourself and what you do, cannot control your stomach (in from of everyone). 
4. You feel the odds are against you.
Peer pressure among friends can be overwhelming if you choose to listen. 
5. There is no way to fix the outcome if it doesn't turn out how you want.
People take photos of you on their mobiles while you are drunk. These get sent to the internet instantly – no control to reverse the situation, they are on the internet forever. 
6. You have to take the risk before having a chance to prepare and/or evaluate it.
You get drunk, get into a fight with a friend, throw up on your friend and break something before you realise you have had too much to drink.
Step 3: Evaluate the situation and make a decision

Make a decision to be safe and develop your own safety plan

The follow tips can be part of your safety plan.

1. Know the people who’s party you are attending
2. If you chose to drink, have a sober ride home
3. Never accept any drink that you did not prepare or see prepared yourself
4. Never leave a party with someone you don not know well
5. Never walk alone at night
6. If you have an alcoholic beverage in your hand – do not go outside
7. If you are drinking, do so responsibly

We hope that our tips and ideas will help you to minimize the risks of having a good time and keep you in safety!

Source: Taking Risks: How to Take Calculated Risks to Get Ahead in Anything

September 23, 2011

Happiness and Joy



We have feelings about our needs (like food, air, water, etc.).
When needs are satisfied we feel joy.

We have feelings about our wants (for love and affection, even for things like a new house, car, etc.).
When wants are satisfied we feel joy.

Our emotions constantly push us toward joy. When we use our anger positively, we increase our odds of getting what we want and to feel joy.

When we use our sadness positively, we replace what we’ve lost and feel joy again.

When we use our fear well, we protect ourselves and feel joy.

We feel excited whenever we are “on our way” toward what we want! Excitement mobilizes our energy to keep us on track toward joy.
Source: About Joy by Tony Schirtzinger, Therapist 


Life is changing constantly, and that means that our wants, needs, feelings and choices are changing too. We need to re-evaluate them on a regular basis.
Ask yourself questions:
“What is truly important to me in my life, and why?”
“What is in my day that is stopping me feeling happy?”.
Your goal is to find your top priorities in your life and focus on what really matters for you. Make sure you know what are your true needs and wants, and why. Everyone you know probably has an opinion about what should be important to you. Keep in mind that this is your life, your needs and your wants.
Consider a Concept Living by Half by Jonar C. Nader : “Half everything in your life that is not adding value to you , so you will have time to double anything else that creates value and bring more daily enjoyment.” Try to balance your “need to do” activities with a few things you really want to do.
It is important to make time every day for the things you really enjoy.


  • Give yourself small doses of joy regularly using your IMAGINATION.
    The easiest way to get more joy in your life is to simply IMAGINE that you’ve got something you want. Close your eyes and picture a situation or place that feels peaceful and joyful. Are you a music lover? Tune in to the soundtrack of nature-crashing waves and birds singing. Buy a small fountain, so you can enjoy the soothing sound of running water in your home. Surround yourself with smells using scented candles, scented sheets, or your favourite perfume.
  • Consider the habitual regular joys.
    Every single time we take care of a bodily need we feel a considerable amount of joy. Experiment with your sense of touch: give yourself a hand or neck massage, wear clothing that feels soft against your skin, pet a dog or cat. Taste! When we eat a great meal we feel quite a bit of joy. Movement ! Anything that engages the muscles can work: go for a short walk, dance, even some simple breathing exercises can bring more joy to you.
  • Don’t forget about the joy of getting “Stuff”, but remember that this feels good only for a relatively short while.
    There is real joy to be had from getting stuff (everything from new clothes to a new house). Take the time to enjoy these things, but don’t be surprised when you notice that abrupt end to such joys. The excitement of a new car usually lasts only a few days or weeks, and it then just becomes background. The excitement of new shoes, or clothes last only hours or days before it become background.
  • Give and receive joy of affection & attention.
    Hang out with people who bring out the best in you. Send blessings to people who are hurting, imprisoned, or in pain. We all want the same three things: to give love, to receive love and to know that we matter. Simple acts of kindness such as a smile at strangers or giving a compliment will not cost you anything, but they add enjoyment to your life and the lives of those around you.
  • The BIGGEST JOYS will come!
    The biggest joys of life come from getting your needs met regularly and from getting big doses of attention and affection. Regularly examine your life’s priorities, your new wants and needs and give them first place in your life. Take care of your own needs and wants, plan your time for small and “stuff” joys and your biggest joys will definitely come!

After each bite of food,
After each trip to the bathroom(!),
after each “stroke” you get from the people who like you,
after every opportunity for joy,
stop everything for a moment
  Source:  About Joy by Tony Schirtzinger, Therapist

September 12, 2011

Building Resilience in Youth

Resilience. We hear this word a lot these days! What does it mean? The Oxford dictionary definition is “Recoiling, springing back, resuming original form after stretching or bending.”

What does it mean in real terms?
  • The ability to bounce back from a difficult situation and in some cases take a completely new perspective on that and other difficult situations.
  • Manage life’s challenges, changing and pressure effectively.
  • Cope and adapt to adversity.

You Cannot Change What Has Happened You Can Control How You Think About It

When some thing ( a plan, a project, a relationship, a situation) does not go the way you want it to go, what is the first question most people ask? WHY ME? This is the wrong question! What happens when you ask the wrong question? Yes! You get the wrong answer and a lot of negative feedback.

What then would be the right question? WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM WHAT JUST HAPPENED? And you get a completely different interpretation back – and a positive lesson can be learnt.

Resilience is like a muscle – when you develop the right exercises you can build resilience. Negative thoughts are the biggest threats for building resilience. Some people have resilience muscles built in, others need to develop them.
Some people allow fear to stop them from seeing the opportunities in situations.
Fear in most cases is:False Evidence Appearing Real
Resilience is associated with the following factors:

What makes you happy? Do more of it!
You are a worthwhile person! Love yourself!
Are you sleeping enough, exercising enough, eating the right food?
Do you look for the positives, not the negatives – the reasons why you can, not the reasons why you cannot.
Do you have your goals for the future written down? Do it now!

Understanding Emotions

We highly recommend reading:
Anger Management & Violence Behaviour
Peer Pressure and Risk Taking
How to Handle Difficult People
Ten Keys for Building a Resilient Mindset
Building Resilience - Find Your Islands of Competence
This is one of our greatest challenges. We sometimes misinterpreted our own feelings.

The only person we have the power to change is us. Other people will only change if they want to.

We sometimes misinterpreted other people feelings. All of the factors we have mentioned, you have control over when you understand yourself and your emotions.

The most important relationship you will ever have – is with you.
Reading books, attending courses, mixing with positive people will help you understand your emotions and how they effect you and other people.

There have been many good books written on developing Resilience in young people.
Two of that I recommend:
Ken B Marslew, CEO of Enough is Enough

September 8, 2011

Stress Management : Finding the Relaxation that Work for You

People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their emotions and their behaviour. They are able to handle life’s inevitable challenges, build strong relationships, and lead productive fulfilling lives. When bad things happen, they’re able to bounce back and move on.
One of the key factors in your emotional health is the ability to balance your emotions. The capacity to recognize your emotions and express them appropriately helps you avoid getting stuck in depression, anxiety, or other negative mood states.
Stress takes a heavy toll on emotional health, so it’s important to keep it under control. While not all stresses can be avoided, stress management strategies can help you bring things back into balance. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems.

Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s Strategies

Think about the way you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. Are you coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive?
Unhealthy strategies of coping with stress include smoking; drinking alcohol; overeating; zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer; withdrawing from friends, family , activities; using pills to relax; procrastinating; taking out your stress on others; filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems.
We highly recommend reading:
Stress Management Strategies ( four As)
There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction.

When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept. Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.
Change the situation:
Avoid the stressor – Stress management strategy #1 (Avoid unnecessary stress)
Alter the stressor – Stress management strategy #2 ( Alter the situation)
Change your reaction:
Adapt to the stressor – Stress management strategy #3 (Adapt to the stressor)
Accept the stressor – Stress management strategy #4 (Accept the things you can’t change).

Stress management strategy #5:

Find the relaxation that is working for you and make regular time for it
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you will be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitable come.
Identify your body’s stress response:
Internally, we all respond to stress the same: our blood pressure rises, our heart pumps faster, and our muscles constrict. When stressed, our bodies work hard and drain our immune system.
Externally, however, people tend to respond to stress in three different ways: some become angry and agitated, others space out or withdraw, and still others freeze up.
How do you act when stressed?
Overexcited stress response – If you tend to become angry, agitated, or keyed up under stress, you will response best to stress relief activities that quiet you down such as meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery.
Under excited stress response – If you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system, such as rhythmic exercise.
Frozen stress response (both overexcited and under excited) – If you tend to freeze: speeding up in some ways while slowing down in others, your challenge is to identify stress relief activities that provide both safety and stimulation to help you ‘reboot’ your system. Techniques such as mindfulness walking or power yoga might work well for you.
Making relaxation techniques a part of your life
The best way to start and maintain a relaxation practice is to incorporate it into your daily routine. Between work, family, school, and other commitments, though, it can be tough for many people to find the time.
If possible, schedule a set time to practice each day
Set aside one or two periods each day. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
Practice relaxation techniques while you are doing other things
Meditate while commuting to work on a bus or train, or waiting for a dentist appointment. Try deep breathing while you are doing housework or mowing the lawn. Mindfulness walking can be done while exercising your dog, walking to your car, or climbing the stairs at work instead of using the elevator.
If you exercise, improve the relaxation benefits by adopting mindfulness
Instead of zoning out or staring at a TV as you exercise, try focusing your attention on your body. If you are resistance training, for example, focus on coordinating your breathing with your movements and pay attention to how your body feels as you raise and lower the weights.

Learning stress management will not happen overnight. Like any skill, it takes time, self-exploration and above all, practice. But think of it as an education with a huge payoff.

Related articles:

Mindfulness Meditation

Guided Self Empowerment Meditation
Are You Ready for Change?

September 2, 2011

Dealing with Anger

In dealing with anger two positions are usually taken, neither of which work:
1. Passive non-resistant when others treat you unfairly. This is meaningless false humility, and often encourages the other person to treat you that way.
2. Freely venting anger, when this is done it encourages others to also be angry and respond with resentment.

What to do instead?
We need to be encouraged to take personal inventory, responsibility, and ownership of our anger.


• Respect yourself and others (Treat others like you want to be treated)

• Be honest about your feelings to yourself and don’t hide them from others

• Deal with facts (Don’t dwell in the past)

• Focus on your goals

• Look for common ground and the solution and be willing to negotiate

By Kimi Alcott, taken from Enough is Enough “Promise Keeper” program