Self-imposed resolutions during each new year can have exactly the opposite effect, making people overwhelmed by mid-February. Instead, focusing on a few practical tips can help to tackle the root of other boring and unhelpful resolutions, which we all – without profound thinking – devise for ourselves. Here, in Embodiments Research Group at the University of Liverpool, we offer a few suggestions, which you may have heard before. We find that these tips are quite helpful, and by sharing them with our readers, we wish you all a more fulfilling year ahead. These tips are particularly written for the academic population, though we hope that non-academics benefit likewise.
1- Avoid Passive-Aggressive Individuals – By ALL MEANS.
By requiring emotional dependence and portraying manipulative trait (be it in a subtle manner, a silent treatment, or pull-and-push dynamics) the passive-aggressive behaviour is unpleasant to deal with. It often tends to showcase extreme strength, which can be deceptive as it can pull others to itself or push them away by unresponsive dominance. It can put others in emotional debt, demanding – ingeniously but not directly – a sense of obligation. Talking traits, one of our lead researchers, Dr Farahani, discusses how “abusive individuals can cleverly make others feel inferior and emotionally indebted whereas, in reality, no one owes any emotional back-up to anyone, unless it is respectfully reciprocated.” Whether he/she is your classmate, colleague at work, an old or new acquaintance, or even a friend, you can try to pull yourself out of the web of his/her abusive treatment. Farahani argues that “avoiding such individuals is your own responsibility as soon as you see the first signs, because if you give it more time, you will be thinking that you are mistaken and the abusive individual is OK. This will, in turn, bring you back to the same hurt feelings that you initially take on board.” Besides, complicated cases can be seen with narcissist traits, and also with those who are irrevocably driven by bias in their interactions with others on any unhealthy agenda, whether it is about gender bias, race, ethnicity, colour, competitions, etc. Whoever presents subtle or direct prejudiced behaviour (of any type) may suffer complex disorganised thinking which is itself a complex problem, often rooted in previous experience, family upbringing, lack of emotional education, not to mention other influences in human growth. For a detailed (yet quick & concise) view of varieties of passive-aggressive behaviour see this link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201501/6-tips-dealing-passive-aggressive-people
Discussing the prevalence of psychological overlaps, Farahani suggests a reading of Wendy Behary’s Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed
2- Avoid Speedy Task-Related Responses, and Make Daily Free Time as A Must-Have.
Introducing us to the art of breathing and meditative calm, Dr Schermbrucker suggests devising your own academic speed of growth. In higher education, stressing staff and students for certain deadlines, the idea of numerous speedy publications, and the competition for becoming a more “productive” researcher, all can manifest in passive-aggressive directions. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, individuals need to figure out the speed and serenity by which their peace, physical, and emotional health is taken care of. One thing that academics often forget is that sacrificing one’s mental well-being for the sake of academic competition and stress can have extremely unpleasant results in the long run. Eating disorders, chronic illnesses, and depression are but some of the prevalent results of unreasonable academic pressure. Schermbrucker argues that with so many publications, academics often end up repeating each other in copious volumes. This is far from productivity and creativity if you think beyond what is the so-called academic “norm”. And, it is particularly important in the case of students as they need to learn how to cope with everyday pressure of studies. A recent article is worth paying attention to: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/dec/14/majority-of-students-experience-mental-health-issues-says-nus-survey
Make sure to have free time to do what encourages true dynamic thinking. Whether it is that particular sport that you like, or crafts, music or movies, prayer, meditation, etc., or just a stroll in the park, make sure to allocate quality time to yourself and to your beloveds on a daily basis. Sit back, relax, and re-think. Learn to say no to what is beyond your capacity and capabilities; and often to what you think you may have to sacrifice family-time to attend to; be courteous, timely, and kind while rejecting others’ suggestions or invitations. Academics often lose themselves by conforming to the so-called norm of speedy publications. Take your time. Do not allow others’ idea of desired speed dictate or come in the way of your own speed. Make time to de-stress and live well. If you feel too much pressure in your job, here is a good read: Self-Help for Your Nerves: Learn to relax and enjoy life again by overcoming stress and fear by Claire Weekes
3- Reflect on Your Good Works, and Boost Your Joy by Helping Ohers.
Academics live a pretty competitive life. With no sugar-coating or drama, we all know and often admit that it is not an entirely healthy lifestyle; in fact, often far from it; think about the long hours of typing at the desk, and the over-thinking process of phrasing and styling after each essay or chapter is already edited some 50 times or so! In order to remain sane and sensible, make sure to reflect on the good non-academic works you have done during the past year, and make some room for more of similar behaviour in the new year. Whether you are a student, lecturer, writer, supervisor, or an early career, remember this: If you can lend a helping hand to a student, to another colleague, or to a friend, you begin to feel more fulfilled. No matter how many books you write, how many hours of good teaching you perform, or in whatever manner you self-promote your academic lifestyle (sometimes quite cringe-worthy on twitter), no one would genuinely respect or love you, if you fall short of kindness in your interactions. Let us not forget that accommodating and helping with the accomplishments of others is quite often the key to being emotionally well accommodated in our own being. Make sure to print out a quote of your liking and look at it every morning before you start work. Help us source this as well:
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