Posted on: May 3rd, 2016

Take Charge of Your Life – Be Assertive!

By Dr. Russ Morfitt


You and I likely communicate with others every single day. Whether you’re talking to your family member, a coworker, or a salesperson, what you say and how you say it affect you and the person you are communicating with. An interaction can leave you feeling empty and angry, or empowered and understood. Why the difference? Just as you have personality traits, you also have a communication style. While you may vary your style from interaction to interaction, most people tend to have one style they rely on most.


passive, aggressive, assertive communication stylesThe four most commonly recognized communication styles are:

1. Passive
2. Passive-Aggressive
3. Aggressive
4. Assertive


Passive communication often comes from a place of low self-esteem. Passive communicators frequently don’t speak up for themselves or assert their wants or needs. They may feel as if their feelings and opinions don’t matter, may not look people in the eye, and may even apologize for speaking up. Over time, being passive may lead to built up frustration or anger.


An example of Passive communication:
Sarah disagrees with Mark, but doesn’t want to speak up because she doesn’t like conflict. She looks down and nods her head in agreement, even though inside she dislikes how he is always getting to state his opinion.


Passive-Aggressive communication involves expressing negative feelings in a hidden, or indirect way. The person is still trying to avoid conflict, but the feelings come out in a roundabout way.


An example of Passive-Aggressive communication:
Sarah asks Mark, “Are you wearing that to the party?” triggering hurt and embarrassment for Mark. But rather than tell Sarah that he was bothered by the comment, Mark retaliates by slowing his efforts to get ready for the party, knowing it is important to Sarah that they get there quickly.


See also: Overcoming Social Anxiety was hard, but it changed my life


Aggressive communication has unfortunately impacted most people at times. The person who has been aggressive often expresses him or herself in a way that hurts others, often in response to their own anger or drivenness. Can you think of such an interaction? You probably ended up feeling hurt or insulted.


An example of Aggressive Communication:
Sarah is upset with Mark’s choice of restaurant for the night: “I can’t believe you chose this place again. You have the worst taste! How could you be so stupid? Why would I want to go here?”


Assertive communication is often the most effective and kind way to communicate. You are able to express your feelings and opinions directly, without deliberately offending or hurting others. This type of communication can be challenging, because you often must be brave (you are sharing your own wishes) and honest (sharing your true feelings can be hard). If you practice, communicating assertively typically becomes easier over time.


An example of Assertive communication:
Sarah wishes that Mark would put down his phone when they are having an in-person conversation: “Mark, I would really appreciate if you would put your phone down when we’re having a discussion. When you are looking at your phone, I have a hard time knowing if you’re listening to what I’m saying, and I wonder if what I’m telling you just isn’t important to you.”


Sarah probably felt a little nervous telling Mark how she felt, but she expressed herself honestly and in a respectful way. Hopefully, Mark will put down his phone and listen to Sarah during their next conversation and they will both feel better about how they are communicating.


See also: Celebrities with Social Anxiety


Being assertive doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Sometimes it seems easier to give in to others, or more natural to get what you want by ordering people around. If your parents communicated this way, then it may seem normal to you. These types of behaviors are learned. The good news is that we can unlearn unhelpful behaviors. Persisting in problematic communication strategies—communicating passively, passive-aggressively, or aggressively–often leads to feelings of anger, resentment, irritation or isolation. Assertiveness can be learned through repeated use. There’s always time to change…here are some things to think about when you are interacting with someone with whom you have a relatively good relationship:


  • Tell the other person what they’re doing.
  • Tell them how it’s affecting you.
  • Tell them how you feel about it. (Try to use “I” and express feelings rather than thoughts)
  • Respectfully, tell them what you’d like them to change.


Each time you’re assertive, it will likely become a little bit easier. Gradually, you may start to notice that you feel better about yourself, and the relationships you have with others will be more satisfying. Change isn’t easy, but being assertive is worth it.


Posted on: February 4th, 2016

5 Ways to Love Yourself this Valentine’s Day

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? I have seen this holiday trigger reactions at both ends of the continuum. Some people embrace all that is red and pink, while others can’t wait for it to be over. Regardless of which camp you fall into, I’d like you to think about Valentine’s Day in a different way this year – not just as a blatant reminder of a lack of companionship OR solely as a way to immerse yourself in all things romantic. Instead, I’d like you to also think about what it means to act lovingly toward yourself.


5 Ways to Love Yourself this Valentines DayLife can be overwhelming at times. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, or feeling stressed by juggling too many things at once, it’s easy to forget about taking care of YOU. For many of us, our jobs, spouses, children, aging parents, or even hobbies take priority. It’s easy to focus on these people and things because you need to or want to, but it’s important to leave room for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day.


Here are some ways to show yourself a little love during this holiday dedicated to amour:


  1. Think of 3 things you love about yourself. We all have flaws, and people struggling with anxiety or depression are usually excellent at acknowledging them. Give a shout out to your strengths instead. Maybe you’re a great friend, or have mad breakfast making skills, or a voice sort of like Adele. Enjoy it, be grateful for it, smile about it, and give yourself a little pat on the back.
  2. Move your body. Not because you want to fit into smaller clothes or win a race, but because it’s good for you. Exercise is like a love note to your body and your brain – from you.
  3. Practice . Harboring anger and holding on to past grievances can eat you up inside. Letting go of anger is a gift to the other person but also, and more importantly, to you.
  4. Have fun. Just because you’re older than 12 doesn’t mean everything has to be serious. Laugh aloud, do karaoke, play a board game, have a dance party in your kitchen.
  5. Reward yourself. Maybe you reached a goal you’ve been striving for, or maybe you just made it out of bed this morning (and that may have been a big accomplishment for you). It doesn’t have to be something big or fancy, but go ahead and splurge on the latté, the hot bath or an extra 20 minutes of your favorite show.


We can get hard on ourselves when life gets busy and everyone and everything is competing for our time. It is precisely during those times when those of us struggling with anxiety or depression need to take a step back, breathe and think about our own needs as well. This Valentine’s Day don’t forget to show some love to yourself.


Posted on: September 21st, 2015

Dr. Russ and Molly Mogren of “Hey Eleanor!” Talk Social Anxiety

By Dr. Russ Morfitt


Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Molly Mogren of the blog “Hey Eleanor!” Prior to starting her most recent project as a full-time freelancer and blogger, Molly was featured in Delta’s Sky Magazine, Food & Wine, and Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Molly started the “Hey Eleanor!” blog because she wanted to incorporate Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “Do one thing everyday that scares you,” into her daily life. She felt she had fallen into a rut, so she decided to make a change. Change is difficult for anyone, but Molly also struggles with anxiety, so that added to the “scariness” of making changes. I really liked what she had to say about fear, because it’s consistent with one of the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – that you can often make things less scary as you face your fears:


“It’s not that I was no longer afraid, but as it turns out, you can practice being afraid. The more you do it, the less daunting scary things feel. Also, I learned that nothing is as scary in reality as it is in your head.”



Below is an excerpt from her blog post, Psychologist Dr. Russell Morfitt on How to Deal with Social Anxiety:

deal_with_social_anxiety_dr_russ_morfitt_learn_to_liveWhat can a Learn to Live member expect from the program? How long does it last? What’s the commitment like?


Dr. Russ: Structurally, the Learn to Live Social Anxiety Program consists of eight interactive, multimedia lessons with practice exercises to complete in between. We recommend completing about one lesson per week. Periodic assessments help members to set goals and track their progress along the way.


Members quickly learn that they are not alone, which is very powerful. Throughout the program, they learn the key tools of CBT and how to apply them in their personal situation. Members also learn how to build up their social support network, a trusted group of friends or family that may support and encourage them throughout the program.


And it’s not just thought-challenges and fear-facing exercises. These are important, no doubt. But sometimes it’s the small things in our lives, the tiny avoidant habits that add up to unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. Members learn to identify these habits and work toward changing them. The overall process involves learning online, then applying that learning to one’s life. It’s really the real-world practice that creates results.



If you want to find out more about CBT, the Learn to Live story, and social anxiety, here’s the full interview – Psychologist Dr. Russell Morfitt on How to Deal with Social Anxiety.


Molly has done a great job of connecting with other people who have faced their fears, like Jaimal Yogis of The Fear Project, and has even started her own #HeyEleanorChallenge, “a weekly email encouraging you guys to take itty-bitty steps (and the occasional big leap) outside of your comfort zone.” Sign up for the email list here. You can also like “Hey Eleanor” on Facebook or follow along with Molly on Twitter.


Posted on: August 18th, 2015

What is CBT?

By Dr. Russ Morfitt


We recently posted a question on our Facebook and Twitter accounts and the responses to that quiz piqued my interest. According to the results, many of our readers have heard of CBT but not many have actually tried it. That made me think that it might be useful to explain how CBT can help an individual – not just with mental health problems, but also in a variety of areas of your life.


CBT: Change your mind. Change your life. Learn to Live.CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is a form of psychotherapy that has been around since the early 1960’s. (There’s an interesting story about how the two most prominent founders of the model, Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis published their seminal books about the same time in the same year – so there has been some dispute over who was the first to formally present some of the key ideas.) CBT takes into account a person’s thoughts or perceptions, and how those thoughts or perceptions affect emotions and actions. We learn to identify our automatic thoughts or distorted thinking, after which we are better able to change those thoughts to something more logical or more useful. We can then begin changing our patterns of behavior, facing fears and eliminating unnecessary precautions, getting more active, or applying new alternative behaviors in place of the old actions that kept us stuck.


The skills of CBT can be applied immediately to problems we are suffering from in the present. And these skills become a helpful set of tools that can be applied to new situations as the challenges of life arise. CBT can be applied to work, school, relationships, and social situations – almost anything!


Among the most common reasons someone may seek out CBT are depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What many people don’t realize is that CBT can be applied to a whole host of issues we face in our daily lives: pain conditions, sleep disorders, life stress, eating disorders…the list goes on.


In recent years, we have learned that CBT has another asset – learning how to change our thoughts and behaviors can be done from the privacy of our own homes. Internet-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, (iCBT) has been demonstrated to be as effective as face-to-face therapy. The iCBT option means that those of us who may not otherwise choose face-to-face therapy – because of cost, stigma, or lack of options nearby – can still get the benefits of CBT.


CBT may sound like just another acronym in a world full of TLAs (three-letter acronyms). But really, it’s shorthand for a proven strategy for reshaping our unhelpful thinking and changing our unhealthy behaviors. Whether you need help with the stress of a new job, handling college life, or speaking in front of a group, CBT is a tool that can help you change your thoughts, your behaviors, and your life!


Posted on: July 29th, 2015

Top 5 Barriers to Getting Help for Mental Health Problems

By Dr. Russ Morfitt


alone-mental-health-sufferingIt’s a staggering statistic: 1 in 4 adults living in America have a mental health problem, such as anxiety, social anxiety, or depression. Given this, it would be natural to expect that it would be relatively easy to get help for these mental health challenges. But, curiously, it’s not. Here are a few reasons I have observed that help explain why:


1. Stigma or the fear of stigma. Despite the progress made through the #stopthestigma campaign, stigma has been a strong force over the years. Mental health problems have, at times, not been viewed as the real, treatable, health problems they often are. Talking about them has not been the norm. Whispers, awkward glances, and hushed conversations about something “not being right” have historically been commonplace.


We frequently fear being stigmatized when, in truth, we don’t really know if others will accept us or not. None of us wants to be labeled, but sometimes the fear itself—of being judged or labeled—is our biggest foe. Often, the best step we can take is to reach out and get the help we need, regardless of what others think. Often people find that others are compassionate when they learn of these struggles.


2. Cost. Mental health care, like any health care, costs money. Whether it means an office visit and the cost of a monthly prescription or 3 months of face-to-face Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mental health care is not cheap. For many years, stigma and cost have prevented a large number of people from seeking help. With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cost has become less of an issue. The ACA has expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits for 62 million Americans. Most health plans must now cover depression screening and behavioral health assessments at no cost, and plans are no longer able to deny coverage based on a pre-existing mental health condition.


Not all providers participate in insurance plans, but many do, so it is definitely worth looking into.


3. A shortage of mental health professionals. For many people choosing to seek care, distance and waiting lists pose an additional hurdle. While some areas may have a sufficient number of providers, there are many mental health provider shortage areas that continue to face growing needs, especially with the expansion of coverage under the ACA.


Sadly, even when therapists are accessible, they often fail to provide evidence-based care so the impact of the treatment is disappointing.


4. Fear is a pervasive obstacle. Fear of being labeled. Fear of therapists or therapy. Fear of admitting the problem itself.


Fear is a normal emotion with any challenge in life, but in many cases, working through that fear is a step in the right direction, a step toward help and healing. Many people have found that, if they can just take that first step, the fear becomes more manageable.


5. The nature of the beast. Anxiety and depression are, by their very nature, obstacles to finding a solution. In severe instances, many sufferers can hardly get out of the house or even out of bed. Other times people rationalize their thoughts and behaviors as “just my personality.” Coming to a point of acceptance about needing help and having the energy and courage to take a first step of asking for help are all part of the picture.


These factors are complicated and often compound one another. But our hope is that through awareness, accessibility, innovation, and courage, we can start to roll back this beast. Our #mentalhealthmatters.



Posted on: July 15th, 2015

Summertime! Swimsuit Anxiety…

By Dr. Russ Morfitt


I love to hear stories of personal growth. I’m a psychologist; it’s a big part of what we do. Now and then I like to feature the voice of someone sharing their own story in their own voice. Summer is a season for grilling and swimming with family and friends. Sadly, for many it’s also a time for anxiety about appearance. A friend of mine writes about her experience with anxiety about her appearance and how she’s learned to cope. I was so impressed by her story that I asked her to share it with you:


“You name it – I can worry about it. My mother would tell you I “came out worrying.” For most of my life I accepted the worrying as part of who I am, much like my short stature or brown eyes. It’s just the way I was made! Sure, sometimes I couldn’t sleep or worried myself sick (literally – like urgent bathroom trip sick) before tests or important events, but for the most part I didn’t let on to anyone other than family or close friends that I was worrying or anxious. I could put on my game face and power through a speech, playing sports or performing in front of someone.


After college, I moved to a small town and began working as a medical professional. I didn’t know anyone there and I began to worry more and more about everything in my life- not just specific things like public speaking, but “How am I going to do this job? Am I ever going to meet anyone in this small town? How do I manage all these new bills and responsibilities of being an official adult?” One night as I was driving home from working at the local hospital, my worrying spiraled. I began having what I can now identify as a panic attack. I was breathing fast and felt light-headed. That episode was different for me, more intense. It led me to seek help.


I found a local psychologist who did individual therapy, but also recommended I join a group of other young women with similar experiences and feelings. The therapist and the women helped me immensely. I didn’t know it at the time, but she practiced cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). I made lists of my thoughts and then examined them rationally. I learned how to stop my “stinkin thinkin” (her words, not mine). The group of women became my community. We supported one another, laughed, cried, and gave each other reality checks. Gradually, I learned to stop the anxious feelings and worry before they gained any momentum. I was able to take away tools that have helped me in almost every situation in life: a new job, a new relationship, waiting for medical test results, even exciting (but potentially anxiety provoking) events like getting married or going on a vacation. I’ve learned that I can’t control the situation, but I can control my thoughts, attitudes and actions. There isn’t much that makes me anxious these days…well, there is one thing: swimsuit season.


swimsuit-anxiety-blogThe last time I was excited to wear a swimsuit I was 12. It was red and had “Coca-Cola” written all over it. It was cool. I was cool. The next summer, something changed. I noticed my body in ways I hadn’t before. I became acutely aware of a birthmark on my leg, and felt my larger thigh (yes, I actually measured them to determine that one was indeed slightly larger than the other!) jiggle conspicuously. Everyone was looking, right?!? I must have the strangest birthmark, weirdest shaped leg and wobbliest bits of anyone at the pool. Walking in front of people was a chore that I avoided at all costs without a large towel or cover-up. My swimsuit-body-anxiety was only amplified by magazines showing only “perfect” airbrushed bodies (I didn’t know that at the time) that were nothing like mine.


Oh, hindsight. Had I known the tools of CBT  that I know now, I would have used them in the dressing room under the fluorescent lights as I dissected my body or before I walked in front of the “crowd” at the pool. I would have made myself examine my thoughts:


  • “Is everyone really looking at you?” No – they are too worried about themselves or have fallen asleep in the sun or are chatting with friends.
  • “Is your birthmark really that bad?” No – it’s unique and in a strange spot, but most people probably don’t even notice. Remember that one person who actually told you it was cute?
  • “Can everyone tell that your one thigh is larger than the other?” No – not unless they take a tape measure and wrap it around your leg. Are you kidding me?


I would have encouraged myself to look around, engage with people, splash and play, have fun! I don’t have the same swimsuit anxiety that I did when I was younger, but each year I still feel some negative thoughts creeping in as I try on swimsuits or anticipate being in front of others in a suit. A few weeks ago I had a wonderful swimsuit shopping experience. Yes, you heard me correctly! I took my 7-yr-old daughter to pick out a suit. She tried on 10 suits, and with EVERY SINGLE ONE of them she said, “Oh! This is my favorite! Don’t I look great in this? I can’t wait to play on the beach in this! Wow. If I could bottle that and pass it around… she taught me a lesson: Love yourself. Be excited for new experiences. Rock those wobbly bits and birthmarks and whatever you have that may be “different.” Life is too short to let those negative thoughts creep in. Get out there and enjoy it! Happy Summer…”


Posted on: June 26th, 2015

Take Back Your Island (from Anxiety)

By Dr. Russ Morfitt



taking-back-my-island-from-anxietySummer is here! The warm sun of summer often encourages us to engage in new commitments and patterns as we look ahead with hope, making, for some, new seasonal resolutions. Often, those of us hoping for change are facing some kind of fear, whether it’s fear-of-the-new or fear-of-changing-the-old. One of the most important tools in the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) toolbox for anxiety and social anxiety is fear facing. It’s an idea that belongs at the center of our new commitments, given the role it can play in helping us actually achieve our goals.


Anxiety sufferers who have never deliberately faced their fears understandably shudder at the idea of moving closer to the things they have always tried to avoid. But continued avoidance ignores a powerful tool called habituation. Habituation is the process of decreasing a physical or emotional response to a trigger or stimulus by repeatedly undergoing the stimulus. Think of it as a kind of tolerance built up as we deliberately spend more and more time in the situation we fear. Over time, we don’t respond in the same way through anxiety – a rapid heartbeat or sweating – because we become more used to the situation, or habituated. The stimulus simply doesn’t bother us in the same way it used to. If we’ve consistently escaped or avoided difficult social anxiety situations, we miss out on an important lesson. When we deliberately move closer to the situations we fear without using special precautions to feel safer, our fear will typically drop. Odd as that may sound, it’s a result supported by years of experience. To demonstrate, I usually recommend purposely putting yourself in a situation that triggers your anxiety. This is called a “Fear-Facing Trial,” a situation during which you can watch what happens to your level of fear over an extended time, say 30 or 45 minutes.



Fear-Facing – Learn to Live Social Anxiety Program


One tool I’ve found useful for measuring fear in the moment is the “Fearometer.” Think of it as a pressure gauge for your fear. Here’s what it might look like:


0: Peaceful State of Mind
25: Mild Anxiety
50: Moderate Anxiety and Nervousness
75: Animal Impulse to Escape or Avoid is Getting Strong
100: Most Anxiety I Have Ever Felt


Once you understand the Fearometer, it’s time to try a Fear-Facing Trial. To do this, you will want to:


  1. Find a situation that triggers mild to moderate anxiety
  2. Try to practice habituation. To do this, you must allow yourself enough time – this is not something you can rush. New research has shown that, for some, decreasing anxiety with habituation equals success. For others, success may mean not giving in to escape tactics or unnecessary precautions. You won’t know until you try, but even if you aren’t able to “habituate,” you may still be able to overcome your fear.
  3. Be deliberate – do this on purpose
  4. Set aside any self-defense tactics (unnecessary precautions like avoiding eye contact, censoring your words, blending into the woodwork, etc.)


Try picking something that may be a fairly common situation for you, like asking a question in class, or speaking to someone at the grocery store. Assign a Fearometer number to your fear, like:


Speaking to someone at the grocery store = 50.


You might then head to the grocery store and ask someone in every aisle for something (easier), or ask for products that are usually in a different type of store (harder). Each time you ask a question, take note – did your Fearometer increase, stay the same, or decrease? A general goal would be to reduce your Fearometer number to one half of the original level during your trial.


After you finish your trial, take time to evaluate the situation.


  • How did it go?
  • Did your fear and anxiety decrease?
  • What, if any, physical sensations did you notice?
  • Was your heart racing?
  • Did it decrease by the final interactions?
  • Were you kind to yourself?


You can’t expect perfection on the first try! If you did allow fear or avoidance behaviors to control the trial, take note of how you might change your thoughts and interactions during your next trial. It often helps to have a “battle cry,” like, “I’m taking back my island!” or anything that is empowering to you. (I have a friend who says “Shazam!”) Finally, reward yourself for your efforts and success.


One final note: recent research has been demonstrating that we can still experience long term success even if the habituation is less obvious, as is sometimes the case. The best predictor of long-term success is whether or not we face our fears in a sustained way and refuse to give in to unnecessary precautions. Know that with time, patience and practice you can take back your island and your life.


See also: Collecting Data to Overcome Social Anxiety


Posted on: June 15th, 2015

4 Reasons to Share Your Story Now

By Dr. Russ Morfitt


If you’ve been following the media at all the past month, you’ve probably heard about Demi Lovato and her openness about her struggles with depression, as she launched the Be Vocal campaign. It’s an important reminder about the power of sharing personal stories. My years of experience helping others deal with their mental health challenges has confirmed for me that sharing our stories is an important part of getting better.


When you look at a person, any person, remember that everyone has a story. Everyone has gone through something that has changed them.


1. Telling your story draws us together. Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, divorce, or another issue, telling your story can help connect you with others who are experiencing the same thing. Just hearing someone else say, “Me too,” can break down feelings of isolation and loneliness. Having one other person, or even a whole community who believes you, understands you and can serve as a support system can be extremely empowering. When you share your story with trusted others, you create a small world around you of openness that could potentially become contagious, spreading in a way that makes all of us grow closer in more authentic relationships.


2. You become an advocate. You don’t need to have a fancy degree, years of experience or other qualifications to be a mental health advocate. By telling your story, you become a supporter and source of encouragement for all those who are going through the same thing and are not yet ready to reach out. In addition to your becoming an advocate, you in turn become eligible for the encouragement they can provide.


See also: Help others by joining the conversation on our new community forum – share advice, ask questions, tell your story. 


3. When you share your story with trusted others, you grow closer to them, having taken a risk. Think of it as a sort of a behavioral experiment in which you hopefully learn that they care and honor that trust. Can you think of a time when you shared something with a friend or family member and ultimately ended up feeling closer to them because of how they responded to you taking a risk and sharing?


See also: Taylor tells her story of overcoming social anxiety (and meeting a favorite celebrity) with the help of online CBT.


4. One of the “tasks” in cognitive behavioral therapy is “facing your fears.” When you share your story with trusted others, you face your fears in a very direct way, often experiencing the fear of rejection or ridicule. Facing those fears is an important part of getting past your anxiety and urge to avoid. Through that process, you may also discover that others have helpful and useful ideas for you as you continue to share your story with others.


It may sound like one of the scariest things you could do, but maybe it’s worth a try. Sharing your story may end up being one of the most important things you could do for yourself. You may end up with a new (or closer) group of supporters, and the satisfaction of facing your fears, taking a risk and coming out of the other side can be exhilarating.


Posted on: June 1st, 2015

Anxiety Breeds…Friendship?

By Dr. Russ Morfitt


“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” C.S. Lewis


Can you remember making your first friend? What drew you to them? Maybe it was the way they smiled, or that you both loved baseball, or had the same favorite princess. While the attraction may be something as simple as a shared interest, new research referenced in a recent article shows that a shared level of social anxiety – or lack thereof – may influence our friendships.  While some research supports the old adage “opposites attract,” in this case it appears that like attracts like.  If you think about it, it makes sense that birds of the same social anxiety feather would flock together. The idea of hitting the town with an outgoing, extroverted socialite would likely make those of us with social anxiety cringe. Wouldn’t it make more sense to buddy up with someone who understands the discomfort of making small talk? Having someone to talk to who can really relate to your feelings can be  comforting.


I’ve written about the importance of a support network for social anxiety sufferers before, but it bears repeating: a supportive social network is important for everyone, especially those suffering from social anxiety. How about you? If you look at your relationships and think about those closest to you – do you have similar levels of social anxiety? If you feel like you need more support, or feel like nobody really understands what you are going through, I invite you to visit our Mental Health Community Forum. You may be surprised at how much you have in common – and you may find a new friend.


See also: Social Anxiety Spy for a Day: Data Collection



Posted on: May 1st, 2015

Everyone has a story – what’s yours?

By Dr. Russ Morfitt


I share my thoughts about a number of topics on this blog, but you may notice that I don’t often share about Learn to Live specifically. This time, I will make an exception. I want to tell you about a no-cost resource that I think will be really useful to many of you, especially those of you who feel isolated with your problems.


If you struggle with social anxiety, depression, stress, anxiety or worry, you may feel like you’re alone. But the truth is…you’re not. There are lots of people out there with stories to tell that are both tragic and inspiring, people with stories to tell just like yours. What I’ve found in my own experience is that people sharing their story is highly therapeutic. There’s something about “me too” that rings true for a lot of people. So I’d like to invite you to join our new community forum, where you’ll find more people with stories like your own. It’s a place to share, encourage, and be encouraged.


Mental Health Community Forum


May is Mental Health Month, and we’re celebrating with the official launch of the Learn to Live Mental Health Community Forum. I hope you strongly consider joining this supportive, caring community…and helping to promote mental health awareness and understanding this month. It’s a good place to share your experience with depression or anxiety, provide tips for others that are suffering, or even get answers to the questions you’ve always wanted to ask.


As a way of saying “thank you” for helping start the conversation and stop the stigma of mental health, we want to provide a series of gifts. Each day during the month of May, Learn to Live will select two forum participants who will be given free access to our CBT-based online programs. That’s over 60 program giveaways during the month of May. And there’s no “catch” – the programs will be completely free for those who’ve been selected, and no credit card information will be needed.


You could win access to any of the CBT-based Learn to Live programs:


*The Depression Program and Stress, Anxiety and Worry Program are not yet available to the public. The only way to enroll at this time is by being selected for early access in this giveaway. Want to know when these new Learn to Live programs are available for purchase? Email us at


So I hope you try out a new way to get more connected. You don’t have to feel alone, because you really aren’t. I’ll leave you with the Learn to Live FAQ about this whole promotion.


Mental Health Month Giveaway FAQ:

How do I enter to win free Learn to Live program access?

It’s easy – just create a username and participate in our Mental Health Community Forum. Post at least once on a given day for a chance to be selected as a winner that day. Participate daily for more chances to win.


What can I win again?
Forum participants that are selected as winners will receive free 90-day access to the Learn to Live programs, including our Social Anxiety Program, our Depression Program, and our Stress, Anxiety, and Worry Program. (* see above)


How are the winners selected?
Each day, at least two winners will be selected from that day’s forum participants:

  • One winner will be selected at random from the full list of that day’s participants.
  • One winner will be selected each day by the Learn to Live team based on the quality and thoughtfulness of their forum contributions that day.


How many times can I enter?
You may enter to win as many days as you like during the month of May – there is no limit.


How are winners announced?
We will communicate with selected giveaway winners by contacting them at the email address connected to their forum username. A list of the usernames of giveaway winners will be available on the forum as well. Winners’ usernames may be announced via the Learn to Live social media channels.


What about my privacy?
We will only announce the forum usernames of the giveaway winners. No other personal information (such as name, email address, etc.) will be shared publically. We take privacy very seriously and encourage forum users not to share any personally identifiable or sensitive information.


Will I be charged anything?
No, giveaway winners will be given free access to the Learn to Live programs. You will not be charged anything and no credit card information is required.


Questions? Contact for additional information.


The fine print: Some restrictions may apply. Valid for new Learn to Live customers only (does not apply for previously purchased program memberships). Learn to Live is not responsible for any information that is shared on the Mental Health Community Forum. Learn to Live program value is typically $149.


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