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Dr. Laura Russell’s Column

Online Emotional Safety
by Laura Russell, PhD

Cyberspace is a vital, rich, exciting and wonderful `place’. Friends, information, and consumer goods. While you are online, please pay attention to your emotional safety. There are three very important ideas related to your online safety that I discuss below:

  • Knowledge is power.
  • Trust what YOU think.
  • Use self-care when something you read bothers you.

Knowledge Is Power
You have probably heard the old saying: “Knowledge is power”. That is especially true for you when you are feeling emotional pain.

Information is vital. Your ability to care for yourself depends upon it. As you gain added information, you can improve your ability to self-nurture.

You become fully informed. Then you have enough information to help you define the problem for yourself The more you know about yourself and your issues, the better your decisions will be. After that, your new knowledge about the different approaches available for your issues will help you make the very best choice for yourself.

Trust What YOU Think
There is one danger in this search for knowledge. People too often assume that anyone else knows better than they do. This may be true when you are talking about practical matters. So, I can assume that my accountant knows more about accounting, or the computer expert knows more about computers.

This is not the truth when we are talking about the subject of your thoughts, feelings, and living problems. You are the only authority on you.

This may sound surprising coming from a mental health counselor. However, truly you are the only person who thinks your thoughts, feels your feelings, and has to live with your dilemmas. This means that you SHOULD assume you are RIGHT when you disagree with what you read.

Use Self-Care When Something You Read Bothers You
If you begin reading material online that bothers you or upsets you in any way, stop reading. Take some time out and think about what healthy activities would make you feel better.

Here is a brief list of activities to help yourself regain your emotional control when you read ideas that are difficult.

  • Use self-talk and say: I can trust my own opinions about this.
  • Use self-talk to tell yourself you are O.K.
  • Trust your own opinions on the issues, no matter what you read or who wrote it.
  • Do some sort of small, time-limited sorting activity; for example, clean your sock drawer or rearrange the books on one shelf in your bookcase.
  • Do some sort of small, time-limited cleaning activity. Examples of this are washing a few dirty dishes or surface dusting in your living room, or straightening up one room.
  • Go for a short walk.
  • Listen to music, read some light fiction, or watch something mindless on television.
  • Take a bath or shower.
  • Surf over to an inspirational and comforting website.

When you feel like you can, talk or write to someone about what has upset you. You have available to you the most wonderful resources. You could write an e-mail to a friend, post on a message board or listserv, even use a chat to express yourself. You’ll find that many others often share your views. At the very least, you will feel relieved to know that someone else understands your thoughts.

If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, violent thoughts, or possible hallucinations, Cyberspace does not have enough contact with you to support your mental health and safety. Please contact a therapist, crises hot line, or local mental health department in your city.

If you are this very minute bothered by dangerous thoughts, feelings and strong impulses, please log off your computer. Call your local hospital emergency room, or dial 911.

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Disclaimer:   I am not a health care professional. I am an abuse survivor. The resources on this site are for information and education only. Information on this website is meant to support not replace the advice of a licensed health care or mental health care professional. Please consult your own physician for health care advice.

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