Being kind is more important now than ever before. The news is all pretty much doom and gloom, and we’ve all been through a lot in 2020, and it’s only July. That’s why we’ve partnered with the amazing guys over at Simple, who have teamed up with Little Mix, to inspire the UK to #ChooseKindness. 

Being kind doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to come in the form of some out of this world grand gesture (we’re not saying it can’t either). Kindness can be something so small that just puts a smile on someone else’s face, because even the tiniest bit of kindness can make a difference. So, here’s a list of 25 small acts of kindness that you can do to help us in our mission to make the world a better place. 

  1. Make someone a cuppa
  2. Donate to an organization
  3. Check in on a friend
  4. Ask people how they really are doing
  5. Smile at someone in the street
  6. Volunteer somewhere that needs help right now
  7. Help out a neighbour
  8. Send someone a little gift to let them know you are thinking about them
  9. Comment something positive on a post
  10. Reconnect with someone you’ve lost contact with
  11. Leave a happy note for a loved one to find
  12. Gift someone one of the Simple x Little Mix Limited Edition Packs
  13. Pet a doggy (safely)
  14. Clean up without being asked
  15. Share the kindest thing someone has done for you on social media to inspire other people to take up the mission of #choosekindness
  16. Send a letter for no reason to someone you love 
  17. Pay for the next person’s drive through/coffee/cake or shopping
  18. Be better to the planet and try out a waste-free day or week
  19. Support a local or small business
  20. Design or make something that will show someone you care 
  21. Tell a friend they can always talk to you if they need to 
  22. Encourage others to choose kindness with you on social media 
  23. Tell someone you love them for no reason
  24. Leave a positive review of a business or service you’ve used 
  25. Send someone to our Simple Hub for support and advice on all kinds of things that they might need help for. 

And there you have it – 25 small acts of kindness that could make someone’s day. Give one of them a go and join in the #ChooseKindness movement. For more information on #ChooseKindness, check out the hub here.

Sometimes in life, we aren’t very lucky. Bad things can happen and we can all go through stuff in our personal lives that can have a lasting effect on us. Once the dust settles, however, one of the scariest things about life after trauma can be understanding how to tell someone about what you have gone through when they don’t already know. Opening up about past mental health issues, bereavement, assault, addiction and more can feel like an endless number of hurdles to jump every time you meet someone new. That’s why we have put together a few tips on opening up about this stuff to people in your life, so that you don’t have to worry about it.

1) Take your time

It’s important to remember that there is nothing making you rush into telling someone about something you have gone through in the past. If you don’t feel ready to tell someone yet, then don’t. It can also be tricky knowing when to tell someone new in your life, whether that is a new boss, partner or friend about what you have gone through. The key here is to make sure you can trust them with the information and wait until you get to know them a little better. 

2) Talk to someone you trust

Making sure the person you tell is trustworthy is crucial, not just so that you feel secure, but also so that they don’t use the information to hurt you in the future or tell others your secret. If you don’t feel like you have anyone like this in your life right now, but still need to tell someone about what is bothering you, you can reach out the Ditch the Label Community here. It is completely anonymous and we will listen to you. 


3) Pick a good moment 

Deciding when to tell someone about your past is a big decision, and picking the right moment is likely to make it easier. Choose a time and a place where you feel most comfortable, and where you know you won’t be overheard by the wrong people. Make it clear to the other person that you are about to tell them something important and discuss if they are ok with keeping it a secret from other people in their life who you do not want to know.

Also, make sure they are in a good place in their life to hear it as well. If they are going through a lot right now, or maybe are dealing with something similar, then it might be especially difficult for them to hear about it as well. If this is the case, consider telling someone else you trust and wait until you feel the other person is in a better place so you can discuss it. 

4) Give them time if they need it  

Sometimes, people might find it difficult to understand what you have been through. If this is the case, try not to take it personally. If they ask for time to absorb the information, give it to them, and take a breather. It doesn’t have to mean they won’t understand or be there for you once they have had time to get used to the idea. 

5) You do not have to tell anyone if you don’t want to

Finally, it is important to know that you do not have to tell anyone about your past. If you feel pressured into telling someone about your experiences, remember that it is entirely your decision to open up about your life.

If you feel like you need to confide in someone, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

worried about a mate

It’s not always easy to tell when someone’s going through a hard time. Especially if they’re purposely trying to cover something up. As humans, we have become experts at pretending we’re ok, even when we’re not.

We’re often too proud, or too scared to ask for help. We’re so quick to assume that people have their own problems to deal with, we ask ourselves, “why would they want to hear about my problems??!”

The truth is, we need to be better at looking after each other…

Are they acting strange?

So, whatever the problem might be – if you’re worried about a mate, here are some signs you can look out for that might indicate that they need help:

  • Sudden weight loss/gain
  • Not sleeping
  • Not washing/taking care of their personal hygiene
  • Visible physical injuries
  • A sudden change in moods which go from one extreme to the other
  • Appearing depressed, down in the dumps or sad all the time
  • Making excuses for not hanging out or socialising*
  • Lying about where they are going/what they are doing
  • Unusual body language
  • Acting out of character
  • Actively pushing you away
  • Not reply to texts/calls
  • Going out of their way to pretend they are fine, after a traumatic or upsetting event
    Not wanting to talk about things which  you know are bugging them
  • Not wanting to go home

*bare in mind that it can be any combination of these things. Some of them, when on their own might seem like nothing out of the ordinary, but remember to keep your eyes out for other signs that might indicate that something’s up.

Talk it out

Whatever the problem is, chances are, it’ll manifest itself in one of the ways listed above and the very best way to deal with it is to tell you’re friend that you think something’s up. Make sure they know that you’re all ears if they do want to talk. If they don’t want to talk to you about it, you can’t make them speak up.

Instead, try encouraging them to speak anonymously to Ditch the Label. Send the link below in a message and explain that they can access impartial and non-judgmental help from a digital mentor:

They can either post their query anonymously to the community, or message a digital mentor directly. Simply log in, click ‘messages’, and select a mentor to speak to.

Don’t take the risk

It can be difficult to determine whether things like self-harm or talk about suicide is a ‘call for help’ or a genuine attempt or risk. The truth is, it doesn’t actually make a difference because either way, your mate needs help. Never dismiss a suicide reference or threat. It really can be the difference between life and death.

The first and most important thing to do is to speak to a trusted adult about your concerns, especially if your friend is in crisis. Alternatively, you can refer them to the following helplines if they are willing to talk. If not, contact them yourself on behalf of your mate:

Lockdown is proving to be the ultimate stress test for relationships worldwide, here’s how to make sure yours survives…

There’s no two ways about it, getting through the coronavirus pandemic is tough. Navigating relationships isn’t always easy under the best of circumstances, so if you’re having to do lockdown while separated from your bae, we’ve got your back.

We’ve compiled our top tips for keeping things sweet until we reach the other side.

Conflict

Firstly, let’s get straight to this one and acknowledge that this situation is difficult, so try and manage expectations and remind yourself that there will likely be bumps along the way. The situation is stressful and many of us are living in a state of high alert, so it’s only natural for emotions to be somewhat heightened. Of course, most relationships will have arguments and disagreements under normal circumstances, but it’s how we handle conflict that is key.

Neither one of you is at fault for this crisis so allow each other some time to vent about what’s going on – a certain amount of venting is healthy and normal and doesn’t always need to be solution focussed. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid unnecessary conflict at the moment, here’s how to avoid getting into an argument.

Staying connected

Think about how you can still enjoy each other’s company while you are apart. Make full use of FaceTime or Houseparty so that you can see each other – being able to read each other’s expressions and body language are invaluable and reassuring. Have a regular date night where you watch a film together or listen to your favourite music and talk about everything other than coronavirus. Stay connected with all aspects of their life, ask about their friends and family and stay interested in what they are doing whether they are still working or keeping busy at home.

Try and aim for meaningful rather than excessive communication, so maybe simple but sweet ‘good morning’ and ‘goodnight’ messages to remind each other that you care as you begin and close each day and save up some stuff for when you can properly connect. And try not to get caught up in messages being left on ‘read’ or you notice they’re online but haven’t messaged you. 

Look after yourself

It’s easy to focus on wanting to keep our partners happy but remember that your wellbeing is equally as important. Take time out for yourself and follow the advice here. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you’re not constantly pining after your partner and are coping pretty well; it’s not just okay, but healthy to exist as secure and separate people outside of your relationship rather than be completely dependent on each other. 

Take the time to really catch up with your own family and friends, especially if some of these have been a little neglected since you’ve been part of a couple and it’s more than okay to enjoy these other connections. Although we don’t recommend over analysing every aspect of your relationship, be honest with yourself if this time apart has potentially raised flags anywhere for you that you just can’t shake and you feel there are deep-rooted issues that can no longer be overlooked.          

Respect each other

It may be tough but acknowledge that people react and behave differently in difficult situations and unless some seriously concerning behaviour crops up, that’s okay. Respect each other’s coping strategies as there really isn’t just one definitive way to get through this emotionally.

There will be days when you are both completely on the same page and other times when you are not, so be aware that while you might have a day when you’re feeling really positive, your partner might be struggling. Whilst being open and honest with each other about how you are feeling is key, there will be times when you feel sad and lonely so try not to get too immersed in negativity and keep reminding yourself that this isn’t a permanent situation and ultimately, solid and healthy relationships are worth holding on to. 

Keep things future focussed  

It’s good to be excited about when you can be back together again so start making some plans about what you can do together and where you can go. It could be as simple as getting back to your favourite eating spot, a lazy sunday together under a duvet watching Netflix or being able to book a break together.

Keeping an eye on the future can help make us feel secure and remind us that there will be an end to this situation.

When you finally meet up   

A slo-mo reunion and then it’s all sunshine and roses right? Maybe not, as you’ve been through a lot and emotions will be running high, so when you are reunited it’s likely to be intense. No one can maintain such strong feelings so once the intensity and relief at finally being reunited fades, it’s completely normal to experience a crash or feel pretty overwhelmed. Ensure you speak to each other about this beforehand so you both manage expectations and be kind to each other while you readjust to your normal routines.

If you have had minor disagreements, this probably isn’t the best time to bring those up. Enjoy the moment and consider if actually, unless they are serious issues, are they even worth worrying about now? If they do need addressing, wait for things to calm before dealing with them.  

Finally, remember that many couples manage successful long-distance relationships so this is achievable and it won’t be forever.

Don’t get us wrong, the internet can be a beautiful place – but sometimes, some people aren’t always who they say they are. It could be someone you’ve met in an MMORPG, through Instagram comments or a ‘friend of a friend’ on Twitter, you just never know.

Calling Catfish – How to Spot a Fake…

We got our heads together to share our top tips for debunking a catfish. Various things motivate people who catfish. Mostly, it’s because they are desperately trying to hide who they actually are or they might have self-esteem and confidence issues.

So if it’s all sounding a little bit fishy, and you’re wondering ‘Am I being Catfished?”… you probably are! Here are some things we advise you look out to keep yourself safe:

  • Do a reverse image Google search. This is a quick and easy background check. Right-click their photos, copy the URL, and paste in the box at images.google.com. Google will then search for other sources of that image online. If nothing is found, try a few photos and see what crops up. Don’t forget that Instagram images aren’t indexed so Google won’t be able to search them. If you’re talking on an app like Tinder or Grindr, there’s an app you can download that does the same job called Veracity.
  • Google it. There’s a lot to be said for Googling names other than your own. See if you can find any credible information about them. If there’s nothing, that should raise alarm bells.
  • Language. We all make silly spelling mistakes (especially when autocorrect is involved), but if they’re making strange grammar and odd spelling mistakes continuously, (that would drive your primary school English teacher cray-zay) proceed with caution.
  • Money. Lending a fiver to your best mate for lunch is one thing, but if your new online ‘buddy’ is already asking you for money to get their car fixed so they can come and visit you, whilst promising to pay you back ‘later’. Let’s be honest, they won’t (you’re not a bank).
  • Check their check-ins. Everyone should have some sort of indication on their Facebook or Instagram profile that they have a life outside their computer. We’ve all checked in somewhere on Facebook with friends or family, be it that time you went to Barcelona, or just your local Pizza Express. If they’re lagging in the check in’s then be warned they probably spent all their time on the internet fishing around.
  • …and their posts. Everyone gets a post from someone every now and then, even if it’s from your great aunty sharing a funny meme. If no one has posted on their wall to wish them a happy birthday, tagged them in a photo on Instagram or shared anything with them, then this has got to be a cause for concern.
  • …and their photos. There’s nothing wrong with having photos of yourself on your profile (it is your profile after all), but if they don’t have any photos with their friends or family and it’s mostly photos of themselves at weird angles with bad lighting, then something’s up; are they even tagged in other friends’ photos? If not, something fishy’s going on…
  • … and their mates. Do you have any mutual friends? If so, can they vouch for them? If they only have a handful of random contacts with no mutual friends, it’s usually a telltale sign of a fish in our midst…
  • Get real. If it seems too good to be true – it probably is (sorry to be bursting the bubble). Watch out, if it’s all getting a bit too serious, too soon and they’re making obscure promises, get the hint. They aren’t going to fly you to the Caribbean and David Beckham most definitely doesn’t send random people friend requests. Sorry, move on.
  • Got the story straight? Make sure everything they’re telling you adds up (trust your gut instinct). Conflicting information is a sign their whole identity is built on lies, so it’s hard to always keep the story straight. Remember, fish only have three-second memories, it’s easy to let something slip by when you’ve constructed an entire web of lies…
  • Skype ‘em. If they don’t want to Skype, Facetime or even Snapchat, this is a big red flag. Catfishes are often very camera shy. It’s an easy excuse to spot because they are hiding their true identity, so beware.
  • Watch out for elaborate stories e.g., lies. Catfishes tell outrageous lies which are often a dead give-a-way. A Catfish may well claim to be a model, be in a job that makes them travel to extravagant locations or work in the music industry. This will create little niggling doubts in your mind, listen to them!

Ultimately, if you’re doubting it – you’re most likely right. But before you go join the FBI as a detective, none of the above methods are fool-proof. They can, however, give you a good indication as to how credible somebody is.

If you are going to meet up with someone online, we would strongly recommend that you do it in a public place like the shopping Mall. Always arrange to meet in the daytime and always tale somebody with you or at least have a mate nearby on standby. Most importantly, never go without telling an adult first.

What’s more, we’d also advise against sexting someone you’ve never met before. Trust us… we hear a lot of horror stories from people who have been talking to someone they thought they knew….

But wait… There’s more…


What to do if you’ve called Catfish?

So, you’ve called it. Nothing adds up and their photos are looking increasingly fishy…

  • Try talking to them: You could try and reason with them to encourage them to axe the pretence and to come out as themselves.
  • Axe it: We’d recommend blocking them from all of your social media and phone.
  • Report it: It’s actually a criminal offence to Catfish. It’s impersonation and fraudulent and people can get into a lot of trouble for it, especially if they have bad intentions. Report their profiles to social networks, even if it’s just to look out for somebody else. If it’s really serious, report it to the Police.
  • Tell an adult: If you’re scared of getting into trouble, it could be somebody who you don’t know – like a Ditch the Label mentor or somebody over at Childline. It’s important to document it. Join the Community to talk to someone.
  • Mutual mates?: If you know other people on the Catfish’s friends list. Tell them. They have a right to know too.

Sometimes it happens, but we learn from our mistakes and move on. If you need any further advice or have questions and need support, please do get in touch on the Ditch the Label Community – we’ve got your back.

Join the Community.

Kindness is a funny thing. We all know we should be kinder, but sometimes it can be hard. When the world feels a bit rubbish, even hostile, spreading kindness might not seem that appealing when you could just hole up in your room attempting to complete Netflix. Well, we don’t think that should be the case. Spreading kindness is needed now more than ever, so here are our top reasons why you should have a think about sharing a little joy, even when the world sucks.    

1) The world is seeming a little more difficult than usual right now 

It’s hard to ignore the headlines at the moment, and just about everything seems a little hopeless. Coronavirus, climate change, and loads of other pretty bad stuff has been going on to kick us into 2020, and that has been pretty impossible to get away from. Doing something small to show someone you care might seem a bit futile when you’re up against the big stuff, but it’s in times like this when being kind to each other matters more than ever. So make a cuppa, pick a flower, clean the kitchen. It’s not going to cure the world, but it might make you and someone else in your life forget about it’s problems for a minute. 

2) The weather is still rubbish and summer feels a long way off

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing and even though the evenings are getting a little bit longer, the promise of some summer sun still feels a long way away. With everything that’s been going on in the world at the moment and the promise of good times is all but cancelled, being kind to one another is so important right now. Try getting outside for some fresh air with a neighbours dog, offer a hand with their errands, or volunteer for something. Doing stuff to help others, even strangers, is a sure fire way to make you feel like you are doing your bit. 

Are you aged between 11-18 and in full time education in the UK? We’ve teamed up with Simple, who have partnered with Little Mix, to challenge everyone to choose kindness this spring. For more information on how you can get involved, check this out.

3) Someone in your life might really need it and you don’t even know it 

We all know to try to check in on friends, but also life can get in the way more often than not. Well, spread a little kindness and you never know what kind of positivity you can bring to someone’s day. Check in on friends you haven’t seen or heard from in a while, even send a letter or a postcard to some of them. Sometimes, it’s even those close to us that need it, so don’t forget about them too!

4) It’s good for your mental health as well

Being good to others has been proven time and again to boost your own mental health, as well as making other people feel pretty damn wonderful. Doing a few good deeds, anonymous or otherwise has been known to release serotonin, the endorphin associated with happiness. So not only are you making the world a better place, but you’re making your brain a better place too. Wins all around we think.   

5) Kindness catches on

Be kind, just to be kind. Pay it forward, and let others follow your example. Think about it – a fight never began because two people were kind to each other. If you start a kindness movement, whether that’s on social media, in your community or amongst your family and friends, you can guarantee it will catch on with some of them at least.

We’ve teamed up with Simple, who have partnered with Little Mix, to challenge everyone to choose kindness this spring. For more information on how you can get involved, check this out.

When the days get short and it’s all dark and chilly outside, it can be easy to feel a bit rubbish about life. Combine that with everyone being mad busy getting ready for the festive season and wrapping up their years, feeling lonely is normal. The most important thing to remember is that you are never alone in feeling lonely, and there are lots of things you can do to cheer yourself up. 

1) Do all the things that make you happy 

When you feel a bit lonely, it can be really easy to wallow in it. But putting on sad songs and sitting in your room alone is only ever going to make it worse. Instead, do all the things you love doing solo. Whether it’s art, exercise, watching movies or playing video games, doing things that bring you joy will make the time go faster and make you feel fulfilled. 

2) Hang with the family if you can 

If your family is kicking around, use this time to have a bit of quality time with them. Suggest a few day trips, a meal out, a trip to the cinema or just a night in chilling. If you don’t get on with them so well, now might be the chance to spend a little bit of fixing what’s been going with you. Sit down over a cup of tea and talk to them. We know it’s easier said than done, but it might be the best or even only chance you are going to have to do this for a while. 

3) Get a temp job

The festive season sees every shop, pub and restaurant desperate for people to help out during the busiest period of the year. Have a look in your local town and hand a few CVs around. It will be a great way to meet new people, learn new skills, get you out of the house and earn some extra dollar in time for the new year. Chances are, there will be loads of people your age that are doing the same thing, so you might just make a whole new bunch of friends through it as well.

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4) Meet people in other ways 

Loads of organisations look for extra volunteers at this time of year as they host things like Christmas dinners for vulnerable people, soup kitchens for homeless people, and food banks are super oversubscribed. Try volunteering for something and meet people through that. It will get you out of the house and spreading some of that Christmas good karma. 

5) If your friends are just away for a bit, try and get a FaceTime in

It might just be that your pals have all gone their separate ways for the festive period and you feel a bit lonely and left out at home by yourself. Well get active about staying in touch with everyone over the holidays. Hit up the group chat for updates on their lives or just spam them with GIFs and memes. Set up a FaceTime with your best friend so you feel connected, or reconnect with someone who might have fallen off your radar lately. 

6) Make a plan 

Use this time to get organised about next year and make some plans. Whether it’s for your holiday next year, where you want to move to in a few years or even just ways you can work on yourself next year, this is a great time to think about the future. We know that when you feel lonely, it’s really easy to get caught up in how rubbish your present is, but thinking about what lies ahead can give you hope for pulling out of your loneliness. Plus, some of these plans will almost definitely involve getting out and hanging out with people at some point soon, and that’s definitely something positive to focus on. 

7) Remember, loneliness doesn’t last forever

Feeling lonely can be all consuming, and it can make you feel like it is going to last forever. The thing is, it absolutely doesn’t have to, you just need to be proactive. We know it can make it all feel a bit pointless, but loneliness is only ever going to end if you help it to. So get out and do some of these things, meet some new people and feel connected. 

Need someone to talk to? You can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors in confidence here.

Hi all! I’m Yasmin Benoit, a British fashion model and asexuality activist. I’ve known that I was aromantic-asexual from a young age, but didn’t come out publicly until 2017, when I decided to use my platform to raise awareness and dispel misconceptions about asexuality. It’s LGBT History Month, and I’ve comprised a list about 10 things I think people need to know about asexuality. Think I missed something? Feel free to add your own!

1) Asexuality isn’t a disorder

Asexuality isn’t a psychological disorder, nor is it a side effect of other mental health problems or developmental disorders, although there might be an overlap with some individuals. It also isn’t a hormonal imbalance, or the result of any kind of illness or physical issue. When I was younger, I used to think that my asexuality would disappear once my social anxiety and teenage insecurity went away. Now I’m a confident adult, and guess what, I’m still asexual!

2) Asexuality isn’t an attitude or a lifestyle choice

There is a difference between being asexual and anti-sex. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, not a lifestyle choice or an opinion. It isn’t the same as celibacy or abstinence, and it isn’t a way of sticking a middle finger up at sexual liberation. There are some asexual people who are repulsed by sex, but that does not mean that asexual people can’t hold sex-positive attitudes when it comes to other people, or themselves.

3) Asexual people aren’t just those who “haven’t found the right person”

If someone said to a straight man, “You’re not straight, you just haven’t found the right man yet,” it’d be both bizarre and inappropriate. That rhetoric doesn’t make sense when it’s applied to asexual people either. It suggests that people are only sexually attracted to the ‘right person,’ like their soulmate, or their other half but if that was the case, the world would be a very different place. Asexuality is a valid sexual orientation, it’s not a reflection of the attractiveness of others, or the result of having high standards and bad circumstances. 



4) The A in LGBTQIA+ stands for Asexual

There is debate surrounding whether asexual people should be included in the community, but in my opinion – and the opinion of many others – the answer is yes. The LGBT+ community is about uniting and gaining equality for those who don’t fit into heteronormative boxes. It isn’t about who you do or don’t have sex with, or whether you have or haven’t had to handle a particular issue.

Asexuality can overlap with other letters in the initials, and even if you’re aromantic and cisgender (like myself), the chances are that you can’t relate to the heterosexual experience of society very much. Isn’t that what being queer is all about?

5) There is no asexual demographic

There are asexual men, women, non-binary people, trans people, crossing all ethnicities, races, ages, all nationalities, and religious identities. We’ve even existed throughout different time periods – asexuality isn’t a new thing.

When I attended the UK Asexuality Conference as a speaker in 2018, it was my first time being around a large group of asexual people, and I was so happy to see such a diverse group – including people over 50, asexual parents, business owners, people of colour, and people of different faiths (and no faiths) from all over the world. Despite the impression that the media gives you, asexual people aren’t all white, quirky millennials who spend a lot of time on Tumblr. 

6) There is no way to ‘look asexual’

There’s a difference between not experiencing sexual attraction and not being attractive yourself, but there are people out there who mix that up. It probably has something to do with the way non-sexual/romantic people are portrayed in the media – as someone no one would be interested in anyway. This misconception is one of the reasons why I started the #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooks like hashtag, to show the diversity in how asexual people look. There is no asexual way to look or dress.

The idea that you have to put no effort into your appearance because you’re asexual suggests that people express themselves through fashion to please others. Asexual people do not have to cover up, wear no make-up, and keep their hair un-styled just because they don’t experience sexual attraction. 



7) There is no asexual personality type

Again, this one is partially the media’s fault. Characters who don’t exhibit signs of sexual desire are often aliens or robotic, unable to understand human interaction and intimacy. They’re cold-hearted, socially detached and painfully awkward, but that doesn’t mean that asexual people actually have these characteristics.

There is no heterosexual personality, a homosexual personality, a bisexual personality, a transgender personality, or any other personality affiliated with a particular identity or sexual orientation. You can be optimistic, depressive, cheerful, subdued, extroverted, introverted, and still be asexual. 

8) Asexuality is a spectrum

You don’t have to experience absolutely no sexual attraction to be asexual. Asexuality is a spectrum, which means that some people experience mild sexual attraction, like greysexual people, and those who only experience sexual attraction to those they develop a close relationship with, like demisexual people. 

9) Some asexual people do want romantic relationships

Romantic orientation and sexual orientation are not the same thing, and many asexual people experience romantic attraction but not sexual attraction. This is where terms like heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, and panromantic come from, with emphasis on a romantic connection rather than a sexual one. There are also asexual people who don’t experience romantic attraction – aromantic asexuals – like myself. 



10) Asexual people can be happy

It’s an unfortunate narrative that asexual people will live loveless and unfulfilled lives, and it really isn’t true. Asexuality isn’t a problem, and it shouldn’t stop anyone from feeling confident and achieving whatever they want to achieve. I haven’t let being asexual stop me from breaking into the fashion industry, even working as a lingerie model, getting two degrees and providing a voice for the often forgotten letter in LGBTQIA+ at the same time. It also hasn’t stopped me from forming strong friendships, which is particularly important for an aromantic person.

Romantic asexual people can find love. They often date each other, and can enter polyamorous, queer-platonic and other ‘non-traditional’ relationships. Asexual people can date people who aren’t asexual and make it work. I know of asexual people who are married, asexual people with children, asexual people in happy and fulfilling relationships of all kinds, with people from within the asexual community and outside of it. Most importantly, I know that there are many asexual people who are happy with themselves. 

For more awesome content on life as an asexual, and general life goals, follow Yasmin on Instagram @theyasminbenoit

Join the conversation. Reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

Overcoming Social Anxiety – Everything you need to know

We live in an age of anxiety. With a combination of countless disasters in the news whilst being bombarded by constant ads, it comes as no surprise that the number of people in the UK being diagnosed with anxiety is at an all-time high.

In ordinary, everyday situations it is reasonable and some might even say good to be anxious, it can after all help us perform better. Even feelings of fear have a purpose, they are designed to help us survive scary situations we might encounter. Back in the “good old days”, this made us quicker to respond to the threat of being eaten alive; forcing us to run, hide or for those who are a bit more courageous, throw a stone… (and then leg it!) This response is known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response which causes the heart to speed up, hyperventilation (getting more oxygen) and increased blood flow to the muscles.

Zoella on social anxiety

We all get a bit nervous if we have to speak in front of a large group of people, right? Or if we have to meet someone for the first time? This is totally normal. There are countless ordinary situations such as this that cause people who suffer from social anxiety to get cripplingly anxious and experience the fight-or-flight response which can be really disabling to their everyday lives. Social anxiety, simply put, is the fear of social situations.

Living with social anxiety can be frustrating and as with many things, change doesn’t happen overnight. You might feel like your mind has an ability to instantly jump a million steps into the worst-case scenario! Some of the signs of social anxiety are:

  • Finding yourself worrying about other people’s reactions
  • Experiencing extreme nervousness and anxiousness when taking part in social situations
  • Feeling really insecure about everything you say and do in social situations
  • Feeling paranoid
  • Feeling overly judged
  • Avoiding social situations all-together
  • Experiencing physical effects on your body during social situations such as sweating, increased heart rate, or rapid breathing.
  • Avoiding eye contact

If you think you might have social anxiety, we would always recommend seeking a professional diagnosis from your GP. Most importantly, remember that however isolated you might feel you are far from alone – social anxiety is the most common type of anxiety in the UK.

Overcoming Social Anxiety – 7 Tips

1. Share

Hiding or suppressing anxiety actually produces more anxiety. The most useful step is to share your experience with friends and family, or even talk about them online to us or someone else that you trust. Many people often feel ashamed of their anxiety and can be incredibly reluctant to share it. The media often leads people to believe that mental illness is a weakness, which makes people less likely to admit to themselves and others what they are going through. We all have mental health and it is reported that up to 1 in 3 of us, will at some point experience a mental health illness and it’s okay to talk about it.

2. Breathe

Your body is powerful. Learning the warning signs of when your anxiety flares up is important to help you take action; for some, this could be your body feeling tense and your mind feeling chaotic. Your body and especially your lungs can help. Breathing exercises can help you control your anxiety. Having a steady breath has a direct impact on your heart rate and, in turn, your thoughts. Your heart will slow down as your breath does and as your breathing and your heart rate slow down your mind and thoughts will too.

3. Thinking isn’t reality

As much as it feels like anxiety controls you, anxiety isn’t reality and you control your own reality. It’s important to remember that social anxiety feeds on thoughts that emphasise danger and negativity. Symptoms such as a fast heartbeat and sweating emerge from this kind of thinking. Luckily thinking is a habit and can, of course, be changed. The cure isn’t just positive thinking but realistic thinking. Try and examine your anxious thoughts such as ‘I am going to say something stupid’ they are often exaggerations of reality. Then try and produce thoughts that criticise and correct them.

4. Shift your attention

Anxiety has a way of grabbing your attention and turning it inward upon yourself, making you not only self-critical but suddenly noticing how your heartbeat has rapidly increased without your permission, meanwhile, you then suddenly feel yourself getting hotter, red in the face… sweaty… it feels like a domino effect that cannot be interrupted. But instead, try and focus your attention on what it is you may be doing, so if you are speaking to someone try and pay close attention to what they are saying rather than worrying about what the right thing is to say next.

5. Face your fears

Avoiding social situations, yes will make you feel better at that particular moment. But remember this is only a short-term solution which prevents you from learning how to cope and will make you avoid social situations in the future more. As out of reach as it might seem, facing your fears in small steps you will allow you to work towards the more challenging situations and will give you coping skills. If meeting new people makes you feel anxious you can begin by going to a party with a friend. You can then take the following step of introducing yourself to a new person. Remember, saying no will give you the same result each time. Saying yes, however frightening, means you’re taking a chance and living your life.

6. Stop trying to be perfect

It’s easy to forget that no one is perfect when we live in a world that aspires to achieve perfection. It’s also easy to forget that not everyone will like us nor does everyone need to. Ask yourself do YOU like everyone (slim chances)? It’s also often forgotten that it’s okay to make mistakes as it makes us human.

7. Play the Rejection Game

The purpose of the game is to gain some sort of rejection through a series of different challenges. The purpose of the game is to encourage you to see rejection differently and to face your fears whilst maintaining a certain element of control over the situation.

Beginner challenges

  • Ask somebody you don’t usually speak to at school for the time
  • Put your hand up in class to answer a question
  • Give somebody a compliment
  • Strike up a conversation with somebody outside of your friendship circle

Intermediate challenges

  • Ask for a discount at the checkout
  • Ask somebody to take a photo of you
  • Ask your strictest teacher for an extension on your homework, even if you don’t need one
  • Reach out to an old friend and ask if you can make up
  • Ask to go to the front of a queue
  • Fundraise for a charity (*cough* we’re a charity *cough*) and ask people you know to sponsor you

Expert challenges

  • Go to a restaurant and ask for a tour of the kitchen
  • Request a refill on a meal you’ve just eaten
  • Dance in public.

Don’t forget that there is always support available – whether you decide to access it online or offline. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to speak to somebody about social anxiety and/or bullying. Join our community to start a conversation about anxiety with others who have similar experiences…

More:

37% of People Develop Social Anxiety As a Result of Bullying 
The Long-Term Effects of Bullying 

Conflict Resolution 101

Most of us will do absolutely anything to avoid having awkward conversations and to stay as far away from confrontation as humanly possible. Unfortunately, conflict is just a part of daily living, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. It’s impossible for us all to agree on absolutely everything and it’s also impossible to breeze through life without falling out with your best mate, hitting rock bottom with your bub or having a complete and utter breakdown of communication with your family.

There’s also a growing amount of evidence to show that some of the skills we’re going to share in this piece can be great ways at tackling bullying. We’ve put together the ultimate guide on conflict resolution to help you tackle bullying head-on and to patch up that fall out that’s playing on your mind. The techniques will also help you become better at negotiating and help you avoid further conflict.

Get a notepad and take notes. Here are the 16 things you need to know about conflict resolution:

[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/conflict-resolution.jpg”]

1. Know what it is first

Conflict resolution is all about finding a peaceful solution to a problem between 2 or more people. Conflict resolution can be used to resolve a massive range of issues – from war and corruption to divorce, bullying and breakdowns in communication.

2. Assess risk

Sometimes it isn’t appropriate to do the conflict resolution yourself. If the person causing you distress has a history of violence or aggressive behaviour and confrontation could put you at risk, then explore other options. If you feel like you could safely speak to the person directly, read on…

3. Address your fears

Know that the idea of conflict resolution at first can feel absolutely terrifying and intimidating, but please don’t let it deter you. Know that most of us find confrontation uncomfortable and do remember that there is a strong chance that this will help you solve the issue.

4. Structure your conversation

Before you have your conversation, make sure you are familiar with how you’d like to structure it. An example is below:

  • Request the conversation. Example: “Hey Tom, I wondered if we could chat for a minute about something I have on my mind?”
  • Establish an outcome: “It would be great if we could figure out a better way of talking with each other”
  • Say your piece: “You keep calling me stupid. I’m not stupid and it makes me feel embarrassed. I’ve been worried about it. Did I do something to upset you?”
  • Allow them to talk. Remain calm and receptive.
  • Negotiate and agree on a solution.
  • Thank them for talking to you about it.

5. Get neutral

Conflict resolution works best when it is done in a neutral setting, like a public park, coffee shop or empty classroom. Sometimes it may be beneficial to have strangers around to prevent it turning into a huge argument, but that’s up to you.

6. It ain’t a group activity

In order to be effective, the conversation needs to either be facilitated by a trained mediator or should be just between you and the person you have issues with. This is not a point scoring exercise or a way to prove who is right and who is wrong, so don’t allow a group dynamic to influence the process.

7. DON’T SHOUT

Nothing ever got resolved by shouting. Seriously, can you think of anything that shouting ever resolved? Not really. If the other person starts to shout, no matter how angry or tempted you are, don’t do it. Stop talking and wait until they’ve stopped. Tell them you don’t want to argue and talk to them as you normally would. If they keep on shouting, suggest a break or consider ending the session.

8. Take bullet points

At first, it’s likely that you will feel nervous and stressed. These feelings will pass, but can temporarily cloud your mind. This is why it’s a good idea to write down a few bullet points of things you’d like to tell the other person before you meet with them. If you feel more comfortable, you could even write a few paragraphs of things you’d like to say and read it out to them. Be honest and tell them that the conversation makes you nervous because it’s important to you. Unless they have deeply rooted issues, it is likely that sharing something vulnerable with them will encourage them to drop their guard and be more receptive to you.

9. Don’t be personal

You’ve lost the moment you say something to purposely insult the other person. Conflict resolution isn’t a fancy way to argue, the whole point of the process is to resolve conflict.

10. Be objective

A good structure of conversation is to first talk about the observation, then the impact and then what needs to change/ask why. Example: ’You called me fat in front of the class, it made me feel embarrassed and upset and I’d like it if you didn’t do that again’.

11. Focus on an outcome

Mutually agree on an outcome at the start of the session and do refer to it should the conversation start to detract… for example, if you’ve fallen out with your best mate and they’ve been talking about you behind your back, a good outcome would be something that isn’t blaming, something like ‘We’d like to figure out what went wrong and rebuild our friendship.’

12. Repeat language back

It is likely that the other person will feel defensive at first. A great and subtle way of encouraging them to lower their barriers is to start using some of the same language. They likely won’t consciously realise it, but subconsciously they will interpret it as you both have similar ways of communicating.

13. Talk and listen

Listen as much as you are talking. A good conflict resolution session is balanced and a safe space for people to talk openly and honestly about how they feel. If you are using conflict resolution to resolve a bullying-related issue, keep in mind that often, people bully others because they have deeper issues that they aren’t coping with properly.

14. Negotiate

Be prepared to negotiate, but never allow anybody to make you feel as if your emotions aren’t valid. If you’re feeling it, it’s real and you are entitled to feel upset or angry for example. If you’re being bullied, never take ownership of your own abuse. Do be receptive to what the person has to say though and try to be respectful, even if deep down you feel as though you hate the person and how they have treated you.

15. Know when to end

If the other person is unresponsive, know when to end the conversation and to try a different resolution tactic.

16. Remember

Regardless of the outcome, learning conflict resolution skills is an invaluable process. This situation is temporary and not everybody is mature enough to have an open and honest conversation. Good luck!

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