What is scapegoating, why does it happen, and how can we heal and move forward?

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Nobody likes to be blamed for something they didn’t do. So why do some of us end up getting the short straw for other people’s faults, mistakes, or wrongdoings? Here’s everything you need to know about scapegoating, why it happens, and what you can do to stop being your family’s scapegoat

What is scapegoating, why does it happen, and how can we heal and move forward?

Not every family has one, but we’ve all heard of the ‘black sheep’ or ‘problem child’ trope when it comes to family dynamics. Whether it’s a sibling, distant aunt or uncle, or maybe even you, the family scapegoat is the one that ends up getting shamed, blamed, or criticised for just about everything that goes wrong – even if those things are outside of their control. But why does this happen in some families and not others? And how can we stop being blamed when things aren't our fault?

What is scapegoating?

Scapegoating is the act of blaming someone – or a group of people – for something bad that has happened, that they didn’t do. It’s usually done for one of several reasons: to protect the overall image or reputation of a family, or as the default to always favour one or more family members (commonly referred to as the ‘golden child’, who is seen as exceptional or able to do no wrong – often without a specific reason) by placing blame on one person (the ‘scapegoat’). While it usually happens to just one person in a family, it can happen to more, depending on the dynamics.  

Typically starting during childhood, scapegoating is a sign of unhealthy family dynamics. It’s important to remember that, if you think you or someone you care about is being used as a scapegoat, it isn’t their fault.

Family members may choose a scapegoat based on arbitrary factors that the individual themselves cannot influence, such as picking an oldest/youngest child, basing their preferences on gender, appearance, intelligence, skin colour, or even sexual orientation. The person or people who are unfairly targeting you may be projecting their own feelings of shame, rage, and blame onto you, instead of dealing with uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, or behaviours. By finding someone to blame, they are finding a way to avoid taking responsibility.

Am I the family scapegoat?

How can you tell if you have been made into your family’s scapegoat? As one therapist on Counselling Directory explains, there are many different signs you can look out for to judge if you may have become the ‘black sheep’ in your family.

Ask yourself:

  • Do my parents treat me differently than my siblings?
  • Was I expected to take on extra caretaker responsibilities from a young age? (e.g. extra chores, responsibilities, looking after siblings, or other tasks that can fall under the parentification umbrella).
  • Are mistakes I make punished appropriately? Or are they a bigger deal than seems reasonable?
  • Do/did my parents notice or intervene when I was bullied?<

The Little Things Newsletter #354 – Life, laughter, and lots of great food!

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Welcome to the weekend, my friends! I’m in Arizona today for a whirlwind weekend with family. As I write this, my mom is making waffles, the kids are playing and my sister and I are chatting. (I’m a solid multi-tasker, friends.) I’m looking forward to a day filled with laughter, games, and conversation.

ON THE BLOG this week: Salmon marinated with balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and fresh ginger creates one of the most flavorful salmon dishes I’ve ever tasted. For a number of years, this was the only seafood meal to consistently receive two thumbs up from my entire family.

Garlicky roasted potatoes are tossed with fresh herbs to create an unforgettable warm potato salad that can be served hot or at room temperature. When I say that this potato salad is a garlic lover’s dream come true, I’m not exaggerating.

Saucy bites of chicken are tossed with crispy tender bok choy and a diced jalapeno in this flavorful Chicken and Bok Choy Stir Fry. (If you’ve never tried bok choy before, this is a great place to start.)

Crunchy, cheesy, salty, Parm Crusted Brussels Sprouts make a great snack or side dish. Serve a batch with bang bang sauce and there likely won’t be a bite left.

The best stir fries are salty, savory, sweet, and a little bit spicy. This ground beef and broccoli stir fry nails all of those things. The fact this stir fry is made with ground beef instead of a more expensive cut of beef makes it a really great alternative to the pricier meats when you are craving Chinese food or an Asian-inspired meal.

I couldn’t hide my love for coconut desserts if I wanted to and when it comes to desserts with coconut, I can’t get enough of them. So, I’ve gathered up a whole collection of my favorite coconut desserts to share with you.

Fresh Blueberry Frosting is a light and creamy frosting, whipped into fluffy blueberry loveliness. A dollop of this frosting is sweet heaven on a cupcake. On a spoon, on a cracker, or on an actual cake this blueberry buttercream frosting is irresistible.

Filled with fresh juicy pears between layers of brown sugar crumble topping and crust, a pear crumble is a winter dessert for any occasion. Slightly chewy with that irresistible buttery, brown sugar, and oat crust and topping, these pear crumble bars are great both on their own or served warm topped with ice cream.

What I’m CRAVING: These Read more

Everything you need to know about healthy eating

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Why can the idea of healthy eating feel so complicated? How do I know what foods are good for me? What should I be eating to keep myself healthy?

Everything you need to know about healthy eating

Eating healthily has so many benefits for the mind and body. Making the right food choices for you can not only support your immunity and longevity, but it can also improve your bone, skin, gut, and eye health. But being bombarded with the latest health crazes can feel both confusing and a bit intimidating at times. It’s so easy to get caught up in a bit of a daze with it all.

We’re pretty good at knowing why it’s important to eat healthily, but how to put it into action is a whole other thing. If you are finding it a struggle, there are some simple ideas to stick to that can teach you all you need to know about healthy eating.

No more fad diets

The promise of quick weight loss might seem appealing but fad diets are usually lacking in scientific evidence and can feel quite restrictive. Cutting out entire food groups can be unsustainable and may make you feel disheartened about trying to change your eating habits. The last thing you want is to feel like you’re back to square one with it all.

The dieting industry relies on people failing over and over again. In her article, 5-minute reads: Why diets don’t work, Kacie Shoulders (ANutr) explains why diets are to be avoided and why the best advice is to eat a balanced diet.

“I know you may be thinking that your diet includes a whole lot of food, or promises to. But as soon as you restrict in any way (and most diets are about low calories so will be restricting) your body thinks it’s got to battle for survival. Food is clearly scarce and it needs to adapt. That means increasing appetite hormones, decreasing satiety hormones, slowing down your metabolic rate, etc.”

Eat a balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet is a way of ensuring you eat the proper nutrients from a variety of foods, helping your body feel good.

Here are a few basic tips to help you get started:

  • Try eating at least five to seven portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
  • Keep well-hydrated (six to eight glasses is recommended per day)
  • Carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, and potatoes should be about the size of your fist; this will vary depending on how active you are.
  • Eat good quality protein with every meal such as meat, fish, eggs, whole grain beans and pulses.
  • Try to reduce refined sugar found in sweet treats and fizzy drinks.
  • Keep your saturated fat intake found in crisps, pies, processed meats, and baked goods to a minimum where possible.
  • Make healthy choices based on the reference intakes guidelines found on the back of food packaging.

It’s also great to remember that being active, especially in nature, is a lovely way to support your body’s needs and complements all the great benefits of healthy eating. Looking after yourself in all these ways can help give you more energy, focus, and motivation.

Look after your attitude to food

Even though there may be certain foods y

Friday Faves

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Hey hey! How are you? I hope you had a wonderful week!

I’m ready for a whirlwind weekend ahead. P has her last soccer game, Liv has a dance competition, and I’m subbing a dance cardio class. I’m also looking forward to studying for IHP and watching a movie with the fam. Have a warm and happy weekend!

It’s time for the weekly Friday Faves party, but before we get into the fun, I have to tell you about GOAT YOGA.

We were originally supposed to go up to Mt. Lemmon and stay in a cabin with friends, but it snowed like crazy, power was out on Mt. Lemmon, and the roads were closed. Instead, we planned a day of fun together: goat yoga, arcade, boba tea, shopping, and dinner at our house (with fort building. We tried to accommodate all of the kids’ requests!). It all started with goat yoga.

It was at Udall park, and despite the frigid temps on Mt. Lemmon, it was in the 60s and slightly cloudy. We laid out our mats in a fenced-in corral, and before we knew it, a pack of goats, wearing unicorn horns, tutus, and butterfly wings, paraded into the corral.

And at that moment, all of my dreams came true.

We went through a very leisurely yoga practice with lots of stretching, but any time we were in a folded position (child’s pose, tabletop, head to knee, etc.) there’s a 90% chance a goat would jump on your back. It was everything. We were all cracking up, and we had hoof marks and scratches on our backs, and I will never forget it.

You guys know I’m obsessed with goats – I’d have 12 if we didn’t have an HOA – and we all love them. We got our goat fix and will absolutely return. We loved ALL of the goats, but our very favorite was the smallest one named Flower, wearing a flower crown and tutu. I can’t.

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What is sleep syncing, and how can you try it?

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Try the wellbeing trick that could transform the quality of your sleep

What is sleep syncing, and how can you try it?

When the quality of our sleep plays such an important role in our overall wellbeing – as well as our ability to successfully navigate our jobs, relationships, and responsibilities – it makes sense that we want to get it right.

That said, finding what’s right for us may take some time, and is likely to require a bit of trial and error. For one person, it may be playing sleep sounds as they fall asleep, for another it could be about changing their diet, or perhaps beginning a journaling practice in order to let go of the worries that usually keep them up at night.

But now, there’s a new option that could be the answer for you: sleep syncing. All about tuning into your body's natural circadian rhythm, sleep syncing requires you to think about, and adapt, your daily routine to line-up with what your body naturally wants to do.

“Your circadian rhythm, otherwise known as your sleep-wake cycle, is your internal body clock which follows a 24 hour cycle and is influenced by many internal and external factors as well as light and dark,” Martin Seeley, sleep expert and CEO of Mattress Next Day explains. “It works to control hormone release such as melatonin and helps keep your body in a good routine.

“Sleep syncing is when you create a routine that ensures your body is sleeping and waking when it should be, giving your internal clock a gentle nudge. Sleep syncing can help improve sleep quality, increase energy levels, and help to maintain a healthy body.”

How do I sleep sync?

Let’s be honest for a minute, most of us have a routine that we have to abide by to some extent – whether that means sleeping around work, caring responsibilities, or anything else. But that doesn’t mean that sleep syncing won’t work for us. Instead, it’s about gradually aligning our lifestyle with our biological rhythms in order to wake up feeling refreshed and energised. So, how do we do it?

1. Work out what your schedule should be

As Martin points out, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends and days off work) is a great way to regulate your body’s internal clock – which will, in turn, make it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up. So, have a think about what times work for you. The average adult needs eight hours of sleep each night to feel refreshed and energised, but you may find that you need more or less. Experiment with different lengths, perhaps noting how you feel in a journal or sleep tracker. Once you’ve got a good idea of how long you need to be asleep, you can then plan for what time you should go to bed, and when you should set your alarm for in the morning.

You may also want to think about establishing a calming bedtime routine. Perhaps incorporating some self-care, journaling, reading, or light yoga.

2. Try to get natural sunlight in the morning

Don’t underestimate the power of the sun in regulating our bodies.

“Waking up to natural light can be a great way to wake up,” Martin explains. “This notifies our circadian rhythm that it's time to get up.”

When you wake up in the morni