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Community Corner: Building a Practice of Gratitude

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Family, Friends, Health

Friends laughingPracticing Gratitude

Positive Pyschology speaks to the importance of gratitude and how crucial it is to happiness. It's something our ReachOutHere forum community practices in this thread and we thought we'd share some of the amazing things they are grateful for:

I am thankful for the person who invented ice cream and cake. I am thankful for uplifting music. I am thankful for my older sister. I am thankful for an amazing God that is a really good listener and a great advice giver. And I am thankful for my friends Erin who is AMAZING!! I wouldnt be the same without her. - Zibzib

I'm thankful that I have a sweet kitty curled up beside me right now, purring and ready for pets! - Lyn Mod

i am thankful for my amazing girlfriend, she is so amazing. i finally found something positive to love. she makes me feel happy. i am also thankful that after 6 months of treatment, im finally out, and not doing that bad. - LJS

I am thankful for family, friends, and all the support receive on this website and elsewhere. - unknownwriter101

I'm thankful of class ending early so that I get to view the wonderful sky (: - AmiableRose

I am thankful for friends, family, access to education, modern day plumbing, scientific inventions, gas efficient cars, night lights, the internet, stuffed animals, WATER (even though I hate drinking it), kindness of strangers, and frozen yogurt. - potatoproblems

Try it out. Every night before you go to bed, think of 3 things you are grateful for from that day and write them down. It's something I've done for years, and even on the crappy days, you can find a surprising amount to be grateful for.

Tell the ReachOut community what you're grateful for here, or register here to get started on your journey in the forums!



This program is funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63).  It is one of several Prevention and Early Intervention Initiatives implemented by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of California counties working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.  CalMHSA encourages the use of materials contained herein, as they are explained in our licensing agreements. To view the agreements, please visit:

Gay but no one knows

by Liz_ReachOut College, Friends, Mental Health, School

Two young teen boysWhen a forum member told the ReachOut community they were gay but their friends all thought they were straight, and said, 'I need someone to know and to tell me its going to be okay,' this is what they got:

"Thank you for being brave to come out to us here! You're great, and it will all be okay! There's no need to rush into coming out, especially if you don't think you are in a safe environment to do so. But I promise it will all be okay, and we still love you <3"

"Not only will everything be okay, but it is MORE than okay to be you. That is the one and only thing we will always be growing with until we die. Being you. If people dont like it. That is their issue. Does not mean those poeple are everyone. There are so many people that will love you for just being you. I already love you. You are my friend. Because no matter what size, shape, gender, race, or sexuality. We are all one, and need to respect that. I would youtube the word. "sonder" It ia an amazing 2 minute or less video on this new and fascinating word. It was posted on my birthday, and ever since. My life has changed. You are loved. Being attracted to someone is NOT a bad thing, and expressing your feelings neither. If anyone has anything to say about anything? It is a mirror reflection of something they can't fix in themselves. It will be more than okay. because there are towns out there that have more LGBTQIA that "straight" couples You are loved, and if you need to be reminded again. Hey you. I love you"

When the original poster wrote back to say, "...i feel like because im older that i should have came out by now but im just starting to figure myself out," the supportive responses just kept on coming: 

"Hey, starting to figure yourself out is a really great thing! If it makes you feel better, I came out only last year, and I was a sophomore in college then!"

"I just wanted to tell you that it WILL be okay. :} ... I can tell you it will make you hella happy to finally put a step in the direction of your real self. If you're not certain yet, then don't come out so suddenly; just go at your own pace. Sometimes it is pretty hard admitting something to yourself, or even digging deep enough into yourself to find the real you. When you reach that point, all you'll feel is liberation in finally finding everything. So it will be okay Danielle, we're here for you and we hear you; now smile? All will be well!"

"I understand that feeling of "I should have come out already or had myself all figured out way sooner." I've had that same feeling before. The thing is, nobody has it all figured out. And we all come to terms with things at different times. I came out in terms of my sexual orientation at 12, but didn't start really exploring my gender identity until like ten years later. Everything has its time. So, no pressure, okay? Give yourself time to explore and ponder and reflect. You don't need to come to a certain answer or conclusion. There is no deadline. Getting to know yourself is a lifelong project."

If you need support around coming out or exploring your sexuality and/or gender identity, register here for the forums or post in the LGBTQIA thread and get the help you deserve.

Who is your role model?

by Liz_ReachOut Family, Friends, Relationships

Who inspires you?

One ReachOut Forum member asked, tons answered! Below, we feature a few thoughts on the qualities, lessons and impact that make for a memorable role model. In the words of Danaye, who started the discussion, "I know that everyone goes through tough times as well as good times. I know that there is someone in your life that you look up to or try."

Read some of the responses below, or add your own role model to the discussion:

Demi Lovato"I know that many people have probably said this but, my role model is hands down, Demi Lovato. She's a really inspirational person and she's been through so much and has struggled with the same things that I'm struggling with. She's recovered and she told her story, she's saved so many lives. She's inspired people t save their own lives and get help. The reason why I say she has inspired and not like helped is because one day at her concert, she said that many of her fans come up to her and tell her how she has saved their life, she then said that she didn't save their lives, she just inspired them to get help and that they saved their own life. Demi is probably one of the only reasons why I'm still alive right now, I mean yeah there are other bands that helped me but she is one of the main people that have helped me in so many ways and even though I am still struggling with self harm, she still inspires me and her music is beautiful to listen to." - Savemefrommyself

"My role model is my grandmother....she's an angel. She's the type of woman who cooks for a party on HER birthday,she's the woman who's happy to be at work with a huge smile on her face,the type of woman that says treat people with respect and reminds you to not be cruel. She has nothing but love to give and not a bad bone in her body,she has shown me to treat everyone with love and to be happy to be alive. <3" - LexusGal

Eminem"My role model is Eminem. No family members, teachers, or anyone else has taught me as much as listening to his music has. I learned that I should always be strong, no matter what happens, and that I can get through it. No matter how bad I feel, somebody is always going through worse, always feeling worse than I am. If I just do what I love doing, life will be okay. - Shayd

"One great thing about Eminem, or Marshall, is that so many people throughout his life told him he couldn't do it. He'd never amount to anything. He'd never be a good rapper. Now he is arguably one of the greatest rappers alive. I think his entire essence is sticking it to the man."  - SnowyWeather

"My role model is my mother (the old her anyway). The one that supported her kids no matter what... No matter how hard she struggled she provided a way for us to me happy and she showed us that she was trying. She taught me that I can't truly depend on anyone else in this world when something has to be done but myself. She taught me how to survive on my own with little money. Although when I was young I thought that I had to grow up to fast it was for a reason. It taught me to be strong and use my head. She made me strong:-)" - Danaye

Read the full discussion or contribute yours here »

ReachOut Tips: Overcoming Trust Issues

by RO_Meredith Family, Friends

trustissuesWhen someone breaks your trust it can take time to recover. ReachOut Intern Stephanie Castillo understands. In today's blog post, she reflects on what she learned from her experience and shares some coping strategies for moving on. Check it out and be sure to read her bio below!

It’s great to have someone you can confide in. That one person you can just open up to, be yourself around and go to for support when times are tough. But for many of us it’s not that easy. We may have been hurt or betrayed, and so we feel like closing up is the best way to protect ourselves. Although it may protect us from getting hurt, it also makes it harder for us to create honest connections with other people and build healthy relationships with them.

Trust Fail
You may relate if in the past, you had your trust broken by those closest to you like family or friends. Maybe you were lied to, taken advantaged of, or had your secrets disclosed. Maybe it made you start questioning other relationships. If those people who were supposed to be the closest to you broke your trust, who’s to say that someone else won’t do it? In order to keep from getting hurt again, you may have started closing yourself off to others. You may have started omitting certain details of your life, or hiding how you truly feel so that this information won’t be used against you.

I’ve been there, too.  And I know that building a mental wall that appears to protect you from sharing too much can feel like a natural defense. But when you completely close yourself off, it can also have negative consequences. It can lead to:

  • Stress. Constantly guarding yourself is a strenuous job!
  • Negative self-talk. When you hold all these emotions in they can become heavier and heavier. You may become sad, angry or frustrated with yourself.
  • Loneliness. You can even begin to feel more alienated by always trying to hide how you really feel.   

Risks and Rewards
When we meet new people and share a bit of ourselves we are never certain if that person is going to have good intentions. It’s a risk. But it’s a risk that may turn out to be positive so we choose to take it because the relationships and rewards we find are worth it. Taking any risk is still scary, though; so some of us may shy away, or feel the urge to build that mental wall.

It may seem scary to try to trust people, but it’s never too late to make a positive change in your life. We have to remember that just because someone else was wrong for breaking your trust, their actions have nothing to do with you. The actions of other people should not stop you from opening up and building new connections.

Learning to Cope
It’ll be challenging to open up and we may get hurt again, but building resilience is part of the process. We all have to learn to open up and it’s a skill that improves with practice. It takes time and effort to open up again so be patient with yourself. Here are some suggestions that may help you start building trust with a friend or family member:

  • Start off slow.
  • Talk about things you like and are comfortable with.
  • Find out if they have similar interests to you.
  • Try doing some activities together and just build up your comfort level.
  • Listen to what they say for clues about how much they are opening up to you.
  • When you feel comfortable start sharing some stuff about yourself and take it slow.

What are some other ways you can slowly build up your trust? Feel free to share in comments. There’s no wrong answer here. The goal is to form healthy and positive relationships. Remember that regardless of the actions of others, you choose who you want to be. Don’t let other people’s poor choices stop you from being happy, opening up and meeting some great people!

For more information, check out these fact sheets
Effective communication
More tips for communicating effectively
Meeting new people

About Stephanie

stephpicMy name is Stephanie Castillo. I’m a journalism student in my junior year in college. Although I never worked on a newspaper in high school, I always appreciated the outlet journalism had to offer.  Journalism teaches you to communicate effectively and clearly. This was something I had a lot of trouble doing when I was younger. I kept a lot of things bottled up inside and was often overwhelmed with emotion. That's also what drew me to Inspire. I'm very excited to work for an organization that helps people open up without feeling stigmatized for seeking help. I know from my experience that's one of the best ways to avoid feeling alienated. By reaching out you can build a community of people who care, support and ultimately inspire each other to grow and change. I want to encourage young people to take that step. I want to learn to listen and help foster a community that understands that the power to change comes from within. I'm excited to do that during my time at Inspire by helping develop fact sheets, work on the forums and more.


Social Media Overload!

by RO_Meredith Friends

social mediaWith so many ways to connect online, it can be easy to get distracted from the here and now. ReachOut intern Emily Densmore can relate. In today's guest post, she reflects on her own daily digital habits and gives the honest lowdown on attempting to change her social media ways. Be sure to check out her bio below!  

A few weeks ago, I met for coffee with a few friends. As we sat drinking our coffees, I realized each of us was glued to our phones. We were scrolling through social media sites, checking for updates and replies, and looking at friends’ pictures. I pounded my hands on the table and said, “Enough! How did we get to this point?” Rather than interacting and sharing stories, we were attached to our phones, unable to disconnect for even an hour of healthy communication. This got me thinking about the role social media plays in our daily life, and how the easy access to all our favorite sites has changed the way we interact in the world.

In the past few years, social networking platforms have become increasingly widespread and easily accessible. Many people check sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook on a daily basis. Also, the rise of smartphones has allowed social media to infiltrate our lives in many new ways. Mobile apps make it easier to stay connected and updated with our friends, organizations, and celebrities. Although this dramatic change in our ability to network has some great advantages, it can be unhealthy when we do not allow ourselves to disconnect from this “virtual reality.” How are we supposed to find a balance in our highly digitalized society?

The good and the bad
Social networking has changed the way we communicate on a daily basis. It has made it much easier for people all over the globe to share thoughts and ideas. This helps families and friends that are split apart because of work or school feel connected in new and different ways. Social networking can also keep us up to date with organizations and groups to learn about news and events. While all these are great contributions to our life, social networking should not replace real face-to-face interactions.

It may be easier to talk to a friend via Skype or Facebook, but having a conversation in person adds a physical dynamic that can’t be replaced by social media. Although it may be easier to use digital means to connect with others, we should not let social networking replace real contact.

Caught up in the wires
Another disadvantage of being too focused on social networking and digitized forms of communication is that we lose touch with our physical environment. Many people plug their headphones in and surf the web on smartphones during their free time. Although this can be nice when we are bored or waiting, it can also keep us from experiencing life. We don’t take time to appreciate the simple pleasures that occur around us because we are “plugged in.” It also may keep us from interacting with and meeting new people. It’s important to take some time to be completely aware and connected to our surroundings.

A happy medium 
It can be very difficult to find a balance when using social media. Because of the easy access to sites and platforms, we often allow our online lives to blend into our outside lives. We may be with a group of friends while simultaneously surfing Instagram or Facebook, or we could be surfing Pinterest in class. This keeps us from fully connecting with others and our experiences. After that day with my friends at the coffee shop, I decided to set some boundaries for myself:

- Stay off the phone and computer when you’re with other people
- Put the phone away during meals
- No more than two hours a day on social networking sites/platforms
- Take time to notice your environment everyday
- Once a week spend one day without connecting to social media sites

After the first week of limiting my social media use, I felt big changes. The hardest rule for me to follow was spending an entire day without checking social media. I actually had to stop myself a few times when I signed in without thinking.  I began to realize just how much time I spend during the average day connected to my phone and computer. I’ve decided that I don’t want to spend my times being isolated from others and lost in a cyber world. At times it was challenging to adhere to these set boundaries, but I feel they have finally given me a healthy balance.

I challenge you all to set your own personal boundaries with social media and see what you learn! Share some tips!

About Emily
My name is Emily Densmore, and I’m a senior in college. I’m studying sociology with an emphasis in child and youth studies. I’ve been interning with in San Francisco, and have been amazed at the resources that this online community provides for struggling young adults. I’ve really enjoyed learning how this organization works, and discussing the ways that we can spread the word to young people everywhere. We all struggle with the challenges of growing up, and having an outlet to share our feelings and stories is awesome! I’m also involved with an organization at my school called Sociologists Together Empowering People. This has helped me find a group of friends that are like-minded, and community oriented. We do volunteer work around the city, and host on-campus events to spread the word about social issues on campus. I love being a part of a community and helping to make a difference in the lives of others.

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