Category Archives: Relationship

MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER, SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES

How is dissociative identity disorder (DID) diagnosed?

If symptoms are present, an evaluation will be done with a complete medical history and physical examination. Although no laboratory tests can diagnose dissociative disorders medically, various diagnostic tests such as blood tests or imaging (X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs) may be used to rule out physical illness or medication side effects.

If no physical illness is found, the person might be referred to a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychiatric social worker who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. They will perform a clinical interview to get a full picture of the person’s past experiences and current functioning. Some psychiatrists and psychologists may employ specialized tests (for example, the Dissociative Experiences Scale—DES) or a standard interview such as the Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociation (SCID-D).

Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) was formerly called multiple personality disorder. It is a mental illness that involves disruptions or breakdowns of memory, awareness, identity and/or perception. The condition is further explained.

 

What is dissociative identity disorder (DID)?

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) was formerly called multiple personality disorder. People with DID develop one or more alternate personalities that function with or without the awareness of the person’s usual personality.

DID is one of a group of conditions called dissociative disorders. Dissociative disorders are mental illnesses that involve disruptions or breakdowns of memory, consciousness or awareness, identity and/or perception — mental functions that normally work smoothly.

When one or more of these functions is disrupted, dissociative symptoms can result. These symptoms can be mild, but they can also be severe to the point where they interfere with a person’s general functioning, both in personal life and at work.

How common is (DID)?

Instances of true DID are very rare. When they occur, they can occur at any age. Females are more likely than males to get DID.

What causes dissociative identity disorder (DID)?

A history of trauma is a key feature of dissociative identity disorder. About 90% of the cases of DID involve some history of abuse. The trauma often involves severe emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse. It might also be linked to accidents, natural disasters, and war. An important early loss, such as the loss of a parent or prolonged periods of isolation due to illness, may be a factor in developing DID.

Dissociation is often thought of as a coping mechanism that a person uses to disconnect from a stressful or traumatic situation, or to separate traumatic memories from normal awareness. It is a way for a person to break the connection with the outside world, and create distance from an awareness of what is occurring.

Dissociation can serve as a defense mechanism against the physical and emotional pain of a traumatic or stressful experience. By dissociating painful memories from everyday thought processes, a person can use dissociation to maintain a relatively healthy level of functioning, as though the trauma had not occurred.

Episodes of DID can be triggered by a variety of real and symbolic traumas, including mild events such as being involved in a minor traffic accident, adult illness, or stress. Or a reminder of childhood abuse for a parent may be when their child reaches the same age at which the parent was abused.

What are the symptoms of DID?

A person with DID has two or more different and distinct personalities, the person’s usual (“core”) personality and what are known as alternate personalities, or “alters.” The person may experience amnesia when an alter takes control over the person’s behavior.

Each alter has distinct individual traits, a personal history, and a way of thinking about and relating to his or her surroundings. An alter may be of a different gender, have a different name, or a distinct set of manners and preferences. (An alter may even have different allergies than the core person.)

The person with DID may or may not be aware of the other personality states and memories of the times when an alter is dominant. Stress, or even a reminder of a trauma, can trigger a switch of alters.

In some cases, the person with DID may benefit from a particular alter (for example, a shy person may use a more assertive alter to negotiate a contract). More often DID creates a chaotic life and problems in personal and work relationships. For example, a woman with DID may repeatedly meet people who seem to know her but whom she does not recognize or remember ever meeting. Or she may find items around the home that she does not remember buying.

DID shares many psychological symptoms as those found in other mental disorders, including:

  • Changing levels of functioning, from highly effective to disturbed/disabled
  • Severe headaches or pain in other parts of the body
  • Depersonalization (feeling disconnected from one’s own thoughts, feelings, and body)
  • Derealization (feeling that the surrounding environment is foreign, odd, or unreal)
  • Depression and/or mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Eating and sleeping disturbances
  • Problems with functioning sexuality
  • Substance abuse
  • Amnesia (memory loss or feeling a time distortion)
  • Hallucinations (false perceptions or sensory experiences, such as hearing voices)
  • Self-injurious behaviors such as “cutting”
  • Suicide risk — 70% of people with DID have attempted suicide

How is dissociative identity disorder (DID) diagnosed?

If symptoms are present, an evaluation will be done with a complete medical history and physical examination. Although no laboratory tests can diagnose dissociative disorders medically, various diagnostic tests such as blood tests or imaging (X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs) may be used to rule out physical illness or medication side effects.

If no physical illness is found, the person might be referred to a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychiatric social worker who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. They will perform a clinical interview to get a full picture of the person’s past experiences and current functioning. Some psychiatrists and psychologists may employ specialized tests (for example, the Dissociative Experiences Scale—DES) or a standard interview such as the Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociation (SCID-D).

83 SEX TACTICS FOR BETTER SEX LIFE

1. Masturbated every morning for a month

This will keep your genitals in good condition and your body will be stimulated to produce hormones needed for libido. Also private part muscles are exercising and in continued development.

2. Dry hump more.

Dry humping might be thought of as an awkward teen activity from ye olde high school days, but as one writer found, dry humping as an adult actually slaps (or rather, grinds?). The stimulation is on point, it’s not too direct in case you have an overly sensitive clitoris, and the hotness of keeping your clothes on and still pawing at each other is a mental turn-on too.

3. Try a cock ring.

If your partner has a penis, a penis or cock ring can really rev up something that’s already good. By restricting blood flow to the penis, the ring makes their erection harder and stronger (also helpful if they have issues finishing too early or staying hard). And of course, there are tons of vibrating cock rings out there that may make orgasming for you way easier too. It’s a win-win.

4. Pay more attention to your aftercare routine

Aftercare” is a common BDSM thing, where each partner takes time to check in with each other and care for one another after sex. It’s especially important in BDSM where intense scenes might have each person experimenting with different dynamics that don’t reflect how each person actually thinks of their partner. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also have aftercare worked into vanilla sex. Take time to check in with your partner afterwards and cuddle, give, or get a glass of water, and re-affirm your care for one another.

5. Watch a sexy show together.

Turn on Witcher or Outlander and let the steamy scenes influence how you spend your night.

6. Try a sex game.

You don’t necessarily need to buy one either. There are plenty of sex games you can play with a partner that’ll turn you both on that don’t require a board or separate card deck. Just two willing participants down to have a very good time.

7. Try a nipple clamp.

They’re cheap, don’t take up a lot of space, and nipple clamps can be just as pleasurable with or without a partner.

8. Invest in some secret BDSM jewelry

There’s luxury and then there’s luxury. If you’re just bored of spending money on the usual, ball out and get some bougie bondage jewelry, like this fahhhncy Kiki de Montparnasse handcuff set that looks, to the average person, like a very chic bracelet. It’ll be your little secret.

9. Try a remote control vibrator

Whether you’re handing the reins to your partner to drive or just over fiddling with the buttons on your vibrator right as you’re about to reach peak, remote controlled vibes are everywhere nowadays and make masturbation way easier. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without one once you try it out.

10. Try kneeling beside your partner during oral, instead of in front of them.

If you typically kneel in front of your partner during a blow job, try kneeling beside them. Not only will you give them a great view of your ass, you also might find it more comfortable and easier for you (or them) to stimulate your clit while you’re giving it to him.

11. Try sacral massage

If you’re going to experiment with anal, anal foreplay is a must. Try giving or receiving a sacral massage, aka massaging the area just above the butt crack for 15-20 minutes. It’ll help release tension and loosen the whole area up.

12. Don’t be afraid to initiate!

If your partner is usually the one who intiates sex, switch things up by showing them just how much they turn you on and flip the switch so you start things off first. Everyone loves feeling like their partner just can’t resist them

13. Lean into your sexual tension.

Just because you’ve been with your partner forever doesn’t mean you still can’t get butterflies for them. Refrain from jumping their bones at first sight like you normally do, and let the sexual tension build up so you can have an even more cathartic orgasm.

14. Add CBD into the mix.

There are plenty of CBD products out there for everything, and sex is no exception. Pick your poison of whatever CBD lube or arousal gel of your choice and get to town feeling all loosey-goosey (minus the paranoia that comes with THC).

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15. Make hand jobs the main event.

Sex is so much more than just penetrative sex, and backing away and focusing on foreplay with the same intensity as you do PIV sex can zuzh some hotness into your routine.

16. Do your errands normally, only with Ben Wa balls inside you.

Ben Wa balls, or kegel balls, are little weighted balls that you can insert into your vagina for added sensation. Pop a pair in, and go about your normal routine. The extra attention you’ll be paying to each roll and wiggle of your hips will turn you on all day.

17. Forgive and forget with some super-sultry makeup sex.

All couples fight (it’s a part of a healthy relationship to have disagreements) but what better way to get into each other’s good graces again than with some vulnerable, tender makeup sex? If that’s not your vibe, there’s also must-have-you-now standing sex against a wall for an added layer of urgency. Either way, there’s a sexy way to move on after a fight.

18. Get some cheap accessories to make shower sex all the better.

Shower sex might be steamy and sexy in the movies, but IRL, it’s often not. If your mind is worrying about whether or not you’re going to slip or you’re starting to feel cold because the water ain’t on you at that moment, you can’t really enjoy yourself to maximum capacity! Thankfully, there are easy (and mostly cheap!) solutions that can make shower sex way more enjoyable.

19. Heat things up with some at-home gym equipment.

Don’t worry, you don’t need your actual gym’s super-expensive rowing machine to make any of these work. Try hanging from a pull-up bar while your partner lifts you up onto their hips for a sex position that’ll give missionary a break from the ol’ rotation.

20. Use a Tenga Egg for a quick, modified blow job sleeve.

The eggs are hella cute (literally they just look like little Easter eggs) and compact so you can bring one to your boo’s house without worrying that 65% of your overnight bag is just one toy. Snip the top so that there’s openings at both the bottom (it comes with one there) and top, and use that with a squidge of lube for a truly out-of-this-world blowjob experience that also takes a lot of the effort out of it for you.

21. Have your partner try the Kivin method.

This oral sex technique for those pleasuring a woman has the giver approach you from the side, rather than face-on. Annabelle Knight, sex expert at Lovehoney, explains that instead of licking up and down your vulva, your partner should lick side to side and straight across the clitoral hood for an orgasmic feeling.

22. Get on top.

Woman on top provides easier access to your vulva and clitoris than in other positions. Add a vibrator into the mix for even more pleasure.

23. Make a masturbation playlist.

Taking time to focus on your own pleasure and indulging in your ~me time~ is not only fun, it can make sex with a partner better too because you’re learning more about your own body. There’s really no easier way to figure out what you like in bed than by trying

24. Use lube.

Seriously, enough with the stigma that lube is for dried-up older women. You’re not winning extra points by not using it and having sex that could be so much more glidey and enjoyable for both partners. Start with a dime-sized amount, put it on you and your partner’s genitals, and reapply as needed.

25. Ramp up your desire all day by engaging in some light sexting at work.

Foreplay doesn’t just have to be in person. If you’ve got a date later that night, try sending a few flirty or suggestive texts your partner’s way to ensure they’re thinking about you all day.

26. Try the Amazon sex position.

Or any wild sex position. Sex is just as mental as it is physical, and trying out adventurous and empowering novelty positions can do way more for you than you’d think.

27. Don’t be afraid to spread your labia.

Ensure that your partner has easy access to your clitoris by really getting in there and setting up the scene for them. Sure, light vulva licking is great, but why waste time and risk your partner getting lost down there?

28. Try a vibrator with sonic waves.

Your clitoris is like an iceberg. The part that you can see is only a small portion of it. There are nerve endings underneath the visible part that you can’t see or touch. Using a vibrator with sonic pulses (like a loud, booming speaker that shakes your whole body at a club) can help target these nerves and put you in ~touch~ with the otherwise unexplored parts of your clit.

29. Ditch the eye contact in reverse cowgirl.

While sex face-to-face certainly has its moments, change it up by getting on top and facing away from your partner. From here, you have total freedom to make whatever O-face you want, and you can put on a show for them at the same time with your bouncing butt. You contain multitudes.

30. Work on your non-sexual touch.

While this tip is more about putting in work while you’re not having sex, it can totally lead to an overall better sex life. Don’t reserve touching for only when you’re naked. Find a way to work in hair stroking, back rubs, hand holding, anything PG that encourages you and your partner to show physical affection for one another. You’ll learn about each others’ bodies in a way that’s so much deeper than just sex.

31. Zone in on the upper left-hand quadrant of your clitoris.

Megan Andelloux, executive director at the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, says many women find this is the most receptive part of their clit.

32. Try a sex game where you trade off.

Rachel Wright, a licensed psychotherapist, sex therapist, and sex educator, suggests “stop and start.” You set a timer on your phone for four minutes, where you have that amount of time to do anything to your partner (ranging from kissing to intercourse). Once the time’s up, you switch places and the giver becomes the receiver, and vice versa. This is great for putting an emphasis.

33. Do it in front of a mirror.

Doggie style intercourse in front of a full-length mirror allows you one of the best seats in the house. You can lock eyes tenderly in the mirror or go at it with carnal thrusting, all while checking each other out at the same time. Nice.

34. Get a pair of nipple clamps.

Nipple clamps are great because they can provide hands-free stimulation during sex. Slap a pair on and your hands are free to still touch yourself during foreplay or sex. You can adjust the intensity throughout too, getting tighter or looser as you approach

35. Prioritize oral sex.

Have a few nights where the main focus isn’t penetrative sex, but just you receiving oral sex. Communicate with your partner so you can both discover what works best for you in terms of giving and receiving. And when we say a few nights, we mean a few nights. Expecting to cram life-changing oral into your lives via one night puts way too much pressure on both of you.

36. Real talk: Roughly 70 percent of women need more clitoral stimulation to O during sex — so reach down and touch yourself during the deed!

You feel in control of your O, and he’s super turned on. Win-win.

37. For a twist on missionary, lie on your back, and lift your legs up and over to one side as he enters you.

Raising your legs makes you supertight, and the angle of your hips means he’ll hit spots that rarely get TLC.

38. Get him to skip the in-and-out thrusts and, uh, stir with his penis instead.

He’ll stimulate every inch of you (motion of the ocean and all that…).

39. Sit on the edge of the washing machine, and wrap your legs around his waist as he enters you.

Helpful hint: The cotton cycle provides the strongest vibrations.

40. In reverse-cowgirl, lean back (instead of forward toward his feet).

It’s a primo G-spot angle for you and the illusion of a Kardashi-ass for him.

41. The no. 1 rule for a great blow job: Use your mouth (obvs!) and your hands.

Take the head in your mouth, and lick and swirl like you would a soft-serve cone. Mean while, use your hands to grip, squeeze, and stroke the length of his penis. Don’t keep up the same motion — variety of sensation is key!

42. Instead of pleasingeach other simultaneously during 69 (so hard to focus!), take turns.

One person goes to town, while the other groans and moans about how good it feels.

43. While he’s giving you oral, have him insert a finger or two and stroke your G-spot with a come-hither motion.

Internal and external stimulation boosts your orgasm chances.

44. Lube up!

Both you and your partner, before and/or during The Naughty. Almost 50 percent of women say lube makes it easier to orgasm. And forget the myth that it’s only for older women — all the cool kids are doing it!

45. If you have no cluewhether your partner’s dirty-talk meter is set to “a little naughty” or “downright filthy,” do a sneaky little test.

Ask, “What would you like me to do to you? Details, please.” And see what words he uses and how risqué he’s willing to get. Then follow his lead.

46. Usually get oral with your legs spread?

Intensify your O by stretching your legs straight out, stimulating the pelvic muscles you use to climax. It’s a crazy-good new way.

47. Gently hold his face still, tell him to stop moving, and let him simply receive your kisses for a minute.

That way, whether you like it slow or hot and heavy, he’ll know how to kiss you back.

48. Vintage Cosmo Tip, June 1972:

“All women should try for a little more variety … a little more shock value. put on a wig. or greet your man at the door with a martini in your hand and nothing on but high heels.”

Our 2015 road test: Naked except for black Manolos and a long blonde wig very unlike my curly brown hair, I was already three “test” martinis deep when I wobbled to the door and greeted R.M.P. (Reluctant Male Participant, aka my boyfriend of almost two years). First, he seemed surprised, then slightly scared. But with some R-rated coaxing, I could tell he was getting into it. After we had sex, he gave me puppy-dog eyes. “Can you take that wig off now?” “Nooo, this girl is fun, I like this girl!” I replied. Did I mention I’d had three martinis? “Wasn’t it hot cheating on your girlfriend with a blonde?” I asked. He shrugged and shook his head: “I missed my girlfriend.” Then we ordered burgers, and I kept my wig on while I ate mine.

49. Just started dating? Set the precedent and make sure you come first.

Women often focus on their guy’s orgasm and treat themselves as an afterthought. Since we’re all creatures of habit, doing the reverse pays off in the long run.

50. Ask him to trace his tongue over your thin-skinned spots: wrists, inner knees, behind your ears.

It’ll make you shiver.

51. While standing with your back against his chest, have him reach around and touch you so all you can see are his hands all over you.

Totally sexy.

52. Wrap your fingers in an “O” shape around the base of his shaft, and move them in tandem with your mouth.

Use lots of saliva to ease the movement, and he won’t be able to tell where your mouth ends and your hand begins. Gently cup his balls with your other hand and you’re golden.

53. Try the “commercial sex” game.

Start getting it on during the commercials of your favorite show, then untangle as soon as the show comes back. Sexy show? Copy their moves. As you graduate from makeouts to oral to intercourse (and back?), the teasing will be out of control.

54. Keep your dress on or just push your underwear aside to have sex.

The immediacy of keeping clothes on is hot — like you can’t wait to have each other.

55. The hole at the tip of his penis is called the meatus, which is the worst name given to anything, ever.

Meatus! But it’s sensitive during arousal. With your tongue, apply medium pressure on and off. He’ll be shocked it feels so good!

56. When you’re close to climaxing, tighten and relax like you’re Kegeling.

This alone can sometimes trigger an O (and it feels amazing for a guy too).

57. The shower is made for the quickie.

The ideal position for you is bent over, aiming the showerhead at your hot spot while he’s doing his thing from behind. No removable showerhead? Slick his fingers with shower gel, and have him reach around and give you pleasure.

58. Create a secret code that translates to sexytimes.

Maybe “get me a dirty martini” means “let’s blow this joint … and then each other.”

59. Remind yourself how much you turn him on.

Seeing his face as he’s lost in ecstasy — and realizing you’re making it happen — can be the push you need to cross the finish line.

60. Touch yourself — beneath your bath jets.

While watching Scandal, whatever works for you — to get to know what sensations do it for you. Are you into counterclockwise clitoral strokes? Nipple stimulation? Find out—then bring your favorite moves to your next sex.

61. Advanced blow-job move:

Twist your hand as you move your mouth up and down his shaft like you’re tracing the grooves of a corkscrew, and slide it over his tip each time you get to it. He’ll worship you.

62. Want more oral and less jackhammer but can’t seem to say so?

Start out with a sext. Type “I can’t stop thinking about your mouth on me tonight,” throw in a kiss emoji, and hit Send. The message will be received.

63. Bring a bullet vibrator to bed.

The Rabbit gets all the glory, but using a bullet vibe on your clit during doggy is a total game changer.

64. While pleasuring him with your mouth, bring his hand down to touch you.

Cover his fingers with yours so you can make sure his touches are exactly what you need to climax. It’ll arouse him even more to see you taking control of his movements.

65. Lead with a compliment.

Say “I love the way you…” before suggesting a new move (“it would turn me on so much if you used your fingers like this…”).

66. Turn up the tease factor by letting him enter you for a hot second, then going straight back into your foreplay of choice.

Think of it as giving him a taste of the main course during cocktail hour. It’ll leave him hungry — no, salivating — for more.

67. Get sex on the brain by reading a steamy book before a date.

You’ll feel more sensual during the deed as you visualize a hot story line. And he never has to know!

68. Have your guy scribble down a “menu” of the top three moves that drive him crazy, and you do the same.

Then swap lists, and take turns serving up the goods à la carte!

69. Perfect your striptease.

Stage an entrance from another room, take a sensual walk around him, and slowly shed a slip to reveal a corset. (Or a thong and nipple tassels! Whatever’s your jam.) By the time you finally straddle him, you’ll both be raring to go. P.S. Leave on your heels for extra sass.

70. Switching hot and cold sensations feels amazing for him during oral.

If you’re not into the ol’ ice-cube-in-the-cheek trick, try alternating oral with drinking something cold or warm. Even easier: Lightly blow air over him after having had him in your mouth.

71. Vintage Cosmo Tip, March 1989:

“Unleash your imagination: you might drive down to the local lovers’ lane like teenagers or swap houses with a friend and make love in her bedroom.”

Our 2015 road test: We didn’t go to lovers’ lane because where even is that, but non-bedroom sex is one of those things I always mean to do but never get around to. I finally got around to it — although we kept it low-key and only ventured as far as the desk. Funny thing about adulthood: Spontaneous desk sex is hot, but clearing the desk beforehand in order to avoid any postcoital broken tchotchkes or destroyed tea rose arrangements is not. Ditto when R.M.P. paused the action to put a pillow under my back. Ultimately, the desk lends itself best to doggy-style — but R.M.P. and I did thoroughly enjoy giving the bed a break.

72. A great gizmo for scoring some dual pleasure?

A vibrating penis ring. Your guy will enjoy a soft vibration on his shaft while you get bonus targeted clitoral stimulation with each of his thrusts. It also helps guys achieve fuller, harder erections.

73. Long-distance?

Send him a care package for his … package. Fill a box with some sexy new lingerie, lube, and maybe a sex toy, and send it to his front door with this note: “We’ll need this on my next visit.”

74. Not being “allowed” to make any noise during sex can be a huge turn-on, especially when something feels so good, you just want to express it!

Try this for a spin: Stuff your thong or his tie into his mouth, then do dirty, dirty things to him until he’s digging his nails into his palms to keep from ripping that gag out.

75. A great couple habit to get into is to kiss every day — for more than just a couple of seconds.

It wards off the perilous roommate effect, especially if you live together and lately have been spending more time doing chores together than checking each other out.

76. Getting busy in a public place is a huge risk, thereby doubling the wattage of your hot rendezvous.

Your best bet to pulling it off is to keep your clothes on (wear a skirt and no undies for easier access) and do it in a place where you’ll hear someone coming, like in the middle of a stairwell — the footsteps on the stairs will tip you off that it’s time to get moving before you get caught.

77. The cherry on top when it comes to an amazing BJ? Eye contact.

Give a wink or some smize action, and he’ll be putty in your … mouth.

78. Put a pillow or two under your butt to elevate your hips during missionary sex — and up the odds of his hitting your G-spot.

This will change your life, we swear.

79. For ladies only:

Have your partner lie on her side, propping herself up on her elbow, and straddle one of her legs so your clits rub together, all the while making eye contact. Grind on. Scissoring’s a classic for a reason.

80. Vintage Cosmo Tip, October 2002: “Check your inhibitions at the door, and watch each other while touching yourselves.”

Our 2015 road test: Now that R.M.P. and I have been banging on the regs for a while, like many long-term couples, our orgasms are pretty wham-bam-let’s-watch-Netflix. We rarely take the time to stop and smell the sex roses, and thanks to the logistics of our favorite respective positions, we rarely see each other’s O faces. Sitting on opposite edges of the bed, me with my fave bullet vibe, him with just his hand, felt pretty voyeuristic — in a hot way — and I definitely felt closer to him afterward.

81. Lest we (and he) forget, the clitoris extends down our labia in the shape of a wishbone. So he should lick or stroke the labia — not just the clit — while he’s down there.

Hell-O!

82. After a shower, get him to take you from behind while you’re leaning over the bathroom sink and looking at your hot, wet self in the fogged-up mirror.

You’ll get a front-row view to all the seriously hot action and none of the stress of filming it. Nice!

83. Ask him first, but if he gives you the green light, hold a small vibrator against the underside of his shaft or on his perineum.

That’s the super nerve-packed area that lies between his balls and his butt — while you’re going down on him. Start the action off with your vibe’s lowest setting and then slowly increase the intensity as his arousal grows.

Buen Appetit!!!!!

THE VERY BEST ENCRYPTED MESSAGING APPS

If you’d rather not have the government, hackers, your internet service provider, or anyone else potentially intercepting and reading your private communications, you should make sure you’re using a secure messaging app. Specifically, one that uses encrypted messaging.

As you’ve probably noticed (unless you live under a rock, which is slowly sounding more and more like the way to go) internet privacy has become one of the hottest topics of the decade. In 2017, the United States Congress repealed regulations that would help protect your data from being sold by broadband and wireless companies. In 2016, the UK’s Parliament passed the Investigatory Power Act (also known as the Snooper’s Charter), which expands the surveillance power of the UK Intelligence Community and police. And in 2018, Australia forced famous messaging app WhatsApp to include spyware so they could see what you’re typing. Not to mention what’s going on in the news right now concerning privacy. If you aren’t already worried, now is a pretty good time to start wondering just how safe your online communications actually are, and what the most secure messaging app is.

What makes a messaging app secure?

An encrypted messaging app has something more important than cool widgets and a gigantic library of emojis: it has features that work quietly in the background to make sure the app is secure.

End-to-end encryption

The main thing to check for when choosing a messaging app is whether or not it uses end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption means your private chat messages are scrambled, and only the sender and the receiver of the messages have the “keys” to read them. This ensures that no one besides you and the person you’re talking to can decipher the messages.

Ironically, encryption used to be thought of as something only used by the paranoid or those with a compelling need for secrecy, such as political dissidents. It was only after whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked classified documents revealing the U.S. NSA’s global surveillance program that the world began to fully understand the importance of encryption and online privacy. Since then, many companies (including Facebook, Apple, and Google) have ramped up encryption on their software.

Default encryption settings

Just because an app offers end-to-end encryption, doesn’t mean that it’s the default setting. Some messaging apps require you to go into the app’s settings and actually turn on the encryption feature, while others only encrypt messages in certain scenarios (for instance, blue iMessages versus green text messages). Because the importance of encryption is still relatively new, many people may just assume the app is safe without knowing if or when their messages are encrypted — so look for one that has encryption on as the default for you and whomever you’re messaging.

Open source code

While fears of reverse-engineering or code backdoors may make it seem counterintuitive for an app maker to reveal an app’s source code, doing so is now widely regarded as an indicator of the app’s integrity. Open source code opens the app up to outside accountability and auditing by experts, which can be a useful way to bring attention to any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the code.

Data collection

While many messaging apps today have started using end-to-end encryption, some still collect data information about you, called metadata. Metadata is kind of like your electronic fingerprint, and includes data such as who you talk to (via your contacts list), for how long, and at what time, as well as information about the device you use, your IP address, phone number, and more. Setting up a VPN app on your mobile device is an easy way to block the collection of this kind of personal information. Both AVG Secure VPN for Android and AVG Secure VPN for iOS are available to help you seamlessly protect your online privacy.

Try AVG Secure VPN for Android

What are the most secure messaging apps for Android & iPhone?

1. Signal

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Originally known as TextSecure Private Messenger, Signal has been touted as the gold standard of messaging security by cryptographer Bruce Schneier, Edward Snowden, US congress, and even the European Commission. Available as a free messaging app on iPhone and Android phones, as well as desktops, Signal sends messages across its own data infrastructure.

Signal security features

  • End-to-end encryption
    Messages sent via the Signal app can only be viewed by the sender and receiver. Not even the company behind the app, Open Whisper Systems, can decrypt the messages. In addition to instant messages, you can also make voice calls, group messages, and encrypted video calls.
  • Open Source
    Signal has open source code that can be viewed by anyone. This kind of transparency allows for routine auditing and helps ensure that the app’s security is always up to date.
  • Disappearing messages
    For extra security, Signal allows you to make both sent and received messages “disappear” after a certain amount of time has elapsed.
  • Minimal data storageUnlike many other messaging apps, Signal only stores the metadata required for the app to work, such as your phone number, random keys, and profile information.
  • Password security The app also allows you to set a password to lock it. So even if your phone falls into the wrong hands, your messages will still be protected.

Signal security risks 

The best thing about Signal is that there are virtually no security risks. As long as the app’s developers continue to be diligent about fixing vulnerabilities, Signal will remain at the top of the messaging app food chain.

2. Wickr Me

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Available on both iPhone and Android, Wickr has distinguished itself from the pack by offering secure messaging options for both personal use (Wickr Me) and for businesses and enterprises (Wickr Pro). While Wickr Me is free, Wickr Pro is a paid service that comes with a 30-day free trial.

Wickr Me security features 

  • End-to-end encryption
    In addition to encrypted messaging, in 2018 Wickr announced that its “Me” service will also offer encrypted calling and voice messaging (which are already offered in the Pro version).
  • Screenshot detection
    Wickr recently announced that they will be offering a new feature that allows users to detect screenshots. This means that you will receive a notification if someone takes a screenshot of a message you send.
  • Screen overlay protection
    On Android devices, Wickr has released a new feature that allows users to disable “Screen Overlays”. This prevents users from being able to interact with the app when an overlay is detected, and helps protect the app from TapJacking.
  • Third party keyboards
    On iOS, Wickr lets you block Third Party Keyboards. This helps protect your information by preventing third party keyboards from recording usernames, passwords, and other information that is typed into the app.
  • Secure Shredder
    This feature adds an extra layer of security by making sure your already deleted files can’t be recovered with special tools or technology. While Wickr does this for you periodically, you also have the option to manually erase information from your phone.

Wickr Me security risks 

Like Signal, Wickr is generally considered almost foolproof from a security standpoint. Though it was previously criticized for keeping its code closed source, in 2017 Wickr finally released its cryptographic protocol on Github. If you feel like getting technical about the app’s security, you can check out Wickr’s Customer Security Promises.

3. Dust

Dust

Formerly known as Cyber Dust, Mark Cuban’s brainchild messaging app Dust is available on both iOS and Android. The main purpose of the app is to send private messages (or photos and videos) called “Dusts” to your contacts that “turn to dust” and disappear within 100 seconds of being read. “Blasts” are another type of message that can be sent to a group of people, but are read privately. Finally, you can start group chats, simply known as “Groups.”

Dust security features

  • End-to-end encryption
    Dust uses “heavy encryption,” although the code is not actually available for viewing. You can send encrypted text, photo, or video messages, but the app does not allow for voice or video calls.
  • No permanent storage
    Not only are your messages not permanently saved on your phone or the company’s servers (instead they’re sent to the app’s RAM memory until they are accessed by the receiver), you can also erase your messages off of other people’s devices.
  • Screenshot alerts
    If a screenshot is attempted on an Android phone, the name of the person who sent the message is removed, effectively eliminating context from the conversation. Apple prevents apps from blocking screenshots, so instead, iPhone users receive a notification if someone takes a screenshot of their sent message.
  • Auto “Dust”
    Messages are automatically erased either within 24 hours, or as soon as they’re read. You can choose.

Dust security risks

There are currently no significant security risks associated with Dust, aside from the potential risks and lack of transparency related to the app’s code not being open source.

4. WhatsApp

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With over 300 million daily users, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps being used today. The app’s popularity is definitely one of its strong points, along with the fact that it’s available for free on both iPhone and Android and doesn’t show any ads. You can easily send text messages, photos, as well as short video and voice messages. But are WhatsApp chats private?

WhatsApp security features

  • End-to-end encryption 
    In April 2016, WhatsApp implemented a super secure encryption protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems (the company behind secure messaging app Signal) across all mobile platforms. Thanks to this protocol, only the sender and receiver have the keys to decrypt messages sent via WhatsApp, meaning they can’t be accessed and read by anyone else. Voice and video calls are also encrypted.
  • Verify encryption 
    WhatsApp also has a “Verify Security Code” screen in the contact info screen that allows you to confirm that your calls and messages are end-to-end encrypted. The code is presented as both a QR code and a 60-digit number.
  • Two-step verification 
    An optional feature, two-step verification allows you to add more security to your account by setting a PIN number that is required to verify your phone number on any device.
  • Messages not stored
    The only time your message is kept on a WhatsApp server is the period after you send it and before it is delivered to the receiver. If it can’t be delivered for some reason, then the message is deleted from the server after 30 days.

WhatsApp Security risks

  • Unencrypted backups
    WhatsApp messages can’t be intercepted during transmission, but what about message backups on iCloud or Google Drive? The good news for iPhone users is that WhatsApp added encryption protection to iCloud backups in late 2016. But Android phone messages backed up on Google Drive are not encrypted, leaving them potentially vulnerable to hackers, governments that could legally force Google to turn over your messages, or even Google itself. So how can you protect your privacy on WhatsApp as an Android user? Fortunately, you can disable WhatsApp message backups on Google Drive.
  • Facebook privacy issues
    WhatsApp was bought by Facebook in 2014, transferring concerns about the social media conglomerate’s reputation for invasive data collection to the messaging app. While Facebook assures users that there is no possible way for them to view encrypted WhatsApp messages, WhatsApp did announce that they would be sharing user metadata with Facebook, for various purposes such as ad-targeting.

5. Telegram

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Claiming over 200 million users on both iPhone and Android, Telegram has been steadily growing in popularity since its debut in 2013 and is known for its unique group chat feature that can support up to 100,000 members. Earlier in 2018, however, a clash with the Russian government over the app makers’ refusal to hand over the encryption keys resulted in it being banned in Russia entirely. Telegram has also been viewed as controversial because of its status as the preferred messaging app of ISIS. This has further driven the conversation about what responsibility messaging apps have to work with law-enforcement versus keeping user data fully protected.

Telegram security features

  • End-to-end encryption 
    Telegram offers a feature called “Secret Chat” that allows you to protect your messages with end-to-end encryption. However, the feature is not default, so you’ll need to know how to turn it on.
  • Passcode Lock
    You can set a 4-digit code to prevent intruders from accessing your messages, which can be useful if your phone gets lost or stolen.
  • Two-step verification 
    Found in Settings, two-step verification requires you to use both an SMS code and a password (be sure you know what not to do when creating a password) to log in to the app. You can also set up a recovery email address in case you forget your password).
  • Open source code
    Anyone can check Telegram’s source code, protocol, and API to make sure it is up to par.
  • Telegram Cracking Contest
    Telegram challenges “hackers” to attempt to break through their encryption and decipher messages, offering a $300,000 reward for anyone who is able to do so. This helps ensure that any potential vulnerabilities will be found and fixed.
  • Self-destructing messages 
    Like many other messaging apps, Telegram also offers a Self-Destruct Timer (for Secret Chats only) that will delete private text messages and media within a preset time limit.
  • Remote logout 
    Because you can log into Telegram from numerous devices at the same time (web, PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.), the app offers the ability to log out of other sessions from the current device you’re using through the Settings menu. This way, if your device is lost or stolen, you can still make sure your messages are secure.
  • Account self-destruct 
    After your account has been inactive for a certain amount of time (six months being the default), your account will automatically self-destruct, completely wiping clean all of your messages and media.

Telegram security risks

  • End-to-end encryption isn’t default 
    You must manually enable Telegram’s “Secret Chat” feature, otherwise chats are only encrypted between your device and Telegram’s server.
  • Logging chat data
    If you don’t enable the Secret Chat feature, then your chat data is saved on Telegram’s servers. The company claims this is in case you lose your device and want to recover your messages, but from a security standpoint, this is a big no-no.
  • Possibly flawed encryption technology 
    Telegram created its own MTProto protocol, instead of using one that is already proven secure, such as the Signal protocol. Many experts have questioned the reasoning behind this, and have expressed skepticism about the lack of transparency surrounding the protocol.

6. Apple iMessage

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The instant messaging service developed by Apple Inc., iMessage is supported by the Messenger application on iOS version 5.0 and later. Allowing users to send text, documents, videos, photos, contact information, and group messages over the internet, iMessage is very popular among iPhone users (and can only be used between them). We’ve already gone over tips on how to keep your iPhone safe, but is iMessage actually secure?

iMessage security features 

  • End-to-end encryption 
    iMessage end-to-end encryption only protects messages between iPhone users (which appear in blue). If you send a message to an Android user for instance, the message is sent as a normal text message (in green) and is not encrypted. Unlike many of the other apps on this list, it seems like Apple won’t be coming out with iMessage for Android. Though iMessage doesn’t directly allow for video or voice calls, its sister app FaceTime does (with encrypted protection).
  • Self-destructing messages
    Many iMessage users are unaware that the app provides a feature that allows you to control how long each photo, video, or message will appear before it’s gone. You can also choose how many times the viewer can see the message. However, the feature is only available with iOS 10 and later.
  • iMessages deleted from servers
    Your encrypted messages only remain on Apple’s servers for 7 days before they are deleted.

iMessage security risks 

  • Encryption weaknesses
    In 2016, researchers at Johns Hopkins University revealed a flaw with Apple’s encryptionimplementation that could leave iMessages vulnerable to decryption. Later, in 2019, researchers from Project Zero presented 6 high-level exploits that allowed them to use iMessages to take over a user’s device. All these issues were quickly patched, but it does imply the risk of other, unknown vulnerabilities lurking in the code.
  • iCloud backups
    If you back up your iMessages to iCloud, these messages are encrypted on iCloud using a key controlled by the company, not you. This means that, if your iCloud is hacked or subpoenaed by a court, they could be revealed. And while Apple has been firm about not creating “back doors” into their system or weakening encryption, they and other tech companies do have a history of cooperating with authorities when it comes to turning over information stored in the Cloud.

7. Facebook Messenger

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Facebook’s messaging app is available for both iPhone and Android phones, and provides a convenient way to keep up with friends and family thanks to its sheer popularity.

Facebook Messenger security features

  • End-to-end encryption 
    In 2016, Facebook added its Secret Conversations feature to secure messages with the Signal end-to-end encryption protocol (also used by WhatsApp). However, Signal and WhatsApp have end-to-end encryption by default, while Secret Conversations must be activated.
  • Self-destructing messages
    You can set Facebook Messenger messages to self-destruct after a certain period of time (between five seconds and 24 hours).

Facebook Messenger security risks 

  • Encryption not by default
    As mentioned above, end-to-end encryption for messages must be activated by the user. This means that messages sent without this feature are only encrypted when sent to Facebook’s server, and then encrypted again when sent to the recipient (whereas end-to-end is directly between sender and recipient). This means a copy of the message remains on Facebook’s servers.

App to avoid: Google Hangouts

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Despite being available for free on both iOS and Android, Google Hangouts is riddled with privacy and security concerns. Though it does encrypt hangout conversations, it doesn’t use end-to-end encryption — instead, messages are encrypted “in transit”. This means that they are only encrypted between your device and Google’s servers. Once they are on a server, Google has complete access to them. If ordered to do so, Google can tap into private communication sessions and relay that information to government agencies. And with Google’s Transparency Reportrevealing that the company does indeed receive and often fulfill requests for customer information, this is a very real concern.

Additionally, images sent via Hangouts are shared through public URLs, meaning that virtually anyone (who knows a thing or two about URLs) can view your private images. This is definitely not the app you should be using to send…sensitivepics.

How can I stay safe?

We believe everyone has a right to online privacy, and deserves to message their friends and family without worrying about who might be sneaking a peak. In an ideal world, everyone would be using super secure messaging apps like Signal or Wickr to communicate. But with the popularity of less secure or privacy-questionable apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, sometimes the middle ground is more convenient. If you do choose to use a less secure messaging app, pair it with VPN protection. A virtual private network encrypts everything you do online, including messaging as well as other tasks that may expose your sensitive personal info like online shopping and banking. We offer AVG Secure VPN for iOS and AVG Secure VPN for Androidto keep your information safe.

HOW TO FIND YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE

Are you struggling to discover your purpose? That may be because you feel isolated from other people. Here’s how you can overcome that.

 

Do you have a sense of purpose?

For decades, psychologists have studied how long-term, meaningful goals develop over the span of our lives. The goals that foster a sense of purpose are ones that can potentially change the lives of other people, like launching an organization, researching disease, or teaching kids to read.

Indeed, a sense of purpose appears to have evolved in humans so that we can accomplish big things together—which may be why it’s associated with better physical and mental health. Purpose is adaptive, in an evolutionary sense. It helps both individuals and the species to survive.

Meet the Greater Good Toolkit
From the GGSC to your bookshelf: 30 science-backed tools for well-being.

Many seem to believe that purpose arises from your special gifts and sets you apart from other people—but that’s only part of the truth. It also grows from our connection to others, which is why a crisis of purpose is often a symptom of isolation. Once you find your path, you’ll almost certainly find others traveling along with you, hoping to reach the same destination—a community.

Here are six ways to overcome isolation and discover your purpose in life.

1. Read

Reading connects us to people we’ll never know, across time and space—an experience that research says is linked to a sense of meaning and purpose. (Note: “Meaning” and “purpose” are related but separate social-scientific constructs. Purpose is a part of meaning; meaning is a much broader concept that usually also includes value, efficacy, and self-worth.)

In a 2010 paper, for example, Leslie Francis studied a group of nearly 26,000 teenagers throughout England and Wales—and found that those who read the Bible more tended to have a stronger sense of purpose. Secular reading seems to make a difference, as well. In a survey of empirical studies, Raymond A. Mar and colleagues found a link between reading poetry and fiction and a sense of purpose among adolescents.

“Reading fiction might allow adolescents to reason about the whole lives of characters, giving them specific insight into an entire lifespan without having to have fully lived most of their own lives,” they suggest. By seeing purpose in the lives of other people, teens are more likely to see it in their own lives. In this sense, purpose is an act of the imagination.

Many people I interviewed for this article mentioned pivotal books or ideas they found in books.

The writing of historian W.E.B. Du Bois pushed social-justice activist Art McGee to embrace a specific vision of African-American identity and liberation. Journalist Michael Stoll found inspiration in the “social responsibility theory of journalism,” which he read about at Stanford University. “Basically, reporters and editors have not just the ability but also the duty to improve their community by being independent arbiters of problems that need solving,” he says. “It’s been my professional North Star ever since.” Spurred by this idea, Michael went on to launch an award-winning nonprofit news agency called The San Francisco Public Press.

So, if you’re feeling a crisis of purpose in your life, go to the bookstore or library or university. Find books that matter to you—and they might help you to see what matters in your own life.

2. Turn hurts into healing for others

  • JOIN THE PURPOSE CHALLENGE

    Want to help high schoolers find purpose? The GGSC’s Purpose Challenge for students, educators, and parents incorporates cutting-edge science into videos and interactive exercises. Students can get help with their college essay and win up to $25,000 in scholarship money.

Of course, finding purpose is not just an intellectual pursuit; it’s something we need to feel. That’s why it can grow out of suffering, both our own and others’.

Kezia Willingham was raised in poverty in Corvallis, Oregon, her family riven by domestic violence. “No one at school intervened or helped or supported my mother, myself, or my brother when I was growing up poor, ashamed, and sure that my existence was a mistake,” she says. “I was running the streets, skipping school, having sex with strangers, and abusing every drug I could get my hands on.”

When she was 16, Kezia enrolled at an alternative high school that “led me to believe I had options and a path out of poverty.” She made her way to college and was especially “drawn to the kids with ‘issues’”—kids like the one she had once been. She says:

I want the kids out there who grew up like me, to know they have futures ahead of them. I want them to know they are smart, even if they may not meet state academic standards. I want them to know that they are just as good and valuable as any other human who happens to be born into more privileged circumstances. Because they are. And there are so damn many messages telling them otherwise.

Sometimes, another person’s pain can lead us to purpose. When Christopher Pepper was a senior in high school, a “trembling, tearful friend” told him that she had been raped by a classmate. “I comforted as well as I could, and left that conversation vowing that I would do something to keep this from happening to others,” says Christopher. He kept that promise by becoming a Peer Rape Educator in college—and then a sex educator in San Francisco public schools.

Why do people like Kezia and Christopher seem to find purpose in suffering—while others are crushed by it? Part of the answer, as we’ll see next, might have to do with the emotions and behaviors we cultivate in ourselves.

3. Cultivate awe, gratitude, and altruism

Certain emotions and behaviorsthat promote health and well-being can also foster a sense of purpose—specifically, awe, gratitude, and altruism.

Several studies conducted by the Greater Good Science Center’s Dacher Keltner have shown that the experience of awe makes usfeel connected to something larger than ourselves—and so can provide the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose.

Of course, awe all by itself won’t give you a purpose in life. It’s not enough to just feel like you’re a small part of something big; you also need to feel driven to make a positive impact on the world. That’s where gratitude and generosity come into play.

“It may seem counterintuitive to foster purpose by cultivating a grateful mindset, but it works,” writes psychologist Kendall Bronk, a leading expert on purpose. As research by William Damon, Robert Emmons, and others has found, children and adults who are able to count their blessings are much more likely to try to “contribute to the world beyond themselves.” This is probably because, if we can see how others make our world a better place, we’ll be more motivated to give something back.

Here we arrive at altruism. There’s little question, at this point, that helping others is associated with a meaningful, purposeful life. In one study, for example, Daryl Van Tongeren and colleagues found that people who engage in more altruistic behaviors, like volunteering or donating money, tend to have a greater sense of purpose in their lives.

Interestingly, gratitude and altruism seem to work together to generate meaning and purpose. In a second experiment, the researchers randomly assigned some participants to write letters of gratitude—and those people later reported a stronger sense of purpose. More recent work by Christina Karns and colleagues found that altruism and gratitude are neurologically linked, activating the same reward circuits in the brain.

4. Listen to what other people appreciate about you

Giving thanks can help you find your purpose. But you can also find purpose in what people thank you for.

Like Kezia Willingham, Shawn Taylor had a tough childhood—and he was also drawn to working with kids who had severe behavioral problems. Unlike her, however, he often felt like the work was a dead-end. “I thought I sucked at my chosen profession,” he says. Then, one day, a girl he’d worked with five years before contacted him.

“She detailed how I helped to change her life,” says Shawn—and she asked him to walk her down the aisle when she got married. Shawn hadn’t even thought about her, in all that time. “Something clicked and I knew this was my path. No specifics, but youth work was my purpose.”

The artists, writers, and musicians I interviewed often described how appreciation from others fueled their work. Dani Burlison never lacked a sense of purpose, and she toiled for years as a writer and social-justice activist in Santa Rosa, California. But when wildfires swept through her community, Dani discovered that her strengths were needed in a new way: “I’ve found that my networking and emergency response skills have been really helpful to my community, my students, and to firefighters!”

Although there is no research that directly explores how being thanked might fuel a sense of purpose, we do know that gratitude strengthens relationships—and those are often the source of our purpose, as many of these stories suggest.

5. Find and build community

As we see in Dani’s case, we can often find our sense of purpose in the people around us.

Many people told me about finding purpose in family. In tandem with his reading, Art McGee found purpose—working for social and racial justice—in “love and respect for my hardworking father,” he says. “Working people like him deserved so much better.”

Environmental and social-justice organizer Jodi Sugerman-Brozan feels driven “to leave the world in a better place than I found it.” Becoming a mom “strengthened that purpose (it’s going to be their world, and their kids’ world),” she says. It “definitely influences how I parent (wanting to raise anti-racist, feminist, radical kids who will want to continue the fight and be leaders).”

Of course, our kids may not embrace our purpose. Amber Cantorna was raised by purpose-driven parents who were right-wing Christians. “My mom had us involved in stuff all the time, all within that conservative Christian bubble,” she says. This family and community fueled a strong sense of purpose in Amber: “To be a good Christian and role model. To be a blessing to other people.”

The trouble is that this underlying purpose involved making other people more like them. When she came out as a lesbian at age 27, Amber’s family and community swiftly and suddenly cast her out. This triggered a deep crisis of purpose—one that she resolved by finding a new faith community “that helped shape me and gave me a sense of belonging,” she says.

Often, the nobility of our purpose reflects the company we keep. The purpose that came from Amber’s parents was based on exclusion, as she discovered. There was no place—and no purpose—for her in that community once she embraced an identity they couldn’t accept. A new sense of purpose came with the new community and identity she helped to build, of gay and lesbian Christians.

If you’re having trouble remembering your purpose, take a look at the people around you. What do you have in common with them? What are they trying to be? What impact do you see them having on the world? Is that impact a positive one? Can you join with them in making that impact? What do they need? Can you give it them?

If the answers to those questions don’t inspire you, then you might need to find a new community—and with that, a new purpose may come.

6. Tell your story

Purpose often arises from curiosity about your own life. What obstacles have you encountered? What strengths helped you to overcome them? How did other people help you? How did your strengths help make life better for others?Reading can help you find your purpose—but so can writing,

“We all have the ability to make a narrative out of our own lives,” says Emily Esfahani Smith, author of the 2017 book The Power of Meaning. “It gives us clarity on our own lives, how to understand ourselves, and gives us a framework that goes beyond the day-to-day and basically helps us make sense of our experiences.”

That’s why Amber Cantorna wrote her memoir, Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God. At first depressed after losing everyone she loved, Amber soon discovered new strengths in herself—and she is using her book to help build a nonprofit organization called Beyond to support gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians in their coming-out process.

One 2008 study found that those who see meaning and purpose in their lives are able to tell a story of change and growth, where they managed to overcome the obstacles they encountered. In other words, creating a narrative like Amber’s can help us to see our own strengths and how applying those strengths can make a difference in the world, which increases our sense of self-efficacy.

This is a valuable reflective process to all people, but Amber took it one step further, by publishing her autobiography and turning it into a tool for social change. Today, Amber’s purpose is to help people like her feel less alone.

“My sense of purpose has grown a lot with my desire to share my story—and the realization that so man.y other people have shared my journey.”

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