Archive for February, 2012

Emotional Intelligence: Not Just For Relationships

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Emotional Intelligence: Not Just For RelationshipsThis guest article from YourTango was written by Maud Purcell

Running a successful business in our current economic climate takes more than just an excellent product or service. If you’re a business owner, one of the most important changes you can make is to run your business with greater “Emotional Intelligence” (EI). EI is a term popularized by Psychologist Daniel Goleman who defines it as “…the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships.”

The notion that using our emotions intelligently could have an impact on the bottom line is relatively new. According to The Institute for Health and Human Potential, research tracking over 160 high performance individuals across a wide variety of industries revealed that EI was two times more important in creating excellence than are intellect and expertise alone. In fact, the use of EI in business significantly impacts return on sales, revenue growth and overall profitability.

The Psychology of a School Shooting: TJ Lane in Chardon, Ohio

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

The Psychology of a School Shooting: TJ Lane in Chardon, OhioAlthough rare, school shootings like the one in Chardon, Ohio capture the horror imagination of every parent and teenager. And many people’s immediate reaction is, “Why would someone do that?”

The alleged shooter, TJ Lane, will now be psychoanalyzed from afar in the media, with various experts throwing in their two cents about his motivations and explaining his actions. Paula Mooney has provided initial fodder, by giving us TJ Lane’s Facebook page. “Experts” will try and piece together a portrait of TJ Lane with these kinds of bits and pieces of random, self-selected personal information.

I’ll try and refrain from any psychological analysis of TJ Lane, since as a professional, I’ve never met him or interviewed him. But I do want to discuss the school shooting in a broader context of whether there are any lessons here we can learn.

An Incomplete List of Daily Things to Be Happy, Healthy

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Life preserverI’ve just started trying to come up with a list of the bare minimum of things we should do every day to be happy and healthy.

This list doesn’t include major challenges, like “Quit smoking.” Obviously, quitting smoking is very important for health, but it’s not easy to add to a to-do list. This list doesn’t include items like “Spend less time on the internet” or “Read more” because they aren’t universal enough. This list also doesn’t include items related to attitude: gratitude, cheerfulness, and the like. These are very concrete, very essential things to do as part of the everyday routine.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

Be a Better Dad

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Be a Better DadAny father can learn to be a better dad. But it takes a commitment — and desire — to focus on one of the more important areas in your life. An involved dad is a better dad — one a child will appreciate not only as a kid, but in fond memories as they progress into adulthood. Children with involved fathers will grow up to be happier, better able to cope with life’s troubles, and healthier than children who have absent or uninvolved dads.

Being a better dad doesn’t mean you have to change who you are, though. It simply means paying attention to the important moments in your child’s life, and being there for both them and the family when needed.

Whether you’re married, divorced, or never married, it’s important to realize that children need both parents involved in their lives. Fathers who spend time with their children increase the chances that their children will succeed in school, have fewer behavior problems, and experience better self-esteem and well-being.

Click through to read the tips to improve your standing as a dad in your children’s life.

How the Public is Being Misinformed about Grief

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

How the Public is Being Misinformed about Grief“Have the psychiatrists gone mad? — those who weren’t crazy to begin with! They want to turn grief into a disease!”

This might well be the attitude of many in the general public, having read the misleading news coverage of a debate over the DSM-5 — the still-preliminary diagnostic classification of mental disorders, often referred to as “psychiatry’s Bible.” Now, I am no fan of the DSM model of diagnosis — in fact, if the DSM is the “bible,” I’m something of a heretic. In my view, the DSM’s superficial symptom checklists are great for research purposes, but not very useful for most clinicians or patients.

Nevertheless, I don’t like seeing the work of my DSM-5 colleagues misrepresented. So when I see bogus headlines like, “Grief Could Join List of Disorders” in the usually circumspect New York Times, I cringe.

Before discussing the arcane debate over the “bereavement exclusion,” it’s important to understand what most psychiatrists really believe about grief, bereavement, and depression.

Best of Our Blogs: February 28, 2012

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

In an effort to be perceived as strong, how many of us squelch our own needs, suffering and cries for help? I’ve observed it in a relative who at a funeral, suppressed her anguish so that she could be the container to hold everyone’s grief. And I sometimes catch myself apologizing incessantly or automatically replying, “Good!” when people ask how I’m doing.

Yet, we keep doing it. We do it despite the fact that these little untruths will often lead to anguish, inauthentic living and long-term, irreversible health problems down the road. But the fear of how our truth will be received, the fear of being exposed in all of our vulnerabilities can be too overwhelming, too difficult to face.

The truth is it takes a lot more courage and strength to reveal where we feel weak. But if we stick with it, if we allow others to see all of who we are and hold us when we’re in need, the risk we take will be well-worth the sacrifice. Choosing to walk that road takes guts, but it also puts us on the path towards greater awareness, well-being and self-healing. This week take the first steps by discovering what it will take to begin healing yourself.

A Glimpse into Marriage Advice from the 1950s

Monday, February 27th, 2012

A Glimpse into Marriage Advice from the 1950sAs divorce rates in the U.S. were rising by the end of World War II, so were fears over the state of marriage and family life. Skyrocketing rates sent many couples to seek expert advice to bolster their marriages.

During this time, the idea that marriage could be saved — and a divorce prevented — with enough work gained ground, according to Kristin Celello, assistant professor of history at Queens College, City University of New York, in her fascinating book Making Marriage Work: A History of Marriage and Divorce in the Twentieth-Century United States. A slew of experts stepped in to help American couples strengthen their unions — and with some interesting suggestions.

These experts, however, weren’t necessarily trained therapists or even anyone who had anything to do with psychology. Take marriage expert Paul Popenoe, for example. He was incredibly well-known and established one of America’s first marriage counseling centers in the 1930s, made regular media appearances and contributed to Ladies Home Journal — and he was a horticulturalist.

The marriage prescriptions of the 1950s could be summed up in one sentence: It was mainly a woman’s job to foster a happy marriage and steer it away from divorce.

How I Create: Q&A with Career Coach Laura Simms

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

How I Create: Q&A with Career Coach Laura SimmsCreativity needs nudging and nourishing. And learning from others can help to feed and fuel your imagination. That’s why every month we interview a different person on their creative process and inspirations.

We’ve already interviewed photographer and writer Susannah Conway and creativity coach and author Gail McMeekin.

This month we talked to Laura Simms, a career coach for creatives. I’ve interviewed Simms for several pieces for Psych Central, and she always offers great insight into creativity and pursuing your passions.

Specifically, Simms helps folks discover and cultivate the work meant just for them through career transition and small business coaching. She’s the creator of Roadmap to Action, and enjoys working with emerging and established creatives through one-on-one coaching. She vlogs weekly from her bird’s egg blue chair at createasfolk.com.

The Addictive Personality: Why Recovery is a Lifetime Thing

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

spilled wine.jpgIn his insightful book, The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior, author Craig Nakken explains why, even after an addict has given up the bottle or the weed, she will never be done with recovery:

Addiction is a process of buying into false and empty promises: the false promise of relief, the false promise of emotional security, the false sense of fulfillment, and the false sense of intimacy with the world….Like any other major illness, addiction is an experience that changes people in permanent ways. That is why it’s so important that people in recovery attend Twelve Step and other self-help meetings on a regular basis; the addictive logic remains deep inside of them and looks for an opportunity to reassert itself in the same or in a different form.

Nakken brilliantly explains the addictive cycle that I merely call “the exploding head phenomenon”: the process by which I continually seek relief from uncomfortable feelings, a “nurturing through avoidance — an unnatural way of taking care of one’s emotional needs,” as he says. The addict, he clarifies, seeks serenity through a person, place, or thing.

Young Adults and Depression

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Young Adults and DepressionThroughout the years, I’ve lost many people to depression, and I’ve had many people in my life who have struggled and survived. Although many were in their 20s, some were as young as 16 years old. The biggest problem is that depression isn’t visible like the chickenpox. It’s easy to hide and can show up out of the blue. One day everything could be wonderful and perfect and the next day could be a dark one.

Luckily, these feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression are not as rare as they may seem; people like you and me may conceal them every day and no one would ever know it. Instead we wait until we’re home alone or with our loved ones to unleash the dragon. Because depression is so widespread, it’s important to remember that we are never alone. Someone always has it worse. We should be grateful for what we do have, and bad things will soon subside. Similar to the change of seasons, depression will bloom and wilt, but we can try to conquer it for good.

I have a lot of experience with depression — through family, friends, and even myself as a teenager. The biggest issue we face as young adults is that we don’t want to admit when we feel depressed, so we start to shut people out and ignore these powerful feelings that could end up destroying us.

Carl Jung’s Five Key Elements to Happiness

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

HighpillarsI love reading Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist credited with being the developer of analytical psychology.

I especially enjoy his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections. His work is very challenging, however, so to get my Jung fix, I also read a bunch of interviews that he gave that were printed in the collection C.G. Jung Speaking. They are a fascinating read.

In 1960, journalist Gordon Young asked Jung, “What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?”

Jung answered with the five following elements…

Exercise to Improve Your Mental Health

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Exercise to Improve Your Mental HealthNobody doubts the benefits of exercise for physical health.

What isn’t as widely known or discussed is how essential moderate exercise is to our mental well-being. I created an online survey which sought to find out what health strategies helped people who have experienced an episode of depression or anxiety to bounce back from setbacks. I took a holistic approach, and asked people to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies such as exercise, good rest, good nutrition, emotional support from family, friends, and support groups, fulfilling work, hobbies, charity work, as well as traditional approaches like psychological counseling and medication. In all, over 60 strategies were evaluated, and 4,080 respondents were asked to rate those they had tried. Exercise was in the top three.

Research shows that a 30-minute brisk walk (or equivalent) significantly improves your mood after 2, 4, 8, and 12 hours compared to those who don’t exercise (Mayo Clinic, 2008). Exercise also boosts energy, confidence, and sexual desirability (American Fitness, 19 (6), 32-36).

We can’t control the slings and arrows that come our way on a daily basis, but we can control our daily habits. Incorporating moderate exercise into our day can inoculate us from the prolonged effects of a setback.

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