Brain and Behavior

Living in a Bigger Story

Out beyond the shadows of our old thinking, a wholly different world appears. A world that delights in our explorations, our need to join with others. A world that welcomes and supports our endeavors. The world knows how to change and grow. ~ Margaret J. Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers, A Simpler Way
We love epic stories, those invoking the heroic journey. We resonate and identify with larger-than-life characters, not simply because we are fascinated with their exploits, but because we are drawn to the archetypal qualities they represent. And that allows us to tap into the inner resources we can discover in our own inner treasure chest:
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Brain and Behavior

Why We Hide

The wise Seth Godin recently posted a blog titled "Hiding." He included these words: "We hide by avoiding things that will change us ... We hide by asking for reassurance. We hide by letting someone else speak up and lead ... We live in fear of feelings."

Shame is the hiding emotion. Here are some of my thoughts on the origin of hiding:

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Anxiety and Panic

The Darker Side of Flakiness

Everyone has a flaky friend. You may even be that friend. I’ve certainly been that friend from time to time.

Increasing “flakiness” -- meaning canceling plans a very short time before said plans are about to begin -- is a trend generally attributed to people’s overscheduled lives, conflicting commitments, constant access to each other through personal technology, or a combination of all three.

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Brain and Behavior

1-Minute Mindfulness Exercises

Interested in doing mindfulness meditation but don't think you have the time? Below are 9 mindfulness exercises you can do in a minute or under.

Yawn and stretch for 10 seconds every hour.
Do a fake yawn if you have to. That will trigger real ones. Say “ahh” as you exhale. Notice how a yawn interrupts your thoughts and feelings. This brings you into the present.

Then stretch really, really slowly for at least 10 seconds. Notice any tightness and say "ease" or just say hello to that place (being mindful -- noticing without judgment). Take another 20 seconds to notice and then get back to what you were doing.

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Addiction

4 Disorders that May Thrive on Loneliness

Identifying and diagnosing a mental health issue is never an easy process. Most mental health struggles do not take place in isolation, and many of us have negative thought or mood tendencies that, while challenging, do not qualify as a disorder.

As a relationship coach, I’ve found that loneliness is one of the tendencies that often come along with a diagnosed mental health disorder. While correlation is not causation, it seems that loneliness could be more of a cause than a symptom in some of our commonly recognized mental health issues.

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Brain and Behavior

Emotions Are Physical

In 2003, I learned that emotions were physical experiences. It was an “Aha!” moment for me. Of course they are!

When an emotion is triggered in your brain, it sends a series of impulses all over your brain and body. Physically, each emotion contains a program that causes very specific physiological changes that ready us for action. We can sense these changes physically by paying attention to our bodies.

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Brain and Behavior

5 Ways to Get Your Partner to Change

Everyone says you can’t change another person, nor should you try. You have to accept him or her, flaws and all.

While it’s fundamentally true that you can’t make others change -- they have to want to change themselves -- there are ways to influence someone else’s behavior. Below are five steps that increase the likelihood of change and may bring couples closer together.

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Brain and Behavior

How to Put a Stop to Generations of Negative Thinking

The problem with putting a stop to negative thinking is that we often don’t know we’re doing it. We’re not actively throwing out every positive thought and immediately embracing every bad one. We’re on autopilot. And for many of us, it’s an age-old habit that we learned from our parents, just as it was passed down to them.

Recently, I mentioned to my husband that it would be nice to have a small, single-serving milk steamer, so I could have hot milk with my coffee. “I’d heat up a little in the microwave but it always scorches,” I explained. “Then it makes a mess and you need a whole new mug because the old one smells like burnt milk.”
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Bipolar

A Friend Lost and Found

Often, after one develops a mental illness, one may lose friends. This happened to me. I lost a childhood friend who was with me when I experienced a nervous breakdown. I was in New York City when it happened. I completely and totally lost touch with reality.

Pam was driving me to the airport, and she had the radio on. I kept hearing the DJ mention my first and last name. This was sending me into hysterics. Of course, the DJ was not saying my name. I was mishearing or hallucinating or a combination of both.

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Brain and Behavior

Growth through Travel

Journeys of the mind and body are taken so that the self can grow. The self grows through discomfort, by being moved to inquiry and action. Placing oneself in an unfamiliar situation validates this discomfort. Being in a different place affords us a new perspective and unlocks our modus operandi to create change.

From this new perspective or place we can question ourselves and see clearly how we can progress as a human being. We are affected by our immediate environment, at least to some degree. Our thoughts, emotions and actions acquire a routine in our usual place of being or perspective that can make growth stagnate if we become too comfortable.

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Brain and Behavior

Do You Struggle to Feel Big and Proud?

"Don’t get too big for your britches!" "Don't think you’re better than anyone else!" "Don't get a swelled head!" "Don’t think you are so great!"

Beginning as little children, we hear cultural messages that are meant to socialize and civilize us. We learn to keep our self-confidence in check in order to stay in the good graces of the people around us. Healthy shame makes sure we follow social rules such as not stealing, being honest, or not going to the bathroom in public. Shame is the emotion that ensures we fit in with the groups we need.

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Brain and Behavior

Why It’s OK Not to Make New Year’s Resolutions

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you stick to them? Many of us spend the last days of December thinking about what our resolutions should be in the coming year. This can lead to discussions with family and friends about what we should change and resolve to do differently. Then we make our resolutions and commit to them, or maybe not.

This has become rote behavior for many of us -- a ritual we follow, year after year. We typically choose resolutions to change ourselves into who we want to or feel we should be, but are not. Sometimes we choose something really big to accomplish, which can become too overwhelming. Why do we do this to ourselves?

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