Books

A Cancer Survivor’s Healing Plan

When I last saw my oncologist, he referred me to a counselor about some anxiety and flashbacks. It's one of the free services available to me as an ongoing patient being monitored post-cancer.

I had one appointment, and we had a good talk. He gave me perspective and helped me understand that I already do have a lot of life skills and ways to cope with anxiety as memory flashbacks happen. I just need to breathe through it and wait a few minutes for it to pass. It seems like a grief response, he said, and will get less frequent with time. But it's normal. It's intrusive but not disabling.
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Anxiety and Panic

How to Find Power in Silence

"Silence is a source of great strength." -- Lao Tzu (6th century BCE)
How is silence a source of strength? I adore the works of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching, but sometimes I don’t know what he means. Does he just mean the kind of silence in meditation?

Here’s more:
When life is simple,
Pretenses fall away;
Our essential natures shine through.

By not wanting there is calm,
And the world will straighten itself out.
When there is silence
One finds the anchor of the universe within oneself.
This kind of silence appears to be the inner peace of living in the moment and appreciating the invaluable ordinary things around us every day. Quieting all those thoughts that color our perception day in and day out, we live in the moment and tap into a bounty of joy and gratitude for the simplest things.
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College

The Ladder of Success is Different for Different People

“Welcome to the neighborhood. You will love our cozy cul-de-sac. See you at the annual block party!” the Jones’s pastel invitation coos.

Don’t know the Joneses? In reality, you have known them your entire life.

The Joneses represent homecoming Barbie and Ken, doting college sweethearts, first-time homebuyers, the ascending professional couple, and the glitzy “it” couple living in the tree-shrouded corner home. Which, incidentally, is where you and your family will be mingling awkwardly at the Friday block party.
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Disorders

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Misunderstood But Effective & Powerful Treatment

Today, psychodynamic psychotherapy tends to get dismissed or outright rejected. It’s seen as ineffective, unscientific and archaic. It’s associated with Freud and some of his “outlandish” theories -- many of which have become caricatures. If you’ve ever learned about psychoanalysis or psychodynamic psychotherapy in college or even grad school, it’s likely your professors got it wrong.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy arose out of psychoanalysis, but it’s since evolved. A lot. As psychologist Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D, writes in this fantastic, myth-busting piece: “The development of psychoanalytic thought did not end with Freud any more than the development of physics ended with Newton, or the development of the behavioral tradition in psychology ended with Watson.”

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is depicted as inferior to other interventions, namely cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
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Addiction

Psychology Around the Net: May 7, 2016


As I mentioned last Saturday, I had a pretty stressful last week of April. I was crunched for time to meet an important deadline, and it looked like I was going to fail.

I did -- fail, that is -- but fortunately, my boss was completely chill about it. So, I spent this week finishing up and, given how tightly wound I've been for the past, oh, five or so weeks, I am absolutely ecstatic about today (well, "today" if you're reading this on Saturday).

Why, you ask?

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Bipolar

Dealing with the Pressure to Succeed When You Have a Mental Illness

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I feel a constant need to succeed, and there are definite moments when I feel desperately overwhelmed with the amount of pressure I’ve put on myself.

For years I’ve had the goal of living in a mountain house surrounded by a large grove of trees. I’ve worked hard to try to get to that point, but here I am, still on Section 8, still receiving money from the government for my disability.

I’m frustrated and, at times, angry with myself for not being able to mentally do what I have to do to get to the point where I’m satisfied.
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Anxiety and Panic

What You Really Lose When You Lose Perspective

“What can you do with a person who says that he is absolutely uncertain about everything, and that he is absolutely certain about that?” -- Idries Shah

Our perspective is how we perceive people, situations, ideas, etc. It’s informed by our personal experience, which makes it as unique as anything could be. Perspective shapes our life by affecting our choices. But the minute our minds become steeped in worry, perspective goes out of the window. We forget about our triumphs. We stop being optimistic as fear takes the wheel.

Fear gives rise to negative feelings: insecure, critical, defensive, abandoned, desperate, lonely, resentful, overwhelmed, aggressive, and so on. These cloud our minds and consume our thoughts.
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Friends

Love Thy Boundaries

“Love thy Neighbor; yet don’t pull down your hedge.” -- Benjamin Franklin
Boundaries. You know you’re supposed to have them. Maybe your boundaries are abstract, and you just go with the flow. Maybe you think it’s only people who are “too nice” or forgiving that have their boundaries violated. But at some point everyone has their physical, emotional, and spiritual limits pressed.

Perhaps a friend going through a breakup leaned on you too much to meet their emotional needs. Maybe someone violated your spatial boundaries by standing too close or being touchy-feely. At some point, you’ve probably accommodated people who have fundamentally different core values at the expense of your own emotional well-being.
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Brain and Behavior

The Daily Grind

Rise and grind. 5:58 a.m. You jolt up; the blaring alarm clock interrupts the morning stillness. Rousing yourself from your morning stupor, the ritual begins: a glance outside, dry toast with jelly, and a quick part of your thinning hair. Lingering in front of the mirror, your sunken eyes and ashen face stare back. Middle age looms; those carefree university days are receding like your hairline.

Before turning down Reminiscence Road, you remember that you have a 6:45 a.m. bus to catch. Boarding the bus, you nod at the driver and exchange glances with your dreary-eyed workaholics; most are staring into space or mumbling into their phones.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Healing with Nature

If you have ever tried tending a garden or plant, you probably have experienced both joy and frustration, as in life. Nature offers many examples of our human spirit, and how to navigate ourselves, relationships and change. Many great writers and philosophers have echoed nature's wisdom and ability to heal. Tuning into nature allows us to cultivate the following:

Patience.
We are so hard on ourselves about where and who we should be in life. We often forget that we have our own seasons of development and change throughout our life cycle. Do we expect newborns to dress or feed themselves? Of course not; we know they are not there yet in their growth and development. If a loved one became disabled due to disease or accident, we would appropriately adjust our expectations of their growth and development. Start with what you know and meet yourself where you are, just as nature does.

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