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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Brain and Behavior

Building a Guilt-Free Relationship with Food through Mindful Eating

The primary role of food in young children’s lives is one of sustenance. Young children tend to eat when they’re hungry and push away food when they’re full. Food is a source of nourishment and joy, one of the many joyful things life has to offer.

This role can change as children grow, depending on the messages received. Some children may be told to finish everything on their plate even if they’re full, a lesson telling them they can’t waste food. Parents may restrict eating due to what they perceive is a weight problem for their children. These children may grow up feeling shame for eating, resulting in binge behaviors or eating in secret. Children may witness unhealthy habits, eating only processed foods or having a lack of structure around eating. This can result in making poor food choices throughout their lives or a lack of moderation with eating.

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Brain and Behavior

Awareness: A Hardwired Gift and the Science Behind It

Awareness is a hardwired gift. It may cause us to frown when we see another frown, find food when our stomach growls, smile at a baby, or hold the door open for another. You may or may not remember telling yourself to do these things. You just did it, because on some level you were aware, which led to your response.

Intentionally practicing mindfulness allows us to tune into varying depths of our awareness, beyond those that are on automatic pilot. This deeper level of awareness gives us the flexibility and buoyancy to self-correct, helping us to better serve and navigate ourselves and our community.

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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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Children and Teens

3 Hard Truths about Your Dream Job You Need to Accept

You’ve been told you can achieve anything you set your mind to, right? That’s the message that’s been ingrained in us since childhood when we imagined becoming astronauts, athletes, and movie stars. Most of us come to realize that we can’t all be LeBron James or Taylor Swift -- and that we don’t want to be, anyway! As we get older, we typically outgrow these fantasies of youth and begin mapping out a career that’s aligned with our personal goals and values.

Yet, in spite of this seemingly straightforward and logical process, many people still have a number of misconceptions about what a “
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Anxiety and Panic

Mindfulness for Children

My youngest daughter has been having trouble getting to sleep in the last couple of weeks. The bedtime gratitude bodyscan I wrote really helps. It allows her to interrupt her now-habitual thoughts and place her attention on something more soothing and calming -- her body and a feeling of gratitude. It captures her imagination and provides almost instant relief and release. Many parents have told me the gratitude bodyscan is providing transformative relief for their children, too.

Tonight, I started to describe a practice my girls could use during the day, whenever they are feeling sad, angry, frustrated, worried, scared or overwhelmed. It worked well for my youngest at night, too. In fact, as I was speaking, she politely asked me if it would be OK to go to sleep. I said it would be a lovely way to go to sleep, and she promptly did so!

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General

How to Listen to Your Emotions

Listening to our emotions is vital. Emotions “seek to serve and empower us to explore the world safely and make meaning of our experience in it,” said Deb Hannaford, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Pasadena and Monrovia, Calif. Emotions are valuable sources of information. “[T]hey give us direction and help us know what we need.”

But many of us aren’t very familiar with listening to our emotions. Maybe we weren’t taught to process our emotions as kids. Maybe instead we avoid or dismiss our emotions. Maybe we’ve convinced ourselves that our emotions are inconvenient or useless at best and wrong at worst.

So how do we explore our emotions and know what they’re trying to tell us?
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Family

5 Ways to Accept Gratitude Fully

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." -- Chesterton
In a recent post John Amodeo, , wrote about the “5 Ways that Being Appreciated Nourishes Us” … “if we can only let it in fully.”

Sometimes we are trapped in our own head-space, and we just can’t let appreciation in. We’re too busy thinking about our next big project, paying the bills, remembering to call...
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Anxiety and Panic

5 Ways to Lower Your Child’s Anxiety

As a child and family therapist, the concern I hear most often is, “I think my child may have anxiety, and I’m not sure how to help.” Quite honestly, I don’t need to travel as far as my office to see the various ways anxiety affects children in today’s world. As a mom of three, I see firsthand how the world we live in today incites excessive stress in our kids.

Our children are encompassed...
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General

Differentiating the Pursuit of Excellence from Perfectionism

We want to excel in our lives -- striving for excellence in all that we do. But can we differentiate our noble pursuit of excellence from a dysfunctional desire to be perfect?

A job well done can be enormously fulfilling. It can be meaningful and pleasurable to complete a home project, excel at work, or know that we’re a person who is punctual and conscientious.

But when does our striving for excellence degenerate into the life-draining burden of perfectionism?

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General

5 Ways to Make Love Thrive

You may have discovered that despite your best intentions, you can’t control the course of love. While the experience of love is replete with awe and wonder, how to create conditions for it is not a great mystery. Rather than exhaust ourselves trying to control people, we’d be wiser to make skillful efforts to create these five conditions, culled over 35 years of being a marriage and family therapist.
Mindfulness

John Gottman, a psychologist an author of
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