Brain and Behavior

4 Tips for Feeling Successful

"If I try to fail and succeed, which have I done?" - Anonymous
I use the above quote with my college students. I try to challenge them to look at life from a different perspective. In challenging our perspectives I am not merely playing semantics -- I firmly believe that words actually do hold meaning. Words have the power to affect our emotions. By challenging ourselves to look at our own definitions from a new perspective, we have the ability to change how we feel.

How I define success influences how I feel about myself. Many of us have culturally learned that success is defined by tangible goods and wealth. We hear expressions such as “If I have more things than someone else, I am successful” or “if I have a title or initials after my name, I am successful.” Does someone else's level of success negate my perceived level of success? In other words, is one's success defined in relation to another's accomplishments?

Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Compassion Fatigue in the Animal Welfare Community

Before becoming a psychotherapist, I had a career in animal welfare. I’ve worn both the boots and the sandals -- that’s jargon for working on the law enforcement side and the shelter side -- and I’ve seen my fair share of trauma.

Whether you’re a humane officer or a shelter volunteer, a vet tech or an animal rights activist, you have likely seen, heard about, or experienced things that most people can’t even begin to understand. Long-term exposure to abuse and neglect, euthanasia, and grief-stricken clients not only can affect your work productivity and satisfaction, but it can also wear on you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you feel like you care so much that it hurts, you may be struggling with compassion fatigue.
Continue Reading

Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

How the Media Affects Body Image

Body image is the way we perceive ourselves when we look in the mirror. We imagine ourselves to look and act a certain way, even though we may look and act differently to those around us.

Someone has a positive body image if he or she is attuned to the reality of his or her physical shape and size. This person fully understands his or her weight, the form of his or her body (from curves to wrinkles), and the way his or her body moves and functions.

Continue Reading

Anger

How to Neutralize Emotions

There has been a lot of discussion on all sides regarding “emotion processing” and how to successfully handle what are coined as “negative emotions.” In the Pixar film "Inside Out," a few different emotions are cleverly assigned individual personas so that children (and adults) can interact with them in a tangible way.

So what are we to do with negative emotions? Which ones are they? They are broadly defined as sadness, anger, bitterness, greed, hate, jealousy, fear or anything that makes one feel bad about themselves. So when an unsavory emotion surfaces and it starts to cause you guilt, what do you do with it?

Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Mind Games

What does your morning shower feel like?

“Come again, Matt?”

Yes, what does your morning shower feel like?

“Why? Before work, I typically hop in and hop out. Can’t be late for boss -- he’s a real jerk. I rinse off in 10 minutes. Why? Are you planning on opening a Turkish bathhouse?” you snidely remark.

Not quite. But I am interested in washing away the incessant worry that pervades our daily lives. That humming cacophony drains us, greying life’s days.
Continue Reading

General

The Commitment Conundrum: What It Takes to Create Lasting Love

If there’s a single word that stirs up deep emotions, it’s “commitment.” While some desperately seek it, others run the other way. What is it about commitment that is so appealing to some, while striking fear into the hearts of others? Can we revision commitment in a way that frees us rather than traps us?

Those seeking commitment want to know that their partner is taking the relationship seriously. Research that forms the basis for Attachment Theory tells us that we’re wired with a longing for safety and security. When I need you, I want to know you’re there. It would seem that making a commitment to the relationship might assure mutual security. But sadly, divorce statistics reveal that however seriously we may commit ourselves to a partnership, they oftentimes don't work out

Continue Reading

Anger

5 Proven Ways to Avoid Losing Your Cool at Work

At one point or another, we’ve all felt totally irritated while at work: You pull an all-nighter on a project that then gets scrapped; a client criticizes your team for no apparent reason, or your co-worker shows up late for a meeting again, dumping all the prep work on you.
These office aggravations can make your blood boil. Your focus is immediately hijacked from the important task at hand. Instead, your mind goes into fight-or-flight mode and you become reactionary; not thinking clearly, blaming others, or beating yourself up for getting upset. In this state, you’re prone to making poor judgements and saying things you may regret later.
Continue Reading

Friends

Hushed Tones Speak Loudly

When we communicate with other people we have the choice to speak, listen, respond, or be silent. We choose to talk in loud, moderate, or hushed tones. Depending on the content and context of our dialogues and how we feel about the person or subject, we share with some degree of forcefulness or gentleness.

While speaking in loud tones produces immediate attention, speaking in hushed tones does not minimize. In fact, often it maximizes the attention given to the speaker or the topic at hand. It is a powerful tool to quiet one’s voice when revealing something serious or important. Speaking quietly works well when sharing something private or personal, when teaching a child self-control and listening skills, and when making a strong point without fanfare or volume.

Continue Reading

Anger

The 5 Most Damaging Things You Can Do to Your Relationship

What’s the most damaging thing you can do to your relationship? Right away, most people would probably say infidelity. But cheating is far from the only way we feel betrayed. There are a lot of other behaviors that harm relationships. The scary thing? They’re much easier to do, and much harder to notice, than infidelity. Read on to find out what they are and how to avoid them.

1....

Continue Reading

Addiction

Hitting Rock Bottom: Some, Not All

Hitting rock bottom is a phrase I hear all the time when people talk about addiction. “She needs to hit rock bottom to stop drinking.” “Once he hits rock bottom, he will realize the damage that drugs have caused.” “After they hit rock bottom, they will understand how negatively addiction has affected their careers, finances, and families.” These are common phrases I hear when people talk about friends, family, or acquaintances with addiction.

Yet, what does it mean to hit rock bottom? Literally speaking, it means someone has fallen so far -- perhaps off a cliff -- that they have hit the ground. Metaphorically, hitting rock bottom describes a point in one’s life when they reach a definite low as a result of addiction problems. People generally see it as the lowest point possible, an epiphanic moment or process where one becomes cognizant of their addiction’s destructive nature. This point may be financial, emotional, physical, social, or spiritual.

Continue Reading

Anger

The Reason Children Misbehave

You and I are adults; we talk like adults, use deductive reasoning, think about consequences for our actions, and make informed decisions based on facts (most of the time). Adults aren't always wonderfully smart, though. We can, and often do, fall prey to the “little adult syndrome” when dealing with children, especially when they’re misbehaving.

Working with children day in and day out provides me a fantastic perspective and a look into who they really are. Sometimes they’re wonderful angels sent from heaven to remind us of the beauty in life. Sometimes they’re tiny emotional vampires just waiting for us to look away so they can pounce on our weak point. Most of the time they're somewhere in between.

Continue Reading