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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Friends

The 7 Habits of Socially Connected People

Some people may be naturally gregarious and easily find themselves socially connected. For most of us, feeling truly integrated into a social scene takes some effort. Luckily, there are predictable patterns to social success. Do certain things, and people will be drawn to you.

Below are seven skills that all socially successful people possess:

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Depression

Making Sense of the 2016 Depression Screening Guidelines

As it did in 2002 and again in 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has once again recommended that primary care physicians and family doctors routinely screen for clinical depression in their patients. Why? Because undiagnosed and untreated depression remains one of the greatest public health problems of modern times.

For the first time ever, the new guidelines also recommend that screenings be conducted during and after pregnancy, as many women are susceptible to postpartum depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression can crop up not only after birth, but also during a mom's pregnancy.

What do these new depression screening guidelines mean for you?

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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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Anxiety and Panic

Finding the Illusive Optimism Hidden Inside Us All

"Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them." -- Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD)
In the film “Adaptation,” stressed-out screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has a twin brother, Donald, who’s seemingly perfect. He’s everything Charlie’s not. No, Donald’s not the most handsome or successful guy in the world. What Donald has in spades is optimism.

He’s not afraid to try something new and he’s no stranger to failure. He’s not defined by how others perceive him, and he doesn’t let their opinions hold him back. He doesn’t anticipate the worst-case scenario, so he doesn’t live his life paralyzed by what-ifs.
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General

How Do You Use Your Limited Time & Brain Cycles?

There's a meme that started way back in 2007 talking about a professor who fills up a jar full of golf balls, pebbles, and sand to demonstrate that you should fill your life with the important things first (the larger golf balls), so that the little things (the pebbles and sand) don't take up all the room in your life (the jar).

There's a reason memes become popular and get shared online -- because there is some kind of universal truth connected to them that people recognize. This clever story of a jar and golf balls is just such a meme.

You have a very short time on this planet -- much shorter than you realize when you take into account the tens of thousands of years of civilization before you were born, and the likely tens of thousands of years in the future. How are you going to spend that time? What kind of things will you spend most days focusing on -- the little, useless things, or the bigger, meaningful stuff?

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General

Be SMART and Avoid Failing at New Year’s Resolutions

Do you know people who have a hard time maintaining their big New Year's goals past February? Who are the people around you who joke, "Yeah, I made a resolution to lose weight, but then Valentine's Day came around." Or "I made a resolution to quit smoking, but then I needed a break at work."

If making and sticking to goals is hard for you, it does not mean that you are helpless, hopeless, or should give up trying. Far too many people make goals that are too big, too general, way too difficult, and without any tracking tools. People tend to create large, grandiose, long-term goals with no short-terms goals to guide the process. Follow the SMART method below to reach your resolutions for 2016.
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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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General

New Year’s and Values

In Hamlet, cranky Polonius gives his son Laertes, who is about to venture out into the world, this advice: "This above all, to thine own self be true." (As it happens, it is ironic advice, as Polonius himself is duplicitous and rarely shows the self-awareness he wants his son to embrace.) Deep down, what Shakespeare is getting at is that you need not to be afraid to know yourself and accept yourself, flaws and all.

I'm not a big one for New Year's resolutions, but this past New Year's I had what I call a New Year's revelation. Taking time out to disconnect and detox, I realized what happens when you fight feelings of anxiety and vulnerability and are not being your true self. When you shut those feelings off, you are disconnected from that which brings meaning to your life.

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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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Ethics & Morality

Buddhism, Spirituality & Dependency

Recently I attended a six-day Zen meditation retreat (sesshin in Japanese) which included the celebration of Rohatsu on December 8. Rohatsu is said to be the day that Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, came to his great enlightenment.

As a couples therapist and student of attachment theory, I cannot deny what seem to be inherent contradictions of this spiritual path and current research on healthy dependency. First, Siddhartha left his home, his wife, his newborn, his parents, and his duties as a prince to go alone on a spiritual quest. Accounts also say that he left at night and did not say goodbye to his wife or see his newborn son.

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