Brain and Behavior

Treatment’s Toughest Assignment

“Just this one Netflix episode. I mean, it is Game of Thrones.”

Or “I can spend another five minutes surfing ESPN.com.”

We stall before delving into an unpleasant task. We search for discounted shoes, binge watch reality TV, and devour Ben & Jerry on dreary Tuesday nights. On Thursday nights, we devote two hours to adorable puppy cams and addictive Friends reruns. And don’t ask about Wednesday nights -- after a draining day at work, we slam the apartment door and collapse on the couch.

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Bulimia

The Healing Power in Doing What Scares You

While volunteering at a Los Angeles animal shelter, I met a brindle, 10-month-old pit bull named Sunny. She was so skinny that even her shadow looked bony, and her tail looked like it had been chopped in half and then stomped on in three places. Yet despite her dire circumstances, a joyful energy moved through her. Every time I slipped inside her kennel, she came barreling into my arms and sprawled across my lap, her whole body wagging along with her stub tail.

The outdoor kennels gave the dogs little relief from scorching summer sun. Sunny often panted with saliva dripping from her mouth, and I knew she was excruciatingly thirsty. Sometimes she approached her water bowl, but then would back away with her ears flattened on top of her head. And soon enough I realized what she was afraid of: her reflection. Sunny's body told her to drink, but her mind told her a scary, dangerous dog was in her way.

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General

Squashing Self-Criticism

I strive to use mindfulness in all facets of my living and being. For me, the most beautiful and valuable gift that mindfulness offers is permission to receive, and to let go, repeatedly, particularly of my self-criticism. This helps me stay connected to the good, rather than the critical parts of myself. It helps me to experience my wholeness, and the wholeness of human nature, of which I am a part. This breeds contentment within, allowing me to be more authentic with self and others.

Many of us are conditioned to acquire, or be in constant pursuit of things, feelings or status. Often we feel less equipped to honor and navigate loss in our lives. Mindfulness creates a larger space for joy, making it easier to find in times of struggle.

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Brain and Behavior

Psychology Around the Net: June 11, 2016


Earlier this week, I experienced an episode of sleep paralysis. It wasn't my first time (though I've experienced it only a handful of times at most), but it was definitely the most terrifying time. I was exhausted and decided to take a quick midday nap...only, when I tried to wake up, not only could I not move, but I couldn't keep my eyes open for longer than a second.

During that second I could keep them open? I hallucinated a creepy, hunchbacked old man pilfering around my living room and sheer panic took over.

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Anxiety and Panic

Walk, Don’t Rush, to Judgment

"Why isn’t my date texting me? I thought she had a good time. I mean, we had fun, didn’t we?”

You check your phone again. Once again, your smiling visage greets you. No text, Facebook message, or InstaPic of you and your date.

As your anxiety marinates, you instinctively check your phone. Nothing. Still. You call her again; the call buzzes to voicemail.

Now panicked, emotion overtakes logic. Four times. Six times. Your voice rising, anxiety coats your messages. “Hello, this is (insert name). I just wanted to check in. The date was fun -- call me when you get this.”
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Depression

Don’t Be Afraid to Be a Difficult Patient

One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is the one where Elaine snoops inside her medical chart and reads “patient is difficult.”

The doctor takes a look at her rash and says, “Well, this doesn’t look serious,” and writes something in the chart.

“What are you writing?” she asks.

He sneers and walks out the door.

Wanting a fresh start, she goes to see another doctor, and realizes her chart follows her there. The new doctor greets her warmly until he reads the comments.

He glances at her arm and says impatiently, “This doesn’t look serious.”

“But it really itches,” she complains.
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Family

Handling New Responsibilities

At some point in time, we all face new and challenging responsibilities. It may be for work, for our family, or even for the sake of living on this planet with 7 billion other people.

These responsibilities can encompass small everyday things -- brushing our teeth, putting on clean clothes, taking showers, or eating dinner -- or special occasions -- buying gifts and sending thank you notes to loved ones on their birthdays. They can be boring and tedious like finishing up a report for work or attending that meeting that you really don’t want to go to.

The point is we all face responsibilities we’d rather not. The alarm goes off in the morning and we're filled with hesitation.
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General

Good Communication with Your Partner

What does healthy communication look like? Yelling is ineffective. Noncommunication -- giving the cold shoulder or ignoring him or her -- is a means of communication. According to a 2013 Huffington Post survey, poor communcation is the No. 1 reason for divorce. Here are a few tips that might help you and your partner improve your communication.

Listening


Use active listening. Try to concentrate. Try to understand what your partner is communicating to you. If you do not understand what your partner is saying and feeling, the two of you will not make any progress.

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Caregivers

A Parent’s Unconditional Love

When you become a parent, the one thing you can always count on is the constancy of change and adaptation in your life. You learn as you go and follow what feels right to you. You soon see as your child grows into themselves that you are continuously exploring unknown territory. Like discovering a new frontier or remote solar system, you realize the lay of the land and it is specific to each child.

You bring your personal history and aptitudes (or inaptitude) with you when you parent. The interpersonal journey of caring for another human being reflects much more than simply caring for another. It requires great potential for personal and relationship growth. You learn volumes and keep on learning as a result of the experience of caregiving over time.
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Brain and Behavior

Psychology Around the Net: June 4, 2016


Last Friday, I went to another Dave Matthews Band concert. I know what you're thinking: "Three DMB concerts in one month?!" Well, considering they're my favorite band and they're going on a break next summer, I have to get it while the gettin's good, right?

However, last Friday's trip wasn't planned; it was completely spontaneous. While I was finishing up some work, I received a message from a friend who couldn't make the show and had two free tickets for me if I wanted them.

The show was almost five hours away, meaning I had about an hour to get ready, get packed, and get on the road.

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Anger

How to Heal After an Abusive Relationship

If you’ve recently gotten out of an abusive relationship or are considering doing so, your sense of self has likely been altered -- or even destroyed. So, too, have your feelings of safety and your ability to trust others.

You can and will regain these things, but it will take time. This is likely one of the hardest things you will ever do, so be patient with yourself. You can move on...
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Brain and Behavior

The Key to Success? Not Comparing Yourself to Others

The grass is always greener. I’ve been there, scrolling through newsfeeds on social media, talking to friends, seeing successful people all over the place. That's when the feeling starts to creep in that I’m not good enough, that I’m not motivated enough, that I need to do better.

It seems like we focus on the people who appear to be doing better than we are, instead of focusing on ourselves or those who may be struggling the most.

I think, "If I could just do what that guy is doing I’d have enough money to buy a house, to live comfortably for the rest of my days, and my worries would be over."
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