Family

Coping When You Have a Narcissistic Parent

Jaci came to see me one month before the christening of her niece, for whom she was honored to be named godmother.

Jaci could turn off the familiar anxiety video playing in her head. This is what Jaci imagined would happen at the christening, given her past experience with her narcissistic mother, Betsy.

Jaci would be taking with friends and family at the party after the service, having successfully avoided her mother’s company at church. She’d be feeling happy. It would be a joy to hold the baby and know her sister trusted her to be godmother. Then, Betsy appears at her side, cutting into the conversation.
Continue Reading

Books

Getting to Know Your 3 Brains Part 5: The Challenges to Becoming Aware

Read more about getting to know your three brains: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

For most of us, at least initially, there exists an uphill battle to pay attention to our three brains -- even though it is ultimately very good for us. Since the foremost goal of humans (from an evolutionary standpoint) is to survive external danger, we are biased to attend to the external world. Looking inside takes willfulness.

Yet, we know that when our Self is aware of our three brains and “talks” to them, all of us think, feel and function better. Why then, do so many people continue to suffer when working with the three brains could help? Many good reasons!
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Two Ways to Put the Brakes on Your Anxiety

Our human instinct is to react and push back when we feel pain and discomfort. When we struggle with anxiety, those feelings are magnified. Our inherent response is to try and get rid of unpleasant feelings and sensations immediately. But does it really work?

This is an important question, and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) teaches that fighting the discomfort can actually make the situation worse. Mental health providers practicing ACT often use the quicksand metaphor, and the reaction we naturally would have if we were ever caught in it. Even though we know it makes matters worse when we panic and try to get out quickly, our survival mechanisms tell us differently.
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

How to Cope with the Stress of High School

"Remember that awful feeling that last day of summer vacation before the first day of school?" His question was like a fart at a funeral and roused me from my previously relaxed summer drowse.

A long slumbering dragon in the cave of my gut, released a combination of indigestion and a feeling that can I only describe with the word “blech.” Only in all caps and much longer.

The end of lazy hot long days and the beginning of what seemed like just like long days... trapped in a windowless classroom.
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

4 Hidden Ways Shame Operates

Shame is the painful sense of being flawed or defective. It is so painful to experience this toxic shame that we may find ways to avoid feeling it. Shame is more destructive when it operates secretly.

Here are some common ways that I’ve observed shame operating in many of my psychotherapy clients. Being mindful of the shame that lives inside us is the first step toward healing it and affirming ourselves more deeply.
Continue Reading

General

9 Ways to Increase Your Inner Happiness Reserve

According to a recent study published earlier this year in the journal of Happiness Studies, people who rate themselves as the happiest are more likely to share a certain gene. Despite the findings of this study, can it be as simple as that? One’s emotional state or temperament cannot just be boiled down strictly to one’s DNA. That being said, since one might not be able to control their genetic blueprint, there are a myriad of important factors in one’s own life, like their environment, and personal life choices/outlook that can increase or decrease one's satisfaction in life.

A few are mentioned below. Work to cultivate these traits on a daily basis. Doing so can trump any potential deficiencies in your happiness trait(s) that you might be born with.
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

7 Ways to Cultivate Calm and Practice Self-Care

Some of us have a hard time relaxing. A very hard time. Maybe our minds race and rarely stop. I still need to finish those tasks on my list. What about that other thing? I can’t relax now, I need to wash the dishes, dust, fold the laundry, sweep, pay the bills, fix that problem and…Maybe our bodies are tense and tend to be on high alert. Often.

But we don’t have to resign ourselves to feeling on edge all the time or most of the time. We don’t have to resign ourselves to not being unable to unwind or breathe a sigh of relief. Regularly. We can cultivate calm by practicing a variety of healthy techniques.
Continue Reading

Addiction

7 Recovery Mantras for Your Sobriety Journey


Nothing changes if nothing changes. Sometimes I’m still baffled by the fact that this didn’t resonate with me the first time I heard it.

When I stumbled my way into the world of recovery, I was met with many words of wisdom from people with good intentions. At the time it frustrated me, as these sayings about sobriety did not seem to ring true for me. They sounded too grateful and enthusiastic, and I was not in a place to be grateful or enthusiastic. I was angry at the world and resistant to recovery. I was early in my sobriety and had yet to realize what it had to offer.

Continue Reading

Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

There’s a Best Time to Talk to Your Therapist — And That Time Is Specific to You

You’re likely aware that your energy and your mood shift throughout the day. Have you ever noticed you also have preferences for certain activities at certain times? You like to wake around the same time in the mornings. Exercise feels best at the same time, day after day. Your appetite follows a daily pattern, too, as do your desire for sex and physical intimacy.

The body’s bio rhythms regulate much of how we feel and what we do. The bio clock that keeps these rhythms in sync runs a little differently from one person to the next. These individual differences in bio time result in preferences for morning or evening activity, or something in between. (That’s why you like to rise with the sun and your partner hits the snooze button five times. Or vice-versa.)
Continue Reading

General

Why We Can’t Accept Ourselves — and Small Steps to Start

There are all sorts of obstacles that stop us from accepting ourselves. For starters, it might be a combination of scarce self-knowledge and wounds from our past, said Alexis Marson, LMFT, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with individuals, couples, families and children.

We often lack knowledge and awareness about our emotions. And the most damaging past wounds tend to stem from our caregivers. Marson shared this example: You feel angry and interpret your parents as disconnecting from you. You do everything you can to dismiss or ignore your anger so you can maintain the connection. “If we've cut off our ability to feel anger, we aren't aware of that part of our self. You cannot accept something you don't even know is there.”
Continue Reading

General

7 Ways to Honor Yourself Every Day

We can think of honoring ourselves in many different ways. Therapist Lisa Neuweg, LCPC, defines it as “accepting all parts of ourselves: “the good and bad, the perfect and imperfect, the disappointments and triumphs.” According to somatic psychotherapist Lisa McCrohan, MSW, given our current culture, it means living our lives around what’s most sacred or important to us -- instead of based on “the time on the clock.”

For self-acceptance and self-love coach Miri Klements it means being honest with herself and acknowledging what is true for her. It means treating herself with compassion, understanding, gentleness, acceptance and love.
Continue Reading

Mental Health and Wellness

When Everyday Is Game Day: How to Manage Distressing Thoughts

Thank you, Lee Corso.

Lee Corso, for the football uninformed, is the doddering analyst for ESPN’s College Gameday.

Specializing in well-worn cliches -- with the occasional insight, Corso raptures poetic about grit, tenacity, and toughness.

“Wow, they really wanted it,” Corso gushes about a ballyhooed team. As the ESPN highlights roll on, an ebullient player appears on your plasma screen. He barks into the camera, “We just wanted it more. We were flat-out tougher!”
Continue Reading