Brain and Behavior

Family Constellation Work

For all of us who have experienced family life and its impact, with all of its places of light and darkness, there is a wonderful group process that fosters present-day healing. It is called family constellation work and is a day-long workshop run by a trained facilitator.

Family constellation workshops were started by Dr. Bert Hellinger, a family therapist from Germany, and are now available worldwide. Participants target an area of their present life that needs clarity, resolution, or healing. It does not have to relate to family history, nor are the processes always related to the family of origin.

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General

How Do You Know that You’re with the Right Person?

At some point in most relationships, people ask themselves the same question, "Is this one the right person for me?" Whether you're brand new or seven years in, it's an inevitable question.

The question isn't necessarily born out of doubt or insecurity. It can be a normal, healthy skepticism to try and balance out your romantic, attachment feelings for your significant other. We may love someone immensely, but still not be compatible with him or her in the long-term.

So how do you know you're with the right person? How do you know your love will stand the test of time?

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General

Self-Care: Living Life According to Your Values

Self-care isn’t a list of activities. Take a bubble bath. Take a walk. Take a dance class. Practice yoga. Get a manicure. Get a massage. Meditate. Listen to music. Light candles. Sleep in.

It’s not that these activities are insignificant. Rather, self-care is most meaningful when it’s connected to your values. In fact, that’s how clinical psychologist Erin Olivo, , MPH, defines self-care: “living your life according to your values.” Self-care is...
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Bullying

Community Building After Tragedy

My satirical policy recommendation: Bowling in every street.

You chuckle. But, in the States, we are striking out at the type of grassroots events that bind neighborhoods into communities and transform wary strangers into community leaders.

Robert Putnam’s book is more apropos than ever. In his bestselling Bowling Alone, he tackles the decline of social institutions. We don’t bowl together or host neighborhood parties. Our social connectivity is now through virtual platforms.
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General

10 Ways to Get Back to Winning

Winning isn’t everything, but it does feel good. If you’ve been going through a rough patch, losing more than you succeed, you might think this is a permanent situation. It doesn’t have to be, but you do need to be a little proactive to switch things up and make the necessary changes. Here are 10 suggestions for doing just that:

1. You have to want it.

Wishing things were better won’t get it done. No matter what your idea of winning is, you have to want it more than anything in order for it to have any possibility of becoming reality.
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Anger

How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Us

The statistics are alarming. From 2009 to 2014, the number of girls between the ages of 10 and 17 hospitalized for intentionally cutting or poisoning themselves has more than doubled. This isn't the first time I'm reading about this. But it's certainly time to talk about it.

In my work with inherited family trauma, when I see a child who injures herself, I've learned to probe into the family history. The self-injurer could well be reliving aspects of a trauma she inherited from her parents or grandparents, though this is not always the case. Self-injurious behaviors can arise for other reasons as well.

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Brain and Behavior

Squeezing a Rubber Ball May Boost Creative Thinking

Psychological research suggests a simple brain hack for temporarily boosting creativity and all it requires is a rubber ball. The technique itself is extremely simple: all you have to do is squeeze a rubber ball with your left hand as hard as you can for about a minute.

An original study on this technique by four Israeli researchers (Goldstein et al., 2010) found that subjects who squeezed a rubber ball with their left hand solved noticeably more problems on a remote associates test, a standard test of convergent thinking. This form of creative thinking, usually contrasted with divergent thinking, is most useful for “connecting the dots:” combining existing information, comparing and juggling ideas, solving problems with some specified criteria, or extracting ideas from other information. A lot of real-world innovation or typical business problem-solving depends heavily on convergent thinking.

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Books

Going Back to Work After Having a Baby

The last thing you might want to do is go back to work after having your baby. Your maternity leave was likely too short. And it’s very likely you’re still exhausted -- and very upset to be leaving your little one.

According to Allyson Downey in her information-packed book, Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenting, one woman said: “I felt like I was leaving a part of my soul at daycare every day.” Another woman’s husband had to drop their baby off at daycare because, if she did, she’d be a wreck the entire day.

Or maybe you’re more than ready to return to your job. Maybe you’re even excited because you’ve missed working and you loved your work (or you need to get out of the house -- whatever the reason). Either way, there’s a lot to figure out and some challenges to navigate.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

The Surprising Role of Nutrition in Mental Health

If you’ve been reading my blog for a month or more, you know that I have found nutrition to be a powerful force in my recovery from depression. Since 2008, I haven’t responded to medications or have had only a minimal, partial response, so I have been on a mission -- for myself and for the millions of other people with treatment-resistant depression -- to find other, drug-free ways to lift debilitating depression.

Recently I have been following the research of
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Bullying

The Hidden Face of Mental Illness

It breaks my heart every time I see it. A morning scroll through my newsfeed only to find a GoFundMe posting for funeral services of someone I knew in high school. Sometimes it's drugs, other times, suicide. Tragedies that could’ve been avoidable. People taken too young, too fast, too soon.

Every time I see their faces, I think back to what I may have thought of them in high school. Was I mean? Did I make fun of them behind their back? Did I avoid them? Was I nice? After all these years, I can’t really remember. Though I know I did my best to treat people with kindness and respect, it’s possible I joined in on the judgments or comments others around me made.

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Inspiration & Hope

Video: If Therapy Doesn’t Work, Try Again

Going to see a therapist is a little different than going to see a dentist. And not just because a responsible therapist will never dose you with laughing gas.
When you get a tooth pulled, it's generally a one-off thing. You wouldn't shop around at different dentists to see who does the best job pulling out your tooth. If your first dentist botches the job and only gets the tooth pulled out partway, you wouldn't simply head on down the street to the next dentist to try again.
But therapy is more complicated. Getting your psychological "teeth" pulled is more of a drawn-out, imperfect, subtle process. And therapists are professionals, but they're also humans.
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Anxiety and Panic

4 Things That Hurt Your Thinking & Keep You Stuck

It's easy to get stuck in life. Most of us have experienced this feeling of "stuckness" at one time or another, feeling that despite everything we try and do, we can't move forward in our life.

One characteristic of being stuck is that our brain doesn't move forward. While our brain is nothing like a computer processor (which can handle millions of instructions per second), it does have a set, finite capacity of our attention. It can't be thinking of a hundred things all at once and attend to them all equally.

With a limited attention span and "brain cycles," what kinds of things can bring our brains -- and our lives -- to a screeching halt?

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