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Breaking the Patterns of Dysfunction

Cutting Loose: An Adult's Guide to Coming to Terms with Your Parents" Howard M. Halpern calls the interactions that develop between the inner child in us and the inner child in our parents "songs and dances" because, he explains, they have a "repetitious, almost rhythmic, pattern. The same words, the same music and the same dance steps are performed over and over again." Writes Halpern:
There is no underestimating the difficulty in modifying the song and dance routines you have developed with your parents, but as you become aware of just what the song and dance is that you and your parents perform so ritualistically, then you can begin to change the tune. Recognizing the nuances of interactions so habitual as to be almost beyond self-observation is no easy matter, but once you see the dance you can begin to change the words, the music, and the steps.
I'm in the process right now of having to choreograph a whole new dance. And with no training as a choreographer, that's a little tough.

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Suggestions for Savoring Solitude

Many of us don’t like being by ourselves. Instead of savoring our alone time, we just feel lonely.

One of the reasons might stem from how our society views solitude. For instance, there’s the underlying pressure to be paired up, said Alison Thayer, LCPC, CEAP, a psychotherapist at Urban Balance. How often have you seen a restaurant table set for one?

Solitude even gets stigmatized in our society, said Mara Glatzel, MSW, a coach who helps women live the lives they deserve and learn to love the person they already are. “We see images of only the ‘uncool kids’ sitting alone at lunch or the ‘undesirable adults’ being those who spend their time alone, without meaningful relationships.”

This implies that “if we are alone we have done something wrong, or we haven't been included by others -- as if no one would choose to be alone,” Glatzel said. Thayer agreed, noting that “Being alone may make a person feel less desirable to others, or essentially not good enough of a person.”

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Does Video Game Addiction Fix Itself?

Video game addiction -- also known as problem video gaming -- is an issue the media loves to hype (along with "Internet addiction"). Such gaming addiction is hard to define, but like pornography, some professionals say they "know it when they see it."

One of the possible hypotheses put forth about these kinds of technology addictions back in 1999 was that what we were seeing wasn't a behavioral addiction at all. Instead, it was suggested we were seeing the predictable adaptive behaviors of humans to unfamiliar stimuli in their lives. In this case, that stimuli was entertainment technology.

Emerging evidence suggests that this may be the case. And the really good news?

Video game addiction may resolve itself on its own -- simply with time.

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Best of Our Blogs: October 26, 2012

I attended an art therapy workshop demo. The facilitator was trying out a few ideas with me, a friend and a counselor-in-training. The agenda included an art project with crayons and questions concerning our most prominent emotion. I have to say the activity surprised me. Yes my drawing skills have a lot to be desired. But what was surprising was the insight I got.

The feeling I chose was frustration. My little black and blue sketch consisted of a circle with a smiling face and few mountains covered in patterns. Unlike the others in the group, I had no preconceived idea of what frustration looked like. It's only after studying my perplexing picture that I realized I had drawn the purpose of frustration. Within the confusing scrawls of my drawing, there was a consistent pattern. I saw that the purpose of frustration was to remove the obstacles that impede our path. In doing so, in letting go of how we think things should be instead of what is we're more able to find the patterns in our own life. There is a purpose to the frustration you're feeling, but it takes courage to see it.

I'm not the only one feeling frustrated this week. You'll read how one blogger's fed up with insurance companies' disregard and discrimination against mental health coverage. Feeling frustrated yourself? Whether you're frustrated with your creativity, your inability to turn off your smart phone or overcome challenges, you'll discover your own way through it with a little insight offered here.
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The Joy of Dogs in Our Lives

What new can be said about a dog? Or 2 dogs for that matter?

There must be a trillion pictures and just as many stories about all the dogs and all the relationships they’ve had with us humans. Now they even have their own cable channel, Dog TV.

But as I was looking down at our yellow Lab mix and some version of a Border Collie lying on the floor, I had a thought. They are here, right now, living with Katie and me.

Their lives are really only a portion of ours -- yet we too often take them for granted.

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Anxiety and Panic

Why Do We Dwell in the Past?

After something stressful has occurred it would be nice if we could leave it behind and move on with our lives.  Sometimes we can.  For example, you might narrowly miss getting sideswiped by another car, feel stressed in the moment, and then shake it off and move on with your day.

But often after we’ve encountered a stressful event, say, an argument with a spouse or an important presentation at work, we continue to ruminate (have repetitive, often negative, thoughts).  These thoughts are not about active problem-solving; they are repeatedly chewing on and worrying over past events.

Why is it that sometimes we can let go of the things that stress us out and at other times, even after the event has passed and we know can’t change it or our response, we continue to be stuck thinking about it?

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5 Ways to Break Through A Creative Block

There are some days your brain seems utterly bare. Open it up, and you’d find empty candy wrappers and a few scraps of paper. Coming up with one decent idea feels unimaginable. Stringing a few lucid sentences together feels like a feat.

Whatever your profession, it’s probably safe to say that you’ve experienced a creative block -- or 10 -- before. It happens to everyone. We’re not robots. We don’t spit out ideas in seconds.

After struggling with his own bout of creative block -- while writing a piece on creative block -- Alex Cornell, a San-Francisco-based designer and musician, decided to ask for help. He emailed friends and artists for advice. That advice created a popular blog post.

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Brain and Behavior

Exercise: Nature’s Mood Enhancer

How often have you wished for a happiness drug without health or legal consequences?

Good news: Nature has built the answer into the human body. Regular exercise acts as a mood booster and happens to be good for people.

You have probably heard about the euphoria athletes often feel after sustained exertion, and perhaps you have felt your mood lift after a workout or a brisk walk. However, the exercise high doesn’t depend on long workouts.

In fact, the best results come from doing a little each day.

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Tools that Make It Easier to Manage ADHD

When you have ADHD, you might get frustrated that you don't work like everyone else. Maybe you can’t sit still for hours and listen to a lecture. Maybe you don’t learn as well from reading a book. Maybe you have trouble committing your ideas to paper.

Unfortunately, people with ADHD are usually given limited tools, such as a pen and paper, and discouraged from moving around, said David Giwerc, MCC, founder and president of the ADD Coach Academy.

But this doesn’t work for your uniquely wired brain. And that’s OK. People with ADHD don’t need to fit themselves into some box. You don’t need to work like other people. You can find tools that fit your learning style and needs -- and help you succeed.

Below, Giwerc and other ADHD experts list their favorite tools -- everything from phone apps to computer software.

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Introducing Therapy That Works

Psychotherapy is as effective -- and in many cases, more effective -- than medications. Yet psychotherapy remains on the decline, while people run to their pharmacy to fill their psychiatric scripts.

Despite the progress we’ve made over the past two decades to help people better understand psychotherapy -- what it is, how it works, and why it’s effective for some but not for others -- there are still a lot of misconceptions about therapy.

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3 Keys to a Strong Relationship

All strong relationships have three things in common, according to Meredith Hansen, Psy.D, a psychologist and relationship expert: trust, commitment and vulnerability.

“Trust allows a couple to know that their partner is there for them, truly cares about them, is coming from a good place, and supports them,” she said.

It means keeping your word and putting your relationship first, especially when you’re confronting a decision that might compromise it, she said.

A minor example of following through is calling your spouse to tell them you’re safe if they worry when you’re running late, she said. And it means “demonstrating good character,” she said.

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Best of Our Blogs: October 23, 2012

I met a woman recently who said she had a general "okayness" about the world. She meant that no matter what happened to her, she knew she would land safely back on her feet. This held true regardless of circumstance and people convincing her otherwise. I wondered what it would be like if I felt this way and the repercussions of the world if we all felt okay. Would we take more risks, endure more uncertainty, and be more apt to face our fears?
"I will always have fears, but I need not be my fears, for I have other places within myself from which to speak and act." -Parker J. Palmer
There are many opportunities in life to test our resilience, venture outside our comfort zones and make significant positive changes to our future. If you are a worrywart, you can learn how to live with more ease. If you have ADHD, you can gain the tools and support you need to function despite any symptom setbacks. The information you receive by being open, reading our posts below, and by taking a risk in re-learning who you are and what you're capable of are extremely valuable in getting to those "other places within" yourself that Parker J. Palmer speaks of. You are your best advocate and a powerful instigator of change. Sometimes you just need the knowledge to help you get started. Let these posts on dreams, neurons, worrying, introversion and ADHD begin the process toward a more authentic, healthier you.
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