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Introducing the NLP Discoveries Blog

What is NLP? NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

According to our friend, Mike Bundrant (who is an NLP practitioner and author of this new blog on the topic), NLP “is a grass roots personal and professional development movement that began in the early 1970′s when a small group of college students in Santa Barbara set out to discover the structure of subjective experience. This group of brilliant and curious souls, led by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, soon discovered a unique way of approaching how the mind works. The NLP models that resulted from exploring subjectivity constitute a singular contribution to the field of psychology and personal development.”

NLP is focused on the three components that comprise human experience -- neurology or neuropsychology (the brain) and language, and the interaction between the two (the “programming” part).

Most modern practitioners of NLP simply see it as a pragmatic way of looking at human behavior and emotions.

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Men in Uniform and Women’s Psyches

My friend and I are always bonding over our love for guys in plaid shirts. I don’t know what it is, but the trademark print definitely induces a soft spot and brings smiles. Maybe it alludes to a down-to-earth persona, or an overall feeling of coziness?

In any case, that train of thought got us to thinking about the allure of certain attire and how it can influence impressions (whether we’re conscious of it or not).

A classic example is men in uniform, and since I’ve experienced Fleet Week in New York City, I can pretty much attest to this (rather universal) theory.

So what are the psychological implications of men in uniform?

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Moving from What’s Wrong to What’s Strong: Introducing Positive Psychotherapy (PPT)

Traditional psychotherapy focuses on helping clients through symptom reduction. This means that when the indicators for therapy fade away, the therapy is considered successful.

But there is a new perspective emerging as to what psychotherapy can offer. Positive psychotherapy (PPT) is a strengths-based approach that is directly aimed at offering a more comprehensive perspective of a client and his or her life circumstances. It is becoming known as an evidence-based standpoint that explores both strengths and weaknesses to achieve greater well-being and functioning.

We are moving from looking at what is wrong to looking at what is strong.

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8 Ways to Interrupt an Incessant Talker

Once they open their mouths, some folks don’t know how to shut them. They seem unable to differentiate monologue from dialogue, dissertation from conversation, minutiae from significant details.

When you’re in such a "conversation," you may initially think of yourself as a good listener. However, it’s not long before you realize that you’ve become the captive audience for one who will drone on and on for as long as you allow it to happen.

Giving indirect hints that "enough is enough" usually doesn’t work. Hence, in such situations, you not only have a right to interrupt, you also have an obligation to do so to maintain your sanity.

So how do you do it without coming across as rude?

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You Can’t Always See Suicidal Intent

When someone famous -- in this case, a technologist -- takes their own life, a lot of hand-wringing and second-guessing occurs. It's called survivor guilt, and virtually anyone who's ever known someone who's died by suicide has gone through it.

"Why didn't I see the signs?"

"Why didn't I just listen more?"

"Why didn't I just reach out and ask him if he needed some help?"

The list of unanswerable questions is never-ending.

But here's the thing -- you can't always see suicidal intent. You can review all the checklists and warning signs in the world, but if a suicidal person is clever and dedicated enough to his or her goal, you'll never see it coming.

Because feeling suicidal isn't the same as when someone cries when they've physically hurt themselves. The crying, if done at all, is done on the inside -- far removed from everyday life.

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Does Playing ‘Hard to Get’ Work?

I’m sure every woman involved in the dating scene has, at one time or another, heard the concept of “playing hard to get.”

In order to make a guy really want to pursue her, a woman has to pretend to be unavailable (even though she's not) and start a good old-fashioned cat-and-mouse chase. She tries not to let him know she’s that interested with those obvious cues, she lays low with communication and dodges messages until he has an epiphany.

You may find this hard to believe, but there's research to suggest this actually works.

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Vision Through Darkness

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”

This is one of my favorite Dr. Martin Luther King quotes. It is remarkable, in part, because it was penned by a man whose vision for a more equitable society continues to illuminate the dark corners of racism and injustice 45 years after his death.

Yet he could also write about shadows, those things that are hidden, and those things that are unknown to us.

The places of unknowingness, those times when we cannot see -- they are crucial to the practice of psychotherapy.

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Does a Red Pen Matter When Grading?

We take a lot of traditions for granted, and rarely think to ask questions about not only why we do something a particular way, but whether that something actually works or is good.

Take, for example, the lowly red marking pen.

Long used by teachers, professors, copyeditors and others to highlight wrong answers or problems that need correcting on a paper, a test, or something else submitted for approval, the red pen has been ubiquitous.

But red is an emotional color. People respond strongly to it, either negatively or positively. So using it can evoke unintended emotions where none are required (or worse, interfere with the feedback loop).

So does the color red interfere with feedback in the real world, when professors are grading college papers? Let's find out.

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Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: January 25, 2013

How many times have you worked yourself into a panic only to realize later that what you were worried about never happened? Yep, we're all guilty of it because most of the time we're on autopilot. The mind's constant chatter drives our thoughts and behaviors. If we don't pay attention, it can get the best of us.

This morning, for example, I woke up not in blissful transition from restful sleep, but in panic. My mind raced with things I needed to do, with worries built up from yesterday and the fear of the unknown resting heavily on my shoulders. Like a TV station constantly streaming the news, it jumped from one concern to another with no silly commercial breaks to lighten the load. It was my morning meditation CD that snapped me out of it. Focusing on the sound of the speaker's voice, I was pulled out of my own thoughts. I realized my life was not falling down around me. My life was right here in this moment lying in bed, safe and sound.

You need only pay attention to witness how your thoughts are running/ruining your life. If you've been in a flurry of stress and chaos lately, I recommend you read our first post. It's an easy way to get you out of your head and back to the comforts of the here and now. Also, if you've noticed you're a lot more stressed today than you were years ago, you'll appreciate our post on the internet's impact on stress and anxiety. If you're like me, the constant stream of news via the media doesn't do much to help cultivate a sense of peace in your life. But not to worry, our posts this week should help.
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7 Reasons Why Photographs Can Boost Your Happiness

Photographs are such a joy, and I don’t know about you, but I’m much more focused on taking photographs now that cameras and phones have evolved to make taking photos so much easier. I used to begrudge the time that I spent on photos, but now I realize the role they can play in happiness.

1. Photos remind us of the people, places, and activities we love.

Many people keep photos in their homes, in their office, or in their wallet, and happy families tend to display large numbers of photos at home. In Happier at Home, I write about my “shrine to my family” made of photographs.

2. Photos help us remember the past.

One of the best ways to make yourself happy in the present is to recall happy times from the past. Photos are a great memory-prompt, and because we tend to take photos of happy occasions, they weight our memories to the good.

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A Pep Talk for Those With Treatment-Resistant Depression

In his book, Understanding Depression: What We Know And What You Can Do About It, J. Raymond DePaulo Jr., M.D. asserts that for the 20 percent of his patients who are more difficult to treat, or “treatment-resistant,” he sets an 80 percent improvement, 80 percent of the time goal. And he usually accomplishes that.

Now, if you’re not someone who has struggled with chronic depression, those stats won’t warrant a happy dance.

But if you’re someone like myself, who assesses her mood before her eyes are open in the morning, hoping to God that the crippling anxiety isn’t there, then those numbers will have you singing Hallelujah.

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8 Suggestions for Strengthening Self-Esteem When You Have Depression

Depression and low self-esteem often go hand-in-hand. Low self-esteem leaves individuals vulnerable to depression. Depression batters self-esteem. *

“Depression often distorts thinking, making a once-confident person feel insecure, negative and self-loathing,” said Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression. 

Past positive or neutral thoughts become “I am incompetent,” “I suck at everything,” or “I hate myself,’” according to clinical psychologist Dean Parker, Ph.D.

(On the other hand, “High self-esteem is associated with certain positive cognitions or beliefs, such as ‘I am good,’ ‘I am a success,’ [or] ‘I am valuable to others,’” he said.)

While low self-esteem may be deeply rooted, you can start chipping away at the layers of loathing. Each day, you can engage in an activity that improves your self-esteem. Below, Serani and Parker share their tips on strengthening self-esteem, whether it’s in the moment or over time.

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