World of Psychology Dr. John Grohol's daily update on all things in psychology and mental health. Since 1999. Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:48:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 111817284 Podcast: Should Religious Figures Give Advice on Mental Illness? Thu, 22 Jun 2017 10:30:49 +0000 In this episode of the Psych Central Show, hosts Gabe Howard and Vincent M. Wales welcome Katie Dale, a young woman with bipolar disorder who was convinced by a pastor to discontinue her medication and instead put her faith in God to heal her. Unsurprisingly, going off her meds plunged Katie into a serious bipolar episode. She resumed her medications and has been living well ever since. Katie shares with listeners a touching, yet very pointed, letter that she wrote to this pastor, explaining how she understood his motives. But, she cautions, this doesn’t change the fact that his advice was harmful.

Listen as Our Guest Speaks About her Pastor’s Advice on Mental Illness

“I can understand why some people may be angry with somebody who convinces them that they don’t need their medication… but… it’s not my place to judge them.” ~ Katie Dale


Proud Sponsor of The Psych Central Show

About Our Guest

Katie Dale is a 29 year old USAF officer’s wife living with bipolar disorder. Since her first bipolar episode at 16, Katie has been through two hospitalizations. Since finding the right medications and seeing cognitive behavioral therapists, Katie has experienced breakthrough in living a functional and fulfilling life. Her pastimes include drawing, blogging, running, graphic design, piano playing and taking naps. She is finishing her story of both hospitalizations and plans to publish her memoir soon.

Faith is a key component to her healing outlook, as well. She credits her wellness to God answering her prayers with medication. She believes the stigma and lack of education concerning mental illness are still a widespread issue in today’s society, but she is certain that a collective motion of voices for advocacy can turn that around.

About The Psych Central Show Podcast

The Psych Central Show is an interesting, in-depth weekly podcast that looks into all things mental health and psychology. Hosted by Gabe Howard and featuring Vincent M. Wales.

The Psych Central Show Podcast iTunes

Google Play The Psych Central Show


Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. In addition to hosting The Psych Central Show, Gabe is an associate editor for Gabe is a prolific writer and his work can be found all over the internet. He also runs an online Facebook community, The Positive Depression/Bipolar Happy Place, and invites you to join.  To work with Gabe, please visit his website,





Vincent M. Wales
 is a former suicide prevention counselor who lives with persistent depressive disorder. In addition to co-hosting The Psych Central Show, Vincent is the author of several award-winning novels and the creator of costumed hero Dynamistress. Visit his websites at and


Previous episodes can be found at



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When Employers Ignore Addiction in the Workplace Wed, 21 Jun 2017 20:30:23 +0000

Employers who suspect someone of using drugs on the job may be reluctant to intervene because they fear they’ll be charged with discrimination.

On Jason’s first day of work at an old-fashioned Wall Street law firm, he was so high on cocaine and heroin that his mother warned him, “You can’t go in there. You don’t look well.”

But as Jason, now nearly ten years sober and with the easy confidence of a successful lawyer, explains, “I was determined to show up, though I should have never been anywhere near an office, let alone the orientation for summer associates. But the way it works, when you get a summer associate gig, you’re bound to get an offer at the end of it and then you start with that firm after you take the Bar. So I went anyway.”

Despite the fact that Jason was asking inappropriate questions about sexual harassment to the HR person on his first day, he still managed to work the whole summer at the firm. “I was doing coke and a lot of pills, I was snorting heroin, and basically getting paid $3,000 a week to do nothing. They never said anything about my behavior; they just didn’t give me any work to do. It was the weirdest experience.”

But Jason isn’t alone. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 76 percent of people with drug or alcohol problems are employed, and about 19.2 million U.S. workers (15%) reported using or being impaired by alcohol at work at least once in the past year. Despite these statistics, addiction in the workplace is as much a tricky beast for the employer as it is for the addict.

As Dana Wilkie, online editor/manager for the Society for Human Resource Management, explains, there is a fine line between calling out an employee’s behavior and becoming a liability yourself. She shares: “There are tell-tale signs, which a manager should observe and document: slurred speech, an odor of alcohol, an accident that appears to have been caused by substance abuse, impaired mobility or the discovery of empty bottles of alcohol in the employee’s desk drawer.”

“However, it’s important that a manager never make accusations about drinking without proof,” she continues. “This can be slanderous and open a company to liability. It could be the worker has an illness or is on legal medication that may make them appear inebriated, when actually they’re not.”

Addiction expert and executive director of Alternatives Behavioral Health, Dr. Adi Jaffe concurs, “Accusing someone of being high on the job can cause severe liability, opening the employer up to charges of discrimination. Most employers would approach that with a healthy dose of care and attention in case it might not be true. And the signs [of addiction] aren’t always easy to recognize.”

Jason was never accused of drinking or drugging on the job, even as he moved from one law firm to the next, always being fired for negligence but never questioned for his behaviors. “By my third firm, I had gotten physically addicted to heroin and I would go downstairs and score from this dealer who would come down from the Bronx every day. I would sit in my office with the door closed, which was really weird for a Junior Associate, and get fucked up. And then I would stay there all night, smoking and doing drugs. One time I even had sex with a co-worker, and the guy in the office next to me, this really nice, good guy, was so confused, but no one said anything.”

During Jason’s time at the firm, he finally sought treatment after an intervention, going to Betty Ford for a month. “I lied to my firm, and I told them that I was sick, that I had pneumonia, and made up this complicated story. They fired me as soon as I got back.”

Learn more about how both employees and employers deal with addiction in the workplace in the full article Drugging on the Job: The Continued Denial of Workplace Addiction at The Fix.

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3 Triggers that Cause Us to Reach for Our Phone & Miss Out on Life Experiences Wed, 21 Jun 2017 15:45:05 +0000 How often are you picking up your smartphone and checking your notifications every day? If you are like most users you say around forty times, maybe less. Which means you are probably underestimating your phone usage by as much as 50%. The real number, according to a survey done by Nottingham Trent University’s School of Social Sciences, is closer to 85 times per day, and that is a conservative estimate.

Just think of how much time is being spent staring at that screen. How often are we distracting ourselves from more important things? How much additional time is spent getting back on task? What are we missing out on in our day to day lives, or in our important relationships, by ignoring real life? Probably a lot, and it isn’t just our time that is being impacted.

Smartphones could be causing mild hallucinations (such as “phantom buzz”) in frequent users. Social media, commonly accessed through smartphones, may be causing depression and severe self esteem issues, as well.

The first step to breaking this cycle is to break the habit. So let’s isolate some common triggers that cause us to go looking at our phones, rather than staying present in the moment.

1. Feeling Uncomfortable

You have arrived at a work outing and the only other person there so far is someone from another department you have never spoken to. You both give each other an awkward smile as you sit down to wait for the others. But instead of making small talk you reach for your smartphones and begin to fiddle around until someone you each know arrives to alleviate the discomfort.

What To Do About It: Let yourself feel the awkwardness! It might seem torturous in the moment, but discomfort isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is a chance to overcome social anxiety, engage with someone new, and empathize with another person. After all, they are feeling awkward as well. Let yourself be the kind of person that helps others feel more at ease, and you will start to feel that ease, as well.

2. Boredom

You have plans in the evening, but they don’t start for hours. There is time to kill until you need to get ready. So you pull up Facebook and start browsing, and before you know it you realize you have lost track of time and are going to be late. Boredom sucked you in, and over-stimulation screwed with your schedule.

What To Do About It: Start to appreciate boredom again. We didn’t used to have something so distracting to save us from feeling bored. Now we can crush it the moment it comes, and it leaves us impatient and unfocused in our daily lives. Take some time to enjoy the quiet. Appreciate not having anything immediately needing to be done. Be in the moment without filling it with noise.

3. Too Many Notifications

Beep! Shwing! Chime! The telltale signs that something has happened on your phone. You could leave it be but FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) pushes you to pick up your device and take a peek. It is another useless email, something to be deleted without reading. Yet it has disrupted your train of thought, forcing you to get back on track with your work…until the next little sound draws you away.

What To Do About It: Turn off your notifications! You don’t have to turn off every sound, as some things may actually be important. But you can limit the distractions and temptations that are coming from your smartphone. Go to the Settings and revoke app permissions in the Notifications section. Tun on your Do Not Disturb feature and elect to only let some things through. Get an app that reduces distractions and improves productivity.

Of course all of this may be harder if you are really addicted to your phone. In that case a more brute force measure might be necessary…leave it at home once in awhile! People have managed before to do find without these technological safety nets, and so will you.

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4 Breathing Exercises to Reduce Your Stress Right Now Wed, 21 Jun 2017 10:30:30 +0000 Flickr/Mae ChevretteWe tend to forget that one of the best stress relievers is always available to us: our breath. For instance, according to the American Institute of Stress, “Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.” This is in contrast to our sympathetic nervous system, which triggers our fight-or-flight response.

Deep breathing is one way we control our breath—and controlling our breath is exactly how we can reap the most stress-reducing benefits. In fact, there’s an entire field of study dedicated to managing our breath. “Breathwork is the use of Breath Awareness and Conscious Breathing for healing and growth, personal awakening and transformation in spirit, mind and body,” writes Dan Brulé in his book Just Breathe: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business and Beyond.

Before you start consciously controlling your breath, it’s important to watch it. Because as Brulé writes, you need to develop “a very conscious and intimate relationship with your breath.” For 10 to 20 minutes, observe your breathing without trying to change it. Try to be a “detached witness.” For instance, if you’re breathing through your nose, focus on the feelings and sensations in your nostrils as the air passes in and out. If you’re breathing through your mouth, focus on the feelings and sensations of your lips and tongue.

When your mind naturally wanders, bring your attention back to your breath. Brulé also suggests noticing how you breathe during different activities, such as walking and working; and noticing how others breathe while they’re talking, moving and feeling different feelings. Noticing how others breathe reminds you to observe your own breathing.

Below are four breathing exercises from Brulé’s book. They’re part of his 21-day challenge: He suggests readers practice each exercise for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening; and 10 times during the day for 2 minutes. For many of us, this might not be feasible. If that’s the case for you, try practicing for 10 minutes a day.

“The Therapeutic Zone”

According to Brulé, taking six breaths per minute is highly therapeutic. This means inhaling to a count of 5 seconds, and exhaling to a count of 5 seconds (which is: In, 2, 3, 4, 5; out, 2, 3, 4, 5…and repeat).

If taking six breaths feels uncomfortable, try eight or 10 or 12 breaths per minute. Then try to gradually slow down.

“Alternate-Nostril Breathing”

This ancient conscious breathing exercise is perfect “for getting control of runaway thinking, useless mental chatter, and an out-of-control mind,” writes Brulé. It involves using the thumb and ring finger of your right hand to block your right nostril, then your left nostril, and repeating the cycle.

Specifically, start by using your right thumb to block your right nostril. Exhale one breath through your left nostril. Next inhale one breath through the same nostril. Then, using the ring finger of your right hand, block your left nostril. Exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril. Then switch to your left nostril, exhaling and inhaling—and keep switching between nostrils. 

“Combining Thought and Breath”

This exercise combines a phrase, affirmation or declaration with your breath. First, pick a phrase that resonates with you. For instance, you might use this phrase: “I am always already free.” Or you might choose a phrase that usually soothes and calms you. You might choose a supportive phrase your loved one or a mentor has said to you. Or you might incorporate something you value into your statement.

According to Brulé, “which each breath, stress one of the words in your statement. Breathe in each word until it percolates down through your subconscious mind to the core of your being.”

“Fountain Breath”

Picture yourself sitting or standing in a pool of water or light. As you inhale, draw the liquid light up through your body to the top of your head. As you exhale, picture the light flowing out of the top of your head and showering down on you like a fountain. Keep doing this with each breath.

The above exercises take practice. But what’s so amazing about using our breath to navigate stress is that it is always accessible. It is always with us—in a tense meeting, on a traffic-packed commute, during a difficult conversation, in a hospital room, right now. And best of all, controlled breathing is a truly healthy and nourishing tool—with no dangers or downsides.

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The Demisexual Phenomenon Tue, 20 Jun 2017 22:30:38 +0000 It seems like every week we’re hearing new terms for people that are on a fluid sexual scale. The latest to make headlines is the term “Demisexual.”

Demisexuals define themselves as people who become sexually attracted to someone the longer and deeper they know them. Demisexuals need to be close to a potential partner, they need the element of friendship in order to access their sexual desire.

A recent article in the New York Times talks about the experience of identifying as a demisexual and how they negotiate relationships and friendships.

It harkens back to the 50’s when people “went steady,” gradually developing their attraction to their partner and falling in love over time. The notion of “love at first sight” or chemistry the way that we think about it — an instant dopamine hit — does not exist for this population.

Our culture puts a great deal of pressure on people to be hot and attractive and sexual immediately — so fast that it leaves out a whole group of people sitting on the sidelines saying, “I’m not that.” Unfortunately, these people become pathologized and feel abnormal, when really, there may be more people like them out there — and they have always been around.

So what possible downside is there to this perfectly normal seeming/healthy relationship to sexuality? The conundrum for Demisexuals is that this gradual development of sexual feelings can disrupt their existing friendships.

Let’s say a female Demisexual in college makes a male friend; they study together in biology class, they hang out and watch movies together and he thinks she’s just a friend, but over time she begins to feel a sexual attraction to him as a result of their friendship.

For people on the receiving end of attraction from a Demisexual, they may not even know it, as they thought the terms of engagement were simply friendship. That woman from biology class didn’t just see a guy across the room and feel her heart beating. So for individuals who find themselves engaged with a Demisexual, the evolution of the friendship into something romantic can feel like a bait-and-switch.

Varied categories for all things sex, love, and gender will continue to be defined as we realize that our preferences and expressions are as unique as fingerprints.

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16 Ways to Make Your Workday More Productive Tue, 20 Jun 2017 18:45:05 +0000 It can be easy to get comfortable at your job and start slacking off. But in order to succeed at work and move forward in your career, you need to push past that and continue to be productive. Here are some tips to lead you on your path to domination!

  1. Identify distractions and remove them
    If you have one coworker who won’t stop talking, put headphones on and zone out. If there’s a clock that ticks and drives you mad, take out the batteries or move it. If your brain is focused on something else, you won’t accomplish your task.
  2. Get in the zone
    Set yourself up for success. Before you start each task, make sure that you go to the bathroom, refill your water, have your playlist going, and are ready to rock!
  3. Make lists
    Keep lists for everything. To do lists, goal lists, plans, etc. This will help you organize your thoughts and keep the thoughts out of your head while you are trying to accomplish something else.
  4. Create measurable goals
    Give yourself a certain item to finish by a specific time. Don’t make a broad list of goals with no plans to achieve each step to that goal.
  5. Stick to a schedule 
    If you have a plan at a certain time, stick to it. If you let yourself get behind, the entire rest of the day will be off schedule.
  6. Teamwork 
    If you are stuck on an idea or unsure of how to accomplish something, try asking your coworker or friend what they would do. They might have some great advice that leads to getting your task done more efficiently.
  7. Take breaks
    Do one hour of hard work and then take a 10-minute break. Step completely away from the project and the area to clear your mind.
  8. Do your most daunting tasks first
    If there is something that you are dreading, start your day with it. That way you can feel accomplished when it is done and you avoid having it on your mind for the rest of the day.
  9. Say “No” 
    If you are too busy, don’t take on the task that your boss asks you to at the last minute and finish in an hour. Be honest and say that is not enough of a warning to get the project done. On the other hand, if you can make time for it, you boss will probably really appreciate it!
  10. Stop multitasking
    Start one project and finish it before moving on to the next. If you switch between three projects at once, you lose your spot in each one and spend a lot of time remembering what you already learned.
  11. Make notes of things that pop into your head during work
    If you get a random thought about the watermelon you need to cut for your weekend plans, write it down. That is taking up space in your brain that could be used toward your task at hand. Trying to remember it all day will only distract you.
  12. Clear the clutter
    Don’t leave too much clutter on your desk or in the room even. If something can be thrown away or filed, do it! This means digitally too. Trash all of your spam emails and keep your documents in folders to stay organized.
  13. Make an inspiring environment
    Decorate your space with things that inspire you. Essential oils, candles, and lighting also can brighten your mood.
  14. Only schedule useful meetings 
    Meetings are great time savers if they are productive. But come in the meeting with an agenda and stick to it. If other problems arise, that calls for another meeting.
  15. Get more sleep
    Sleep is the key to making your brain function properly. With enough sleep, good eats, and lots of water, you will be at optimal brain power in no time!
  16. Zone out negativity
    Don’t allow negativity near you. If someone in the workplace comes to you looking to vent, be honest and say that you don’t feel comfortable talking about that subject. Or if you are not confrontational, just simply listen, but do not feed into the problem. Chances are that they won’t choose you to complain to again.

If you feel like you have tried everything, but can’t seem to stay focused on any tasks, it might be time to ask for help. 

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Free Webinar: How Mothering Helps Us Value our Flaws Tue, 20 Jun 2017 14:20:02 +0000 We all have aspects of ourselves we would rather not know about. As kids, we may have been taught that it wasn’t okay for us to be bossy, selfish, angry, or boastful. By the time we are adults, we have tucked those traits away, and are adept at being “nice,” or “good.”

When we become parents, we may be dismayed to notice that our children act out our most despised qualities with gusto! In fact, those disallowed qualities are often full of vitality and authenticity. Seeing our child express these forbidden traits can help us reconnect with their positive aspects.

In this webinar, we will use fairy tales, dreams, memoirs, and clinical vignettes to explore how our kids can help us find the gold in those devalued and disallowed parts of ourselves.

Take Aways:

  1. Often, the behaviors in our children that we find the most embarrassing or irritating relate to qualities or traits that we learned were not acceptable when we were children.
  2. Seeing our children act out these qualities can be difficult, but can also provide a way for us to reclaim the positive aspects of these traits.
  3. Many times, those parts of ourselves that we learned were unacceptable are in fact important for accessing a sense of joy and aliveness.

Presented by: Lisa Marchiano, LCSW

Lisa Marchiano, LCSW is a writer and Jungian analyst in private practice. She is interested parenting as a catalyst for personal growth, and she blogs on this topic at PsychCentral. She is a writer for PSYCHED Magazine, and blogs on Jungian topics at theJungSoul. She is on the faculty of the Philadelphia Jung Institute, and lectures and leads workshops nationally. Lisa has a particular fondness for fairy tales and what they can teach us about relating to our inner lives. You can visit her website, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @LisaMarchiano.

Date: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 from 8:00 – 9:00 PM (EST)

This webinar is a live, 45-minute seminar with a PowerPoint presentation followed by a Q&A moderated by Gabe Howard, host of The Psych Central Show podcast. There is no charge for the webinar.

Signup hereSpace is limited,
so signup today!

Space is limited so please register early. Thank you.

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Best of Our Blogs: June 20, 2017 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 10:30:39 +0000 There are traits in this country that we equate with weakness and shame, but are actually signs of courage and strength.

Asking for help, showing your vulnerability and saying, “No” for example are all indications of self-worth, self-care and emotional health.

People who try to do it all, appear invulnerable and people please are usually the ones that need the most help and support.

The next time you call a friend, seek a therapist or say, “No” to an event, replace your sense of weakness and shame with strength, courage and self-love.

Still sorting through this past Father’s Day? Our top posts will help you get through it.

5 Signs of Emotional Neglect in Your Relationship With Your Father
(Childhood Emotional Neglect) – Here’s how our desire to keep our men strong and silent has impacted the way fathers parent and how it’s played out in your relationship with your own dad.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Technique: The Observing Self
(Psychoeducation in Psychotherapy) – There’s one thing you can do to depersonalize your negative thoughts. Try this mindfulness practices to prevent depression and anxiety associated with persistent negativity.

Dreams During Abuse, Dreams In Recovery
(Narcissism Meets Normalcy) – If you’ve suffered with nightmares even in adulthood, this could explain why.

The Top Ten Most Endearing Qualities of Fathers
(Neuroscience & Relationships) – Instead of focusing on the father as a superhero, it would do us good to appreciate these healthy and more realistic qualities.

The Silent Treatment And What You Can Do To Stop It Cold
(Therapy Soup) – You’ve upset a loved one and now you’re stuck with silence in response. Here’s what you need to do.

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Reinventing College Parties with Daybreaker Campus Mon, 19 Jun 2017 20:30:37 +0000

This is an environment in which students can have fun and relax without risking the anxiety, depression, and relationship problems that often result from alcohol-related incidents.

The “morning movement” Daybreaker has hosted sober sunrise parties for years, and now they’re bringing them to young people — stressed out students, specifically — in a bid to reduce alcohol-related incidents and provide relief.

The Daybreaker Campus experience, which includes an hour-long yoga and fitness session followed by a two-hour, alcohol-free dance party with DJs, live music performances and a speaker series with a roster of NASA astronauts, CEOs and entrepreneurs, takes places in the mornings, hence the name—but can it make a lasting impact when nights, weekends, and keg parties come along?

Unless you’re ahead of the game and started your drinking career in high school or even middle school, college is the ultimate mecca for binge drinking and partying.

It’s wonderful to imagine getting a friendly hug at the door instead of a mean-mug from a bouncer, but could introducing this idea of partying without intoxication really create an entirely new framework in which young people would see socializing without the need for alcohol or drugs?

Daybreaker was born out of a frustration over nightlife and a desire to bring community back in an authentic, positive way, explains CEO and Co-Founder Radha Agrawal. She points to a statistic reported by the American Psychological Association that shows the main concerns among college students are anxiety, depression and relationship problems largely due to alcohol-related incidents. In fact, the demand for psychological services at the University of Central Florida — one of the country’s largest universities with roughly 60,000 students — grew so rapidly, they began converting supply closets into therapists’ offices. Pair this with a typical coping mechanism of weekend binge drinking and a lack of genuine social connection, she says, and the anxiety loop is only exacerbated.

“Eli and I have several friends and family who have been struggling with drug and alcohol abuse who are in college now on campuses where everyone is on their cellphones and the only outlet is a drunken frat party,” Agrawal says.

But if a student is prone to alcoholism or addiction, could an outlet like this really stop that person from going down that path of trying drugs or alcohol and becoming addicted, if it is a genetic disease? Agrawal says, “Absolutely.”

Learn more about how Daybreaker Campus provides college students an alternative to traditional college parties in the full article Daybreaker Campus Reinvents College Partying at The Fix.

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How to Turn Wishes into Plans Mon, 19 Jun 2017 15:45:34 +0000

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

It is natural to want things and to engage in the dreamy exercise of wishing for them. Yet, wishes seldom would wind up turning into results.

To achieve wishes or dreams requires a somewhat firm goal and actionable plans that make success possible. There are two key elements here: the somewhat firm goal and actionable plans. Understanding each is crucial to turning wishes into plans.

What is a somewhat firm goal?

A goal is something that you strive for, something you deem desirable and worth working to achieve. It can be a material goal, as in saving up enough money to live comfortably, or buying a house, or having children. It can be an emotional goal, as in feeling a sense of self-fulfillment and living a life of purpose.

The reason the words “somewhat firm” are placed before goal is that goals are fluid, need to evolve and change and should never be regarded as rigid or fixed.

If there is no room for movement, if you cannot alter your goal to accommodate additional information or areas of interest and opportunity that come your way, you’ll never know if making any adjustments would have resulted in greater happiness or fulfillment.

On the other hand, remaining flexible and open to change will allow greater freedom to express yourself, follow the roads you want to take and achieve the most out of your goals.

Actionable plans: What are they and how do you create them?

As to actionable plans, these are the second most important part of turning wishes into plans. A wish is just that: a wish.

When you wish, whether it’s to yourself, upon a star, or telling someone else about it, you’re expressing a desire for something, quite possibly something you believe you haven’t got a chance of ever attaining.

You could wish to win the Lotto and play occasionally or regularly, knowing the odds are against you but wishing nonetheless to be the recipient of that jackpot. You could say that buying Lotto tickets is an actionable plan, but it doesn’t decrease the odds. Your action is still just a wish.

Going back to the wish to own your own house and turning that wish into a plan, there are several actions you can take to flesh out that plan.

These include:

  • Taking stock of your credit rating and making the necessary changes to improve it so that you can qualify for a mortgage at a good interest rate
  • Saving money for a down payment, closing costs, and any improvements you might want to make in the home after you buy it
  • Constructing a schedule and timetable
  • Looking for properties in your price range
  • Finding a realtor
  • Going to see homes for sale
  • Making an offer
  • Arranging for movers to move you in once you close the sale

Actionable plans involve a step-by-step process that you carefully navigate. This doesn’t mean that all plans go smoothly. Most seldom do, even those strategically mapped out well ahead of time.

Be prepared for twists and turns, unexpected delays and obstacles, as well as opportunities that may crop up.

Using the example of buying a house, perhaps the owners of the home you want reject your bid. You can make a counter offer and go back and forth this way until the owners either accept your final bid or not.

Then, your choice is to give up or look for another home in your price range that satisfies your needs.

It may take longer to achieve your goal, but you have your actionable plans and all you need to follow through is the determination to achieve your goal.

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What Is Intention Deficit Disorder? Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:30:59 +0000 Most readers of this article are familiar with the term ADHD which is defined as “a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”

What is less familiar is the term, “intention deficit disorder,” a different way to look at the problems associated with attention deficit disorder. What is intention deficit disorder and how can it be helped?

Before delving into intention deficit disorder, it may be helpful to review symptoms commonly associated with ADHD:

  • inability to sustain focus
  • challenges remaining in one position or setting without needing to move
  • calling out or talking out of turn
  • losing personal objects
  • lapse in memory
  • drifting off in conversation
  • poor school performance that may lead to disciplinary action
  • lack of reliability on the job that might result in termination
  • memory lapses
  • cluttered workspace or home environment
  • not following tasks through to completion
  • getting inspired by nearly everything without ability to sustain momentum
  • sensory overload
  • procrastination
  • resistance to change

The upsides of ADHD include:

  • creative ideas come readily
  • many have high energy
  • out of the box thinking
  • can be successful in numerous areas of endeavor
  • resilience
  • sensitivity to energy shifts
  • leadership skills
  • spontaneity

This condition impacts children and adults through the life cycle and may go undiagnosed, even in the face of disruption in activities, relationship dysfunction, and feelings of personal disempowerment.

As a ‘come clean,’ this clinician with nearly four decades of experience working with clients who exhibit these signs, carries some of them as well. As I write this article, I have taken two phone calls, checked emails, signed up for an on- line course, responded to text and Facebook messages, and have contemplated other article ideas. I have been listening to music which inspires me. My mind is like a computer with several applications open simultaneously.

There are times when I believe I can multi-task successfully and others when I drop some of the plates I am spinning. It is then that I refocus, with the use of re-directive self-talk that sounds like, “Okay, we need to pay attention to the task at hand. Once we’re done, we can move on the next thing on the list.” I also imagine how good I will feel when I have completed what I have set out to do. I have become my own cheerleader, rather than hyper-critical detractor.

I have also discovered that when I engage in mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing, listening to relaxing music, meditating and spending time in nature, I am able to get back on track.

Celebs with ADHD

There are numerous notables with the diagnosis of ADHD including Justin Timberlake, Jamie Oliver, Will Smith, Michael Phelps, Jim Carrey, Paris Hilton and Solange Knowles. Each of them taps into the creativity that comes as a gift of the diagnosis. If a person with this condition can harness the positive aspects, they are often equipped to hyper-focus on a project until it is completed. Like any skill, it takes practice. One thing to keep in mind is that the ADHD itself may not pre-dispose these people to succeed, but rather it is inherent talents on other levels that may have them do well in spite of the condition.

What Is Intention Deficit Disorder?

“ADHD is not an attention disorder. It is a blindness to the future,” according to Russell A. Barkley, PhD This experienced clinician, researcher, and author has expounded on the concept of Intention Deficit Disorder which he graphically describes in a video on the topic.

As is the case of many of my clients, Dr. Barkley has discovered that those with ADHD are intelligent people who have the cognitive ability to know what needs to be done, but not always the means to exercise the skills required to follow through. It is when a task must be accomplished that they may be able to rise to the occasion. As long as a deadline seems safely in the future, they practice cognitive dissonance, rather than act on the assignment ahead of them.

A few clients who are high school or college students have expressed that precise dynamic that has had them note an increase in anxiety and a decrease in self -worth when they label themselves for the inability to accomplish what is required as ‘lazy,’ ‘failures,’ and ‘slackers,’ who have disappointed themselves and their parents. Living in the moment, the person with ADHD doesn’t accomplish what they intend to do.

Dr. Barkley goes on to say, “People with ADHD know what to do, but they can’t do what they know.” An illustration of the brain highlights the difference. The rear part of the brain houses knowledge, while the front part of the brain houses the practical application of said information. ADHD is, as he shares, “like a meat clever that separates the two.”

Help for Intention Deficit Disorder

Barkley sees intention deficit disorder as a chronic condition that responds to stricter accountability and consequences and specific interventions.

  • Make lists
  • Use timing devices
  • Micromovements/baby steps
  • Use external environment to support reinforcement
  • Ask what the reward is to motivate action
  • Make progress incremental
  • Use manual tools; some with ADHD are kinesthetic
  • Inner cheerleading (you can do this)
  • Meditation, deep breathing
  • Ten minutes of work, three minutes of break
  • Physical exercise
  • Keep blood sugar stabilized
  • When indicated, medication can be helpful

According to Barkley, 40 percent of adults and 90 percent of children are not being treated for it and he sees it as one of the most treatable mental health conditions that therapists and psychiatrists see in their practices.

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Help Your Partner Understand You During an Argument Sun, 18 Jun 2017 20:30:24 +0000

It starts with changing your behavior

There’s no way around it: being misunderstood sucks. It can make you feel frustrated, upset, and hopeless. It can feel even worse in times of conflict.

Conflict isn’t easy. There’s hurt. There’s misunderstanding. And, at the same time, there are parts of us that are screaming to feel validated and understood.

The problem for many of us is we have learned to communicate in a way that actually pushes our partners away from truly understanding us or meeting our needs. It’s common to see criticism or contempt in a relationship where partners feel disconnected and misunderstood.

How to Stop Simple Arguments from Turning into Major Drama

Ultimately, conflict is created by a lack of attunement. This is because one of our deepest needs is for others to understand, or attune to, us. This desire to be “seen” starts when we are young.

Take kids, for example: when they play hide-and-seek, they love to be found.

As adults, we crave to be seen in our rawness – to courageously allow another into our inner emotional world. This is why Brené Brown links vulnerability with wholehearted living because vulnerability allows us to be truly known by another. She also refers to vulnerability as the glue that holds relationships together.

But being vulnerable is no easy task. It’s much easier to blame or attack our partners for the problems in our relationship, rather than express how we are feeling.

For example, say your partner leaves the room when you get into an argument. Your gut response may be to blame and yell, “You’re a coward for leaving the room when we fight!” But if you took the more courageous, vulnerable route, you might instead say, “I feel scared and inadequate when you leave the room during our fight. My fear is that I’m not good enough for you to fight for. Is there a way I can bring up a conflict so you and I can work through it together?”

Can you see how easy it is to hide compared to how courageous it is to be vulnerable and seen?

When you speak in a gentle, open way that allows your partner to attune to you, you help your partner to understand why you feel the way you do. As a result, you feel more emotionally connected, which builds trust, increases intimacy, and makes sex oh so much better. Not to mention that when your partner understands your perspective, he or she is more willing to meet your needs as well as their own.

So how can you get your partner to attune to you during conflict and learn how to clear misunderstanding?

The first skill of attunement for the speaker is the “A” in A.T.T.U.N.E., and it stands for Awareness. By speaking with awareness, we mean that the speaker chooses words mindfully and avoids making the listening partner feel cornered or defensive. This then helps the listening partner open up to understanding because they are not under attack.

Here are three ways you can speak with more awareness:

1. Use “I” Statements

An “I” statement reflects your feelings, perceptions, and experiences. Using the word “you” during conflict has the opposite effect: it points fingers at your partner’s feelings, behavior, or personality. As the saying goes, whenever you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back to you.

During a session, a client of mine who I’ll call Tristan said to his partner, “You are so self-centered. You clearly didn’t think about how uncomfortable I felt sitting at Canlis (a fancy restaurant) all alone!” His partner instantly became defensive. “No, I’m not! I had to stay late to finish up the proposal for the meeting tomorrow so we can take our trip this weekend.”

When we paused and tried the discussion again — this time focusing on using “I” statements — Tristan’s tone changed completely. “I wish you had shown up to the restaurant on time,” he said. “I felt like a loser sitting there waiting for you next to the other couples sitting around our table. I even had a little kid staring at me like I was weird. I felt really lonely…”

This softer approach allowed his partner to relate to where he was coming from and find common ground. Her response? “It sucks to sit alone in a restaurant. I know that feeling. I’m sorry. I’ll make sure to be more mindful of the time.”

2. Focus On One Issue

Since you have your partner’s undivided attention during your State of the Union conversation, it can be very tempting to lay out all of your relationship problems at once. But the more problems you try to air, the less likely they are to be solved. Instead, focus on one event and describe it like a journalist would:

  • “I would like you to take out the trash without me having to ask you to do it.”
  • “I feel frustrated when you come home later than you say you will without checking in with me.”

How to Stop an Argument with Someone You Love Before It Gets Scary

3. Protect Your Partner’s Triggers

In Stan Tatkin’s audio program, Your Brain on Love, he states 11 facts about people in relationships. The seventh is “Romantic Partners are Responsible for Each Other’s Past.” Whether we like it or not, we are affected by the raw spots in our partner’s past, just as they are affected by ours.

These raw spots can escalate conflict if they are not cared for. Your partner’s baggage may be a source of irritation, but it’s unrealistic to expect them to drop their pain points and “change.” Instead, you can prevent conflict from worsening by working around their triggers with compassion.

Intimately knowing your partner gives you the superpower to love them compassionately despite their raw spots, or to severely hurt them with the knowledge you have. The latter breaks relationships, while the former builds them.

How you talk to your partner about issues in your relationship determines how effectively the relationship problems are resolved. If you want to change your partner’s behavior towards you, learn how to clear misunderstanding and start by changing your behavior towards them.

This guest article originally appeared on How To Help Your Partner Understand YOUR Side Of The Fight In 3 SIMPLE Steps.

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5 Ways to Alleviate Anxiety Sun, 18 Jun 2017 15:45:21 +0000 When you’re anxious, all you can see is your anxiety. It feels urgent, serious and overwhelming. You wonder if you’ll always feel this way. You wonder, Why me? Why now? Why won’t it stop?

You feel frustrated and hopeless—like there’s nothing you can do.

Thankfully, there is. There are many strategies to help manage and minimize anxiety. Below are five excellent ideas from the new book Stop Anxiety from Stopping You: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Panic and Social Anxiety. It’s written by Helen Odessky, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in anxiety and also struggled with it herself.

Think of your anxiety as a fellow traveler

“There are some experts out there who suggest learning to love your anxiety,” writes Odessky. “I think that is a tall order.” She notes that she’s yet to meet anyone who wants to love their anxiety.

However, what is important and possible is to accept your anxiety. Accept your anxiety as a fellow traveler: “one that at times is needed to guide you to the right path and at other times is merely alongside you.”

For instance, you take your anxiety with you while you’re pursuing certain activities—but you aren’t using these activities to distract yourself from your anxiety. Distracting yourself from anxiety looks like going for a run and frequently wondering, Am I still anxious? Is it over yet?

Odessky suggests saying this to your anxiety: “You are here, and I will follow what I intend to do regardless of your presence here, so come along if you wish—it will not deter me.”

(This is similar to what Elizabeth Gilbert says about fear and creativity: “…But I need you to understand that I will always choose Creativity over you. You may join us on this journey — and I know that you will — but you will not stop me and Creativity from choosing the direction in which we will all walk together.”)

Build your impatience tolerance

When you’re anxious, it’s easy to get impatient. You want your anxiety gone. RIGHT NOW! And YESTERDAY! You yearn for immediate relief—which is understandable (after all, who desires to dwell in discomfort?).

But as Odessky writes, immediate relief “is what you get with avoidance,” which only feeds and fuels anxiety.

This is when building up your ‘impatience tolerance” can help. So the next time you’re standing in a long line, taking the train, sitting in heavy traffic or waiting for a delayed flight, try to see it as an opportunity to practice.

When you feel yourself starting to get impatient, tell yourself: “This is a welcome pause in my busy life.” Also, take several slow abdominal breaths and savor your pause. Then pick a nourishing activity, such as listening to music, reading, doodling or simply resting.

Paint yourself relaxed

This is a visualization exercise, which you can do any time you’re anxious, need a break or you are going to bed. Sit with your arms and legs uncrossed. After closing your eyes, picture a warm paint color, like yellow or orange. Starting at the tips of your toes, picture this color slowing spreading over you, and “spreading a warm relaxing sensation over your body.” This warm sensation is just the right temperature.

Then picture the color moving up your ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, chest and shoulders. Picture it spreading relaxing warmth down your arms, and down the tips of your fingertips. Next, picture it going up your neck, your face, and your scalp.

Keep your eyes closed, and practice deep breathing for several minutes. After you’re done, open your eyes. Tune into how you’re feeling. 

Use active, realistic affirmations

“Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself with the purpose of motivating you and encouraging your progress,” Odessky writes. This isn’t about faking positivity, and pretending you’re totally fine and anxiety-free when clearly you’re not (i.e., saying “I am free of anxiety” when you’re really freaking out).

According to Odessky, affirmations “are in the present tense, future-oriented, and use active language.” She suggests practicing your affirmation every day, either in the morning or at night. Here’s an example: “Each day I am taking steps and learning to better manage my anxiety.”

What affirmation feels supportive to you?

Imagine your anxiety as a cartoon character

“Anxiety often feels heavy and sounds dire and serious in its warnings,” Odessky writes. “This exercise is designed to bring some levity to it.” When Odessky does this exercise with clients, they start laughing—which is liberating, because, again, anxiety feels so grave.

Picture what your cartoon character looks and sounds like. Actually draw and describe it. Using your cartoon voice, say aloud what your anxiety tells you. Then check in with how you feel.

Anxiety can feel frustrating, at best, and frightening, at worst. The great news is that there are many tools and techniques that can help. Try the above strategies and see how they work for you. If they don’t, consider adding other practices to your collection. And consider working with a therapist, as well.

We can’t eliminate anxiety, but we can minimize it. We can learn from it. And we can stop anxiety from stopping us—from standing in our way of doing the things we want to do and living the life we want to live.

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Do You Need an “Interesting” Man? Sun, 18 Jun 2017 10:30:49 +0000 how to stop beating yourself upMany marriage minded women complain that men they meet aren’t “interesting.” Such comments jolt me.

Interesting can be fine, but not if you expect all stimulation to come from outside yourself. Women who are already enjoying life, rather than waiting around for someone to light up their world, attract men naturally.

We create our own excitement when we keep growing and learning. By pursuing our interests, whether through work, hobbies, clubs, or whatever else we’re drawn to, we feel glad to be alive. Our glow attracts likeminded people, some of whom we’re likely to find interesting in turn.

Do You Two Have Enough Similar Interests?

Couples in good marriages tend have enough similar interests to be compatible, assuming they are well-matched overall. Common interests often bring people together and then feed the relationship. You may meet your future husband in a class or club, on a ski slope, at a lecture, or anywhere else that interests both of you.   

It’s fine to want to marry someone whom you find interesting. But don’t expect him to save you from boredom, because that’s a do-it-yourself task.

“Interesting” is an overrated trait to look for in someone outside of yourself. If you’re easily bored, and I’m going to be blunt here: Stop being boring. Find things to do that make you happy; and then do them!  

If you’re usually quite stimulated by your own life and activities, you might actually be happier with a sweet, calm, easygoing man than with an “interesting” one who has an unusual lifestyle, impressive accomplishments, a fascinating hobby, or something else.

Do you want to be entertained or would you feel more fulfilled by an empathic, easygoing person with whom you enjoy hanging out and conversing?  

Is There Room for Both of You?

It’s fine if a man is interesting, but think about how he treats you. Ask yourself, “Does he show interest in me? Is there room for both of us in our conversations? If your answer is “yes” to these questions, good! You want someone who is interested in you, not just full of himself, right?

If you are looking for a good marriage partner, chemistry should be there of course. It’s also important for him to have the character traits that really matter and for the two of you to have similar values, enough shared interests, and intellectual compatibility.

By allowing passionate feelings to take over before you really know him, you may think of him as a perfect fairytale prince who’s here to rescue your inner Cinderella. You’re likely to be happier in the long run if you keep your brain in charge, so that you’ll view him realistically as a person with his own unique mix of strengths and shortcomings.

Brittany’s Story

Brittany’s story shows why it is so important to maintain your individuality while in a relationship. Brittany enjoyed a successful career as a psychologist who helped many people. She wanted to marry but something was amiss in her dating pattern. Her effervescence attracted men. She was full of life and kept busy with her varied interests and friendships  until she was in a relationship. Then, she would drop her interests and spend less time with friends.

Brittany would become so dependent on the man she was involved with to make her life meaningful that she became a shell of her former self, and therefore, less appealing to the man. After each relationship ended, she would feel empty inside and depressed. It would take her some time to return to her former happy self, who would attract a new man, and then she would repeat her cycle.

The moral, of course, is to stay interesting. Do not lose yourself in a relationship. Stay in touch with who you are and what makes you happy.

Staying Interesting

Just in case you’re still wondering how to meet someone who is interesting, take a look in the mirror, because it just might be you!

Ultimately, you are likely to be happier in life and in marriage by becoming your own interesting self by striving to fulfill your potential and by using your unique gifts, which you can offer to your relationship and to the world.

A good marriage provides a foundation that supports both partners in ways that help them continue to grow as a couple, and also as separate, interesting individuals over time.

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Some Thoughts on My Daughter’s High School Graduation: Go Forth Unafraid Sat, 17 Jun 2017 22:30:59 +0000 Last week, my daughter graduated from high school. It was a bittersweet afternoon.

Happy, because it’s satisfying to think of the work that she’s done, sweet because it’s great to see the friends she’s made, and exciting to see her move forward. (Like that old joke, “That’s why they call it a Commencement.”)

Sad, because this ceremony marks an end. This time in her life, and in my life too, has come to a close. I always feel a sense of loss when things come to their end (even things I want to end).

During the ceremony, the school crest was projected on a giant screen above the graduates’ heads, and I got to thinking about the school motto.

I love maxims, proverbs, manifestos, mantras, teaching stories — anything that crams a big idea into a small space — and I’ve always been fascinated by school mottoes.

The motto of my high school was “Freedom with responsibility.” We talked about it often in school, and I still think of it, to this day. It’s a great motto for anyone, it’s a great motto for the United States, it’s thought-provoking and transcendent.

My daughter’s school takes a different angle on the school motto — it’s  “Go forth unafraid.”

As with my high school, the school talks about this motto often. Teachers lecture about  it, kids joke about it, it’s prominently displayed throughout the school.  It’s part of the school song: “We go forth unafraid/Strong with love and strong with learning…” It’s deeply embedded in the school culture.

For instance, the seniors have a tradition of the end-of-year “Count Down” celebration: as kids from younger grades look on admiringly, the seniors gather in the Senior Lounge with a big digital clock, and count down together to their final 3:15 p.m. dismissal time. I watched a video, and saw that as the last seconds slipped by, the seniors broke into the school song, and as 3:15 started to flash, they were all singing its last line at the top of their lungs: “Here we have learned to go forth unafraid.”

I’ve always loved this motto, and it never struck me more forcefully than during the graduation ceremony.

It prompted me to recall my daughter’s very first day of pre-school. As I stood in the corridor  with the other parents, all of us struggling to say good-bye to our children, the head of the school said to me gently, “This is the first of many times that you will say good-bye to your child.”

And as hard as it was to let my three-year-old daughter walk through that brightly decorated door, I was so happy when she marched ahead, interested and eager, to explore her new classroom.

And as I sat in the audience and watched all the seniors receive their diplomas, I thought, “As hard as it is to see this time come to an end, I’m happy, too, and what I want most for my daughter and all these kids is for them to go forth unafraid, strong with love and strong with learning.”

And as I sat in the audience, and searched for my daughter’s mortarboarded head among the crowd onstage, I recalled that three-year-old girl going to school for the very first time — and remembered something else from those days.

Back then, she and I rode the bus to school, and I wrote a little video story about that bus ride, called “The Years Are Short.” Of everything I’ve ever written, this one-minute video has resonated most with people, and its truth, for me, has never struck me more forcefully. In my daughter’s childhood, some days seemed interminable, but the years have passed in a flash.

That three-year-old pre-schooler has become an eighteen-year-old high school graduate.

Now what?

Go forth unafraid.


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