Individual, Family & Group Psychotherapy
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Feb 28


Hi there – my name is sex addiction. You know me by several other names, including sex addict, behavioral addiction and process addiction. I’m an insidious form of dependency that is often not discussed with anyone because I use shame and guilt to silence you.

If left unchecked, I grow in power – making you take greater and greater risks. I will lie to you, twist your thoughts and ultimately destroy your relationships. I can make you lose your family, your job and even your freedom.

I use emotions like depression to fuel acting out behaviors and will distort your thinking to justify getting what I want. Even though you recognize the negative consequences for your actions, I always win out. You see – I am so much stronger than will power!

Here is what you may not know – I am vulnerable to 7 specific things that weaken my hold. If you engage in any one of these 7 things, you lessen my power. When you combine several of these items together however, I cower in the corner like a scared puppy.

I really should not be sharing this information with you – but I am going to do it anyway.

Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!

7 Things Sex Addiction Doesn’t Want You To Know!

1. Facing fears of intimacy

One of the things that tighten my grip on you is your fear of intimacy. I love it when you repeat unhealthy patterns of attachment and become distant from people in your life. However, when you address your fear of being close to others and take steps that promote personal healing, I shake like a leaf!

2. Healing your wounded self-esteem

When your self-concept is damaged, I will try to bolster your self-esteem by making you act out in an empty attempt at personal validation. This is particularly true if you have body image issues or if you were once sexually abused. Once you are able to identify this pattern of attention seeking and address it through forums like 12-step meetings and talk-therapy, I lose my intensity.

3. Talk-Therapy

When you use sex to “numb up” or emotionally “check-out” it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire – I love it! On the flip-side, I can’t stand it when you stop hiding from your feelings and begin the process of taking inventory. Oh – and when you talk to your therapist about how you use sex as a form of emotional medication, you send me running for the hills! Argh!!!!

4. Recognizing patterns

One of my greatest strengths is my ability to ritualize destructive behaviors. Here, I am talking about things like wasting hours on the Internet looking at imagery or spending money on “services” for hire. When you call me out on my toxic patterns and how they have become deeply woven into your life, it’s like taking a sword and plunging it through my heart. Oh – how I hate that I just told you this!

5. Mindfulness

A natural consequence of recognizing patterns is increasing mindfulness. Obviously, I hate this too because it means you are paying attention to how I have been screwing up your life. When you do things like mediate or bring your awareness on the here and now, I lose massive amounts of power.

6. Support of others

I am at my strongest when you isolate yourself from others and retreat into yourself. This allows me to distort your thoughts and engage in all sorts of psychological mischief. On the other side of the coin, when you start sharing with others who are struggling like you, my power starts to evaporate. Groups like Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous are kryptonite to me!

7. Self-care

When you are acting out and allowing me to be in the driver’s seat, I am at my happiest. But when you make the conscious choice to focus on taking care of yourself with the inclusion of healthy boundaries around different life areas, you make me miserable and weak. Now why the hell did I just tell you this!!?

Final Thoughts

There are boatloads of other things you can do to keep me at bay but I have run my mouth too much already. Yeah baby – I’m not going to give away the store.

Remember this – I am always here – just waiting for you to cope with your feelings in unhealthy ways. I love it when you live in denial because it allows me to flourish.

Oh – and I hate that I just told you that too!

Feb 24

Link between Chronic Insomnia and Mortality


By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor

Researchers have identified an association between persistent insomnia and increased inflammation and mortality.

Scientists from the University of Arizona found that people who suffer from persistent insomnia are at greater risk of death than those who experience intermittent insomnia.

Their study has been published in The American Journal of Medicine.

Experts say that although about 20 percent of U.S. adults are affected by insomnia, only half (10 percent) suffer from persistent (or chronic) insomnia.

“We hypothesized that insomnia that was persistent over eight years, rather than intermittent insomnia, was associated with death independent of the effects of sedatives, opportunity for sleep (to distinguish it from sleep deprivation), and other confounding factors in a representative sample of the general adult community,” explained lead investigator Sairam Parthasarathy, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson.

“An enhanced understanding of the association between persistence of insomnia and death would inform treatment of the ‘at-risk’ population.”

Researchers found that after adjusting for various factors such as age, sex, body weight, smoking, hypnotics, and physical activity — subjects with persistent insomnia were 58 percent more likely to die during the study than subjects with no insomnia.

The findings held for mortality that was cardiovascular — rather than cancer-related. The study also determined that serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an independent risk factor for mortality, was higher in subjects with persistent insomnia.

Intermittent insomnia also appeared to be associated with mortality although statistical adjustments for factors such as body mass index, smoking status, and regular physical activity, showed that excess risk was not present.

In the research, investigators assessed the persistence of insomnia complaints in 1409 adult participants from the Tucson Epidemiological Study of Airway Obstructive Disease (TESAOD).

The study commenced in 1972 with multiple follow-up surveys to 1996 and continuous mortality follow-up data to 2011 for a total of 38 years. Blood was collected and serum samples cryopreserved at baseline in 1972 and subsequently at multiple time points.

Questions about sleep and related habits were inserted in the two surveys completed between 1984 and 1985 and between 1990 and 1992.

The persistence of insomnia was assessed based upon whether insomnia was present in both the 1984-1985 and 1990-1992 surveys (persistent insomnia), in either but not both (intermittent insomnia), or in neither of the two surveys (never insomnia).

The level of C-reactive protein (CRP), which can be measured in your blood, increases when there’s inflammation in your body. Many believe increased levels of inflammation (an increased CRP) is associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke or heart attack.

In the study, researchers found that serum CRP levels increased significantly only in the persistent-insomnia group.

In those subjects where CRP data was available, persistent insomnia was associated with a 58 percent increased mortality risk (after adjustments for confounding factors).

CRP levels are themselves associated with increased mortality, but even after adjusting for that factor, the mortality risk remained at 36 percent for subjects with persistent insomnia.

Source: Elsevier/EurekAlert

Feb 22

By JANICE WOOD Associate News Editor

A new study has found that a lower IQ is clearly associated with greater and riskier drinking among young men.

However, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, note that the men’s poor performance on the IQ test may also be linked to other disadvantages.

“Previous results in this area have been inconsistent,” said Sara Sjölund, a doctoral student at the Karolinska Institutet and corresponding author for the study.

“In two studies where the CAGE questionnaire — a method of screening for alcoholism — was used, a higher cognitive ability was found to be associated with a higher risk for drinking problems.

“Conversely, less risk has been found when looking at outcomes such as, for example, International Classification of Diseases diagnoses of alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and dependence.”

“In this study of a general population, intelligence probably comes before the behavior, in this case alcohol consumption and a pattern of drinking in late adolescence,” added Daniel Falkstedt, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of public health sciences at Karolinska Institutet.

“It could be the other way around for a minority of individuals — that is, when exposure to alcohol has led to cognitive impairment, but this is less likely to be found among young persons, of course.”

The researchers analyzed data collected from 49,321 Swedish males born during 1949 to 1951 and who were conscripted for Swedish military service from 1969 to 1971.

IQ results were available from tests performed at conscription. Questionnaires also given at conscription provided data on total alcohol intake and pattern of drinking, as well as medical, childhood, and adolescent conditions.

Adjustments were made for socioeconomic status as a child, psychiatric symptoms, and emotional stability, and the father’s alcohol habits, the researchers noted.

“We found that lower results on IQ tests in Swedish adolescent men are associated with a higher consumption of alcohol, measured in both terms of total intake and binge drinking,” said Sjölund.

“It may be that a higher IQ results in healthier lifestyle choices. Suggested explanations for the association between IQ and different health outcomes could be childhood conditions, which could influence both IQ and health, or that a socio-economic position as an adult mediates the association.”

The main message of the large cohort study may be that poor performance on IQ tests tend to go along with other disadvantages, added Falkstedt. He noted that poorer social background and emotional problems may explain the association with risky alcohol consumption.

“In reality, other differences of importance are likely to exist among the men, which could further explain the IQ-alcohol association,” he added.

“I think a higher intelligence may give some advantage in relation to lifestyle choices,” Falkstedt said.

“However, I think it is very important to remember that intelligence differences already existing in childhood and adolescence may put people at an advantage or disadvantage and may generate subsequent differences in experiences, and accumulation of such experiences over many years.

“Therefore, another important explanation of ‘bad choices’ among lower-IQ individuals may be feelings of inadequacy and frustration, I think. A number of studies have shown that a lower IQ in childhood or adolescence is associated with an increased risk of suicide over many years in adulthood.”

Both Sjölund and Falkstedt noted that results may vary among cultures and countries.

“I think that large parts of the association between IQ and alcohol consumption may be indirect and mediated by experiences in everyday life and differences in social situations,” said Falkstedt.

“It is not necessarily about making intelligent or unintelligent choices. For instance, in countries with weak social safety nets and high alcohol consumption among low-wage workers and the unemployed, I assume the association could be stronger than in economically more-equal countries, perhaps also among the young.”

Sjölund added that “we must be very careful in making any attempt to generalize our results to women, since their level of consumption and patterns of drinking likely differ in comparison with men.”

The study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, the official journal of the Research Society on Alcoholism and the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism.

Source: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

Feb 20

6 Things That Can Worsen Depression


There are many articles about things you can do to improve your depression. But what about staying away from those things that can make it worse?

“There are many things a person who lives with depression needs to be mindful of for better well-being,” according to Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the valuable book Living with Depression.

Below, she shared six triggers that can exacerbate depression — and what you can do to minimize or cope with them.

1. Stress.

A surplus of stress spikes the hormone cortisol, Serani said. “Cortisol keeps us in an ‘emergency ready’ state, with states of arousal and irritability that tax our already fatigued body and mind.” To minimize stress, Serani suggested delegating tasks, dividing projects into digestible parts and learning to say no. “Above all, resist the tendency to take on too much at home, work or school,” she said. Check out these other articles on shrinking stress:

5 Ways to Stress Less
6 Ways to Stress Less at Work
10 Practical Ways to Handle Stress
Therapists Spill: The Best Ways to Shrink Stress & Anxiety
2. Sleep.

The relationship between sleep and depression is a complicated one. People with depression tend to have disrupted sleep. And people with sleep disorders – specifically insomnia — seem to be more susceptible to depressive symptoms. Too little or too much sleep can aggravate depression.

“Making sure the architecture of your sleep cycle is predicable and sound will help keep depression symptoms from worsening,” Serani said. Consistency is key in enhancing sleep quantity and quality. Go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, she said. And if you take naps, make sure they don’t sabotage nighttime sleeping, she added.

3. Food.

The relationship between food and mood also is complex. But some studies have suggested that certain foods are associated with depression. For instance, this prospective study found a link between trans unsaturated fatty acids and depression risk. Foods high in sugar or simple carbohydrates can spike glucose levels and mess with mood, Serani said. Alcohol and too much caffeine can make you more irritable and also boost blood sugar levels, she said.

4. Toxic people.

Serani described toxic people as “negative and corrosive.” They don’t grasp how depression actually affects your life, she said. Avoid interacting with these individuals altogether, or at least try to have others around who can temper their toxicity, she said.

And focus on having great people in your life. “Part of living with depression requires you to learn how to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones, so having people in your life that are affirmative, nurturing and accepting of who you are will help ground you in a better healing environment,” Serani said.

5. Media.

Upsetting and disturbing news and stories can exacerbate depression. “I know that my depressive symptoms worsen if I’m exposed to horrifying news, startling stories or dramatic films,” Serani said. She keeps up with current events by reading selective stories. Figure out what medium you’re most comfortable with. And learn your own signs that you’ve absorbed enough information, she said.

6. Anniversary reactions.

Around or on the date of a past traumatic event, some people experience the same distressing symptoms they originally felt. Events that might trigger an anniversary reaction include anything from a loved one’s passing to a stressful doctor’s appointment, Serani said.

She suggested readers “take a look at the dates on the calendar to raise awareness of any emotional days that may be coming up.” Knowing these days are coming up will help you better prepare for them, she said. For instance, let your loved ones know about potentially problematic days, she said. “See if they can check in on you or offer support in some way.”

?What tends to aggravate your depression?
What helps you minimize or cope with that trigger?

Feb 14

Brian Williams Misremembers


Could America’s most trusted news anchor be a pathological liar? Post published by Dale Archer M.D. on Feb 13, 2015 in Reading Between the (Head)Lines

Brian Williams, arguably the most trusted news anchor in America, no doubt is contemplating the ruination of his 20 year career and wondering how it all went so wrong. He’s not the only one. The NBC Nightly News anchor was placed on a figurative pedestal, along with other highly reliable and esteemed newsmen, such as Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw. When Williams reported it, we believed him.

This is in stark contrast to how we view our politicians. When a political leader opens his mouth, we immediately believe he’s lying, so much so that politicians and truth have become an oxymoron. I’m going to go out on a limb and say most (all?) politicians in the media spotlight lie on a consistent basis. Americans not only accept it—we expect it. To be fair it’s not easy trying to please everyone from the base to the fringes without (more than) the occasional falsehood. The question is, why do we hold our news reporters to such a higher level of integrity than our politicians—or even ourselves?

The statistics (link is external) don’t lie. As for Americans: 12 percent of adults admit to lying often; 60 percent lie at least once within a 10 minute conversation; 80 percent of women admit to telling half-truths; 31 percent of Americans lie on their resume; 32 percent lie to their doctor; 30 percent lie about their diet and exercise habits. For those who lie, statistically they lie 11 times a week. These, of course, are statistics from those who admit to lying, thus they almost certainly underestimate the incidence. After all if you are a true liar, why be honest and admit it, even anonymously?

The “Science of Honesty (link is external)”, a 10 week study, found that out of the 110 participants, half who were instructed to stop all lies showed an improved mental and physical health. They had fewer headaches, sore throats and weren’t as tense or unhappy. The other half who continued their lying ways experienced no change regarding physical ailments. So lying is not good for us—right, whatever. The next time you get a cold stop lying and see if you feel better.

The point is that it’s ingrained in our culture from athletes who use PEDs, to CEOs who put themselves first over shareholders; from reality shows that glorify the double cross, to politicians who will say whatever is needed to get elected. It’s ubiquitous, begging the question could we stop even if we wanted to? No matter, we still love to judge others.

Williams’ firestorm began while paying tribute to some US Iraq War veterans on late-night television. He graphically and emphatically recalled an episode of being in a Chinook helicopter when it was shot down by an RPG. He told America that he and his television crew were stranded in the desert for two nights. It was a great story, both gripping and mesmerizing. The only problem was that the Chinooks that took the hits were filled with servicemen from the 159th Aviation Regiment. Williams and his camera crew were in another helicopter, traveling 30 minutes behind. The gripping and compelling account was a lie.

Williams had recalled this story a few times over the years and his television crew was in the helicopter with him, yet during all this time, no one from NBC came forward to contradict the episode. Finally the servicemen who were in the two hit helicopters came forward and challenged his veracity.

Initially, Mr. Williams said his memory was foggy, then that he “misremembered”. Since then many of his claims are being questioned, from an account of being robbed at gunpoint (link is external) in the late 1970s while selling Christmas trees to looking out the window of the New Orleans’ Ritz-Carlton and seeing a body floating face down (link is external) after Hurricane Katrina. The problem is that there was no flooding around the Ritz-Carlton.

These exaggerations, embellishments and lies have become a free-for-all on Twitter where users are taking turns poking fun at Williams’ expense, making #BrianWilliamsMisremembers (link is external) the number one trending topic in the US.

NBC suspended Williams for six months without pay while they investigate the facts. NBC CEO Steve Burke shared these sentiments, “By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.”

What a difference a day makes. Overnight the investigation has brought more questions than answers. Story after story Williams shared, usually on late night television, is now being scrutinized and questioned.

Williams told of helping with preparations at Catholic University when Pope John Paul II visited the campus. The year was 1979. In 2002 he simply mentioned he was there. In 2004, during the commencement address at Catholic University, his highlight was shaking hands with the pope during his visit. In 2005, after the pope’s death, the story became very colorful and detailed. In this version, Williams was a student. He began chatting with a Secret Service agent who told Williams all the minute details of the pontiff’s itinerary. Williams positioned himself where the pope was going to walk. When the time came, Williams held out his hand and Pope John Paul II grabbed his hands in both of his, made the sign of the cross and blessed him. As of yet, it is unknown which version is true in this changing drama.

During the Iraq War, Williams claims to have flown with members of SEAL Team Six. They exchanged stories becoming quite chummy and later one of them sent him a souvenir from the daring commando raid against Osama bin Laden. Ex SEAL sniper Brandon Webb (link is external) said, “My initial reaction is it sounds completely preposterous. There’s a healthy dislike towards embedded journalists within the SEAL community….Those guys don’t take journalists with them on missions.”

We say we want just the facts, but are we lying to ourselves? We like action and compelling stories. We enjoy newsmen who go out in the field, putting themselves in harm’s way while we remain glued to our seats listening to their fantastic stories. Williams delivered all of the above in a very compelling way. Only now we’re learning some of these things never happened and though we are outraged, was the entertainment value any less at the time?

We know now that Williams was tired of anchoring NBC News and wanted to become a late-night comedian. He lobbied NBC executives to take over Jay Leno’s position (link is external) on The Tonight Show. The executives quickly let him know that was not going happen—he was a news anchor, not an entertainer. Williams became a frequent visitor on late night talk shows, and in fact, told his Iraq story first on the Late Show with David Letterman. John Stewart from The Daily Show quipped that Williams suffered from “Infotainment Confusion Syndrome”, which “happens when the celebrity cortex gets its wires crossed with the medulla anchordalla.”

With Williams’ stories being questioned and rebuked, things aren’t looking good for the suspended anchorman. The lies being told are so far-fetched and so detailed, it begs the question: Is Williams a pathological liar? In the New York Times, Maureen Dowd said NBC executives knew Williams had a problem but they weren’t prepared to handle it. He always traveled with a news entourage and they clearly knew stories were being stretched or made up, but said nothing. Williams and his embellishments became the joke of the network’s news division. Perhaps the first tenant of journalism 101 should be, reporting the news and being an entertainer are not the same.

Once trust is lost, it’s difficult to get back. It’s possible, but it takes work and time. Politicians have been caught in lies, but with well-placed and profuse apologies, careers have been saved. Can Williams do this? If it would have been just one instance, then absolutely. We love to beat our heroes up when they stumble, but will also embrace their reemergence if we feel enough penance has been paid. A few deep, sincere apologies coupled with some time off, and America would have given him a second chance. However, every new questionable story coming out sends him deeper into the abyss of irrelevance.

As for us, why do we accept (or even expect) lying from some and not others? Who could possibly forget Nixon’s “I am not a crook”, or Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” or Lance Armstrong’s constant doping denials. How do some survive with their career and reputation intact, while others crash and burn? Have we, as a country, just given up on integrity? No, that’s not it. But, until we stop accepting the double standard that some lies are okay, while others not so much, we will keep getting what we deserve from athletes, celebrities, politicians, CEOs and most importantly, each other.

Feb 13

Do You Have Any Of These Borderline Traits?



Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) doesn’t have to be diagnosed in order for borderline-like traits to wreak havoc in your life. Just having one or two BPD-like symptoms can be enough to derail relationships and create obstacles to personal and professional satisfaction in life.

Do any of the following* sound like they apply to you or your life?

You lie often and/or compulsively

You are irritable and fly off the handle easily

Your problems seem to be more “dramatic” or “catastrophic” than other people’s

On reflection, your behavior is risky or dangerous to you or others

You feel generally unhappy or discontented and wish things were different for you

Your behavior is self-destructive

You harm yourself (cutting for example)

You don’t have many inhibitions, don’t really like the social niceties and feel and live with a general lack of restraint

Sometimes you wish you just “weren’t here”

You feel like you have no friends or meaningful relationships or feel socially isolated or lonely

Your friendships and interpersonal relationships are rocky and painful and intense

You feel like other people are either unbelievably great and you love them intensely or else they are terribly horrible and you loathe them–there’s no real in-between

Your friendships and relationships are fleeting–they never seem to last

It’s difficult or impossible for you to feel pleasure

You like giving presents and doing things for others–but only if you feel like it

Sometimes you feel that you are “better” than most people, other times, you feel secretly like something is totally wrong with you and that most people are “better” than you

You change your plans for the future such as school and career swiftly, often, or dramatically

You quit or get fired from jobs frequently

You binge eat, are promiscuous, and/or drive recklessly

Your are more impulsive than most

You feel a lot of anger, rage or hostility

You engage in illegal behavior (theft/shoplifting, doing illicit drugs, breaking other laws, see risky behavior too)

You are plagued with feelings of shame and guilt

You are “moody”, have mood swings

You feel empty at times and it is scary and uncomfortable or makes you feel numb

You feel stressed, panicky or anxious

Everyone else seems to have better luck than you with jobs and relationships

You feel “outside” yourself, cut-off from yourself, feel disoriented when you see yourself in a mirror

Frantic, angry, or depressed reactions to feeling abandoned

Your moods change swiftly

If you do not not meet the diagnostic criteria for BPD but have three or fewer bordeline traits, you may still find Dialectical Behavior Therapy helpful–it’s one of the most effective therapies for BPD but can help you develop skills for handling a lot of uncomfortable feelings and behaviors.
Cultivating emotional awareness–learning how to identify and understand your feelings and emotions in the present moment–can also be helpful. And, learning how to seek and identify the “good points” inside yourself and others can be another effective method of dealing with one or two borderline-like traits.

Feb 12

Don’t Underestimate The Value Of Failure



Just ask anyone who’s ever succeeded.

As a boy in New Zealand, Edmund Hillary dreamed of becoming a mountain climber and as a young man, he set his sights on Mount Everest, at 29,029 feet, the world’s highest peak, and one that no one had ever successfully summited. His first attempt to conquer Everest in 1951 ended in failure. Defeated, he faced his investors, the London Explorers Club, who had lost all their money. He stood at the podium in front of a projected picture of Everest and said, “I will defeat you, Everest, because you cannot get any bigger–but I can.” Two years later, on his second attempt to defeat Everest, Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit of Everest at 11:30 AM on May 29, 1953. The conquest of Everest was announced on the eve of Elizabeth II’s coronation, and the new queen knighted Hillary when he returned to Britain.

Edmund Hillary had the imagination to envision an outcome that had previously been viewed as impossible by a large percentage of the world’s population. Equally important, he was consumed by a drive to fulfill his vision that would possess him until he got big enough to accomplish that feat.

Hillary, who as a child was smaller and physically weaker than his peers literally got bigger and grew to be six feet five inches in height by the time that he was out of high school. But it wasn’t his physical growth that enabled him to fulfill his dream, but the growth of his determination and his capacity to embody his commitment.

While all significant achievements require great heart for their fulfillment, most do not require an Everest-sized commitment. They often, however, require a willingness to challenge the outer or inner voices that tell us not to even bother trying, giving us a wide range of reasons and justifications to talk us out of “going for the gold”.

In the realm of relationships, the “gold” is the experience of a committed partnership that provides a haven of love, trust and support in which both partners experience an ongoing ascendance towards increasingly greater fulfillment, self-realization, and contribution.

Many of us possess doubts and fears that such a lofty goal is unattainable. Feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, shame, or undeservedness can override our deepest desires creating a justification to reduce or even eliminate our vision of what we truly long for in our lives. There are always obstacles between ourselves and the realization of our dreams, most of which seem to be external, yet the biggest obstacles are our internal limiting beliefs and expectations that “protect” us from taking risks that could result in failure and disappointment.

We’ve all heard that relationships require a lot of work, but rarely do we hear much about what the nature of that work actually is. Contrary to popular belief, it ‘s generally less about and your partner working on your relationship together, and more about each of you doing the inner work that you need to do in order to manage your protective, fear-based beliefs that keep you from giving a whole-hearted effort to the fulfillment of the vision of your deepest desires.

Doing so involves the cultivation of qualities such as courage, imagination, intentionality, and perseverance, among other things. Focusing on strengthening of the traits that can promote the development of our character, rather than continuing a preoccupation with the reasons why we are incapable or unqualified to fulfill our dreams can be the most direct path to success.

See if you can think of something in your life that you accomplished that at a former point you believed was out of your reach and impossible for you to ever achieve. Perhaps it was a physical or sports-related feat. Perhaps it was getting a degree or diploma. Or becoming the kind of parent that you really wanted to be but feared that you were unable to be. Or forgiving someone that you believed you could never forgive. Then try to remember how certain you were that there was no way that you could ever do this, but somehow, you did.

Even when we’re positive of our inability to succeed at something, we can be wrong. The intensity of our efforts is directly linked to the degree to which we are willing to be honest we are with ourselves in regard to how important the fulfillment of our desire is to us.

Another component in this process is support. Frequently, our belief that we can’t accomplish something doesn’t take into account the support factor. Hillary made it to the top but he didn’t do it alone. He had an enormous amount of support that was an essential ingredient in his success. He attracted this support to his project by affirming his confidence and his vision with such clarity, that it became almost irresistible to the many members of his team.

There are some things that are more painful than failing. One of them is to fail to make the effort that we need to make in order to find out whether it is possible for us to succeed. In her ground-breaking book, The Five Top Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware who spent a great many hours caring for people in the final stages of their lives reveals that the regrets of most of those with whom she spoke with had to do with things that that didn’t do, chances that they didn’t take, opportunities that they didn’t accept, rather than things that they had done that they wished they hadn’t.

Each time that we challenge the internal voice or the external voices that try to discourage us from owning and affirming the legitimacy of our dreams, and step towards them rather than invalidate them, we grow in courage, resourcefulness, and self-respect, whether we succeed or fail. Another term for failure is “ learning experience”, and as every successful person will tell you, we need to have them in order to succeed. Fortunately, there are usually plenty of opportunities to learn on the way to the summit.

Feb 11

By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor

New research suggests our brain can compensate for a variety of neurodevelopmental issues by relying on a system in the brain known as declarative memory.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center propose that individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette syndrome, dyslexia, and specific language impairment (SLI) use declarative memory to help them overcome behavioral issues.

Investigators say this hypothesis is based on decades of research. Research findings are published in online and will be in a forthcoming issue of the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

Researchers believe the compensatory mechanism allows individuals with autism to learn scripts for navigating social situations.

Further, the system helps people with obsessive-compulsive disorder or Tourette syndrome to control tics and compulsions; and provides strategies to overcome reading and language difficulties in those diagnosed with dyslexia, autism, or other developmental disorders of language.

“There are multiple learning and memory systems in the brain, but declarative memory is the superstar,” says Michael Ullman, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience at Georgetown and director of the Brain and Language Laboratory.

He explains that declarative memory can learn explicitly (consciously) as well as implicitly (non-consciously).

“It is extremely flexible, in that it can learn just about anything. Therefore it can learn all kinds of compensatory strategies, and can even take over for impaired systems,” says Ullman.

“Nevertheless, in most circumstances, declarative memory won’t do as good a job as these systems normally do, which is an important reason why individuals with the disorders generally still have noticeable problems despite the compensation,” he adds.

Knowing that individuals with these disorders can rely on declarative memory leads to insights on how to improve diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.

“It could improve treatment in two ways,” Ullman says. “First, designing treatments that rely on declarative memory, or that improve learning in this system, could enhance compensation.”

Conversely, treatments that are designed to avoid compensation by declarative memory may strengthen the dysfunctional systems.

Ullman says compensation by declarative memory may also help explain an observation that has long puzzled scientists — the fact that boys are diagnosed with these disorders more frequently than girls.

“Studies suggest that girls and women are better than boys and men, on average, in their use of declarative memory. Therefore females are likely to compensate more successfully than males, even to the point of compensating themselves out of diagnosis more often than males,” Ullman says.

Declarative memory may also compensate for dysfunctions in other disorders, he adds, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and even adult-onset disorders such as aphasia or Parkinson’s disease.

The hypothesis may thus have powerful clinical and other implications for a wide variety of disorders, Ullman says.

Source: Georgetown University Medical Center

Feb 10

Mindfulness Reduces the Way Stress Affects the Brain


By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor

For the last decade numerous studies have shown that mindfulness training can improve a variety of mental and physical health problems.

Scientists, however, were unable to explain how the meditation technique actually worked. New research resolves the question by positing that mindfulness improves health by reversing or mitigating the way stress affects brain pathways.

Carnegie Mellon University’s J. David Creswell — whose cutting-edge work has shown how mindfulness meditation reduces loneliness in older adults and alleviates stress — and his graduate student Emily K. Lindsay developed the model.

Their work, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, describes the biological pathways linking mindfulness training with reduced stress and stress-related disease outcomes.

“If mindfulness training is improving people’s health, how does it get under the skin to affect all kinds of outcomes?” asked Creswell.

“We offer one of the first evidence-based biological accounts of mindfulness training, stress reduction, and health.”

Creswell and Lindsay highlight a body of work that depicts the biological mechanisms of mindfulness training’s stress reduction effects.

When an individual experiences stress, activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex — responsible for conscious thinking and planning — decreases. Simultaneously, activity in the amygdala, hypothalamus, and anterior cingulate cortex — regions that quickly activate the body’s stress response — increases.

Studies have suggested that mindfulness reverses these patterns during stress; it increases prefrontal activity, which can regulate and turn down the biological stress response.

Excessive activation of the biological stress response increases the risk of diseases impacted by stress (like depression, HIV, and heart disease). By reducing individuals’ experiences of stress, mindfulness may help regulate the physical stress response and ultimately reduce the risk and severity of stress-related diseases.

Researchers believe this understanding of how mindfulness training affects different diseases and disorders will lead to many benefits.

Foremost, the knowledge of how the technique influences stress should lead to better clinical interventions as practitioners will have a better understanding of when certain treatments are most effective.

This insight will help them identify people most likely to benefit from mindfulness training.

Source: Carnegie Mellon University/EurekAlert

Feb 9

Differences Between a Psychopath vs Sociopath



Society has conspired with Hollywood to put two seemingly-sexy psychology terms into our collective consciousness — psychopath and sociopath. Psychopath and sociopath are pop psychology terms for what psychiatry calls an antisocial personality disorder. Today, these two terms are not really well-defined in the psychology research literature.

Nonetheless, there are some general differences between these two types of personality types, which we’ll talk about in this article.

Both types of personality have a pervasive pattern of disregard for the safety and rights of others. Deceit and manipulation are central features to both types of personality. And contrary to popular belief, a psychopath or sociopath is not necessarily violent.

The common features of a psychopath and sociopath lie in their shared diagnosis — antisocial personality disorder. The DSM-5 defines antisocial personality as someone have 3 or more of the following traits:

Regularly breaks or flaunts the law
Constantly lies and deceives others
Is impulsive and doesn’t plan ahead
Can be prone to fighting and aggressiveness
Has little regard for the safety of others
Irresponsible, can’t meet financial obligations
Doesn’t feel remorse or guilt
Symptoms start before age 15, so by the time a person is an adult, they are well on their way to becoming a psychopath or sociopath.

Traits of a Psychopath
Psychology researchers generally believe that psychopaths tends to be born — that it’s a genetic predisposition — while sociopaths tend to be made by their environment. Psychopathy might be related to physiological brain differences. Research has shown psychopaths have underdeveloped components of the brain commonly thought to be responsible for emotion regulation and impulse control.

Psychopaths, in general, have a hard time forming real emotional attachments with others. Instead, they form artificial, shallow relationships designed to be manipulated in a way that most benefits the psychopath. People are seen as pawns to be used to forward the psychopath’s goals. Psychopaths rarely feel guilt regarding any of their behaviors, no matter how much they hurt others.

But psychopaths can often be seen by others as being charming and trustworthy, holding steady, normal jobs. Some even have families and seemingly-loving relationships with a partner. While they tend to be well-educated, they may also have learned a great deal on their own.

When a psychopath engages in criminal behavior, they tend to do so in a way that minimizes risk to themselves. They will carefully plan criminal activity to ensure they don’t get caught, having contingency plans in place for every possibility.

Psychopath Pop Culture Examples: Dexter, Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, Henry in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho


Traits of a Sociopath
Researchers tend to believe that sociopathy is the result of environmental factors, such as a child or teen’s upbringing in a very negative household that resulted in physical abuse, emotional abuse, or childhood trauma.

Sociopaths, in general, tend to be more impulsive and erratic in their behavior than their psychopath counterparts. While also having difficulties in forming attachments to others, some sociopaths may be able to form an attachment to a like-minded group or person. Unlike psychopaths, most sociopaths don’t hold down long-term jobs or present much of a normal family life to the outside world.

When a sociopath engages in criminal behavior, they may do so in an impulsive and largely unplanned manner, with little regard for the risks or consequences of their actions. They may become agitated and angered easily, sometimes resulting in violent outbursts. These kinds of behaviors increase a sociopath’s chances of being apprehended.

Sociopath Pop Culture Examples: The Joker in The Dark Knight, JD in Heathers, Alex Delarge in A Clockwork Orange

Who is More Dangerous?
Both psychopaths and sociopaths present risks to society, because they will often try and live a normal life while coping with their disorder. But psychopathy is likely the more dangerous disorder, because they experience a lot less guilt connected to their actions.

A psychopath also has a greater ability to dissociate from their actions. Without emotional involvement, any pain that others suffer is meaningless to a psychopath. Many famous serial killers have been psychopaths.

Not all people we’d call a psychopath or sociopath are violent. Violence is not a necessary ingredient (nor is it for a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder) — but it is often present.

Clues to a Psychopath or Sociopath in Childhood
Clues to psychopathy and sociopathy are usually available in childhood. Most people who can later be diagnosed with sociopathy or psychopathy have had a pattern of behavior where they violate the basic rights or safety of others. They often break the rules (or even laws) and societal norms as a child, too.

Psychologists call these kinds of childhood behaviors a conduct disorder. Conduct disorders involve four categories of problem behavior:

Aggression to people and animals
Destruction of property
Deceitfulness or theft
Serious violations of rules
If you recognize these symptoms (and the specific symptoms of conduct disorder) in a child or young teen, they’re at greater risk for antisocial personality disorder.

Psychopathy and sociopathy are different cultural labels applied to the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. Up to 3 percent of the population may qualify for a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. This disorder is more common amongst males and mostly seen in people with an alcohol or substance abuse problem, or in forensic settings such as prisons. Psychopaths tend to be more manipulative, can be seen by others as more charming, lead a semblance of a normal life, and minimize risk in criminal activities. Sociopaths tend to be more erratic, rage-prone, and unable to lead as much of a normal life. When sociopaths engage in criminal activity, they tend to do so in a reckless manner without regard to consequences.


We’re not kids anymore: Apologizing doesn’t make everything right. So stop saying it!

While there’s no way of getting around ever having to you’re sorry, resorting to repetitious apologies in an effort to restore trust and intimacy with your partner can produce unexpected results.

Unfortunately, this guilty approach to relationships often backfires.

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Saying you are sorry is a great way to soften the defensive energy that’s aroused when you’ve hurt someone you love. Saying you’re sorry reduces the defensiveness and that might lead to you explaining and even excusing your misdeeds instead of making amends.

An apology is a great way to let the person you’ve hurt know that you know what you did wrong and that you’re taking steps to correct it.

Check out YourTango for relationship advice
But sometimes the words “I am sorry” take us away from love and intimacy.

We are all familiar with people who say “I’m sorry” just so they can gain your trust and get themselves off the hook. It’s infuriating when we trust the words “I’m sorry” and let down our defenses, only to be hurt in the same way once again.

We’ve all been there at least a few times, and believe it or not, much of our confusion probably began long before we had romantic partners.

As children, most of us were admonished to apologize for things we did that displeased the adults in our lives. We might not have felt all that bad about our actions at the time, but when we were confronted with stern attitudes or shaming pronouncements we quickly learned to say we were sorry — even if secretly we believed we had not done anything wrong. The typical result was a forced and half-hearted “I’m sorry” directed toward our “victim” — often a sibling or playmate.

As children, the words “I’m sorry” can feel like a magic wand that miraculously erases all the tension and ill will, providing us with an easy reset on our human interactions. “I’m sorry” allows us to re-engage with the good graces of our parents, family and friends.

We’re Not Kids Anymore
Traffic tickets don’t disappear when we say we’re sorry. And employers have little tolerance for apologies, showing a strong preference for consistent results rather than empty promises.

But our personal relationships often emulate our childhood interactions, and it’s here that we may be inclined to abuse the persuasive power of “I’m sorry.” While I don’t think we should stop apologizing to our partners, there are different ways to do that. Some work better in long run than others.

For instance, many abusive partners resort to “I’m SO Sorry, honey, I promise I will NEVER do it again.” The words sound great and the emotions seem sincere, and yet the abusive partner WILL do it again and again.

Without a solid plan for changing their behavior, no amount of remorse or guilt will provide the transformation they may genuinely desire.

And worse, some abusive partners have no intention of changing; they simply want their partner to stick around so they can repeat their abusive behavior.

Although most of us are not in relationships we consider “abusive,” the pattern of apologizing but never actually changing is one we can all relate to.

Who hasn’t heard the words “I’m sorry, I will never do it again,” only to be subjected to repeat performances of the hurtful behavior from someone you trusted was truly sorry?

And who among us has a perfect track record of never doing it again once we have apologized for something? More often than we would probably like to admit, we provide our partners with repeat performances of the things we intend to stop doing, despite our best intentions. Wishing or resolving to do better next time might feel good in the moment, but by itself rarely leads to positive change.

How To Make Apologies Meaningful
How then can we move toward the change we desire? How can we turn our apologies into something meaningful instead of a mere recitation of “magical” words? We need to take practical steps that support the change we intend. That might involve reading a self-help book, working with a coach or counselor, taking up a new spiritual practice or otherwise obtaining help for realizing positive changes in our actions.

And while we’re working on our behavior, it’s also important to work with the underlying feelings that we experience. The energy of our emotions has a profound impact upon every facet of our lives.

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Take guilt, for instance.

Guilt is a powerful emotion. We can use guilty feelings to motivate us to change and grow in ways that not only improve our connections with others but provide us with a more pleasurable and satisfying life experience. Used this way, guilt can evoke positive change in our lives.

However, guilt can also become a habit. When we stay stuck in our guilt instead of allowing it to move us forward into a positive action, guilt can erode our self-esteem and even punish our partner. How?

Well for one thing guilt is an emotion which can create a sense of separation. It’s contractive rather than expansive. Instead of drawing closer to your partner and enjoying more intimacy, you may experience more isolation as your guilt becomes a barrier between you and your partner.

The end result could be layers of hurt as your partner first suffers the injury that led to your guilt in the first place and then endures your emotional absence while you indulge your feelings of guilt.

Let’s say you have admitted to and apologized for spending a sizable chunk of your mutual savings on a major purchase such as an appliance or automobile. Your partner is understandably upset and no longer trusts you to the same degree that they did before your confession and contriteness.

It seems like a lousy way to reward you for telling the truth. Nevertheless you continue to apologize, hoping that eventually your partner will finally forgive you and life will get back to “normal.” But life doesn’t return to “normal,” and your partner doesn’t forgive you. Instead, you find yourself saying “I’m sorry” about 20 times a day while your partner lobs cheap shots at your integrity.

What’s wrong with this scenario? Here is what is lacking: 1) Taking Responsibility to Change, and 2) Empathizing Instead of Feeling Guilty.

Use Guilt As A Motivator
Trust isn’t rebuilt with apologies. Trust is restored when we become more trustworthy and that is best accomplished when we take steps to change.

In this case, enrolling in a money-management course might go a long way toward creating change as well as inspiring trust.

Empathy is much more valuable to your partner than your guilt. We all want to feel truly heard and deeply understood. When we are the source of our partner’s pain, that could be particularly difficult to provide, but that is when it is needed the most. Giving your partner plenty of time and permission to grieve the loss in trust is a huge gift, especially if you are the source of that loss in trust.

It is far more productive to allow your guilt to move you into taking responsibility for your actions and into validating your partner’s feelings of hurt.

If you take responsibility and empathize with your partner, you can also experience a sense of empowerment and increased self-esteem. The end result could be more intimacy and joyful feelings flowing between you and your partner.

If your apology is heartfelt but doesn’t lead you to this place of joy and intimacy, then there is a good chance you are getting stuck in the guilt. Guilt can motivate positive change, but guilty feelings should not become a way of life!

Guilt can separate us from those we love, essentially causing us to abandon them. What those we hurt need most is our responsible action, our empathy, and our understanding of their pain.

Endless apologies and self-recrimination are an indication that guilt has become entrenched. Rather than leading to growth, it can destroy connection with self and others.

By using your guilt as motivation to take concrete, practical steps toward positive action, you can create a variety of uplifting outcomes for you and for those you love.

In this way, even potentially devastating mistakes can catapult your relationships into more joyful dimensions than ever before. But you have to ride the guilt like a wave until it deposits you upon the warm shores of personal responsibility and growth. When you develop a taste for this process, the sky is the limit!

This guest article originally appeared on Raise Your Hand If You’re Tired Of Saying ‘I’m Sorry.‘

Feb 5

15 Ways to Live Authentically & Amazingly



Anxiety, depression and unhappiness occur when people are not living their lives in a way that is congruent with their authentic selves. This is what I have learned after providing psychotherapy to a diverse clientele for over 20 years.

Also, I’ve noticed many people get stuck on the proverbial “hamster wheel” of life—an endless cycle of work and household responsibilities and obligations. Seldom do they pause to reflect about who they really are or why they do what they do. The lack of deeper meaning or connection to their work and life roles causes them to shift into autopilot—a state of unconsciousness and stagnation. They become disconnected from their true selves, their relationships and even the world around them.

A man came to me recently for counseling—an educated, articulate, likable guy in his 40’s. He’d never seen a therapist before and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. He hated his lucrative job but felt stuck in a pair of “golden handcuffs” because he has a family to support. He reported his wife was unhappy that he doesn’t help more with tasks at home—they bicker and had become emotionally and sexually disconnected. He felt badly about himself at work and home. Some bright moments with his children seemed to keep him trudging along. Having cocktails with colleagues a few days a week was apparently the way he coped with his stress, disappointment, and loneliness. It seemed hard for him to even identify his feelings, let alone express them in session. He appeared boxed-in by fears, self-limiting beliefs, and all the thoughts of what he “should” be doing and feeling… It was if he had shut down and lost his voice years ago—twenty years ago, to be specific…

Sadly, I see this scenario frequently in my practice. It’s my deep honor and pleasure to help people:

Reconnect with their true selves through “mirroring” how I see and understand them, their strengths & unique gifts.
Re-engage their important relationships via empathy, authenticity, vulnerability & open/effective communication.
Rebalance their lives with hobbies and leisure through the setting of healthy boundaries and time management.
Refuel themselves through self-care practices and making them a top priority.
Realign their work with their greatest gifts and life mission through positive thinking, tapping into their courage, and engaging in proactive behaviors.
Revitalize their passion for the great gift of life by practicing gratitude and connecting with their essence or spirit.
What a gift to help people recover and awaken! I love my life’s work….

I recommend the following to free yourself and live an authentic and amazing life:

1) Let your inner light be your guide. Connect with the fire inside your heart through quiet reflection, meditation or prayer. Consult the wisdom of your heart-center when you are faced with important choices and decisions.

2) Be your highest self. Remember who you used to be before your thinking limited you. Remember who you wanted to be long ago. Live as this aspect of self. Detach from your ego and connect with the authenticity deep within.

3) Let go of patterns and relationships that no longer serve you. Let go of unnecessary guilt and anxiety. Surround yourself with those who love you, believe in you, and want the best for you.

4) Speak your truth. Find your voice and use your words. Express yourself. If what you are saying is spoken from a place of truth and positive intention, do not censor or limit yourself. The truth will set you free and you will watch yourself blossom.

5) Open your mind. Tell your inner critic to buzz-off. Let go of judgement. Exercise compassion. Nurture creativity. Dream. Expand your thinking—the sky is the limit!

6) Open your heart. Let down the walls you think are protecting you, as it is only limiting you and your connections with others. Open your heart to giving and receiving the love you deserve.

7) Connect with your gut. Rely more on your intuition and less on your mind as your compass. The mind is overrun by ego, whereas the gut houses your uncensored feelings about your relationships.

8) Free your spirit. Sing, dance, play, stretch, move, make music, create art, breathe, laugh and cry freely.

9) Tap into your strength. The world wants you to be joyous. Everyone who loves you in this world and beyond wants you to succeed. Your thoughts are what is limiting you. Shift your thoughts to those that empower you to live the life you want. Access the support of your higher power.

10) Recognize synchronicity. Look for the spiritual web of connection between people and events in your life. Understand this is the way the universe gently nudges and guides you towards your greatest destiny.

11) Understand you are of the greatest service to those you love when you are happy and well. You and your life are sacred. It is your primary responsibility to care for yourself with great love. When you do this, your capacity for loving and caring for others will be strengthened, not diminished.

12) Choose love over fear. Reflect on the wisdom of Elisabeth Kubler Ross, “There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”

13) Live courageously. Ask yourself, “What would I do if I were not afraid?” Take risks (the fear of rejection is ego-based and limiting.) Expand your comfort zone (it’s normal to be nervous; do it anyway.) Be open to new experiences (live a great life.)

14) Practice gratitude. Train your mind to see the good part in everything. See the goodness, the beauty, the kindness, the light, the love, and the joy.

15) Celebrate the awesome gift of life. Honor yourself and the life you have been given by committing to living an authentic and amazing life. Live each and every day to the fullest.

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” ~Buddha

Twitter: @Joyce_Marter and @Urban_Balance

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Facebook: Joyce Marter, LCPC and Urban Balance

Feb 4


Research has shown mindfulness and meditation-based programs to hold promise for treating a number of psychiatric conditions, including depression,anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Adding to this, a recent study by Harvard researchers soon to appear in Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging will report that participating in an eight-week mindfulness mediation program actually appears to make changes in the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. The study validates that reported improvements are not just a result of people spending time relaxing but of actual changes in brain structure.

Since this is too significant to ignore, it raises the question for many as to how to understand mindfulness and meditation in a way that makes a first step possible. If you are confused and a bit hesitant – you are not alone.

Clinicians inviting people to try mindfulness or meditation report that people are often confused with the difference between mindfulness and meditation. Many can’t quite conceptualize techniques that seem so abstract. Some resist because they assume that to try meditation they have to change their beliefs to embrace Buddhism. Some report they are too anxious to sit still much less focus their thinking.

Having heard many of these same questions and doubts, I invite you to consider a simple clarification of mindfulness and meditation and two concrete options that may make first steps possible.

What is Mindfulness?

The basic definition of mindfulness is being aware,“ present to” what you are thinking and doing. It involves noticing your emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events. Mindfulness is coming off autopilot. It is awareness without judgment.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. Just as there are many ways to stay fit – there are many ways to meditate.

Concentration Meditation is a well-known form of meditation. Concentration meditation involves focusing the mind on a single point. It often begins with a focus on your breathing. It can involve repeating a single word or manta, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong or counting beads. In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. It cultivates the capacity to focus and manage attention.

Mindfulness Meditation is another form of meditative practice.

As compared to being mindful in your daily life, Mindfulness Meditation is a more formal use of mindfulness techniques. Referred to as “ insight meditation,” it involves observing wandering thoughts as they drift through our mind–not concentrating on a chosen object as in Concentration Meditation.
The goal of Mindfulness Meditation is to cultivate a stable and nonreactive awareness of one’s internal (thoughts, feelings and sensations) and external (social-environmental) experiences.
A prime benefit is that mindfulness meditation practice leads to a capacity for suspending habitual patterns of reactivity that trigger negative reactions, thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Essentially one becomes able to respond in a more mindful way that allows for self-regulation and healthy changes on physical, emotional and neurophysiological levels.
A Concrete Example of Mindfulness

Whether or not you are ready for Mindful Meditation, it is valuable to understand how you might try using mindfulness.

Negative self-thoughts plague most of us. Triggered by events like negative feedback at work, an argument with your partner, or an overdue bill, you may have thoughts like “ I’m a loser” “Who would love me?” “ It just isn’t fair.” Such thoughts can ruin a day, lower self-esteem or start a downward slide to depression.
Elisha Goldstein, author of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion offers an important example of mindfulness.
Goldstein suggests that a basic example of mindfulness is the awareness of having a negative thought about yourself.
Such mindfulness provides a space between an upsetting stimulus and a habitual negative reaction.
If there is an awareness or mindfulness of your negative thought…then you may be able to use self-compassion to apply what Goldstein calls a fact check – Is this thought true? Is it absolutely true 100% of the time? How does this thought make you feel? What would your days, week and months ahead be if you no longer had this thought? Who would you be without this thought?
The different and wiser choice starts with a small step of mindfulness.
A Concrete Example of Meditation

Or a regular basis people report to me that they can’t stop worrying about the people they love. Since I have often found myself caught in that same trap, I suggest a meditation that is easy to do, concrete and comforting.

It comes from Ride of Your Life, by Ran Zilca. In his quest for inner peace, Ran takes a solo coast-to-coast motorcycle trip. Along the way, one of the experts he interviews is Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity who shares with him the “ Loving Kindness Meditation.” I recommend it.

“Loving Kindness Meditation”

Think of someone you love and focus on these phrases of love and kindness:

“May you be safe, May you be happy, May you be healthy and May you live with ease.”

By repeating and staying focused on these thoughts—you start to have these feelings yourself— A simple mediation is a surprising alternative to worry and stress.

Feb 1

Bad Driving Linked to Less Empathy


By TRACI PEDERSEN Associate News Editor

Individuals with a history of dangerous driving show relatively less activation in brain areas associated with social cognition and empathy compared to their safe-driving counterparts, according to new research published in the journal NeuroImage.

Psychological scientists in the Czech Republic monitored the brain activity of both good and bad drivers as they watched videos on traffic safety. The goal was to understand why some of us ignore the rules, putting others at risk of serious injury or death, while the rest of us abide by them.

“We use driving as an index of social behavior, assuming that more pro-social individuals will drive in a manner that is safe and consistent with road regulations, whereas anti-social individuals will drive more dangerously without consideration for others,” wrote lead author Jana Zelinková of the Central European Institute of Technology and colleagues.

Traffic safety campaigns often appeal to our sense of empathy by highlighting the risks that bad driving can bring upon others. For this study, the researchers showed groups of drivers a series of public safety videos designed to elicit empathic and compassionate reactions towards the victims of various road-traffic accidents.

The researchers hypothesized that dangerous drivers and safe drivers might exhibit different brain activity in response to videos showing the tragic consequences of risky driving.

Specifically, they assumed that rule-abiding drivers would show more significant activation in the superior temporal sulcus (STS), a region of the brain associated with facial recognition, empathy, and our ability to imagine the mental states of other people.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers compared brain activity in the STS between a group of 25 male drivers with no history of traffic violations or accidents and a group of 19 male drivers who had at least one instance of a traffic violation on record, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or speeding.

While undergoing the fMRI, all participants viewed a series of 12 short video clips of various driving scenarios in random order.

Six of the video clips showed the catastrophic consequences of traffic accidents (such as resuscitation and death), that resulted from a variety of dangerous driving behaviors, including speeding or drunk driving.

The other six clips were neutral control videos showing scenes of normal driving from car advertisements. Safe drivers showed greater STS activation than did dangerous drivers in response to the disturbing traffic safety videos.

Finally, participants re-watched all of the videos and were asked to verbally describe and evaluate each video clip. The researchers then evaluated each verbal description for empathy and affect. They found that subjects who were more focused on the consequences of actions of characters in the video also showed more activation of the STS brain region.

“In this light, greater STS activity indexes a greater interest in others rather than a self-focus,” the researchers conclude. “In other words, we suggest that dangerous drivers are less considerate of others in the situations comprising the videos.”

Source: Association for Psychological Science

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