Wednesday, January 26, 2011


We all have certain innate beliefs that stem from our environments and our perceptions of the world. If you are looking to make some changes, challenge these few standard beliefs. Take a look at your life and see how each may relate to you. What situations have reflected these points? What choices did you make?

Belief #1: I am responsible for everybody and everything.
No, you are not. You are responsible for yourself, your feelings, your choices and taking care of yourself. Accepting your powerlessness over others will give you a tremendous sense of relief. You no longer have the whole world on your shoulders. You can free up your energy to focus on what you can control.

Belief #2: I can fix other adults, if I just care about them enough.
Wrong! We are not that powerful. If we try to control other people, we will fail. We will frustrate ourselves and alienate others. We may even push them further away from what we think they should do. Suppose we are concerned about a loved ones addiction. We cannot convince them to seek help. The only thing that will persuade them to seek help is the consequences of their addiction. All we can do is step aside and allow them to experience the natural consequences. Suppose we love somebody and we are fearful that they will leave us and go off with someone else. We may think that if we are hyper vigilante enough that we will prevent this. In fact, we will alienate them, and may push them away before they ever think about leaving. Whether it is your partner, spouse, child, boss, co-worker, sibling, or friend who is annoying, upsetting or worrying you, you have no control over them.

Belief #3: I cannot ever trust another person, they might hurt me, and I won’t survive.
There are people in the world who are capable of commitment. Intimate relationships do involve an element of risk. However, we can learn to be honest about how we feel and who we are. Then if the other person does leave us, we haven’t really lost anything. We will then be free to find someone who deserves us.

Belief #4: My needs are not important, and I should not spend time taking care of myself.
Your first responsibility is to yourself. You can’t take care of anybody else if you don’t take care of you. Tell yourself every day that you are important and deserve to have your needs met. Do you have any idea what they are? If so, make a list, and try to meet them. Treat yourself like your own very best friend. Please be nice to yourself. If you have no idea, start with the basics. Eat good healthy food, get some moderate exercise, rest, and try to do something that you enjoy.

Belief#5: When I see that others need help, I have to help them.
No, you don’t. Is it within your power to help them? Do you have the resources? Is it your responsibility to help them? Is this something that they are capable of doing for themselves? When we do something for others that they can do for themselves, we actually weaken them. What else would you be doing instead of helping them. Remember the three “C”s. You did not cause it, you cannot control it, and you cannot cure it.

These points were taken from a contribution by Joyce McLeod Henley, MSW, LCSW, CEAP, SAP entitled Changing Self-Defeating Beliefs and Behaviors.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Impressions...

First Impressions Are More Lasting Than Once Thought
By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on January 19, 2011

First Impressions Are More Lasting Than Once ThoughtEmerging international research shows there is more than a literal truth to the saying that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Experts have discovered that new experiences that contradict a first impression become “bound” to the context in which they were made, whereas first impressions still dominate in other contexts.

“Imagine you have a new colleague at work and your impression of that person is not very favorable,” said lead author Bertram Gawronski. “A few weeks later, you meet your colleague at a party and you realize he is actually a very nice guy.

“Although you know your first impression was wrong, your gut response to your new colleague will be influenced by your new experience only in contexts that are similar to the party. However, your first impression will still dominate in all other contexts.”

According to Gawronski, our brain stores expectancy-violating experiences as exceptions-to-the-rule, such that the rule is treated as valid except for the specific context in which it has been violated.

To investigate the persistence of first impressions, Gawronski and his collaborators showed their study participants either positive or negative information about an unknown individual on a computer screen.

Later in the study, participants were presented with new information about the same individual, which was inconsistent with the initial information.

To study the influence of contexts, the researchers subtly changed the background color of the computer screen while participants formed an impression of the target person.

When the researchers subsequently measured participants’ spontaneous reactions to an image of the target person, they found the new information influenced participants’ reactions only when the person was presented against the background in which the new information had been learned.

Otherwise, participants’ reactions were still dominated by the first information when the target person was presented against other backgrounds.

Although these results support the common observation that first impressions are notoriously persistent, Gawronski notes they can sometimes be changed.

“What is necessary is for the first impression to be challenged in multiple different contexts. In that case, new experiences become decontextualized and the first impression will slowly lose its power.

“But, as long as a first impression is challenged only within the same context, you can do whatever you want. The first impression will dominate regardless of how often it is contradicted by new experiences.”

According to Gawronski, the research also has important implications for the treatment of clinical disorders. “If someone with phobic reactions to spiders is seeking help from a psychologist, the therapy will be much more successful if it occurs in multiple different contexts rather than just in the psychologist’s office.”

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Kind of Newspaper

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Corporate Responsibility?!

I hope that you at least take the time time to view both videos and check out the link. This is becoming a huge problem, and I notice it more now since I am ont the road a lot in the afternoon as I travel home from work.

I do want a coalition for the promotion of blinker use, but this is more important I think and hopefully you think so too!

Oprah's No Phone Zone

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's Your Choice This Year!

I would like to touch upon the power of choice.  As you get comfortable in 2011, think about how much you control.  Every thought, every word, and every action.  Are you even aware that you can control your life, or at least your reaction to your life as it is impacted by others?

The Freedom To Choose: By Yael Schweitzer, LCSW, BC-DMT, Mindfulness Based Approaches / Contemplative Approaches Topic Expert Contributor

Being mindful means being aware of inner and outer processes as they present themselves in the moment. The main inner observations are the observations of thoughts, emotions and body sensations.

One of the instructions that I give while introducing the basic mindfulness meditation is: “The moment that you notice that you are thinking (rather than being involved in the thinking) is a moment of choice. You may choose to shift awareness from the thought and come back to the breath or you may choose to go on thinking, developing the thoughts, following them, and so on”. During the formal practice of mindfulness meditation, the initial intention is to shift awareness from the thought or to just observe it, but sometimes one chooses to stay with “thinking”. It can be because the thought is too luring, because it’s a habit to follow such a thought, because a new idea emerges and the person wants to develop it and implement it, or any other reason. No matter what one chooses, realizing that there is a choice is the point I’d like to emphasize in this article.

When I say “there is a choice” I don’t mean that one can willingly stop a certain thought, emotion or sensation. Thoughts have their own energy. The brain is trained to provide warnings, safety measures, reminders and so on with its constant efforts to protect us. The choice therefore is whether one dwells in the thought or feeling, encourages them or believes in them, or rather notices them without getting engaged or reactive. The acknowledgement of thinking, feeling, sensing is itself important. It’s like a wave coming at you when you swim – first you have to notice that it’s coming, then you may ride it or dive underneath it, and usually you want to try to prevent being trapped in it when it breaks so that it won’t shake you all over. The wave is there – you can’t choose having it or not – you can choose though (with some swimming instructions) how you meet it.

The awareness and observation of thoughts, emotions, and sensations allows a little gap between the appearance of the inner activity and “you,” and this gap enables having a choice. This is one of the main therapeutic “secrets” of mindfulness. When one realizes that there is an option, that the control is not necessarily in the content of thoughts nor in a certain sensation or feeling but rather in the observer within, one can take control over his/her life.

Again and again I witness clients discovering this secret and learning to deal differently with negative thoughts, worries, rumination, destructive reactivity and even body pain. Recently three clients realized that they have control over their thoughts and feelings and for each one of them it meant something else regarding being in therapy. One, who had issues with a co-worker that caused her lots of anxiety and ruminations, experienced the relief of having the choice not to fuel those and release energy to positive activities. She learned to listen to her needs and express them and overcame the anxiety and depression she was experiencing. She chose to terminate therapy, feeling that she achieved what she needed and has the tools to cope with future stressors. The second one is just starting to recognize her freedom to choose not to get engaged in negative thoughts that cause her to be depressed. Gaining inner control requires learning, practicing and experimenting. Breaking lifelong habits and habitual reactions is a long process. This client continues to work in therapy to strengthen and establish her emerging freedom. The third one came back to therapy after taking a long break from it. She acknowledges a huge change in herself that expresses itself basically in her ability to be happy again. She is able to face challenges with openness and courage and choose where she puts her energy. She came back to therapy to support the change and work on other issues with this new approach to herself.

When we talk about freedom there is sometimes a sense of magnificence and greatness, but freedom can be quiet and subtle. It can be just an inner sense of release, an inner sense of self-control, recognition of having options, an understanding that the essence of who you are is beyond the content of thoughts, feelings and sensations. Such recognition and this kind of freedom present an inviting potential to positively change your life.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I'll Make A Resolution For You...

Think about how hard it is to fight yourself everyday to accomplish the small goal that you have set for the year.  Eat more veggies, drink more water, walk three times per week, etc.  Why do we eat crappy foods?  Why do we get home after work and refuse to put ourselves through the torture of exercise?  Why would we rather have more caffeine than water?  Stress, anxiety, lack of energy, and our surrounding environment.

We have no more room for the "good stuff" we want to accomplish because our heads are filled with everything else.  What can you attain that actually makes you happy?  When you were happiest in your life what were you doing, and could you find that happiness again? 

I find that being aware is simply the first step to a happier life.  This article has insight on gaining awareness on your way to a healthier life--mind, body, and spirit.

 Michael Friedman, L.M.S.W.
Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University's schools of social work and public health

"Why There's 'No Health Without Mental Health'"from the Huffington Post

Old or young, neglecting your mental health is bad for your physical health and vice versa. If you have a chronic physical illness such as diabetes or heart disease and you suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder, you are at considerably higher risk for disability and premature death. Depression and anxiety disorders often express themselves through physical symptoms: stomach problems, headaches, backaches, sleeplessness, fatigue, weight loss, or obesity. People in the early or mid stages of a dementia, such as Alzheimer's Disease, are likely to also be depressed and/or anxious, and these co-occurring mental conditions reduce already compromised cognitive functions. If you suffer from a long term, severe mental illness, your life expectancy is at least 10 and perhaps 30 years less than the general population's, largely due to poor health.

Mind and body are inextricably linked. A decade ago the Surgeon General of the United States tried to capture this relationship by saying, "There is no health without mental health." He might have added, "There is no mental health without health." Millennia ago the Romans said much the same thing, "Sound mind, sound body."

Each year about 25 percent of us have a diagnosable mental or substance use disorder or both. Yet only 40 percent of those of us who have such a disorder get treatment. Why? Many people get help from family, friends or clergy. But many of us don't know when we have a mental disorder or are too embarrassed to talk about it openly. In addition, many primary care physicians don't ask questions to identify mental and/or substance use problems; and if they do, they may make referrals, which many people do not follow up on. Besides, in most places there is a shortage of qualified mental health professionals.

It is entirely understandable that many of us don't realize when we have a mental disorder because sometimes the symptoms of a disorder are very much like the ordinary ups and downs of human life. Sometimes we get sad, sometimes we are frightened, sometimes we ruminate at night and can't sleep, sometimes we are lethargic, and sometimes we are really charged up. That's just being human. But sometimes we are not just sad; we are despondent and nothing gives us pleasure. Sometimes we are not just anxious; we are immobilized by our fear. Sometimes we are not just having a little too much to drink from time to time; being drunk or hung over is getting in the way of our work or our relationships.

It is also entirely understandable that many of us are too embarrassed to talk openly about having a mental disorder. It is very hard to say out loud or even to oneself, "I am mentally ill," in a society in which being mentally ill is a curse.

And it is understandable that most primary care physicians are not very good at identifying mental and substance use disorders. They haven't been adequately trained; and, if they do identify a mental illness, they often don't know how to treat it effectively or have time for the part of treatment that depends on talk and human interaction.

What can you do to take care of your mental health?
1. Preserve it by staying active and involved with other people, particularly those you enjoy.

2. Try -- hard as it is -- to maintain enough balance in your life so you are not stressed out all the time.

3. Ask your doctor to screen for mental health problems. There are screening tests that you can fill out in the waiting room that are remarkably accurate. Of course, your doctor may not know what to do if you screen positive; but she/he is more likely to learn once there are test results just as they have learned to manage lipids because there are now tests for cholesterol and triglycerides.

4. Go to a mental health or substance abuse professional in a local clinic or in private practice.
Medical and mental health professionals cannot successfully treat all our suffering. Human life is filled with reasons to be unhappy, frightened and confused. But some of our suffering can be avoided, cured, or ameliorated if we make adjustments in how we live, recognize that our minds are integral to our health, acknowledge that we may have a mental or substance use disorder, and seek help when we need it. Treatment can be, and often is, effective.

Something on your mind but don't know where to turn? Call 1-800-273-TALK. This will connect you to mental health call centers around the U.S.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year, A New Outlook?

Please read this article. A famous model died this week from anorexia. Her interview with Jessica Simpson is provided for you below along with the link to the news story.

Isabelle Caro, Anorexic Model, Brought Jessica Simpson to Tears