Monday, December 22, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Here are some of the things I typically suggest to people struggling with grief during the holidays. It does not help (long term) to try to avoid the feelings altogether. However allowing yourself to be lost in them for long periods of time can increase your suffering. It makes sense to give yourself time to engage the feelings, to allow yourself to feel the sadness, hurt, or anger. If possible allot yourself a limited amount of time to explore these feelings, and then have some other activity planned to distract you for a while. This can be daily if necessary. If you know you'll have time to attend to those feelings, they won't interrupt the rest of your life as much. It is very helpful if you have someone to talk to about your grief, as well as if you have people to spend time with and not talk about it. I think having other people around for emotional support is the best thing you can do. Also journaling helps a lot. You have the opportunity to get some of the feelings out, and not get overwhelmed by them building up inside. My goal in doing grief work is to help people move from the hurt that comes from memories of lost relationships, to enjoying pleasant memories of that person or relationship. Photos can help facilitate this process.
I know that this is a difficult process. But it is a very important one. Especially important for kids too, as they often don't know how to handle these feelings. They tend to follow your lead. Please be mindful of that. Encourage them to talk IF THEY WANT TO. Check in on them, especially if they seem preoccupied, or sad. Finally, plan to have some enjoyable time. That is important for you and your family.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
So how do we prepare for our "golden years?" I do want to look forward to my retirement as my reward for years and years and years of study and hard work. I do intend for those years to be "golden." Let's deal with the tough stuff first: health and finances. Unfortunately, any familial predisposition we have for health or emotional problems (for example high blood pressure, arthritis, depression, etc.) tend to show up as we age, especially if we don't manage our stress well enough (which most of us don't). And speaking of stress, as the years go by it's effects tend to add up (see my posting of 9/28/08, "Stress, It Adds Up"). So my first suggestion is to manage your stress better. Financial problems are the other major concern that worries seniors. What can I say? Save? Pray for our leaders to deliver us from this economy? Do both.
Let's look at some other things we should do to prepare for our retirement. From my perspective, relationships are very important. Whatever obstacles you have keeping you from having them in your life as much as possible, overcome them. Love makes everything better ("All You Need Is Love," 9/22/07). Figure out how to meet that special someone. Make up with that family member that you have issues with. Loneliness makes things worse. Secondly, develop some new interests. There really is no reason not to do this. Fortunately for us in Florida, older folks are catered to a little more than in other parts of this country. Thirdly, and I know you've heard this before (from me), EXERCISE. Four, go ahead and look at breaking some of those bad habits that tend to linger, or return during difficult times. And finally (but you don't have to stop here), make your happiness important to you. Be optimistic. Have a more positive view ("The Glass Is Not Empty", 3/11/08). Love yourself, and allow others to love you. Reduce the amount of drama in your life. Find more peace.
So our first priority is surviving these difficult times. A close second, is preparing for a healthy, happy retirement. It's coming!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
They are a really great dessert during the holidays. It's like a reward for handling the stress of cooking, shopping, visiting, and entertaining (and the associated drama). They'll always bring a smile to your face, and those of your friends and family. They also make a good gift. So here's the best combination of CHOCOLATE, COCONUT, and WALNUTS that you will ever find!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I love this time of the year. It offers an opportunity to celebrate, and take note of the good things that I am fortunate enough to have in my life. It is especially joyous this year, as we can now also celebrate this country pulling together to elect a new president who offers us hope. Yahoo!!! I know also that this is a difficult time for many people, especially those who have lost loved ones, or people who have developed other negative associations with the holiday season. Some of us also suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (see my posting of 11/20/07, " It's SAD, ... But It Can Be Fixed").
This is a time to look forward. Make an effort to make this a good time for you and your family. As 2009 approaches, take a look at some of the changes that it may be helpful to start the new year with (see my postings of 12/2/07 and 12/12/07, " 'Twas The Night After Christmas" -parts 1 and 2). Have some optimism. And enjoy some easy Pumpkin Spice Muffins (and cupcakes!).
Friday, October 24, 2008
Now, many people who voted last time may feel that your vote was wasted because you didn't get the guy you wanted. Those of you who did get the guy you wanted, may be unhappy with his performance the past several years. And then there may be folks who want to be loyal to their party, but are not happy with that choice. So my suggestion is simple. If you want things to be different, vote for the person you believe will make things different. (If you don't want things to be different, please read the first paragraph again.) However, if your guy doesn't seem like the one who's going to fix things, and you don't want to vote for the other guy for some reason, then I think it's ok not to vote. There, I said it, and I believe it. I think it's ok not to use your vote if that is your informed choice, and it seems like it may make things worse. However, consider this statement that I read in Men's Health Magazine recently. "They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. (Andy Warhol)"
One last thing. Linda and I went to vote last week. We agreed that it was a momentous experience.
And thanks to those of you who have made comments on my recent postings. I really appreciate it.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
It is difficult to identify any one particular reason that a child develops ODD. Usually as an infant they were irritable, colicky, or difficult to soothe (but not necessarily). Children suffering from other problems, including ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, and learning disabilities can develop ODD, or similar behaviors or symptoms. A certain amount of oppositionalism is normal in the developing child (for example the "terrible twos"), and early adolescence is also a time when a certain amount of defiance or argumentativeness is normal. But ODD takes this behavior to an extreme. These children are typically not physically aggressive, but often are quite verbally aggressive.
What do you do if you have a child who seems to fit the above description, or has tendencies towards behaving defiantly beyond what is tolerable by you and your household? Because a kid who is angry all the time, or tends to "forget" rules or chores, or "didn't hear" you the 10 times that you gave an instruction and then gets mad at you for reprimanding their disobedience, can be very stressful. Once you acknowledge that you have a child with such issues, you have to change your approach. Yes, again, it falls on you the parent to make things right. Don't fight with them. In fact make it clear that the fighting is a problem, and develop alternative ways to resolve conflict. This will also help him or her learn healthy conflict resolution. Make sure that rewards for appropriate behavior, and negative consequences for oppositional behavior are in place, and understood by everyone. It helps a lot if your child has input into developing these. And although the rewards can flow as freely as you can manage, don't go overboard with the punishments. This means don't ground them nor take their toys/cell phone/etc. for too long. And be consistent, but flexible as needed. Your child should feel that they get the opportunity to try again to get it right. So praise their effort, and don't hold a grudge. Spend time listening, and talking to them about things that matter to them.
ODD describes behaviors of children and teens, but of course the habits that get developed can persist into adulthood. Handle this problem when they're young before they start getting into trouble with the law (or other authorities). They won't grow into that adult who has the anger management problem, is always losing their job, or having other problem relationships. Of course it will require patience. It really helps to have a same gender role model, who can calmly help point out the problems with this type of behavior and help develop alternative ways for the child to get their needs met.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Let's first address this change of perspective idea. Your perspective (free), your way of looking at life, is yours. You OWN it. You get to use it however you want. I suggest using it to change your focus to happiness as a priority in these hard times. Use it also to look at how you manage the important relationships in your life. Love (free) makes you happy ("All You Need Is Love", 9/22/07). Have more, and share more love in your life. Spend time with friends. Fix broken relationships, if possible ("Forgiveness", 10/1/07 ).
A walk on the beach (free) makes you feel good. It is relaxing, helps you de-stress, and helps you have a sense of inner peace (free). Very important in these times.
Pets are really good at lifting your mood. A friend of mine, going through some difficult times, told me the other day that visiting the Humane Society (free) for 30 minutes totally brightens his day. My brother-in-law and his wife, visit there regularly and enjoy interacting with the pets. My wife, actually, can get happy interacting with pets in the elevator, on the street, or in someone else's car.
Small things can have a big effect on how good you feel. Find things to do that make you laugh (free). Learn (free) a new hobby, or a new athletic activity. You may be surprised how much it helps your state of mind to help others, to volunteer (free).
Look. If you can't find some way to lift your spirits during these trying times, give me a call (free). Hey, just by reading this blog you've enjoyed something free. Receiving free professional advice, ... PRICELESS!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The point is that you will be effected. The first signs to look for can include insomnia, fatigue, digestive upset, restlessness, increased alcohol/drug/tobacco use, anxiety, nightmares, bad temper, depression, worrying, intolerance, isolation, resentment, loneliness, distrust, nagging, lowered sex drive, spacing out, negative self-talk, boredom, poor concentration, low productivity, forgetfulness, muscle aches, and on and on. If you are noticing these things in yourself, do something about it (I have some suggestions below). If you allow this to continue, then you'll start to see more severe symptoms. For example: headaches, colds and other immune system problems, irritable bowel syndrome, rashes, ulcers, high blood pressure, accident proneness, problems on the job, etc. It could get bad.
Here are some things that you can, and should do to prevent this from happening to you (and medicines tend to be a temporary fix). Exercise. Vacation (and for more than a long weekend). Play. Socialize. Improve personal relationships. Start a hobby. Relax. This is important, for you and your family. So if you can't make it happen, get some help.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
My concern here is trying to make some sense of the events of that day, and the aftermath. I still can't. A lot of people can't. I grew up in New York City, and still go back to visit regularly. The Twin Towers, and the people who worked there still mean a lot to me. I consider forgiveness as a way to deal with my sadness and anger, but I haven't gotten there yet. As you know, it's hard to forgive when you're still being negatively effected by the event(s). I do think about how to make lemonade out of those lemons. That's difficult too. Here's what I'm doing. I try to no longer sweat the small stuff. There's more than enough BIG stuff in this world to "sweat." Also I recall the feeling of unity throughout the country in the aftermath of 9/11. This was in spite of the surface differences between us. So I'm going to show love, compassion, and patience, more and better. Also, zero tolerance for being mistreated. And, I'm going to continue to try to do the right thing.
I encourage you to consider these things, and others as an ongoing commemoration to those people who were lost that day. Also, please send some prayers and positive thoughts to those families that suffered such tremendous loss on 9/11, and those families that continue to.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
We went on vacation last week. The "sour" part was the airline cancellations and delays, including an unscheduled overnight in Houston. At the same time worry about where Fay was going to hit. Do you ever notice that when you've been overstressed, and head out for a relaxing vacation, the stress takes a while to leave? Making the early part of the vacation less enjoyable (sour). So you need to schedule vacations that are long enough to have the relaxing effect that you need. Anyway, the whole week could have been soured by this turn of events. My daughter helped by texting me, "well at least you 2 are together." That was enough for me to take a look at what I do have, rather than focus on what I didn't have, and gradually change my sour mood. And that's how it can work for you. Don't just sit with the lemons and let them weigh you down. Squeeze them, add sugar, maybe water, and throw some ice in it. Sweet. Really, here's how it can actually work to lift your mood. Focus more on the here and now, in my case it was focusing on the person that I was with and appreciating the relationship we have, even though things around us were ugly. Also, you can consider less enjoyable situations that you've been in, and how good your situation is compared to that. For example, "I'm on vacation, not work" (and not in a hurricane).
So the point is to not let yourself stay in a negative place for too long. Except, sometimes it's hard to realize that you can get yourself unstuck. A good reason to have people in your life who can do or say the right thing to lift your spirits.
Friday, August 8, 2008
The other part is focusing on their unhealthy behaviors. In this example relationship behaviors. Having them practice different ways of interacting with important people in their life and getting a different response. Perhaps spending more time with the people who do care for them, and less involvement with people who don't show the caring, and see if it causes them to feel better. Often they'll also find that they can survive without the uncaring people, or sometimes those people change their tune once you leave them alone.
A very important part of this process is what occurs in the therapy relationship. My style is one of optimism, encouragement, focus on the client and their needs (instead of imposing my values on them), and giving them the attention and acknowledgement that they deserve. This type of relationship has a therapeutic effect. The client feels valued, and begins to feel better. More willing to take the risk of breaking old habits, and developing new healthy ones within the context of our safe relationship. CBT helps people break thinking and behavior habits that don't help them, and offers them an opportunity to develop ones that work. Ones that help them find happiness.
REMINDER: Freels Mental Health Group will be closed, on vacation(YAHOO!!) ,from Friday, August 15th until Sunday, August 24.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread refried beans over bottom of a deep casserole dish (or reasonable substitute). Combine cream cheese, sour cream, and taco seasoning with minced garlic in a bowl. Mix well.
2. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over beans. Spread shredded cheese over top. Bake 15 - 18 minutes or until hot.
3. Sprinkle olives, tomato, onions, and cilantro over dip. Add more sour cream if you like. Serve (warm) with tortilla chips.
Yield: 16 servings
As usual, I suggest adjusting the recipe for your own tastes and preferences. Try it. You'll like it.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Mindfulness has far reaching relevance, if we apply it to our daily living. We have a lot of non-thinking behaviors that impact our lives short term and long term. Even things we do, that we decided long ago are not useful for us that we continue to do. Habits are hard to break. So you don't have to decide to change things all at once. That's often just too difficult. Am I right smokers? So don't keep doing things unconsciously. For example, if smoking is your obstacle, allow yourself to be more aware of when and why you're having that particular cigarette. Even if it's "because I want to." Make a conscious decision each time you have one. Don't let it just be automatic. Being more mindful will have a direct effect on cutting down. We all know the consequences of this habit, so reducing your use simply by being more aware will improve your health. Being mindful of turning off a light when you leave a room (or unplugging electrical appliances that are not being used) will save you money on your electrical bill. By the way, FPL is making a rate hike (for us Floridians).
So let's expand this mindfulness idea, and apply it to other areas of our lives. Relationships: Being aware of things that loved ones do (cooking meals, kids helping out, a coworker or subordinate that does their job well without whining), that you may take for granted, may now require some acknowledgement. Health: You can you be more aware of drinking water, managing stress (including time to relax, play, etc.), breathing more completely, exercise, even awareness of the emotional eating that we do. Personal Growth: Have you gotten too used to the depression or anxiety you sometimes struggle with? Do you remember to appreciate the good things in your life? I think you get the point, but here it is again. MINDFULNESS is better than mindlessness.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The DSM-IV-TR describes ADHD as "a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity" that is displayed more frequently, and is more severe than what is considered normal for kids their age. "It must have been present before age 7," however many individuals are not diagnosed until later. "It must be present in at least two settings," and must clearly interfere with their functioning in those settings. These individuals usually don't pay close attention to things, are messy, don't finish tasks, are sometimes careless, and may appear to be daydreaming. They are usually impulsive (though don't always show hyperactivity; this is called ADD).
Family's typically have to adjust their life style to accommodate the member with ADHD/ADD. Unfortunately, often anger and defiance accompany this condition. The home of a person with ADHD can be very stressful for all. It doesn't have to be. The changes that you make in response to your child's needs should be oriented towards helping him to control the interfering behaviors, as well as facilitating his strengths. So, for example, don't call her from the kitchen to save a few steps, but go to where she is, look her in the eyes and give the direction. Flexibility is helpful. Controlling your own anger, and giving lots of positive feedback (when appropriate), and clearly defined consequences given consistently. Help them label, understand, and appropriately express their emotions (all of them). And never give up on your optimism, and confidence that your child can and will be successful and happy as an adult, having learned to cope with whatever obstacles confront them.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Scientific evidence proves, no, let's say strongly suggests that forgiving others has positive effects on your health and well-being. However, there may be certain aspects of our life that are currently influenced by personal views/beliefs that were developed from situations, or information that we've received. Consciously or not, we may hold resentments, fears, even anger towards individuals, or groups of individuals who may seem to have hurt us or people we care about. We therefore try to avoid these individuals, or treat them without the care and respect that we treat others with. In worse cases, we may pass this on to our kids and cause them confusion when dealing with these people (that we may or may not know personally). Of course this is how negative stereotypes develop. Also how negative expectations of people develop, and perhaps cause us to miss out on a beneficial relationship. For example, some people hate men. And of course there are men out there who do bad things, but to project that on to all of us is going to negatively influence those relationships.
If there are certain attitudes that you hold towards others (personally known to you or not), that tend to arouse negative emotions in you, consider forgiveness as an option to relieve yourself of some of the obstacles to your happiness. As I've said before, forgiveness is not always an option. If your resentments, even anger, interfere in your life in some way(s), and the object of those feelings is not actively continuing to hurt you, then it is time to consider it. I am not suggesting that you "forgive and forget." "Forgetting" may leave you vulnerable to similar situations in the future. Forgiveness relieves a specific emotional burden, and hopefully will bring you a few steps closer to the good health, peace of mind, and happiness that you seek.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
In addition to good incentives, I have a few other suggestions. Identify the areas of concern, for example, studying habits, organization, daydreaming, attention-seeking, hyperactivity, social skills, forgetfulness, conflict with peers or teachers, impulsivity, test taking, peer pressure etc. Next, develop play activities for your child that simulate the school situation. Role-playing is a good example. Your child can imagine being that kid that can't stay in his seat for 5 minutes. Through acting (role-play), with good enough incentives, he can prepare to perform much better when school starts. If it's 15 minutes a day, and fun (and don't forget the REWARDS), he'll break some old bad school habits and develop some new, more helpful ones. You should have several things that your child works on even though they may not be specific problems. Reading, writing, math, internet research, and any of the areas that you want them to learn new skills in, or to keep their skills fresh. Still, make it enjoyable for them. If you have to fight them to gain their participation, you have to get more creative. Fighting is not fun. Make the plans together with your young'un, even before school ends. As you're planning the summer's activities. If you need help, give me a call. (Also remember to read the "Back-To-School" Series from last summer to further prepare your child for a successful school year next year.)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
- "The Blamer" constantly complains about life, and dumps his frustrations on you.
- "The Drainer" is very needy, and asks for help, guidance, suggestions, etc. to help them feel better in the moment (It would be nice if these people ever did actually take the advice you give them). It's ALL about them, ALL the time.
- "The Shamer" is really toxic. They'll put you and your ideas down, make fun of you, yell at you, and often in front of other people. They'll also try to convince you that their "feedback" is for your own good. If you walk away wondering if you're crazy, the Shamer has done her job.
- "The Discounter" challenges everything you say. They are ALWAYS right, and exhausting. When dealing with them it's often better to say nothing, and just listen.
- And then there's "the Gossip." "This person avoids intimacy by talking about others behind their back." And, as you would guess, they're also talking about you behind your back.
Friday, April 11, 2008
I use a Cognitive - Behavioral approach. It addresses the thinking (cognitive) problems that support the illness, and teaches new behaviors to use in response to the situations which trigger the symptoms. It helps if the client is able to recall and discuss the traumatic event, in order to better understand and help change the irrational thinking patterns that have developed. For example, the sense of child-like vulnerability experienced when an adult with PTSD feels threatened by things said by an angry spouse. If that person can change their mindset to include the fact that they are now an adult capable of protecting themselves, then their response to the verbal "assault" will not be as dramatic. I often use relaxation breathing as an alternate behavioral response to practice in the presence of the "trigger." In the example above, relaxation can be used to facilitate a healthier response, instead of extreme anger and perhaps violence (to protect the vulnerable "inner child"). I focus a lot on what the client presents with respect to their perception of their experience. I try to understand their experience as much as possible the way that they do, in order to develop a treatment plan that is relevant to their needs. Some therapists make the mistake of imposing their views and values on the client and prematurely move them in a direction that the person may be unable or unwilling to go. For example, it may not be necessary to explore too deeply the original trauma, causing the client to "relive" the horror and pain they've suffered. In such cases I focus more on a behavioral approach.
The client suffering from PTSD must be highly motivated in order to do the work necessary to heal. It is helpful if they have a support system, which can include friends, family, their church. Not that these people need to know the details of the individual's situation, but they can provide encouragement, reassurance, or even distraction when needed. There is a range of stress reactions. There could be "milder" reactions that would not be considered PTSD (like the anxiety reaction some people have when going to a doctor's office), which may not relate to a trauma but to a negative past experience (or experiences). These can interfere with a person's life (for example avoiding doctor's visits) , but not incapacitate them. I use a similar approach to working with these clients.
If you suffer from PTSD, or have extreme stress reactions that interfere with your life (or if your child does), get help. You do not have to live with this forever.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
So, just to review. PTSD is a reaction to some really bad thing that has happened to a person (or someone close to that person) earlier in their life. The stress reaction usually occurs several months after the event, but could also happen several years later. The initial event could be remembered or not. Not remembering may be because it happened when the person was too young to remember (including prenatally, as when a pregnant woman has been abused and the unborn child is affected), or because amnesia (or blocking the memory) is a symptom of the stress reaction. PTSD can include severe mood swings; self-destructive and impulsive behavior; somatic complaints (eg. stomach or headaches), feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt and hopelessness; hostility; isolation; paranoia; damaged relationships with others; personality changes. People with PTSD often suffer from depression, substance abuse, panic, agoraphobia (fear of public places) and other phobias, OCD and other anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder. PTSD significantly interferes with the person's functioning in various areas of their life, including relationships, career, and general social functioning.
PTSD came to more popular awareness during the Vietnam War, when soldiers were coming home after experiencing the trauma of war. This is happening today as soldiers return from the war in Iraq. This illness also affects people who have suffered violent personal attack (including child abuse), torture, natural or man made disasters, automobile accidents, or have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
I have found that many people are affected by significant events in their lives, that effect them with a stress reaction later, but not to the degree of someone with PTSD. People who have learned to function fairly well in spite of earlier bad experiences, but still have anxiety, or depression triggered by a current event or situation (likely in which they feel threatened). I'll talk more about that later, as well as discussing my approach to treating someone with PTSD.
Friday, March 21, 2008
This is a recipe that my mother used to make when I was a kid growing up in the Bronx. Usually it was a Saturday meal, which could be reheated during the week. I used to love it. It's basically a baked spaghetti recipe. However, my eating habits have changed since then so, for example, I don't eat white pasta. I don't eat meat. Fortunately, reasonable substitutes for those things exist (though I'm sure using those foods in this recipe will still work for you if you like.) But I do have two products to suggest that you consider. I call them healthy alternatives.
The Myth of Tofu (Soybean Products)
I know a lot of people cringe at the thought of eating tofu or soy products. It really didn't used to taste good. Nowadays there are tofu products that do actually taste good to me, that I have been eating for years now. Many of you have heard of "Boca Burgers." Many current and former meat eaters like them as a healthy substitute for your local fastfood burger. I personally prefer Morningstar Farms products. They and others make burgers, hot dogs, chicken cutlets, sausage, ribs, cold cuts, cheese substitute ,even bratwurst. Now, I don't eat all of that stuff, but a lot of it is very good. I definitely say to try it.
I generally use whole wheat pastas, but there is another soy product I want to suggest that you try. It's called Shirataki Noodles. They are pasta shaped noodles (spaghetti, etc.) that are made from tofu. So they taste the same as pasta, especially with spaghetti sauce, except it doesn't do the diet damage that pasta (carbohydrates) does. I use whole wheat spaghetti in this recipe, but the shirataki noodles is a reasonable substitute.
This dish reheats well, and is low calorie, and low fat (unless you use ground beef, but even then it should be lean). Whole wheat is a healthy carb (the fiber is good for you). The shiratake noodles would make it lower carb, and higher protein. Enjoy it. It is easier than it looks. Let me know what you think.
MOM'S PIZZA SPAGHETTI
1 pound Morningstar Farms Crumble (vegetarian ground beef substitute)
1 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
1 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
2 teaspoons of oregano (and other spices are optional, depending on your taste; I like a little pepper, garlic, and basil)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large skillet, cook crumble substitute until brown. Mix in the spices. Mix spaghetti sauce into the skillet. Reduce heat and simmer.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Mix in pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked to your taste; drain.
Mix together cooked spaghetti, crumble and spices mixture, and half of both cheeses, and pour into 9x13 pan. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes, or until thoroughly heated and the cheese is bubbly.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
My religion is love, compassion, trust, happiness and hope. These are the things I pray for, to live these things as completely as possible. My politics are peace, equality, health, prosperity, and love of this country. My vote is going to be for these things. I'm not going to vote for war, division, fear, arrogance, and dishonesty. A problem arises when people's religious beliefs, politics, and lifestyle are in conflict. I mean, saying you believe in one thing and practicing another. I understand why that happens. People have thinking and behaving habits that have developed during their lives, much of which got started in childhood. We had no control over that. Fortunately, as adults we do have control over the choices we make. When our beliefs would have us go in one direction, and our actions take us elsewhere we can develop emotional, relationship, or health problems. For example, we feel (and even say) we love someone. Then we're mean to them. Or we pray for peace, but vote for war. We say we believe that "all men (and woman) are created equal." Then we mistreat a person because they look differently, or talk differently, or even pray differently than we do. The psychologists call this cognitive dissonance , and it can hurt us.
Ok. There it is. One more thing. If you're trying to teach your children your religious beliefs, and/or political values, they're going to get a mixed message if you're not trying to live those values also. And the old parent saying about doing what I say, and not what I do... doesn't work. Especially for teenagers. To them it seems, h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-i-c-a-l. So I don't mean to "unduly" influence you, but I do mean to give you something to think about. I trust that you'll make the choices that work for you and your family.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
There are a lot of theories about how we get OCD. I don't think people are born with it. They may be prone to it (ie. the "in-the-genes" theory), but mostly people learn it. We're effected by the influences of the care taking people close to us as children, as well as by traumatizing events. And we typically get a lot of practice with the thinking and behavior patterns. I've discussed my theory about habits before (see my blog posting of 9/14/07, on Anger Management).
To treat people with OCD is interesting for me, and enjoyable to see the client's progress, to see the reduction in suffering. It requires a lot of work. My primary goal is to teach the person to interrupt the chain of events (including thoughts and feelings) that trigger the obsessions and/or compulsions, and retrain the part of the brain that's responsible to respond differently. Dr. Jeffery Schwartz and Sharon Begley in The Mind and The Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, explain the "plasticity" (changeability) of the brain. I train the client in self-hypnosis, in order for them to learn to replace the anxiety with relaxation. And a lot of practice, first in their head (imagining the situations), then "in vivo" (in real life). We also discuss the early childhood family dynamics that helped lay the foundation for developing this illness . So there are definitely solutions to the conditions of our lives that distress us. It is up to you to find those answers, and with it (hopefully) the happiness that you deserve.