All posts in guilt

Gun Control or People Control?

SB StrongIt’s horrible, unthinkable, and now fear and paranoia has taken a firm grasp on our society. Senseless violence against coworkers who are befriended for a time, a facade if you will, only to be eventually and brutally gunned down in the name of radical Islam (ISIS)? “San Bernardino Strong,” not one citizen of this wonderful community wanted to be put on the global map this way. However, they will be forever remembered for this tragedy, and I believe this will only serve to embolden more terrorists like these two radicals to commit more violent killings.

Gun sales were already at record levels with the recent mass killings in France. Now, we have been hit on our turf, it is real! Handguns and rifle sales are surging with gun ranges reporting all time highs in activity. We want protection, to be ready and safe. Meanwhile the President argues that disarming the citizenry is the best way to proceed. Interestingly, a recent Pew research study revealed that 57% of Americans believe that owning a gun helps protect people from crime. That it is up 48% from last year!

Our country is changing as is our mindset. The psychological impact that kicks in is that of “self-preservation.” On one level, this is our capacity or desire to anticipate dangerous situations and to respond to the cues that anxiety provokes in each of us. Also, this approach to self-care means that we become more self assertive in protecting ourselves and those whom we care about. This may well be one of the primary motivational reason people are buying their very first guns.

Where do we go from here? the Muslim community leadership admits that they are conflicted about having to come out and apologize for every incident that takes place with one of their own. Their people are afraid to come out in public because of the perceived and very real scrutiny. I do recognize their feelings and this is a polarizing point of growing contentiousness. There is increasing talk of possible internment camps to monitor all of the muslims, like there were with the Japanese Americans during World War II here in the United States. I’m a student of World War II and have read and known survivors who have personally sat me down and explained the horrors and atrocities of the holocaust. These discussions bring personal feelings of disgust and provoke deep swells of troubling uncertainty. The muslim community must police themselves, if not, this will quickly become something none of us wants or can stomach… EVERY LIFE MATTERS!!!

 

 

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Performance Anxiety

Excellent Average PoorThis time of year brings with it cheer and anxiety especially when it comes to those end of year performance evaluations. Yes, the dreaded sit down with your boss to discuss, explain, and defend why you should get that (fill in the blank %) increase for all the blood, sweat, and tears that were expended during 2015.

It’s always about the numbers, isn’t it? Well it is especially true if you’re in sales and trying to reach the all to often unobtainable quota. I remember the stress I felt even in the good years when I exceeded my quotas. The mental anguish that led up to the meeting was horrible. The idle chatter was excruciating, then came the evaluation, section by agonizing section with numbers attached to each one rating my performance from positive attitude to quota attainment to conference call participation to timely submission of paperwork etc. I’m sure that your review was similar.

There were horror stories of some going on for three hours, others being let go during their review. Still, there were those reviews that caused arguments to surface, yet, none achieved the intended purpose to challenge and motivate the employee. Why is that? Interestingly, it has taken companies decades to realize (with the help of the psychologists) that these reviews have a negative impact on their employees mental wellbeing.

Two corporate giants have already taken a different approach to how they will evaluate their talent which will dramatically reduce the negative mental impact while fostering personal growth in a low stress environment. Conversations need to take place all year long. For that matter, coaching moments needs to happen too. You cannot expect to show up at years end and expect a motivational conversation to unfold. Again, If these discussions are taking place throughout the year, communication increases, plans are adjusted, anxiety is reduced, teamwork is nurtured, and goals are realized. The article provides some valuable insight on what performance reviews actually do to employees receiving them…

Want to know if their review will be excellent, average, or poor then click HERE

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Alone or feeling lonely?

alone on the roadInteresting title, isn’t it? Did you realize that 4 in 10 people (40%), in our population will experience some sort of loneliness at different times in our lives? It hurts, it feels empty and cold. However there is an important distinction between feeling lonely and being alone. Understand that there are people who feel alone and really are alone. On the other hand, there are those people who actually choose to be alone, but, are not really alone.

Of course, we have all either been left alone, experienced the feelings of being alone, or possibly both simultaneously during some point in our lives, right? I think back to when I had to relocate to a new state and when I had to start different jobs throughout my career. I did not know anyone which really caused a lot of anxiety and those ugly feelings of loneliness took a toll on me. Naturally, these experiences can produce solitude and loneliness. So, if we are not careful, these feelings can have a negative impact on our physical health, as well.

Now, I want to point out that there is both a medical and psychological element attached to this discussion that I will touch upon. We do know that being alone, which we often refer to as solitude, can arouse one’s artistic talents and boost our concentration, yet, there is a frightening effect on your health. Mind, body, and our ageing process are all  negatively affected when we socially isolate ourselves.

Scientists have identified that our loneliness is tied to our genetic makeup. More specifically, those who experienced what we call “chronic loneliness,” their genes expressed a distinct pattern that produced inflammation in their immune system.  So, what does that really mean? Well, it means that lonely people have a higher probability of dying earlier because their immune system is not strong enough to fight off infectious diseases.

Psychologically, the impact is just as uncomfortable. Loneliness can lead to a mood disorder widely recognized as depression. It can wreck one’s self-esteem.  Confidence becomes fleeting as the tentacles of loneliness squeeze any and all feelings that one might yet have regarding being worthy of the attention of others.

If you sit back and really think about it, we as a collective society are are a social  bunch. We are wired to be that way since we were kicking to get out of the womb! We really do need to interact with each other to feel connected, be alive, and progress. Just as important, is cultivating an environment around yourself with those who you can mutually enjoy meaningful relationships with are, at least in my opinion, the best medicine.  Enjoying a life that you can be content with, active in, and flourishing is in itself the treasure of being connected.

 

 

 

 

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“H I V, hard three letters.”

HIVA couple of weeks ago I was intrigued by a frontline sensationalized article in a european newspaper. This online news source was breaking the news that a famous celebrity had HIV, but, was refusing to come forward for fear of the consequences to his career, costly lawsuits, and hatred and vitriolic dialog that would surely come from his announcement. The article was very descriptive and in telling that many famous actresses in hollywood, international models, TV stars, male and female porn stars had sexual encounters with this person. Adding to this, the pressure to come forward now and confess his acts.

Admittedly, I did wonder who it might be, yet, I thought this person was probably really agonizing over this decision and hoped he or she was seeking professional help. However, this article furthered my thoughts on what I could do to be a resource for people like you and me who have contracted HIV.

We all know now that Charlie Sheen is that famous celebrity who has contracted HIV. I watched his interview with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show and found it to be very insightful. I believe it was a smart move bringing in his personal physician who’s been treating him to explain the difference between HIV and AIDS. Let me pause here, if you did not watch the interview or read the transcript let me point this out, HIV is a virus that leads to AIDS. Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, however, he does not have AIDS! That is a very important part of his story that is being misunderstood.

What I look at are the underlying mental health issues that lead one to make harmful personal choices, put their health and others in danger, cope by way of addictive behaviors. Charlie was depressed. He self medicated with harmful drugs, toxic levels of alcohol, numerous hypersexual liaisons with prostitutes, celebrities, models, and porn stars of both genders. His angry tirades, non-sensical monologues (remember “tiger blood”), and erratic behavior went viral. He was a media sensation, a tabloid punching bag for months, and one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, as well.

I’m certainly not excusing his lifestyle choices, however, what I take issue with is that he was forced (blackmailed) to reveal his illness to the world. In the age of the internet, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat we are in everyone’s business. Personal lives aren’t! Social media is just that, social. Let’s step back a moment and think about this, would you want people to know you have a mood disorder, HIV, prone to long episodes of depression, suffer with paralyzing anxiety that build to spontaneous panic attacks? How about your employer finding out that you have OCD so severe that the compulsions cause you to take an inordinate amount of sick days? What about them finding out that your ADD is so bad that you have a habitual pattern of not being able to complete tasks, meet deadlines, or stay organized? You get my points, right?

This is bigger than Charlie Sheen, HIV and AIDs are very serious and continue to deserve our attention, but, not in this type of public forum. This a very personal struggle. Certainly, we can show compassion for the pain he’s in and he needs to be freed from the haters, opportunists, and blackmailers so he can concentrate on his health. At some point he’ll be able to put HIV in the RIGHT spot light. My hope is that we can be respectful of one another’s privacy, as we would like the same for ourselves.

 

 

 

 

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Let it go, how?

washing-hands-350Sometimes I feel like I cannot write a single sentence unless it’s grammatically perfect. The screen sometimes remains blank for quite a while for fear I’ll say something that might be misunderstood. Wait, is that a smudge on the screen, got it, that’s better. Hold on a minute this keyboard feels dirty…I just need to clean that up too, yeah that’s much better. Now where was I? Ah yes, I was putting my colored pencils in order from brightest to darkest colors, I think. Wait, I need to go wash my hands again.

Does this sound like you, or someone you know? Do you find yourself unable to let unwanted thoughts go? Maybe you perform some rituals like counting, checking, or washing your hands in an attempt to control your thoughts. It’s not helping though, is it? These rituals are compulsions and the unwanted thoughts that you cannot let go of are obsessions. These compulsions (rituals) can become so intrusive that your life begins to revolve around these rituals. This is what we call impairing your daily functioning.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I find,  is often an under reported and underdiagnosed disorder. OCD typically develops in early adolescence and can be easily overlooked as quirky behavior. However, as children grow into their teens the obsessive thoughts and compulsions become more obvious to those most closest to them.  I find that my clients have become expert at masking their symptoms to the outside world, but, it takes a terrible toll on their self-esteem, happiness, and as a result they really struggle to find meaning in their lives.

However, there is hope, there are tools, and there are medications that can all help you manage these symptoms of OCD. Remember, as with everything in life it will take consistent effort, patience in the process, a trusted therapist, a good psychiatrist, and family support. You must see the process through to the finish. There is guilt and shame to work through, as well. At times, you may battle the ugliness of depressive feelings, or debilitating symptoms of anxiety.  Take heart, you will get through this with a good therapist, learned tools, family support, proper medication, and perseverance. I have witnessed this time and again with my clients! So, do your research and become educated. Please do not beat yourself up, but, do get help!

 

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Seasonal Blues, is this you?

sad womanSo much chaos in the world, yet, on the lighter side, do you realize that Thanksgiving is just a little bit over a week away. Then Hanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are less than a month after that new shopping phenomenon call “Black Friday.” Yes, this truly is the season of giving thanks, spreading cheer, joining with friends and family in seasonal bliss.

However, this is also the time of year that my practice becomes very busy with overwhelmed and depressed clients. Why aren’t they out there enjoying the holiday season? Simply put, it’s the pressure, unrealistic expectations and seasonal blues that get in the way of the enjoyment.

Every year without fail, millions of us pull out the ornaments, prop up the trees, climb up the ladders to hang up the lights, roll out reindeers on the lawn (you know who you are). Let’s not forget the annual family letters that are written (still), cookies baked by the dozens and dozens, gingerbread houses artfully decorated with the kiddos. Then there are all the choirs, school, church and community festivities…oh my!

We are a busy society, did I forget to mention running around searching for this year’s must have gift! What about family visitors for the holidays, cleaning the house, buying all the food and having the carpets cleaned (and the dog needs to be groomed too). You see… seasonal blues!

If we don’t do it all we feel guilty. We look out the window at the neighbor’s house, their lights are up the minute the Thanksgiving turkey was finished.  These feeling create anxiety which in turn fuel what we call Seasonal Affective Disorder which is appropriately referred to as SAD This is characterized by apathy and a general feeling of lethargy. Yes, then comes the insatiable cravings for sweets (more brownies and fudge please) any carbohydrates will do! Naturally, your sleep becomes more excessive, concentration falls off, as does being able to collect your thoughts and sustain meaningful conversation.

All these symptoms lead you eventually to feeling sad, low and depressed. I find that for many of my clients the real triggers seem to centered on their present financial circumstances, or memories of holidays past compared with their sadness of the present season.

As we get closer to New Years, I see new clients who really have unraveled as they struggle with unrealized goals and too many opportunities never taken advantage of, so, their depression spirals. The good news is that all is not lost. The sun is a great disinfectant, tools can be learned that will help you cope and work through the seasonal depression. Therapy is a wonderful way to talk through your concerns and really get to the heart of your problems. So, don’t let the pain take away your holiday cheer this year, get help, and enjoy you!

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Doubt your Doubts!

woman low esteemSomeone compared low self esteem to driving thru traffic with the emergency brake on. Are we guilty of this? The truth is we all, at various times, suffer with low self esteem. What causes it and more importantly how do we overcome it? To answer these questions we have to first look at the causes, or better yet, the triggers, that cause us to feel less about who we are and what we can do.

First, we really need to clear out the negativity that clutters our mind, a sort of rewiring if you will. Too often, we listen to that parasitic inner voice that points out all our imperfections and lists all the reasons why we are not good enough to do or achieve what we want in our lives.  Once we have identified these self defeating thoughts, they must be replaced with thoughts that uplift and inspire us. These may be favorite quotes, inspirational songs, motivational goals that have been set (be creative). The idea is to replace the dread of self doubt with the light of hope and promise of something much better to strive for. In other words this is how we are able to change our complete mindset.

Remember to avoid the pitfalls and ugliness of unhelpful guilt, those fluctuating or persistent thoughts of failure,  the anguish of trying to be a perfectionist, and playing this, ” I wish I had done this, or, if I had done that, my life would be better now, regret game over and over in your head. These self destructive habits will only paralyze you emotionally and you too will become the walking dead. So, don’t be an oxygen thief…

Do you you want to know more, then read HERE

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