All posts in Studies

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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“Life Events,” What do these mean?

Life EventI’ve seen a tremendous number of clients who have come to me seeking understanding and healing either during or after serious life events. Sadly, some of these client’s relationships go painfully the way of divorce. However, most are at that point in their relationship where they realize that help is needed or there won’t be one.

So, what are “Life Events” and have you experienced them?” Well chances are, yes, you have! Here are the biggies: Chronic Illness (like Cancer), Unemployment (job hunting), Childbirth (who wanted the baby more), Living Apart (thinking about our men and women in the military being deployed), Trauma (could be death of loved one, serious accident, sexual assault etc), and Unfaithful partners. You’d be very surprised, but, this last one seems to be the motivating factor in bringing couples in for therapy. All the cards are laid on the table so to speak and everything can now be addressed openly and with honest candor.

These life events are terribly painful, deeply personal, they drain our mental capacities, and tax us physically. The truth is that none of us will be able to leave this life without experiencing most of these “Life Events.” Did you realize that there are also “turning points” with regard to these events, as well.  Let me explain. A turning point is not just a temporary change in our pathway, no, it is a permanent shift that only becomes recognizable to us as our life moves forward.

The psychological impact can be profound or subtle depending on our understanding of the turning point. Some of us may well experience a turning point that brings to us a much needed opportunity, or possibly brings one to a close. Others life events may create an environmental transformation that is more permanent. Still, one may feel that their life event has caused their turning point to be so deeply personal that it has provoked a complete restructuring of their self-worth, belief system, and expectations for themselves and the world around them. However, let’s remember that for  in many of us these life events cause a turning point in many individual’s lives, yet, for some it may be less severe and therefore the transition doe not transform them.

Life events can bring upon us stress, anxiety disorders, depression and physical illness. Importantly, all of the life events that we will experience do require some form of change or adaptation by us. It can be unpleasant or pleasant. However, these can be valuable life lessons, as well. Can we ask ourselves, “What can I learn from this, and what can I share with others about my personal experience that might help them?” If you are in pain, thinking that you are suffering from depression, anxiety or another psychiatric disorder, get help. You don’t have to do this alone…Be well.

 

 

 

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“I’m sorry, did you want a conspiracy?”

EvilThe “Blood Moon” is rising, as is our collective anxiety, and so is Donald Trump who has started an unexplainable movement across America, much to the dismay of Megyn Kelly and the rest of the liberal media. Oil prices are crashing, (at least it means lower gas prices at the pump for us), robots may well be taking over our jobs, driving our cars, flying our planes. Let us not forget the in upcoming election shenanigans that will take center stage in 2016 and all the allegations that will be revealed against whomever is left standing. WAIT, STOP! This all points to the conspiracy theorists running wild with their outlandish propositions and fear mongering ploys.

Yes, there have been times when I was younger that I too succumbed to their enticings, like the supposed end of the world in the year 2000. Wow, was I really sucked into that one believing that the world would just shut down. Of course it didn’t. However, I have learned quite a bit about conspiracy theorist since that time. Also, we need to recognize how they can get into your head (if you let them). Interestingly, fifty percent (50%) of Americans believe in at least one (1) conspiracy theory, just saying.

Unless you operate in the world of psychology, you would not really be familiar with the term cognitive dissonance. It really fits in well as we discuss the psychological impact that conspiracy theories can have on our thought process. Let me break it down, you see cognitive dissonance is the scientific word that describes the internal discomfort that we experience when we are faced with two (2) or possibly more conflicting ideas, values, or beliefs. Does that make sense?

Ok, so let’s apply this to conspiracy theories. We so desperately want to hold on to all our beliefs, even the attitudes that have shaped us throughout our lives. We want to avoid any and all pain and discomfort that any new idea, belief, or new evidence might yield like the ebola virus. So what do we do?  Too often, we buy the misinformation, believe the lies, and passively look pass the fraud. Why? It takes effort to question, research and really look, examine and dissect the evidence. It’s just easier to buy into it…

I’m not really buying what he’s selling, well then click HERE

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Bigger is Better?

Jump for Joy

Jump for Joy

Here is a a little riddle for you, what do Chris Jenner (not referencing the media circus of the family), the Duggars (despite the recent scandal), and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have going on that other families don’t? I’m thinking, I’m thinking, okay…. that’s right each have large families, huh? Yes, it’s true if you want to be a happy parent(s) a large family needs to be in the cards.

Think you can’t do it, oh yes you can! When I was a young husband contemplating with my young wife the prospect of having children, I remember thinking, how can we afford to have children especially more than one? Another pressing concern was when was the right time to start having these little “sleep robbers.” Well, I sought the answers from wise fathers. First, they said, “You can never really afford children, but, if you wait till you think you can you’ll be retired and alone. Second, There is never a “right time to have children and when you’re there on the day they burst into this world, you’ll know what I mean.”

I joke with people who are surprised at the amount of children I have (6) that the odds are in my favor that at least one of them will take care of me when I’m old. It’s tough, I won’t candy coat it. We had four children under the age of five at one point. I changed diapers for a decade (that is 10 years for those of you who are numerically challenged like me). Then there were the 2 a.m. feedings and having to be at work by 6 a.m.. The lack of sleep for both of us was daunting. Our last was a premie (1 lb) arriving four (4) months early then spending 100 agonizing days in the NICU. My incredible wife drove 99/100 days for 3.5 hours round trip each day to be at that NICU with our baby. That was eight years ago, wow time flies and our little girl has blossomed, but not without a lot of health challenges of her own (forgive for being so personal).

There are many joys as well. Seeing them pull together, become independent, make good choices, they have stayed away from the pitfalls of drugs, alcohol, and porn addiction through much instruction, love, and attention. It take tremendous effort, time, sacrifice of your hobbies, time with the guys, and can be so draining, however the results produce happy parents and happy children.

Don’t believe for a second that I haven’t stumbled, tripped, fallen down, and been overwhelmed by the responsibility many times just trying to be a father of a large family. Thankfully, my wife has been our anchor, the stabilizing force through it all. She has taught me so very much! Still, if you are considering a large family, take heart, you can do it and the joy will be immeasurable!

See what science says about large families HERE

 

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Who’s Better Than Me?

bookclub_narcissist1-tmagArticleWhat do  Kim Kardashian, Madonna, Oprah, Matthew McConaughey, and Kanye West all have in common? Well, besides all being celebrities, wealthy, influential, and pleasant on the eyes, what else? Yes, the world revolves around them…warmer. Ok, they all suffer from, or, rather enjoy the effects of narcissistic personality disorder. Surprised?  Yes, you have watched them on the red carpet, their movies, TV shows, videos, listened to their music, and peaked at their selfies, right? They are captivating and we pay a lot of attention to them which serves to fuel their narcissistic behavior.

We often excuse their behavior as just them being celebrities. Maybe we even secretly want to be them (you know who you are). Of course, we would never be in a relationship with someone that is so self serving that our needs don’t matter to them? Certainly not even consider having a marriage and children with a person with this kind of personality, no not me! Um, well, what happens if I did/do, I mean have? Now what do I do?

“To Stay or Not To Stay?” that becomes the difficult question especially if you think that you are suffocating in this type of a relationship. What about the children? Do you think that maybe your husband or boyfriend has it? Interestingly, studies indicate that 8% of males are narcissistic. Maybe  you suspect your wife, or, girlfriend might be a narcissist?  Well, just 5% of females demonstrate this personality disorder, thankfully! So really the question becomes multiple questions. Can and how do I heal from a separation or divorce from a narcissist? How do I comfort and heal my children? But first, you must define what a narcissist is…

To learn if you are living with one click HERE   

 

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Depressed? Ask to be Screened!

man-receiving-therapyThe psychic blow that depression  can cause is like nothing you have ever experienced, unless you have been depressed. It has been referred to as a being trapped in a dark abyss, feeling as though you are drowning, but you can see that everyone around you is breathing, or feeling as though you don’t even exist in your own world. These are very real, terribly isolating, and desperate feelings that millions of people, estimated to be 7% of the population, wrestle with everyday.  Are you at risk? have you asked to screened? Do you think you should? Consider the following: is your energy low, feeling sad, low, loosing interest in hobbies/pleasurable activities, feeling fatigued? If you have been dealing with these symptoms and these have lasted for more than two (2) weeks..at least ask your doctor for the questionaire

you should read HERE

 

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What’s Up with All The Labels?

time to change“The weather is so bipolar.”  That singular phrase raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I was immediately reminded of the misuse of a common psychiatric term that perpetuates the stigma of mental illness. What people don’t realize is that it is inappropriate and  it causes real harm. So many millions of people battle depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and a host of other severe mental illnesses while millions more do not. Applying these psychiatric terms loosely to someone who exhibits a behavior that is quite opposite of what you might do, say, or think doesn’t  mean they are ocd or bipolar, right? It seems that we preach the importance of political correctness in every aspect of our lives, however, we seem to forget it applies to mental illness, as well…

If you agree, read on. If you disagree, read THIS

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So You Had A Bad Day

sad women at trainWe all have those awful, gut wrenching, everything we touch turns for the worse kind of days, ugh! I wish that I could say, “just get back up, brush yourself off, and everything will be great.” Unfortunately, we are not all wired that way, are we? As a therapist, I recognize that it is those negative self-doubts that whisper to us our most feared imperfections. These self-doubts, the negativity is what truly holds us back from moving forward from a “bad day.” Of course, there is some real science behind why we experience these kind of days, and just maybe it will help you understand why those around you have them too, or, maybe why they don’t seem to suffer from them like you do, hmm?

If you would like to be free from your next “bad day” READ here

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