Psych Central

How to Be Your Best Self & Lead Your Best Life

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

“You are not your job, your income, your weight or your relationship status. You are the whole, perfect, unique spirit of light and love that shines from deep within.”

Praise

We all misguidedly identify ourselves via external aspects of our lives:

  • Appearance: attractiveness, weight, size, clothing.
  • Career: education, credentials, title, position.
  • Finances: income, bank account, material possessions, lifestyle.

Sometime we also identify with our psychological or relational issues:

  • Mental Illness: “I AM depressed”
  • Relationship Status: “I AM single.”
  • Life Roles: “I AM a codependent caretaker.”

All of the above is HOW we are, not WHO we are.  They are aspects of ego.  

Furthermore, through the power of self-fulfilling prophecy, what we think, we become.  If we focus our attention on the negative, that is the type of energy we attract into our lives. Everyday, we unwittingly constrain ourselves and set our own ceilings through self-limiting beliefs.

We have the choice to instead focus our attention on the deeper aspects of character and essence that truly matter:

Continue reading… »



The Importance of Staying in the Present with Love

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

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“Joyce, it was that conversation that got me through the next terrifying six weeks of my life,” said my client (who is quite frankly one of the absolute best human beings I have ever known.) William was referring to our previous session, which occurred just days before his shocking diagnosis of nearly stage four cancer.

The discussion we had was about mindfulness, the importance of staying deeply rooted and connected in the present moment, rather than letting one’s “mind chatter” obsess about the past or worry about the future. I had explained to William that staying in the present provides grounding, peace, clarity and quality of life. I had also recommended that he read, The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle.

William shared that while he was going through countless tests and treatments, he chose not to place his awareness on thoughts about his cancer and prognosis. Instead, he mindfully focused his attention on his breath, the feelings inside his body, and even the music that played in the hospital as he was getting a CAT scan (which he said was a pretty enjoyable Madonna song, with a smirk.) He also listened to the audio version of The Power of Now whenever possible (and still does, by the way.)

He continued, “I realize now that it is as if in life, the needle sets on a record album the moment we are born and continues to cycle as we live. If we bring our awareness to the past or to the future, we scratch our record and there is no music. If we stay in the present moment, we hear the beauty of our song.”

I told you he is amazing. With a brilliant mind, a heart of gold and the courage of a lion, he is a man amongst men. I consider it an enormous compliment and a high honor to have served as his therapist for nearly a decade. 

Continue reading… »



How Laughter Can Heal Your Heart and Soul

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

Monica #4

“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”  ~Jean Houston

Laughter is a non-sexual orgasm. My mind, body and spirit are tickled, sending waves of euphoria that reverberate throughout me. All that is negative is converted into positive waves of light and love. I greatly value the healing and connecting properties of laughter.  

Every so often (and twice last night,) I’ve been awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of my eight year-old daughter, Claudia, laughing in her sleep. It’s not merely a chuckle or a giggle that wakes me from my deep slumber, but a rolling belly-laugh that fills our moonlit and previously silent home. My heart swells with love for Claudia, expanding even more with happiness as I wonder about the joy she is experiencing in her secret dreams. There are no words to adequately describe the bursting love and feelings of pure bliss that ignite my heart and spirit when I hear this magical, nighttime laughter.

I so dearly love my best friend, Cherilynn. Perhaps what I love most about her is the way she can make me laugh so hard that there is simply no room in my hysterically convulsing body to retain any feelings of fear, shame or anxiety. This is because she has lovingly churned these negative feelings into fodder for our laughter through her normalization, validation, intellect and wit. Laughing with Cherilynn makes me feel known, loved, understood and connected in ways that mean the entire world to me. She helps me to not take myself and my life too seriously. These episodes of laughter are worth more than ten therapy sessions to me (and I say this both as a professional psychotherapist whose livelihood depends on people paying for therapy and as a client who has benefited greatly from powerful therapeutic experiences of my own.)

Tragically, my beloved friend, Carrie, died of cancer eight months ago. I loved her deeply and was profoundly honored to be included in a “sacred circle” of women/mothers who she asked to support her husband and young children after her passing. A couple months after Carrie died, I was spending time with my daughter, Claudia, and Carrie’s daughter, Francesca (they are BFFs.) The three of us were having popsicles from an ice cream truck at the park playground. As we sat on the green hill that smelled of grassy sweetness, Francesca and Claudia playfully pounced on me with pre-calculated tickles.  I shrieked with panicked laughter, uncontrollably rolled away for relief, and saw that the white, puffy clouds overhead were rolling in the blue sky along with me. When the girls were satisfied with their success, we caught our breath, giggled and snuggled as we soaked in the warmth of our togetherness, the brightness of the summertime sun, and the power of Carrie’s love all around us.

Continue reading… »



Want Better Sex? 10 Tips

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

2014-02-09-sexualityblog-thumb

“To have her here in bed with me, breathing on me, her hair in my mouth — I count that something of a miracle.” — Henry Miller

A client once said to me, “I’m nervous to talk with my wife about my sexual needs, because you are the only person who knows that part of my life.” This statement struck me as wildly paradoxical. How could I, a person with whom my client has a strictly professional relationship, know more about his sexual life than the woman with whom he has sex?

His comment not only revealed the tremendous trust and intimacy involved in the therapeutic relationship, but also the fact that he, like many people, was embarrassed and not openly communicating his sexual needs and desires with his partner.

He and I explored this further and decided together to invite his wife into treatment. As an experienced couples therapist, I facilitated a safe environment in which I coached and supported them through an honest exchange about their deeper feelings about their physical relationship. I accomplished this by providing an open and non-judgmental environment, demonstrating empathy and respect for each of them.

With this couple, I served as a grounded and comforting presence: normalizing, honoring and exploring their sexual and relational needs and experiences. I was able to bring them to communicate more vulnerably and directly about their physical intimacy and hear and understand one another on a deeper level. I guided them through the small changes in communication they each needed to make to rebalance and revitalize their emotional and sexual intimacy. Through loving attention, effort and commitment, combined with courage, they were able to establish a much more profound, mutually-fulfilling and powerful sexually intimate connection.

Continue reading… »



The Psychology of Success: Living Consciously & With Love

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

Beautiful Woman ProfileCreative Commons License

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

In life, we are each dealt a different hand of hardships and blessings. It would appear that life is not fair in her dealings, but I believe we are each given the exact hand we need to learn the lessons of our unique, psycho-spiritual journey.

In my practice, I see that many people move through life by simply going along with the current, letting outside forces determine their direction. Furthermore, we all unconsciously recreate what is familiar until we choose something better.

If we are open to the process of learning, suffering bears great wisdom that guides us towards enlightenment. One of the greatest gifts I have reaped from being a psychotherapist is the collective wisdom of my clients. It’s a high honor to intimately accompany them as they overcome life challenges, embrace their gifts and strengths, and move towards self-actualization.

Being successful requires us to wake up and be present in our own lives, aligning ourselves our greatest destiny and mapping out the way. We must consciously select a path that facilitates the awakening of our awareness, both individually and collectively.

Everything in life is interconnected. As we evolve, our relationships, work and lives blossom. And, conversely, as we are impacted by our relationships and our work, we evolve.

As a therapist for nearly 20 years and an entrepreneur for 15, I’ve found that my psychological health and career success are really two sides of the same coin. We can only be prosperous in love, health, time and money if we are conscious, well and balanced.

To master the psychology of success, I recommend the following:

Continue reading… »



10 MORE Tips for Resolving Conflict

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

Loving Couple

My best PsychCentral article in 2013 was 10 Tips for Resolving Conflict. It inspired me to create the following YouTube video: 

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 10.44.56 AM

Click image to watch video!

The fantastic responses and suggestions from my readers and viewers prompted me to share with you the following additional ten tips for conflict resolution: 

Continue reading… »



Master the Psychology of Success in 2014

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

 “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

In life, we are each dealt a different hand of hardships and blessings. It would appear that life is not fair in her dealings, but I believe we are each given the exact hand we need to learn the lessons of our unique, psycho-spiritual journey.

In my practice, I see that many people move through life by simply going along with the current, letting outside forces determine their direction. Furthermore, we all unconsciously recreate what is familiar until we choose something better.

If we are open to the process of learning, suffering bears great wisdom that guides us towards enlightenment. One of the greatest gifts I have reaped from being a psychotherapist is the collective wisdom of my clients. It’s a high honor to intimately accompany them as they overcome life challenges, embrace their gifts and strengths, and move towards self-actualization.

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 8.33.25 PM

Click image to watch video!

Being successful requires us to wake up and be present in our own lives, aligning ourselves our greatest destiny and mapping out the way. We must consciously select a path that facilitates the awakening of our awareness, both individually and collectively.

Continue reading… »



Give Yourself an Emotional Cleanse Before the New Year

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

Blue horizon aligned

Creative Commons License “Spend the next few days preparing for the year ahead: Forgive everyone, let go of everything…” ~Marianne Williamson

Despite having had what many would consider a very happy holiday, I have a post-Christmas “hangover”—a psychologically tired and bloated feeling resulting from excess of seemingly everything. With the holiday decorations and all of my family’s new gifts, our house feels like an episode of A&E Hoarders. After over-socializing and celebrating, I crave solitude and quietness. Rich food and drink have made me never want to look at a chocolate turtle again and to hit the treadmill with a vengeance. My emotional equilibrium is off-balance from re-triggered grief of the losses of my parents years ago, who I wish were here, especially during the holidays. The volume of my inner critic has somehow turned way up, as I’m filled with self-doubt and second-guess if what I have given to or done for my kids, family, friends and staff is either too much or somehow not enough…

Through my practice, I know that post-holiday blues is something that many of us experience. If you can relate to my post-holiday “hangover,” join me in doing this “emotional cleanse”:

  1. Move self-care to the absolute top of the list.  Catch up on sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat light and healthy foods. Exercise to increase up your endorphins, nature’s antidepressant. Take fish oil as a shortage of vitamin D from dark winter days can exacerbate depression. Do nice things for yourself—take a bubble bath, get a massage (perhaps give one to get one!), lovingly groom and dress yourself so you feel both comfortable and confident. Give yourself at least 20 minutes of quiet time for deep breathing, stretching or meditation. Don’t over-schedule yourself.
  2. Turn down the volume on your inner critic and let go of shame. Understand that as human beings we are works in progress. Select a positive mantra, such as, “I am only human and I am doing the best that I can” or “nobody is perfect and I am exactly as I should be.” Look at the good parts and give yourself credit for all good intentions and all you have accomplished.
  3. Understand that all things happen for a reason and all is as it should be. Life has a rhythm of ebbs and flows. Understand that just as a pendulum swings, these periods of excess create opportunity for a compensatory process of “letting go” so that all can return to homeostasis.
  4. Tend to your environment. Purge everything you don’t want, need, use or value. Make room for peace and joy. Clean, organize and decorate your home so it is a sanctuary.
  5. Honor your feelings and let them go. Your feelings are always normal responses to everything you have experienced over the course of your life. Allow yourself to feel your feelings in your heart and body. Thank your feelings for the wisdom they have brought you. Breathe into them and breathe them out, releasing them completely.
  6. Reflect on the past year. Identify events or experiences for which you harbor resentment or negative feelings an do not wish to welcome into the New Year. Write these down on paper. Extend compassion to yourself, others and these experiences by reading each aloud after stating, “I forgive and release everyone and everything related to XYZ…”  Say good-bye to these experiences and commit to leaving them in the past. Ceremoniously shred or burn the paper. Give yourself a moment of quietness, prayer or meditation to reboot your mind, body and spirit.

This emotional cleanse will free you from psychological toxins, allowing yourself to start the year from a place of balance and wellness. Welcome joy, health and prosperity in the New Year!

Kindly endorse the author for WEGO Health Activist by clicking HERE!

Watch this free webinar: The Psychology of Success

Twitter: @Joyce_Marter and @Urban_Balance and @ACT_Trainers

Facebook:  Joyce Marter, LCPC and Urban Balance and Advanced Clinical Trainers

Websites: www.joyce-marter.com and www.urbanbalance.com and www.advancedclinicaltrainers.com

Image: Paulo Brandao via Compfight



End Self-Sabotage & Welcome Joy in the New Year

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

Star jump

“I have just three things to teach:

simplicity, patience, compassion.

These are your greatest treasures.

Compassionate toward yourself, 

you reconcile all beings in the world.”

~Lao Tzu

The New Year brings an opportunity for a personal transformation or, in other words, a true metamorphosis: a conscious termination of self-defeating behaviors and patterns, and a welcoming of new positivity and possibility into your life. Like a snake shedding its old skin, a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, or a phoenix rising from the ashes, you will let go of what is old and no longer needed to grow into a version that is closer to your highest and greatest self.

Desire, awareness, will, and dedication are required to become your better self. Not only is this growth attainable, it is absolutely necessary for the evolution of your mind, body and spirit.  

Through my practice, I see how we all unconsciously recreate what is familiar until we choose something different. In our earlier life experiences, we may have adopted dysfunctional patterns of thinking or relating that hold us back from the life we want. Today, I encourage you to identify these self-limiting habits, and replace them with positive intentions that will help make your dreams a reality.  

To begin this healing and self-affirming process, quiet your mind and body through deep breathing and stretching. Reflect and identify 5-7 self-defeating behaviors. Write them down on a sheet of paper or in a journal. The following are examples from my practice:  

Continue reading… »



Chemistry & Attraction: When It’s Healthy & When It’s Not

By Joyce Marter, LCPC

Mute Swans, Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff Bay

“When individuals with healthy emotional backgrounds meet, the irresistible “love force” creates a sustainable, reciprocal and stable relationship. Codependents and emotional manipulators are similarly enveloped in a seductive dreamlike state; however, it will later unfold into a painful “seesaw” of love, pain, hope and disappointment. The soul mate of the codependent’s dreams will become the emotional manipulator of their nightmares.”

~Ross Rosenberg, Author of The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us

Our eyes are the windows to the soul. When there is powerful chemistry and attraction, the eye contact is electric and blinding, as if looking into the sun. Breathing becomes rapid and shallow, or seems to stop altogether. Butterflies in your stomach send nervous chills throughout your body, causing weak knees and light-headedness. Suddenly our minds race with excitement and we can’t sleep and eat.  Our face is stuck in a perpetual smile. You either unsuccessfully fight your revealing smile or simply can’t help grinning like a fool.

Your thought process goes haywire and your mind goes blank. You can’t remember prior conversations, you can’t put two words together, and uncensored thoughts come out vis a vis bumbled statements and Freudian slips. You have difficulty working, functioning and sleeping as your mind is permeated with thoughts of the object of affection. “Perfect” feelings about each other abound. Suddenly, sappy love songs on the radio make perfect sense.

When you are physically close, you feel the heat of connection and the pull between your energy as if there is an invisible force or “love vortex” encircling you… This electric-like love energy transfixes you on your only goal: to be close to your new love.

We all are unconsciously attracted to what is familiar—until we choose something different.  When dating, you want to make sure you are falling for a healthy partner, and not recreating old dysfunctional patterns. According to author Ross Rosenberg, all too often we fall in love with the same person, but with a ‘different face’.

Continue reading… »



 
 

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