Is there a place for tough love in therapy? Or should therapy be about unconditional acceptance? There are many schools of thought on how to conduct therapy. A new dichotomy seems to be growing between those who favor tough love and those who focus on acceptance. In a recent Wall Street Journal Article, clients and therapists discuss how with “tough love” therapists try to eliminate their client's whining. These therapists might limit what topics a client can discuss or confront a client who is “whining” about their life again. One client says she needs this sort of therapy. That she simply won’t change if she receives unconditional acceptance.
Wondering what to give mom for mother’s day? How about a little gratitude? Motherhood can be rewarding, but often it’s hard. It can mean sleepless nights, worry, letting go of your own desires to prioritize those of others, making difficult choices, making mistakes, going unrecognized and at times, feeling powerless. We each have a unique relationship with our mothers and the mothers in our lives (for example, wives, aunts, grandmothers or sisters who are mothers). Whether our relationship with her is conflicted or smooth, warm or cool, a mother is a mother and one day a year is set aside to recognize her for what she does. If you’re someone who has a warm and open relationship with your mom or the moms in your life, expressing gratitude may come naturally. For those with complicated feelings, it can be a bit more difficult.
In part I, which was posted on May 3rd, I discussed how people often engage in problematic behaviors, such as over or under eating, drinking and smoking in response to stress. In an American Psychological Association survey on stress, people reported lack of willpower as preventing them from making the lifestyle and behavior changes recommended by a health care provider. In order to improve their willpower, women said they needed to decrease fatigue, increase energy and improve confidence. Men were more likely to say they need more money, while women were more likely to say they need more time. Women identified household chores, in particular, as interfering with their willpower to cope with stress in healthy ways. This post will focus on improving confidence and finding time.
What do Jamie Lee Curtis, Cyndi Lauper, Goldie Hawn, Hershel Walker and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius have in common? They have all been involved in shining a light on the importance of every child’s mental health. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gary M. Blau, Ph.D., who is involved in wide variety of programs designed to improve the lives of children and families and who has been working to raise awareness about children’s mental health. Tomorrow is National Children’s Awareness Day’s “Heroes of Hope Tribute” in Washington D.C. and I spoke with Gary about who is a “hero of hope” and why they are so important to our children.
Are you trying to make positive changes in your life? When we want to do something differently, say, to stop smoking, curb our temper or exercise more frequently, we often start with enthusiasm. But habits are hard to change. After an initial burst of energy, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns of behavior. What we too frequently ignore when we try to make changes is what is happening around us that either enhances motivation or encourages us to slip back into the status quo. When you are trying to make changes, what happens as soon as you act in a particular way has an impact on whether you will stick it out. Say, for example, you’d like to exercise more often. We all know the long-term benefits of exercise, but what happens as soon as you make the decision to exercise?
Many Americans experience stress on a daily basis. To better understand the stress faced by average people in America, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducts an annual survey to determine where our stress is coming from. The levels of stress you experience can have significant negative effects on your life. Often people engage in problematic behaviors, such as over or under eating, drinking and smoking in response to stress. These types of behaviors can create both physical and psychological problems and increase stress over time.
Mindfulness is the simple yet complex act of being present in the moment. It is paying attention, on purpose. Mindfulness might mean noticing the swirl of milk that rises in a freshly brewed cup of coffee or the touch of a breeze on the back of your neck. When mindful, we do not judge. Instead we notice and observe what is. In doing so, we let go of mental clutter, are released from emotional reactivity and become immersed in the fullness of the present moment. Our thoughts become plain thoughts, not necessarily fact or reality. Our emotions, while real, don’t require us to react. When in the present moment, we can let go of fears for the future or regrets from the past. We are able to be in our lives as we are living and to act with intention. Start off the week with awareness. These quotes inspire us live mindfully in body and spirit.
How you interact matters, as much as and sometimes more than, the words that you say. Imagine someone asking for a raise. One person does so with a smile and straightforward gaze, while another says the same words with a frown and stares at her shoes and hangs her head. Your body language and style not only affect the outcome, but also the way you feel. Sometimes we interact in ways that wear at our own self-confidence.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Suess Situation: Someone “borrows” things from you and doesn’t return them Try this: Explain the situation, “I’m out of cash and need the $5 you borrowed.” Express how you feel, “I keep worrying about it and I’d be relieved to have it back.” Ask (and possibly offer a solution), “can you have it for me this afternoon? I’ll text you to remind you, before we meet.” Situation: You clean the house and a partner leaves clutter and dishes all over, expecting you to pick up.
Much of the strain and conflict that causes stress in relationships occurs when your wants are consistently side-lined by your internalized sense of how you should behave. Are you stuck “doing the right thing” while sacrificing what you want? Often, we're stressed out not because others are expecting things from us, but because we expect them from ourselves. These internal “shoulds” may have originated in external expectations, moral codes or rules that you internalized long ago that have now become pressures you place on yourself.