This Blog Is About

This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Stress Reducing Methods"

A very popular post was the one listing the depression management techniques a long-term patient had developed.  So, this is a similar sharing.  This, on "stress reducing methods" from a returning patient (one who did a course of therapy previously, felt resolved, time passed, now she has returned).

  Here's an individual who has had more than her share of stressors to contend with; widowed at a young age, a single-parent, working full-time, son's fiance paralyzed in an accident, has an industrial injury and a number of health problems.  She recently came back to see me after 10 years (tho' she kept in  touch during that time) due to work-related issues and extended family problems.

So, here is her list:
~Mild stretching several times a day.
~At work:  takes breaks, looks out the window, takes short walks down the hall, gets a drink of water, changes work tasks frequently to avoid too much repetition, no heavy lifting and very conscious to stay in an ergonomic position at all times.
~Taking short walks---appreciating nature.
~Spending time with my family and my friends.
~Relaxing with my animals who make me smile.
~Adding beauty to my environment; hung a blooming plant by the front entrance to my house; it makes me smile as I enter my home.
~Making a point of watching the TV shows that I especially enjoy.
~Completing deep breathing exercises, relaxation exercises, visualization techniques, meditation, and prayer.
~Listening to music I like.
~Staying connected to friends & family by phone & e-mail while also remembering to limit home computer use and phone time.
~Meeting friends occasionally for a relaxing lunch or dinner together.
~I tried massage but it didn't work for me.
~I also tried physical therapy and chiropractic treatment, neither of these were good for me.
~I have several close friends who allow me to vent my feelings when I am frustrated or depressed.
~I see a psychotherapist weekly for stress reduction and help with coping.
~I have it in mind to try acupuncture but haven't yet.
So, there you have it.  I changed very little.  Most of that is in her own words.  A valiant effort on her part, don't you think?

Will you adopt her list or perhaps generate one of your own?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Paying Attention

"The older I get, the more beautiful life becomes."
Frank Lloyd Wright

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Happiness Note

You make me happy---by voting on the poll, reading my posts, checking the comment boxes and writing comments!
You encourage me <3
Thank you for your reciprocation and consistency!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

More On Happiness

A few notes on  happiness---ideas and how-to's

 Hedonics, the interdisciplinary field of the study of happiness, says, according to Mirka Knaster that it is folly to "..equate personal happiness with material gain."  To find happiness, she writes, we must "..broaden our pursuits beyond the acquisition of wealth and status...".  She offers Richard Layard's advice;  "Enjoy things as they are, without comparing yourself to others, and discover what truly makes you happy.  He encouraged us to tame our rat-race instinct and train ourselves---using, for example, cognitive therapy, education, and Buddhist meditation techniques---to live in a more balanced way, not simply driven by competition for status."

Meditation instructor, James Baraz, offers the following suggestions:
~writing about what the word joy means to you
~doing some form of physical movement, such as yoga, dance, or taking walks
~making a "nourishment list" of activities you enjoy, checking off those you do regularly and circling the ones that could be done more often       
~checking in with your "joy buddy", a kind of running-partner in the pursuit of happiness.
One of the major blocks to happiness is a sense of isolation.

I would add that savoring good things that are already present in your life can contribute to a feeling of satisfaction.  When you get a new carpet, why is it exciting only at first?  Why not still think 2 years later how wonderful it is to have that plush soft carpet under your feet?
How about reviewing your accomplishments?  It doesn't always have to be a new achievement that rings your bell.  You can feel proud and gratified by what you've done in the past.
Tell me, have you found ways to promote happiness in yourself?
Remember our previous client quote:  "We make our own happiness."

Thursday, March 18, 2010


In the post of February 29, 2010, titled, How's The Fit Re-visited #4, I wrote about how you have some degree of choice about the personal characteristics you wish to develop in yourself.  In studies done on the healthy personality, it turns out that happiness is not so dependent on external circumstances as it might seem.  They only account for about 15% of a person's sense of well-being.  External circumstances such as, age, income, gender or education are not as strongly correlated with a good life experience as is personality!
So, what are the traits associated with life satisfaction?  Who's happy?
There is a group of traits which may be recognized as assertiveness or "agency".  These are:  independence, self-confidence, and decisiveness.
Other helpful characteristics are:
~Optimism and positive perceptions and expectations
~Sociability and a pleasant demeanor
~Confidence in ability to accomplish goals important to you
Personality is a strong predictor of life satisfaction.  If you want to be happy, try growing and nurturing some of these traits in yourself.

 (credit:  Subjective Well-Being and Healthy Personality by Continuing Psychology Education)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Search This Blog

How it works.  Type in a couple of words re. what you want to read about.  If there are posts that include that word or phrase, they will come up for you in a list.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Doing Something About It

Tonight my Feldenkrais teacher said:  "If you're not aware of it, you can't do anything about it."
Her statement struck me as being, besides a way to encourage her students to develop their kinesthetic sense, another way to say - observe yourself.  In the post Seeing Your Self, I proposed the idea of making self-observation a habit.

Occasionally in therapy, a client will describe a problem, I will indicate that I understand it, then the client says, 'so, what do I do about it?'.  An easy answer, of course, is not what you want from a therapist.  If you are seeking formulaic solutions, a self-help book alone will offer that.  What therapy is for is discovering the best way for the individual you.  It provides the discipline of a regular time to focus on yourself and your particular concerns.  It includes a container of sorts--an office in which to formally conduct your self-exploration, but also a confidential container.  And then there is a person who joins you in your individual journey.

That's the therapy route; there are other paths to personal growth and creative problem solving.  But don't they all require being aware?

Do you have any comments about self-observation or developing your awareness?  Please share them!

The New Look

The talented graphic artist, Wrenay Charlton, who designed Adrienne Pao's beautiful website, changed the look of my blog from what it was to what it is, in one day.
Her skills and artistry are first-rate! She made my site unique within the confines of Google's pre-set templates---amazing.
Some of you who have been reading here for awhile and can really appreciate the change, I'd love to have your comments.
Even easier, vote on the poll in the upper right hand corner.
Yay Wrenay!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Seeing Your Self

Looking within

 Self-observation is key to personal growth.  That is the ability to stand outside yourself, outside your own experience and see, with objectivity, what you do.  I will give you two examples, one where the person has this capacity and is using it (it is sometimes referred to as "the observing ego") and another example of a person who has not developed this ability.
The first is about two parents having a conversation, discussing their grown child and her boyfriend.  In their conversation, they say nice things to each other about him.  After the talk ends, one parent is reflecting on it and realizes that, since they both know that their daughter is serious about this man and they love her, they are each trying to find things in him to admire and value; they are working at incorporating him into their family matrix.  This only became conscious after the fact, when the one parent saw in her mind, a mini re-play of that part of the exchange and recognized what they had been doing.

The second example is one of a person in late middle-age who feels lonely and disappointed.  Most of the people in his life who should be close to him, are not.  One after another, the people in his family and friend group have distanced themselves from him.  It isn't that he is a bad  person.  In fact, he does a lot of favors for others.  However, he has  problems of his own that infringe on his relationships:  He is moody and also, sometimes says insensitive, inappropriate, or harsh things to others.  As a result, his relatives and friends have learned to be guarded around him and the one thing he most longs for, closeness with others, eludes him.  However, he has never been inclined to wonder, since this seems to be a pattern in his life, if he, himself, might have anything to do with it.  He does not notice his own behavior.  He simply blames the other person or the circumstances and goes on, endlessly repeating the same mistake.

Sometimes questioning yourself can be a good thing.If you have an observing ego but haven't paid much attention to it, you might try to be more aware of those little observations of yourself when they come to mind.  You can develop this capacity with a little attention to it.

It is one way that you, yourself, can make your life better.
Have you been noticing what you are doing?
Do you perceive any patterns in your behavior?
Do you like what you see?
Is there something you'd want to change?   Are you learning about yourself?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Practical Problems

Therapy isn't only for intrapsychic or interpersonal problems.  Sometimes practical problems, which we all encounter every day, come up in a session.  It is especially useful to brainstorm with someone who knows you on a deep level yet is also objective about your life circumstances.  Therapists try  not to tell people what to do but, they can be very helpful in joining you in evaluating a conundrum and assisting you with finding your own solution.  This is best in an on-going therapy relationship where the therapist is already familiar with the shape of your individual life.  But, therapists usually have a highly developed evaluative function, a well-practiced ability to prioritize, and a willingness to listen carefully.  Therefore we can usually be of some help on a presenting problem even in an initial session.

It's not so much having a problem as it is identifying it and having a plan to solve it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

You and Art

As a reader of this blog, you are interested in psychology and probably appreciate art or, at least, are a person who enjoys visuals.  Of all the pictures I have put up, two have really resonated with you.  They are both by Adrienne Pao who is a professional photographer; there have been a number of comments to me about them:  They are both titled, Meditation.  If you haven't seen them yet and are curious, you can find them by scrolling back to "Older Posts" at the bottom of each page.
Ms Pao has exhibited internationally (Brazil, Canada, etc.), has had her work shown in several museums and has been published in The New York times, Marie Claire magazine and in a couple of books.  If you are one of the readers who enjoyed her work here, you can see more of it and see her latest doings by visiting her blog linked above.  She also has a website.

One of the series she is currently working on is about the Hawaiian culture; one photograph from that series is shown here.  A photograph from another series, the Dress Tents will be featured at an upcoming auction at The Academy of Art where she teaches fine arts photography.

Her beautifully done website and blog were created by graphic designer, Wrenay Charlton.  Here is how you can access Ms Charlton:
Note:  Ms Charlton's own website is currently unavailable; please check it later if you are interested in learning more about her work.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dennis The Menace

By having the mischievous boy make the below statement, this cartoonist put a humorous twist to the idea we have been considering in posts about how your life fits you, how well do you know yourself and how you might like to change:

"The best thing you can do is to get very good at being you."  Ketcham