Therapy That Works...

Psychological Resilience – The Value of Self-Reflection - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe why self-reflection is important to your success - click here.

Many of us think that turning inward is something other people do when they have nothing better to do.

Some of us see it as self-indulgent, ineffective, or even a waste of time. However effective self-reflection can be an incredibly valuable first step if you are going through a rough patch. You can’t plan your next move if you don’t understand how you got to where you are today.

To strategically move forward, you must first catalogue the events that brought you to your current adversity, and the decisions you’ve made so far.

Once you have organized the events in your mind, you’ll find that there is less anxiety associated with the event. There is now a clear narrative where there was once disorganized pain. You’ll feel safer and calmer because you will have anchored yourself in the here and now, and you will fully understand that the traumatic events are in the past. You are safe.

Psychological Resilience - Moving Past Adversity Effectively - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how you can move past adversity effectively by using psychological resilience skills - click here.

Inevitably we all encounter disappointments, tragedies, and setbacks in our professional and personal lives. Jobs are lost, beloved parents die, we lose touch with close friends, and dreams for how we wanted out lives to turn out vanish.

However, research has shown that how you handle adversity in your life will actually determine where your life will go next.

Remember that it is not the adversity itself that determines what happens next. It is your reaction to the adversity and how you think about it that ultimately determines where you end up.

If you spiral into negativity, your bad mood will sabotage your ability to effectively solve the problem. You’ll become stuck in the “what if’s” and the agony of the situation. You’ll lose sight of how you can turn this adversity into something beneficial. The situation that seems so awful, so devastating right now can be the catalyst for making you stronger and more effective in the future.

True wisdom is usually hard won, and our challenges in life can be the very events that take us to the next level. Hopefully, after overcoming a setback you will truly value your resilience since you’ve learned that what is happening today is temporary and will not determine tomorrow unless you let it. The rest of your life can and will be determined by the resolve you demonstrate in the moment and your ability to triumph over setbacks.

Moving past adversity requires a particular set of thinking skills that, if used consistently, can take your life to the next level.

This series of presentations will give you some important tips and strategies for how to move past adversity effectively and overcome obstacles in your path.

Marriage – Dr. Gottman’s Distance and Isolation Cascade - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe Dr. John Gottman's research on how marriages can fail and the signs of the distance and isolation cascade - click here.

When partners break up, it is very common to experience a process of physical and emotional separation. Emotional separation is often completed before either partner realizes what has happened, and they struggle to recognize that the relationship is in critical condition. Dr. John Gottman’s landmark research fully described the steps that lead to the end of relationships.

Flooding

Once anger and frustration become too overwhelming, the emotional centers of the brain heighten the experience of already intense emotions. Resentment builds and magnifies every disappointment, and the relationship becomes a constant powder keg. Negative emotions frame every interaction as each partner gathers evidence that the other partner has failed them and always will.

Problems Seen As Too Severe

Rather than talking things through, the partner becomes so hostile to their partner’s opinion that they avoid interacting in any meaningful way. They begin to see the situation as helpless and hopeless and it defines how they see their partner. Most importantly, they no longer see their partner as a reliable person. That belief fundamentally rearranges the emotional relationship.

Work Problems Out Alone

People tend to separate emotionally first and physically last. Estranged partners no longer look to one another as a resource and an ally. Problems are no longer shared, opinions are no longer asked for, and the mundane details of their lives are the only topics they feel safe to share. Over time, the opinions of others outside the relationship are sought out, valued, and remembered as their partner is quickly discarded to the same status as a roommate.

Parallel Lives

Unhappy spouses are very effective at arranging their lives on parallel tracks. They change their schedules to avoid seeing each other—eating fewer meals together, attending fewer school events, or regularly working late or on the weekends. They carefully distribute their time elsewhere with social and business obligations that keep them far away from spending time with their partner.

Crushing Loneliness

Perhaps the most difficult part of the cascade is the deep loneliness that haunts many unhappily married people. There is a constant grief for the marriage that once was and the loss of hope for the marriage that could have been.

Source:

"What Makes Love Last?" by Dr. John Gottman and Nan Silver

Ordinary Moments – Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how you can increase your emotional intelligence by paying attention to ordinary moments - click here.

One of the best parts of cherishing your ordinary moments is that doing so can increase your ability to be there for those you love. Being emotionally present for others can have a profound impact on them and your relationship with them. Here are a few ways that appreciating everyday experiences can benefit your relationships:

Not Too Seriously

Your friends and family will love your ability to laugh in the moment and to not take yourself or your situation so seriously. Your example can be a powerful one, and you can show others that there is always hope and joy in any situation.

Truly Listening

We listen and understand with our hearts, not with our critical minds. To truly empathize with another requires that you turn your problem solving brain off for a little while. Your loved ones will cherish your perceptive understanding and true empathy during their struggles. A truly great friend is there when everyone else leaves. Your kindness and loyalty will inevitably be returned when you encounter your own disappointments and struggles in life.

A Safe Space

Your ability to remain non-judgmental and unconditional in your focus and understanding is perhaps the greatest gift you can give others. When you are sincerely present in the moment, you are creating a truly safe space where they can share their thoughts and feelings.

Ordinary Moments - How To use Ordinary Moments For Success - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how you can use ordinary moments to make yourself happier and more successful - click here.

Appreciating ordinary moments can help you in all areas of life. In addition to expanding your personal well-being, keeping your mind clear and focused can also give you a decisive edge in your career. Here’s how can you savor your ordinary moments and learn to emotionally sustain yourself to work more effectively:

Slow Down to Go Further

Most of us misunderstand the relationship between speed and accomplishment. We think that if we go faster and push harder, we will go further in the end. Nothing could be further from the truth. People who are truly gifted and accomplished give themselves time to rest and recover. Although it seems counter intuitive, slowing down allows your mind to fully recover and can make the critical difference when you need it most. A well-rested mind sees the opportunity in the moment because it is clear and uncluttered.

Taking A Time Out

Everyday we encounter problems that distract us and interfere with our ability to feel calm and happy. Many of us think that if we keep worrying about a problem, we’ll figure out the perfect solution. However, an anxious and exhausted mind has very little chance of creating an effective strategy. Quiet time is indispensible for an effective and happy life. There is no substitute for the meditative moments when we let everything go for a little while. No screens, no conversations, no planning “what I have to do next.” Just letting this one moment fill your mind completely, slowly breathing, and being very still are all incredibly powerful ways to build a sense of well being and prepare yourself for the next play.

Silence Is Golden

Most epiphanies are born in silence. A well-rested mind is a solid foundation for your mind to create and assemble epic answers. Your mind cannot work on important questions when it is constantly busy creating your next grocery list or second-guessing your comments at today’s meeting. Since modern technology is so intent on inundating your mind with noise and distractions, try turning everything off. Taking a small portion of every day and being silent is a great way to notice the ordinary beauty around you and answer the big questions.

Ordinary Moments-How Ordinary Moments Keep Us Strong - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing introduce her new series - "Ordinary Moments." Click here.

Many of us spend more energy every single day trying to outrun our troubles instead of taking the time to enjoy the small moments of joy in our ordinary days. We miss the adorable chatter of our children or the happy tail wag of our dog hoping to be taken for a walk. Wondrous moments escape us as we drone through a life of tightly scheduled appointments, high expectations, and professional obligations. We neglect the everyday treasures of life, and we wonder why we aren’t happier.

Part of a happier life is using these ordinary moments filled with delight and beauty and humor to bolster you against the slings and arrows of life’s inevitable downturns. Taking the moment to share a chuckle, sing a song, or remember a treasured friend are all deposits into an emotional savings account. These memories are psychological sustenance you can draw on during your rainy days. You can find joy in your emotional life by accumulating them, and you can sustain yourself during the hard times by having a steady diet of joy, wellbeing, and gratitude.

My new blog series to kick off 2014 focuses on how to use these ordinary moments to build a life full of personal joy, professional success, and true well-being. Make sure to check back for new tips to make this year one of your best.

Violence - The Effects of Violent Movies on Children and Teens - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the effects of movie violence on children and teens and how parents can limit violent movies and maintain their relationship with their child - click here.

Many parents are concerned about the findings just published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, linking violence in movies to higher levels of aggression and violent behavior. Recognizing that many children love violent movies, parents are wondering how to gauge which movies their kids should be watching or if their kids should be seeing violence at all!

State of Development

Be aware that adolescent brains, when compared to adult brains, are especially vulnerable to what they see, hear, and experience. They are still building their beliefs about the world, about other people, and about themselves. Always remember that your teenager’s brain will continue to unfold and develop until their mid-twenties.

External Influences

Neuroscientists warn us that by the time the brain reaches adolescence, brain development is heavily governed by external influences. What the adolescent brain sees, it encodes and internalizes. As parents, you want their movies to include appropriate themes and stories of empowerment, virtuous beliefs, courage & persistence, and age appropriate romances.

So, how can you keep your relationship with your child intact while also keeping your child away from violent movies?

Risk Factors

Violence from children and teens is often correlated with predictors including neglect or abuse at home, bullying at school, and serious mental illness. However, showing your child a violent movie does not mean that they will automatically become violent. There are hundreds of factors that keep children from turning to violence including a loving and supportive family, the demonstration of the appropriate use of firearms, and mental health counseling. Make sure that your child has all of the facts and fully understands the responsibilities and consequences of violence and gun use.

Just Say No

While it is always difficult to tell a child that they cannot see a movie that all their peers are seeing, you will thank yourself in the long run for holding the line if you believe that the movie has too much violence. “No” is a complete sentence and telling your child “no” is not an invitation for negotiation. Children and teens need compassionate, thoughtfully explained limits from their parents who are emotionally responsible. The best thing you can do is to draw those boundaries long before the trip to the movie theater, and make sure your child knows that violent movies will be fewer and far between.

Sources:

"Gun Violence In PG-13 Films Tops Levels In R-Rated Movies" in USA Today, 11/11/13

Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians

"The Primal Teen" by Barbara Strauch

Marriage and Divorce - Dr. John Gottman's Four Horsemen for Marriage - By Chris Gearing

Friday, November 22, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe the four horsemen for marriage from marriage expert Dr. John Gottman's research - click here.

There are always signs when a marriage is headed to divorce.

Dr. John Gottman, one of the world’s leading marriage experts, has identified four negative communication habits that usually mean the end is near. His decades of marital research and therapy have found that although defeating the four horsemen won’t entirely solve your marital problems, they are a big step towards repairing your marriage and living happily ever after.

1.) Criticism

The first horseman is Criticism. Criticism is not only expressing your unhappiness about a situation but using it to emotionally assault your partner. A temporary frustration becomes a lifelong character flaw; a minor miscommunication becomes an intentional attack. Instead of using neutral language and focusing on what needs to be done, comments focus on how one partner is at fault and use negative language to describe what is wrong with them.

2.) Contempt

The second horseman is Contempt. As you probably suspect, contempt uses heavy doses of sarcasm, name-calling, and character assassination. You may hear phrases such as “Can’t you do anything right?” or “Do you have some kind of mental problem?” Contempt frames every event as either a failure or par for the course – there are no true victories and the other partner can never win. It fundamentally changes the playing field of the marriage since it elevates one partner over the other instead of keeping you and your partner allied and equal in the marriage.

3.) Defensiveness

The third horseman is Defensiveness. Defensiveness is usually a response to the last two horsemen, criticism and contempt, and often is a last ditch effort to end the verbal attacks. Dr. Gottman finds that defensiveness can include righteous indignation, launching counterattacks, whining, or acting like an innocent victim. However, research has found that defensiveness doesn’t necessarily end the conflict and it can even escalate the tension.

4.) Stonewalling

This often leads to the fourth and final horseman, Stonewalling. Most couples think that stonewalling is caused by indifference or anger, but it is often cause by overwhelming emotions. When one partner is flooded with emotions and cannot process everything they are feeling, they short circuit and often stop actively listening and participating. They become completely blank in an effort to calm down and regain control. The other partner can only see the lack of responsiveness and they often give up hope about resolving the situation.

Dr. Gottman’s four horsemen are very serious marital issues. If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from these signs of marital conflict, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Source:

"What Makes Love Last?" by Dr. John Gottman and Nan Silver

Violence - Your Children and Violence In The Movies - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the recently published report from The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians about children and teens being influenced by violence in movies - click here.

Many parents are concerned about the findings just published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, linking violence in movies to higher levels of aggression and violent behavior.

Recognizing that many children love violent movies, parents are asking what effect can this movie violence have on their child?

Here are a few important points to keep in mind:

Weapons Effect

We do know that just seeing a weapon can increase levels of aggression and forceful behavior in certain people—what psychologists call the “weapon effect.” Studies clearly show that violence in movies can increase aggressive attitudes, values, and behavior.

Learning By Example

Watching an entire movie in which glamorous people you identify with or admire use guns may do several things: 1.) increase your comfort level with guns and gun violence, 2.) desensitize you to violent actions and gun violence, and 3.) decrease empathy and understanding for the victims of gun violence. Therefore as parents, it is advisable to limit your child’s exposure to gun violence in the movies.

Who To Watch

However, this finding does not mean that your child is going to automatically become violent if they are exposed to violence in the movies. There are hundreds of mitigating factors that would prevent them from becoming violent including a supportive family, the demonstration of the appropriate use of firearms, and the absence of significant mental health issues. The real vulnerability to violent imagery lies with children who are from neglectful or abusive families, who are bullied and marginalized at school, and who lack substantial psychological coping skills to deal with rejection and failure. These children often feel lost and the images of gun violence restore a sense of empowerment and control that is missing in their lives. These “at risk” kids are the ones we need to worry about.

Sources:

"Gun Violence In PG-13 Films Tops Levels In R-Rated Movies" in USA Today, 11/11/13

Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians

Dealing With Anxiety During The Holidays - By Chris Gearing

Friday, November 15, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on KTXD 47 discuss how to handle your stress during the holidays - click here.


Recent Posts


Tags


Archive