• Yes, Facebook is making you feel abnormal…
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    Psych Central

    According to Feiler and Kleinbaum’s research, only the most introverted people, just one percent of the population, can be expected to have networks that are representative of the population in terms of extraversion.

    The rest of us view our social world through a distorted lens-a kind of carnival mirror that could create the impression that others are more social than we are. This could have profound effects on our job performance, relationships, and self-esteem. Having biased social perceptions could also hurt leaders or product developers.

    “There’s a human tendency to wonder, ‘Am I normal?’? Feiler says. “And our research suggests that you’re probably more normal than you think.?

    Not only is it making you feel abnormal, there’s a very good chance it is also making you depressed and anxious…

    The above linked article is written in research lingo and is only somewhat translatable.

    In English, it basically says this:

    Generally, people become parts of social circles lead by a ringmaster extrovert. Those extroverts, on social networks, have finally found a way to connect with each other thus forming vast social networks of very loud and visible extroverts — which start to create a new normal against which we compare ourselves.

    Thus, we sit and feel inferior and strange as it appears that everyone we know is WAY more social then we are…

    In reality, 39% of Facebook users have less then 100 friends and older people usually have around 30…

    And, there are actually relatively few plural relational people out there…

    And, an awful lot of people are just as lonely as you are…

    And, they feel they are strange too…

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  • First steps for ending loneliness.
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    If you tell someone that you are feeling lonely, they will probably give you a list of a hundred things that you can do to meet other people. They may say, “If you’re feeling lonely, why don’t you just take up a new sport, join a dating site, go dancing or find a book club?” If only it were that simple!

    What most people don’t realize is that loneliness is a complex problem. For starters, most of us have limiting beliefs that prevent us from meeting others. Many of us have a fear of rejection. Others suffer from low self-esteem or anxiety. Some of us are just naturally introverted. Making us feel like we are just being lazy for not “getting out there and meeting people” is counterproductive.

    To make matters worse, loneliness is perpetuated by a negative spiral of actions and emotions. Feeling socially isolated, some of us turn to comfort foods or alcohol to dull the pain. Even the strongest of us spend more time than we know we should in front of the TV or clicking on other people’s Facebook posts. These behaviors draw us further away from good health, confidence and a desire to engage with the world.

    In many ways, these problems become harder to deal with as we reach our 50s and 60s. Many of our bad habits are deeply engrained in our daily routines. In addition, we also have to deal with the fear of loneliness itself and the persistent worry that we will end up as the stereotypical “lonely senior.”

    The good news is that the loneliness spiral can spin in both directions. Our healthy decisions can perpetuate an increase in self-esteem and a desire to meet other people once again. It is for exactly this reason that I say that the first step to dealing with depression starts with ourselves, not others.

    Our world is getting lonelier — and the technology we hoped would bring it closer together has largely succeeded mostly at speeding it up and making it even more impersonal. And, to make matters worse, that same technology makes it seem darker by creating the appearance that everyone else is connecting, living, loving and engaging others — except you.

    The solution presented, of course, is mostly a series of formulaic approaches to actually rubbing shoulders with others again — surely that should make us friends.

    And, it’s a decent idea — but it’s not enough.

    What they fail to notice is that the world and culture we have created has done a much deeper number on the very fabric of our worth and value. Unless we start by fixing that, the rest isn’t likely to change.

    The above linked is just the first steps of changing such — but it’s a start.

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  • Is someone you love in need of an intervention?
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    Psychology Today


    Confrontational methods are practiced nowhere else in the world—for good reason. Interventions are deeply humiliating. They imply a moral and psychological superiority among those staging the intervention. They remove a person’s autonomy, and removing the opportunity for choice is thoroughly dehumanizing. They deflate a person’s already deflated sense of self. Further, interventions also induce shame, guilt—feelings that actually reduce the likelihood of change.

    In 2007, psychologist William Miller and consultant William White reported that “decades of research have failed to yield a single clinical trial showing efficacy of confrontational counseling, whereas a number have documented harmful effects.” Those harmful effects? Interventions actually increase dropout rates from treatment programs and precipitate more and faster relapse.

    Interventions generally rest on a series of mistaken beliefs about drinking and about how people change. One mistaken assumption is that a person would never stop drinking on her own, most likely because of a pathological personality—when, in fact, government data show that three quarters of alcoholics recover without professional help. Another mistaken assumption is that drinkers are always defensive about their problem, so that gentler methods of approach would never work. Interventions rest on mistaken assumptions that everyone knows better than the drinker what she is doing—in fact, there is the assumption that the drinker is out of touch with reality and deluded about the nature of her “problem.” The implication that others are authorities on the drinker and on drinking compounds the humiliation of this method.

    Research clearly points to a better approach that evokes and beefs up a person’s own motivation for change. Motivational interviewing is one such approach. it’s gentler, more empathic—more in keeping with established knowledge about how people change.

    The above linked article is just another voice in the growing backlash finally emerging against 1930’s addiction treatments that still just won’t go away — and it virtually stands on it’s own. Read it!

    This would be a little of why we never got into beating up on clients, shipping them off into 12 step programs, staging the emotionally abusive free-for-all most like to refer to as, “An intervention,” or in whatever way buying into Try-Harder-Religion.

    Whenever you subject anyone to shame, fear or guilt, you take even the very best parts of the person and point them towards escape from such. Almost always, escape = addiction.

    If there isn’t a better way than that, then counseling would not be worth getting and, frankly, this career would not be worth pursuing either.

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  • Perhaps we undervalue the loss of a friend?
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    Psychology Today

    Everyone has probably had the experience of having a friend who doesn’t want to be as close or who wants to end the friendship altogether. As the parent of young children, I see firsthand how the friendships of young children can be especially capricious—strong and united one minute, but cold and distant the next. Yet adult friendships are often subject to the fleeting nature of friendship as well. If you think about a friendship you’ve had in which you start to notice that your friend no longer wants to be close to you, the experience was probably fraught with a mix of emotions: sadness, anger and envy, especially if you then witness your ex-friend develop a bond with someone new. What’s interesting from a psychological perspective is how the experience of a friendship breakup also leads to significant confusion.

    In my clinical work, I find that the confusion has to do with the following differentiation: You know exactly why it hurts so much when you lose a lover, but you tell yourself that a friend leaving you shouldn’t be as painful. Because we don’t have sex with our friends (ahem, usually), we tell ourselves that not having to lose the sexual intimacy should make losing the friendship less painful than when we lose a romantic relationship. Plus, there is massive cultural acknowledgment of how painful the loss of romantic love can be: Tell someone you had a romantic breakup and everyone pours on the sympathy, while every other song on the radio speaks to the pain that comes with a romantic breakup. Where’s all the hoopla when a friend breaks up with you?

    So, how can you cope when a close friend no longer wants you? Acceptance is the key to recovery from the loss. Understand that friendships – just like romantic relationships – can be fleeting. You must also keep in mind that some friendships formed when you were young or in an unstable or impressionable point in your life may not fit you as you evolve and grow over time. In other words, though it is painful when a friend stops wanting you, you may have outgrown the friendship without even realizing it.

    More often then not, the loss of a friend is multiplied by the refusal of those around you — and the refusal of your own self — to accept that the loss is deep, difficult and real.

    The starting point is accepting the loss. The very next step is accepting the pain is real and permitting yourself to grieve.

    Without such, no one can heal or move on…

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  • Here’s how to make difficult conversations easy
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    Someone is screaming in your face at the top of their lungs. Or ranting angrily and you can’t get a word in edgewise. Or maybe they’re sobbing so hard you can barely understand what they’re saying.

    We’ve all been there. These situations don’t happen a lot (thank god) but we all feel helpless when they do. And because they’re rare we don’t ever seem to get better at handling them.

    Problem is, these moments are often critical because they’re usually with people we care about.

    What’s the best way to handle these difficult conversations? What works?

    Sum Up

    Here are Al’s tips for turning difficult conversations into easy ones:

    *   Keep calm. Don’t turn it into Godzilla vs. Rodan. (Samurai secrets of staying calm are here.)

    *   Treat’em like a child. You can’t talk them out of emotional outbursts and getting angry over it does nothing good.

    *   Say “Please speak more slowly. I’d like to help.? Slow it down. Don’t come off like you’re fighting back.

    *   Ask “What would you like me to do?? You gotta make’em start thinking in order turn off the rage machine.

    *   Don’t make statements. Ask questions. Explaining is veiled dominance. Questions get them thinking.

    *   Start sentences with “I’d like…? not “You are…? If you start with “I? it’s hard to be seen as attacking.

    *   Let them have the last word. Don’t let your ego blow it at the last minute.

    So what does Al say is the single most important thing to do when dealing with people?

    When they speak, ask yourself why they’re saying what they’re saying. Think about what’s going on in their head, not yours. This leads away from judging and toward understanding and compassion.

    Yes, it’s probably a little late — you already went through the war at home over Christmas…


    But, it’s still worth learning for next year — or maybe the next phone call.

    And, if that doesn’t work, you can always upgrade to the complete guide to hostage negotiation

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  • Can, “Truly, madly, deeply,” ever last?
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    Psychology Today

    Being Madly in Love Can Last! The results of the study indicate that the feeling of intense passion can last in long-term relationships. “We found many very clear similarities between those who were in love long-term and those who had just fallen madly in love,” says Dr. Aron. “In this latest study, the VTA showed greater response to images of a long-term partner when compared with images of a close friend or any of the other facial images.”

    This means that the VTA is particularly active for romantic love. “Interestingly, the same VTA region showed greater activation for those in the long-term couple group who scored especially high on romantic love scales and a closeness scale based on questionnaires,” Dr. Acevedo explains.

    Previous studies have shown that activity in dopamine-rich areas, such as the VTA, are engaged in response to rewards such as food, money, cocaine, and alcohol. Additionally, studies have demonstrated the role of the VTA in motivation, reinforcement learning, and decision making. This research suggests that the VTA is important for maintaining long-term relationships and that intense romantic love commonly found in early-stage love can last through long-term relationships by engaging the rewards and motivation systems of the brain.

    The results revealed many other fascinating findings, uncovering some keys to maintaining lasting love.

    From this study, we have learned that the neural activity of individuals in intense romantic long-term love share remarkable similarities to the neural activity of individuals newly in love. (Interesting.) We have learned that romantic love can be sustained in long-term relationships. (Phew, that’s a relief !) And that intense, passionate long-term love is a dopamine-rich activity maintained by sustained rewards. (Come again?)

    Okay. The key to understanding how to sustain long-term romantic love is to understand it a bit scientifically. Our brains view long-term passionate love as a goal-directed behavior to attain rewards. Rewards can include the reduction of anxiety and stress, feelings of security, a state of calmness, and a union with another. In long-term relationships, when we reference the self, we slowly incorporate our partner into our notion of our self. As we move from early-stage love to long-term love, our bond attachment grows. And when we perform actions that make our partner happy, we enhance and maintain the relationship by working towards our goal of sustaining the rewards aforementioned.

    While we might be a way off before having an Idiot’s Guide For Staying Madly In Love, at least we are one step closer. And, hey, just knowing that it’s scientifically possible to stay intensely, madly, passionately in love year after year…after year…is pretty damn promising!

    The whole article is worth the read — but focus on the part about sexuality. Apparently, science is finally noticing that marriage does not equal the end of sex, and that couples can stay passionate about each other on every level for the duration of their lives together.


    By not shaming, guilting or threatening their partner and simply keeping on doing all the positive stuff they did when they were first in love…

    Rocket science — really… 😉

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  • Are you too afraid to find love?
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    Huffington Post

    Why do we fear vulnerability? We are afraid that if someone finds out who we really are, they will reject us. While we may try to appear perfect, strong or intelligent in order to connect with others in actual fact, pretense often has the opposite effect intended. Research by Paula Niedenthal shows that we resonate too deeply with one another not to perceive inauthenticity. We even register inauthenticity in our bodies. A study by James Gross shows that when we are inauthentic and try to hide our feelings, others respond physiologically (a rise in blood pressure). This physiological response may explain our inherent discomfort around inauthentic or “fake” people.

    On the other hand, when people stick to the truth (including avoiding little white lies), not only does their well-being increase, but their relationships improve, recent research suggests. Another recent study indicates that verbally expressing our feelings exactly as they are may help us overcome emotions faster. When we allow ourselves to be completely open and vulnerable, we benefit, our relationships improve, and we may even become more attractive. “We are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth,” says Brown. “We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect.” Why do we love children so much? Why are we drawn to people who act themselves? Because we feel an intrinsic comfort in the presence of authenticity. Moreover, someone who is real and and vulnerable gives us the space and permission to be the same.

    The path to hell:

    (1). Con your way into a marriage and then lie your way through to keep another liking or even loving you (or have such done to you) (or both.)

    (2). Experience the inevitable implosion of that marriage — usually by way of an affair.

    (3). Feel such self hatred and insecurity from such you seek out and enter into relationship with a person who is even more unwilling to say ANYTHING negative or fight with you (And justify such by believing you need peace in order to repair your heart.)

    (4). Experience the agony of that person pulling the pin even sooner.

    (5). Repeat…

    Or, you could read the above linked and rethink the lies you believe about yourself that keep you in hiding…

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  • Why do people run away from you?
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    Through this experience, we’ve come across scores of toxic behaviors that push people away from each other. And we’ve witnessed the devastation these behaviors cause – to relationships, to personal and professional growth, and to the general well-being of both the individual behaving negatively, and to everyone in their life.

    Let’s be honest – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another. None of us are immune to occasional toxic mood swings, but many people are more evolved, balanced and aware, and such occurrences happen only rarely in their lives.

    Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or just a once in a blue moon phenomena, it’s critical for your long-term happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving negatively, and consciously shift your mindset when necessary.

    Ros and I see so many people who are essentially dying of loneliness — not misfits, good people with a lot to give who are and have been lonely for years.

    Sometimes they started with friends, and then lost them through some uncontrollable event or death. More often then not though, they never learned how to have them — and learned a series of toxic (usually self protective) behaviours instead.

    The linked list isn’t necessarily a fix for such, but knowledge and admitting that a behaviour is happening is at least 1/2 the battle of fixing such…

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  • Are you forever worried someone is going to find out?
    1 Comment on Are you forever worried someone is going to find out?


    Sometimes I find myself waiting for the e-mail saying:

    “Sorry, we’ve made a huge mistake, you are fired.?

    Every success is a fluke. Each mistake is a disaster I play over and over again. I’ve convinced myself that one day it will all come crashing down.

    Does any of this sound familiar?

    When your life is dictated by an all encompassing fear that people will find out your secret that you don’t have what it takes, you’re going to have a bad time.

    Rewards make you feel bad, because you don’t believe you deserve them, and when you don’t receive accolades, you agree, because you know… you suck.

    “Rather than offering assurance, each new achievement and subsequent challenge only serves to intensify the fear of being found out.? —Susan Pinker

    To prevent others from finding out, people try to compensate for their ‘fraud’ in one of two ways:

    Overdoing: This occurs when people prepare to an almost obsessive level. They put in much more effort than is realistically needed in order to ensure they don’t fail.

    Underdoing: If you don’t really try you can’t really fail, right? People will under prepare or put off doing something until the last minute so they can blame any possible failures on a lack of readiness, as opposed to their actual ability.

    This is really well written — and a must read for every person on the planet who works with people in any way — because it describes all of us at least some days.

    I can really only add one other point to the full article. It’s the point Brennan Manning made in his book, ABBA’s Child.

    Our impostors are us — and we need to make friends with them or we are forever fighting a war against ourselves and will never meet ourselves nor be stunned into silence by the dignity of ourselves. If we never see that dignity, we will continue to live in that deep sense of inadequacy and have even further grounds to continue the war against ourselves for being an impostor.

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  • The cost of loneliness
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    Having a friend to whom you can disclose your feelings a major determinant of well-being. People with friends are healthier. They’re less likely to get common colds, to develop fatal coronary disease, to develop physical impairments or reductions in brain functioning as they age. People with friends are more likely to survive the death of a spouse without any permanent loss of vitality. Medical doctor Dean Ornish explains:

    I am not aware of any other factor — not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery — that has a greater impact on our incidence of illness, and [chance of] premature death.

    Depending on which research you consult, people with good friends have a 22-60% lower chance of dying over a 10-year period.

    People with friends are happier, too. Friendship is correlated with a more joyful life. If a person is depressed, having a friend interact with them regularly is as effective at treating depression as antidepressants or therapy. In old age, friends are more important than grandchildren for maintaining morale. According to sociologist Rebecca Adams, friendship is more strongly correlated with happiness than relationships with a spouse, children, parents or siblings.

    The linked article is a simple synopsis of why and how men are socialized to avoid real connections with other men. How a sports oriented culture further humiliates into silence those who long for such and how the costs are literally measured in the numbers of dead bodies of men.

    If you add in the reality that men, in general, are a denigrated lot in our society and that divorce is radically biased in favor of maternal parenting by the courts, you have a culture of men growing up fatherless, disconnected from other men and unable to process emotion effectively — much less share it with another.

    And that’s not a very good recipe for an up and coming father either…

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