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Tag: psychotherapy blog

November 18, 2013

On any given day, if you visit any of the popular social networking sites, you will find that pictures of cuteness gets the most views, likes and shares. The question is, why do people like cute things?

cute sitting puppy

The popular opinion has always been that we are hardwired to respond favorably to cuteness. This makes sense on a surface value, as it’s probably a good reason why most parents are willing to put up with sleep loss and dirty diapers.

One study suggests that the faces of babies elicit motivation for care taking by humans. The study, conducted with a sample size of a 122 college students, had the students rate the level of cuteness in several baby photographs. The results indicated that the more cute the students found the babies to be, the more motivation they reported in  wanting to take care of the babies.

In another study, the researchers indicated that when people viewed pictures they considered cute, it boosted their  productivity level. The study consisted of three experiments, in which productivity levels where measured on fine motor tasks, non motor-visual tasks and in the third experiments participants where asked to locate numbers and letters from an arrangement of random and non random numbers and letters. The results of all three experiments showed that participants improved their scores on all three experiments shortly after viewing photographs of cute baby animals.

cuteness and productivity

Perhaps like the first study indicated, that we are hard wired to take care of our young. Given that taking care of another human being full time, is tasking and sometimes emotionally draining, perhaps there are some hormones that get released in the brain when we stare at cute things, which make us become more focused and productive? Does this explain, why I suddenly decided to get into private practice after my son was born? Or why I unintentionally ran seven miles instead of my standard three in the morning, six hours after my daughter was born?

I do know this, the next time I find myself playing the role of a mediator in a custody battle between two parents with small children, I will inform both parents about these studies. It would probably help a protective mother to know that the father of her children is more likely to become more productive in providing for the children, if he spends equal time in co parenting them.

So perhaps if at work you ever get accused of being unproductive for looking at cute pictures on the Internet, you can tell them that you are recharging yourself.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 8, 2013

Do you find yourself getting easily angered during debates with someone who vehemently disagrees with you. Whether you get angry because you expected to be agreed with or you get angry because you feel you are being villainized for your beliefs, this video is for you.

 

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 4, 2013

Would you knowingly expose yourself to an infectious disease? If you are sound of mind, chances are that you will say no. Further, the reason you will most likely say no is because you have an appreciation for how vulnerable your physical self is.

 

Our awareness of our vulnerability as human beings, (on a physical level)  alters the choices we make. Collectively, so few of us willingly take risks that  puts our physical being in  danger.

So what about the mind? Is the mind vulnerable? Should we take the same precautions? The answer is yes, understandably the vulnerability of the mind is a concept that some people struggle to grasp. This is because while their mental state is something that can be experienced, it is not something that they can touch and see when they are mentally wounded by a bad idea.
Ideas are the equivalent of nutrition for the mind, good ideas that we come to believe help us to become successful in experiencing peace of mind, while bad ideas we come to believe, lead us into creating a world of continued crisis in our lives.
Here are three examples of common bad ideas that some people buy into.

Bad idea #1: You lack intellect.

During my time in the military, I discovered the true meaning of intellect, and that is truth. This is why the defense industry invents so much in technology and people when it comes to “gathering intelligence”.  This is a term that is used so often by the military when commanders talk about wanting the learn more about what is really going on in a foreign territory. With this in mind, imagine how ridiculous it sounds when  someone suggests that you lack the ability to gain awareness for the truth. This is exactly what people say when they suggest that others are of lower intellect,  simply because they don’t display cognitive abilities that are subjectively valued.

No two brains are the same, and everyone has the ability to gain awareness of truths in and out of their lives to solve their problems. When people buy into the idea that they are not intelligent, self fulfilling prophecy takes precedence. They lose interest in seeking the truth and live a life where they transition from one crisis to another where, due to their difficulty in making predictions, they would have been able to make if they possessed awareness of the truth.

Bad idea #2: You are a villain.
My first child was born in a hospital, which turned out to be a terrible experience, while my second child was born at home. The reason my wife and I choose for her to have a home birth was due to the terrible experience she experienced at the hospital, and myself as well. After her doctor had failed to show up for the birth, another doctor showed up for the birth and kept looking at his watch the entire time. I thought he was counting the contractions until he mentioned  to one of the nurses that this was taking too long and he would be upset if he missed his golf game. My wife and I ended being talked into my wife taking an epidural medication when she had insisted on wanting a natural birth. I regret going along with the doctors and nurses, but it was my first child and I thought it best to go with the advice of professionals. So this was the insult my wife experienced.
My insult came about ten minutes after my son was born, I was watching my son by the heating lamp as a nurse tended to him,  when I overheard another nurse quietly ask my wife if she felt safe with me in the home. Of course my wife said she felt safe with me,  and the nurse left. I found this offensive to say the least. The next morning, prior to picking up my wife and our latest addition, I made a complaint with the charge nurse of the maternity ward. She apologized and explained to me that they were mandated by state law to ask new mothers this question. I seized upon the opportunity to point out how badly my wife was treated and then myself coupled with the irony of the question.
When people, due to basis of personal prejudice attempt to portray you as a villain, while you certainly have a right to speak up for yourself, overreacting to the accusations only makes their accusations come to life.

 

Bad idea #3: You are worthless.

I am going to again use my wife’s bad hospital experience as an example for this one. It was my wife’s idea to have a baby at home. We argued over this  and I was initially upset with her. You see our medical insurance doesn’t cover home births and I knew this,  but my wife wouldn’t budge on the issue. I was upset with her because I thought she was being spoiled, we already hired a doula to assist us in the hospital and now we had to pay for the services of a mid wife. I grudgingly agreed to the home birth.
The home birth was a success, with the help of the doula, the mid wife and her two assistants. It was on the day that my daughter was born that I came to realize just how right my wife had been. Why put yourself in a situation where you know you are going to be treated poorly when you don’t have to. Growing up in Nigeria, I had become so accustomed to poor treatment, that I would consider anyone who complained about poor treatment to be spoiled.
While I am not entitled to be liked and considered in good graces by anyone, I am certainly entitled to not put myself in such a situation, and to remove myself from such a situation should I find myself in it. The home birth was success on many levels, our daughter was born healthy, the professionals where not in a hurry, they were compassionate towards my wife, and not once did I feel any of them regarded me as a villain.

 

How to prevent yourself from buying into bad ideas.

Seldom are bad ideas sold directly to anyone,  they are usually subtly suggested. However, if you are paying attention you can smell the waste. Here are three ways you can prevent your self from buying into bad ideas that lead you into practicing more harm than good in your life.

 

Prevention method #1:

Politely and assertively disagree. Don’t be afraid to disagree even if you are outnumbered. It is important to keep in mind that your goal is not to convince anyone, but yourself. There is power in disagreement, all the more reason that your disagreement shouldn’t be nasty and disrespectful. Also, don’t worry about you accepts you or otherwise, if someone is intent on having you buy into a harmful idea, they clearly don’t care about, so nothing is lost if you disagree and practice the next prevention method.

 

Prevention method #2:

Identify sources and people who spread bad ideas and keep your distance. For example, I cut of my cable years ago and the programs our children watch are very limited and hand picked by my wife and I. The brain is vulnerable to infection from bad ideas through the simple act of repetition. For example, youth who are habitually exposed to music with unhealthy messages eventually adopt those messages as their beliefs and values, this is what happens when the brain is exposed to only one type of message on a consistent basis.

 

Prevention method #3:

It’s not enough to disagree with those who spout bad ideas,  you also have practice good ideas. Your thoughts create your reality, and when you practice what you believe, you bring about self fulfilling prophecy and more importantly you surround yourself with people who agree with you and are supportive of you.

 

Ugo is a  psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 1, 2013

This Therapist’s Blog is changing names. The change means from here on forward, This Therapist’s Blog will become Road 2 Resolutions.

Change is this case is a good thing, and we plan on bringing you the same short but meaningful and insight provoking posts.

Also, the previous posts from This Therapist’s Blog will remain available on Road 2 Resolutions Blog.

Thanks for reading.

Ugo

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October 21, 2013
What is stress? There is a short story circulating around the Internet about a psychologist who walks before an audience with a glass half filed with water. She asks members of the audience to guess the weight of the glass, and after several missed guesses, she tells them the answer. The answer is irrelevant, however she proceeded to explain to the audience that the longer she holds the glass of water, the weaker her arm would become, while the weight of the glass of water remains the same.

Her analogy was simple,  stress we hold unto  for a short time, isn’t a bad thing. However stress we hold unto for a significant period of time weighs on the mind,and leads to cognitive issues accompanied by poor health.

“Reality exists in the mind before it is experienced.”

A common reason people struggle with stress is due to a refusal to accept that they are dealing with circumstances out of their control. Often times we have a narrative in our heads regarding how we believe certain experiences should unfold and how we will respond accordingly. This is both a strength and a weakness, because our ability to practice foresight allows us to plan ahead and prepare for the future. While on the other hand, we have a tendency to think ahead of ourselves and develop unrealistic expectations on how things should unfold simply because we planned ahead. It also doesn’t help that we are inherently pleasure seekers and often times the realities we create in our heads are designed for us to feel good about ourselves and the situation. This also presents with an irony of us being unprepared to deal with circumstances we believed we were prepared to deal with.
So what is stress? Stress is a phenomenon that occurs when people over a significant period of time continue to respond to the same life challenges with antiquated strategies that they have repeated tried in the past with limited to no success. After repeated attempts at addressing the problem, they then brood over the matter consistently, only to attempt using the same ineffective strategies once again. In such circumstances, a cruel thing can occur. The situation can resolve itself only to reoccur again, leading the stressed person to believe that the strategies they employed actually were effective, when they were not.
An example would be a panic attack sufferer coming to believe that his or her hyperventilating and overreaction to the episode of panic is what led to the end of the panic episode,  when in fact the panic episode coming to end was caused by the depletion of adrenaline in the person’s body. This then begins a vicious cycle, as the person now develops anxiety due to his or her attempts to anticipate when the next panic episode is going to occur.
The solution to stress is to practice accepting life on life’s terms, this process involves internalizing a great deal of humility in coming to accept when narratives we tell ourselves on how our lives should unfold are proven to be flawed. When we come to accept our narratives are flawed, then next step is to make revisions to the new narrative based on new information acquired from our experience.
If I were an audience member when the psychologist in the short story was giving the presentation, I would have raised my hand to catch her attention. If she had noticed me, and called for me to speak, I would have recommended that she drink the water, and then put the glass down. This for me would represent the metaphor of coming to accept reality for what it is (drinking the water) and exercising the courage to rewrite your narrative, (putting down the glass).
Ugo is a psychotherapist and a life coach.
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October 18, 2013

Over the years I have noticed a trend with people who struggle with anger management, they are usually people pleasers. They bend over backwards most of the time to please others,  mostly because they are fearful of conflict. They desire to not ruffle any feathers, they prefer to get along for the sake of getting along with others even though,  getting along with a specific group will cause them anguish.

That is, until the last straw breaks the camels back, then  they explode. They then take on the label as angry people. It is only after they have internalized anger management skills that the passivity that’s to present itself. It then turns out that they suffer from codependency and that they need to learn self advocacy.

Self advocacy is the process where people learn to set healthy boundaries in their relationships. They learn to say no when they need to say no, and they learn to accept that other people are responsible for their own emotions, negative or positive.

Often, people who struggle with passivity, grew up with one or more abusive care givers, where as a child they learned to survive by predicting when a caregiver would become upset and using manipulative techniques to manage the emotions of that caregiver. Unfortunately that attitude carries over into their adult years, where they attempt to please people in their lives, for fear of being ostracized. Given that it is not possible to please anyone, they find themselves experiencing plenty of frustration in their personal relationships, with periodic episodes of restorting to poor anger management.

So how do these people develop self advocacy skills?

With self advocacy, there are two specific habits to practice, and these habits are getting into the habit of accepting when others are in a bad mood and setting healthy boundaries for self. The process of practicing these healthy boundaries involves the same skill set, with the practice of not being reactive to negative feelings.

So when a person who struggles with passivity or co dependency feels the urge to pacify an adult who is angry, they practice becoming mindful of this urge and doing nothing. When this same person is setting a healthy boundary with others, they will practice becoming aware of their fear of being rejected by the other person, leading to the urge to set no boundaries. They will then choose to set their boundaries regardless of their fears.

Being mindful and not being reactive to negative feelings, is something that can be practiced in imagined scenarios. I have found that when clients practice self advocacy in imagined scenarios, they become better prepared to practice self advocacy in unexpected real life scenarios.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC.

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October 17, 2013

In this post, I will use a fictitious question and answer scenario to describe what I do as a psychotherapist. This question and answer scenario is based on several exchanges I have had with people over the years who asked me what I do for a living.

“What do you do?”

“I am a psychotherapist, and I help people solve problems.”

“Really? Interesting, what type of problems do you help people solve?”

“I help people solve problems they unintentionally create for themselves. Often times when people by coincidence develop a pattern of unintentionally creating problems for themselves, it leads to the mental health suffering.”

“Hmm.. do you have an example?”

“Sure, let’s say you have a friend who happens to be in a physically abusive relationship. From your stance the solution is simple, you then advise her about this solution, which is to leave the relationship, right?”

“Yes.”

“But your friend doesn’t heed your advice and continues to be involved with her abusive partner. The reason for this is that your friend, most likely from her early life experience has come to embrace a set of beliefs accompanied with values which has led her to develop a set of priorities that put her at a disadvantage in personal relationships.”

“Maybe she felt neglected as a child by her caregivers and her response to the neglect was to place a high priority of staying in a relationship, no matter what. Perhaps because she has come to see herself as unlovable, and undeserving of a healthy relationship, even though it is what she truly wants. As a result her current beliefs and values creates a cognitive blindness towards her true worth and value as a human being, and just how easy it is for her to find a healthier relationship.”

“If I were to work with such a person, I would help her come to understand how irrational her current beliefs about relating to others are, and how her insistence in sticking it out with someone who abuses her only leads to her getting emotionally re-injured. Further, I can help her develop alternative beliefs and values that lead her to accepting herself unconditionally with genuine compassion. This mentality will then help her successfully seek out relationships where she is valued and respected.”

“Thank you Mr. Uche, that was very informative.”

“Thank you for your time, and you are welcome.”

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC

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June 14, 2013

Sometime ago I came across an article of a research study conducted on rats. The researchers took a plastic cup and cut a hole in the bottom of the cup. They then placed the cup upside down in a bowl of water. They then placed their chosen rats on top of the now upside down cups to sleep on. When the poor rat got into rapid eye movement sleep, (REM) the relaxed state of the rat would cause it’s stomach to pull through the hole in the cup which would lead to the rat falling through and into the bowl of water. It would then climb back unto the top of the upside down cup and repeat the process again. This effectively denied the rats REM sleep, and subsequently the rats were prevented from dreaming.

Regardless, the goal of this study was to learn about possible effects from not dreaming. Physiologically the rats prevented from dreaming while still receiving a good night’s sleep where in good shape. Except that when a fake snake was placed in the area to test the rats’ freeze responses/ defense mechanisms, rats that were denied REM sleep did not emit a freeze response, instead they looked oblivious. The researchers then came to the belief that dreaming  promotes learning. Due to the fact the behavior of the rats, in the presence of a “predator” that were denied REM sleep was detrimental to their survival. From my perspective, this would shed a lot of light as to why math teachers from my childhood would always stress that we take naps whenever we got stuck on an equation. It worked. There are also other REM sleep studies done on laboratory animals in which increased REM was positively correlated with increased learning most notably, tests on mice having to learn a route through a maze to find food.

Taking a page from the research study I just described,  I would suggest that poor sleep leads to poor anger management and subsequently poor mental health. Poor sleep leads to poor anger management simply because the less sleep you receive the less likely you are to dream, the less you dream the less likely you are to become creative in dealing with stressful situations. Human beings are also animals, when we are not being creative in addressing our problems, we become susceptible towards relying solely on our animal instincts, specifically our instinctual fight or flight response system  Use of sleeping pills does a good job in knocking you out but for some reason people don’t dream when they are taking them. I am so terrified of sleeping pills that even when I am struggling with a cold, I always take dayquil or the generic equivalent before going to bed.

So what’s a person who struggles with poor sleep to do?

Typically people who struggle with poor sleep report experiencing anxious thoughts and restlessness. From my professional opinion this means that on an intimate level they are not experiencing
any level of peace.  Their innate sense of insecurity is heightened and they require several hours of keeping watch to lapse before they can dare sleep.

The best remedy for anxiety causing poor sleep is to take a mindfulness approach.  Through therapy, the person can learn to identify suppressed worries that has led  to his or her  experience with anxiety and subsequently poor sleeping. Once these issues have been brought to the surface, a solution focused therapeutic approach is taken to address these issues.  Ultimately the goal  for the client is to learn to accept and become truly at peace with circumstances out of his or her control.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep.

If you found yourself in agreement or disagreement with this post, please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section.  I do read all comments.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions, a professional counseling and life coaching practice based in Tucson AZ.

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