Monday, March 24, 2014

An Article entitled 'Self-Loathing People Fear the Fragility of Their Relationships'

Good Morning Bloggers!

As a therapist, I have seen and worked with many couples and every relationship has it's ups and downs. Successful relationships can sometimes be better understood if each person understands themselves better and how they emotionally relate to their partner and their relationship as a whole. Today, this article talks about those of us who can be classified as "self-loathers" and how we can see our relationships. It also briefly mentions how to help get past the fear of fragility in your relationship. It's an interesting read, and just one man's perspective.

If you feel this describes the way you are feeling accurately, and want to talk more about it, please feel free to contact me! Couples therapy is one of the things I specialize in.  If you are ready to change the way you feel, or talk-through some problems in your relationship, you can contact me through my website:

Self-Loathing People Fear the Fragility of Their Relationships
Does your relationship seem to be one mistake away from ending?
Published on February 18, 2011 by Mark D. White, Ph.D. in Maybe It's Just Me, But...

I've written several times before on this blog (here, here, and here) on the self-loathing—people who feel strong and constant feelings of inadequacy—especially as it relates to their relationships. In this post, I want to discuss how self-loathing people feel their relationships are very fragile, and what this means to them as well as to their romantic partners.
As I've said before, self-loathing people often feel they're not good enough for their partners, dwelling on their own shortcomings, either exaggerating real ones or imagining... well, imaginary ones. This makes such people anxious that they're wasting their partners' time, keeping them from finding other people who are "surely" better from them than the self-loathing themselves are.

Another dimension of this is that the self-loathing often have little faith in the strength of their relationships. But this should not be taken as a lack of faith in their partners, who the self-loathing may regard as saints for staying with them. (Foolish saints, but saints all the same.) Rather it reflects a profound lack of faith in themselves, wherein they always feel they are one mistake away from their partners leaving them. (Naturally, this can be compounded by the self-loathing's tendency reading far too much into mild criticism from their partners, as described here.)

In many of my own relationships, when I'd screw up, even a little (though sometimes a lot!), I'd always think, "this is the end—now she's definitely going to leave me." Often I'd cry myself to sleep at night, thinking that tomorrow I'd be alone again. I wouldn't even necessarily have to exaggerate my mistake; it would just seem like the final straw, the one that finally clues her in that I'm not worth it, and that would be it.

Why do the self-loathing feel this way? Maybe it's because the self-loathing keep close track of our mistakes and shortcomings more than our partners do. Since we dwell on these transgressions, we remember them better (if not necessarily accurately), and those negative impressions just accumulate, whereas our partners often forgive our screw-ups. (They also recognize that they make mistakes of their own, which we dismiss because we likely feel we deserved them anyway.) We worry that our latest mistake will be the last one because we remember all the previous ones and still feel enormous regret and guilt for them—unlike our partners, who are much more likely to emphasize the positive in us (and realistically acknowledge the negative in themselves, while not dwelling on it as we do our own).

My advice for the self-loathing is to go easy on themselves—try to forgive your small mistakes as your partners do. As with anyone else, you will make big mistakes, and those must be recognized, regretted, and rectified to whatever extent possible. Those are the ones that may threaten your relationship, but not because you've screwed up in the past—rather, because you really messed up now. But don't sweat the small things, because chances are that your partner doesn't, and if the small things are going to threaten your relationship, it's because you're taking them too seriously, not your partner.

For those who love self-loathing people, my advice is similar to the last post: try to let your partners know that small mistakes are common, that you make them too, and if they can forgive you those, you can forgive theirs too. Be careful not to overreact to their little screw-ups, knowing that they will take your criticisms much too hard. And let them know—gently—that their small mistakes don't bother you nearly as much as their guilt and anxiety over them, and that is actually what will drive you away in the end.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring IS Coming....!!

Here We Snow Again
Adapt and endure ... lessons from under the snow
Published on March 17, 2014 by Reverend Susan Sparks in Laugh Your Way to Well-Being

I have news that is hard even to fathom. It’s something none of us thought could happen again. It is a heartless, brutal turn of events, a surreal occurrence that isn’t right or fair. Worst of all, there is nothing we can do about it. Brace yourself: it’s going to snow…again.

Yes, for the nine trillionth time, the forecast includes snow. Even I, a southerner who loves snow, have turned completely against the white, fluffy stuff. But then again, I don’t think anyone or anything is happy about it. People wrap their scarfs more tightly and huddle against the biting winds and stinging flakes as they walk up the Avenues, the Central Park horses stomp and shiver in the cold (much to Alec Baldwin’s dismay and Liam Neeson’s delight), and worst of all, the new little flowers that had begun to poke their heads out, because three days ago it was 50 degrees, are freezing.

It is interesting to consider the difference in how humans and flowers deal with the cold. For example, we humans go around complaining, “Why is it so cold? Will it ever stop? Will spring ever come?” But the flowers take it in stride.

In a recent article in the New York Times, the Director of the Bronx Botanical Garden was quoted as saying, “When there are fluctuations in the temperature, we [humans] are shocked and bitter. But plants are used to dealing with that.” The article went on to give an example of the crocus, which, during these late winter/early spring months, still grows flush to the ground so it doesn’t have to move water up through long stems (which can freeze like pipes).

These little flowers don’t spend their energy complaining about the weather, being mad that it’s snowing in mid-March. They expect the unexpected. They adapt, therefore they endure. Viktor Frankl, scientist, author and Holocaust survivor, explained, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Pretty smart approach, if you ask me, for the world is not a predictable place, not in weather, not in traffic, not in work, not in people.

So why are these little flowers so much better at dealing with change than humans? It’s simple, I think. The reason? They still believe spring is coming. It’s deep in their DNA. And it’s in ours too… it’s just that we tend to forget. Or worse, we lose faith.

We’ve had such a long, cold winter, we’ve forgotten what spring feels like, looks like; we start to doubt it is even possible. But it is…

Somewhere after the snow and probably a few more cold days, there will come a point where the sun begins to warm down and the temperatures start to rise, and all the little crocuses and witch hazel and daffodils will lift up their faces to the sun; people will start to unbundle and rise up from their hunched stances…and life will begin to rush back in.

It’s true with the seasons, and it’s true in life. There are times where we find ourselves in a long, cold, emotional or spiritual winter, times where we’ve forgotten what warmth—what love feels like, times where we start to doubt love is even possible. But it is…and like those little flowers, all we need to do to remind ourselves is lift our faces to the sun. Like the ancient Psalmist wrote: “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from which cometh my help” (Psalm 121).

This all boils down to three simple words: spring—is—coming. Have faith! Spring is coming! And at some point, probably sooner than we think, we will begin to unbundle our scarfs and our hats and gloves and, like those flowers, raise up our eyes from the sidewalks and frozen streets to the warmth of the sun that gleams from above. So in the next few days or weeks, if you wake up and see snowflakes, say a quick prayer of thanks and remember that just under the surface of that cold, frozen stuff are beautiful little flowers just waiting to bloom.

Monday, March 10, 2014

8 Simple Strategies to Improve Your Innovation

Hi everyone!

Monday is here again and you may be feeling like you have a million things to accomplish this week, and no motivation to get them done. Sound familiar? 
Here is an article from Psychology Today entitled, '8 Simple Strategies to Improve Your Innovation' for a little motivation on this Monday morning!


8 Simple Strategies to Improve Your Innovation
A great innovator shares his wisdom on being more creative.
Published on March 1, 2014 by Jonathan Wai, Ph.D. in Finding the Next Einstein

Richard Hamming, mathematician at Bell Labs for thirty years, gave a talk before he passed away on the factors that determine why a scientist does or does not make significant contributions. Although his focus was on ideas in science, the wisdom he shared really can be applied to any area where original thought is necessary. Here are the core insights from his talk.

1. Don’t Think Your Success Is A Matter of Luck

Hamming argues a major roadblock is thinking your success will be mainly about luck. To do first rate work, you have to drop any modesty and say to yourself: “Yes, I would like to do something significant.” Pasteur said, “Luck favors the prepared mind.” The prepared mind will eventually find something important and then do it. One characteristic of great people is usually “when they were young they had independent thoughts and had the courage to pursue them.” He says: “Once you get your courage up and believe that you can do important problems, then you can.”

Lesson: Prepare your mind, and when a lucky opportunity comes, take advantage of it. Have the courage to pursue your independent ideas. You must be honest with yourself.

2. Plant Many Small Seeds From Which A Mighty Oak Tree Can Grow

A downfall of famous scientists is they often feel they can no longer work on smaller problems. He argues that Claude Shannon, after inventing modern information theory, got much recognition, which was detrimental to his career. This is because many great scientists “fail to continue to plant the little acorns from which the mighty oak trees grow. They try to get the big thing right off. And that isn’t the way things go.”

Lesson: Always remember to work on many different small problems, because you never know which one will grow into the next big idea. “You can’t always know exactly where to be, but you can keep active in places where something might happen.”

3. Turn Your Problem Around. Change A Defect Into An Asset

Great scientists often can change a defect into an asset by turning a problem around. Hamming explains at Bell Labs he wasn’t given the required human staff to write programs for the computers. Other companies would readily give him staff, but he felt the “exciting people were at Bell Labs.” From this limitation came his insight that the machines might be able to write programs themselves, which forced him into the field of automatic programming very early. If he had the ideal working conditions he initially desired, he might never have had this insight.

Lesson: Many scientists, when they couldn’t do a problem, started to study why not. And from this came their interesting discovery. “Ideal working conditions are very strange. The ones you want aren’t always the best ones for you.”

4. Knowledge And Productivity Are Like Compound Interest

When he first joined Bell Labs, he met mathematician John Tukey, who had tremendous drive. He felt he could not compare to the genius Tukey, asking his boss, “How can anybody my age know was much as he does?” His boss replied: “You would be surprised…how much you would know if you worked as hard as he did that many years.” Then he understood: Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest. “Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other [consistently over time], the latter will more than twice out produce the former.”

Lesson: To be great you must have tremendous drive. Sometimes you will have to neglect smaller things in order to get bigger things done. Talent matters, yet “solid work, steadily applied, gets you surprisingly far.” But hard work and drive are not enough: they must be applied strategically.

5. Find Important People And Problems. Focus Your Mind On Them.

Hamming would seek out stimulating lunch partners in different fields. For example, he ate at the physics table because at the math table he wasn’t learning much. Then he started eating at the chemistry table and asked them “What are the important problems of your field?” and “What important problems are you working on?” They couldn’t answer him and he wasn’t invited back.  When you want to solve a difficult problem, “Don’t let anything else get the center of your attention...keep your thoughts on the problem. Keep your subconscious starved so it has to work on your problem, so you can sleep peacefully and get the answer in the morning, free.”

Lesson: Seek out stimulating people because they can help you find important problems to solve. When you are working on an important problem don’t let anything distract you. A truly deep commitment is necessary for first class work.

6. Prepare Your Mind For Opportunity

Once you have identified these problems, you need to determine which problems can be effectively attacked. At any given time, great scientists have “between 10 and 20 important problems for which they are looking for an attack.” Hamming notes “when an opportunity opens up, [they] get after it and pursue it… They get rid of other things and they get after an idea because they had already thought the thing through. Their minds are prepared; they see the opportunity and they go after it.”

Lesson: Have ideas about how to approach problems thought through so when opportunity comes, you are ready to fully seize it.

7. Work With the Door Open. You Will Sense What Is Important.

Hamming noted “if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But ten years later somehow you don’t quite know what problems are worth working on.” He sensed people with an “open door” tended to do important things, whereas people with a “closed door” often worked harder, but on slightly the wrong thing. He recommended every seven years you should make a significant, if not complete, shift in your field to stay fresh and creative. As a cautionary tale, he described a colleague that spent all his time reading the research journals in the library. “If you read all the time what other people have done you will the think the way they thought. If you want to think new thoughts that are different, then do what creative people do – get the problem reasonably clear and then refuse to look at any answers until you’ve thought the problem through carefully how you would do it, how you could slightly change the problem to be the correct one.” 

Lesson: “Working with the door open” today is really about being open to other fields, ideas, and thoughts that are outside your area of expertise. In order to identify problems worth solving, don’t get stuck by just learning from people in one field.

8. Know When To Work With The System, And When To Go It Alone                                               

If you work single handedly, you go as far as you can alone. If you work with the system, you sometimes can use it to your advantage. Hamming says “good scientists will fight the system rather than learn to work with the system.” Part of the problem is ego-assertion and personality defects.  For example, Tukey would dress very casually, and when meeting someone new it would take time for the other party to take him seriously. Sometimes it is the appearance of conforming that gets you a long way.

Of course, original people tend to fight the system just because this is part of being original. Hamming: “You can’t be an original scientist without having some other original characteristics.”  But sometimes your quirks can make you pay a far higher price than what you get in return. He asks: “Which do you want to be? The person who changes the system or the person who does first-class science?”

Lesson: In any organization there will be expectations to conform. Even though you want to be original all the time, it can pay to have the appearance of conformity. There are moments to fight and change the system, and moments to work with the system to produce a first class product. Of course, sometimes, you must have the courage to go it alone.

© 2014 by Jonathan Wai

Monday, March 3, 2014

Can you ever really catch up on sleep??

Hi everyone!

With today being a snow day here in Maryland and the government and schools closed, many of you may be using this time to take a much-needed nap, or sleep in a little bit today. We all find ourselves busy during a typical workweek and not getting as much sleep as we desire. However, a new study that has emerged argues that the effects of insufficient sleep during the workweek, cannot be overcome by weekend "catch up sleeping" or naps. Check out this significant article from Psychology today on the topic:

Can You Ever REALLY Catch-up on Sleep?

Sleeping in on the weekend and naps don't fully erase sleep debt.

In our hectic day and age, it's one of the most common strategies for managing sleep: after a busy, sleep-deprived work week, many people use the weekend to catch up on their rest. Whether its sleeping in on the weekend mornings, or taking an afternoon nap, weekend are frequently a time when people try to bank extra sleep—to make up for not getting enough the week before and to prepare for sleep challenges of the week ahead. 
It’s a strategy that’s only partially successful. New research indicates that although some of the negative effects of a week of insufficient sleep can be remedied with extra sleep on the weekend, others cannot. Researchers at Penn State University College of Medicine studied the effects of weekend recovery sleep after a week of mild sleep deprivation. They found that make-up sleep on the weekends erased only some of the deficits associated with not sleeping enough the previous week. 

The study included 30 healthy adult men and women who participated in a 13-night sleep laboratory experiment designed to mimic a sleep-restricted workweek followed by a weekend of recovery sleep. Participants spent four nights sleeping 8 hours a night in order to establish a baseline. They then spent 6 consecutive nights sleeping 6 hours nightly, an amount similar to what many working adults might expect to sleep during a typical week. Finally, volunteers spent a final 3 nights in recovery sleep mode, sleeping 10 hours a night. At several points throughout the 13-day study period, researchers tested the volunteers’ health and performance using several measures, including:
-Daytime sleepiness levels
-Attention span
-Inflammation, as measured by levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), abiomarker for inflammation in the body
-Levels of the stress hormone cortisol 

Their analysis showed weekend recovery sleep delivered mixed results. They found that 6 nights of restricted sleep led to significant deterioration across all but one measurement of health and performance. Two days of sleep recovery allowed for improvement to some, but not all, of those measurements:

After 6 nights of sleep restriction, volunteers’ daytime sleepiness increased significantly. Two nights of recovery sleep brought levels of daytime sleepiness back to baseline measurements.
IL-6, the marker for inflammation, also rose significantly during the 6-night sleep restriction period. Inflammation returned to baseline levels after recovery sleep.

Cortisol levels did not rise or change during sleep restriction. However, after 2 nights of recovery sleep, cortisol levels dropped below measurements taken during the baseline phase of the experiment. Since cortisol levels are strongly linked to sleep duration, this finding suggests that the volunteers likely were already sleep deprived when the study began.

Attention levels dropped significantly during the course of the mild sleep-deprivation period. Unlike the other measurements, attention performance did NOT rebound after a weekend’s worth of recovery sleep. 

The takeaway? Relying on weekends to make up sleep lost during the week won’t fully restore health and function. In particular, you should not expect your attention and focus to bounce back after a couple of days of extra sleep. It’s important to note that this study measures the effects of only a single cycle of work-week sleep deprivation and weekend sleep recovery. The effects of an extended pattern of sleep deprivation and recovery followed by more sleep deprivation are not yet known. The benefits seen here in this study may not be replicated over the long term. 

This isn’t to say that recovery sleep can’t be useful and effective. As this study shows, on a short-term basis catching up on sleep can reverse some of the problems associated with insufficient rest. Getting extra sleep on a weekend after a particularly busy, sleep-scarce week is one option. Naps are another. Studies show that napping after a single night of sleep deprivation also can reverse some of the adverse effects of sleep loss. Research also indicates that a combination of naps and overnight recovery sleep can be effective in counteracting some negative effects of sleep deprivation. 

Recovery sleep can be a useful short-term or occasional strategy. But the best sleep strategy is one that avoids sleep deprivation as a regular occurrence. It doesn't take long for the adverse effects of insufficient sleep to appear. The health consequences of just a week of mild sleep deprivation can be seen in the current study and in other research, which shows insufficient sleep associated with diminished cognitive performance, reduced alertness, and mood problems. Modest sleep deprivation increases inflammation, interferes with healthy immune function, triggers metabolic changes and drives up the impulse to over eat. Even a single night of partial sleep deprivation can increase insulin resistance, disrupt hormone levels, and elevate blood pressure. 
None of us may be able to avoid the occasional night or period of insufficient sleep. But a healthy work-week sleep routine can and should leave you with nothing sleep-related to catch up on when the weekend arrives. 

Sweet Dreams,
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor™
Image courtesy of artur84 at