5 brilliant mindfulness tips to brighten your holiday spirit

5 brilliant mindfulness tips to brighten your holiday spirit

Tis’ the season of the holidays, and while we may strive for joy, peace and yuletide cheer, this time of year often brings  an abundance of stress and anxiety.  The months of November and December can rapidly escalate  the pressure to orchestrate the perfect holiday ambiance. The search for the perfect gift or throwing the perfect holiday party can activate an impulse to measure our self-worth against the standards of our “ideal” selves or others.  Before we know it, holiday cheer is transformed into holiday madness. We find ourselves unwittingly caught up in the frenzied snowstorm of mixed emotions and self criticism.  

Getting to the Heart of the Matter Hawaii Retreat : Unlocking Blocks to Intimacy

Alohavillas.com | Luxurious Beach Front Resort

Alohavillas.com | Luxurious Beach Front Resort

Mindful Psychotherapy Services is happy to announce our Hawaiian retreat “Getting to the heart of the matter: unlocking blocks to intimacy”

We hope that many of you will be able to join us for a uniquely powerful experience and intensive track to positive change in a luxurious, beachfront villa on the Island of Maui. This 5-day Hawaii retreat includes locally sourced meals by a private chef, meditation instruction, yoga and 3 full days of workshops and process groups led by Toni Herbine-Blank, international speaker, author and founder of Intimacy from the Inside Out©. 

In this concentrated program, you’ll transform your relationship to yourself and others and discover the key to unlocking blocks to intimacy. 

How big can your heart get?

Why Therapists Don’t Give Advice

Why Therapists Don’t Give Advice

“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.” -Oscar Wilde

It’s a Wednesday afternoon, and the sun is casting a golden light through the blinds. I am sitting across from my patient Andrew, who wrinkles his face and says in an exasperated tone, “Look, I know you don’t give advice, but what do you think I should do about this mess?”

I respond, “It would be easy for me to answer your questions with advice, but how would that be of any help to you?”

Toxic Bosses

Toxic Bosses

If you’ve ever worked for a “toxic boss” the following should sound familiar: Your boss repeatedly criticizes you, blames you, compares you (unfavorably) to others, discounts your contributions and worth, and is hostile or passive-aggressive. You can’t always put your finger on why, but you end up tied up in a knot, frustrated, angry or demoralized with each interaction. As a result you – and most likely your colleagues – experience an underlying feeling of anxiety, distrust, negativity, helplessness, lack of energy…even despair. 

5 red flags you’re dealing with a narcissist

I was recently interviewed by Allure magazine for a piece on Narcissism. The interviewer wanted a professional to explain in lay terms the ways to spot a narcissist and whether it’s possible to stay in a relationship with one. Here are some tidbits from the interview. 

We’re all a little narcissistic:
Most of us have some quality of narcissism. It’s important to understand that narcissism is a trait that varies from person to person and describes a set of behaviors on a continuum. For example, narcissistic qualities peak in teenage years and decrease in severity with age. A study from the National Institutes of Health determined that 9.4 percent of 20- to 29-year-olds exhibit extreme narcissism, compared with 3.2 percent of those older than 65.

Healthy narcissism is a useful defense mechanism when you need a small dose of entitlement, for example, when you're asking for a raise or being unfairly treated. The number of people who carry an actual clinical diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder is estimated to be around 1 percent of the population. People with NPD display pathological traits such as grandiosity, self-centeredness, and a constant need for attention and admiration. Their relationships are unhealthy and destructive as a result of impaired empathy. Additionally, they rely constantly on others for endless ego boosting and reassurance to shore up the distorted belief that they are better than others.

If you are wondering if someone you know is NPD or has narcissistic traits, here's a helpful question to ask yourself: "Is this a trait or a state?" Are they situationally exhibiting NPD-like behaviors in front of peers or on social media (state) or are they consistently demonstrating NPD- behaviors in most areas of their life with little insight? (trait)

Be aware of the vulnerable narcissist:
For most people, when they imagine a narcissist, they immediately conjure up the stereotype of a chest thumping, charismatic, cult of personality. On the contrary, you would be surprised how subtle narcissistic personalities can be. A good example is the vulnerable narcissist. They easily express neediness and helplessness to seamlessly suck you into their drama with feigned fragility.  In reality, the helpless narcissists have a habit of externalizing blame and project their responsibility onto others. They are not interested in how their neediness and demands impact others. They are always the victim and it’s never their fault.

5 Red flags you're dealing with a narcissist:

  1. They rarely ask about you unless they have something to gain.
  2. You feel special in their presence but feel exhausted after
  3. They seem to have little regard for your boundaries
  4. Low frustration tolerance: minor disappointments turn into rage, temper outbursts or stonewalling.
  5. History of short term relationships or infidelity. The narcissist seek caretakers, sensitive or empathic personalities whom they can manipulate.

Is it possible to be in a relationship with a narcissist?
People with NPD have difficulty in intimate relationships because successful relationships require the following traits:

- Low selfishness
- Forgiveness
- Sensitivity
- Supportiveness
- Generosity
- Empathy

The nature of their disorder limits them from genuinely engaging in any of the listed healthy relationship behaviors. It’s possible with therapy to help them understand their impact on others if they're motivated to learn and change. Typically, true narcissists stay out of the therapy office because they rarely see themselves as the problem. The exception is during big life changes such as a divorce, major illness or job loss. If you are the care-taking, empathic type in a relationship with a narcissist, the best step toward health is to focus on taking care of your own needs, setting clear limits and seeking therapy. 

*Stay tuned for 5 ways to handle the narcissist in your life.

CGPS 2017 Spring Workshop Presentation: Race, Sex + Power

On May 20th - 21st 2017, I was invited by the Carolinas Group Psychotherapy Society as the featured presenter to lead their spring conference event at the UNC Friday Center. The topic was Race, Sex + Power. I was blown away by the level of skill, insight, and compassion demonstrated by the participants. It was a powerful and healing weekend for all!

An excerpt from my plenary at the CGPS weekend conference:

"As group therapists, it is part of our job description to create a safe, inviting container for our patients. This takes a tremendous effort from the group leader. In order for the therapist to help others heal, the therapist has to understand, own and accept their own unconscious feelings. What this means is that the therapist must have empathy for themselves. They must willingly expose themselves in a controlled manner to their own unconscious beliefs, feelings, and thoughts"

Stay tuned for the full write up.