Category Archives: Everyday life

First Steps Toward Healthy Change

Funny Stressed Cat

Funny Stressed Cat

There is no longer any question about the horrific impact varying degrees of stress can have on our all-to-fragile human system. There are experts such as Drs. Lyle H. Miller and Alma Dell Smith, two people who have dedicated their professional lives to the measurement, analysis, and treatment of stress and stress-related ailments and complaints and many others, who can vouch for both the subtle and not so subtle impact that various forms and degrees of stress can have on those most susceptible and overtaken by stress.

In most of these cases, references are made to the emotional/psychological effects of stress and talks about anxiety and how people who are under a lot of stress, physiologically suffer negative impact on blood pressure, aches and pains (very commonly head pain), heart palpitations (leading to heart problems), and possibly even more damaging long-term effects.

World of Stress

World of Stress

And it is very clear and quite easy to understand the direct correlation between change (especially quick changes) and stress. For almost all of us, whenever things happen to cause high degrees of change in short periods of time, the level of stress experienced increases dramatically. And, this makes sense and can be exhibited by the endless supply of advice we are given by those around us to ‘slow down’ and ‘not move too quickly’ through upsetting events. We are advised to ‘count to 10’ so that our feelings of anger and hurt don’t overtake us and we lose balance with rational thought and our over-burdened emotions.

Alternate View of Stress

Alternate View of Stress

We are taught repeatedly in our life lessons that it is smart to ‘give things time’ or to ‘sleep on it’ and ‘let it simmer’ before making any major decisions that will cause a major change. Very few of us go through life without being told by those closest to us ‘don’t rock the boat’ or ‘take your time’. We humans tend to avoid major change…especially when it occurs quickly. We avoid it and advise our loved ones to do the same.

Perhaps one of the most tumultuous times in our humans lives when things change very quickly (whether we want them to or not) is during the period of time we refer to as adolescence:

* Bodies grow and develop, for some practically overnight

* Hormones that we may never knew we possessed, run rampantly through our system – causing emotions to seem like an open mine field

* Social expectations and pressures play havoc even with those with even the most sturdy and consistent of upbringings

And that is just a brief introduction to some of the landscape of the adolescent portrait.

Parent to Teen

Parent to Teen

We can start by adding a dose of understanding to our teenagers. Knowing and realizing just how ‘at risk’ children in the 13-19 age range are can be a wonderful place to start in helping them (and you as the adult who cares the most about them) restore some extremely-needed balance.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Don’t Wallow


I just read a great article by my favourite author, Donald Miller at his Storyline Blog.

It was about not giving into self-pity, and he gave the example of an Olympic ice skater who knew how to not wallow in his mistakes. You can’t wallow when you’re performing in a competition and make a mistake. You have to pick yourself up quick smart and keep going even when it feels so demoralizing to fall.

This lesson can be applied to life. We’re gonna make mistakes, we’re gonna fail and fall regularly. We’re gonna have cause to to feel self-pity and wallow. But don’t be consumed by it, because it stops you from getting on with what you’re supposed to be doing.

I know when I do something stupid, I can cut myself up about it for ages. This doesn’t help anything at all. So there’s no use wallowing in it and thinking I’m the worst of the worst.

No, I learn my lesson. I made a mistake, I learn from it, and then I move on.

When I don’t move on and I wallow, it cripples me. I beat myself up and I become ineffective because I feel like I’m no good and have nothing to offer. I get consumed by my wallowing thoughts.

There’s no point.

I know.

I’ve done both. I’ve wallowed over a mistake and felt terrible for ages; and I’ve controlled my mind to stop dwelling on it and move on with the lesson I learnt.

I can tell you it took a lot of effort to control my mind because it naturally wanted to wallow, but I was so much better for it when I didn’t give into it. I wasn’t crippled, I wasn’t wasting time worrying when there was nothing I could do, and I could continue on with life and focusing on things that did matter.



Boys carrying spaghetti in a macaroni factory in Naples, Italy. 1929

Psychological and philosophical point of view, brought to you in plain language…


The Therapeutic Alliance: The Essential Ingredient for Psychotherapy



 I am currently writing on the ‘therapeutic alliance’ – its relation to mindfulness, psychotherapy, understanding, and ‘being listened to…’   What follows is an interesting article that I came across that may interest some of you…


Have you ever tried to change the way you do something? It could be anything — the way you hold your tennis racket, blow into a flute, meditate — you name it. If so, think about that experience. No matter how motivated you were to change, and no matter how much you knew that it would help your serve, musicality, or sense of inner peace, it can be difficult and scary to change even the smallest thing. In order to change, you have to give up your old way of doing something first and then try the new way. That means that for a while you’re in a free fall — you no longer have your old habit to rely on and you don’t yet have the new one.

The anxiety of trying to change something as complex and entrenched as how you relate to people close to you or manage stress takes the feeling to a whole new level. Yet, that’s just what you do when you enter psychotherapy. Just as you had to put yourself into the hand of your teachers and coaches, in therapy you need to gradually do just that with your therapist to help you through what can be a harrowing adventure. The foundation for therapy is called the therapeutic alliance (1, 2). When it’s there, you know that your therapist is there to help you, no matter how hard the going gets.

The therapeutic alliance might be the most important part of beginning a psychotherapy. In fact, many studies indicate that the therapeutic alliance is the best predictor of treatment outcome (3-5).

See entire article:


Dynamic Opposites

Girl with grandfather

Girl with grandfather

When I was a young girl, my grandfather and I would go for long walks together. He was a tremendous influence in my life and came from a time when intelligence defined how far a man (or a woman) got in life. Those walks were a major part of my education and they most definitely molded many of my life-long philosophies.
Perhaps one of the most memorable life-lessons my grandfather spoke about during our time walking together was also one of the simplest of concepts. As if it were just yesterday, I remember him telling me that both, too much and too little of something made it no good. Everything , even something that starts out good, can become something hurtful, he explained, when it dwells in extremes.

I didn’t understand it then, but I have lived long enough to understand it now. Finding the balance in things is critical to a happy, healthy, successful life. Everything, including people and all their components, have polar ends. But they also have a center, a place where both of those two extremes are no longer opposing each other or pulling in opposite directions. The center, the neutral point of any two oppositional forces is the place we store our most valuable resources.
Try this simple exercise to serve as an example. Clench your right hand into a tight fist. Then release it. Now do the same with your left hand and release. You have just put fairly equal pressure or tension on both sides of your body, first your right and then your left. But as soon as you complete the action, your body restores itself to balance, and you feel better; centered and more relaxed.

Too Hot - Too Cold

Too Hot – Too Cold

Goldilocks understood this concept perfectly when she rejected both the Pappa bear’s cereal because it was too hot and the Mamma bear’s cereal because it was too cold. She continued her state of discomfort until she continued onto the Baby bear’s bowl of cereal which was ‘just right’ for her. Neither extreme of hot nor cold suited her. And as we all know the rest of the story, she repeated this process again to find her level of comfort for sitting on chairs and finally for being able to rest and fall asleep.

Although we have much in common with each other as human’s we also all have very unique and individual components that make us exactly who we are and each one of us has our own exact location for balance within us. Mine is not where yours is, yours is not where Goldilocks’ is and that is a wonderful thing because it affirms our individuality.

And, our own personal sense of balance is not ever exactly the same in any given moment. Life is dynamic, not static. Energy is dynamic. And because of that, all our components are constantly in motion, changing. So, our sense of balance in one situation shifts when we are in a different situation during the same day. Also, the very same situation at one time, can cause a shift of balance in us the next time we come across the exact same situation.

Dynamics of Life

Dynamics of Life

The key is to understand and accept this dynamic and make a habit of ‘checking in and fine-tuning’ ourselves so that we identify where we are internally on the opposite – balance – opposite spectrum. The more we connect with our perfect sense of center and balance, the more energy, happiness, healthfulness, mindfulness and performance we develop for ourselves.

I had the opportunity to speak with a fascinating man yesterday, and hear what he had to say about all of this. He explained his ideas about how this balance, this center and putting space between our opposites can eliminate the tension and stress from our nervous systems and grant us well-being.

If you drink a cup of caffeine in the morning, it is nothing that can harm you in any way, he stated, if you also partake in having a glass of wine in evening – the stimulant in the coffee in your body is brought back down by the calming effects of the alcohol in the wine and you have returned your system to its pure balance.
This fascinated me and I hope you too. More to come on it all very soon.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

A mad world A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever – did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognise it?


Unfortunate Events

When a psychiatrist meets people at a party and reveals what he or she does for a living, two responses are typical. People either say, ‘I’d better be careful what I say around you,’ and then clam up, or they say, ‘I could talk to you for hours,’ and then launch into a litany of complaints and diagnostic questions, usually about one or another family member, in-law, co-worker, or other acquaintance. It seems that people are quick to acknowledge the ubiquity of those who might benefit from a psychiatrist’s attention, while expressing a deep reluctance ever to seek it out themselves…

…While a continuous view of mental illness probably reflects underlying reality, it inevitably results in grey areas where ‘caseness’ (whether someone does or does not have a mental disorder) must be decided based on judgment calls made by experienced clinicians. In psychiatry, those calls usually depend on whether a patient’s complaints are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. Unlike medical disorders where morbidity is often determined by physical limitations or the threat of impending death, the distress and disruption of social functioning associated with mental illness can be fairly subjective. Even those on the softer, less severe end of the mental illness spectrum can experience considerable suffering and impairment. For example, someone with mild depression might not be on the verge of suicide, but could really be struggling with work due to anxiety and poor concentration. Many people might experience sub-clinical conditions that fall short of the threshold for a mental disorder, but still might benefit from intervention.

See link for interesting article on psychiatry…and bits about the importance of psychotherapeutic intervention…

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave

You don’t have to be a huge movie-going fan to know that the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture was “12 Years a Slave,” a riveting historical drama film adapted from the1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, an African American male born in the free state of New York. Solomon was kidnapped and sold into slavery for twelve years before he regained his freedom.

We have at our disposal a new, excellently crafted piece of work that takes us on our own emotional journey as we enter Solomon’s life on the big screen. We are witness to the horrific truth of how people treated each other based on the color of their skin; the miserable practice of slavery in this country. Perhaps one of the reasons for the popularity of the movie is that we can walk away with a sense of relief and happiness in the fact that we have progressed as a people and grown in our compassion and understanding and most of all, our humanity. We can pride ourselves in developing further along the way emotionally and learning to love and care for each other more. Right?

Sadly and unfortunately, not! In a recently published study that appeared in The British Journal of Developmental Psychology, children as young as 7 years of age reported that they believed black children feel less pain than white children do. The study was performed at the University of Virginia and indicates continued racial biases.

Children Playing

Children Playing

Another bias that shows up repeatedly involves the preference for children (both black and white) to play with friends of their own race. What we, as a humanitarian society need to look at, is what type of interventions do parents and teachers need to employ regularly in order to prevent the biases from happening.

The new batch of studies shows that if we are to have any positive method of preventing these biases, the interventions have to occur well before a child reaches the age of ten. The younger the child is, the better; because we are seeing strong biases already existing in 7-year-olds.

I can’t think of any better way to express it than Lieutenant Cable. Some of you may remember the name from the magical team of Rogers and Hammerstein and their sensational presentation, South Pacific, all the way back in 1949.

South Pacific

South Pacific

“You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

From the looks of things, maybe we haven’t really progressed as much as we think we have when it comes to certain things.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Kindness to a stranger


How do you approach a conflict? We all know how hard it can be to keep our heads cold in a situation where the best approach would be to not retaliate when slighted. Our emotions often run wild, and in these situations we often attack rather than draw back. We see this tendency everywhere, even in politics

This doesn`t mean that we always act in destructive ways: Sometimes kindness replaces hate and fear.
I am a clinical psychologist with an idea I will work the rest of my life for
I have , through a life with both good and bad, learnt to dream, and have started my own utopia: Kindness to a stranger. The idea is simple: I`ll ask if people will be willing to do just one kind act towards a stranger every week, and interview all kinds of people.

My hero Ellert Nijenhuis has already agreed to the interview next week.


Want to help yourself? Feel free to share this post, and if you really want to do something that might help, feel free to do a one-minute interview on your computer where you say what you think about kindness. You can include stories of kind acts, or even talk about the drawbacks with an idea like this. There will be a competition too, with 500 euros in the pot for those joining the kindness group and following the event
Why be kind

Let`s change the world: Background

My plan is to interview people about kindness. I have already contacted people willing to be interviewed, and some have already been interviewed. For people who`d like to say something about kindness, they are welcome to send their contributions to 

Random Acts of Kindness

Vicky L.

Random Acts of Kindness / by Vicky L.
68 Pins


The plan is to contact media and to write a book about it all, the following months. 


The book will include kindness stories, and focus on psychological knowledge related to why kindness works. I have already contacted some famous people enthusiastic about the idea, and will continue to do so whenever I get the change. According to Steven Pinker, this is the time to act. We need to change our habits, and we can all do it by finding a slot in our calendar (five minutes is enough) that we dedicate to kindness.Maybe your kind act will inspire others?