Blog — Emotional Intelligence

After-the-Fact Mindfulness: Finding the Pause Button, Better Late Than Never

Ever had a bad morning that stays with you? I did, and I learned a lot from it-- about myself. Check out this piece I wrote on Huffington Post about patience, kindness, love and driveway etiquette. 

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How to Overcome Apology-Phobia

Given our propensity for hurting each other -- usually inadvertently through our clumsiness or our being inconsiderate -- getting good at apologizing should be standard-issue emotional equipment for membership in the human race. And it is. Any one can do it. Here are six strategies for letting those two most powerful words: I'm sorry, come out of your mouth. 

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Mastering Transitions: Trust That You'll Adjust to the Changes In Your Life

Change is the one constant in life, and yet, when we face it, we feel totally unprepared and want to run the other way. Why is that and what can we do about it (especially considering that changes-- even the ones that aren't so good-- tend to turn out pretty well in the end)? Here's a piece I wrote on Huffington Post about mastering transitions, the bottom line:: trust that you'll adjust, it will help the adjustment happen faster.

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8 Strategies to Complain Your Way Into a Happier Relationship

Could a toilet seat lid start a revolution or a romance in a marriage? Both are possible. The choice is yours. Learning how to work together in a relationship will take you where you want to go. Sometimes you've got to complain that the lid is up, if you want it down, but there are "best practices" in complaining which will help the work, work. Here's a piece I wrote for Huffington Post that takes your relationship beyond toilet seat lids, toothpaste tube squeezing practices and beds (made or unmade)--  to the real deal: honoring and respecting  each other's preferences.

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Better Living Through Empathy: National Day Without Stigma

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October 7th-13th is National Mental Health Awareness Week. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): "An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older -- about one in four adults -- suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people."  With numbers this high, one would imagine that talking about mental health concerns would be as matter of fact as talking about a sore throat, or knee replacement surgery-- and as no-fault.  As anyone who has debated whether to tell friends or boss about their depression or anxiety knows, we're not nearly there yet. 

Stigma is the obstacle. On October 9th, the grassroots organization, activeminds.org is holding a National Day Without Stigma. Removing stigma isn't just good for those who suffer with a mental disorder, it is essential for all of us.

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Being an Effective Parent: Managing Your Own Feelings

being-an-effective-parentTry as we may to be the best parents we can be and not overreact or underreact to our children's behavior and emotions, we are human and sometimes things don't come out exactly (or even nearly) as we'd like. Here are some ideas about how to take care of our own emotions so we can be there for our kids.

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The Valentine's Day Post: How One Simple Word Can Transform Your Relationship

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It's almost Valentine's Day, and while we scramble to find the perfect gift, maybe we've already got it! Researchers at University of California Berkeley have found the secret to love and connection can be revealed in the words we use in our relationships. What's the word that packs the most power? The one that is woven through the conversations of happy couples? It's the word "we." Check out why. And happy Valentine's day dear readers!

 

 

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What Robin Williams Can Teach Us

robin-williamsAs much as we are interacting with people who are suffering from depression everyday-- research suggests that at any given time as many as one in ten adults is in its grips-- the suicide of the beloved, Robin Williams, shook us, stunned us, and saddened us greatly. It also left us with many questions, among them-- what can we do to help people with depression? Here are my thoughts with special help from my friend, depression-insider, Therese Borchard.

 

 

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What to do when your child starts mouthing off

©Veer.com, used by permission

Don't you hate those "gotcha" moments, when (often in public, but audience not required) your child flings some words at you like-- this is lame, or, this dinner stinks, or, this vacation is boring-- and it takes all your strength not to fling some equally undesirable words back? Well, me too. Here are some ideas to get you out of the gotcha moment and make it a win-win situation for all. 

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What Parents Can Learn from Disney/Pixar's Inside Out

Inside Out

I don't think I've ever talked about a movie with patients as much as I have about Disney/Pixar's Inside Out. It is truly a one-size-fits-all film which can help any of us-- adults and kids alike-- understand and feel empowered to make choices about what goes on with the emotions in our minds. My new favorite intervention in session to help patients get a new perspective is to say, "Let's 'Inside-Out' this one. Who is in charge of the control panel in your mind? Who do you want to be taking over the wheel?" This strategy is not limited to the therapy room-- you could try it at your dinner table, or even at your next staff meeting and don't be surprised if you see the wheels of flexibility start to turn.

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Spring Cleaning Your Mind: Clearing Away the Clutter of Negative Thoughts

DaffodilsHello all, welcome to spring! In the time that I started and finished these next two blog posts-- the first about spring cleaning for your mind, the second about spring cleaning your relationship-- the weather went from snow, to the balmy 70's, and now back to pulling out the coats and hats. If nothing else, all of these changes are helping us work on our flexibility! And this is really what our well being within ourselves and in our relationships is all about. Happy spring cleaning!

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Spring Cleaning Your Relationship: Making More Room for Love

Magnolia in Bloom/ ©2018 Mireilla Stern used with permissionHappy spring! While we are in the midst of cleaning up our closets, our cars, our desks (well, some of us anyway, but that's another story-- please see previous blogpost about who isn't doing that)-- let's not forget about the care and attention of our relationships with our significant others! Here are some ideas for sprucing up and clearing away the clutter with those most important people in our lives.

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Empathy 101: How to Listen Instead of Handing Out a To do List

Gratner/iStock by permissionDon't you love it when your kids teach you things that you thought you already knew... maybe even things that you thought you were already good at? I do actually really love when that happens (especially when I can blog about it!) and such was the case with an impromptu lesson for me, courtesy of my older daughter, on empathy. I hope her tagline: Empathy, period, resonates with you as much as it did with me. Here's to more empathy all around.

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Learning to Meet in the “Aha Middle” of Your Disagreements: A Valentine’s Day Aspiration

Moosehook © Phillip Stern 2019It's Valentine's Day and as much as I love flowers and candy (make that cupcakes, please) I also like writing about the wonders and challenges of love-- and that's what this post is all about. Written with my husband and book illustrator, Phillip Stern, we explore how poignant misunderstandings lead to greater connection. Do you know the feeling? Love is work and it is worth it! Happy Valentine's Day, all!

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How to Survive College Rejection

College Decisions istock by permissionWith college decisions rolling in this month, March madness isn’t just about basketball. I will refrain from getting up on my soapbox about the major shortcomings of our college admissions process, and the cost(!), and get right to the issue at hand: handling disappointment and doing damage control. Rejection is a sting, but it’s not the rejection itself that matters-- that is part of life-- but how your student interprets the meaning of that rejection which matters most. Bottom line: interpret small: this is about this college, now, not big: this is not about my whole life and self-worth, forever. Here are tips for parents and students to not get derailed by misinterpreting the meaning when a college says no.

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Rethinking the Path to Empathy: When it's Hard to Connect, Step into Your Own Shoes First

EmpathyWhat is the path to empathy? We have all been urged (or at times, chided) to "step into someone else's shoes," But just as we might strain to comprehend the extent of the physical pain someone is experiencing when they look so normal, so like us on the outside, we can strain to fathom the extent of emotional distress others endure in the absence--to us-- of a good enough cause. In other words, try as we might, someone else's shoes just might not fit. That's OK. We don't have to understand what someone else is feeling, we just have to want to. Instead of doing the far stretch into someone else's shoes, as fellow human beings we all understand suffering-- whether from anxiety, or loss, or pain, so we can step into our own shoes, flip through our own feelings of vulnerability and find a "good enough" empathic match. Here are some ideas to run with (in your empathy shoes!). Here's to less worry and more empathy all around.

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Countdown to College: How to Prepare Your Student (and Yourself) Emotionally and Practically

PreCollegeBingo

Do you have a student starting college in a few weeks? If you and your student are feeling anxious about this transition it's totally to be expected. How could it be otherwise? Our second child is leaving the nest and while I'm confident that she is ready, much to her chagrin-- I wrote this blogpost about continuing to hound, I mean teach about being responsible-- emotionally and practically. Because, let's face it, roommates and friends may not be charmed by things like: being late, not having your keys, leaving dirty dishes around, etc etc. At our house we even made a Bingo game for practicing new skills (because that's just the kind of people we are....). So, with our daughter's gracious permission, and it must be said, she is a wonderful human being...I'm sharing it here. In addition, here are lots of ideas for emotional and practical preparation for a great start to college. Maybe you'll make a bingo card too-- or at least talk about it. OK, yes, this might just cue the eye rolling, but parents-- we know what we're talking about even though our kids may never admit it. Right? Best wishes to all for a great start to college!

 

 

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Transitions: How to Lean In and Adjust to Change

Transitions ©BrianAJacksonAs summer draws to a close we all get that feeling, maybe a sinking feeling—the end of something. It can hit hard even if next week will look pretty much the same as last week. This summer my husband and I are transitioning into empty-nesting as our younger daughter settles into college. It feels like transition with a capital “T.” But no matter the size or circumstance, it helps to remember and trust that we all adjust to change, it’s in our DNA. Let’s trust that we’ll adjust, together.

 

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Talking to Strangers: A Simple Way to Overcome Shyness, Social Anxiety, and… Just Plain Feel Happier

Talking to strangersDo you like talking to strangers, or is that a source of dread for you? A new study found that dotting our day with brief social exchanges here and there actually boosts our sense of happiness. This is something I have found true in my life, much to the chagrin of my daughters who are often waiting for me as I have found myself deep in conversation with someone I just met. But as a therapist working with kids and adults with social anxiety, talking to strangers may feel like something to avoid at all costs, but is actually a great way to desensitize and come to appreciate social connection and their ability to contribute to it. So socially anxious or not, here are some ideas to get all of us connecting more with each other— and, really, who doesn't need more of that in their life?

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