The Heartbreak of Cognitive Dissonance: Is this terrible condition affecting someone you love?

When I learned about the gray existing between the black and white of absolute terms, I began to experience more peace. The more I expanded my gray areas (more than 50 shades), the more peace I experienced in my life.
~ David W. Earle

Do you know someone who is “black and white” on every issue? Do they refuse to be even the slightest bit flexible on an issue, even when you throw irrefutable proof of their errors right in their face? Do they continue to throw totally crazy or irrelevant arguments back at you? That someone might be suffering from (dramatic music) cognitive dissonance. Continue reading

On Being a Client

A quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.                                                                                                 ~ A.A. Milne

I rarely have an original thought and almost always revert to re-using someone else’s thoughts. In that spirit, I have provided below a laundry list of quotations that, to me, represent the essence of what one learns (if willing) during the psychotherapy process. Yes, a couple of these come from me, so you’re witnessing a rare occasion. If you are a current or past client of mine, you might recognize some of these.

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McMindfulness: Is There Anything It Can’t Do?

Donuts. Is there anything they can’t do?       ~ Homer Simpson

No doubt by now you’ve heard the word “mindfulness” somewhere. You may not know what it means. Or, you may have a highly disciplined daily practice. Or, you’ve been chiding yourself for not jumping on this particular bandwagon like your ever-so-chilled-out neighbor. Or, you have a subscription to “Mindful” magazine and keep meaning to get around to looking at it, if you only had the presence of mind. This article wanders around the topic of mindfulness. I can’t wait to see where it goes. Continue reading

U-Turn Permitted: The Law of Reversed Effort

There is a Law of Reversed Effort. The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. Proficiency and the results of proficiency come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity, of letting go as a person in order that the immanent and transcendent Unknown Quantity may take hold. We cannot make ourselves understand; the most we can do is to foster a state of mind, in which understanding may come to us.

 ~ Aldous Huxley

This rather long quote either seems obvious or doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, depending on what “state of mind” you’re in. If it’s the latter, then bear with me, for we are about to take a wild ride together. Continue reading

Power vs. Force: The Nuclear Option for Healing … well … Just About Anything

Simple kindness to one’s self and all that lives is the most powerful transformational force of all.         ~ David Hawkins

The term “nuclear option” refers, in modern lingo, to the most drastic or extreme response possible to a particular situation. When you’ve suffered a lifetime (or even a couple days) of depression or anxiety or relationship issues, you might feel ready to consider something like this, if you only knew how. Well, I invite you to consider that maybe we do know how. I propose that this option involves knowing the difference between what psychiatrist (but don’t hold that against him) David Hawkins* calls “power” as opposed to “force.” While these words seem synonymous, the way Hawkins uses them makes all the difference and, if you’re like me, can save your life. Are you ready for the launch codes to the nuclear option? Continue reading

How High Are You, Therapist?

If your therapist is the Buddha, you’ll become enlightened in the process.                           ~ Ram Dass

This started out as a sequel to another article with a similar name, but I want to address therapists here instead of non-therapists (though I welcome anyone to listen in). I’m not widely known for giving advice (how would I know?) or setting requirements (did I mention: how would I know?). Yet, it feels right to explore the concept of therapists having some responsibility for getting as “high” as possible (in the sense of level of consciousness, emotional maturity, etc.) in the service of their clients. I explore that here.

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Things That Have Worked For Me (Part One)

I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.                ~ Albert Einstein

I’ve regaled you in a past article with a list of things that haven’t cured me yet on my path toward better mental health and higher consciousness. Now, it seems appropriate to describe what has actually helped me. Since this includes several things, this will no doubt be a multi-part series of articles.

In a sense, all the things I’ve done have helped push me along the path. If nothing else, I’ve learned what doesn’t work for me, so I could let these things go and not bother with them anymore. (OK, I’m trying to make lemonade out of lemons.) In any case, the first thing I’d like to present has to do with the question Dr. Einstein posed, “Is the universe a friendly place?” Continue reading

A Laundry List of Things I’ve Tried

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.      ~ Thomas Edison

This represents a laundry list of most of the things (as my memory serves) that one person (me) has tried on the path toward increased mental health and higher consciousness. Some of these seemed to help for a while and some have had potentially permanent effects. It’s not clear that any of them “cured” me, whatever that means. It’s hard to say that that will ever happen. However, in retrospect, I’m grateful they didn’t as I would probably not be as far along the “path” as I am now without the experiences or suffering that motivated me to “try just one more time.” Continue reading

How High is Your Therapist? (Part One)

You can only get as high as your therapist.      ~ Ram Dass

This is a very important question, but one that needs some context. When Ram Dass says “high,” he’s talking about a level of consciousness, not a psychedelic drug-induced high. Or, you could think of a level of emotional maturity or emotional intelligence, as one author calls it.

This question connects to the idea I implied in another article (This is Your Brain on Therapy, Part One) that your therapist’s emotional health directly relates to the results you’ll get in therapy. Ram Dass says the same thing with different (catchier?) words.

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A Needed Course Correction for the “Evidence-Based” Movement?

“Every psychotherapist recognizes that what works for one person may not work for another; we embrace the maxim, ‘Different strokes for different folks.’”  ~ John Norcross

In recent times, much fuss has been made about evidence-based treatments (EBT). In our case, this refers to psychotherapy treatments that have been “proven” to work for certain diagnoses. In a separate article, I made the argument that psychologists reject EBTs because the science behind them is too primitive to be useful. Here I look at a possible way that the “evidence-based” movement may have actual value to people who do psychotherapy in the field and not just for publishing journal articles in an academic environment.

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