Je Suis Charlie.

The madness erupting in Europe this week serves as a reminder that we are always at risk when we express ourselves.  Freedom of the press often ensures some highly unsavory activities are permissible.  Granted, there are times when I am sure our forefathers did not intend for the freedom to mean some of the things it does today.  Nevertheless, it is an absolute in a free society.  Some people push the envelop just to provoke a response.  However, the response should never include murder – this is not justifiable.  We will either be a civilized world or we will be a world of lunatics and, frankly, I choose the former.  I hope you do too.

What are cartoons?  They are symbolic scribbling on paper that tell stories or serve as satire or to vent our political angst.  Satirists have long pushed the dialogue in ways that make some people laugh and other people wince or squirm.  Targets are social issues, politics, religion, the economy and the government.

Around the first century B.C. Roman satirist Juvenal took aim at people and institutions mocking them in parodies that made them look incompetent and absurd.  Juvenalian satire is, by its nature, pessimistic and ironic.  It conveys a sense of moral outrage and deemphasizes humor.   It can be, due to it’s nature, extremely polarizing and may be funny, annoying and at times maddening.  Yes, it can make you mad – actually it is suppose to at times.  You may even consider it blasphemy.  But provoke you to murder?  Never.

Let us all mark these tragic deaths in France this week with sorrow and condolences followed by a renewed commitment to free speech lest our way of life be overtaken by extremists.

The Age of Greed and Grievance

ingratitude

In Sunday’s issue of The Boston Globe, writer Steve Almond discusses the lack of gratitude felt by Americans, especially the young. You can read the full text here:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/11/30/why-have-all-forgotten-say-thank-you/lm8SiwHcu1cX8T4uaKlflO/story.html

My guess is this is not limited to Americans.
When did we become so spoiled and narcissistic? How sad is it to watch people resort to ever escalating stupidity to get attention in our ME, ME, ME world? Is the most exciting thing happening really Kim Kardashian’s big, naked butt? Butts are for pooping – when did they get to be so fascinating?

I write about this today as it is impossible to understand human psychology without understanding the social influences that surround us all. What is going on in your world, are you tired of the endless noise to be noticed? Are you a part of it? What part of you is crying out to be heard? How does all of this influence you and how you feel each day? Are we headed to becoming and idiocracy with more people participating in the feeding frenzy of Black Friday than bothered to vote in last month’s elections?

You can join the conversation on Facebook by searching for our Psych-hacker page. I still haven’t figured out how to add it here 🙂

The mind, the body and the spirit – the Holy Trinity

Perhaps there are not so many well kept secrets as this one – that all is linked between the mind, the body and the spirit – they are in fact, your holy trinity. Misalignment in any one of these results in problems, traumas, excessive fears and outright failure or underperformance.

Did you know that trauma can creating lasting changes in the brain? Trauma is often described as a failed overwhelming survival attempt. Trauma keeps our nervous system on constant watch or hypervigilence. Those changes in the brain have an odd way of pushing you to recreate the trauma scenario, perhaps as a way of hoping for a successful completion of our initial survival attempt. However, this is rarely successful. Too often, it reaffirms over and over again your sense of powerlessness.

Trauma freezes us in time – perhaps we still see the world though the eyes of a frightened child, or we relive an accident, the war, the terrifying emotional or physical instability at the hands of cruel, oblivious or otherwise traumatized parents. Trauma carries a generational legacy – one that can make identifiable changes to DNA and be passed on. This isn’t fiction, this is science. Are you in need of more psycho-education and/or coaching on trauma and its aftermath and legacy? Trauma can be completely or partially forgotten by the mind, but not the body resulting in fear, depression, anxiety, failed relationships and illness are but a few of the manifestations of unresolved trauma. Join in the conversation to learn and discuss more.

Psychology versus Coaching? Which is best for you?

Here in New England, the leaves are turning.  Some trees are early changers and have already jazzed up the landscape with reds and gold.  Those trees have begun shedding their leaves while the oaks and birches are just beginning to change.  In about six weeks, the trees will be bare as winter settles in here in the Northern Hemisphere for a few months.  Winter is the season of introspection and reflection; it is also the season of celebration, growth and planning.

Summer was busy this year, with studying, learning and growing. I have been thinking about what I was hoping to accomplish with this blog and why.  We have visitors who stop by often, but I wonder.  What do my readers want to read about?  What is it they care about that we can discuss?

I often have to censor myself because my interests in psychology are quite diverse.  I go back and forth between psychology and analysis and coaching – which is better?   Psychology is endlessly fascinating to me as a matter of understanding the question “why?”  Why people behave the way they do is endlessly interesting to me.

However, in the realm of growth and self-understanding analysis work can be a bottomless pit.  If you go in search of what is wrong with you, you will find more than you can imagine and it will never end, it takes a very long time and results are not always evident.   Often we come away with a great understanding of why we are the way we are and little more.

And then there are the endless labels, anxious, depressed ADD, ADHD, narcissistic, delusional, low self-esteem etc.   What is helpful about a label? For many of us it is an excuse not to grow and change or a license to not try.

In my experience, if you ask the question “What is wrong with me?”  You will continue to get an almost inexhaustible cascade of answers.   I know what I would get and it would not be pretty.

The reality is that life is a challenge and society is pretty messed up. We are imperfect humans and we are struggling to deal with it.

We bring to this struggle inherited patterns of behavior transmitted by the actions, inactions and attitudes our parents, teachers and caregivers.  We think we see truth, but in fact, we see the world as we were told to expect it.  Our lenses are soiled and distorted.  If those distortions happen to serve you and your life is wonderful, you probably are not reading this.

On the other hand, coaching is rooted in practical and human needs psychology.  It involves many techniques that can shift your world and move you on WITHOUT digging endlessly into the past.  The results are often, faster, more positive and action -oriented versus the mind-action only of analysis.

When I discovered coaching, it seemed the perfect blend of principles to help people grow and change and find more effective solutions than analysis.

What are you struggling with?

Lessons from the Field.

It’s a cool late summer day here in New England and football season has begun. Today’s lesson in psych-hacking comes to us by way of New England Patriot’s receiver, Julian Edelman. Aside from being adorable and very, very funny, Julian delivers a killer statement at the end of his video. So forget about all the trashy news that the NFL has been generating this past few weeks and focus on a positive message for a change.

Watch and tell how you proved someone wrong.

Julian Edelman Reads Harsh 2009 Scouting Report About Himself (Video)

Why we need coaches!

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First let’s get this off my chest – there are too many unqualified people setting up shop as coaches. Going to a coaching school and paying for a certification really doesn’t do it. If you want to really be of assistance to people, you need to learn about people. You need to learn about human behavior and about organizational behavior. Then you need to be able to connect deeply with someone by understanding their motives, values and aspirations. It can actually come together quite quickly in skilled hands or dissolve instantaneously in incompetent ones.

I hired a coach some years back – my first one. He was terrible – even though he was “highly recommended”. Our first conversation went like this:

Coach: So what do you want to work on?

Me: Organization – (not really, but this is what I said since his opener left me cold)

Coach: Okay, what are three things you will do by our next meeting to get organized?

Me: Clean up my laundry pile, clean off my desk, pay my bills.

Coach: Great! What might get in your way of doing that?

Me: Life

Coach: So how will you prevent that?

Me: I don’t know…

Okay, I was terrible too! But, here is the thing. He took no time to get to know who I was and what made me tick. He could have been an app pre-programmed to say what he said. There was no charm…no attempt to learn about me – which at $500 an hour, you had better take that time!

I had to cancel the next meeting due to a death in the family. He was insulted and told me he could not understand why THAT threw me. $1000 bucks into the trash can and I severed the relationship. I was a weanie and made a lame excuse. But, years later, I must say, Dear Coach, YOU SUCKED!

I coach students at Harvard Business School on resume development, personal branding and interviewing skills. Every conversation begins with a power-packed download of who you are and what you want to achieve. Our sessions are intense and wonderful. Why? It’s the exponential power of the coaching relationship that is nurturing, safe and often tough. but always, always personal.

The folks at HBS already understand the value of coaching. They have it at their fingertips when they need it and they use it. I have zero doubt that this is part of the reason (they are also brilliant!) that HBS students are so successful.

I need a coach, we all need coaches! If the people at HBS and in the corporate world already get the value of coaching, that’s good enough for me! Next week, we begin working with a new cohort at HBS and I will work diligently with them to provide a meaningful experience.

Truthfully, the psych-hacking IS coaching! It is the extraction of principles of human psychology in a focused way to get results quickly.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact me @ psych-hacker@comcast.net.

14 Habits of Highly Miserable People

Are you miserable?  Sure,  at some point most of us are.  You know a small failure, a minor slight and for some of us it is off the races as we indulge in a major pity party with ourselves.  Cloe Madanes has written an insightful article outlining the major psychological habits that can lead us down the road to misery if unchallenged.   Check them out and be sure to book mark this post for easy finding when you start down the road of negative thinking……

http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/14-habits-highly-miserable-people

Cognitive Traps – Repeating the Past

Do you ever find yourself experiencing similar issues over and over again – even when you are trying not to? Do you sometimes feel at the mercy of something you cannot quite put your finger on? Have you sought therapy for these issues and found zero relief? Coming soon…a program to help you break out of the vicious cycles and repeating patterns of failure, heartbreak, and pain. Schemas are maladaptive patterns of thinking and behavior that are based on faulty beliefs. There is no magic to changing them…it takes work, the magic is in being free of them and it starts here!

If you are interested in participating in this 12 week coaching session which I guarantee will provide you more insight and help than you have EVER gotten, please send me an email…there are only a few spots available for this life-changing experience. I am not given to marketing bluster…this is real….I am thrilled to be able to share this with you. This will enable you to work with your therapist or coach with success – maybe for the first time.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Loving Yourself.

For most people, it always seems easier to “get” someone to love you than it is to contemplate the difficult concept of loving yourself.  After all, you know yourself from the inside out and have a complete catalogue of every error, mistake, humiliation, short-coming, defeat, loss etc.  You are not alright in your mind and you know that the right person is the missing piece to the puzzle and precisely what you need to make it all better.

This is how most of us think and we consider ourselves “lucky” to find someone who plugs those interior holes – at least for a while.  They keep us in a happy place, rewarded with distance from our wounds as long as this magical person is around.  Once they disappear either through breakup or death, we are left with our broken selves and the pain is worse than ever. 

Wouldn’t it be wise to spend some time looking inward and loving the creation you are?  You are unique and wonderful (we are all flawed) so embrace yourself fully.  Work to improve yourself and know that you are growing in wisdom and love each day.

Today, celebrate who you are, embrace yourself in a loving manner and begin changing your inner dialogue to one that is supportive for you.  You will be surprised at how this changes you.  Give it a try – let me know how it works.

Summer Vacation is Ovah (Over outside Massachusetts)!

Here is New England, summer is the sweetest of seasons and terribly precious!  We had such a long cold winter this year and summer swept me completely off my feet.  During my absence, I have been studying and evolving my thinking tremendously and have so much exciting information to share with you, dear readers.

August is upon us and it is time to get back to school and back to work.  The tomatoes are ripening and the cucumber plants beginning to fade – all of which ensures that the golden season of autumn is closing in.  Autumn in New England brings cerulean skies and flutters of russet, gold and scarlet leaves that slip from their trees to cover the earth in a crisp, rustling blanket. 

I do love all of New England’s season, each one is special in it’s own way.  As summer begins to fade, I hope that you join in on our Facebook Page which will debut shortly.  We are a community of individuals who care about how the mind works and how to use it.  Viewers of this blog come from around the world and I hope you will soon take your mute button off and join in the conversation.  I am back in gear and this is going to be an awesome journey!  Oh, and I have some exciting news to share with you all! 

I wish you peace and joy!

In the meantime, wherever in the world you are, be sure to say hello!  For today, I leave you with a classic New England Recipe for this time of year – Lobster Corn Chowder.  If you can get to New England anytime soon, do it!  This is the best time to come!

Lobster Corn Chowder
 
(Ina Garten for the Food Network)Lobster and Corn Chowder
 

Ingredients

3 (1 1/2-pound) cooked lobsters, cracked and split
3 ears corn
For the stock:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup cream sherry
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup dry white wine
For the soup:
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound bacon, large-diced
2 cups large-diced unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (2 medium)
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups diced celery (3 to 4 stalks)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup cream sherry

Directions

Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters. Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs separately.

For the stock, melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corn cobs and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes. (I move the pot halfway off the heat.)

Meanwhile, in another stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and saute for 5 minutes. When the stock is ready, remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corn cobs with tongs and discard. Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the cooked lobster, the chives and the sherry and season to taste. Heat gently and serve hot with a garnish of crisp bacon.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lobster-corn-chowder-recipe.html?oc=linkback