Therapy That Works...

How To Turn Her On, Part 2 - By Chris Gearing

Monday, August 02, 2010

By Dr. Sylvia Gearing

Guys – are you ready to turn up the heat?

Then, buckle up and get ready to take notes. Here are a few physical ways to turn her on:

Smell of Attraction:

The smell of a man is vitally important to women when it comes to basic sexual attraction. Indeed, smell is the number one sense tied to memory – the better the smell, the more fondly she’ll think of you. In addition, a woman’s sense of smell reaches its peak during ovulation when she's more sexually responsive -- just keep that in mind.

It’s All in the Kiss:

Men who are good kissers have a distinct advantage with women. Good kissing awakens a woman’s erotic interest and many women think great kissing is a clue to how you are in bed.

Familiar Face:

Repeated contact with someone can increase the odds of attraction exponentially. Literally, showing up and making an appearance can swing attraction in your favor. Women begin to trust and like guys they see over time.

Eye Gazing:

Mutual and intense eye gazing is key for women in becoming attracted to a man. Men who sweep their eyes (respectfully) over women can be arousing. Studies have found that continuous “eye lock” can lead to attraction -- even with total strangers!

The Exotic Becomes Erotic:

Although we like the guy next door who is available as a potential long-term choice, our pulses are “revved up” when we encounter the mysterious, unavailable and handsome guy. That guy who swaggers, has little to say and is unavailable will catch our attention. Women simply love a mysterious man.

Height Advantage:

Many women love tall men and studies reveal that women consider tall men to be more attractive, more masculine and commanding. However, shorter men can achieve great presence by dressing correctly and by projecting a sense of self-confidence.

Get To The Gym!:

Women are drawn to a specific male body type. They love broad shoulders, slender hips and well-developed, toned muscles. Men with a high shoulder to hip ratio are especially valued since they are regarded as more athletic and better in the bedroom.

Lower Voice, Higher Attraction:

A resonant male voice with a deeper tone and pitch is incredibly attractive to women. At some level, women associate a deep baritone with good health, good genes, and the ability to protect her. Think John Wayne versus Jay Leno.

Something in the Way He Moves:

Male movement indicates age, health, and energy levels. Guys - to improve your attractiveness, you need to watch those dance moves, how you walk, how you sit down, and how you gesture. Larger, more sweeping movements are seen as dominant and attractive. But don’t take it too far – you don’t want to be seen as the weird guy waving his hands around.

Source: “Why Women Have Sex,” Carol Meson and David Buss

How To Turn Her On, Part 1 - By Chris Gearing

Sunday, August 01, 2010

What exactly attracts a woman to a man?

This mystery has been an elusive question for millions of men for thousands of years. Here are a few things to keep in mind about female attraction:

Complex Attraction:

A woman’s attraction to a man is much more complex than we ever thought possible. Universally, the number one reason men are attracted to women is beauty. In contrast, women seem to consider many more factors in whether or not they like a guy. Such factors explain why there are some couples that, on the surface, seem highly dissimilar -- think beauty and the geek.

It’s All In Her Head:

Since the brain is the primary generator of female sexual attraction, psychological factors are the “ballgame" in female attraction. A woman not only has to be in the “mood” physically, she must also “think” herself into the “mood.” Guys, if you’re hoping for something to happen – try to make her day a little better. Take the kids for a little while, do a load of laundry, or cook her a sumptuous dinner. You may find that your luck has changed.

Body Image:

The more a woman judges herself to be attractive, the more likely she's ready to head to the bedroom. Again, such self-appraisal does not have to be objective—she has to like the way she looks.

Unfortunately, 55% of American women express dissatisfaction with their bodies. Guys, try complimenting her or buying her something to make her feel sexy, but most of all do NOT criticize her weight, body, or age.

A Good Man is Hard to Find:

Ten different women will have ten different opinions about a man’s attractiveness. This phenomenon explains why a beautiful woman is often attracted to the less attractive, but charismatic man.

So, what can a guy or woman do to increase attraction? While you can never create that sexual chemistry on your own, you need to reconsider how you are thinking. Remember that for women, attraction is highly psychological -- it's all in her head.

Research shows that a lot of women are attracted to the “bad boys” who are dashing, handsome and potentially unfaithful. Don’t fret though, guys -- these same women outgrow bad boys over time due to bad experiences like getting dumped, getting cheated on, or putting up with a male diva.

Follow The Love Map:

We all have a unique template of what we find attractive called our "love map." This “map” accounts for some of the choices we make that may seem illogical such as why we like guys with brown hair versus blonde. However, we may choose against “type” when we meet someone we enjoy and who seems to understand us.

Weighted Values:

Ladies, write a list of attributes that you want your man to have and assign them values (one to ten etc.). Rate what is most important to least important. For example, if you want a guy who makes a lot of money or is close to his family -- rank those a 10. Think long and hard about what you want in a partner long term. For example, while he may not have the self-confidence and swagger of some more dashing men, he may have a great sense of humor that will keep you laughing through the night for the next fifty years.

Source: “Why Women Have Sex,” Carol Meson and David Buss

How To Detect Domestic Violence - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

by Dr. Sylvia Gearing

The tragic death of University Virginia athlete, Yeardley Love, has raised the question once again of domestic violence in young couples.

Here’s what the latest statistics tell us about this frightening phenomenon:

  • Just under 45% of this age group have experienced violence in a relationship either before or during college.
  • Relationship violence seems to peak prior to college for most kids with 53% of women and 27% of men reporting victimization.
  • Emotional violence was the most common type of violence at all ages but is more common in high school.
  • Both sexual and emotional violence increase in college, if not addressed properly.

How can you detect if someone you know is being abused? Here are the signs:

  • Isolation: Abusive partners prefer that their victim remain isolated and unable to turn to others. In addition, victims isolate themselves from friends and family.
  • Increasing Anxiety and Depression: Domestic abuse victims show signs of anxiety and depression such as agitation, sadness, withdrawal, low energy, emotional mood swings, tearfulness and a decline in functioning at school.
  • Avoiding The Truth: People who are being abused are shell shocked. They are literally frozen by the stress. Many kids from good homes are naive about what abuse is, normalize the actions of the abusive partner and make excuses for the abuser until it is too late.
  • Social Shedding: Victims of emotional of sexual abuse by a partner seem to shed their former relationships—best friends, family connections, socializing patterns. They stop responding to others and deny they are being harassed.
  • Progressive Pain: Look for signs of increasing disconnection from others, less responsiveness and avoidant behavior. They are locked in a cage of agony and don’t know how to ask for help.

So what can you do to help?

Many family and friends prefer not to get involved out of respect of personal boundaries. However, this is one time that you need to speak up. Caring about this person now involves compassionate intervention. Please, do not turn your back.

Gather Evidence: Collect the observations you have had and organize them into a coherent conversation. Specify behaviors you have seen and conversations you may have overheard or read online or through texting.

Stand Your Ground: Domestic violence at this age is especially lethal since adolescent and young adult brains are often immature and impulsive. If you present your evidence and they are still resistant, go to their community of friends and ask them to help. For more serious cases, please seek out a psychologist. However difficult these steps are, they may very well save her life.

Sources: JAMA and Archives Journals (July 8, 2008) Relationship Violence Appears Common Among College Students

New Moon Rising - By Chris Gearing

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Moon Rising

November 19, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

With the highly anticipated premiere of “New Moon” in theaters tomorrow, millions of girls and women are once again lining up to enjoy the latest installment of the Twilight series. But why do women of all ages find the Twilight series so fascinating?

“Twilight” has captured the international female audience of all ages. What is the magic of these stories for women?

Vampire stories have generated female attention for hundreds of years and the Twilight series is the latest version of this psychological phenomenon.

Sexual Tension: These stories have a well-crafted sexual tension that permeates every scene. Gorgeous men, a darling heroine and the vampire theme all build the tension and intrigue.

Women and Heartbreak: Women love romantic sagas. Every woman, at any phase of her life, can relate to at least one of these characters. We’ve all been adored, rejected, and reborn in a new love affair—even with the same partner-- at some point in our lives.

The Shy Girl Wins: The central female lead, Bella, is naturally self-effacing, socially awkward, pale, uncoordinated and humble, which increases our identification with her. We love seeing her win when she captures the hearts of two superhero hunks.

Dedicated Love: The Twilight series hits all the high points of a forbidden love that prevails against all odds. The competition is scintillating and women love to be fought for. This drama inspires our own hopes that a man will gift us with that kind of regard.

Love in Peril: The stories also include all aspects of romantic love in peril—abandonment, attraction to a second hero, obsession with reunion, high-risk behavior and unconditional love.

Women love male leads who are dangerous and somewhat mysterious. Here’s why:

Magnetic and Mysterious Men: Women love the magnetic, mysterious stranger who epitomizes charisma, self-confidence and super human sex appeal. Attractive people you just met can literally elevate your levels of the “romantic love” brain chemical, dopamine.

Testosterone and Attractiveness: Women are attracted to assertive, intelligent, tall men with low voices who can kiss well. They love guys with distinctive cheekbones, a strong jaw line, and a “V line physique” which all indicate high testosterone.

Dangerous Passion: Danger stimulates passion. Women love the thrill of being saved and protected by men. In fact, studies show that spontaneous attraction can flare when adrenaline is flowing.

Most readers and fans of the series tend to pick one of the male leads to “cheer on.” You may wonder why the fans are so divided.

Women and girls are psychologically drawn to totally different types of men:

The Edward Cullen Effect: A woman loves the guy who listens without fail and soothes and reassures while cherishing every flaw she has. He is poetic in his affection. Women desire the unyielding devotion that never fades when life becomes ordinary. They love men who are protective, aloof, and sophisticated (loves classical music and has impeccable grooming.)

The Jacob Black Rush: Jacob is all about fun and adventure and has a great group of friends. He rescued the heroine while campaigning for her affection. He is the king of adrenaline—always looking for new adventures such as riding motorcycles and extreme sports like cliff diving.

So, guys, what can you learn right now to change your relationship? Become a master of relating.

Masterful relating with women requires a rigorous dedication to emotionally intelligent communication that begins with rapport.

Here are the three rules of relating to women that work every time —look at her, talk to her, and coordinate your body language with hers.

Three Steps to Building Instant Rapport with Women:

1. Look at Her: The Eye Lock is amazing. Mutual and intense eye gazing is key for women in becoming attracted to a man. Men who sweep their eyes (respectfully) over women can be arousing. Studies have found that even with total strangers continuous “eye lock” can lead to attraction.

2. Talk to Her: Ask questions and listen with utter attention. Remember that attention alone is not enough. Use a soothing tone of voice and pleasant facial expressions.

3. Nonverbal Duet: Keep your movements precise, relaxed and open. Use the emotional “back channels” such as pacing, timing and animated body movements. People who are into each other appear engrossed, enchanted and elated with the conversation. Nothing else matters when they are together!

For more information on Dr. Gearing, please go to www.gearingup.com

Sources for this Story:

The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyers

Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Why We Love by Helen Fisher

What Turns Her On - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Turns Her On: Women and Sexual Attraction

September 30, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

What attracts a woman to a man has been an elusive question for millions of men trying to “get it right.” Now a just released study from the University of Texas provides some surprising new information that may help struggling couples improve their love lives.

So, what’s so new about these findings?

First of all, it is wonderful that female sexual attraction is even being talked about. Most of the research money historically has focused on male sexuality and we have been all but ignored. Here are a few highlights of Drs. Meston and Buss’ new findings:

Complex Attraction: A woman’s attraction to a man is much more complex than we ever thought possible. Universally, the number one reason men are attracted to women is beauty. In contrast, women seem to consider many more factors in whether they like a guy. Such complex factors explain why there are some couples that, on the surface, seem highly dissimilar.

It is All In Her Head: Since the brain is the primary generator of female sexual attraction, psychological factors in female attraction are the “ballgame.” A woman not only has to be in the “mood” physically she must also “think” herself into the “mood.”

Body Image: The more a woman judges herself to be attractive, the more likely she is to report an increase in sexual responsiveness and activity over the past ten years. Again, such self-appraisal does not have to be objective—she just has to like how she looks. Unfortunately, 55% of American women express dissatisfaction with their bodies. This dissatisfaction is worse in media saturated America accounting for the $50 billion we spend on the diet industry.

A Good Man is Hard to Find: According to the study, men differ dramatically from each other in their desirability to women. Ten different women will have ten different opinions about a man’s attractiveness. This phenomenon explains why a beautiful woman is often attracted to the less attractive, but charismatic man.

Guys, here are some specific characteristics and tips to turn your woman on:

Smell of Attraction: The smell of a man is vitally important to women when it comes to basic sexual attraction. A woman’s olfactory acuity reaches its peak during ovulation.

It’s All in the Kiss: Men who are good kissers have a distinct advantage with women. Good kissing awakens a woman’s erotic interest and many women think great kissing is a clue to sexual compatibility.

Proximity: Repeated contact with someone can increase the odds of attraction exponentially. We like people as we get to know them over time.

Eye Gazing: Mutual and intense eye gazing is key for women in becoming attracted to a man. Men who sweep their eyes (respectfully) over women can be arousing. Studies have found that even with total strangers continuous “eye lock” can lead to attraction.

The Exotic Becomes Erotic: Although we like the guy next door who is available as a potential long-term choice, our pulses are “revved up” when we encounter the mysterious, unavailable and handsome guy. That guy who swaggers, has little to say and is unavailable will catch our attention. Many women love the anticipation of unpredictable contact.

Height: Many women love tall men and studies reveal that women consider tall men to be more attractive, more masculine and commanding.

V-Shaped Torso: Women are drawn to a specific male body type. They love broad shoulders, slender hips and well-developed, toned muscles. Men with a high shoulder to hip ratio are especially valued since they are regarded as more athletic.

Resonant Male Voice: A resonant male voice with a deeper tone and pitch is incredibly attractive to women. High levels of testosterone predict deeper voices among adult men. At some level, according to the researchers, women associate a deep baritone with good health, good genes, the capacity to protect and social influence. Think “Luciano Pavarotti versus Truman Capote.”

Something in the Way He Moves: How he moves indicates age, health, energy levels and biomechanical efficiency. To improve their attractiveness, men need to watch those dance moves (larger, more sweeping movements are preferred), how they walk (guy’s upper body sways laterally) and his gestures (space maximizing movements such as arm and leg stretching to dominate space).

You may be wondering where personality fits in here:

Personality is the essential spark for female attraction and it boils down to several essential characteristics.

Good Sense of Humor: Women who describe their husbands as more witty report higher rates of marital satisfaction. A sense of humor indicates empathy and understanding. David Buss, the study’s co-author, argues that displaying a good sense of humor is the most effective tactic for attracting women. Positive feelings, laughter and good cheer all make women like you. On an interesting note, men and women have huge gender differences on humor. Men like women who laugh at their jokes while women prefer that men make them laugh.

Self Confidence Versus Cockiness: A guy who knows what he is doing, is commanding with others, is poised and decisive are incredible attributes for attraction. Self-confidence is different from cockiness, which indicates false pride. Self-confidence is also a sign that he can protect and provide which are characteristics that are attractive to many women.

Character and Emotional Intelligence: The presence of integrity and honesty are unbeatable combinations for men who are interested in attracting a long-term mate. While they may not help a man in the initial attraction dance, these characteristics are essential for the long-term health of the marriage. Women love to be understood and having an emotionally self-aware guy is a huge allure.

Ladies, if you meet a nice guy that you are not attracted to or if you want to inject some passion into a current relationship – here’s what to do:

While you can never create that sexual chemistry on your own, you need to reconsider how you are thinking about this guy. Remember that for women, attraction is highly psychological. Research shows that a lot of women are attracted to the “bad boys” who are dashing, handsome and potentially unfaithful but that they outgrow such relationships over time.

Historical Foundations of Attraction: For the selection of a long-term relationship, pay attention to your history. Sexologist, John Money, says that we all have a unique template of what we find attractive. This “love map” accounts for some of the choices we make that may seem illogical such as why we like guys with brown hair versus blonde. We may choose against “type” when we meet someone whom we enjoy and with whom we build a lifetime bond. He may have our “love map” characteristics.

Weighted Values: Write a list of attributes that this man has and assign them values (one to ten etc.). Rate what is most important to least important. Think long and hard about what you want in a partner long term. For example, while he may not have the self-confidence and swagger of some more dashing men, he may have a great sense of humor that will keep you laughing through the night for the next fifty years.

Source: “Why Women Have Sex,” Carol Meson and David Buss

Who's The Fairest of Them All? - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Who Is The Fairest Of Them All?

July 2, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Looks have inspired love affairs for centuries. Now a new study of over 4000 people reports that most men agree on what makes women “hot” while women have a much broader view of what makes a guy attractive. But the question remains, why are there such dramatic differences between the genders in how they perceive attractiveness?

According to this study, men have a much more narrow view of attractiveness than women do. They rate thin, seductive and confident women as the most attractive and almost always agree on the criteria. In general, men love the visual and a beautiful face framed by flowing glossy hair coupled with a curvaceous figure that catches their attention.

In contrast, women seem to disagree about male attractiveness across the board. Some guys are rated high in “hotness” while others are relegated to the non-preferred status. Over all, women emphasize romance, connection, stability and commitment. They are twice as likely to consider their partner’s emotional characteristics when choosing a mate. The bottom line is that men may have a tendency to narrow the number of women maintaining a broader array of choices for romance.

Psychologists account for these differences in men and women in the following ways:

Worldwide Trends: In a study of over 10,000 people in thirty-seven different societies, men were more interested than women in a partner’s physical appearance -- particularly youth and beauty. When men seek a partner online, they are three times more likely to seek a good looking partner rather than valuing other assets.

Socialized Differently: Men and women are socialized to view the opposite sex in vastly different ways. Men are rewarded for having an array of beautiful women around them and multiple partners are not always discouraged. On the other hand, society actively discourages women from promiscuity and we are encouraged to forge intense, long lasting, romantic relationships with men. Even with the inroads we have made in gender equality, women are consistently held to a much stricter standard of moral behavior.

Men Fall Faster: There is a downside to the male’s attentiveness to the visual. They generally fall in love faster due to their admiration for female looks. Women are more measured in their attachment decisions and are more likely to consider character, earning potential and loyalty as desirable attributes. Women are more likely to break up with men with up to 70% of divorces instigated by women.

Many people ask me in my practice if women are becoming more selective about men as our power in the world increases. Here’s usually what I reply:

Although we cannot seem to agree on the exact criteria of male attractiveness, women are much more vocal in their preferences and now consider relationships as optional, not required. Since we spend half of our adult lives outside of marriage, we are now partnering more for the sheer desire to be with our man rather than for either money or procreation. In fact 13 million American couples have declared their intention to not have kids.

As we have acquired more economic power, we also have more choices in acquiring younger mates who enjoy our power and seasoning. Although looks are not at the top of our lists, many women say that looks in a man are also important and they prefer men with a strong jaw (a sign of high testosterone), and tall men with a strong, well developed torso. Most importantly, we also prefer men who will talk to us about our feelings, our relationships and our children. Basically, our expectations of marriage and partnership are increasing along with our paycheck.

Here’s the elephant in the room and the answer that everybody wants to know: Are the standards of attractiveness shifting for both genders as the expectations of marriage are rising?

As expectations for relationships have become more stringent, both genders are relaxing on the physical standards of attractiveness. Having a beautiful persona may win attention initially, but the sustainability of a relationship depends on more substantial skills. Instead we are seeing these trends:

  • Emotional Intelligence: Ninety four percent of Americans will marry at some point and we are entering marriage later and we are demanding an emotional compatibility that is unprecedented in our history. Women no longer value the “strong silent type” but often prefer a man who at least has good listening skills. His ability to manage his moods successfully, respond empathically and help with the kids counts more than his ability to produce tons of money. Men are also growing tired of the pretty women who are emotional divas.
  • Rise of the Power Bride: We are seeing men value a woman’s brains as much as they value her beauty. Many men date highly educated, successful women after becoming bored with women with fewer interests and narrower experiences. Since the majority of bachelor and master’s degrees are awarded to women, men have access to the most highly educated, disciplined and dynamic group of women in the history of the world.

Here are some tips for the real secrets of attraction and getting the on you want.

Looks are just a small dimension of attraction and they fade with the years. It is important to remember that the real key to sustained attraction is similarity. People prefer mates who are similar in values, attractiveness, education and earning potential. Even if you different personalities and backgrounds, sharing the same experiences over the years can create a shared and similar understanding of life that is relationship sustaining.

Sources include:

"The Social Psychology of Gender" by Laurie Rudman and Peter Glick

David Buss’s work on Gender Politics

Woman Sense Rules by Dr. Sylvia Gearing

The Power of Loving Words - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Power of Loving Words In Relationships

June 25, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

The level of relationship conflict and tension has long been the best predictor of who breaks up. Now a new study suggests that the real secret to staying together may rely on how well you get along during the good times.

This study by Shelly Gable is a direct contradiction of what we’ve been telling millions of people for years. The level of fighting, anger, contempt and frustration have been the best predictors of break ups in almost every study done since the 1980s. Literally, entire careers in psychology have been built on the study of arguments and conflict. However, this new study redefines what is most important in the sustainability of love—the positive powers of loving words and gestures in everyday communication. Showering your partner in support is relationship gold.

You may be asking yourself, “Why are the positives so powerful?”

Although responses to negative words and actions are important, how you relate in the good times is much more indicative of where the relationship will ultimately go. Here are a few new facts:

  • Memorable Moments: Essentially, positive reactions are much more likely to be remembered by each partner. If you are lukewarm when triumph is announced, your partner will be deflated. Such rejection is remembered in startling detail and withdrawal from the relationship is a natural outcome. They will tell someone else their good news next time!
  • Trust and Vulnerability: Trust originates in the daily details of living between partners. Kindness, compassion and consistent interest are powerful elixirs of love. Positive reactions reduce self-protection and fortify a cohesive couple identity that is rock solid.
  • Celebrate Good Times: Feeling close to your partner flourishes in an atmosphere of shared joy. People replay these shared triumphs repeatedly and these memories are on constant replay.

Wondering where you fit in? Dr. Gable has defined the top four response patterns as:

  • Active--Constructive: Being enthusiastic and warm is the best way to go in loving language. Celebrating, endorsing and cheerleading are central tenants of this approach.
  • Passive-Constructive: Very understated, underwhelming support resulting in marginal benefits. Examples include “That’s great!” or “I am sure you’re pleased.”
  • Active—Destructive: This approach introduces doubt, anxiety and distrust by being actively undermining of the partner. Examples include “Why did you make that decision?” or “What were you thinking when you said that?”
  • Passive-Destructive: Relationship neglect is one of the cardinal sins of marriage. Ignoring and turning away from your partner is the most destructive relationship response. Silence and withdrawal are key examples of this pattern.

Finally, here are some tips to keep the fires burning in your romantic relationships:

  • Focus on Loving: Pay strict attention to how you respond to your partner. Watch your words, but most of all what your actions. Make it your mission to provide full and total attention when he or she is talking. Mute the television, turn off the computer and put your cell phone on vibrate. Focus like your love affair depends on it (because it does!).
  • Create Loving Language/ Plan Ahead: Pick one or two enthusiastic comments and “work them.” Do not ever feign affection but do reach out with your words and your gestures. Establish an array of loving, endorsing comments such as “Honey, I am so proud” or “You are amazing.”
  • Belief in One Another: Your belief about your relationship determines how you frame interactions. Watch what you think since it determines both feelings and behavior. When you practice positive and endorsing habits in your thinking, you create loving communications as a result. When you choose to believe in your relationship you inoculate your love affair against future conflict, disagreement and most of all, from the intrusion of third parties. Love one another deeply from the heart!

Sources include:

Dr. Martin Seligman

Dr. Shelly Gable and the World Congress on Positive Psychology

Spiraling Down With Economic Woes - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spiraling Down With Economic Woes

March 19, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

According to the largest and most comprehensive study on American mental health and the economy, our stress continues to soar as our wallets are tightening. The Gallup-Healthways poll of over 355,000 Americans reports that our moods dropped considerably at the end of 2008 and continue to struggle as the recession now stretches into fifteen months.

This study tells us several things about what is going on with the American mood and money:

Emotional Blues Tied to Economic Blues: We are all basically worn out by all the continuing bad news. We have become ultra-sensitive and over-reactive as the recession drags out. As a result, our emotional well-being has been on a continuous roller coaster as the economy has shifted up and down.

Contagious Panic: We continue to drag one another down. Fourteen million more people worried about money at the end of 2008 than at the beginning. This poll demonstrates how money stress, panic and anxiety are contagious. If you lose your job, I’m going to begin worrying about mine, whether it is warranted or not. We are “herd creatures” and we influence one another more than we know.

Everyone is Affected: No one has been immune from this recession, making our moods even gloomier since the ill effects are so pervasive. Even the affluent have restricted their spending which is affecting everyone since their spending affects the economy disproportionately. According to the March 16, 2009 Gallup Poll, upper income spending fell by 38% since September 2008. The rest of us restricted our spending by 40%.

Money is closely tied to our mood since it provides choices and money provides control. It is an antidote to stress since it decreases helplessness and increases options and optimism. When money constricts, our mood constricts with it, and we spiral into frustration and irritability.

Unfortunately, that spiral becomes self-perpetuating and assumes a life of its own. People get caught in a “mind lock” of catastrophic thinking. Worst of all, they no longer pay attention to what they can do to improve their situation. Options appear and we ignore them.

Here is some good news about the American mindset:

Love is in the Air: We seem to be loving one another more! In November, the dating web site Match.com reported its largest membership growth since shortly after 9/11. The other dating web sites are up about 20%. Apparently, while we may spend less at the mall, we are spending more money on our love lives. This trend is actually quite adaptive since relationships build life satisfaction. Focusing on our relationships also distracts us from an unpredictable economy. Again, socially connected people have lower levels of depression, better immunity, more money and live longer.

Consumer Mood Improved: The March 17th Gallup poll indicated an improvement in consumer mood by 13 points over the previous week. The continuing spiraling down may be abated for the time being. However, it is important that we now begin spending more to get the economy rolling again.

Here is my final advice:

Relationships Don’t Fix Everything: Do not fly into a new relationship when you are panicked about your money. A new boyfriend cannot pay your credit card bill (hopefully not) so stay smart and keep working at your job. Keep your perspective accuracy when you are assessing how worthwhile a new relationship might be.

Panicked Minds Do Not Create Money: Our economy will never recover if we all remain frozen. Please begin spending sensibly again. Please discipline your mind to be more optimistic. People who still pull a paycheck need to start spending more of that paycheck to create jobs for the rest of us. Envision the economy as growing around you mightily and don’t dwell on bad economic news. If we all remain negative, the economy will slow down even more.

Redirect Negativity Away From You: Surround yourself with happy people and put the grumpy ones on “mute.” Mood is contagious and make sure you do not resonate to the difficult people around you. Remain focused on the positives and deflect negative comments and actions away from you. Remember that their bad mood is their problem, not yours.


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