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Eat, Pray, and Love From Home - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eating, Praying, and Loving From Home

How To Have A Journey Of Self-Discovery On A Budget

By Dr Sylvia Gearing

With the release of the movie, “Eat. Pray. Love.” this past weekend, millions of Americans witnessed the journey of a woman’s self-discovery through the countries of Italy, India, and Indonesia. But in this tough economy, not everyone can spend a year living, laughing, and loving abroad. Not to fret – if you’re looking for a quest akin to Elizabeth Gilbert’s amazing saga, there’s plenty you can accomplish right here at home.

Remember that the Point of the Quest is to Find Yourself, Your Beliefs and Your Soul Mate

FINDING YOURSELF THROUGH PHYSICAL PLEASURES:

Your body is the temple of your soul and is extremely important in any journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. The body, your center for “worldly pleasures,” is stimulated by the five major physical senses – taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound.

Taste and Pleasurable Eating:

Did you know that we have over 10,000 taste buds, but taste is the weakest of the senses? In an age of fast food and 80-hour workweeks, we don’t take the time to really savor our food.

Here’s How to Use Taste:

  • Slow down, sit down and calm down when you eat!
  • Eating should be a relaxing, sumptuous and even sensuous experience.
  • Try fresh foods from farmers markets or preparing your own food from simple, international recipes. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to cook gourmet food!

Touch and Tactile Experiences:

Touch is an undervalued sense but it’s extremely important to pleasure.

Here’s How to Use Touch:

  • Buy Clothing: Sensual lingerie, soft, flowing clothing, silky bed sheets, plush throws, and plump pillows are comforting and enticing.
  • Pet The Dog: Don’t forget to cuddle up to your cat or dog—they are great sources of nurturing.
  • Get A Massage: Nothing relaxes people more than being touched. Hire an expert and indulge yourself.

Sight and Visual Experiences:

Have you ever been to a place that just clicked with your sense of style? Maybe the Coliseum or your childhood home, visual beauty is enchanting for all of us. Surround yourself with beautiful colors, textures and arrangements.

Here’s How to Use Sight:

  • Take the Time to Notice: Nurturing visual experiences are everywhere—a sunset, a stunning candle in your bedroom, a gracious moonlit night, the drape of a towel on a chair, or even the colors of your favorite flowers.
  • Take the Time to See: All of your world can be visually savored if you just take the time to notice and acknowledge the beauty right in front of you.
  • Bring Beauty To You: Take some time and assemble your personal list of beauty—candles, soaps, china, crystal, pictures of travel destinations, favorite pieces of art, pictures of your friends and family, flowers, etc.

Sense of Smell and Aromas:

Smell is the number one sense tied to memory and it really makes an impression – whether it’s the sweet scent of your mother’s cookies in the oven or the smell of cedar burning on a cold night.

Here’s How to Use Smell:

  • Burn lightly scented candles for your meals, your relaxation time and “just because.”
  • Bring highly fragrant flowers to your office
  • Use your own special perfume or cologne as your personal scent signature.

Hearing and Sound:

Pleasurable sounds are stimulating for your mind. Brain scans show that music—in particular—stimulates certain pleasure areas of the brain and lowers anxiety.

Here’s How to Use Sound:

  • Relax or meditate to natural sounds like the ocean tide or thunderstorms.
  • Listen to music all the time, whether it’s Beethoven or Lady Gaga. Music enhances any ordinary experience – whether it’s cleaning the house, talking to your friends or working out.
  • Sing loudly. Anxiety diminishes enormously when we’re belting out our favorite tunes.

FINDING YOUR BELIEFS THROUGH SPIRITUAL PRACTICES:

Spirituality asks the most important questions about life—why we’re here, why things happen, and where God is in all of this. Spiritual practice, irrespective of which religion you use, nurtures the most of important parts of ourselves—our minds, our hearts and our souls.

Here’s How to Enhance Your Spiritual Self:

Stillness and Thought:

An essential first step is mastery of some sort of meditation or self-reflection – whether it be through prayer, meditation techniques, long thoughtful walks, centering yoga, deep breathing exercises, or even just quiet time! Shut off your cell phone, exit your e-mail, and close your laptop for even an hour a day and ground yourself with one of these practices.

Attend to the Now:

Be present in every single moment of your life and live in the now – I call this “mindfulness.” This may sound a little “Zen” of me, but it really works. Give your anxiety a break, and suspend your thoughts while you focus on what is right in front of you. Combine the mindfulness mindset with the above steps for stillness and meditation for a real “one-two” punch of spirituality.

The Sound of Silence:

Silence leads to self-discovery and to understanding someone else. Silence lets you think effectively. Silence allows the world to pour into you while you contemplate, rather than react, to events. It is the elixir of creativity and perspective.

Gratitude and Reverence:

Experience your life with a true sense of gratitude and reverence for the things around you – whether it’s for your kids, your partner, your job or for the many blessings in your life. Viewing life through the lens of gratitude leads to higher levels of optimism, hope, and plain old happiness.

Acts of Altruism:

Try doing something fun and then try doing something altruistic. Studies show that you will remember your acts of altruism longer and more fondly than the “fun times.” In fact, selfless giving to others can even make you happier over the long haul.

FINDING YOUR SOUL MATE:

Soul mates come in different packages—a sister, a best friend, or a lover. Now, with your physical and spiritual sides in balance, you’re ready to share your world with someone else in an effective, intelligent way. By balancing your physical and the spiritual selves, you’re more discerning, less needy with others and more perceptive about what you need from anyone that walks in and out of your life.

Your combination of the worldly and the spiritual perspectives prepares you to define a relationship on both shared and individual terms. You have to nurture your physical self and embrace your spiritual self to fully experience and love another person.

Here’s How to Find Your Soul Mate:

Maintain Boundaries!:

Elizabeth Gilbert observed (rather wryly) that as she visited the ninth generation medicine man in Bali, she didn’t want to ask him about the meaning of life or what happens after we die. Instead, all she could think to ask about were her “boy troubles.” A common misstep is to let our relationships carry us away, and we end up leaving ourselves behind! Define yourself as an individual first—both physically and spiritually before you step into a relationship!

Shared Terms:

Women are so programmed all our lives to orbit around the needs of others—“accept me and I will do anything for you!” That kind of thinking was great two hundred years ago, but our new world requires self-sufficiency AND interdependence. We have to love him and leave him everyday to become ourselves in our jobs, our roles and our minds. But at the end of the day, we come home to him relaxed, refueled, and ready for intimacy.

The Golden Rule:

The great Greek philosophers taught that there was one golden rule for life – balance, in all things. Balance in our work, in our consumption, and in our relationships. Maintain the balance between worldly pleasure, divine transcendence, and experiencing and loving those around you.

Your feet on the ground, your heart fully opened and your soul finely tuned will lead to wise choices, magical moments, and mastery of the art of exuberant living.

SOURCES

Dr. Martin Seligman on TED.com

“Practicing Gratitude Can Increase Happiness by 25%” on PsyBlog (http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/09/practicing-gratitude-can-increase.php)

Dr. Sylvia Gearing On CW33 - By Chris Gearing

Monday, August 02, 2010

Here's the CW 33 story Dr. Sylvia Gearing was featured on over the weekend!

Watch or read it here:

http://www.the33tv.com/news/kdaf-chelsea-clinton-lie-lying-lover-marriage-gearing-story,0,5381269.story

Beauty & Intrigue In America - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

By Dr. Sylvia Gearing

With the recent release of Angelina Jolie’s summer blockbuster “Salt,” Russian spies are all the rage these days. In fact, the news has been saturated with Russian spies in America – possibly subverting and sabotaging our country. Why is America fascinated with these female Russian spies?

Here is why these stories have legs:

Risk and Intrigue:

Americans are suckers for intrigue and risk. When danger calls, we enjoy that vicarious rush, without actually taking the risk ourselves. When we hear about spies and espionage, it catches people’s attention because it evokes images of the exotic and sexy -- things we may not experience in our own lives.

Beguiled by Beauty:

The attractiveness of these young women is another reason we are all following the story. Here’s the skinny on beauty:

Attractiveness and Influence:

The relationship between attractiveness and influence on others has been validated by literally thousands of studies. Like it or not, there is a beauty advantage. We just pay attention to pretty people.

Lasting Perceptions:

Throughout our lifetime, we endow attractive people with attributes of more intelligence and capability even when it's not warranted.

Predict People Based on Looks:

Most of us are making basic, uninformed guesses about people who are attractive. These theories about them are often unwarranted since pretty people are not smarter or harder working then the rest of us. But we see them that way anyway - often, with terrible outcomes.

So, if you’re wondering why you can’t turn on your TV without hearing about Russian spies this summer, look no further than the beauty and intrigue factors. It seems that Americans can’t get enough of beauty, especially when it’s dangerous.

Backyard Fight Clubs - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Backyard Fight Clubs: Suburban Violence

By Dr. Sylvia Gearing

Frisco Texas police are reporting ongoing fight clubs in local neighborhood back yards. Adolescent boys are engaging in competitive fighting against one another that is unmonitored and uncensored. Incredibly, some parents are actually approving of this practice and attend the events.

In my opinion, these fight clubs in Frisco and around the country are symptomatic of the ongoing crisis in American males. Most people do not know that violence is becoming a way of life for many of our boys. Here’s what the latest research shows:

  • Boys between the ages of twelve to nineteen commit One third of violent crimes.
  • Homicides are the second leading cause of death of this same age group.
  • Young males are 400% more likely to be murdered than are females.
  • The American Medical Association has determined that ten percent of adolescent males have has been kicked in the groin by age 16.
  • Twenty five percent of these kids develop symptoms of clinical depression in a year after the violent episode due to the overwhelming shame these events created.

Violence, even if it is somewhat “controlled” in a fight club, is symptomatic of a basic problem American men are experiencing. From early childhood, they are not socialized to “metabolize” their emotions and learn instead to express themselves primarily through their actions and achievements.

Over time, many men fail to develop the complex emotional intelligence necessary to manage themselves effectively. They can’t communicate, they can’t recover from failure and they sink into depression on a dime. They become disconnected from what they feel and use a limited number of emotions to navigate their relationships with their wives and girlfriends, often with disastrous results. Relationships fail, achievement is compromised and hearts are broken.

Ironically, anger is a socially approved emotion for young men because it is energizing and protects them from the shame and self-loathing so many of them experience. Fight clubs are a ritualized outlet for boys and men to express their frustration and angst. The clubs are an effort for them to normalize and even to glorify the physical violence they exert against one another. They think that by pitting themselves against an adversary, they demonstrate their machismo, defend their honor, and show how tough they really are.

Many kids see fighting as a futile attempt to bond with others and to express their individuality as a man. This ritual of “connection” gives them an illusion of being tough, invincible and undefeatable. I believe that such rituals, even in the backyard, are capable of desensitizing kids to violence and are likely to increase their use of violence, bullying and intimidation to get what they want.

These practices are indefensible and should be actively banned from our communities. Any parent who turns a blind eye to this kind of activity is ultimately sabotaging his son while teaching him that violence can be both an outlet and a solution.

Source:

Real Boys by William Pollack, Ph.D.

The Andrew Koenig Story - By Chris Gearing

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Andrew Koenig Story: Suicide and Stereotypes

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

TXA 21 News, February 26, 2010

Today’s startling revelation of child actor, Andrew Koenig’s suicide has left millions of fans wondering what could have caused such a tragic event. Here to explain more about stereotyping, depression and suicide is TXA 21 Contributing Psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Anchor: We know that Andrew Koenig played what many considered a comical character for many years on the 80’s sitcom “Growing Pains.” His family and friends felt that Andrew never moved past the role and often felt “typecast” by those around him. In everyday life, we all deal with being typecast by others. How much does this kind of social “typecasting” contribute to low self-esteem and self-image?

Self Image: The social community is the primary place where people develop their self-image. How well do we play, communicate and learn with our peers has a lot to do with our view of our own adequacy in a variety of social competencies. Unfortunately, the community at large can be cruel and unfair since social perceptions are primarily simple, rigid and unyielding. In childhood, our beliefs about ourselves can become negative and we begin to typecast ourselves negatively. Such belief systems can follow us into adulthood.

Anchor: Is this kind of typecasting increasing?

The Age of Information Overload: We are inundated by too much information and stereotyping others is at an all time high. Unfortunately, these quick, unyielding judgments lack perspective and wisdom and we can label someone unfairly. Andrew may have felt that no one knew or wanted him but rather his character “Boner” on “Growing Pains.”

Rise of the Culture of Narcissism: Modern society is obsessed with individualism and personal expression. We now cultivate images on Facebook and Twitter that are detailed, exhibitionistic and packaged with flattering information. Personalized clothing and lower back tattoos are a physical reminder of just how “unique” some people are. In general, psychologists are noting the rise of a “culture of self-preoccupation” in modern society.

Trying To Make Sense Of It All: As a result of this avalanche of individualism, people are locking down on stereotypes in an effort to just make sense of all this social information. We decide about people more quickly without referencing the context of their behavior or their motivations. Our brains want to categorize and organize all of this new information into nice, neat packages.

Stereotyping and Depression: This increased stereotyping can lead to people losing their sense of themselves and their social role, especially if they have had negative experiences with others. By comparing themselves to others, they continue to assault their own sense of achievement and worth. They disregard other invaluable attributes and accomplishments and descend into clinical depression. Depression flourishes in such an environment and is now at epidemic levels.

Anchor: How does this depression begin?

The origins of depression are complex and are often biochemically generated. However, we do know that depression can come from growing sense of alienation stemming from an over reliance on the opinions of others. We call these acceptance beliefs and they can dominate a personality. Many child stars grow up with lavish praise and they may not develop an accurate view of themselves. They don’t understand that life successes come and go. They can become overly reliant on the approval or affirmation of others since they have not adequately developed a sense of themselves as one who succeeds and fails. They over emphasize performance and success without an accurate appreciation of other virtues.

Anchor: What tips do you have for our viewers who may be worried about depression or even suicide in those around them?

Depression Is Now An Epidemic: Depression has increased tenfold over the last century and strikes a full decade sooner than it did fifty years ago. In fact, The Center for Disease Control now reports that anti-depressants are the most prescribed drugs in America. Here are some warning signs if you are worried:

  • Increase in Intensity or Frequency of Angry Outbursts
  • Increased Withdrawal from Others
  • Increased Need for Sleep, Low Appetite
  • Tired, Sullen, Bored or Disinterested Mood
  • Risk-Taking Behavior
  • Drinking, Drugs, Promiscuous Sexual Activity
  • Inability to Cry or Too Much Tearfulness
  • Denial of Pain: Insistence on Handling Things Himself

Suicide Has Warning Signs: Here are warning signs for suicidal thoughts or tendencies:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to guns, pills or other means.
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of ordinary for the person.
  • Feeling hopeless.
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or feeling a need to seek revenge.
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking.
  • Feeling trapped, or like there’s no way out of a situation.
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society.
  • Feeling anxious, agitated or unable to sleep. Or, conversely, sleeping all the time.
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose of life.

Finally, please take depression and suicide very seriously. If you are concerned about either of these issues in a loved one, seek help immediately from a psychologist.

For more information on this and Dr. Gearing, please visit www.gearingup.com.

Sources:

The National Mental Health Information Center

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

"Learned Optimism" by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.

Tiger Woods Press Conference - By Chris Gearing

Friday, February 19, 2010

Infidelity Trauma: Tiger Woods Sex Scandal

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

TXA 21 News, February 19, 2010

After three months of silence, Tiger Woods finally discussed the sex scandal that has overshadowed his marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren. But many of us are now wondering if this is “too little too late.” Can Tiger once again win the confidence of his wife and his fans?

So how well did Tiger handle himself in today’s new conference? Was he effective in apologizing to his wife and his fans? Did he pull it off?

Public apologies about such important events are always difficult to pull off due to our own cynicism about how genuine they are. But Tiger seemed to deliver both a heartfelt and a truthful review of the facts. He expressed remorse, a capable understanding of the trauma he has inflicted on everyone and an acknowledgment of the severe consequences for his irresponsible behavior. This live apology was especially difficult for a man who is as exacting and precise in his public behavior. For now, he seems to have delivered an effective apology. It will be a matter of time to see if he continues his marital fidelity.

But lets shift away from Tiger and focus on how Elin is doing in this situation.

Trauma is Lack of Power: Trauma is a condition of powerlessness and when it is inflicted within a marriage, it is especially devastating psychologically. Trauma is magnified exponentially when it inflicted by the spouse.

Life Rearranged: Infidelity “rearranges” life for the person who has been betrayed. When you are reeling from infidelity, previous formulas about life no longer apply. Trust is shot, the past and present are redefined and the future is an uncertain road that stretches on into oblivion. Your partner becomes someone “you no longer know.”

Isolated and Alone: Infidelity trauma is especially difficult especially when a celebrity is involved. The couple usually decides to withdraw into silence, as the affair is played out on the public stage. The betrayed partner is denied access to the social support of others and the secrecy deepens the feeling of disconnection and isolation.

Marital Crime: Infidelity is a marital “crime” and systematic concealment and falsification characterizes every affair. If you don’t lie, you can’t cheat. When you are the recipient of lying and infidelity, you have to go back and rewrite all of your past and present experiences. You begin to doubt your own perceptions since reality has now been redefined by these discoveries.

Especially in the case of infidelity, the situation can go from bad to worse rather quickly.

There are specific factors but there is a simple and direct correlation between the severity of the trauma and the effect on the partner.

The impact on the betrayed partner depends on these factors:

  • How Long the Affair Lasted
  • The Number of People Involved (number of partners or the birth of a child)
  • Who was Involved (Best Friends versus Strangers)
  • The Level of Falsification and Concealment
  • How Long It Took to Discover (Affairs that involve incremental disclosure are much harder to handle. Such disclosures affect the basic feelings of control, safety and predictability in the offended partner. Overwhelming anxiety increases as the progressive discoveries are made.)

Who usually leaves after an affair?

Without a doubt, the one who is betrayed is more likely to ultimately leave the marriage. A profound discontent seems to disrupt their faith and allegiance to the partner and over time, they may become disillusioned. Although they often agree to stay in the marriage initially, they usually do not get the right treatment for trauma which sets them up to gradually detach from the marriage. The erosion of affection is a progression, not an event, and many people—including the spouse who has cheated-- are shocked when the betrayed partner finally calls it quits.

What about Tiger’s fans? Can they ever forgive him?

Separate the Man from the Image: Celebrities are just people and it is important to understand that Tiger made a series of terrible decisions systematically. He was his own worst enemy and will ultimately pay heavily for his behavior.

Self-Indulgence Overran Good Judgment: Understand exactly what happened. The explanations for cheating can be complex but they always boil down to one basic reason—we cheat when our emotions overrun our better judgment. Tiger allowed his self-indulgence to define him repeatedly. He was responsible regardless of any other issues such as addiction that may be present.

Deception is Hard to See: Although it is inexcusable, the entitlements and security of celebrities facilitates this kind of self-destructive behavior. The irresponsibly of the affair stands in stark contrast to every other part of that person’s public life. This was especially true of Tiger who was a public paragon of virtue and self-discipline.

Rules Don’t Apply to Me: Although it is no excuse, Tiger’s behavior reflects the social narcissism that defines us. We just don’t hold people to the same standards we used to observe. Affairs flourish in the current era of epidemic narcissism. We no longer value loyalty, sacrifice and duty as much as we did a generation ago. Tiger is the latest example of this erosion in values.

Finally, the ultimate question: how does Tiger win back his wife?

If the trauma has not been too severe and if the couple still possesses a deep affection for one another, it is wise to move forward. Marital outcomes can be positive in many of these cases. They need to hire the best team of psychologists who are specialists in trauma recovery to guides them through this process. They must not try to do it on their own. It is impossible to be objective in the wake of such strong emotions.

If you stay together, here are the initial steps you must take:

Reframe the Affair as Traumatic Event: The couple must view all aspects of infidelity as a distinct. The betrayed party may well be experiencing a posttraumatic stress disorder. The couple must reframe infidelity anxiety within a trauma model.

Responsibility for the Affair: The full responsibility for the affair must be fully assumed by the betrayer. Although there may have been mitigating circumstances, the decision to cheat was ultimately made by the betrayer. Remorse must be repeatedly expressed and demonstrated.

Safety and Predictability: This is when the betrayer must step up. He must establish a sense of safety, predictability and emotional containment by pledging fidelity, openness to all questions and constant accountability. The ultimate responsibility for transparency is with the partner who inflicted the pain.

Story of The Affair: Together the partners must create a clear story of the events of the affair, the decisions that were made and how the affair or affairs were ended.

Mental Health Issues Addressed: Any sexual or chemical addictions or issues with mood disorders in the wandering partner must be addressed and resolved.

Reemergence as a New Couple: Redefining ourselves as stronger, wiser and more engaged with one another are all hallmark strengths of people who survive infidelity. There is an abiding ability to forgive and to remember the unique aspects of the marriage that are worth fighting for.

Sources:

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, by Judith Herman, 1997.

Principles of Trauma Therapy: A Guide to Symptom Evaluation and Treatment by John N. Briere and Catherine Scott, 2006


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