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Licensed Psychologist

Mentally Healthy, Resilient People Do These Things

From a Psychology Today Article May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As I thought about what to write to promote mental health and resilience, there was no shortage of topics to consider: We are living in turbulent times with a great deal of uncertainty about our personal futures and the future of the world around us. So I decided to write something that would encourage people to take care of themselves and to think about what mental health looks like for them. After all, we struggle with different challenges depending on our circumstances, our relationships, and our desires. We are all fighting different battles at different times in our lives. However, there are ways we can take care of our mental health that we share in common. Doing these things will help you stay focused on staying mentally healthy, strong, and resilient. Click here to read the full article

I'm So Sorry: The Power of a Heartfelt Apology

From the January issue of the North Shore Towers Courier. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” is one of the most quoted movie lines of all times... Does love truly mean never having to say you’re sorry? Are apologies superfluous in loving relationships? Is the phrase based on the assumption that people who love each other never disappoint each other? Or, on the supposition that where love exists there is no judgement? Or, on the notion that forgiveness is automatic in loving relationships? Such premises can survive only in imaginary romantic narratives. In reality, the opposite is true: Love means having to say you’re sorry (at least occasionally) when your words or actions hurt someone you love. ...The essence of an apology is conveying to a wronged party that the offender reflected on what had happened, comprehends the wronged person’s hurt, and regrets his or her offense. An apology requires an attempt to put oneself in the other person’s shoes and mobilize empathy, regardless of whether or not the apologizer agrees with the wronged person’s reaction. ...There are apology-challenged individuals who are reluctant to offer apologies, regardless of the seriousness of their wrongdoing. In fact, research indicates that, often, the ones who commit the more serious transgressions are also the ones less likely to feel regret and less likely to make amends. Read the full article Nurit Israeli's Facebook Page

7 Tips for Getting Through Difficult Conversations

Originally published at Psychology Today Have you ever felt anxious about an upcoming talk - one whose outcome you can’t predict? One that makes you feel edgy or jittery all day, unable to focus on other things? Maybe you were planning to talk through something difficult with someone important - perhaps the status of your relationship, your reaction to a betrayal, or your apology for breaking a promise. You have to tell a parent that you won’t be able to visit when they want you to. You need to ask your partner to change the way they’ve been treating you. Or maybe it’s much more mundane: Your child got into a fight at school and you need to talk to them, to help them understand what went wrong. No matter what the purpose of the upcoming Big Talk, some things don’t change, and some communication strategies can almost always help. Here are seven basic ideas, elaborated where possible, about how to keep your difficult conversations open, clear, directed, and productive. Read the full article at PsychCentral

All About Stonewalling and Gaslighting

Originally published at Psychology Today Gaslighting and stonewalling are two behaviors that can be damaging to relationships, but can be countered with boundaries. The truth is, you or your loved one may very well care about your relationship — and a lot. However, without the proper conflict resolution skills, we can become overwhelmed with emotion. If you don’t know what to do or say in a conflict, you might turn to tactics like stonewalling or gaslighting to cope. Knowing what these behaviors look like can help you work to counter them or set boundaries when you see them in others.

Defining the terms

Stonewalling and gaslighting are two behaviors that may:
  • be defense mechanisms
  • signal interpersonal aggression
  • be ineffective ways of coping
  • be a form of manipulation
They can be just one or several of these things at once.

What is stonewalling?

According to the work of relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman, stonewalling is one of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse.” This is a metaphor for communication styles that are damaging to relationships. Read the full article at PsychCentral

Two Powerful Techniques to Lower Anxiety

Originally published at Psychology Today Anxiety is miserable. And most people reach for a pill or push it away to reduce it. But if we think of anxiety as a signal or as the tip of an iceberg, we can take steps to more permanently ease it. Anxiety tells us deep biological programs called core emotions have been triggered out of conscious awareness. These core emotions are designed by evolution to be felt and expressed. When we push them away, we feel anxiety. Learning about core emotions and how they work in the mind and body is the most important thing we can do to change anxiety. Tools like the Change Triangle guide us to name our core emotions. Emotional conflicts can be more effectively dealt with when we can identify and work with the underlying divergent emotional experiences. What follows is an explanation of two techniques I teach my psychotherapy clients and participants in the Emotions Education 101 class I teach:

Technique #1: Identify both sides of your conflict and speak them in your mind with an "and" instead of a "but." For examples:

I love you AND right now I’m so angry at you that I feel like I hate you. I feel sad AND happy. I am depressed and I know I am lucky in many ways. I am lonely AND I prefer to be alone. Summary: Name and validate when you have anxiety, look for any underlying conflicts, validate each side of the conflict with an "and" instead of a "but." Notice how that feels. Click here to read the full article

5 Ways to Be Your Own Best Friend

Originally published at Psychology Today There is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that reads, “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” Our best friends take us how we are and love us through it all. And in return, we talk out our problems and often speak from a place of truly wanting the best for each other. This is something most of us have in common: We are capable of good advice for our best friends. This advice might sound like, “You deserve better,” or “Apply for the job; the worst they could say is no.” It might even be as simple as, “Let it go.” So, have you ever noticed that it’s harder to speak so lovingly to yourself? The trouble comes from the negative slant the brain favors. It may seem messed up, but often by being negative your brain is trying to help you. Say you are applying for a job, your brain is actually trying to protect you from feeling disappointment by saying, “Why bother? They won’t hire you.” You don’t apply so you won’t feel sad about not getting the job. Of course, the unfortunate side effect is you end up feeling crappy anyway and lose out on new opportunities. In this example, what would your best friend say? They might remind you of how qualified you are for the job, how much the company would miss out on by not hiring you, and if you don’t get it another job will be lucky to have you. Sounds better! How come it’s so easy to say that to someone else? Well, we wouldn’t have very many friends if we talked to them the way we talk to ourselves. Instead, we learned to be supportive, caring, and encouraging in order to maintain meaningful relationships. Here are five ways to develop positive self-talk and treat yourself like your own best friend. Read the full article

Is Depression a Symptom of COVID-19?

Originally published at PsychCentral.com Research shows there may be a link between COVID-19 and the symptoms of depression. Here’s why it happens. Whether you’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19, experienced financial difficulties, or had a hard time adjusting to all the changes, the pandemic likely impacted you in some way. If you feel like you’re living with depression resulting from all of this, you’re not alone. Between 2020 and 2021, diagnoses of anxiety and depressive disorders jumped from 36% to 41%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But are these symptoms of depression a result of external factors only, or is depression a residual effect of the disease? So far, the research is pointing toward both.

Mental health symptoms of COVID-19

Scientists are learning more about the new coronavirus every day. But, for now, there’s limited information about the long-term effects of COVID-19. But there’s some indication that there may be a link between the disease and symptoms of depression. One study suggested that the coronavirus indirectly creates blood clots, which can cause brain damage. Another study suggested that our body’s immune system could indirectly be injuring brain cells while fighting the virus. Indeed, increased inflammation in the body is linked to depression. The coronavirus’s effect on the brain increases the risk for mental health challenges. About 1 in 5 people will develop a mental health condition 14 to 90 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19. For 5.8% of patients, it will be their first one. Mental health symptoms that developed as a result of COVID-19 also seem to persist 6 months after recovery. There also appears to be a link between COVID-19 symptoms and common symptoms of depression. For example, the loss of taste and smell were associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms. More recent research is starting to link depression with COVID-induced headaches. For example, a study published this year found that people with COVID-19 were at a higher risk for depressive symptoms when they reported headaches. Depressive symptoms were also more likely among younger adults than older adults. Read the full article

How and When to Say No

Originally published at PsychCentral.com Many of us hesitate to say no to others. With mindful tips like these, saying no is an emotionally intelligent skill anyone can master — really! It’s just two letters, and yet saying no can feel really hard — even complicated. For many of us, saying no doesn’t just feel awkward. It feels wrong. So, whenever anyone asks you to do almost anything, you might blurt out, “Yes! Sure! Of course! Happy to!” But in reality, you may feel the opposite. Maybe you’d rather be doing about a thousand other things. Or maybe you’re OK with saying yes, but it’s not the best thing for your daily bandwidth or mental health. Here’s the good news: Saying no is a skill you can sharpen. The more you say no, the more natural it’ll feel. Here are several ways to build the skill of saying no in different situations — even if it feels like you’re doing it from the ground up.

Why saying no feels hard

For starters, it’s important to realize that if saying no is challenging for you, you’re not alone. As social psychologist Dr. Vanessa K. Bohns writes in a 2016 research review examining people’s influence over others, “Many people agree to things — even things they would prefer not to do — simply to avoid the considerable discomfort of saying ‘no.’” For example, a series of small studies, published in 2014, found that when asked, many people would acquiesce and commit unethical acts, such as telling a white lie or vandalizing a book — even when they felt these acts were perceived as wrong. As social creatures who want to be part of the herd, we also want to preserve our relationships. So, we might blurt out yes because we don’t want to be seen as difficult, says Dr. Emily Anhalt, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Coa, an online mental fitness club. Or, we don’t want to disappoint a good friend or hurt someone’s feelings, notes Dr. Nicole Washington, a board-certified psychiatrist and the chief medical officer of Elocin Psychiatric Services. Another reason yes pours out of us? Our past. According to Anhalt, while growing up, you might’ve not learned to advocate for yourself. “It’s also possible that you say yes because you deeply want to help. But you forget that your ability to accommodate others isn’t an endless well,” Anhalt says. In other cases — like a work situation — we might worry that saying no says something about our ability to accomplish a certain task, adds Washington. Put another way, we think declining makes us look incompetent.

Why saying no is a good — no, great — thing

When you struggle with saying no in personal or professional situations, it helps to remember the self-preservation in passing things up. “Saying no is one of the best forms of self-care we can engage in,” Washington says. She notes that saying no supports us in: Ultimately, saying no gives us greater navigation over our lives, says Anhalt. This grants us the opportunity to build a fulfilling, meaningful life on our own terms. After all, we can only have power over ourselves — so, let’s exercise that power. Read the full article at PsychCentral.com

How to Identify and Deal with Gaslighting

Originally published at PsychCentral.com Gaslighting can cause intense self-doubt, no matter who's doing it. How can you respond to this behavior? Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that can cause you to doubt your memory, opinions, and even your sanity. It's a tactic some people use to gain power and control over others. Romantic relationships aren't the only situations where gaslighting can occur. It can also happen:
  • in a parent-child relationship
  • in the workplace
  • between family members
On a larger scale, political and authoritative figures have been known to gaslight entire societies. Research suggests that gaslighting behaviors can be rooted in gender and social inequalities. It tends to be common in intimate relationships where there's a power imbalance. It often happens gradually, as well. So you might not realize you're dealing with gaslighting until you begin to wonder why you're experiencing so much confusion, anxiety, and low self-esteem. If you've been experiencing gaslighting for a while, you might start to feel depressed, helpless, and indecisive as a result of the manipulation. One thing to remember in this cloud of confusion is that gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse — if you've experienced gaslighting, it's not your fault. And you're not the only one. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trusted Source suggest that more than 43 million women and 38 million men in the United States have experienced some type of psychological abuse or aggression by an intimate partner. But how can you tell if someone is gaslighting you, and is there a way to confront it?

Read the full article

5 Tips for Unloved Daughters on Mother's Day

Article by Rena Goldman and originally posted at PsychCentral.com 

A reminder that you don’t have to put up with toxic behavior, even from your mother.

When your childhood wasn’t exactly ideal, Mother’s Day can bring on some complex emotions. Each year, there’s an endless barrage of ads, gift roundup articles, and sappy social media posts. If, like me, you have a complicated or nonexistent relationship with your mother, seeing representations of how American society views mothers can bring feelings of deep sadness and even rage. You might be left wondering why you drew the short straw when it comes to mothers. I’ve had no contact with my mother for over 15 years now, so there’s been a lot of time to process. Honestly, I don’t think much about Mother’s Day at all because I view it as something that doesn’t pertain to me — sort of like Christmas when you’re raised Jewish. It wasn’t always this way. There were definitely years where the mention of Mother’s Day brought anger, jealousy, shame, and feelings of inadequacy. Reading, processing, talking with other unloved daughters, and practicing different types of self-care have helped me get to where I am today. Here are my tips for tackling Mother’s Day as an unloved daughter. Read the full article