Insight

  • Perspective: The Gatekeeper Perspective: The Gatekeeper

    Perspective: The Gatekeeper

Perspective: The Gatekeeper

Often we are hard on ourselves when we don’t need to be, particularly when it comes to how much things that have happened to us continue to affect us. We like to think that we can just let things go, move on, and get over it but that’s just not how things actually work. Our past experiences continue to affect our current perception of events unless we actively try to overcome this natural tendency. Similarly, it is very difficult for a tall building to stand straight when the foundation is crooked. The only way to straighten the building is to work on the foundation, not the 30th floor. Often, when discussing current struggles with my clients, they will remark that they feel a lot of anxiety or depressed feelings “for absolutely no reason”. This is rarely the case. It is more accurate to say that they are feeling anxiety for no known reason, or no current reason. There’s always a reason. One way that is helpful for people to unlock the true impact of the past on their present is to get them to see it from outside of themselves. No, this does not involve high doses of hallucinogenic mushrooms, […]

  • Fighting Back Against Negativity Fighting Back Against Negativity

    Fighting Back Against Negativity

Fighting Back Against Negativity

Our brains are wired to look for the negative. Why is this? Stated simply, it’s about survival. Think about it: if you lived in the jungle and on your way home at the end of the day, if you didn’t stop to notice the pretty flowers, would it endanger you? No. But, if you didn’t notice the poisonous snake or the scary tiger or the cave-to-cave salesman, then you might actually be in danger. Thus, it is advantageous to our survival to keep an eye out for negative, unsafe, dangerous things. However, we don’t live in the jungle anymore and the threats to our survival aren’t quite as literal anymore. We haven’t yet gotten rid of this natural instinct however; it has just transferred to other threats, social threats. We look for signs of rejection, exclusion, not belonging, not measuring up, etc. We do so because belonging to the group equals safety. Or at least it used to; that’s another fossil from our pre-industrialized past. With the development of cities and technology, a man can actually be an island and survive. I’m not saying he will be the happiest man, but he will be alive. So, how do we overcome […]

  • Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 3: I Don’t Need Any Help Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 3: I Don’t Need Any Help

    Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 3: I Don’t Need Any Help

Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 3: I Don’t Need Any Help

Independence runs fiercely deep in my family. The ability to shrug off pain and keep going is a virtue valued by many, including those whom I love. I remember one time (of several such instances) when my dad and I were working together clearing some brush, using a wood-chipper. Let me assure you, this story doesn’t end as badly as you might think it does, as the wood-chipper plays a secondary role. Anyway, as my dad was feeding a tree branch into the chipper, the teeth grabbed it and sucked it in quicker than he was anticipating. Some of the auxiliary branches of the main branch were rapidly pulled forward, slicing across his face. He grunted and put his hand over his eye. I looked to see blood seeping between the fingers of his gloved hand. I had no idea what the severity of his injury was and I stopped to ask if he was ok. He responded by vigorously rubbing the blood out of his eye, revealing a gash across his eyelid. The gash quickly filled with blood again, which he wiped again. Then, instead of cleaning the wound and getting some medical attention, he just picked up the […]

  • I Want a Ladder for my Birthday (A Short Story) I Want a Ladder for my Birthday (A Short Story)

    I Want a Ladder for my Birthday (A Short Story)

I Want a Ladder for my Birthday (A Short Story)

Tim was four years old. His mom was a lot older than that. So was his dad. His brother Jeff was older too. Tim’s birthday was coming up soon. He knew exactly what he wanted. “I want a ladder for my birthday,” Tim told his mom. She didn’t hear because she was busy with “an important phone call”. Tim wondered why the phone call was so important. “I want a ladder for my birthday,” Tim told his dad. He didn’t hear because he was heading out the door to meet with “clients”. Tim wondered who “clients” was. “’Clients’ must be important too,” thought Tim. “I want a ladder for my birthday,” Tim told his brother Jeff. Jeff didn’t hear him because he was too busy ignoring everyone who wasn’t on TV. “I wish I was on TV,” thought Tim. At dinner, Tim told his parents, “I want a ladder for my birthday.” “That’s nice,” said his mom, who was reading a magazine about important people. “Hmmm,” said his dad, who was looking at something important on his computer. Jeff said nothing because Tim wasn’t on TV. Tim drew a picture of a ladder and colored it. He got some tape […]

  • Define This: Clarifying in Order to Communicate Define This: Clarifying in Order to Communicate

    Define This: Clarifying in Order to Communicate

Define This: Clarifying in Order to Communicate

You might read headlines in the newspaper such as “watching TV leads to depression” or “poor sleep habits linked to suicide risk” or “Justin Bieber is a train-wreck in progress”. All of these headlines are designed to grab your attention, summarize hours of research into a bite-sized piece of information (at least the first two), and lead you to a particular conclusion. While the truth of these statements is debatable, one thing they all have in common is their use of operational definitions. Operational definitions may not be the ones you find in the dictionary but they are adopted for the purpose of investigating a question, to ensure that everyone is on the same page. For example, if a researcher is interested in determining which kind of pasta is the most delicious, they must first define the terms pasta and delicious. Does pasta refer only to noodle-based dishes from Italy or does it include noodles from other regions such as Southeast Asia, India, or Japan? Should we include pasta dishes with sauce or without sauce? Should there be a limit to the ratio of sauce to pasta? How do we measure delicious? Can we objectify something as subjective as taste […]

  • Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done

    Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done

Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done

As a person with ADHD, my mind doesn’t really have an ‘off’ switch. My working memory definitely has an off switch but my thinker is permanently stuck at full throttle. When I take medication for my ADHD symptoms, this is lessened, but even then, ideas are my constant companion. You know what else? Lots of those ideas are really good. I have ideas for things I want to write about, learn about, read about, sing about, and go and do. There are videos to be recorded, books to be written, charts and graphs to be populated with data to be analyzed. There are opportunities for networking, classes to be developed, marketed and taught, and scripts to be polished. I could go on (and on and on and on…) but you get my point. Of course the best time for this outpouring of initiative and creativity is when I finally lay down in my bed at night but it is not reserved solely for that time. When I was in university, my textbooks and research articles were full of notes in the margins pertaining not to the material I was reading but to ideas triggered by what I was reading. This […]

By |May 11th, 2015|Blog, Insight, snippets|Comments Off on Things I Was Wrong About, Vol 2. : I Have to Get Everything Done
  • Dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    Dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

It is not uncommon for people to refer to their idiosyncratic tendencies as “my OCD”. Youtube comedians Rhett and Link even wrote a hilarious song describing a person’s preference for things to be parallel and clean. While the song and video are funny, they don’t begin to capture the anguish experienced by individuals who actually suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. If you are wondering what it is like, imagine that when things are the way you like them, such as the bed being made just right, or the doors closed and locked, everything is at peace in your mind. However, when a corner of the sheet isn’t flattened out properly, a high-pitched screeching noise pierces your eardrum, causing blinding pain. If the only way to remove the offending noise was to flatten the sheet, it stands to reason that you would be highly motivated to do so. While this isn’t literally what happens in the OCD brain, it is the metaphorical equivalent. One man, suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome, which shares many commonalities with OCD, stated that the compulsion to yell out inappropriate comments or make twitching movements with his shoulders was as strong as the desperation to breathe if someone […]

  • A Control Budget: Picking Your Battles A Control Budget: Picking Your Battles

    A Control Budget: Picking Your Battles

A Control Budget: Picking Your Battles

Here’s an idea: We are all born with an instinct to resist other people’s attempts to control us. This instinct is designed to help us stay safe. To one extent or another, anytime something bad has happened in our lives, it is when we are not in control. The brain learns to associate this state of powerlessness with negative events, such as pain and danger. The greater the pain and danger associated with powerlessness, the greater the brain’s drive to avoid that state. In other words, with an awareness of the origins of this association, we can understand the reflexive statement, “you’re not the boss of me” in a whole new context. Negative events don’t just include instances of physical harm and danger, but also emotional harm and danger. To a young child, few things are as instinctively dangerous as disapproval from a caregiver or trusted loved one. Parental attempts to control, no matter how well intended, are usually rebuffed, especially as the child begins to develop a sense of self somewhere around 18 months old. This is what we refer to as the terrible twos. It’s not a coincidence that as the child learns that they can resist parental […]

  • MY ADHD Story MY ADHD Story

    MY ADHD Story

MY ADHD Story

In 2008, I attended a workshop given by Dr. Gabor Mate. He is a renowned expert in addiction, addiction treatment, and the impact of childhood stress on the developing brain. Needless to say, I learned more than I could write down and ultimately decided to put my pen down and just listen. What I did write down were the names of the books he has written. I then went and bought all four of them and started reading them all at once (hint #1). They were all full of awesome insight and scientific ammunition. Anyway, one of the books was called “Scattered Minds”, and it was a book about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Since so many of my clients have been (or should have been) diagnosed with ADHD as children, I thought I should learn more about it. What I discovered as I madly devoured this book, was that I displayed almost all of the characteristic signs of ADHD and had done so throughout my life. I realize this is a common experience, even the subject of research, called “psych student syndrome” where people tend to over-identify with lists of signs and symptoms and diagnose themselves with every condition […]

  • Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1 Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1

    Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1

Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1

Things won’t get better I’ve experienced darkness in my life. Deep darkness. When I was a kid, I was in boy scouts. One time, on a day trip, our scout leaders took us to an abandoned mine shaft. I know, this story has a very promising beginning, just like the last one. Because we didn’t know anything, and apparently neither did our leaders, we wandered into the mine shaft, deeper and deeper into the mountain. Our way was lighted by an actual torch, not a flashlight or lantern. One of our leaders, who just happened to be the one holding the torch and also happened to have the most severe case of ADHD of the bunch of us, thought it would be a funny trick, once we were several hundred feet into the mine shaft, to knock the torch on the ground, extinguishing the flame. The tunnel that we were exploring had curved to the left, meaning that when the torch was gone, the entrance to the shaft was out of sight around a corner, leaving us with absolutely no light. In review, we were 12 year old kids in an abandoned mine shaft and it was so dark, we […]

By |April 23rd, 2015|Blog, Insight, snippets, things I was wrong about|Comments Off on Things I Was Wrong About, Vol. 1