Tag Archives: psychotherapy

Having Faith In Positive Energy

SMILE.....IT'S MONDAY.Most people can relate to having a strong desire, belief and yes, even faith, that something good was about to happen. This may have been a strong intuition that they were going to get that promotion, meet Mr. or Mrs. Right or even reconnect with someone after a misunderstanding that created a rift in the relationship. However, for whatever reason, despite the strong belief that we had it would all work out, it didn’t. The promotion went to someone else, Mr. or Mrs. Right turned out to be wrong and despite our willingness to rekindle the relationship the other person wanted to stay mad and unforgiving.

When this happens the first step is to immediately see the negative. We berate ourselves for our wishful thinking, for our mistake believes and our misplaced faith in the positive aspects of the universe. We often block ourselves from trying again and sink into a cycle of negativity, cynicism and critical outlook on the world around us.

Instead, there are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that your faith, belief and hope stays alive and you stay focused on the positives. Getting caught up in negativity will only attract more negativity, a concept that is central in my book, “The Law of Sobriety” , which is based on the universal Law of Attraction. Three techniques that really help you stay focused on the positive energy around you even if things don’t go the way you anticipated are:

  1. Don’t try to control how positives will come into your life, just look for the opportunities that the universe provides. Controlling the process will simply block possibilities.
  2. See yourself as you want to be, not how you want to get there.
  3. Have faith and believe in your vision for yourself, don’t set a timeline or a specific date that it has to be accomplished by.
Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addiction. Please download your copy of“Manifest Holistic Health” from Sherry’s Enrich Your Life Series. Contact Sherry at sherry@sgabatherapy.com for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. 
Originally posted in 2011
photo by: Neal.

Suicide Prevention Week: Depression – Shedding Light on the Darkness (Part 2)

98831359_49ede3af3bClick here to read Part 1!

Rebalancing yourself in the face of depression can take several forms:

  • Be aware that you are depressed and seek help.
  • Treat your body well, including exercise.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get enough sleep, meaning a minimum of 8 hours a night.
  • Address situations that would make anyone sad, such as the wrong job, a bad relationship, normal grief, and serious loss. Don’t passively wait for time to heal your wounds.
  • Regain a sense of control.
  • Claim your sense of self – depressed women in particular may show a pattern of giving away too much of themselves in a relationship, leading to a sense of weakness and low self-esteem.
  • Examine your reactions to difficult situations. You will often find that reacting with helplessness, passivity, retreating inside, and turning passive lie at the root of your depressed state.
  • Spend time with people who give you a reason to feel alive and vibrant. Avoid people who share your negative responses and attitudes. Depression in some sense is contagious.
  • Rely to a minimum on antidepressants and apply your main efforts to other therapies. Pills should be as short-term as possible. They work best in removing the top layer of sadness so that you have a clear space to address the real underlying issues.
  • Talk about your problems and share your feelings with those who can listen with empathy and offer positive steps.
  • Make friends with someone who has recovered from depression or is handling the condition well.
  • Find a wise person who can help you to undo your most negative beliefs by showing you that life has other, better possibilities.

Because everything on this list requires a choice, bringing yourself back into balance means that you are aware enough to make decisions and have the ability to put them into practice. Quite often depressed people feel too helpless and hopeless to face the right choices, in which case outside help is needed, meaning a therapist or counselor who specializes in depression.

Here’s a general picture of how to make a plan for your own healing.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, works as well as medication for many people. It may be used alone or in combination with other forms of treatment. Studies have shown that psychotherapy can cause changes in brain function similar to those produced by medications. Focused, goal-oriented forms of therapy such as cognitive-behavior therapy appear to be the most effective in treating depression.

Diet may play a part in protecting against depression. Mediterranean countries have low rates of depression compared to countries farther to the north—and it isn’t just because they get more sunlight or have a more relaxed way of life. One large-scale study tracked almost 3,500 people living in London for 5 years and found that those who ate a Mediterranean diet were 30% less likely to develop depression. Researchers speculate that the foods in the Mediterranean diet may act synergistically together. Olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish are rich in omega-3 and other unsaturated fatty acids, and fresh fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids and phytochemicals that are full of antioxidants and folates (B vitamins).

Aerobic exercise is a very effective for depression. It’s been shown that moderate aerobic exercise done just 30 minutes a day, three times a week, can reduce or eliminate symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression and can help with severe depression.

It’s well known that exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals (which function as neurotransmitters). Less well known is the startling effect of exercise on the structure of your brain. Exercise stimulates the creation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus, your brain’s center of learning and memory, so that it actually increases in size. This is especially relevant because depression, unless countered with effective therapy, causes the hippocampus to shrink in size. Exercise has also been shown to raise levels of serotonin and norepinephrine and to multiply the number of dendrite connections in neurons.

Yoga has been shown to lessen stress and anxiety and promote feelings of well-being. Communication between your body and your mind is a two-way street. Certain yogic practices can signal the brain that it’s all right to relax and prompt the parasympathetic nervous system to initiate the relaxation response. For instance, slow, deep, conscious breathing is also a vital element of yogic practice. This form of breathing is very effective in prompting the relaxation response to counter elevated levels of stress hormones. Someone with depression might be advised to practice “heart-opening” postures that elongate their thoracic spine. They may be told to stand with their shoulder blades drawn together so that their lungs are lifted and they are able to breathe more freely. An important component of yoga is paying close attention to what’s going on in the body at all times and locating and releasing any areas of tension. Yoga should ideally be practiced with the guidance of an experienced teacher.

Meditation can be a useful treatment for both stress and mild-to-moderate depression. Numerous studies have examined the effects of mindfulness meditation, designed to focus the meditator’s attention on the present moment. One study measured electrical activity in the brain found increased activity in the left frontal lobe during mindfulness meditation. Activity in this area of the brain is associated with lower anxiety and a more positive emotional state. Subsequently, the researchers tested both a group that hadn’t meditated as well as the meditators for immune function. They did this by measuring the level of antibodies they produced in response to a flu vaccine. The meditators had a significantly greater reaction, which indicates they had better immune function.

I know that the easiest solution is to pop a pill, and in this country powerful forces back up the promise that drugs are the answer. Keep in mind that antidepressants only alleviate symptoms, and that in the long run couch therapy has proven just as effective in changing the brain responses associated with depression. The real goal should be to rebalance your life, gain control over the disorder, understand who you are, and elevate your vision of possibilities for yourself. All of that is harder than opening a pill bottle, but every positive choice leads to real healing and a much better life in the future.

 

For more information go to deepakchopra.com

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PHOTO (cc): Flickr  / madamepsychosis

Originally published October 2011

Suicide Prevention Week: Depression – Shedding Light on the Darkness

It’s not news that depression has become a kind of invisible epidemic, afflicting millions of people. We live at a time when depression is approached as a disease. That has a good side. Depressed people are not judged as weak or self-indulgent, as if they only need to try harder to lift themselves out of their sadness. Yet depression, for all the publicity surrounding it, remains mysterious, and those who suffer from it tend to hide their condition – the medical model hasn’t removed a sense of shame. When you’re in the throes of depression, it’s hard to escape the feeling that you are a failure and that the future is hopeless.

Before considering how to handle depression, let’s ask the most basic question: Are you depressed? The bad side of the medical model arises when people rush to be medicated because they don’t like how they feel. Doctors barely bother to get a correct diagnosis, because the easiest thing to do –and the thing that patients demand – is to write a prescription.

Let’s see if we can get beyond this knee-jerk reaction.

Becoming sad or blue isn’t a sure sign of depression. Life brings difficulties that we respond to with a wide range of normal emotions: sadness, anxiety, resignation, grief, defeated acceptance, helplessness. Moods are cyclical, and if these feelings are your response to a tough event, they will subside on their own in time. If they linger, however, and there seems to be no definite cause or trigger, such as losing your job or the death of a loved one, depression is accepted as the conventional diagnosis.

Depression isn’t one disorder, and even though an array of antidepressants have been thrown at the problem, the basic cause for depression remains unknown. For a diagnosis of major depression, which is more serious than mild to moderate depression, at least five of the following symptoms must be present during the same 2-week period..

  • Depressed mood (feeling sad or empty; being tearful)
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too little or too much)
  • Slowing of thoughts and physical movements
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or specific plan for committing suicide

If you can count five or more of these as being present, know that your list must contain “depressed mood” or “diminished interest or pleasure” before you’d be considered medically depressed. We’ve come to recognize different kinds of depression that fit certain circumstances:

  • Dysthymia is mild, chronic depression. It must present for at least 2 years for a diagnosis of dysthymia.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that generally arises as the days grow shorter in the autumn and winter.
  • Postpartum depression begins after a woman has given birth and may get worse as time goes on.

Even though no one knows exactly what causes depression, it is clearly a state of internal imbalance. Balance is essential for the healthy functioning of both your body and your mind. The upsetting factors that make it more likely you will get depression form a long list: genetic predisposition, being female, death or loss of loved one, major life events (even happy ones, like a graduation), other mental illnesses, substance abuse, childhood trauma, certain medications, serious illness, and personal problems such as financial troubles. What these things have in common is that they disrupt the normal balancing mechanisms of mind and body. A treatment that aims at restoring balance therefore makes the most sense, and in tomorrow’s post I will outline measures for rebalancing.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!

 

For more information go to deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

PHOTO (cc): Flickr  / madamepsychosis

Originally published October 2011

Are You Trying To Find Your Purpose?

Enjoying the sunHas trying to find your purpose ever stressed you out? Do you feel some sort of pressure to make something meaningful with your life? In the past, when I heard people talk about their purpose, I would feel stressed and believed I was supposed to be doing something different or more with my life.

I thought that I needed to be clear about what that purpose looked like in the physical world. I then realized that by searching for this clarity, I was missing the life that was actually given to me as this present moment. I realized I had been missing the opportunity to express what was most important to me while I was searching.

What if it’s not as complicated as the mind makes it out to be? What if in the larger picture, what you’re doing is not as important as how you are being while you are doing it and the quality of energy you are putting out into the Uni-verse?

We are all hooked up differently to feel alive and sometimes it’s just about paying attention to what already lights us up. One thing that has helped me get clarity around this, and that I often recommend to clients, is having what I call a Joy Journal. It consists of taking some time every night to simply write down your favorite part of that day: this could be connecting with a coworker on a break, teaching a child how to ride a bike, or even being in nature or with animals.

Over time I was able to become more aware of the themes that spoke to me and I consciously created a job that brings in those elements and that feels aligned with my values. I knew I enjoyed connecting authentically with people, creating environments where people could more deeply discover who they are and ask meaningful questions.  I loved being a part of an inspiring community, and I knew I loved Bali.

So… I created a Wellness Retreat to Bali and over the last four years have been leading groups there on an immersion retreat where we do yoga, daily meditation, we get massages, eat raw food, get inspired by each other and also express our creativity. At the heart of these activities I could see that what I truly value is consciousness work, genuine relationships and supporting people. It’s no surprise that I also work as a psychotherapist because these qualities are expressed in that work as well.

It’s not that my purpose is my work, but my work supports me in expressing what I hold as most important to me. The invitation is to first clarify what you truly value. If at the heart of things you hold important in life is love, then discover how love expresses itself in your life moment-to-moment, person to person. Or if what you really value is service, then simply asking yourself everywhere you go, “How can I best serve here?” is a way of embodying your purpose. Then watch as life unfolds by honoring what is truly in your heart.

You can trust that the intelligence that holds the stars and the galaxies in the Uni-verse is also orchestrating your life… you can rest in that. A flower doesn’t know where it is going or its ultimate purpose, and yet it still blooms… something in it knows.

Goals are fine, and if you already have clarity about a specific expression your life is taking, then follow that, assuming it’s aligned with your heart. Just don’t get lost in the goal, thinking that getting “there” will somehow deeply satisfy you. It’s easy to have the end in mind or believe you have a purpose and then lose sight of the other 90% of your life, brushing your teeth, driving to work, meeting people at the grocery store, etc. This 90% is as much a part of life as the other 10%. By mentally living in the future, we miss out on the opportunity to express what we truly value now.

Often what we actually deeply yearn for is the creativity and spontaneity that arises out of the present moment. I invite you to enjoy this discovery as you let go of the stressful ideas about how you believe life should be, and experience the fullness of following what you truly value in your heart moment-to-moment.

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”  ~ Mother Teresa

5 Ways to Hit it Out of the Park When Life Throws You a Curveball

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 4.50.15 PMBy Dr. Andra Brosh

You know as much as I do that life doesn’t always go as planned. You can fantasize and dream about how you would like things to go, but the harsh reality is that your very existence on this earth is tenuous, and your reality is founded on unpredictability, not certainty.

Once this simple truth is accepted, you can focus less on manipulating and controlling how your life unfolds, and prepare yourself for the inevitable curveball coming your way. You may have already been up to the plate to receive one, but just like in baseball, you never really know when the next one is coming, so it’s always great to be prepared.

When something happens in your life that you didn’t expect, or thought never would, it’s likely to knock you off your feet. You might get blindsided by an infidelity or divorce, diagnosed with a life threatening illness, or realize that you will never be able to have children. Losing a job, your home, or a loved one will also rock your world to the point of capsizing.

These life challenges, and the many others that can strike at any time, are really hard to contend with, but they don’t have to wreck you. Whether you know it or not, you have been training your whole life to deal with these kinds of struggles. Just like your ancestors, you inherently possess the skills you need to deal with anything that gets thrown your way. You are wired to survive.

If you have already survived a serious life challenge then you know what to expect. This is where hindsight is truly 20/20, so be sure you learn what you need to know from the past so you can apply it in the future.

If you are just stepping up to bat, and realize at this moment that a curveball is headed your way, then it’s time to hunker down, and get ready to swing. If you are still “on the bench” and haven’t had to play ball yet, this is the perfect time to start thinking about how you will handle things when they arise.

Here are 5 ways to hit that inevitable curveball out of the park:

1. Take Pause

The experience of dealing with an unexpected life challenge is filled with frenetic energy, and a sense of urgency. Instead of making hasty decisions and going full throttle toward trying to solve the issue, take a moment to digest what has happened. Slow it way down, breathe, and sit with the reality of your situation before taking any action. Hitting the pause button is always a good idea when overwhelm and chaos are omnipresent because it creates a space for thoughtful reflection, better choices, and a more engaged process.

2. Remain Present

Worry will become your silent partner when you are dealing with a curveball. Projecting into the future is a natural human response to stress and uncertainty, and the human brain is always looking for what’s “next”. You may also become riddled with regret about what you could have or should have done in the past to prevent your present situation. Getting stuck in the past or the future doesn’t serve you in these times of crisis. The goal is to remain in the present, even though this feels counter-intuitive.

3. Maintain Integrity

It’s at times like these when your character and values are put to the test. Even if you are the most patient, diligent, and high-functioning individual on the planet, you are sure to become lost, disconnected and a blubbering version of yourself at a time of crisis. Staying true to what you believe, and paying attention to how you want to come across as you move through any transition will ground you in maintaining your most authentic self.

4. Reach Out

For most people seeking help at a time of crisis is justified, but you may have a hard time asking for support even in your darkest moment. It’s common to believe that you can solve all of your problems on your own, but you actually show greater strength by seeking the counsel of a professional. There are always going to be people who can offer wisdom and experience beyond what you can give yourself. Take advantage of the many great healers out there, and give yourself the gift of growing and learning from what feels like a rock bottom. Getting the tools you need to rise above will ensure that you come out the other side better then when you went in.

5. Be Honest

A strong defense against the pain of disappointment that accompanies being hit by a curveball is denial. Not accepting your circumstances, or trying to blame the world for what is happening to you is a way to avoid what you are dealing with. You may feel a sense of shame around your situation making it harder to find the self-compassion you deserve. Remember that you are not alone, seek out others who have experienced a similar fate, and acknowledge that like everyone else in the world, your humaneness makes you immune to a perfect existence.

* * *

picofme2Dr. Andra Brosh is a Clinical Psychologist, writer, and thought leader. Her unique perspectives on life, love and connection stem from her own personal wisdom, and her knowledge of psychology and philosophy. Dr. Brosh’s work is founded on the fundamental truth that we are all wired to be relational beings, and that with the right guidance and tools everyone can find happiness and fulfillment in their interpersonal relationships.

The Most Powerful Suicide-Prevention Ad You Will Ever See

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 11.26.55 AMYou’re walking through a crowded subway station on your way to work or school when something catches your eye. It’s a moving poster/screen showing a girl sitting in a bathtub, tears streaming down her face. She picks up a telephone and starts dialing – and miraculously at the same time, the payphone next to the poster starts ringing. What do you do?

The above describes a real ad-campaign run by Samaritans, a charity and confidential support group that offers phone-based counseling and suicide-prevention in the UK and Ireland. According to the organization’s website, every 52 seconds they receive contact from someone considering suicide. The organization trains volunteers –  more than 20,000 in a given year – to take these calls and offer the compassion and deep listening that often makes the difference between life and death. Because of the urgency of this work, though, there are never enough volunteers to fully make the impact Samaritans would like. Thus they initiated the “Let Us Not Miss A Single Call” ad-campaign with the hopes of spreading awareness and recruiting volunteers.

Take a look at the remarkable video that captures this powerful campaign:

In 2010, 38,364 people committed suicide in the United States. That’s roughly 105 people a day, 1 person every 13 minutes. Imagine how many of those lives might be saved if there were greater awareness about the organizations out there providing support and scores of volunteers at the ready to take the crisis calls. Samaritans’ ad isn’t subtle at all, and for good reason. Obviously some situations are more nuanced than others, and more support is often necessary. But the organization’s message is that in so many cases it really is as simple as answering the phone to prevent someone from committing suicide in that crucial moment.

What do you think of this poignant ad-campaign? Would you answer the phone?

5 Rules Of Dating: How To Attract Healthy Relationships and Healthy Marriages

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 10.40.46 AM

Most of my clients are single and want to get married. For years I’ve listened as men and women have expressed their frustrations with not being able to find “The One.” When I ask them what they believe is the cause of their problem, most give the standard answer, “I guess I’m just too picky.”

My response to them is almost always the same, “I doubt that’s the problem.” Here’s why. When I speak with both men and women who are successful with dating and later marriage they don’t talk about not being picky. If fact, the problem for most singles is the way they date. Those individuals who seem to effortlessly attract and keep someone wonderful tend to follow these 5 rules of dating:

  1. Know What You Really Want. When most singles hear they shouldn’t be so picky, they often believe this means that they should compromise on those characteristics that mean the most to them. In reality, what is better is to not have too many items on your “wish list.” Understanding what you really want in a partner means that there are a few core items that you absolutely must have in a partner, but on everything else you can be flexible.
  2. It Takes Time to Get to Know Someone. When you’re dating someone, here’s what your brain is doing. In an attempt to evaluate the other person, you look for clues about his or her personality and character. The problem is that after only one or two dates, you may think you know a lot about the other person, but you really don’t. What you’re seeing is only a “slice” of who that person really is. Unless your date acts in a way that is completely inappropriate, don’t stop seeing that person until you get to know him or her better. Three dates is the absolute minimum.
  3. Don’t Try and Save Someone. Let’s face it; all of us have done this. You meet this very attractive person and you want it to work out so badly. They don’t show up on time or they lie when confronted with the facts, but you end up justifying staying with them because, “They’re really attractive,” or “But he’s so successful.” The hope is that given enough time they’ll stop acting poorly and change into the person you know they “really are deep down inside.” This approach to dating often causes singles to spend YEARS waiting for their partner to change…and it rarely does. It’s better to find someone that’s good for you and good to you rather than trying to convince someone to change.
  4. Love Can’t Fix Problems. Perhaps you’ve heard this statistic, which relates to lottery winners. Exactly one year after winning the lottery, the person will feel exactly as he or she did before becoming rich. If they were frequently depressed, anxious or bored before receiving so much money, then that’s how they’ll feel – even when they’re rich. The same applies regarding dating and marriage. A relationship can make a happy person happier, but it won’t take away feelings of loneliness.
  5. Notice How They Treat You When They’re Unhappy. Dating is about getting to know another person. Some singles view dating as a magical time with a person who makes them feel wonderful, and yet that dream simply isn’t possible…all of the time. I promise, no matter how amazing of a person you pick, there will come moments when they get discouraged. There will be other times when both of you disagree or even argue. How they treat you during those non-romantic moments is the best indication of what kind of marriage partner they will be. The truth is that in those moments, they aren’t being driven by their feelings, but by the simple fact of do they care enough about you to be gracious to you…even when they don’t feel like it.

* * *

Bob Grant, L.P.C. is the author of the bestselling relationship book, “The Woman Men Adore…and Never Want To Leave.” For the past 20 years he has provided unique and powerful insights for thousands of men and women in over 50 different countries.  You may visit him at www.relationshipheadquarters.com

Originally published January 2012

The Connection Between Trauma And Addiction

078/365 mourningTrauma is a word that we hear a lot in typical conversation. Trauma, by definition, is any type of experience that causes distress or emotional disturbances for an individual. In some cases trauma may be strictly emotional and psychological while in other situations there may also be a physical component.

For example, a person who witnesses a death or a serious accident may experience emotional and mental distress over the images that they remember from the event. A person who was actually in the incident may have physical trauma or injury as well as the mental distress and disturbance of the experience.

Trauma is very personalized and can be different for different people based on life experiences, upbringing, and even your current emotional health. What one person may see as a traumatic incident that is distressing or shocking may not be problematic for another individual. This is why trauma is often so difficult to identify, treat, and manage for both mental health professionals as well as for individuals.

What I found when preparing my notes for my book, The Law of Sobriety, is that many of the people I worked with in addiction recovery had significant trauma in their lives that they had not addressed. This could have been trauma from a dysfunctional family as a child, current or past abusive partners or spouses, or trauma from things they had witnessed or lived through that were not relationship based. Often the individual was bothered by these distressing memories but didn’t seek help or even know that they had been traumatized by the experience.

These people often dwelt on the negative emotions that were part of the memories of the trauma. The more they dwelt on the negatives the more that other similar negative experiences occurred in their life. Often alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping or food was used as a way to try to self-medicate and get to a less stressful emotional space. The result was that that negativity caused by the trauma fueled the addiction.

Working through the negativity of trauma and learning to focus in on positives in your life is key to breaking the trauma and addiction connection. It is possible to put trauma behind you and to overcome the fears, disruptions and negativity associated with these events in your life and move forward as a sober, happier you.

* * *

Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life, Love & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addiction. Please download your free E book “Filling The Empty Heart” and your “Are You a Love Addict Quiz?” at www.sherrygaba.com Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. Listen to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with Sherry Gaba” on CBS Radio Take Sherry’s quiz for a free eBook Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction.

Seeing Is Believing: How To Improve Your Relationships Through Perception

234/365 - 1 <3 photography 6/10By Dr. Andra Brosh

I like to take pictures with my very fancy camera. I love shooting photos because it’s one of the few places in my life where only my perspective matters.

When I’m taking pictures I lose all self-consciousness about how I see things, and can completely immerse myself in what I believe to be true and perfect. It’s my photo, my angle, and most importantly my point of view.

You may not know it, but your perspective of the world is extremely valuable. How you see things is just as important as how you feel. An even more important concept, however, is that your ability to share a different perspective from your own is one of the most valuable qualities you can have. Taking it even one step further, your ability to see things from another person’s perspective is an essential skill in maintaining a healthy relationship.

As human beings we have a very deep and basic need to be seen, and to have our experience and perceptions validated. When we are told that our point of view is “wrong” a little part of us dies inside, and we begin to question what we believe to be true in the world.

When you and your partner share an experience with each other that is perceived through each of your unique vantage points, neither of you are right. Denying another person’s perceptions, or questioning the validity of their perspective leaves them feeling misunderstood, insecure, frustrated, and angry.

Perspective is very closely aligned with empathy, but they are different. Empathy is the ability to step into another person’s situation with the intention of understanding how they feel. Sharing a perspective requires you to stand behind the other person, to look out at the world through their eyes, and to see what they are seeing.

It’s like looking through their camera once they set up the shot.

Sharing a perspective does not equate with agreeing, and it doesn’t mean your perspective has to be eliminated. It’s simply an opportunity to step back from what you believe to be true, so you can see something different. Accepting and acknowledging these ideas about perception will shift how you relate in the world, and it will also build an incredible sense of intimacy in your present relationship.

Here are three tips to share another person’s perspective:

  1. It’s all in the language. Avoid saying things like “That’s not true” or “Don’t be ridiculous” when your partner shares their experience. Try saying something like “I can see how you might see it that way, but…” or “I’m having a hard time seeing it the way you do, can you help me understand?”
  2. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to see things. Your experiences and perceptions of things are subjective. You get to have your view, and your partner gets to have theirs. If you feel the need to be right, your next step is to work on letting go of this unrealistic expectation so you can be more open.
  3. Use empathy and compassion to get there. When we are in a heated situation or feel strongly about something we often lose sight of the other person’s perspective. Using your imagination, and seeing that your partner is feeling just like you will allow you to step back, and be more objective.

* * *

picofme2Dr. Andra Brosh is a Clinical Psychologist, writer, and thought leader. Her unique perspectives on life, love and connection stem from her own personal wisdom, and her knowledge of psychology and philosophy. Dr. Brosh’s work is founded on the fundamental truth that we are all wired to be relational beings, and that with the right guidance and tools everyone can find happiness and fulfillment in their interpersonal relationships.

Watch the Live Hangout on Bullying with Gotham Chopra, Shane Koyczan, and Other Special Guests!

Our third Google+ hangout in the “Aspire to Inspire” series focuses on the crippling effects of bullying. Gotham Chopra is joined by poet Shane Koyczan, whose video for “To This Day” went viral due to it’s honest, heartbreaking prose about the lifetime effects of bullying. Other guests include: Martin Shervington who will offer insight from his experience in psychology and life coaching, Margot Leitman – a comedian who just released her first book “Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase,” and Kevin Epling, the National Co-Director and Michigan representative for Bully Police USA.

If you haven’t seen the Shane’s poignant viral video, check it out (and have your tissues at the ready):

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss our final “Aspire to Inspire” hangout on cancer survival, this Monday!

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